As we really start to settle into the 2021 NFL season, somehow, there is still a lot of confusion and debate as to who to start at running back for most fantasy leagues. Injuries have taken out some of the league's best RBs, including Christian McCaffrey, who is slated to miss another matchup in Week 6.
However, despite the melee caused by injuries and the COVID pandemic, certain running backs are as locked-in to an RB1 spot on fantasy rosters as they were in Week 1. With all that in mind, who should you start on your squad for Week 6?
Here are the top 20 fantasy running back matchups this week:
2021 FANTASY FOOTBALL RB RANKINGS: WEEK 6
1. Austin Ekeler (Chargers) at Ravens
- 2021 rushing stats: 67 attempts, 349 yards, 4 TDs
- 2021 receiving stats: 23 catches, 194 yards, 3 TDs
- 2021 points: 119.3
Ekeler was projected to absolutely dominate the running back space in the fantasy world during the preseason, and he has delivered. His seven TDs on the season are matched only by Derrick Henry, who has all his scores on the ground. Ekeler has a dream matchup vs. Baltimore this week, which has surrendered the league's seventh-highest fantasy PPG mark to running backs.
2. Kareem Hunt (Browns) vs. Cardinals
- 2021 rushing stats: 55 attempts, 295 yards, 5 TDs
- 2021 receiving stats: 17 catches, 149 yards, 0 TDs
- 2021 points: 93.4
To the surprise of most, Hunt has out-dueled Nick Chubb in Cleveland's backfield so far this season, fantasy-wise. Chubb has officially been ruled out for Week 6, meaning Hunt is primed to take on a massive workload vs. Arizona on Sunday. Look for Hunt to be the Browns' every-down back, catch a few passes out of the backfield, and find the end zone at least once this weekend.
3. James Robinson (Jaguars) vs. Dolphins
- 2021 rushing stats: 67 attempts, 387 yards, 4 TDs
- 2021 receiving stats: 14 catch, 88 yards, 0 TDs
- 2021 points: 85.5
Robinson jumps from No. 16 on last week's rankings to second overall this week for two reasons: he had his best rushing game of the season with 149 yards vs. the Titans last week, and he'll be facing a Dolphins defense that has been virtually unable to stop the run game this season. The second-round pick of most fantasy leagues is a must-start this weekend.
4. Najee Harris (Steelers) vs. Seahawks
- 2021 rushing stats: 78 attempts, 307 yards, 2 TDs
- 2021 receiving stats: 28 catch, 198 yards, 1 TD
- 2021 points: 96.5
Harris' dual-threat ability in the backfield make him the ideal candidate to explode for 20+ fantasy points this week vs. the Seahawks. Russell Wilson's absence might hinder Seattle's passing game, which in turn could result in a more run-heavy game plan for the Steelers if they were to grab an early lead.
5. Derrick Henry (Titans) vs. Bills
- 2021 rushing stats: 142 attempts, 640 yards, 7 TDs
- 2021 receiving stats: 14 catches, 125 yards, 0 TDs
- 2021 points: 134.5
Through no fault of his own, Henry drops from the No. 1 spot on these rankings (which he's held since Week 2) to number five this week. He is still virtually unstoppable as the Titans' lead back. The only reason he slips four spots? He'll be taking on a Bills defense which has allowed the league's fewest fantasy points to running backs. Even so, Henry is, once again, a must-start.
6. Joe Mixon (Bengals) at Lions
- 2021 rushing stats: 93 attempts, 386 yards, 3 TDs
- 2021 receiving stats: 8 catches, 31 yards, 0 TDs
- 2021 points: 67.7
After exploding for 25 points in Week 1, Mixon has largely stalled as the Bengals' top option at running back, unable to eclipse the 14-point barrier. That could all change this week, as the Bengals' offense (which has been looking increasingly lethal) takes on Detroit, whose run defense has looked just slightly below average at best this season.
7. Dalvin Cook (Vikings) at Panthers
- 2021 rushing stats: 51 attempts, 226 yards, 1 TD
- 2021 receiving stats: 10 catches, 70 yards, 0 TDs
- 2021 points: 43.6
Cook was a late addition to the bench last week, as a nagging ankle problem precluded him for Minnesota's win over the Lions. He's back this week, though, and should be at full strength to take on the Panthers, who have looked stellar defending the run. Shockingly, Cook has only found the end zone once through his first three games, making him eager and primed to score this Sunday.
8. Chuba Hubbard (Panthers) vs. Vikings
- 2021 rushing stats: 56 attempts, 220 yards, 0 TDs
- 2021 receiving stats: 12 catch, 78 yards, 0 TDs
- 2021 points: 41.8
Well, it's still up in the air, but it looks like Christian McCaffrey will not be suiting up for the Panthers in Week 6 after being held out of practice on Friday. If CMC is good to go, he'd take the No. 1 spot on this list easily. But if he's out, Hubbard will rake up all those carries and backfield catches as the Panthers' top running back. After an 18.4-point performance last week, look for Hubbard to have an agreeable workload again in Week 6, should McCaffrey be held out.
9. Darrell Henderson Jr. (Rams) at Giants
- 2021 rushing stats: 60 attempts, 294 yards, 3 TDs
- 2021 receiving stats: 10 catches, 90 yards, 0 TDs
- 2021 points: 66.4
Henderson put up his second-best fantasy week of the year last Thursday, accruing 16.9 points in a huge Rams win in Seattle. His lead-back duties remain unchanged this week as the Rams have a favorable matchup vs. the Giants on the road. Henderson will likely be the focus of most, if not all, of L.A.'s offensive plays in the red zone.
10. Aaron Jones (Packers) at Bears
- 2021 rushing stats: 70 attempts, 309 yards, 2 TDs
- 2021 receiving stats: 17 catches, 132 yards, 3 TDs
- 2021 points: 89.1
After a 41.5-point explosion in Week 2, Jones has remained steady yet uninspiring as a fantasy back for Green Bay. His 17.8 point average is due to increase, though, as the Packers take on a somewhat shaky Bears run defense on the road in Week 6. Jones, as always, is a must-start this week.
11. D'Andre Swift (Lions) vs. Bengals
- 2021 rushing stats: 52 attempts, 190 yards, 2 TDs
- 2021 receiving stats: 29 catches, 252 yards, 1 TD
- 2021 points: 91.2
12. Jonathan Taylor (Colts) vs. Texans
- 2021 rushing stats: 73 attempts, 327 yards, 2 TDs
- 2021 receiving stats: 14 catches, 197 yards, 1 TD
- 2021 points: 84.4
13. Antonio Gibson (Washington Football Team) vs. Chiefs
- 2021 rushing stats: 79 attempts, 313 yards, 3 TDs
- 2021 receiving stats: 10 catches, 119 yards 1 TD
- 2021 points: 75.2
14. Ezekiel Elliot (Cowboys) at Patriots
- 2021 rushing stats: 85 attempts, 452 yards, 5 TDs
- 2021 receiving stats: 9 catch, 55 yards, 1 TD
- 2021 points: 95.7
15. Myles Gaskin (Dolphins) at Jaguars
- 2021 rushing stats: 34 attempts, 167 yards, 0 TDs
- 2021 receiving stats: 22 catches, 131 yards, 2 TDs
- 2021 points: 63.8
16. Devontae Booker (Giants) vs. Rams
- 2021 rushing stats: 23 attempts, 64 yards, 1 TD
- 2021 receiving stats: 6 catches, 30 yards, 1 TD
- 2021 points: 27.4
17. Khalil Herbert (Bears) vs. Packers
- 2021 rushing stats: 21 attempts, 82 yards, 0 TDs
- 2021 receiving stats: 0 catch, 0 yards, 0 TDs
- 2021 points: 8.2
18. Chase Edmonds (Cardinals) at Browns
- 2021 rushing stats: 49 attempts, 270 yards, 0 TDs
- 2021 receiving stats: 23 catches, 159 yards, 0 TD
- 2021 points: 63.9
19. Darrel Williams (Chiefs) at Washington Football Team
- 2021 rushing stats: 26 attempts, 99 yards, 2 TDs
- 2021 receiving stats: 7 catches, 45 yards, 0 TDs
- 2021 points: 33.4
20. Josh Jacobs (Raiders) at Broncos
- 2021 rushing stats: 38 attempts, 122 yards, 3 TDs
- 2021 receiving stats: 10 catches, 42 yards, 0 TDs
- 2021 points: 44.4