Backup RB rankings: Pollard poised to shine if opportunity knocks

How high does Tony Pollard rank on the list of backup running backs? George Walker/Icon Sportswire

Fantasy football insurance is a tricky animal.

On one hand, you want to protect yourself from injuries by warehousing your star player's backup.

On the other hand, the opportunity cost of expending that roster spot could cost you a valuable waiver pickup.

The fact is insurance is a valuable tool if used correctly.

Some backups are very good players, while others are not. In the event of an injury, some would be positioned for a clear path to a large share of touches, while others would see only a slight uptick in work. When evaluating insurance, the best game plan is to select players with high ceilings should the player ahead of them on the depth chart miss time. For example, if Dalvin Cook goes down, Alexander Mattison would handle a feature back role in Minnesota and would be in the RB1 discussion. If Derrick Henry goes down, however, some combination of Darrynton Evans, Jeremy McNichols and Brian Hill would share touches and none would be a clear fantasy starter. If you selected Henry and not Cook, don't cross Mattison off your draft board and force a dart throw at Evans. Pick the guy who can win you a league championship, not a player who would barely be worth flex consideration.

Below is an examination of the 2021 running back insurance landscape, with a 1-to-32 ranking of the top RB backups for each team, as well as some thoughts on how the backfield might look if the starter goes down.

For updated insurance information and advice throughout the season, be sure to keep up with our fantasy depth charts.

Running back insurance rankings

1. Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns - RB1 if Nick Chubb is out

Hunt is the best insurance option in the business, but the problem is that he also has standalone value and is quite expensive on draft day. The 26-year-old was fantasy's No. 13 RB during 11 games both he and Chubb played in full last season and 11th during the four games Chubb was out. Hunt is already a borderline RB2, but with little competition for touches in a run-first offense with an elite offensive line, he'd leap into the top-10 (if not top-5) in the event of a Chubb injury.