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Jason Wood on Jul 26: Christian McCaffrey missed much of last year, but he was the same uber workhorse under Joe Brady's watch as he was with the prior coaching staff. As long as he's healthy in camp, he's the easy choice as the first overall pick.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Easily the top PPR option, I have no qualms about McCaffrey as your top option in any format. He's slightly lower on my non-PPR board because Sam Darnold is unproven and the offensive line in Carolina isn't the strength of this offense. McCaffrey is a special player so don't freak out because I have him a little lower for now.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: Make no mistake that the entire offense in Carolina revolves around Christian McCaffrey. With depth added at all offensive positions, that will not stop opposing teams focusing on McCaffrey. Stopping him is another matter. There is not a facet in his game that is weak and only injury will stop him dominating once again. At only 25 years of age and reliable week to week he should be the number one pick in bestball, dynasty and all manner of redrafts,
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: It's difficult to think of Christian McCaffrey as anything other than the #1 overall pick. When he's healthy, he's producing giving you production from essentially two positions, running back and wide receiver. Chuba Hubbard could steal away some his rushing numbers but as of yet, we haven't seen a reduction in his workload when he's on the field.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: McCaffrey's dominant momentum of 2018 and 2019 seasons was halted by an injury in 2020, limiting the impact back to only three games. McCaffrey was as productive as ever in said three games and is one of the dying breed of do-everything high-volume foundation running backs in the NFL.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Fading Cook because of his injury history has been a painful decision, so it's time to embrace his combination of elite talent and workhorse role this year.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: A safe pick who will continue to earn the featured role for the Vikings and play to his talent level in PPR and Non-PPR formats. You shouldn't care so much about whether Cook is No.1, No.5, or No.7 on a list. He's a Tier I back who offers production and safety. That's all you need to know. Now pick your favorite of the bunch or the one that presents the most value to you based on your draft position.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: Dalvin Cook is a star. He makes Minnesota better and is a stud for fantasy football. My concerns are related to his history of missing games. In four years the most he has played is 14 games. The Vikings also added another running back in Kene Nwangwu in the draft to compete for backup touches with Alexander Mattinson. Could Cook conceivably see less touches so their investment is protected from overwork?
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Dalvin Cook has back-to-back top 5 fantasy finishes. He has surpassed 1,500 yards rushing and he has consecutive years of double-digit touchdowns. You know what you're getting with Cook - a true RB1.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: One of the few elite two-way running backs in the NFL, tied to a quality quarterback and two wide receivers to boot. Cook is one of the easy Round 1 picks for 2021
Phil Alexander on Jul 28: Drew Brees is arguably the best screen game quarterback in NFL history. His retirement all but guarantees some drop off in Kamara's receiving numbers regardless of whether Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill is named the Saints starting quarterback. If you're high on Kamara, you're rooting for Winston -- the more conventional pocket passer -- to win the competition. Hill is more likely to run than check the ball down to a running back when coverage breaks down. Kamara was held to three targets or fewer in three out of Hill's four starts in 2020. Even if he's not the starter, Hill's presence in goal line packages will infringe on Kamara's touchdown opportunity. Last season, Hill saw 9 carries from inside the opponent's five-yard line compared to 15 for Kamara.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: The riskiest of the elite fantasy running backs given the changeover at quarterback. Taysom Hill ignored Kamara in three of four starts, but one has to assume that was an anomaly.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: I love Kamara's game, but 16 rushing touchdowns put him over the top as 2020's top PPR option. Personally, I won a Devy Championship thanks in part to his six rushing touchdowns against the Vikings in Week 16 last year. However, that's an outlier performance that only Gale Sayers matched. Since we may have to wait another 60 years for it to happen again, I'm not counting on consecutive years with double-digit rushing touchdowns. I am counting on another year approaching 1,600 yards from scrimmage, which gives him a high floor. However, Drew Brees, even the arm-shot version we saw last year, was a great red-zone manager. This has been Jameis Winston's worse quality as a quarterback and Taysom Hill is less experienced at managing distribution in this area as much as being the focal point with the ball. I expect Kamara's touchdown totals to be cut in half. Still easy RB1 material in PPR leagues, but necessary top-five.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: After a lean year for touchdowns in 2019, Alvin Kamara bounced back to form with a whopping 21 touchdowns. While he is yet to have a 1000 yard rushing season his remarkable consistency as a receiver is amazing. 80 receptions and change in every season. It is hard to think that the retirement of Drew Brees will affect his production. It could potentially finally get him to that 1000 yard rushing season. Safe in all formats, he should be dynamic for dynasty and bestball as well.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: We know that Alvin Kamara is a huge talent on the Saints offense led by Drew Brees. We don't know how that translates to Jameis Winston and/or Taysom Hill. You would think Sean Payton will utilize his star running back, but there is a degree of uncertainty in the air surrounding Kamara's production this season.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Kamara was RB1 in fantasy last season in PPR scoring, second to only J.D. McKissic in targets for the position and adding 21 total touchdowns. The variable is Drew Brees' retirement and how the Saints' quarterbacks will support Kamara's dynamic two-way ability. Kamara has yet to accrue 200 carries in a season in his career, yet has surpassed 300 PPR points in 3-of-4 seasons. Kamara has one of the more bankable floor outcomes at the position.
Phil Alexander on Jul 28: The Titans' trade for Julio Jones should increase Henry's already excellent rushing efficiency by allowing him to face fewer stacked boxes and positioning him for more scoring opportunities. The question of whether a running back who brings zero upside as a pass-catcher is deserving of a top-3 pick in PPR scoring formats depends more on the health of Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, and Saquon Barkley as we get closer to draft season than it does on the numbers we can rely on from Henry, who finished as the RB3 in PPR scoring in 2020.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Derrick Henry is a throwback to an era where running backs were the centerpiece of NFL offenses. Even without a prodigious role as receiver, Henry is a top-5 back in any league format thanks to his monstrous carry volume and propensity for the end zone.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Can Henry win another rushing title? The odds are against it, but he has proven durable as a high-volume runner with chain-moving power and breakaway speed. He's one of the safest options at the top of the RB board in non-PPR. You can try to thread the needle in PPR and predict the next emerging option with PPR upside that rivals Christian McCaffrey or you can feel good about Henry as a safe bet in this format despite lacking a great ceiling in the passing game.
Dave Kluge on Jul 22: Can Derrick Henry outperform this ranking? Absolutely. However, history shows us that running backs at his age and with his usage tend to break down quickly. Henry has amassed 782 carries over the last two years. No other running back in the league has seen more than 600 over that stretch. In addition, no running back coming off a 2,000-yard season has been able to hit 1,500 yards in the following season, and Henry was the second-oldest player in history to hit that mark! Now 27 years old, he's hitting that dangerous age for running backs. Given his week-to-week volatility due to minimal usage in the passing game, he's not someone I want to take early in my drafts. While a reasonable argument could be made to take him in the top-3, there are less risky options that I'd take ahead of him.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: Derrick Henry is coming off the third highest scoring fantasy season in the last 10 years for a running back. Chances are he cannot replicate. He is the engine that makes the Titans offense tick though so its hard to see them lightening his workload. He does all this with practically no numbers as a receiver. Henry has also been incredibly durable in his six years as a pro. On paper he as safe a pick as you can get at running back in all formats. In dynasty I would consider selling him on a high though.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Derrick Henry is coming off a 2,000-yard rushing season which normally means a decline for most running backs. Henry isn't most running backs. He's built different. If anyone can put together another strong performance after a career year, it's Henry.
Andrew Davenport on Jul 21: The addition of Julio Jones to the Tennessee Titans should give Henry a positive bump. He'll have two outstanding threats in the passing game in Jones and A.J. Brown to move the ball when teams stack the box, or to threaten defense for Henry to have more room. Adding Jones has to improve the Titans efficiency on offense and their total trips down the field. Generating more opportunities is always good for a back like Henry. He deserves consideration in the Top 3 of every fantasy draft.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: The DNA in Tennessee remains intact for 2021, revolving around Derrick Henry. The Titans led the NFL last season in rushing attempts by running backs...by 31 attempts over the second-most team. Receiving continues to be an untapped upside branch for Henry, but he is firmly in the small subset of candidates to lead the NFL in carries and running touchdowns.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Elliott is no longer vying for the 1st overall pick, but he's not too far behind. Add up his bout of Covid-19, Dak Prescott's injury, and a decimated offensive line and you can excuse a slightly disappointing 2020 season. Most of those headwinds will be tailwinds in 2021. Elliott's days of first-round value are far from over.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Elliott had a rough year and naysayers will highlight his first game with Andy Dalton as a sign that the cliff is near. The cliff isn't near, the Cowboys imploded last year because it lost its elite and mobile quarterback and suffered injuries to its offensive line. Most elite running backs need quality offensive line play. Elliot is no exception. Provided the Cowboys' line and quarterback remain healthy in 2021, expect a rebound season for Elliott. He'll be available for a small discount in both PPR and non-PPR formats. Skilled, proven, healthy, and matched with surrounding talent, he's still safe--even if it's because last year's exception proves the rule.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: The aging and injury to the offensive line in Dallas had a detrimental effect on the performance of Ezekiel Elliott in 2020. This is maybe the first season where Elliott has considerable downside heading into the year. With Dak Prescott back and the offensive line still strong on paper, Elliott should return to his best. Still young enough to be a dynasty star and abreturn to touchdown numbers will make him strong in bestball.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Ezekiel Elliott should benefit greatly from the return of Dak Prescott. The offense should give him a boost that elevates him back to the top 10 and quite possibly, the top 5.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Elliott is one of the significant bounce-back candidates at the running back position for 2021. Elliott was his productive self with a healthy Dak Prescott, but like the wide receivers in Dallas, down a sharp downturn with Prescott out of the lineup. Elliott is the unquestioned starter for one of the projected dominant fantasy offenses in the NFL. Betting on an Elliott revival in 2021 is one of the easier projections at the position this season.
Phil Alexander on Jul 29: All the offseason buzz points to the Giants slow-playing Barkely's recovery from a torn ACL (the knee injury also included a partially torn meniscus and strained MCL). As long as his early-season workload remains up in the air, Barkley is a shaky selection inside the top-5 running backs. Passing up Barkley for a less talented back without workload concerns (Jonathan Taylor, Aaron Jones, Joe Mixon) is also defensible until further notice.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Barkley didn't just tear his ACL, he injured the surrounding ligaments, too. While his recovery is on track, there's still the risk he's never the same player. Daniel Jones and Jason Garrett also limit the Giants' offensive upside. Barkley makes sense on paper as a first-round pick, but fading him may not be the worst decision.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: I was taking the upside perspective on Barkley's ACL rehab. He's a freakish athlete and while it's a risk to bet he's a lot like Adrian Peterson or Nick Chubb in terms of healing, I was leaning in that direction until we saw more from training camp. But it's becoming more likely that Barkley will not begin the season on the active roster. I'm projecting 14 games from Barkley, which could mean he delivers fantasy RB1 value for most of the season. However, his style of play that leads to inconsistency of production and the ACL tear that could lean to a height chance of compensatory injuries downgrades him on my list.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: Three years into his career, Saquon Barkley has missed the equivalent of a full year out of that short career. At his best and fully fit, he should be a top five running back. Some of us are more trepidatious and want to see Barkley stay on the field before investing a high pick. The Giants offense as a whole should be better, but it all rides or dies with Daniel Jones,
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: We know what Saquon Barkley is capable of, but we haven't seen him perform much in Jason Garrett's offense under Joe Judge's rule. There is also the slight concern that he will need some ramp-up time to fully be healed from his ACL tear from a season ago.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Barkley returns in 2021 after missing all but one game and part of another last season. Barkley was a dynamic two-way back before his injury, posting 2,000 and 1,400 total yards in the previous two years. The Giants continue to build their offense with Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney added in the offseason. Barkley is one of the most dynamic backs in the NFL with his injury recovery and situation the lone variables to unlock Barkley's best season yet.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Hill isn't going to get 150+ targets like a typical No. 1 overall fantasy receiver, but no one in the league is more efficient with each target.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: One of the safest fantasy options and one of the most explosive players in the history of the league, Hill has the benefit of a great young quarterback and elite tight end to work with. Moreover, Mecole Hardman's speed does a lot to create dilemmas for defenses even if Hardman himself isn't a great receiving option in his own right.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: Expecting last years stats to translate to the next is always an exercise to be used with caution. Tyreek Hill as an option in 2021 is probably one of the safer investments in a high pick. Is there upside? Probably not. Thats always the concern as it seems impossible for him to not be at his peak and see a possible decline. I would rather use my first round pick on a player that has room for improvement, but using a high pock on Hill is a reasonably safe option.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are the one-two punch for the potent Chiefs offense under Patrick Mahomes. He is a top 15-10 fantasy wide receiver but with Mahomes, he is a consistent touchdown scorer which catapults him into the top 5.
Andrew Davenport on Jul 21: Hill put his injury issues behind him n 2020 and all he did was post 15 touchdowns. The Chiefs didn't add any meaningful competition to the pass catching corps, and their willingness to get Hill the ball in all areas of the field - not just the deep ball - means he has a legitimate shot at the overall WR1 spot when the year is over. The fact that Davante Adams is facing uncertainty in Green Bay means that while that situation festers Hill is the clear top choice at wide receiver for fantasy managers.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: With Davante Adams' ambiguity if Aaron Rodgers will be in Green Bay this season, Hill has a firm argument to be the WR1. The connection with Patrick Mahomes, combined with the lack of a proven third target in the Chiefs offense - beyond Hill and Travis Kelce - create a high floor and ceiling combination for Hill.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Hard to argue against Kelce given his role, quarterback, track record, and coaching staff. The only question is how high should he go overall? The first round is absolutely justifiable.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Kelce is capable of elite production by even receiver standards. He's a safe early-round pick because there's relative position scarcity at the elite level of the tight end position compared to wide receiver. While there may be more of a drop-off at running back than tight end, it's more difficult to predict the running back position in this respect. If you're playing the position-scarcity game at the top of the draft, Kelce makes a compelling choice if the running backs you like the most to reach that elite tier of production are gone.
Dave Kluge on Jul 22: Kelce is going in the first round in a lot of drafts this year but the gap between Darren Waller and George Kittle isn't quite as wide as it appears. I struggle to draft Kelce in the first round when there are still workhorse running backs on the board, knowing that I can get Kittle or Waller in the second round.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: Travis Kelce has five consecutive 1000 yard seasons and four of the last five years as the number one fantasy tight end. He has one of the best quarterbacks in the league, if not the best and a scheme which knows how to use him. He will be 32 this season, an age in which most Tight Ends start to decline. He shows no sign iof decline and no other tight end has his upside or reliability. At some stage though the journey has to slow down.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Travis Kelce is the best tight end in the league on the best offense. He is a cornerstone piece to Patrick Mahomes'game and should once again be among the top two fantasy tight ends, a place he has resided for five straight years.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Travis Kelce has been a lock-and-load top-2 tight end for years. Another year ticks ahead for Kelce, but nothing has changed. Kelce is still connected to Patrick Mahomes and essentially the WR1 for the most potent passing game in the NFL.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Stefon Diggs went from very good in Minnesota to All-Pro in Buffalo and simultaneously elevated Josh Allen to an MVP candidate. There's no reason to think they can't repeat last year's heroics.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: I love what Diggs did last year in Buffalo and I expect similar production in 2021. However, similar isn't exactly the same. There will be some decline due to the attention he'll receive from opposing defenses, the growth of Gabriel Davis, and the addition of Emmanuel Sanders. That also means Diggs' production doesn't separate him as much from the pack of low-end fantasy WR1s and top-end WR2s.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: Stefon Diggs shattered previous career highs in his first season in Buffalo. Now he is expected to do the same in 2021 and maybe more to live up to his high draft price. Consider that prior to last year he had failed to play every game in his five seasons with Minnesota. He was also remarkably consistent in 2020 with not a poor game in sight. I would expect opposing defenses plan better this year and while he is a safe choice, he has more downside vulnerability that is currently being factored in.
Anthony Amico on Jul 22: The new Antonio Brown. Diggs broke out in 2020, and should continue to dominate. Could argue he ran unlucky on touchdowns last year.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Stefon Diggs is coming off a career-year in receptions (127) and receiving yards (1,535). He is the alpha receiver on the Bills pass-heavy offense and is worthy of being among the top 3 fantasy wide receivers selected in all formats.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Josh Allen's passing proficiency rise in 2020 was the tide to raise Stefon Diggs' ceiling as well. Diggs is the unquestioned WR1 for a strong NFL passing game, a lethal fantasy combination.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Jonathan Taylor was as good as advertised last season, and could easily finish as the No. 1 fantasy back in 2021. There's not much he cannot do, and as long as Carson Wentz isn't a disaster, Taylor will be one of the most reliable, valuable running backs in the league.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Taylor came on strong at year's end and proved he was worth the pre-draft hype. He's another one of those backs where analysts let his lack of reps in the passing game overshadow the quality of those reps. Although Nyheim Hines will be the primary option in the passing game, Taylor's 36 catches as a rookie are enough to bank on him as a PPR RB1 in addition to a potential top-five option in non-PPR formats.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: Jonathan Taylor had a great rookie season that should establish him as one of the premium backs of the future. The concern this year is the presence of former starter Marlon Mack who could have been left to another team in free agency, but the Colts wanted him back. Add in Nyheim Hines and Taylor will have to split fantasy points with competent team mates. While optimism surrounds Carson Wentz he does have a terrible 2020 to come back from and that could take the whole Colts offense with him should he stink in 2021.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Jonathan Taylor arrived on the scene as an elite running back in 2020, specifically after Week 10 where he finished as the 4th ranked running back. Prior to Week 10 he was 18th.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: After a wildly successful rookie season, Taylor sees a likely quarterback upgrade in Carson Wentz and Marlon Mack's return comes with the Achilles moniker which has eroded more than a few running backs as a career-altering injury.
Phil Alexander on Jul 28: With Aaron Rodgers coming back to keep the Packers offense afloat, Jones can be counted on for his usual second-tier RB1 production and a handful of weekly matchup winning performances.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Rodgers' decision to stay in Green Bay combined with Jones' massive new contract in the offseason cements the versatile, every-down back as an RB1 in all scoring formats.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Jones had an excellent year but two factors could limit his ceiling in 2021. The first is the potential loss of Aaron Rodgers, whose presence forces opposing defenses to play honestly because of his skill as a passer. The second is A.J. Dillon, who showed agility, power, vision, and burst as a rookie in limited time and will certainly earn at least Jamaal Williams' leftover workload. Jones remains a high-floor fantasy option as a starter with RB1 upside, but the Packers didn't draft Dillon as early as they did to limit him.
Dave Kluge on Jul 22: Aaron Jones has finished top-5 in PPR in back-to-back seasons and the team awarded him with a contract over the offseason. Even splitting touches with Jamaal Williams, Jones was able to produce. With AJ Dillon now in Green Bay, I still expect Jones to be the lead back and finish top-5 for the third straight season. His ability to score from anywhere on the field and his usage in the passing game make him an elite fantasy option.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: With doubt surrounding Aaron Rodgers, the entire Green Bay offense has a high risk/reward this year. Aaron Jones probably has the highest floor. With Aaron Rodgers he should earn his new contract with continued use. With an inexperienced quarterback like Jordan Love he will be relied upon to carry the offense.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Aaron Jones with Aaron Rodgers is a top 10 running back. Without him, he's probably not. This ranking is subject to change depending on the quarterback situation in Green Bay.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Jones returning the Green Bay was a best-case scenario for his upside in 2021. A.J. Dillon is likely to be a significant presence as the secondary part of the committee, but Jones' passing game prowess and level of the Packers offense make another top-10 season within reach. Aaron Rodgers departing is a variable to monitor which would move down Jones' fantasy standing.
Phil Alexander on Jul 28: Adams returns to his rightful spot as the overall WR1 now that Aaron Rodgers has temporarily patched things up with Green Bay's front office.
Matt Waldman on Jul 27: Adams has an excellent collection of releases to set up press defenders and is certainly an elite fantasy wide receiver when matched with Aaron Rodgers.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Rodgers' decision to return to Green Bay for another season puts Adams back into play as the No. 1 overall receiver, and a sure-fire first round pick in all draft formats.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: Davante Adams needs Aaron Rodgers to remain elite and we dont know if that will happen in 2021. For the moment lets assume Rodgers and Adams will play together in Green Bay this year. Adams immediately is a cant miss prospect. If Rodgers is elsewhere or holds out, Adams still should be a WR1. The uncertainty hopefully gets sorted soon, but ensure you are comfortable with the situation before acting on bis 2021 season.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: There are three factors in play for Davante Adams this season and two are bad. Adams is a top 5 fantasy wide receiver Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, but if Rodgers is traded or he holds out, Adams' fantasy value takes a hit with a quarterback situation that consists of Blake Bortles or Jordan Love. Don't expect a top-10 finish if Rodgers is not under center this season and it could be worse.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Coming off being the clear WR1 in fantasy in 2020, Adams' biggest variable is the status of Aaron Rodgers. The Packers did not notably address the WR2/3 spots beyond their incumbent veterans. Without Rodgers, Adams turns into a variable shifting to the lower WR1 or even WR2 fantasy territory if Jordan Love is under center.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Hopkins changed teams but his role as a target vacuum remained. With another year of building chemistry with Kyler Murray and head coach Kliff Kingsbury, Hopkins is still comfortably a top-10 option in all scoring formats.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Hopkins was a one-man wrecking crew in Arizona, which is a good sign that the staff knew what it had in this elite receiver. The addition of Rondale Moore and, to some extent, A.J. Green, may take a little bit of the luster from Hopkins' stat line but not enough to fear Hopkins as a fantasy WR1 in 2021.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: There is a concern that DeAndre Hopkins does not get the touchdown numbers you would like from an elite receiver. When a receiver has a floor of 100+ catches, 1200 yards and six touchdowns he is not going to disappoint. Now fully integrated into the Arizona offense, he gets a full offseason to establish himself and has weapons across the board to not be triple teamed on every play. His upside is more likely this year than his floor.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: DeAndre Hopkins has back-to-back top 10 finishes but he has not topped double-digit touchdowns in the last two years and only had six touchdowns in 16 games in his first season with Arizona. He's still a top-flight wide receiver, but others have overtaken him in fantasy rankings.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Hopkins has turned into more of a possession receiver in Arizona compared with his Houston tenure, but the volume continued to be pronounced. Hopkins hit 150+ targets for the sixth straight season with only his touchdown total (6) holding him back from an even better finish than his WR4 standing last season. James Conner, Rondale Moore, and A.J. Green were the notable additions to the Arizona offense, but none are particularly impactful to Hopkins' WR1 standing or projection for yet another high-volume season.
Phil Alexander on Jul 28: This may be narrative driven, but it's too easy to connect the dots between the Chargers hiring former longtime Saints quarterbacks coach Joe Lombardi as offensive coordinator and a huge year as a pass-catcher for Ekeler. For most of the last decade, Lombardi helped oversee an offense predicated on spreading defenses out, throwing lots of passes, and frequently utilizing quick throws. Justin Herbert is no Drew Brees in the screen game (and Ekeler no Alvin Kamara), but they're capable of pulling off a close enough approximation to catapult Ekeler towards top-5 fantasy numbers in PPR formats.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Ekeler's value is heavily tied to maintaining a role as the Chargers de facto slot receiver. With a new coaching staff and offensive system, that's less guaranteed than the industry believes.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Ekeler missed six games last year. Although his role has always been as the lead of a committee, he worked hard to potentially earn a bigger share of the pie between the tackles. Missing six games didn't help his future pursuit of that role. Nor does the Chargers drafting another back with a physical profile that matches a lot of what Melvin Gordon brought to the team in the past. I'm not projecting injury for Ekeler but I am building in the potential for the combination of Justin Jackson and/or Larry Rountree/Josh Kelley to earn enough touches to limit Ekeler's workload as a runner, holding him just shy of 200 rushing attempts. If no one stands out this summer, I'll give Ekeler more touches and you can expect a moderate climb up my rankings.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: Austin Ekeler isnâ€™t going to rush anyone to a fantasy title. His primary use has been as an excellent pass-catching back. Whenever a new coaching group comes in, especially an inexperienced one, there is always the risk that players with a high fantasy price underachieve. The depth behind Ekeler is average, but there are enough players to steal touches. It all depends on who works best in the new scheme and if the scheme works. His current draft price is almost his upside.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Austin Ekeler is a receiving back first and a rusher second, but his rushing numbers are still generous. A severe hamstring injury limited him to just 10 games, but he still caught 54 passes. He is an 80-catch back with double-digit touchdown potential and enough rushing prowess to be the team's top rusher. If there is any back who can leap into the top 5, it's Ekeler. The only pause I have is that the Chargers scored only six rushing touchdowns all season in 2020.
Andrew Davenport on Jul 21: It's natural to shy away from a guy coming off a major injury. But in the 8 full games Ekeler played with Justin Herbert he averaged 6.5 targets per game and 19.1 PPR points per game. That would've been good enough for RB6 in 2020. He deserves consideration in the first round of fantasy drafts behind a revamped offensive line playing alongside his exciting second year quarterback.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Ekeler is one of the most dynamic and receiving-centric backs in the NFL. With Justin Herbert bridging the gap from Phillip Rivers seamlessly under center in 2020 and target running backs a voluminous 150 times last season, Ekeler is one of the safest PPR floors of the running back position.
Phil Alexander on Jul 28: The health of Ridley's surgically repaired foot is the only thing keeping him out of the top-3 wide receivers. For now. As long as he's 100% healthy when training camps wrap up, Julio Jones' departure places Ridley squarely in the conversation for overall WR1.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Calvin Ridley was a top-10 receiver before the Julio Jones trade but is now in the hunt for the No. 1 overall player. If he's healthy, he'll have a monstrous target volume and will be Matt Ryan's only experienced, trusted weapon.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: It will be interesting to see if Ridley can deliver consistently elite production without Julio Jones for an entire season. He did for nearly half of the season last year and even with a change in the offensive scheme, he should be the primary option for Atlanta. I've upgraded Ridley slightly in terms of touchdowns and added 200 more yards to his totals. I'm a little wary of how many touchdowns this passing game will generate with a switch in a scheme that may look more like the Titans.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: Addition by subtraction does not always occur in fantasy football. Sure Julio Jones has been traded, but Calvin Ridley will face more attention this year than ever before. He is one of the most promising wide receivers in the NFL, but with a new coaching staff and Matt Ryan at the end of his career, I would be cautious. Additionally, the lack of a strong running game is highly likely. I want to see this coaching group perform before my high draft picks touch this team. Ridleyâ€™s touchdown numbers have been phenomenal to date, but any deterioration here and his fantasy numbers dive significantly. Ridley is a player that is highly likely to have a drop in production. His upside is non-existent at his current draft price.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Calvin Ridley has the ability and opportunity to finish as the #1 fantasy wide receiver in 2021, especially with Julio Jones playing elsewhere. Ridley had nine games of 90 yards receiving or more including eight 100-yard games to lead all wide receivers. Atlanta is a pass-heavy offense and now Ridley is free to absorb more targets with the departure of Julio Jones. Atlanta has finished in the top 5 in pass attempts per season in each of the last three years and now their running game looks modest. As a result, Ridley could have a monster season.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Ridley surged to a career-best WR5 finish in 2020. Ridley is now a threat for WR1 overall production after Julio Jones was traded to Tennessee.
Phil Alexander on Jul 29: Mixon was tracking as the RB8 in PPR leagues prior to a murky foot injury ending his season in Week 6. In his last two healthy games, Mixon combined for 14 targets -- an indication he would finally be used in the all-purpose role he seemed destined for coming out of Oklahoma. With the injury seemingly behind him, the Bengals are once again ready to saddle up Mixon as their workhorse, only now Giovanni Bernard isn't around to replace him on obvious passing downs. Cincinnati has the weapons to produce a top-5 passing offense as soon as this season, which puts Mixon's 90th percentile outcome close to overall RB1 territory.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Everyone is treating Joe Mixon like he's an unstoppable offensive juggernaut, despite being an absolute zero last year. Why are we to assume Mixon will be a No. 1 fantasy back if we're also assuming the offense will be pass-happy enough to support three fantasy-relevant wide receivers? The Bengals aren't going to have a top-5 offense, something's not adding up.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: There's speculation from the Athletic that Samaje Perine could have a bigger role in the Bengals' backfield than some expect. Couple this thought with a lackluster offensive line and Mixon missing roughly half of 2020 and the shine on Mixon as a shoo-in for fantasy RB1 production has worn off among many. There is also news that Mixon has worked out in preparation for a huge workload in 2021. I'm leaning in the direction of a heavy workload until the rest of the backs on the roster prove difficult to keep off the field and the speculation becomes something more.
Anthony Amico on Jul 22: Mixon will be featured for a team that should run a ton of plays. Pass-catching opportunities are now open in a pass-heavy attack.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: After missing most of the previous year, some players get the benefit of the doubt into the next season, others dont. Joe Mixon is a player that is getting the benefit of the doubt. His touchdown totals have never been high, he recorded 3.6 yards a carry in his limited action in 2020. He also has never been the most prolific receiver either. On the bright side he has little competition for playing time and does have some upside given his present draft slot.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: A foot injury held Joe Mixon to just six games last year and he has never had more than 9 touchdowns in a season, collecting 25 touchdowns in four seasons. Despite that, he is the top running back on a team with plenty of offensive firepower. He is expected to see upwards of 250-300 carries and 50 receptions is not far-fetched. If he can reach double-digit touchdowns with those numbers he'll be a top-5 fantasy back. The potential is there for Mixon to thrive in 2021.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Mixon's ceiling has been a question through four seasons, largely due to a lack of big plays and receiving usage. Mixon has also yet to hit 10+ touchdowns in a season. Giovani Bernard is gone to open receiving upside (59 departed targets), but Chris Evans (rookie) is already getting positive buzz as a receiving option.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: It boggles the mind fantasizing what Chubb might do in an offense without Kareem Hunt. Hunt's value as a receiver and goal-line back put a ceiling on Chubb's worth, but even with that restriction, he's an easy pick as a top-10 fantasy asset given his vision, power, and rushing workload.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Chubb was fantasy's RB5 during the second half of 2020 and RB3 during the first three weeks of the season. Despite missing three games, and sharing time with Kareem Hunt, Chubb still earned RB11 production behind an excellent offensive line that helped him earn 5.6 yards per carry. Only Aaron Jones approached that mark last year with a 5.5 YPC mark. While Hunt doubled Chubb's reception totals last year, it's clear that Cleveland can run the ball against anyone. If Chubb stays healthy for a full 16 games--allowing for the likelihood of a week off with a 17-week schedule now in place, he should earn top-five production. Once a player shows he has the skill, surrounding talent, and system to produce top-five volume, that's safe enough for me to make him one of my top-three backs even if others may have higher ceilings. Safe early picks have value.
Anthony Amico on Jul 22: Cedes some rushing work and most of the receiving work to Kareem Hunt. Fancy Josh Jacobs.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: Nick Chubb finished 2020 as the ninth-ranked fantasy back and that is roughly where he is being drafted so far this year. He missed four games. That should be factored in surely. On a points per game basis, he would have finished fourth among the elite backs. This is despite catching the ball 50% less than all his compatriots outside Derrick Henry. Henry is a good comparison for Chubb. Both are imposing backs who can dominate a game. They have a knack for reaching the endzone and have a high yards-per-rushing attempt. Chubb is ready to move up an echelon, and by the season's end, should be in Henry fantasy territory
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Nick Chubb has three straight top 15 seasons to begin his career with the last two being in the top 10. He is one of the best pure runners in the league and he's coming off a 12-touchdown performance in 2020. He is a good receiving back, but that's not his role with the Browns. Expect north of 250 carries, 1,300+ rushing yards and double-digit touchdowns.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: While in a firm committee with Kareem Hunt, Chubb is still a threat to lead the NFL in rushing yards and touchdowns. The Browns center on their running backs and Chubb enters a critical contract year to shape his future NFL opportunities in 2022 and beyond.
Phil Alexander on Jul 28: The target void created in Tennessee by the free-agent defections of Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith was probably enough to launch Brown into overall WR1 consideration. We'll never find out if that was the case since the Titans subsequently traded for Julio Jones, but it would be a mistake to drop Brown too far now that he's sharing the field with another alpha-receiver. We love Brown for his startling per-target efficiency, not because of volume. With defenses now having to account for Jones (in addition to Derrick Henry), the softer coverage may actually allow Brown to improve on last year's WR7 finish without seeing any additional targets.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: A.J. Brown had top-5 buzz earlier in the preseason, but the addition of Julio Jones casts a pall on Brown becoming an elite option. He has the talent, but the Titans don't throw enough to comfortably project a top-5 finish for Brown while also giving Julio Jones the top-20 workload he expects.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Brown has yet to play to his potential and he's among the 7-10 producers at his position in an offense that affords him a lot of big-play chances due to Derrick Henry. Although I can imagine there's concern about Corey Davis' and Jonnu Smith's departures. I think Josh Reynolds and Dez Fitzpatrick are net gains long-term and offset those losses presently. Reynolds is a more dynamic weapon at the catch-point than Davis showed during his post-collegiate career. Short-term, Julio Jones is a significant upgrade. As long as he doesn't miss weeks at a time, opposing defenses will be vulnerable to a big play in every series Brown, Jones, and Derrick Henry are on the field. These three receiver additions should help Brown move around the Titans' offense with greater flexibility and garner big-play mismatches against opposing defenses. This year or next, Brown has the ability to have a career-year that could rival the production of any receiver in the league.
Anthony Amico on Jul 22: This passing game has very little to rely on aside from Brown and Julio Jones. Titan defense should create more pass opportunities than previous seasons.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: A.J. Brown played injured last year, missed a couple of games and still ranked as a WR1 in 2020. In only his second season there is room for improvement 8n his third. The arrival of Julio Jones will worry some, but he is clearly in the declining phase of his career. He will actually take opposing defenses away from Brown, my concern is the departure of Arthur Smith. Can the offense continue as well under Todd Downing?
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: A.J. Brown is ascending into the elite wide receiver conversation with two-straight top 10 finishes to begin his NFL career. Now that Corey Davis has departed for New York, Brown's role with the Titans may elevate to another level in 2021.
Andrew Davenport on Jul 21: The addition of Julio Jones to the Titans is probably going to put a dent in Brown's ceiling for this year. Fantasy drafters contemplating Brown shouldn't panic just because Jones is in town, but ignoring the effect would be naive. Bumping Brown down a bit is the prudent play, but he still carries Top 5 upside heading into his third year in the league and will benefit from defenses having to pay attention to Jones lining up on the other side of the field.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Brown has been a strong fantasy option despite just 190 targets over his first two seasons. Brown's volume ceiling takes a hit with the addition of Julio Jones, but he is still a good bet for a top-20 finish.
Phil Alexander on Jul 28: The list of wide receivers with more weekly top-10 WR fantasy finishes than Metcalf last year: Davante Adams End of List Metcalf is already a bonafide matchup-winner and is still a (Pitbull) puppy growing into his paws at age 23. It's scary to think what the next step in his progression is going to look like.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Will new OC Shane Waldron finally be the one who gets Pete Carroll to take the foot off the brakes? If so, Metcalf could be the No. 1 overall receiver.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Metcalf may be the most misunderstood receiver of the past three years and his current ranking may be a reflection of this as an ongoing issue. Draftniks and fantasy GMs overreacted to his metrics and route workouts without assessing the value of team fit. Now, that he produced at a high level, fantasy GMs are expecting him to produce like Randy Moss, Julio Jones, or Calvin Johnson. These receivers were elite route runners that Metcalf will never become. The best all-around receiver on Seattle is Tyler Lockett, whose production in 2019 opened the field for Metcalf in 2020. The addition of D'Wayne Eskridge is to allow Seattle to move Lockett around for better matchups because Metcalf can't reciprocate for Lockett. Look for Lockett to rebound to fantasy WR1 value and Metcalf to decline slightly to WR2 value.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: DK Metcalf is an impressive individual that should be difficult to match up against. He has a size and speed combination that is frightening and we saw great moments in 2020 and ones that cast doubt on his commitment. Given that his draft price keeps rising, it is hoped maturity continues and he has further statistical improvement in 2021.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: DK Metcalf is coming off a top 5 finish in 2020. He is on the verge of being a perennially elite fantasy wide receiver.
Andrew Davenport on Jul 21: Metcalf certainly had two different seasons in 2020 and not coincidentally he fell off a bit when Russell Wilson did. But to be fair, after Week 9, Metcalf faced the Rams twice, the 49ers, the Football Team, and James Bradberry in New York. Nevertheless, anytime a receiver goes for 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns in their second season you have to consider that they haven't even reached their ceiling yet. Metcalf was PPR WR2 in points per game through Week 9, but fell to WR7 by the end of the year. Either way, having him at WR5 is right where he belongs.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: While Metcalf was in a near dead-even split with Tyler Lockett atop the Seattle depth chart, there was minimal presence of a WR3 or tight end in the offense. D'Wayne Eskridge and Gerald Everett are notable adds for those roles, but Metcalf can production as a WR1 even with 120+ targets. Outside of Russell Wilson being traded, Metcalf is a sturdy fantasy bet.
Andy Hicks on Jul 29: There is no doubt that Antonio Gibson was a pleasant surprise for the Washington football team last year. His inexperience at the position was barely noticeable and a bigger role is expected in 2021. I would however still be wary. Opposing teams have a way if shutting down second year players, especially if they have noticeable limitations. The current expectations allow no margin for error and give the house of cards this team is built on, the risks seem too high, Gibson does have a high upside in both dynasty and best ball, but the downside needs to be factored in as well.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: My skepticism of Gibson last year was totally misguided. Although he only touched the ball 79 times in his final college season, Washington's coaches made good on their promise to give him a featured role. He's still learning how to be a running back, which is a scary thought given his fantasy performance a season ago.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Gibson has elite upside on a team that has upgraded its quarterback and sports a tough defense that can keep games close enough to run the ball. Because he's a strong pass catcher, there's potential that he could earn usage modeled after Christian McCaffrey under Ron Rivera's post-Carolina coaching stint. Don't expect McCaffrey's production ceiling from Gibson because he showed last year that he doesn't remotely possess McCaffrey's understanding of developing blocks and setting up creases. However, Gibson is a more imposing runner with impressive agility who got by on raw talent more than any NFL back I have seen in many years. He's an exciting upside pick with a solid RB2 floor for fantasy.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: In 2020, Gibson had a 62% chance of scoring a touchdown in any game where he had 5+ carries. Only six running backs had a greater percentage than that (Derrick Henry, David Johnson, Aaron Jones, Nick Chubb, Dalvin Cook, and Alvin Kamara). Gibson has shown that he is a touchdown scorer with 11 rushing touchdowns in only 406 snaps. Expect him to easily top 200-250 carries, plus he should reach 40 receptions and earn a second consecutive year of double-digit touchdowns.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Washington did not splash the depth chart in the offseason and the duo of Gibson and J.D. McKissic returns as the 1-2 combo. The potential rising tide of Washington's offense with a passing game boost of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Dyami Brown, and Curtis Samuel would only aid Gibson's chances of crashing the top-10 in Year 2.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: NFL receivers don't have rookie seasons like Justin Jefferson did in 2020 and end up bad players. History says Jefferson is in line for a Hall of Fame-caliber, super-elite career. Bet on the upside because he played like a top-5 receiver in Year One, and no one peaks as a rookie.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Whose that fantasy analyst you love that told you Justin Jefferson was going to follow A.J. Brown as that rookie receiver who had a much better fit with his team than his peers where thinking would be the case? You're welcome. Jefferson and Adam Thielen should have another strong year together as two of the three top options that make the Vikings' passing game go.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: Justin Jefferson had one of the greatest rookie seasons ever at wide receiver, all this with only seven touchdowns. He was simply stunning, making Stefon Diggs barely missed and reducing Adam Thielen to the role of WR2. You always worry about sophomore slumps, but Jefferson looks the real deal.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Justin Jefferson is capable of being a top-5 fantasy wide receiver. He finished 7th last year in PPR ranking as a rookie with 1,400 yards scoring 7 touchdowns. There is a slight risk involved simply because he only has one year under his belt. I feel optimistic that he will pick up where he left off.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Jefferson surged to WR1 standing in short order as a rookie last season, leading the Vikings in targets on a Jefferson and Adam Thielen-centered passing game. Even with a WR7 finish last year, Jefferson has upside beyond that level as he saw only 125 targets.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Waller went from good to great last year. While 2020 may be a career peak, he still has as much upside as anyone not named Travis Kelce.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Waller may be the No.2 to Travis Kelce among receiving tight ends, but there's a large gap between the two when it comes to meaningful production and that means, you don't want to equate Waller too close with receivers who have elite production position at their position. Waller is much closer to his peak production potential in this Raiders offense than I think some hope. He's a fine TE1, but I'm concerned about overpaying.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Darren Waller had ten top-10 weekly finishes in 2020 with seven of them being in the top 5. He is the primary receiving target on the Raiders with no sign of a WR1 stepping up anytime soon. Waller is the WR1, as a tight end. He is the #2 fantasy tight end behind Travis Kelce and the gap isn't as big as you think.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Waller has turned from a late-bloomer positional convert to one of the strongest fantasy producers at the tight end position. Waller has logged TE6 and TE2 PPG finishes over the past two seasons. With questions still for the Raiders' wide receiver corps, Waller is the de facto WR1 for the team and a strong bet for the top-6 of the position yet again.
Phil Alexander on Jul 28: Swift is far and away the most talented player in Detroit's backfield. The early returns on head coach Dan Campbell and offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn realizing as much have not been promising.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Opinions are divided on Swift's ascendance, understandably. He has the talent to dominate as an every-down workhorse, but the Lions are undergoing another major overhaul and new OC Anthony Lynn seems committed to a true committee approach, splitting touches between Swift and Jamaal Williams.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: After studying Swift's best weeks in 2020, monitoring the Lions' offseason acquisitions, and listening to Coach Lynn's analysis of his backs, I think PPR RB2 value is the ceiling for Swift in 2021. His strengths and weaknesses as a back and the system he's in will make Swift much more like Austin Ekeler than Alvin Kamara, which means Jamaal Williams will be the leading rusher and Swift the leading receiver. However, Williams has superior skills as a red zone runner and with routes, which could could make Swift's floor a lot lower than most are discussing.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: Dâ€™Andre Swift had a patchy rookie season. At times he looked like the future back Detroit has been looking for this century. At others, he made mistakes and was underused. His lack of use as a runner has to be a concern. Detroit signed Jamaal Williams to take the heavy work and kicked the tires on Todd Gurley before declining his addition. Swift relied heavily on touchdown production for his fantasy numbers. With an almost entirely new coaching staff, quarterback and receivers it is difficult to trust that Swift will be worth his asking price.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: D'Andre Swift has the draft ADP to be a league-winner if all goes well with Detroit, their offense, and how they plan to use Swift and newly signed running back Jamaal Williams. The biggest question is, how valuable will he be even if his role is not that of an every-down back? The uncertainty of volume expectations move him down to the lower end of his tier of questionable starting running backs.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Expect the Lions offense to run through T.J. Hockenson and D'Andre Swift this season with a shaky wide receiver depth chart. Swift can challenge the NFL lead in running back targets.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Keenan Allen has answered the call in different systems playing for different OCs with different quarterbacks under center. With Justin Herbert playing like a star as a rookie, the upside for Allen is enticing. But a new head coach and offensive staff warrant pumping the brakes, a bit.
Andy Hicks on Jul 26: Keenan Allen got a new quarterback, but quickly demonstrated that he is still the main man. The Chargers havenâ€™t signed anyone of note or drafted to threaten. In fact losing Hunter Henry makes the reliance on Allen even more likely in 2021. Allen still finished as a WR1 last year despite missing two games and leaving very early in two others. He performed much closer to the level of a top 6 receiver than where he is being drafted. Approaching 30 and looking for a new contract he faces a crucial junction for his long term in the league. 2021 looks good though.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Keenan Allen is a safe WR1 in PPR but his reception totals are the difference here and that means his non-PPR value is aligned more with a WR2.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Keenan Allen has topped 100 receptions in three of the last four years. He tied his career-best with eight touchdowns last year. Perhaps another year of experience with signal-caller Justin Herbert will be enough to get him into double-digit scores? If he reaches that milestone he'll most certainly be a top 12 fantasy receiver.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Allen has five top-12 PPG seasons in his first eight years, including the past four in a row. With a seamless transition from Phillip Rivers to Justin Herbert, Allen is primed for yet another strong and voluminous season.
Andy Hicks on Jul 28: Allen Robinson is an elite receiver who has had his career frustrated by average quarterback play. It seems obvious he wants out of Chicago, but will play on the franchise tag in 2021. With Andy Dalton or rookie Justin Fields under center his upside isnâ€™t what it would be elsewhere, but he is the main man for the Bears. If Robinson escapes Chicago he could be an excellent dynasty steal as his upside is still potentially untapped An excellent best ball option, he will have his average games, but the monster games will pay well.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Allen Robinson has put up monster numbers with some less-than-impressive quarterbacks. He's the unquestioned top target in Chicago and will thrive as long as Andy Dalton or Justin Fields quickly adapt to Matt Nagy's system.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Andy Dalton did strong work with A.J. Green, and he should do similar with Robinson if he's in the lineup long enough to establish a strong rapport. If not, look for Justin Fields to have promising games with Robinson even if the consistency factor may be missing from their rapport this year.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Allen Robinson, even with an average quarterback, has finished inside the top 10 in PPR leagues in each of the last two years. My concern for 2021 is not knowing how Justin Fields' presence will affect the offense and the passing game. If you think Fields will improve the passing game, Robinson is a greater value. If you think Fields will weaken the passing game or offer no true increase, than Robinson's value either stays the same or lowers. I'm on the fence with this, hence the relatively average/low ranking for Robinson.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Whether Andy Dalton or Justin Fields, Robinson is likely to have his best quarterback pairing of his productive career in 2021. Robinson has back-to-back top-10 PPG seasons and is poised for another high-volume year.
Andy Hicks on Jul 29: This season will tell us all we need to know about Clyde Edwards-Helaire. An average fantasy rookie season with the promise of better was evident, but Kansas City have enough depth to cope with a lack of development. His upside is elite and Andy Reid knows how to develop a young back so hopes will be high. Can Edwards-Helaire deliver? We will soon see.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Edwards-Helaire was the post child for hype last preseason. Fantasy analysts fell all over themselves to one-up each other and push the rookie into the first round. We should have known better. He's a talented young player, but can the fourth or fifth-best cog in an offense justify this ADP?
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Edwards-Helaire was what I thought he was last year. He's a good receiver, a shifty runner, and a back with upside as a decision-maker but lacks real power and advanced decision-making in the red zone. Darwin Thompson actually shows more promise as a short-yardage option and tackle-breaker. Still, Edwards-Helaire is a solid fantasy RB2 in this high-powered offense and if he can earn the red-zone role with improved play, he could emerge as a fantasy RB1.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Clyde Edwards-Helaire has all of the tools and skills to be a successful fantasy back but failing to finish runs in the end zone has slowed his progress. Kansas City had 40 passing touchdowns and 10 rushing. They will be pass-dominant inside in the five-yard line and that doesn't help Edwards-Helaire's fantasy stock. Can he still be fantasy-relevant? Yes, but it doesn't feel like he'll be a top-10 type of running back, even in the Chiefs potent offense.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Deemed a poor rookie season compared to the lofty expectations after landing in Kansas City, Edwards-Helaire still had a successful first year by even Round 1 rookie running back standards. Years 2-3 is where the biggest strides are made for the position and Edwards-Helaire sits atop the depth chart of one of strongest offenses in the NFL. In Patrick Mahomes we trust.
Phil Alexander on Jul 28: McLaurin is one of only 30 wide receivers since the 1970 merger to total at least 2,000 receiving yards in his first two pro seasons. It's a milestone made more impressive by the fact McLaurin has played with Case Keenum, Dwayne Haskins, Colt McCoy, Kyle Allen, Alex Smith, and Taylor Heinicke at quarterback over the last two years. Whatever you think about Ryan Fitzpatrick, he's easily the best quarterback McLaurin has ever played with and has a long track record of boosting the fantasy numbers of those around him. A top-5 finish isn't out of the question for McLaurin in what figures to be a vastly improved Washington offense.
Andy Hicks on Jul 28: Terry McLaurin has been stuck with average quarterback play and seems like he will be an elite wide receiver as soon as he gets a quality player throwing him the ball. Some may see Ryan Fitzpatrick as the guy to turn McLaurin into a star, but Fitzpatrick is the fantasy definition of hot and cold. Curtis Samuel has arrived so maybe McLaurin will have competition too.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: McLaurin has every skill needed to be a top-5 fantasy receiver. He runs great routes, is aggressive at the point of attack, tracks the ball well, and can blow past defensive backs downfield. The only question is whether Ryan Fitzpatrick can elevate McLaurin's target volume and target share. Bet on yes, he can.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: McLaurin has been fantastic as a one-man perimeter passing game in Washington. Giving him Ryan Fitzpatrick is a potential gift for fantasy GMs who draft McLaurin. This should lead to a more pronounced vertical game that benefits McLaurin and leads to some over-the-top statistical performances that could lead to an elite year if he earns the support from surrounding talent that creates dilemmas for opposing defenses and easy coverage mismatches for McLaurin.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Terry McLaurin had career-highs in receptions (87) and receiving yards (1,118) in 2020 despite playing through two high ankle sprains. His touchdown totals dropped from 7 to 4, mainly due to Washington's struggles at quarterback last season. Ryan Fitzpatrick enters the equation which should give McLaurin a boost as he continues to expand his breakout each season.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: McLaurin has shown well through two seasons but yet to show a pronounced ceiling. Ryan Fitzpatrick is poised to open up the Washington passing game, but competition for targets is at a high-water mark for McLaurin with Curtis Samuel and Dyami Brown notable upgrades to the WR2/3 spots in the pecking order.
Andy Hicks on Jul 29: Najee Harris arrives in the perfect place at the perfect time. Pittsburgh needs a bell cow as their quarterback is on the way out and the tradition of a pounding running back is important to this franchise. Harris isnâ€™t without risk. It is difficult for a rookie to at his best in his first season and there are no guarantees he becomes an elite player this year, if at all. That said unless some negative reports emerge, he is worth an early pick in all formats.
Phil Alexander on Jul 28: There usually aren't more than three running backs we can safely project for at least 85% of their team's backfield touches in a given season. Harris stands out as one this year. The Steelers willingness to invest a first-round pick in Harris combined with Mike Tomlin's track record of relying on a single all-purpose back, tells us everything we need to know about the workload coming Harris' way. Concerns about Pittsburgh's run-blocking are warranted but overblown for fantasy purposes. Not only is Harris a dark horse candidate to lead the league in total touches, he'll add far more value to those opportunities than James Conner and Benny Snell did a year ago.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Some believe the Steelers now have one of the worst offensive lines in football -- a stunning reversal after decades of excellence. If that view is right, Harris is overdrafted regardless of his workload. I'm less convinced the Steelers line will struggle, and therefore am happy to draft Harris as a high-upside RB2.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Harris will earn enough volume as a runner and receiver to deliver strong fantasy production as a rookie. He ran behind a similar blocking scheme at Alabama and he's frankly the only back with legitimate starter ability on the team. Benny Snell has starter effort and conceptual understanding of the position but he's not a top athlete. Anthony McFarland has the juice but must become a more efficient mover and part of that comes down to understanding blocking schemes with greater nuance. Harris may not have great efficiency statistics but the volume will serve him well enough this year.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Najee Harris is going to be the featured top back for Pittsburgh from day one. He displays an excellent blend of rushing and receiving skills that have long been utilized by Mike Tomlin and orchestrated by Ben Roethlisberger. Harris has top-20 and perhaps even top-10 potential due to his dual-threat talent, but also the expected volume that he will receive this season. He's a great RB2 target who could give us much more than that. Other backs in this class may be more elusive or faster, but Harris and his opportunity make him the most likely to consistently provide adequate fantasy production.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Harris was the first running back off the NFL Draft board, as expected, this offseason. With a three-down and workhorse profile, Harris projects as a higher-volume rookie running back from the outset. Benny Snell and company offer minimal competition on the depth chart. Harris has both 10+ touchdown and 50+ reception upside.
Andy Hicks on Jul 28: George Kittle missed significant chunks of the 2020 season and isnâ€™t a prolific touchdown scorer. The good news is that receptions and yardage numbers from Kittle are elite and why he will be heavily targeted in fantasy leagues everywhere.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Is Kittle starting to break down, or was last year just a blip? The good news is he was effectively the same dominant player while healthy in 2020, so bet on another year or two of excellence.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: I love Kittle as a player and there's a good chance that he and Trey Lance mesh so well early that I'm too low on him in terms of overall draft rankings. Lance played in an offense where the tight end and running back are the first two reads more than many offenses you'd see. Still, I think we'll see more running and downfield throwing from Lance as a rookie than we may see in 2022. It doesn't make Kittle a bad TE1 but I'm not sure the value is as safe with Kittle compared to other options when looking at the overall draft board.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: George Kittle played only eight games last year due to foot and knee injuries. Even in a lost year, he still managed 6 catches per game for nearly 80 yards, which equates to the #2 tight end in yardage per game. Kittle has proven to be a consistent producer regardless of who is under center. He should be among the top three tight ends selected in all formats.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Kittle has been top-5 in PPG each of the past three seasons, but the competition for touches is higher than in previous years with Brandon Aiyuk bursting onto the scene as a rookie a year ago and Trey Lance offering more rushing acumen for Kyle Shanahan's offense than previous quarterback iterations.
Phil Alexander on Jul 28: Cooper is expected to miss the start of training camp while resting an ankle injury that dates back to last season. The fact he irritated the injury as soon as he began running at OTAs makes it easy to envision the problem popping up again during the season. 'Don't draft players you already know are hurt' is a fantasy football axiom for a reason.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: If you prefer CeeDee Lamb, that's fine. But Cooper was on pace for 1,600 yards with Prescott and maintained a 1,000-yard pace without him. Cooper has no chance of finishing outside the Top 20 if he stays healthy.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Cooper has fantasy WR1 upside, but I expect this offense to revolve as much around CeeDee Lamb in the passing game as Cooper and that means both options have WR2 value. I may elevate both as the preseason progresses, but that depends on more factors than I have space to explain here. Stay tuned. Both are safe picks.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: In six seasons, Amari Cooper has never finished lower than 30th and he has five 1,000-yard seasons under his belt. He has had at least 96 targets in every season, catches a touchdown every 18.7 targets, never having less than 5 touchdowns in a season. He also has missed just one game in the last three years. With Dak Prescott under center the Dallas passing game should thrive. In the four games before Prescott went down with a season-ending ankle injury, Cooper was the #2 ranked wide receiver in PPR scoring.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Cooper was the WR1 in all of fantasy in the opening weeks of 2020 with a healthy Dak Prescott. Look for a strong rebound from the Prescott-less version to close 2020 for all of Dallas' weapons, including Cooper.
Andy Hicks on Jul 28: With the other options in Tampa Bay, the upside for Mike Evans is limited. On the other hand he has proven to be a reliable fantasy receiver and is one the best red zone receivers in the NFL. He may not be a pick that excites you, but you can set and forget. In dynasty leagues he still has considerable life, while he is a solid best ball options.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: The Buccaneers were inconsistent in the early weeks last year, but finished on a high note, winning the Super Bowl and looking like the most balanced team (offense and defense) in the NFL. With the entire cast back for another championship run, Evans' spot as the No. 1 target in a top-10 offense is secure.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Evans is one of the top two options for a quarterback who can support 4-5 fantasy starters in this passing game. The context behind Evans' 2020 decline in yardage is lost on most people. They see 7 games with less than 50 yards -- and 3 with 10 yards or less -- and presume a crowded depth chart of talent. Although many remember the knee injury he suffered late in the year, Evans played through a hamstring injury that occurred prior to the season-opener. Even so, he delivered top-12 production in PPR formats. Evans was also the third-ranked receiver in the NFL with nine touchdowns inside the 10 yard-line last year. The too many mouths to feed analysis I see about offenses like this is really too many brain cells concentrating on the wrong thing. A healthy Evans is a yardage and touchdown machine.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: With seven consecutive 1,000-yard seasons you know what you're going to get with Mike Evans. He's the top receiver on Tom Brady's Buccaneers team and he's worth a low-end WR1 spot on your roster.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Death, taxes, and top-24 seasons from Mike Evans. Seven seasons and seven top-24 PPG finishes for the former top-10 NFL Draft pick. While the ceiling may be tempered with Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, and Rob Gronkowski notably returning from their 2020 Super Bowl run, but the floor is sturdy and multi-touchdown and 100-yard weekly upside is still firmly on Evans' radius this season.
Phil Alexander on Jul 28: Lamb was on pace for a historically productive rookie season before Dak Prescott was lost for the year with an ankle injury. In Prescott's five 2020 appearances, Lamb racked up 422 yards, two touchdowns, and blew the other Cowboys receivers out of the water in RACR, a metric created by Josh Hermsmeyer that measures how many receiving yards a player creates for every air yard thrown his way. Even before reports Amari Cooper might miss the start of training camp with a lingering ankle injury, Lamb was poised for a second-year leap into WR1 territory.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Lamb was my favorite rookie receiver in 2020, and while he didn't have the best season, he still played well enough to project greatness ahead. With Dak Prescott healthy, Lamb could easily be a top-20 receiver alongside teammate Amari Cooper.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: I love Lamb's game and he was poised for WR1 production before Dak Prescott suffered his season-ending injury. He's a dynamic option after the catch, fast enough to win deep, and tough enough to win over the middle. The middle of the field is where he thrived with Prescott and Andy Dalton. Expect Lamb to be among the top-two options on the Cowboys in targets, receptions, yardage, and touchdowns. He will be close to the century-mark in receptions in 2021.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: The last six rookie wide receivers who have topped 70 receptions, 900 yards, and 5 touchdowns include CeeDee Lamb, Justin Jefferson, Michael Thomas, Amari Cooper, Odell Beckham, and Keenan Allen. I'd say Lamb is in good company.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Lamb was a top-24 fantasy option with Dak Prescott healthy in 2020 even with Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup also producing well on Dallas' high-flying offense. Lamb had a slight edge over Gallup in targets last season but expect more separation in 2021.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: The Ravens are never going to make Dobbins a 300-touch machine, but he doesn't need to be in today's NFL. Dobbins can be the 1a to Gus Edwards' 1b and still put up RB1 numbers, as long as he makes the most of high-leverage situations.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Dobbins and Jonathan Taylor were the two best backs from the 2020 draft class and they showed it on the field. Taylor demonstrated it with production down the stretch. Dobbins didn't earn the high touch count with Mark Ingram leading the way, but he'll be the main back in 2021. The Ravens have a strong ground game thanks in part to a decent line and Lamar Jackson keeping defenders honest, if not forcing them to overreact and open gaps that might not have been available. Dobbins has elite upside and could present relative value in leagues where he's taken as a high-end RB2.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: Sometimes it is staggering that second-year improvement isnâ€™t factored into highly drafted rookie running backs and wide receivers. Especially off the covid year. In the case of J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore realized he was the future after Mark Ingram II II wasnâ€™t used in the second half of the year. Dobbins excelled with 6.0 yards per rushing attempt and seven touchdowns down the stretch. His biggest detraction is that he may not see much action in the passing game. Who will here? Dobbins isnâ€™t going to be Christian McCaffery, but he will improve. With the additions to the receiving group and the presence of Lamar Jackson, Dobbins should dominate. A third-round draft price is a steal.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Only Alvin Kamara and Jonathan Taylor had more rushing touchdowns than J.K. Dobbins in the last four weeks of the 2020 season. Dobbins started to make his move up the rankings after Week 10. He was ranked 15th after Week 10, 14th after Week 12, and 9th after Week 14. Dobbins is on the cusp of being a 200-carry running back for the Ravens with double-digit touchdown potential.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: There are two roadblocks to Dobbins being an elite fantasy option. First, Gus Edwards is a significant backfield mate in snap and carry-share. Second, the Ravens have been stingy with targets to running backs with Lamar Jackson under center with only 51 and 52 targets to the entire position over the past two seasons. Even if Dobbins gets most of the receiving work - a major question as Mark Ingram's departure frees only eight targets - Dobbins will need a massive touchdown total to offset his likely 30-40 targets.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Seattle re-signing Carson was a bit of a surprise, but it cements his fantasy value for 2020, at least. Even if OC Waldron finally "lets Russ cook", there will always be plenty of carries for Carson under Pete Carroll's watch.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Rashaad Penny has flashed a little when healthy but didn't earn his fifth-year option. This could be a signal that Penny won't have a significant role in the Seahawks' offense this year. It could also just mean that Seattle is playing out the string and has every intention of using him as a secondary option with potential for significant touches if he can stay healthy. This range of outcomes plus the Seahawks opting to be more pass-heavy have me lower on Carson's fantasy value as we head into the summer. He's a top-12 talent if Seattle remains more balanced with run-pass than I initially believe.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Chris Carson has scored nine touchdowns in each of the last three years and Seattle decided in the offseason to extend his contract. He'll be the primary ball carrier for the Seahawks this season and he has shown in the past that he can handle a season with 250+ carries. He's on the path for another top-20 season especially if injuries don't derail his chances.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: In a best-case scenario for Carson, he returns to Seattle with a new contract this offseason. Carson was a top-20 option yet again on a per-game basis in 2020, his third season year with at least nine total touchdowns. Attached to a quality quarterback, Carson is a quality floor and reasonable ceiling combination at the position. A healthy Rashaad Penny is the biggest variable to Carson seeing a strong workload with healthy.
Andy Hicks on Jul 28: It must be remembered that Chris Godwin missed four regular season games in 2020 and played injured in others. After a dynamic season in 2019 he may have a higher upside than Mike Evans if he is fully fit. He is playing on the franchise tag but unusually everyone involved seems fine about that. Godwin is the guy to target in dynasty leagues. He has elite upside and would be a player to target in best ball as well.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Godwin didn't turn into Tampa Bay's version of Julian Edelman last year, but that doesn't mean he won't push for Top 20 numbers.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: I have Godwin higher than most of my peers as far as a positional ranking but in the middle of the pack in the overall ranking. It means, I'm confident in Godwin's ability and outlook, but there are better options to consider earlier when creating a draft plan. That depends on your plan, of course. What I know is that there aren't too many mouths to feed in Tampa Bay and I believe Tom Brady is poised for a career year--well, at least for his Tampa Bay career, which should result in lofty numbers that defy his age.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Of the two primary Buccaneers wide receivers, I'd rather have Mike Evans than Chris Godwin. Evans is more of a touchdown scorer, plus we know how consistent he has been in his seven-year career. Godwin should have a high floor though with solid weekly contributions.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Godwin was behind Mike Evans and Antonio Brown in targets when all three were healthy in 2020, but still on a pace for more than 100 during the span. O.J. Howard returns from injury and the entire passing game is intact. A high ceiling is a significant question mark for Godwin, but weekly upside and a reasonable seasonal floor are in store for Godwin.
Phil Alexander on Jul 28: The epic stretch-run that led Montgomery to an RB4 finish in 2020 came with Tarik Cohen sidelined and against the defenses of Green Bay, Detroit, Houston, Minnesota, and Jacksonville, respectively. The only defense in that group to finish above the bottom quartile in Football Outsiders' rush defense DVOA metric was Green Bay, who allowed the seventh-most fantasy points per game to enemy running backs last season. Montgomery hasn't turned a corner in his career arc. He feasted on unsustainable opportunity and a soft schedule.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: David Montgomery is the most undervalued player at the position. He's being drafted as though his poor start last year will be his baseline. Yet, he was the second-best runner in the NFL after his one-game inactive, behind only Derrick Henry. Montgomery has top-5 upside (he was RB4 last year) and a floor roughly equivalent to his current ADP.
Andy Hicks on Jul 23: Far too often people are impatient when a rookie running back does not tear up the league immediately, David Montgomery looked average for the first 20 games of his career, before improving to the point where he was one of the best backs in the league through the fantasy playoffs last year. The return of Tarik Cohen and addition of Damien Williams will be seen as eating into his stats, but the coaching staff realise that Montgomery probably saved their jobs for this season. With a rookie quarterback likely to see the field expect the Bears to lean heavily on Montgomery.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Montgomery was a strong finisher in 2020 behind an offensive line that needed additional help. The Bears addressed the line with two early picks and Justin Fields' ability to run will create dilemmas for box defenders that didnâ€™t occur in the past. Opponents cannot cheat against the running back position on run downs due to Fields and Montgomery is good enough to make them pay. He's a creative runner with excellent contact balance and dynamic movement. If he can become a little more efficient with his feet, he could become an elite back. He's a notch below the top runners but that's higher than some rate him. Those folks value speed more than quickness and they wrote off Montgomery's acceleration as a rookie without understanding that rookies often appear slower during their first year acclimation period than they actually will be as their careers unfold.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: David Montgomery dominated running back snap count for Chicago last year. Utility player Cordarrelle Patterson was second on the snap list with 204 snaps compared to Montgomery's 759. Montgomery took a step forward in 2020 with 10 total touchdowns but this season likely begins with a new quarterback under center in Justin Fields. The uncertainty of how the offense will be run gives me some pause on Montgomery this season, but the volume alone may be enough for him to reach the top 20 at season's end.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Montgomery logged his best season to-date in 2020 and was the No.1 overall running back over the final month of the season. A three-down back by skillset, Montgomery will have some question of his high-volume workload this season with Tarik Cohen returning from a most-of-2020 injury and Damien Williams an underrated signing.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Woods is at an age where a precipitous drop-off wouldn't be shocking, but the swap of Jared Goff for Matthew Stafford gives hope for another strong season or two.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: When the play-action game was working well in L.A., Jared Goff had a healthy yards-per-attempt average and Robert Woods earn more production as a vertical threat. Woods' yards-per-catch average dropped two yards per attempt during the past two seasons that Goff and the Rams' offense struggled. Expect the combination of Cam Akers-Darrell Henderson-Matthew Stafford to generate a healthy play-action game that benefits Woods' per-catch production. I'm expecting one of Woods' better years to happen in 2021 and/or 2022.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Woods has four straight top-20 PPG finishes and gets Matthew Stafford under center for the optimized Rams passing game in 2021. Woods is a strong bet to finish in the top-20, and possibly the top-10, this season as the WR1/2 for the Rams.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: What's not to like about Tyler Lockett other than a Seahawks offense that seems hamstrung by an overly conservative head coach? Lockett never has the target share to project as a top-5 receiver, but he does everything right with the targets he gets.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: It should be inevitable to expect opposing defenses to pay more attention to DK Metcalf after his explosive 2020 campaign. This should tip the scales more in Lockett's favor, especially if D'Wayne Eskridge continues his minicamp play into the season and allows Seattle to mix and match Eskridge and Lockett inside and outside to create mismatches. Just Lockett's 2019 play opened up things for Metcalf in 2020, I'm thinking we'll see another shift. Both receivers are strong options with no worse than WR2 floors when healthy. I just like Lockett a little more this year.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: The Seahawks #2 wide receiver has 28 touchdowns in his last three years. Let that sink in. Russell Wilson has topped 30 touchdown passes in the last four years and five of the last six. DK Metcalf may be the #1 wide receiver in Seattle, but Lockett is still putting up WR1 numbers. It's possible and plausible that Seattle could have two top-15 wide receivers and Lockett continues to be of tremendous value. Value can often be found with the #2 wide receiver on a potent team where the #1 wide receiver is elite. Lockett is a perfect example of that.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Lockett set the Seattle franchise record for receptions in 2020 and returns with his strong pairing with Russell Wilson and locked in as a go-to target alongside D.K. Metcalf. While a big-play threat, Lockett turned possession target in 2020 with tremendous results. Lockett has hit a new PPG career high ranking three years in a row and is firmly in his prime.
Phil Alexander on Jul 28: Apparently, fifth-round draft pick Kenneth Gainwell (all-time great running back surname) and a pair of washed-up retreads (sorry Kerryon Johnson and Jordan Howard) have soured fantasy gamers on Miles Sanders? Sanders remains one of the best young all-purpose running backs in the league. This year, he should benefit from a healthy offensive line, a full year of Jalen Hurts freezing enemy linebackers at the line of scrimmage, and an emphasis on screen passes under new head coach, Nick Sirianni. He just needs to avoid nagging injuries for a third-year breakout.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Durability concerns, a new coaching staff, uncertainty at quarterbacks, and a massive infusion of talent at wide receiver over the last two seasons all paint a tenuous picture for Sanders. He's a good player, but his ceiling is lower than others in the tier.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Sanders has made steady progress since his rookie year and could be poised for bigger things if everything comes together with Philadelphia's offense. That's a big IF at this standpoint because Jalen Hurts is an unproven passer. Still, Sanders offers a fantasy RB3 floor and RB2 ceiling even if Hurts flops. The Eagles' backfield is essentially depth in support of Sanders as the marquee option. This includes the undersized, underweight, and less explosive than advertised Kenneth Gainwell.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: We have not seen the best from Miles Sanders and while he has not lived up to expectations he is still the Eagles top dual-threat running back in terms of rushing and receiving skills. Sanders had 10 games of 75 total yards last season. If he can improve on his ability to score touchdowns, his fantasy appeal will increase. He's on the verge.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Two seasons in and Sanders has yet to be viewed as an offense-tilting workhorse running back for the Eagles offense. Add Kenny Gainwell as a dynamic receiving-centric option to the depth chart and Sanders' upside is once again a question mark, alongside Jalen Hurts to siphon production on the ground as well.
Phil Alexander on Jul 28: Even if you don't expect much from Sam Darnold this year, the bar for keeping Carolina's wide receivers afloat (Teddy Bridgewater) is low enough. Moore followed up his 2019 breakout campaign (135-87-1,175-4) with an impressive 118-66-1,193-4 receiving line in 2020, yet most considered it a disappointment. The decrease in targets and receptions was owed to Carolina's new coaching staff deploying Moore primarily as a deep threat. It would be less than ideal if they continue to shoehorn Moore into the role that ought to be Robby Anderson's and vice versa, but Moore only needs touchdown variance to swing his way to crack the top-15 wide receivers. Per Pro Football Focus, Moore was tied for the NFL lead with six uncatchable balls thrown to him in the end zone in 2020.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: D.J. Moore is everything a team could ask for in a No. 1 receiver, except he has trouble scoring touchdowns. It's possible his low-scoring volume is just bad luck and a statistical quirk, but it's hard to bank on a turnaround until we see it.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Moore has top-15 fantasy potential at his position. He also has a quarterback who has yet to prove he's a worthwhile NFL starter after three years in the league. I expect to elevate Moore's position as the summer unfolds, but I need to learn more about Sam Darnold's summer before making the determination of how much. Until then, I'm recommending a cautious approach with the Panthers receivers.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: D.J. Moore quietly had eight games of 90+ yards receiving in 2020. Only Calvin Ridley and Stefon Diggs had more in 2020. Moore is a capable and consistent receiving threat for Carolina, but his lack of scoring has kept him from becoming an elite fantasy wide receiver. In three years in the league he has only 10 touchdowns and has never exceeded four in a season. On the bright side, he has improved his fantasy ranking each year and in offensive coordinator, Joe Brady's first year as running the offense, Moore had 18.1 yards per catch on 66 receptions. His after-the-catch skills are among the best in the league and make him a threat to score anytime he touches the ball. In order for Moore to reach the next level of fantasy recognition he will need to become a more consistent scorer. If we can improve in that area he'll be a low-end WR1.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Is Sam Darnold a quarterback upgrade this season? Targets will also be a question mark for Moore with Terrace Marshall added in Round 2 and Christian McCaffrey returning from missing nearly all of 2020 with an injury.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Jon Gruden has done it again. He took a young, every-down runner and overworked him to the point of declining value. Jacobs should be in the middle of 5-6 seasons of top-10 productivity, but instead, he's breaking down and the Raiders brought in Kenyan Drake to challenge for the role.
Andy Hicks on Jul 23: The addition of Kenyan Drake is seen as a massive fantasy crusher to both Drake and incumbent Josh Jacobs. Jacobs however has a fairly defined role. Run the ball a lot and get the touchdowns. Think of Him as having the Nick Chubb role, while Drake has the Kareem Hunt role. If used correctly there are significant fantasy roles for both and given an improved passing game, Jacobs will perhaps do even more with the touches he will get.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: The concerns about Kenyan Drake eating into Jacobs' value are valid if you are worried about an even split, but Drake will be used more as a utility player. Think of him as an option that earns no more than 130 carries while Jacobs still earns at least 250. Although Drake could push for more targets than Jacobs in the passing game, look for him to usurp more of the opportunities from Jalen Richard, Theo Riddick, and the looks that Devontae Booker earned last year. Jacobs no longer has a high fantasy RB1 ceiling with Drake in the picture but he still has a strong RB2 or low-end RB1 floor.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Josh Jacobs is still the #1 running back in Las Vegas despite the money spent to bring in Kenyan Drake. Think of Drake as a high-cost insurance policy and situational role player. Jacobs still had eight top-15 weekly ranks last season. The presence of Drake is an opportunity to select Jacobs at a discount. Take advantage of it.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Kenyan Drake's offseason addition has sent Jacobs' market appeal into a spiral. However, the Raiders were fifth in the NFL in running back attempts in 2020 and Jacobs was third in carries himself. If Drake consolidates the non-Jacobs touches in the offense for a sturdy workload on the running back-centric attack, Jacobs still has top-12 production within his sights.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Cupp may be the one Rams player who loses out in the swap from Jared Goff to Matthew Stafford. Kupp makes his money close to the line of scrimmage, and that role is no longer a given with a confident, veteran, strong-armed quarterback under center.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Matthew Stafford is going to love working with Kupp because he's such a reliable route runner and sure-handed option who can win tough targets. This last factor is something we're likely to see more of with Stafford in the fold, who is better than Jared Goff at prolonging plays and fitting the ball into tight, but manageable windows. Look for Kupp to have a strong season, returning to the WR1 tier in PPR formats.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: We know what Kupp is capable of. Will he be more involved with Matthew Stafford under center or will his production tail off? My gut says he'll see a slight uptick.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Kupp has collected 125+ targes each of the past two seasons and, with Matthew Stafford added, is poised to log another strong volume season in 2020. Kupp is also a touchdown regression candidate with just three scores a year ago.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Jones wanted out in Atlanta and got his wish. He'll now play second fiddle to A.J. Brown in Tennessee, which assuredly means his days of 10+ targets per game are in the rearview mirror.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: If there's a player to be concerned that the wheels are falling out, it's Jones. His regularly missed series has grown steadily over the years to quarters and now weeks as of last year. Even so, Jones still has 1,300-yard potential as an oft-dinged player if the weeks-missed return to quarters-missed. That may be wishful thinking. Expect at least solid WR2 production from Jones in Tennessee as the 1-B to AJ Brown's 1-A. I'm expecting 1,100 yards and 4-6 scores from Jones.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: We may be starting to see a decline in Julio Jones, however, I think he's happy to be in Tennessee playing with A.J. Brown, and surely the Titans are stoked to have him. He won't have to be the top receiver in Tennessee and can settle into a role that fits him. I am not sure if we'll see a full season from Jones but when he plays he'll be big part of the offense. I envision him as a high-end WR2 with injury concerns. Ride him as long as he is producing.
Andrew Davenport on Jul 21: Jones still has the skills to be a very good NFL receiver. But with the trade to Tennessee he becomes more of a risky proposition. His former team in Atlanta loved to throw the football, but Jones now comes to a team that has a workhorse running back and a legitimate #1 receiver who should lead the team in targets. Jones can still produce, but should be considered as more of a low-end WR2.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: The cracks in the foundation for Jones cropped up in 2020 but he still finished in the top-20 of PPG, now 11 seasons in a row with a top-20 finish. Jones is still a WR2 with WR1 weekly upside in Tennessee with the biggest fantasy shift post-trade being the boost for Calvin Ridley.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: The touchdown rate will normalize, leaving Thielen as an aging receiver on a run-heavy team, having to cede his No. 1 role to a young superstar in Justin Jefferson.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Look for Thielen to deliver greater consistency this year from wire-to-wire and result in steady WR2 production in 12-team formats. Unless Irv Smith explodes onto the scene, and I doubt it happens if it hasn't by now, then Thielen will remain the 1A-B option with Jefferson in this offense that has room for two strong passing game producers despite a run-heavy scheme.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: Sometimes, in fantasy football, it is hard to see a player slide when they have overachieved their entire career. Adam Thielen is a player that is primed for a fall. He will be 31 this year. Justin Jefferson has emerged quickly as the clear No. 1 receiver, and Thielenâ€™s role changed dramatically during last season. From being a player who caught a touchdown every 15 catches during the first six years of his career to one who caught one every five catches last year, Thielen was more a red zone threat than a consistent receiver. Those numbers are hard to maintain. Thielen has to be a risk in all but best-ball leagues with a drop in target share and being reliant on touchdowns.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: He's coming off a career-high 14 touchdowns last year but his targets per game dropped off from 9.6 to 7.2 over the last two years. The presence of Justin Jefferson plus the expected regression of his touchdown totals put him at a drop-off in production, not the other way around.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Thielen was surpassed in sizzle by teammate Justin Jefferson in 2020, but Thielen still has three top-12 PPG finishes over the past four seasons. Not much has changed for the Vikings passing game with question marks at WR3/4 and Kyle Rudolph departed and Irv Smith Jr. hopefully picking up the slack at tight end. Thielen is a strong bet for a top-24 finish at a minimum and another season of 100+ targets.
Phil Alexander on Jul 29: Higgins is one of just nine wide receivers to top 900 yards as a 21-year-old rookie. Ja'Marr Chase will command targets, but that doesn't mean Higgins won't get his. In Joe Burrowâ€™s ten starts in 2020, Cincinnati averaged 40.4 pass attempts per game. Only Pittsburgh (42.6) finished as a pass-heavier team last season. With A.J. Greenâ€™s 104 targets and team-leading 1,310 air yards now up for grabs and the Bengals defense once again shaping up as one of the leagueâ€™s worst, Higgins and Chase are capable of coexisting as top-12 fantasy receivers in the same offense.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Higgins was on an 80-catch, 1,206-yard, 8-touchdown pace with Joe Burrow, but the addition of JaMarr Chase calls into question whether Higgins' stint as the No. 1 target is already over.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: There are not too many mouths to feed in Cincinnati, provided that the Bengals' offensive line can give Joe Burrow time to pick apart opposing defenses, and Burrow effectively stretches the field when the opportunity is there. I'm more inclined to believe Burrow will improve his arm strength--to a small, but helpful degree--more than I am confident in the development of the Cincinnati offensive line. It means that we'll likely see one of two developments in 2021: 1) Inconsistent weekly production for Higgins and JaMarr Chase where one earn production at the cost of the other, or 2) One of the receivers becomes the favorite while the other doesn't earn enough targets to factor. The safest receiver will be Tyler Boyd. I believe Chase will be the one with the most attainable ceiling. Higgins remains a good player but if he's going to be used on the most long-developing plays of the three, he's likely the least consistent. Stay tuned.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Higgins is on the success track after his rookie season, but Ja'Marr Chase's addition is a significant factor to Higgins' potential upside in 2021. Add in the variable of Joe Burrow taking a step forward in Year 2 and Higgins has challenges to improving his stat line.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Do Johnson's drops matter? If you think they're not predictive of snap share and role, then Johnson is probably worth ranking higher. But with Smith-Schuster re-signing and Claypool showing a normal amount of growth in Year Two, Johnson's role lacks the clarity to justify a higher draft pick.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: The Steelers have the receiving corps to support a 5,000-yard season from Ben Roethlisberger, but does Roethlisberger still have the goods or the offensive line to do it? The most optimistic answer: It's complicated. Johnson earned a ton of underneath targets in an offense that used its wide receivers as glorified running backs with great frequency. If this remains the case in 2021, Johnson will need 100 receptions to have a top-12 fantasy campaign in PPR formats and fantasy GMs will need to regard him as a lesser version of Keenan Allen in terms of usage. If the Steelers benefit from an improved offensive line and ground game, we could see Johnson earn more deep targets and get his average per catch from 10.5 yards to 11.5-12.5. At that point, another campaign of 85-95 catches could merit top-15 production if Johnson's touchdown totals remain at 7 or more. Even so, expect Chase Claypool to serve as the primary deep option.
Andrew Davenport on Jul 21: Johnson was a target hog when he was on the field in 2020, easily leading the Steelers in targets despite leaving a couple games with injury issues. Ben Roethlisberger may not be what he once was, but he's good enough to keep the offense moving and make Johnson a good bet for 130+ targets again in 2021.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Diontae Johnson led Pittsburgh in targets last season with a hearty 144. JuJu Smith-Schuster returns but each of Smith-Schuster, Johnson and Chase Claypool saw 100 or more targets in 2020 as the Steelers wide receivers were No.2 in PPG as a unit.
Phil Alexander on Jul 28: Hunt finished last season as the RB10 in PPR scoring but his cumulative stats were buoyed by a four game stint as Cleveland's starter when Nick Chubb was out with an MCL sprain. While Hunt has moderate standalone value playing alongside Chubb, he'll need to either break a long run, vulture a touchdown at the goal-line, or catch a score to help you win a weekly matchup -- all things that are difficult to bank on. Barring an injury to Chubb, Hunt will drive you crazy trying to figure out when to start him as anything other than a flex option.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Kareem Hunt is the best of both worlds. If Nick Chubb stays healthy, Hunt is a top-20 fantasy back in all formats and justifies his ADP. If Chubb gets hurt, Hunt is an every-week Top 10 player.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Hunt may have earned more production during the four games that Nick Chubb missed in 2020 and that led to an RB1 value, but he earns enough touches behind this gifted offensive line and run-heavy scheme to be considered a safe fantasy RB2 with RB1 upside if called upon as the lead option. This is the type of situation where I wouldn't hesitate to select Chubb and Hunt during the opening 3-4 rounds and start both.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Kareem Hunt is a touchdown scorer with a track record that includes 39 scores in 51 games. There is a 76% chance he scores at least once in any game he plays in. He may be the second fiddle behind Nick Chubb, but this dog can hunt finishing with a ranking no lower than 10th in seasons where he plays 9 games or more.
Andrew Davenport on Jul 21: There is a tendency to dismiss Hunt after he didn't blow up when Nick Chubb missed time. But he did what he always does - found the end zone, caught a few passes, and for the most part had a reasonable floor. The Browns offense showed marked improvement by the end of the year and Hunt will remain involved regardless of Chubb's role. Hunt has one of the more predictable ranges of touch count for a running back in a committee and should be considered a safe selection.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Despite being the second part of the Cleveland running back committee, Hunt was still a top-25 producer in PPG last season. Hunt was the clear preferred receiving option with nearly triple the targets of Nick Chubb. Hunt is a touchdown regression candidate through the air (five touchdowns on 38 receptions) but is still one of the highest upside options if his running mate were to miss time and flex, or better, option otherwise.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: A generational talent? Chase has everything a scout would want from a receiver and landed in a pass-happy system playing with his college quarterback. The chemistry is a given as is Chase's talent.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Chase can play all three wide receiver positions at a starter level. Reuniting him with Joe Burrow is also a massive plus. Look for Chase to earn excellent matchups as the Bengals move him around the offense. He's capable of 1,000 yards and 7-10 touchdowns as a rookie.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: How good will Ja'Marr Chase be in 2021? Him having Joe Burrow under center should make his transition to the pro game an easier process. He won't need to establish a working relationship with his quarterback, he'll already have that from his time with Burrow at LSU. Chase should have a floor of 60 catches, 750 yards, and 6 touchdowns, but he could be much more than that.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Chase enters the NFL with an elite prospect profile and elite draft pedigree as well. Chase faces strong competition for targets with Tee Higgins coming of a quality rookie season and Tyler Boyd a fixture for multiple seasons in Cincinnati.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: If someone other than Travis Kelce finishes as TE1, bet on it being Hockenson. He's still ascending and comes into the season as the only proven receiving option on the roster. Upside is 120 receptions and 10+ touchdowns.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: See my commentary for Andrews--it also applies to Hockenson.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: With questions abound for the Lions new-look wide receiver corps, T.J. Hockenson could be in store for a robust target share and improving on his TE5 PPG finish from 2020.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Brandon Aiyuk has the skill set to rank much higher, but the 49ers' offense is a massive question mark. Yes, Trey Lance is the future in San Francisco, but what does the present look like? Kyle Shanahan may be a genius, but his offenses have ranked 20th or worse in three of four seasons.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: If Trey Lance starts hot, he'll be winning as a vertical thrower and that means Aiyuk will be a big factor. Aiyuk's vertical game with double-moves set up with strong play-action was a strength of his college tape that we didn't see implemented into the 49ers' plans last year. Until we see signs this may happen, Aiyuk will remain a short-range weapon who, along with Deebo Samuel, are unofficial members of the running back depth chart. Aiyuk will likely earn a bump in yardage and catches from me as the summer progresses, but I didn't want to start too high with him considering that Lance is adept at target tight end and running backs and may do so early and often. The vertical rapport may take a year.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: George Kittle missed a lot of action last year, but Brandon Aiyuk quietly had eight top-20 fantasy weeks. That's the same amount as A.J. Brown and two more than Stefon Diggs. Don't sleep on Aiyuk.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Aiyuk was a revelation for the 49ers passing game once healthy midseason in 2020 as a Round 1 rookie. Aiyuk is on a strong career track entering Year 2 and has a WR1 profile.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Was there a more surprising move in the offseason than the Falcons signing Mike Davis as their new starter? Most assumed Davis' signing was the first of a two or three-step plan to build an impressive committee. But free agency and the draft came and went, leaving Davis as the only viable Week 1 starter.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Davis has RB1 upside and I might just put him in that range by August. He's a tough runner with excellent footwork, quickness, and receiving skills. Atlanta's offensive line should be an upgrade to Carolina's unit and this could lead to a 1,300-yard season as a rusher if Arthur Smith still has bully-ball in mind for his new team. He's a wise value play this year because as much as I've liked Qadree Ollison as a late-round sleeper in the 2019 NFL Draft. Davis has more juice and Javian Hawkins is undersized and won't earn a lead role.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Davis filled in admirably for Christian McCaffrey in 2020, auditioning for future work. Davis found it in the free agent market, landing a multi-year deal with the Falcons. The depth chart is spotty beyond Davis. Expect a clear RB1 role for Davis with top-12 upside and a top-30 floor outside of a notable addition or injury.
Phil Alexander on Jul 28: Daniel Jones quietly led all quarterbacks in passer-rating on deep throws in 2020 (min. 200 drop backs). In 2019 (his last fully healthy season), Golladay led the NFL in deep targets. It's a safe bet Jones will have success throwing to Golladay downfield, where the former-Lion can box out defenders with his size and win at the catch-point. Don't sweat the uncertain target projection. We've always liked Golladay for his efficiency, which should follow him to New York.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Did the Giants add a legitimate No. 1, or did they overpay for someone better suited to a complementary role? Golladay's low catch rate playing with Matthew Stafford is a major concern now that he's catching passes from Daniel Jones. Be careful trusting Golladay as a key piece of your draft-day plans.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Golladay benefited mightily from a scheme that isolated him against safeties and linebackers early in his career and then maximized his narrow-but-deep well of talent as a vertical threat who can work crossing routes. Golladay is not an ideal primary wide receiver because of his limited route running. Last year with Matthew Stafford, a better quarterback than Daniel Jones, Golladay was on a 64-catch, 1000-yard pace in Detroit with superior surrounding talent at wide receiver. This year, he's working with a quarterback who was pocket-impaired for most of the past two seasons in New York and has inconsistent deep accuracy, at best. Golladay is in the fold to make the most of some of these less-than-pinpoint targets. Unless Jones' final weeks of 2020 are a forebearer of better things to come, 64-catches and 1,000 yards look like a less than realistic ceiling for Golladay. I may up his projected production a moderate amount between now and training camp, but I believe fantasy GMs will discover this year that Golladay is not as much Allen Robinson as many hope.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: There are two ways to look at Kenny Golladay. The first is that the Giants overpaid. He checked out of the 2020 season with Detroit and hasnâ€™t proven himself an elite wide receiver. The second is where I sit. He was an ascendant talent that got waylaid for all sorts of reasons last year. The Giants see him as a number one receiver, paid him as such, and will use him that way. He is a dominant physical presence and will make all those around him better too. Daniel Jones may not be Matthew Stafford, but he is good enough to have Golladay outplay his ADP.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: The 2020 season was a wash for Kenny Golladay due to a hip injury that shelved him early. He signed with New York in the offseason and now finds himself surrounded by offensive weapons that will limit his production. He'll need to establish a rapport with a new quarterback and coaching staff that may take some time to develop. He'll have some decent games, but I'm not sure if I see him being a consistent fantasy option week to week.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Golladay signed a big contract with the Giants this offseason but questions abound for a significant ceiling. Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard, Kadarius Toney, Evan Engram, and Saquon Barkley vie for targets and Daniel Jones is still a passing game question mark.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Chase Claypool burst on the scene as a rookie but faded down the stretch. The Steelers re-signing JuJu Smith-Schuster complicating a potential step forward in Year Two.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: As many rookies with a narrow but deep set of skills do, Claypool's production began hot and defenses then adjusted by playing more press coverage, placing a defender over the top of Claypool's deep routes, and making Claypool the first priority for zone defenders to slide towards instead of JuJu Smith-Schuster. These three things weren't happening when Claypool was hot. After those first two months, I studied these differences from the film and you could see Claypool's production drop off a cliff. After the first six weeks, Claypool was the No.15 PPR receiver and the No.27 PPR option from Weeks 7 through 13. From Weeks 13-17, Claypool dropped to the No.45 PPR option. Claypool should be a better player this year, but he'll also have to prove that he and his teammates can beat these adjustments. A better offensive line will help, but it's not the entire answer or even the primary factor.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: Chase Claypool had an impressive rookie season, despite serious competition from a stacked receiving corps. Claypool was also a raw prospect heading into 2020, so his rookie season was all about ability. With a solid training camp and further development, he can be one of the most dominant receivers in the NFL. It may not be this year, but it will be soon. He has a rare size and speed combination, with his work ethic championed by teammates. It will be hard for him to fail at his current draft price, but the upside is best in the business
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Chase Claypool burst onto the scene as a rookie last season, scoring 11 touchdowns (9 receiving and 2 rushing). He started off strong but tailed off after defenses put more emphasis on containing him. He was the 8th ranked wide receiver from Weeks 1-10, and 37th from Weeks 11-17. He still has fantasy appeal, but perhaps his ceiling this year isn't as high as we think it might be.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Claypool had a quality rookie season on the high-volume Steelers passing game. Najee Harris is poised to offer more than James Conner and company from the running back position and Pat Freiermuth is an upgrade over the TE2 situation from a year ago. Claypool is a weekly ceiling play with touchdown potential on any reception. Claypool has 'shift the Steelers offense towards him' potential in a perfect storm 2021 outcome.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Henderson was destined for backup duties before Cam Akers' Achilles tear, but now vaults back into a committee, at worst. He has the potential to provide top-20 value, but the more likely outcome is a RB3/flex play who plays more snaps than his teammates but rarely if ever sees more than 50% of the RB workload in a game.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: The emergence of Cam Akers can make it easy to forget that Henderson made big strides in his own right and showed off much-improved skills as a runner of the wide zone and duo plays that have been a big part of the Rams scheme. Henderson is a more explosive player than Akers and a strong receiver in his own right. With Akers getting hurt, Henderson earns starter production and he's stout enough physically to handle a lead role if called upon. Monitor for the possibility of a veteran addition, but unlikely as the lead back.
Andrew Davenport on Jul 21: Henderson gets a huge bump with the recent injury to Cam Akers. With Malcolm Brown gone, and Akers on the shelf, Henderson sits alone atop a perilously thin depth chart. The Rams are likely to bring in some help, but he should still have a good shot at the better half of a timeshare. Until the depth chart clears up consider him a high-end RB3 with upside should he corner more of the Rams' running back touches.
Chad Parsons on Jul 20: Henderson has a massive opportunity for upside this season with Cam Akers out with a July Achilles injury. However, the Rams still have plenty of time before kickoff to make a move, sign a veteran, and thwart an overt RB1 role for Henderson. Henderson has RB1 fantasy potential if the depth chart stays static, but until getting through August, consider his vice grip on the lead job a modest one.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Gaskin was excellent when healthy last year. The rub is he wasn't healthy enough to win fantasy championships. The Dolphins didn't bring in competition via free agency or the draft, so it's clear they think he can stay healthy. If they're right, he's a draft-day value at the current price.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Gaskin displayed underrated skills last year and has become a favorite sleeper in the fantasy community. Malcolm Brown has also been an underrated commodity for some time now and gets a shot to compete with Gaskin for significant playing time. This should be a fair competition, considering that Miami is changing its scheme this year. Brown has more power and better acceleration and change-of-direction quickness than Gaskin, who is the better receiver. Expect a more even split in touches than many are forecasting and potentially for Brown to earn the lead role. Gaskin has an RB2 ceiling, but an RB3 value is a much stronger likelihood than many realize, whether it's Brown or a summer free-agent acquisition like Todd Gurley, Adrian Peterson, or a recent starter a team lets go to make room for an emerging force.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Miami did not splash the position with a notable big name free agent or rookie addition. Malcolm Brown is the most significant competition added. Expect Gaskin to be the Week 1 starter. Gaskin is coming off an RB12 finish in PPG last season, averaging more than 18 touches per game and 90 total yards per contest.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Smith-Schuster busted in his contract year but was bailed out by Pittsburgh's desire to bring the entire team back for one more championship run.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Without a dominant receiver like Antonio Brown in the fold, Smith-Schuster has been reduced to a slot option who can't get open deep on his own against top cornerbacks. He's still a fine football player and reliable player, but the Steelers have to manufacture a lot of offense for Smith-Schuster in order to maximize his production. Don't expect more than mid-to-low production in the fantasy WR2 tier, at best.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Smith-Schuster was second on Pittsburgh with a robust 128 targets last year, but short targets limited his big plays and strong stat lines. The entire offense returns, plus rookies Pat Freiermuth and Najee Harris added to squeeze the incumbents, including Smith-Schuster, for target uptick potential.
Phil Alexander on Jul 28: Our current site projections have Etienne finishing with 48 receptions, which might be low by a 1.5x multiplier. The Jaguars are going to be awful defensively and Etienne was drafted in the first round to reprise his role from Clemson as a YAC-monster for Trevor Lawrence. He only needs to be on the short side of a 60/40 rushing split with James Robinson to cruise past his ADP-implied value.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Etienne's signing was heartbreaking for James Robinson, but it's possible both have fantasy relevance. Urban Meyer envisions Etienne as a do-it-all playmaker, and we should start believing him. Etienne is going to be force-fed the ball, primarily as a receiver.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Many of my peers at Footballguys are worshippers of draft capital as a predictor of talent. I am a heretic in that regard. Draft capital is not a predictor of talent, but it can be a predictor of opportunity. Etienne's selection early in the late-first signals he should have an immediate opportunity, especially with a new coaching staff in place. However, James Robinson is a better runner than Etienne at this point. He's more powerful and he understands how to work between the tackles. By the end of the year, that may change but until then, Etienne will be a change-of-pace and gadget player who might earn flex value this year. Expect some early-season force-feeding of Etienne until there's a realization that the usage is predictable and inefficient. At that point, it's not going to be pretty for those who drafted him as a mid-round up-and-comer. He's a strong talent with some flaws with a better all-around back ahead of him. Wait until next year.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Travis Etienne's stock took a dip after being selected by Jacksonville, who already have a legit versatile running back in James Robinson. However, if he becomes more of a receiving threat with occasional carries, he can still provide decent fantasy value. Alvin Kamara proved that as a rookie. Look for Etienne and Robinson to share carries this season with Etienne getting more targets. He is not as reliable of a fantasy prospect as Najee Harris but he has the skills to produce decent fantasy numbers.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Etienne is projected into a committee with James Robinson. Round 1 pedigree is a durable fantasy running back bet for early usage and Etienne has a strong two-way production profile exiting Clemson. Etienne is likely a murky projection for weekly usage early in the season, but many high-pedigree running back take over later in their rookie season. Etienne qualifies for 2021.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: A torn ACL derailed 2020, but Sutton looked like an ascendant star in 2019. Now healthy, he is back on the fantasy radar but his upside is capped with Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater. A trade for Aaron Rodgers would be a game changer.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Sutton returns from injury to a Broncos roster that will be working through a quarterback competition, if not a trade for Aaron Rodgers. Fantasy GMs should be rooting for Drew Lock to emerge a the clear-cut winner because of Lock's prowess as a vertical thrower. However, Bridgewater's consistency as a manager and player under pressure will serve as tough competition for Lock. If Bridgewater wins the competition and the Broncos don't acquire Rodgers, Sutton may earn more targets, but at a shallower depth per target and fewer big-play opportunities.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Sutton is a risky historical profile - yet to have a top-24 season yet viewed as a rising player yet to peak. Jerry Jeudy (and KJ Hamler to a lesser degree) is a thorn in Sutton's upside side for target upside in 2021 and Denver's quarterback situation remains uncertain.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Andrews is an elite talent, but his touchdown reliance and lack of target volume versus other top options are enough to warrant caution on draft day.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: I'm bullish on Andrews when examining my positional rankings, but my overall rankings have him in a lower tier than my peers. Determine where you believe tight ends should have the best value and move Andrews accordingly if you disagree with my placement.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Andrews has back-to-back top-5 PPG seasons under his belt. The Ravens continue to strongly address wide receiver, which is poised to eventually impede on Andrews' de facto WR1 status from the tight end position.
Phil Alexander on Jul 28: The dreaded "running back dead zone" (Rounds 3-6 in 12-team leagues) has made headlines this draft season for the overwhelming percentage of fantasy disappointments it has produced over the last decade. Edmonds is one of a few running backs currently being selected in this tier who has a chance to become an outlier. Last year, the Cardinals assigned the transition tag to Kenyan Drake, giving him one of the highest annual salaries for a running back in the league ($8.5 million). This year, Arizona brought in James Conner for backup money ($1.75 million) and did nothing else in the draft to add competition for Edmonds. Since Kliff Kingsbury took over as the Cardinals head coach in 2019, Edmonds has been one of the most efficient running back fantasy producers in the league on a per-touch basis. He appears locked in as Arizona's primary pass-catching option out of the backfield (68 targets in 2020) and we should see last year's 97 rush attempts increase by at least 1.5x, as he splits time with the plodding, oft-injured Conner.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Just because the Cardinals let Kenyan Drake go, doesn't mean Chase Edmonds will be a fantasy star. The James Conner signing is being downplayed. I think the baseline expectation should be a true running back committee, in which case you're better off drafting the player who goes a few rounds later.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Edmonds believes this is his best shot to lock up a lead role for the Cardinals and the only counterargument is the potential for a rejuvenated James Conner. Don't count on Conner delivering Kenyan Drake's level of production as a Cardinal, although he will have a big enough role the limit Edmonds' potential for fantasy RB1 production. The most realistic range of outcomes for Edmonds is an RB2 ceiling and an RB3 floor if a third back emerges from the depth chart to establish a recurring role on the field that the team values. Eno Benjamin has that potential. Jonathan Ward is also intriguing. Because All four backs mentioned have strong receiving skills, don't count on Edmonds dominating targets in the PPR game--even if it's a good bet to project him as the dept chart's leader.
Andrew Davenport on Jul 21: Last year he finished as a borderline RB2/RB3. In the offseason every possible factor that changed in Arizona changed in his favor. James Conner should assume the Kenyan Drake role, but it would be surprising not to see Edmonds get an additional 50 or so touches to take the pressure off of a guy who hasn't been able to stay healthy with a bell cow role. Expanding the touches for Edmonds should land him in the middle of RB2 range with ease.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Edmonds' overt buzz was halted by Arizona signing James Conner, a competent starting NFL running back, in free agency this offseason. Expect a committee with Conner getting more of the previous Kenyan Drake-type touches grinding on the interior with Edmonds more optimized in space. If either is out, there is top-10 projectable upside for the other.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Beckham was on a Hall-of-Fame trajectory in New York, but the last few years have brought frustration, injury, and disappointment. Both he and the Browns front office are saying all the right things, but the risks are too high unless you're getting him at a steep discount.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Beckham returns from an ACL injury to a team that is poised for a Super Bowl run. He was the No.13 receiver after the first five weeks of the 2020 season. He should serve as the leading option in 2021 provided that his rehab doesn't cost him confidence in the leg for the first 6-8 weeks of the year. Stay tuned for training camp reports and listen to Jene Bramel's analysis so you can parse the facts from the fluff.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: At his best, his current ADP would make Odell Beckham Jr an absolute steal for your draft. Unfortunately, he hasnâ€™t been a fantasy WR1 since 2016. Three injury-interrupted seasons in his last four Is not a good sign. He has had every opportunity to sulk his way out of Cleveland but has been resolute. 2021 is the season that pays off. Take him as a flex player. If it all works out, he can carry you high in your league standings. If he doesnâ€™t, the price is worth the risk. He will be worth monitoring during training camp as his ADP could skyrocket with positive press.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Odell Beckham has one top-20 finish in the last four years. Injuries have hampered his production since moving on from the Giants to the Browns. The potential is there for him to prove he is worthy of starting every week, but don't let that consume you during the draft. Target him as a WR3 or flex option.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Beckham started his career on a historic run of five straight top-10 PPG finishes. Now, Beckham is amidst a two-year funk of finishing outside of WR30 and now stuck on a low-volume Cleveland passing game.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Robby Anderson thrived in his first year in Carolina, clearly playing hard for Matt Rhule -- his college coach. With Curtis Samuel leaving for Washington, Anderson's target share is safe for another year.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Robby Anderson was an excellent deep threat with Sam Darnold--at least when Darnold was on the field. However, I expect him to remain in the slot, especially after the team signed vertical specialist David Moore and drafted Terrance Marshall. Marshall and Anderson can alternate inside and outside, so we'll see enough perimeter vertical targets and deep seam looks to Anderson that we'll see a healthier per-catch average, but not a complete renaissance of their Jets years. Anderson is a solid WR3 even with the unproven Darnold playing as he did as a Jet. If Darnold shows much more, Anderson could have WR1 upside.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Robby Anderson surprised many in 2020 with career-high numbers in targets (137), receptions (95), and receiving yards (1,097). He'll be rejoined with former teammate, Sam Darnold in 2021 as he looks to repeat his breakout campaign. The former Jets duo hooked up for 11 touchdowns from 2018-2019 which also included a Pro Bowl invite for the young receiver. Anderson should again be a prominent piece of the Panthers offense in 2021, especially with Curtis Samuel moving on to Washington via free agency.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Anderson was the WR1 for Carolina in 2020, but Terrace Marshall's drafting in Round 2 as one of the elite profiles of the positional class and Chrisitan McCaffrey returning from injury will squeeze Anderson to hit 120 targets again in 2021.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: It's the preseason and so everyone is optimistic. But the truth is the Bengals aren't going to morph into an elite offense, and thus it's equally hard to believe the team can make three receivers -- JaMarr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd -- all fantasy viable. But Boyd is more than talented enough to deliver top-25 value if either of the young stars gets hurt.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: The safest receiver in Cincinnati, Boyd is a high-volume option who will lead the team in targets and receptions. He and JaMarr Chase will occasionally swap roles between the slot and flanker to bait defenses into personnel mismatches. This will benefit both players although Chase will likely see more big plays from the arrangement.
Anthony Amico on Jul 22: Bengals should be one of the top teams in pass attempts, which should yield plenty of targets for Boyd. The top three guys will all eat in this passing game.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: Drafting Ja'Marr Chase with pick five in the 2021 draft, the Cincinnati wide receiver room changed dramatically. Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins looked like excellent fantasy prospects before that. Something has to give in 2021. Chase has an established rapport with Joe Burrow. He will get a significant share. Tee Higgins had a great rookie season in 2020, leaving Tyler Boyd as most likely to suffer. Over the last six games, his form indicates how bad things could getâ€”10 receptions for 131 yards from 175 snaps. There isnâ€™t much upside here
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Boyd has a better dynasty profile for beyond 2021 than upside for this season specifically. Ja'Marr Chase's addition and Tee Higgins's strong rookie season are roadblocks to a strong 2021 for Boyd.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Brandin Cooks makes Rodney Dangerfield feel overhyped. He gets no respect, which is mind-boggling. Who else in NFL history can say they've been 1,000-yard receivers on four teams? Playing with four different quarterbacks? With four different playcallers? The Texans will be awful, but they'll have to throw a lot, and Cooks is sure to lead the team in target share.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: When tied to a well-functioning offense and at least a competent producer at quarterback, fantasy GMs know what to expect from Brandin Cooks. He's the one wide receiver in the league who has proven it with several teams. This year will be his greatest challenge if Deshaun Watson's legal and organizational issues aren't settled before the season begins--and it's unlikely that they will be. Keep this in mind because this ranking might be the highest mark for Cooks this year if the Texans don't get better at quarterback this summer.
Anthony Amico on Jul 22: All he does is produce. The QB play will be at its worst in 2021, but Cooks is a proven elite fantasy WR.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Brandin Cooks has a top-16 finish with four different teams in his career. He did so with New Orleans, New England, Los Angeles, and Houston (last year). This year, due to the departure of Will Fuller to Miami, he will occupy the leading receiver role for Houston and should be a decent fantasy option that could see another top-20 finish, which would be his sixth in eight seasons. Cooks quietly has five 1,000-yard seasons in the last six years. His floor is 60 receptions and 5 touchdowns, which could be higher depending on the state and success of the Texans quarterback situation. The uncertainty of Houston's offense may be a concern that drops Cooks further down draft boards, but his consistency as a producing fantasy receiver makes him one of the better value plays at wide receiver this season.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Cooks is the Rodney Dangerfield of the wide receiver position - he does not get any respect. Despite changing teams and situations over the years, he continues to produce. Cooks has 1,000 or more yards in five of the last six seasons outside of a quizzical dud year with the Rams in 2019. Deshaun Watson's status is a significant variable for the entire Houston offense, but Cooks is the earmarked WR1.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Even the best tight ends in NFL history struggle for fantasy relevance as rookies, although Julio Jones' departure does make a Pitts breakout feasible, albeit unlikely.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Pitts is a great long-term bet. Short-term, it depends on your style as a GM. If you're a risk-taker, building a roster early around Pitts could yield 1,300-yard, 10-touchdown upside if you believe the narrative that he's a once-in-a-generation prospect at his position. But what is that position? He may not be aligned as an in-line tight end very often. If he's used more on the inside, Pitts will present excellent mismatches against safeties and linebackers. If he's used outside, then we're expecting Pitts to earn contested catches that Matt Ryan didn't deliver with great frequency to a dominant athlete like Jones. Are you beginning to see the gap in logic? Liking Pitts as a potential TE1 with upside as the No.5-7 option in fantasy makes sense considering that he's really a big slot receiver in the role. Liking Pitts as a 1,100-yard and 10-score-hybrid-receiver without Julio Jones in the fold is another matter entirely. It could happen but know thyself as a GM. If you're a conservative decision-maker who trades very little and likes to build systematically through the draft, then deciding to be wild and wooly like Sigmund Bloom will likely leave you bitter from the experience.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: This may shock people, but rookie tight ends have been drafted high by NFL teams before. The record is poor for fantasy achievement. In the last 15 years, we have three rookies who have finished as starting fantasy tight ends, Evan Engram, Rob Gronkowski, and John Carlson. Oddly all three were the second tight end drafted in their year. That bodes poorly for Kyle Pitts in 2021. Sure he has the opportunity, but does he have the skills to be fantasy-productive this year? We know the position has a multitude of tasks that are hard to master quickly. Let this be a development year. He could be a bottom-end starting tight end if everything goes well. Be wary of overpaying.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: History tells us to temper expectations with tight ends in their rookie season. The last rookie tight end to reach 800 yards receiving was Jeremy Shockey (894) in 2002. Evan Engram's 722 yards in 2017 stands as the next best yardage total in recent years. Rob Gronkowski finished with 10 touchdowns in 2010 but only 546 yards. If Atlanta uses Pitts strictly as an X- or Z-receiver role then maybe he breaks through the historical ceiling, but you're drafting him based on that belief.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Rookie tight ends are historically slow starters for fantasy production. However, Pitts is not a typical tight end prospect, going higher in the NFL Draft than even Vernon Davis and possessing a wide receiver-like profile. Competition for targets is high in Atlanta but Pitts is the type of talent to rise the tide and create more targets in a passing game to allow for Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Pitts to be fed.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: The Jaguars have undergone seismic changes at every layer of the organization, so it's hard to look at Chark's lone strong season (2019) and use it as a baseline for further growth.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: While I'm worried about the overall direction of this team with a college coach whose best work might be his recruiting and dictating to young talent as opposed to managing more seasoned adults, Chark should have a solid year paired with a talented young quarterback with more talent than Gardner Minshew. Look Chark to earn some excellent opportunities in the vertical game to put a lot of his statistical showings over the top in the weekly box score. At the same time, expect some weekly inconsistencies from a receptions and yardage perspective as Trevor Lawrence and Urban Meyer's staff find their bearings. Chark is a quality option for three-receiver lineups.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Jacksonville will have a rookie quarterback, plus a strong tandem of running backs in 2021. Chark will have a tough time hitting even 100 targets with Marvin Jones added to the wide receiver corps and Laviska Shenault entering Year 2.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Thomas' chances at a major bounce back season took a hit when it was revealed he had ankle surgery in June. Why it took that long to have a procedure on injuries he suffered during the 2020 season is anyone's guess, but he will likely miss a handful of regular-season games.
Andrew Davenport on Jul 23: With the news that Thomas underwent ankle surgery in June fantasy managers need to be prepared to be without him for at least the first couple months of the NFL season. The timetable can be in the four month range, and even then, a return to who he was will take some time. It's not smart to be counting on Thomas as anything other than a roster stash to hold for late season help if he can work his way back on to the field in November.
Chad Parsons on Jul 23: Thomas played through injury in 2020 and did not look himself. Previously Thomas was a bulletproof auto-start production machine in his career. Expect a strong bounce back in 2021 but his early-season start is murky with an ankle cleanup in June to limit or keep him out in the initial weeks.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 23: Michael Thomas had surgery on his ankle in June that will sideline him for 3-4 months. We may not see him until October and therefore he falls back among wanted wide receivers to target in redraft leagues. When he returns there is no guarantee that he will return to the previous form we've been accustomed to seeing. To make waters even more muddy, the quarterback situation and outlook in New Orleans is unknown at this time. Last year, the Saints had an NFL low two top-20 fantasy weeks from the wide receiver position.
Anthony Amico on Jul 23: Thomas had a target share north of 30% with both Taysom Hill and Teddy Bridgewater in non-Brees appearances. Expect him to still be heavily featured in 2021 whenever he gets healthy.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Injuries wrecked Thomas' 2020 campaign and will likely keep him off the field for nearly half of the 2021 season. A driven individual who will wear out his quarterback if they don't get with his program early, Thomas has the skills and mentality to return in peak productive form if his quarterbacks can support him. That's a big question in New Orleans right now. Consider Thomas a pick during the back half of drafts with the hope that you can get elite production during the final 6-8 weeks of the fantasy season.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: Heading into 2020 Michael Thomas was seen as the concensus number one fantasy receiver. An long term injury and a Drew Brees retirement later and we have a different outlook. Given the insane numbers he was producing prior to last year, I can forgive one bad year. He has upside at his current draft price, but also comes with the risk of a new direction in New Orleans. I would also keep an eye on the temperament of Thomas from a dynasty oerspective.
Phil Alexander on Jul 29: Jeudy is primed for a second-year breakout, especially if Teddy Bridgewater is Denver's starting quarterback in 2021. Reports out of voluntary minicamp have Bridgewater and Jeudy connecting on several big-time plays, which makes sense due to Bridgewater's accuracy on short and intermediate throws and Jeudy's elite separation skills. Only one wide receiver had more unrealized air yards than Jeudy in 2020 -- a problem Bridgewater's 69% completion rate immediately solves.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Jeudy was a disappointment as a rookie, despite No. 1 Courtland Sutton getting hurt. With Sutton back, Jeudy's range of outcomes is wider than any other receiver. With Drew Lock, Jeudy may not be worth rostering. With Teddy Bridgewater, Jeudy might be valuable in certain weekly matchups. With Aaron Rodgers, Jeudy could break into the Top 25.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Courtland Sutton wins if Drew Lock wins the quarterback battle and Aaron Rodgers isn't a Broncos. Jeudy wins if Teddy Bridgewater earns the job. Both receivers win if Rodgers arrives. Right now, Sutton is my top option with 1,100 yards and 6 scores. If Bridgewater earns the Jeudy is more likely the 1,000-yard and leading in receptions and targets.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Jeudy had a strong rookie season and collected 113 targets but quarterback questions persist with Drew Lock and adding Teddy Bridgewater, plus Courtland Sutton returns from missing nearly all of 2020 to cloud the target split, especially among a quality wide receiver group.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: James Robinson deserved better than losing his job to Travis Etienne. But make no mistake, Urban Meyer envisions Etienne as the centerpiece of the offense, and that leaves Robinson with a potential role with plenty of volume but lacking in high value touches (e.g., receptions and red-zone work).
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Yes, the Jaguars drafted Travis Etienne early. They're also using him as a wide receiver in minicamp and they brought in Tim Tebow to be a Taysom Hill-like player. I suspect Urban Meyer is out of his element as an NFL coach. James Robinson is a superior inside runner to Etienne, a better tackle-breaker, and has the burst and decision-making to retain his job. While there's a legitimate potential downside to Robinson this year due to Travis Etienne's presence and draft capital, I will need to see more indications that Etienne will earn true committee touches to hurt Robinson's value.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: It is hard for an undrafted rookie running back to succeed in the NFL. Kudos to James Robinson. Unfortunately for him, the team not only replaced the coaching staff that he impressed, but they also signed veteran Carlos Hyde and drafted Travis Etienne in the first round. Robinson can be successful this year, but he will need luck and to earn the trust of the new coaching staff. I just see way too much downside to take a risk on lightning striking twice.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: There are multiple question marks surrounding James Robinson's expected outlook for 2021. He had a breakout season in 2020 finishing 7th in PPR format, however, 2021 brings a new coaching staff, a new quarterback, and a fresh blue-chip rookie running back in Travis Etienne into the huddle. In a perfect world Robinson should command most of the workload at running back, but the uncertainty of the offense and his usage make him one of greater fantasy risks among starting running backs.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: At worst, Robinson is one of the higher upside primary backup running backs in the NFL. At best, Travis Etienne gets off to a slow start and Robinson maintains his workhorse role from 2020 where he was RB7 in PPG.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Williams is a powerhouse back with three-down potential, assuming he can win over the coaches as a pass protector and receiver in training camp. Williams' fantasy value hinges on what the Broncos decide to do with Melvin Gordon.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: I like Williams' game, but I don't love it. The notion that he's the next Nick Chubb is an overstatement of Williams' vision and decision-making and an understatement of Chubb's agility and movement. Williams is shifty enough to be an NFL starter, but he's not in Chubb's class and he has some work to do with becoming a better decision-maker with every run scheme he'll see in Denver. He's not far away from becoming a solid-to-good starter and fantasy option. It could happen this year, but Melvin Gordon remains an above-average NFL starter at the position. Gordon is in the final year of his deal with the Broncos so an injury to the veteran could give Williams the starting job that Gordon won't get back. Drafting Williams as a handcuff or depth with a chance to become a second-half starter is a worthwhile idea, but the idea that he'll displace Gordon immediately is unlikely based on the college tape. We'll see what training camp brings.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: It is easy to look at the depth chart in Denver and assume that Melvin Gordon III will be the starter all season. Depending on the progress rookie Javonte Williams makes in training camp and preseason. Williams may be the starter sooner rather than later. Gordon plays much older than he is. If it wasnâ€™t for his salary cap hit would have been released after one season in Denver. The draft price of Williams makes it an easy decision to take the rookie rather than the underwhelming experienced back. His draft price will shoot up with positive training camp news and even the possibility of Gordon being released or traded.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Williams was drafted in the early second round and while Melvin Gordon is the penciled-in starter for Denver, high pedigree backs typically start to impose on the workload by midseason or in the second half of their rookie season. Williams may be a tough hold in the early weeks with a slower start, but is should be viewed as one of the highest upside backups at the position.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Gordon is due a $2 million roster bonus on the first day of camp. If he isn't but beforehand, we can safely assume Gordon will be the lead back in Week 1 and have a chance to hold onto the No. 1 role for the season. But any injury or lapse in production opens the door for Javonte Williams.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Gordon will lead the Denver backfield to begin the year, but the range of Gordon's potential workload will depend on how fast rookie Javonte Williams acclimates to the NFL. Gordon has performed at a level just shy of the elite backs in the league--close enough that one could understand why he had a legitimate conflict with the Chargers. If Williams doesn't acclimate fast, Gordon will maintain a grip on this backfield all year long. If Williams emerges, he could turn this backfield into a 50/50 split.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: The Broncos donâ€™t seem overly excited to use Melvin Gordon this year. They traded up in the draft to select Javonte Williams and without the large contract may have already released the former Charger. Gordon was adequate last year, but that was almost purely on volume. If he is still on the opening day roster, his workload will be usurped by the rookie when the coaching staff trust him. Gordon has always been a runner that needs a large workload to produce fantasy stats. Without the volume, he is hard to use.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: I expect Melvin Gordon to be the Broncos primary running back until rookie Javonte Williams proves he can be a better, more reliable replacement. That may take half of a season to happen, perhaps more. Williams is the future, but Denver will ride Gordon, especially in the early part of the season.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Denver drafted Javonte Williams early in Round 2 this offseason, but Gordon is the expected starter to open the season. If Williams is a presence who hinders Gordon as a rookie, expect it to be midseason. Gordon is a proven NFL starter in his career and is one of the better values at the position who can tide over a fantasy starting spot to open the season with upside from there.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Fuller finally stayed healthy last year and proved he's more than just a vertical threat. Unfortunately, he was pinched for PEDs and will miss time to start the season. Playing on a one-year deal in Miami, this is a make-or-break fork in Fuller's career.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Fuller will be good when he's on the field. I expect him to play 10 games, total.
Anthony Amico on Jul 22: Will miss the first game, but still one of the most dynamic WRs in football. Expect him to be the difference-maker for Tua.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Fuller has a one-game suspension to start the season, but a strong per-game track record in his Houston career. The biggest question is if Tua Tagovailoa can feed his viable passing game of weapons, including Fuller.
Phil Alexander on Jul 29: Why are fantasy gamers so quick to write off Fournette's Super Bowl run with Tampa Bay, which included four playoff starts and averages of 20.5 touches, 4.5 receptions, 112 yards from scrimmage, and one touchdown per game? You know who won't be so quick to write off the boost Fournette gave the Buccaneers on their way to a championship? Tom Brady. That guy likes to win and has the ultimate say in which of his teammates receives the most playing time. Besides, Fournette is still only 26 years old and remains one of the elite size/speed running backs in the NFL. He's a resounding value in drafts, even if he splits carries with Ronald Jones.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Leonard Fournette looked better than Ronald Jones last year and the Buccaneers re-signed him, so expect the mercurial back to be the lead fantasy commodity in a committee backfield barring injury.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Fournette had a decent stretch run for the Buccaneers and it has most thinking that he'll be the lead back and Ronald Jones will step into the shadows. I'm not ready to make that conclusion just yet. Jones is a more efficient runner and arguably a better tackle breaker at this point of his career. It's possible the workload that the two backs shared last year remains similar before Fournette's stretch-run.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Fournette was in a full-blown committee until 'Playoff Lenny' turned into the clear starter for Tampa Bay's Super Bowl run. Fournette had only one game of 15+ carries during the regular season. Giovani Bernard is also poised to have a bigger role than LeSean McCoy a year ago. Fournette is a high-upside option, but more in the prism of Ronald Jones being out of the picture (through injury or otherwise) than being a strong option atop the expected committee.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: If Laviska Shenault was durable, he would be worth drafting several tiers higher. On pure talent, he's the best receiving option on the Jaguars roster. But the best ability is availability, and that means Shenault is a fantasy backup to start the season.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Shenault played well last year and has the talent to build on. I think we'll see this team eventually make D.J. Chark and Shenault the center of the offense even if Meyer initially tries to reinvent the wheel early and fail. Shenault has earned the most buzzes from Jaguars coaches in minicamp and should challenge for the lead in receptions and yardage as the team's likely flanker.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Shenault saw a healthy 79 targets as a rookie, but Marvin Jones and Travis Etienne are notable additions to the Jacksonville passing game to siphon upside chances for Shenault in 2021.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Samuel is a gadget player with elite speed and will be a key cog in Washington's offensive arsenal. Yet, he's not the best receiver, or the biggest red-zone threat, and could be the 4th option in most game scripts.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Curtis Samuel has a contingent of fantasy loyalists who insist he was a stud producer in purgatory. Now with Ryan Fitzpatrick in Washington, we may find out how right they were. The team also added slot receiver Adam Humphries, which indicates Samuel could see extensive time as a perimeter option. I'm neutral on the Samuel-upside subject at this point. Samuel has flashed potential to make that production leap in isolated clips, but I haven't seen enough to be convinced it's a great bet. Either way, Samuel should offer solid fantasy WR3 play as his baseline value this year.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Samuel is a massive upgrade over Washington's WR2 situation in 2020. However, approaching 100 targets is a tall order considering Logan Thomas' rise at tight end and J.D. McKissic and Antonio Gibson being one of the best receiving running back tandems in the NFL.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Is Noah Fant a good player? It's hard to judge any Broncos skill player because of Drew Lock and uninspired playcalling by Pat Shurmur. If Aaron Rodgers lands in Denver, Fant skyrockets. If it's Lock or Bridgewater, Fant becomes a matchup play.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: I will likely give Fant a higher ranking this summer, but I'm not a fan of his overall game. I wouldn't be shocked if, by the season's end, Albert Okwuegbunam earns the primary role or forces a split that diminishes or negates the fantasy value of both options. Based on watching Fant's film last year and all the way back to Iowa, Fant has issues with piecing together compound tasks in an accurate way -- catching and transitioning upfield in the correct way, using correct hands techniques, and running routes that aren't heavily schemed for him to work off delays or straight lines into space. He's an athlete who might develop as Jared Cook did, but I'm skeptical and I don't have roster space to clog up with multiple tight ends.
Andrew Davenport on Jul 21: Outside of a few truncated games where Fant left because of injury, he was a Top 6 tight end for large portions of the year. No matter who wins the quarterback battle the offense is likely to be more potent with the addition of Javonte Williams and the return of Courtland Sutton. Fant has a chance to make a big leap in 2021.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Quarterback remains to be a question mark in Denver and Courtland Sutton returns from injury to crowded the already squeezed collection of talent in the passing game for targets.
Phil Alexander on Jul 28: Landry had a single top-12 weekly finish in 2020. And that was with Odell Beckham out for most of the year. His cumulative stats might give the impression he's a solid WR3, but Landry's complete lack of a ceiling makes him a player to avoid at his current ADP.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Landry wasn't a fantasy star in Cleveland despite Odell Beckham's travails and the Browns offensive renaissance. He's capable of more than we saw in 2020, but Beckham returns to the fold, too. Bet on Landry as a complementary asset, and don't overpay.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: What you see is what you get with Landry. He has WR2 upside in PPR formats if the Browns are forced to lean on him due to injuries.
Andrew Davenport on Jul 21: It wasn't pretty at times last year for Landry, but he did manage to finish as PPR WR32 despite missing a game. He's never been a big touchdown producer, but even for him the 3 touchdowns he scored in 2020 was a career low. Something did appear to click in the Browns new offense over the second half of the year however, as he was WR22 in points per game after their Week 9 bye and scored all 3 of his receiving touchdowns over that span. Is he exciting to draft? No. But his ADP is low enough that if he produces more like he did in the second half of the year then he'll be a draft day bargain.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Landry scraped over the 100-target threshold in 2020 but was aided by Odell Beckham missing more than half of the season. With competition for targets high and a run-centric offense, Landry is a high-floor fantasy option but not a strong bet to crack WR25.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Are you more of a Deebo Samuel fan or a Brandon Aiyuk fan? I doubt the 49ers offense will be proficient enough to support both as Top 25 options.
Andrew Davenport on Jul 21: The good thing about Samuel's role with the team is that they use him in a variety of ways and scheme touches for him within the framework of the offense. While he may not have the massive target upside of some other receivers, his floor is relatively stable and he's a YAC monster who can easily outperform his WR3 price tag.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Johnson should have an opportunity to be the Texans focal point, but his fantasy value will be challenged by bad game scripts and infrequent trips into the red zone.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: I'm expecting an even split between Johnson and Phillip Lindsay this year with Mark Ingram backing up Johnson. Johnson performed well enough last year to potentially remain the lead option in terms of workload but Lindsay has been too good to use sparingly.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: David Johnson is coming off a top-20 season, his second in the last three years. He has never had less than six touchdowns in a season where he played more than one game. Assume he will be the lead back in 2021 but there are alternative options with NFL success waiting in the wings for their chance to produce when their number is called.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Johnson was a top-20 option on a per-game basis last season, largely unnoticed. Deshaun Watson's status for the season in Houston is a significant variable for the entire Houston offense, but Johnson is one of the most affordable projected Week 1 running back starters in the NFL.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Michael Gallup is a victim of circumstance. Had CeeDee Lamb not fallen to the Cowboys draft spot in 2020, Gallup probably would still be a clear-cut starter in one of the league's best passing attacks. Instead, he's the third-best player at his position and least likely to have a future in Dallas.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Expect Gallup, Amari Cooper, and CeeDee Lamb to each earn 1,000 yards this year as long as Dak Prescott remains upright. Right now, I have Gallup with slightly more targets than CeeDee Lamb but expect me to change that the next time I update my projections. Gallup should lead the team in yards per catch average but expect Cooper and Lamb to earn more receptions and touchdowns.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Gallup can still be in the top-36 mix even with Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb ahead of him on the Dallas depth chart. The key is a healthy Dak Prescott and average-or-worse Cowboys defense, the perfect combination to keep cooking as an elite passing team.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Mostert isn't the sexy pick in San Francisco -- that honor belongs to Trey Sermon. But he does stand a good chance of leading the team in total yards and touchdowns. It all comes down to who catches Kyle Shanahan's eye in the preseason and who stays healthy.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: The thing many overlook with the 49ers' excellent ground game is that the Kyle Shanahan regime has used its lead back as a high-volume contributor when healthy. The problem has been that none of its backs could stay healthy. If Mostert stays healthy and plays as he's had during the past two years, he'll deliver RB1-caliber fantasy production during the final year of his contract. If he doesn't, he'll open the door wide enough for third-round pick Trey Sermon to take the job and not look back.
Andrew Davenport on Jul 21: Obviously it was a frustrating year for Mostert managers last year, but when he played he was electric. It's ok to be concerned about the injuries, and the looming shadow of rookie Trey Sermon, but being able to grab Mostert as an RB3 mitigates some of the risk. He is an excellent target in the Round 6 range as an RB3 with upside in a Kyle Shanahan rushing attack.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Mostert was a breakout candidate in 2020 but fizzled as he missed half of the season and scored just three total touchdowns. Advance to this offseason and the 49ers added competent veteran Wayne Gallman and splashed the pot with Round 3 rookie Trey Sermon with a trade-up in late April. Mostert is a high variance play and Jeff Wilson's offseason injury (4-6 months out reported) aids Mostert's odds of being a clarified RB1/2 on the depth chart.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Beat writers say Harris is, by far, the best-looking running back in New England. But does that matter? The Patriots have become used to a committee approach where the lead back varies week to week based on health and game script.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Harris had a more dynamic style at Alabama. After playing slowly as a rookie during training camp, he emerged as a significant contributor in the middle of 2020 but played with a straight-line style that seemed cautious in comparison to his college tape. Harris is a competent NFL contributor who can deliver starter production behind a good offensive line like the Patriots. However, the perennially unhealthy Sony Michel offers more upside in isolated weeks when his body holds up and rookie Rhamondre Stevenson has the goods to carve a significant role for himself as early as this year. Harris will only have top-15 upside if injuries ravage the Patriots' depth chart and his floor could be as low as a flex play if Stevenson acclimates fast and plays to his long-term potential earlier than exepcted.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: The Patriots offense is pointing upwards compared to a struggling 2020 season. Two splash signing at tight end (Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith) are poised to aid the run and pass game, plus anything to stress defenses downfield (Nelson Agholor) would be a boost. Harris is the projected starter and offers top-18 potential especially if Cam Newton is not siphoning work from the quarterback position at some point during the season, ceding to rookie Mac Jones.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Conner is a hard nut to crack. He was a No. 1 fantasy back for a time in Pittsburgh but definitely did less in the role than Le'Veon Bell did. And as the Steelers offensive line fell from the elite ranks, so did Conner's value. What does Kliff Kingsbury have planned for him in Arizona?
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Arizona's backfield, not including Kyler Murray, has run the football an average of 309 times during the past two years. For a runner of James Conner's style to earn fantasy RB2 production, he will need a combination of touches that consist of either a high-volume workload or at least 120-150 carries with a substantial number in the red zone and green zone-- inside the opponent's five-yard line. I believe Chase Edmonds will earn 200-220 carries this year and with Eno Benjamin and/ or Jonathan Ward likely to emerge as a third option this year, I don't think Conner earns more than 120-150 carries. He'll need 8-10 touchdowns to get within that RB2 range and I don't think it happens with Murray's ability to spread the field in the red zone and run for easier scores. Murray had 11 rushing touchdowns last year and Edmonds is a solid short-yardage runner for his size. Conner has a role that will help the Cardinals more than fantasy GMs unless there's an injury to Edmonds or Murray. If this happens, don't be surprised if Benjamin has a good summer that he'll also show enough in the fall to limit Conner's upside.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Conner has slowed over the past season or two but has found another opportunity for significant work in Arizona. Chase Edmonds has more juice and big-play ability, but Conner is likely to inherit the Kenyan Drake role, which turned into 264 touches last season as the primary interior option on the depth chart.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Zach Ertz' presumed departure has people overly excited by Goedert. But he's proven to be a good-not-great receiver, prone to concentration lapses. He doesn't run crisp routes and that could be a problem with a young, inaccurate quarterback. Caveat emptor.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Goedert is capable of top-five production as a talent. His upside depends on how well Jalen Hurts plays. I'm confident that Hurts will be a productive fantasy quarterback, but I'm less confident in his passing abilities to support his receivers. Goedert will be among the top three options targeted this year, but Hurts' efficiency will be the lever for how much it elevates Goedert's fantasy value.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Zach Ertz has not been moved despite speculation this offseason and DeVonta Smith was added as a notable wide receiver draft pick to the Eagles passing game. Add in Jalen Hurts as a work in progress passer and Goedert will have a difficult time posting a true breakout season.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Is Corey Davis miscast as a No. 1 receiver? It feels that way, but the Jets did pay him to be Zach Wilson's new top target.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Corey Davis finds himself with a three-year deal in New York with a rookie quarterback who will be placed in a scheme that benefited Baker Mayfield. Look for Davis to catch a steady diet of digs and crossers and perhaps the occasional back-shoulder fade that Zach Wilson loves to throw. Davis had two years to show signs of being a primary receiver and wound up the second option to A.J. Brown, who showed the alpha skills immediately. Denzel Mims has more upside as a primary option and flashed in more as a rookie than Davis during his first year. Look for Davis and Mims to earn similar target share, receptions, and efficiencies. Mims will be slightly more productive.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Davis has a reasonable floor with his WR1 status on the Jets depth chart, but Zach Wilson offers a low floor as a rookie quarterback and it is unlikely even the WR1 finishes in the top-30 of the position if the attached quarterback struggles.
Phil Alexander on Jul 28: We know Smith is skilled enough. If he proves strong and durable enough to handle the physicality of the NFL, there is little on the Eagles wide receiver depth chart standing between the rookie and 130+ targets.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: A lot of people will discount Smith because he's less than 170 pounds and NFL history hasn't been kind to players of his size and build. Others will look at his historically dominant performance last year at Alabama and think he's a can't miss prospect. Bet on somewhere in between and remember that Jalen Hurts has a lot to prove as a passer. Smith's dynasty outlook is stellar, but his redraft value is far less certain.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: I understand why Smith is seen as the best receiver from Alabama in this class. Casual fans and many analysts will lump Smith alongside JaMarr Chase and Jaylen Waddle have high-impact rookie receivers in 2021 thanks to Smith's Heisman victory and draft status. Smith has the biggest question mark at quarterback of the three and as good of a route runner as he is with breaks and telling a story, he's slight and falls prey to patient and physical corners when pressed. Expect a promising season from Smith but not as productive for fantasy players as his counterparts mentioned above.
Phil Alexander on Jul 28: Brown finished as a weekly WR3 (Top 36) or better in exactly half his games with the Buccaneers. Considering he was playing for the first time in a year-and-a-half and joining a new team mid-season, we should take the 2020 season as proof Brown still has plenty in the tank. You'll be able to confidently start him as your third wide receiver despite Tampa Bay's crowded offense. And if Chris Godwin or Mike Evans miss a game, Brown can safely be projected for weekly top-15 numbers.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Antonio Brown was a sure-fire Hall of Famer in Pittsburgh but has done so much on and off the field to tarnish his reputation, he may never see Canton. Although he's not going to enter the season with fantasy relevance, it will only take an injury to Chris Godwin or Mike Evans for Brown to be atop waiver wire claims.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Brown emerged down the stretch and I don't think that production is going away in 2021. In fact, I think Brown, Mike Evans, and Chris Godwin are all capable of no worse than fantasy WR2 value with Tom Brady under center. Peyton Manning did it with Eric Decker, Wes Welker, and Demaryius Thomas during his second season in Denver. In fact, two of the three were fantasy WR1s in 2013.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Brown returns to Tampa Bay in 2021 and saw a robust 61 targets - narrowly second to Mike Evans' 63 for the team lead - over the eight games he played post-suspension in 2020. Brown is a WR3/4 with upside from there.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: The Raiders signing Drake was a surprise and it removes two potential No. 1 fantasy running backs from the board as Drake and Josh Jacobs commoditize each other. What's not yet clear is how Coach Gruden and his staff envision mixing and matching the two talented players. Drake could be an every-week starter if Jacobs gets hurt, and the same would be said for Jacobs if Drake hits the injury report.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: It's possible that Drake becomes the new Charlie Garner in Jon Gruden's offense and forces Josh Jacobs into a Tyrone Wheatley role where Drake leads the way and Jacobs is game-finisher and red-zone role player. It's also possible that Sigmund Bloom becomes a corporate lawyer. Drake has improved his skills as a between-the-tackles runner and he's a great athlete with good hands. He'll see a lot of time moving around the offense to create mismatches for himself and his teammates. His workload from the backfield will limit Jacobs' fantasy upside to a low-end RB1, but Jacobs' floor will remain a solid RB2. Drake's best shot at attaining anything greater than low-end RB2 value will come with an injury to Jacobs. He's a solid pick near the middle rounds as a playable handcuff you can use as a flex option.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Drake was an eyebrow-raising signing by the Raiders in the offseason considering Josh Jacobs enters Year 3 as a Round 1 cornerstone running back. However, there is plenty of running back work to go around as the Raiders were fifth in the NFL in running back carries in 2020 and Devontae Booker, last year's primary backup, departed in free agency.
Phil Alexander on Jul 28: Matt Waldman raised some eyebrows when he named Sermon his top running back prospect in the 2021 rookie class ahead of eventual first-round draft picks Najee Harris and Travis Etienne. If Waldman's endorsement of Sermon's skills weren't enough (as if), Kyle Shanahan traded up for the former Oklahoma and Ohio State running back in Round 3. The 49ers backfield is ambiguous, but Sermon's pedigree and ability to excel as an outside zone runner in Shanahan's famed blocking scheme, makes him the favorite to lead San Francisco's backfield in touches. It should shock no one if Sermon separates himself from career journeyman Raheem Mostert and earns the starting job sooner than later.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Sermon's ranking belies his potential value. Among this tier, Sermon has by far the highest upside. If there's any indication he'll get a shot at the starting job during training camp, Sermon should vault into top-20 consideration given the 49ers ability to run the ball regardless of who totes the rock.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Sermon was the 2021 Rookie Scouting Portfolio's No.1 runner in its pre-draft publication. He's a shifty back with great footwork, starter-caliber short-area quickness, excellent contact balance, and terrific decision-making and vision. His tape at Oklahoma and Ohio State has been consistently high-level work even if his statistical production doesn't reflect it. Expect Sermon to have the clearest path to feature touches in 2022 for the NFL's leading ground game and a real shot to back up Raheem Mostert this year. Durability has been an issue with 49ers backs and a Mostert injury could open the door for Sermon much earlier.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: The 49ers running back depth chart had one domino fall with an offseason injury to Jeff Wilson keeping him out a projected 4-6 months. Sermon's odds of beginning the season higher than RB3 on the depth chart are elevated as a result. Sermon has league-winning potential if the opportunity breaks right.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Does the squeaky wheel get the grease? We'll find out as OC Greg Roman promises the Ravens will open up the playbook and throw more in 2021. If that happens, Brown could leap into a new tier. But the Ravens also added quality depth behind him, so nothing is guaranteed.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Brown must show that he can win in the middle of the field and handle the physicality of the game. Otherwise, he's going to have a career as a one-dimensional speedster. The addition of Rashod Bateman is an indication that the Ravens desire a better presence over the middle from its perimeter receivers. Think of Brown as the Ravens' version of Mike Wallace until he proves otherwise. A big year is possible, but it won't happen again without the entire passing offense taking it up a notch.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Brown is on the disappointing track for Round 1 wide receivers through two seasons. Baltimore adding notable wide receivers Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace in this year's draft are more ominous signs for Brown possessing a top-24 in his Baltimore future.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Parker lacks durability, and the Dolphins added Jaylen Waddle and Will Fuller in the offseason. It's hard to get excited about a veteran with a defined ceiling.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Parker should lead the Dolphins in targets and yardage, but don't expect Jaylen Waddle to be far behind. Although Parker will benefit from Waddle's speed, I think Waddle will earn a few touchdowns early in the year that defenses won't give up as easily once they're put on notice with Waddle's speed. That will be enough for Waddle to lead the team in scores, especially when Will Fuller returns and makes the matchups even harder for opponents to defend Waddle. Still, Parker should approach 1,000 yards and earn at least 5-7 scores. If Tagovailoa can emerge and play to his potential sooner, Parker could have a 10-score campaign and approach 1,300 yards--WR1 upside. Monitor Tagoailoa and his progress is linked to Parker's production.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: The Ronald Jones hype has never matched the on-field results, and last year we saw the Buccaneers turn to plenty of alternatives in free agency and the draft. Joens played well when healthy, but Leonard Fournette is more talented, has a better resume, and was effective in the playoffs. Expect Jones to be more of a No. 2 this year, in which case he's currently being overdrafted.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Leonard Fournette earned a bigger workload and production during the Buccaneers' stretch run. Still, Jones' didn't see his role completely disappear and remains the best overall runner on the team, even if his offseason work as a receiver didn't translate well to the field. This team will maintain a committee. Despite Fournette's work, Jones is the more dynamic runner at this stage and won't be taking a permanent backseat. He's a better non-PPR option but still useable in PPR formats.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Ronald Jones had the most snaps among Tampa Bay running backs a hearty eight times during the 2020 regular season. Leonard Fournette gained steam late in the year and especially in the postseason, but Jones had his best season yet. Still just 24 years old and in the prime peak-year window for running backs historically. Jones surpassed 1,100 total yards, posted four games of 100+ rushing yards, and is one of the top options on arguably the strongest collection of skill position talent roster in the NFL.
Phil Alexander on Jul 28: Thomas was a fun story last year. A quarterback-convert with elite measurables getting an opportunity and running with it was easy to root for, especially in fantasy where Thomas only cost a waiver claim in most leagues. But his unexpected TE4 finish in 2020 was fueled by 110 targets, which trailed only Travis Kelce and Darren Waller among tight ends. If you believe Thomas can once again approach a 20% target share in Washington, go ahead and draft him at ADP. It's more likely, however, that Thomas' hefty volume takes a substantial hit following the acquisitions of Curtis Samuel, Adam Humphries, and rookie Dyami Brown.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: A 29-year old converted quarterback entering his seventh season is hardly the profile of a breakout tight end, but Logan Thomas defied all odds in 2020. Can he maintain the same TD-heavy role with a new quarterback and better receiving corps? Possible, but unlikely.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Once again, I'm bullish on Thomas but my overall ranking is about the placement of where I would draft tight ends in his tier and not a statement on his skill and season outlook.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: Sometimes players come out of nowhere and have a great fantasy season. Logan Thomas is the perfect example. A previous best fantasy rank of 50th and bouncing around the league for his entire career, it all clicked for him in Washington in 2020. His success will not continue this year, and in fact, he should be on the Gary Barnidge route of a one-year wonder. Tight ends who come out of nowhere after the age of 28 have struggled to come close to their previous season numbers. Thomas will be 30 this year, and the team added Curtis Samuel, Dyami Brown, Adam Humphries, John Bates, and other receivers. Ryan Fitzpatrick also does not have a great track record of throwing to tight ends either.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Thomas enjoyed a career year in 2020 with a robust 110 targets. Infuse the offense with Curtis Samuel and Dyami Brown additions to a previously thin wide receiver corps and Thomas is poised for a volume decline in 2021.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Moss and Devin Singletary look like an ideal Thunder and Lightning combination, but in today's NFL, defensive coordinators are too smart to fall prey to personnel groupings that are one-dimensional. Moss needs to evolve as a receiver or he'll be pigeon-holed into a two-day power runner who only has value in certain game scripts.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: There are a number of candidates who could make a quick ascension up the back half of my running back rankings based on their development and/or injuries and/or suspensions to starters ahead of them. Moss is one of these candidates. He has the size and burst that Devin Singletary lacks, but his decision-making needed a lot of work after looking at his rookie tape. If he can improve and get even a little quicker, he could become the lead back in Buffalo. However, he must show this development this summer and he'll also be competing against a top athlete in Matt Breida who has starter skills as a runner. Breida's injuries have led to this journeyman status. If Moss can outdo both Singletary and Breida, he'll be much higher on my board. If he can't, you can consider Moss little more than late-round depth.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Moss and Devin Singletary were in a firm split committee when both were healthy in 2020. Moss was the preferred option in the red zone, which is a plus for his fantasy upside on a strong Bills offense. If Moss or Singletary evolve into a clear starter, Moss has the edge as Singletary has yet to be entrusted to the role through two seasons.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Carter is immensely talented, but is he big enough and durable enough to handle a feature role? The Jets are starting over so we have very little to go on in terms of roles and scheme. If talent is the predominant factor in fantasy success, Carter should thrive. He's significantly more athletic and explosive than his teammates. But if he can't learn to pass block, it's all for naught.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: If I had a choice between Carter and Clyde Edwards-Helaire based solely on their college film, I would give the edge to Carter. He's Edwards-Helaire's equal as a receiver and route runner, has more top-end speed, and Carter is the superior runner between the tackles because of his ability to work through more meaningful contact than Edwards-Helaire. The Jets offensive line is a work in progress, but Carter is a talented, small-crease runner and everything he offers will be an upgrade to Tevin Coleman and the rest of this depth chart as long as he acclimates quickly enough to earn meaningful reps early in the year.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Carter was drafted on Day 3 but lands on an optimistic depth chart with the Jets. Tevin Coleman and LaMical Perine are underrated by comparison to Carter, who is assumed to have a significant role as a rookie. Tread lightly with the investment level compared to Coleman and Perine with similar or better profiles.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: T.Y. Hilton hasn't been healthy in years, but his role as a starter in Indianapolis appears safe for another season.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Hilton came on late last year and as long as he's healthy, he should be a good quick-hitting option for Carson Wentz as well as an underrated tight-window target 15-40 yards downfield. I'm not expecting a decline in play this year even if he won't reach the totals he once earned with Andrew Luck.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: T.Y. Hilton, begins his 10th season in the league in 2021. In nine years, he has seven top-25 finishes, but the shine has lost some it's luster recently with back-to-back finishes outside of the top 40. In 2019 Hilton suffered a severe calf injury that he fought through and wound up playing a total of 10 games. Last year he played 15 games and finished strong ranking 17th in PPR scoring from Week 10-17. He led the team in receiving yards (762), tied for first in receiving touchdowns (5), and finished second behind Nyheim Hines with 56 receptions.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Hilton is on the clear downside but still projected as the WR1 for the Colts. Parris Campbell missed most of the season as a reason for skepticism Hilton rising in targets in 2021.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Dillon no longer has Jamaal Williams keeping him off the field, but he still has Aaron Jones -- who was re-signed for massive money in the offseason. Dillon is one of many clear No. 2s with little value while the starter is healthy, but starting value if an injury opens the door.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Dillon is an underrated prospect from the 2020 NFL Draft class who flashed in a snowbound game on Sunday night late last year. Big, strong, more agile than characterized, and a savvy runner with soft hands and excellent pass protection upside, Dillon has the potential to not only become a short-term upgrade to the solid Jamaal Williams in this offense but also become a long-term force as the Packers' lead back.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: A.J. Dillon was only unleashed for one game last year. The result was 124 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Jamaal Williams leaves for Detroit. That is a lot of touches up for grabs. Aaron Jones was already heavily utilized so Dillon is the logical choice. The situation regarding Aaron Rodgers is still up in the air, but either way, Dillon will be a great choice later in your draft. If Rodgers returns, the running game wonâ€™t face stacked boxes. If he leaves or sits out, the running game will need to be dominant. Dillon is much more suited to this role than Jones
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: While the air came out of the clear starting role balloon for Dillon early in the offseason with Aaron Jones resigning in Green Bay, Jamaal Williams is gone to leave Jones and Dillon as the notable backfield options. Even if Dillon only gets his own sparse total from last season combined with Williams' departed work, that totals more than 200 rushes and targets. Dillon is more than a high-upside injury-away option, he is a stand-alone flex option with league-winning upside if Jones misses a stretch of the season.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Waddle is as close to a can't miss prospect as you'll find at the receiver position, but no receiver can transcend poor quarterbacking. Will Tua Tagovailoa improve this year? If so, Waddle could be rookie of the year. If not, Waddle may come cheaply in 2022 as fickle owners refuse to buy back into the hype.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Henry Ruggs' rookie year has turned a lot of people off to Waddle having a strong rookie year. While having mild expectations for rookie receivers is a respectable strategy and one I often advocate, doing so with logo scouting as a rationale is dangerous. Waddle is a far better route technician and Ruggs and much more than a deep threat. I would not be shocked if Waddle leads Miami in receptions and yardage this year even with DeVante Parker present and healthy. This is a special weapon who has an already established rapport with his starting quarterback--a passer many will undervalue because they underestimate the legitimate impact that COVID had on the passer's knowledge of the playbook.
Phil Alexander on Jul 28: Trying to decipher coach speak early in the preseason is often a fool's errand, but sometimes separating the signal from the noise doesn't have to be hard. New Chargers' offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi has told us to "bet on nice numbers coming from Williams on the stat sheet" and said "there will be some natural production that comes Williams' way because of the nature of the offense". These quotes are oddly specific and shouldn't be ignored given Williams' pedigree, association with Justin Herbert, and the target volume opened up by the departure of Hunter Henry.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: The allure of Mike Williams has always exceeded the performance. He's been touchdown-dependent throughout his career and lacks durability. On paper, he has a starting role in a pass-happy offense with an elite young quarterback. But somehow, in some way, Williams will find a way to fall short of his best-case scenario.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Entering his contract year, Williams has top-15 upside at his position, but everything will have to be perfect for it to happen. Expect Williams and Jared Cook to alternate big weeks depending on who gets an optimal target in the vertical passing game--and often those targets could be one-off plays to Tyron Johnson and/or Jalen Guyton. If Williams can garner 110-125 targets, he's going to be closer to WR2 material. I have him just shy of 100 targets and it makes a valuable, but over-valued flex or WR3.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Hines is good for a few huge receiving games each year, which makes him an awesome best ball option late in drafts. But in redraft leagues you're never going to feel confident in his workload.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Hines offers much greater PPR value to fantasy GMs because the only way he becomes the primary runner between the tackles is if three backs on the Colts' depth chart suffer long-term injuries and the Colts decide to spread the offense out rather than start a street free agent or aging veteran they sign as insurance. Still, Hines offers that Danny Woodhead, Darren Sproles, Chris Thompson RB1 upside in optimal circumstances that are often harder to come by. Expect a low-end RB2-RB3 ceiling in PPR and flex-play value in non-PPR.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Marlon Mack returning (TBD on his own health status) clouds Hines' potential opportunities if Jonathan Taylor misses time. Notably, Hines was RB3 in the NFL with 77 targets even with Taylor being the clear starter. Hines saw almost as many targets as rushing attempts as one of the clarified usage types of the position.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Singletary is clearly a complementary player, but the Bills offense is potent enough for that to mean fantasy relevance at least a handful of times per season.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: The Bills seem content with its committee of backs for this year. Singletary was the best decision-maker between him and Zack Moss and Moss had the power and a little more burst. The best all-around back when healthy is free-agent acquisition Matt Breida. He's a terrific athlete who delivers a combination of skilled decision-making and big-play speed that no other back on the roster possesses. If he stays healthy and has a good camp, he could take over this backfield, but staying healthy has been a massive issue for him and he's likely considered a scatback and reserve. Don't expect Singletary to develop beyond the athletic ceiling that holds back his game. He's capable of solid RB2 fantasy production as long as he earns a substantial enough split. Stay tuned for news about Breida to determine if Singletary's opportunities may decrease.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Through two seasons, Singletary has yet to be used or viewed as a true feature back and the Bills added big-bodied Zack Moss on Day 2 in 2020. Singletary is the more dynamic option of the two, but Josh Allen siphons touchdowns away from both running backs and this is poised to be a murky committee without an injury to clarify opportunities.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Anthony Lynn has repeatedly referred to Williams as an "A-Back" who can do it all and play three downs. He's also called Swift a "B-back" better used in specific situations. If Lynn means what he says, Williams is grossly undervalued, and Swift is overrated.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Anthony Lynn referred to Williams as his â€˜A-Backâ€™ in this offense. All one has to do is look at the outputs of Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler to see that Gordon earned the edge in rushing attempts, yardage, and rushing scores while Ekeler dominated as a receiver. Williams lacked Gordon's juice that we saw in college, but Gordon has never emerged as a big-play runner in the NFL and seems to lack that advertised game-breaking speed. Williams was classified as sluggish but has incrementally gotten quicker and he's a powerful runner with smart decision-making and does excellent work in the passing game. I'm not convinced about Swift's passing-down prowess. Williams is a better blocker and a good route runner. Swiftâ€™s route-running had lapses with his breaks the past five years. Williams could earn the lead role and enough receiving opportunities to deliver as a fantasy starter.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Williams is one of the strongest injury-away plays for the running back position. With clarity behind D'Andre Swift on the Lions depth chart, Williams projects as a high workload option if Swift were to miss time.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Last year, Robert Tonyan burst on the scene with an unsustainable touchdown rate, and that was with Aaron Rodgers playing at an MVP level. There will be regression for the entire passing offense, but Tonyan can still be a low-end TE1 if things play out right.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: If Tonyan winds up a one-year wonder--at least for those who only see things year-to-year--it will have to do with Aaron Rodgers leaving town. He's a reliable, big-play target and one of the few options on the team that can win contested plays downfield with any consistency.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Tonyan had a historic touchdown rate in 2020 to buoy his breakout season. Former Day 2 pick Jace Sternberger did not challenge Tonyan notably for the starting position and wide receiver questions beyond Davante Adams remain for the Packers offense.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Tony Pollard is a different player than Ezekiel Elliott, and won't see the field much if things go according to plan. But Elliott looked human last year and if he breaks down further, Pollard can be fantasy relevant, particularly in PPR formats.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: We all know Pollard is good enough to become a fantasy starter if called upon. The ranking of Pollard is a reflection of a fantasy analyst's confidence in Ezekiel Elliott. Mine remains high.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Pollard's stand-alone value is minimal, but he possesses one of the highest ceiling outcome if one event occurs - an Ezekiel Elliott chunk of missed games. Prioritize the highest upside primary backup running backs, like Pollard, in fantasy drafts
Phil Alexander on Jul 28: Pittman has the size, ball skills, and athleticism to approximate Alshon Jefferyâ€™s 2017-2018 production when the latter played with Carson Wentz on the Eagles. Itâ€™s conceivable Pittman makes a year-two leap and supplants T.Y. Hilton as the Colts' No. 1 receiver.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: The Colts have an unsettled receiving corps, and at least one of the receivers is going to massively outperform ADP. Pittman has the most intriguing combination of age and traits, at a cost that won't kill you if he doesn't put it all together.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Is Pittman the Alshon Jeffrey to Carson Wentz in Indianapolis? It's possible. At this point, I have Pittman second to T.Y. Hilton in targets and receptions but third on the team in receiving touchdowns. While I expect to elevate Pittman's value if he has a notable training camp, I'm not initially projecting him with great optimism. He had a solid rookie year but the big plays came on crossing routes and not tough one-on-one battles.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: When looking for a receiver in the middle rounds, you look for a high floor and a high ceiling. Michael Pittman Jr is the player you look for in 2021. Pittman has imposing size and demonstrated elite skills last season. T.Y. Hilton is well last 30 and is a complementary receiver these days. Parris Campbell has trouble staying on the field. The stage is set for Pittman to be a starting fantasy receiver and elite one. Very quickly.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Michael Pittman showed moments of dominance, reliability, and future prowess in 2020. He finished his rookie campaign with a respectable 14% share of the team's targets totaling 40 receptions for 503 yards and 1 touchdown in 13 games. We last saw Pittman with 5 receptions for 91 yards (on 11 targets) in the Wildcard playoff loss to Buffalo. He is expected to take a step forward in 2021 as the Colts #2 wide receiver behind T.Y. Hilton, and he has an outside shot at overtaking Hilton as the team's leading downfield target.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Murray was a top-10 fantasy back in Alvin Kamara's stead in recent seasons, but his value could take a huge hit this year if Taysom Hill wins the job and vultures all the red zone rushing opportunities.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Murray has solid flex value behind this strong Saints offensive line and he has the upside to deliver high-end RB2 production if Alvin Kamara misses extensive time with an injury.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Latavius Murray is a flex-at-best fantasy option any week Alvin Kamara is active. However, Murray is one of the select 'can win you a week or a championship' type upside running backs if the depth chart breaks right for Murray to garner a few uncontested starts. Value the variance.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Can Matthew Stafford unlock Tyler Higbee? The tight end had an impressive 8-week stretch in 2019, but his career arc suggests a less compelling outlook.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Higbee dealt with hand and elbow injuries early on and didn't play up to massive expectations in 2020 that was based on an incredible 2019 stretch run. Rookie Jacob Harris is a favorite of mine, but he's a 211-pound wide receiver labeled as a tight end whose impressive minicamp is just that, minicamp. Stafford has a history of supporting fantasy production from tight ends less talented than Higbee. Expect Higbee and Matthew Stafford to generate a rapport that will put Higbee closer to his elite potential than what we saw last year.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: Itâ€™s easy to focus on the magnificent performance of Tyler Higbee in the last half of the 2019 season. A detailed look at Higbeeâ€™s performance when Gerald Everett was absent at other times illustrates the potential that Higbee has in 2021 for fantasy managers. The other Tight Ends on the roster will have a role for sure, but none are genuine receiving targets at this stage of their careers. I believed that Higbee would come back to earth in 2020 with the return of Everett and am ready to jump back on with his rival now in Seattle.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Gerald Everett matched Higbee in targets last season. With Everett gone, Brycen Hopkins will pick up some of the slack, but Higbee has a golden opportunity to approach his 89 targets from 2019 and top-12 status.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Old man Jones continues to earn playing time and catch touchdowns, but will that remain the case in Jacksonville? Survey says probably not.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Easily capable of top-12 production even in his advancing years, Jones joins a Jaguars receiving corps loaded with young talent. He can play all three positions and should serve as a capable mentor in the receiver room as well as a solid contributor who can complement D.J. Chark and Laviska Shenault. Expect fantasy flex production from Jones if Chark and Shenault play to expectations. Elevate if one of these players struggles during camp or gets hurt during the season.
Anthony Amico on Jul 22: Proven TD-scorer for a team that will likely be trailing most of the year.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Gesicki's career is at a crossroads because his role as the every-down slot receiver is in serious jeopardy with the addition of Jaylen Waddle.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Hunter Long is a relatively early draft pick but it's unlikely that he takes over for Gesicki as a rookie and earns the primary receiving role on the depth chart. Expect Gesicki to approach 600 receiving yards and 4-6 scores.
Andrew Davenport on Jul 21: Gesicki only cracks the top ten at the position because of the glut of tight ends in this area of the draft. He showed the flashes everyone wanted to see at times last year, but then at others he disappeared. With the additions at wide receiver it might be hard to fight through those guys for targets, but a corresponding jump in offensive efficiency should help Gesicki's bottom line.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Jaylen Waddle and Hunter Long were notable additions to the Miami passing game this offseason. Gesicki is coming off a career-best TE8 PPG finish but expect a downturn with still a question mark at quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa and stronger competition for targets.
Phil Alexander on Jul 28: Edwards re-signed with the Ravens as a restricted free agent for a fairly rich $4.5 million per year. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman has already called Baltimore's backfield a committee. Don't pop the corks at your J.K. Dobbins breakout party just yet. Edwards is deceptively fast for his size and has done nothing but churn out consistent yardage when called upon throughout his three-year career. He's a priority handcuff with weekly standalone value on what once again projects as the run-heaviest offense in the NFL.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Edwards is the clear 1b to J.K. Dobbins 1a, but on a run-heavy team like Baltimore that still equates to value. Edwards gets enough carries, particularly in high leverage situations, to be useful as a flex play in any game script. And should Dobbins get hurt, Edwards could be a league winner.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Edwards can be a fantasy starter in this excellent Ravens run game but J.K. Dobbins is the man in Baltimore this year with Edwards as a change-of-pace and sub-package back that might deliver 3-5 startable games if you can predict when it happens. Although the Ravens re-signed Edwards, they also didn't draft another runner. This is signals that they like what they have on their depth chart and I don't think it's just Edwards. TySon Williams is a name to remember. He has starter potential and he impressed late last summer.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Even more than being a hindrance to J.K. Dobbins' upside in 2021, Edwards has standalone value in Baltimore's run-heavy offense with plenty of volume to support Lamar Jackson, Dobbins, and Edwards. While Mark Ingram was a clear third wheel to the running back rotation over the course of 2020, he still leaves 160 snaps vacated and Edwards is a good bet for 35-50% of snaps even if Dobbins is the clear starter. If Dobbins is out, Edwards can win fantasy weeks.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Henry Ruggs' rookie season was a shocking disappointment, particularly compared to his classmates' majestic performances. But a bad year does not a career make, and a strong camp will re-ignite Ruggs ADP.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: As scouting in the 2020 Rookie Scouting Portfolio, Ruggs needed work with his breaks. He's sluggish in and out of them, which Raiders' GM Mike Mayock affirmed at the season's end. If Ruggs can become an impactful route runner beyond the vertical game, he could become a 1,000-yard receiver. If not, he'll remain an exciting, but inconsistent fantasy producer capable of 600-800 yards and 5-7 scores.
Phil Alexander on Jul 28: Reagor seems to be a forgotten man just one year after being selected 21st overall in the NFL Draft. Poor quarterback play and injuries derailed his rookie season, but Reagor is presumably still as exciting with the ball in his hands as he was coming out of TCU. Projecting the target hierarchy in Philadelphia remains a fluid exercise.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Fantasy managers are fickle and it's amazing how quickly they've given up on Reagor. He was a first-round pick a year ago and suffered through an abysmal quarterback situation and devastated offensive line. There's no reason he can't take a huge leap in 2021; he may even outperform rookie Devonta Smith depending on how quickly Jalen Hurts evolves as a passer.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Reagor flashed as a rookie but ultimately underwhelmed his Round 1 expectations. DeVonta Smith was added this offseason and Zach Ertz is poised to be healthier than his limited self a year ago. Reagor could push for 75 targets, but 100 or more is a tough ask where Reagor's role could range for first in the passing game pecking order all the way to fourth behind Smith, Ertz, and Dallas Goedert.
Phil Alexander on Jul 28: We got a preview of what Smith's fantasy output will look like post-Kyle Rudolph from Weeks 14-17 in 2020. With Rudolph sidelined with a foot injury, Smith racked up 15 catches, 183 yards, and three touchdowns across a four-game sample, which placed him behind only Darren Waller, Travis Kelce, and Logan Thomas in tight end PPR scoring over that span. If you miss out on a difference-maker at tight end early in your draft, prioritize Smith as an affordable breakout candidate.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: On a 60-catch, 732-yard, 12 touchdown pace once Kyle Rudolph went down. While it's a small sample size, don't forget Smith had the traits and college tape to project fantasy stardom. He's been hamstrung by deference to Rudolph; who is now a New York Giant.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: As you can see from my overall rankings versus my positional rankings of the position, this tier is my first one that lines up with my peers in terms of valuation. Smith and Dallas Goedert seem like decent values at this point. It means if you're going to draft by my overall list at this early point of the summer, go with Kelce or wait for Smith or Goedert as primary options in their offenses.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Kyle Rudolph missed Weeks 14, 15, 16, and 17 in 2020 with a foot injury. Irv Smith took over as the #1 tight end for Minnesota and caught three touchdowns ranking him 4th in PPR in that time span. His breakout year could finally come in 2021 but I'm slightly concerned about Minnesota's propensity to use two tight ends. Tyler Conklin is also going to be a piece of the target-share and could be a deterrent to Smith becoming an elite tight end.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Smith has a golden opportunity for a breakout season in 2021 with Kyle Rudolph gone in free agency. However, even consolidating all of Rudolph's targets to Smith's 2020 tally results in only 80 looks. With Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen dominating targets in the passing game, Smith has a reasonable chance at the top-12 of fantasy tight ends, but sparse hopes of the top-5.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: If Justin Fields can turn the Bears offense into a dynamic version of what Matt Nagy ran in Kansas City, Darnell Mooney has the talent to break through as an every-week fantasy starter.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Anthony Miller is playing--or rather, sitting on the bench--out the string until the Bears can potentially find a team that will trade for him. Damiere Byrd raised his profile slightly after doing solid work for the discount-conscious Patriots. That leaves Darnell Mooney and Marquise Goodwin as the two most likely options to complement Allen Robinson in Chicago. Mooney probably lacks 1,000-yard upside but he can deliver 600-800 yards and 4-6 scores. I'm counting on it.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Beasley appears set on refusing the Covid-19 vaccine, which means he could be a surprise cut if his hesitance proves disruptive to team chemistry. Assuming he sticks in Buffalo, he's a matchup play in PPR formats, at best.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Beasley has a safe range of outcomes for a PPR option in the slot for a productive offense as long as he's healthy.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: Cole Beasley has enjoyed his time in Buffalo, ranking as a bottom-end WR3 for his two years there. The key problem with drafting him is there is no upside. He will be 32 years old and has been in the news this offseason, unrelated to his performance. There is a chance this could end quickly and get ugly. Or he can continue to be a boom-or-bust player on a week-to-week basis. Last year was as good as it will get for Beasley. Emmanuel Sanders arrives, and Gabriel Davis is an improving young player. Jump off now before you end up disappointed
Jason Wood on Jul 26: McKissic was essentially Washington's slot receiver last year, and his fantasy value is tied entirely into his receiving role. With a new, more aggressive, quarterback, and a bolstered receiving corps, it's possible McKissic returns to irrelevance.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: McKissic is a fine scatback who has earned his stripes with Atlanta and Seattle before delivering at a higher level in Washignton. Still, he's a limited runner between the tackles and that's something that rookie Jaret Patterson might deliver in small doses that makes him more appealing than McKissic if Patterson can display the route-running and hands necessary to compete with the veteran scatback this summer. Stay tuned.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: McKissic did not see strong competition for the 1B or RB2 role in Washington's backfield this offseason. However, the passing game saw an overhaul. On the plus side, Ryan Fitzpatrick offers a bold decision-maker. On the negative side for McKissic are the additions of Curtis Samuel, Dyami Brown, and multiple young tight ends to boost a poor WR2/3 and TE2 situation from a year ago. McKissic led running backs with 110 targets in 2020 and it will be a tough task to match the total again in 2021.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Is Daniel Jones any good? Is Jason Garrett any good? Unless you can answer "yes" to both -- which you cannot -- Engram is easily avoidable outside of deep leagues.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: If Engram stays healthy, he can be a top-12 fantasy tight end. Trust him to stay healthy through a season and you're not projecting performance based on past history. He's also a sloppy executor of tasks relative to his talent. Combine those two characteristics and I'll pass on him.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Daniel Jones is still a passing game question mark and the Giants added Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, and Kyle Rudolph this offseason. Expect Engram to fade from his 109 targets in 2020. Free agency in 2022 cannot come soon enough for Engram.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Hardman's ADP is skyrocketing as beat writers have indicated he's the clear-cut No. 2 in Kansas City. We've been waiting patiently for Hardman to morph into an essential piece of the Chiefs puzzle, is this the year?
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: I don't believe the departure of Sammy Watkins elevates Hardman's value any more than it did while Watkins was injured. Expect a similar role from Hardman where he's more beneficial to his team as a field-stretcher than he is in the box score. 45-575-4 is the annual stat-line I project for now.
Andrew Davenport on Jul 21: Hardman backers like to talk about his upside for fantasy rosters. But in 2020 he surpassed 12.7 PPR points only 2 times the entire season. It's hard to be fantasy relevant on only 62 targets. If Hardman makes a move to lock down a starting job in camp he'll rocket up the rankings. Until then he should be treated with caution.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Random big plays and bumping to 62 targets last season have Hardman pointing in a positive direction for 2021. Sammy Watkins is gone and the WR2 role for the Chiefs is notably between Hardman and Demarcus Robinson. Instead of betting on Hardman, look for Clyde Edwards-Helaire to improve on his 55 targets.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: The Patriots broke the bank to sign Henry and Jonnu Smith, leaving fantasy managers with an indecipherable puzzle of how the targets and roles will be split. Either could be a top-10 fantasy asset in a lead role, but can either be reliable sharing the spotlight?
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Who is better to draft, Henry or Jonnu Smith? Will they be the resurrection of the Patriots' two-tight end offense? Based on the type of players acquired relative to the free-agent receivers signed, the answer is yes. However, I'm not completely sold as of June. I fear Smith and Henry cancelling the other out for fantasy purposes. If I had to choose one, Henry is the more reliable route option with consistent hands, but Smith is the better athlete.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Henry and Jonnu Smith were splash signing by the Patriots overhauling their woeful passing game this offseason, as well as Nelson Agholor among their wide receivers. Henry has been a solid but unspectacular fantasy option to-date. With quarterback questions and a run-centric setup to the Patriots offense, Henry is a high-floor but low-ceiling proposition for 2021.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: The Patriots invested heavily in offensive weapons in the offseason, including paying Agholor a handsome salary to take over as the presumptive No. 1 receiver. But will the Patriots' passing attack warrant investing in on draft day?
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Agholor still has the occasional case of the drops, but he has cut down on the frequency of it in scenarios that haunted him. After a renaissance in Oakland, the frugal-shopping Patriots targeted Agholor to serve as the team's primary option on the perimeter. This could prove worthwhile if Mac Jones acclimates fast and/or Cam Newton's abysmal passing campaign in 2020 had more to do with his surrounding talent. Think of Agholor as a flex-play with a WR ceiling and you're valuing him sensibly.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: The wide receiver room in New England may be one of the worst in the NFL. That said, someone has to catch the ball. The Patriots didnâ€™t sign Nelson Agholor to a big contract without good reason. He demonstrated with the Raiders last year that he is both a decent NFL receiver and a reliable fantasy option. He has finished as a bottom-end fantasy WR2 twice in his career and provides good upside in 2021 at a throwaway price.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: The Patriots wide receiver depth chart is wide open for Agholor to be the clear WR1. N'Keal Harry has been a disappointment to-date and Julian Edelman retired in the offseason. Agholor was already declared a bust by many with a slow career start, but has reclaimed his career of late and 100 or more targets is within reach.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Bateman has top-20 talent but landed in a situation that's going to keep a ceiling on his value. Don't be surprised if Bateman is as productive as Marquise Brown by the final month of 2021, but that could still mean less than 100 targets.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Lindsay's on-field performance in Denver warranted more than an unceremonious departure, but he landed in arguably the least attractive spot possible. He's got multiple veterans ahead of him on the depth chart, and the Texans are in turmoil and unlikely to have leads often enough to make use of a ground-and-pound attack.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: David Johnson had a decent 12-game stint with the Texans and Mark Ingram's addition provides continuity in 2021 if Johnson gets hurt again. However, Lindsay should have a role whether Johnson or Ingram earn the other portion of backfield touches. Lindsay has the look and surface-level profile of a scatback but his receiving isn't on par with Johnson or Ingram. However, Lindsey rivals both backs as a decision-maker between the tackles and could surprise in this system. In fact, I think he has better vision than both runners and that's a high compliment when considering Ingram is as good as he has been for so long because of his decision-making and ability to see the field. I'm likely overestimating his contributions in Houston at this point. I'll update this if I decide that I am.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: After two strong years in Denver in a part-time role, Phillip Lindsay's shine lost a bit of luster in 2020. Injuries to his knee, hip, and ankle held him to 11 games last year where he ultimately finished outside of the top 60 to end the season. He's a versatile overachiever who will fight for playing time. He'll compete with Mark Ingram for touches in the backfield behind David Johnson and could be fantasy relevant especially if an injury elevates his standing on the depth chart.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Lindsay enters the Houston depth chart competing with Mark Ingram for the RB2 role behind starter David Johnson. Lindsay is only one season removed from a 1,200 total yard season in Denver. Deshaun Watson's status is a question mark for the viability for the entire Houston offense, but Lindsay is one of the more productive backs in the RB2/3 depth chart mix around the NFL.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Julio Jones' trade makes Gage an intriguing late-round option, but there's no guarantee Gage will vault into 100+ targets. The new coaching staff is likely going to run a more balanced, run-heavy offense. And Kyle Pitts has the talent to vacuum up many of Jones' vacated targets.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Gage earned career highs in targets last year but averaged little more than 10 yards per catch. He's a slot receiver and without Julio Jones in the lineup, Gage may still be a contender for being the third or fourth option in the progression order, but expect Kyle Pitts as a detached receiver and Hayden Hurst as the inline tight end to supersede Gage in the progression order. Frank Darby and Olamide Zaccheaus also bear watching due to their vertical skills and superior YAC ability to Gage. This may be the highest that I rank Gage this year.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Smith's relevance hinges on Jameis Winston winning the starting job. If he does, Smith will have a few big weeks as a vertical threat. If Taysom Hill is the quarterback, Smith is little more than a decoy and occasional deep threat on broken coverages.
Chad Parsons on Jul 23: Three years in and Smith is still miring in the possible breakout bucket of the wide receiver position. The WR2 role is still wide open in the Saints passing game. One potential point of optimism is Michael Thomas likely limited or out in the opening weeks with a June ankle surgery. Jameis Winston can boost Smith's downfield panache as well.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: Tre'Quan Smith hasnâ€™t followed up on the promise of his rookie season. Perhaps that is all his fault, or maybe the aging arm of Drew Brees was an issue. If it is clear that Jameis Winston will start, a late pick on Smith will prove to be a shrewd move. His value will likely be limited to best-ball leagues, but if he develops a good rapport with Winston and has made sufficient improvement in his game, he will be of great value
Jason Wood on Jul 26: The analyst community has always liked Brown more than his fantasy value warrants, but the luster is finally off Brown as he moves to a Raiders team with plenty of alternatives.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Brown has never made good on the Marvin Harrison comparison foisted onto his prospects when he was with the Cardinals. He's still a good deep threat with a little more versatility to his route game. He's good enough to match or exceed Nelson Agholor's 900-yard campaign with the Raiders last year, but staying healthy has always been the largest obstacle for Brown. I have him projected for 14 games and 800 yards. It's enough to be the third-most productive receiver on the team and a fantasy flex option if you can figure out what drives the best matchups.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: The WR1 role for the Raiders is wide open and Brown has the strongest career profile of production on the depth chart. Brown is a darkhorse candidate for a top-24 season if the depth chart is truly his to lose for the Raiders.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Tarik Cohen's snaps and touches have steadily declined each year; he was playing a marginal role before getting hurt last year. Matt Nagy doesn't seem to like Cohen much, and with David Montgomery's breakout performance in 2020, don't be surprised to see Cohen on waivers in August.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Cohen could be so much more in a different offense. He's what the Eagles hope they're getting from Kenneth Gainwell and what the Patriots would love after James White's contract expires. The Bears haven't known what to do with him since John Fox abandoned using Cohen in dynamic fashion about halfway through Cohen's rookie year. Unless injuries dictate a clear path to weekly usage, Cohen is unpredictable fantasy depth.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Kliff Kingsbury has devoted a lot of draft capital on receivers in his brief tenure, so it's hard to trust Rondale Moore as a rookie. But he's an ideal fit as a jack-of-all-trades slot option and should play more than A.J. Green if the coaches truly care about maximizing Kyler Murray's value.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: I love this landing spot for Moore. I'm projecting a lot of 10 personnel--four-receiver sets--with Moore and either A.J. Green, Christian Kirk, or Andy Isabella working a lot of the time on the inside. This should draw a ton of sweet matchups for Moore and result in big plays downfield or after the catch. I think Moore will be the second-most productive receiver on his team.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Gabriel Davis has played well enough in limited snaps to project as a productive No. 2 in a hyper-efficient Bills passing offense. But for now he has Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders ahead of him on the depth chart.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Dalvin Cook has an injury history that should make anyone worried, and that means Mattison needs to be on rosters in every league. If the door opens, Mattison can be a high-volume back in an era where 15+ carry games are hard to find.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: If Mattison were the lead back in San Francisco, he'd be a top-five fantasy producer at the position and Trey Sermon would have dropped further in the NFL Draft. If Dalvin Cook suffers an early injury, this outcome is possible in Minnesota, too. As it stands today, Mattison is a talented change-of-pace option in the Vikings' stable of backs who will earn touches but has no more than handcuff value.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Mattison, like Latavius Murray and select other running backs, has 'win you a season' type upside from a fantasy bench. Mattison has rolled snake eyes through two NFL seasons to get an extended run of Dalvin Cook-less games to shine, but Mattison remains in the ready position for a string of impact games and usage should Cook miss time.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Gronkowski's ceiling is lower than anyone with a higher ADP, but he managed another top-10 fantasy season in 2020 coming out of retirement. Unless he gets hurt, he has a TE1 floor, particularly in non-PPR formats.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Howard was a favorite fantasy value for me last summer but his injury cost him that opportunity to make good on it. Gronkowski looked like the player of old down the stretch and I expect more of the same in 2021. He'll earn some high-leverage shots up the seam and easier looks thanks to the presence of three excellent wide receivers. Gronkowski and Brady also had to get acclimated to the progressions and coverage calls that they were used to running in New England that was different under Bruce Arians. Look for them to be more aligned with the Bucs' offense this year. If I downgrade Gronkowski over the summer, it will be due to me giving Howard one last shot to make good on his potential. However, I had reservations about Howard's approach to the game at Alabama and I'm wondering if there isn't something to that.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: There is no doubt that Rob Gronkowski has risks in 2021. The return of O.J. Howard, his age, and a reduced target share limit his upside. The lack of decent fantasy tight ends lifts Gronkowski to a bottom-tier fantasy starter with his skill in the endzone, rapport with Tom Brady, and explosive skillset. An even better option in best-ball leagues, Gronkowski can be drafted as a backup and played as a starter regularly.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Gronkowski was out-targeted by O.J. Howard 19 to 14 in the opening month of 2020 with both healthy. Add in Antonio Brown's return and Gronkowski is a risky bet for meaningful volume in 2021 without multiple injuries to the loaded Tampa Bay passing game.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Father Time is going to render James White irrelevant very soon, but as long as he's on the Patriots roster, he has the potential for a few massive games. The trick is figuring out which games matter, and that's going to be next to impossible.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: We know what White is capable of doing for a passing game. What we don't know is if he'll have the quarterback to support that production potential. This is the final year of White's contract in New England and the aging Cam Newton was not the answer for the passing game last year. Mac Jones should be at some point and that's when White's value could rise. Monitor Jones and that's the key for when to bump White's value up your boards.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Kenny Golladay. Kadarius Toney. When your team breaks the bank on a free agent and spends a first-round pick on your position, your value isn't what it used to be.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: The arrival of Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney to the Giants offense allows the existing receivers like Sterling Shepard to play roles more suited to their abilities. Toney, in particular, may not be ready to be a focal point, so Shepard may see more targets than was originally expected. His upside is limited, but later in fantasy drafts, you have the option of swinging for the fences or taking a potential WR3 like Shepard instead.
Phil Alexander on Jul 28: Rookie Michael Carter is the upside play in the Jets backfield, but it wouldn't be shocking if Tevin Coleman opened the season as New York's primary back on early downs. We're at the point in Coleman's career arc where we can safely dismiss the possibility he'll break out in a featured role. But his familiarity with the Jets' new coaching staff from their time together in San Francisco should give Coleman an early leg up on youngsters Carter and LaMichael Perine. Absent injury to a team's current starter, Coleman has a much stronger chance of turning in startable weeks than other backs drafted in the same tier, like Chubba Hubbard and Darrynton Evans.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Tevin Coleman is a physical specimen but he's never been durable. Once Kyle Shanahan gives up on you, it's hard to expect anything more than a spot as a backup in a rotational committee.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Ironic that as of May, I'm the highest analyst on Tevin Coleman because long-term I've been the lowest on him since he was a raw athlete at Indian. Of course, being high on Coleman is relative to my peers on not his actual ranking. He'll still offer flex value as a receiver and for as long as he's healthy but he's not a valuable back when faced with challenging run fits and that's where Michael Cart should eventually deliver superior work and ultimately the lead role in New York.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: While Day 3 rookie Michael Carter has the buzz in the Jets backfield, Tevin Coleman is the profiled NFL producer being left in the discussion dust for the Week 1 starting role and most fantasy production for 2021. Coleman is a great bet to have a piece of an unsettled depth chart and possible inexpensive starter, even without an injury to clarity opportunity.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: The Patriots broke the bank to sign Smith and Hunter Henry, leaving fantasy managers with an indecipherable puzzle of how the targets and roles will be split. Either could be a top-10 fantasy asset in a lead role, but can either be reliable sharing the spotlight?
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Who is better to draft, Henry or Jonnu Smith? Will they be the resurrection of the Patriots' two-tight end offense? Based on the type of players acquired relative to the free-agent receivers signed, the answer is yes. However, I'm not completely sold as of June. I fear Smith and Henry cancelling the other out for fantasy purposes. If I had to choose one, Henry is the more reliable route option with consistent hands, but Smith is the better athlete.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Smith's big-money signing with New England was shortly followed by Hunter Henry's addition to revamp the tight end position entirely. The Patriots have little in terms of incumbents with strong stakes to targets, making this passing game one of the more ambiguous target share projections in the NFL.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: The Cardinals signed A.J. Green and drafted Rondale Moore, so it's hard to imagine Kirk taking another step forward in 2021.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Kirk will be the third, and with the possibility of a minor renaissance from A.J. Green, the fourth option in this Cardinals passing game with the addition of Rondale Moore. At the same time, if Moore struggles and Green falters, Kirk could return to his previous role as the second-in-command to DeAndre Hopkins. He lacks a 1,100-yard upside without a decimated receiving corps. Stay tuned.
Phil Alexander on Jul 28: Freak injuries have limited Campbell to a total of nine games through his first two NFL seasons, but the 59th pick in the 2019 draft will provide Carson Wentz with a tactical advantage when healthy. Campbell will likely return to the slot, where he commanded nine targets in his only appearance last season. But his 4.3-speed and ability to separate at every level is tailor-made for Wentzâ€™s arm strength. It wouldnâ€™t be shocking to see Frank Reich use Campbell in a role that also allows him to attack defenses vertically.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Many view Parris Campbell as a similar player to Curtis Samuel. Both are speedsters from Ohio State who are electric after the catch with athleticism that reaches the extreme end of the spectrum. Campbell suffered a PCL knee injury in Week 2 last season, which was supposed to be his comeback from an unfortunate rookie campaign that featured a hamstring injury, sports hernia, broken hand, and broken foot. The league is waiting for Campbell to show display his talents. All eyes will be on him as a player to watch in 2021.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Campbell led the Colts in targets Week 1 before a Week 2 injury derails his second NFL season. Campbell is a speed and after-the-catch maven battling Michael Pittman and T.Y. Hilton for the WR1/2 roles in Indianapolis.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: At this stage of his career, Sanders' best role is as a 3rd or 4th receiver. If Cole Beasley is released, Sanders becomes interesting as a late-round bench pick, but don't delude yourself into thinking he can become a star.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Sanders got hurt last year and then had to work with a quarterback at the end of his career who suffered a myriad of injuries that cost him arm strength. Sanders still has vertical skills and his absence from the 49ers' lineup hurt San Francisco's offense from a situational football perspective. Expect Sanders to provide a net upgrade to John Brown for Josh Allen and Buffalo where he'll get to use his full complement of routes with a quarterback who will have no problem putting RPMs on each target.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Terrace Marshall was buried at LSU behind Justin Jefferson and Ja'Marr Chase, however, he too has a strong profile that rivals his former teammates. He was a five-star recruit coming out of high school and he has the preferred size-speed combination for success in the NFL at 6'2, 205 pounds with 4.38 speed. In his last 19 games at LSU he totaled 23 touchdowns. Like his Carolina teammates, Marshall brings athleticism and speed to the Panthers shallow-cross, horizontal attacking offense. What could set him apart is his ability to score touchdowns.
Andrew Davenport on Jul 21: The Panthers offense has the look of an exciting one. But the lynchpin to the whole thing - Sam Darnold - is a shaky one. If he does well to get the offense moving it will still mean that he has to make a rookie wide receiver productive as the 4th option behind Christian McCaffrey, Robby Anderson, and D.J. Moore. Marshall seems like a long shot to be much help to fantasy teams this year.
Phil Alexander on Jul 29: The departure of Jared Cook makes Trautman the de facto No. 2 option in the Saints passing game until Michael Thomas proves healthy. Trautman is a small-school (Dayton) athletic specimen with the ability to stretch the seam as a receiver. If Jameis Winston wins New Orleans' quarterback competition, Trautman has the tools to finish comfortably inside the top-10 fantasy tight ends.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Trautman has no track record, which is the exciting thing. The Saints let Jared Cook walk and added nothing to the depth chart in free agency or the draft, which speaks volumes for a system that historically features the tight end. If Sean Payton trusts Trautman to break out in 2021, why shouldn't we?
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Trautman will break out with strong quarterback play, but I'm not convinced that's going to happen in New Orleans. He is the most likely option to move up my board at this position. He's a promising talent who acclimated well as a rookie, even if it didn't show up in the box score as a fantasy option.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Jared Cooks' departure vacates 60 targets and Trautman has minimal competition on the path towards 70+ targets this season. Wide receivers beyond Michael Thomas remain a question mark.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: The hype behind Jarwin last offseason was deafening, but a season-ending injury and Dalton Schultz' emergence leave more questions than answers.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Jarwin may seem like a product of 2020's debacle, but there's enough offense to go around that Jarwin earns 60-70 catches and 650-750 yards in this offense if you believe Dak Prescott can deliver close to 5,000 yards passing this year.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Jarwin was a projected breakout candidate in 2020 and a Week 1 season-ending injury derails all expectations. Dalton Schultz filled in admirably and Jarwin's starting role could be less pronounces as a result in 2021, pending full health and recovery. Add in a strong trio of wide receivers and Ezekiel Elliott and Jarwin is more of a TE2 projection than venturing into the top-12.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: The best potential path for Green's fantasy value will come as a big-slot option who earns mismatches with safeties, overwhelmed nickel corners, and linebackers. This is a conceivable possibility if the Cardinals go four-wide and stick Green and Rondale Moore inside. Green is still sharp enough with routes to thrive in this area. If used more on the outside as a fourth option, his ceiling of potential drops unless he surprises us all with a return to his Pro Bowl form late in his career. Right now, I have him splitting the difference as a 600-yard contributor and earning close to 80 targets.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Lazard has flashed with Aaron Rodgers, but not enough to think he can be relevant without Rodgers. Until we know whether the reigning MVP is playing in Green Bay, Lazard is best left on the waiver wire.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Perriman had a stellar month with the Buccaneers and has been a below-average player throughout the rest of his career. It's hard to see him morphing into a reliable asset in Detroit.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Cole Kmet could become an every-week fantasy starter in 2021, but he didn't look the part last year after the coaches handed him starters' snaps.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Kmet had a decent rookie year by realistic standards for tight ends entering the league. With Jimmy Graham still hanging around and the potential for three different quarterbacks to play this year in Chicago, Kmet's floor could be a reprise of his rookie performance. His ceiling could be substantially higher if he connects with Andy Dalton and/or Justin Fields early and often. Stay tuned.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: While Kmet is projected to take an uptick in offensive involvement in his second season, Jimmy Graham is still on the roster and relevant after 75 targets a year ago and being a red-zone presence. Kmet will have an uphill climb to see enough target for a top-10 finish without a monster touchdown rate.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Jared Cook seems to wear out his welcome after a season or two, but his athleticism and experience are hard to argue against. He could be Justin Herbert's security blanket across the middle and in the red zone. A compelling late-round lottery ticket.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Cook still has vertical skills and Justin Herbert has experience and skill with attacking the vertical seams. This is a good fit for the two players and I expect another quality season for both options in L.A.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Chargers tight ends saw a robust 137 targets last season and notable incumbent Donald Parham saw just 20 of said targets. Cooks has a golden opportunity to be the No.2/3 target on the team behind Keenan Allen, rivaling Austin Eekeler. Cook is a darkhorse candidate for a top-10 finish.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: It's hard to buy into the Jets passing attack right now, but Moore could easily be the team's lead receiver as a rookie. If he has a strong preseason, his ranking will vault higher.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Penny has never lived up to his 1st round pedigree, and the Seahawks didn't pick up his fifth-year option. He could be the No. 2 in a run-heavy offense, or he could be a late August cut depending on how the preseason unfolds.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: A talented athlete and skilled gap scheme runner--plays where offensive linemen pull as lead blockers--the Seahawks are more of a zone team and Penny needed a year to acclimate to the scheme. Once he did, he flashed starter skills before suffering a difficult injury. Now in the last year of his rookie deal, the Seahawks declined to pick up the fifth-year option. Penny has to prove he's worth a first-round pick to get another deal with Seattle. Otherwise, he'll be fighting for a roster spot on someone else's depth chart. He'll serve as the change of pace option to Chris Carson, but is he a good enough route runner to be the third-down back? If he is, the hands are there and he could have a bigger role. We'll see what this new scheme entails this summer.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Durability has been the watchword for Penny over his career. Chris Carson returns as the projected starter in Seattle, but Penny has a quality combination of size and athleticism should he string together multiple months of health within a season.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Hooper left a situation as one of the focal points to join a better team, but it came at the cost of becoming a tertiary option prone to boom and bust weekly performances.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Hooper, Harrison Bryant, and David Njoku have the potential to cancel each other out as fantasy options and that's likely the case. Hooper is the best candidate to lead as a yardage producer. Njoku is the big-play weapon with inconsistent hands. Bryant is a good route runner and zone option with starter upside who may lead in the red zone despite coming in second among the depth chart in targets.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Despite Hooper signing a significant free-agent contract with the Browns in 2020, his role sagged despite Odell Beckham missing more than half of the season. Harrison Bryant was a presence as a rookie and David Njoku had his fifth-year option picked up for 2021. Hooper is the classic high floor and low ceiling fantasy option unless an injury hits the depth chart or Njoku is traded.
Phil Alexander on Jul 28: Everett has always possessed the size, speed, hands, and run-after-the-catch skills to cause mismatches for opposing defenses, but we only caught occasional glimpses of his ability in the LA Rams' crowded passing game. In Seattle, he'll enjoy a massive quarterback upgrade, have room to roam the seam while defenses contend with DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett downfield, and he's familiar with the offense Shane Waldron wants to run from their time together with the Rams. Commanding targets while playing alongside Metcalf and Lockett caps his ceiling, but at the very least, Everett is a priority streamer with the upside to become an every-week starter.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Gerald Everett is the latest in a revolving door of Seahawks tight ends. Every now and then one of them lucks into a top-12 ranking because of a handful of red-zone touchdowns. Everett could be the next, but you can't bet on it happening on draft day.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Everett earns a quarterback with a gift for seam passes. He's a big receiver more than an in-line tight end, which allows the Seahawks to use him as the fourth receiver in 10 personnel while shifting into 11 personnel if there's a defensive look pre-snap that makes running the football a better idea.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: The Los Angeles Rams had the luxury of two highly skilled and proficient tight ends in Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett. With Everett signing in Seattle, both could see their fantasy stock explode. Everett is ready now, despite only averaging one 50+yard game a season. He has never had the volume of work likely to occur with the Seahawks. The presence of Will Dissly is a concern and if you have deep rosters, take both. I cannot get the first five games of 2019 out of my head where Dissly was the number one fantasy tight end. Seattle will use the position if they believe in a guy.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Will Dissly and colby Parkinson are tight end incumbents in Seattle, but Everett offers a wide receiver-like skillset unique to the depth chart. With Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf both strong target collectors, Everett is looking at TE2-type production even if emerging as the clear tight end starter over Dissly.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Williams is, by far, the most accomplished receiver on the Lions roster. But that doesn't mean he'll have the target share to matter in 12-team leagues.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Someone is getting targets in Detroit outside of T.J. Hockenson. Amon-Ra St. Brown or Quintez Cephus will man the slot or alternate between slot and flanker. Williams has the best combination of speed, experience, reliable hands, and route running among the older veterans. Look for him to have a ceiling between 900-1,100 yards and 7-10 touchdowns. Expect him to earn 800-900 yards and 4-6 scores if this offense goes the way most expect with Jared Goff at the helm.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: Tyrell Williams has teased fantasy stardom since his breakout season with the Chargers in 2016. Injuries and poor form have resulted in disappointment over the years, but the Raiders and now Detroit has paid him like a potential star. He will get targets, is the obvious lead receiver for the Lions, and is available at a steal in late rounds
Andrew Davenport on Jul 21: The problem with Williams is that he hasn't crossed 45 catches since 2016, which is a staggering run of injuries and irrelevance. Expecting him to bounce back and produce on a Lions squad that is rebuilding and gets a downgrade to Jared Goff is a tall task. Until there are some flashes to get excited about this summer, Williams is best left as a last round desperation play.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: The Lions wide receiver depth chart is one of the least settled in the NFL. Williams and Breshad Perriman are additions and Amon-Ra St.Brown is an incoming Day 3 rookie. Williams has the best NFL profile of the depth chart, including four top-50 seasons in his career. Williams is an ideal late-round stash.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: I was high on Mims' prospects as a 2020 draft pick and he did nothing to disappoint on the field. He displayed an excellent catch radius, promising route running, hand skill against tight-man coverage. What we didn't see were a lot of fades and contested targets. That may change with Zach Wilson in the fold. However, the new passing game demands a fuller route tree than what Mims displayed at Baylor and early on in New York and he could fall out of favor for Keelan Cole, a veteran that GM Joe Douglas coveted for years. Cole is running with the starters. Expect Mims to see time in the starting lineup but as a player platooned with Cole or Cole platooning with Mims outside and rookie Elijah Moore on the inside. Either way, Mims' upside as a solid fantasy WR2 looks slim this year.
Andrew Davenport on Jul 21: Writing off the second-year wide receiver because of Keelan Cole catching some passes in OTAs feels like a bit of an overreaction. Rumors have been flying that Mims doesn't fit the new offense very well, but until we see some evidence that he is being relegated to a backup role he is still worth a late round draft choice.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: The pervading thought on Slayton is that he's losing targets to Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney. However, a deeper look at the team dynamics leads to a compelling argument that Golladay and Toney are going to help Slayton be more efficient when considering that Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram couldn't offer anything to open things up for Slayton, who became a more known quantity to opposing defenders last year. I'm more in that camp and expect a similar year from Slayton with greater efficiency as opposed to a decline.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: With Jonnu Smith leaving for New England, Anthony Firkser has an opportunity to vault into fantasy prominence. But is he talented enough for a feature role? And what of the GM's recent comments that they're still looking at the tight end market in free agency? Pass.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Firkser is a reliable zone option who will start but I doubt it will come with a bump in value. Look for Geoff Swaim, Jared Pinkney, or even rookie Miller Forristall to usurp enough targets that Firkser is the figurehead starter but still a situational option.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Firkser has a golden opportunity for a career year in 2021. Jonnu Smith is gone and Tennessee did not notably add to the depth chart in the offseason. Firkser could double his targets from his 53 last season considering Corey Davis' departure and Josh Reynolds and Dez Fizpatrick attempting to pick up the WR2 slack.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Bernard could have the James White role in Tampa if Tom Brady has his way. He could also wind up a major surprise and be the lead back of a committee with Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette. He remains this skilled but as an older player, it's not something we should expect. Still, he's much better catching the ball than Jones and Fournette and it could make him a fast-rising player up my boards this summer. Stay tuned.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Bernard was a quality addition for the already stocked Tampa Bay running back depth chart, but his own usage upside is a significant question mark with Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones, and Day 2 Ke'Shawn Vaughn already in the mix. Bernard being a notable volume success in 2021 is a tough story to tell.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Ertz' ranking is way too low presuming he leaves Philadelphia and lands on a team as the No. 1 tight end. Once the change of scenery is official, he'll vault up the consensus rankings and ADP.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Ertz played hurt in 2020 to a TE26 finish, his lowest since his rookie season. Jalen Hurts is a work-in-progress passer to limit the chances Ertz returns to his previous top-5 status in 2021. An Ertz trade would not be the worst thing for his fantasy prospects.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Watkins is past his prime, but the Ravens prioritized signing the veteran. OC Greg Roman was with Buffalo when Watkins was an emerging star, so no other play-caller knows how to get more from Watkins. He'll be a boom-or-bust player and hard to trust in weekly lineups, but don't be shocked if he has the second-best numbers (behind Marquise Brown) at year end.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Clyde Edwards-Helaire still has to prove that he has the contact balance and power to do quality work in the red zone until then, count on Williams and Darwin Thompson to see work in this region of the field. If Williams had speed, he'd be a starter in this league because he has most everything else you seek from a competent decision-maker at the position. He's a solid reserve worth a late pick to handcuff to Edwards-Helaire if that's the kind of strategy you like to use.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Darrel Williams is the slated primary backup to Clyde Edwards-Helaire in a dynamic Chiefs offense. This alone is fantasy viable to stash on benches to open the season. Jerick McKinnon was added this offseason but has struggled to sustain meaningful usage even when the opportunity presents itself in recent seasons.
Phil Alexander on Jul 29: Are we sold on Myles Gaskin as a bell-cow? Brown consistently earned touches for Sean McVay ahead of third-round pick Darrell Henderson for years in LA and was prioritized by Miami in free-agency. A case can also be made for Salvon Ahmed in this spot, but Brown appears to have the inside track for playing time. Regardless of which backup you prefer, Miami's backfield hierarchy is ambiguous enough to target the cheaper pieces as late-draft lotto tickets.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: The conventional thought is that the Dolphins brought in Malcolm Brown to back up Myles Gaskin this year as a routine sub-package contributor. This could become the reality but with the Dolphins change its offensive system, it's also equally possible that Gaskin has to compete for the same lead role he earned in 2020. Brown had one of the best size-quickness-acceleration profiles of his draft class and he earned a second contract with the Rams while Todd Gurley was still in his prime and Darrell Henderson initially struggled with acclimating to the wide zone system. Brown is an underrated option with a complete game. The only thing he lacks is top-end speed. Gaskin lacks it, too. Monitor Miami's training camp and be prepared to view Brown as a draft-day value. This is where I expect Brown's value to be by mid-August. I'll update this when there is reason to do so.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: Malcolm Brown survived for six years as a Ram as an undrafted free agent. In the last two years, he managed five touchdowns and was solid as a runner. The depth chart in Miami is weak. The other runners are either late seventh-rounders or undrafted as well. We do not get certain production from running backs late in a fantasy draft. We look for upside and opportunity. Brown could easily come out of training camp as the starter
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Brown has been earning touches in ambiguous depth charts during his career and shifting to Miami this offseason offers another such opportunity Myles Gaskin is the starter, but Brown is the expected RB2 with upside from there as a three-down option with a veteran's experience level.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Ebron is on the downside of his career and contends with three young, talented wide receivers for targets. It's not a recipe for fantasy upside, but his playing time and a respectable target share make him draftable, particularly if you wait until the late rounds.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Expect Ebron and Pat Freiermuth to wind up in a 2021 timeshare where the reservation ends earlier for Ebron. Freiermuth is the better blocker and Ebron's reputation for massive upside as a receiver has fizzed after a clunky follow-up to his career year with the Colts.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: The pass-happy Steelers had enough room for three receivers of 109 or more targets plus 91 left for Eric Ebron. Enter Najee Harris and Pat Freiermuth and 91 will be tough to repeat for Ebron. Expect TE1 moments from Ebron but ultimately a TE2-level producer in 2021.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Cobbs's best days are long behind him, but the Texans are a roster full of league-average players. In that environment, it's not out of the question Cobb leads the team in targets.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Randall Cobb has finished outside of the top 40 in each of the last five years. As a ten-year veteran in the league, Cobb has two top-20 seasons. Nagging injuries and failure to keep up with the younger talent filling his place are the main reasons. The life cycle in the NFL has reached Cobb. It would be a surprise to assume he will finish as the team's number two receiver in 2021.
Andrew Davenport on Jul 21: Cobb was having a reasonably productive season before going down with an injury in 2020. The problem with his outlook for the coming season is that he may not have Deshaun Watson throwing him the ball, and if he doesn't it'll be Tyrod Taylor. There aren't many appealing scenarios for Cobb this year, and expecting him to cross multiple hurdles to fantasy relevance is a poor bet.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: By virtue of draft capital, Hubbard will be regarded as the back one step away from succeeding Christian McCaffrey and having fantasy value like Mike Davis. That logic leaves out the presumption that Mike Davis was just any old back and that Hubbard is actually ready to handle the demands of an NFL run game. He's not. He's fast but his contact balance is a big question mark and he ran a limited rushing offense at Oklahoma State that does not prepare him for the diverse scheme of the Panthers. Don't be surprised if Reggie Bonnafan or Rodney Smith do more with less athletic ability than Hubbard this yer.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Chuba Hubbard is expected to battle Rodney Smith as the next in line behind Christian McCaffrey. Whoever the back is in Carolina's offense has the ability to produce fantasy points. We saw that with Mike Davis last season in place of the injured McCaffrey. Hubbard was one of the top college running backs after the 2019 season totaling over 2,000 yards rushing with 21 touchdowns. The 2020 season saw a drop-off in production that ultimately led to him opting out after seven games. Hubbard has the tools to be the next best back behind McCaffrey and could have fantasy relevance later in the season, especially if an injury elevates his usage.
Andrew Davenport on Jul 21: If 2020 is any indicator for how much Christian McCaffrey will come off the field in Joe Brady's offense then there isn't much room for Hubbard to have any value by himself. He's still a talented rookie, however, and has the inside track on being the main guy should McCaffrey miss time again in 2021.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Hubbard faded in the NFL Draft, but landed on an open RB2 depth chart in Carolina. Rodney Smith is the notable incumbent, but if Hubbard lives up to his Oklahoma State college profile, Hubbard will be the clear primary backup to Christian McCaffrey in Year 1. Mike Davis showed the upside of the role if McCaffrey were to miss time. Hubbard is one of the more underrated rookie running backs.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: I'm a big fan of Justin Jackson's skills, as are the Chargers. But his ability to stay healthy has cost him a real shot at a lead role early in his career. He's been hurt enough that the league probably has labeled him an injury guy whose usable depth and not a candidate for a massive role. It's a shame. The best shot he'll have to erase this label is to play a full year and earn significant use. This will only occur with injuries to the Chargers depth chart. He's worth a late pick to see if those mishaps occur early in the season.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: The Chargers cycled through a number of running backs in 2020, including Justin Jackson who missed a chunk of the season. Jackson is undersized but a three-down producer dating back to college. The 1B or RB2 role behind Austin Ekeler is wide open with Jackson, along with Day 3 rookie from 2020 who underwhelmed in Joshua Kelley, as the incumbents competing for the role.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Jeremy McNichols returns to the Tennessee depth chart, who played over Evans in 2020. Evans has the pedigree (Day 2) to expect the primary backup job to be his in 2021. With Evans' athletic profile, he has impact potential if viewed as the starter in a Derrick Henry absence.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Michel is never going to be a dynamic star, but the Patriots are remarkably stubborn with their running backs. If a runner is on the game-day roster, they're going to see snaps. Will Michel ever have a large enough role to be in lineups? It's unlikely, but not impossible.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Michel entered the league as a fine talent with knees much older than his chronological age. Trusting him to stay healthy is a fool's errand at this point. Rhamondre Stevenson as the future and potentially the soon-to-be present. Michel will have big games when the duct tape stays on his knees, but predicting when and how long this occurs is too dicey.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Michel had only one game in 2020 with more than 45% of the offensive snaps as devolved to just 86 touches over his healthy half of the season. Damien Harris is the projected starter and the Patriots even added Rhamondre Stevenson early on Day 3. Michel is a pedigree bet and needs Harris out of the rotation to be viewed as a higher volume option.
Phil Alexander on Jul 29:
Jason Wood on Jul 26: We're all projecting Myles Gaskin as an every-down starter, but it's based on a small sample size. If Gaskin can't stay healthy, Ahmed and Malcolm Brown will be part of a committee, but neither offers much redraft allure.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Everyone thought Hurst could step into Austin Hooper's role in Atlanta and become a fantasy star, but lo and behold Hurst isn't as good as Hooper. He's not as fluid, doesn't run routes as well, and gets bullied in tight coverage.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: With Julio Jones in Tennessee, Hurst will likely retain last year's value because he'll be the in-line tight end used with his hand on the turf and Kyle Pitts will be a receiver with tight end label. For those whose competition aren't savvy to how the Falcons will likely run its offense, Hurts presents value.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: The first season of Hayden Hurst in Atlanta was considered a disappointment. He finished as a starting fantasy tight end. Of course, the addition of Kyle Pitts will be seen as a problem. The departure of Julio Jones necessitates another target. Hurst will benefit the most from that decision. Expectations on Pitts will justifiably be high, but until he adapts and is ready to be a star, Hurst will carry the load. Historically the highest-drafted rookie Tight End has failed to finish the season as a starting fantasy option for at least the last 20 years. Hurst won't win you a championship, but he will be an occasional starting option or provide solid depth to your lineup.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: The drafting of Kyle Pitts was a gut punch after Hurst's career-best season in 2020 after being freed from Baltimore and Mark Andrews' shadow earlier in his rookie contract. Hurst has more NFL value than fantasy value unless Pitts underwhelms as a rookie tight end, which is possible.
Amon-Ra St. Brown
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Where else is Jared Goff going to go after T.J. Hockenson? Perhaps Quintez Cephus, who could elevate his game substantially as an Anquan Boldin type with some perimeter potential. It won't be Breshad Perriman, who still can't decelerate into breaks worth a darn. Tyrell Williams is a strong possibility but St. Brown may wind up being the most versatile and reliable option for Detroit this year. Think of him as a player between the talent level of Sterling Shepard and Robert Woods. That could equate to solid WR3-WR fantasy value this year.
Anthony Amico on Jul 22: Good chance to lead all DET WRs in targets right away. Should be a high-volume pass game.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Mack is in the final year of his deal and he's not the versatile runner than what Jonathan Taylor will become in short order. Don't expect Mack to earn more than a change-of-pace role this year. He's worthwhile handcuff if he's fully rehabbed from his injury but that's presuming he'll be the same player after tearing his Achilles. There aren't any running backs you can name that have torn this tendon and have returned to the league as starters.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Mack returns from an Achilles injury, still viewed as a career-altering moment for the running back position. Jonathan Taylor ran with the starting job after Mack exited in 2020 and Nyheim Hines is one of the better receiving backs in the NFL. Mack has an uncertain role even if he returns to his pre-Achilles form, which is a significant question mark.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: This ranking changes substantially with Julio Jones in town, but don't sleep on Reynolds in your drafts later on because Jones' recent trend of missing significant time could thrust Reynolds into a bigger role. He has made his living as a slot option, but he's at his best working the perimeter in contested situations. If Ryan Tannehill accesses this part of Reynolds' game, there's untapped production within.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Reynolds had the inside track for the Tennessee WR2 job before Julio Jones' addition. Now, Reynolds is largely an injury-away play if A.J. Brown or Jones is out.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: The sexy pick is Kenneth Gainwell. However, there's nothing sexy about a bunch of men and women in oversized football jerseys drinking beer, overeating, and picking football players off a bunch of spreadsheets and apps. It's fun, it's exciting, but it's not sexy. Neither is Gainwell, who lacks Scott's burst, change of direction quickness, and balance. Scott will win this gig as the change of pace and keep it for the year.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Scott had a career year to date in 2020 but it was still fewer than 600 total yards and 105 touches in total. Kerryon Johnson was added and dynamic Kenny Gainwell drafted on Day 3 to cloud Scott's chances at a clarified role even if Miles Sanders misses time.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: If David Montgomery gets hurt, Williams will likely earn the lead role in Chicago. Paired with Justin Fields at some point during the season, Williams could deliver at least RB2 value to fantasy GMs. Monitor talented rookie Khalil Herbert's summer before ultimately deciding to roll with Williams as the primary depth for Montgomery.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Booker will earn a bigger workload early in the season as the Giants' hedge for Saquon Barkley's rehab. Based on the way ACL rehabs go, Booker may also earn more playing time later in the year if Barkley suffers a compensatory injury during the season and limits the mercurial runner. Booker looked pretty good in Las Vegas. If he can build on the hard lessons he learned as a between-the-tackles runner in Denver, he might have some end-of-year value if the Barkley rehab proves unsuccessful or needs another offseason.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: Susceptibility to injury at the running back position is high. Saquon Barkley went down last year. If that were to happen again in 2021, the depth chart looks clear for Devontae Booker to be the main back. Booker struggled with the Broncos as a raw prospect but finally figured it out with the Raiders in 2020. He may lack the upside you would like but will offer bottom-end RB2 production if given a chance.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Booker slowed as 2020 progressed in the Josh Jacobs backup role for the Raiders. Booker projects as the primary backup to Saquon Barkley in 2021. A low-upside play, but an injury-away option nonetheless.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Najee Harris' addition with Round 1 pedigree and a workhorse profile squashes any underrated starter possibilities for Snell without a Harris injury. Snell is the likely injury-away option, but in the workman-like mold to produce only as much as his opportunities allow and not elevating beyond his situation.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Renfrow is the most refined receiver on the Raiders roster, but he's the least gifted in terms of top-end speed and size. He'll earn quality targets from Derek Carr, including deep throws up the seam in contested situations. However, he's not a go-to option in terms of fantasy volume. He's a startable reserve for bye weeks with flex upside.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Gainwell has a receiving-centric profile and gained Day 3 pedigree landing with the Eagles. Gainwell will compete for change-of-pace touches with Boston Scott for 2021 relevancy.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: LeGarrette Blount has been a misunderstood runner for well over a decade. Many call him a plodder and as a result, the Stevenson-Blount comparison is often considered a pejorative description. Blount had great short-area quickness for his size and terrific footwork. Stevenson has great footwork that's fluid and efficient. Where he differs from Blount is power. He's more willing to take on defenders and win. Stevenson has enough acceleration to win in the NFL between the tackles and well-designed perimeter runs. His hands, routes, and pass-protection skills are among the best in this rookie class of runners. I think he will be a significant contributor with fantasy value by 2022, if not by the end of this year.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Stevenson is an intriguing size-movement profile from early Day 3 who is a darkhorse candidate to be the primary backup in New England.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Kadarius Toney knows how to get his feet in the dirt and make plays, especially in open space. The Giants say they selected him because they have "plans for him." If that means designing plays specifically for him and utilizing his skills, that's good news for his outlook. What gives me pause is the number of weapons the Giants are accumulating. Where will Toney fit in among Barkley, Engram, Golladay, Slayton, and Shepard?
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Give Jackson a full year of health in L.A. and he could be a 1,200-yard, 10-touchdown performer. Don't count on it at his age. But while he's healthy, expect him to average at least 16 yards per catch and deliver strong performances. I have Jackson projected to play 7 games and earn 650 yards.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: If Kelley regains his confidence and has a strong camp, he could deliver RB2 production in fantasy leagues this year as a co-starter with Austin Ekeler. He must beat out Larry Rountree in camp for the opportunity and that's presuming Justin Jackson doesn't earn a significant committee role and stays healthy. Since Jackson's durability is a bigger presumption, expect Kelley to have a role, but predicting how much at this point doesn't make him worth drafting before August--except in larger formats.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Kelley had moments of promise early in 2020 as a rookie, but devolved into 'just another guy' down the stretch as the Chargers explored a myriad of other options. Kelley and Justin Jackson project as the RB2/3 depth chart options behind Austin Ekeler on a quality Chargers offense.
Andrew Davenport on Jul 21: The Jets offense is probably going to improve in 2021, but the question is how much? Additionally, they saw fit to select rookie Michael Carter as well as to sign Tevin Coleman to run Mike LaFleur's, Kyle Shanahan-inspired, run scheme. That doesn't indicate much confidence that Perine will be in line for a lot of touches. Unless something changes in training camp he's not someone to be chasing too hard in drafts.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Michael Carter has all the young running back love of the Jets depth chart, but Perine has similar pedigree, a quality profile himself, and saw 75 touches over eight games as a rookie. Perine is a better bang-for-the-buck option compared to Carter if placing a Jets young running back poker chip for 2021.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Ingram is more than capable of delivering starter production this year. He's also stuck behind a combination of David Johnson and Phillip Lindsay that will likely earn more touches. He's an excellent reserve unlikely to earn significant touches if both options stay healthy this year.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Houston's running back depth chart subtracted Duke Johnson and added Mark Ingram and Phillip Linsday this offseason beyond David Johnson as the starter. Ingram is on the downside of his career, but still, a viable three-down option if Johnson were to miss time.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Alie-Cox has to contend with Jack Doyle and rookie Kyle Granson, who is stylistically similar to Tre Burton but hopefully a more durable player. If Granson proves as such and acclimates fast, Alie-Cox returns to a reserve role.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Mo Alie-Cox is currently listed as the #2 tight end in the Colts offense. He has shown glimpses of success, including a Week 2 start last year against Minnesota where he totaled 111 yards on 5 receptions. He followed it up with two consecutive scoring weeks but a knee injury kept him out of action which eventually slowed his rise in 2020. Jack Doyle may be the team's top tight end target, but Alie-Cox is the team's top scoring threat at the position.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Hyde will be the third back on this depth chart, but he may serve as the No.2 if Travis Etienne needs more acclimation time after he gets force-fed into this offense early on.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Wilson's offseason injury will keep him out 4-6 months, putting a significant portion of the 2021 season in jeopardy. Wilson's absence boosts Raheem Mostert and Trey Sermon's chances at a clarified role to begin the season, plus the odds Wayne Gallman and/or JaMycal Hasty make the team.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: O.J. Howard was supposed to be a big deal, but it's never happened. Unless Rob Gronkowski gets hurt, Howard is a rotational backup player in Tampa Bay.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: I don't believe he will stay healthy or player consistent football. Until he does, I'm done with projecting excellence from a player with great potential that hasn't translated. Rob Gronkowski still has enough left in this loaded offense that I have low expectations for Howard.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Howard out-targeted Rob Gronkowski 19 to 14 in the opening month of 2020 with both tight ends healthy. Antonio Brown returning to Tampa Bay (61 targets in eight games) squeezes all parties for overt upside, including Howard. However, Howard's big-play ability down the seam still puts him on the TE2 with an intriguing upside tier.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: A straight-line runner with burst and functional power, Gallman catches the ball well. Think of him as Jeffrey Wilson but without the excitement that the spreadsheet jockeys have for him after seeing yardage pile up. Both Gallman and Wilson are players that get what's blocked for them and the 49ers line gets a lot of defenders blocked. However Trey Sermon, Raheem Mostert, and JaMycal Hasty are the type of backs that can get more than what's blocked. Gallman could be the No.2 on the depth chart if Sermon has a slow-developing summer.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: Following the injury to Saquon Barkley, Wayne Gallman demonstrated he was a more than capable running back in the NFL. Signed for basically nothing in free agency by the 49ers, he fits their system well. Opportunity will be the problem. The injury to Jeff Wilson opens a door. Raheem Mostert has trouble staying on the field, and the rookie Trey Sermon is no sure thing. Gallman can probably be taken on the waiver wire, but if he gets action will not disappoint.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Gallman's chances to make the 49ers roster and win the RB2/3 role improved with Jeff Wilson's late May injury and projected 4-6 months of recovery.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Dawson Knox is the least exciting receiving option on the field for the Bills.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: I like Knox's potential, but it hasn't translated to the field and this offense has enough weapons that Knox isn't featured. Jacob Hollister's addition also concerns me that there will be packages where Knox is no longer on the field. With already minimal usage, this could further harm his fantasy potential.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Knox has strong athletic traits, but a crowded passing game squeezes Knox for enough targets for a true breakout season.
Phil Alexander on Jul 28: After missing the 2018 and 2019 seasons entirely, it appeared doubtful McKinnon had much left to offer an NFL team. But when injuries to Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman forced McKinnon into the 49ers lead-back role early in 2020, the 28-year-old veteran acquitted himself well. Through four weeks, McKinnon ranked as the RB11 despite only starting two games. Predictably, he quickly wore down under the heavier-than-expected workload and only touched the ball 21 times over his next four games. A stinger suffered in a Week 10 start would effectively end his season. McKinnon's roster spot in Kansas City is not guaranteed, but he's the most experienced player in the Chiefs running back room, as well as the most athletic. It's easy to envision him carving out a role in the league's most dynamic passing game and re-entering the RB1 conversation if forced into starting duties.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: McKinnon's addition to Kansas City (with Damien Williams moving on in free agency) has largely passed under the radar. However, McKinnon has been a role player for his entire NFL career and durability has been a significant factor over recent seasons. McKinnon is a dart throw compared to Darrel Williams being the likely RB2 on the depth chart.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: A linear player who had a better-than-expected rookie year, Herndon hopes to rebound after two years of little return on the buzz that infatuated fantasy analysts had for him. This could be the year if Zach Wilson is the answer at quarterback and 2-3 of the 3-4 receivers likely ahead of Herndon in the progression order get hurt. Don't hold your breath.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Herndon has yet to get out of his own way for a strong production stretch in his career. The Jets' questionable wide receiver depth chart saw major boosts with Corey Davis signed and Elijah Moore drafted early in Round 2. Jamison Crowder remains and Denzel Mims enters Year 2. Herndon will struggle to see 70 targets.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: I like Cephus' potential and the fact he saw a lot of time in the starting lineup last year is a positive sign. However, he lacks top speed and fits best as a big slot or flanker. With Amon-Ra St. Brown in the fold, it's hard to tell where Cephus may fit in here. With a big camp, he could emerge as one of the top 2-3 receivers in an offense that may need to throw the ball a lot. If he doesn't stand out, he could be a contributor with no more than unpredictable flex value. So far, Cephus has been the most targeted receiver in minicamp and getting open on more complex routes than last year.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Akins is experienced, and that could equate to an unusually high target share for a team in complete rebuilding mode.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Jordan Akins led the Texans tight ends with 37 receptions last year. With Darren Fells out of the picture, Akins should see a boost in snaps as well as targets. In three years in the league, Akins has totaled only three touchdowns. He'll need to increase that number if he is to become a fantasy-relevant tight end in 2021.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Akins is the favorite for the Houston starting tight end role in 2021. However, targets were minimal for Akins at 49. Darren Fells is gone (a plus), but Brevin Jordan is a notable Day 3 addition. Akins would need a strong majority of the tight end targets to challenge for top-12 production.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Father Time is undefeated, but Graham continues to catch enough touchdowns to have fantasy relevance in deeper leagues.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Graham isn't the same player, but he still offers valuable rebounding. He'll have red-zone value this year.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Graham is on the clear downside of his production arc but amassed 75 targets in 2020. Cole Kmet is rising into Year 2 after a promising rookie season. Expect Graham to lose his grip on the starting role at some point, possibly early, during the season and devolve into even more of a touchdown-or-bust proposition.
Phil Alexander on Jul 28: Arnold could surprise in Carolina. He was both productive and efficient in limited playing time for the Cardinals in 2020 and possesses the requisite size and athleticism we want in a fantasy-friendly tight end. Before Adam Gase tried square-pegging Chris Herndon into a blocking role, Sam Darnold looked for his young tight end frequently during his time with the Jets. If Arnold can beat out Ian Thomas for an every-down role, he could become a favorite of Darnold's, especially in the red zone where D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson aren't the types of receivers we should expect to box out defenders for jump balls.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Dan Arnold has the size and measurables that make a subset of analysts salivate. Can he thrive in Carolina under Joe Brady's watch even though Kliff Kingsbury had little use for him?
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: The 26 year-old, 6'6, 220-pound Arnold is coming off his best performance in his three years in the league where he totaled 31 receptions on 45 targets for 438 yards and 4 touchdowns for Arizona. Arnold has experience with Joe Brady from his stint in New Orleans in 2018. He is expected to be a fixture in the Panthers offensive plans, especially in the red zone where he can use his size to his advantage. He isn't as big as most tight ends at only 220 pounds, but his 6'6 height and 4.63 40-time makes him a glorified big wide receiver. One who could come in handy for a Panthers team who finished 28th in red zone scoring efficiency in 2020, converting 51% of their 3.6 red zone opportunities per week.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Arnold has flashed at various stops but Carolina offers his best chance for sustained production to-date. Ian Thomas has been a disappointment and garnered a mere 31 targets a year ago. The biggest negative for Arnold is a strong wide receiver corps in Carolina to limit the upside of any starting tight end there.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Jones is a shifty back with receiving skills out of SMU. He has the size to handle a larger workload, but he was prone to making undisciplined decisions as a collegian. Until anyone sees if Jones has matured since college or there's a significant addition of veteran to the depth chart, Darrell Henderson is the best bet for this Rams backfield.
Chad Parsons on Jul 20: Jones moves up the depth chart with Cam Akers' Achilles injury (July), however, Jones' grasp on a meaningful role or rotation touches is a tenuous one pending additions to the depth chart or even holding off rookie Jake Funk.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Cole has been a favorite of mine since he has a tremendous rookie stretch run with the Jaguars. He's a player I targeted last December as the most likely free agent to deliver a Robert Woods-like ascension with a new team. Thus far, he's running with the Jets' starters in minicamp. GM Joe Douglas coveted Cole for the past two years but couldn't land him until this year. Look for Cole to make a substantial contribution this year, at the very least as a co-starter in a platoon with Denzel Mims and/or Elijah Moore.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Keke Coutee leads a group of receivers who could make their presence known in Houston in 2021. Coutee is only 24 years old but he hasn't exceeded 8 games in any of his three seasons in the league due to knee, head, and foot injuries. When he's healthy he has the potential and talent to be a playmaking slot receiver with excellent hands and skills after the catch. The biggest hurdle has been staying healthy. If he can buck that trend he'll have a chance to usurp Randall Cobb as the team's secondary receiving threat behind Brandin Cooks.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Collins, Josh Johnson, and BJ Emmons are all backs to monitor closely in August because any of them could displace DeeJay Dallas, Rashaad Penny, and/or Travis Homer for a contributing role with a strong performance
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Bourne has been an overachiever in the NFL and the model candidate for the cost-conscious Patriots. Expect him to overtake N'Keal Harry for a possession role and earn roughly 600-800 yards in the passing game. I have Bourne on the lower end of that spectrum until we see who starts at quarterback to begin the year.
Andrew Davenport on Jul 21: Patrick certainly isn't that interesting but fantasy managers are largely ignoring his mini-breakout last year. He managed over 700 yards and 6 touchdowns playing with Drew Lock and was WR44 for his efforts. Pay attention to Patrick's role in the preseason to see if he's worth a late round selection.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Johnson showed enough last year to earn consideration as a change of pace to Michael Carter if he can beat out Tevin Coleman. This is less realistic than him competing with Perine, who is competent at everything but lacks the burst and speed you want from a contributor.
Andy Hicks on Jul 22: The Jets backfield is a mess. With an improved offensive line and a rookie quarterback, expect the running back position to be utilized heavily. Probably be a committee. Ty Johnson could be anything from starter to cut before the season starts. He did have a great game against the Raiders under the previous regime and has as good a chance as anyone else to be productive. This is a battle to watch in training camp.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Johnson was already being squeezed out of Detroit and Philadelphia is another uncertain depth chart to even be considered the clear RB2 behind Miles Sanders. Boston Scott and rookie Kenny Gainwell will be factors to limit Johnson's receiving game involvement even if Sanders is out for a stretch of the season and Johnson is the primary early-down back in a best case.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Uzomah flashes, but his injuries and inconsistencies make him undraftable in 12-team leagues.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Uzomah has a been a quality fantasy streamer at points in his underrated career. Uzomah missed most of 2020 but Drew Sample did little to seize the starting job for 2021. With a strong trio of wide receivers, the starting tight end for Cincinnati is unlikely to be relevant outside of 2TE formats.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Breida has starter skills and athletic ability. This was apparent in San Francisco a team that runs a lot of different plays with interesting wrinkles. Breida's downfall has been durability and it has likely earned him a label around the league. If he can erase that label in Buffalo, he could find himself the starter and/or valuable committee back in an excellent offense. Keep an eye on him this summer, because he has a high upside.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Joshua Kelley lost his confidence after some early fumbles and ran tentatively as a rookie. With a new coaching staff in place, Kelley will have to compete with Rountree, the team's latest acquisition. Kelley has better speed, but both are bigger backs with good hands in the passing game. Rountree is a good blocker and shiftier than Kelley. I still like Kelley's talent, but the early bet to make with this depth chart is Rountree. If Kelley beats Rountree, it's a sign that he's having a strong camp and Kelley will be much higher on my board in August.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Doyle is the incumbent starter on paper for the Colts but inspires little upside as a fantasy option. Mo Alie-Cox and rookie Kylen Granson are both plus athletes and, at a minimum, will squeeze Doyle for enough targets to aggregate meaningful production.
Chad Parsons on Jul 23: Callaway is on the radar after seeing some usage in 2020 and Michael Thomas like out or limited early in the season for an already-thin Saints passing game.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Schultz saw a robust 89 targets filling in for an injured Blake Jarwin in 2020. Expect a tight end-by-committee in Dallas as Schultz proved capable.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: I've been talking about Ollison as a player to watch long-term for the past two years. The Falcons obviously feel the same after letting Brian Hill and Ito Smith walk and then not drafting another runner. Javian Hawkins is worth monitoring as a potentially productive scatback, but Ollison is the best backup to the Mike Davis role. He's strong, agile, and understands how to set up creases. A coach's son, Ollison excelled on special teams and in spot duty as a red-zone back during the past two years. Think Spencer Ware upside.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: If he hasn't shown enough by now, I'm not expecting it this year. He was an exciting college football player but hasn't shown the decision-making and third-down skills of a consistent pro. Maybe this year he will, but like I said...
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: A good football player who will excel on special teams in Denver but also deliver quality No.3 play on the depth chart. He can easily be the team's primary backup or short-term starter if needed.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Hooper, Harrison Bryant, and David Njoku have the potential to cancel each other out as fantasy options and that's likely the case. Hooper is the best candidate to lead as a yardage producer. Njoku is the big-play weapon with inconsistent hands. Bryant is a good route runner and zone option with starter upside who may lead in the red zone despite coming in second among the depth chart in targets.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Bryant needs an Austin Hooper injury to be fantasy relevant outside of deeper 2TE formats. Bryant had a promising rookie season despite a clogged depth chart on a run-centric Browns offense.
Phil Alexander on Jul 29: Irv Smith commanded a 14% target share in four games without Kyle Rudolph last season. Conklin's was 14.5%. The former fifth-round pick was productive as a pass-catcher at Central Michigan and possesses an impressive athletic profile. Smith is the preferable breakout tight end option in Minnesota, but Conklin might not be far behind and is free in drafts.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Barber is a smart runner with contact balance, vision, and agility but lacks great speed and quickness. His tenure in Washington is coming to an end now that Antonio Gibson has shown that he acclimated fast.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Hill is the most talented back at the back of the Packers' depth chart and should rise to the No.3 spot by the end of August if he can stay healthy during training camp. He's good enough to become A.J. Dillon's change-of-pace if Aaron Jones gets hurt. Hill runs good routes and has the contact balance, burst, and movement to produce in the NFL. It means that Hill is a good taxi-squad option for re-draft leagues that use this function and a nice late-round stash or option to monitor for the waiver wire--a preemptive addition--in other formats.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Vaughn has three backs to battle for a contributing role and he'll need to have a great camp to beat any of them. If it happens, he'll skyrocket up my board because it means he's really catching on at a high level. I'm not counting on it.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Vaughn's Day 2 selection in 2020 was greeted with a blocked depth chart and adding LeSean McCoy and Leonard Fournette. More of the same is the setting for 2021 with Giovani Bernard added and Leonard Fournette back to a depth chart already with Ronald Jones. Multiple injuries may not be enough to supply Vaughn with a clarified opportunity.
Andrew Davenport on Jul 21: Higgins may not be exciting, but he has made strides to become a serviceable fantasy wide receiver in an improving offense. It's possible he gets squeezed out by Donovan Peoples-Jones, but his cost is almost nothing in fantasy drafts and he played the most snaps of any Browns receiver last year after Odell Beckham went down. Grabbing Higgins as the last wide receiver for a fantasy squad has almost zero risk, but could pay off with another injury in the WR corps.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: You don't need to draft Juszczyk but the fact I have him ranked inside the top 50 of running backs serves as a testament to his waiver-wire value in most leagues where you might need a desperation flex-play during a given weekend. Trey Lance worked in an NDSU offense where the first reads were often then tight end and the running back. Juszczyk is essentially working routes that both positions run and has excellent hands. Don't be surprised if he's a favorite target of Lance early in the rookie quarterback's career.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: With the drafting of Najee Harris, McFarland is battled Benny Snell for the RB2 role more than anything towards the RB1 job.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: If Derrick Henry breaks down, things could get exciting for Hill, who fits this power-running game better than he did in Atlanta. He's a worthwhile, late-round handcuff.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: If Evans can show his skills between the tackles are as strong as his routes and hands, he could be a major surprise. Monitor training camp closely.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Don't be surprised if Ballage earns the No.2 role or an active third role in the Steelers backfield by season's end. He's better at nearly every phase of the game than Anthony McFarland showed last year and more dynamic an athlete than Benny Snell.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Drew Lock has a rapport with Okwuegbunam and it showed in limited time last year. I'm not high on Noah Fant's game. He's a linear athlete who lacks a feel for executing the small details that lead to sustained production at a high level. I think Okwuegbunam has a shot to unseat Fant or at least force a committee that negates the fantasy production of both. At this point of the year, it's not critical to make a stand for one or the other until we know more about their quarterback situation and training camp performances. Stay tuned.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: A shifty runner in the style of LeSean McCoy, Benjamin has good hands. It's unlikely that he challenges James Connor for a significant role in the offense, but he could earn one on the field if Chase Edmonds gets hurt. Stay tuned.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Sample has quality athleticism and Round 2 pedigree but collected only 53 targets despite C.J. Uzomah missing most of the season and minimal depth chart competition otherwise in 2020. Sample is projected in a firm committee with Uzomah and high target competition from Cincinnati's talented wide receivers.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Darrel Williams is a proven backup, but the Chiefs running back coach remains high on Thompson's skills. He's a more powerful runner than Edwards Helaire and has better speed. He's also an underrated receiver. Don't be surprised if fantasy analysts gave up on him as a contributor before the Chiefs have. He's not a future starter for this team unless something disastrous happens to Edwards-Helaire, and Thompson makes the most of being forced into action but like Damien Williams in Miami, Thompson could work his way into a second-contract opportunity elsewhere.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: A creative runner with the burst of Ahmad Bradshaw and decent hands, Hasty performed well as a spot contributor last year. He could do the same this year after Jeffrey Wilson injured his knee. Monitor training camp to see if he makes the active roster.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Hasty was buried on the 49ers running back depth chart, however a 4-6 months of injury recovery for Jeff Wilson thins the backfield depth chart by one to begin the season. Hasty's chances to make the roster improve, but still needs more clarity for realistic odds as the RB3 or higher on the depth chart.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Think of Wilkins as a Malcolm Brown type of player--smart, skilled enough to start, but lacks the top-end speed that teams want. He'll likely be the primary backup to Jonathan Taylor this year unless you expect Marlon Mack to buck the trend with running backs and Achilles tears.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Hooper, Harrison Bryant, and David Njoku have the potential to cancel each other out as fantasy options and that's likely the case. Hooper is the best candidate to lead as a yardage producer. Njoku is the big-play weapon with inconsistent hands. Bryant is a good route runner and zone option with starter upside who may lead in the red zone despite coming in second among the depth chart in targets.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: The best news for Njoku this offseason would be a trade towards less crowded pastures and away from Cleveland. The fluid athlete has underwhelmed fantasy-wise to-date and would be best ball special at most if playing out the season for the Browns.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Freeman's situation has been blurry for years now in Denver, dating back to Phillip Lindsay rising from the UDFA ashes in their rookie season to seize the lead role. Freeman saw Melvin Gordon added in 2020 and not Javonte Williams was drafted early in Round 2. Freeman needs a change of scenery to avoid yet another forgettable year outside of a barrage of injuries around him.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 22: Clearly the best days for Todd Gurley are behind him but he could be summoned by Los Angeles who recently lost Cam Akers to an Achilles injury. The door may not be shut on Gurley's NFL career just yet.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Gurley, along with LeVeon Bell, are the two notable veteran free agents looming for a potential 1A/B backfield opportunity in 2021
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Patterson is a versatile performer lacking top-end speed and size. He earned a Darren Sproles comparison from Ron Rivera in minicamp. That's not a bad stylistic comparison based on his size and skillset, but he's not nearly as quick or fast. Still, a good display of route running this summer could put him in a competition with JD McKissic for scatback duties. Stay tuned.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Collins, Josh Johnson, and BJ Emmons are all backs to monitor closely in August because any of them could displace DeeJay Dallas, Rashaad Penny, and/or Travis Homer for a contributing role with a strong performance.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: Bell is one of the select few veterans still a free agent and a threat for a significant role early in the season. Like Devonta Freeman in 2020, waiting for a clarified opportunity or August-September injury is the path for Bell to have a quality projection in 2021.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Smith understands how to run between the tackles. He just lacks most of the physical traits to earn a long-term role as an on-field contributor. He'll function in this role if needed, but that will have to do with Carolina realizing there are shortcomings of other backs on the roster.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Bonnafon isn't starter material long-term, but he's a more refined runner than Chuba Hubbard, who has starter speed, quickness, and agility, but a reserve level understanding of how to run the football. That could change within the next 6-18 months, but if and when that happens is a big enough question to consider Bonnafon and Rodney Smith a little longer than the draft capitalists think.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: If the Lions add a veteran back this summer, Jefferson is certainly slated for the practice squad. If not, expect Jefferson to earn a subpackage role where he gets 5-6 plays per game, translating to 2-3 touches. He has the athletic skills to contribute, if not start one day. Monitor his camp.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Keep an eye on Williams in training camp. He could compete for playing time this year and possibly Gus Edwards' role. He's versatile, strong, and has the short-area quickness and vision of a contributor.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Dowdle survived his first year in Dallas and even earned some time on the field as a UDFA. Now he's a good bet for the No.3 role on the depth chart. This is a back with starter traits and skills who will surprise casual fans if he sees extensive playing time.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Big, shifty, and an excellent pass protector, Scott is an underrated rookie back who might get enough reps this summer to earn a roster spot in New Orleans. Stay tuned.
Jason Wood on Jul 26: Akers' Achilles tear ends his season before it begins, and throws the Rams backfield into tumult.
Matt Waldman on Jul 23: Akers performed well during the second half of the 2020 season. He'll work with a better quarterback this year and that should generate more optimal game scripts to run the football. Akers has the physical ability and receiving skill to emerge into a top-12 fantasy runner. He may still lack a feature role with Darrell Henderson in the picture who improved between 2019 and 2020 to a point that he's a viable committee back with lead-back skills. Akers is the lead option in L.A., but don't expect a featured role unless Henderson gets hurt and the intriguing Xavier Jones doesn't translate his skills from practice to game.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Cam Akers is one of the best rising running backs in the NFC. The Rams didn't give him the playing time he deserved until after Week 12 last year, where he quickly earned his keep. He showed us enough in the tail end of 2020 to get us excited about his chances for success in 2021. Expect him to be the Rams primary ball carrier with moderate receiving ability.
Chad Parsons on Jul 15: After a torrid finish to last season, Akers' arrow is pointing up for the Rams' clear starting role. With Matthew Stafford added, the entire offense is trending towards an improved unit. Akers' lone question mark is his usage in the passing game, but he showed as a rookie - plus in college - he is plenty adept as a receiver to be at least middle of the running back pack in passing game numbers with the lead role.
Ryan Weisse on Jul 22: Sanu is the lone veteran in this 49ers receiving corps and will provide a nice safety blanket for whichever quarterback is named the starter. The 49ers lack of passing volume means you can likely avoid him in your drafts but if Deebo Samuel is hurt again, Sanu could be a fringe flex play.
Jeff Haseley on Jul 21: Occupying a joker halfback/tight end role in the offense for Carolina is rookie Tommy Tremble. Consider him a Swiss Army knife in the mold of former Panthers' fullback Alex Armah and tight end Chris Manhertz. Tremble has a good mix of blocking and receiving skill with a ceiling that resembles 49ers utility player Kyle Juszczyk.