With one week until the start of the NFL season, fantasy football draft season is in full swing. I’ve already had two drafts with a few more on the way. I am excited to put together my top 125 rankings heading into the 2021 season. I am a fantasy football junkie and this felt like the perfect time to release how I think players stack up from a fantasy perspective.
You will notice a few things as you run through these rankings. I am very high on running backs. It is always the shallowest position in fantasy other than maybe tight end. I tend to stock up on three of them by the sixth round at the latest, so my rankings reflect that a bit. I’m also big on finding high upside players later in the draft. Finding a safe fifth wide receiver to roster is not as valuable to me as targeting a player who might breakout and become a starting caliber option. It will inevitably lead to a few busts as well, but in recent years I’ve hit on D.K. Metcalf, Justin Jefferson and James Robinson. I’ve also whiffed on Devin Singletary, David Njoku and Daniel Jones. I prefer to take those risks later in the draft once I’ve built a more reliable starting lineup.
Also, I don’t follow this to the letter. If I already drafted Travis Kelce, I’m not touching Darren Waller just because he somehow slipped to Round 5. It is important to find value, but I’m not going to start two tight ends under pretty much any circumstances. It’s about knowing your league and what your team needs to be successful.
- Christian McCaffrey, RB, CAR
The clear cut option at the top of any draft. McCaffrey is a PPR dynamo. He missed a ton of time last year due to injury, but when he did play, he averaged over 30 points per game, by far the most of any running back in the league. With a full offseason to get healthy and a potentially improved offense, expect another monster year from Run CMC.
- Dalvin Cook, RB, MIN
The only player I think even warrants consideration at No. 1 outside of McCaffrey is Cook. He trailed only McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara in points per game among running backs in 2020. Minnesota bolstered its offensive line by drafting Christian Darrisaw and Wyatt Davis. The Vikings are going to run the ball a ton and Cook has a solid role in the passing game. He is a great RB1 option.
- Alvin Kamara, RB, NO
Kamara is a tricky evaluation this year. He dominated in 2020, finishing as the top running back in fantasy. However, we got a glimpse of what his production looks like post Drew Brees, and it was a little scary. Kamara averaged 14.1 points per game without Brees. That puts him on par with Miles Sanders. Not someone you want to spend a top five pick on in fantasy. However, his true projection might not be clear until we know who the Saints starting quarterback is. I expect his touches to decrease if Taysom Hill wins the job given that Hill is a run-first quarterback. If Jameis Winston takes the reins, that should solidify Kamara as a top-five pick.
- Derrick Henry, RB, TEN
This might feel a bit high for Henry in PPR, but he is such a dominant runner that he bucks all convention here. He finished solidly behind CMC, Cook and Kamara in points per game, but Henry is going to get volume. It will be interesting to see if the offense changes at all with Julio Jones on the roster and Arthur Smith no longer calling the plays, but I expect him to be a top 5 running back for the third year in a row.
- Ezekiel Elliott, RB, DAL
2020 was a rough season for Elliott. He finished as RB9 with 14.9 points per game. Those aren’t bad numbers, but also not what was expected of someone who was usually a top three pick before the season. However, Zeke scored 22.4 points per game before Dak Prescott got hurt. With Prescott back and his offensive line seemingly healthy again, he should be in line for another big season.
- Aaron Jones, RB, GB
For whatever reason, Jones seems to be getting slept on a little bit heading into the 2021 season. He finished as RB5 this past season and Jamaal Williams is now in Detroit. AJ Dillon figures to get some touches, but I think we can assume Jones will still be the bellcow. Aaron Rodgers is back as well. I can’t think of a reason why Jones would not be in the mix to be a top-five back again this year.
- Davante Adams, WR, GB
Everyone likes to talk about how dominant Travis Kelce is relative to the next best tight end in fantasy. How about some love for Adams? He outscored Tyreek Hill by 3.7 points per game. Only three receivers averaged at least 20 points per game last season. Adams averaged 25.6. Yes, the Packers did finally draft a receiver (Amari Rodgers went to Green Bay in the third round) and Randall Cobb is back, but there is no chance Aaron Rodgers just stops throwing to his favorite target.
- Nick Chubb, RB, CLE
On a points per game basis, Chubb finished as RB8 last season. He is limited as a pass catcher, which is why he shouldn’t go higher than this, but he will likely be a top-10 back again this season. He gets a chance to work behind arguably the best offensive line in the league in a run-heavy offense. Yes, Kareem Hunt will continue to get touches, but Cleveland is the one team in the league that runs the ball enough for two running backs to be fantasy starters.
- Jonathan Taylor, RB, IND
Taylor finally delivered on the preseason hype in the final six games of this past season. However, with Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines still on the roster and the offensive line already a bit banged up, I don’t think we will see Taylor get that kind of usage or level of productivity in his second season. He is still worthy of a top-10 pick. Just don’t expect him to get 20+ touches per game.
- Austin Ekeler, RB, LAC
I am still high on Ekeler, even after an injury-riddled 2020 season. He should be healthier in 2021 and he gets to work behind a better offensive line. Ekeler’s role as a pass catcher gives him a pretty solid floor in PPR formats. Even if he does lose some carries to the other backs on the Chargers’ roster, he should have enough volume to be a solid RB1.
- Travis Kelce, TE, KC
If the top five backs are off the board, it is time to find the top tight end in fantasy football. Usually, I’m wary of taking a tight end or quarterback this early, but Kelce is outperforming every other tight end in fantasy by a ridiculous margin. He outscored Darren Waller by 3.5 points per game, which is a ridiculous gap between the top two players at a position. Taking Kelce gives you a massive leg up on everyone else in your league at a position that typically lacks depth.
- Saquon Barkley, RB, NYG
The reports out of Giants’ camp are a little bit worrisome. Barkley is still not in contact drills and seems to be slowly ramping up for the season. The likelihood is that he will not be ready for Week 1. How long it takes him to get back on the field will greatly impact how much value you get out of drafting him around this spot. If he is healthy, he should see the volume and a pass catcher to be a true RB1. It is just hard to know when he is going to come back.
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, KC
CEH was unquestionably overhyped in 2020, but still had a solid rookie season. Now, he is healthy and working behind a much improved offensive line. I am still buying into Andy Reid’s track record at producing great fantasy football running backs. He feels like a great option if you opt for a receiver or tight end with your first pick. I like him even better as an RB2 alongside someone like Taylor or Ekeler.
- Tyreek Hill, WR, KC
Last time I checked, Patrick Mahomes is still the quarterback in Kansas City and after the Chiefs overhauled their offensive line this offseason, he should have even more time to drop back and drop dimes to Hill. The Cheetah finished as WR2 in 2020 and shows no signs of slowing down. Sammy Watkins is gone too, which means that Hill could have even less competition for targets.
- DeAndre Hopkins, WR, ARI
With a truncated offseason in a new offense, Hopkins dazzled us with his playmaking ability. He and Kyler Murray had a clear connection from the start. Hopkins had at least seven targets in every game except one and nine games with double digit targets. With Larry Fitzgerald likely retiring and Dan Arnold now in Carolina, I think that target share is likely to stay the same. Even with the additions of Rondale Moore and AJ Green, Hopkins is going to be the go-to receiver in this pass-happy offense.
- Antonio Gibson, RB, WAS
It was a big debut season for Gibson. After coming into the year behind Peyton Barber and splitting time with J.D. McKissic. He only played 47 percent of snaps for Washington in 2020, but managed to finish as RB13. With an increase in snaps likely coming and hopefully some improved quarterback play, Gibson could be in for a breakout year. His offensive line is still a bit suspect, but the majority of his value comes as a pass catcher anyway. He is still learning how to be a running back.
- Najee Harris, RB, PIT
If there is a rookie running back to target in drafts this year, it is Harris. He is a well-rounded back with limited competition for touches. Pittsburgh is determined to run the ball more this year. While they waited a long time to address their offensive line in the draft and free agency, they did add Pat Freiermuth, who is a great run blocker. Given Harris’ ability as a pass catcher and route runner as well, he could finish as a top-10 running back.
- Calvin Ridley, WR, ATL
Julio Jones is in Tennessee and while people are really excited about Kyle Pitts, there is no question that Ridley is the No. 1 receiver in this offense. Matt Ryan needs to bounce back, but Ridley already finished as a top-five receiver last year with Jones still competing for targets. Now, he gets a chance to work in Arthur Smith’s offense. If Ryan sees a resurgence, it is likely Ridley will greatly benefit.
- Chris Carson, RB, SEA
Welcome to my annual people-sleeping-on-Chris-Carson rant. He finished as RB13 in points per game and scored at least 10 points in every game he played in from start to finish except one. There is very little competition for carries in Seattle and the new offensive coordinator still wants to run the ball. Carson also has at least a little bit of value as a pass catcher too. He won’t see a ton of targets, but he had at least three catches in eight of the 12 games he played last year. You could do much worse in searching for an RB2.
- D.K. Metcalf, WR, SEA
Carson’s Seattle teammate is sure to get a lot of love in fantasy drafts. Metcalf was a little bit boom or bust in 2020, but he still finished as WR7. However, he was the top receiver in fantasy through the first half of the season. The Seahawks offense fell apart down the stretch, but we’ve seen Metcalf’s ceiling is the best receiver in fantasy. That is more than worth grabbing at the end of the second round.
- Stefon Diggs, WR, BUF
No one outside of Buffalo likely expected the monster season Diggs put together in 2020. He finished 0.3 points behind Tyreek Hill, finishing as WR3. He led the league in receptions and helped Josh Allen put together an MVP caliber season. It is unlikely Diggs will get that type of volume again with Emmanuel Sanders on the roster and Gabriel Davis due for more snaps. Still, Diggs should be a lock as a top-10 receiver barring a massive regression from Allen.
- James Robinson, RB, JAX
While it is very unfortunate for Travis Etienne to be out for the season, anyone who drafted Robinson prior to the injury got themselves a steal. Expecting him to finish as RB6 like he did last season feels unrealistic. Carlos Hyde is still going to get carries and Trevor Lawrence can run the ball himself. Still, Robinson will get the volume and should have the general production to be a rock solid RB2 this season with some upside to crack the top 10 if Hyde falls off, as he tends to every year.
- David Montgomery, RB, CHI
He probably won’t match his RB4 finish from 2020, but Montgomery is still a solid option as a RB2. With Tarik Cohen returning, he will probably lose some targets in the passing game. The possibility of Justin Fields taking over at quarterback could jumpstart the offense, but it could also take a few carries from Montgomery. We are getting dangerously close to the running back cliff.
- Amari Cooper, WR, DAL
I’ve heard the buzz that CeeDee Lamb is the receiver you want from Dallas, but I’m not sure I buy it. Cooper averaged 20.3 points per game before Dak Prescott got hurt last year. That would’ve been the fourth most points per game of any receiver last season. Perhaps Cooper wouldn’t have maintained that over the full season, but I think it is safe to bet he will finish with more than 14.8 per game, which is what had over the course of 2020. I like him as a low-end WR1.
- A.J. Brown, WR, TEN
Brown had a strong rookie year, but he took it to a new level in 2020. From Week 5 on, Brown was WR6 on a points per game basis. He will likely cede some targets to Julio Jones, but Jones has struggled to stay healthy in recent years. Jonnu Smith is also gone. The biggest question mark will be what the offense looks like with the former playcaller now in Atlanta.
- Keenan Allen, WR, LAC
Justin Herbert had a monster rookie season and Allen was a huge beneficiary. He finished as WR7 on a points per game basis in 2020, only missing the final two weeks of the season. With Los Angeles opting to bolster its offensive line, Herbert should have even more time to carve up opposing defenses. Allen is clearly his favorite target, especially with Hunter Henry now in New England.
- Joe Mixon, RB, CIN
If he is healthy, this is good value for Mixon. But that is a pretty big if. Mixon played in just six games last season and it was assumed he would return, until he didn’t. He also had nearly half of his points from those games come in one game against the woeful Jaguars defense. His involvement in the passing game raises his floor, but there is still a decent amount of risk with Mixon.
- Allen Robinson, WR, CHI
Andy Dalton is going to start Week 1. He won’t start for long though. Justin Fields might be the best quarterback Robinson has ever caught passes from in his career. Part of that is because Fields is talented. The other part is because Robinson has never played with a good quarterback. He still finished as WR9 with Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles tossing passes. If Fields was starting Week 1, Robinson would be even higher.
- George Kittle, TE, SF
Injuries derailed Kittle’s 2020 season, but when he was healthy, he still had the third most points per game among all tight ends. It remains to be seen who will be throwing him passes this year, but even if it is Jimmy Garoppolo, Kittle matched Travis Kelce on a points per game basis in 2019. He should thrive again in Kyle Shanahan’s system.
- Justin Jefferson, WR, MIN
Jefferson had an unbelievable rookie season. I think he is in line for another big year, but the sophomore slump has gotten many receivers in recent years. His big hurdle to another top-10 season is consistency. While he had five games over 20 points in 2020, he also had six under 10 points. That boom-or-bust scoring drops him down a little bit for me, but he is still a fringe WR1.
- Terry McLaurin, WR, WAS
Scary Terry is due for some much improved quarterback play in 2021. Ryan Fitzpatrick might not be a Pro Bowler, but he will be a step up from some of the worst starting QBs in the league, which is what McLaurin had last year. He still finished in the top 20 among fantasy receivers. I’m bullish on him producing a lot more with Fitzpatrick under center.
- Robert Woods, WR, LAR
On one hand, Woods is due for some improved quarterback play, just like McLaurin. Matt Stafford is definitely an upgrade over Jared Goff. However, he will have some more competition for targets with DeSean Jackson and Tutu Atwell both arriving in the offseason. Still, I will be targeting Woods as a low-end WR1 or high-end WR2 in drafts.
- Darren Waller, TE, LV
While Travis Kelce is a tier of his own, there is a steep drop off after Kittle and Waller. The Raiders tight end finished as TE2 this past season, outscoring Logan Thomas as TE3 by over 100 points. If you can snag an elite tight end, you might sacrifice elsewhere, but the gap is massive.
- CeeDee Lamb, WR, DAL
Just because I like Amari Cooper a bit more, that doesn’t mean I don’t like Lamb. He will obviously get Prescott back and his role in the offense grew as the 2020 season rolled on. He has far surpassed Michael Gallup on the depth chart. He might get off to a bit of a slow start after spending the final weeks of the preseason on the COVID-reserve list, but it won’t take Lamb long to get going.
- Patrick Mahomes, QB, KC
This feels like the right spot for the top quarterback to come off the board. Mahomes gets to play behind a revamped offensive line with two of the best targets in the league running routes in Kelce and Hill. He offers a bit as a runner as well to bolster his value. I tend to be a “wait on quarterback” drafter. I’m not taking one without a couple of solid running backs and a receiver on my roster already.
- Cooper Kupp, WR, LAR
Kupp is a PPR dynamo. He racked up 92 receptions in 15 games this past year. He also only managed to score three touchdowns. With Matthew Stafford arriving, his volume should stay the same, if not increase. He will have a bit more competition for targets, but I expect him to be heavily involved in this offense.
- Gus Edwards, RB, BAL
With J.K. Dobbins done for the season after tearing his ACL, Edwards will step into a much larger role. He would have been a popular late-round flier even before Dobbins’ injury because of how much the Ravens run the ball. His floor is a lot lower due to the lack of involvement in the passing game, but he has RB1 upside given his likely usage as a runner.
- DJ Moore, WR, CAR
Every year, you hear about regression to the mean when it comes to fantasy scoring, particularly when it comes to touchdowns. That should work in Moore’s favor. He racked up 61 catches in 2020, but scored only four touchdowns. He gets a new quarterback in Sam Darnold, so it will be interesting to see if that boosts his production.
- Mike Evans, WR, TB
The best ability is availability. While his teammate Chris Godwin narrowly outscored Evans on a per game basis. Evans finished as WR11. Godwin finished as WR31. There is a lot of competition for targets, but Evans is still playing in a pass-first offense with the greatest quarterback of all time. That is worth drafting at this point.
- Josh Allen, QB, BUF
Out of nowhere, Allen elevated his game to MVP level. He drastically improved his accuracy and still showcased his penchant for big plays. With a solid receiving corps headlined by Stefon Diggs and offseason addition Emmanuel Sanders, expect more of the same from Allen. Even after getting paid, I expect him to stay hungry in pursuit of a Super Bowl.
- Adam Theilen, WR, MIN
He is definitely slowing down at this point in his career, but Theilen still seems to have a bit left in the tank. It is incredibly unlikely he replicates his 14-touchdown season from a year ago. He still feels like a solid WR2 as long as Kirk Cousins is still under center.
- Miles Sanders, RB, PHI
Sanders had a rough 2020 season. The Eagles offensive line could not stay healthy and Carson Wentz played horribly. Sanders also only played in 12 games. However, he still finished as RB19 on a points per game basis. That is not great for those who drafted him in the first round this past year, but it points to him providing some solid value in this spot. He will likely cede some carries to Jalen Hurts, but he will still be heavily involved in the offense.
- Josh Jacobs, RB, LV
The days of Jacobs earning 20+ carries are likely over. The addition of Kenyan Drake’s presence will undoubtedly cause Jacobs to lose a few touches and ends just about any hope of him getting more involved in the passing game. He has been a volume producer in recent years and the Raiders dismantled their offensive line this offseason. I wouldn’t touch Jacobs before the fifth round.
- Chris Godwin, WR, TB
As I mentioned when talking about Mike Evans, Godwin struggled to stay on the field. When he was playing though, he was a great fantasy option. He finished as WR15 on a per game basis in 2020. His upside might be a bit more limited with increased competition for targets. O.J. Howard is back and Antonio Brown will be available all season this time around. He is still a WR2 option.
- Darryl Henderson, RB, LAR
Henderson slides a little bit after the Rams acquired Sony Michel. However, he is still likely to see a large workload. Better quarterback play probably bodes well for his likelihood to score touchdowns this year. He is not very involved in the passing game though, which limits his upside. He is a decent RB2 option.
- Tee Higgins, WR, CIN
I was all over Tee Higgins in the 2020 draft. I had him ranked among my top 20 prospects. He had a strong rookie year and looks poised to improve in 2021. Ja’Marr Chase is getting plenty of love, but Higgins is the clear No. 1 receiver in this offense. Joe Burrow seems to be trending in the right direction as well.
- D’Andre Swift, RB, DET
I am much lower on Swift than most. He struggled mightily to stay healthy in rookie season. Then, the Lions went out and signed Jamaal Williams. They have been in the market for some veteran running backs as well. This team is also likely to be trailing a lot this year, which limits their likelihood to run the ball. This is the earliest I’m taking him.
- Julio Jones, WR, TEN
Which side of Julio Jones’ stat line from 2020 do you want to buy into? The angle that he finished as WR14 on a points per game basis, or the reality that he only played in nine games? If Jones is healthy, he is a great WR2 option even after moving to a run-first offense. His upside is incredible, but he has missed too many games in recent years for me to be confident about him being out there for all 17 contests.
- T.J. Hockenson, TE, DET
If there is anyone who could close the gap on the top three fantasy tight ends this year, it is Hockenson. There is not much competition for targets in Detroit. The team’s top receivers are Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman. Jared Goff also has a good track record of throwing to his tight ends as well.
- Brandon Aiyuk, WR, SF
Aiyuk quietly had a really impressive rookie season. He had five games where he scored at least 20 points. However, he also missed four games and had a couple of duds in there as well. He could be a great flex option, especially if the 49es as a team can get healthier in 2021.
- Mike Davis, RB, ATL
Davis is one of the toughest players to project. He dominated after stepping in for Christian McCaffrey in Carolina. He will now get a chance to be the starting back with very little competition for touches. His pass-catching ability gives him a very high floor, but the uncertainty of him joining a new team with a very small sample size for success makes me a little wary. He could wind up being a steal or a bust.
- Diontae Johnson, WR, PIT
He had a rocky start to the season, but Johnson settled in nicely in the second half. From Week 9 on, he scored at least 12.6 points in all but one game. He also had seven games with at least 19.9 points. However, Pittsburgh has a terrible offensive line and a ton of mouths to feed. The upside is clear, but there are some major question marks.
- Lamar Jackson, QB, BAL
The 2019 MVP took a bit of a step back in 2020, at least from a fantasy perspective. The Ravens invested heavily at wide receiver this offseason, signing Sammy Watkins and drafting Rashod Bateman. Jackson’s running ability already gives him a rock solid floor. If his passing numbers get anywhere close to his 2019 production, he will be a star again.
- Kareem Hunt, RB, CLE
How is it possible that RB10 from 2020 is going outside the top 50 despite his role not changing? Well, Hunt is the clear second back in Cleveland, but he was a top-five option when Nick Chubb went down. His effectiveness as a runner was a little suspect, but the Browns ran the ball enough for that not to matter, at least from a fantasy perspective. He is an elite handcuff, with fringe RB2 value on a weekly basis.
- Myles Gaskin, RB, MIA
Gaskin came from way off the radar to finishing as a top 30 back despite only playing in 10 games. He was RB12 on a per game basis, but the injuries are worrisome. So is Miami signing Malcolm Brown in the offseason. If Gaskin is truly the starter, he should be in the RB2 conversation, but that is a big if at this stage.
- Chase Edmonds, RB, ARI
After a few years of being a solid handcuff, Edmonds is ready to be a fantasy starter. Well, maybe. James Conner could easily steal some carries and Kyler Murray does a lot of the running himself. However, Edmonds is a solid pass catcher, which should keep his value steady even if Conner does see significant volume. You could do much worse when searching for a flex running back.
- Ja’Marr Chase, WR, CIN
There is a reason Chase was the first receiver drafted in April. He is uber talented. He also has a rapport with his new/old quarterback from their college days together. At some point, Chase is going to settle in and be a really good fantasy receiver. It just might not be right out of the gate as he adjusts to the NFL and gets back up to speed after sitting out the 2020 season.
- Courtland Sutton, WR, DEN
Just how good will the Broncos’ offense be with Teddy Bridgewater at the helm? The answer to that question will likely dictate Sutton’s fantasy value for 2021. He is also coming off a major knee injury that cost him the final 15 games of the year. Sutton feels like a bit of a sleeper in this spot, but there are some major questions surrounding him.
- Tyler Lockett, WR, SEA
It is hard to believe that Lockett finished as WR8 in 2020. He scored 46 percent of his points across three monster games. Otherwise? He was WR32 in his other 13 games. His inconsistency is not something I’m too interested in for a weekly format. It is great for best ball leagues, but I don’t see him as much more than a flex option in 2021.
- Kyler Murray, QB, ARI
Before he suffered an ankle injury in 2020, Murray was the best quarterback in fantasy. He had the most points per game through Week 11 with close to 30 per contest. He faded down the stretch as his mobility was limited. This is the trade off that comes with Murray, who offers tons of value with his legs, but has a slight frame and is definitely more susceptible to injury. He is still a great option at quarterback.
- Will Fuller, WR, MIA
He will miss Week 1 due to a suspension, but Fuller lit it up in 2020. He finished as WR8 on a points per game basis, missing the final five games of the year due to that same suspension. Tua Tagovailoa is a step down from Deshaun Watson at quarterback, but Fuller should still be in line for a solid season.
- Michael Thomas, WR, NO
This is about the time that taking the risk on Thomas could be worth it. He is likely out for the first six weeks of the season at minimum. However, with Jameis Winston winning the starting job, his fantasy value when he gets healthy will likely be in the fringe WR1 range. Keep in mind he is only one season removed from a dominant year where he finished as WR1 by nearly 100 fantasy points.
- Russell Wilson, QB, SEA
If you want a top-10 quarterback in fantasy, just draft Wilson. He has finished no worse than QB9 since 2017. He was cooking through the first half of the season, averaging over 30 points per game, but the offense collapsed in the back half of the year. Seattle wants to run the ball more, which could cap Wilson’s upside, but he will still find ways to produce at a high level.
- Mark Andrews, TE, BAL
Andrews’ ADP surged following a TE5 finish in 2019, but he failed to quite live up to the hype. He still finished as TE6, but he actually scored 1.2 fewer points per game in the process. He is a bit touchdown dependent, but he should still be one of the best tight ends in fantasy this year.
- Chase Claypool, WR, PIT
Claypool burst onto the scene with his monster 42.6-point performance against the Eagles in Week 5. He was a decent flex option for much of the year, but faded down the stretch. With the Steelers likely to throw the ball a lot less in 2021, I’m not so sure Claypool will be able to replicate his production. There is still plenty of competition for targets, too. I would temper your expectations for a sophomore surge.
- Dak Prescott, QB, DAL
Through the first five games of the season, Prescott was the clear No. 1 quarterback in fantasy. However, his ankle injury cost him the rest of the year. He still led all quarterbacks in fantasy points per game, but there is some concern over his durability, especially with a shoulder injury cropping up in the preseason. If he can get healthy, he has the weapons to be the top quarterback in fantasy this year. His injuries are what pushes him down to this point.
- Javonte Williams, RB, DEN
At this point, these running backs are taking shots in the dark and hoping something lands. Williams is an exciting prospect, but he is likely to be in a committee with Melvin Gordon. He did grow as a receiver in his time at UNC, so perhaps he will have a bit more value in the passing game. He is a potential flex option with upside if Gordon happens to get hurt.
- Marvin Jones Jr., WR, JAX
If you have watched any of the preseason, you have seen the rapport Jones and rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence have already developed. Jones seems set to be the team’s No. 1 receiver and could see a pretty robust target share given the injuries to D.J. Chark in the preseason. As Matthew Berry likes to point out, Jones is also the only receiver to score at least nine touchdowns in each of the past two seasons. He could be a solid flex option.
- Kyle Pitts, TE, ATL
I know Pitts is going waaaaaay earlier than this in fantasy drafts, but he shouldn’t be. Rookie tight ends almost never do well in fantasy. I know everyone says he is really a receiver, but I still wouldn’t trust his role in this offense. Arthur Smith likes to spread the ball around and run the ball. Pitts will likely be a solid option, but he is being overdrafted at the moment.
- Aaron Rodgers, QB, GB
Oh hey there QB2 from 2020. Rodgers returned to his MVP ways with a dominant season. A lot was made about his offseason, but it likely won’t impact his fantasy value much. He also gets one of his favorite targets back with Randall Cobb’s return. He won’t provide much value as a runner, which limits his upside, but he is such a talented thrower that he can obviously more than make up for it.
- Tyler Boyd, WR, CIN
Don’t sleep on Boyd. Even with Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase on board, Boyd figures to have a solid role in this offense. He actually narrowly outscored Higgins on a per game basis in 2020. Given Chase’s preseason struggles, I wouldn’t expect his role to disappear any time soon.
- Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, JAX
Injuries limited Shenault’s availability last season, but he showed flashes of being an exciting playmaker. He is incredible in run-after-catch situations and should see a pretty solid target share, especially if D.J. Chark is banged up. Shenault’s own injury history drops his stock a little bit, but he is definitely a breakout candidate in 2021.
- Robby Anderson, WR, CAR
Anderson has history with Sam Darnold and is playing in a much better offense than when he was in New York. After a blistering start to 2020, Anderson faded down the stretch. He could lose out on some targets with Terrace Marshall in town, but he definitely projects as a matchup-specific flex option.
- JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, PIT
It is hard to believe that JuJu Smith Schuster was a top-10 fantasy receiver in 2018. It has been a steep drop-off since then. He still finished as WR16 in 2020, but it was a boom-or-bust season. He was held under seven points four times last season, but eclipsed 20 points four times as well. I worry about his target share with more mouths to feed (Najee Harris, Pat Freiermuth) and the Steelers likely to throw the ball less than they did a year ago.
- James Conner, RB, ARI
From a current Steeler to a former Steeler. Conner now has a chance to get carries in Arizona. Chase Edmonds is likely going to start as the lead back, but a healthy Conner has been the better option over the course of their NFL careers. This could be a major sleeper if he is able to win the backfield.
- DeVonta Smith, WR, PHI
I’m a little concerned about Smith’s ability to stay healthy in the pros, but there is no doubt that he is an electric playmaker. He will also have very little competition for targets with a ton of unproven receivers around him on the roster. If he can get out on the field and reconnect with his former college teammate Jalen Hurts, he could provide way more value than where he is being drafted.
- Jerry Jeudy, WR, DEN
It was not the rookie season many would’ve expected from Jeudy after being drafted in the top 15 of the 2020 NFL draft. Instead of lighting it up, he averaged fewer than 10 points per game. Now, he will have some steadier quarterback play and a full offseason to acclimate to the NFL. I don’t think he is going to be a star just yet, but he should take a pretty sizable step toward looking like the receiver we saw at Alabama.
- Brandin Cooks, WR, HOU
By virtue of being basically the only receiver left in Houston, Cooks should see a lot of action. Unfortunately, his quarterback situation takes a major step backward moving from Deshaun Watson to Tyrod Taylor. Still, in PPR, that type of volume is enticing by this stage in the draft. I don’t think he has a ton of upside, but he should have a high floor as well.
- Michael Pittman Jr., WR, IND
It is hard to find a team’s No. 1 receiver this late in most drafts, but Pittman is exactly that in Indianapolis. With T.Y. Hilton slowing down and dealing with injuries and Paris Campbell unable to stay on the field so far, Pittman should see a sizable target share. Assuming Carson Wentz is going to be on the field a lot this season, Pittman should be going well ahead of where he is being drafted.
- Kenny Golladay, WR, NYG
Already, there are injury concerns for Golladay in New York. He is an incredibly talented receiver, but he has struggled to stay on the field. The Giants also have questions along the offensive line and a ton of receivers to throw to. I worry about Golladay seeing the target share that made him such a valuable fantasy commodity in the past. Plus, the injury history is very worrying.
- D.J. Chark, WR, JAX
There is no question that Chark will benefit from playing with Trevor Lawrence, but will he be on the field enough to matter? Is he even the No. 1 receiver in this offense with Marvin Jones Jr. and Laviska Shenault looking strong in the preseason? Those questions push him down my draft board, but the upside is undeniable. Chark finished as WR17 in 2019 and could do it again if he can stay on the field.
- Deebo Samuel, WR, SF
Can Samuel stay healthy? He only played in seven games in 2020, including one where he left after one carry. With better quarterback play and a very creative offensive coordinator, Samuel could be in for a major bounce back year, but I’m a bit wary of his injury history and consistency.
- Raheem Mostert, RB, SF
Same thing goes for Mostert. When healthy, he has been a great fantasy back. He had at least 10 touches in every game he played in 2020, but with the arrival of Trey Sermon and Wayne Gallman, there is a chance Mostert’s weekly usage declines. As good as Kyle Shanahan’s system is at producing fantasy stars, there is a lot of risk involved here.
- Antonio Brown, WR, TB
As much as I might not like Antonio Brown, he is a good fantasy option. He was on fire down the stretch last season, finishing in the top 25 on a points per game basis among all receivers. He could fall victim to the same issues facing Chris Godwin and Mike Evans where there are just too many mouths to feed on a weekly basis. There is tons of upside, but definitely some risk given his standing compared to the rest of the receivers in this offense.
- Marquez Callaway, WR, NO
If you have watched any of this preseason, you have seen Callaway light it up. He and Jameis Winston are locked in right now. Michael Thomas will miss at least the first six games of the season on the PUP list as well, and there really isn’t anyone else on this roster to command targets. Not downfield at least. Alvin Kamara is going to go to work. Until further notice, Callaway is going to be a flex option or better on a weekly basis.
- Dallas Goedert, TE, PHI
Zach Ertz is still on the roster, but Goedert is the clear go-to tight end now. Injuries definitely held him back as he learned to play with a new quarterback as well. I think we see a bounce back season from Goedert, especially after a full offseason to work with Jalen Hurts.
- Damien Harris, RB, NE
Can you ever trust the Patriots backfield? The answer is usually no, but with Sony Michel shipped out, Harris has a little competition for carries. James White and Rhammondre Stevenson will both be involved, but Harris will likely be the lead back. Against the right matchups, he could have RB2 upside. He just won’t be someone you can start every week.
- Melvin Gordon, RB, DEN
While Javonte Williams is the shiny new toy in Denver’s offense, Gordon will still have some say in who controls the backfield. He finished as RB14 and produced well despite the Broncos’ awful quarterback situation. He was a little streaky, scoring his nine touchdowns in just six games. If Teddy Bridgewater can provide some stability, Gordon could be in the flex conversation again.
- Trey Sermon, RB, SF
One of my favorite rookies to target this year is Sermon. He is a good runner who comes into a great situation. San Francisco’s running backs have struggled to stay healthy in recent years, which could present Sermon with the opportunity to be a bellcow back. Sermon has his own injury history to worry about, but this feels like a good spot to take that risk.
- Jarvis Landry, WR, CLE
Landry had a down year despite becoming the top receiver in Cleveland. He had six games with fewer than eight points and only topped 20 once. With Odell Beckham Jr. still working his way back from injury, Landry should still see a good number of targets, but in an offense that does not throw the ball much, I wouldn’t be counting on him as a reliable fantasy starter.
- Justin Herbert, QB, LAC
Expectations for Herbert are high after a monster rookie season. An improved offensive line could see him take the next step after a year where he already finished as QB9. With plenty of weapons and a new offensive coordinator who spent a long time working with Drew Brees, I think Herbert is a very solid starting QB option in fantasy.
- Logan Thomas, TE, WAS
Coming from way off the radar, Thomas surprised everyone with a TE3 finish in 2020. Why he is this low is because he probably won’t match his 110 targets. Ryan Fitzpatrick has never been one to rely on tight ends and the arrival of Curtis Samuel and Dyami Brown will likely cost him a ton of opportunities in this offense. However, there is a good chance his yards per catch climbs close to the league average and we see him do a bit more work on fewer touches.
- Elijah Moore, WR, NYJ
Reports out of Jets camp are that Moore is the clear No. 1 receiver. He hasn’t had a chance to show it in the preseason because of a quadriceps injury, but he has flashed tons of playmaking ability. His versatility to line up outside and in the slot means he should be on the field a lot. I think he could turn out to be a solid flex option later in the season.
- Jaylen Waddle, WR, MIA
While Waddle is undoubtedly more talented than Moore, Moore has way less competition for targets. DeVante Parker is still in Miami and Will Fuller figures to play a significant role after returning from suspension. Mike Gesicki will definitely see some targets from the tight end spot, too. Waddle has the potential to be a game-breaker, but I would target him more in non-PPR formats because I don’t think he will have a huge target share.
- Odell Beckham Jr., WR, CLE
Will we ever see the Beckham we saw in New York? From 2014-2018, he was in the top 10 on a point-per-game basis every year. He missed some time in 2017, but otherwise, he was an explosive playmaker who put up great fantasy numbers. Beckham finished outside the top 30 in points per game each of the past two years since joining the Browns. That doesn’t bode well for his prospects in 2021.
- Tom Brady, QB, TB
The GOAT turned it around after a rocky start to the season. Brady finished as QB7 on a points per game basis over the final eight weeks of the season. It seems like he has figured out Bruce Arians’ offense and gotten on the same page with his receivers. With even more targets this year, including a full season of Antonio Brown and the return of O.J. Howard, Brady should be primed for another solid year.
- Leonard Fournette, RB, TB
Do we trust that Playoff Lenny is going to show up in the regular season? Tampa Bay, much like New England, has opted to rotate through a number of running backs with Fournette, Ronald Jones, Giovani Bernard and Ke’Shawn Vaughn all on the roster. Still, we saw Fournette take over in the postseason. If he gets the type of workload in September that he got in January, this would be a steal.
- Zack Moss, RB, BUF
It appears Moss is set to be the lead back in the Bills offense in 2021. That might not mean a ton. Neither Moss nor Devin Singletary managed to crack 150 fantasy points last season. With Josh Allen stealing goal line carries and the team solidly committed to a running back by committee approach, his upside is limited, but he could be a spot starter in the case of injury or a bye week.
- Michael Gallup, WR, DAL
If there is anyone that feels like a post-hype sleeper to me this year, it is Gallup. He is clearly the third receiver in Dallas’ offense, but he flashed a high-ceiling with three games over 20 points. Gallup will not be an every week starter, but with Dak Prescott back and a pass-happy offense, he could be a matchup-specific flex option.
- Ryan Tannehill, QB, TEN
One of the most frequently overlooked fantasy quarterbacks, Tannehill finished as QB7 and added Julio Jones to his offense. For as much as the Titans like to run the ball, Tannehill gets plenty of opportunity to make plays. Consistency is a huge factor here as well, with only three games under 16 points in 2020. He is a very solid weekly starter.
- A.J. Dillon, RB, GB
Welcome to handcuff running back territory. Dillon is in line for a larger role this year with Jamaal Williams in Detroit now. However, he is still clearly the backup to Aaron Jones and does not bring a ton to the table as a pass catcher. If Jones goes down though, Dillon enters RB1 territory.
- Jamaal Williams, RB, DET
Staying in the division, Williams does not project as the Day 1 starter right now, but it might not take long. D’Andre Swift is dealing with some nagging injuries and has a history of missing time. For as questionable as this Lions roster is, the offensive line looks really strong. If Swift misses time, Williams could be a solid RB2.
- Noah Fant, TE, DEN
Teddy Bridgewater taking over at quarterback does not do too much to boost Fant’s fantasy value. The return of Courtland Sutton definitely hurts it. Fant is due for a breakout, but there are a lot of receivers here to garner targets in what could end up being a run-first offense. He did finish as TE8 in 2020, but I don’t know that he will be able to climb any higher this year.
- Corey Davis, WR, NYJ
If you read my weekly waiver wire column this past year, you know I was pounding the table for Davis all year long. He missed a few games and had some duds, but overall, it was a solid season for him. Now, he could be in line to be the Jets No. 1 receiver. There will be some bumps in the road with Zach Wilson at quarterback, but Davis should seem a good target share in this offense.
- Darnell Mooney, WR, CHI
A nice surprise as a rookie, Mooney emerged as a complementary receiver to Allen Robinson in the Bears offense. Now, Mooney will get some better quarterback play, especially once Justin Fields takes over. With a full offseason under his belt, Mooney is an exciting breakout candidate.
- Curtis Samuel, WR, Washington
Samuel is reunited with Ron Rivera in Washington, but that likely hurts his fantasy value. He broke out for a WR24 finish with 14.1 points per game in 2020. That was under Matt Rhule and Joe Brady though. The year before playing for Rivera and Scott Turner? He was WR36 and had 10.7 points per game. I think he falls somewhere in between, but don’t expect a repeat of last season.
- Nyheim Hines, RB, IND
Hines’ value skyrocketed when Marlon Mack went down with an injury in Week 1 of 2020. He made the most of the opportunity, finishing as RB15. He was heavily involved in the passing game and if Jonathan Taylor ever goes down, Hines enters the RB1 conversation.
- Tyler Higbee, TE, LAR
It is possible no player benefits more from the arrival of Matthew Stafford than Higbee. Stafford has a great track record of throwing to his tight ends. Higbee also is in line for even more targets with Gerald Everett now in Seattle. There are still plenty of receivers to choose from in Los Angeles, but I think Higbee should be involved more than enough to be relevant.
- Henry Ruggs, WR, LV
How is Ruggs going to fare in Year 2? He had an underwhelming rookie season, finishing as WR94 and scoring over 10 points just twice. With a full offseason to work with Derek Carr, Ruggs could be primed for a better sophomore campaign. He is in line to be his team’s No. 1 target. If you are in best ball leagues, Ruggs is a great player to snag. He is a big risk just about every other setting.
- Robert Tonyan, TE, GB
There is almost no chance Tonyan replicates his 2020 production. He had 11 touchdowns on just 52 catches. He is clearly a great red zone target, but it is unlikely he can continue to be that efficient. With Randall Cobb returning to the team, his target share is likely to decrease rather than increase. He still has value, but finishing as TE4 again feels like too much to ask for.
- Joe Burrow, QB, CIN
If the line can protect him, Burrow is going to have plenty of weapons to work with. Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and Ja’Marr Chase are an exciting trio of receivers and the Bengals get C.J. Uzomah and Joe Mixon back from injury. He had an up and down rookie season, but there is no doubt he has the talent to thrive in the NFL.
- Russell Gage, WR, ATL
With Julio Jones in Tennessee, Gage seems primed for a larger role in the Falcons offense. He has shown plenty of promise and finished the season on a tear. From Week 13 to Week 17, Gage was the 10th best receiver in fantasy. I fully expect him to be in the flex conversation this season.
- Ronald Jones II, RB, TB
Welcome to New England south, at least when it comes to fantasy running backs. Jones was supposed to be the lead back in 2020, but saw his role shrink slowly as the year rolled on. Fournette is back and the team added Giovani Bernard. If Fournette goes down, Jones becomes way more valuable, but unless that happens, he will have a lot of competition for carries.
- Jonnu Smith, TE, NE
This Patriots offense is built for tight ends to have success. Smith is likely to go heavily featured, especially with Hunter Henry already injured. Mac Jones is a very good passer and Smith will likely benefit from his presence. It’s not ridiculous to think he will be the most targeted player in this offense this season. Then again, the Patriots might just use him as a decoy half the time, so who knows.
- Tony Pollard, RB, DAL
Pollard has been one of the top handcuffs in the league for a few years now. The one week that Ezekiel Elliott was out in 2020, Pollard went off for over 30 points. He does not offer a ton of value when Elliott is healthy, but he still gets to work behind a strong offensive line.
- DeVante Parker, WR, MIA
Lost a bit in the hype around adding Jaylen Waddle and Will Fuller, Parker is still a viable option in Miami. He had some bright spots in 2020 and will get a chance to play a very young Jets secondary twice. He is not going to be a weekly starter, but there will be some opportunities for him to be in your lineup.
- Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, NE
With Sony Michel now in Los Angeles, short-yardage work and goal line carries will now fall to Stevenson. He is a physical runner and could end up scoring a decent number of touchdowns this season. His volume won’t be super high and he will not be a factor in the passing game, but there is still value here.
- Kenyan Drake, RB, LV
The outlook for Drake heading into 2021 is rather bleak. He had a strong 2020 season, clocking in at RB16. However, that was over 250 touches. He will not see that again with the Raiders while backing up Josh Jacobs. Drake will likely still be involved in the passing game, but he only had 25 receptions last year. He is going to need to see a much larger target share for him to be a factor in fantasy.
- Matt Stafford, QB, LAR
Stafford joins a much better situation in L.A. than the one he leaves behind. I wouldn’t expect him to climb into the top five, but the improved supporting cast could see him reach the top 10. For reference, he was QB16 in 2020. His lack of mobility limits his value in fantasy, but Stafford is a solid late-round flier.
- Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, DET
Someone has to catch Jared Goff’s passes, right? The Lions just released Breshad Perriman on cut down day. Their starters right now are Tyrell Williams and Khalif Raymond. I would expect St. Brown to get some run. He was great out of the slot in college. I like him as a late-round stash with hopes he grows into that role as the season rolls on.
- Trevor Lawrence, QB, JAX
While his offensive line does seem a little suspect, Lawrence is in a good spot to have success early on, at least from a fantasy perspective. He brings some value as a runner and will likely be throwing a ton with his team trailing in the second half. Especially playing the Texans in Week 1, Lawrence could be an immediate starting option.
- Mike Williams, WR, LAC
Once again, there were some flashes, but not enough consistency from Mike Williams. He barely cracked the top 50 in 2020. Los Angeles also went out and brought in more competition for targets with Jared Cook and Josh Palmer. I’m fading Williams. He would need to take a big step forward or have an injury to Keenan Allen to see any significant movement in the rankings.
- Devin Singletary, RB, BUF
Hopes of Singletary winning the lead role in this backfield are long gone. He is in a pretty even time share with Zack Moss, but it likely tips in Moss’ favor. With Josh Allen running as much as he does, Singletary simply does not see enough value to be a weekly starter. He has his moments, he had seven games with at least 10 points in 2020, but he will likely spend much of the year on your bench.
- David Johnson, RB, HOU
In theory, Johnson should be the starter in Houston. However, Phillip Lindsay and Mark Ingram are both still on the roster, which points to a running back by committee situation. Johnson quietly finished as RB15 on a points per game basis in 2020, so the upside is there, but his situation has gotten much worse.
- Justin Fields, QB, CHI
Obviously, Fields is not starting in Week 1. However, I don’t think it will be long before he unseats Andy Dalton. He has shown flashes in the preseason to be excited about and has some good receivers to work with. If you are looking for a late flier with upside to stash, Fields is likely top of my list in that category.