Sleepers don’t exist anymore. But value does. And if you fill your roster up with enough of it, you’re no longer a Bodega, you’re a fuckin Walmart.
Here are the most underrated players in 2021 fantasy football drafts right now.
Tom Brady is the best value in fantasy drafts at the QB position right now (QB11) and it’s not close.
I mean this dude came into Tampa last year, ran up a 4600-40 line in his first year, with a carousel at WR early on, losing O.J. Howard, his first year in Bruce Arians offense and it feels like no one is talking about it. Imagine RoJo or Uncle Lenny had fingers on their hands… Brady might’ve graced the land of 5k.
This Tampa Bay team brought every single player byke in 2021. This is going to be a well-oiled, Johnny Sins-type lubed up fuck-machine.
Brady has a full summer to work with a healthy top-tier weapons group in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown. He’ll be working behind a top-5 ranked offensive line. And he’s shown absolutely zero signs of slowing down.
Brady’s 40 touchdowns in 2020 were his highest total since the 50-touchdown 2007 record-breaker. He is NOT afraid to push the ball downfield, whatsoever. He attempted a deep pass on 14.6% of this throws last year, 4th highest rate in the NFL, and with this group of WRs I see no path to another behemoth season from Brady’s fingertips.
Maybe he doesn’t have top-5 upside, but he’s primed to post one of the best statistical passing seasons at the position.
I love Baker this year. He’s way more accurate than given credit for and caught red hot fire at the end of last year and I fully expect that to carry over into 2021, his second season under the 2020 NFL Head Coach of the Year, Kevin Stefanski. Historically we know quarterback play statistically skyrockets in their second year in a system, and it should be no different for the former #1 overall pick in Cleveland.
Mayfield will get to enjoy playing behind what’s likely the best offensive line in the entire NFL. Remember what that was like during his time at Oklahoma? Lawd
If you discount (which you should) the three (3) consecutive hurricane games that the Cleveland Browns played in last year (LV, PHI, HOU – what should’ve been three absolute stat-stuffing contests for him), games in which Baker averaged like 10 completions/game, we can paint a different picture to his 2020 season.
Baker paced out to nearly 4,000 passing yards and 32 passing touchdowns in this scenario. That was without Odell Beckham Jr., who I won’t be touching in fantasy this year but undoubtedly boosts Baker’s downfield playmaking ability and fantasy upside.
It was just a couple of years ago that that Baker set the rookie passing TD (27) record in just 14 games byke in 2018. Since then, it’s felt like a bunch of wrong place, wrong time moments strung together for Baker that’ve left a sour taste in the mouths of fantasy owners, but a little bit of luck breaking in the right direction here will go a LONG way for him.
They finally have a situation in Cleveland where Baker can be comfortable, take his time behind an elite offensive line to use his point-point short-to-medium seed accuracy to eat up chunk plays down the field. Coming into his second year in Kevin Stefanski’s offense, we shouldn’t be surprised when Baker chucks up a prime Kirk Cousins season of 4,400 passing yards and 30+ touchdowns. This Browns team is an under-the-radar Superbowl contender and their quarterback is more than just a game manager.
Y’all are not going to like me for this one. And right now I’m not loving this pick either, but the case for drafting Daniel Jones in 2021 is simple for me. Pretty much every NFL quarterback in that extra medium zone, QB12-QB24, is nearly the same from a skillset perspective. Obviously there are nuances to this shit. Don’t hear what I’m not saying. What makes or breaks these QBs in fantasy are two things:
- Rushing ability
- Supporting cast
We cannot overstate the importance of getting Saquon Barkley byke and the signing of a true number one outside threat in Kenny Golladay. The latter will be equally if not more important than the former.
Y’all know I’m not a huge fan of Kadarius Toney (AND YOU’RE NOT DRAFTING IM THIS YEAR). But I’ve been wrong before. Like once. Ever. So, maybe Toney is good. If nothing else, he’s a great athlete that’ll add explosive highlight plays to the offense.
Daniel Jones has played in 27 games since entering the league in 2019, a handful of them hampered with a high-ankle sprain. Regardless, Jones has supplied fantasy owners with an extra 3.3 fantasy points per game via only his rushing production. That might not seem like much, but the difference between Mitchell Trubisky (16.0 – QB27) and Kirk Cousins (19.3 – QB13) last year… you guessed it, was 3.3 fantasy points per game.
This assumes DJ gets his passing numbers in check. If they were in check last year, it was a voided check. But let’s not forget in 2019, with a fully healthy supporting cast around him, Jones had three 4-TD games AND a 5-TD game. The ceiling was, and will be there again in 2021.
And that’s in large part to their schedule. Naturally, Jones will step on the field against his own division, the NFC East. That’s four games against the disgusting Philly & Dallas secondaries (their second matchups come in Week 15 & 16). The G-Men also face off against ATL, CAR, KC and LV. You’re thinking, what about Washington… good news fantasy fuckboys – we avoid their 2nd matchup with the FOOTBALL TEAM… it’s in Week 18.
The offensive line was, and still is a concern for me, but I went to the most tapped in Giants source I could find to give us a little bit more insight. Snackarooni. Here’s our little leprechaun had to say:
While we can’t technically consider any of this to be big factual information, he’s not wrong about one thing (well, yes he was but his heart was in the right place): the deep ball. Jones was #3 in deep ball completion rate among QBs w/ 30+ deep attempts and had the 3rd highest passing grade (per PFF) on deep balls, while ranking 2nd in “Big Time Throw” rate, behind only Rodgers.
The problem with DJ is that the guy seemingly ticks his hands in canola oil before he takes snaps. Since 2019, DJ has lost 17 fumbles. That’s the most among QBs in that time frame by 6 fucking fumbles! You throw 22 interceptions into that cocktail and you’re looking at one disgusting margarita, and a very high blood pressure rating for Snacks.
Kenny Golladay can’t fix what’s broken in DJ, but he can definitely help. Daniel Jones won’t have to hold the ball so long. When he’s under pressure, he’ll be able to throw it up in the vicinity of Kenny G knowing that it will be caught, or at worst batted down. It’ll lead to fewer interceptions, and less strip sacks because he’ll have the ball in his hands for less time.
Do I expect a third-year Josh Allen jump.. no at all. Josh Allen already made a jump from year one to year two, people just didn’t want to believe it but he improved drastically in nearly every statistical category.
What I’m saying is, for QB22 price, Daniel Jones now has a really solid supporting cast and rushing ability. He will give you 25+ fantasy point weeks and having real weapons will make him a night and day passer. He’s got about as much upside as any QB you’re going to find in this range of your draft.
The more I think about this situation, the more it feels like Taysom Hill winds up starting for the Saints. Literally just a handful of starts out of Hill would warrant his current QB31 draft price.
Without Michael Thomas and with an average defense, the Saints won’t be able to win games with a ground-and-pound style of play. They’ll need to be creative to move things on the offensive side of the ball. There’s been arguably nothing more creative in recent years than the way Sean Payton has used Taysom Hill. We’re going to see way too much Taysom Hill this year, if he’s not just named the starter, straight up.
It might not have been pretty, but Hill was a BEAST for fantasy in the 4 games he started in 2020, averaging over 22 fantasy points per game. He didn’t scored fewer than 18.5 fantasy points in any of those four games. THIS MAN HAD 78 PASSING YARDS IN A GAME AND SCORED 18.5 FANTASY POINTS. The Saints went 3-1 in Hill’s 4 starts, scoring 32.5 points per game.
The weekly upside is REAL out of Hill and it costs literally nothing to draft him, even in Superflex leagues. He has a floor of 0, that’s established. But drafting him is not like drafting Trey Lance, or Justin Fields, there’s no risk because there’s no price. It’s like pulling up to Dunkin Donuts at 1:58 am, before they close and they offer you the (still tasty af even when they’re hard) donuts that they were going to throw out. There’s no downside, only enjoyment if it works out. And for this reason, Hill will likely be my most owned QB in fantasy this year.
I see no fathomable path to Najee Harris finishing outside of the top-12 fantasy running backs this year based on volume alone.
Everything out of Pittsburgh’s camp has been boner-inducing about their 1st-round (1.24) pick. He’s a 3-down trojan horse ready to bust onto the scene. With 1st round draft capital and an every-down skill-set attached to a head coach that has been insistent on using a featured running back throughout his tenure (Le’Veon Bell, James Conner, DeAngelo Williams, Rashard Mendenhall, Willie Parker) it’s safe to sharpie in 350+ touches as a rookie. Every one of those running backs listed has had a season under Tomlin in which they average 22 or more opportunities per game.
I’m writing this piece after the Hall of Fame Game that took place on August 5th. The Steelers 1st team offense stayed on the field for 18 plays. Najee Harris played on all 18 snaps. If you do the math, that comes out to around 1,000%. That’s a pretty good indicator of how they plan on using their first round investment in 2021.
The offensive line will certainly be a problem, but I expect Harris’s involvement in the passing game (55+ targets), to more than make up for the lack of efficiency on the ground. Harris is an excellent pass-catcher, reeling in 70 balls for 729 yards and 11 touchdowns over his final two seasons at Alabama.
The fact that James Conner and Benny Snell combined to score 10 times on the ground last year WITHOUT any receiving tugs, behind this line, gives me luscious levels of hope that Najee Harris can eclipse double-digit scores. He has more upside than he’s given credit for with one of the safer floors in all of fantasy football.
UPDATE AFTER PRESEASON WEEK 1-2 GAME
Playing out exactly as we imagined it. Najee is absolutely dominating snaps and touches in this backfield. It’s going to take an awful for his floor to be anything other than a top-12 back. In the Hall of Fame game, Harris played every single (18-of-18) snaps with the starting offense. He’s played a total 30-of-36 (83%) of the first-team offensive snaps, and most importantly 75% of the 3rd down snaps. His upside remains to be seen, but man he’s going to get a zillion fuckin touches this year.
Dobbins landed on my fade list when his ADP shot up to the middle of the 2nd round earlier this summer.
I’ve changed my tune entirely on Dobbins since then, because his price has dropped dramatically (end of 3rd in 1QB, 4th in SF).
It’s okay to be nervous about “dead-zone” running backs. Dead-zone backs are the guys you draft in rounds 3, 4, 5 and 6 that bust more often than Justin Beiber at an Arizona State frat party. But I’d argue that these running backs are pretty easy to spot. Last year it was all these old running backs, way past their prime (David Johnson, James Conner, Todd Gurley, Mark Ingram, etc.), you could’ve spotted from press-box distances away.
This year, there are a few guys that stand out to me in that zone as dead-zone disappointments which I break down who I think those are in our all-fade list & BDGE Bible. Dobbins is absolutely not one of them.
Dobbins is 22-years-old. Entering the prime of his NFL career, with a rare combination of size (5’10-210), SPEEEEEEEED (4.37) and opportunity.
With Mark Ingram gone, the path is cleared for Dobbins to lead this backfield in touches by a wide margin. I’m not here to argue if Gus Edwards will play a role. Of course he will. A sizable one. I’m here to argue that Dobbins is good enough, as is this offense, that it won’t matter.
The Ravens have been a top-10 scoring offense in each of Lamar Jackson’s two full seasons as a starter, including the #1 overall scoring offense in 2019.
It’s easy to refute people stating that the Ravens are the most run-heavy team in the NFL because Lamar Jackson adds a stupid amount of weight to that side of the seesaw and when we’re looking for fantasy points from J.K. Dobbins, that doesn’t help us. But this does:
Since Lamar Jackson has taken over as the starter in Baltimore two years ago, the Ravens have averaged:
- 22 RB goal-line carries per season
- 19 RB touchdowns per season
Not 22 goal-line carries and 19 rushing touchdowns, 22 RUNNING BACK goal-line carries and 19 RUNNING BACK touchdowns per season.
Most people would look at Gus Edwards, given his build, and assume that he earns the goal-line duties for the team in purple. That’s simply not the case. For all intents and purposes, Mark Ingram was benched last year around Week 11 (also landed on COVID list). That’s when the backfield became Dobbins’ to dominate. From Week 11 through the rest of the season, Dobbins out-carried Gus inside-the-five 7-4, scoring on 6-of-7 carries, while Gus scored just once. It’s not just a projection to assume Dobbins controls the majority of the GL work in the Ravens backfield. He already did that as a rookie.
The take on fading Dobbins is starting to feel like a stance people are taking on an analytical hill that has piano legs underneath holding it up.
Admittedly, it’s hard to hear the reports out of Baltimore camp about Dobbins being more involved in the passing game and take them seriously. This type of hype is an annual occurrence in fantasy football (Josh Jacobs, Joe Mixon, etc. happens every year – while all signs point to the contrary). But, it’s better to hear it over and over again, than not.
This is telling, too:
Numerous coaches have said that they couldn’t install as many plays / packages for rookies last year as they would have liked because of the shortened offseason.
J.K. Dobbins is yet another. From OC Greg Roman: pic.twitter.com/8SnhNIwfgz
— Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield) July 31, 2021
If Dobbins sees any uptick in passing work, he’s going to be a PROBLEM in fantasy football this year. He’s already one of the most efficient backs in football, with volume he becomes a king. If a non-explosive, 29-year-old Mark Ingram can give us an RB8 half ppr finish (2019) there’s no reason the abundantly more talented J.K. Dobbins can’t.
Buffalo’s 3rd-rounder last year finished his rookie campaign with a 112-481-4-4.3 || 18-14-95-1 (RB45 fantasy finish) in 13 games.
Moss played on 45% of their snaps and had an opportunity share of 43.3%. It was a direct split between he and Singletary.
Despite lots of links, reports and rumors of adding a back, all they did was add one ankle in Matt Breida to their backfield. So, it’ll be Moss and Singletary again.
I think we’d all like to see Moss take over, and I think it can happen. He never really got going last year, probably thanks to a toe injury after Week 2 that cost him weeks 3-4-5. He suffered a high ankle sprain in the playoffs and had surgery this offseason and he’ll be ready for everything.
The problem with Zack Moss is that the Bills had VERY defined roles for their running backs last year. Moss was the bruiser, and goal-line back. Singletary was the pass-catcher.
- In the 13 games Moss played in, he had 11 GL carries, Singletary had just 3, while Josh Allen took the remaining 7.
What’s likely being underrated entering 2021, and could be the reason Moss gets on the field more often on 3rd downs was his pass-blocking. In 2020, among 40 backs with more than 35 pass-blocking snaps, Moss had the 2nd highest pass-blocking grade (per PFF). I also don’t think it’s a huge reach pushing Moss into more of a pass-catching role, considering he did it in college, two seasons of 28+ catches.
Moss’s position as a pure runner, though, is probably underrated.
- First off, just look at the team, 30 PPG last year, 3rd in the NFL. THey’re going to score a lot and give him a ton of scoring opps. Just basic common sense will give you a very high floor in fantasy football.
- For Moss as a runner, PlayerProfiler: #7 in both Juke Rate and Yards Created/Touch. There was nothing fancy with Moss last year, but he brought his tackle-breaking ability from college, one that gave him an undying level of hype out of Utah State.
Zack Moss is going outside of the top 100 picks right now, making him one of my favorite all-around picks in fantasy this year. I’m not expecting a top-12 finish from him. But if he takes over the starting job, and converts at a higher rate than 3-for-11 (27%) on goal-line carries, he can be a top-20 fantasy RB without question. Let’s not project to go from 14 catches to 50, or from 44% of the snaps to 70%+, but both areas have room to grow and his foundation of what he did last year, to build upon this year is more secure than most people will remember it to be.
Gus Edwards has been nothing short of awesome as a role player for the Ravens in his three NFL seasons. He’s seen at least 130+ carries in all three of them, averaging over 5.0 yards per carry annually as well. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I’m willing to be he’s in very, very shallow company with that stat.
I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I’m willing to be he’s in very, very shallow company with that stat.
Alright, fuck you guys, I’ll find the numbers because you paid me to do the dirty, grimy work.
Since the year 2000, there have only been three (3) running backs to see at least 130 carries and average 5.0+ yards per carry as both a rookie and sophomore.
- Clinton Portis
- Nick Chubb
- Gus Edwards
J.K. Dobbins is the explosive guy and Gus obviously comes with a very capped fantasy ceiling because of him, but a little bit of touchdown luck for the bus will go a LONG way. And with Mark Ingram out the picture, it’s not unlikely to happen.
Gus Edwards over last two seasons:
YBC/ATT: 2.5 (11th), 2.3 (22nd)
YAC/ATT: 2.8 (5th), 2.7 (6th)
YPC: 5.3 (2nd), 5.0 (7th)
Edwards will get flex-worthy work in an elite rushing offense with high-end RB2 upside if Dobbins misses time.
— Adam Pfeifer (@APfeifer24) May 30, 2021
The Ravens are the most run-heavy team in the NFL so it’s not difficult to see why Gus has averaged just around double-digit touches/game in his 3 NFL seasons. Double-digit touches isn’t anything to go crazy about, especially double-digit touches that aren’t receptions and probably not “explosive” plays, but just bc they’re not explosive doesn’t mean they can’t be chunk plays.
Gus has one of the most underrated athletic profiles among NFL running backs.
Making these numbers unsurprising af:
This is a really good Ravens team and they’re going to blow some teams out in 2021, Gus’s game script is going to be juicy, often. Baltimore starts the year off with LV, KC, DET and wraps up their fantasy schedule with CLV, GB, CIN 🤤
At the end of the day, Fournette just finds himself in a backfield that you want a piece of for fantasy. I don’t think we’re realizing, as fantasy players, just how good this situation is going to be.
Yes, Brady is a monster and this passing offense is fun and shiny, but there’s going to be so much going around to eat for everyone. It’s a family re-union and Uncle Lenny has a seat at the table. This TB offense averaged over 30 points per game last year, good for the 2nd highest scoring unit in the league.
On top of that, the passing game just won’t need much volume because of how efficient they’ll be moving the ball downfield, and because of their smothering defense. If you can stop Patric Mahomes, you can stop anything. It’s going to be high levels of defenses, high levels of running the ball and wildly efficient passing numbers. Brady had his highest TD rate since 2010 and Fournette scored on just 1-of-9 GL carries. Something’s probably going to give there.
Things were weird in Tampa, especially to start the year, new faces, new players, new places, injuries, people in and out of the lineup – but when it mattered, like in real life, your mother’s brother showed up.
Fournette rushed 64 times for 300 yards in the Bucs’ four playoff games on top of playing on third-downs. Ronald Jones only made three appearances in the postseason. He earned 35 carries for 139 yards in those contests.
Fournette scored 7 times in his final 7 games for TB last year.
And as much as you needed to clench your ass every time Brady checked down to a running back last year, the volume was there for Fournette, he had 47 targets in 13 games, close to 60 on a full 16 game slate. And the drops were uncharacteristic for him. He can catch. He just chose not to last year. He was eating too many snickers bars in the summer
Fournette is a true stand-alone value fantasy RB with really, really high upside if something happened to RoJo given this offense. And, like I said, vice verse. I don’t dislike RoJo either.. I was pretty high on him last year, and he’s proven to be way better than people gave him credit for, but it’s clear he’s not getting work in the passing game, and it was Fournette that they rode when it mattered last year.
Gio Bernard being thrown into the mix can be a problem, but I’m not so sure he makes the team. If he does, we can adjust, and grab Fournette even later!
UPDATE AFTER PRESEASON WEEK 1 GAME
Not a good start for Fournette as we saw he, Ronald Jones and Gio Bernard split snaps equally (33% each) with Tom Brady under center. One of the reasons we liked Fournette this year was his pass-catching upside (relative to RoJo), but Gio played on both 3rd down snaps with Brady on the field, catching both targets he saw on those snaps for 16 yards. That role looks like it’s Gio’s to lose. And that means a lot of lost fantasy points for the rest of the backfield. The starters won’t be playing in the Bucs next preseason game but will in the following week so stay tuned for playing time in a few and whether or not we keep Uncle Lenny on the list or he’s byke to his rocking chair.
There’s a near-0 chance that Mike Davis is the workhorse for Atlanta all season. And they have nothing in this backfield behind Davis. Until now. We now know who the RB2 in Atlanta is.
I’m not drafting Ollison because he’s the Falcons backup running back. I’m drafting Ollison because he’s a 24-year-old, 228lb running back with a 76th percentile speed-score.
And we don’t know if Mike Davis can withstand a full year in a starting role without getting hurt or falling on his face in regards to efficiency. Weirder things have happened than Quad god.
The quarterback situation is apparently a dead-heat right now in Denver (as of August 2nd) between Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock. What’s more concerning is that Courtland Sutton’s knee is still causing him to hesitate when he’s on the field at this point in the summer apparently. And that is a big deal to me. And to Jeudy owners.
Jeudy is coming off of a stellar rookie campaign in which he commanded 113 targets. The 22nd most by a rookie since the year 2000.
The year would’ve been much much bigger if there was some more touch from Drew Lock on literally any of his passes. Jeudy ranked 6th in the NFL in air yards last year, but 2nd in unrealized air yards. You know why there was that discrepancy, because:
“No receiver had a higher rate of their targets result in a quarterback-fault incompletion this season than the rookie. The Alabama product also racked up the most targets on which he created separation that resulted in a quarterback-fault incompletion. BUT According to Pro Football Focus, Jeudy only caught 76.5% of his catchable targets, the worst mark in the NFL.”
So, Sutton comes byke and we assume it caps his ceiling. It might. As a 7th round pick, I’m not expecting WR1 numbers in fantasy from Jeudy. But these two guys, Sutton & lil Jerry are drastically different players. And we do like to draft players 2 YEARS REMOVED from the ACL tear, not one. It’s possible, given the news out of Denver, that we don’t actually get Sutton at full strength and 2022 we get WR1 Sutton, leaving it open for Jeudy this year.
The big change for Denver could be at the QB position. Where they bring in Teddy Bridgewater. For Jeudy’s sake, we’re rooting hard for Teddy B to win the QB battle in the mountains. What’s better for Teddy than a guy that gets open quickly?
Jeudy is exactly what we thought he was coming out of Bama, already cementing himself as one of the top route runners in the game.
As a sophomore, Gallup went 113-66-1107-6 in 14 games. 14 games….That number dropped off significantly in 2021, unfortunately, but the entire offense’s floor dropped from underneath them.
Gallup is like the Dallas version of Antonio Brown in an offense that we can project to pass the ball way more often.
Gallup ranked outside of the top 100 wideouts last year in both catchable target rate (104th) and target quality rating (101st). That’ll happen when your $160M quarterback breaks his leg and Ben DeNucci is throwing you balls.
With Dak back under center, again this offense is going to bump. Dallas was averaging 32.8 PPG in Dak’s 5 starts in 2020, which would’ve been the highest scoring offense in the NFL at that pace. Dak was on pace for 804 pass attempts…… Gallup would need to see like 14% of the targets in this offene to see triple-digit target numbers.
I don’t believe Gallup to be simply a product of the Cowboys system, though. Gallup is just straight up disrespected as a receiver.
If anything at all were to happen to either Amari Cooper or CeeDee Lamb, Gallup is locked in as a top-25 fantasy WR and might hit that number regardless.
You’re being warned right now, this might just be a gut-feeling but I can’t be more excited to see Smith zominate in 2021.
With training camp right around the corner (written on July 6), I don’t expect the Heisman Trophy winner’s ADP to marinate this low for much longer.
The Philly secondary is brutal, and Smith is a brutalizer of secondaries so I’ll give it a week of training camp before reports of Smith’s dominance flow out of Philly like a bottle of tequila on Cinco De Mayo at the hQ.
With top-10 NFL Draft capital, there isn’t a reason on earth, or any other planet
WoW included, in which DeVonta Smith shouldn’t be the alpha in this Eagles offense by the first week of September.
The failed experiment of alpha Jalen Reagor experiment is a failed one. Bordering on the failure level of the lab that allowed Covid sneak out. The video of the Vikings laughing as the Eagles took Reagor over Justin Jefferson might actually be worse. Regardless, it’s in the rearview and the Eagles 2020 1st round wideout will move properly into the slot this year. Then there’s Dallas Goedert playing possession Barbie over the middle, but outside the 20’s and down the field is what we’ll call the Sanctuary of Smith. SoS is what NFC East defensive backs will be pleading this fall.
We can sit and argue about Smith’s breakout age, and mince numbers based on Jaylen Waddle’s limited college availabilty, etc. but I’d rather argue that DeVonta Smith is simply a great football player.
“When it comes to his route-running, there’s no need to mince words. DeVonta Smith is without a doubt the best separator in the 2021 NFL Draft.” – Matt Harmon, Reception Perception
If Smith’s slender frame was such an issue, why did he dismantle man, press and double coverage versus the highest SEC caliber of college defenders?
“There is no better route-runner, no superior technician and no cleaner player at winning off the line of scrimmage than DeVonta Smith in this year’s draft. Period. Smith saw a contested-catch attempt on 20.2 percent of his sampled targets and sported a near-elite 85 percent catch rate on those looks. He had zero problems boxing out SEC star-level defenders in 2020.”
The Eagles tackle said there seems to be more emphasis on the screen game for 2021, which makes sense given Jalen Hurts is under center, but that plays directly into Smith’s strengths. How many times did we see Smith break off a monster play off of a bubble screen?
You don’t need to guess, you literally paid me to tell you these things!!!!
Per PFF, Smith led all NCAA WRs in:
- Screen Targets (35)
- Screen Receptions (35)
- Drop Rate (0%)
- Screen Yards (304)
- Screen TDs (2)
- Screen YAC (400)
Smith can do it all. Run routes, separate, contested catches, screen plays.
And Jalen Hurts is going to need someone like that. We don’t know what Jalen Hurts is as a passer in the NFL. We have a tiny sample-size of starts from. A sample-size that includes throwing for more than 335 yards in 2-of-3 completed games. His completion percentage stunk, but so did the health of his pass-catchers. There’s not a ton to takeaway from Hurts as a passer from last year, but the two played together in college and Hurts is a guy who’s been through a TON of adversity and has continued to improve in every year of his collegiate career, that kind of mindset tends to transfer to the NFL.
Oh, and their offensive line was more dead than dead last year. They won’t be in 2021.
What I want to leave you with is this.
Smith’s talents are clear. When talent fails to meet opportunity, we’re left with fantasy disappointment. There should be no shortage of opportunity for the top-10 draft pick in 2021. It’s an offense that has very few playmakers on it, consolidating the target funnel to just the cream of the crop – that being Smith.
This is a gut feeling for me, but I think Jaylen Waddle, like a virgin at a porn shoot is going to step onto the scene and explode. Immediately.
He’s simply too explosive not to make big plays, regardless of level of competition. The question becomes whether or not he can do that consistently.
“His 80.3 percent success rate vs. man coverage is not just the best in this 2021 class, it’s one of the top scores among all prospects charted in Reception Perception history” – Matt Harmon
The size (5’9-180lbs) concern isn’t a much of a concern for me as long as he learns how to get away from press coverage. And how similar his profile as a route-runner is to Hollywood Brown. Waddle can definitely be Hollywood 2.0. “But it’s worth noting as a true No. 1 wide receiver must be bare minimum above average in this area.”
As someone who’s projected to spend a lot of time in the slot this year, I don’t expect Waddle to face much press coverage. Just like CeeDee Lamb stayed planted in the slot, we could see similar output, with more big plays from Waddle in year one.
I’m not sure we’ve heard more positive buzz out of camp on a single player this summer than Elijah Moore. By this time next year, I’d pretty much guarantee he’s going to be looked at in the same light that we looked at D.J. Moore in entering his second year.
I love the fact that Elijah Moore and Zach Wilson are coming into the league together and Moore is all but penciled in as a starter for gang green already.
Moore is a prolific athlete with the draft capital, speed, college production at a young age and now the opportunity.
“It took about five seconds of game film to get the suspicion Elijah Moore would be a Reception Perception favorite by the time it was all said and done.”
Just barely 21 years of age, Moore is going to be looked at as one of the league’s bright spots outside the hashes sooner rather than later.
This could be a situation where he’s a 60-65% snap player in September and goes nut-deep over the second half of the season, so if you have the room on your bench, stash him, if not keep your eye out on his playing time in the first few weeks and DONT be a week late to the waiver wire on Moorewhen his play time does start to spike. He’s the best bet to pop as a rookie behind the likes of the obvious in Ja’Marr Chase and DeVonta Smith (already dealing with a knee sprain).
I laid out the case for why I’m fading both Laviska Shenault and D.J. Chark this year in the official all-fade list, so it only makes sense to draft the most cost-efficient player in this passing game, Marvin Jones.
He’s dropping because he’s old. He’s not new and shiny like Chark and Viska, but Marvin Jones, when healthy has been an absolutely asset in fantasy lineups even at this age. Jones has scored 9 touchdowns in 3 of his last 4 seasons, and likely would have hit that number in 2018 if he didn’t miss half the season (scored 5).
Homies, he was literally 22 yards away from a 76-1000-9 campaign in 2020, in an offense that could only win 5 games. Jones has averaged double-digit fantasy points per game in four straight seasons, and being the cheapest wideout in an offense with a slinger at QB an absolutely no direction for where the targets will be distributed, Jones is the one to own in 2021 at his price.
UPDATE AFTER PRESEASON WEEK 1 GAME
Love what we saw from Marvin Jones in the Jags first preseason game. He was routinely Lawrence’s first read. D.J. Chark is recovering from hand surgery so he didn’t play in this one, but Marvin Jones led Jacksonville’s WR group playing on 13-of-15 T-Law snaps. Shenault was ousted (played on 8-of-15 snaps) off the field in favor of Collin Johnson in 2WR sets…. smh. As we’ve been saying, Marvin Jones might not only be the best value pick out of the group, but the best fantasy option straight up in 2021.
I didn’t love Amon-Ra St. Brown as a prospect, and I don’t love the 4th round draft capital, but the landing spot in Detroit is pure perfection.
The USC rookie doesn’t excel on the outside but he’s a really solid slot man. U=I see a lot of Tyler Boyd in him when you watch him play. Not necessarily flashy, but good working in and out of zones and if used in that role, he can be Tyler Boyd, and his testing says a more explosive version of him.
The current roster makeup of Detroit is what makes Amon-Ra so juicy in fantasy. And when I say the current roster, I’m referring to both what IS and ISN’T on it.
This is a team with no passing game options outside of T.J. Hockenson at TE and D’Andre Swift at RB.
The Lions went out and inked two “notable” names at WR in free agency: Breshad Perriman and Tyrell Williams. Williams and Perriman are super similar in skill-set. They’re both purely outside, downfield receivers… which leaves the entire middle of the field open for Amon-Ra to run a muck.
Like there is literally nothing behind these guys at WR:
List is nastier than a positive Herpes test.
People are doing the most to make Quintez Cephus a thing. Cephus is a 200lb slot wide receiver that runs a 4.73. Everyone remembers the 10-target game Cephus has in week one of 2020. But ya’ll must have forgotten that he turned 10 targets into 3 catches and 43 yards…. He caught two balls in Week 2, and after that didn’t have a game with more than two catches for the rest of the year. A year in which Kenny Golladay didn’t play. Cut the shit.
Amon-Ra has a legit chance to finish top 5 in targets in this rookie class. I can’t emphasize this enough, the Lions are going to be bad. They’re a 5 win team per Vegas right now. They’re going to throw a ton. If the Lions throw as many times as they did last year (581 times), he just needs a 15% target share to hit 87 targets.
Keep an eye on the slot camp battle, but I think he wins it and I think he’s an easy PPR play this year that you have to pay literally nothing for.
Complete gut-feeling here and feel free to fade tf out me here. But this is the first year in forever that Green is actually healthy… Pause… As of this writing, Green “will miss some practice time with ‘a minor issue'”.
I’ve faded Green hard in each of the previous two years. It’s really important to note that I wasn’t fading Green as Green the player, I was fading Green because he continues to enter the year hurt… and it kept leading to more injuries.
Green was bad on his own right in Cincinnati last year, but so was Burrow when he threw him the ball. Green was out of position, dropping passes and doing things that were just completely uncharacteristic for one of the most talented wideouts of our generation. But you know what else didn’t help, the fact that Burrow was allergic to A.J. Green’s catch radius. Because of Burrow’s deficiency as a passer during his rookie year, Green ranked outside of the top-100 in catchable target rate (106) and target quality rating (103).
Green ranked 3rd in the NFL with 939 unrealized air yards.. That’s crazy-high. And maybe Green shouldn’t be used as a downfield threat anymore. Maybe is an understatement here, but Arizona is a perfect spot for him where this offense is stitched together with quick-hitting, timed routes and I’m here for Green to capture the WR2 role attached to Kyler Murray.
Christian Kirk has been a massive disappointment so far in his NFL career and is too missing time already at training camp. And while we love Rondale Moore, I’m confident we’re a year away from seeing the X and Y axis of his talent and opportunity actually play out. Moore will get designed plays called for him, screens, carries out of the backfield but he won’t be anything more than a low-end WR4. Vegas has his receiving total on the year pegged at 545, which is just 32 yards/game in a 17-game season. That’s a lot of meat left on the passing yardage bone for Kyler who should easily flirt with 4300-4500 yards through the air in 2021.
Keep a close on A.J. Green’s undisclosed injury throughout August. The first week of the NFL season isn’t until September 13th so we’ve got plenty of time to recover. I want to see a full week of practice for Green before I pull the trigger, but if that happens, rest assured the trigger will indeed be pulled. yak yak
I don’t mind taking stabs on either of these guys because the Falcons are working with little-to-nothing behind Calvin Ridley and a rookie tight end in Kyle Pitts.
Russell Gage is going to enter the year as the Falcons WR2. Gage, as Atlanta’s WR3 finished 2020 with a shockingly high 110 targets. That was 22nd among NFL WRs and a higher total than Mike Evans, CeeDee Lamb, Adam Thielen and A.J. Brown saw. You could say it’s because Julio was hurt, which is true, but Julio is literally gone now, so the targets should remain.
We know what Gage is at this point, he’s a solid volume-floor, with little upside past a middling slot WR3 in fantasy. He saw at least 7 targets in half his games (8) last year. He saw 10+ targets in 4 games. I don’t like Matt Ryan this year, and I think the Falcons passing volume dips overall, but a floor of 90 targets for a Round 12+ wide receiver isn’t the worst place to be looking.
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And right now Marquez Callaway’s name is a fucking match that’s been dipped in lighter fluid like a wendy’s fry in a frosty.
The Saints are going to need an entirely new offense in 2021 with Drew Brees spending his Sunday in a retirement home from now on. We don’t know who the QB is yet, but it’s sounding more and more like we know who the number one receiver is on the depth chart. Let’s do some math:
It’s not Michael Thomas, because he’s out for the next 3-4 months. It could be Tre’Quan Smith, but he’s been out of practice with an apparent lower leg injury for some time now and there’s not much left on the depth chart outside of Callaway. Kamara’s going to eat like it’s Thanksgiving dinner and he’s celebrating everyday like a white girl’s birthday month. Adam Trautman should be very involved, relative to his 170 rookie-year receiving yard total. But nothing else is locked in, except the Saints beat reports on what they think Callaway’s role is going to be in 2021:
Saints WR Marquez Callaway continues to be one of the biggest standouts in camp. He caught a red-zone TD from Jameis Winston on a quick comeback route in front of Marshon Lattimore on Monday — after catching a TD from Taysom Hill in red-zone drills Saturday. https://t.co/KJXxEpDXQo
— Mike Triplett (@MikeTriplett) August 9, 2021
And it’s expected to be a big one.
I’m not expecting a whole lot from this passing game outside of Alvin Kamara, but someone is going to eat up targets on the outside. Even 33-year-old Emmanuel Sanders had games of
last year. He was coming off of a torn achilles.
Callaway presents a sneaky-good athletic profile (6’2-205lbs with an 82nd percentile burst score). He broke-out in college at age 19 (79th percentile) with an explosive 19.0 yards per reception (90th percentile). He went undrafted but he did all of that at Tennessee, aka the SEC. You can’t find many guys with real PPR upside this late in drafts. With everyday that passes, Callaway cements himself as the WR to own in New Orleans.
In 2020, Meyers removed himself from the label of pre-season star to a quality NFL wide receiver. In 14 games, Meyers earned 81 targets, turning them into 59 catches for 729 yards. Zero (0) receiving touchdowns ain’t gonna get it done, and it’s likely the reason no one is talking about the Patriot’s possible #1 wide receiver this year.
When your starting QB throws 8 touchdowns it’s not exactly light work to impress in the scoring department, but when you dig deeper, Meyers’ 729 yards is extremely impressive. Meyers’ had a dominator rating of 30.1% which was #9 amongst all NFL WRs. Dominator rating is “A receiver’s percentage of total team receiving yards and team receiving touchdowns”. This man was #9 in a category including touchdowns, without scoring any touchdowns.
The additions of Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne leave us wondering what Meyers’ role is going to be this year. You might think of Meyers as a slot receiver, but he’s not that at all. He’s 6’2, 203lbs with what we now know to be very, very good route-running & separation tendencies. According to Matt Harmon’s reception perception profile on Meyers, the Patriots soon-to-be 3rd year receiver is way above average vs. man coverage. His success rate against the coverage (high scores here indicate likely success by WRs on the outside) ranked higher than guys like CeeDee Lamb, D.J. Moore, Chase Claypool, Tee Higgins, Will Fuller and right beneath Adam Thielen, Jerry Jeudy and Brandon Aiyuk.
This shouldn’t be taken lightly.
The Pats signed all those heads simply because they had to. Their depth chart looked like a 6th place Pac-10 roster’s.
I think this passing game is going to be WORLD’S better in 2021 than it was in 2020, and if training camp reports are any indication of it, Meyers is going to be a big reason for that. I won’t be surprised at all if we look byke at 2021 and say that Meyers is by far and away the best option New England has outside of the hashes.
It’s weird to say, but Sanders is going to find himself in way more fantasy lineups than people realize.
While there’s some hype around second-year wideout Gabriel Davis, but everything out of camp has Sanders running as the WR2, taking the place of the departing John Brown.
Sanders was low-key very good for a Saints team last year that desperately needed
It was pretty amazing that a 33-year-old Sanders one year removed from a torn achilles could rack up an 82-61-738-5 line in 14 games.
New Orleans was the 5th most run-heavy team in the NFL last year. Josh Allen had the 6th most pass attempts last year. The Bills will again be one of the most pass-friendly offenses in the league in 2021. Stefon Diggs will eat up 160+ targets, but the WR2 role here in Buffalo, on a team without a real pass-catching threat at neither tight end nor running back presents a MUCH higher floor AND ceiling than people care to admit.
Sanders like a girl with a 5.7 face, but turns around to reveal an SUV trunk. It’s not a sexy pick, immediately but it will be when all the cards are laid down.
It’s crazy to me that Hockenson is being drafted near Mark Andrews and in remotely the same facinity as Dallas Goedert.
Hockenson, a top-10 overall pick two years ago, just commanded over 100 targets in his second NFL season. The only other tight ends last year that topped 100 targets: Darren Waller, Travis Kelce, Logan Thomas and Evan Engram. This is exactly the trajectory you look for in a young breakout tight end.
Hockenson finished 3rd among all tight ends in receiving yards (723) and 4th in catches (67). I don’t think most people have calibrated just how many pieces of the offense left Detroit this summer. Between Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay, Danny Amendola and Jamal Agnew, we’re talking about 236 targets available in the offense. Much of that will be taken by the combination of D’Andre Swift, Jamaal Williams, Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman and Amon-Ra St. Brown, but Hockenson is the big-man on campus right now. There’s no reason he can’t top the elusive 125+ target mark in year three in an offense presumed to trail a lot & throw the ball even more.
Hockenson’s floor seems about as high as any non-elite fantasy option at the position. And admittedly, I don’t think he’s explosive enough, nor will this Detroit offense lend him enough scoring opportunities to hault him into the upper-echelon of fantasy TEs, but you know exactly what you’re getting with Hockeson, and even in the middle-rounds he feels like a set-and-forget option at a position that has so few of them.
Every year felt like we were a year away from seeing Irv Smith breakout. As cool as you thought you sounded telling people about widely available information like Irv Smith’s 4.63 speed, you sounded dumber acting like Kyle Rudolph wasn’t still in Minnesota.
He no longer is, which leaves this starting TE role wide-open for Irv Smith to occupy in purple, finally. And we had a small sample to look at for Irv when Rudolph isn’t in the lineup. 11 fantasy points per game is pretty sexy.
There’s only up to go on the play-time front for Irv who already ranked
- 8th in YPR
- 8th in YPT
- 2nd in QB Rating When Targeted
Even with Rudolph in uniform, Smith ranked 14th amongst TEs in route participation (73%). Yes, Tyler Conklin is a thing. By thing I mean a 6’3 tight end that runs a 4.80. We’re really going to argue all summer about Tyler Conklin because he had a 4-game sample size at the end of last year that he caught more than 3 passes in two of those games. Conklin is a 4th year player who has yet to top 19 catches, 194 yards or a single touchdown in a season. no
Something I like to say at this point in the summer is that where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And Vikings camp is damn near an arsenic’s breeding ground:
We’re hearing it from players, reports watching Minnesota’s practices and coaches. That’s the holy trinity.
This offense is a funnel in the passing game, and Irv pours down that funnel like a smooth Keystone Light. Wherever you’re drafting the former 2nd-round Crimson Tide product in drafts this year, it’s too low.
Again, follow the money. This Bucs team is the fucking Bank of Spain.
Gronk was sitting on his ass for all of 2019. Like Antonio Brown, the greatest tight end of all time wasn’t in football shape until midway through the 2020 season. this.
…and then he was.
Gronk finished as TE8 in fantasy football last year despite looking like a 92-year old until about Week 6. It was bad.
After tearing his achilles in 2020, O.J. Howard should be off your board, and if he wasn’t, now he is:
I’m not saying Gronk is back, but I’d be lying if I didn’t think he was byke.
This Bucs offense is going to score 4 touchdowns a game, and who’s more likely to benefit from that than their QBs favorite endzone target ever? That’s all I’m saying.
Is Gronk going to rip off an 80-1100-14 season? Absolutely fucking not, but he has as much TD upside at the position as nearly anyone this year.
Everett parted ways with one NFC West team, the Rams, to join their rival in Seattle on a 1-year, $6M deal. The Hawks put some faith in Everett, so I will too.
Let me be clear, I’m not drafting Everett to slot him in as my starter. But Everett has a profile that we see churn into a late-age breakout in fantasy often.
He’s stupid athletic, and despite lacking a breakout year during his LA tenure, proved that he was good at football in college.
Everett isn’t the only guy making the trip over from LA to Seattle. The Rams former passing-game coordinator, Shane Waldron, was hired this spring to fulfill the Offensive Coordinator role in Seattle.
The two are already familiar with each other and everything we’ve heard from Seattle camp is related to the tempo that this offense will use in 2021. The Hawks have consistently been a slow, grind it out, run-first team under Pete Carrol, but that’s about to change. And the 3rd-leading receiver on the team behind Metcalf and Lockett is completely up for grabs this year.
Everett will have to compete with Will Dissly and Colby Parkinson for the top spot on the depth chart, but I don’t see either of those guys as more than a speed bump to Everett. He’s a TE2 you can draft with your last pick with breakout potential.