2021 FTP Fantasy Football Draft Guide: Players I Love & Strategy to WIN Your LEAGUE

As I begin writing this on the evening of Sunday, August 22, 2021, we are now completing our final weekend of the year without football. I know NFL pre-season and Hard Knocks have already started, but that doesn’t really count for me. I’m talking about real, regular season football games. College Football Week 0 begins this upcoming Saturday, the 28th, and the NFL is right behind that.

It is upon us, folks.

That means it’s fantasy draft season as well. The NFL season officially kicks off on Thursday September 9 with the Super Bowl Champion Bucs hosting the Cowboys–just 18 days away. It’s time to get down to business.

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In terms of an overall strategy, there are a few key rules I like to focus on to nail my drafts. I’m going to be speaking from the perspective of a PPR redraft league with a snake draft, because that’s what I play and that’s what is the most common type of league.

You need to have an overall strategy or gameplan in your head going into a draft, because if you don’t, you might end up with a team you don’t like.

Draft Rules to Live By

  1. Have a list of guys you are targeting, then go out and get them.
  2. Be aware of all the rookie skill players and do not hesitate to draft them.
  3. Year 2 and year 3 are when a lot of wide receivers take big leaps–be aware of who these guys are and target them.
  4. Talent Trumps Situation: Teams only really use “committee” backfields when the coach isn’t convinced any one guy is good enough to be a work-horse.
  5. Familiarize yourself with all the roster moves that have happened since the end of last season. There are a lot of guys who are now in vastly different situations–some better, some worse–than they were last season. For example, Mike Davis is now the lead running back on the Atlanta Falcons, and Le’Veon Bell is no longer on the Chiefs, leaving Clyde Edwards-Helaire as the feature running back. The Rams now have Matthew Stafford, which is huge for guys like Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and even tight end Tyler Higbee.
  6. This kind of goes hand-in-hand with point #1, but you should have a list of late-round flyers you want to go after in the back-half of your draft. A lot of times these picks are worthless for most people, but if you’ve done your research, you can find great value–even league-winning value–in the later rounds and really give yourself an enormous edge on your competition. I remember in 2019, a guy in my league drafted Lamar Jackson with the final pick of our draft. Lamar ended up winning MVP that season, and my buddy who drafted him won our league.

These are my six governing principles for drafting in fantasy. If I had to distill it into one motto, it would be to simply know who you want, and go out and get them. Don’t worry about reaching for a player if you feel like he might not be available when the draft snakes back to you. If you’ve done your research on a guy and you’re convinced he’s going to have a great season, go after him, even if you have to reach slightly.

You can’t possibly know everything about every player in the draft–that’s like 150+ guys. Nobody other than the most hardcore Fantasy Experts have the time for that. So you should instead sift through the rankings, pick out several guys you like in each round, and then go after them. Draft proactively instead of reactively. Draft with confidence: you’ve done the research, you know who you like, so go out and get them. I’m not saying to reach like crazy–don’t take CEH at the 1-2 turn, for instance–but don’t be afraid to take a guy early in the third round if he’s projected to go later in the third round if you’re really sold on the guy.

Last year, I went into my draft determined to get DK Metcalf. I was convinced that he was due to break out in his second season in the league. His ADP was like 8th/9th round, if I recall. But I drafted him in the 7th round because I was determined to get him. I decided before the draft that I would make it a point to get him, and I did. He ended up being a top-10 receiver in fantasy last season. I’m so glad I got him. It didn’t matter that I took him a round or two earlier than he was “supposed” to go.

In my league, we do an offline, in-person draft, so I print out a list of PPR rankings and highlight the guys I want. I also keep a separate list of just rookies, because, like I said earlier, I want All The Rookies. Last year, I drafted D’Andre Swift, CeeDee Lamb, Jalen Reagor, Zack Moss and Damien Harris. Because I watch a ton of college football, I liked those guys, and I wanted ALL THE DAMN ROOKIES. I didn’t get as many as I’d hoped to get (Chase Claypool and Justin Jefferson were my big misses), but the wider the net you cast, the greater odds you give yourself of landing the next big breakout star. I really believe CeeDee Lamb was on track to be that guy last season until Dak got hurt.

Now, that said, this is a strategy I’d recommend after the first 2-3 rounds. The first 2-3 rounds, you have to go best available. These are going to be your most important picks, because they’re your two best players. I generally like to go RB-WR with my first two picks, but it all depends on what spot you’re drafting from. For my first 2-3 picks, I usually just take what I can get and go for the tried-and-true guys who I know won’t let me down.

Again, your first 2-3 picks will be the foundation of your team. These are the guys that are going to carry you–guys like CMC, Kamara, Dalvin Cook, Derrick Henry, etc. It’s very important to nail these picks, so let’s get into early round strategy.

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Early Round Strategy

There is a ton of uncertainty at the top of the draft. There’s question marks for just about all the top guys. I’m going to start from the top by ADP:

  • Christian McCaffrey: The consensus top pick, as he should be. You should not hesitate to draft him because of his sky-high potential. In 2019, when he was fully healthy, CMC had the second-greatest fantasy season ever behind only LaDanian Tomlinson in 2006. That’s how good CMC is. He’s a guy who can rush for over 1,000 yards and have 1,000 yards receiving. He’s unbelievable. But he was hurt most of last season. It’s a little scary. Again, you have to take him if you get the first pick, but there are injury concerns.
  • Dalvin Cook: Another guy I wouldn’t hesitate to draft 2nd overall, but he has had some injury concerns in the past.
  • Alvin Kamara: He was last season’s top fantasy scorer, but the Saints are going to be an entirely different offense following the retirement of Drew Brees. It’s looking like Jameis Winston will be the Saints’ starting QB heading into the season, but apparently Taysom Hill is still in the mix. How will this affect Kamara? Jameis likes to push the ball down the field, but Kamara benefited greatly from Drew Brees’ propensity to dump it off. In the few games Brees missed last year where Taysom Hill started at QB, Kamara’s fantasy numbers plummeted because of Hill’s running ability and preference for airing it out instead of checking it down. Receptions are a big part of Kamara’s game; he’s not a pure between-the-tackles runner. If he doesn’t get 100+ targets in the passing game, his output will suffer. I still love Kamara as a player–I had him last year and he was great to me–but I’m worried about the uncertainty in that offense. That said, Michael Thomas is likely to miss the whole month of September, and you have to imagine the Saints will force-feed Kamara in Thomas’ absence, as Kamara is far and away their best offensive player.
  • Derrick Henry: Now obviously we all know Derrick Henry is an absolute monster, a destroyer of worlds and a man among boys even in the NFL. In 2020, the dude became the 8th running back in NFL history to rush for over 2,000 yards, and his 2,027 yards were the 5th-most yards ever by a running back. However, he has had a hell of a lot of carries over the past two seasons: 303 in 2019 and 378 in 2020. And he’s 27 years old, which is usually the peak age for running backs. So either this season or next season, he might start falling off. There’s a lot of data out there that suggests running backs begin regressing after they have a 370+ carry year. It’s called “The Curse of 370.” Now even if Derrick Henry’s stats do regress somewhat this year, he’ll still have great numbers considering how incredible his numbers were last year. The bigger concern is injury. I know it seems like Derrick Henry is super-human and indestructible, but running backs have a nasty tendency to suffer major injuries the season after they post 370+ carries. I’m a little hesitant to draft Derrick Henry, as much as I like him. Think about the fact that he went for over 2,000 yards, 17 TDs and a career-high 19 receptions on the season, and still only finished as the RB3 in PPR. Are we really expecting him to do that again? I’m not.
  • Ezekiel Elliott: Things did not go well for Zeke and the Cowboys last season. Their season fell apart when Dak went down with that nasty ankle injury. Zeke, a two-time rushing champ, posted career lows in total rushing yards (979) yards per carry (4.0), yards per game (65) and yards per touch (4.7) last season. This is supposed to be a bounce-back year for the whole Cowboys team, but now we’ve got concerns about Dak’s shoulder. Zeke benefits from a healthy Dak because it means defenses can’t load the box against him. The Cowboys’ offensive line, which was the best in the league when Zeke was drafted in 2016, is now far removed from its former glory and Travis Frederick retired over the offseason. Hopefully the Cowboys will be more healthy overall next year and Zeke can get back to his dominant ways. He’s obviously one of the best running backs in the league, with the ability to both pound it between the tackles and catch passes. But I’m worried about Dak’s health. That whole offense turns into a dumpster fire without Dak.
  • Saquon Barkley: We all know he’s a physical freak of nature and an insanely good running back when healthy, but he blew out his ACL last season and to this day, he has still not fully recovered. He hasn’t yet participated in team drills, but appears poised to return this upcoming week. There are a lot of questions about that knee. Is it going to be 100% by the time the season begins? It doesn’t feel like it will be. Ian Rapoport today made it seem like it’s doubtful Barkley will be ready for week 1. I’m okay with drafting him later in the first round, but just know that you might be without him for at least the first week, maybe two, of the season. The Giants’ second-string RB is Devontae Booker, so if you draft Saquon, make sure you pick up Booker as well. The Giants also added former Eagles’ pass-catching RB Corey Clement, as well as a rookie named Gary Brightwell. Keep all those names on your radar if you draft Saquon. If he does indeed fall to the end of the first round in your draft, you could be getting a huge steal assuming he returns to full health by like week 2-3 because Saquon has RB1 overall type upside.

So those are the consensus top-6 running backs in fantasy, and they are also the consensus top-6 overall picks by ADP in PPR. There are concerns with just about all of them. The upside that each guy represents means if you get a top-6 pick, you probably should draft them, because great running backs are extremely hard to come by.

Still, if you have the 6th pick, I wouldn’t blame you for drafting Davante Adams instead of Saquon, and then trying to get somebody like Austin Ekeler, Aaron Jones, Najee Harris, CEH, Joe Mixon or Antonio Gibson in the second round. I expect Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams to ball out again this season in the “Last Dance” in Green Bay, assuming Adams stays healthy. I know there are concerns about Rodgers’ focus and commitment to the Packers after all the drama that happened in the offseason, and the fact that this is probably his final season in Green Bay. But you have to bet on Rodgers and Davante Adams lighting it up this season; both guys are just too good to bet against.

The strategy that, to me, seems the smartest is to go running back if you have a top-6 pick. That’s probably going to be your only chance to get a true Tier-1 RB. Some people would even throw Nick Chubb in that group as well. I think Nick Chubb is an absolute monster, almost on the same level as Derrick Henry, but he does also have Kareem Hunt sharing carries with him, whereas Derrick Henry has the backfield all to himself. Still, I would not be afraid to take Chubb in the late part of the first round.

Look, it would take me so long to go into all the different combinations of picks you could make with your top two selections. I don’t want to get bogged down in that. The best thing to do is do a bunch of mock drafts from whatever spot you’re drafting in so you have some idea what to expect come draft day. If your league doesn’t assign draft spots until just before the draft, like mine does, you have to do mock drafts from all different positions to get some sort of familiarity with how things are likely to go.

I would recommend going best available early on and then worrying about balancing out your roster later on–for instance, if you go RB-RB in the first two rounds, you worry about wide receivers later. I don’t think you should pigeon-hole yourself into any sort of hard-and-fast rule where you must go RB-WR in the first two rounds. I really think people should just draft the best player available in the early rounds.

Just know that top-end running backs are precious commodities. Don’t be afraid to go RB-RB with your first two picks–you can still get guys like Julio Jones, Odell Beckham, Amari Cooper and Mike Evans in the late 3rd/early 4th round.

How precious are running backs? Let’s visualize it to drive the point home. This chart shows us the positional break down of each round–meaning how many RBs, WRs, TEs and QBs are drafted in each of the first 10 rounds. I’m going off PPR scoring for a 10-man league here:

Blue is running back, green is wide receiver, gray is TE and orange is QB. As we can see here, the first round is a mad-dash for running backs. That’s usually the case in fantasy, although not always. But you should have plenty of opportunity to grab wide receivers after the first round.

Again, it bears repeating, I’m just going off of Fantasy Pros’ ADP data, so your draft (and mine) will probably look different. This is just going off the averages, meaning it’s more or less what you should expect, but of course your results will vary.

If you want to end up with either Darren Waller or George Kittle at tight end, there’s a high probability they’ll go off the board in the third round, so grab them then.

This next chart shows us the ADP of the top 40 running backs vs. the top 40 wide receivers, and it really drives home just how much more valuable running backs are viewed. RBs are again blue, WRs again in green:

The x-axis is the player rank, the y-axis is ADP. Remember, the lower the ADP the better.

This chart shows you the difference in ADP for, say, the 4th rank running back vs. the 4th ranked wide receiver. As we can see, the 4th-ranked running back (Derrick Henry) is going around pick 5 while the 4th-ranked wide receiver (DeAndre Hopkins) is going around pick 16.

The lines converge around rank 20, meaning it is only when you get to the 20th-ranked running back that he’s got a similar ADP to the 20th-ranked wide receiver. That means the value premium on running backs compared to WRs is basically gone at that point. However, it is not until we hit RB29 (basically round 7/8) that the lines cross over and wide receivers begin to command more of a value premium, and this is probably largely due to the fact that all the running backs have already been scooped up and there’s barely any left on the board.

It is a lot tougher to shore up your running back position in the later rounds if you go WR-heavy early than it is to shore up your WR position if you go RB-heavy early. That’s the main takeaway here: if you go WR-heavy early, you better knock it out of the park, because your running backs will be lacking if you wait to draft them.

Potential Value Picks

Okay, now that we’ve got all the nerdy shit out of the way, let’s get down to the real business here: who should I draft? I’ve got a whole list of names and I’m going to explain why I like them. First, a disclaimer: just because a guy isn’t on the list doesn’t mean I don’t like him. This is a list of guys that really stand out to me as high-priority targets. Every fantasy football analyst says it and it has become cliche at this point, but it’s true: There are no players we “don’t like,” we just don’t like their ADPs.

I will consider drafting any player if the value is there. For instance, I’m not huge on Josh Jacobs this year because the Raiders’ offensive line got worse and they added Kenyan Drake who will take touches and carries away from Jacobs. But if Jacobs, who has an average ADP right now of about 36, slips down into the 6th round, I might take a chance on him because it’s a great value relative to his ADP.

So, without further ado, here are my top “value” targets this year:

  • Julio Jones: People are really fading Julio this year. He’s got an average ADP of 42.2, which means he’s going off the board in the late 4th/early 5th round. To me, that represents great value for one of the all-time great receivers to ever play the game. I am not concerned about him moving to a new team because he is so unbelievably talented. He knows how to get open, period. Yes, he’s going to be competing for targets with AJ Brown, but AJ Brown isn’t really a target hog. The past two years he’s had 84 and 106 targets. AJ is just really, really efficient with his targets, that’s why he’s so good. I think there will be plenty of targets to go around for Julio in that Titans offense, and Ryan Tannehill is a very underrated QB. Even in a run-first offense like the Titans, Tannehill threw 481 passes last season. That’s more than enough to allow Julio to eat, especially when you consider that Derrick Henry isn’t really targeted in the passing game that much. The bulk of those targets will be going to Julio and AJB. I absolutely see Julio getting 130+ targets this year, and I don’t know why people are afraid to draft him. This is Julio Jones we’re talking about. He’s played alongside good receivers before: early in his career he had Roddy White, then Calvin Ridley. He still produces. Yes, there are always injury concerns with Julio, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take with him. If I can get Julio Jones in the late 4th/early 5th round, I’ll be thrilled.
  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire: The hype for CEH last year during draft season was off-the-charts. He was a consistent first round pick, and he actually delivered on that hype for the first half of the season. It was only after the Chiefs signed Le’Veon Bell that CEH’s fantasy production plummeted. But before Bell, CEH was consistently getting 60-70% of the snaps at RB for the Chiefs, and he was a top-10 running back in PPR. Now, Bell is gone. Damien Williams is in Chicago. The only competition for CEH now are Darrel Williams, the often-injured Jerick McKinon and Darwin Thompson. Plus, the Chiefs massively upgraded their offensive line in the offseason. I am salivating over the possibility of getting CEH at his current ADP of around 22, which implies a late 2nd/early 3rd round draft spot for him. People think the guy sucks because Bell took a lot of his work last season. This means he’s a great value at his ADP. This is a guy who can definitely finish as a top-10 fantasy running back in 2021, and I will be targeting him heavily. HOWEVER: he recently suffered a “slight” ankle sprain, so he might not get off to a roaring start this season. Still, I want him on my team. Just be warned about the injury.
  • George Kittle: He missed a lot of games with injury last season, but he and the whole 49ers team should be back to health and ready to go for the 2021 season. Kittle, when healthy, is the only tight end in the league–along with Darren Waller–who comes anywhere close to the production of Travis Kelce, and yet Kelce is being drafted in the first round, while Kittle is being drafted in the mid/late 3rd round right now. I think that’s a tremendous value. I don’t see a huge issue with grabbing Kelce in the first round because A. his production is so good he’s like having a top-5 wide receiver anyway (excluding QBs, Kelce was the #7 overall scorer in PPR last season, which is insane for a tight end), and B. elite tight ends are so hard to come by that if you don’t get Kelce/Waller/Kittle, you’re basically streaming the position, which is like playing roulette. As much as I love Kelce, though, I’d much rather have an elite running back in the first round and then go for Kittle or Waller in the third. If Kittle stays healthy in 2021, he will absolutely be a fantasy monster.
  • Amari Cooper: We’ll get more into CeeDee Lamb later, and I know everybody is raving over him, but Amari Cooper is still the top wide receiver on this Cowboys team until further notice. Cooper is going a round lower than Lamb right now per ADP–WR16 vs. Lamb’s WR11. I’d rather take Cooper in the 5th than Lamb in the late 3rd/early 4th. I know Amari has a tendency to disappear in road games, and I know he hasn’t been getting all the love on Hard Knocks like Lamb has, but Dak trusts Amari Cooper. They’ve been together for a few years. There’s no reason to believe Dak is just going to abandon Amari Cooper. Cooper finished last season as the WR15 despite not having Dak for most of the season. I am absolutely targeting Cooper where he’s being drafted right now.
  • Mike Davis: Todd Gurley is gone and Mike Davis is now the lead back in Atlanta. His backups are Qadree Ollison, Cordarrelle Patterson and D’Onta Foreman. Davis is going to eat. I know the Falcons have a new coach, but Falcons running backs have traditionally been great in fantasy, and I expect that to continue because the new head coach, Arthur Smith, is the former Titans offensive coordinator. The guy knows how to feed running backs. Mike Davis will produce in Atlanta. Matt Ryan is great at dumping the ball off to his running backs. Davis will obviously be the third passing option behind Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts, but that’s fine by me because Mike Davis is being drafted in the middle of the 6th round! That’s great value in my eyes. It’s not common to find a lead-back workhorse in the 6th round. Mike Davis finished as the RB12 in PPR last season after McCaffrey went down. I want Mike Davis on my team–but only as my third running back. I’d be a little worried having him as my second RB.
  • Lamar Jackson: He’s got an ADP right now of 45, meaning he’s a mid-5th round pick. I will absolutely be targeting him in that range. It’s more important than ever nowadays to have an elite QB with rushing upside, and no QB is a better runner than Jackson. I do like Kyler Murray more than him because I think Murray is a better passer with better weapons around him, but the Ravens did spend a first-round pick on WR Rashod Bateman to give Jackson another weapon (although Bateman is dealing with an injury at the moment, unfortunately). If Murray is gone when I draft in the 5th round, I’ll happily go for Lamar Jackson. He’s the best running QB in the league and that provides a nice floor for him on a weekly basis.
  • Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and Tyler Higbee: I want to own one of the Rams’ receivers, and I’m a big fan of Higbee late in the draft. I am a big believer in Matthew Stafford and I think he’ll be great for all the Rams’ pass-catchers. This is a really straightforward case. We all know about Robert Woods (aka Bobby Trees) and Cooper Kupp–now they have an upgrade at QB. Simple as that.
  • Odell Beckham: I know his first two years in Cleveland have been disappointments, but Baker is a completely different QB with Kevin Stefanski. The first year OBJ was in Cleveland, it was the Freddie Kitchens year, and the team kinda stunk. Odell wasn’t doing great last season before his tore his ACL, but then again the Browns were not doing well as a team until the second half of the season. People will say “It’s because they didn’t have Odell! Losing him made them better!” I mean, maybe. But that kind of talk seems ridiculous to me. Odell is one of the best receivers in the league. People have been burned by him the past two seasons, I know. But with an ADP of 68 right now, going off the board in the late 7th round as the WR26, I think I’m willing to take a chance on Odell and bet that this is the year he figures it all out in Cleveland. He’s just too talented to not be great, y’know? He’s being drafted behind guys like Brandon Aiyuk and Kenny Golladay, for Pete’s sake. This is fucking Odell Beckham Jr. we’re talking about! I have confidence that Kevin Stefanski will figure out how to integrate him into the offense and get him going again.
  • Melvin Gordon: Okay, so in his first season in Denver, Gordon posted the second-best YPC of his career at 4.6. He had over 1100 scrimmage yards and 10 total TDs, with 32 receptions on 44 targets. He finished as the RB14 overall with 198.4 PPR points. And that was despite being in a time-share with Philip Lindsay in 11 of their 16 games. Phillip Lindsay is now gone, he’s on the Texans, and right now Gordon’s main competition for carries is rookie runner Javonte Williams, who Denver used a second-round pick on–not only that but they moved up to draft him. Williams is listed as the backup, but he has a higher ADP than Gordon (65 vs. 78). Williams is considered the RB27 in drafts right now, while Gordon is the RB30. What am I missing? Melvin Gordon is 28, which is right around the time a lot of running backs start hitting “the wall,” but I don’t think his performance last season was indicative of a guy who was in the process of falling off. Unless Javonte Williams is really That Dude and is about to steal Melvin Gordon’s job, I don’t see why people are so low on Gordon. Maybe it’s going to be a time-share situation in Denver, as a lot of teams prefer to have a committee approach to running the ball as opposed to a sole workhorse. I still think Melvin Gordon has a lot of value, especially being drafted in the late 8th round. Given how bad Drew Lock is, and how good the Broncos’ defense is, I wouldn’t be surprised if they ran the ball a ton, which would mean both Gordon and the rookie Williams will eat.
  • Chase Edmonds: Kenyan Drake is gone, off to Las Vegas, and now Chase Edmonds is listed as the Cardinals’ #1 running back on the depth chart. He’s going to be sharing the backfield with James Conner, but there are a lot of questions about Conner’s health and quite frankly his running ability in general. I think Edmonds should see the bulk of the touches in the Arizona backfield–definitely the bulk of the passing game targets. You can get Edmonds in the 7th round right now, he’s the RB26 off the board. Edmonds knows the offense way better than Conner, so he might be a nice pickup given his ADP.
  • Antonio Brown: I know everyone’s kind of avoiding the Bucs offense because they just have so many weapons and so many mouths to feed it feels like it’ll be impossible for any one guy to be a fantasy standout. But, based on where he’s being drafted, I think AB is a great value. AB is currently the WR39 in ADP and the 96th player off the board overall, which means he’s being drafted in like the 10th round. This makes him a great value if you want to get exposure to the Bucs’ offense but you think Evans and Godwin are too pricey with their late 4th/early 5th round ADPs currently. People are down on AB and think he’s past his prime, but the guy missed the whole first half of the season and was tossed right into the Bucs offense. He got better and better as the season progressed, scoring 4 TDs in the final three games, including an explosion for 11 catches, 138 yards and 2 TDs in Week 17. In the Super Bowl, he had 5 catches for 22 yards and TD. Now he’ll have an entire offseason in the Bucs’ system. At age 33, he might not be Prime AB anymore, and I’m not trying to say he still is, but I think he will be a lot better this upcoming season. The guy basically missed a season-and-a-half of football between 2019 and the first half of 2020. He’s going to be in game shape with a better understanding of the offense in 2021. I’m making sure I draft AB this year. I am willing to take the chance on him: even if he’s just 70% of Prime AB, that’s still a very good receiver.
  • DJ Chark: The 4th year receiver out of LSU could be about to experience a huge breakout. He’s got a new QB, Trevor Lawrence, who will be a major upgrade over the guys the Jags were running at QB last season. He’s coming off the board at pick 85, so the 9th round, as WR35. He’s going to be Lawrence’s top receiver, and while he just had finger surgery, Urban Meyer says he’ll be ready for the season opener. Chark missed some time last year and his numbers were pretty mediocre, but in 2019 when he was fully healthy, he got 118 targets, 73 catches for 1008 yards and 8 TDs. I think he could get back to 2019 level production with Lawrence and the new offensive system in place. I’m going to be looking for him in the 9th round.
  • Logan Thomas: The Washington Football Team tight end is currently the TE8 and coming off the board in the 9th round at pick 84. This dude finished as the #3 tight end last season behind Kelce and Waller. Granted, he was still more than 100 points behind Waller on the season, and more than 130 points behind Kelce, and only a few points ahead of guys like Big Bob Tonyan, TJ Hockenson and Mark Andrews, but still: he was the TE3 on the season last year. The offense in Washington should be more dynamic with FitzMagic under center. I don’t think he’ll replicate his TE3 finish again, and he probably won’t even finish top-5 this year, but still, if you missed out on one of the Big Three tight ends, he could be a guy to target in the mid/late rounds as a value play. You won’t be over-paying for him drafting him in the 9th round. He could even be a great backup to have on the bench if you draft George Kittle, who does come with some injury risk.
  • Trevor Lawrence: Just because the hype has kind of died down on Lawrence, don’t lose sight of the fact that he is the most hyped QB prospect since Andrew Luck. If he is as good as advertised, then he will be an immediate contributor. And I don’t think most people realize just how good a runner this dude is: he had a 67-yard touchdown run against Ohio State in the 2019 Playoff game. The dude has wheels, in addition to the golden arm. He’s coming off the board as the QB14 at pick 119, so he’s very get-able. I want him as my backup QB.
  • Mike Williams: I know he’s hurt a lot, and he didn’t have a great season in 2020, but if he can stay healthy, he could put together a hell of a fantasy season. He’s got Justin Herbert as his QB, which is great, and he’s the clear-cut #2 receiver in that offense behind Keenan Allen.

And then there’s one more guy who nobody is really talking about but could end up being a very valuable addition to your roster if you are willing to be patient: Michael Thomas. We all know what Thomas is capable of when healthy. But he was injured most of last season with an ankle injury and delayed surgery on it in the offseason, so now it looks like he’s going to miss at least the first month of the season. There’s obviously drama between him and the Saints, as they’re unhappy with how he handled the injury. All that said, though, he’s one of the best receivers in the league when healthy and he currently has an ADP of 71 right now, the 29th receiver off the board. If you draft well in the first 6-7 rounds, definitely think about drafting him in the early 8th, or maybe even the 7th to beat anyone else to the chase.

I’m sitting here watching the Saints-Jags preseason game on Monday Night Football and Jameis Winston is looking like a damn good QB, slinging it all over the yard. If you draft well and have the luxury of stashing Michael Thomas for at least a month, he could pay huge dividends for you down the road this season.

I made this chart that shows which guys are the biggest steals based on where they finished at their positions last season and where they’re being drafted at their positions this year:

The first column shows where the guy finished last season at his position, the second column shows where they’re being drafted this year at their position, and the last column shows the discrepancy between the two. The larger the discrepancy, the higher the implied value the guy is in this year’s draft.

For instance, Marvin Jones finished last season as the WR18, but he’s being drafted this year as the WR52, which implies he’s a great value right now. There are obviously reasons why his draft stock has fallen so much, chiefly the move from having Matt Stafford as his QB to having Trevor Lawrence. But if Lawrence is as good as he’s supposed to be, Marvin Jones will definitely outperform his ADP.

Again, a lot of the guys on that chart are under-valued for a reason, but not all of them. It’s up to you to figure out which ones are actually diamonds in the rough.

Fair Value Guys I Like

This next section is for players going after round 1 who I believe are fairly valued and I would be happy to draft them where they’re currently positioned according to ADP.

  • Keenan Allen: This one is short and sweet: Justin Herbert is his QB. Herbert is a stud. Keenan Allen is a stud. Allen finished as the WR12 last season in only 14 games played, but still had 147 targets. That’s more than 10 per game on average. Sign me up.
  • JK Dobbins: Mark Ingram is gone, and now it’s just Gus Edwards and Justice Hill behind Dobbins in the Baltimore backfield. Of course, Lamar Jackson is the Ravens’ leading rusher and we all know that, which is why Dobbins is a late third round pick instead of a late first round pick. Because the lead back on the league’s #1 rushing offense would absolutely be much higher on the draft board if not for the presence of Lamar Jackson. But I think the sophomore Dobbins will get a lot of carries this season nonetheless. He had 134 carries for 805 yards and 9 TDs last season, plus 24 targets, 18 receptions and 120 receiving yards. That was splitting time with Gus Edwards (144 carries) and Mark Ingram (72 carries). While Dobbins is clearly the lead back now in Baltimore, I don’t think the Ravens will just completely forget about Gus Edwards. But Dobbins should get the most carries on the team. He averaged 6.1 yards per touch vs. 5.6 for Edwards. He’s better than Edwards. Beyond all that, I think Dobbins is just a good football player. Whenever I watch him play, he’s always running hard and violently; he’s got good speed, balance and he’s hard to bring down. He deserves a bigger role in the offense, and I think he’ll get it this year. If you believe in Dobbins’ talent (and I do), then you should not be afraid of Gus Edwards taking opportunities from him: coaches will always give great players opportunities.
  • Allen Robinson: Robinson got 154 targets in 2019, and 151 targets in 2020. That 151 was good for third most in the league last season. He’s a virtual lock for 150+ once again considering he’s far and away the best receiver on his team. There are only a few receivers that so thoroughly dominate their team’s targets like Robinson: Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs and D-Hop. The only reason Robinson isn’t being drafted in the second round is because his quarterback is nowhere near as good as those other receivers’ QBs. But Dalton should be an upgrade over Trubisky, if only slightly. And when Justin Fields eventually takes over the offense, that will be even better for Robinson. He’s got a 4th round ADP right now and is the WR12. I love his value and will be looking for him if I go RB heavy early.

The Myth of the “Running Back by Committee”

I want to expand a little bit on the JK Dobbins/Gus Edwards split: Gus Edwards will only take carries from Dobbins if Harbaugh feels Dobbins isn’t good enough to carry the load by himself. If a running back is really good, a coach will feed him. It’s a simple as that. No coach would run a committee approach if he feels like one of his running backs is way better than the rest. Think about it: that’s just dumb.

Why aren’t CMC, Dalvin Cook and Derrick Henry in a RB committee? Because they’re really fucking good running backs! It makes no sense to give carries to other running backs when you have an elite running back! You may point out Alvin Kamara is in somewhat of a committee with Latavius Murray: that’s because Alvin Kamara isn’t really an elite between-the-tackles runner–he’s elite out in space and catching the ball, but he’s not a pounder like Derrick Henry or Zeke. Don’t get me wrong, he’s elite on the goal line, but that’s not quite the same thing as being a consistent between-the-tackles runner up and down the field. That’s why Sean Payton uses Latavius Murray a lot–not because He Wants to Have A Committee Approach. There is no coach in the league who uses a running back committee just for the sake of using a running back committee.

This is the one thing most people fail to understand about “committee” running backs: Coaches only use them when they don’t have an elite running back! It should be obvious, but people really believe that there are coaches out there who will stick with a committee running game no matter how good one of his running backs is. It’s just ridiculous to think that.

The Patriots are seen as a team that is all about the running back committee: wrong. Belichick just has not had an elite running back in a very long time. He spent a first round pick on Sony Michel a few years ago–do you think that if Sony Michel actually lived up to his first-round draft spot, that Belichick would still be like, “I’m just gonna give this guy 35-40% of the touches because COMMITTEE!” No, you play the best running back you have as much as possible. If you have a guy like McCaffrey or Henry or Barkley, you want him on the field as much as humanly possible. Again, it should be obvious, but people don’t realize this.

Belichick gave BenJarvus Green-Ellis 229 carries back in 2010. He gave Stevan Ridley 290 carries in 2012. LeGarrette Blount got 299 carries in 2016. Sony Michel even got 247 carries in 2019! When Belichick has a guy who he thinks can handle the load, he will give him tons of carries. It’s not always a committee in New England, contrary to popular belief. Sure, Belichick gives James White all the passing down work, but that’s because none of his running backs can catch passes as well as James White! If Belichick had Christian McCaffrey, do you really think he’d be pulling him off the field on third down to put in James White? Of course not.

People also think Kyle Shanahan is all about the RB committees. No, he just hasn’t had an elite running back in a while. When he has a really good back, he rides him. Remember how good Raheem Mostert was in the 2019 playoff run for the 49ers? Shanahan ran him a ton because he was running well. Remember when Shanahan was the Falcons’ offensive coordinator and they had Devonta Freeman? Shanahan ran Freeman into the ground. He gave Freeman tons of carries and passes. Sure, they still used Tevin Coleman a bit, but Devonta Freeman finished that year (2015 I believe) as the RB1 overall.

And everyone thinks Mike Tomlin is determined to make all his running backs into workhorses–Tomlin hates committees, right? No, Tomlin likes workhorse running backs when they’re good enough to handle being workhorses. Le’Veon Bell for many years was good enough to be a workhorse, so he got the vast majority of the carries and touches. Tomlin had no reason to give any other running back opportunities since none of them were anywhere near as good as Bell was. But this past season, James Conner got 169 carries while Benny Snell got 111. Interesting, huh? The Pittsburgh backfield in 2020 was a close to a committee as it has ever been under Mike Tomlin. And it was all because Tomlin didn’t think Conner could handle being a workhorse anymore. I thought Tomlin was Mr. Workhorse Running-back? No: he started giving Snell carries because Conner wasn’t as effective a runner as he was back in 2018. Then, what do you know: in the offseason, the Steelers let James Conner walk and then draft Najee Harris.

Coaches want their best players on the field as much as possible. It’s a simple as that. And this means that if JK Dobbins is in fact a really good running back, he’s going to get a ton of carries. You won’t have to worry about Gus Edwards, because John Harbaugh isn’t a dummy. If he sees that Dobbins in year 2 is now significantly better than Edwards, he’s going to give Dobbins significantly more carries than Edwards. It’s that simple. If he’s not that much better than Edwards, he will only get slightly more carries than Edwards. But I’m betting on Dobbins being considerably better than Edwards.

If you want to avoid Dobbins because of the presence of Lamar Jackson, who rarely checks it down to his running backs and is the team’s primary running option, that’s fine with me. Running quarterbacks by nature have a tendency to limit the upside of their running backs. But don’t give me this, “Well Dobbins is in a committee with Gus Edwards…” stuff. If Dobbins is better than Edwards, Dobbins will get the carries. Period.

Fantasy owners are always bitching about their players being in a committee. “Why won’t they play my guy more?!” “Why are you giving that guy carries? Give my guy the ball!” Dude: your player is in a committee because the coach doesn’t think he can handle being a workhorse.

Great running backs do not find themselves in committees. Good, average and mediocre running backs are the ones that find themselves in committees.

“But Nick Chubb is a great running back and he’s in a split backfield!” That’s because Kareem Hunt is also a great running back. The Browns have two great running backs–they’re probably the only team with two great running backs right now. If either guy got knocked out for the season, the other guy could easily finish the season as the RB1–well, probably the RB2 behind McCaffrey because nobody is touching McCaffrey. That’s why Chubb and Hunt split the touches: because both guys are really, really good.

Get it through your head: no coach in the NFL runs a committee backfield just for the sake of running a committee backfield. Half the coaches in the league are a bad play call away from getting fired–you think they have the luxury of running a committee backfield just for the hell of it? No. When they get a great running back, they ride him into the ground.

So this is why I say talent always wins out. Coaches only run a committee backfield when no running back on their roster is clearly better than the others. People who like D’Andre Swift are worried about the presence of Jamaal Williams. They think Jamaal Williams will steal targets and touches from Swift, but that’s only going to happen if Swift isn’t significantly better than Williams. Aaron Jones shared a backfield with Williams in Green Bay and Aaron Jones was just fine, wasn’t he? That’s because Aaron Jones is really good and commanded a bunch of carries and targets. Simple as that. If Swift is really good, then you won’t have to worry about Jamaal Williams taking his touches.

“But, but, but Anthony Lynn is the Lions’ new offensive coordinator and he was the guy who made Austin Ekeler so great! So Jamaal Williams is in the “Austin Ekeler role” now in Detroit, that means he’s going to be the new Austin Ekeler!”

Wrong. Austin Ekeler got playing time with the Chargers and started eating into Melvin Gordon’s touches because Austin Ekeler is a really good running back. That’s it. It’s that simple. We have not seen any evidence that Jamaal Williams is anywhere close to as good as Austin Ekeler, so the idea that Williams is going to be the new Ekeler is pretty ridiculous, even if Williams is going to playing the “Austin Ekeler role” in Anthony Lynn’s offense. Ask anyone who’s high on Jamaal Williams this year: “Do you believe Williams is as good as Austin Ekeler?” 10 out of 10 times they’ll say no, of course not.

So then why would they expect Jamaal Williams to become the next Austin Ekeler? Just because Williams is in a similar situation to the one Ekeler was in on Lynn’s Chargers teams? That just makes no sense.

Think about it from the perspective of evaluating wide receivers: with Julio Jones gone in Atlanta, Calvin Ridley will step into the Julio role in that offense, and now Russell Gage steps into the Ridley role. Will Russell Gage put up Ridley-like numbers this season? Maybe, but probably not. Why? Because Russell Gage isn’t as good as Calvin Ridley! It’s really that simple.

Just because a guy moves into a situation in which some other player prospered in before, does not mean that new player is going to prosper as well. Talent is way more important than situation. Get that through your head.

This what people get wrong about running backs. Stop worrying about the situation the guy is in and start worrying about whether or not the guy is actually good. That’s what really matters.

Think like a coach. It de-mystifies a lot when it comes to running backs. Talent trumps situation.

Talent trumps situation. Talent trumps situation.

Talent. Trumps. Situation.

Guys I’m Avoiding

This is the part I hate to write, because I don’t actually dislike any of these players, I just dislike their ADPs. Still, there are some guys whose values are sky-high and way too rich for my liking.

  • CeeDee Lamb: This one hurts because I loved CeeDee Lamb in college, and I made a point to go out and get him in last year’s draft. I think he’s going to be a star in this league very soon. He was great last year as a rookie, even without a preseason, until Dak went down. But right now, the hype over him is too much. He’s got the Hard Knocks factor, which always boosts guys’ ADPs. He’s being drafted in the early 4th round right now, and to me that’s just too high. He’s going almost a full round ahead of Amari Cooper, which I just don’t understand. I don’t think CeeDee is going to supplant Amari as the Cowboys’ #1 receiver yet. He’s going ahead of Allen Robinson, Mike Evans, Julio Jones, Robert Woods–basically if you draft CeeDee at his current ADP, he needs to finish the season as a top-10 WR in order to deliver on your investment. It’s possible he does. He’s super talented and, again, he’s one of my favorite players in the league and I think he is destined for stardom some day very soon. But I’d rather go after him in the 5th or 6th round if possible. The price for him is just too high for me.
  • Joe Mixon: Will he stay healthy? Will he be able to produce behind that offensive line? Will the Bengals suck in that tough division? Baltimore, Cleveland and Pittsburgh all have great defenses, meaning Joe Mixon will have to go up against them 6 times a year. I just don’t know if I’m cool with taking Mixon in the second round. I think there are other options in that range with fewer question marks than Mixon has. I know Mixon is talented, but I’m twisting my mind into pretzels trying to process all the arguments for him, the rebuttals, and then the counter-rebuttals. I just avoiding Mixon. Again, he’s an extremely talented back, but I just don’t like the situation he’s in with that division and that offensive line, and the likelihood that the Bengals will be a passing-oriented offense. There’s a ton of mouths to feed: Boyd, Higgins and now the rookie sensation JaMarr Chase.
  • Kyle Pitts: Look, I know he’s an uber-talent. Like CeeDee, I loved Pitts in college and I’ve been sold on him since the first time I ever watched him play. He will be the best tight end in the league in the next 3-4 years maximum. But I’m not taking him in the mid-5th round. I’m just not. He has to finish as the TE4 or better in order to return value. The general rule on tight ends is that it takes 2-3 years for them to reach their full potential in the league–they take longer to develop than QBs and RBs. But people are just assuming Kyle Pitts is going to set the league on fire as a rookie. I think he certainly has the talent to buck the trend, but I’m not going to bet on it given his ADP. I’ll let someone else take him.
  • Josh Allen: He’s going off the board right now as the QB2 behind only Mahomes. Personally, I’m just not taking him ahead of Kyler Murray or Lamar Jackson. I love Josh Allen and think he’s a great quarterback, but his ADP is way too high for me. I will not be drafting him in the early 4th round.
  • Adam Thielen: In 2017 and 2018 respectively, he got 142 and 153 targets. Last season, he only got 108. Part of that is due to the emergence of Justin Jefferson. Thielen had 74 receptions last season and 14 touchdowns; that is an insanely high TD rate that is bound to come back down to earth this season. Thielen has a late 5th round ADP right now, but even that to me seems a bit high. I will not be drafting Thielen in the 5th round especially because it looks like he’s starting to decline just a bit while Jefferson is a superstar in the making.
  • Tyler Lockett: At first glance, it seems like Lockett was a monster last year. He finished as the WR8 on the year with 265 fantasy points in PPR. He had 132 targets, 100 receptions, 10 TDs and 1,054 yards. It all looks good. But the problem is that most of his production came in a handful of games. It’s like he went bonkers in 4 games but was relatively quiet in the other games. Consider that he only had 4 games where he scored more than 20PPR points last year: a 37 point game, a 53 point game, a 21.7 point game and a 33 point game (which was in week 17). That’s 144.7 points in 4 games, meaning about 120 points over his remaining 12 games. 56 of his 132 targets were in those 4 games. There’s just not a lot of consistency there with Lockett. DK Metcalf is getting better and better, and I believe this year Metcalf will be more than just a deep threat. I’m afraid to draft Lockett, even at his ADP of 50 (WR20).
  • Josh Jacobs: I’ll keep this one short and sweet: the offensive line got worse in Vegas, and they also added Kenyan Drake to the backfield. I mean we’re not talking about one or two guys gone from the offensive line, we’re talking about four offensive lineman from last year who are no longer with the team. I’m not drafting Jacobs this year unless he falls down the draft board precipitously.

These are the main guys that come to mind for me. I’m not saying I refuse to draft them, but I refuse to draft them where they’re currently being drafted. I think they’re all over-valued.

Second Year WR Gang

Year 2 is when a lot of receivers take their biggest leap in terms of production. DK Metcalf and AJ Brown were both second year receivers in 2020, and look how great they were. So were Terry McLaurin, Deebo Samuel and Diontae Johnson. If a guy flashes potential in his rookie year, expect him to take a massive step forward in his sophomore season.

I’m not going to waste time talking about slam-dunk second year guys like Jefferson and Lamb because everyone is high on those guys. But there are some other second year wideouts to be aware of:

  • Jerry Jeudy: I like Jeudy’s talent, but he only managed to finish as the WR45 in PPR last season. It was not for want of targets, either: He got 113 targets, which ranked 21st in the whole NFL, but only managed to pull in 52 receptions for an abysmal 46% catch rate. In terms of guys who got 110 targets or more last year, Jeudy’s catch rate was by far the lowest–the only guy that came anywhere close to 46% was DJ Moore at 56%. A good catch rate is in the 60s, anything 70% or above is phenomenal. Only guys like Davante, Diggs and D-Hop were pushing the mid/high 70s last year. Jeudy is going to definitely have to improve his efficiency in 2021, but here’s the thing: while he did have 10 drops last year, which were the 3rd most in the league behind Diontae Johnson (13) and Evan Engram (11), that still doesn’t fully account for why he was only able to catch 46% of the balls that went his way. This tells me it was mainly Drew Lock’s fault for throwing him bad passes–Lock as well as all the other sub-par QBs Denver was forced to trot out last season. Drew Lock had the highest rate of “bad throws” in the league last season at 22.9% other than Jalen Hurts, who was at 26.7% (yeesh). Lock was even more inaccurate than Dwayne Haskins (22.4% bad throw rate). I don’t see Lock getting any better next year, which means Jeudy might be held back yet again by poor QB play. I’ll be hugely bullish on Jeudy when Aaron Rodgers is his QB in 2022, but right now I’m avoiding him because of Drew Lock. As if that weren’t enough, remember that Courtland Sutton, who tore his ACL in week 2 last season, is coming back, and he is probably going to reclaim his role as the Broncos’ #1 receiver. That could cut into Jeudy’s target share, which is not good because of the low catch rate. HOWEVER, if Teddy Bridgewater–who is way more accurate than Lock, in fact Bridgewater is one of the most accurate QBs in the NFL–takes over the starting job in Denver, Jeudy’s stock goes up. Even with Sutton back in the mix, the more accurate Bridgewater should make Jeudy more efficient even on fewer targets. With an ADP of 76 (WR32), Jeudy might be worth a pick in the 8th round just to hold on to in the event Teddy takes the starting job from Lock. The Broncos did trade for Teddy, after all. Still, I think I’m going to be avoiding Jeudy this year.
  • Henry Ruggs: It was a disappointing rookie season for the speedster Ruggs, who was the first receiver off the board in the 2020 draft. He only had 26 receptions on 43 targets for 452 yards and 2 TDs, for a grand total of 84.1 fantasy points, which was good for a WR92 finish in PPR last year (yikes). I will most likely be avoiding Ruggs until I see some more consistent production out of him. I don’t know if he just can’t get open, or Derek Carr and him don’t have a good connection or what, but the talent is there with Ruggs yet he couldn’t put it together his rookie season.
  • Tee Higgins: Higgins came on pretty strong last year with the Bengals and finished as the WR28 in PPR even despite Joe Burrow going down with a torn ACL in week 9. Higgins got 108 targets in an offense that still featured AJ Green (104 targets) and Tyler Boyd (110 targets). So even though the Bengals drafted LSU superstar JaMarr Chase, that offense should be able to support three top-30 fantasy receivers assuming Burrow stays healthy. Burrow was asked to sling the ball a ton last season, and I don’t think that’ll change much in 2021. Burrow has the arm talent to throw it 50+ times a game, and there should be plenty of targets to go around.
  • Brandon Aiyuk: He had a pretty decent season last year as a rookie, but keep in mind Deebo Samuel and George Kittle both missed a lot of games. Aiyuk got 96 targets in that situation and finished as the WR 35. He’s going off the board now in the early 7th round as the WR23, and I don’t know if I love it. He’s going ahead of JaMarr Chase, Odell Beckham, Tee Higgins, Chase Claypool and Juju. I think I’d rather have one of those guys instead of Aiyuk.
  • Chase Claypool: He was a stud last year, and at 6′ 4″ with close to 4.4 speed, he’s built like DK Metcalf. This dude absolutely has the potential to become the #1 receiver on the Steelers this season. He’s being drafted at an ADP of 70, WR28, which is slightly ahead of Juju (ADP 72) and a few rounds behind Diontae Johnson (ADP 52). Johnson is the Steelers’ consensus #1 guy, but I think Claypool has the higher ceiling. Personally, I feel like I like Claypool’s value more than Johnson’s, although Johnson when healthy gets a ton of targets from Big Ben.
  • Laviska Shenault: Trevor Lawrence looked his way quite a bit in the preseason game against the Saints. It seems as if the two already have a good connection. Shenault is an all-around offensive weapon, capable of catching the ball and running it a bit, too. Urban Meyer loves “gadget guys” like him: Curtis Samuel at Ohio State, Percy Harvin at Florida, etc. Now of course Marvin Jones and DJ Chark are going to be ahead of Shenault on the depth chart, but keep an eye out for this guy. Lawrence seems to like him.
  • Jalen Reagor: Injuries derailed his rookie season, but the Eagles liked him enough to draft him in the first round in 2020. It was definitley a mistake for the Eagles to draft Reagor over Justin Jefferson, but that doesn’t mean Reagor can’t turn into a decent receiver in the NFL. Last season was awful all around for the Eagles, mainly due to injuries and poor play by Carson Wentz. I’m not giving up on Reagor, but I’m also probably going to pass on him due to the uncertainty with Jalen Hurts as his QB and the arrival of DeVonta Smith, which bumped Reagor down to #2 on the depth chart. Reagor is the WR60 right now with an ADP of 173.
  • Bryan Edwards: With Nelson Agholor off to New England, Edwards will be in the mix to be the top wide receiver for Derek Carr this season. Of course he still has to contend with Ruggs and Hunter Renfrow, but Ruggs was a disappointment last season. He’s the Raiders’ only receiver over six feet tall. However, at the end of the day, while there is a ton of hype for Edwards right now, Carr’s #1 target is still going to be Darren Waller. Keep an eye out for Edwards, though. He’s got an ADP of 208 and is the WR73 right now.
  • Michael Pittman: A lot of people liked this guy coming out of USC last year, and the Colts spent an early second round draft pick on him. He only finished as the WR78, however, and that was with Philip Rivers. I think PIttman’s rookie season was a bit of a disappointment, to be honest, but he’s going off the board now as the WR46, which is a huge jump for where he finished last season. He’s being drafted in the 12th round currently. It’s possible he takes a big jump this year, as long as Carson Wentz can get back to his 2017 form.
  • Darnell Mooney: He looked great with the Bears last season and basically took Anthony Miller’s job, with the Bears sending Miller packing to Houston. Mooney was consistently able to get open deep, but his quarterbacks Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles just weren’t able to hit him. Justin Fields, who should be the starter in Chicago fairly early into the season, is an elite deep ball thrower, and he will not miss Mooney when he gets open. Mooney will be a beneficiary of the expected superior QB play when Fields takes over.
  • Gabriel Davis: I have to mention him because he plays on one of the best offenses in the league (Buffalo) with one of the best quarterbacks in the league (Josh Allen), but Davis is pretty much buried on the depth chart behind Diggs, Emmanuel Sanders and Cole Beasley. However, Davis does have the opportunity to pass up Sanders on the depth chart. He’s got an ADP of 224 right now and is the WR76.
  • Quintez Cephus: You won’t even have to worry about drafting him because this Lions third-stringer is currently the WR111 with an ADP of 336 right now. You can get him as a free agent. But I’ve been seeing an inordinate amount of hype around this guy during training camp, and it has put him on to my radar. I don’t think he’s going to explode onto the scene and become a Pro Bowler or anything, but there is a lot of buzz about him for some reason.

I don’t really see a lot of names on this list that pop out at me. Chase Claypool would be the one I like the most behind Jefferson and Lamb. He’s the one to target, in my opinion.

THE ROOKIES!!!!!

This is always my favorite part of fantasy drafting: the rookies. They represent untapped potential. You never know if a rookie will turn into the next Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt, OBJ, Justin Jefferson, James Robinson, etc. That’s why I draft as many rookies as I can, in hopes of hitting the jackpot on one of them.

Of course, there’s always the chance a rookie turns into a bust, and you’re more likely to draft the next Kevin White than the next Odell Beckham, but don’t let that rain on your parade. Here at the Fade the Public, we get hyped AF for rookies.

We’ve already gone over a few like Trevor Lawrence and Kyle Pitts, but I want to cover the subject of rookies in greater depth here.

  • Najee Harris: Unfortunately everybody’s already high on Najee Harris. There will be no stealing this dude. If you want him (and you should) you are going to be paying full price. He’s coming of the board as the RB11 at an ADP of 15, meaning mid-second round. It’s well-deserved, too: he was an absolute stud at Bama. He’s on the Steelers, and Mike Tomlin loves to ride one workhorse running back. Najee is going to get so many touches this season. It just seems like a slam dunk putting him on the Steelers–they have a storied history with running backs and Najee is the latest to join the club. He’ll get carries, he’ll get passing targets, he’ll get goal line opportunities–I fully believe he’ll be a top-10 fantasy running back this season. I know everyone hates the Steelers’ offensive line, but Najee can contribute in other ways. I have a feeling Big Ben and his diminished arm will be dumping it off to him left and right, like he did with Le’Veon Bell back in the day. I don’t know if I’d want Harris as my RB1, but given where he’s going, chances are the person that drafts him this year will already have somebody like Zeke or Saquon Barkley on their team. Or maybe the Davante Adams owner drafts him. And honestly, I wouldn’t be too afraid of having a rookie as your RB1: Zeke led the league in rushing his rookie season, although he did have the best offensive line in the league. I took Saquon Barkley as a rookie with my first round pick a few years back and he finished the season as the overall RB1, and the Giants had a terrible offensive line. Now, I don’t think Harris is as good as Barkley (remember, Barkley was drafted #2 overall while Harris went #24. Zeke was the #4 pick in 2016), but then again the Steelers are a lot better than the 2018 Giants, even with their questionable offensive line. I would not be surprised at all if Harris finishes in the top 10 at the RB position. If I had the 5th or 6th pick and managed to get Zeke or Saquon, I’d strongly consider picking up Najee in the second round, especially if wide receivers like Diggs and D-Hop are off the board already. Najee would be a tremendous RB2 to have on your squad. However, if those two WRs are still on the board and I had already drafted an RB in the first round, I’d probably go with one of them in the second rather than Najee. I like going RB-WR, personally. Anyway, bottom line is I have no problem drafting Najee where his ADP is right now. I wouldn’t take Najee ahead of guys like Jonathan Taylor or Aaron Jones, but I would probably take him over Austin Ekeler given Ekeler’s injury history. Ekeler is great, but he scares me.
  • JaMarr Chase: I was just watching highlights of the LSU Clemson National Championship game from 2019, which was the last time JaMarr Chase played real football. Oh my goodness was JaMarr Chase a stud. He was catching deep passes left and right in that game. Clemson couldn’t guard him at all. My guy had 9 catches for 221 yards and 2 TDs. Because he didn’t play in 2020, I think a lot of people forgot just how good JaMarr Chase was, but he is the real deal. He caught 20 TDs from Burrow in 2019 and won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top receiver. He was only a true sophomore that season, too, which is the craziest part–he was dominating the SEC and the nation as a 19-year-old. Had he been eligible for the 2020 draft, he would have easily been the top receiver off the board–ahead of Ruggs, Jeudy, CeeDee and all the other guys. It helped that he had Joe Burrow, one of the greatest college football players of all time, as his quarterback, but guess what? Joe Burrow is his quarterback in the NFL, too. Burrow apparently lobbied the Bengals to draft Chase even though everyone thought the Bengals needed an offensive lineman. Burrow, even though he suffered a torn ACL due to a sack let up by his porous offensive line, said “Nah, fuck protection. I want JaMarr Chase.” That should tell you something about Chase. I don’t care that the Bengals have a lot of mouths to feed on offense with Higgins and Boyd in the rotation. Chase is a stud. I want a part of that Burrow-Chase LSU connection on my fantasy team. Chase is the WR24 coming off the board in at pick 63, so the early 7th round. I’m gonna draft him if he’s available then. I think he’s going to do big things in the NFL. Dude ran a 4.34 40 yard dash. Joe Burrow knows him and trusts him already, and is going to be looking his way a lot. I don’t want him as my WR1 or WR2, but I’d be thrilled to have him in a flex spot on my team.
  • Travis Etienne: He was Trevor Lawrence’s running back in college, so there’s a lot of familiarity there. I expect Etienne to be catching a lot of dump-off passes from Lawrence early on, and then probably taking over the starting role at some point down the road this season. The Urban Meyer regime didn’t draft James Robinson, so they have no real allegiance to him. They’ll use Robinson for sure because he can play, but Etienne is their guy first and foremost. I don’t know if Etienne will shine from day 1, but at some point this season, he should be the lead back in Jacksonville. I’m really high on Etienne, to be quite honest. He was so good in college. He averaged 7.2 yards per carry over four years at Clemson. He started as a true freshman. Plus, he got better every year at catching the ball: by the time he was a senior in 2020, he had 48 catches for 588 yards. I think his game will translate well to the NFL and he should be a nice little fantasy performer as a rookie. He’s the RB23 right now going in the mid-6th round, which is pretty good value for a running back. I’m going to be targeting him. UPDATE: Etienne injured his foot in the preseason game against the Saints. It’s being called a Lisfranc injury which has the potential to keep him out as long as three months. Foot injuries are tough, man. You don’t want to rush a guy back because it could screw up his entire career. I feel like Etienne is going to be out a while. Three months takes us all the way to basically Thanksgiving. Sadly, Etienne is undraftable now. This means James Robinson is now skyrocketing up draft boards.
  • DeVonta Smith: Jalen Hurts was not an accurate QB last season, so that sort of hurts Smith’s upside. But Smith, the Heisman winner, looked great in the preseason and the only real competition for targets for him are last year’s first round pick Jalen Reagor, and Travis Fulgham. The fact that the Eagles took Smith in the first round a year after taking Reagor in the first round does not inspire a lot of confidence in Reagor. The Eagles also have a pair of tight ends to take some targets, Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz. I think the Eagles are going to be horrible this year, though, and I don’t know that I want any exposure to their offense. Still, for a receiver as talented as Smith to be going in the late 8th round as the WR33, I wouldn’t mind having him on the bench in case he turns into a superstar. If you’re afraid to draft JaMarr Chase, why not consider DeVonta Smith a round or two later?
  • Trey Sermon: Sermon was a beast for Ohio State in 2020, setting a school record for rushing yards in a single game with 331 during the Big Ten Championship against Northwestern. He landed on the 49ers, who traditionally have a great rushing attack, but who also tend to use a stable of ball-carriers rather than one main workhorse. Still, 49ers RBs all have value. Raheem Mostert is the top back in the system currently, but the 3rd rounder Sermon should have plenty of opportunities to run the ball this season. San Fran also has Wayne Gallman, who came over from the Giants, plus Jeff Wilson Jr., their longtime 4th-string back. I think Sermon will emerge as the best of the bunch and get the majority of the carries at some point this season–especially on the goal line, as Mostert is not a great goal-line back. I’ll be looking to pick up Sermon in the late 9th/early 10th round. He’s currently the RB34 with an ADP of 89. I’m very high on Trey Sermon and I am determined to have him on my team, even if I have to reach slightly. Mostert is injury-prone, which means it’s likely Sermon will have an opportunity to lead this backfield.
  • Jaylen Waddle: The Bama speedster actually wound up being drafted higher than Heisman winner DeVonta Smith when all was said and done, and people are now comparing Waddle to Tyreek Hill. That’s how fast and explosive he is. I mean, just watch his highlight tape on YouTube. He is unreal. It’s probably recency-bias making me say this, but he might be the fastest college football player I’ve ever seen. Waddle can absolutely fly. It’s not so much his 40 time as it is his game speed. Some guys are great at running the 40 but can’t get open in the NFL. Waddle isn’t just fast, he has skill. He can cut and juke, he has vision–basically any time he touched the ball in college he was a threat to house it. He consistently got so wide open in college that I could’ve probably thrown him a few touchdown passes. There’s a reason he was drafted as highly as he was. He is so fucking good. But while he’s undoubtedly a special, special talent, my question is whether or not Tua has the arm to fully take advantage of his talent. I love Waddle, but I don’t know if I like Tua. Still, though, as the WR43 coming off the board in the 11th round, he’s dirt cheap. If it turns out Tua can play, then Waddle should be a great value. You also have the added benefit of Tua and Waddle playing together in 2019–just like the Joe Burrow-JaMarr Chase duo. Sure, the Dolphins WR room is pretty crowded with Will Fuller and DeVante Parker in the mix, but if Waddle is as good as the Dolphins thought he was going to be when they took him at #6 overall, he could overtake everybody. Plus, both Parker and Fuller are injury-prone guys.
  • Rashod Bateman: Now I know he’s been dealing with an injury that could delay his NFL debut a few weeks, but the Ravens spent a first round pick on this dude and he might be exactly the type of wide receiver Lamar Jackson has been looking for. Hollywood Brown is more of a pure deep threat, and Lamar just isn’t the most accurate guy with deep throws. Bateman is more of a short/intermediate route receiver–a possession receiver, as they say. He gives Lamar another intermediate receiving option beyond just Mark Andrews. Now, that said, Baltimore was the worst passing offense in the league and the #1 rushing offense last year. I’m not going gung-ho into this Ravens offense looking for pass catchers. But Bateman is being drafted as the WR65 right now at an ADP of 187. You can easily acquire him if you think he’s going to be The Guy in Baltimore. And hey, the Ravens did use a first round pick on him, so they have high hopes.
  • Javonte Williams: I’ve already gone over the situation with Williams and Melvin Gordon, so I won’t spend too much time here. The Broncos did spend a pretty high draft pick on Williams and they moved up to get him at that. So they are clearly high on the guy. He’s looked good in the preseason and it’s possible he supplants Melvin Gordon as the team’s #1 running back. His ADP is a little high for me but I am intrigued. I like both him and Gordon, but I like Gordon a bit more because he’s cheaper and he’s a more proven commodity.
  • Trey Lance: We all expect him to take the starting job from Jimmy G at some point this season, but keep in mind Trey Lance is literally the most inexperienced rookie QB to come into the NFL in the past 20 years, probably ever. I wrote about this with him a few months back during draft season. He’s got loads of potential, he’s big, he can run, he has a big arm, and obviously the 49ers love him because they moved up to take him #3 overall. But it might be a bit of a learning process. You can easily acquire Lance with a late-round pick, and he’s in a great system for a rookie, but there’s another rookie QB I think is more NFL-ready…
  • Justin Fields: I’ve been a huge fan of his since he arrived at Ohio State in 2019, and have watched a lot of his games over the past couple years. I think very highly of Justin Fields. He can run, he has a cannon of an arm, and judging by the Bears’ preseason games, Fields is already a much better QB than Andy Dalton. I expect Fields to take over as the Bears’ starter early in the season, and given that he’s only going a couple picks ahead of Trey Lance, I think I’d rather have Fields on my team than Lance. I know the Bears are brutal offensively compared to the 49ers, but I’ve always thought Fields was the better QB overall. His running ability will give him a high fantasy floor, and I think it will be easier for him to overtake Andy Dalton than it will be for Lance to overtake Garoppolo.
  • Michael Carter: He’s currently listed as the Jet’s third string RB behind Tevin Coleman and Ty Johnson, but the North Carolina product, who the Jets took in round 4, has the potential to win the starting job. Coleman is injury-prone and Ty Johnson has never really done much in the NFL. I’d say it’s pretty wide open for Carter to get a big role in this offense. I know everybody hates the Jets, and they’re probably going to suck, but if Carter gets the starting role (Carter the Starter?) he could be a nice player to have on your roster.
  • Amon Ra St. Brown: Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones are no longer on the Lions, so it’s a very unproven WR corps, and the new regime used their 4th round pick on St. Brown. The Lions have a couple of journeymen WRs ahead of St. Brown–Breshad Perriman and Tyrell Williams–but if St. Brown can play, he should be able to overtake them. I don’t love Goff as the QB, and I feel like Dan Campbell is going to be a run-first coach, but it’s possible St. Brown emerges as the top receiver on the Lions this season.
  • Rhamondre Stevenson: The former Oklahoma running back is a BIG OL’ BOY. He’s pushing 250lbs. In fact, he was so big that at the start of Patriots training camp, he failed his conditioning test. But apparently it was a wake-up call for him and now he’s been working his butt off to get in shape. In the Patriots’ two preseason games so far, he’s got 25 carries for 193 yards and 3 TDs. Patriots RB coach Ivan Fears has had good things to say about Stevenson lately, and given his strong performance in the preseason, there’s a good chance the 4th round pick will make the 53-man roster. Now, of course we all know how much of a headache Patriots running backs are, and if Stevenson does make the final roster, who the hell knows when to start him in fantasy. The Patriots have Damien Harris, Sony Michel, James White, JJ Taylor and Brandon Bolden in their RB stable in addition to Stevenson. But, I have a feeling Belichick drafted this kid because he sees him as potentially the next LeGarrette Blount. Remember how good Blount was for the Patriots? In 2016 Blount had 18 TDs. Now I don’t want to get too far over my skis here, because it’s unlikely Stevenson will ever be as good as Blount was. But maybe….
  • Amari Rodgers: When I heard the Packers drafted a wide receiver from Clemson, I was all about it. However, he’s got an ADP of 264 right now and is the WR85, meaning he’s going undrafted. It’s understandable, too: he’s got Davante Adams, MVS and Allen Lazard ahead of him on the depth chart. Plus the Packers just brought back Randall Cobb, and they have Big Bob Tonyan at TE. Amari Rodgers is just going to be buried on the depth chart, it feels like. Maybe if he’s truly good enough, he can overtake all those wide receivers ahead of him–it’s not like Lazard, MVS and Cobb are particularly special. But it’s a major longshot for Rodgers.
  • Elijah Moore: Here’s a guy with some serious hype. He comes out of Ole Miss, the school that produced DK Metcalf and AJ Brown, but don’t think of him as the same type of receiver as those guys. Metcalf and Brown are both elite physical freaks of nature, while Moore is only about 5′ 9″ and 180lbs. However, the Jets are very high on Moore. They used an early second round draft pick on him. AJ Brown recently said he’s put his money on Moore to win Offensive Rookie of the Year, and couldn’t stop raving about him. As the WR55 with a 15th round ADP right now, I wouldn’t hesitate to spend a late round pick on Moore in hopes he lives up to the hype AJ Brown is giving him. He’ll be behind Corey Davis and Jamison Crowder in the depth chart, but if he’s legit, he can pass both guys up. I know a lot of the hype over Moore is just the New York media doing its thing, but AJ Brown isn’t part of the New York media.
  • Terrace Marshall: Another one of Joe Burrow’s famous three receivers from LSU (the other two being Chase and Justin Jefferson)? Sign me up. Right? Well, there are a few reasons to be hesitant with Marshall. For one, Sam Darnold is his QB in Carolina, and we still don’t know if Darnold is actually good or not. I know he was on the Jets and everyone blames his poor play on Adam Gase and the general awfulness of the Jets, but it’s still possible Sam Darnold is a bad quarterback. Plus, there are a lot of mouths to feed in that Carolina offense: you’ve obviously got CMC as the workhorse back who will get 130+ targets. Then you have DJ Moore (118 targets last year) and Robby Anderson (136 targets last year). Marshall is going to be the third receiver on the team. Will there be enough opportunities for him in that offense? Is Sam Darnold any good? There are a lot of question marks about Marshall, but if it turns out he’s a stud, then he will get fed. He’s the WR68 being drafted at pick 192, so you should have no problem acquiring him. Given how good Justin Jefferson is and how good Chase is expected to be, it might not be a bad idea to stash Marshall as a potential lottery ticket. The odds of him being as good as Jefferson are slim, but hey: you never know.

It’s hard to cover all the bases here, so it’s best to just draft as many rookies as you can and pray one turns into the next James Robinson, Alvin Kamara or Kareem Hunt.

Late Round Flyers

If you go back and look at your draft history over the years, you’ll find that most of the guys you draft in the later rounds (meaning round 10 and later) are basically throwaway picks. Nobody knows what the hell they’re doing anymore late in the draft, people have been drinking beer all day, and most guys just want to get the draft over with at this point.

But this is where you take your biggest risks. You’ve already solidified your starting roster in the prior 10 rounds, so these are just bench guys. You really have nothing to lose here, and everything to gain.

Instead of just picking guys at random, you should have some late-round targets identified in between the 10th round and the final two rounds when you select a defense and a kicker.

  • Devin Singletary: I know most people have given up on him after managing just 156 carries for 687 yards and 2 TDs last year, plus 38 receptions on 50 targets for 269 yards. But Singletary is still only 23 and going in to year 3 in the NFL, and he is listed as the lead back on one of the league’s best offenses. He’s got both Zack Moss and Matt Breida to contend with in the backfield, but he’s got an ADP of 116 and is the RB41 right now. He might be worth picking up in the 12th round considering, again, he’s the starting running back on a top-5 offense.
  • Marquise “Hollywood” Brown: Right behind Singletary at an ADP of 117 is Hollywood Brown, who as far as I know is still the top receiver on the Ravens. He didn’t have a great season in 2020, 58 catches on 100 targets (yikes) for 769 yards and 8 TDs, but he wasn’t bad by any stretch. He finished as the WR36 last year. He can easily be a top-25 wide out in fantasy if he and Lamar Jackson can build up a better connection. I know the Ravens added Rashod Bateman in the draft, as well as Sammy Watkins in free agency, so it’s not a slam-dunk for Brown to outperform his ADP, but he might be worth scooping up given his deeply beaten-down price.
  • AJ Dillon: The second-year running back is now the primary backup to Aaron Jones in Green Bay after Jamaal Williams signed with the Lions. He’s got an ADP of 104 right now and is the RB38, so obviously Jones owners are going to want to pick him up as a handcuff. Still, though, Jamaal Williams carved out a nice little role as Green Bay’s change-of-pace back, and Dillon will definitely have some value even if Jones gets the vast majority of the reps. The Packers did spend a second round draft pick on Dillion in 2020, so they do like him. He’s a a big ol’ boy, too, at 247lbs, and he averaged 5.3 yards per carry last season on his 46 rushing attempts, including a 21 carry, 124 yard performance in week 15 against the Titans. He also scored 2 TDs in that game. I think Dillon will have a bigger role in the Packers’ offense in 2021, and might be worth picking up even if you don’t have Aaron Jones on your team. Dillon might even end up as the goal-line back for Green Bay given how big he is. That could equal a lot of TDs for him.
  • Adam Trautman: He is the 2nd year tight end for the New Orleans Saints, and while he didn’t really do much last year, he could be in line for an expanded role in the offense. With Jared Cook now out of the picture, and Michael Thomas sidelined with an ankle injury through at least the first month of the season, the Saints’ receiving corps will be led by TreQuan Smith, Deonte Thompson, Chris Hogan and LilJordan Humphrey. I could absolutely see Trautman playing a bigger role in the offense. With an ADP of 162 overall and coming off the board as TE20, I think he’s worth a late-round flyer. UPDATE: In the MNF game against the Jaguars, he was carted off the field with some sort of ankle/leg injury. Not good. Be advised.
  • Jonnu Smith: This one is real simple: Bill Belichick loves tight ends. He invested heavily in the position, acquiring both Smith and Hunter Henry. The Patriots are stacked at tight end. But Hunter Henry is very injury-prone, which will probably lead to lots of opportunities for Smith. Henry is already dealing with a shoulder injury in training camp. Jonnu has an ADP of 136. I’m absolutely going to grab him with one of my late picks. That is a steal in my eyes considering this guy was a top-10 tight end last season with Tennessee.
  • JD McKissic: My best-kept secret of 2020 is criminally under-valued in 2021. People are still sleeping on him: he’s the RB46 currently with an ADP of 139, meaning he’s a 14th round pick. But this dude was the only running back in the league on Alvin Kamara’s level when it came to catching the ball: Kamara led all RBs with 83 receptions on 107 targets, but McKissic was right there with 80 catches on 110 targets. Yes, he had even more targets than Alvin Kamara last year. No other running backs were even close to him and Kamara in terms of catches and targets: the next-closest guy was Nyheim Hines, who had 63 catches on 76 targets. McKissic finished as the RB17 last season and he’s currently being drafted as the RB46. I’m sure he’ll have some regression, but still, even if he does, you’re getting great value for him based on his current ADP. I will absolutely be drafting my boy JD McKissic in the later rounds this year.
  • Parris Campbell: The Colts’ speedster receiver currently has an ADP of 219 right now, WR75. But most of his low value right now is due to the injuries that kept him out for most of last season. He’s fully healthy, and will hopefully be able to show off the skills that convinced the Colts to draft him in the second round in 2019. He’ll be contending with TY Hilton and Michael Pittman, and there are huge question marks about Carson Wentz after his ugly ending in Philly. But Cambpell has a lot of talent.
  • Xavier Jones: When Cam Akers sadly went down with a torn Achilles several weeks ago, it opened the door for the rest of the Rams running backs. Currently, Darrell Henderson is the starter for LA, and Jones is the backup, and Henderson has way more experience than Jones, who had zero carries in his rookie season last year. But Henderson has been a little bit injury prone at times, and there’s no guarantee he’s capable of being a feature back. The Rams spent a 3rd round pick on Henderson in 2019, but then turned around and drafted Akers in the 2nd round in 2020. So clearly they’re not 100% committed to Henderson. Suppose the Rams go with a committee approach next year: Jones will get opportunities. I know you’re never supposed to listen to Sean McVay because he always lies to the media, but he did say Jones “will carve out a role” for the Rams in 2021. McVay also praised Jones’ ability to pass block, which is hugely important for running backs to be able to earn playing time. Xavier Jones has an ADP of 182 and is the RB56 right now. You will be able to acquire him late, or potentially as a free agent after the draft. To me, he’s worth a flyer.
  • DeShaun Watson: Okay, nobody knows what’s going to happen to him with all his legal issues, plus his trade demands. He’ll more than likely be suspended for a lot of games. But we just don’t know. People are still drafting him as the QB20 right now, 155 overall. I wouldn’t recommend drafting him for the simple reason that there are guys being drafted near where he’s being drafted who are actually going to see playing time: for instance, Baker Mayfield, who is being drafted at 136 ADP and will be at the helm of one of the league’s best offenses. It’s likely DeShaun Watson misses the whole season, but what if he somehow gets cleared of all the charges and only gets suspended for like 4 games? He’s still one of the very best QBs in the league. And if he then gets traded to some team–say, Detroit, or Philly, or wherever–then he would instantly become a top-5 fantasy QB, most likely. I would only pick him up if you have one of the top 4-5 QBs already and extra bench space. If you have the luxury of space, it might be worth it to stash him. But again, I think it’s highly unlikely he plays this season given everything that has transpired these past 8 months. I’d much rather stash somebody like Trey Lance or Justin Fields.

***
Closing Thoughts

I could’ve gone on for way longer with this post, but the main points here are simple:

  • It’s best to have a top-6 pick so you can get one of the elite running backs. If you don’t get a top-6 pick, you might be able to grab Saquon if he slides. If not, target Nick Chubb in the first round. There’s way better value among wide receivers after the first round.
  • Draft PROACTIVELY, not reactively. Go out and get your guys! Have an idea of who you want, and then go out and get them. Don’t get too hung up with ADP and your draft board rankings lists.
  • Have a game-plan for your draft so you don’t get caught with your pants down.
  • Don’t be afraid to draft rookies!

But the most important thing is this: even if you do hours and hours of research, fantasy football is still mostly luck-based. Sure, you should be prepared, but so much of fantasy football is a crapshoot. Last year I had the highest scoring team in the league but I went 5-8 and missed the playoffs because I also had most points against.

You just never know with fantasy football. You never know which guys are going to break out and which guys are going to bust. Did anyone really imagine James Robinson finishing as the RB7 last year? No of course not. There’s so much flukiness and randomness to fantasy football.

So don’t stress too much over your draft. Sometimes you’re forced to pick a guy you didn’t really like and it ends up working out for you. Sometimes you pick a guy you love and it fails miserably.

That’s fantasy football for ya.

Good luck!

Austin Frank

Sports blogger

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