The Biggest Fantasy Football Questions For All 32 Teams
There are burning questions that all football fans – and particularly fantasy football fans – are dying to know as we head into the 2021 offseason. There’ll be some like me who try to figure out the answers to those questions before we have all the pieces of the puzzle, as the NFL Draft and free agency will likely answer many of them.
But what are those questions? What should you be paying attention to as we progress through the offseason? After going through the contracts, depth charts, and coaching situations, I’ve come up with the biggest fantasy questions for each of the 32 teams.
Arizona Cardinals – Do they invest in another wide receiver to take Larry Fitzgerald‘s role?
It seems like 2020 was the last for Fitzgerald, who saw nearly 80 targets. While that may not seem like a big deal, it really is when you consider his measly 5.7 yards per target. If they bring in a solid replacement (via draft or free agency), that number is going to go up, which would hurt the upside of both DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk. In fact, we could see Kirk moved into the slot, which is where I believed he should’ve been from the start. Don’t forget that’s what happened with Golden Tate.
Atlanta Falcons – When will they draft a running back?
Notice I didn’t ask when they’ll target one in free agency? I say that because this team has major salary cap issues to work around, and it’s highly unlikely they fix them enough to invest in a running back in free agency. So, as much as I’d love to see them land Aaron Jones in free agency, it’s highly unlikely. If you’re a Falcons fan, keep an eye on this year’s running back class. Whoever they select is going to have fantasy appeal.
Baltimore Ravens – Will they draft or sign a prototypical No. 1 wide receiver?
We saw Lamar Jackson look a lot better down the stretch, but if this year proved anything, it’s that he needs a safety blanket outside of Mark Andrews. We watched Marquise Brown play the No. 1 receiver role this year, though I believe less can be more with him. If they were to get a perimeter wide receiver to play the “X” position, it’d allow Brown to work down the field a bit more and make the most of his targets. Could Corey Davis be on their radar?
Buffalo Bills – Do the Bills move on from John Brown?
We could talk about the running back position, but it seems this coaching staff is dead set on a timeshare. Instead, we should be asking whether they shift to Gabriel Davis and cut Brown who would cost them just $1.6 million in dead cap instead of carrying his $9.7 million cap hit. It’s also important to note that the Bills have three starters on the offensive line hitting free agency, which can affect all skill-position players.
Carolina Panthers – Do they retain Curtis Samuel?
There are a few question marks surrounding the Panthers, but the one that affects fantasy the most is whether or not they re-sign Samuel who’s set to be a free agent. It appeared as if this coaching staff figured out how to best utilize his strengths as the year went on, and the offense got better because of it. His departure would clear up a lot of targets, though they’d likely address the position in the draft (they’re thin at wide receiver). They also have 4-of-5 starting offensive linemen hitting free agency, so it’ll be interesting to see where their priorities lie.
Chicago Bears – Will they work out a deal with Allen Robinson? Mitch Trubisky?
There are tons of questions with this Bears roster, and the offense can get a major overhaul if those questions aren’t answered with a “yes.” Robinson has been adamant about wanting a new deal and the Bears were unwilling, so unless they give him top dollar, he’s probably gone. As for Trubisky, the Bears are stuck in-between a rock and a hard place, as they won’t have a pick high enough to land one of the top quarterback prospects, and they don’t have another viable option on the roster. We haven’t even started to discuss the coaching side of things, which can certainly change.
Cincinnati Bengals – Will Joe Burrow be ready to start the 2021 season?
The entire offense hinges around him and his recovery from multiple ligament tears. His surgeon has said he believes Burrow will be ready for the start of the season, which is good because his presence unlocks top-15 potential for Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. It should also create much lighter defensive fronts for Joe Mixon.
Cleveland Browns – Can Baker Mayfield take the next step in his career and become a reliable fantasy option?
We saw his comfort level in the new offense grow as the year went on, and he was doing that while without Odell Beckham. While some will wonder if he’s better without Beckham, I believe it was a combination of Mayfield learning a new offense, as well as trying to force-feed the ball to Beckham. If 2020 taught him anything, it should be to not force anything, and let the coverage dictate where he goes with the ball.
Dallas Cowboys – Can they afford to keep everyone?
The Cowboys are going to have a cap issue in 2021; we know that much. After paying Amari Cooper a lot of money last offseason and paying Ezekiel Elliott a ton of money the previous offseason, they were unable to work out a long-term contract with Dak Prescott, who is slated to be a free agent. Jerry Jones says they want to get a deal done with him, but do they have the funds to shift around and make it work? The franchise tag salary number will be $37.7 million for Prescott, which is not a small amount of money.
Denver Broncos – Will the Broncos move on from Drew Lock?
When looking over the Broncos depth chart and contract situations, their roster is in pretty good shape. While there are certainly some needs they need to address, the biggest question mark is what they plan on doing with Lock. He’s been wildly inconsistent and knowing the team didn’t invest a whole lot on him (2nd round pick), they could choose to move in another direction, though they’d probably need to move up in the draft.
Detroit Lions – Who will be playing wide receiver for them?
You may not have heard but the Lions have five of their top six wide receivers slated for free agency this offseason. Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, Danny Amendola, and Mohamed Sanu are all guys who are set to hit the open market, which leaves Quintez Cephus and Geronimo Allison as the only receivers on their roster. It’s possible we see Cephus take a massive step forward in 2021. You should be buying in dynasty leagues right now.
Green Bay Packers – Do the Packers re-sign Aaron Jones or let him walk in free agency?
Many want to know if the Packers will ever give Aaron Rodgers another wide receiver to make his life easier, but the biggest question from the fantasy landscape surrounds the running back position. Both Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams are slated to be unrestricted free agents, which would open the door for A.J. Dillon to become a staple in fantasy drafts should the Packers decide to move on.
Houston Texans – Do the Texans hang onto Will Fuller?
The star receiver was suspended for the final four games of the 2020 season, but that didn’t stop Deshaun Watson from voicing his opinion for the Texans to re-sign Fuller. The offense is the one thing that’s not wrong with this team, so it’d be wise to keep one of Watson’s favorite weapons around. There are tons of holes on the defensive side of the ball, so if they don’t re-sign Fuller, it’d be tough to see them finding his replacement early in the NFL Draft. They also don’t have a pick until the third round. Brandin Cooks would be a top-24 wide receiver in next year’s drafts.
Indianapolis Colts – Do they re-sign Philip Rivers or decide to start Jacob Eason?
With both Rivers and Jacoby Brissett becoming unrestricted free agents, the Colts have some decisions to be made. In fact, they have a variety of starters on both offense and defense who are hitting the open market, so they need to decide if they’re “going for it” or moving to a younger nucleus. The assumption should be that they re-sign Rivers, though T.Y. Hilton may be given the freedom to walk, as both Michael Pittman and Parris Campbell are expected to make significant contributions.
Jacksonville Jaguars – How will the Jaguars fix their offensive line to protect Trevor Lawrence?
It’s a foregone conclusion that the Jaguars will be taking Lawrence with the No. 1 overall pick, but they’re going to need someone to protect his blindside. Current starter Cam Robinson is headed to free agency, while Jawaan Taylor has struggled a bit at right tackle. Fortunately, the Jaguars have four picks inside the top four rounds, which should help them increase their chances of finding a tackle. The head coach they hire will also mean a ton, as the fantasy appeal of D.J. Chark and Laviska Shenault hangs in the balance.
Kansas City Chiefs – Will Mecole Hardman play a prominent role in the offense?
With both Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson slated to be free agents, we could actually see Hardman play a full-time role in this offense, which is something we’ve been hoping for. He’s been one of the most efficient wide receivers we’ve ever seen, though it is based on a small sample size. We could also see the Chiefs use a draft pick on a wide receiver, though Reid hasn’t used young receivers heavily right out of the gate (see: Tyreek Hill and Hardman). We could see Hardman take a giant leap forward in 2021.
Las Vegas Raiders – Will we see their high draft picks from 2020 actually contribute in 2021?
It was shocking to see the Raiders spend three picks on wide receivers inside the top three rounds of last year’s draft. It was even more shocking to see them combine for just 53 targets in the Raiders offense. Henry Ruggs, who was available in 13-of-16 games, saw 40 of them. Bryan Edwards saw the remaining 13, while Lynn Bowden never even took the field with the team before getting traded. With Nelson Agholor slated to be an unrestricted free agent, will we actually see playing time and consistent targets for Ruggs and Edwards?
Los Angeles Chargers – How will they protect Justin Herbert? And who will be the head coach?
The offensive line was a concern for them heading into 2020 and it’s only going to get worse, as they’re set to lose 3-of-5 starting offensive linemen in free agency. Not that any of them were great, it’s still a position of concern for them, particularly at left tackle. We will also see a change at the top, as Anthony Lynn’s squad continually underperformed expectations. Sure, he’s had some of the worst injury luck, but his in-game decisions were brutal. If we see an offensive mind come in and take over, this offense could soar to new levels in 2021.
Los Angeles Rams – Will the Rams allow Tyler Higbee to shine?
The Rams roster is remaining intact for the most part, though the one glaring change for fantasy purposes would be the departure of Gerald Everett. He’s slated to be an unrestricted free agent, and if we’ve learned anything from this offense, it’s that Higbee shines when Everett is out of it. The Rams did select Brycen Hopkins in the fourth round of last year’s draft, so it’s possible he starts to fill that slot, but Everett’s departure would mean big things for Higbee.
Miami Dolphins – Are they sticking with Tua Tagovailoa?
This might seem like an obvious “yes” to some, but don’t forget what the Cardinals did after selecting Josh Rosen at No. 10 overall in the 2018 draft. The Dolphins officially have the No. 3 and No. 18 picks in the first round of this draft, which leaves the door open for them to select a quarterback in what’s considered a solid class. Many can get caught up in how well rookies like Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert looked in their first NFL season, but it typically takes some time for young quarterbacks develop. While I’d guess they’re sticking with Tagovailoa, you can’t ignore the fact that Brian Flores had zero issues pulling him from multiple games. In related news, Ryan Fitzpatrick is slated to be a free agent this offseason.
Minnesota Vikings – Will the Vikings cut Kyle Rudolph?
This has everything to do with Irv Smith‘s potential breakout potential. The Vikings gave Rudolph a massive four-year, $36 million contract prior to the 2019 season, but they can get out of it by eating $4.3 million in dead cap this offseason. Knowing his cap hit would be $9.5 million with him on the roster, they’d be saving $5.2 million by cutting him. That would allow Smith to take on the role he did towards the end of the year when he caught 15 passes for 183 yards and three touchdowns over the final four games.
New England Patriots – Who will be their quarterback in 2021?
This one is easy. The Cam Newton experiment clearly didn’t work, and they already know Jarrett Stidham isn’t their guy. The Patriots will have the 15th overall selection in the NFL draft, which is their highest since 2008. Is that high enough to get a starter right out of the gate, or do they try to play the Day 2 and Day 3 odds? They are losing a lot of players to free agency on the defense, so this team looks to be in a full-on rebuild mode. But the quarterback they sign/draft will dictate just how long that rebuild will take.
New Orleans Saints – Is Taysom Hill really going to be the starting quarterback in 2021?
Based on everything Drew Brees has said, as well as the reports that have been leaked, he’ll be retiring at the end of this season. The Saints gave us a glimpse of what things can look like next year, as Hill played well as the starting quarterback while Brees was out of the lineup. It was too small of a sample size to make any concrete conclusions, but when you factor in his rushing floor/upside, he becomes part of the QB1 conversation. Fellow backup Jameis Winston is going to be an unrestricted free agent, and the Saints haven’t done anything to suggest he’ll be re-signed.
New York Giants – Are the Giants satisfied with Daniel Jones as their long-term answer at quarterback?
Now that we’ve gone through two full seasons with Jones, as well as two different coaching staffs, you have to wonder if Jones is still their long-term solution. He’s played in 27 games, compiling just a 62.2 percent completion-rate, 6.6 yards per attempt, and a 35:39 touchdown to turnover ratio (22 interceptions, 17 lost fumbles). The Giants defense took strides in the right direction with Joe Judge as the head coach, so how often will they have a pick (No. 11 overall) this close to the top of the draft? This is a conversation that the front office is certainly having.
New York Jets – Will the Jets trade out of the No. 2 overall pick?
We’ve seen plenty of players succeed once they’ve been removed from the reigns of Adam Gase; is Sam Darnold next, or will the Jets simply choose to move in another direction? The Jets are far from contending and have plenty of defensive talent hitting free agency, so we could see them trade back to accumulate some picks to help rebuild the roster. This will be a big topic of conversation as we lead up to the draft, and if they don’t trade out of that spot, do they decide to trade Darnold?
Philadelphia Eagles – How will they move on from Carson Wentz?
This is going to be an interesting one. Wentz carries a $34.7 million cap hit in 2021, and it’s not as if they can cut him, as there would be a ridiculous $59.2 million in dead cap. There are tons of analysts giving their take on how the Eagles and Wentz can make this work, but Wentz really doesn’t have to do anything considering the cap penalties the Eagles would incur. Sure, he wants to play somewhere, but not many teams are going to be willing to inherit his contract. Given that Jalen Hurts didn’t play particularly well to close out the year, this could get interesting.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Do they let JuJu Smith-Schuster walk in free agency?
Some will say they’re surely going to with Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and James Washington around, but they’re all perimeter-based receivers. Johnson would make the most sense, but knowing he generates separation on the perimeter, they may not want to change much there. Claypool can probably benefit in the slot, but there’s no guarantee that’s where they want him. They’re also a team that’s highly competitive right now, so starting over with another receiver might not appeal to them. If Smith-Schuster does leave, we could see both Johnson and Claypool drafted as top-24 receivers next year.
San Francisco 49ers – Can both Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson be fantasy viable options?
We’ve continually tried to guess how the 49ers running backs would get divided, and while it seemed like Mostert locked down the primary role, Wilson played extremely well down the stretch. With both Jerick McKinnon and Tevin Coleman unrestricted free agents, the guessing game might be over, as there should be enough value for both running backs to be considered in fantasy drafts. The other question that I’d ask about the 49ers is this: Does this offense pass enough to support two top-30 wide receivers and a top-three tight end? Brandon Aiyuk looked mighty good his rookie year, but we can’t forget most of his production came without George Kittle in the lineup and with Deebo Samuel continually playing through some sort of injury.
Seattle Seahawks – Do they re-sign Chris Carson?
This obviously has major fantasy implications, as Rashaad Penny would be atop the depth chart if they moved on from Carson. It should be noted that Carlos Hyde will be joining Carson in free agency. The Seahawks backups did a good job when Carson was out mid-season, as both Alex Collins and DeeJay Dallas filled-in admirably. While Carson is a very good running back, no one should be surprised to see them move on.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Was 2020 a short-term solution?
We had to know when they brought in Tom Brady that they were “going for it” right now. After watching him play at a high level in his first year of the new offense, do they continue to go with the rent-a-player route? Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski were both on one-year deals, while Chris Godwin is headed towards free agency. Knowing that O.J. Howard might not be ready by the start of next year, so we’re suddenly asking ourselves who Brady will be throwing to. It’ll be interesting to see where their priorities lie. Who knows, maybe they sign James White in 2021…
Tennessee Titans – They aren’t going to let both Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith walk, right?
The offense is the strength of this football team, so why screw up a good thing? Well, they have a ton of holes on defense and it might take some juggling to make things work. They chose not to exercise Davis’ fifth-year option before the year, but now coming off a career year, they might want to re-think letting him walk, as their wide receiver group is very slim. Smith is a phenomenal athlete but one who seems underused in this offense. It’ll be interesting to see how the Titans front office handles them.
Washington Football Team – Who will be the quarterback for this team in 2021?
Yes, Alex Smith has done an admirable job filling in this season, but if you were to place a slightly above-average starter on this team, they would’ve had a real shot in the playoffs. Their defense is ferocious and young, while Ron Rivera brought out the best in them. The issue is that they’re not going to be picking inside the top-18 unless they trade up, which is possible. Finding the long-term solution at quarterback needs to be atop the Football Team’s list of priorities.