8 Players Trending Up or Down (2021 Fantasy Football)
Is it April already? Hard to believe it, but I’ve been blasting heavy metal with the windows down in my car and drinking cheap beer while doing Spring Cleaning. The signs are all there, so I have to concede that we’re four months into 2021, and fantasy football draft season is beginning to get underway. It won’t begin in earnest until August, but early drafts and chatter from the fantasy community have identified some early risers and fallers. There’s no exact science to these risers and fallers. These are just my early observations on some players who have shot up draft boards or experienced a precipitous fall from the ranks of the elite. Here are eight players trending up or down in early fantasy drafts.
ADP data taken from Fantasy Football Calculator (April 9)
Austin Ekeler (RB – LAC): ADP 27
Ekeler’s value will likely continue to rise throughout the offseason, and it’s completely warranted. Over the last three seasons, he’s racked up 86 scrimmage yards and 4.6 receptions per contest while compiling at least 900 scrimmage yards in each campaign. Fully healthy in 2021, the sky is the limit for Ekeler as the Chargers’ lead back for a complete season.
Joe Mixon (RB – CIN): ADP 32
The Mixon hype train is gaining steam rapidly, and the biggest catalyst appears to be the release of longtime backup and pass-catching specialist Giovani Bernard. While Mixon’s opportunities could increase as a result of Gio’s release, it’s unlikely they’ll skyrocket. Mixon was a workhorse back when healthy last season, and those who were already touting him as a target got even more ammo with the Bengals’ recent roster move. Mixon’s ADP will likely be inflated even more by the time fantasy draft season begins in earnest.
Terry McLaurin (WR – WFT): ADP 39
McLaurin is on a rocket ship to the moon with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, right? His ADP is early fourth round, and he’s being taken on average as the 14th wideout off the board. The arrival of Cutis Samuel into the fold could eat into McLaurin’s production, but his outlook is still on the rise. F1 has averaged better than 1,000 receiving yards through his first two seasons, doing so with sub-par quarterback play. As strange as it is to say, Fitzpatrick should offer the best quarterback play of McLaurin’s career.
TJ Hockenson (TE – DET): ADP 64
Detroit lost Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones and switched to a quarterback who’s more prone to throw to tight ends, so Hock’s rising ADP is well warranted. He should be one of the top two options in the receiving game for Detroit this season and could be the leading pass-catcher if Jared Goff decides to lean heavily on him. Hockenson makes for an easy TE1 once again, so his sixth-round price tag may continue to climb.
Michael Thomas (WR – NO): ADP 25
A consensus first-round selection in 2020 drafts and a top-fiver in some, Thomas has fallen into the third round in early fantasy drafts. That position will change when the Saints announce a starting quarterback, but for now, it’s telling how far Thomas has fallen after his letdown season. It was hard to envision him giving an encore that would live up to his 2019 record-setting performance, but fantasy managers who spent an early pick on him last season might still feel spurned. When Thomas was on the field, he averaged fewer than eight targets per game for the first time in his career. His 55 receptions extrapolate to 125 for a 16-game season, which would have been his lowest total since his rookie campaign. Quarterback play will be a determining factor in next season’s success, but he’s far and away the WR1 on a team with a dearth of quality options in the receiving corps.
Julio Jones (WR – ATL): ADP 34
Last season was a disappointment, as Jones battled injuries throughout the year, but when healthy, he’s still an elite wideout. He played in only nine games in 2020, but his 16-game pace was 91/1,371/5 on 121 targets. Those aren’t the numbers of a receiver who’s fallen off by any means. I’m hoping against all hope that his draft price stays in this range by the time I get to my drafts, because this is a discount I’ll be exploiting!
Dallas Goedert (TE – PHI): ADP 134
Goedert’s ADP is actually higher than Zach Ertz‘s, which I can’t figure out for the life of me! Ertz battled injuries all season and looked like a shell of himself, forcing me to eat my words of praise that I spewed all offseason. The writing is on the wall for Ertz to play for another team in 2021, so the early returns on these two TE’s draft stock is perplexing. The position is extremeley volatile, but it Ertz me to see a fellow Zach being undervalued like this. I expect a reversal of fortunes for both players in the coming months.
Cam Newton (QB – NE): ADP 198
It’s still early in the rankings process for next season, but I’ve already hitched my wagon to Cam’s star. Last season’s struggles were in part due to Newton’s COVID diagnosis, and now that he’s healthy, he should be ready to rock and roll. The free-agent market was slim for signal callers, but Bill Belichick wouldn’t have paid Cam $15M and rolled out the Brinks truck for a slew of new offensive weapons if he didn’t believe in his quarterback. I like Cam as a borderline QB1 for 2021, and this isn’t the first or last time you’ll read something of mine that paints him in a wonderful fantasy light.
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