Dynasty Players to Buy (2021 Fantasy Football)
Each fantasy football dynasty team enters the year with unique expectations. Your group could be rebuilding after winning a few championships or might be top-heavy, lacking the depth to get through the rigorous bye weeks. Regardless of the direction of your team in 2021, it will be imperative that you continue to build toward the ultimate goal – winning that championship. Below are players to target who fit the mold for various situations your 2021 dynasty club faces and the expected cost to acquire those players.
Win Now Mode
You’ve put in the elbow grease to work your roster to near perfection; now you need that one piece to put you over the top. Ezekiel Elliott is that missing piece. Elliott has tormented you for five seasons by helping someone else’s team make the playoffs while you stream waiver wire RBs every week. He has never been available via trade, but 2021 could be the year his manager is ready to move on, and you need to be the one to make a move.
Dallas’ top running back currently sits as RB10, according to dynasty ECR. 2020 wasn’t the best performance we have seen from Ezekiel, as the Cowboys struggled to put a healthy offensive line together to open up holes. Before the first game, center Travis Frederick retired, and La’el Collins missed the entire season at right tackle due to hip surgery. The bad news continued when left tackle Tyron Smith’s neck cost him all but two games and guard Zack Martin tried to play through a calf injury, finally succumbing to it after ten games. Despite all of this, Elliott found a way to run at a 4.0 YPA clip. If Dallas can put a healthy line out there in 2021, that number could quickly return to the 4.5 to 5.0 YPA Ezekiel has delivered over his career.
Dak Prescott will be back from injury under center after playing just four and a half games in 2020. With Dak at the helm, Elliott’s manager will benefit from his inclusion in the passing game. He’s drawn more than 70 targets every year since 2018, chipping in with 77, 54, and 52 receptions, respectively.
Combine his high touch floor, returning QB, and with improved offensive line conditions, Ezekiel Elliott is due for a much better 2021. He isn’t a long-term play because of his large career workload and turning the RB age corner (26), so his dynasty cost should be depressed. Package a ’21 2nd round pick with one of last season’s rookie RBs (think A.J. Dillon or Ke’Shawn Vaughn) and get yourself that missing piece to your 2021 championship roster.
Dynasty managers not in a position to win this year need to examine their rosters to determine how to rebuild or retool them in the most efficient way. One proven method is to acquire skilled, young players who failed to live up to their 2020 hype and appear to be buried behind an established veteran of the same position. Parris Campbell of the Indianapolis Colts fits this description perfectly.
Campbell was on every dynasty buy list last spring. His athletic profile screams productive NFL wide receiver if healthy. Before addressing his injuries, check out his measurables. Parris’s six foot one, 205-pound body, and six-foot five-inch wingspan give him a nice catch radius, and his 40-inch vertical allows him to compete for 50/50 balls with opposing cornerbacks. He’s a blazer, running a 4.31-second 40-yard dash, who can be among the top YAC wideouts in the league if his new QB, Carson Wentz, can find him in space over the middle.
The Colts resigned T.Y. Hilton on a one-year deal and returned Michael Pittman and Zach Pascal to Wentz’s target tree. However, none of those options fit Frank Reich’s crossing route scheme like Parris Campbell does. He is a dynamic threat if he can stay on the field and skilled enough to blow away his current WR55 dynasty ECR.
Now, back to Campbell’s health. He underwent knee surgery after Week 2 last season, resulting from a nasty collision and not a typical non-contact knee injury. Previously, Parris has undergone foot, hand, and sports hernia surgeries, all helping lower the cost of adding him to your rebuild. He will be fully healed from the knee procedure in time for camp, so ship a 2021 2nd round pick and bring his elite skills onto your rebuild.
The best dynasty teams can handle injuries and byes without batting an eye. They are built without a wasted roster slot, containing inspiring depth at each position. Taking your roster to that next level involves making sly moves in the offseason to acquire the underappreciated assets of other teams. One such asset is San Francisco 49ers RB Jeff Wilson Jr.
On a recent episode of the FantasyPros Dynasty Football Podcast, Ray Garvin called adding Wilson to your team “gross.” I’ll speak for Ray when I say gross is a term of endearment. Kyle Shanahan has a knack for getting the best out of his running backs. Despite the presence of Raheem Mostert and Wayne Gallman in San Francisco, Wilson has carved out a role in the offense and performed well when asked to expand it.
Jeff had 13 touches inside the 20-yard line, scoring five of his ten TDs when the 49ers had the ball in the red zone. Compare that to Mostert’s five carries for nine yards in the same situations, and Wilson is a touchdown waiting to happen. He isn’t the sexiest name, but he is instrumental in those middle weeks where the best dynasty teams separate themselves from the competition. A dynasty ECR of RB51 means you won’t need more than a 2021 3rd round pick to get the deal done.
Taking a Flyer
Every dynasty roster has room for at least one deep dive flyer. Churning those last few spots on your bench can brew an unexpectedly delicious breakout
beer player! I like to use these slots to collect good performers on bad teams who could be one move away from being a regular in my lineup. Collin Johnson of the Jacksonville Jaguars is a WR flyer I wouldn’t mind investing a position in.
In Weeks 12-14 last year, Johnson drew 17 targets, had 195 yards receiving and a touchdown. That mini-breakout ended with a hamstring injury in Week 15, but he showed his 6’6″ size plays in the NFL. Those solid contributions came with Mike Glennon at QB, and Trevor Lawrence will be an upgrade for Collin and all Jags WRs.
The Jacksonville WR depth chart is chock-full of injury concerns. D.J. Chark fought chest, rib, back, ankle, and shin injuries in 2020. Marvin Jones Jr. has dealt with leg injuries his entire career. There’s more than a slight chance that Johnson could see an extended run at some point in 2021 with the starters. His dynasty ECR is WR105, so no team may even roster him in your league. If he is, a future 3rd or 4th round pick is worth the opportunity to see what he turns into.
SuperFlex QB Needs
Prying away a QB1 in SuperFlex leagues is a near impossibility. However, if there is one QB that you can obtain this offseason, it is Carson Wentz. His dynasty ECR is QB16, putting just outside where QB1s are considered. Perhaps the 2020 souring has shifted Wentz’s managers’ opinions on the former MVP. Kevin Wheeler of The Draft Zone sums up Carson’s 2020 in Philadelphia in brutal detail:
“Wentz in 2020… – 6.6 Accuracy rating (33rd in the NFL)
– 70.6 True passer rating (30th)
– 30 Interceptable passes (Tied for 2nd)
– 57.3% completion percentage (34th in the NFL)
– 32% pressured completion percentage (32nd)
– 22 Money throws Eyes (14th)
– 31.6% Deep ball completion percentage (27th)
He was a 63.7% passer, that averaged 253 yards per game, with 100 total TDs in 56 games coming into 2020. In which he still had 21 total TDs in 12 games.
Now he enters an offense that Rivers went 4169, 24 and 11 in 2020 after he had 20 INTs in 2019. (@DWZMemphis)”
Now Wentz is reunited with Frank Reich, behind an elite offensive line. He has an excellent receiving corps, led by veteran stabilizer T.Y. Hilton. The Colts rushing attack will help to give Carson cleaner pockets and more one-on-one matchups to exploit.
The cost won’t be cheap, but in any other situation, a QB1 is untradeable. Aligning with Mike Tagliere’s Dynasty Trade Value Chart, you should be willing to part with a 2021 2nd rounder and an injury-risk WR2 (think Will Fuller or Marquise Brown or Jarvis Landry) to get the QB points necessary to compete in SuperFlex.
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup, based on accurate consensus projections – to our Trade Analyzer – that allows you to instantly find out if a trade offer benefits you or your opponent – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.