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Best Ball Rookies To Avoid Following NFL Draft (2021 Fantasy Football)

by Skyler Carlin | Featured Writer
May 7, 2021

The 2021 NFL Draft has commenced, giving us a better glimpse of what to expect from certain rookies given their landing spots. With the draft now behind us, fantasy football drafts are beginning to occur, and best ball drafts are becoming even more popular in the community.

While it’s still early, and training camps can alter our thinking on specific guys, it’s never too early to begin forming opinions on how rookies will perform in the upcoming season. Ahead of the borderline-addictive amount of best ball drafts that you will be taking part in this offseason, these are a few rookies that I will be avoiding in the majority of my best-ball leagues.

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Travis Etienne (RB – JAC)
Last season, we witnessed James Robinson seize the entirety of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ workload in the backfield following the release of Leonard Fournette. Robinson, an undrafted running back out of Illinois State, would shatter the undrafted rookie record for most yards from scrimmage with 1,414. Amid his finish as RB7 in half-PPR formats, Robinson appeared to be a diamond in the rough for the Jaguars, which would allow them to address other positions early in the draft, right? Wrong.

Urban Meyer thought it would be a fantastic idea to crush our dreams of seeing Robinson as an RB1 again in 2021. Besides bringing in veteran Carlos Hyde this offseason, the Jaguars took Travis Etienne in the first round of the draft, reuniting him with Trevor Lawrence. To make the matter even worse, Meyer described Etienne as a guy that could fill their third-down role at the running back position.

Some may say that there’s no way that Meyer used first-round draft capital on a running back just for him to have an inconsistent role. To that point, I’m hesitant to give Meyer the benefit of the doubt, especially since he shared that Etienne wasn’t Jacksonville’s first choice with the No. 25th overall pick. At the least, Etienne is going to have a receiving role carved out immediately, and his price isn’t too steep just yet. That being said, given his current rank on FantasyPros’ Best Ball Rankings, I’d much rather put my trust into Kareem Hunt, Myles Gaskin, and Chase Edmonds for slightly cheaper as they all have a better chance of earning larger workloads in their respective offenses.

Kadarius Toney (WR – NYG)
In the hours leading up to the draft, it became apparent that the New York Giants were looking to bolster the offensive unit around Daniel Jones even more after adding Kenny Golladay and Kyle Rudolph in free agency. The Giants reportedly had their sights on Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith in hopes to give Jones another vertical threat in the passing game. However, the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles negotiated a trade that would allow the Eagles to jump the Giants, allowing them to steal Smith from New York.

For the first time in his executive career, Dave Gettleman decided to trade back, which positioned the Chicago Bears to select Justin Fields with the No. 11 overall pick. As for the Giants, they elected to stay put at the 20th overall selection to snag a wide receiver in Kadarius Toney, who Meyer was targeting for the Jaguars at No. 25 before taking Etienne. Toney has a ton of upside – especially in the slot – after playing just one full season at the wide receiver position at Florida.

While the potential is there for Toney to grow into an explosive playmaker, he joins a crowded pass-catching room with Golladay, Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard, Saquon Barkley, Evan Engram, and Rudolph. Not to mention, the rookie wideout will have Jason Garrett as his offensive coordinator. I have little to no confidence in the Giants figuring out how to utilize Toney to the best of his abilities in his first season.

Nico Collins (WR – HOU)
One of the more intriguing wide receivers coming into the 2021 NFL Draft was Nico Collins out of Michigan. Collins didn’t have the college production that some would like, but it was clear that his lackluster numbers were due to the dire quarterback situations he dealt with at Michigan. When watching film on Collins, his ability to make plays down the field was guaranteed to catch certain teams’ eyes.

Unfortunately for us though, Collins landed in no man’s land with the Houston Texans in the draft. If Deshaun Watson was going to be the definitive starter for the Texans in Week 1, Collins would be a late-round gem in fantasy football drafts. But with Watson’s legal issues, along with his fractured relationship with the Houston organization, Collins is a player worth avoiding this offseason.

With Watson likely out for the entirety of 2021, Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Finley, even Davis Mills could all see time under center for the Texans. Even though Collins could earn a starting job immediately, guys like Brandin Cooks, Andre Roberts, Randall Cobb, Isaiah Coulter, and Chris Conley could also beat him out on the depth chart. All signs point toward Collins being a player that is stuck in an unfortunate situation on an incompetent franchise.

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Skyler Carlin is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Skyler, check out his archive and follow him @skyler_carlin.