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Best Ball Rookies to Target Following the NFL Draft (2021 Fantasy Football)

May 5, 2021

The 2021 NFL Draft class has arrived, toting hope and excitement in cities and fantasy football best ball chat rooms alike. Some of the rookies will carry a high cost before they ever play a snap, while others will slide under the radar, providing excellent late-round value in your drafts. Below are a few sensational selections you should be looking to make in your next best ball soiree.

All referenced Average Draft Position data is sourced from Underdog Fantasy as of May 3, 2021. Find out how you can WIN a FREE SHOT at $1 MILLION from Underdog Fantasy. 

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Najee Harris (RB – PIT) | ADP 25.4 | RB16
Everyone saw this match in the making. Alabama running back Najee Harris and the Pittsburgh Steelers backfield were on a collision course set for the Cleveland Draft stage. Pittsburgh has struggled to find consistency from the RB position since their separation from Le’Veon Bell following the 2015 season. Now, they have their man. Harris’s large stature and soft hands indicate the blueprint of a rare three-down back in the NFL. He is violent when attacking the holes and shows excellent balance after the first contact ensuring he will be among the positions best in yards after contact. Additionally, his willingness to pass block will only add to his snap count. There are plenty of reasons he should be drafted in the top three rounds. Do not overthink this.

Ja’Marr Chase (WR – CIN) | ADP 56.0 | WR25
Joe Burrow has reunited with his former LSU star wideout in Cincinnati. Ja’Marr Chase appears to be a luxury pick for the Bengals, who instead could have added protection in front of their franchise quarterback. However, Chase is a near-lock to have a successful NFL career. His hand skills and acceleration will prove the Bengals front office right immediately. He will dominate 50/50 balls and turn broken plays into scores. A bonus to landing in Cincy, Burrow spreads the ball around in this offense. Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, and A.J. Green all garnered more than 100 targets in 2020. Now, with Green gone, Chase will slide into a prominent role in their scheme. Count on him in best-ball leagues to provide consistent scoring throughout the year.

DeVonta Smith (WR – PHI) | ADP 92.5 | WR43
Philadelphia Eagles fans will quickly find out what DeVonta Smith lacks in size, he makes up in skill. He is an elite route runner throughout the field and can make plays from both the slot and outside. His versatility will help young quarterback Jalen Hurts establish trust early on with Smith. He creates separation from corners by quickly shifting and actively attacking the throws. His smooth hands are another reason Hurts will find a connection from go. Philadelphia desperately needed a reliable WR, and Smith will prove to be just the prescription for the team and your fantasy squad.

Trey Lance (QB – SF) | ADP 141.0 | QB20
Quarterbacks are low-priority investments in best-ball formats, and those with uncertain playing time are even further depressed in opportunity cost, like San Francisco 49ers rookie Trey Lance. Currently, Jimmy Garoppolo sits atop the San Fran depth chart, but Lance is lurking. Kyle Shanahan made no bones about his adoration for the young man out of North Dakota State. Many view Lance as the highest risk-reward selection of all the rookie gunslingers, making him the perfect target in best-ball leagues. The investment is moderate in Round 15, and with a ceiling nearing Kyler Murray’s, he could be a league winner. Konami Code QBs are rarely available this late in fantasy drafts. Best balls are made for high upside plays like Lance, and if the 49ers move Garoppolo before the season, this ADP will skyrocket. Cash in on the value now.

Terrace Marshall (WR – CAR) | ADP 149.0 | WR63
Panthers Offensive Coordinator Joe Brady was not going to let his former wide receiver fall any further once he remained on the board at pick 59 in the 2021 NFL Draft. Terrace Marshall was an integral part of Brady’s system at LSU in 2019 and now joins him in Carolina. Marshall is also Head Coach Matt Rhule’s first offensive draft pick since taking over the Panthers before the 2020 season. The coaches see his 6’3″ size, large catch radius, and playmaking capabilities as the stuff of a true WR1. Carolina already runs out Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, and Robbie Anderson, leaving questions about how involved the rookie will be in year one. However, this offense still supported 97 targets to Curtis Samuel, now of the Washington Football Team, while feeding Moore, Anderson, and McCaffery’s fill-in Mike Davis plenty. Eighty to ninety targets are not out of the question. Marshall’s understanding of Joe Brady’s system can only help to funnel Sam Darnold’s throws his way.

Dyami Brown (WR – WFT) | ADP 174.5 | WR73
Late round picks in best ball drafts are entirely about swinging for the fences. Dyami Brown is a home run waiting to happen. Washington Football Team’s wide receivers, Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel welcome the rookie with open arms, as FantasyPros’ Kyle Yates described Dyami Brown’s impact on the current WFT WRs:

Brown’s a dynamic deep threat WR that should open things up underneath well for Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel in Washington. This fit is more so about benefiting the other receivers in this offense versus being outstanding for Brown and his fantasy stock, but he’s going to certainly have some big performances here or there. Brown’s going to have some FLEX appeal for Dynasty rosters right away.

Kyle Yates – FantasyPros
Those big performances can be an asset to your overall best ball team performance. There is no deciding which week to put the dynamic wideout in your lineup. When he goes off, you win. Brown is the quintessential end game upside selection.

Amari Rodgers (WR – GB) | ADP 201.3 | WR86
Green Bay finally added a weapon to Aaron Rodgers’ offense via an early-round draft pick. Amari Rodgers, a third-rounder out of Clemson, fits the Packers’ puzzle as a slot receiver perfectly. The wide receiver should provide the offense with versatility and big-play potential. Whether he is involved in the jet sweep game or quick screen passes, Amari Rodgers will be one touch from a score almost anywhere on the field. He is tough to tackle in the open field and will not be scared of contact over the middle. Rodgers to Rodgers could be a very cagey stack in best-ball leagues in 2021.

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Aaron Pagliaro is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Aaron, check out his archive and follow him @FantasyTriage.

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