Skip to main content

9 Must-Have Players (Fantasy Football)

Must-have players are generally the athletes who some would argue are heavily undervalued. These are often players who had their potential last season capped by an injury, either to themselves or a teammate. This label also includes rookies, disappointments, or low-pedigree guys who are in positive situations or athletes who are now in different schemes that could provide them with more opportunity. The “must-have” moniker isn’t one to take lightly. These are the potential league winners, the guys you’re willing to reach for, the players you want all the shares of, and the names you should write on a sticky note and do further research on. Read on to check out who our featured analysts plan on selecting in all their drafts after the first three rounds.

Complete mock drafts using our free draft simulator partner-arrow

Q. What one player outside the top 30 in the half-PPR expert consensus are you hoping to end up with in all your leagues and why?

CeeDee Lamb (WR – DAL): Consensus Rank: 41st Overall | WR17
“Lamb is going to replicate what Chris Godwin did in 2019 and what Calvin Ridley did in 2020. He’s the next great breakout player and the leap is going to be massive. He managed to be top 24 in receiving yards (WR22), yards after catch (WR23), and touchdowns (WR24) in his first year, while having QBs like Andy Dalton, Garrett Gilbert, and Ben DiNucci (yes, that’s not a typo). With Dak Prescott healthy (five games), Lamb played in 71% of snaps and was the WR11 in fantasy points and the WR13 in targets (39). The second-year WR has the upside to be a top-10 wideout and his consensus ADP right now is WR19 as a late fourth-round pick … that’s what I call a steal.”
– Mauricio Gutierrez (Estadio Fantasy)

CeeDee Lamb showed incredible chemistry with Dak Prescott right out of the gate in 2020. Despite Prescott’s injury, Lamb still managed to haul in 74 receptions and nearly 1,000 yards with 111 targets. Playing out of the slot with a healthy Prescott, Lamb could easily be a WR1 who’s being drafted as a WR2. Last year was just a teaser. This year we get the theatrical release of Lamb on the league!”
– Joe Pisapia (FantasyPros)

Javonte Williams (RB – DEN): Consensus Rank: 77th Overall | RB33
“Williams is someone I want on all my fantasy rosters in 2021. The Broncos traded up early in the second round of this year’s NFL Draft to grab the rookie out of North Carolina, which made him Denver’s highest-drafted running back since taking Knowshon Moreno No. 12 overall in 2009. The early-round investment indicates that Williams should be heavily involved in this Broncos offense from the get-go, and with Melvin Gordon not participating in voluntary OTAs, the 21-year-old has a real shot at separating himself and winning the job outright this summer. Williams led the FBS last season in missed/broken tackles with 75 on just 157 rushing attempts, so the linebacker-turned-running back has plenty of toughness to succeed in the NFL right away. He’s currently ranked as the RB33 in the expert consensus, which is a fantastic value for a running back who might start Week 1 or shortly after.”
– Jacob W. Dunne (New Life Fantasy)

Ja’Marr Chase (WR – CIN): Consensus Rank: 105th Overall | WR39
“It’s players like Chase who have challenged the outdated belief that ‘receivers take time to produce for fantasy.’ At least one rookie WR has finished in the top 24 at the position in each of the last five seasons (with two finishing in the top eight). This list includes superstars such as Michael Thomas and Justin Jefferson, however, none of these prospects received a higher college grade than Chase (as per ESPN). The fifth overall pick has the opportunity to continue this trend and reignite the flame with Joe Burrow that torched the college football world. Chase has the talent, chemistry, and opportunity in 2021 to be a league winner, but don’t just take my advice, the ECR has Chase ranked 35 spots higher than his current ADP. He’s a top-15 WR for me in 2021.”
– Ellis Johnson (True North Fantasy Football)

Brandon Aiyuk (WR – SF): Consensus Rank: 62nd Overall | WR25
“Aiyuk was one of the best wide receivers in the NFL to close last season, averaging 15.2 fantasy points per game from Week 7 to Week 16. Jimmy Garoppolo should be healthy to start the year and if he is injured again or plays poorly, they have the third pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Trey Lance, waiting in the wings. I think the 49ers’ offense is going to be more consistent than last year and Aiyuk should benefit from being healthy in the preseason, not landing on the COVID-19 list, and just having a year under his belt. I think he is a great bargain as the WR25 and I would be thrilled to have him and his upside as my WR3 without having to spend a higher pick on him.”
– Derek Lofland (FantasyPros)

Robert Woods (WR – LAR): Consensus Rank: 47th Overall | WR18
“Woods has done nothing but outperform his ADP every single year for the past several seasons. He’s now finished as the WR10, the WR17, and WR13 the past three years and that was with Jared Goff as his QB. Now, Woods has Matthew Stafford in town and this offense could be on its way to going nuclear. Stafford should lean heavily on Woods this upcoming season and there’s the potential that we see Woods put up career-high numbers across the board. He’s going to be undervalued yet again in 2021 — for unknown reasons — and that’s a perfect situation to add him to your fantasy football roster at a discount.”
– Kyle Yates (FantasyPros)

Julio Jones (WR – TEN): Consensus Rank: 38th Overall | WR13
“Getting Jones in the fourth round just feels like theft. Sure, wide receiver is deep, but getting him in the fourth round allows you to snag a couple running backs and maybe even a tight end with your first three picks. You think Jones has fallen off? Think again. Did you know he averaged a career-high 11.34 yards per target in 2020? Among wide receivers who saw the 68 targets that he did, his 11.34 yards per target ranks 16th all-time. And dare I say he gets an upgrade at quarterback? Oh yeah, I did.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

Cooper Kupp (WR – LAR): Consensus Rank: 50th Overall | WR21
“Kupp had just two fewer catches in 2020 compared to 2019 but saw his fantasy value plummet. The main culprit was a precipitous drop in touchdowns (from 10 to three), but he also finished with nearly 200 fewer yards. I am bullish on a big bounceback in 2021 mainly because he’ll have Matthew Stafford throwing to him rather than Jared Goff. If Stafford can stay healthy, Kupp should benefit in a big way and he could become a fantasy force once again, especially in PPR leagues.”
– Mark Ross (Athlon Sports)

Trey Sermon (RB – SF): Consensus Rank: 106th Overall | RB42
“This is the year that a ‘Modified Zero RB’ build is optimal. That means taking one workhorse early and then waiting several rounds for an RB2 with upside who may have competition for touches. Sermon is the ideal choice as a rookie in a dynamic 49ers offense that can generate fantasy points for almost any RB. Injuries are already mounting in that backfield and the team traded up to acquire him because they believe in his three-down ability.”
– Pierre Camus (RotoBaller)

Deebo Samuel (WR – SF): Consensus Rank: 87th Overall | WR34
“When you can find a WR in the seventh or eighth round of your draft who has WR1/2 potential, you jump on that player. This year that is Samuel for me. Especially if you go RB-heavy early, he has the potential to average eight to 10 targets a game. Yes, the QB situation is a concern, but if he is drafted as your WR3 or WR4, LOVE THAT VALUE.”
– Ken Zalis (Pressbox)

Thank you to the experts for giving us their must-have players. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter and subscribe to our podcast below for advice all year round.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | SoundCloud | iHeartRadio

More Articles

Rival Fantasy NFL: Week 13

Rival Fantasy NFL: Week 13

fp-headshot by Raju Byfield | 3 min read
Fantasy Football Storylines: D’Andre Swift, CJ Stroud, Tyreek Hill, Evan Engram (Week 13)

Fantasy Football Storylines: D’Andre Swift, CJ Stroud, Tyreek Hill, Evan Engram (Week 13)

fp-headshot by Bo McBrayer | 3 min read
The Primer: Week 13 Edition (2023 Fantasy Football)

The Primer: Week 13 Edition (2023 Fantasy Football)

fp-headshot by Derek Brown | 15+ min read
NFL DFS Thursday Night Showdown Primer: Week 13 (Seahawks vs. Cowboys)

NFL DFS Thursday Night Showdown Primer: Week 13 (Seahawks vs. Cowboys)

fp-headshot by Josh Shepardson | 1 min read

About Author

Current Article

time 4 min read

Rival Fantasy NFL: Week 13

Next Up - Rival Fantasy NFL: Week 13

Next Article   arrow-image