Best Ball Risers and Fallers (2021 Fantasy Football)
The first wave of free agency (pre-June 1) and the NFL Draft are in the books. Now’s the time to check in on risers and fallers. Rather than anecdotally discussing whose stock is up and whose is down, this piece will highlight whose average draft position (ADP) and ranks within their position have changed. The ADP data is from BestBall10 12-team non-auction drafts.
The ADP moves for Justin Herbert and Russell Wilson is small. However, both move up the quarterback rankings, ahead of a couple of fallers, for obvious reasons. Rookies Justin Fields and Trey Lance now officially have homes, and both have winnable jobs or reasonable paths to playing time this year, enhancing the outlooks for each in the wake of the NFL Draft.
Ryan Fitzpatrick finds himself atop the depth chart for the Football Team with some intriguing weapons to throw to. Speaking of weapons, the Dolphins have added a couple of vertical threats to the passing game, giving Tua Tagovailoa no excuses in year two.
Aaron Rodgers is disgruntled with the Packers' front office and wants out of town. Still, I don't think gamers are taking his disdain seriously enough, continuing to select him as a top-10 quarterback. Deshaun Watson's facing civil lawsuits that threaten him playing at all in 2021. He's off my draft board.
The Titans watched receivers Corey Davis, oft-injured Adam Humphries, and tight end Jonnu Smith leave in free agency. They didn't invest meaningful resources to fill those holes. Further, offensive coordinator Arthur Smith left to become the head coach of the Falcons. Ryan Tannehill's fall is warranted.
I'm perplexed by the falls of Derek Carr and Ben Roethlisberger. My rankings are closer to their previous ADPs. Cam Newton's fall is seemingly the product of the Patriots spending a first-round pick on Mac Jones. I'm not going out of my way to draft Newton, but I view him as a fringe top-25 quarterback, even with Jones in the fold.
Giovani Bernard is no longer around to siphon passing-game work away from Joe Mixon, and Mixon's shot up the draft board. Najee Harris landed with the Steelers in round one of the NFL Draft, and he's set to be an every-down bell-cow for them.
Chris Carson's moved up. Still, he's a bargain, as I recently discussed him among my Best Ball Early-Round Draft Targets. Myles Gaskin and Mike Davis are a pair of players I highlighted as Best Ball Players to Target Following the NFL Draft.
Trey Sermon is a player I analyzed as a Best Ball Mid-Round Target. Chase Edmonds avoided the Cardinals, adding a running back in the draft, and Michael Carter landed in a spot with the Jets, where he has a path to a meaningful role in his rookie season.
James Robinson's and Melvin Gordon's stocks plummeted with their respective clubs spending premium picks on the running back position. I recently declared them as Best Ball Players to Avoid Following the NFL Draft.
In a crowded backfield, Ronald Jones is in a committee with returning Leonard Fournette and newcomer Bernard. So much for a starting gig for A.J. Dillon, the Packers re-signed Aaron Jones.
Jeffery Wilson will start the year on the PUP list after having surgery to repair a torn meniscus. Kenneth Gainwell and Chuba Hubbard landed in less-than-ideal spots in the draft. Although I still like Gainwell a great deal in best ball formats, his pass-catching chops play well in a point-per-reception format. Further, you don't have to play the guessing game with when he'll have good games and when he'll have a clunker in best balls.
The lack of splashy additions to Tennessee's passing attack is a boon for A.J. Brown's target outlook. He'll receive as many as he can handle.
I'm somewhat perplexed by the meteoric rise of Je'Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith, and Jaylen Waddle. Seemingly every major outlet covering the draft projected them to go right around where they did in drafts. In the cases of Chase and Waddle, many outlets projected them to go exactly where they went. While I'm baffled, I agree with the rise.
No more Sammy Watkins and no meaningful investment in free agency or the NFL Draft to replace him opens the door for a full-fledged breakout for Mecole Hardman. I suspect his rise isn't over, nor should it be.
Davante Adams' fall is clearly a product of Rodgers' agitation with the front office. I'd probably drop him a little more in the rankings. Tee Higgins' and Tyler Boyd's falls coincide with the rise and addition of Chase to the receiving corps. I still love both.
Waddle rises, and Will Fuller and DeVante Parker fall in the ADP rankings as part of the Dolphins' suddenly crowded receiving room. I'm not going out of my way to target any of them. However, I'm not opposed to snagging the cheapest of them, depending on how my draft shakes out.
I love Laviska Shenault's versatility. However, I'm skeptical of Urban Meyer's transition to the NFL. His insistence on cross-training Travis Etienne causes further reason for concern for Shenault. I can't envision myself using a top-100 pick on the second-year wideout.
Smith steps in as the new No. 1 receiver in what's likely to be a run-first Eagles' offense. Jalen Reagor's fall is rightful. I'm not touching Jamison Crowder or Christian Kirk. Both the Jets and Cardinals spent second-round picks at receiver on players Elijah Moore and Rondale Moore, who are likely to overtake them on the depth chart.
Kyle Pitts belonged where he's being drafted now all along. Gerald Everett and Kyle Rudolph left the Rams and Vikings, respectively, as free agents. Tyler Higbee and Irv Smith benefit from their departures. Adam Trautman has a chance to take a step forward in his sophomore campaign, with Jared Cook now a member of the Chargers. The latter fell one spot in the tight end rankings, but his ADP rose 19 picks. I'm a big fan of Cook this year. Anthony Firkser is a great late-round target for tight end-needy gamers, with Smith now in New England on the Patriots.
Noah Fant's ADP has actually risen, so he technically doesn't belong in the table. Having said that, he fits the spirit, falling two spots in the positional ranks. Like the aforementioned Adams, Robert Tonyan's fall is definitely related to the Rodgers situation.
The Patriots invested heavily financially in free agency at tight end, signing both Smith and Hunter Henry. I'm avoiding both at their ADPs. Hayden Hurst is an easy fade now that he's the second tight end on his own team, behind Pitts.
The Steelers used a second-round pick on Pat Freiermuth, explaining Eric Ebron's fall. I'm not sure what's prompting the slide for Dawson Knox.