Players to Avoid Each Round Based on ADP (2021 Fantasy Football)
Average Draft Position (ADP) is a metric that heavily fluctuates during the fantasy offseason, as players get caught up in training camp hype that either raises or lowers their perceived value. Understanding which players to draft using FantasyPros’ Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) allows for fantasy managers to draft the best available player in each round rather than reaching too early on a favorite player. Here, I focus on a player to avoid at their current ADP in each round of a 15-round half-PPR 1QB redraft format in hopes of inspiring you to avoid overvalued players that have the potential to deflate your championship aspirations.
Aaron Jones (RB – GB): No. 11 overall (RB9)
Green Bay could experience a decline in its production in 2021, as the future of Aaron Rodgers continues to be unknown. The offseason is transitioning from OTAs into training camp beginning at the end of July, which creates an eight-week window of uncertainty and volatility within the Packers’ organization. With Rodgers under center in 2019 and 2020, Aaron Jones flourished as the RB1 for the Packers. He finished with over 1,000 rushing yards and saw at least 60 targets in both seasons, ending 2020 as the RB5 in half-PPR formats. His talent is off the charts, and his dual-threat skillset is a goldmine for fantasy points.
Aaron Jones becomes the biggest question mark in the first round of fantasy drafts. Not due to a lack of talent or opportunity, but rather the continuous uncertainty of their all-time great quarterback returning for the 2021 season. If Jordan Love or Blake Bortles wind up as the QB1 in Green Bay, opposing defenses will no longer need to respect Rodgers’ pinpoint deep-ball throws, allowing defensive coordinators to stack the box and crowd the line of scrimmage more often to plug potential running lanes. The Packers’ offense changes completely in this scenario, as it will bring down Jones’ efficiency running the ball. Let’s also not forget about the rise of AJ Dillon, who averaged 5.3 yards per carry during his rookie season and will have more experience in head coach Matt LaFleur’s system to absorb the 135 touches vacated by the departure of Jamaal Williams.
The longer it takes Rodgers to commit to the Packers, the less inclined I am to risk first-round draft capital on Jones. If you find yourself drafting at or near the turn in a snake draft, the elite RB1 options will likely already be off the board. You can wait to take an RB2 with RB1 upside like David Montgomery (RB20) in the third or fourth round and lock up an elite wide receiver like Stefon Diggs (WR3) or A.J. Brown (WR13) and pair either alpha wideout with the seemingly perennial TE1 Travis Kelce. RB1 prospects like Austin Ekeler (RB10) or Cam Akers (RB11) are sandwiched in between DeAndre Hopkins and Calvin Ridley, which makes it tempting to wait on a running back if you miss out on the early round studs. Aaron Jones is a stud, but the inability to confirm that Rodgers will be the Packers’ quarterback in 2021 makes him a massive risk with first-round draft capital, making him a fade at his current ADP.
Patrick Mahomes (QB-KC): No. 24 overall (QB1)
The second-round is too early to draft a quarterback in 1QB redraft leagues, even if it is Patrick Mahomes. Despite completing 390 passes for 4,740 yards and 38 touchdowns in 2020 and finishing as QB4, Mahomes underwhelmed with only 62 carries for 308 yards and two touchdowns in 15 games for the Chiefs. Unless Mahomes can manufacture another 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns like he did during his 2018 MVP season, you’re better off waiting to select a quarterback with equal high-end production opportunity later on in the draft.
If you yield on Mahomes, waiting to acquire an elite fantasy quarterback like Josh Allen (QB2), Kyler Murray (QB3), Dak Prescott (QB4), or Lamar Jackson (QB5) will pay dividends. Being patient with your quarterback allows you to take an alpha wide receiver or a strong RB2 that could blossom into an RB1, the players who tend to see the most targets within an offense. Remember, in any PPR format, targets reign supreme. Building your receivers and running backs up early is the best way to ensure a strong foundation for your lineup, particularly with the running back position. Running backs have proven shallow after the first three rounds in recent years, so waiting to address the position creates a high-risk, low-reward scenario. Remember, passing on Mahomes doesn’t mean you’ll miss an opportunity to draft an elite fantasy quarterback, as the next four prospects can be selected later in the fourth and fifth rounds.
Mahomes will continue to dominate under the tutelage of Andy Reid and the personnel rostered in Kansas City. However, I would much rather use a late second or early third-round selection on a stud player such as rookie RB Najee Harris (RB14) or WR Keenan Allen (WR10) due to both of them being the focal points of their offense, which translates to massive target share. I’ll take guaranteed target volume over any quarterback at this ADP, as there are plenty of phenomenal players available in this range that can single-handedly carry your lineup to a win. That’s a beautiful luxury to rely on during the rigors of pursuing a fantasy football championship.
Miles Sanders (RB-PHI): No. 33 overall (RB18)
Sanders had a disappointing 2020 season, in part due to injuries. However, I don’t foresee marginal improvement from the third-year running back in 2021. Despite being the featured back in a new offense that will look to implement a run-centric scheme under head coach Nick Sirianni and OC Shane Steichen, Sanders ranked 14th in rushing yards and was terrible in the receiving game, averaging a 53.8 Ctch% on 52 targets while failing to score a receiving touchdown.
The Eagles spent a fifth-round draft pick to select RB Kenneth Gainwell out of the University of Memphis. Gainwell is an explosive back with exceptional hands and will certainly be involved in passing downs and could steal some carries from Sanders, especially with a true dual-threat quarterback in Jalen Hurts. A quick receiving comparison shows Gainwell has a significant edge over Sanders, as the rookie back finished his final season at Memphis with 51 receptions for 610 yards and six touchdowns. When looking at Sanders’ production with his target share in 2020, he totaled 28 receptions for 197 yards and no touchdowns on 52 targets. This is terribly inefficient and could totally eliminate Sanders from being afforded a similar target share in 2021 with Gainwell ready to soak up targets. Philadelphia only targeted its backfield on 17.3 percent of its total targets, ranking 21st in the league under Doug Pederson.
The addition of Heisman-winning rookie WR DeVonta Smith, combined with a healthy offensive line, will transform the Eagles’ offense into a fast-paced, explosive unit compared to the sluggish and sloppy performances that resulted too often in 2020. Sanders will still get RB1 usage but could see valuable goal-line and passing involvement reduced with the additions of Gainwell, Jordan Howard, and Kerryon Johnson this offseason. His outlook as a three-down back with 216 touches, which is what Sanders totaled under Doug Pederson last season, is very unlikely with a deeper running back corps.
Running backs I prefer over Sanders with a similar ECR include Chris Carson (RB19) and David Montgomery (RB20). Both running backs are set up to be the bell-cow in their respective backfield, something that must be considered at Sanders’ current ADP. I like the system Sirianni is bringing with him to Philadelphia, but the offense is going to run through Jalen Hurts in 2021, not Miles Sanders. Running backs can benefit from a mobile quarterback, as running lanes tend to not be as monitored. However, we saw what happened in Arizona last season with Kyler Murray totaling 11 rushing touchdowns and often using his elusiveness to pick up first-downs. I feel like a similar outcome is likely for the Eagles’ backfield this season due to an upgraded receiving corps, a healthy offensive line, and situational running back depth pieces acquired throughout the offseason.
Josh Jacobs (RB-LV): No. 42 overall (RB21)
The Raiders face four elite defenses in their first six games of the 2021 season. Not only does RB Josh Jacobs open with a difficult schedule, but he also has to perform behind a downgraded offensive line after Las Vegas traded Pro-Bowl C Rodney Hudson to Arizona this offseason. Jacobs had the worst yards per rushing attempt average amongst all top-24 fantasy running backs in 2020, averaging 3.9 yards per attempt with a better offensive line.
If these two factors weren’t enough to drive you off of Jacobs as your RB2, consider the fact Kenyan Drake was signed to fill a pass-catching role in an offense that neglects its wide receivers. Drake could turn the Raiders’ backfield into the RBBC approach we saw play out with frustration under Cardinals’ head coach Kliff Kingsbury in 2020, with Drake playing the role of Chase Edmonds for Las Vegas in 2021. This creates a situation where neither running back is reliable enough to plug into your lineups with confidence, forcing fantasy managers to play a guessing game based on the matchup.
The Raiders ranked 14th in rushing yards per game (119.8) in 2020, with QB Derek Carr likely to continue targeting Pro-Bowl TE Darren Waller heavily again in 2021. Waller averaged 9.1 targets per game and trailed only Travis Kelce, which means that he will continue to be the alpha weapon within the Raiders’ offense this season. WR Henry Ruggs is set up to have a much better season in 2021 as well thanks to the departure of Nelson Agholor, which leaves 82 vacated targets to distribute within an underwhelming offense.
Jacobs will play behind a less talented offensive line, faces a plethora of top-ranked defenses creating a difficult schedule early, and is not expected to return to 273 carries and 45 targets with the signing of Kenyan Drake. The odds of Jacobs earning the third-most carries amongst all running backs again in 2021 is highly unlikely based on all of these factors. I’d much rather take an elite tight end like Waller (TE3) or a proven WR2 with upside like D.J. Moore (WR18) or CeeDee Lamb (WR19) in this ADP range. There are simply too many factors stacked against Jacobs to warrant a fourth-round selection in half-PPR redraft leagues.
Melvin Gordon (RB-DEN): No. 59 overall (RB26)
If you’re noticing a pattern, you’d be correct in identifying just how many running backs I’m against drafting at their current ADP. Running back is a position heavily reliant upon a balance of targets and a guaranteed three-down carry workload. Those running backs with elite burst, strength, and sure hands tend to be completely off the boards after the first two or three rounds.
Denver Broncos’ RB Melvin Gordon had a strong rushing campaign in 2020, finishing the season with 215 carries for 986 yards and nine touchdowns across 15 games. 200 carries is great volume, but Gordon did not get any notable upgrades along a Broncos offensive line that ranked 25th in 2020, according to Pro Football Focus. He also enters his seventh year in the league and turned 28 this offseason. The age of a running back is a significant factor to consider, as the amount of wear and tear they endure throughout their career, especially with the 1,274 carries Gordon has totaled in his career, tends to pile up and have noticeable effects on rushing production.
Denver used a second-round draft pick to sign UNC RB Javonte Williams in the 2021 NFL Draft. This is a concerning pick in terms of Gordon’s odds to eclipse 200 carries again in 2021. Williams will surely eat into Gordon’s carries and targets, preventing him from the RB13 finish he produced in half-PPR formats in 2020. Williams is a strong, explosive runner who averaged 7.3 yards per carry during his Junior season and finished with 19 rushing touchdowns, showing a nose for the end zone.
Gordon didn’t do much with his 44 targets last season, totaling one receiving touchdown while averaging a meager 4.9 yards per reception. Gordon will certainly cede targets to an elite Broncos’ receiving corps as well as to Williams, who turned 25 receptions into 305 yards and three touchdowns out of the backfield at UNC. At this ADP, there are plenty of explosive fantasy options with more favorable opportunities, including Cooper Kupp (WR23), Travis Etienne (RB25), and Dak Prescott (QB4), who all possess substantially better value than Melvin Gordon in your fantasy lineups.
James Robinson (RB-JAC): No. 65 overall (RB29)
Urban Meyer may be new to the NFL, but he is not new to the art of deception. Earning his stripes as one of the greatest collegiate coaches in the sport’s history, Meyer understands talent and how it can be utilized the best within his system. So when he was caught on record recently saying that the Jaguars used the No. 24 overall draft pick to only use Clemson RB Travis Etienne as a “third-down back,” many James Robinson managers breathed a sigh of relief. Unfortunately, the emergence of Robinson as an RB1 during his rookie season as an undrafted free agent in 2020 is expected to be a short-lived celebration.
First of all, Etienne has too much chemistry with No. 1 overall pick QB Trevor Lawrence to be under-utilized. This chemistry is invaluable and should not be dismissed, especially with new OC Darrell Bevell ushering in a hybrid-style offense that could implement a lot of quick passes and running from Lawrence and Etienne. At a minimum, the 60 targets Robinson saw under the old Doug Marrone regime will decline, forcing Robinson to finish as a 1,000-yard rusher yet again in 2021. The likelihood this happens is slim, especially considering he ranked sixth in carries (240) amongst all running backs in 2020. Etienne will reduce Robinson’s rushing attempts significantly, although it may take a few weeks for that transition to fully play out.
Alvin Kamara finished as the RB1 in fantasy during the 2020 season despite being held to under 200 carries and rushing for less than 1,000 yards. This statistic is an example to show just how valuable a dual-threat running back is within any NFL offense. Etienne’s physique and skillset mirror Kamara and it’s likely that he can leverage his four years of experience at a blue-chip program like Clemson to usurp the RB1 role in Jacksonville rather quickly.
At this ADP, you’re looking at running back upside and how involved they could be within the team’s target distribution. Considering these factors, I like Ronald Jones (RB30) and Damien Harris (RB31) markedly more than Robinson, especially Harris, who saw only seven targets but earned 137 carries as the Patriots’ RB1 on an unimpressive 2020 roster. Likewise, Jones had a low target total (42) but earned 192 carries compared to Leonard Fournette‘s 97 carries throughout the regular season. A bump in targets for either player makes their ADP justified in this round, unlike Robinson, who is increasingly looking like a victim of circumstance in 2021. He should be avoided at his current ADP.
Noah Fant (TE-DEN): No. 80 overall (TE8)
This may sound like a controversial fade based on Noah Fant finishing with the sixth-highest target total (93) amongst tight ends in 2020. However, Denver has new offensive pieces to leverage and possibly a new quarterback, as Drew Lock heads into an apparent training camp battle against free-agent signee Teddy Bridgewater. Based on the talent level of both quarterbacks, it seems that Fant could be heavily relied on as a security blanket running routes across the middle and up the seam. However, the Broncos’ receiving corps sees a substantial upgrade in 2021.
The return of WR Courtland Sutton from an ACL injury cannot be understated. Sutton saw a whopping 124 targets in 2019 and could be the WR1 in a receiving corps that features rising star Jerry Jeudy, speedster K.J. Hamler, underrated and big-bodied Tim Patrick. Fant also has decent competition at his position, with Albert Okwuegbunam turning 21 targets across four games into 11 receptions for 121 yards and a touchdown during his rookie season. Fant will certainly continue to be a check-down target across the middle, but his ADOT was 6.7 yards in 2020, meaning he was fed short and intermediate routes and often had to work for extra yardage after the reception. Even worse, Fant totaled just three touchdowns in 2020 despite seeing the sixth-most targets at tight end.
There might be some positive touchdown regression for Fant, but he is unlikely to exceed 93 targets in an offense that adds rookie RB Javonte Williams at running back and returns a premier wideout like Sutton to its talented receiving corps. I prefer beefing up my wide receivers at this ADP, opting for talented players like D.J. Chark (WR30), Chase Claypool (WR31), and Will Fuller (WR35) that possess WR1 ability despite currently being ranked as WR3s heading into fantasy drafts. Fant is a fine talent on a capable roster, but his ADP is too high to justify selecting him over a late-round tight end such as Irv Smith Jr. (TE12) or Jonnu Smith (TE15) in half-PPR redraft leagues.
Logan Thomas (TE-WFT): No. 94 overall (TE9)
Logan Thomas enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2020, finishing last season as the TE6 in half-PPR. The former quarterback-turned-tight-end saw 110 targets, averaging 6.9 targets per game and turning those opportunities into 72 receptions for 670 yards and six touchdowns across 15 starts. So why the hesitation to draft him at his current ADP?
Two reasons. The first being that the Washington front office and coaching staff invested in a couple of dynamic playmakers through free agency and the draft, signing former Carolina Panthers WR Curtis Samuel and using a third-round draft pick to select WR Dyami Brown out of UNC. These moves were clearly made to address the shallow depth within last year’s receiving corps, which forced Alex Smith and the carousel of rotating back-up quarterbacks to rely on Thomas’ 6’6″ size as a safety valve in between the hashes. Third-year wideout Terry McLaurin is the alpha within Washington’s offense and the ascendance of second-year running back Antonio Gibson will elevate his usage in the passing game, eliminating many of the short passes and dump-offs Thomas soaked up in 2020, which is reflected in his ADOT of 7.0 yards.
The second reason to fade Thomas at his current ADP is based on other available players who can or are positioned to provide higher fantasy points per game average due to volume or role within the offense. For instance, Michael Carter (RB38) is a great RB4 investment due to the lack of depth and youth in the Jets’ backfield, leaving plenty of opportunity on the table for him to flourish into a certified RB2 by mid-season. Broncos’ WR Jerry Jeudy (WR38) is another explosive option to target at this ADP, as he failed to live up to the hype he carried into his rookie season, which has resulted in him falling to the back of the eighth round in redraft leagues.
Thomas is grouped in with those tight ends that are valued just a bit too high, like Packers’ TE Robert Tonyan (TE10) and Noah Fant (TE8), as they aren’t bonafide top-five options, but the consensus still values their 2020 production enough to make me resistant to their current ADP. Rob Gronkowski (TE16) and Jonnu Smith (TE17) are available a couple of rounds later for much better value compared to the remaining wide receiver and running backs options. For these reasons, Thomas is a fade at TE9 on a revamped Washington offense heading into 2021.
Jarvis Landry (WR-CLE): No. 101 overall (WR40)
The formula to Cleveland’s success in 2020 was running the football. Jarvis Landry did lead the Browns in targets, averaging 6.7 targets per game. However, he played a minor role in contrast to Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Head coach Kevin Stefanski schemed the offense to flow through these two talented running backs, as they combined for 388 carries to lead the Browns to a closely contested loss against the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2020-21 AFC Divisional game. With Odell Beckham Jr. returning from an ACL tear that held him out for most of the 2020 season, Landry’s 101 targets will dip down significantly in Kevin Stefanski’s run-centric offense in 2021.
I’d much rather take the upside of Denver Broncos WR Jerry Jeudy (WR39) or the target share of a bonafide WR1 like Brandin Cooks (WR37) on the Houston Texans instead of rostering a wideout on a team that ranked 30th in total targets to its wide receivers. I still think Landry will see 70 to 80 targets this season, but the success of the offensive scheme in 2020 isn’t going to be changed. The return of OBJ also makes me hesitant to invest in the 28-year old Landry, as he is the clear-cut WR2 when both are at full health. Whether fair or not, Landry had also dealt with hip injuries on and off the field in 2020. These seem to be issues that could resurface again throughout 2021, enhancing the risk of Landry as your WR4.
There are a couple of high upside rookie players I’d consider drafting before Landry at this ADP. Philadelphia Eagles Heisman-winning WR Devonta Smith (WR41) and San Francisco 49ers RB Trey Sermon (RB43), largely due to both players landing in systems that are designed for instant fantasy success. At this stage in the draft, I’m willing to risk taking an unproven rookie with immense talent over a veteran wideout, as rookies tend to have more explosiveness and less mileage to generate league-winning production. This can be said for both Smith and Sermon, whereas Landry finds himself the WR2 in an offense that relies on its RBBC to grind out wins, capping his ceiling and making him a fade for me at his current ADP.
Marquise Brown (WR-BAL): No. 117 overall (WR42)
The Baltimore Ravens made one thing very clear this offseason, and that was helping Lamar Jackson. A pair of young and explosive sure-handed receivers was how Baltimore chose to upgrade its passing game, drafting Rashod Bateman out of the University of Minnesota in the first round and using a fourth-round pick on burner Tylan Wallace out of Oklahoma State. Not satisfied, John Harbaugh and OC Greg Roman bulked up their offensive line by signing former Pittsburgh Steelers RT Alexander Villanueva and free-agent OT Ja’Wuan James to add size and depth to the right side of the offensive line to continue executing their run-centric offense.
Marquise Brown spent two seasons as the clear-cut WR1 in the Ravens offense but failed to turn the 100 targets he saw last season into significant production, finishing as the WR34 in half-point PPR formats. In comparison, Mike Evans and A.J. Brown saw only a handful of targets more throughout the season and had similar targets per game, ranging from 7.6 targets and 6.3 targets per game. Evans and A.J. Brown were both decent wideouts you could roll out in lineups with more confidence than Hollywood Brown during the 2020 season despite similar target totals per game. Meanwhile, Hollywood managed double-digit targets only once and saw five or fewer targets in four separate games. His elite speed will allow for him to continue getting separation from defenders, but he has not been the continuous force he appeared to be during Lamar’s 2019 MVP season when he opened Week 1 with two touchdowns and 147 yards on just five targets.
As the Ravens expand the options Lamar has in the passing game, Brown’s value tumbles downward in the wrong direction. He’s most certainly going to see a reduction in targets with the additions of Bateman and Wallace. Not to mention, Mark Andrews returns as the team’s premier tight end safety valve across the middle and in the red zone. Gus Edwards also signed a two-year, $10 million contract extension, indicating J.K. Dobbins and Edwards will continue operating as part of a three-headed RBBC featuring Jackson’s elite elusiveness and mobility. Drafting Brown, even at this stage in the draft, lacks value since he will need to dramatically improve his efficiency in a much more crowded offense that favors the run. DeVante Parker (WR42) and Laviska Shenault Jr. (WR45) are two receivers I like much more than Brown at their current value due to opportunity. Both wideouts can be drafted in the same round as Brown, allowing you to gain a higher-floor player with the potential to finish certain weeks as a WR1.
Phillip Lindsay (RB-HOU): No. 132 overall (RB49)
Houston is undergoing massive regime changes, including uncertainty with their Pro-Bowl QB Deshaun Watson. The Texans backfield is a mix of older veterans and Phillip Lindsay, who turns 27 years old prior to the start of the 2021 season. Entering his fourth year on a new team, the undersized running back will have to compete for touches alongside David Johnson, Mark Ingram, and Rex Burkhead.
Johnson is the likely RB1 within the offense, as he was placed onto IR twice, which led to him missing four games in 2020. He still totaled 4.7 yards per attempt and found the end-zone six times as a runner and twice as a receiver. Ingram and Burkhead are also likely to be featured in a four-man rotation to comprise an RBBC approach for Houston in 2021. OC David Culley returns as the play-caller with an unknown quarterback and a top-heavy wide receiving corps led by Brandin Cooks and rookie Nico Collins. In 2020, the Texans targeted their running backs only 17.1 percent of the time, ranking 20th amongst all teams with a total of 90 targets. Distributing these among four running backs withholds significant value from Lindsay at his current ADP.
Players I prefer with a similar ADP to Lindsay include Jaguars rookie QB Trevor Lawrence (QB16), Patriots’ TE Jonnu Smith (TE17), and Dolphins’ rookie wideout Jaylen Waddle (WR52). Even if Lindsay ascends as the RB1 in Houston, I’d prefer not to acquire any pieces of the Houston backfield behind a bad offensive line without enough skilled players to eliminate the threat of stacked boxes.
John Brown (WR-LV): No. 149 overall (WR58)
The Raiders went out and signed John Brown to a one-year, $3.75 million deal this offseason after letting Nelson Agholor leave for New England. The 31-year old wideout is coming off of a low target share season in Buffalo, catching 33 of 52 targets for 458 yards and three touchdowns across nine games in 2020. What’s more concerning is the Raiders ranking 32nd (45.5%) in wide receiver targets last season, with TE Darren Waller absorbing 145 targets and leading the league in tight-end target share.
Waller will continue to be the alpha weapon within a Raiders offense that returns both QB Derek Carr and OC Greg Olson. This creates a situation where Brown will need to compete with Henry Ruggs, Hunter Renfrow, Bryan Edwards, and others in a surprisingly crowded wide receiving corps. The Raiders appear poised to repeat their offensive tendencies in 2021, which projects to be another limited target share for their wide receivers. Even if Carr is able to distribute the ball more efficiently to receivers in the slot and along the perimeter, Ruggs will get the ball funneled towards him intentionally to make up for his abhorrent lack of usage last season.
Waller, Ruggs, and Jacobs are the primary options for Las Vegas heading into 2021, rendering Brown an afterthought in an offense that has more talented receivers and directs its’ targets to their All-Pro tight end. I’d much rather take the upside and athleticism of Ruggs at WR59 than an often injured veteran receiver entering his eighth year with a new team, meaning chemistry and playbook development will take time. I like Ruggs to take over the majority of the 82 vacated targets left by Agholor, making him the better late-round flier in the Raiders’ offense.
Marlon Mack (RB-IND): No. 160 overall (RB55)
Marlon Mack played just one game for the Indianapolis Colts in 2020 before suffering a season-ending Achilles tear that propelled Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines into heavier usage. The 25-year old running back will have a difficult time returning to the primary ball carrier role in 2021 after Taylor finished his rookie season with 1,468 total yards and 12 touchdowns. Former OC Nick Sirianni took the head coaching job for the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason, leaving Frank Reich and former Colts’ quarterbacks coach turned OC Marcus Brady in charge of calling plays with Carson Wentz under center.
Mack is still rehabbing the gruesome Achilles injury but should be ready to participate in training camp fully. He can still see some valuable usage near the goal-line and spell Taylor in short-down and distance situations, but the emergence of Hines as a legitimate dual-threat out of the backfield will not be ignored by Reich in 2021. The 24-year old enters his fourth season with the Colts and will likely usurp touches from Taylor, frustrating fantasy managers in the process.
Taylor is ranked as the RB7 according to the latest FantasyPros’ ECR, as many analysts are projecting him to see an increase in carries and targets after totaling 271 opportunities in 2020, after being restricted by Reich and Sirianni during the first few weeks of his rookie season. This spells disaster for Mack. There are plenty of other players that possess much better late-round value, like Ravens’ rookie WR Rashod Bateman (WR63) or Dolphins’ QB Tua Tagovailoa (QB20) instead of the third-string back in a revamped offense. I’m not comfortable taking Mack coming off of his Achilles tear, especially with an elite player like Jonathan Taylor set up for a massive workload with a new quarterback and play-caller. Fade Mack at his ADP but feel free to add him off of waivers as a handcuff if you’re a Jonathan Taylor manager.
Sony Michel (RB-NE): No. 168 overall (RB56)
The ascension of Damien Harris in the New England backfield throughout 2020 will continue into 2021. Furthermore, former Oklahoma Sooners RB Rhamondre Stevenson was drafted in the fourth round and will certainly draw touches throughout the 17-game season as a rookie. Perennial pass-catcher James White returns after seeing 62 targets in 2020. Where does this leave Sony Michel?
Michel enters his fourth season in the league coming off a disappointing 2020 season hampered by injuries and poor performances. He logged 79 carries for 449 yards, averaging 49.9 rushing yards per game and seeing just nine targets across nine games. It appears that Stevenson was drafted by Bill Belichick to become the bonafide RB2 behind Harris, as the six-foot, 230-pound rookie back will use his size and speed advantageously compared to the slighter build of Michel. Especially if QB Cam Newton wins the starting job in training camp, the lucrative goal-line touches that kept Michel relevant will become nearly obsolete. He totaled only two touchdowns and was featured on a career-low 18 percent of snaps in 2020.
Overall, Michel is simply a player I cannot justify taking. I will have zero shares of him on my fantasy rosters in 2021 and will instead focus on under-the-radar receivers like Buffalo’s Gabriel Davis (WR66) or the Giants’ Darius Slayton (WR68), who could both achieve WR2 production on certain and eclipse 100 targets during certain weeks. If you want a piece of the Patriots’ backfield, wait to add Stevenson for pennies off the waiver wire in the early weeks of the season, as he’s projected to fall out of drafts as the RB79.
Hayden Hurst (TE-ATL): No. 189 overall (TE27)
The hype surrounding Falcons’ rookie TE Kyle Pitts surged when news of Julio Jones being traded to the Tennessee Titans sent waves through the Twittersphere. Using the fourth overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft already signaled to fantasy managers that new head coach and offensive play-caller Arthur Smith had immediate plans to get Pitts involved within the offense. Jones leaving the offense elevates Pitts’ potential to demand a wide receiver target share, especially with his immense 6’6, 245- pound frame. He will be a great complement to alpha star wideout Calvin Ridley, who enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2020 due to an immense 143 targets.
Hayden Hurst disappointed many fantasy managers last season, catching only 56 of 88 targets in an offense that finished fifth in passing yards per game (272.7) with Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage, and Julio Jones featuring as the primary weapons. However, he did salvage six touchdowns amidst an inefficient reception total. The lack of running back depth behind newly signed RB Mike Davis does bode well for receivers in the Falcons offense, but Hurst will be vying for the same amount of targets as Olamide Zaccheaus or Cordarrelle Patterson, not Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts.
In the final round of redraft leagues, there are plenty of good players with great value available, including Bears’ rookie QB Justin Fields (QB23), Titan’s WR3 Josh Reynolds (WR72), and rookie Jets’ wideout Elijah Moore (WR73) out of Ole Miss. Tight end is an increasingly important position to hit on earlier in fantasy drafts, so make sure to prioritize drafting a top-15 tight-end within the first 10 to 11 rounds and building up your quarterback or wide receiver depth to close out the draft with the best remaining value.
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