League Winners (2021 Fantasy Football)
How do you define a fantasy football league winner? Is it a player with a low Average Draft Position (ADP) that surpasses expectations and finishes top-12 in their skill position? Or is it an established, highly-ranked player that you draft in the first round that provides your team exactly what is need to win a championship?
Simply put, the answer is ambiguous. There is no clear-cut definition of a league winner because they come in all shapes and sizes. They can be found in the early rounds of your draft, sometimes as a late-round dart throw or on the waiver wire after the preseason buzz catapults under-the-radar players to our attention.
In my attempt to pinpoint potential 2021 league winners, I have identified one player from each position with upside to finish top-12 or higher in their respective positions with an immense opportunity of crushing their ADPs.
Here are my 2021 fantasy football league winners:
Trevor Lawrence enters the NFL as the most touted quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck. However, it appears much of the fantasy football community has pushed Lawrence and his ridiculous college accolades to the side in favor of some of the other rookie QBs in this draft class that might be described as more “mobile” or “athletic” than Lawrence. This is a false narrative surrounding Lawrence’s game. During his tenure at Clemson, rushing 231 times for 943 yards and 18 touchdowns during his three years as a Tiger.Inc
Lawrence has a great chance of outproducing his ADP due to a favorable schedule this season, especially to begin the season, paired with the fact that new Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer went out and drafted Lawrence’s college teammate Travis Etienne as a statement to surround his budding franchise QB with as much talent as possible. Lawrence is being drafted as QB15, with an ADP of 129.6, after players such as Gus Edwards, Tony Pollard, and Devin Singletary. If your draft strategy is waiting on quarterbacks, Lawrence is a prime target in the later rounds of your drafts.
Although not a late-round gem like he was as a rookie, Antonio Gibson’s stock continues to rise, yet his ADP remains relatively low compared to his potential to break out and emerge as a true workhorse RB for the Washington Football Team this season. At his current ranking of RB12, with an ADP of 18.2, Gibson is the best value in fantasy football drafts. After converting from wide receiver to running back when entering the NFL, Gibson posted exceptional numbers as a rookie.
From Week 1-12 (before Gibson injured his toe against the Steelers in Week 13), Gibson was the RB5 in Total Fantasy Points and the RB11 in Fantasy Points Per Game, despite averaging just 46.7% of offensive snaps/game. Negative game script and Alex Smith‘s affinity for check-downs resulted in Gibson’s lack of usage on 3rd down and the passing game. J.D. McKissic‘s career-high 110 targets were more about lack of weapons for Washington rather than a knock-on Gibson’s pass-catching ability.
Despite limited targets (44 targets /36 receptions), Gibson posted an 81.8% catch%, displaying his natural pass-catching capabilities. The coaching staff was focused on getting Gibson acclimated as an RB and all the nuances that come with running the ball behind center in his first season. As a second-year RB, the Washington Football Team will look to expand on Gibson’s pass-catching expertise and expand his usage in the passing game and on third down. Washington Football Team will be a better offense in 2021 compared to 2020. Gibson will have more opportunities in the red zone and near the goal line, an area of the field he excelled in during his rookie season. Look for more positive game script situations, the growing offensive weapons, and a top-five defense to open up a pathway to fantasy stardom for Antonio Gibson.
Draft Antonio Gibson with extreme confidence in the backend of the first/early second round of fantasy drafts.
When talking about Robert Woods, the word that is most commonly used to describe Robert Woods’ fantasy production is “consistent” Over the last three seasons, Woods finished WR13 in 2020, WR 14 in 2019, and WR11 in 2018, displaying his reliability and consistency in fantasy. Woods enters 2021 as the WR17 with a QB upgrade in Matthew Stafford and a great chance of vastly outproducing his ADP of 42.8.
Currently, Woods is being drafted at his floor, which is an oversight that needs to be taken advantage of. Woods could see additional rushing attempts with the loss of Cam Akers for the season due to an Achilles injury, an area of the game Woods has flashed in before. Woods ranked second in the NFL with the most rushing attempts by a wide receiver, posting 24 carriers for 155 yards and two touchdowns. Woods’ rushing upside is somewhat of a cheat code for fantasy football. Woods should be available in the fourth or fifth rounds of fantasy drafts this offseason, with ample opportunity to surpass expectations.
T.J. Hockenson enters 2021 on a Detroit Lions team that just lost their previous WR1 and WR2 in Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones. This leaves Hockenson in a very interesting position considering the Lions do not truly have a WR1. It is well within the range of his outcomes that Hockenson leads his team in targets and receptions. Hockenson finished his sophomore season with over 100 targets, a number he could exceed in his third year.
Despite a treacherous season for the Lions last year, Hockenson was often the bright spot in the offense, finishing as the TE5. Coming into 2021 as the TE6, Hockenson has the top-10 NFL draft pedigree and lack of competition for targets in his favor, giving Hockenson tremendous upside to finish as a top-5 TE once again with good odds of smashing his ADP of 58.0 this season.
Target players you truly believe will break through this season and crush their current ADPs. Don’t feel like you have to follow ADP to an exact science. If you feel comfortable drafting a player a round earlier in fear of missing out on him, trust your judgment and make the decision that makes you feel strongly about your choice.
Finding diamonds in the rough is an extremely challenging task, but the rewards are inevitable. Trust your gut and get your guys. Feel confident in your knowledge of the sport and crush your fantasy football league drafts this offseason!
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