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If Your League Drafted Today (2021 Fantasy Football)

by Scott Youngson | @fantasymutant | Featured Writer
Oct 8, 2021
Dalton Schultz

Believe it or not, we’re almost a quarter of the way through the 2021 NFL season (thanks to the new 17-game schedule, the math is not so clean). There’s still a long way to go, but much has happened already to skewed our view from draft day. So for fun, we put together a list of things we would have done differently during our drafts if we had had a crystal ball.

Note: performance/usage was the basis for these- not injuries; half-point PPR scoring is the basis for scoring.

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If we had had a crystal ball, we:

Would have drafted Cordarrelle Patterson (RB – ATL), Hunter Renfrow (WR – LV), Dalton Schultz (TE – DAL), and Dawson Knox (TE – BUF)

These guys went undrafted in most leagues, and though some regression may be coming, they belong on rosters now.

  • Patterson won’t finish the year as an RB1 like he’s been so far, but he’s at worst a good flex option moving forward as the Falcons have so few playmakers, they have to find ways to get him the ball.
  • Renfrow is averaging six targets and over five catches per game, making him a high-floor option for PPR leagues in particular.
  • Schultz and Knox aren’t likely to finish as elite TE options, but both look like solid starters given their usage the rest of the way.

Would not have drafted Alvin Kamara (RB – NO), Nick Chubb (RB – CLE), and Jonathan Taylor (RB – IND) in the 1st round

They’ve all been solid and could still turn things around, but some signs are worrisome.

  • Kamara is getting plenty of carries, but why isn’t he being targeted anymore? The man averaged 7.1 targets per game last season and is at 3.5 this season. Come on, Jameis Winston (QB – NO), throw him the ball!
  • Chubb’s been pretty good so far, but Kareem Hunt (RB – CLE) has been better despite 18 fewer touches! There’s enough for both of them in the Browns offense, but Hunt carried an ADP of four rounds later.
  • Taylor, likewise, has been fine, but the Colts backfield is more of a committee than we thought it would be as he’s played only 19 snaps more than Nyheim Hines (RB – IND). It’s also clear that when the Colts are playing from behind, which has been the case this year, Hines is the back on the field.

Would have drafted Deebo Samuel (WR – SF), Mike Williams (WR – LAC), and Marquise Brown (WR – BAL) earlier

Drafted as Flex options or depth in most leagues, these WRs look like legitimate starters for the rest of the season.

  • Most of the hype was around Brandon Aiyuk (WR – SF), but it’s Deebo who has emerged as the 49er’s most prolific pass-catcher to this point. He’s been excellent so far, leading or among the league leaders in receptions, targets, yards, and receiving TDs.
  • Despite laying an egg Week 4, Williams is still ranked 5th among all Wide Receivers for the season. It appears he’s finally coming into his own and his combination of size and speed make him an excellent big-play receiver and red zone threat.
  • Volume has always been an issue for Brown in the Ravens offense, but he’s had it consistently with at least five targets in all four games this season. His aDOT of 15.1 means he only needs to connect on a few of them to have a worthwhile Fantasy game. We’ll see if the return of rookie Rashod Bateman (WR – BAL) off of IR impacts him negatively, but so far, he’s proven to be worthy of being at least a Flex option.

Would have drafted Allen Robinson II (WR –  CHI), Robert Woods (WR – LAR), and Brandon Aiyuk much later

Conversely, these 3 WRs have not come close to living up to expectations thus far.

  • Through 4 games, Robinson only has 13 catches and has been the 61st best WR for Fantasy. That’s not what you want out of your 2nd or 3rd round pick. Things should improve as Justin Fields (QB – CHI) develops, but it may be hard to trust putting him in your lineup for a while.
  • Woods hasn’t been a total disaster, but he certainly hasn’t delivered the WR2 production you drafted. His snaps and targets have met expectations, but a 58% catch rate is one of the worst in the league. He just hasn’t been on the same page with Matthew Stafford (QB – LAR) to this point, but at least they are trying to get him the ball so a rebound could be on the horizon.
  • The Aiyuk, as mentioned above, was a hot commodity on Draft Day but has been a complete non-factor for Fantasy thus far, with only six receptions on the year. He’s been on the field enough, but they just haven’t been looking his way outside of Week 3 against the Packers. He’s too talented to drop at this point, but unless things change dramatically, there’s no way he can hit starting lineups right now.

I would have waited even longer to draft a Quarterback

Outside of the dud Aaron Rodgers (QB – GB) put up against the Saints Week 1, the top 12 QBs in ADP have all been fine. But so have many others – especially Sam Darnold (QB – CAR) and Daniel Jones (QB – NYG) – proving the point that you don’t need to draft a QB early.

  • Darnold is on pace to break the record for rushing TDs by a QB in a single season. While the record is unlikely, Darnold is moving closer to delivering on the promise of the former #3 overall pick.
  • Jones is running and throwing a lot this year – which won’t necessarily lead to NFL success, but it’s excellent for Fantasy. If he can control the turnovers – as he has thus far – he should remain a viable starter most weeks.

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