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If Your League Drafted Today (2021 Fantasy Football)

by Scott Youngson | @jscottyoungson | Featured Writer
Nov 4, 2021
Cooper Kupp

Cooper Kupp has a firm grasp on 2021 overall WR1

After Week 4, we took a look at how we would have drafted differently given the knowledge we’d attained over the first month of the season. Now that we’re eight weeks into the 2021 campaign, we thought it would be fun to revisit this subject. Many of the observations we made after Week 4 are still relevant, while others appear to have been a bit premature. As a reminder, the basis for these observations is performance/usage – not injuries – and half-point PPR scoring.

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If we were drafting today, we:

Would have drafted Cordarrelle Patterson (RB – ATL), Darrell Henderson Jr. (RB – LAR), Cooper Kupp (WR – LAR), Deebo Samuel (WR – SF), and Ja’Marr Chase (WR – CIN) in the first two rounds

These players have been the biggest breakout stars this season, and none of them are likely to regress.

  • Patterson wasn’t even drafted in most leagues but has been RB7 in points per game this year. It was hard to trust him early on, but he’s scored in double-digits every week except Week 1, and his snap count has gone up considerably. Considering the status of Calvin Ridley (WR – ATL)  is in doubt, the Falcons appear to have no choice but to continue finding ways to get Patterson touches.
  • When the season began, there was concern that Sony Michel (RB – LAR)  would cut into Henderson’s snaps and limit his upside. That hasn’t happened, and as a result, Henderson has been one of the best fantasy backs in the league on one of the NFL’s best offenses.
  • Henderson’s Rams’ teammate, Kupp, has been the best fantasy WR in the league – and it’s not even close. He’s averaging 22.9 points per game, which is 3 points better than the second-best WR, Deebo Samuel. Kupp and Samuel have garnered roughly 33% of their team’s targets, and their production so far has made them the best fantasy values of the year.
  • The concerns over Chase are a great example of why preseason results and reports can often be misleading. We all forgot how great a prospect he was amid the torrent of negative press. Those who took the risk have earned their reward, and if you were able to roster him in a dynasty league, congratulations!

Would not have drafted Stefon Diggs (WR – BUF), Antonio Gibson (RB – WAS), and Calvin Ridley (WR – ATL) in the first two rounds

Perhaps these players can turn things around, but so far, they have not delivered to expectations.

  • Diggs hasn’t been terrible, but his targets, receptions, and yards are all below his first seven games of the 2020 season. His share of team targets has also dropped, from 28% last year to 25% this year, and he’s only topped 100 yards once this season. The emergence of Dawson Knox (TE – BUF) and the addition of Emmanuel Sanders (WR – BUF) appear to be cutting into Diggs’ dominance in the Bills passing game.
  • Gibson has been one of the most disappointing players this year based on the preseason hype surrounding him. He has battled through a shin injury most of the season, which perhaps explains the lack of production. The damage hasn’t been severe enough to keep him off the field, though. More alarming is that he’s barely out-snapped J.D. McKissic (RB – WAS) and has trailed him in playing time the past three games. Some of this may be due to The Football Team having to come from behind so often in 2021, but Gibson is a capable pass-catcher (he played some Wide Receiver in college).
  • Personal issues have sadly cost Calvin Ridley two games already this season. His return to the Falcons is still unknown, and we all wish him well. In the five games he has played this year; however, his production has been well below draft-day expectations. He’s ranked 30th among WR’s in points-per-game. After Ridley’s tremendous 2020 season and the departure of Julio Jones (WR – TEN), many thought he could end up the best fantasy WR in the league this season. Perhaps his lack of production is due to too much defensive attention, as Atlanta doesn’t have a lot of weapons surrounding him.

Would not have drafted Allen Robinson II (WR – CHI), Brandon Aiyuk (WR – SF), or Odell Beckham Jr. (WR – CLE) as starters

These WR’s were drafted in the top 30 of players at their position but have not been playable for the most part.

  • Robinson’s season is perhaps the most perplexing given his long track record of success with mediocre QB’s. But you can’t put it all on the QB play as Darnell Mooney (WR – CHI) has out-performed him by a fairly wide margin.
  • It’s not entirely clear what has plagued Aiyuk this year, but he’s looked nothing like the breakout rookie from 2020. He is coming off of one of his better games this year, though, so perhaps he’s beginning to turn it around.
  • Beckham missed the first two games of the season and has been a non-factor for the most part. His frustration is now evident, and there’s a chance he and the Browns could part ways. If that were to happen, it might not be a bad thing for his fantasy value as he hasn’t been much of a force since arriving in Cleveland.

Would have drafted Marquise Brown (WR – BAL), Mike Williams (WR – LAC), Michael Pittman Jr. (WR – IND), and Leonard Fournette (RB – TB) as starters

Conversely, these players were not drafted to start but have far surpassed expectations.

  • Brown’s been more consistent this season after an up and down 2019 and 2020. He’s starting to live up to his first-round draft status. With one of the league’s highest average depth of targets, he doesn’t need to connect on many passes to have a big day.
  • Williams started the season on fire and was second to only Cooper Kupp in points after Week 3. Since then, however, he’s had duds in three of the last four games. His booms have been so high this year, though, that you can live with the busts.
  • Pittman has emerged as the favorite target of Carson Wentz (QB – IND) in Indianapolis and is putting together a top 20 season. As no other Colts WR has stepped up to this point, Pittman should continue to produce solid fantasy numbers.
  • Most people thought the Bucs would employ a committee approach with their running backs during the preseason as they did in 2020. But that hasn’t been the case as Fournette has seized the role and dominated the backfield snaps since Week 4. With an offense that scores as much as Tampa’s, that makes for a valuable player.

Would have drafted a QB with our last pick and streamed the position all year

We’re being a bit facetious here as it would be nearly impossible to pick the right streamer every week. However, if you could have played the best QB who was readily available each week, you’d have the best fantasy QB in the league!

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Scott Youngson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Scott, check out his archive and follow him @FantasyMutant.

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