Fantasy Football 2021: Wide Receivers

One of the keys to building a winning fantasy team is stockpiling wide receivers. These players can be impacted by many factors beyond their control, including quarterback play, target share and scheme in the long term, and by injuries, match-ups, and weather in the short term. So get a bunch of them.

Wide receiver is deep, but you don’t want to wait too long to start adding them. A 20 round, 12-team draft will see over 80 WR selected. Such an unwieldy number will require me to slightly revise the way I rank them. I’m going to loosely rank them, but once I talk about one WR, I’ll discuss all the fantasy relevant WR on that team at the same time. This will eliminate a lot of repetitive information.

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Fantasy Football 2021: Running Backs

There are many ways to win in fantasy football, but the most tried and true template for success is drafting 1-2 RB in the first two rounds and then drafting WR over the next few rounds. The position I don’t like to find myself in is where I feel forced to go RB in round three. This year, and every year, the WR available between 20-35 in ADP are pretty much guaranteed points. They’re number one receivers who are locked in to receive the lion’s share of targets on their teams. The only real obstacle to a good season for one of these guys is injury. This is not the case with these third tier running backs. The runners still available between 20-35 start around RB13. The backs in this range are extremely talented, but they tend to be in time shares which can negatively impact their numbers or they’re getting solid opportunities in bad offenses. If you want a Clyde Edwards-Helaire, D’Andre Swift, or JK Dobbins, you pass up the likes of Justin Jefferson, Terry McLaurin, and Keenan Allen. I can see these runners losing opportunities for any number of reasons, but the only way these wideouts don’t produce is personal injury or their quarterback going down. Otherwise, they’re going to see well over 100 targets each year and they’re immune to game scripts and backfield committees. I’m not saying never take a running back in this range, but history shows the bust rate is higher than it is for a legit WR1.

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Fantasy Football 2021: Tight Ends

Standard advice in fantasy football has been to wait on tight end unless you land one of the elite options. While this remains true, I have always treated TE like any other position and simply tried to draft good players who are undervalued. If that’s a top TE early or a second-tier TE who slides a bit.

With the emphasis on passing only increasing, the best tight ends post numbers commensurate to elite wide receivers, so why wouldn’t you treat them the same way? I think these guys can be league tilters and I’ve had some really productive teams that boasted a top tight end and another TE good enough to set and forget as my Flex.

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Fantasy Football 2021: Quarterbacks

It’s that time again. Just a quick reminder, I tend to play in PPR optimal lineup leagues with high roster limits. 10 team Cutline leagues that go 26 rounds. 12 team Draft Champion leagues, with no free agency, that go 35 rounds. Some of the depth players I try to draft in every league are guys you will likely have to just keep on your radar if you’re in a typical league with 20 man rosters.

Quarterback isn’t that tricky in fantasy football. The best players are often obvious. The most important thing is to try and land good value no matter who you choose. I usually find myself passing up the first few quarterbacks because the top RB and WR on the board are just too hard to ignore. In some leagues, you’ll find everyone waits a bit on quarterback. In those cases, be prepared to jump on strong value when the opportunity arises. I haven’t gone into any draft trying to land Josh Allen, who is typically gone in round three or four this year, but he slid to my pick @ 6/52 in one draft and I was very happy to get him.

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Getting Defensive

This draft is likely to be an outlier from a defensive standpoint. Only three times since 1970 has the first defensive player off the board lasted past the fifth pick.

1995 – Kevin Carter DE – 6th overall

1999 – Champ Bailey CB – 7th overall

2005 – Adam Jones CB – 6th overall

That the first defensive player might not come off the board until pick 7-10 doesn’t mean this draft is devoid of talent on that side of the ball. Fortunately, this draft appears to be strong in areas we want to address.

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Offensive Thoughts

Unlike last year, when everybody knew we were drafting wide receivers early, there are unlimited possibilities for the Broncos in this draft. So, I won’t be focusing on any particular position groups this year and will just offer up some comments about a lot of players I like and a few I hope we avoid. The plan is to cover offense today and defense tomorrow.

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More About Wide Receivers

The 2020 WR class is as good as advertised. There are 13 players at the top worthy of 1st or 2nd round grades. At least a dozen more who could be contributors to NFL teams eventually. I covered Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb and Henry Ruggs III here.

Today, I want to dig a bit deeper into the next ten players on my board, which I’ll break down into two tiers. I’ll include some capsule comments about several other receivers as well. 

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Bronco Draft Thoughts

The Broncos off season started well, ended weird, and left the team with a number of holes still to address in the draft. Taken collectively, Jurrell Casey, AJ Bouye and Graham Glasgow are upgrades, but they’re replacing quality players who cost the team less in 2019, so this is really closer to a push. Resigning Justin Simmons and reclaiming Shelby Harris at a discount were exceptionally good moves. Harris is younger and healthier than Derek Wolfe and he was more productive than Wolfe last year. 

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NFL teams passed for over 100,000 yards in 2018 and most of it went to wide receivers, thus this is the deepest position group year after year. Due to this depth, you can select an anchor WR early then load up on running backs. The rise of the RBBC has also made the Zero RB an effective but tricky to execute strategy.

Target charts are nice tie-breakers if you’re stuck deciding between two players. New coordinators or teammates can have drastic impact on projected targets both good and bad, so be aware of changes.