Not Another Fantasy Football Rankings List (Part Two)
My top five all-time cover songs are….
My top five all-time TV shows are….
My top five all-time movies about gambling are….
I’m a guy who loves to make lists. Lists about sports, pop culture, politics, basically anything you can rank. It’s a conversation starter, a skill I’ve developed to find out where someone else is on the linear spectrum of favorite things.
These lists put up a flag, allowing folks who interact to agree and feel kinship or disagree with to give you differing points of view. I do it at work, with family & friends, and on any social media I currently use.
In fantasy football, I get to put my list-making qualities to good use. This is the list I’m taking into every draft this fall, a list I’ve put together over the last month or so based on the player’s skills, past statistics, upcoming opportunities, and probably most importantly, each player’s path to meaningful playing time.
That last one is tricky and involves lots of guesswork in most cases. Is a certain player the most talented player in the position room of their team? Can they get enough snaps, targets, carries to get the stats needed to rack up fantasy points? It’s a high-wire act for sure but let’s take a look at my 2021 Fantasy Football PPR rankings….
*Note: this list is for redraft leagues so age is not as much a factor in these rankings
1. Christian McCaffrey RB (Panthers)
2. Dalvin Cook RB (Vikings)
3. Alvin Kamara RB (Saints)
4. Derrick Henry RB (Titans)
5. Davante Adams WR (Packers)
6. Jonathan Taylor RB (Colts)
7. Tyreek Hill WR (Chiefs)
8. Ezekiel Elliott RB (Cowboys)
9. Travis Kelce TE (Chiefs)
10. DeAndre Hopkins WR (Cardinals)
11. Aaron Jones RB (Packers)
12. Stefon Diggs WR (Bills)
13. Nick Chubb RB (Browns)
14. Austin Ekeler RB (Chargers)
15. Antonio Gibson RB (Football Skins)
16. Justin Jefferson WR (Vikings)
17. Calvin Ridley WR (Falcons)
18. Saquon Barkley RB (Giants)
19. Najee Harris RB (Steelers)
20. Joe Mixon RB (Bengals)
21. DK Metcalf WR (Seahawks)
22. Clyde Edwards-Helaire RB (Chiefs)
23. David Montgomery RB (Bears)
24. AJ Brown WR (Titans)
25. Allen Robinson WR (Bears)
26. Patrick Mahomes QB (Chiefs)
27. Keenan Allen WR (Chargers)
28. Darren Waller TE (Raiders)
29. George Kittle TE (49’ers)
30. Miles Sanders RB (Eagles)
31. D’Andre Swift RB (Lions)
32. Josh Jacobs RB (Raiders)
33. Josh Allen QB (Bills)
34. Mike Evans WR (Buccaneers)
35. CeeDee Lamb WR (Cowboys)
36. Terry McLauren WR (Football Skins)
37. Myles Gaskin RB (Dolphins)
38. Chris Godwin WR (Buccaneers)
39. Chris Carson RB (Seahawks)
40. JK Dobbins RB (Ravens)
41. Robert Woods WR (Rams)
42. Amari Cooper WR (Cowboys)
43. DJ Moore WR (Panthers)
44. Darrell Henderson RB (Rams)
45. Damien Harris RB (Patriots)
46. Cooper Kupp WR (Rams)
47. Mike Davis RB (Falcons)
48. Ja’Marr Chase WR (Bengals)
49. Kyler Murray QB (Cardinals)
50. Dionte Johnson WR (Steelers)
51. Melvin Gordon RB (Broncos)
52. Julio Jones WR (Titans)
53. Brandon Aiyuk WR (49’ers)
54. Adam Thielen WR (Vikings)
55. Tyler Lockett WR (Seahawks)
56. Lamar Jackson QB (Ravens)
57. Tee Higgins WR (Bengals)
58. JuJu Smith-Schuster WR (Steelers)
59. James Robinson RB (Jaguars)
60. Ronald Jones RB (Buccaneers)
Welp, these are my top sixty guys…. Basically the first five rounds of a twelve-team league. It will change with camp & pre-season events and shifts a little on the fly based on the real time draft itself. They’re pretty much aligned with a lot of the “expert” rankings out there with a few exceptions….
The names in my first two rounds (Top 24) are mostly the names you’d expect in fantasy rankings. In PPR (Points Per Reception) I’m much higher on wide receivers with 100+ catch potential – guys like Stefon Diggs, DeAndre Hopkins, and Davante Adams. Even putting a tight end (Travis Kelce) up that high feels weird until you really look at the absolute value of getting someone at that position who is basically stats-wise another WR1.
But keeping in mind that star-quality, lions-share playing time type running backs are scarce, I quickly fill up the board with those guys shortly thereafter. As for McCaffrey at number 1, I actually tried to separate myself from most fantasy analysts by making a case for him to be behind Dalvin Cook and I just couldn’t do it. Barring injury, he’s way on top as he projects as a true RB1 who will also give you borderline WR1 receiving numbers. Cook is great but CMC is next level.
Really Doc, That High?
I was asked this question a lot in college and it usually wasn’t about fantasy football. I’m a little (and maybe more than a little) higher on the following players but here’s why:
DeAndre Hopkins: 100+ receptions potential…. easy; 1300+ yards?…. very doable; TD’s?…. only 6 last season but he’s been to double digits 3 out of his last 6 seasons…. young QB on the rise, especially in passing department?…. ✅…. being the top WR in fantasy ain’t too much of a reach
Nick Chubb: In PPR format I’ll admit #13 is reaching…. I just feel he’s probably the best pure runner in football and the Browns offense (4th in the NFL last season in rushing play percentage) is getting better which means hopefully more goal line opportunities…. even with Kareem Hunt he’ll get the numbers to back up this lofty expectation
Miles Sanders: Seems the fantasy football industry is way down on this kid this year and I’m puzzled…. yes the Eagles’ coaching staff has hinted at a time share with Boston Scott but from a pure production standpoint you can’t argue with almost 1100 total yards in 11 starts in an injury-plagued season last year and over 1300 total yards, 6 TD’s, & 50 catches his rookie year in 2019…. if Jalen Hurts opens up the offense a little he’ll be a Top 30 guy
Mike Evans: A full season contending with Antonio Bryant and the possibility of another less than 80 catch season might deter the average fantasy manager…. to me, it’s all about dependability…. if I can count on almost 1200 yards and flirting with double digit TD’s every year for seven straight seasons from my wideout, the back end of Round 3 isn’t all that daring
Myles Gaskin: This may hinge upon Tua taking a step forward in 2021, something I’m not 100% confident in…. but you can’t argue with his situation: no real competition for touches, nearly 1000 total yards & 5 TD’s in 10 games last year (and really only seven starts)…. I’ve only seen him in a couple of folks’ Top 40 so I’ll admit this is a leap but I’m actually just banking on seeing that production per game taking a little step forward with the addition of a full season being the lead back…. not too much of a stretch
Ja’Marr Chase: The old rule was “Never take a rookie wideout with a Top 50 pick”…. that adage held up until last season when Justin Jefferson broke all the rules…. Chase can be that guy this year – lots of playing time in a pass-happy offense with his old college QB and the speed & agility to make big plays…. there might be a couple games early on that will be just so-so getting use to the pro game but a Top 50 fantasy production season is right there for him
James Robinson: It’s a Gosh Darn Greek Tragedy what happened to this kid on draft night…. one of the best fantasy seasons from an undrafted rookie ever…. 8th best non-QB player in PPR…. Over 1400 total yards & 10 TD’s playing from behind with horrendous QB’s and the 10th worst OL in the league while playing in only FOURTEEN GAMES (!!!!)…. welp, that’s all in the past now as the Jags took one of the most versatile backs in the draft in Travis Etienne with one of their 1st round selections…. I really like Etienne but they did JRob dirty…. but something tells me this kid hangs around, is more a part of this burgeoning offense than you think, maybe even becomes the “Nick Chubb” to Etienne’s “Kareem Hunt”…. it’s a risk but the upside is a bargain at his current ADP
Get Low…. Get Low…. Get Low
To quote Lil’ Jon, as I do often: from the window to the wall these are the players I’m low on. Not fading per se, but clearly I probably won’t get the following guys on my teams in most drafts….
Saquon Barkley: Everything out of Giants camp is scaring me about this dude…. maybe not quite healthy from last year’s season ending injury, huge upgrades in the passing department, he’s still on the Giants…. yeah, gotta get low on this guy…. if he turns out having a great bounce back year I’ll regret it but I just think there’s many other options I’d go with before taking him in the Top 17…. I wish him nothing but success but he probably won’t fall to me where I have him
George Kittle: He’s actually on my team in a deep keeper big money league but he aggravates me…. the guy plays with an absolutely kamikaze style of play which lends itself to injury every down he’s out there…. at his best he’s a TE with WR1 upside but at his worst he’s a guy that might start 10 games for ya…. he’ll probably go higher than #29 but I can’t justify an early 3rd round pick on him
D’Andre Swift: He’s a running back for the Lions which ain’t been helpful the past 8 years…. I could probably just end it there but I’ll continue…. Detroit went out and got Jamaal Williams as his backup, a guy I really like and you’ll read about in future articles…. his usage plus the fact Swift only garnered two games last season of over 100 total yards and had just under 900 total yards all year are all warning signs…. yet his name appears in many Top 25 lists and it baffles me…. oh, and he’s a running back for the Lions
JK Dobbins: Third in yards per carry & 18th in rushing yards in the NFL is, well, very good…. plus he no longer has Mark Ingram to contend with…. and that second year bounce where he’s more acclimated to the game and comfortable with the offense…. yeah I get it but I just think on a team where the QB is their leading rusher and certainly the primary goal line back is a definite minus for me…. plus 18 receptions in 15 games for PPR format doesn’t scream third round pick or better heading into draft night…. if he falls to me at #40 great but anything higher I’ll risk missing out
Travis Etienne: See James Robinson above…. “He’s gonna be our third down back…. a gadget guy” should be no assurance that a rookie running back is gonna finish Top 60 in fantasy this season…. love the kid, love his explosiveness, love his game & versatility…. but landing spot, competition for touches (JRob & Carlos Hyde), and how he fits in this below average offense all point to a trying year for him…. Dynasty/Deep Keeper Formats = YES…. redraft = not so much
Well there’s my Top 60 with a little analysis and break down!
My next article will delve into the guys that will really win your league (ie. mid range to late round guys) and some lottery ticket-type players I’m taking chances on in various drafts. Stay tuned for more action packed, informative yet entertaining articles in the next few weeks as we all prepare for draft season. Thanks again to the fine folks at wager.life for this opportunity and check back for my future articles on fantasy football plus some NFL & college football analysis as well.
And we will have a future announcement on a fun fantasy league sponsored by wager.life and contests for league entry. The countdown to opening weekend begins….