Here's my inside look at my non-obvious keeper/dynasty league players (RB, WR, TE) to target for 2021 and beyond.
Note: You're not going to see players who've already broken out this season (see James Robinson) or are too obvious to be on this list (some examples: Jalen Reagor, Darius Slayton, Jonnu Smith).
Cam Akers (LAR): I put him on this list simply because he's in an RBBC and has not done anything yet. Keep in mind they drafted him to be their starter of the future and had he had an off-season, full training camp, and pre-season, he would be their clear main back. Now, he didn't look good in Week One before he got hurt in Week Two, and Darrell Henderson took advantage of his opportunity and ran with it. Akers, if we have a full off-season next year, should have no trouble taking over, but he needs the work--that's very clear. He was drafted to be a 3-down RB and that's still in the plans.
D'Andre Swift (Det): The rookie continues to flash each week, but the Lions coaching staff does not run an imaginative offense nor do they consistently take advantage of matchups with their players each game. Swift, who is immensely talented, should take over the starting job next year no matter who is coaching this team, but this staff simply does not completely understand how to use him. They seem hell-bent on 35-year old RB Adrian Peterson as their main early-down player at the position, but as we're seeing lately, they at least are willing to take some of 3rd-year RB Kerryon Johnson's 3rd down role and gave some to Swift last week against the Falcons.
Zack Moss (Buf): The rookie unfortunately suffered a lingering toe injury which has curtailed his production so far, but he'll be heavily involved in their running game going forward and for future seasons. The coaching staff loves his ability to grind out yards and he could have not just a role behind starter Devin Singletary, but a role as the team's closer when they're up in the 4th quarter. They also were surprised at how well he caught the ball in training camp. And as we all saw during last week's game against the Jets, Moss wound up getting more touches than Singletary on 5 fewer snaps.
Damien Harris (NE): We all know how maddening the Patriot backfield has been for years, but with the significant injury history of former first-round pick Sony Michel, Harris could be their main RB as soon as next season.
La'Mical Perine (NYJ): We all know how dreadful the Jet offense is, but with a likely coaching change coming, Perine, who has excellent versatility, might actually have a chance to start as early as 2021. I'd get him now and stash him for the future.
Benny Snell (Pit): He fits the size profile of what the team likes in their starting RB. If they don't re-sign starter James Conner, Snell could wind up being their main early-down back.
Anthony McFarland (Pit): They're only going to use him in a change-up role this season, but he's so gifted in space that it's not out of the question that he has a much larger role next year if Conner departs.
Chase Claypool (Pit): Before his huge game against the Eagles 3 weeks ago, the rookie had not done much, so you probably could have stolen him for not very much. But that performance put him on the radar of fantasy owners. However, with Diontae Johnson back from his minor injury last week against the Titans, his role likely is not going to be quite as large (see last week's game). So, if his role continues to drop, you might actually be able to steal him in the coming weeks.
Claypool has great size and very deceptive speed. If the team doesn't re-sign WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, Claypool would have a legitimate shot to start opposite Johnson in 2021.
Laviska Shenault (Jax): He only has 29 receptions and just 1 TD and he plays for an awful team, so the rookie actually could be under-the-radar in some leagues. The Jaguars staff is still trying to figure out how to use him since he's not fast, but he's very physical and strong with the ball in his hands, which is why they'll give him some carries from time to time. There may be a coaching change here, so his numbers for the future are in flux, but he's very intriguing for the future.
Michael Pittman Jr. (Ind): He got off to a slow start before his injury and QB Philip Rivers has not played well so far, but keep your eye on Pittman for 2021 and beyond. He'll be their starting "X" WR for years to come and has a great feel for the game.
Bryan Edwards (LV): He got hurt early this season and was dealing with a few lingering injuries coming into the team's Week 8 game against the Browns. The team believes he'll be their starting "X" WR next season and beyond (even if veteran WR Tyrell Williams returns). Edwards is actually more talented than Pittman Jr., but does have an injury history going back to his days at South Carolina.
Gabriel Davis (Buf): As I noted a few times before the season started in a few of our Zoom sessions, the team is very high on Davis. And because he's so smart, they decided to give him a shot to be the main backup at X, Z, and Y (slot). I can't recall a team doing this before, so that tells you how advanced he is. And it's even more impressive that he's doing this without an off-season, preseason or a real training camp. He was drafted to take over as their X after they move on from John Brown (Stephon Diggs is their Z), which could be as soon as next season.
Darnell Mooney (Chi): Mooney was another rookie I pointed out in August that had a chance to start in year one, which has happened. However, because of the issues at QB, his numbers haven't been anything to get excited about. It should be noted that Mooney is their fastest WR and should be their Z for years to come. He'll do better once their QB situation becomes settled next year. He does need to get stronger in his upper body.
Parris Campbell (Ind): He has been through a lot of injuries in less than his 2 seasons with the team (at least 5). But he'll be their Z or slot WR in 2021.
Quintez Cephus (Det): Like Davis of the Bills, he was one of the smartest WRs for this draft and should start at the Z position for Marvin Jones in 2021.
Travis Fulgham (Phi): This guy came out of nowhere. He was claimed off waivers in August and I happened to be at his first training camp practice where he really put on quite a display of playmaking and I'm told he never slowed down, even during regular season practices. He's expected to be the starting "X" the rest of the season and has quickly developed great timing, trust, and chemistry with QB Carson Wentz. Fulgham has the best hands of any of their young WRs, is a good route runner, and runs really well after the catch. If he starts at X next year (there's no reason to think at this point that he won't), Jalen Reagor will start at Z and John Hightower will back up Reagor.
Mecole Hardman (KC): He was drafted in the 2nd round due in part to Tyreek Hill's off-the-field history, but could also start opposite Hill next year if the team doesn't re-sign oft-injured WR Sammy Watkins.
Preston Williams (Mia): Keep in mind that he's coming off of ACL reconstruction, so the very fact that he's doing decently is an encouraging sign. He had off-the-field concerns, which is why he went undrafted, but Williams is very gifted and should start for years to come. He has upside as a #3 WR for years to come.
Andy Isabella (Ari): Once ancient WR Larry Fitzgerald retires, it's expected that Isabella will take over as their slot WR. He has outstanding quickness and will fit in that role really well. And they also use him on vertical routes.
Brandon Aiyuk (SF): Aiyuk was one of the best run-after-the-catch WRs available for this year's draft and he's going to start on the outside the rest of the season and beyond. What coaches love is his versatility (he played DB in high school, KR, PR at Arizona St).
Tre'Quan Smith (NO): He has been filling in at the X position for injured WR Michael Thomas and finally has started to play well. The question is: do they think he can start at Z? If so, he could start in 2022 (Z WR Emmanuel Sanders is signed through 2021).
Marquez Callaway (NO): The team gave him a large guarantee for an undrafted free agent this year. Callaway runs better than his timed speed (4.55) and likely will factor in at the "Z" position down the line.
Jeff Smith (NYJ): He was a UDFA last year and was added to the active roster in December then got hurt. He's "extremely fast" and as you might have seen against the Broncos a few weeks ago, can get deep. He could factor in well next year and beyond.
Irv Smith (Min): Man, did he get off to a slow start, but his performance before their Week 7 bye against the Falcons was at least somewhat encouraging. We joked on SiriusXM Fantasy Football that we weren't still sure he played for the Vikings. Smith is a very gifted, athletic pass catcher, but still probably could benefit from a full off-season with OC Gary Kubiak. Still, I want him on my dynasty teams for 2021 and beyond.
Adam Trautman (NO): He was drafted to eventually take over for veteran TE Jared Cook, who is on the last season of his 2-year deal.