Post-Draft Market Report: Veterans


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Post-Draft Market Report: Veterans

We finally made it to the NFL’s first big event since Super Bowl LV, and there’s plenty of fallout from this year’s draft. The 2021 rookie class is obviously getting most of the spotlight, but this year’s freshmen will also have a huge impact on their new teammates for the upcoming season. Let’s dive in to see which veteran players are looking better and which veteran players are looking worse for fantasy for the 2021 season based on the results of the NFL Draft.


Players whom we’re feeling more optimistic about based on the selections and trades coming out of the 2021 Draft.


Justin Herbert (LAC) — The Chargers made it a priority to upgrade their offensive line for their rising second-year quarterback this off-season. They signed the best center in the league from last season in Corey Linsley and they also added Matt Feiler to fill out the right side of their offensive line. Los Angeles entered the draft looking to fill out the left side of its line, and rumors swirled before the draft that the franchise could trade up for Herbert’s Oregon teammate Penei Sewell if he fell past the Bengals. Well, Sewell did fall in the first round to the Lions, but the Chargers held tight at No. 13 and their patience paid off by landing the second-best tackle prospect in Rashawn Slater. The Northwestern product opted out of his final collegiate season, but he didn’t allow a sack as a junior in 2019 despite going against the likes of Chase Young and A.J. Epenesa among others. Herbert was pressured on 36.6% of his dropbacks as a rookie last season (per PFF) so he should feel more comfortable to hang in the pocket as a sophomore after Los Angeles’ additions this off-season. The Chargers also gave Herbert a weapon in Day Two by drafting Tennessee WR Josh Palmer at No. 77. (Tom Brolley)

Matt Ryan (Atl) — Amid a lot of speculation that the Falcons could take a quarterback in this loaded class, there was apparently not a whole lot of concern from Ryan’s perspective that would be the case. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, has told people within the Falcons organization that he believes he has multiple good years left, and the twilight of his career just got a whole lot easier with the addition of TE Kyle Pitts to the equation. Arguably the best tight end prospect ever, Pitts should come in and immediately contribute to this loaded offense, and keep in mind that new HC Arthur Smith has a background as a tight ends coach. It’s a perfect fit. On an aside, I also don’t buy that the Falcons are going to trade Julio Jones — there’s been some speculation to that, but it makes sense for them to just try to score as many points as possible and make life easy on Ryan, who once again has that Steady Eddie mid-round QB appeal. (Joe Dolan)

Lamar Jackson (Bal) — It’s not a huge upgrade considering anybody on planet earth could have mocked a wide receiver to the Ravens, but adding a strong possession type of guy in Rashod Bateman in Round 1 gives Lamar the kind of receiver he’s lacked the last few years. Bateman should step in at “X” in Week 1, allowing Marquise Brown to play a more natural movement receiver position (Sammy Watkins was signed as well). It gives Lamar three young players around him — TE Mark Andrews included — that raise his passing ceiling. While Jackson isn’t great for the numbers of those players, nor is the run-heavy nature of this offense, they definitely help him out when it comes to fantasy. (JD)

Daniel Jones (NYG) — The Giants were hellbent on making Jones, their 2019 first-round pick, successful in 2021 and beyond after a bumpy first two seasons in the league. They signed the top WR to hit the open market this off-season in X receiver Kenny Golladay, and GM Dave Gettleman wanted to round out their new-look receiving corps by landing either DeVonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle to split the Z and slot WR roles with Sterling Shepard this season. The problem was the Eagles also wanted Smith so they traded ahead of the Giants to No. 10 to land the Alabama receiver. With the top three WRs off of the board, Gettleman traded down nine spots to No. 20 where he reached a bit for Toney as the fourth WR in the 2021 draft. Toney will be a bit of a project as a rookie, but he has the potential to be another explosive receiver for Jones along with Golladay and Darius Slayton. Jones, who threw for just 11 TDs last season, no longer has any excuses for uneven play in his third season with one of the better receiving corps in the league. He’ll have boom-or-bust potential as a mid-QB2 option in drafts this summer. (TB)

Ryan Fitzpatrick (Was) — Washington had its chance to move up and potentially snag either Justin Fields or Mac Jones on the first day of the NFL Draft, but first-year GM Martin Mayhew elected to stand pat and draft Kentucky LB Jamin Davis to improve its already formidable defense. The Football Team could easily snag a quarterback on Day Two or Day Three, but whoever they land is unlikely to unseat Fitzpatrick by Week 1. Fitz has been sneaky fantasy gold when he’s been in the lineup over his last two stints with the Dolphins and Buccaneers, and he landed in a Washington offense that’s loaded with dynamic skill talent between Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, Antonio Gibson, and Logan Thomas. Over seven starts with the Dolphins last season, Fitz averaged 256.0 passing yards and 20.7 rushing yards per game with 12 TD passes and two rushing scores. Mayhew also gave him some protection in Round Two (Texas OT Sam Cosmi) and a speedster in Round Three (North Carolina WR Dyami Brown). Fitz is an intriguing late-QB2 option in re-draft formats and he’ll be a little riskier in best ball formats since he’s not guaranteed to be the starter for the entire season. (TB)

Kirk Cousins (Min) — Vikings GM Rick Spielman made one of the savviest moves on Day One of the NFL Draft by trading back from No. 14 to No. 23 with the Jets. Minnesota coveted offensive or defensive line help in the draft and it still landed one of their top targets in tackle Christian Darrisaw. Our Greg Cosell believes Darrisaw has the traits to be a Day One starter at left tackle and he didn’t see a meaningful dropoff from Penei Sewell and Rashawn Slater to the Virginia Tech product. Darrisaw didn’t allow a sack in six games last season, and his addition at left tackle will be welcomed by Cousins, who was pressured at the fourth-highest rate last season at 38.6% (per PFF). Justin Jefferson averaged 15.9 YPR as a rookie last season, and he could be even more dangerous this season if Cousins is given more time to operate. (TB)

Joe Burrow (Cin) — It says a lot about what Burrow thinks of his former LSU — and now current Bengals — teammate Ja’Marr Chase that he apparently was lobbying for Chase at #5 overall over taking an offensive lineman like Penei Sewell. It’s hard to forget Burrow’s gruesome leg injury from last year, but if he can recover for this season and the Bengals spend some valuable Day 2 capital on protecting Burrow, his fantasy ceiling is huge with Chase — the best WR prospect in this class and in quite some timeTee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, and Joe Mixon coming out of the backfield. The Bengals did misread the tackle market early on Day Two, trading back with the Patriots from No. 38 to No. 46 and then reaching for Clemson OT Jackson Carman. Still, if reports on Burrow are positive throughout the summer, he’s going to be one of my most drafted best-ball QBs. (JD)

Jalen Hurts (Phi) — Philly was one of those teams that could have done anything in the first round and it wouldn’t have been a surprise. GM Howie Roseman is super aggressive and has also gone off the board for some bizarre picks — including Hurts himself. So when the Eagles traded up to #10 overall on Thursday night, it wouldn’t even have been shocking if they did so for another QB like Justin Fields. But instead, Philly provided both an endorsement for Hurts as their 2021 starter at QB and help for him to succeed with WR DeVonta Smith, the Heisman Trophy winner and Hurts’ former teammate at Alabama. Based on his four-game sample as a starter last season, Hurts’ ADP is already super high (76.95 over the last month at the NFFC), and I can’t imagine it’s going to dip now that he has one of the top receivers in the Draft at his disposal. The Eagles also landed another Alabama prospect in C Landon Dickerson to solidify Hurts’ offensive line. If you want Hurts for fantasy in 2021, prepare to pay up. (JD)

Tua Tagovailoa (Mia) — I don’t think the Dolphins’ trade up from 12 to 6 worked out exactly as they planned — they gave up a 2021 4th-round pick and a 2022 1st-round pick in the process — as neither Kyle Pitts nor Ja’Marr Chase was available at 6. The consolation prize certainly won’t disappoint Tua, though, as he is reunited with his college teammate in Jaylen Waddle, an explosive receiving prospect who gives Tua even more firepower as he looks to improve on a mediocre rookie campaign. Waddle joins DeVante Parker, Will Fuller, and TE Mike Gesicki in one of the most interesting and diverse groups of receivers in the AFC. The Dolphins also added to their offense on Day Two by landing Notre Dame OT Liam Eichenberg and Boston College TE Hunter Long. Tua has plenty around him to succeed, and potentially pay off his low ADP multiple times over. (JD)

Sam Darnold (Car) — Darnold is having one hell of an off-season and he’s suddenly back on the map in two-QB leagues. First, he got out of a toxic situation with the Jets this off-season after Adam Gase ran his career into the ground through three seasons. The Panthers then traded his competition for playing time when they sent Teddy Bridgewater to Denver before the draft. Finally, the Panthers passed on selecting Justin Fields and Mac Jones with the No. 8 pick, which firmly entrenched Darnold as the team’s starting quarterback this season. Carolina made it official by exercising Darnold’s fifth-year extension after the first day of the draft so they’re throwing themselves behind the 23-year-old quarterback for at least the 2021 season. The only move that didn’t go his way was the Panthers using that eighth overall pick on South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn, but the Panthers made up for it by landing LSU WR Terrace Marshall at No. 59 and BYU OT Brady Christensen at No. 70. Darnold will still be a bottom-10 starting quarterback for fantasy to start the season, but he at least has some hope now. He’s far away from Gase and he’s in a much better situation with OC Joe Brady and WRs D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson, whom he had his best connection with in New York. (TB)

Kyler Murray (Ari) — The Cardinals didn’t move up draft one of the Alabama WRs in the first round, as they were rumored to potentially do, but they still landed a playmaker for Kyler on Day Two by drafting Rondale Moore. The Purdue product certainly doesn’t have the biggest frame (5’7”, 181 pounds) for the scattershot Murray, but he’ll bring some much-needed YAC ability, which has been absent in Arizona’s offense with Larry Fitzgerald manning the slot. Murray won’t be lacking for weapons this season with the Cardinals running four deep at wide receiver if Arizona can squeeze anything out of 32-year-old A.J. Green. Murray will be in the running to be drafted as the QB2 along with Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, and Dak Prescott. (TB)


Myles Gaskin (Mia) — Gaskin has emerged from free agency and the NFL Draft atop of Miami’s running back depth chart, which was a mild upset entering this off-season. The Dolphins added veteran Malcolm Brown to compete for the top backup spot, and they passed on running backs with each of their five picks on the first two days of the draft. They even gave him some help by landing Notre Dame OT Liam Eichenberg in the second round. Gaskin has a path to bellcow status with just Brown and Salvon Ahmed behind him, and the Dolphins’ offense has a chance to break out this season after adding Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle this off-season. Gaskin’s ADP could rise into the fourth round this summer after he owned an ADP of 78.3 in BestBall10s during April. (TB)

Chase Edmonds (Ari) — Edmonds has been a big winner this off-season with Cardinals letting Kenyan Drake walk while bringing in the oft-injured James Conner as the only additional competition for touches. The Cardinals had just two picks inside the top-150 picks in this year’s draft, and they spent them on Tulsa LB Zaven Collins (No. 16) and Purdue WR Rondale Moore (No. 49) instead of at running back. Conner figures to work primarily as the team’s early-down runner, but Edmonds’ role could grow some on early downs after he averaged 6.1 per game. Edmonds should continue to dominate passing-game work in this backfield after he averaged 3.3 receptions per game. His BestBall10 ADP of 65.5 in April could be on the rise into the fifth round after a positive draft for the fourth-year back. (TB)

Mike Davis (Atl) — The Falcons purged the top of their running back depth chart by letting Todd Gurley, Ito Smith, and Brian Hill walk this off-season. The only major move new GM Terry Fontenot made was to bring in the veteran Davis on a two-year, $5.5 million contract. He earned the multi-year contract after racking up the 12th-most FPG (207.5) as the fill-in starter for Christian McCaffrey for most of the 2020 season. Davis has once again found himself in an enviable fantasy position as the top option in Atlanta after the Falcons passed on selecting backs on the first two days of the draft. They even drafted him some offensive line help by taking Michigan OT Jalen Mayfield early in the third round. Davis could be looking at a bellcow role in Arthur Smith’s potentially potent offense so expect his ADP to skyrocket into the fifth or sixth round after he owned an ADP of 101.8 in BestBall10s during April. (TB)

Dalvin Cook (Min) — Cook has been one of the league’s best runners on off-tackle carries and he’ll now be running behind one of the draft’s best tackles starting in 2021. Vikings GM Rick Spielman made one of the savviest moves on Day One of the NFL Draft by trading back from No. 14 to No. 23 with the Jets. Minnesota coveted offensive or defensive line help in the draft and it still landed one of their top targets in tackle Christian Darrisaw. Our Greg Cosell believes Darrisaw has the traits to be a Day One starter at left tackle and he didn’t see a meaningful dropoff from Penei Sewell and Rashawn Slater to the Virginia Tech product. Darrisaw excelled as an outside puller and at working to the second level as a run blocker with the Hokies, so don’t be surprised if Cook is following Darrisaw on some of his longer runs this season. The Vikings also added Ohio State OG Wyatt Davis at No. 86, who Cosell saw as a perfect piece for Minneosta’s zone run game. (TB)

D’Andre Swift (Det) — Swift was a big loser of free agency given the Lions signed Jamaal Williams to a multi-year contract, but at the least he’s somewhat of a winner of the NFL Draft with top tackle prospect Penei Sewell dropping into the laps of Detroit at #7 overall. Keep in mind that the Lions still have what could be the NFL’s worst receiving corps, and while there are plenty of chances to address that on Day 2 and beyond, new coach and knee-eater Dan Campbell almost certainly will want to run the ball to death behind an improved offensive line that could be the best position group on the team. I still expect Williams to get way too many carries, frustrating those who have invested in Swift for both dynasty and redraft, but there should be plenty of room to run for the talented second-year back. (JD)

David Montgomery (Chi) — Montgomery hasn’t had the best off-season with the Bears inking Damien Williams after he opted out for the 2020 season. Montgomery’s breakout 2020 fantasy campaign was also aided by Tarik Cohen’s ACL injury early last season, and he’ll be back in the lineup to soak up passing-down snaps this season. Montgomery did get some good news during the draft, though, with the Bears landing Ohio State QB Justin Fields in the first round and Oklahoma State OT Teven Jenkins in the second round. Jenkins’ presence is the most intriguing for Montgomery since our Greg Cosell believes he can set a physical tempo for an offense with his nastiness as a run blocker. Montgomery rightfully isn’t getting overdrafted based on his December fantasy performance, and his low-end RB2 price looks spot-on with his current ADP sitting at 37.5 in BestBall10s during April. (TB)


Tennessee Titans receivers (Ten) — A.J. Brown’s fantasy value is to the moon this off-season since he could challenge for one of the largest target shares in the league this season. Corey Davis (Jets) and Jonnu Smith (Patriots) each left in free agency, and Titans GM Jon Robinson failed to draft a WR until the fourth round when he selected Louisville’s Dez Fitzpatrick. The only minor move the Titans made to upgrade their receiving corps was the addition of WR Josh Reynolds in free agency, who is an intriguing dart throw late in drafts with his ADP sitting north of 200 picks. Move TE Anthony Firkser is also going to be one of my favorite TE3 options in best ball formats since he should see an expanded role in new OC Todd Downing’s offense. (TB)

New Orleans Saints receivers (NO) — WR Tre’Quan Smith and TE Adam Trautman have quietly been two of the biggest winners in the Saints offense this off-season. Veterans Emmanuel Sanders (Bills) and Jared Cook (Chargers) got squeezed out of New Orleans because of their cap situation, which promoted Smith and Trautman to larger roles. The Saints then passed on drafting receivers through the first four rounds of the draft to solidify their positions in New Orleans’ new-look offense in 2021. Smith and Trautman should also be the biggest beneficiaries of Drew Brees’s retirement. Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill will be much more aggressive downfield passers, and Brees had the tendency to lock in on his top two targets, Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara. Trautman and Smith are receivers to remember late in fantasy drafts since they’re being completely undervalued with ADPs of 172.2 and 221.7, respectively. (TB)

Detroit Lions receivers (Det) — Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman each picked a good spot to try to revive their careers since they’ll have little competition for WR targets and playing time in this barren Detroit receiving corps. New GM Brad Holmes passed on drafting on wide receivers through the first two days of the draft, and he finally addressed Detroit’s glaring need for WR help in the fourth round when they selected Amon-Ra St. Brown. The USC product should man the slot for Jared Goff this season, but Williams and Perriman will be the favorites to lead the Lions’ WRs in targets. Both Williams and Perriman have ADPs sitting north of 200 picks, and they could be worth dart throws late in drafts since they could see some volume this season and they’re not devoid of talent. T.J. Hockenson is still the favorite to pace the Lions in targets this season, and he’s the one Detroit receiver to actively target in the sixth or seventh round. (TB)

Jacksonville Jaguars receivers (Jax) — Duh. The Jags made the no-brainer selection of Trevor Lawrence at #1 overall, and it instantly raises the ceiling of their entire offense. It’s a big boost for DJ Chark, Laviska Shenault, Marvin Jones, and Collin Johnson. Chark in particular is a great post-hype sleeper, given just 68.4% of his 92 targets were catchable last year, per SIS (by comparison, elite producers can have a catchable target rate north of 80%). Shenault is also intriguing given coach Urban Meyer’s history of using players like him (Percy Harvin, Curtis Samuel) in his college days. Lawrence gives the Jaguars juice. (JD)

New York Jets receivers (NYJ) — Sam Darnold was a disaster in New York — so much so that you could argue Joe Flacco outplayed him last year — and the Jets drafting a quarterback was inevitable. It would be hard for Zach Wilson to not be an improvement for this receiving corps, but another boon for the Jets is the fact that their offensive line has received a major overhaul the last two years, with first-round selections on tackle Mekhi Becton and G/T Alijah Vera-Tucker. Many would argue the Jets gave up way too much for Vera-Tucker (the Vikings picked up two third-round picks to trade back nine spots and still got Christian Darrisaw), but AVT is a polished prospect who has tackle upside but could start at guard Day 1. Things are looking up on Broadway. (JD)

San Francisco 49ers receivers (SF) — It could take some time for Trey Lance to develop — he started only one season at FCS North Dakota State — but he’s an electric talent who played under center more than any top QB in this draft, and coach Kyle Shanahan was reportedly wowed by Lance’s smarts. I’ll contend that he’ll start sooner rather than later, and the kind of upside his arm talent and mobility gives this offense is off the charts. You wonder how much Lance’s running ability will be part of Shanahan’s design now, which could take some target volume away from Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, and George Kittle, but Lance’s overall ability should make the spacing of this offense lethal. Big plays are coming in the Bay Area. (JD)

Chicago Bears receivers (Chi) — Allen Robinson has been hamstrung by terrible quarterback play throughout his pro and college careers, but there could be some hope in the near future for him and the rest of the Bears receivers after GM Ryan Pace traded up from No. 20 to No. 11 to select a falling Justin Fields. Pace claimed after Day One of the draft that Andy Dalton was still the team’s starter, but we’ll see how long that lasts since Pace and HC Matt Nagy are squarely on the chopping block if they don’t improve upon their 8-8 record from 2020. Fields could be a work in progress as a rookie, but he’ll at least give A-Rob, Darnell Mooney, and Cole Kmet some much-needed upside compared to Dalton if Fields is able to live up to his potential. (TB)

New England Patriots receivers (NE) — Bill Belichick got his man, Mac Jones, and he didn’t even have to trade up from No. 15 to select the Alabama quarterback. Jones is likely to see significant time at some point in 2021, but Belichick giving Cam one last chance as the starter to begin the season. Cam will have to play much better than he did in 2020 if he has any chance to hold off Jones this season, and I’m not willing to make that bet after what we saw from a broken-down Cam last season. He threw for a miserable eight touchdowns in 15 games while averaging a league-low 177.1 passing yards per game. Granted, Cam did have the worst receiving corps in the league last season, but he’s been trending in the wrong direction for the last four seasons. He’s averaging just 7.0 YPA with a 63.6 completion percentage and a 3.8% TD rate over his last 47 games in 2017-20. The Patriots invested major money in free agents Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, Nelson Agholor, and Kendrick Bourne, and they can’t let those receivers go to waste playing with Cam for too long. Jones will give this passing game its best chance at sustained success this season, and I’ll only be targeting these Patriots receivers if it looks like Jones will play early in 2021. (TB)


Players whom we’re feeling less optimistic about based on the selections and trades coming out of the 2021 Draft.


Aaron Rodgers (GB) — The reports emerged just a few hours before Thursday night’s first round of the NFL Draft — Rodgers isn’t happy with the Packers front office and wants out. Heck, there was even a moment when it looked like Rodgers would be traded to Denver, one of his preferred spots. For now, the Packers are holding onto the MVP quarterback, but yet again they passed on an opportunity to strengthen his supporting cast in the first round, taking Georgia CB Eric Stokes (some consider Stokes a reach). It appears that Rodgers wants more than a new contract, and it remains to be seen if the star and the Packers can patch things up. If not, it’s Jordan Love time. (JD)

Deshaun Watson (Hou) — The Texans raised eyebrows across the league when they used their first pick in the NFL Draft to take Stanford QB Davis Mills at No. 67. The selection is yet another signal that Deshaun Watson may have played his final snap for the Texans. Houston has now brought in three quarterbacks this off-season in Mills, Tyrod Taylor, and Ryan Finley. Watson’s legal issues aren’t going away any time soon, which has also made him virtually impossible to trade at this point. His future in Houston is all but non-existent barring a major turn of events, and Watson’s alleged incidents of sexual misconduct could keep him off the field for some or all of 2021. Watson should be avoided in drafts while his off-the-field drama plays out this summer. (TB)

Ryan Tannehill (Ten) — Tannehill has taken hit after hit this off-season with Corey Davis (Jets) and Jonnu Smith (Patriots) leaving in free agency. The only minor move they made to upgrade their receiving corps was the addition of WR Josh Reynolds in free agency, and Titans GM Jon Robinson did Tannehill no favors by failing to draft a WR until the fourth round in Louisville’s Dez Fitzpatrick. Tannehill will have few playmakers at receiver and his fantasy fortunes will live and die based on A.J. Brown’s weekly performances this season. (TB)

Andy Dalton (Chi) — Dalton’s run as Chicago’s “QB1” lasted 37 exhilarating days. The veteran starting quarterback became Chicago’s QB2 after GM Ryan Pace traded up nine picks to land a falling Justin Fields with the No. 11 pick. Pace claimed after Day One of the draft that Dalton was still the team’s starter, but we’ll see how long that lasts since Pace and HC Matt Nagy are squarely on the chopping block if they don’t improve upon their 8-8 record from 2020. Dalton may in fact start a few games to start this season to give Fields more time to get comfortable with the offense, but it would be a mild upset if Fields isn’t starting by the time the calendar flips to October. Dalton was barely on the radar in two-QB leagues before the draft and, needless to say, he can be forgotten about in drafts with Fields likely to get the vast majority of starts in Chicago this season. (TB)

Cam Newton (NE) — The Patriots brought back Cam on just a one-year deal this off-season so his rope as the team’s starter was already short heading into the NFL Draft. It got a little shorter on Day One of the draft when Bill Belichick got his potential quarterback of the future in Alabama QB Mac Jones. Belichick said “Cam’s our quarterback” at the end of the first round, but he did hedge a bit when he added that Jones and Jarrett Stidham (remember him?) will have the chance to compete for the job when they prove they’re ready. Jones is likely to see significant time at some point in 2021, but Belichick giving Cam one last chance as the starter to begin the season. Cam will have to play much better than he did in 2020 if he has any chance to hold off Jones this season, and I’m not willing to make that bet after what we saw from a broken-down Cam last season. Newton should be avoided in best ball drafts and he should be considered only as a late-round pick in deeper two-QB leagues if it looks like he’s going to open 2021 as the team’s starter. (TB)

Jimmy Garoppolo (SF) — Jimmy G might start the year for the 49ers if he doesn’t get traded, but barring a spectacular performance, it’s not long before Trey Lance will take over. Garoppolo has also played only one healthy full season in the NFL, so there’s always a chance that he could be performing well and still lose his job to injury (remember when Alex Smith lost his job to Colin Kaepernick, Niners fans?). There’s really not much else to say here. Top-five QBs play, and I expect Lance will play at some point. (JD)

Jared Goff (Det) — Goff was already a quarterback to avoid going from the Rams to the lowly Lions this off-season, and that was even before new GM Brad Holmes passed on drafting on wide receivers through the first two days of the draft. Holmes finally addressed Detroit’s glaring need for WR help in the fourth round when they selected USC’s Amon-Ra St. Brown, but his addition to the league’s worst receiving corps won’t move the needle for Goff next season. Goff will be stuck throwing to Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman as his top two WRs, and he’ll only be worth considering as a low-end option in two-QB leagues this season. (TB)


Aaron Jones (GB) — The Packers’ financial commitment to Jones is encouraging, but uh, literally everything else about the team isn’t after a blockbuster Thursday report that QB Aaron Rodgers wants out. Coming off perhaps his best season in the NFL, Rodgers isn’t happy with the franchise, and until this thing gets sorted out one way or another, it’s going to be hard to feel comfortable about what Jones’ role will be. It’s almost certain he’s going to split carries with AJ Dillon, but it’s the receiving and the touchdown upside that has made Jones an elite fantasy player. Barring Jordan Love being what Rodgers himself was when Rodgers took over for Brett Favre (and that was an extreme outlier), this offense will take a massive step back if Rodgers isn’t under center in 2021. That’s going to hurt Jones. (JD)

James Robinson (Jax) — Robinson came out of relative obscurity as an undrafted free agent out of Illinois State to become fantasy’s RB5 last season. Unfortunately, his underdog story had a not-so-happy ending when the Jaguars’ new front office selected Clemson’s Travis Etienne as the second RB to go in the first round of the 2021 draft. Etienne has the potential to be a major playmaker next to his college teammate Trevor Lawrence in Jacksonville while Robinson will need to prove himself to a second coaching staff in as many years. At least HC Urban Meyer and OC Darrell Bevell come from run-heavy backgrounds, but there’s a strong chance that Etienne, Robinson, and even Carlos Hyde are all involved in this backfield next season. Robinson’s best hope next season is that he holds a slight advantage on early-down carries and that he maintains his goal-line role, but the volume (21.4 opportunities per game) and receiving production (3.5 receptions per game) that helped him to average 18.0 FPG won’t be there this season. Robinson should be drafted in the RB3/4 range this summer, and he’ll likely need Etienne to struggle to climb back to the top of Jacksonville’s depth chart. (TB)

Melvin Gordon (Den) — The Broncos failed to land a quarterback in this year’s draft but they landed another running back after signing Gordon to a two-year, $16 million contract last off-season. Denver traded up from No. 40 to No. 35 to draft North Carolina’s Javonte Williams, who projects to be a feature runner and a potential three-down back at the next level. Gordon and Williams are likely to start the season in a timeshare with the rookie likely to be Denver’s top option by the end of the season. Gordon’s ADP is going to plummet from his fifth-round status from before the draft, and he’s going to have minimal upside as an RB4 this season. (TB)

Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson (SF) — HC Kyle Shanahan loves to keep a full stable of running backs at his disposal, and the 49ers added to their backfield by trading up to No. 88 to select Ohio State RB Trey Sermon. He’ll join Mostert, Wilson, Wayne Gallman, and JaMycal Hasty in San Francisco’s competition for playing time next season. Sermon will be more of a long-term solution for the 49ers since he’ll be under contract for the next four years while Mostert, Wilson, and Gallman are each signed only through the upcoming season. Both Mostert and Wilson are risky propositions at their current ADPs of 71.8 and 99.7, respectively, since Shanahan is likely to use a committee approach with his backfield this season. (TB)

Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland (Pit) — Pittsburgh’s desire to draft Alabama RB Najee Harris was one of the worst kept secrets entering the 2021 NFL Draft. Even with Pittsburgh’s love affair for Harris widely known, no other team jumped ahead of the Steelers to take Harris before the 24th pick. The five-star recruit and 2020 Heisman finalist will immediately jump to the top of Pittsburgh’s running back depth chart, and it would be a mild surprise if he doesn’t step into a bellcow role as a rookie. Snell’s best-case scenario is that he steals goal-line work from Harris this season while McFarland will try to pry some passing-down work away, but Harris is likely to dominate the work and to touch rock 20+ times per game this season. Both Snell and McFarland will be off the radar in re-draft formats and they don’t need to be rostered in shallow dynasty leagues. (TB)


Davante Adams (GB) — Adams is arguably the best receiver in football, but even he would take a massive step back in production if Aaron Rodgers’ reported desire to leave the Packers comes to fruition. For now, it appears that Green Bay is holding onto Rodgers, as you might think a team with the reigning MVP would want to do, but until this whole thing gets sorted out, it might be tough for best ball drafters to spend a first-round pick on Adams. We’ve seen these situations get cleaned up in the past, but it’s a new day for NFL quarterback empowerment, and Rodgers is apparently fed up. Jordan Love is talented, but the downgrade from Rodgers to the second-year QB would be immense. (JD)

Tee Higgins (Cin) — Higgins had a spectacular rookie season and is obviously a big part of what the Bengals will do going forward, but you have to wonder if his target volume is going to fall in 2021. He saw 108 targets last season, two behind slot god Tyler Boyd for the team lead. But keep in mind that Cincy also directed 104 targets in the direction of AJ Green’s mummy, and #5 overall pick Ja’Marr Chase is an instant upgrade over what Green gave the Bengals last season. In fact, many have argued that Chase is the best WR prospect in quite some time. Higgins is still a valuable player and can produce for fantasy, but we’d be far more optimistic on him if the Bengals drafted Penei Sewell in Round 1 and walked away with, say, Terrace Marshall in the second round. Chase’s addition is a bigger blow to Higgins than it is to Boyd. (JD)

Will Fuller (Mia) — Fuller is already going from a spot in Houston where his QB Deshaun Watson utterly peppered him with targets to a place with a promising but unknown entity in Tua Tagovailoa, who had a mediocre rookie campaign. But he also now has extreme competition for targets, even more than when he signed in Miami. With the selection of Jaylen Waddle, Fuller has yet another blue-chipper to contend for the ball, in addition to DeVante Parker and the talented but inconsistent TE Mike Gesicki. And Waddle, with his vertical explosion and YAC ability, is more of the kind of guy who will see the field over Fuller than he would over Parker. In fact, you can make the argument that when the Dolphins go with 11 personnel — likely to be their foundation — Waddle will play the target-heavy slot position, where he could become his former college teammate’s go-to guy. It’s not a major downgrade for Fuller, but a downgrade nonetheless. (JD)

Marquise Brown (Bal) — The Ravens drafted Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman with their first pick in this year’s draft, which marked the second time in the last three years they selected a WR with their first selection. Of course, Hollywood was the other WR they took in the first round during that span, and he’s looking a little worse for fantasy heading into 2021. The Ravens signed Sammy Watkins to a one-year deal during free agency and Bateman will push Brown for the limited targets that are available in Baltimore’s offense this season. Brown easily paced Baltimore’s WRs in targets last season with 100 looks, which was 52 more than the next closest WR, Willie Snead. Brown has no chance of doubling up Baltimore’s #2 WR this season, whether that’s Bateman or Watkins. Hollywood is likely to be even more volatile in Baltimore’s run-heavy offense this season without a stranglehold on the WR targets. (TB)

Jamison Crowder (NYJ) — Crowder’s days of dominating targets in New York’s offense are long gone after they signed free agents Corey Davis and Keelan Cole and after they drafted Ole Miss slot WR Elijah Moore in the second round. Crowder averaged 7.5 targets per game over his first 28 games with the Jets, but he now might be on the outside looking in with Davis, Denzel Mims, and Moore likely serving in three-WR sets. Crowder’s best hope for fantasy relevance in 2021 will be if the Jets release him before the season starts since he has $10 million in non-guaranteed money left on his contract for the season. (TB)

Eric Ebron (Pit) — The Steelers surprised many in the second round by bypassing their glaring offensive line needs and drafting the consensus TE2 in Penn State’s Pat Freiermuth, which will knock Ebron out of the low-end TE1 discussion. Ebron already had a difficult enough time standing out in a crowded Steelers’ receiving corps last season, and he’ll now be facing direct competition for TE targets this season. The Steelers have also made it known that they’re trying to fix their broken rushing attack from last season by drafting Najee Harris so Pittsburgh’s passing volume should dip this season after they led the league with 42.6 pass attempts per game. Ebron should still be the top target at TE for Ben Roethlisberger this season, but Freiermuth will be cutting his teeth before he takes over as the team’s starter after Ebron’s contract expires after 2021. (TB)

Mike Gesicki (Mia) — Gesicki was the only healthy receiver at Tua Tagovailoa’s disposal in the final two games of last season, but he’s now the #4 option in this passing attack after the Dolphins signed Will Fuller and drafted Jaylen Waddle at No. 6. Gesicki’s time in Miami could also be coming to an end after this season after the Dolphins drafted his potential replacement in Boston College’s Hunter Long. After drafting Long in the third round, Miami now owns some leverage in contract extension talks with Gesicki. The Penn State product once looked like a potential low-end TE1 option in drafts this summer, but his 110.3 ADP in BestBall10s during April will be plummeting after a rough draft. (TB)

Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton (NYG) — The Giants desperately wanted to upgrade Daniel Jones’ receiving corps this off-season, and they made their desperation a little too evident leading up to the draft, which resulted in the Eagles leaping over New York to draft DeVonta Smith at No. 10. GM Dave Gettleman wisely traded down out of the 11th overall pick to No. 20 after they could no longer draft Smith, but he reached a bit to select Florida WR Kadarius Toney. Toney will be a bit of a project as a rookie, but he has the potential to be another explosive receiver for Jones along with freshly signed Kenny Golladay. The Giants are suddenly five deep at receiver between Golladay, Shepard, Slayton, Toney, and Evan Engram so Jones no longer has any excuses for struggling heading into his third season. It also means that target competition is going to be fierce behind Golladay, who projects to be a bit of a ball hog after inking a four-year, $72 million contract this off-season. Toney may be a project but OC Jason Garrett is going to generate targets and playing time for the rookie, which is tough news for Shepard and Slayton. (TB)

D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson (Car) — The Panthers somewhat surprisingly decided to bypass the quarterback position in the draft this off-season despite owning the eighth overall pick. The Panthers traded for the damaged but talented Sam Darnold three weeks before the draft. They then went all-in on Darnold for the 2021 season by trading Teddy Bridgewater to Denver the day before the draft and by taking South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn at No. 8. Teddy certainly showed plenty of flaws as Carolina’s starter last season with just 15 touchdown passes in 15 games, but at least he averaged 22.7 completions per game and 7.6 YPA to keep Moore, Anderson, and Curtis Samuel afloat for fantasy. Darnold has the potential to take this offense to a more explosive level this season, but his track record through three seasons suggests Moore and Anderson are going to have more floor performances than we saw from them last season. Anderson did at least have a strong connection with Darnold during their two years together in New York, but these WRs are likely to be volatile fantasy assets this season unless Darnold has an epic turnaround as we saw from Ryan Tannehill in Tennessee when he got away from Adam Gase. (TB)

Jalen Reagor (Phi) — It’s almost certainly unfair to call Reagor a “bust” just yet — while he will always be compared (unfavorably) to Justin Jefferson, he played in a broken offense with a broken quarterback in 2020, after a COVID-cancelled off-season and a preseason injury. He has just 11 games under his belt, so there’s plenty of time for him to turn things around if he cleans up his maturity issues and polishes his game. But the Eagles clearly still view wide receiver as a deficient position, and the addition of the electrifying DeVonta Smith means Reagor won’t be relied on for volume in the first season of Jalen Hurts’ reign as starter in Philadelphia. Given Smith is the Eagles’ new #1 WR and Hurts is still an unknown, it’s hard to look at Reagor’s 31 catches from last year and be optimistic he’s going to explode in 2021. (JD)

Denver Broncos receivers (Den) — The Broncos surprised many and they frustrated their fans by passing on both Justin Fields and Mac Jones with the ninth overall pick, with new GM George Paton electing to draft CB Patrick Surtain instead. Paton and the Broncos front office “cooled” on Fields and Jones after trading for Teddy Bridgewater the day before the draft. Bridgewater would at least give these Broncos receivers a little better chance at fantasy survival this season, but he’s not even guaranteed to open the season as the team’s starter. It appears that the Broncos are willing to give third-year pro Drew Lock one last chance as the team’s starter. It’s tough to be optimistic for the likes of Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, and Noah Fant since Lock will need to dramatically improve upon his 6.6 YPA average and his 59.1% completion percentage through two seasons. The Broncos are at least on Aaron Rodgers’ trade “wish list” along with the 49ers and Raiders so there’s at least a remote chance the Broncos upgrade at quarterback later this off-season. We can’t bank on Rodgers being traded to Denver, though, so it’s tough to count on ceiling fantasy seasons from any of these Broncos receivers. (TB) writers Tom Brolley (TB) and Joe Dolan (JD) compiled this report.