Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Pickups For Week 12 2.0

Who should you add on waivers this week?

By Calvin K (Twitter: @Calvin_SGF)

NOTE: These players are rostered in 40% or less of ESPN leagues

1. Devonta Freeman (RB, Baltimore Ravens)

Freeman has now solidified his hold on the Ravens backfield, racking up 22 touches on Sunday against the Bears. Freeman has been Baltimore’s back of choice over the last few weeks, and fellow RB Latavius Murray took a backseat in this game to Freeman, who has now garnered at least 13 touches in three straight matchups. The release of Le’Veon Bell will only increase Freeman’s opportunities, and while he’s not the most efficient runner compared to his younger days (only 49 rushing yards on 16 carries last week), his opportunity share still makes him a back-end RB2, placing him easily atop this week’s waiver wire adds.

2. Ty Johnson (RB, New York Jets)

Johnson has become a fantasy must-add following the news that Jets starting RB Michael Carter will miss multiple weeks with an injury. Johnson already has been somewhat involved in the Jets’ offense as of late, catching 19 passes over his last five games. Now, his carry numbers will get a chance to skyrocket in Carter’s absence, although his upside may be somewhat limited due to the presence of Tevin Coleman in the backfield as well. However, Johnson should still get some decent work in future weeks, so while he’s a risky start in fantasy as of now, he should still be rostered in all leagues.

3. A.J. Green (WR, Arizona Cardinals)

Green has been quietly productive over the last few weeks, and he had another solid game against Seattle on Sunday, catching four passes for 78 yards with Colt McCoy at the helm instead of the injured Kyler Murray. Green is currently sitting in a very crowded receiver room, so his performance can often hinge on whether the Cardinals put up a massive game that supports every wide receiver. However, Arizona’s high-powered offense has plenty of those games, which can serve to mask potential inconsistency from Green that we might otherwise see. Rondale Moore, Christian Kirk, and DeAndre Hopkins will continually eat into Green’s target share, but his week-to-week upside and relatively safe floor make him worth an add in fantasy.

4. Rondale Moore (WR, Arizona Cardinals)

Moore and Green are in similar situations, as both tend to hinder the other’s fantasy performances. However, Moore’s 11-catch day showed that, while he may be more inconsistent than Green at times, his short-yardage playmaking ability can allow him to siphon tons of targets on occasion. While this can make him a good asset in PPR leagues, the short-yardage nature of his receptions can make it difficult for him to have massive games unless he breaks off one big run, so he’s often too inconsistent to start on a week-to-week basis. However, Moore is electric with the ball in his hands, so fantasy managers could do far worse with an emergency plug-and-play.

5. Cam Newton (QB, Carolina Panthers)

Newton threw for just 189 yards on Sunday, but he still finished as the fantasy QB4 on the week (pre-MNF) due to the rushing floor that he provided. Newton picked up 46 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries, accounting for 10.6 of his fantasy points with his feet alone. This baseline will allow Newton to have good fantasy performances even on days where his passing isn’t the best, and upcoming matchups against the Dolphins and Falcons will allow Newton to truly display his upside. Newton is still a risky option at QB, but his soft schedule over the next two weeks makes him well worth an add, as he could become very valuable as a streamer at QB.

Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Pickups For Week 10 2.0

Week 10 is on the horizon

By Calvin K (Twitter: @Calvin_SGF)

NOTE: These players are rostered in 40% or less of ESPN leagues

1. Elijah Moore (WR, New York Jets)

Moore had the best game of his young career on Thursday, catching seven of eight targets for 84 yards and two scores against the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts game was a fitting accentuation to Moore’s hot stretch as of late, as his 20 targets over the last three weeks have represented a heavy involvement in the offense as of late. Moore shouldn’t be considered a safe fantasy starter just yet, but he’s still someone who should be rostered in all leagues, as he’s worth a plug-and-play because of his upside.

2. Dan Arnold (TE, Jacksonville Jaguars)

Arnold’s target share has greatly benefited from his trade to Jacksonville, as he now has 12 catches on 17 receptions in the two weeks he’s played for the Jags. Arnold can now be considered a borderline TE1 for fantasy, and good tight end options don’t come around often on the waiver wire, so he’s certainly someone that fantasy managers should look to add this week.

3. Rashod Bateman (WR, Baltimore Ravens)

Bateman has gotten better and better each game for the Ravens, and his five-catch-for-52-yard day against the Vikings on Sunday capped off a solid three-game stretch for him. Bateman hasn’t scored a touchdown yet this year, which has limited his value, but he has received 20 targets in his three active games this year (with no fewer than six in any), a very encouraging sign for his involvement in the offense. Bateman is still a low-upside option with many other pass-catchers still heavily in the Ravens’ fold, but his target share still makes him worth a pickup in fantasy leagues.

4. Sony Michel (RB, Los Angeles Rams)

A lot of Michel’s work this week (nine touches and a touchdown) came with starting RB Darrell Henderson injured, but when Henderson returned to Sunday’s contest, Michel was only a minimal contributor in the offense. Nonetheless, he’s still worth a pickup for RB-needy teams, as the Rams have shown they are willing to rely on him when necessary. Michel has six games with nine or more touches on the year, and he’s shown the ability to be physical and wear down defenders in the running game. Thus, he’s worth a fantasy stash, because if something happens to Henderson, Michel could step in and be a very viable fantasy option.

5. Tyrod Taylor (QB, Houston Texans)

Taylor is someone who doesn’t necessarily need to be added given his bad game last week, but for those who need QB help, his name is one to keep an eye on. Taylor started off the season very well for the Texans until his hamstring injury, compiling 331 total yards in Week 1 before following that up with a hot Week 2 start that got cut short by his injury. Taylor’s performance on Sunday was admittedly dreadful, but he is a dual-threat quarterback who established what he is capable of early in the year, so he could be a good bet for a bounce-back in the coming weeks.

Five Waiver Wire Targets For Week 6

Here are the waiver wire targets for Week 6

By Calvin K (Twitter: @Calvin_SGF)

The Sunday slate of NFL Week 5 action has officially wrapped up, and Sunday’s games were wild, featuring upsets, shootouts, and plenty of new storylines to unpack. As always, a new week brings new discussions regarding the fantasy football waiver wire. In this article, I’ll be naming my top five players to target on waivers this week.

(NOTE: These players are rostered in 40% or less of ESPN leagues)

Kadarius Toney (WR, New York Giants)

Toney exploded against the Cowboys on Sunday, hauling in 10 passes for a whopping 189 yards on 13 targets. The first-rounder out of Florida was able to take advantage of his many opportunities, and with Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, and Kenny Golladay injured for most or all of Sunday’s contest, he was forced into a heavy role out of necessity.

Toney was viewed mostly as a gadget player upon his entrance to the NFL, but yesterday’s performance proved he can succeed at all levels of the field. Toney is still at his best when his touches are manufactured, but he proved himself as a route-runner and separator as well. This will hopefully lead to more opportunities for Toney in the future, and we now have two weeks of evidence that he can be heavily involved in the Giants’ offense, making him more likely to retain much of his role even when his fellow wide receivers return.

Devontae Booker (RB, New York Giants)

Booker was another beneficiary of New York’s void in playmakers, and he racked up 19 touches on Sunday after starting running back Saquon Barkley left the game with a sprained ankle. Barkley’s injury is not believed to be serious, and he’s only expected to miss a week or two, but Booker should still be rostered in every league purely because of his potential for a heavy workload.

Booker was somewhat inefficient on Sunday, averaging just 2.6 yards per carry, but his fantasy day was carried by two touchdowns, one on the ground and one through the air. Those goal-line opportunities will make him a borderline starting option at running back. Although he’ll likely only be a short-term factor, Booker is really the only starting RB who is widely available right now, making him well worth a modest waiver bid.

Hunter Henry (TE, New England Patriots)

Henry has established himself as the tight end of choice in New England, and with 19 targets in his past three games, he’s become a favorite target of Patriots quarterback Mac Jones. Henry has now picked up a touchdown in back-to-back games as well, and he turned in his best performance of the year against the Texans this week, catching six or eight targets for 75 yards and a score.

It may be too soon to consider Henry as a permanent starting tight end, but he’s certainly become a decent streaming option for any tight-end-needy team. His future schedule is also looking bright, with matchups against the Cowboys and Jets coming up over the next two weeks. Henry seems like a good bet to continue his run of success in those matchups, making him someone you should certainly consider rostering on your fantasy team.

Tim Patrick (WR, Denver Broncos)

Patrick continued his stretch of productivity on Sunday, catching seven of nine targets for 89 yards against Baltimore. With K.J. Hamler out for the season and Jerry Jeudy gone, in all likelihood, until at least Week 7, Patrick’s target share should continue to be quite solid.

Patrick has scored over 11 half-PPR points in all but one game this year, averaging 5.6 targets per game, including 20 over his last three matchups. Patrick is still available in over 70% of ESPN leagues, so if you’re looking for a consistent flex, he’s a good option to consider.

Rondale Moore (WR, Arizona Cardinals)

Moore, who was Arizona’s second-round pick this year, isn’t someone you should be relying on just yet due to his inconsistent target share, but his upside that he’s flashed makes him worth an add as an end-of-bench stash. Moore will probably continue to be somewhat unreliable while competing for targets with DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, and Christian Kirk, but he will still have a clear opportunity to be the WR2 out of that group as the season progresses.

The Cardinals WR2 is likely to reap major fantasy rewards, as Kyler Murray has played in shootout after a shootout and shows no imminent signs of slowing down. The Cardinals have exceeded 30 points in four of five games this season, so there’ll almost always be lots of scoring from this offense. Green and Kirk are also worthy of roster consideration, but if you’re looking for an upside pickup, the rookie is the best bet.

Fantasy: Five early waiver wire targets for Week 4

Early Waiver Wire targets for Week 4

By Calvin K (Twitter: @Calvin_SGF)

The early and afternoon slate of Sunday NFL games has come to a close, and as usual, there are a ton of storylines to think about. Below are five early Week 4 waiver targets who could help your fantasy team.

NOTE: These players are rostered in 40% or less of ESPN leagues.

Chuba Hubbard (RB, Carolina Panthers)

Hubbard is the obvious home-run waiver add of the week, as his fantasy value could skyrocket with Panthers starting RB Christian McCaffrey out multiple weeks. When McCaffrey left in the second quarter of Carolina’s matchup with Houston, Hubbard stepped up, ending up with 11 carries for 52 yards along with three catches for 27 yards in the receiving game. This was a very encouraging stat line for Hubbard, a fourth-round rookie seeing his first meaningful NFL action, and it was clear that the coaching staff favors him over veteran backfield mate Royce Freeman.

Hubbard’s schedule over the next few weeks is also very favorable, with matchups against Dallas, Philadelphia, the Vikings, and the Giants on tap. Hubbard is a player worthy of a good portion of your season-long FAAB budget, and RB-needy teams should consider going all-in on the rookie out of Oklahoma State.

Kirk Cousins (QB, Minnesota Vikings)

Don’t look now — Cousins, who was the fantasy QB11 through the first two weeks of the season, is currently sitting as the QB6 on the week with two games left to play. The Vikings were able to secure their first victory of the season against Seattle, and with it came another good performance for Cousins, who passed for 323 yards and three touchdowns with a stellar 78.9% completion percentage. With three straight games of 22+ fantasy points, Cousins has officially left the streaming category, and he now becomes a player who should be rostered in most leagues, as well as someone who can be played with confidence in a favorable matchup.

Sammy Watkins (WR, Baltimore Ravens)

Watkins produced solid numbers in Weeks 1 and 2 of this year, and today was no different, as he caught four passes for 68 yards on seven targets against the Lions. Watkins has received at least seven targets in every game so far this year, and he’s had 26.8 half-PPR fantasy points so far despite not yet scoring a touchdown.

Fellow WR Rashod Bateman, who has missed the start of the year with a groin injury, has an unclear status for Week 4, but even if he does play, he may not be heavily involved, due to it being his first career NFL game. Bateman, who was a first-round pick, will eventually get acclimated into this offense, making Watkins best as a short-term pickup, but for now, Watkins’ target share means that he is certainly worth a stash on your bench.

Tim Patrick (WR, Denver Broncos)

Patrick has been quietly productive for a long stretch dating to the middle of last year, and his future outlook looks much more favorable with the news of fellow WR K.J. Hamler’s knee injury. Hamler left Sunday’s game against the Jets early with the injury, and his status is unknown, making Patrick well worth a waiver pickup.

Patrick has 12 catches and two touchdowns so far this year, and he’s scored double-digit fantasy points in all three weeks so far, piling up 98 yards on five catches in Week 3. With Jerry Jeudy also out for the foreseeable future, Patrick will have an opportunity to take a consistent starting WR role with this team, which could end up paying major dividends for his fantasy value.

Zach Pascal (WR, Indianapolis Colts)

It was another week with a solid target share for Pascal, but unfortunately, he couldn’t capitalize, reeling in just two of his seven targets from QB Carson Wentz. Despite his poor showing in Week 3, Pascal still totals 34.7 half-PPR points on the year, and he’s been helped by red zone targets, with three touchdowns already in 2021. That’s not bad for the former undrafted free agent. Pascal has 18 targets through the first two weeks of the season, and he should continue to be involved in the future, making him worth an add for those who need WR help.

NFL Week 1: Previewing rookie quarterbacks

Which new faces will shine the brightest?

By Calvin K (Twitter: @Calvin_SGF)

After a long and tumultuous offseason, Week 1 of the NFL season has finally arrived. There will certainly be plenty of storylines to unpack from the 15 remaining games on Sunday and Monday, not least of which will be the performances of this year’s rookie QBs. Five quarterbacks were selected in the first round of this year’s NFL draft, and three of them will start right away for their teams, bearing the burden of fan optimism from day one. In this article, I’ll be previewing those three games, analyzing the quarterbacks, and giving my final score predictions for each.

1. Jaguars vs. Texans (Trevor Lawrence)

Lawrence was the clear choice at number one overall for Jacksonville, and he’ll get to start his career with perhaps his best possible opening matchup, the dismal Houston Texans. There are no bright spots on this Texans defense, so Lawrence should definitely be able to make some noise in Week 1. Houston’s trade of starting cornerback Bradley Roby to the Saints further exacerbates their secondary problems, and it’s clear by now that the Texans’ year has been lost before it’s even begun.

Lawrence will have three solid WRs at his disposal, with Marvin Jones, D.J. Chark, and Laviska Shenault leading a group that could put up decent numbers this year. Running back James Robinson was the lone bright spot for Jacksonville last year, and if he can continue his level of play from last year, the Jags’ running game could be a problem for opposing defenses. Houston isn’t likely to get much done on offense, either, with a journeyman starting QB in Tyrod Taylor and a hodgepodge of mediocre RBs and WRs (outside of their one solid weapon, 27-year-old Brandin Cooks). The divisional rivalry could potentially add some atmosphere to this game, but viewers of this matchup are likely in for a slog, with the Jags taking victory with relative ease.

Prediction: Jaguars, 21-10

2. Jets vs. Panthers (Zach Wilson)

Wilson, this year’s number two overall pick, will also have an opportunity to succeed in Week 1, as this Panthers secondary became one of their biggest issues last year. The addition of cornerback Jaycee Horn with the eighth pick in the draft will certainly help matters, but it’s unlikely that Horn makes a big impact in his first career game. That will leave Wilson with a chance to pick apart Carolina’s defense, and with a reliable Corey Davis and explosive Elijah Moore at his disposal, he could rack up some good stats and potentially even win this matchup.

Wilson was one of my favorite prospects in this entire draft class, and my quarterback rankings actually predict him to have the best career out of all 2021 rookie QBs. His ability to launch bombs from anywhere on the field is undoubtedly the best in his draft class, and he has an underrated ability to consistently make good decisions from both inside and outside the pocket. This Jets defense will be hurt by the loss of young edge rusher Carl Lawson, but this is still a well-coached unit led by a defensive-minded HC in Robert Saleh. Carolina will certainly be a threat with Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, and Robby Anderson leading this offense, but I’ll predict that Sam Darnold continues his struggles and is unable to lead the Panthers to a victory.

Prediction: Jets, 27-21

3. Patriots vs. Dolphins (Mac Jones)

Jones was selected at number 15 overall by the Patriots, and with the release of Cam Newton, it’s now clear that he has earned the right to be New England’s starter from the beginning. He’ll have easily the toughest matchup out of all three of these QBs, facing a Dolphins team that has a tough, emerging young defense.

Cornerback Xavien Howard’s contract situation has been resolved, and he is back with the team and ready to play in 2021. This is crucial for the Dolphins, as they now get back a top-five NFL corner with the ability to lock down practically any elite receiver. Miami’s defensive line is led by edge rusher Emmanuel Ogbah (nine sacks in 2020), and Raekwon Davis and Christian Wilkins should also be serviceable starters. Jerome Baker has also been able to get sacks from his inside linebacker spot (seven last year), and this secondary also has additional solid pieces, such as Byron Jones, Jason McCourty, and an interesting second-year talent in Noah Igbinoghene. This defense will make it hard for Jones to put up monster passing numbers, but Jones’ ability to consistently make good reads could mean he still has a good game. He’ll likely be relying on tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry as establishing underneath presences, and WRs Nelson Agholor and Jakobi Meyers should be involved as well. This game will certainly be an exciting one to watch, but I’ll take Miami over New England in this one, although it should be close.

Prediction: Dolphins, 23-20

Why the Browns May Not Take the Next Step

Are the Browns legit?

By Calvin K (Twitter: @Calvin_SGF)

On the surface, the Cleveland Browns appear to have a great opportunity to contend for the AFC title this year. The Browns retained most of their key players from 2020, and they had a very successful offseason, both in free agency and in the draft. This team certainly has an opportunity to make a playoff run, but in this article, I’ll play devil’s advocate and make the case against them. Here are three reasons why the Browns won’t take a step forward in 2021.

1. Quality of Victories

The Browns finished 11-5 in 2020, losing in the divisional round to the Kansas City Chiefs after defeating the Steelers in the Wild Card game. However, five of those victories came against teams with four or fewer wins, and they also had an embarrassing loss to the 2-14 New York Jets. Eight of their victories came by single-digits, and they had three double-digit losses, including two coming by over 30 points.

Granted, the Browns did get some big wins throughout the year, with a win over Indianapolis and narrow victories over Tennessee and Pittsburgh. They also rebounded from their earlier 32-point loss to Baltimore, losing by just five, and they also came within one score of the Chiefs in their divisional-round game. However, most of their wins were extremely close games, and they were in one-possession games against Houston, Philadelphia, Jacksonville, and Cincinnati (twice). They managed to get the job done in those, winning all five, but a little bit of variance in just two of those could’ve completely changed the landscape of last season. A 9-7 (or even 10-6) Browns team would’ve missed the playoffs last season, which leads nicely into my next point: the tough competition in the AFC.

2. Competition

Even if the Browns have a great year, it could still be difficult to take a step forward and reach the championship game in 2021. The AFC had seven teams with records of 11-5 or better last year, which caused the 10-6 Dolphins to miss out on the playoffs despite the postseason expanding to seven teams per conference.

The Browns themselves had to deal with this tough competition last year, playing a grueling game against the Steelers in the Wild Card matchup before facing the juggernaut Kansas City Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes was injured for nearly half of that game, but Kansas City’s supporting cast was still good enough to hold off the Browns, exemplifying how elite they really are. The Bills, Ravens, Titans, and Colts are also teams that range from very good to dominant, and we can’t forget about the threats posed by the Patriots, Chargers, Dolphins, and Broncos, who will all have a chance to take a major step up this year. It just doesn’t seem feasible that the Browns would be able to defeat a healthy Chiefs team, and even if they could, the Bills’ high-powered offense and improved defense is in a much better position to do so anyway. The tough AFC competition will make a playoff run difficult for Cleveland, and while they could contend with most NFC teams, it isn’t smart to bet on the Browns as anything more than a Super Bowl long shot.

3. Quarterback Play

Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield is hardly a bad QB, but it is possible that he won’t be consistent enough to take this team to the top. The Browns have very few weaknesses on their overall roster, but quarterback is such an important position that even a slight disadvantage can derail a Super Bowl chance.

Mayfield certainly displayed plenty of brilliant flashes last season, but his overall body of work was mediocre, at least statistically. His worst stat last year was completion percentage, where he actually finished 30th among qualifying passers. He was also just 18th in passing yards and 15th in passing touchdowns, although those totals can be partially attributed to the run-heavy nature of the Browns’ offense. Mayfield was also 10th in ESPN’s QBR (Total Quarterback Rating), so he’s certainly not a bad player by any means, but he has struggled with decision-making at times. It’s certainly possible Mayfield is able to be a great QB, but his statistics don’t match up with elite passers in the NFL, and that could potentially become a hindrance for Cleveland’s Super Bowl hopes.

Conclusion

All of the reasons given paint an unfavorable picture for the Browns, but we shouldn’t forget the many positives that this team has as well. The Browns made many depth signings to improve their defense, and they added an edge-rushing playmaker in Jadeveon Clowney, who has the physical traits needed to wreak havoc on opposing offensive lines. The NFL draft additions of CB Greg Newsome and LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah will also be vital for this defense, and those two players could both make immediate impacts for the team.

Overall, Cleveland will enter the 2021 season with a very strong roster, and there’s no arguing against the talent that the team possesses. On paper, this team looks like a borderline Super Bowl contender. However, due to the reasons stated above, there are major obstacles standing in the way of a big next step. These obstacles are ones that can be overcome, but even so, the end of the 2021 season may not come with as rosy of a picture as Browns fans hope.

The Biggest Fantasy Risks for 2021

Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett is a high risk profile

By Calvin K (Twitter: @Calvin_SGF)

The fantasy season is nearly here, and now that it’s later in August, most redraft leagues are finally getting started. The weeks leading up to the NFL’s opening games are always an exciting time, as tidbits of training camp and preseason news flow into social media feeds constantly throughout each day. As usual, there are many players that carry a lot of risk in redraft leagues this year. Below are three who pose difficult decisions for fantasy managers.

1. Tyler Lockett (WR, Seattle Seahawks)

Lockett finished as fantasy’s #9 receiver last year, yet he recorded just three top-10 fantasy weeks. His overall finish was drastically inflated by those weeks, and because of that, he likely wasn’t performing for your fantasy team at a WR1 level overall. Lockett’s first seven weeks were solid, as he had two blowup games and a couple of others where you probably weren’t mad about starting him. However, from Weeks 8-16, Lockett was disastrous for fantasy, posting just one week as a top-30 fantasy receiver. In that stretch, managers were likely starting him for many of those games due to his early-season production. Lockett’s Week 17 blow-up was obviously not counted in most fantasy leagues due to the season having ended, but anyone who played in that week likely didn’t start him then either.

To be fair to Lockett, Russell Wilson’s second-half performance in 2020 was very bad, and whether it was due to the play-calling, decision-making, or something else, that undoubtedly affected Lockett’s stock in a major way. However, Seahawks HC Pete Carroll has committed to reemphasizing the running game, something that could cause efficiency for Wilson, but major inconsistency from Lockett. Lockett is almost certain to be the second option in this offense behind D.K. Metcalf, and the additions of TE Gerald Everett and second-round WR D’Wayne Eskridge only hurt his potential. Lockett is almost certain to provide multiple great weeks again next year, but if he remains inconsistent, it’ll be maddening trying to predict when he’ll be startable.

2. Chase Claypool (WR, Pittsburgh Steelers)

Claypool is an amazing talent and a freak athlete, but like Lockett, consistency struggles could end up plaguing his fantasy performance this year. Claypool finished as the overall WR19 last year, but he put up top-36 WR numbers in just half his games. Part of that could be attributed to his acclimation period as a rookie, but three of his first five weeks had top-12 finishes, so that line of reasoning doesn’t make much of a difference in where he should be valued. Claypool could certainly see a second-year bump in production, but he could also struggle to gain targets with Pittsburgh retaining Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster again.

Claypool’s main target competition from 2020 will return again this year, but on top of the WR duo mentioned, there will be additional mouths to feed in Pittsburgh’s offense. First-round running back Najee Harris will likely command a major carry workload in year one, making Pittsburgh more run-heavy than it has been in the past. On top of that, Harris should also compete for receptions, further cutting into Claypool’s potential passing work. The addition of tight end Pat Freiermuth may only be a hindrance to the short-yardage work that Smith-Schuster specializes in, but even so, adding another capable pass-catcher to the offense certainly doesn’t help Claypool’s status. To reiterate, Claypool is a very talented receiver and a great athlete, however, the pass-catching room may end up being too crowded to make him a consistent starter.

3. Trey Sermon (RB, San Francisco 49ers)

Sermon is a fine late-round flier, but the multitude of options in this 49ers backfield makes it difficult to trust anyone in it, let alone the third-round rookie. Raheem Mostert is expected to lead this backfield in Week 1, but the hope of fantasy players is that Sermon takes over later in the season. It’s certainly possible that he grabs the starting role eventually, but with so many other options available on the team, the 49ers shouldn’t feel a need to give him a big workload in year one.

Along with Mostert, there are many other options in this backfield. Jeff Wilson is currently injured, but like in 2020, he should be a factor in the offense when healthy. Wayne Gallman also produced solid numbers last year with the Giants, and he could siphon away touches from Sermon as well. On top of that, it’s hardly a guarantee that Sermon surpasses Mostert for the lead role at all this year, as Mostert’s speed and explosiveness allow him to be a very efficient rusher. At cost, Sermon isn’t a terrible investment. However, fantasy managers need to be aware of the risk that he carries, and because of that risk, he could easily be seen as a bad draft-day value when the year is over.

The five most questionable ratings in Madden 22

Which Madden ratings are head scratchers?

By Calvin K (Twitter: @Calvin_SGF)

Madden 22’s release date is right around the corner, and the standard edition of the game is set to come out this Friday. As usual, there are a host of changes in the new game, but this article is focusing on the player ratings in the game. Every year, there’s lots of debate about who should be rated where when EA Sports releases the rosters in midsummer. The ratings are generally accurate, but every year, there are some that are just clearly incorrect. This article summarizes the five worst ratings in the game.

5. Jonathan Allen (DT, 88 overall)

Allen is a solid player, but it just doesn’t make logical sense that, aside from cornerback Kendall Fuller, the 26-year-old is the highest rated player on Washington’s entire defense. You could argue that this is partially due to disrespect of the team as a whole, but the fact remains that Allen is not the centerpiece of the defensive line, and therefore should not be ranked as such.

Last year, the Washington defense received several upgrades in personnel, and new coaching staff along with loads of young talent allowed this defense to soar into the elite category. Led by Chase Young, Montez Sweat, Allen, and others, Washington finished fifth in sacks and allowed the eighth-fewest points per game in the NFL. Allen, while productive, still finished fourth on the team in tackles, and he was a distant tenth in sacks, with only the third-highest total at his position of defensive tackle. Granted, Allen is probably better as a run stopper than as a sack artist, but even so, playmakers like Sweat and Young were the ones who changed the dynamic of the defense as a whole. This isn’t to say that Allen is a bad player, but it just isn’t logical to argue that he’s the best player on this defensive line.

4. Saquon Barkley (RB, 90 overall)

Barkley has had more than his share of injury struggles over the past couple of years, but that doesn’t mean we can forget about his generational talent. Barkley deserves to be around a 93 overall, given that Saints running back Alvin Kamara is a 94, and he could be rated even higher if it wasn’t for his injuries. There is an argument to be made for a higher rating than 93, given that his 2018 numbers equaled or surpassed the career years of many RBs ahead of him.

In 2018 (his last fully healthy year), Barkley piled up 2,028 yards from scrimmage, an incredible number that he accumulated due to his freakish athleticism and big-play ability. For context, Kamara’s best season accumulated just 1,688 yards from scrimmage. Dalvin Cook, who is a 95 overall, had 1,918 in his best year, while 96 overall Nick Chubb had 1,772. In fact, the only players to surpass Saquon’s best season were 96 Derrick Henry (2,141) and 97 Christian McCaffrey (2,392), meaning Barkley’s numbers match up well to just about anyone’s. Using only these numbers for context would imply that Barkley should be rated a 96, but accounting for injuries and other factors means that it’s sensible to move him down a couple of notches. However, a 90 overall rating implies that Barkley is no longer an elite RB, and when he sees the field again, he’ll prove that assumption incorrect.

3. Minkah Fitzpatrick (FS, 89 overall)

Fitzpatrick is considered by many to be a top-three safety in the NFL, but in Madden, he’s tied for eighth, rated 89 overall alongside Adrian Amos and Eddie Jackson. While those two players are good, they just aren’t at the level that Minkah is, and Minkah’s consistent high-level play should give him a rating in the 90s.

Fitzpatrick’s nine interceptions are tied for the second-highest total among safeties over the last two years, with only Tyrann Mathieu (10) and Justin Simmons (9) stacking up against him in that category. Fitzpatrick was also tied for fourth in passes defended in 2020, with 11. There’s no doubt that Fitzpatrick is a lethal force on defense, and his arrival in Pittsburgh single-handedly took their defense to another level. His level of star status deserves a rating in the 90s along with an X-Factor ability, two things he doesn’t have but has certainly earned.

2. Kyler Murray (QB, 82 overall)

Murray was practically playing at MVP level for most of last season, so to have him at just an 82 overall is beyond silly. Murray has a great arm, but his dual-threat ability is what truly makes him a game-changing weapon for Arizona.

Murray threw for 3,971 yards with a 67.2% completion percentage last year, and he would’ve easily topped 4,000 if it wasn’t for the shoulder injury that hobbled him late in the year. Those numbers alone are good, but Murray also piled up 819 yards on 133 rushing attempts last year, scoring 11 touchdowns and picking up 52 first downs with his legs. Murray’s 6.2 yards per carry was behind only Lamar Jackson in 2020, and his completion percentage was higher than Patrick Mahomes. His athletic ability far exceeds his 82 ratings, and it’s ridiculous that he isn’t at least a 90 overall. His rating may not be accurate right now, but once Murray lights the world on fire again this year, Madden raters will have no choice but to give him a major boost.

1. A.J. Brown (WR, 86 overall)

I had trouble deciding whether Murray or Brown’s rating was worse, but I ended up ranking it this way because I believe that Brown truly has a case as the league’s number one wide receiver. Madden ratings wouldn’t have you believe that, though, as they shockingly rank Brown outside of the top 20 receivers in the league. Brown is ranked lower than Robby Anderson and Robert Woods, and his 86 overall rating is the same as Cole Beasley’s. It’s mind-boggling how low Brown is given what he did last year.

Brown tore up both of his knees after Week 1, and the initial doctor diagnosis was that he’d be done for the whole season. However, he ended up missing just two games and went on to have a 1,075 yard and 11 touchdown season. Brown had to get offseason surgery on each knee after the season, but he still played like an elite receiver. His after-the-catch ability is unmatched by any WR in the NFL, and at 6’0″, 227 pounds, he has the ability to dominate defenders on contested receptions.

In my opinion, Brown is deserving of a 93-96 overall rating, which would put him where he belongs: in the elite tier of wide receivers. However, even Brown skeptics wouldn’t argue that he should be an 86, as there’s no fathomable argument for ranking him that low. Brown is a great athlete, and he should be incredible this season, as he’s now back to full health for the first time since Week 1 of last year. When he explodes, his overall rating should skyrocket, proving that Madden ratings developers completely overlooked a wide receiver who is truly a dominant game-changer.

2021 Fantasy Football rookie outlook

Which NFL rookies will break out this year?

By Calvin K (Twitter: @Calvin_SGF)

A feeling of excitement is in the air, as NFL training camps are underway and the inaugural preseason game is in the books. Last Thursday’s Hall of Fame Game marked the beginning of the league’s 102nd season, and it will be the second straight year taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Every year, perhaps the most exciting part of training camp is getting to finally see new rookies in action on an NFL practice field. For those rookies, training camp is crucial to learn their new systems and develop as players, and the practices also allow fans to get inside glimpses into how the preparation is going. As usual, many rookies will have an immediate impact in the NFL and in fantasy football, while others will take a while to develop and some may never have a significant impact in the fantasy world. In this article, I’ll be analyzing some rookies to target, rookies to avoid, and other interesting names that you should know heading into your fantasy draft.

Rookies to Target

1. Ja’Marr Chase (WR, Cincinnati Bengals)

Chase is considered perhaps one of the best wide receiver prospects we’ve seen in the last decade, and for good reason. There really aren’t any major flaws in Chase’s college film, and opting out of the 2020 season allowed him to focus on minor refinements that presumably made him a more complete receiver. With a great release, excellent hands, and electric speed, he should step in right away as an impactful NFL receiver.

Reuniting with his college quarterback in Joe Burrow is a major plus for Chase’s fantasy value, and the immediate connection between the pair, as well as the draft capital (#5 overall) spent on Chase implies that he will soon be the Bengals’ top wideout. Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd are both very good receivers as well, but neither of them have the same explosiveness, athletic traits, and dominating play style of Chase. Burrow was also on a 16-game pace of 646 passing attempts last year, a number that would’ve been close to the top of the league. With A.J. Green no longer in the fold, that number is plenty to support all three Bengals wide receivers, and Chase’s upside means he projects to be the best of the bunch in year one and beyond.

2. Javonte Williams (RB, Denver Broncos)

The Broncos made sure to acquire Williams in this year’s draft, moving up five spots to #35 overall and getting the guy they’d set their sights on. Williams will have to compete with Melvin Gordon for the lead role in the Broncos backfield, but his abilities as a tackle-breaker and a pass-catcher mean that he could soon be a three-down back for the team.

Gordon will be a free agent after this year, so it seems obvious that the Broncos would consider Williams to be their future. It gets trickier to project Williams’ 2021 playing time, but his punishing running style means that he could see the field early and often. Williams had easily the highest tackle-breaking rate in the FBS last year, and if that translates to the NFL level, it could mean staggering efficiency, which is something we don’t always see from pure north-south runners.

Strength-of-schedule can be a stat that changes drastically mid-season, but even so, the Broncos’ late-season schedule can still be considered a cause for excitement. After their Week 11 bye, Denver only plays one team above the bottom 10 in points per game allowed, setting Williams up for a potential backfield takeover at a perfect time. We could see a Jonathan-Taylor type breakout from Williams in Weeks 12-17, and league-winning performances in those weeks would certainly make up for a potentially slow start to the year (which may not even happen, given camp reports saying he’s expected to compete right away). Overall, Williams’ talent combined with circumstances could yield a great year for him in fantasy, which is why he’s more than worth a selection at his RB27 price.

3. DeVonta Smith (WR, Philadelphia Eagles)

Smith has a major opportunity to step up in Philadelphia, and in my opinion, he should’ve been picked over Jaylen Waddle at #6 overall. Smith and Chase have many similar traits, as Smith also has consistent hands and gets off the line fast. However, Smith is arguably the better route runner of the two consistency-wise, which then leads to the sensible assumption that the sole reason Smith dropped in the draft was his BMI.

At 6’0″, 174 pounds (166 at his combine), Smith’s weight is lower than essentially every successful wide receiver ever, even weighing in lower than players such as Marvin Harrison and Will Fuller. However, as the first WR to win the Heisman Trophy in 29 years, Smith has established that he’s an outlier at the position. Smith stayed in great health throughout a grueling SEC season last year, and the concerns about injury risk tend to be overblown when you consider that he only missed two games due to injury in his entire college career. Now in the NFL, he should have a great chance at immediately being the Eagles’ top receiver, as his only major competitor for targets is likely to be tight end Dallas Goedert. If he starts for most of the year (which, barring injury, he almost certainly will), he has the potential to be a top-20 fantasy wide receiver, making his current WR39 FantasyPros price feel like his absolute floor.

4. Elijah Moore (WR, New York Jets)

At WR62 on FantasyPros, Moore is set up to be a tremendous value, one that you can get at the very back of your draft. Moore has top-30 WR upside in this new-look Jets’ offense, and while his true breakout isn’t likely to happen in 2021, he still has lots of potential to make noise alongside fellow rookie Zach Wilson.

Wilson’s arm talent allows him to place throws where only his receivers can get it, which is a perfect match for Moore, a speedy receiver with excellent hands and pure, consistent route-running ability. Corey Davis, a veteran, will likely be Wilson’s favorite target early in the season, but Moore’s superior big-play ability will likely translate into a higher target share as the season goes on. Moore could easily end up being the #1 target for New York, but even if he’s not, he can still succeed as the WR2 in what’s likely to be a pass-first offense. Moore has the ability to score long touchdowns and make big plays, but he also was consistently an open target at Ole Miss, which could mean big things for him in the NFL.

Rookies to Avoid

1. Michael Carter (RB, New York Jets)

Carter is not a terrible player to take a shot on late in drafts, but the fourth-round RB is inexplicably ranked 19 spots ahead of Tevin Coleman, who is likely to have more success this year. Fourth-round RBs have an extremely low hit rate, so it makes much more sense to project New York reliance on Coleman, who has a solid 4.2 career yards per carry.

2. Rondale Moore (WR, Arizona Cardinals)

Moore is currently FantasyPros’ WR72, and at that price, he’s a fine player to take a shot on. However, I wouldn’t expect a breakout season from him this year. Christian Kirk is already established as a valuable piece for this Cardinals team, and with the addition of A.J. Green this offseason, it could be difficult for Moore to find a role in the offense.

Moore is incredibly fast, and his burst may be unmatched by any receiver in this draft class. However, he isn’t a dominating type of player, and his speed often is the only tool he uses to win matchups. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing at all for his potential success in the NFL, but it seems likely that this skill set will primarily be a situational one in 2021. As a gadget guy, Moore will be able to throw defenses off balance, but his skill set doesn’t project to him being a high-volume receiver, which could cause him to be inconsistent and disappointing for your fantasy team. Moore certainly has tons of talent, and he could even become a player similar to Tyreek Hill at some point, but we’ve seen many recent examples of speed being overhyped in the NFL (Andy Isabella, Jalen Reagor, Henry Ruggs, etc.), which is why Moore carries a lot of risk and not a ton of reward for this year.

3. Trey Sermon (RB, San Francisco 49ers)

Sermon, who the 49ers selected in the 3rd round of this year’s draft, has some upside, and in the long-term, he could be a very solid RB. However, it’ll be difficult for him to carve out a role this year given the amount of backfield competition in San Francisco.

Raheem Mostert will be a free agent after this year, so Sermon will have an opportunity to be this team’s lead back in the future. However, it’s hard to see him becoming the clear lead back in 2021 while competing with Mostert, Jeff Wilson, and others for touches. The 49ers like to use a running-back-by-committee approach, and Kyle Shanahan likes to run with the hot hand, an approach that can favor a healthy Mostert, who is extremely explosive and efficient. As a third-round RB, Sermon’s hit probability is also much lower than someone like Javonte Williams, so it’s probably unwise to expect a ton from him year one. He’s a fine late-round flier, but his RB35 FantasyPros ranking likely means someone in your league will put at least somewhat of a premium pick on him, which just doesn’t appear worth it in redraft.

Other Names to Know

Kyle Pitts (TE, Atlanta Falcons)

Pitts is an incredible athlete, and he’s in consideration as perhaps the best tight-end prospect in the history of the NFL. Pitts became the first non-QB off the board when the Falcons selected him at #4 overall, and at 6’6″ and 240 pounds, he has the perfect build for a dominating tight end. His athleticism means he can be a vertical dominating threat who can win 50 50 balls consistently, and he has a willingness and an underrated talent for blocking as well, which can’t even be said about some of the league’s better tight ends. However, almost every rookie at the tight end position doesn’t immediately have a massive target share in year one. Pitts’ generational talent means that he could be a superstar right out of the gate, but the early-season risk places him as my TE6 overall for this year.

Travis Etienne (RB, Jacksonville Jaguars)

Etienne is a frustrating case because the Jaguars’ selection of him at #25 overall placed him into what should be a heated backfield battle with fellow RB James Robinson. Robinson shined in his rookie season after going undrafted last year, but the addition of Etienne likely means he won’t handle close to the historically high snap share that came his way last season. The Jaguars will be better as a team this year, which should help both RBs, but the fact remains that they both are talented, and they will continuously eat into each other’s workloads. Etienne’s main breakout will be in the second half of the year when he’s gotten some NFL experience, but even then, a true emergence could be difficult to pull off given Robinson’s presence. Due to all of this, Etienne is my #28 fantasy RB for next year, and while he does have some upside, his risk is too high for me to want him as my RB2.

Rashod Bateman (WR, Baltimore Ravens)

Bateman, the Ravens’ first-round wide receiver out of Minnesota, is an electric player with many highlight-reel-worthy plays on his college tape. However, he will, unfortunately, be part of a Ravens offense that just doesn’t throw the ball enough to give Bateman tons of upside. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson had 376 pass attempts in 15 games last year. In contrast, Bengals QB Joe Burrow had 28 more attempts while playing in just 10 games. This limited volume will cap Bateman’s ceiling and limit his consistency, and with an elite tight end in Mark Andrews already established as this offense’s top target, it’ll be hard for the rookie to breakthrough in year one. Marquise Brown and Sammy Watkins will also fight for the team’s #2 role, and fourth-round pick Tylan Wallace is in the mix as well. All of these factors don’t necessarily mean Bateman won’t succeed, but they certainly make it much more difficult for him to be consistently productive in fantasy.

Jaylen Waddle (WR, Miami Dolphins)

Waddle is joining a confusing situation in Miami, and although he will reunite with Tua Tagovailoa, his college QB, there are a lot of question marks surrounding his fantasy potential. Tua’s inconsistency last year is one cause for concern, and while we know he has lots of arm talent, it remains to be seen if he can produce at the NFL level. Another issue for Waddle will be the Dolphins’ supporting cast. Will Fuller and Mike Gesicki should both handle significant receiving work, and with DeVante Parker, Myles Gaskin, Preston Williams, and Albert Wilson also vying for targets, it could be difficult for Waddle to carve out an established role. Finally, while Waddle is an electric player, he’s not necessarily a very complete WR. His hands are a major question mark, and this could cause him to become more of a gadget guy for the team, with a large portion of his touches coming at or near the line of scrimmage. Gadget roles usually aren’t overly consistent on a week-to-week basis, and while manufactured touches could help his touch share overall, they may not be reliable enough to immediately help your team this year. In the dynasty, Waddle will have much more time to develop a significant offensive role, but for this year, there are a lot of hurdles to overcome, which is why his immediate production potential appears limited.

First-Round QBs

All five first-round quarterbacks could make a fantasy impact this year, but it’s not necessarily likely that any single one will put up amazing stats in Year 1. Trevor Lawrence is the consensus rookie QB1 for redraft, and while he has a good arm and some rushing upside, he doesn’t have the same rushing explosiveness as players like Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray. Lawrence has solid weapons in Jacksonville, but overall, there’s not really a reason to believe that he should be drafted above other established veterans at the position. Zach Wilson’s arm talent is incredible, but coming from a non-Power Five school in BYU could mean that it takes him some time to adjust at the NFL level. Trey Lance has great rushing upside, but he’s unlikely to start immediately for the 49ers, as they seem quite comfortable with Jimmy Garoppolo as the starter for now. I’d expect Lance, this year’s #3 overall pick, to see the field at some point this year, but it seems assured that he won’t provide a full year of fantasy production. The same thing applies to Justin Fields, who has great arm talent and speed. Fields also was an inconsistent decision-maker against the blitz in college, and those issues could be exacerbated when facing NFL defenses. Finally, Mac Jones of New England is likely to see the field least out of this group, and while he is an accurate passer, his rushing upside is extremely minimal, which will make it tough for him to provide big fantasy weeks.

Overall, there are many intriguing storylines to consider when evaluating rookies for your fantasy draft. I tend to believe that rookies are generally undervalued in redraft, which is why I have more major players to target than to avoid. Drafting rookies gives you a lot of upsides, and while they may disappoint early in the year, many will come through in a big way later on. That early-season disappointment can also give you a perfect buy-low window on some rookies, and while many will be good from the start of the year, others can sometimes be acquired for extremely low prices, making them likely to pay off on investment. Overall, you should make sure to have a good evaluation on a rookie and their surrounding players before making a selection. However, with the right knowledge, targeting rookies can be a great strategy to aid your chances of winning your fantasy league.

Five Fantasy Players Due for a Bounceback in 2021

49ers TE George Kittle should rebound next season

By Calvin K (Twitter: @Calvin_SGF)

As usual, there were lots of fantasy breakouts in 2020, but also per usual, many players didn’t live up to expectations last season. There are things to be learned by those busts, but a lot of underperformance can be due to mitigating situations (injury, surrounding talent, etc.). As such, many of these busts could see improved production in 2021. Below are five fantasy players due for a bounceback year.

1. George Kittle (TE, San Francisco 49ers)

Kittle is an obvious bounce-back pick for next year, but he still tends to be overshadowed given the fantasy dominance of Travis Kelce and Darren Waller. This isn’t to diminish that duo’s 2020 accomplishments by any means, but Kittle seems to be slipping a little too far in midsummer drafts due to fatigue from his injury-plagued year.

Kittle’s 1,377 yards in a 2018 breakout campaign are still the second-most ever put up by a TE all time. On top of that, his 2020 season still had a pace of 96 receptions for 1,268 yards, and that’s including the two games he left early due to injury. Even when on the field, Kittle wasn’t always healthy, and yet he was still able to produce like an elite fantasy tight end. That positional advantage should not be overlooked, so it’s important to move beyond injury fatigue and see the value in his current draft price.

2. Julio Jones (WR, Tennessee Titans)

Jones is another player who will improve dramatically in 2021 assuming he’s able to stay on the field. Last year, Jones had just seven games with a snap share over 75%, and due to hamstring problems, he never was able to stay fully healthy for an extended period of time. However, in those seven games, he still averaged 8.9 targets and 6.4 catches per game, proving that, when healthy, he’s still a major problem for opposing defenses.

Jones is 32 years old, but there’s still reason to believe that his injuries could be a problem exclusive to 2020. The scars he left on fantasy managers last year obscured the fact that he hasn’t missed more than two games in a season since 2013, and he’s missed more than three only one other time in his 10-year career. With 848 catches and nearly 13,000 yards under his belt, he’s proven time and time again that he can put up big fantasy numbers.

Now, as Jones moves teams for the first time in his career, questions could arise about whether he can produce given a likely deduction in target share. Sharing touches with A.J. Brown and Derrick Henry will make it nearly impossible for Jones to receive the same heavy workload he’s gotten in past years, but that could actually be a good thing for his fantasy value. For the first time, Jones isn’t the number one offensive option on his own team, and the lessened defensive attention could help him thrive, as he’ll be facing one-on-one battles with cornerbacks more consistently than he ever has. Overall, it’s a near certainty that a healthy Jones blows away the injury-riddled totals that we saw in 2020, and he should be back in fantasy relevance once again.

3. Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB, Kansas City Chiefs)

Edwards-Helaire had a very disappointing 2020, and that was partially due to his skyrocketing fantasy price, as he was a consensus back-of-the-first round RB due to his situation in Kansas City. CEH also dealt with injuries last year, missing three games, and when he was on the field, he just didn’t garner the full three-down workload that many expected him to receive.

Surprisingly, Edwards-Helaire actually averaged 13.9 attempts per game last season, which seems high given that he was generally tough to rely on in fantasy. The signing of Le’Veon Bell kept this number even lower than it could’ve been, and although Bell didn’t work out in KC, he still limited CEH’s touch count overall. However, the area where Edwards-Helaire was really disappointing was in the passing game, as his 2.8 reception average fell well short of what we expected from him, given that his specialty is catching passes out of the backfield. Thankfully, Le’Veon Bell is gone now, and the word is that Edwards-Helaire may develop into more of a workhorse in Year 2, with the biggest bump coming in the form of third-down usage. Even if CEH doesn’t become a true bell cow, it makes sense to project a noticeable increase in touches, and with it should come more fantasy production.

4. Jerry Jeudy (WR, Denver Broncos)

Jeudy actually received 113 targets last year, but he caught just 52 in a messy season that saw him tossed into the fire as Denver’s WR1 almost immediately following the injury of Courtland Sutton. Jeudy should now face less pressure with Sutton returning, and it’s possible, even likely, that the erratic play of QB Drew Lock won’t be what he relies on in 2021. Teddy Bridgewater will compete with Lock for the starting role, and he’s likely to get it at some point given that he’s at least had moderately consistent production throughout his career.

Although consistent, Bridgewater isn’t anything special by any means, and his arrival will hardly fix everything for the Broncos. However, it should mean more production for Jeudy in 2021, primarily because we’ve already seen evidence that Bridgewater can support two productive fantasy receivers (D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson in 2020). Moore and Anderson both eclipsed the 1,000-yard threshold last year, and there’s reason to think that Sutton and Jeudy can do the same, given that they are similar talent-wise to the duo in Carolina. It’s very possible that Jeudy never becomes elite for fantasy purposes, but with Bridgewater in town, we should see a major step up from the atrocious 39.1% catch rate Jeudy had last year, which alone will lead to a sizeable upwards bump in fantasy production.

5. Raheem Mostert (RB, San Francisco 49ers)

This last pick is one that can, understandably, be difficult for analysts to get behind, given that the 49ers have major competition in their backfield. However, I truly believe that a healthy Mostert is and will continue to be this team’s best RB, and if he can avoid injuries, Mostert’s efficiency could lead to very viable fantasy production.

San Francisco and Kyle Shanahan will likely still favor a running-back-by-committee approach given that there are multiple talented players in their backfield. I expect Mostert to hold the lead role if this is the case, and I don’t think that the team will feel a need to force rookie 3rd-rounder Trey Sermon into major year-one action. Sermon is a solid player, but he’s unproven, and the fact that he was a late Day 2 draft pick highlights that he’s far from a guarantee to succeed. Mostert’s average of 5.4 yards per carry in 2019 in 2020 is extremely good, and his blazing speed and acceleration mean he’s likely to continue putting up those numbers in 2021. If he does, there will be no excuse for the 49ers to keep him off the field, and the lead back role in their prolific offense could create very solid fantasy numbers.

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