Photo from Arrowhead Report on FanNation
Honorable Mentions (HMs) explanation: Honorable Mention players are one who I believe will outperform their ADPs but not to the extremes of the two players highlighted.
QB: Kirk Cousins
ADP: 108.7 QB 14.6
Kirk Cousins was three points away from finishing as a top 10 fantasy Quarterback despite being drafted as the 19th QB off the board last year at an ADP of 154.3. He proved to be well worth the late-round pick rewarding everyone who took him and is going to do even better for fantasy owners next year. Captain Kirk is playing behind the best O-line in his Vikings career with an elite-level RB in Dalvin Cook as well as a superstar WR in Justin Jefferson, an elite red zone threat in Adam Thielen, and a nice speed guy in K.J. Osborn. While the cast stays the same as last season the new Head Coach Kevin O’Connell is changing the Viking’s offense to pass first. Cousins has not had the chance to take over the offense yet in his tenure for Minnesota as Dalvin Cook was always the main focus of the offense. With Cousins taking over in a newly pass-heavy scheme I expect Kirk Cousins to have the best year of his career as a Viking and drastically outplay his ADP as well as outplaying his QB 14 ranking. Filling up on skill position players while everyone takes their Quarterbacks is a very viable move for fantasy this year if you can land Kirk Cousins.
QB: Jameis Winston
ADP: 160 QB: 22.8
Jameis had his season cut short after tearing his ACL in week 7, but he was off to an incredible start. Winston led the New Orleans Saints to a 5-2 record throwing 14 touchdowns to only 3 interceptions. Winston averaged the 15th most PPG of any quarterback before he got injured and was less than 1 PPG than being in the top 12. The difference between Jameis and nearly all the QBs who averaged more PPG than him was fantasy owners could draft Jameis anywhere from 7-12 rounds later. Jameis Winston had to deal with learning a new system as well as a lack of skill players to throw the ball to outside of Alvin Kamara. This season Jameis has three new wide receivers he didn’t have last year, Michael Thomas, Chris Olave, and Jarvis Landry. All three of these wide receivers would’ve been the best active WR on the roster for the Saints last year showing how much of an improvement the Saints made in receivers this past offseason. Michael Thomas is a former superstar WR who had a historical season just two years ago in 2019 with 1725 yards and 9 touchdowns. If he can play at the same level, as he did pre-injury Jameis Immediately gets a top WR in all of football as one of his targets immediately. Chris Olave is a Rookie that was selected 11th overall out of Ohio State with high expectations. Olave has been performing well so far through training camp and is a great secondary weapon for Jameis. Jarvis Landry is a proven talented slot receiver and could be one of the best third options in all of the NFL. The offensive line starting the season healthy should boost what was a struggling offensive line last season. The only concern is the loss of Head Coach Sean Payton who was a top coach in the NFL. Considering you can get Jameis in one of the last three rounds of fantasy drafts he is a steal as a backup quarterback and could prove himself to even be a starting option.
HMs: Tua Tagovailoa, Derek Carr, Trey Lance, Mitchell Trubisky
RB: James Cook
ADP: 113.7 RB 43
James Cook was drafted out of Georgia in the second round at 63rd overall in the NFL draft last year and is the brother of the elite running back for the Minnesota Vikings Dalvin Cook. Cook comes into the NFL in arguably the best situation of any rookie running back playing with a top quarterback, in the world in Josh Allen, and one of the highest scoring offenses in football in the Buffalo Bills. While never being a true workhorse running back in college his talent is undeniable. Cook has been said to constantly turn heads at training camp and has received high praise from Bills head coach Sean McDermott throughout training camp. He has already been listed as the RB2 on the Bill’s depth chart passing Zach Moss and being behind only Devin Singletary. Devin Singletary has been nothing special so far in his career and the Bills have shown they do not have such high standards for him after drafting Moss in the third round in 2020 and taking Cook in the second in the most recent draft. The Bills lost a ton of receivers this past off-season opening up 181 targets for the offense. While Cook will not get a ton of those targets like a receiver would I believe he will see enough of them to drastically outplay his ADP. Although Josh Allen has never been big on targeting running backs out of the backfield, but he also has never had a receiving back as talented as Cook before. With Cook being undeniably more talented than Singletary I expect him to eat into Singletary’s snaps and be able to carve out his own role in the Bills high-powered offense. Being in such a high-scoring pass-heavy offense gives him high touchdown upside, which is the most important stat in standard scoring. At such a late draft position James Cook is well worth a late-round flyer and could even put himself in a flex situation late in the season.
RB: Ezekiel Elliott
ADP: 32 RB 17.5
In standard leagues, the top running backs should easily go in the first or second round as they are the most valuable position in non-PPR leagues. If you are drafting in a spot, you find yourself forced to take one of the elite receivers, then Ezekiel Elliott is a must-grab in the third round and even if you have two running backs, Ezekiel Elliott, as a flex in the third round is still an insane value. Everyone in the fantasy world seems to be predicting a massive drop-off from Zeke this year, but I just don’t see it and instead will take the great value of a bell-cow back in an elite offense in the third round. In his whole career, Zeke has never finished outside the top 12 scoring RBs and has only been outside the top 10 one season. He has never missed time with injury as his only major time missed was a six-game suspension in which he still finished as a top 10 fantasy running back. The Cowboys still have an elite offensive line as well as a good QB in Dak Prescott, but lack receivers with Amari Cooper gone, Michael Gallup missing the start of the season due to a major injury last year as well as James Washington going down in training camp with a broken leg. This will not only make them lean on Zeke more but give pollard the chance to play more of a receiving role than he has in past years. This can keep both running backs fantasy relevant but creates an even bigger upside for both of them as well. Jerry Jones continues his commitment to Zeke making sure everyone knows he is still Dallas’ bell cow running back and reassuring fantasy owners he will still be the clear top RB for the Cowboys. While last season Zeke got a ton of hate for how he played as well as how good Pollard looked, Zeke had a torn PCL for over half the season and still finished as the RB6 in standard leagues. Head Coach Mike McCarthy has spoken out this offseason about how focused, healthy and in shape, Zeke has been this offseason and while this basically gets said every offseason I believe this one is different. At 27 years old Zeke realizes if he wants to continue to be an elite RB with bell cow work, he needs to have another elite year fans are used to seeing and prove the doubters wrong. Getting an RB who has never finished outside the top 12 in the third round is an absolute steal and I would take him in as many drafts as possible.
HM: Kareem Hunt, Kenneth Gainwell, Saquon Barkley, Isiah Pancheco
WR: Juju Smith-Schuster
ADP: 79 WR: 32.5
After playing in only five games last year Juju Smith-Schuster left the Pittsburgh Steelers and took a “one-year prove-it deal” with the Kansas City Chiefs. Any player that bets million on themselves is a player I am confident drafting in fantasy football. Juju is now expected to be the WR1 on the Chiefs offense featuring arguably the best QB in the NFL right now. While Juju failed to live up to expectations as the Steelers WR1, Kelce will take on the double teams and the defense’s attention allowing Juju the opportunity of one on ones without much safety help early on. While playing his last two years for Pittsburgh Juju was dealing with an aging Ben Roethlisberger as well Delvin Hodges and Mason Rudolph which greatly limited Jujus’s potential as well as the whole Steelers offensive potential. They kept the plays simple and the routes short. The snap to release time was insanely high basically needing a WR to get open in the first 2-3 seconds from the snap to see a successful play. While this type of offense seems to benefit a player like Diontae Johnson who has the speed and insane route-running combination it did not work for Juju Smith Schuster who enjoys running a ton of different routes, especially ones that take a bit of time to develop. He has already claimed to run more routes in the Chiefs training camp than he has for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Chiefs love letting WRs get themselves open and with the departure of Tyreek Hill as well as other WRs, there are a ton of open targets from Mahomes and no true WR1 on the team as of right now. Juju is easily the most experienced and talented wide receiver in that locker room and is only 25 years old. In 2018 Juju Smith-Schuster finished as the WR8 with over 1,400 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns. Playing with the best QB he ever has in a great offensive scheme I expect him to have a similar year or even have a career year easily returning his draft position value.
WR: Allen Robinson
ADP: 67 WR: 29.5
Allen Robinson was arguably the bust of the year last year but is going to bounce back this upcoming season. Robinson spoke out after last season claiming Matt Nagy totally took him out of the offensive scheme on purpose and fellow former Bears wide receiver Anthony Miller agreed with him. His targets were greatly decreased compared to past years as the Bears wanted to get their younger players targets rather than passing to the talented and proven Robinson. This past offseason Robinson joined the pass-heavy Los Angeles Rams who are coming off a Super Bowl win. Head Coach Sean McVay has publicly spoken about how badly the Rams wanted Allen Robinson, how they already have a plan for him, and how they view him as an upgrade from Robert Woods. Before going down in week 9 Woods was on pace to finish as the WR12 while Cooper Kupp was still on pace for WR1 showing this offense can easily support two receivers with elite fantasy production. Matthew Stafford is by far the best Quarterback Allen Robinson has had throwing him the ball and McVay is by far the best coach and system he has ever played in as well. Robinson succeeds in the Red Zone and that’s exactly where the Rams intend to take advantage of him. He has looked incredible at training camp so far and has been able to build some chemistry with Stafford as he has been back at practice the past couple of days. With all of these factors, I expect Robinson to finish as a top 20 WR with the potential to even finish top 10. He should easily return his value of being drafted around WR 29/30.
HMs: Jalen Tolbert, Romeo Doubs, Chris Olave Brandon Aiyuk, Chris Godwin
TE: Albert Okwuegbunam
ADP: 148.7 TE: 17
Tight ends are by far the thinnest position in fantasy football. When looking at late-round sleeper tight ends you want a player who is in a new system or has a new system around them with a very high touchdown upside. I believe Albert O fits that perfectly. After being stuck behind Noah Fant his rookie and sophomore year as well as dealing with horrible quarterback play Noah Fant was traded for Russell Wilson. This immediately put him in the starting tight end role and fixes the quarterback issue. Wilson has been known to use his tight ends no matter the skill level, especially in the red zone. He turned Will Dissly into a viable fantasy option before he got hurt in 2019 throwing 4 touchdowns his way before he got injured in week 6. Jimmy Graham was a two-time pro bowler in his three years with Seattle having a 6 and 10 touchdown season in those two years. While Graham was an elite tight end in his prime with the Saints, he was 30 years old in Seattle and was clearly not the same player he was. Albert O is going to be the second most skilled receiving tight end Wilson has ever played with and has a size advantage much like how Jimmy Graham did. With Tim Patrick going down with a torn ACL before the season started, I believe Albert O will come into the game plan in a huge way in the red zone. While his yardage will not match top tight ends, I could easily see him top 8 in touchdowns for all tight ends which gives him massive upside at a thin position, especially due to the fact you could most likely select him in the last two rounds of your fantasy draft.
TE: Robert Tonyan
ADP: 171.7 TE: 18.5
Last season Robert Tonyan tore his ACL in week 8 but is set to be back for week 1 of this upcoming season. While he did disappoint in those 8 weeks, he had an 11-touchdown season in 2020. Playing with Aaron Rodgers is a privilege as he has an elite skill set and can make a player’s fantasy relevant. The packers lost Devante Adams last offseason which opens up not only a ton of targets but a ton of touchdowns as well. Where the Packers stand right now, their only starting WR that has experience and chemistry with Rodgers is Allen Lazard who many people think is not ready for the role he is expected to get this upcoming season. Robert Tonyan is going to enter his 5th year of playing with Rodgers and showed he can be productive in 2020. Having that previous chemistry with Rodgers is massive for Tonyan as Rodgers loves throwing the ball to pass catchers he can trust and does not tolerate the stupid mistakes players can make in their first year in a new offense. I believe this sets up Tonyan well to get a ton of targets from Rodgers, especially in the red zone. With the Packers still expected to score a ton of points with Adams in Las Vegas, this leaves Tonyan with a massive touchdown upside, arguably like no other tight end that isn’t considered one of the elite ones. Tonyan has been said to be thriving in his recovery and is expected to be ready to play week 1. He has publicly talked about how motivated he is to perform well this upcoming season and is an absolute steal of a player who is going undrafted in most fantasy drafts. The combination of chemistry he has with Rodgers that most receivers on the roster don’t have and the high touchdown upside he has shown in 2020 makes me believe he with easily outplay his ADP and even become a fantasy-relevant starting tight end. Tonyan and Hayden Hurts are waiver wire tight ends who I believe will be starting tight ends for fantasy owners by the end of the season.
HMs: Pat Freiermuth, Dalton Shultz, Hayden Hurst