Fantasy Football Picks in 2021
There are a lot of factors to consider as we ponder the best fantasy football picks in 2021.
We are going to run through the top options at each position for the 2021 NFL season in this article.
Fantasy Football Quarterback Picks
Here’s an early look at the best fantasy quarterbacks for 2021.
Matthew Stafford has been released from a frustrating few years in Detroit. Stafford joins a Rams team which ranked 13th in passing yards per game last season with Jared Goff under center.
Only three players in NFL history have recorded more passing yards per game than Stafford. He’s been a fantasy football factor even on struggling Lions teams. With better weapons in Los Angeles and with Sean McVay’s play-action-led game, Stafford is a candidate to lead the league in passing yards in 2021.
Matthew Stafford dropping a 💣 to DeSean Jackson 🔥
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) July 30, 2021
The Rams went all-in to get an upgrade at quarterback. They are going to do all they can to build an elite offense around Stafford – there’s no question he has the talent to be one of the top three fantasy football quarterbacks.
No one knows where Deshaun Watson will be playing in 2021. As such, it could be argued his strength as a fantasy football quarterback is unclear.
The counter point to that, though, is that Watson ranked fourth in points in 2020 even on a poor Texans team. If he does get traded, his new team will have gone all-in and will be far more committed to giving him weapons than Houston has been.
Watson led the league in passing yards. Just two players, Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers, made 30 or more touchdown passes with fewer interceptions than Watson’s seven. A great pick for this year’s fantasy football.
Only Cam Newton and Kyler Murray had more rushing touchdowns than Josh Allen in 2020. Per FFToday, he was the league leader in points from quarterback. Allen is a candidate to go first overall in many leagues – the Bills offense went from strength to strength last season, and the key players should return for 2021.
Emmanuel Sanders on Josh Allen: “Josh made a throw today that I haven’t seen. A post ball to Cole Beasley that was crazy. My mouth dropped, and I’ve been in the league 12 years.”
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 29, 2021
Allen was fifth in passing touchdowns and yards. He registered just 10 interceptions on the season.
His fantasy football credentials are strong. The Bills might not be Super Bowl betting favorites, but they are set for another strong campaign. Allen could well be in the MVP mix again.
Don’t let the Super Bowl LV performance fool you, Patrick Mahomes is still number one for fantasy football in 2021. The Chiefs prioritized offensive line improvements in the offseason. .
Mahomes will have his main weapons back for 2021 in Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.
This year’s @eamaddenNFL 9️⃣9️⃣ club is complete
— WR Davante Adams
— DT Aaron Donald
— TE Travis Kelce
— CB Jalen Ramsey
— QB Patrick Mahomes
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 30, 2021
The former MVP topped the NFL in passing yards per game. In fact, he’s number one all-time in that category. He owns a 6.8% career passing touchdown rate, a record only bettered by quarterbacks from 1970 and earlier.
The numbers will be every bit as gaudy in 2021. Mahomes and the Chiefs might have been disappointed at Raymond James Stadium, but they will be back, and they will be racking up the points again.
Aaron Rodgers is as reliable as fantasy football quarterbacks come. His 2020, even by his Hall of Fame standards, was sublime. The 48 touchdowns and five interceptions, and just under 4,300 passing yards, was only good for fourth in points per game, however.
Rodgers’ ability to look after the ball and march his team downfield means he will always rack up the points. A lack of rushing game perhaps gives him a lower upside than some of his younger peers, though.
Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Picks
Here are the five best fantasy football wide receivers for the 2021 regular season.
The Rams got a marked upgrade at quarterback. Matthew Stafford elevates LA from mid-tier team to Super Bowl contenders. This offense should be one of the best in the NFL in 2021, and Robert Woods stands to be one of the main beneficiaries.
Woods was only 13th in total fantasy points last season, but that should change in 2021. Stafford will go to Woods often. He can be a dark horse fantasy star in 2021 – he might not be a big name, but he’s a talent, and can thrive with Stafford in the Rams’ offensive scheme.
DeAndre Hopkins didn’t light up NFL Fantasy leaderboards in 2020. We got a taster of his chemistry with Cardinals phenom Kyler Murray, though, and that’s enough to make Hopkins a premium option for the 2021 campaign.
It would be foolish to write these Cardinals off. They were in the playoff mix deep into last season, and it’s reasonable to expect another postseason push in the 2021 regular season.
Six touchdowns was Hopkins’ lowest tally since 2016. An improvement in that area, and he could quickly be viewed as one of the top three or four fantasy wide receivers again.
As Josh Allen ascended to an MVP level, Stefon Diggs reasserted his position among the elite wide receivers. Diggs ranked third in total fantasy points last season despite finishing with only eight total touchdowns.
His role won’t change in 2021. The telepathic understanding between Allen and Diggs was a joy to watch. He led the league in targets and receiving yards, a feat which could well be achieved again.
Buffalo’s offense will rank among the best in the league next season. As long as Allen remains healthy, Diggs is one of the great fantasy football picks.
Davante Adams and Aaron Rodgers were one of the NFL’s best partnerships in 2020. That relationship will continue to flourish in 2021, even after some offseason drama.
Adams led the NFL in fantasy points per game. He scored three touchdowns more than anyone else. Rodgers’ MVP campaign was built on his relationship with his number one receiver, who perhaps doesn’t get the love he deserves among the game’s best pass catchers.
The Packers receiver is as close to a sure thing as it gets.
Read more: The best wide receivers in NFL history
They might have lost the Super Bowl, but the Chiefs are in no position to panic. Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill are all returning in 2021. Kansas City is expected to once again lead the league in offense.
Hill was second in touchdowns and points last season. He topped the fantasy points leaderboard in 2018, too.
There’s no reason to expect any drop in production. If anything, reinforcements to the offensive line could result in more targets for Hill down field.
Fantasy Football Running Back Picks
With an early look ahead to 2021, here are the five premier running backs for Fantasy Football managers to consider.
Earning Pro Bowl honors, Josh Jacobs built on a good rookie year with a spectacular second season. The Raiders might have fallen short of the playoffs, but Jacobs showed he is one of the game’s best running backs.
Ranking eighth in total points, Jacobs’ numbers weren’t quite as spectacular per play as they were in his rookie year, but he recorded five more touchdowns. He was also a threat as a pass-catcher with 238 receiving yards on 45 targets.
Unlike other headline running backs, Jacobs’ situation is settled in Las Vegas. The offense will look much the same next season – he’s one of the safer options in 2021.
It was a big-time down year for Ezekiel Elliott in 2020. He couldn’t assert himself as he had in years’ past, but the Dallas Cowboys and Elliott will hope to bounce back in 2021.
Elliott took the league by storm. He topped the NFL in rushing yards in two of his first three seasons, and in all three of those campaigns he was the leader in rushing yards per contest. Elliott’s stock has taken a hit over the last couple of years, but don’t underrate him as a fantasy option next season.
Only three running backs scored more points than Elliott in 2019. That number was only four in 2018. When Dak Prescott is healthy, Elliott is among the game’s best at his position.
Much like Jacobs, Dalvin Cook ticks the continuity box. Barring something out of the blue, the Minnesota Vikings offense will be about Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook and Adam Thielen. That’s a formula which worked nicely for Cook in 2020.
He amassed the third-most points in the league, and sat top of the pile in points per game. This followed a strong 2019, in which Cook ranked fifth in points.
On the back of consecutive Pro Bowl campaigns, Cook is still improving. His yards per carry and yards per game increased notably last season. Outside of Derrick Henry, there’s a strong argument for Cook as the best RB in the sport.
It’s all change for Jonathan Taylor. He might be staying with the Indianapolis Colts and a strong offensive line, but it will no longer be Philip Rivers handing him the ball. Indy has traded for Carson Wentz, and the uncertainty of that move could impact Taylor’s fantasy stock.
A great rookie year sets Taylor up nicely as a fantasy option in 2021, however. He was third in rushing yards, and fourth in total points.
Even if Wentz cannot regain his near-MVP form, Taylor should still put up decent numbers with the run blocking the Colts possess.
It was no contest for the top spot here. Derrick Henry is a transcendent talent. He had almost 500 more rushing yards than anyone else, he had more touchdowns, and his 5.4 yards per attempt was only bettered by Nick Chubb (of players with more than 900 yards).
This, of course, is not just a good year. Henry has been dominant in consecutive seasons, leading the league in rushing yards. He’s got 35 touchdowns over that span and led all players in yards from scrimmage in 2020.
Fantasy Football Tight End Picks
It’s the turn of the tight ends – here are best fantasy football picks for the 2021 season, starting with another Packers star.
Green Bay re-signed Robert Tonyan in the offseason, keeping a crucial weapon from their 2020 offense.
The undrafted tight end was a key factor in Aaron Rodgers’ 2020 MVP campaign.
Tonyan ranked third in total points, fourth in points per game and joint-first in touchdowns. His role in the Packers offense was huge. He became an important redzone threat.
The great question with Tonyan is his role. Does he get the same number of targets in 2021?
Mark Andrews was second in tight end fantasy football production in 2019. He dropped to fourth in 2020, but that was still an impressive achievement in only 14 games.
Registering over 700 yards and seven touchdowns, Andrews remained an integral cog in the Ravens offense. There were some changes in Baltimore this offseason, but the relationship between Andrews and Lamar Jackson should be unharmed.
There were only 3 TEs with 25+ TGT% and 30+ RZ TGT%:
Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, and Mark Andrews.
The Ravens are going to pass more this season.
You're ranking Mark Andrews too low.
— Frank Ammirante (@FAmmiranteTFJ) July 28, 2021
He’s unlikely to rival the top three in draft leagues, though it wouldn’t be a surprise to see some fantasy managers reach for Andrews’ track record of productions.
Returning from injury late in the 2020 regular season, George Kittle immediately becomes one of the premier fantasy football tight end options. There might be uncertainty at the quarterback position for the San Francisco 49ers, but whoever is under center has the luxury of playing with one of the game’s best tight ends.
Kittle’s role will be significant regardless of who’s at quarterback. At the moment, though, it’s tough to properly evaluate his fantasy football ceiling.
The Las Vegas Raiders are running it back in 2021. Darren Waller will be catching passes from Derek Carr and looking to build on a season in which he ranked second in total fantasy football points among tight ends.
Waller was almost 50 points clear of the third-most productive player at the position. His 1,196 receiving yards was far clear of third place, too.
It might be a while before he’s considered alongside Travis Kelce and George Kittle, but in the fantasy football sphere, Waller is right up there.
Travis Kelce is already one of the best tight ends ever. He’s led the position in fantasy football points in each of the last three years and finished second behind Rob Gronkowski the year before.
Patrick Mahomes might have an unprecedented arsenal of weapons, but Kelce is his go-to man. Kelce broke a receptions record in the playoffs, and if healthy, he will register a sixth consecutive year with over 1,000 receiving yards in 2021.
There is no rival for Kelce heading into next season. He’s the undisputed number one at his position.
Fantasy Football Breakout Candidates in 2021
Here are five NFL names who could be heading for a Fantasy breakout in 2021.
Can it count as a breakout when you’re heading into your 13th season? Matthew Stafford’s inclusion is bending the rules a little, but departing the mediocrity of Detroit for the inventive offense of the Rams should see a real leap in his Fantasy production.
Stafford and the Rams are going to be a real threat in 2021. The offense will have more weapons. Stafford and Jared Goff, an inferior quarterback, had the same Fantasy points per game last season. There should be a chasm between the two in 2021.
Having only broken the 30-touchdown mark once since 2011, Stafford should be setting career-high numbers across the board next season. Don’t be surprised to see him rivalling the league’s best Fantasy QBs.
Injury robbed us of what could have been a big 2020 from Joe Mixon. Returning in 2021, Mixon and Joe Burrow should lead a fun Cincinnati Bengals offense.
Mixon was unspectacular in 2019, finishing 11th in total RB Fantasy points. This Bengals team is barely comparable to then, though, and it’s reasonable to expect an improvement to Cincy’s run blocking during this offseason.
Capable of mixing a heavy workload with big plays, Mixon has a shot at breaking into the top five Fantasy running backs in 2021.
CeeDee Lamb’s rookie year was derailed, like Dallas’ season, by the injury to Dak Prescott. His production early in the campaign signalled a Fantasy star, but Prescott’s absence saw Lamb’s numbers plummet.
Barring a shock move this summer, Prescott is returning to the Cowboys for 2021. Lamb has a chance to be a star in Dallas’ stacked offense, even with Amari Cooper and Ezekiel Elliott demanding plenty of the ball.
Again riding the excitement of this Rams offense, Van Jefferson has serious Fantasy breakout potential. Jefferson is in the shadow of higher-profile teammates, but he’s proven himself as a talented pass catcher since being selected in the second round.
Most Fantasy drafts will not pay attention to Jefferson. He’s a borderline WR3 for the Rams. With Stafford’s willingness to bomb downfield, though, Jefferson’s pass-catching talent could reap serious rewards for Fantasy players.
The talent is there. A new quarterback and departing positional rivals should create new opportunities. Keep an eye on Jefferson in 2021.
It’s all change in Philly. Jalen Hurts is under center. Carson Wentz has departed, Zach Ertz is leaving and the offense is getting a rebrand. Dallas Goedert, however, remains, and he could be Hurts’ go-to guy in the 2021 season.
Top tight end production relies on quantity of targets. Unlike explosive receivers, tight ends are unlikely to put up massive numbers per reception. Goedert needs to be used often by Hurts, and that looks like a realistic proposition.
High-scoring fantasy football tight ends in recent years have usually benefited from being on an offense without star receivers. That’s the position Goedert will be in next season.