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2021 Fantasy Football PPR Rankings 1.0

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

With OTAs now underway, let’s take an early look ahead at the upcoming fantasy football season. Here are my top 100 players for 2021 in PPR leagues:

The Top Ten

1. Christian McCaffrey, CAR (RB1)

McCaffrey is only one year removed from becoming the third player in NFL history to record 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in the same season. In 2019, he led all players with an absurd 471.2 fantasy points. He got off to a strong start, once again, last season averaging 30.1 fantasy points per game across three appearances, but his season was, unfortunately, cut short due to injury. He is the clear number one pick for 2021.

2. Alvin Kamara, NO (RB2)

Kamara led all running backs in fantasy points in 2020. The retirement of Drew Brees should not affect his value. Kamara still posted 22.4 fantasy points in Week 14 against the Eagles with Taysom Hill as the starter. If Jameis Winston wins the starting quarterback job, that could potentially give Kamara even more upside, as Winston has a history of being a very fantasy-friendly quarterback for receivers, and Kamara had 107 targets last season.

3. Dalvin Cook, MIN (RB3)

Cook has established himself as a consistently elite fantasy option. He finished second among running backs in fantasy points last season, and there is no reason to expect a drop-off in 2021.

4. Ezekiel Elliott, DAL (RB4)

Elliott might be the safest pick in the first round. He has played in 46 out of 48 games over the past three seasons. Elliott and Alvin Kamara are the only two players to finish as top ten fantasy running backs in each of the past three seasons. Elliott missed six games in 2017 and still finished as the RB12 overall. The return of Dak Prescott should boost his value, as well. Elliott was the third-highest scoring fantasy running back in Weeks 1-5 with Prescott on the field.

5. Davante Adams, GB (WR1)

Adams was actually second in fantasy points among non-quarterbacks last season, and Adams missed two games. He led the NFL with 18 receiving touchdowns. That trend should continue, as he also led the NFL in red-zone targets and red-zone target percentage. However, Aaron Rodgers’s status with the Packers remains a question mark. As long as Rodgers remains in Green Bay, Adams is the best wide receiver on the board.

6. Aaron Jones, GB (RB5)

Since the beginning of the 2019 season, Jones has been one of the best running backs in football, and he finished each of the past two seasons as a top-five fantasy running back. Jones has been an incredibly efficient rusher throughout his career, and that trend continued last season as he finished third among running backs in yards per carry. He is also one of only five running backs to receive 60+ targets in each of the past two seasons.

7. Stefon Diggs, BUF (WR2)

In his first season in Buffalo, Diggs led the NFL in receptions, targets, and receiving yards. He should continue to thrive in Buffalo’s pass-first offense.

8. Travis Kelce, KC (TE1)

The last time Kelce did not lead tight ends in fantasy points was in 2015. That version of the Chiefs was vastly different; their leading receiver was Jeremy Maclin and Jamaal Charles was starting at running back. So, Kelce is a safe bet to be the top tight end again this year. In addition, he remains one of the most valuable players in fantasy regardless of position; he was seventh among flex options in fantasy points in 2020.

9. Derrick Henry, TEN (RB6)

Henry carried the ball 378 times last season. That was the most rushing attempts in a single season since DeMarco Murray had 392 attempts in 2014. Henry’s huge workload, alone, makes him worthy of a first-round pick in fantasy drafts, but he also managed to finish fourth in yards per carry, despite the high volume. Other running backs may see a larger role in the passing game, but Henry finished the season as the RB3 in PPR leagues. It’s hard to justify him falling any further.

10. Saquon Barkley, NYG (RB7)

Barkley certainly has a lot of upside; he led all running backs in fantasy points in 2018. However, he was seventh among running backs in fantasy points per game in 2019, and there are reports that the Giants plan to take it slow with reintegrating Barkley into the offense.

He is still worth a first-round pick, but it’s hard to rank him ahead of safer options like Henry, Jones, and Elliott.

11-25

11. Nick Chubb, CLE (RB8)

12. Tyreek Hill, KC (WR3)

13. Jonathan Taylor, IND (RB9)

14. DeAndre Hopkins, ARI (WR4)

15. Michael Thomas, NO (WR5)

16. Joe Mixon, CIN (RB10)

17. Austin Ekeler, LAC (RB11)

18. Darren Waller, LV (TE2)

19. Justin Jefferson, MIN (WR6)

20. Antonio Gibson, WSH (RB12)

21. Terry McLaurin, WSH (WR7)

22. J.K. Dobbins, BAL (RB13)

23. A.J. Brown, TEN (WR8)

24. Keenan Allen, LAC (WR9)

25. Calvin Ridley, ATL (WR10)

Players to watch:

Darren Waller scored 278.6 fantasy points last season, which was tenth among flex options. In addition, that total would have made him the TE1 in 2019. Waller’s workload is an indication that he should be able to produce similar numbers this season. Last season, he was second in red-zone targets behind only Davante Adams, and his 145 total targets were tied with Travis Kelce for sixth in the NFL.

Terry McLaurin has been one of the most talented wide receivers in the NFC, but Washington’s quarterback play has limited his fantasy potential. Washington had three different starting quarterbacks last season, and they threw for a combined 16 touchdowns (third-fewest in the NFL). Despite that, McLaurin finished with 87 receptions for 1,118 yards. Ryan Fitzpatrick should immediately raise McLaurin’s ceiling; he threw for 13 touchdowns in seven starts with the Dolphins last season. Also, he has a history of increasing wide receivers' fantasy production. From Week 5 to Week 17 of the 2019 season, DeVante Parker was second among wide receivers in fantasy points.

After spending the first half of the season splitting carries with Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards, Dobbins ended the season on a high note. He had seven rushing touchdowns in his final six regular-season games. With Ingram gone, Dobbins is now the clear lead back in the most prolific rushing offense in NFL history.

26-50

26. David Montgomery, CHI (RB14)

27. DK Metcalf, SEA (WR11)

28. Miles Sanders, PHI (RB15)

29. Najee Harris, PIT (RB16)

30. Cam Akers, LAR (RB17)

31. Amari Cooper, DAL (WR12)

32. Chris Godwin, TB (WR13)

33. Mike Evans, TB (WR14)

34. Adam Thielen, MIN (WR15)

35. D’Andre Swift, DET (RB18)

36. Allen Robinson, CHI (WR16)

37. Myles Gaskin, MIA (RB19)

38. Patrick Mahomes, KC (QB1)

39. George Kittle, SF (TE3)

40. Lamar Jackson, BAL (QB2)

41. Josh Allen, BUF (QB3)

42. Brandin Cooks, HOU (WR16)

43. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, KC (RB20)

44. Robert Woods, LAR (WR17)

45. Odell Beckham Jr., CLE (WR18)

46. Tyler Lockett, SEA (WR19)

47. Dak Prescott, DAL (QB4)

48. Aaron Rodgers, GB (QB5)

49. Julio Jones, ATL (WR20)

50. Chris Carson, SEA (RB21)

Players to watch:

David Montgomery quietly finished the season as fantasy’s fourth highest-scoring running back. That is partially due to the big role he played in the Bears’ offense. He was fourth in the league in carries and sixth among running backs in targets. However, Tarik Cohen appeared in only three games last year due to an ACL injury. Cohen’s return will certainly impact Montgomery’s usage. Nevertheless, Montgomery is a borderline RB1 or high-end RB2.

Will Fuller and Kenny Stills are no longer in Houston. As a result, Brandin Cooks will face little competition for targets. Cooks finished last season with two big games without Fuller and Stills:

Week 16 vs. CIN: 7 receptions, 141 receiving yards, 1 TD

Week 17 vs. TEN: 11 receptions, 166 receiving yards, 2 TD

Overall, Cooks was the WR17 last season. The Texans’ quarterback situation is filled with uncertainty. Regardless, Cooks has a clear path to fantasy production.

I am not extremely high on Clyde Edwards-Helaire. As the lead back for the Chiefs, he has the floor of an RB2, but his fantasy performance in 2020 was solid yet unspectacular. Edwards-Helaire was not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but there is nothing that convinces me to place him ahead of Miles Sanders or David Montgomery. When he was on the field, Edwards-Helaire was 23rd among running backs in fantasy points per game.

51-100

51. Kyler Murray, ARI (QB6)

52. Kenny Golladay, NYG (WR21)

53. Mark Andrews, BAL (TE4)

54. D.J. Chark Jr., JAX (WR22)

55. Josh Jacobs, LV (RB22)

56. CeeDee Lamb, DAL (WR23)

57. D.J. Moore, CAR (WR24)

58. Melvin Gordon III, DEN (RB23)

59. Brandon Aiyuk, SF (WR25)

60. Raheem Mostert, SF (RB24)

61. Justin Herbert, LAC (QB7)

62. Courtland Sutton, DEN (WR26)

63. James Robinson, JAX (RB25)

64. Kareem Hunt, CLE (RB26)

65. Tee Higgins, CIN (WR27)

66. Diontae Johnson, PIT (WR28)

67. Jarvis Landry, CLE (WR29)

68. Ronald Jones II, TB (RB27)

69. Marquise Brown, BAL (WR30)

70. Russell Wilson, SEA (QB8)

71. Cooper Kupp, LAR (WR31)

72. Corey Davis, NYJ (WR32)

73. DeVonta Smith, PHI (WR33)

74. DeVante Parker, MIA (WR34)

75. Jalen Hurts, PHI (QB9)

76. Mike Davis, ATL (RB28)

77. Travis Etienne, JAX (RB29)

78. David Johnson, HOU (RB30)

79. Chase Claypool, PIT (WR35)

80. Logan Thomas, WAS (TE5)

81. Dallas Goedert, PHI (TE6)

82. Joe Burrow, CIN (QB10)

83. Chase Edmonds, ARI (RB31)

84. Deebo Samuel, SF (WR36)

85. Ja’Marr Chase, CIN (WR37)

86. Robby Anderson, CAR (WR38)

87. Kyle Pitts, ATL (TE7)

88. T.J. Hockenson, DET (TE8)

89. Tom Brady, TB (QB11)

90. Damien Harris, NE (RB32)

91. James Conner, ARI (RB33)

92. Zack Moss, BUF (RB34)

93. Robert Tonyan, GB (TE9)

94. Ryan Tannehill, TEN (QB12)

95. Michael Carter, NYJ (RB35)

96. Jerry Jeudy, DEN (WR39)

97. Gus Edwards, BAL (RB36)

98. Kenyan Drake, LV (RB37)

99. Phillip Lindsay, HOU (RB38)

100. Michael Pittman Jr., IND (WR40)

Players to watch:

The Jaguars’ running back situation will be worth monitoring over the next couple of months. James Robinson was excellent, as a rookie. He finished 2020 as the RB7 overall, despite playing behind a weak offensive line. He seemed to be locked in as an RB1 for 2021, until the front office decided to select Travis Etienne out of Clemson in the first round of the NFL Draft. A team does not select a running back in the first round to sit on the bench, so Etienne will undoubtedly take touches away from Robinson. On the other hand, it is hard to picture the Jaguars moving completely away from Robinson after he rushed for 1,070 yards in 14 games.

Interestingly, Etienne lined up at rookie minicamp at wide receiver.

For now, it seems like Etienne could see a larger role in the passing game, while Robinson handles some of the early-down snaps. Hopefully, we can gain some clarity on their roles soon.

Across his four starts, Jalen Hurts averaged 22.99 fantasy points per game. If we extrapolate that average over 16 games, he would have been seventh among quarterbacks in fantasy points last season. His rushing ability gives him a higher ceiling and a higher floor than many other options at quarterback. In those four starts, he rushed for a combined 272 yards and three touchdowns. Hurts also might have a true number one wide receiver to work with this year in reigning Heisman winner DeVonta Smith.

Logan Thomas was tied for third among tight ends in fantasy points last season. More importantly, Thomas received a total of 110 targets; Travis Kelce and Darren Waller were the only tight ends to be targeted more. Finally, Ryan Fitzpatrick could further boost his fantasy value.