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RotoPat’s Final 2021 Fantasy Rankings

Kyler Murray

Kyler Murray

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

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With barely a week to go until the opener, here are my crunch-time rankings. These are my favorite 25 quarterbacks, 50 running backs, 60 receivers and 25 tight ends. I try to view them as format-agnostic, but they hew much closer to PPR than standard. Ultimately, I abide by, “would I really draft this player over this player?”

Top 25 Quarterbacks

1. Patrick Mahomes — QB6 and QB2 finishes since era-defining 2018.
2. Kyler Murray — The best passing dual-threat, the best rushing passer.
3. Josh Allen — That was probably a career year, but did you see these preseason game logs?
4. Russell Wilson — At peak of powers in Rams-ified O. 15 more TDs than any QB over past four years.
5. Lamar Jackson — Has 2-of-3 1,000-yard QB rushing seasons in NFL history. Best weapons of career.
6. Aaron Rodgers — Only certainty of a 9.0 TD% is regression, though AR is master of efficiency.
7. Dak Prescott — I prefer my football team not to have to consult my baseball team about my injury.
8. Justin Herbert — Regression all but certain, supporting cast not upgraded. But special player.
9. Tom Brady — Second most TDs of his career at age 43. Best WR of 21st century is his No. 3 option.
10. Matthew Stafford — Adding Sean McVay to his “aggressive yet efficient” game could be lethal.
11. Ryan Tannehill — Adding Julio Jones coming off top-10 2020.
12. Jalen Hurts — Eagles’ lack of commitment obscures sky-high fantasy upside.
13. Joe Burrow — Has the weapons. Does he have the post-injury confidence?
14. Trevor Lawrence — Strange vibes and strange weapons. But upside to spare.
15. Justin Fields — Shouldn’t be on the bench for more than a game or two.
16. Trey Lance — Our dual-threat nation turns its lonely eyes to you. Summer usage was bizarre.
17. Ben Roethlisberger — Has the weapons and the attempts. Hopefully has the elbow ligaments.
18. Baker Mayfield — Still lacks season-long ceiling, but in right place at right time for spiked weeks.
19. Tua Tagovailoa — By all accounts a more confident player in greater rhythm this summer.
20. Matt Ryan — Can Arthur Smith improve his declining efficiency sans Julio Jones?
21. Kirk Cousins — Non zero-chance Cousins is benched by Jokerfied Mike Zimmer.
22. Sam Darnold — Panthers pulling up from Dame range with this one. 37.5% chance it works.
23. Jameis Winston — Weapons scarce, Taysom looms in RZ. You can still cut the upside with a knife.
24. Ryan Fitzpatrick — Never as fun as it seems for teams or fantasy players.
25. Daniel Jones — Even a diet Josh Allen third-year leap would make Dimes a superflex steal.


Top 50 Running Backs

1. Christian McCaffrey — Prototype modern back remains locked into every-snap role.
2. Dalvin Cook — Poor man’s CMC meets poor man’s Derrick Henry = one very rich man.
3. Derrick Henry — Won’t catch me fading the big dog. Please throw this man some screens.
4. Alvin Kamara — The last Jameis RB to catch 40-plus passes was Charles Sims in 2015.
5 Ezekiel Elliott — Zeke’s body is supposedly back. More importantly, the same is true for his OL.
6. Saquon Barkley — Running behind arguably league’s worst OL, Barkley needs to be generational.
7. Jonathan Taylor — Centerpiece of Colts’ offense went bonkers down 2020 stretch.
8. Aaron Jones — Lost early-down work to AJ Dillon hopefully offset by increased receptions.
9. Austin Ekeler — 2020 injuries likely ensure same role with Saints/Kamara disciple Joe Lombardi.
10. Najee Harris — Steelers telegraphed 3D role for rookie RB before they even made the pick.
11. Nick Chubb — Safest floor there is comes with a defined ceiling.
12. Joe Mixon — Always something in the way for Mixon, but you can cross Giovani Bernard off the list.
13. Antonio Gibson — Gibson did the hard part first as a rookie. CMC role unlikely but not impossible.
14. David Montgomery — Who needs Tarik? Damien Williams more about Ryan Nall than D-Mont.
15. Clyde Edwards-Helaire — Take 2 in most dangerous O. Ankle issue leaves doubter door ajar.
16. Chris Carson — The “Rams’ system” would enhance both Carson’s RB2 floor and ceiling.
17. D’Andre Swift — Warning lights blinking, but this is a three-down talent you bet on.
18. Josh Jacobs — What does Kenyan Drake’s presence really change?
19. Gus Edwards — Edwards just has to show up with L-Jax and OL paving running lanes.
20. Miles SandersKenneth Gainwell has Sanders living dangerously as low-end RB2.
21. James Robinson — Believe rational Urban Meyer usage when you see it.
22. Mike Davis — The horizon looks clear, though Davis wore down badly as 2020 every-down back.
23. Chase Edmonds — Edmonds offers immense upside in Rounds 5-7 range.
24. Damien Harris — This feels conservative after Cam Newton’s release.
25. Kareem Hunt — Hasn’t looked like KC self in CLE, but standalone RB2 calf tweak away from RB1.
26. Myles Gaskin — Can jack of all trades, master of none smoke and mirrors his way to RB2?
27. Raheem Mostert — We love our Trey Sermon, don’t we folks? Yet, Mostert still has top job.
28. Javonte Williams — Being held out of the preseason finale possible prelude to being named 1A.
29. Sony Michel — Rams view Hendo as strict COP back. Quietly had elite run-blocking OL in 2020.
30. Trey Sermon — Injury history, inconsistent college workloads could create committee ceiling.
31. AJ Dillon — Aaron Jones is an elite goal-line back. How much of that work can Dillon steal?
32. Melvin Gordon — MelGo was Elway’s signing. Every sign points to early changing of the guard.
33. Michael Carter — Jets clearly going with a committee. Carter where all the upside resides.
34. Darrell Henderson — How many passes can Henderson catch? His 2021 depends on it.
35. Nyheim Hines — Has reached James White-ian territory in terms of pass-catching dependability.
36. Jamaal Williams — D’Andre Swift already leaving an opening he might regret for teacher’s pet.
37. James Conner — Enough uncertainty to keep Conner in FLEX ranks. Kliff comfortable with two-back approach.
38. Ronald Jones — Mired in stalemate with Lenny. RoJo gets edge because of big-play ability.
39. Zack Moss — The Bills are the rare team with zero interest in establishing it.
40. Kenyan Drake — Number of receptions will depend on LV OL/defense/game flow.
41. Leonard Fournette — “Playoff Lenny” averaged 3.8 YPC behind elite OL, was healthy scratch.
42. Devin Singletary — I think Singletary will be preferred pass-catching back to Moss.
43. Darrel Williams — “The Mentor” is closely monitoring CEH’s ankle.
44. Tony Pollard — Pollard’s Achilles’ heel remains his lack of standalone value.
45. Malcolm Brown — Goal-line smoke signals have billowed since May. Could be just smoke.
46. David Johnson — The best pass catcher in this wretched backfield.
47. Giovani Bernard — Bernard’s role secure after Fournette and RoJo flopped as pass catchers.
48. Justin Jackson — Apparently getting the Bolts’ first chance on early downs.
49. Alexander Mattison — Zero standalone value is top-five insurance back.
50. Ty’Son Williams — First up to the be Ravens’ 1B post-J.K. Dobbins.

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Top 60 Receivers

1. Tyreek Hill — No receiver has any single attribute as dangerous as Hill’s speed.
2. Davante Adams — Has averaged 8/92/1 since breakout 2018.
3. Stefon Diggs — Chameleon Diggs aced compiling assignment with 6th most catches in history.
4. Calvin Ridley — Averaged 11 targets in eight games without Julio. Pitts will draw cover.
5. DeAndre Hopkins — One of three players since 1992 to draw 150-plus targets six straight seasons.
6. DK Metcalf — Metcalf’s alpha trajectory: Elite rookie —> WR1 sophomore —> stratospheric junior?
7. A.J. Brown — Amongst players with at least 2,000 receiving yards over past two years, AJB’s 17.43 YPC 1.64 more than anyone else.
8. Justin Jefferson — Averaged 95 yards in 14 games after becoming starter. Irv injury firewalls regression.
9. Keenan Allen — Coming off most consistent season of career. Little target competition.
10. Terry McLaurin — Fitzmagic will let McLaurin do more than just compile. Step 2: Fitz keeping job.
11. Allen Robinson — Already had WR1 numbers. Might finally have WR1 quarterback.
12. Chris Godwin — Pure “gut” bet that Godwin’s tailor-made Brady skill-set mindmelds with TB12.
13. D.J. Moore — On Stefon Diggs career trajectory. Has already done it all through three seasons.
14. Mike Evans — Brady needs to take more sideline shots beyond just the end zone.
15. Julio Jones — Hopefully Julio’s 32-year-old muscle tissue isn’t getting too soft.
16. CeeDee Lamb — Can’t help but feel this is a reprise of Calvin Ridley’s 2019. Year too early.
17. Robert WoodsOne of five WRs to catch 90-plus passes each of past two years gets massive QB upgrade.
18. Amari Cooper — Always something in the way. Getting Lou Gehrig/Wally Pipp’d as WR1?
19. Tyler Lockett — Never late, never early. Right-on-time Lockett offers nothing more, nothing less than expected.
20. Cooper Kupp — Despite down-field proclivities, Matthew Stafford has never ignored slot.
21. Adam ThielenIrv Smith’s injury could prevent Thielen from regressing < 10 touchdowns.
22. Diontae Johnson — Don’t fight it. Wouldn’t be first third-year pro to get more efficient.
23. Jerry Jeudy — Reportedly getting open at will. Hopefully his QB will thread the needle.
24. Laviska Shenault — Shenault’s role grew more inevitable following Etienne’s injury.
25. Brandon Aiyuk — Capable YAC man, but Aiyuk is where Niners go for non-manufactured WR targets.
26. DeVonta Smith — The next great route-running hope.
27. Odell Beckham — Freak athlete he is, OBJ already all the way back physically. Can he stay there?
28. Tee Higgins — What did Chase’s arrival really change? Higgins had big 2020 amidst 104 AJG targets.
29. Robby Anderson — Robby’s “Temple narrative” with Matt Rhule meets his “Darnold narrative.”
30. Chase Claypool — Mapletron has to commit hostile takeover of WR corps with two target hogs.
31. Ja’Marr Chase — Best WR prospect since Amari had rusty summer after 2020 opt-out.
32. Will Fuller — Game-breaker, slate-flipper etc. whenever healthy. Good play-action fit with Tua.
33. JuJu Smith-Schuster — Officially just a slot man, JuJu hopes to lead YAC pack of Jarvis, Boyd etc.
34. Antonio Brown — Finally had an uneventful offseason. Feels like Tom Brady’s special project.
35. Tyler Boyd — Can this volume really remain with Chase joining Higgins?
36. Courtland Sutton — One of the NFL’s most physically imposing players when healthy. Is he?
37. Elijah Moore — So good he moved A.J. Brown to tears. Press, coaching staff fawning since May.
38. Michael Gallup — Essentially an “insurance back” at WR who also has standalone value.
39. Mike Williams — Still needed for huge role in holding pattern skill corps.
40. Corey Davis — Someone to be cautious with had very impressive summer.
41. Michael Pittman — Hilton’s injury hurts. Defenses now free to roll more coverage sophomore’s way.
42. Jarvis Landry — Caught fewest balls of career last season even with OBJ sidelined.
43. Brandin Cooks — The situation is just so, so bad.
44. Kenny Golladay — Too many red flags to list. Also an alpha when healthy.
45. Deebo Samuel — How many lollipops will post-Jimmy G offense dial up?
46. Darnell Mooney — Situation not for the faint of heart, but Mooney separates at will. Now has down-field QB.
47. Marquez Callaway — Steady offseason hype translated to preseason field.
48. Michael Thomas — Injury optimism doesn’t get you very far in FF, but the risk/reward is too lofty not to take a shot.
49. Marquise Brown — Impressive rookie Rashod Bateman will relieve pressure upon return from injury.
50. Mecole Hardman — Indications the slow-developing wideout is finally the No. 2.
51. D.J. Chark — Been in witness protection since suffering hand injury. Bad summer vibes.
52. Curtis Samuel — Has not practiced since June.
53. Jaylen Waddle — Early indications are that he’ll avoid the fate of “this year’s Henry Ruggs.”
54. Rondale Moore — Please just stay on the field, Rondale.
55. Marvin Jones — Always spoiling something.
56. Rashod Bateman — Missing link for Ravens’ offense is behind because of injury.
57. DeVante Parker — Parker’s six-year career is the second half of 2019 and everything else.
58. Marquez Valdes-Scantling — Will remain effective role player who can change matchups on 2-3 targets.
59. Henry Ruggs — Radio silent summer included zero preseason snaps.
60. Jakobi Meyers — Seemingly safest targets receptacle in suddenly-crowded offense.

Top 25 Tight Ends

1. Travis Kelce — Only Nuk has more receiving yards since Patrick Mahomes became QB.
2. Darren Waller — Seventh in receiving over past two years. Sixth in targets last season.
3. George Kittle — Averaged 10 yards per target over past three years. Only one other TE above 9.31.
4. Mark Andrews — 17 TDs over past two years tied for eighth. Still Ravens’ No. 1 pass catcher.
5. T.J. Hockenson — On star TE career trajectory, Hock should also be on Waller targets plan.
6. Kyle Pitts — Getting nervous I’m fading a HOFer. Just such a cruel world for rookie TEs. Is Pitts a TE?
7. Logan Thomas — Every-down player. WFT’s WR corps still quietly shaky.
8. Tyler Higbee — Has the deck finally been cleared? Third target there for the taking.
9. Robert Tonyan — Scored on 21.1% of targets in 2020. (I.e. regression). Thankfully they have nowhere to go but up.
10. Noah Fant — Feels ready to do some compiling for Teddy Checkdown.
11. Mike Gesicki — Improves a little bit each year, though MIA’s skill corps has never been this crowded.
12. Dallas GoedertZach Ertz’s inability to get traded capping Goedert’s ceiling with erratic QB.
13. Evan Engram — He just keeps coming back, though target competition will be fierce.
14. Cole Kmet — The Bears seem very committed to making this happen.
15. Gerald Everett — The TE and QB who pray together throw end zone fades together?
16. Hunter Henry — Fell down the Ozzie Smith bottomless hole in Pats camp. Badly needed in RZ.
17. Austin Hooper — Supposedly ticketed for a bigger role. Definitely being paid for one.
18. Anthony Firkser — I have faith the Firk Daddy will shake this committee.
19. Jared Cook — He’s aging, but Cook is TD-scoring machine for offense that needs one.
20. Rob GronkowskiMike Evans could be stealing Gronk’s life force.
21. Jonnu Smith — Made the mistake of becoming an indispensable blocker. So dangerous with ball in his hands.
22. Dan Arnold — Maybe we are trying too hard to make this happen, but many positive signs.
23. Adam Trautman — Maybe he needed to work on something, but summer usage too concerning.
24. Zach Ertz — Undead zombie tight end has lost his protector in Carson Wentz.
25. Pat Freiermuth — The next great pass-catching Steelers TE?

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