2021 Targets: Who Will Ascend to Elite Status?

Every year in fantasy football, there are players who take the next step towards becoming “must-own” dynasty assets. Finding who these players are is one of the many things that make fantasy football such a challenging and rewarding game. The purpose of this article is to discuss a few of those targets who could be on the cusp of entering top-12 first-round dynasty status. 

The Criteria: 12-team 1QB PPR scoring. All players must currently be ranked outside the top 20 according to the consensus dynasty rankings on FantasyPros

Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington Football Team

Current Ranking: 31st overall (RB15)

Gibson is a rare breed at the running back position. At 6’2” and 220 lbs. he owns a combination of size and speed that few running backs can offer. Even though he was primarily used as a WR in college, there is no doubt his game has made a smooth transition to RB in the NFL. No, his stats in his rookie year didn’t blow the roof off the top (795 rush yards, 247 rec. yards), but Gibson showed plenty of flashes as the season went on. His 11 rushing TDs in 14 games is a good indication he’ll be a trusted red zone runner and also see valuable usage around the goal line. Although J.D. McKissic is liked by the Washington coaching staff, it is reasonable to expect Gibson to be featured in the passing game more in his sophomore year. If that does indeed come to fruition we could be looking at a potential monster season from the Memphis product. All the arrows are pointing up at the moment and if we see an improvement at QB for Washington it could be a fun 2021 for those who own Gibson in all formats.

D.J. Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers

Current Ranking: 32nd overall (WR13)

After finishing as the WR16 in 2019 there was a bit of a regression in 2020. He was the WR25 this past season and was ultimately viewed as a disappointment in his third campaign. If there is a buy-low opportunity in your dynasty league now is the time to strike. Moore did not take the leap many of us were hoping for but if you look more into the numbers there is reason to be excited heading into 2021. 

He gained more yards in 2020 on 21 fewer catches than the year before. That amounted to an outrageous 18.1 YPC which was almost five yards more than his 13.5 in 2019. He is not the biggest WR but he plays much taller than his height would indicate, consistently racking up yards after the catch (a good indicator of future production). Moore had his second consecutive season with at least 1,175 yards receiving and with an uptick in targets this could be a player who we see emerge as an elite option at the position. I am sure this is not the most popular selection given the Panthers’ current situation at QB and the lack of TDs thus far in his career. Those are legitimate reasons to be concerned, but I am fully on board with Moore as a talent. Now if the Panthers somehow land Deshaun Watson in a trade then there could be something special on the horizon for this young pass catcher. Entering his age 24 season, Moore will be an under-the-radar player with loads of upside.

Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

Current Ranking: 38th overall (WR17)

Higgins is going to be extremely popular during the dynasty offseason and rightfully so. The 33rd overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft put the league on notice during much of his rookie campaign. Higgins is coming, and he is here to stay. The Clemson standout is a big man with the ability to come down with the ball over virtually any defensive back in his way. 

The chemistry with Joe Burrow is real. For a large portion of the season he was one of the most consistent WRs in fantasy posting double-digit PPR points in every game but one from Weeks 3-13 (Week 9 bye). Higgins had a 67/908/6 line in his rookie year and now he has a chance to have a full offseason program with his team. The potential for exponential growth from year one to year two is right in front of him. With a healthy Burrow at some point next season (likely sooner than initially expected), this duo is all systems go for 2021. Outside of any type of injury, I feel very confident we will be talking about Higgins as a premier dynasty asset this time next year. If you have him on your roster, enjoy the ride. 

I appreciate you all taking the time out of your day to read this article. This is my debut article for DFF and I hope you all enjoyed it. Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @JIDynastyFF; I would be happy to discuss all things fantasy football. Looking for some more Dynasty content? Click here for a 12-month DFF Membership.


Staff Writer @DFF_Dynasty, #DFFArmy, Co-host of Lab 52: Dynasty Football Podcast as Weapon X, Philly sports fan, Follower of Christ.

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