This article will be the first of 12, counting down the days until we can once again sit and watch this sport that we love (and dominate our fantasy leagues in the process). Each article will have a numeric theme, which will also count down as each day is ticked off the calendar. In this piece, I’ll be discussing the top-12 (see the theme?) running backs from our site’s very own redraft rankings and their projected stat lines for the upcoming season. Not only is it a lot of fun to look at some realistic outcomes for these star players–a bit of a preseason appetizer–but looking at these projections can also help you to confidently select one player over another when you are on the clock, even if those two players appear almost indistinguishable at first glance. So, without further ado, I am thrilled to kick off DFF’s first-ever “Kickoff Countdown”!
In dynasty, one of the most under-appreciated assets is the bench stash running back. These cheap assets can climb up depth charts and become useful to either your starting lineup or for trade. These types of players can be acquired for a fourth-round rookie pick or less in most leagues but can return a second-rounder or more in trades if they become a starter. Even if it’s only for a couple of weeks. For example, last season I was able to trade Ryan Nall and a third-round rookie pick for a second-round rookie pick when he took over for David Montgomery. The hardest part is finding which players are the best bets to not only remain on a team but also climb a depth chart. This article will go over certain metrics you can look for when deciding between these late-round or free-agent RBs.
Last weekend DFF organized a 14 team redraft league comprised solely of DFF writers/editors as owners. In this piece, I will talk about how I prepared for the draft, got my strategy together, and actually navigated the live draft. Hopefully, this will give you some insight on not only the players I took but also the methods I used to prepare.
The Panthers have typically been a run-heavy team in years past. This is due to them having Cam Newton and a revolving door at QB. Now that they have a stable passer in Darnold I think they will throw more often. In 2020 they had a pass to rush play ratio of 1.35 which is exactly league average. For 2021 I have them bumping up to a 1.41 ratio. As for their rush-to-pass touchdown ratio they have had a very low one of .85 in 2019 and .84 in 2020. Typically this sort of thing regresses to the league mean of 1.82, and I find it unlikely that we will see this low of a ratio again. So, for 2021 I am giving them a ratio of 1.25. Now let us look at what these trends do to the individual players.
The wide receiver group for Denver also has a lot of ambiguity in itself too. Jerry Jeudy operated as the team’s top pass catcher in 2020 but Courtland Sutton was the lead dog in 2019. Who should we expect to be the alpha in 2021? I did my projections under the assumption the Jeudy would perform more so as the slot guy that may garner more targets but have lower yards per reception and touchdowns. While Sutton will be utilized as the mid to deep WR threat on the outside of the field and looked at more in the red zone. This means he can see fewer targets but achieve a similar yardage output and more touchdowns. My projections relay this well, and they both average within .5 fantasy points per game of each other. I think they will both be weekly mid-tier to low-tier WR2s so Sutton having an ADP of WR32 feels good and Jeudy having an ADP of WR41 feels awesome. I like them both at their ADP, but I do not like drafting two wide receivers from the same team in a typical redraft league. Therefore my recommended plan of action would be to pass on Sutton and draft Jeudy later. Jeudy also has a higher upside because he has the potential to see way more targets and produce more points in a more consistent way.
Baker Mayfield had a bit of a sophomore slump in 2019, but we got to see him bounce back with a good 2020 season where he threw for 3500 yards and 26 touchdowns. I have him projected to expand on this in 2021 and collect almost 4200 passing yards along with 29 touchdowns. Seems pretty reasonable to me. A small increase in throws per game and adding a 17th game certainly make up for that increase in pass yards. This leaves Baker averaging 20.9 fantasy points per game, resulting in a low QB2 ranking. Baker’s current redraft ADP is QB16, this is a tad high for me. I would feel much better about getting him at the QB20-24 range, I am fading him at his ADP and so should you. However, if he happens to fall a few spots I would gladly take him in that previously mentioned 20-24 range.
Joe Burrow looked awesome in 2020 when he was on the field. As a rookie, he was very impressive and I cannot wait to see how he grows in 2021. The team is giving him every chance to succeed and I think he will take advantage of these resources to have a great season and career. I have him projected for a very solid 4,700 passing yards and 35 total touchdowns. This results in him averaging 23.4 fantasy points per game, this leaves him easily in the top eight QBs for 2021. With his ADP being about QB12 I am loving him in drafts and find myself stacking him with a Bengals wide receiver very often.
The Buffalo RB group is interesting. I gave Zack Moss more rushing work than Devin Singletary and gave Singletary more receiving work than Moss. Which matches the trend set when both were active in 2020. Unfortunately, this creates two RBs that I do not want. At first, I found it surprising that Singletary came out with more points than Moss because I thought Moss’s TD upside would trump the receiving upside. However, Singletary uses that receiving upside to achieve four receiving touchdowns. Both of these running backs ended up with seven total touchdowns, but Singletary had 30 more receptions which give him the point advantage. These RBs may not seem desirable, but at their respective ADPs, I could see myself owning some Singletary. He is currently being drafted after Zach Moss, so I would take advantage of this by fading Moss and scooping Singletary late.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire is a player that was hyped to Mars in the last off-season. I had been calling him a post-hype buy candidate all off-season so I was excited to see what my projections would have in store for him. In 2020 CEH had 45% of the team’s carries and that was with him missing three full games. So, in 2021 I have him projected for 50% of the team’s carries. I also gave him a 50% share of the rush TDs and a 10% target share. All of these comes together to make a 1,300 yard and 13 total TD season. One of CEH’s biggest issues last season was finding the endzone, I have him correcting this in a big way and seeing an elite TD floor. He is the main RB in the league’s most consistent offense. He should see a lot of TD opportunities this season.
In this series, I am diving into each NFL team and putting forth my predictions on what I think they will do in the 2021 season. I think having a set of reasonable or expected projections can help us during our drafts. They can help differentiate between closely ranked players, not only by comparing floor but also by comparing potential upside. I will be showing a set of realistic or expected projections and telling you if I think anyone is being under or overvalued in best ball/redraft drafts right now. These can also be used in a dynasty mindset, especially if you are a contending team. But, even if you are in a rebuild these projections could outline a young, cheap player who may get more work than a lot of people think. Let’s dig in.
In this coming series, I will be diving into each NFL team and putting forth my predictions on what I think they will do in the 2021 season. I think having a set of reasonable or expected projections can help us during our drafts. They can help differentiate between closely ranked players, not only by comparing floor but also by comparing potential upside. I will be showing a set of realistic or expected projections and telling you if I think anyone is being under or overvalued in best ball/redraft drafts right now. These can also be used in a dynasty mindset, especially if you are a contending team. But, even if you are in a rebuild these projections could outline a young, cheap player who may get more work than a lot of people think. Let’s dig in.
Today’s fantasy landscape grows more and more complex. When evaluating rookie prospects we have so many different stats and metrics to look at. The hard part is figuring out which ones are important and which do not matter. That is where regression analysis can come in and play a large role. I will be using regression analysis to help build a predictive grading model that can be used to easily sift through many players to quickly identify guys to avoid and target. Our end goal when selecting rookies is who will be the best fantasy assets when they hit the NFL, and the best assets are the ones who score us the most fantasy points. To create my rookie model I used regression analysis and sorted through multiple different metrics to determine which correlated to NFL fantasy points per game (FP/G) the most and which correlated the least.
At his Pro Day, Elijah Mitchell measured 5’10” and 201 lbs, giving him a BMI of 28.8. His best 40-yard dash time was 4.40-seconds which equates to a 107.3-Speed Score, 86th percentile. He also achieved a 127.8 burst score, 88th percentile, and an agility score of 11.14, 79th percentile. Mitchell is above average in every athletic testing category and these are very important when talking about RBs. Overall I am impressed with his athletic profile, he has good size and profiles to be an RB that can secure a great touch share in the NFL.
At his Louisville Pro Day, Tutu Atwell measured in at 5’9” and 155 lbs. Which equates to a BMI of 22.9. His 40-yard dash time was 4.44-seconds, his burst score was 114.6, and his agility score was 10.96. All of these metrics are pretty average for his size, but they are not awful which is all that matters for a WR. Tutu’s only red flag here would be his BMI, and his BMI being so low is a little scary. I do not feel BMI and size are too predictive for NFL success, but we just haven’t seen anyone this small before so it is hard to say for sure.
In this article, I will be dissecting the current top twelve dynasty wide receivers, based on ADP provided by Rotoviz.com. To do this I have compiled a list of these WRs, their base stats, calculated their advanced stats that I think are important, and turned it all into an easily digestible chart. There are a few things you will need to know before we look at the chart so let’s talk about those.