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If you ask most fantasy managers why they play this game that we love, their answers will tend to boil down to two things: camaraderie and competition. We like to play with our friends, and we want to win. We here at Footballguys can relate, and that was a motivation for this three-part article.
We reached out to 17 of our friends from the fantasy football industry and asked them three questions that will help you win your league this season:
- Who is the player you are planting your flag for in 2021?
- Name three players who are undervalued based on ADP.
- Name three players who are overvalued based on ADP.
This article will cover the players that our experts are planting a flag for this season. Guys they believe are going to help you win a fantasy championship. You can find the undervalued players here and the overvalued players here. But, before we dig into their answers, let’s meet the experts.
Kyle Gerard Bauer, The Fantasy Fellowship
Matthew Betz, The Fantasy Footballers
John Daigle, NBC Sports
Jamey Eisenberg, CBS Sports
John Luke Garofalo, Front Yard Fantasy
Tyler Karp, Dynasty League Football
Bob Lung, Dr. Roto
Mike Randle, The Action Network
Jake Trowbridge, Ball Blast Football
Andy Behrens, Yahoo Fantasy
Heath Cummings, CBS Sports
Daniel Dopp, ESPN
Marco Enriquez, 14 Personnel
Ian Hartitz, Pro Football Focus
Sean Koerner, The Action Network
Shane Manila, Dynasty League Football
Jared Smola, Draft Sharks
As mentioned, the first thing we asked was for each expert to give you one player they were planting a flag for this season. We got varied responses, and only one player was mentioned twice: Philadelphia rookie wide receiver DeVonta Smith.
However, six players from this list, Joe Mixon, Mike Williams, Ryan Tannehill, D.J. Moore, Jerry Jeudy, and Chris Carson, also appear on the undervalued list. Interestingly, two players listed here, Antonio Gibson and DeVonta Smith, also make an appearance on the overvalued list.
Which Player Are You Planting Your Flag for in 2021?
Kyle Gerard Bauer (@theFellowKGB), The Fantasy Fellowship
If you prefer to wait on tight ends, Blake Jarwin is your man. He returns from an ACL tear in Week 1 of 2020 and steps right into the starting tight end role that helped Dalton Schultz finish as the TE10 in fantasy last year. There are more than enough targets to go around in this offense, with Jarwin getting the least attention from opposing defenses. He’s free in drafts as the TE23 and can flirt with a top-10 finish in PPR.
Andy Behrens (@andybehrens), Yahoo Fantasy
The fact that DeVonta Smith has been falling outside the top-30 receivers in early drafts is, quite honestly, a scandal. A total industry-wide failure by the fantasy expert community. Shameful, really. Smith enters his first pro season as his team's unrivaled No. 1, a technician coming off an all-time collegiate campaign. He already has a rapport with his young quarterback, and he's headed for 140-plus targets. Go get him.
Matthew Betz (@TheFantasyPT), The Fantasy Footballers
Lamar Jackson feels undervalued at his current ADP. He’s posted back-to-back seasons of a 9.0% and 6.9% TD rate, and last year the only two quarterbacks to post a better touchdown rate were Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson. All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Staley is back from injury, and Lamar has the best weapons he’s had in his pro career. This gives him an insane ceiling on top of his elite rushing floor.
Heath Cummings (@heathcummingssr), CBS Sports
Only two quarterbacks have scored more fantasy points than Ryan Tannehill since he took over as the Titans starting quarterback in 2019. In that same stretch, he leads the NFL in yards per attempt and is second in passer rating and TD%. Naturally, after his team added Julio Jones, Tannehill’s ADP skyrocketed to...the eighth round? As the QB10? If Tannehill plays 17 games, he’ll be a top-five fantasy quarterback and win a lot of fantasy leagues.
John Daigle (@notJDaigle), NBC Sports
Ezekiel Elliott averaged career-lows in rushing yards (65.3) and fantasy points (14.9) against the league's second-toughest rushing schedule without Tyron Smith, La'el Collins, and Zack Martin available for a combined 36 games. Go figure. Those anomaly rates have forced drafters to ignore the 26-year-old’s career-high 7.5 targets weekly from Dak Prescott, allowing Elliott to rank third in fantasy points per game among running backs through the first month of the year. With red flags draping all surrounding runners in the top tier behind Christian McCaffrey and Dalvin Cook, Elliott is arguably the safest bet in an elite offense as the third-overall player off draft boards.
Daniel Dopp (@DanielDopp), ESPN
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In 2020, D.J. Moore had a solid season, finishing as the WR25 with 1,193 receiving yards (9th best in the league) and an impressive 13.59 AY/Target (12th best). So what held him back? He only had 66 catches and four touchdowns. But fear not, the return of Christian McCaffrey will only make this offense stronger and more efficient, and I’m excited to see post-Gase Sam Darnold. Moore’s touchdowns and receptions will rebound this year, vaulting him into the Top 15, maybe Top 12.
Jamey Eisenberg (@JameyEisenberg), CBS Sports
I'm excited about Terry McLaurin this season with the addition of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in Washington. Fitzpatrick's history shows he heavily favors his No. 1 receiver (see Stevie Johnson, Brandon Marshall, DeVante Parker, etc.), and that's clearly McLaurin's role. Now, while there are capable options around McLaurin to steal targets in Curtis Samuel, Logan Thomas, and Antonio Gibson, among others, McLaurin is headed for a career year. He's well worth his Round 3 price tag.
Marco Enriquez (@Marco_14P), 14 Personnel
Picture Jonathan Taylor but bigger. Then, give him better vision out of the backfield. THEN, add route running and pass-catching. What do you get? Antonio Gibson. I have been pounding the table for Gibson all off-season. Rivera has taken players like this before, and he helped to turn him into CMC. Gibson most likely won't see that kind of volume, but he showed that he could produce as a runner last season. With an entire offseason not as hindered by COVID, Gibson is about to take a huge step. He is my RB6 on the season, and you can draft him in Round 2 or 3.
John Luke Garofalo (@FYFJohnLuke), Front Yard Fantasy
If you can ignore Urban Meyer's coach speak and noise from the James Robinson truthers, Travis Etienne has the potential to give you a top-12 season at a top-24 price. He's the most talented running back on this team, combined with his first-round draft capital, which leads me to believe he'll get the majority of opportunities on this potentially explosive offense. On top of that, Etienne's rapport with Lawrence and his pass-catching ability give him incredible upside.
Ian Hartitz (@IHartitz), Pro Football Focus
Joe Mixon was a borderline top fantasy running back in 2018 (PPR RB10), 2019 (RB13), and 2020 (RB10 in PPR/game) alike. The man has played 14+ games in all but one year of his career. Bengals' offensive coordinator Brian Callahan has gone on record stating he doesn’t want his best back to leave the field. The mustache man (Giovani Bernard) is gone, and Mixon enters 2021 with probably the best offensive line and quarterback they’ve had since 2017. What’s not to like?
Tyler Karp (@DLF_Karp), Dynasty League Football
Najee Harris will immediately come out and serve as a starting running back in 2021. The competition on the Steelers is abysmal, and Ben Roethlisberger cannot continue to throw 40 or more passes per game. Harris ranks as my RB10 for 2021, with the potential to move up even higher based on his preseason performance. Few players have his type of locked-in workload.
Sean Koerner (@The_Oddsmaker), The Action Network
Mike Williams has yet to have a true breakout season, but I think it's coming in 2021. He will continue to build chemistry with Justin Herbert, who is coming off a historic rookie season. In addition, new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi is coming over from the Sean Payton coaching tree and will use Williams as the 'X' receiver, which is the same role held by Michael Thomas in the Saints offense. As a result, I have been targeting Williams heavily in Rounds 9-10 as it's the perfect time to bet on his upside and works well with nearly every draft strategy.
Bob Lung (@bob_lung), Dr. Roto
Russell Gage is probably nowhere near the Top 50 in most rankings that you’ll see. Except, of course, on my rankings. Gage quietly ended last year with a 71% consistency rating over the last seven games. This is why the Falcons traded away Julio Jones. The combination of Calvin Ridley, Gage, and Kyle Pitts will be deadly. Gage’s current ADP is WR59. So, grab him as your 6th or 7th wide receiver, and you will be starting him every week.
Shane Manila (@ShaneIsTheWorst), Dynasty League Football
When looking at wide receivers that can have a Justin Jefferson type of impact in 2021, only one receiver fits the mold: DeVonta Smith. Smith has the skill-set to win at every level of the football field and put up over 1,800 receiving yards last year at Alabama. He joins an offense desperate for a legitimate WR1. That same team has a quarterback he played some college ball with in Jalen Hurts. When opportunity meets talent, greatness often occurs.
Mike Randle (@RandleRant), The Action Network
The player I have the most exposure to in Best Ball drafts is the Rams’ wide receiver, Cooper Kupp. Despite dealing with below-average quarterback play from Jared Goff, Kupp averaged 93 receptions and over 1000 receiving yards in the past two seasons. Last year’s three touchdown season on 124 targets is clearly due for positive regression. Add a huge quarterback upgrade in Matthew Stafford, and Kupp’s WR20 ADP feels like his floor. Kupp is my flag plant for the 2021 fantasy season.
Jared Smola (@SmolaDS), Draft Sharks
Blame crappy quarterback play for Jerry Jeudy’s mediocre rookie year. Just 58% of his targets were charted as catchable -- the 2nd lowest mark among 84 qualifying WRs. Whether it’s from Teddy Bridgewater or an improved Drew Lock, Jeudy should get better quarterback play this season. He remains a big-time talent but is being overlooked in fantasy drafts as owners flock toward the next big thing at wide receiver.
Jake Trowbridge (@JakeTrowbridge), Ball Blast Football
Constantly underrated and perpetually outperforming his ADP, Chris Carson is the Jarvis Landry of running backs. His recent injury may have clouded the fact that he notched 1,500 scrimmage yards in 2019 and has been a consistent focal point of the Seattle offense when healthy. Carson was heavily involved even when the Seahawks "let Russ cook" for a brief spell, and he'll get ample touches no matter what style of offense they run.