2021 RSO Contracts: QBs

Updated: July 24th 2021

My annual look at early RSO auction values begins at the quarterback position.  The series was designed to give the reader help in planning for upcoming auctions by looking at actual RSO auctions already finished this year.  The data comes from a variety of different types of leagues with varying scoring rules and starting requirements which can drastically alter player values so be cautious in expecting values to match your particular league.  The information does provide a useful starting point for examining how RSO owners value players at a certain position relative to one another and the length of contract they are willing to invest.  Provided fantasy stats and rankings utilize ESPN per game scoring.

Average RSO Quarterback Contracts

Upper Tier

The remarks about Mahomes will look very similar from last year. He makes up the top-tier of RSO quarterbacks, by a wide margin.  Mahomes put up another excellent season in 2020 as the QB1 among qualifying passers.  Maybe no QB started off their first three seasons in the NFL as well as the Kansas City quarterback.  He retains one of the best supporting casts and coaching teams in the NFL.

There won’t be much argument Mahomes deserves his spot at the top of QB contracts.  The only issue might be the premium paid for him.  There are more than a handful of quarterbacks who scored relatively closely in fantasy last year which come at a significant discount compared to the Kansas City passer.

Rest of the QB1s

Because rookie Lawrence begins the second tier, we should note an item about RSO auctions this early.  The sample size of auctions with rookies is extreme small so don’t put too much stock in the numbers but realize rookies generally go for a premium.   For that reason, I don’t discuss rookie prices much in the article.  Lawrence is one of the top quarterback prospects we have seen in a while with great traits and an intriguing situation with Meyer as the new head coach in Jacksonville.  Murray was the top fantasy QB last season before injuries. He possesses top-end rushing and scrambling abilities combined with upper level passing volume which makes for an incredible fantasy ceiling.  The sky’s the limit if the Cardinal’s QB boosts his passing efficiency and, with it, his touchdown totals.  Herbert produced maybe the best rookie season ever from a number standpoint and has one of the better all-around physical toolboxes.  The main area of concern is that his completion percentage far exceeded his actual down-to-down accuracy and he lived off of incredible deep –ball production, a volatile year to year proposition.  Allen made one of the biggest real-life jump NFL quarterback jumps as a passer we have ever seen, partly due to the addition of Stefon Diggs, while also keeping up his rushing production for fantasy.  Is the jump a blip or sustainable?  Prescott is another quarterback who started the year on fire as the QB1 before injury with a great group of skill-position players at his disposal. His crazy fantasy numbers were partly driven by matches against sub-par passing defenses and incredible volume due to Dallas’ own pathetic defense last season so don’t overweight last season’s performance too much.

Jackson took a step back from his gigantic 2019 season but still only scored 2.5 points per game less than Mahomes.  The Ravens added a lot to the receiving core this offseason though the Ravens’ QB will likely never be in the top-half of passing volume.  He remains the top fantasy QB rusher by a mile and a small increase in efficiency could potentially lead to a significant fantasy boost, with the overall QB1 firmly in his range of outcomes.  Wilson consistently ranks as one of the best combinations of passing and rushing at quarterback.  He’s usually among the most efficient passers in the NFL with significant scrambling ability and never missed a game in his career.    Jackson and Wilson are great values on RSO if you want to pay up for a starting quarterback.

QB2s

The selection of five rookie quarterbacks in the first round of the NFL draft plus a number of off-the-field issues and movement inserted a level of uncertainty rarely seen at the quarterback position as a whole, particularly past the top-echelon.  The Lions traded Stafford to the Rams for multiple 1st round rookie picks and Goff.  The former Lion has always been on the cusp of greatness with one of the top “arm-talents” in the league capable of making dynamic throws from many arm angles and transfers to a highly talented team with one of the most highly regarded offensive minds.  Stafford’s penchant for different throwing mechanics unfortunately often leads to inconsistent accuracy and less efficiency than expected.  He also has an extensive injury history, particularly with back issues recently.  Rodgers’ upside is MVP-level, as seen just last season, and he is consistently one of the best at protecting the football never exceeding 8 interceptions in a decade.  Retirement or holdout represents the downside (a very real possibility most people aren’t weighting highly enough).  Tannehill has been one of the most efficient passers in the NFL since starting for Tennessee in a run-heavy offense and gets Julio Jones added to the mix.  That run-heavy mix limits the volume and upside.  Would new offensive coordinator Todd Downing produce a more pass-heavy offense and how would Tannehill respond?  Hurts put up quality fantasy points in four starts thanks largely to significant rushing yardage and gets a full offseason to work with a new offense designed for him with back-to-back 1st round wide receivers heading the core.  A lot of his rushing is due to scrambling because he is essentially a “one read then scramble” quarterback, despite his extensive college resume.  He ranked only above Dwayne Haskins in PFF grading last year.  Hurts is one of the most volatile fantasy quarterbacks with top-five production or benching very real possibilities.  The arguments for Watson are similar to Rodgers.  He compares favorably on the field to Russell Wilson as one of the best all-around passing/rushing combos.  His legal issues have a wide range of outcomes which puts part or all of this season (and beyond) in question.  Brady has one of the highest projected touchdown, yardage, and volume totals this season with one of the best offensive groups in the league.  Will the ageless wonder ever fail?  Miami surrounded Tagovailoa with a lot of receiving talent this offseason adding speedsters Will Fuller in free agency and Jaylen Waddle in the draft.  Does he make a second year leap after an un-noteworthy season recovering from injury?  What’s left in the tank for Roethlisberger after a disappointing 2020 coming back from major arm surgery?

QB3s and more

While Mayfield performed fairly well from a real-life quarterback perspective, there hasn’t been much to get excited from a fantasy point of view so far never averaging more than 17 PPG in a season.  The Falcons and Ryan might be sliding downward at this stage and replaced superstar Julio Jones with the highest drafted tight end ever in Kyle Pitts.  New head coach Arthur Smith might bring an entirely new offensive philosophy emphasizing the run more.  Wentz self-destructed last year and had one of the worst seasons of any quarterback.  Does a reunion with Frank Reich bring back the old Wentz?  Cousins brings borderline QB1 upside at QB3 prices.  Darnold has arguably been the worst starting quarterback in the NFL during his reign as in New York.  Can he resurrect his very young career in Carolina?  Fitzpatrick has shown the ability to support significant fantasy production from good receivers.  How long do Newton, Garoppolo, and Dalton hold off rookies?  Who wins the quarterback competitions between Lock and Bridgewater (does it even matter) or Winston and Hill (it matters)?


Bio:  Bernard Faller has degrees in engineering and economics.  He currently lives in Las Vegas and enjoys athletics, poker, and fantasy football in his free time.  Send your questions and comments (both good and bad) on Twitter @BernardFaller1.

 

 

More Analysis by Bernard Faller

2021 Pre-Draft Rookie Best Fits – Wide Receivers

Updated: April 22nd 2021

Last but not least the cream of the 2021 draft class, the wide receivers. If you missed out on the other offensive position recap, you can find each of them at the following link. Quarterbacks, Running Backs, and Tight Ends.

The receiver class is once again strong at the top end as well as deep into day two and the start of day three. While not every player can inevitably work out, this gives those that missed out on the last two classes another chance to try and hit the receiver jackpot.

The top is loaded with one player that appears to project to be a superstar receiver with All-Pro upside, another who won the Heisman Trophy despite questions about his thin frame, and his teammate who missed much of 2020 with an injury but is still likely to go top 15 in the NFL draft.

There is also a bounty of 5-10 other receivers who could go between the late first and third round that should be steals in rookie drafts. This bodes well for championship-calibre teams at the end of round one or savvy teams that selected one of the better running backs early in the first round but need starting-calibre talent with their next two draft picks.

Receiver is also the most crucial positions to match scheme and talent for the player to have success. Landing spots rather than draft spot alone will be the key to picking the breakouts from the fakeouts.

Rashod Bateman – Minnesota

DLF Ranking – 8th (9th SF)

NFL Draft – 2nd Round

Best Fit – 2.58, Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens are one of the easiest teams to project to take a wide receiver early in the draft but because they are savvy with finding value I think they will wait till at least the second round and focus either on the offensive or defense line with their first pick. They have the speed with Marquise Brown but they lack more than Mark Andrews both over the middle and in the end zone. Rashod Bateman won consistently on jump balls in the end zone and can easily become the second option behind Andrews, though he is much more than just a Jumpman. Having 6-9 targets with 2 red zone targets per game would be a fair prediction for Bateman in Baltimore.

Dyami Brown – North Carolina

DLF – 20th (26th SF)

NFL Draft – 4th Round

Best Fit – 4.136, Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs have been able to make good use out of receivers from deeper in the draft with names like Demarcus Robinson (undrafted) and Tyreek Hill (fifth round). They took Mecole Hardman in the second round in 2019 but even at the time, it seemed like that was a reach with Hill potentially missing time with a suspension and needing a viable duplicate speed receiver to replace him. They could go back to receiver again in 2021 this time for a player like Dyami Brown who brings much more versatility to an offense than Hardman or Robinson. The Chiefs also only have two receivers under contract for 2022 so while his role might not be immediate, Brown would be in line for a larger role in 12 months from now if he can develop.

Nico Collins – Michigan

DLF – 33rd (47th SF)

NFL Draft – 3rd/4th Round

Best Fit – 3.70, Philadelphia Eagles

Howie Roseman and the Eagles probably wish they could have a redo on taking JJ Arcega Whiteside over D.K. Metcalf but they have a chance to make up for it by taking Nico Collins this year. Another size freak (6’4”, 215lbs) that also ran a 4.43, Collins has the needed skills that the Eagles have been missing since Alshon Jeffrey was fully healthy coming over from Chicago. The Eagles have a lot of problems on the defensive side of the ball so it is likely they would focus elsewhere before addressing the receiver position. Hurts to Collins could be the Wilson to Metcalf of the NFC East if they develop chemistry as quickly as the latter did.

Ja’Marr Chase – LSU

DLF – 1st (3rd SF)

NFL Draft – Top 10 Selection

Best Fit – 1.07, Detroit Lions

The problem with predicting the place for Ja’Mar Chase is that his talent, and thus draft pedigree, will likely keep him out of the hands of a team that both has a high need for a receiver and a high volume passing game. Philadelphia would have been the perfect fit but they traded out of 1.06 so I have to choose between only one of those upside outcomes. I will go with volume and say the Detroit Lions at seventh overall. The Lions have Quintez Cephus and Breshad Perriman atop their depth chart which means selecting Chase would immediately vault him to their WR1 and a bounty of targets would be projected his way. Immediate comparisons between his and Calvin Johnson’s start to their careers as highly drafted, generation receiving talents would be the media angle following day one. If Chase wants to live up to the hype he will need to prove that talent transcends the situation, much like Johnson did.

Frank Darby – Arizona State

DLF – 42nd (42nd SF)

NFL Draft – 5th Round

Best Fit – 5.160, Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals probably do not see a need for a receiver in 2021 now that they signed A.J. Green for the year. But they should be looking to the future once he and potentially Christian Kirk are gone and could look local to Frank Darby at Arizona State. Though he will not have the pedigree of fellow Sun Devils N’Keal Harry and Brandon Ayiuk, who were drafted in the first round the last two years, Darby profiles well as a complement to an alpha like DeAndre Hopkins and could develop into a solid team WR3 or maybe even outside shot at being their WR2.

D’wayne Eskridge – Western Michigan

DLF – 33rd (38th SF)

NFL Draft – 3rd/4th Round

Best Fit – 3.140, Pittsburgh Steelers

How long can you wait for potential? Putting on the tape of D’wayne Eskridge I immediately had flashes of another small-sized, small school Steelers receiver, Antonio Brown. How much of a perfect situation was having a Hall of Fame quarterback like Ben Roethlisberger to helping Brown develop into an elite WR? Can it happen again knowing that Roethlisberger will not be there this time? Who knows? Still, the Steelers are one of those teams that you always watch to see if they take a receiver in the mid-late rounds as they seem to hit at a higher rate than most. Eskridge seems like the kind of player they would keep in their back pocket as players like JuJu Smith-Schuster and Dionte Johnson price themselves out of town. If you are a gambler on talent at the end of depth charts, this would create a terrific buy-low shot on a player going in the later rounds of rookie drafts.

Terrace Marshall – LSU

DLF – 11th (15th SF)

NFL Draft – Mid 1st/Early 2nd Round

Best Fit – 1.29, Green Bay Packers

If Green Bay can do Aaron Rodgers one solid favor it would be to finally draft a first-round receiver to compliment Davante Adams. While they are not going to be able to get a player like Ja’Mar Chase they could still look to LSU and grab Terrace Marshall at the end of day one. Marshall can play both inside and out and is fluid in and out of his breaks. Any receiver that might land in Green Bay with Rodgers would get the post-draft bump and there would be a pretty good case for Marshall to be a top 6 pick if this wish came true.

Elijah Moore – Ole Miss

DLF – 12th (17th SF)

NFL Draft – 2nd Round

Best Fit – 2.36, Miami Dolphins

A.J. Brown has gone on tour promoting the Titans to bring in his fellow Ole Miss teammate Elijah Moore but I do not think they are prioritizing receiver in the first and Moore will not make it to their late second-round pick. He could go much early and a team like the Dolphins would be an intriguing fit for Moore who has been compared to former Miami Dolphins Jarvis Landry by Matt Waldman. Tua Tagovailoa is more of a precision passer so having a great inside receiver like Moore to go along with Will Fuller deep and DeVante Parker outside would give defenses pause for who to double. Moore’s role could expand even further in 2022 with Fuller only signing a one-year deal.

Rondale Moore – Purdue

DLF – 9th (13th SF)

NFL Draft – 2nd/3rd Round

Best Fit – 3.65, Jacksonville Jaguars

Rondale Moore has the most influx career path as I think he should succeed but whether teams are creative enough to use him all over the field will be the difference between him being a good NFL receiver and a good fantasy receiver. A team like Jacksonville I hope would bring a lot of pre-snap motion to their offensive game plan and thus would use more sweeps, crosses, bubble screen and end-arounds to give a player like Moore space with the ball in his hands. At least when I projected Kenneth Gainwell in the running back section I hoped so. Much like Tyreek Hill in Kansas City, having lots of smoke and pre-snap motion to help create separation between Moore and the trailing defender would be the best way to utilize his undersized frame but tremendous speed.

Amari Rodgers – Clemson

DLF – 27th (34th SF)

NFL Draft – 3rd Round

Best fit – 3.86, New York Jets

The Jets drafted their outside receiver last year in Denzel Mims and then double down by signing Corey Davis. With Jamison Crowder getting long in the tooth it may be time to look inside for a slot receiver like Amari Rodgers. Like Crowder, Rodgers does his best work through the middle and with likely first-round pick Zach Wilson moving around in the pocket, Rodgers would be an excellent safety blanket. A potential PPR monster once Crowder leaves town.

DeVonta Smith – Alabama

DLF – 4th (7th SF)

NFL Draft – Top 15 Selection

Best Fit – 1.12, Philadelphia Eagles

If Ja’Mar Chase is gone before the Lions are on the clock I would also like DeVonta Smith there as a target machine but for this exercise, Chase is in Detroit so Smith falls to Philadelphia at twelfth. While I also predicted the Eagles to take Nico Collins in the third round earlier the precedent has already been set by both Denver and Las Vegas that just because you take one receiver in the first it does not prevent taking another before the end of day two, especially when your offense needs it.  This would also reunite Smith with former Alabama teammate Jalen Hurts. Smith has the tools to be a WR1 in the NFL but he likely needs a WR2 more than Chase to be elite.

Amon-Ra St. Brown – USC

DLF – 16th (22nd SF)

NFL Draft – 3rd Round

Best Fit – 3.67, Houston Texans

The Texans do not have a first or second-round pick which makes this their defector first pick in 2021 and they likely have bigger problems than wide receiver to consider at this spot. Still, with the departure of Will Fuller and only Brandin Cooks along with the aging Randall Cobb available the team needs to at least take a look at the receiver position. Amon-Ra St. Brown has the typical “big slot receiver” style that can complement the speed of Bradin Cooks, at least for one season, and then they can go back and address the position more in 2022 when they have more capital.

Sage Surratt – Wake Forest

DLF – 35th (33rd SF)

NFL Draft – 4th/5th Round

Best Fit – 4.139, New England Patriots

While New England may not be ready to give up on N’Keal Harry just yet they will likely hedge their bets by taking at least one receiver later in the draft. Sage Surratt out of Wake Forest provides another option for a jump-ball specialist but who can also work the middle of the field as a big slot receiver, al a Michael Thomas. Like Harry though, Surratt also lacks break-away speed (4.6) so if he fails to separate like Harry at the line of scrimmage, he could be another bust for the Patriots. They clearly valued what they saw in Harry though so maybe they try again but for cheaper.

Tamorrion Terry – Florida State

DLF – 28th (28th SF)

NFL Draft – 5th Round

Best Fit – 5.164, Chicago Bears

The Bears have Allen Robinson for at least 2021 on the franchise tag but whether he is back in 2022 is anyone’s guess. There have also been rumors that they could be looking to move on from Anthony Miller, trade or just not resigning. Tamorrion Terry fills in a need for a second option behind Robinson now with the chance to take on a larger role if Robinson leaves after this season. He is not likely to be a WR1 or 2 in his career but Terry could have outside success in standard leagues where touchdowns over receptions are valued.

Kadarius Toney – Florida

DLF – 13th (23rd SF)

NFL Draft – Late 1st/2nd Round

Best Fit – 2.39, Carolina Panthers

I said in the tight end section that the Carolina Panthers should take Kyle Pitts with the eighth selection but he is not there (likely) or they may trade down with a team looking for the last quarterback, like New England. If so, then they could be a candidate for Kadarius Toney in the second. It is tough placing Toney as either a first or second-round pick as he would be a luxury pick for many of the teams at the end of first or I think several of those teams would prefer other options later in the second or even third round. Another slot guy, Toney would be best used similarly to Deebo Samuel with a low aDOT/high YAC working behind Robby Anderson for 2021 with the chance to take on more of a role alongside D.J. Moore in 2022.

Jaylen Waddle – Alabama

DLF – 5th (11th SF)

NFL Draft – Top 15 Selection

Best Fit – 1.13, Los Angeles Chargers

I kind of boxed myself into a corner by saying that the Falcons and Bengals would not take Ja’Mar Chase and thus pushing the available options for Jaylen Waddle down. Saying that makes this a pipe dream but if Waddle fell out of the top ten and right into Justin Herbert and the Chargers’ lap that would be a perfect match of quarterback to receiver. Waddle has the speed to take advantage of an arm like Herbert’s and would give the Chargers leverage to move on from Mike Williams after this season if his price tag is too high.

Tylan Wallace – Oklahoma State

DLF – 18th (21st SF)

NFL Draft – 3rd/4th Round

Best Fit – 3.89, Cleveland Browns

The Browns seem to have finally turned it around and while they did okay at receiver last year we do not know how Odell Beckham Jr. will bounce back from ACL surgery. He also has no dead money on the books past 2021 so this could be his final year in Cleveland regardless of his performance. If Tylan Wallace falls to the end of the third round it is a steal for all teams and he should make an immediate impact. Maybe he and Baker Mayfield could jell in a way that the quarterback just never seemed to with OBJ.

Seth Williams – Auburn

DLF – 17th (16th SF)

NFL Draft – 5th/6th Round

Best Fit – 6.210, Baltimore Ravens

A jump ball specialist, Seth Williams could be a discount option if the Ravens do not select a receiver early in the draft. His size would add a much-needed presence on the outside and endzone fades. The only questions surrounding Williams are his commitment to being great at his craft which is why he is likely to be a Day 3 pick with Day 2 talent. I trust the Ravens’ front office and if they (or another competent organization) take a shot on him then Williams can be one of the better late-round flyers. If he lands with a dysfunctional team, I am out.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

2021 Pre-Draft Rookie Best Fits – Tight Ends

Updated: April 21st 2021

This will be the third installment of our Rookie Best Fit series with a focus on the often forgotten tight end position. If you are looking for Best Fits for either Quarterback or Running Backs you can find those in the corresponding links.

Most years, because of RSO’s short window to capitalize on rookie contract values over their veteran counterparts, tight end is either pushed down in the rankings or just ignored altogether. There are cases of talents pushing their way into the late first round but often fail to live up to expectations when compared to those around them.

This year there is one player, Kyle Pitts, who is so well known and considered so unanimous that people forget that there are other options even available in 2021. Pitts is likely to go top 10 in the NFL draft and likely between 1.03 and 1.07 in most rookie drafts regardless of the landing spot. Remember to temper expectations though as even the best tight ends often take a year or two to develop before turning into George Kittle or Travis Kelce.

The other options are more rooted in normal tight end projects and would be better served to wait till at least the third round of rookie draft unless in a tight end premium league. With that, let us look at some of the prospects most likely to be drafted in rookie drafts for 2021.

Pat Freiermuth – Penn State

DLF Ranking – 19th (24th SF)

NFL Draft – 2nd Round

Best Fit – 2.38, Cincinnati Bengals /2.39, Carolina Panthers

If the Bengals do the responsible thing at 1.05 and draft Penei Sewell, missing out on Kyle Pitts, they may be rewarded with the opportunity to still draft Pat Freiermuth aka “Baby Gronk” out of Penn State. Freiermuth is easily one of the more polished blockers in this tight end class and would be perfect for both weak side blocking for Joe Mixon in the running game as well as providing another pass catcher for Joe Burrow over the middle. If the Bengals do not take him at 38 the Panthers should immediately turn in their card for all the same reasons one spot behind them.

Brevin Jordan – Miami (Florida)

DLF – 26th (27th SF)

NFL Draft – 3rd/4th Round

Best Fit – 3.85, Tennessee Titans

Another example of the team not having the right capital to acquire a player as I think Brevin Jordan would do excellent in Kliff Kingsbury’s spread offense where his slimmer frame as a slot tight end would do better for his value than being wasted as a part-time blocker. However, unless a trade down from the second round leaves them with mid-range capital we have to look elsewhere. The Titans just lost Jonnu Smith and while Anthony Frikser did okay as a receiver last season, Jordan would do much better to replace Smith alongside A.J. Brown and Josh Reynolds as the primary catching tight end in Tennessee.

Hunter Long – Boston College

DLF – 43rd (50th SF)

NFL Draft – 2nd/3rd Round

Best Fit – 2.54, Indianapolis Colts /2.61, Buffalo Bills

Watching Hunter Long gives off Zach Ertz vibes so why not pair him up with the coach and quarterback that made Zach Ertz, Frank Reich and Carson Wentz, in Indy. While there are several tight ends in Indianapolis right now there should be opportunities for a rookie like Long to come in and contribute in 2021 and continue to develop into a top tight end by 2022 or 2023. If the Colts do not take him, the Buffalo Bills could sweep in later in the second and fill one of the few holes they have at offense. One thing that usually makes a great fantasy tight end is a great quarterback and being linked to Josh Allen would do nothing but help Long’s case to be the TE2 in this class.

Kyle Pitts – Florida

DLF – 6th (8th SF)

NFL Draft – Top 10 Selection

Best Fit – 1.08, Carolina Panthers

Kyle Pitts is one of those rare talents where even though he plays a less valuable position in terms of draft value he likely is still going in the top 10 if not top 5 of the draft because of how overwhelming the gap between him and the next tight end option would be. If a run on quarterbacks goes early and he was to fall to 1.08 for Carolina, his chances of becoming a top 3 tight end right away would be oozing with potential. With Head Coach Matt Rhule and Offensive Coach Joe Brady able to scheme around talents like Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, and then Kyle Pitts it would easily create one of the most dynamic offenses in the league to start day two of the draft.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

2021 Pre-Draft Rookie Best Fits – Running Backs

Updated: April 20th 2021

This is the second part of our Rookie Best Fit series where we look to fit the player to the best team for their skillset based on the expected range for where the player will be drafted. In the first part, we looked at the quarterbacks which can be found here. This section will examine the running back class which has a strong top-end but lacks depth when compared to other recent classes. An overall suggestion if you are targeting a need at the position this year would be to try and be in the top 4 for standard leagues or top 8 in Superflex to secure one of the three biggest names. Otherwise, build some capital in the second or third round to take a couple of shots at the next tier of options. With that said, let us begin.

Michael Carter – North Carolina

DLF Ranking – 23rd (29th SF)

NFL Draft – 3rd Round

Best Fit – 3.71, Denver Broncos

Michael Carter lacks the overall size to be an every-down, 20+ carry NFL running back, but he does have quick feet and long speed to be an excellent 1b in just about any offense. Tarik Cohen comes to mind when watching him and if the Bears wanted to get younger Carter would be an excellent 1-for-1 transition. However, I do not think he will be there late in the third round and a team like Denver would be a great landing spot. Melvin Gordon has one more year left on his deal to share the backfield with Carter for now and the weapons on the outside would always leave favorable numbers on the line for him to use his short-area quickness.

Travis Etienne – Clemson

DLF – 2nd (5th SF)

NFL Draft – Late 1st/2nd Round

Best Fit – 2.35, Atlanta Falcons

The Todd Gurley experiment only lasted one season in Atlanta and currently, the Falcons only have Mike Davis as their most reliable runner. They also released Ito Smith leaving the depth chart wide-open for them to take a running back high in the second round. Etienne would immediately take control of the backfield and see between 200-250 touches in Atlanta’s offense. Coming from just down the road in Clemson would also give a big boost to his transition to the NFL.

Kenneth Gainwell – Memphis

DLF – 14th (18th SF)

NFL Draft – 3rd Round

Best Fit – 3.65, Jacksonville Jaguars 

On the surface, this would probably seem like a terrible landing spot as the team enjoyed a surprise breakout season from undrafted rookie James Robinson just last season. But the coaching staff has changed over which gives no player, especially a former UFA, any guarantee for touches. Gainwell draws immediate comparison to Antonio Gibson as both played the same dual-threat role at Memphis. If Urban Meyer is looking to bring more offensive collegiate flare like past coaches making the jump to the NFL then Gainwell would give him as much flexibility at the running back position with another RB/WR hybrid.

Najee Harris – Alabama

DLF – 3rd (6th SF)

NFL Draft – Late 1st/2nd Round

Best Fit – 1.24, Pittsburgh Steelers

Picking a running back in the first round is always a trade-off to taking other more impactful positions that a team could be drafting. Especially when it is the Pittsburgh Steelers who are one of the smarter organizations in the NFL when it comes to drafting and who might want to wait on the position till at least day two and take either a replacement for Bud Dupree or Ben Roethlisberger with their first selection instead. Still, the need at running back was a major focus all last season and taking a guy like Harris would give them a player that fits the Steelers RB model. He would immediately be considered the 1.01 for most rookie drafts and would be a good bet to lead the rookie class in rushing yards in 2021.

Khalil Herbert – Virginia Tech

DLF – 39th (53rd SF)

NFL Draft – 5th-7th Round

Best Fit – 6.194, San Francisco 49ers

Khalil Herbert will not have the draft capital to immediately take a backfield over but his talent should make him more likely to breakout than running backs taken around him. Landing in San Francisco on day three would be as great an opportunity as any due to the 49ers often using a platoon of runners but also are willing to feature a single runner if they showcase the skillset. Kyle Shanahan had a similar player while offensive coordinator in Atlanta with Devonta Freeman, who was also a later-round steal, and Herbert could play a similar role to Freeman in 2021. Like Freeman, Herbert has good zone-read ability and enough receiving capabilities to one day develop into a three-down back.

Kylin Hill – Mississippi State

DLF – 30th (30th SF)

NFL Draft – 5th-7th Round

Best Fit – 6.203, Houston Texans /6.223, Arizona Cardinals

Hill, like Herbert, will not have the draft capital to supplant a well-established veteran but could rise to the top in an offense with “meh” or aging talent. Houston does not have the draft capital to invest in a luxury position like running back early but with three (3) sixth-round picks could be looking to have younger options behind David Johnson and Mark Ingram. The same goes for Arizona who has no mid-picks and would either need to look at taking one of the first running backs off the board in the first/second round or go bargain shopping with one of their fifth through seventh-round selections. Hill may not be anything more than a backup for whatever team he ends up on but with the capital it would take to acquire him he only room to rise in value.

Chuba Hubbard – Oklahoma State

DLF – 25th (25th SF)

NFL Draft – 4th-6th Round

Best Fit – 5.156, Miami Dolphins

Chuba Hubbard lost a lot of value between 2019 and 2020 where he was being discussed in the top 3 with players like Etienne and Harris. Nevertheless, he still can develop into a primary ball carrier if he finds the right offensive scheme. There have been speculations that Miami could be in the market for a day two running back, one of which I will also recommend later, but if they either do not get their guy or prioritize other positions, Hubbard could be a fifth-round steal. Miami showed their commitment to the run game once Tua Tagovailoa took over last year and had success with guys like Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed. Hubbard could easily compete for the starting role in an emerging offense with a “chip on his shoulder” mentality.

Jermar Jefferson – Oregon State

DLF – 31st (35th SF)

NFL Draft – 5th-6th Round

Best Fit – 6.185, Los Angeles Chargers 

Truthfully, I would like to see Jefferson in Seattle and their heavy draw and zone run offense but they have such low draft capital in 2021, as well as might not be ready to give up on former first-round pick Rashaad Penny, that they will likely pass on running back this year. The consolation would be the LA Chargers to compliment Austin Ekeler with the chance to take over in 2022. With Justin Herbert and his cannon arm to go with Jefferson’s first step speed, he would feast in yards per carry without defenders crowding the box.

Trey Sermon – Ohio State

DLF – 22nd (20th SF)

NFL Draft – 3rd Round

Best Fit – 3.66, New York Jets

The Jets are among the most wide-open depth charts for a rookie running back to come in and immediately take over a heavy workload. They are locked in for quarterback with their first of their two first-round picks and then will likely address the defense with their next two selections. At the top of the third round though if Ohio State’s Trey Sermon is still there, he could be an ideal fit for the Jets’ new regime. Sermon already showed that he could handle a heavy workload in Columbus and would move from a mid-second round rookie pick to a potential end of the first selection for those that prioritize RB opportunity when drafting.

Rhamondre Stevenson – Oklahoma

DLF – 36th (31st SF)

NFL Draft – 4th-5th Round

Best Fit – 4.123, Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles love their hammer RBs from LeGarrette Blount to Jordan Howard so why not go back to the well for another big back in Rhamondre Stevenson. Stevenson has even been compared to Blount so it would make plenty of sense. While Miles Sanders would cap his ceiling as a fantasy prospect, Stevenson would give the Eagles an immediate upgrade over Jordan Howard right now and would receive his share of goal-line work. Like Blount, he has deceptive speed for being 230lbs so he could be the benefactor of a tired defense rotating in for Miles Sanders.

Javonte Williams – North Carolina

DLF – 7th (10th SF)

NFL Draft – 2nd Round

Best Fit – 2.36, Miami Dolphins

As I mentioned earlier with Chubba Hubbard, the Dolphins running back room is one of the more lacking in the NFL and they are a strong candidate to take one of the first rookies off the board, likely as early as the second round. The team appears to be doing everything they can to align the stars for Tua Tagovailoa to have success in his second year and taking Javonte Williams would go a long way to doing that. Williams has prototypical size and speed to be an every-down back and landing in Miami would likely cement him in the 1.03-1.05 range in standard leagues and a late first-round steal in Superflex leagues.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

2021 Pre-Draft Rookie Best Fits – Quarterbacks

Updated: April 19th 2021

The best part about being a dynasty player during the pre-draft offseason is the wishful guessing of where top prospects will go. While not always the case a perfect match between a player’s skills and team’s need/coaching philosophy can solidify their spot as an early first-round selection or present the opportunity for them to shoot up the rankings in the post-draft landscape. We only have to look back to last year’s draft where Clyde Edwards-Helaire was projecting as a mid-first to early second-round selection in most rookie drafts but soared to 1.01-1.02 levels when Kansas City scooped him up with their first pick.

For this article series, we will put our rose-colored glasses on for the top prospects at each position in 2021 to see who could be this year’s CEH. I want to give a big shout-out to Matt Waldman and his yearly Rookie Scouting Portfolio (RSP) for giving in-depth analysis on all of these players and being a huge influence on this article. I will not be giving any specifics directly from his work but if you want to know more than you could imagine on any given rookie each year, I highly suggest you check out his work here. As well, the average rankings for rookies provided will be coming from Dynasty League Football (DLF) so for the full list of player rankings go check them out.

Not every perfect landing spot I will suggest coincides with an immediate starting spot being open. Rather I am also looking to the future to see where openings may present themselves in the future based on other player’s contracts or overall fit with the team. Time as the understudy to a veteran may be more beneficial long term than just being thrust into the lineup as the immediate answer.

In the first part, we will look at the quarterbacks. For the interest of time-saving, I am going to skip Trevor Lawrence who is 99.9% locked into Jacksonville and therefore would be unlikely to project him anywhere else.

Justin Fields – Ohio State

DLF Ranking – 15th (2nd SuperFlex)

NFL Draft – Top 10 Selection

Best Fit – 1.03, San Francisco 49ers

Justin Fields is the player to watch if you like drama in the draft as there appears to be an open competition between Mac Jones, Trey Lance, and himself for the third (3rd) quarterback off the board. The 49ers should take Fields as his ability to move around the pocket better than Jones and is more pro-ready than Trey Lance at this point. This would give defences nightmares with their current offensive weapons trying to also account for the running abilities that Fields can bring. The only thing stopping Kyle Shanahan from taking Fields would be his hesitancy for Fields’ mobility to create more ad-lib plays. Following the script and following exactly Shanahan’s guidelines is really what is keeping Jones in the conversation at third overall.

Mac Jones – Alabama

DLF – 29th (14th SF)

NFL Draft – Top 15 Selection

Best Fit – 1.04, Atlanta Falcons

While maybe not the sexiest pick ever, the similarities in Mac Jones and Matt Ryan would be a perfect mentor-to-peer transition for the Falcons. The team still has solid talent around the quarterback position but is stuck as a bottom feeder roster overall. The talk of trading Matt Ryan was also rumored throughout the start of the offseason which likely means that his days in Atlanta are left between one and two more seasons tops. Like the 49ers, I think giving 10-17 games of watching a veteran would do more for Mac Jones to learn the game the right way with Arthur Smith and be able to take the job fully by 2022 than to try and move him directly into a starting role with minimal offseason coaching or lesser talent around him.

Trey Lance – North Dakota State

DLF – 24th (12th SF)

NFL Draft – Top 15 Selection

Best Fit – 1.15, New England Patriots

This move would likely require a trade-up from New England as other teams like Denver, Detroit, and maybe still Carolina or even Minnesota at 12 would take him before New England is on the clock. If they were to get Trey Lance though it would be everything that we saw for the first two (2) games of 2020 with Cam Newton without the collapse from the final 14 games. Though Lance played against lower competition at NDSU, he was calling his own checks and audibles which is a big bonus to learning the Erhardt-Perkins offense that the Patriots use. The old Patriot system left with Tom Brady and if they were to take Trey Lance they would be fully embracing the new-aged mobile pocket NFL.

Davis Mills – Stanford

DLF – 65th (64th SF)

NFL Draft – 2nd/3rd Round

Best Fit – 2.51, Washington FT / 2.55, Pittsburgh Steelers

A project quarterback, Davis Mills is likely to be a day two selection by a team that has a veteran already but is looking to the future. Both Washington and Pittsburgh will need new starters in 2022 and neither team projects to be able to draft a top prospect in the top 10 next year so why not take a shot at developing a second-round talent. Mills can learn behind Ryan Fitzpatrick or Ben Roethlisberger, who both are more traditional pocket passers now but could move around the pocket and take off as needed in their younger days like Mills. While he might not turn into a top-10 quarterback, Mills could follow in the footsteps of a player like Derek Carr to become a staple QB2 who also came out of day two of the draft.

Kellen Mond – Texas A&M

DLF – 55th (45th SF)

NFL Draft – 3rd Round

Best Fit – 3.74, Washington FT / 3.87, Pittsburgh Steelers

Whichever team does not get Mills a round earlier between Washington and Pittsburgh I could also see them pivoting and waiting for another round to take Kellen Mond out of Texas A&M. Truthfully, I am not as sold on Mond being anything more than a practice squad/3rd string option but he would have the ability to again learn behind either veteran. Especially behind Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was a former seventh-round selection, Mond could learn how best to keep his NFL dream alive longer than many would project him to.

Kyle Trask – Florida

DLF – 46th (19th SF)

NFL Draft – Late 1st/2nd Round

Best Fit – 1.28, New Orleans Saints

Before diving more into Kyle Trask and only watching him casually I thought he was going to be a steal for teams that were not in the top 10 already. His last collegiate game left a bitter taste in some mouths but that should not be a reason for him to slip into the second round. The Saints are in cap hell and should be looking for a cheap quarterback option to have over the next four/five years, even with Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill on the roster. Michael Thomas can play the Kyle Pitts role of “big man over the middle” and then Micky Loomis can look for a complementary receiver in the mid-rounds to fill out the offense. It always helps to have a superstar running back, Alvin Kamara, who can both run and catch for big plays out of the backfield too.

Zach Wilson, QB – BYU

DLF – 21st (4th SF)

NFL Draft – Top 10 Selection

Best Fit – 1.09, Denver Broncos

Zach Wilson is almost as guaranteed to go second overall to the Jets as Trevor Lawrence is to go first. While he could fit in New York with Robert Saleh and OC Mike LaFleur I think he would develop better in the smaller market and with the better offensively talented Denver Broncos. Wilson has a Baker Mayfield level of swagger that if it works in New York will make him one of the poster-QBs for the NFL. History tells us though that bright lights burn out quicker in New York and a slow start to his career could wreck an otherwise talented player. Wilson is everything that Drew Lock is but better as a quarterback prospect and clearly would be a player that John Elway would race his card up to the podium if he was to be available. Wilson with Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, Noah Fant, and KJ Hamler would give him all the tools he needs to succeed.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

One Big Thing – NFC – Week 12

Updated: December 5th 2020

Every week we learn a little bit more about how a team sees each player as a part of their offense allowing fantasy footballers to react (positively or negatively) to those actions. Each week I will look to capture the “One Big Thing” that should have an impact on each team going forward and how you, the savvy fantasy player, can use that to your advantage.

NFC EAST

 Washington

Antonio Gibson looks to be the 2020 answer to why third-round rookie picks can get propped up in terms of value because when you find a guy like Gibson and are paying him less than $1 million over four years it is a sweet feeling. Both he and James Robinson have been the two contenders for the best rookie running back heading into this offseason. This, a year after neither was being talked about as a top 20 pick coming out of the draft. Gibson’s transition to the position is what has made his early success even greater as he was playing a different position for much of his collegiate career and in theory, is still learning how to play running back. He has probably warranted enough production to prevent the team from investing any real capital in the position next offseason so his workload could continue to rise. I am sure my value model chart will show that he is one of the best contracts in RSO heading into 2021.

 Dallas

Do not resign All-Pro running backs to massive second contracts seems to be gaining more and more steam as recent examples of Todd Gurley and now potentially Ezekiel Elliot has shown. The fifth-year running back continues to disappoint both fantasy and Cowboys’ fans as despite still controlling the majority of snaps Elliot has not been able to put up the extraordinary numbers he had been doing in his first four seasons. Along with this Tony Pollard is seemingly doing more with fewer touches which is never a good sign that it is just a factor of the offense not having its star quarterback. The option to trade Elliot could be a talking point this offseason as a post-June trade would only cost the Cowboys $1.2 million in cap space. Knowing Jerry Jones though, it is unlikely he would take that kind of hit to his ego for being that wrong about a player he has stood by through so many off-field situations.

 NY Giants

Wayne Gallman may have won the award for mid-season pickup of the year as he has averaged 16.3 fantasy points since week 7 while scoring a touchdown in each of the last five (5) games. Daniel Jones’ injury will hamper the offense’s productivity so hopefully, Gallman can maintain the success he has had over the last month. The fourth-year runner has started more games this season than he had in his previous three (3) seasons combined thanks to the Saquon Barkley injury and it comes just in time for a new contract. It will be interesting to see if he stays with the Giants to resume what would be backup duties or if he tries to springboard this second-half performance into an opportunity with a more open backfield as a free agent.

 Philadelphia

Fellow RSO writer and draft expert Bob Cowper and I had an open discussion on Twitter as to whether the news that Jalen Hurts was going to be involved more in the offense heading into week 12 was coming from the coaching staff or from management, which is usually never a good sign when the two are not on the same page. The longer this rift continues the more egregious the drafting of Jalen Hurts seems. If you cannot start him over Carson Wentz because you cannot have a backup quarterback account for 17 percent of the cap but you also cannot trade or cut Wentz because it would result in a cap savings of -$24.5 million then why not try and make the best of a bad situation with Wentz and draft to support him instead of drafting his unusable replacement? The reason is that they have tried to but have whiffed so hard at receiver in back-to-back drafts that it is brought up weekly in the football community. None more obvious than watching D.K. Metcalf last week against the Eagles post 10 receptions for 177 yards while the receiver the Eagles took one spot ahead of him, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, has had 12 receptions total over his first two seasons.

NFC NORTH

 Detroit

Coming off the franchise’s first shutout in a decade the Lions needed to have a better performance if the coaching staff and players were likely to make it to 2021. They did not do that instead having three (3) turnovers in an eight (8) play span and allowing 41 points to a three-win team.  As a defensive-minded coach, letting Matt Patricia go this past week seemed like an inevitability. The team seemingly regressed since he took over as head coach after having two winning seasons in Jim Caldwell’s final years. It stands to guess whether the team will move on from long-time quarterback Matthew Stafford and look to fully tear down with a rebuild. If that is the case then who knows whether Kenny Golladay is in their plans for the future as the young wide receiver would likely be priced in the $12-$15 million range as a free agent this offseason. There could be a whole new look to the Lions in the 2021 season.

 Minnesota

We have to give it to Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota offense as having two fumbles returned for touchdowns on consecutive plays would have caused a lot of teams to fold like a poor soufflé but they hung around and scored 18 fourth-quarter points to steal a late victory. Justin Jefferson continues to impress and he stepped up big with Adam Thielen sidelined for COVID protocol. The rookie had his second multi-touchdown game and his fourth game with over 20 PPR points. The Vikings have done enough this season that likely the core of this offense will be running it back in 2021 which should help with the continuity of developing a young superstar like Jefferson seems to be. Look for Jefferson in the top 10 conversation for dynasty wide receivers when the 2021 mock drafts start opening up.

 Chicago

Awful, just an awful showing by the Chicago Bears on Sunday night. It looked like they might be able to hang with the Packers as their second play of scrimmage was a surprising 57-yard run up the middle by David Montgomery which led to a field goal. But two turnovers the next two drives led to the Bears being down 27-3 mid-way through the second quarter and then it was all garbage time points the second half. Allen Robinson continues to be victimized by poor quarterback play and has been the only consistent option for fantasy on the Bears offense. For your sake Allen, please go sign with a contender or at least a competent quarterback so you can spread your wings before it is too late.

 Green Bay

Please just accept the fact that Jamaal Williams is not bad as a 1B in the Green Bay offense and you will find a lot of your Aaron Jones frustration will subside. Williams has now held onto a significant role in the offense under two different coaching regimes so clearly, he has the skills to warrant the touches and snaps he receives. Aaron Rodgers has also talked about how great he is in the locker room so those asking for #FreeAaronJones might get their wish when he leaves in free agency this offseason instead of Williams. Williams’ contract value would surely be less than that of Jones to resign and the team spent significant capital in A.J. Dillion already so why would they spend a significant amount on a position which I have already talked about with the Cowboys that often does not lend itself to benefiting from signing large second contracts. It could be Dillon eating into Jamaal Williams’ workload in 2021. What a twist that would be.

NFC SOUTH

 Carolina

IDP leagues were probably a buzz with Jeremy Chinn scoring defensive touchdowns on back-to-back plays in the third quarter last week. I do not usually talk about defensive players that much since IDP leagues are in the minority of the fantasy community but Chinn’s performance this season has been outstanding as the number two scoring safety and overall 12th highest scoring defensive player. Not bad for a rookie. Going back to the offense the Panthers have the rare week 13 bye so hopefully, one more full week of rest will give Christian McCaffrey the green light for the fantasy playoffs. Mike Davis has trailed off as of late and the team could use McCaffrey’s jack of all trades skillset to finish this season on a positive one for Matt Rhule’s first year as Head Coach.

 Atlanta

For once the Falcons offense did not have to carry the team as the defense forced five (5) turnovers and was the week 12 DST1 for those who still play with team defenses. On the offensive side, Brian Hill and Ito Smith split time with Todd Gurley out with the latter scoring a touchdown during the start of the fourth quarter. The Falcons return to play New Orleans for the second time in three weeks and hopefully, they saw enough of what Taysom Hill was the first time to have a better performance than the nine points they put in week 11. If both Julio Jones and Todd Gurley can return that would also help.

 New Orleans

Whether it is game planning or just trying to avoid putting mistakes on Taysom Hill the Saints should not feel confident with Hill as their future despite having two wins in Drew Brees’ absence. In his two starts, Hill has failed to score a single passing touchdown and has only completed 27 passes. Yes, his four (4) rushing touchdowns have kept his fantasy performances to a respectable level but against a team that did not have a starting quarterback, one would expect more as a passer if he was truly their solution. His weak passing performances have hampered what was otherwise a weekly RB1 season from Alvin Kamara who has only one (1) reception the last two games and 16 PPR points combined. Please come back, Drew. We won’t make fun of you not passing the ball deep anymore.

 Tampa Bay

This was the second game in a month that the Buccaneers got down big early and immediately seemed to abandon the run. The offensive game plan does not seem to be gelling with what Byron Leftwich and Bruce Arians want to do and how Tom Brady sees the field. It does not help that neither of Ronald Jones or Leonard Fournette appears to fit with Tom Brady’s usual check-down running back style. Both have had repeated drops on dump-down passes causing more long conversion attempts than need be. KeShawn Vaughn drafters are probably wondering how bad he has to be if he cannot be activated for games to at least be the pass-catching option. This is a problem unlikely to be solved mid-season and once again the focus will be on if the Bucs bring in a running back with receiving upside then they could shoot up the draft or auction boards.

NFC WEST

 Arizona

Kyler Murray’s shoulder injury definitely played a factor in his poor performance last Sunday but Bill Belichick just seems to have a way of owning young quarterbacks in their first appearance against the future Hall of Fame coach. Murray has only carried the ball five (5) times in each of the last two games since getting injured and the runs he does have are more breakdown, scramble drills than designed runs. He is still a good passer but he is not Patrick Mahomes or Aaron Rodgers so for Murray to keep up for the highest scoring quarterback title he needs to have his running game at full strength. If Larry Fitzgerald misses a second game for COVID protocols and DeAndre Hopkins is locked up with Jalen Ramsey this week, it could be another subpar performance from Murray.

 San Francisco

Deebo Samuel returned from his second stint of injuries to finally put his first WR1 week on the board with a career-high 11 receptions. After being this offseason’s darling for his rookie season performance Samuel has not been much help to fantasy owners in 2020, playing in only five (5) games thus far. The injuries to the rest of the team have also hurt to give support around him but Samuel showed that, when healthy, he can be a yards after the catch machine and a huge PPR stat compiler. His value likely has not waned in his fantasy owner’s eyes but Samuel could be a re-breakout candidate in 2021 once the returning cast on offense is at full strength.

 LA Rams

Statistically, this was the game that many of those who drafted Cam Akers thought would happen when they drafted the running back at the end of the first round. The rookie had 84 yards rushing and scored his first career rushing touchdown to “lead” the backfield in week 12. I say lead but Akers still played only the third-most snaps of the three running backs and 61 of his rushing yards came on a single play leaving 23 yards on his other eight (8) carries. Without an offseason to learn the offense and gain confidence with the coaching staff it made sense that Sean McVay would lean on veteran experience to start the year. But after three months of weekly practices and real game experience, it has to be worrisome that Akers has not been able to take over the backfield yet. Maybe he finds a role in 2021 but heading into the offseason I would be seeing if I could flip him for a second-round pick before the bottom potential falls right out.

 Seattle

D.K. Metcalf wanted to show the Eagles they made a mistake not take him in the 2019 draft and he delivered on Monday night. The sophomore receiver accounted for 77 percent of the Seahawks receiving yards and 45 percent of the team’s receptions while dominating Darius Slay in man-to-man coverage. While the kitchen has cooled for Russell Wilson it remained on fire for D.K. Metcalf who has been the most consistent fantasy receiver in 2020. With only two games scoring less than 13 PPR points, Metcalf is currently the WR3. Tyler Lockett has been no slouch either as the current WR7 but 57 percent of his production has come in just three (3) games so it has been more of a roller coaster ride for his fantasy owners. Games against both New York teams and Washington in the coming weeks will likely only help keep both receivers in the top 10.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews