Five Players I Try to Leave Every Fantasy Football Draft With
This weekend is the primary draft weekend for a vast majority of leagues of all skill level. The preseason winds down on Sunday, and most of the bona fide starters aren’t going to see more than a quarter of action anyway. It’s the final week of draft preparation, and football is just around the corner. There’s plenty of content in the UDK that covers everything you could possibly need for your draft, but a lot of people come to me during this week asking about players I absolutely have to draft. It seems like a simple concept, but it’s not always cut and dry. If you know you want to draft a certain guy no matter what, it’s easy to reach for him just to make sure he’s on your roster. It’s important to be careful and always keep ADP in mind. You can hurt your overall roster if you force a pick if it means passing up on a better value when you’re on the clock. Take this content with a grain of salt, as draft price and roster construction always come first, even before your favorite players. The first two rounds typically go in order so your draft position will dictate a lot about whether or not you even have the option to take certain top-tier players, so these are all assets available in round four or later. For the record, my favorite draft targets worth reaching for in the first two rounds are Aaron Jones and Calvin Ridley. I don’t need to go into much detail on why both of those guys are studs.
If you have any questions or decisions you have to make, find me on Twitter @TheFFGator.
CeeDee Lamb this, CeeDee Lamb that. It’s completely understandable that Lamb is receiving so much hype, and for the record – I’m on board with him taking a huge leap this year. The thing that concerns me (as I alluded to a while back) is his ADP. His massive breakout is already baked in at this point. He’s being drafted ahead of Keenan Allen, Terry McLaurin, and Allen Robinson. That’s a hype train for the ages. Another receiver he’s being drafted ahead of is Amari Cooper, his teammate. Cooper has consistently been someone that sits in this range year in and year out, and for the most part, he always delivers. In his last three seasons, he was the WR16, WR9, and WR18. The main appeal for Lamb is both his talent and the projected offensive powerhouse that’s built-in Dallas, and we can say the same for Cooper. He was the WR1 on his team last season with Lamb in town, and we have yet to see anyone supplant him in that spot. Cooper is squarely in his prime, and he saw more targets, and red zone targets than Lamb in 2020, and he caught more passes, compiled more YAC, and bested him in the yardage column. Lamb may leapfrog him this year, but the odds of him statistically dominating Cooper are very slim. It’s possible for both of these alpha’s to explode in 2021, but you can get Cooper a full round later. I have no problem leaving my draft with Coop as my WR1, but I’m ecstatic if I can land him as my WR2.
Some other players on this list are pretty well covered across the industry, but Edmonds is someone who seems to be lurking a bit in the middle rounds. There’s not much excitement about him when in reality he fits the mold of someone that could break out with ease. He comes from a situation similar to last year, but last year it was Kenyan Drake instead of James Conner. Drake has a step on Conner in terms of explosiveness at this point in their career, and the contract that Arizona signed Conner to doesn’t point to any need to feed him the rock. Pass catching backs are much more likely to deliver on their ADPs, and good offenses typically produce strong fantasy assets. Edmonds checks both boxes, and his early preseason usage seems to confirm this potential narrative. Edmonds played on 7 snaps with the starters, while James Conner only played 3. Conner was in for all four snaps with Colt McCoy, the Cardinals’ backup. This is incredibly limited data, so it’s not something we should overreact to at all. First team snaps are important to monitor, but nine snaps are hardly confirmation. The reason he’s worth targeting is the backfield ambiguity and confusion are baked into his ADP. If we knew for sure he was the 1A, then he’d be drafted a lot higher and he wouldn’t be worth the cost. Edmonds is clearly the pass-catching back in AZ, and if his usage on the ground is more substantial, he could be a lock for RB2 production. The biggest question about him is goal-line usage. It’s a valid concern, especially the way they deployed Kenyan Drake last season. Conner may steal some touchdowns from Edmonds, but the way the Cardinals offense is built favors Edmonds’ skillset elsewhere. If Edmonds gets the first goal-line carry in Week one, you will wish you took him in the fourth round at the latest. He’s under the radar, and the perfect RB3 with RB1 upside.
Jeudy appears to be in line to have a second-year breakout, and the confirmation that Teddy Bridgewater will be behind center only adds to that likelihood. The second-year Crimson Tide pass-catcher is one of the more efficient route runners in the league already, and his target quality should improve in 2021. Bridgewater doesn’t typically push things down the field which potentially caps Jeudy’s ceiling on a weekly basis, but he’s the perfect signal-caller for someone who can separate quickly. Courtland Sutton is still fighting the injury bug, and his skillset definitely would have been more tailored to Drew Lock. Jeudy can be a threat anywhere, and his target volume should remain steady even with a few additional mouths to feed in Denver. Noah Fant and Sutton may see more work around the goal line, but Jeudy could potentially be in line for a Diontae Johnson-type season in 2021. He’s a great WR3 pick and someone I’d be targeting in the middle rounds and auto-picking past round seven.
Dillon aka the OG Quadzilla is not someone that will be in your lineup under normal conditions. I mentioned that Aaron Jones was one of my favorite early-round picks this year, so this has nothing to do with the projected starter there. Aaron Jones is a monster, and Dillon is his clear backup. The reason he’s still a great pick is that he will have a standalone role similar to Jamaal Williams, and could potentially vulture some touchdowns here and there. He’s a flex play in the right matchups because the coaching staff in Green Bay has always deployed their running backs fairly evenly, they just funnel more passing work to Jones when he’s on the field. Dillon could have usage similar to Gus Edwards this year, in an offense that will be one of the best in football. With an ADP in the 10th round, he’s already worth the cost. Add in the obvious explosion you would have if something happens to Jones, and it makes Dillon an intriguing pick with a decent floor and uncapped upside. Both Dillon and Edwards fit this mold, and Edwards was a candidate for this column for the same reason. Tony Pollard, Dillon, and Edwards are all elite handcuffs with standalone value, but Dillon and Edwards should have more predictable usage. Dillon is my favorite pick from this group, simply because of the way Green Bay deploys their backfield.
The hype is finally coming around on one of the most obvious targets of the offseason. The Patriots receiving corps is ugly, but it’s also significantly better than it was in 2020. Nelson Agholor was the projected WR1 earlier in the offseason, but Meyers continues to be the top dog in camp and during the preseason. There has been a steady drumbeat for him from Patriot beat reporters and very little buzz around Agholor, N’Keal Harry, or Kendrick Bourne. Meyers saw all of the most relevant work from Cam Newton, and his ceiling will only grow once Mac Jones takes over. His ADP currently sits at WR60, so he can be one of the last players off the board for any fantasy manager, but one of the first to sneak into the lineup at the flex spot. He finished the season strong in 2020 and appears to be ready to take a leap in 2021 in an offense that will completely shift once Mac Jones is behind center. The simple analysis here is that he’s being underdrafted and the narrative surrounding the New England passing game is built on what we saw in 2020, not what we should see in 2021. There’s not a lot more to it.