Mike’s Ultimate Value Hitsquad for 2021 (Fantasy Football)
It’s Football Time!
My annual Hitman-themed article consists of an elite group of men with a special skill set to take down your fantasy opponents. These are my favorite players per round based solely on my projections in the UDK and the value that I see at their current average draft position (ADP).
Just for reference sake (and maybe tooting my own horn a little bit), last year’s article didn’t mess around especially building the anchors of your fantasy teams including being the most bullish on Dalvin Cook & Travis Kelce at their ADPs.
Here is my list for 2021.
Editor’s Note: Want more of Mike’s fantasy advice and takes? Make sure you check out the Ultimate Draft Kit for his official Breakouts, Sleepers, and Busts.
It feels like Jones was lost in the mix of the Aaron Rodgers soap opera of this off-season but this guy was a top-5 RB… in back-to-back seasons. Last year, it wasn’t solely on the back of TDs but a consistent year with the 9th most targets among RBs and the 4th highest yards per touch at RB position. He’s elite, got paid this off-season, and the nuisance known as Jamaal Williams is now out of town. Jones often falls to the end of Round 1 but he is among that 2nd tier of RBs (behind CMC and Dalvin) I want on my fantasy teams.
Ohhhh boy! I’ve been uncomfortably hot and heavy for Najee since the pre-draft process and the landing spot in Pittsburgh says he’s going to get every opportunity imaginable. For fantasy, it’s rare to find a rookie capable of 350+ touches right away. We’re talking Zeke-level impact as a rookie and someone who I’m comfortable drafting as early as 16th overall. Harris was my pick in the MVP episode.
Goo-goo-ga-joob! My man Darren the Wallerus is forever in Fantasy Footballers lore and he’s leveled up to near-final boss mode. I don’t want to leave a draft without one of the elite TEs this year. Waller in the 3rd is like stealing considering he’s the Raiders’ WR1. The bankable volume with spike weeks in the waiting is what makes him so attractive for fantasy teams, especially the Hitsquad.
I’ve been bullish for most of the off-season because of the talent. He’s only three years into the league and gathered the 10th most receptions ever for any WR before turning 24. After Robby Anderson’s extension, it may seem like Moore is on the way out but I expect an extension this off-season which further boosts his dynasty stock. Touchdowns have always been his bugaboo so maybe this is the year he finally breaks through. Moore ended up with the 6th most Deep Targets and the 5th most Air Yards in 2020. Moore is set up to be your team’s WR2 with a ceiling to be a top-10 guy and the unknown with Sam Darnold is probably a wildcard that could pay dividends in this Joe Brady offense.
This is my first chance to gush about one of my “My Guys” for 2021. Lockett is an auto-pick for me in the 5th round because I believe the fantasy managers and ADP overcorrected a bit from last year’s volatile season. We are disrespecting a guy who had 100 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards last year and is one of the best receivers on a per-target basis in the NFL. Everything we’re hearing this off-season is that new OC Shane Waldron wants to speed up the tempo and Lockett is made for that pace.
If you haven’t claimed your ticket aboard this train, there is still room on a locomotive I’ve been driving for over a year. Chase Claypool has an athletic profile to be a dominant WR in the NFL in the mold of D.K. Metcalf. He saw a target on 24 percent of his routes last year, the highest among all rookie WRs. He joined an elite group of rookie wideouts over the last decade with 11 total TDs: Mike Evans, Odell Beckham Jr, Tyreek Hill & Claypool. That’s it. They use him in creative ways inside the red zone and next year, the draft cost will not be so kind. All-in.
I came out and hilariously agreed to Damien Harris being a “top-19” RB on Tuesday’s bold predictions podcast. If you go anchor RB/hero RB (whatever you want to call it), I don’t mind waiting and grabbing Harris as an RB2 later on in drafts. His ADP steadily rose and with the news of Sony Michel being shipped to Los Angeles, this backfield (at least the early downs) are his for the taking. The lack of pass-catching is concerning but with Cam Newton out of the picture, 216 total carries have now opened up between those two gone. He’ll get the red-zone and goal-line work with Mac Jones under center.
Despite all of the commotion in Philadelphia, Hurts’ ADP has remained steady in the 8th or later all off-season. You know about the rushing prowess as he averaged 68 rushing yards per game last year, the most ever for a rookie QB. Yes, he had a rough adjusted completion percentage and the weapons are underwhelming. But mobile QBs simply are one of fantasy football’s consistent, unfair advantages. Hurts can be a top-5 QB and to get that this late is wild.
May I present to you… the Tampa Bay WR1. It sounds ludicrous but Antonio Brown was drawing a target on 26.6 percent of his routes, 2nd highest among all WRs with 60+ targets last year. Tom Brady loves him and brought AB back for another Super Bowl run. The age is the only thing that separates him from Mike Evans and Chris Godwin but his ability to get open hasn’t gone away. This late in drafts he ends up being my WR4.
If it weren’t for Carson Wentz’s foot injury, Pittman was trending to be a “My Guy” for me this year. He fits into the Sophomore WR Bump archetype that Jason profiled but at a much cheaper price than Ceedee Lamb, Brandon Aiyuk, and others. I’ve had T.Y. Hilton buried in my rankings all off-season and now that he was placed on short-term IR, Pittman can assert himself as the team’s alpha right from the get-go as I mentioned in the Breakouts episode. He saw ten targets in their playoff loss last year to Buffalo and has some of the after-the-catch ability I want in a young WR.
It’s not pretty rostering a Lion on your fantasy team but Jamaal Williams might end up being one of those choices you were glad you made. He could start Week 1 if D’Andre Swift is out and OC Anthony Lynn shared his love for using two backs. Williams annoyed us in Green Bay but perhaps he was just trying to tell us that he has the skillset (especially as a pass protector) to stay on the field more than we give him credit for. Don’t hate on the RB depth especially when you are crying in Week 5 or 6 that you missed out on the waiver wire hotness of the week. Williams is an “Eat Your Wheaties” type of pick… one that Dan Campbell would be proud of.
I’ll save the best for last although, as Andy recently sabotaged in our mock draft, some people are on to my “Lance late” strategy. I profiled Lance’s upside in the My Guys episode as an elite runner who could shift the course of this San Francisco franchise and unlock their playbook completely. He might not start right away but I’m willing to bide my time for the 3rd overall pick to take the reins of a Kyle Shanahan offense built for him. He has a rocket arm and we’ve seen in the preseason the type of rollout plays that could make the 49ers roll.