The Fantasy Footballers’ Writing Staff My Guys for 2021

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By now, you probably know all about the phenomenon known as the Fantasy Footballers “My Guy” episode. It’s been in fantasy football lore since its inception in 2015. If you need all the visuals, here’s the YouTube link:

Every year we give our writing staff the chance to plant their flag in the ground for one guy. We have an incredible group of writers who have written so many forward-thinking pieces during the offseason. Please show them some love on Twitter and let us know who your player for 2021 is using the #MyGuy in your tweet.

D.J. Moore, WR

I’d say D.J. Moore is primed to break out this season, but that doesn’t give him the credit he deserves for his past two seasons of production. He’s topped 1,100 receiving yards in consecutive seasons but accomplished the feat in very different ways. In 2019 he caught 87 balls at a clip of 13.5 yards/reception, while in 2020 he racked up 18 more total yards on 21 fewer catches. The point is, Moore is good enough to succeed no matter how he’s utilized. The only problem with Moore is his unusually low touchdown rate. He’s averaged a touchdown every 33.5 targets so far in his career, a strikingly lower rate than receivers like Robert Woods (26.7), Sterling Shepard (23.5), and Keenan Allen (21.7). A little positive regression in touchdown rate seems in the cards for Moore in 2021 and should lead to a career-best fantasy output. – Aaron Larson (@aalarson)

Travis Etienne, RB

Travis Etienne’s landing spot is far from perfect; however, I am banking on talent overcoming the situation. As a prospect, Etienne’s production profile ranks among some of the most elite college running backs over the last decade. Since 2010, Etienne is only one of four college running backs to enter the league with at least a 25% team dominator rating, seven yards per touch, and 5,000 scrimmage yards. The other three running backs are Dalvin Cook, Christian McCaffrey, and Melvin Gordon. Factor in his early breakout age and his first-round draft capital, and you have one of the most impressive prospect profiles in recent history. As for his situation in 2021, he might not necessarily dominate the Jaguars’ rushing attempts (those will likely go to James Robinson). However, based on reports in camp, I expect him to be the primary receiving RB – running routes and acting as a safety blanket for Trevor Lawrence. Due to the fact that RB targets are historically more valuable than rush attempts, I would not be surprised if Etienne manages to finish as a top-24 RB as soon as this season. -Marvin Elequin (@FF_MarvinE)

Russell Gage, WR

I completely understand that Russell Gage is a deep sleeper, but it seems like all of the hype is on the shoulders of TE Kyle Pitts and WR Calvin Ridley. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why. However, We are all just assuming that Pitts will become the de facto WR2 as a rookie tight end. Gage, on the other hand, who is going so late you can get him for free or off the waiver wire after your drafts, has been on the team since 2018. True, he only saw a significant amount of targets last season, but he had a career-high of 109 with 72 receptions, 786 yards, and four touchdowns. That was with both Ridley and Julio Jones still on the squad. He also threw a touchdown pass and had another dropped by Jones for a sure-fire touchdown. He lines up in perfect tandem with Ridley as the slot guy to the wideout. While everyone is focused on Ridley and Pitts, I am going to wait until the end and take a shot on Gage for little to no draft capital and cross my fingers that he can be the real WR2 instead of a rookie tight end. -Lauren Carpenter (@stepmomlauren)

Austin Ekeler, RB

Awesome Excellence is set up to be everything a “my guy” should be – piggybacking on Tip #2 from the Tips and Tricks show; you need RBs that get you receptions. In 2020 Austin Ekeler was third in targets among RBs with 65, and he did not even play an entire season, spending six games out with injury. That’s an average of 6.5 targets a game and a season-long pace of 104 targets. Ekeler is also on a team that loves to target the RB – last year, the Chargers targeted RBs the second most in the NFL, and I believe we can expect more of the same in 2021. I know he did not deliver TD-wise in 2020, but I believe the off-season improvement to the offensive line will protect him better and up his usage in the red zone and TD scoring potential. With sophomore QB Justin Herbert back with his long locks and ready for another strong season, coupled with a massively improved offensive line, if Ekeler stays healthy, he could be poised for another season reminiscent of 2019. That year he finished as RB6. -Julia Papworth (@juliapapworth)

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Nelson Agholor, WR

Nelson Agholor is not going to be a league winner. Heck, he’s not even going to be one of the best players on your roster. What he will be is a valuable WR3 or FLEX with respectable upside – given the investment – week in and week out. Of course, that ‘investment’ is basically zero: Nelson is being drafted as the 66th wide receiver in the 14th round. Last year, he finished as the WR29,  and had four top ten games at the position (896 yards and 8 touchdowns on the season). The Raiders didn’t even use him to start the year: Agholor saw just 19% of snaps in Weeks 1-2, before jumping up to a 75% average for the rest of the season. By contrast, stingy Bill Belichick paid $24 million to bring him in, where he will sit atop a mostly non-threatening WR room and no longer have to compete with target hog Darren Waller. What’s more, the Patriots have the easiest – yes, the easiest – schedule for WRs in the entire league, and I see Mac Jones taking over QB duties early on for the team (which I believe helps with passing upside). The best news of all: at this point in the draft, you’re choosing between Agholor and a kicker! -Matt DiSorbo (@datavizuals)

Diontae Johnson, WR

Death, taxes, and Diontae Johnson being underrated in fantasy leagues. He’s the new version of Robert Woods, with more touchdown upside. Coming off a 2020 season where he finished sixth in targets in the league (ahead of guys like Ridley, Tyreek, McLaurin, and Allen Robinson), people are coming up with any reason possible to avoid him. Chase Claypool? He was there last year. Juju? He was there last year. Ben? He was old and immobile last year. Targets are earned, and Diontae earns them. His drops are completely overblown and there’s no possible narrative that exists in 2021 that wasn’t already there in 2020. In Pittsburgh’s preseason opener he was the only receiver that played on all of the snaps with the starters, and he hauled in all three of his targets. Don’t overthink it. He’s a slam dunk WR2 with top ten upside. -Robert Wilson (@TheFFGator)

Ceedee Lamb, WR

The second-year wideout looks to improve on his impressive rookie season now that quarterback Dak Prescott is back under center.  In 2020, he managed to catch 74 balls for 935 yards. Imagine what Lamb can do with Prescott at QB for an entire season.  Andy Dalton, Ben DiNucci, and Garrett Gilbert aren’t the ideal players to receive passes from, yet Lamb had almost 1,000 yards in his rookie campaign. Sometimes you’ll hear the “too many mouths to feed in Dallas” comment, but that shouldn’t deter you from rostering Lamb.  In 2019, Amari Cooper had 1,189 receiving yards while Michael Gallup had 1,107 yards through the air.  Every year it seems like Dallas supports multiple fantasy options, and Lamb is my guy because I think he has what it takes to be a top-tier fantasy wide receiver. -Kacey Kasem (@thekaceykasem)

D’Andre Swift, RB

D’Andre Swift is a steal in the third round of drafts this year. Swift finished 2020 as an RB2 in fantasy. He did that while only seeing 40% of the running back touches over the course of the season – 12 touches per game on average. Last season, he had more 20+ fantasy point games (3) than Jonathan Taylor (2), Kareem Hunt (2), Miles Sanders (2), or Chris Carson (2). In the seven games where he touched the ball more than ten times, he averaged 16.2 points per game and eclipsed 20 fantasy points three times. Swift’s ceiling is a top-5 running back, and I think his floor is safer than people realize – a middling RB2. Swift is the perfect RB2 for your roster, and I think he’s going to be one of those players that carries people to the fantasy playoffs. D’Andre Swift could easily be talked about as a top-5 overall pick in 2022. -Jeff Greenwood (@TheFantasyEng)

Cooper Kupp, WR

I don’t want to get carried away, but Rams WR Cooper Kupp is going to be a fantasy goldmine and the steal of the season with gunslinger Matthew Stafford in town. He’s going to be Stafford’s trusty big-bodied slot receiver who will be leaned on to move the chains thanks to a weakened run game from the loss of Cam Akers. Stafford also loves targeting his tall wideouts (e.g., Calvin Johnson, Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay) in the end zone, a role Kupp – the tallest and largest Rams WR – is primed for. He’s branded as “inconsistent” after a huge production drop-off in the second half of his breakout 2019 season, but that decline was due to a forced workload reduction in heavy favor of the run game and two-TE sets. 2020 was a down year because of shaky QB play that caused a lack of TDs, yet he still led the team in receptions (92; T-WR9), yards (974; WR20), YAC (525; WR3), and broken tackles (12; WR3). Now with a clean bill of health, a lackluster RB room, Gerald Everett’s departure, and a major upgrade at QB, all systems are go for Kupp’s resurgence as a fringe top-12 WR available in the fifth round. Robert Woods will still undoubtedly be a factor and should have a great season as well, but he’s going a round earlier and lacks the TD upside that can outright win your weekly matchup. Cooper Kupp is an All-Star; draft him as your WR2, then sit back and relax as the points start coming and they don’t stop coming. -Peter Chung (@FF_Hypeman)

Getty Images / Alex Davidson

Calvin Ridley, WR

The stars have aligned, and it’s Calvin Ridley‘s time to shine. Ridley is the undisputed WR1 on his team, now that Julio has been shipped out of town, and we know that he can handle the added pressure because he has always performed better for fantasy purposes whenever Julio misses time. Ridley had the most air yards in 2020 in the NFL and had the seventh-most targets – a number that ought to explode in 2021 without Julio demanding targets. Ridley is an incredible route runner, he’s the projected for an enormous target share on a historically pass-heavy team, and he has the talent to shine even without an All-Pro WR across from him. Ridley is my guy for 2021. -Nate Henry (@NateHenryFF)

Terry McLaurin, WR

My guy Terry McLaurin was the breakout WR of 2020 and depending on how high your expectations were last year, it may have felt like a disappointment relative to the hype…or was it? Let’s revisit McLaurin’s 2020 season to remember what exactly happened. First, how can we ignore the fact that my man was catching passes from soon-to-be out-of-the-league Dwayne Haskins, career backup Kyle Allen and Alex Smith, who was coming off arguably the most severe injury an NFL QB has ever seen. On top of all that, McLaurin also battled not one but two high ankle sprains last season. Under these circumstances, Scary Terry still finished 15th at the position in receptions and 11th in yards. He finished as the WR21, likely due to a lack of TDs (4) and a major step back in his efficiency numbers. McLaurin dropped from 14.0 aDOT and 2.07 yards per route run as a rookie to 9.7 aDOT and 1.87 YPRR last year. Why? Alex Smith was a check-down Charlie all year. With the bearded wonder, Ryan Fitzpatrick, under center, look for McLaurin’s efficiency numbers to spike in 2021 as he’s targeted deeper down the field, helping him put up the season we thought he was going to have last year. -Matthew Betz (@TheFantasyPT)

Brandon Aiyuk, WR

Brandon Aiyuk has recently become a “my guy” for me. He is currently going around the wide receiver 26 in fantasy drafts with an ADP of 7.04, which may be a massive value. Aiyuk was 18th among wide receivers in PPR points per game last year in his rookie season. His 15.4 PPG was the 8th most since 2000 for a rookie wide receiver. George Kittle may still be the #1 option, but I expect Aiyuk to have an uptick in volume along with better quarterback play in 2021, leading to a breakout season. Aiyuk’s profile aligns with what Jason was talking about with Sophomore breakouts on the Tips and Tricks podcast episode. Aiyuk likely has a safe floor with a top-12 finish as a ceiling, and I will take that in every draft at his current ADP. -Ryan DeVaney (@WhyDoIEvenTryFF)

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George Kittle, TE

This doesn’t sound like a wild stance to take given the fact Kittle is being drafted among the elite tier of TEs. I’m here to let you know how all-in I am and you should be in 2021. Kittle can supplant Travis Kelce and claim his throne as TE1 in 2021. In BestBall, scooping up Kittle early is planting a flag that not only will he be elite but a test of game theory for big tournaments that either Kelce doesn’t return 1st round value or Kittle produces an otherwordly season at a 2-round discount. His half-a-season stat line from 2020 stunts how great he still was. Kittle was on a ridiculous 17 game pace of 102 receptions and 1,347 receiving yards on 134 targets with a terrible cast of QBs. We forget how good he was… last year with a 24% Target Share and finishing 1st in Yards per Route Run among TEs. He’s been a yardage monster the last three seasons ranking 9th in yards per game (80.6) better than Stefon Diggs and averaging 10.01 yards per target in that span, the same as Tyreek Hill. It doesn’t matter who his QB is (but Trey Lance would be great) considering who he’s had thus far in his career. If you start the draft with CMC or Dalvin Cook, locking in TE at the 2/3 turn is nice. I’m almost embarrassed how much exposure I have with Kittle in BestBall. My Underdog account depends on it. -Kyle Borgognoni (@kyle_borg)

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