Who Will Be The 2021 Fantasy Football MVP?
In a very special episode from The Fantasy Footballers, our hosts Andy, Mike, and Jason welcome fantasy experts from across the industry to give us their 2021 fantasy MVPs. Here are their picks to help you win a #FootclanTitle!
Austin Ekeler – RB Los Angeles Chargers
“So you want my fantasy MVP for 2021? It should come as no surprise that I’m going with my boy: Austin Ekeler of the Los Angeles Chargers. I know people want to come at me about the potential durability concerns, but I happen to have the inside track to knowing that he is going to stay healthy. And besides all of that, his God-given talent and skillset were created for optimal fantasy output. His elusivity as a rusher with a juke rate of over 24% last year, by the way, helps keep him efficient. In 2020, he managed a YPC of 4.6. And then what about his prowess as a receiver with that amazing catch rate above 83%! He checks all the boxes. And here’s another one; he’s being paired with Joe Lombardi coming over from New Orleans. Now there is a pass-catching running back in New Orleans that’s done pretty well for Fantasy managers.
Lombardi + Ekeler + Herbert = Lit”
Liz Loza – @LizLoza_FF – Yahoo Fantasy Sports
Myles Gaskin – RB Miami Dolphins
“The fantasy MVP for the 2021 campaign will be Dolphins running back Myles Gaskin. Remember the joke Brian Flores played on us in the first preseason game, when he made Malcolm Brown the starter and everybody panicked? The joke’s on you because it drove down the price of maybe the best running back in fantasy. Last year if you take the 10 games that Myles Gaskin appeared in, take those numbers over 16 games because we all love the extrapolation game, he would have had over 800 rushing yards and over 600 receiving yards. He would have been in the same category with only one other running back to do that: Alvin Kamara. I don’t know about you; but if I hear a running back being associated in the same stratosphere as Alvin Kamara, I’m going to buy in. I don’t think Malcolm Brown or Salvon Ahmed are going to take Myles Gaskin off the field to the extent that it’s going to ruin him. I actually think he’s going to have a tremendous season behind a very good offensive line with what could be a better quarterback situation if Tua Tagovailoa takes the next step. We know Gaskin is going to catch the ball out of the backfield, and he’s going to be successful running the ball. He’s going to be the best running back in fantasy! So buy him in the fourth round; you’d be thrilled if you get him in the fifth round. But I love Myles Gaskin this season; he is my fantasy MVP.”
Jamey Eisenberg – @JameyEisenberg – CBS Sports
Antonio Gibson – RB Washington Football Team
“When it comes to the fantasy MVP in 2021, I know a lot of people are going to say someone like Patrick Mahomes, Christian McCaffrey, or Dalvin Cook. But I’m going to go a little bit outside of the box and I’m going to give you Antonio Gibson, in part because of the production he gives you on top of where you’ll get him in drafts. You’re talking about a guy who’s coming off the board somewhere in the 2nd round, who has the potential to easily be a top 10 – maybe even a top 8 – running back. You combine that production with his fantasy value, and he is going to help a lot of people get into the playoffs, maybe even win championships. And at the end of the year, you are going to be talking about Antonio Gibson as your fantasy MVP.”
Marcas Grant – @MarcasG – NFL.com
Gus Edwards – RB Baltimore Ravens
“All hop aboard the Gus Bus! Granted I’m recording this after JK Dobbins’ injury and I hope feels better. But in the meantime, I have been on the Gus Bus for years. Every time he touches the ball, he goes for 8 or 9 yards. The offensive line is solid. I love that they added Zeitler and Villanueva on the right side. And the fact that Ja’Wuan James could be coming back at the end of the year, this offensive line with Lamar Jackson could be dynamic. I’m all aboard the Gus Bus as the Fantasy Footballers MVP! Delicious!”
Adam Lefkoe – @AdamLefkoe – Bleacher Report
Trey Lance – QB San Francisco 49ers
“My MVP pick for this season is going to be Trey Lance. Two reasons. Houston Texans. We don’t know when Trey Lance is going to be the starting quarterback for the 49ers, but I do know that this Texans defense is going to be one of the worst in the NFL. That is who the 49ers play in the championship weekend. So whatever you do, make sure you are leaving your draft with Trey Lance. He will be the MVP!”
Adam Rank – @AdamRank – NFL Network
Matthew Stafford – QB Los Angeles Rams
My fantasy MVP this year is none other than Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford. Stafford is one of my favorite mid-to-later-round quarterback targets, and I think he could open up this Rams passing offense to levels we haven’t seen since 2018. But this isn’t just about Stafford. Rams head coach Sean McVay, host of the Ringer’s Flying Coach Podcast this summer, it was my impression listening in that he is extremely excited for a guy like Stafford running this offense. After seeing a few of his peers and former proteges in Kyle Shanahan and Matt LaFleur get a bunch of love over the last few seasons, I think McVay is going to be really revved up to remind everyone he is still the league’s preeminent offensive genius. In other words, I think he is going to throw a lot especially after losing Cam Akers.
That brings me to Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, both of whom bring that magical combination of a high floor and high ceiling. Woods is probably going to get his 130 targets again this year. But with Stafford under center, he could dramatically increase his efficiency and touchdown upside in 2021. Plus he’s good for a rush or two just to boost that bottom line. As for Kupp, I have three words for you: positive touchdown regression. He scored 10 touchdowns in 2019 and finished as the WR4 in PPR, and then caught just three touchdowns last year and finished as the WR26. Now, I know touchdowns are pretty random and unpredictable. But with Stafford throwing passes, I bet Kupp outpaces his touchdown numbers from last year by a good amount. Bottom line: I think the Rams are going to move the ball and they’re going to score a lot of points. Stafford is going to unlock the entire playbook, activate every concept and play, and everyone in that offense.”
Danny Kelly – @DannyBKelly – The Ringer
George Kittle – TE San Francisco 49ers
“Listen, I don’t want you cool cats and kittens to be handed the bits this year. So for my 2021 fantasy MVP, I’m going to give you a hearty, meaty portion of Kittle. Yes, George Krieger Kittle is my fantasy MVP. And this doesn’t sound like a wild stance, given that he’s drafted among that elite tier. But I want 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 the TE1 in fantasy. We forget how good he was last year despite poor quarterback play. He had a 24% target share and he finished 1st among all tight ends in yards per route run. He’s going in the early-to-middle third round. And that discount you get from Kelce affords the opportunity to grab a stud at running back and wide receiver, opening up the rest of your draft. Over the last three years, Kittle has averaged more yards per game than Stefon Diggs and the same yards per target as Tyreek Hill. And once Trey Lance takes the reins, just log out and enjoy a #FootclanTitle.”
Kyle Borgognoni – @Kyle_Borg – The Fantasy Footballers
Najee Harris – RB Pittsburgh Steelers
“My fantasy MVP: rookie running back Najee Harris. I have been madly in love with him all off-season and that passion still burns bright. Look at the player coming out of college. At Alabama playing in the toughest conference, he had almost 1900 yards and 30 touchdowns. He added pass-catching with 43 receptions, which at the running back position, is absurd. That is an extremely high number in the college game. And he landed in the perfect place with first-round draft capital. He goes to Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Look at the workload that these players have received. Le’Veon Bell, DeAngelo Williams, James Conner. Whoever the guy is for Mike Tomlin, they get work! Over the past 5 years, we have seen the RB1 for Pittsburgh average 83% of the carries and a 16% target share. That is essentially combining Derrick Henry’s workload on the ground and Austin Ekeler’s workload through the air into one person. And on top of that, Najee Harris is a super talented dude to take all of that work and just explode for fantasy football. Over the last decade, first-round rookie running backs that were drafted in the top 3 rounds all beat their ADP except for Clyde Edwards-Helaire. History is on the side of Najee Harris. Analytics is on the side of Najee Harris. The film study is on the side of Najee Harris. Everything is there for him to be a dominant fantasy player.
Mike Wright – @FFHitman – The Fantasy Footballers
Raheem Mostert – RB San Francisco 49ers
“My fantasy football MVP for 2021: Raheem “The Dream” Mostert, 49ers running back. The vibes heading into the season are great for this rushing attack, with the read-option potential with Trey Lance. If you look at the final pre-season game, they ran for 242 yards and four touchdowns. You already know Shannahan can do that, and you’re going to unlock another cheat code with the read-option with Trey Lance. In all 10 plays on their first drive, Raheem Mostert was the only running back out there. He is the guy! When you listen to the coaching staff talk, his speed to the edge is the secret weapon. Nobody has it in football and it’s essential to what they’re doing in the backfield.
Let’s remember what Raheem Mostert can do for fantasy football. He didn’t start a single game in 2019 and had five RB1 weeks, including an RB8 run during weeks 12 to 17. Last year, marred by injury, he started out and did exactly what I talked about, finishing as the RB6 and RB15 in the game that he left with the ACL injury. He still averaged 85 total yards per game for them last year. With McKinnon gone, this is going to be Raheem Mostert and Trey Sermon. And when the offense is doing what it’s supposed to do, it’s going to be Raheem! He is also the fastest player in the game with 8.7% of his runs going for 15+ yards. That’s better than Chubb, Henry, and Cook. That’s the special sauce, and the kind of uniqueness to him where doesn’t have to be an every-down RB to still be a fantasy football MVP. He had the two fastest runs in 2020 and he still has the juice, coming on later in his career. I’m not going to presume injury for Raheem Mostert. What I saw in that final pre-season game going into the year was electricity. I drafted him in our league of record draft, traded up for him. I’m all in on Raheem.”
Andy Holloway – @AndyHolloway – The Fantasy Footballers
Terry McLaurin – WR Washington Football Team
“My 2021 fantasy MVP is Scary Terry McLaurin. Scary Terry, the Washington wide receiver, has already shown that he is a fantastic world-beater. But he has been on a putrid offense with terrible quarterback play, and I believe that this is the year wherein totality, he is going to truly dominate for fantasy. I’m very confident in Terry McLaurin the player, the talent, and anything I have ever see on the field. He is fast, he is a great route runner, and he has good hands. He is a clear number one that would be hard for any team to guard. And to recap last year, in 15 games, he had 134 targets, about 1100 yards, but only 4 touchdowns. That was the problem for him. He had the 9th most targets and 6th most yards after the catch. He also dealt with an ankle injury and missed a game.
But here’s what happened last year. If you weren’t paying attention to the Washington football team, especially through the beginning of the year, McLaurin was a top-10 wide receiver for the first 10 weeks. That included his bye week. Keep in mind, that was with Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen, and Tyler Heinicke. Once Alex Smith came in, that’s when everything changed for Terry McLaurin. He wasn’t terrible, he still had a good game here or there. But what changed for him was the deep targets, because that’s what Alex Smith couldn’t throw as the check-down king. We talk about Teddy Bridgewater who rarely ever went deep, and had 7.6 yards per attempt. Alex Smith was at 6.3. This guy did not throw the ball deep. In fact, in those first 10 weeks, McLaurin had 13 deep targets and 3 were contested catches. With Alex Smith, he only had seven, and all of them were contested catches. That’s why he was no longer at the pace that he was on before Alex Smith took over.
Enter Ryan Fitzpatrick, who obviously is locked-in on wide receivers. Last year, the Washington Football Team was 30th in wide receiver target share. If we look at Fitzpatrick’s history targeting wide receivers, he ranked 2nd in 2014, 1st in 2015, 1st in 2016, and 1st in 2018. He peppers the wide receivers with targets! Terry McLaurin, with a competent quarterback, is going to be great. Third-round MVPs at wide receiver happen every year. Tyreek and Adam Thielen won people championships in 2018. Godwin, Kupp, and Golladay in 2019. Last year it was Calvin Ridley and DK Metcalf. This year, I think it’s Terry McLaurin!”
Jason Moore – @JasonFFL – The Fantasy Footballers