In the 2021 content hub, you can find best ball strategy and optimal roster construction per position as well as player rankings that are updated through the offseason.
Throughout the offseason, we want to provide updates on player movement in best ball drafts. This allows us to maintain a more current pulse for where players are now being valued that were impacted by recent news. Immediately after the NFL Draft, we looked at some players who spiked right afterward and will now pick up from that point up until the start of June.
*ADP From 6/1 -6/10, prior ADP From 5/11-5/31
Early-June ADP Risers: QB
The time frame after the NFL Draft until actual training camps begin is always the last quiet period of the NFL offseason. There just is not often a ton of actionable news through this stretch. With that, you will see that a lot of the player movement is coming from late-round fantasy options.
That said, the one real piece of official news that we did get was Julio Jones finally getting traded to the Titans. A lot of the fallout from that trade will appear here, but we did break the fantasy fallout down for both the Titans’ skill players and the Falcons’ skill players.
Ryan Tannehill was arguably the biggest winner and his ADP has risen about a half of a round immediately afterward.
Even with efficiency regression in play for Tannehill across the board from his 2019 output, he still closed 2020 as the QB10 in points per game (21.5 points). Tannehill has now been a top-10 weekly scorer at the position in 16 of his 26 regular season starts with the Titans. Tannehill was third in points per dropback in 2020 (0.66) after ranking second in 2019 (0.70). He has ranked seventh (7.9 Y/A) and first (9.6 Y/A) in yards per pass attempt the past two seasons without Jones on the roster Adding the caliber of target that Jones will raise those dropbacks while cementing Tannehill as a QB1 option for fantasy football.
We are slowly starting to see Ryan Fitzpatrick get some burn as he has climbed up to QB22 in ADP. We have not talked a lot about Fitzpatrick since he changed teams. Fitzpatrick will turn 39 years old this November coming off a career-high 68.5% completion rate and 7.8 yards per pass attempt, which was good for the third-highest mark of his career.
When he has been on the field, Fitzpatrick has turned in fantasy points, averaging 20.1 fantasy points per game over his past 18 starts. In Washington, this is arguably the best offensive line and defense that Fitzpatrick has been attached to in several years, so we may not fully see the “hair on fire” version of Fitzpatrick for fantasy play, but as he showed in positive game script with Miami last season, there is still fantasy potential for him in those environments.
Early-June ADP Risers: RB
Trey Sermon continues to climb draft boards and is outright being selected ahead of Raheem Mostert now. Entering 2021 at 29 years old, Mostert has yet to surpass 151 touches in an NFL season, but it is doubtful he just vanishes as well. Mostert was still RB28 in points per game (12.5) a year ago despite missing eight games outright and forced from two others on fewer than 30% of the snaps.
We always want to look at a Kyle Shanahan backfield for opportunity and this backfield continues to provide that as a whole. 49ers running backs ranked fifth in the league in backfield touches per game (30.6) in 2020 despite a plethora of injuries and a steady rotation of bodies active over the course of the season. This after the 49ers backfield collectively ranked second in the league in touches (31.5) and yards from scrimmage (175.3) among all backfields in 2019.
While collectively Shanahan continues to squeeze production out of the group, we have been left chasing the system as a whole to elevate the individual pieces, which have not always panned out. Shanahan has now been a playcaller for 12 NFL seasons in which he was with the same team multiple seasons. Just three times over that stretch has the same player led the team in rushing in back-to-back seasons while nine different backs have led his team in rushing those seasons.
Last season, Jeff Wilson led the team with 126 carries for 600 yards, but is entering the season with a torn meniscus and not expected to start the season, which is another factor in the continued surge for Sermon. All said in done, with Sermon jumping the field in ADP, Mostert is a strong-looking target for Zero-RB and later-round running back drafters.
Behind Sermon, we have a group of backups and pass catchers matriculating up boards in the later rounds.
After Anthony Lynn called Jamaal Williams an “A Back,” Williams has made a significant jump in ADP, particularly in FFPC leagues. Through four seasons, Williams has yet to rush for 600 yards in a season or clear 178 touches, but he has been a proven back that can play an ancillary role, contribute to the passing game, and handle opportunity when needed in relief should D’Andre Swift miss any time for the Lions. Williams has caught at least 25 passes in every season of his career, and in the four games that Aaron Jones has missed over the past three seasons, Williams has turned that open opportunity into three top-10 scoring fantasy weeks.
Sean McVay has not stopped talking up Cam Akers getting an extended role and being a feature back, but that has also led to gamers targeting Darrell Henderson as a depth handcuff that could run into that same usage should Akers falter or miss any time. After a nearly invisible rookie season with 43 touches for 184 yards (4.3 yards per touch), Henderson jumped up to 154 touches for 783 yards (5.1 Y/T) in 2020 with six touchdowns. For a period of the season early on, Henderson even took over as the feature back for Los Angeles before conceding ground to Akers and reaching double-digit touches in just two of his final eight games played of the season as he himself dealt with injuries.
Entering the 2021 season at 29-year-old, James White is coming off a season with just 84 touches for 496 yards and three touchdowns, his lowest totals for usage in a season since 2015. That may be a signal the end is coming, but White still ran a pass route on 42.7% of the New England dropbacks in his games played last season, which ranked 15th among running backs. He was also targeted on 30.9% of his pass routes, which was the highest rate among backs in 2020. Team passing volume-limited his overall routes per game to 13.1 per game. We still need Mac Jones to start sooner than later to elevate the passing volume as a whole here while the Patriots did also add viable targets to the roster.
Joining the Bucs, Giovani Bernard will turn 30 years old during the 2021 season. Bernard has not been fantasy-relevant outside of games Joe Mixon has missed the past three seasons, but Tampa Bay did target their running backs 19% of the time last season, which was 11th in the league. At minimum, Bernard is a thorn in this backfield as a pass catcher with both Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette ahead of him in the running game, but as a pass catcher attached to one of the better offenses in the NFL, Bernard has been too cheap to target late in drafts for what could potentially happen in season should certain dominoes fall his way.
Early-June ADP Risers: WR
The biggest winner at wide receiver since the Julio Jones trade rumors and actual trade ramped up has been Russell Gage. Gage is entering his fourth NFL season coming off career highs in targets (109), receptions (72), receiving yardage (786 yards), and touchdowns (four). Five of his 11 career scoring games as a top-36 wide receiver in PPR formats have come with Julio Jones out or limited while Gage has received double-digit targets in six career games with three coming in that sample to go along with 3-of-5 career touchdowns. His on/off splits with Jones could prove irrelevant with the addition of Kyle Pitts if he cannot win more outside in 2021, but Gage does not have a ton of competition to have the first crack at being right behind Calvin Ridley among the wide receiver targets.
Both Antonio Brown and Darnell Mooney were here post-draft and continue to make their way higher in drafts.
In the 10 full games (including the postseason) that Brown played alongside both a healthy Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, Brown was third on the team with 15.9% of the team targets and 5.9 targets per game, but Brown was targeted on 26.6% of his pass routes, which trailed only Davante Adams (31.5%) among all wide receivers with over 200 pass routes on the season, Brown also has unaccounted for upside should Evans miss any time. When Evans played just 11 snaps in Week 17 against the Falcons, Brown blew up for a season-high 14 targets, catching 11 of them for 138 yards and a pair of scores.
The Bears have expressed continuing to add more to Mooney’s role this season after his positive rookie season. With the selection of Justin Fields, the Bears and Mooney get attached to one of the most prolific deep-ball prospects to enter the league over the past five years. From that Dan Pizzuta article, Fields ranks sixth among all prospects since 2016 in on-target rate (67.7%) on those throws 20 or more yards in the air. Pizzuta then went back in on Fields and his deep-ball prowess as well as his intermediate success to remind everyone that Fields was in fact a pretty good passing prospect. Just 6-of-23 targets Mooney had over 20 yards downfield were deemed catchable per Pro Football Focus (28.6%), which was 52nd in the league.
There has already been a tease that Mike Williams will be more involved in the new offense for the Chargers this season and gamers have taken notice. I have a soft spot for Williams because he commands so many high-leverage targets. Among the top-50 non-rookie wideouts in ADP, Williams ranks first or second in percentage of career targets to come on deep targets (37.5%), targets in the red zone (17.4%), inside of the 10-yard line (7.9%), and in the end zone (13.6%). I also recently talked about his ceiling potential that he has demonstrated whenever target-hog Keenan Allen has been off the field.
Early-June ADP Risers: TE
The Julio Jones trade was just another positive for the already steaming ADP for rookie Kyle Pitts. Then all of the reports from the first day of camp were all about how Pitts was utilized. There is no reeling in his draft cost. Pitts is going to be a top-four tight end in ADP for the rest of the offseason.
The same can be said for T.J. Hockenson, who still has some of the worst competition in the league for targets. No wide receiver on the Detroit roster has had more than 43 receptions in an NFL season since 2016.
Tyler Higbee not only gets a quarterback upgrade with the Rams trading for Matthew Stafford, but also returns to his late-season 2019 role with Gerald Everett moving on in free agency that saw him close the season as the top fantasy tight end, ending that season scorching hot on a five-game tear that seen him catch 43 passes for 522 yards and two touchdowns. If Jacob Harris is brought along slowly, then Higbee is going to be back in that role since Johnny Mundt is exclusively a blocker. Harris is really the only threat to that receiving role at tight end and he is a rookie transitioning positions in the NFL. To tack on, with all of the speed the Rams have added this offseason paired with Stafford’s ability to push the ball downfield, the middle of the field being less congested than a year ago for this offense and Higbee to operate.