QB Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
First, I want to say I’m a big fan of Allen and what he brings to the table. Unfortunately for me, when connecting the receiver dots in 2021, I don’t see repeated success in passing touchdowns. He has one elite wide receiver with two aging wideouts. Gabriel Davis' direction and possible improvement do add some intrigue. In the end, Allen is priced based on his 2020 success while lacking the receiving corps to support the breakout production at wide receiver (312/3,879/28 on 412 targets). In addition, I don't believe in the Bills' offensive line. In the early protections, I have Allen ranked 6th, which places him on my fade list based on his higher projected ADP in drafts this year.
The early line on his passing yards at the sportsbooks came in at 4,550.5 yards. His success in 2020 projected over a 17-game schedule comes to 4,828 passing yards. To be a winning bet on the over in passing yards, Allen needs to deliver 95 percent of his passing success from last year. I’ll be against the grain with an under play in his passing yards. His over/under in passing touchdowns (34.5) will also be challenging to achieve this season.
READ MORE: 2021 Fantasy Football Breakouts
RB Mike Davis, Atlanta Falcons
The volume drafters will gravitate toward Davis in the Falcons’ offense due to no other running back on the roster standing out to get in his way for touches. I can’t get my head around investing in a 28-year-old running back who gained 3.7 yards per rush and 6.4 yards per catch in his career. Unfortunately, the Falcons running back gained only 3.7 and 3.8 yards per carry over the past two seasons while failing to gain over 7.00 yards per catch from 2018 to 2020. His ADP (62) in PPR leagues paints him as a backend RB2. Davis may work for over the short term, but his NFL path points to a low ceiling and glass floor.
Davis almost has a free square feel with an under bet with an over/under of 800.5 rushing yards at the sportsbooks. Based on his career average in rushing yards (3.7), he would need 217 carries to be a win on the over. I would also take the under in his projected rushing touchdowns (7.5).
RB Raheem Mostert, San Francisco 49ers
Over the past two seasons, Mostert showed explosiveness in a highly productive 49ers’ rushing offense. He gained 5.7 yards per rush over his last 275 carries with San Francisco, which paints an inviting picture. In the early draft season, Mostert has a coin flip ADP (80) with Trey Sermon. He missed time in last year’s OTAs with a slight knee issue while missing eight games in 2020 with knee and ankle issues. His rising injuries and age (29) put him on the avoid/fade column for me in 2021.
WR Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills
The Bills’ passing game and Diggs ranked near the top of the league in 2020. He set career-highs in catches (127), receiving yards (1,535), and targets. In addition, Diggs got open on many plays, leading to an impressive catch rate (76.5). His success pushed him to second in the early wide receiver rankings.
It is essential to invest in players on the rise in each fantasy football season and not in their success from the previous year. Coming into 2020, Michael Thomas felt like a moral lock to be the top receiver after an incredible 2019 season (149/1,725/9). One early season injury crushed his value. This example shows the risk/reward players bring from one season to the next.
I have Diggs projected for 107 catches for 1,280 yards and nine touchdowns, which would be his second-best year in the NFL. Unfortunately, he would rank only ninth at wide receiver in PPR leagues. I expect regression, and any injury would crush the Bills’ passing game.
The sportsbooks landed on 1,350.5 receiving yards and eight touchdowns for his over/under totals in midsummer. Both projections are too close to call in the betting world.
WR A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans
Brown continues to rank eighth at wide receiver with an ADP of 26. He has been sensational in his first two seasons (52/1,051/8 and 70/1,075/11) with the Titans while averaging 17.4 yards per catch. His natural progression fits his current price point, but fantasy owners have somewhat dismissed the addition of Julio Jones to Tennessee’s offense. Brown played through a pair of knee issues in 2020 that required surgery in the offseason.
The Titans have a high volume run game, leading to below-average passing attempts and fewer chances for their wide receivers (2019 – 172/2,582/18 on 256 targets and 2020 – 185/2,638/19 on 273 targets). Tennessee will rely on the top two wideouts, but I question their upside in chances. Brown came in as the 16th wide receiver (78/1,168/9) in the early projections. I won't overpay for him in drafts, but I won't ignore him if he ends up being discounted.
For reference, Brown drafts an over/under of 1,175.5 yards and 8.5 touchdowns at the online sportsbooks in late July.
WR Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers
After getting drafted in the first round in his rookie season, Aiyuk posted an impressive six games (45/568/4 on 69 targets), leading to him drawing the WR1 in the 49ers’ offense. His challenge in 2021 is finding repeated targets with Deebo Samuel back on the field and George Kittle being active in the passing game.
Aiyuk is the 27th wide receiver drafted in PPR leagues with a July ADP of 64. I have him projected for 1,031 combined yards with six touchdowns and 73 catches, ranking him 32nd at wide receiver.
I’m fading him based on his ADP while also understanding his upside if Aiyuk slides a round or two in drafts.
Sportsbooks placed his over/under in passing yards at 875.5 and 5.5 in receiving touchdowns. My projections in receiving yards came in at 944.
Part of his downside would come if the 49ers turned to Trey Lance at quarterback. His style of play would lead to more runs and lower the passing chances for San Francisco’s receivers.
TE Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons
The struggle for anyone making projections is placing a fair value on all players in the player pool. My early ranking for Pitts came in as the fifth tight end while being on a path for 69 catches for 808 yards and six touchdowns. The loss of Julio Jones opens up plenty of targets, and Atlanta tends to attempt well over 600 passes in most seasons.
The second piece to evaluating his projections comes from believing in his possible opportunity while also comparing him to the players drafted at his position.
Pitts has a fifth-round ADP (57) while failing in a range where there are many players with proven resume. My fade on him comes from the potential value behind him at the tight end position. I would much rather own Mark Andrews in the sixth round as I have a reference on his previous success. I see multiple wide receivers in the fifth round with a chance to catch 90+ balls with scoring ability.
It was interesting to see that the sportsbooks gave Pitts an over/under of 800.5 in receiving yards and seven touchdowns.
More Fantasy Football:
- 2021 Fantasy Football Rankings & Stat Projections
- 2021 Fantasy Breakouts
- TE Sleeper: Tyler Higbee
- Trade Impact: Randall Cobb Returns to Green Bay
Senior analyst Shawn Childs is a multi-sport, high-stakes fantasy legend with lifetime earnings in the high six-figures. He has been providing in-depth, analytical break downs for years all while helping his subscribers to countless titles and winnings across season-long & DFS. A inaugural inductee of the NFBC Hall of Fame, Shawn can teach you how to prep like a champ!