This train is not stopping until we get to the 1.01, friends.
Part 1 can be read here (players 60 thru 49).
Part 2 can be found here (players 48 thru 37).
Today, we’re looking at Round 3-ish players, give or take. No more filibustering — let’s go:
36) D.J. Moore WR Carolina (2020 PPG: 14.1, Age: 23)
If you participated in a dynasty start-up last summer, Moore was a popular pick in 2nd/3rd rounds. In redraft, Moore also was going off the board in 3rd/4th round-range. There was a lot of hype surrounding the third year for the former-first round draft pick: Moore was coming off of an 87 catch, 1175 sophomore campaign, and fantasy gamers expected a larger jump.
This past season was not a disaster, but there certainly was disappointment with only 66 catches. Rookie offensive coordinator Joe Brady’s offense had a balanced attack with Curtis Samuel (77 for 851) and free agent Robby Anderson (96 for 1096) each producing more catches than Moore.
With that context in mind, there is still an awful lot to like about the 23-year old Moore’s prospects in 2021. He is still incredibly young (only 19-months older than Hesiman trophy winner Devonta Smith, as Josh Larky pointed out) and has had back-to-back 1100-yard seasons and over 200 receptions. There is also a chance that Samuel leaves the Panthers in free agency which could open up a lot more targets for the still-rising Moore.
35) CeeDee Lamb WR Dallas (2020 PPG: 13.9, Age: 21)
If there is a “flag-plant player” in these rankings for me, it is Lamb. I have seen him ranked 20-30 spots lower in other rankings so far this offseason, but this is a talent I am willing to bet on.
The 2020 first-round selection got off to a sizzling start to the season: He displayed a great connection with Dak Prescott and averaged 17.1 PPG. Prescott’s season-ending injury brought down every Cowboy, and Lamb’s production lowered to 12 PPG, but he still produced 208 PPR points for the season — a terrific feat for a rookie wideout, especially given the Prescott injury which capped things.
There are some huge questions about the Cowboys’ offense this offseason with Prescott’s looming free agency. If the franchise-changer leaves (I do not think this will happen), then Lamb could be tied to another new passer, and one presumably with a much lower ceiling than Prescott. But if Jerry Jones keeps the team intact, expect Lamb’s production to rise considerably. A year from now, Lamb should be in the top-20 of these rankings — he is that talented.
34) David Montgomery RB Chicago (2020 PPG: 16.9, Age: 23)
David Montgomery proved to be one of the steals of 2020 drafts. His rookie year was workman-like more than exciting, with 889 yards rushing and only 25 receptions. Drafters pushed Montgomery into the back-end, RB2 range, and viewed him strictly as a volume-play in a bad offense with underwhelming quarterback-play.
A preseason injury pushed him back even further down boards, and in some drafts, he was going as late as the 8th round. Montgomery not only came back quickly from injury, but he came back for Week 1. A season-ending injury to third-down back Tarik Cohen pushed Montgomery’s usage to new heights: He ended up with 247 carries for 1070 yards (4.3 yards per carry), and also added over 50 receptions.
Have we seen Montgomery’s ceiling? Perhaps. But he will be a locked-in 2nd/3rd rounder in redraft leagues as he could still build on last year’s volume notably so.
33) Amari Cooper WR Dallas (2020 PPG: 15.1, Age: 26)
Much like Lamb, Cooper was set for an even larger 2020 season before Prescott was lost. Cooper was averaging 17.8 PPG for the first five weeks of the season. As the established WR1 in Dallas, Cooper should be viewed as a low-end WR1 or high-end WR2. He is leaned on in the passing game and can provide game-winning, spike weeks. The looming threat of Lamb overtaking the role of alpha hurts Cooper in dynasty formats, but in redraft, expect another strong year.
32) Joe Mixon RB Cincinnati (2020 PPG: 16.9, Age: 24)
Joe Mixon was one of the more frustrating players in fantasy last season. Drafted in the 1st round in many leagues, coming off a contract extension in August, fantasy players dreamed of stud rookie passer Joe Burrow leading a Cincinnati offense to new heights, with Mixon continuing his ascent alongside.
Mixon struggled with injuries and only played in 6 games, and to make matters worse fantasy-wise, the Bengals were “optimistic” with his recovery and continually expressed hope for him coming back. Mixon not only was missing games, but he was a dead piece of fantasy rosters – no production and a player you could not cut.
A talented, two-way back, Mixon did not get it going on the ground. He had one massive game (151 yards rushing against Jacksonville) but was pedestrian in his other five. Receiving-wise, Gio Bernard held Mixon’s usage back (although Mixon did have two, 6-catch games).
2021 will be a make it or break it year in fantasy for Mixon: He is only 24, but fantasy gamers want to see a high-end RB1 season that many think he is capable of. With the talented Burrow, Mixon could end up being one of the best value draft picks. He should settle into a lot of late-2nd or 3rd rounds.
31) J.K. Dobbins RB Baltimore (2020 PPG: 11.2, Age: 22)
Dobbins is a player I wanted to rank even higher, but the threat of Gus Edwards and the Ravens unwillingness to give one back consistent volume bring Dobbins down slightly. A Ravens’ running back has only had 15 or more carries eleven (11) times in the Ravens’ last 34 games.
Nothing made fantasy gamers angrier last season than seeing the 2020 second-round draft pick playing third fiddle at times. An explosive home run threat, Dobbins would come into games, rip off a 10-yard carry, and then proceed to spend major stretches on the bench. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman used Mark Ingram and Edwards and would sprinkle in Dobbins. Even still, Dobbins displayed undeniable talent. He showed everyone a glimpse of what could have been with a sizzling week 17 performance: 13 carries for 160 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Bengals in a 38-3 rout.
Despite the lack of volume, Dobbins found the end zone 9 times in 2020. High-upside drafters will be targeting Dobbins in 2021. If the Ravens give him 15-plus carries a game, and target him more often in the passing game (only 18 catches in 2020), Dobbins can be an RB1; I am willing to bet on his talent.
30) Allen Robinson WR Chicago (2020 PPG: 17.2, Age: 27)
Robinson is a player that could have been ranked a lot higher on this list. If 2021 will have a Stefon Diggs or DeAndre Hopkins, a receiver who absolutely crushes on a new team, it could very well be Robinson.
Robinson’s upcoming free agency will be one of the big story lines for the entire fantasy offseason. The Bears had all season to extend him, and it seems likely that Robinson is playing for a new team in 2021. His skill set and talent should be a boost to legitimately any offense.
He has had back-to-back seasons of 150+ targets with 200 catches and at least 1140 yards each year. Robinson is a clear WR1 anywhere he suits up in 2021. For now, the late-2nd or the early-3rd round seems like the best bet, but he could easily rise up the rankings if fantasy gamers love his 2021 situation. Watch for the new landing spot, and adjust accordingly.
29) Josh Jacobs RB Las Vegas (2020 PPG: 15, Age: 22)
Jacobs had another productive season in 2020: He was top-12 in both PPG and total points at the running back position. Jacobs is a a high-volume rusher (third-most carries in the league) behind a strong offensive line. He has had over 1000 yards rushing now in back-to-back seasons and found the end zone 12 times in 2020.
His receptions increased to 33 this year on 45 targets. If the Raiders make a commitment to using Jacobs more in the passing game, he could have an even higher-ceiling. This ranking feels a little low, but the backs ahead of Jacobs all should see a lot more targets, more consistently. Consider him a value in 3rd round-range, but not a player to reach for.
28) James Robinson RB Jacksonville (2020 PPG: 17.9, Age: 22)
In the fantasy football regular season,t here were a few league winners.
If you drafted Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, for example, you had a late-round gem.
If you drafted the aforementioned Diggs or Keenan Allen in the 6th round, you enjoyed a massive advantage. I
f you drafted Darren Waller, you had a huge weapon at tight end with minimal draft capital cost.
But James Robinson? If you drafted Robinson in the late-rounds you most likely challenged for the regular season crown. If you picked him off waivers, he was one of the very best pick ups of the entire season.
The undrafted rookie runner rose quickly in fantasy circles: He had a strong camp, the Jaguars traded Leonard Fournette, and Robinson was named the starter. He proceeded to have one of the best rookie debuts in the entire NFL at any position. At times, he was the entire Jaguars offense. He finished the year as the RB6 in PPG, ran for 1070 yard totaled 7 touchdowns. What set him apart was his 49 receptions for 3 scores. He did it all, even as the Jaguars offense struggled. With the hire of Urban Meyer and likely new signal-caller in Trevor Lawrence on the way, the Jaguars should have a better offense overall.
Robinson showed a great deal as a rookie, and I expect him to have a stranglehold on the RB1-spot for at least another year. Provided the Jaguars do not bring in a big name back (via free agency or the draft), Robinson should be a value in the top- 30 picks, with higher touchdown upside looming entering 2021.
27) Darren Waller TE Las Vegas (2020 PPG: 16.8, Age: 28)
In 2019, Darren Waller was one of the breakout players across the league. This summer, the fantasy community viewed him as a potential regression candidate. The Raiders had drafted and signed multiple players, and Waller settled in at TE5 in most leagues. A good spot for him, but very much behind Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Mark Andrews and Zach Ertz.
We know the rest of the story: Not only was there no regression, but Waller took his game to new heights; his PPG totals rose, and nearly ever facet of his game statistically saw a rise as well. He has become the face of the Raiders’ entire passing attack. I have Waller behind Kittle and Kelce, but he is much closer to them than he is to any other tight end option below “the big three”.
Expect Waller to have another high-volume, receiver-like season. He is a 3rd rounder in most PPR leagues such as the NFFC, but will go in every 2nd round in the tight end premium, FFPC league. Take him with confidence.
26) Michael Thomas WR New Orleans (2020 PPG: 12, Age: 27)
A year after averaging a Herculean 23.4 PPG in 2019, Michael Thomas proved to be one of the biggest disaster picks for 2020.
He started the year off with a whimper, posting a 3-for-17 line in the opener against Tampa Bay. Then, he had an incident in which he punched a teammate and was suspended by the team. He then proceeded to miss all of September and October. There was hope for managers, as he returned in November, but he was largely ordinary besides a vintage 9-for-104 effort with Taysom Hill on the sticks against Atlanta.
To make matters worse for fantasy managers, the Saints sent Thomas back to the IR during the fantasy playoffs. Yikes.
This was a tough draft pick to overcome. Recently, with the Saints losing in the playoffs, we learned the news that Thomas would be headed for offseason surgery to repair a torn deltoid, among other ailments. Thomas will be a fantasy litmus test in 2021: He will either represent an incredible value to some managers, or a player to avoid altogether for others. I am willing to be on a big bounce-back year for a player that has been a mega-producer since he entered the league. Even still, it was hard to rank him any higher than this.
25) Keenan Allen WR Los Angeles (2020 PPG: 17.5, Age: 28)
If it were not for Diggs, Allen would be viewed as the biggest steal of fantasy drafts among all wide receivers in 2020.
There was pessimism all summer-long with the entire Chargers’ offense: Fears of passing volume regression with passer Tyrod Taylor was a popular narrative. No player saw a larger ADP hit as a result than Allen. One of the best route-runners in the entire league, Allen fell all the way to the 6th round in drafts.
An early-season mishap by the Chargers’ trainers led to an injury for Taylor, and first-round rookie quarterback Justin Herbert took over. The rest is history.
Herbert won Offensive Rookie of The Year, and no player saw a greater connection with the rising franchise player than Allen. We saw massive outputs: 13 catches for 132 yards and 1 score against Carolina, 10 catches for 125 yards against Jacksonville, 16 catches for 145 yards and 1 touchdown against the Jets.
Allen played 14 games and finished WR7 in PPG for receivers. Allen will be 29 this season, but he has a lot of good football left. The Chargers offense should be very sound in Herbert’s second season; expect another top-15 season from Allen and draft him with confidence.