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8 players whose fantasy football stock has fallen for 2021


This season was a roller coaster for many in the fantasy football world and the only thing that was predictable was how unpredictable everything was going to be. We had some pleasant surprises, some puzzling downfalls and some players who just came out of nowhere to win you championships.

As we prepare for next season, let’s take a look at some players who have lost value in redraft leagues and have seen their fantasy draft stock fall.

Keep in mind that these aren’t necessarily players that I would stay away from but might be players who you can get really good value with.

Note: ADP courtesy of Yahoo Sports

Quarterback

Lamar Jackson
2020 ADP: QB2
Projected 2021 ADP: QB8

It certainly wasn’t what we expected in 2020 from Lamar Jackson after setting the fantasy world on fire in 2019 with a performance for the ages – but maybe it’s what we should have expected.

The rushing floor with Jackson is pretty safe, especially because of the Ravens’ commitment to the ground game (led the league with 555 carries), but the inconsistencies with his arm is what hasn’t seemed to improve. Jackson’s passing touchdowns regressed from 36 to 26, his passing yards fell from 3,127 to 2,757 and his completion percentage was down from 66.1 per cent to 64.4 per cent.

Even his rushing totals took a hit (1,206 yards to 1,005 yards) with J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards taking more prominent roles over the course of the year.

So, what do we make of Jackson as we approach next year’s drafts?

His ADP will be low enough that you can get some good value for him, but I wouldn’t be reaching even if I felt the need to grab a quarterback. The ceiling is high for Jackson, but he’s become a bit of a boom-or-bust quarterback, which is something that we don’t see too often.

If you’re a big Jackson fan, then I would be pairing him with a more steady pocket passer who you can get in the later rounds to give you a better floor depending on your lineup volatility.

Matt Ryan
2020 ADP: QB7
Projected 2021 ADP: QB16

Despite a mess of a season from the Atlanta Falcons, which saw the team fire their coach early on, Julio Jones miss time and have their worst record since 2013, Matt Ryan was pretty reliable and finished as QB12 overall.

Having said all that, Ryan’s ADP is going to take a pretty significant hit this season after being the seventh QB off the board last year.

Here are some of the factors in his descent down the rankings:

• What does Jones have left in the tank after an injury-plagued year?
• At what point does age catch up? Ryan will be 36 at the start of next season
• Second-year players and rookies will have a lot of shine heading into this season

Ryan has thrown for 4,400 yards or more in eight of the last nine seasons and 26 or more touchdowns in nine of 13 seasons. Pretty reliable if you ask me.

What is also of note is the addition of Arthur Smith as the new head coach. The former offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans was part of the reason for Ryan Tannehill’s ascension up the QB rankings. Under Smith, Tannehill was 10th in 2019 and 11th in 2020 in points per game and had a resurgence. We can definitely point to Tennessee’s running game for that success, but Atlanta is expected to acquire a running back in either free agency or through the draft.

If you decide to wait on taking a quarterback later in the draft and focus on skill position players early, Ryan should fall right into the sweet spot for you.

Running Back

Ezekiel Elliott
2020 ADP: RB3
Projected 2021 ADP: RB9

2020 was a nightmare for Ezekiel Elliott – there’s no other way to describe it. Dak Prescott suffered a season-ending injury, the offensive line was ravaged by injuries and the defence was so bad that it caused tons of negative game scripts.

It was the perfect storm of bad.

It’s expected that Prescott was going to be re-signed, whether on a long-term deal or on a franchise tag, which will definitely help. You would also think that the team realized their deficiencies on defence and will make the necessary changes to improve in that department. And finally, the hope is that the offensive line could return to previous years’ success.

Of course, this would be the perfect storm of good.

Sure, Elliott has some miles on those tires, but you cannot deny the numbers that this guy puts up. He’s only one year removed from 1,357 rushing yards with 420 receiving yards and 14 total touchdowns, and his per game average before last season was 96.5 rushing yards, 28.9 receiving yards and 0.85 total touchdowns per game.

Those are ELITE numbers.

I know there are concerns about Tony Pollard’s involvement in the offence at the end of last year as it pertains to Elliott’s success, but if this team improves on their weaknesses as mentioned above, both players will have a role.

Recency bias will push Elliott’s ADP down, especially with the rise of players like Jonathan Taylor, D’Andre Swift, James Robinson and Nick Chubb, among others. It could be a very good opportunity to get top-end RB1 production at a discounted draft rate.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire
2020 ADP: RB7
2021 Projected ADP: RB15

The fantasy expectations for Clyde Edwards-Helaire heading into the 2020 season were absolutely astronomical. They were so high that it was almost a guarantee they would be unattainable.

As a first-round pick coming into the best offence in the NFL, it felt like anything less than an RB5 was going to result in people calling him a fantasy bust in his first year. The problem is that it was significantly worse than that expectation.

Edwards-Helaire finished 26th in fantasy points per game among running backs and a huge part of that was his inability to get into the end zone – he only had five total touchdowns (four rushing, one receiving). He had 15 attempts inside the 10-yard line which resulted in 13 rushing yards and only one touchdown. This may have been the reason why he only had 44.1 per cent of his team’s carries inside the 10-yard line, which was 21st in the NFL.

So, what’s the upside here?

Edwards-Helaire is a running back attached to the best offence in the game that has a tendency to win big and provide a positive script for running backs. That is a huge factor for fantasy success. If he stays healthy, we can expect an improvement from him and his fantasy numbers, which could result in back-end RB1 numbers at a lower ADP.

Wide Receiver

Michael Thomas
2020 ADP: WR1
2021 Projected ADP: WR10

An injury-plagued season in 2020, the decline of Drew Brees and the uncertainty of the quarterback position heading into 2021 will drop Michael Thomas down draft boards everywhere. We can look back at Thomas as the undisputed top wide receiver in all of football heading into last season and see how far he has tumbled. For example, I was able to grab Thomas in a dynasty start-up in the fourth round and he was the 11th wide receiver off the board.

That’s craziness!

Thomas only played in seven games and saw his numbers drop significantly. His receptions per game fell from 7.5 per game to 5.7, his yards per game fell from 87.5 to 62.6 and his targets per game fell from 9.6 to 7.9. Even his catch percentage was down from 78.1 per cent to 72.7.

We don’t know who will be quarterbacking the New Orleans Saints this upcoming season just yet, and maybe a healthy Thomas won’t replicate his career averages of 117.5 catches for 1,378 yards and eight touchdowns, but he could probably come pretty close. Let’s not forget that this offence still runs through Thomas and Alvin Kamara.

Thomas’s drop-down draft rankings will be to the benefit of those who have high picks as you may be able to take Thomas a lot later than you have since his rookie year. Regardless who is at quarterback for New Orleans, don’t think that Sean Payton is going to forget about one of the best receivers that we’ve seen in the last decade.

DJ Moore
2020 ADP: WR13
2021 Projected ADP: WR18

Full disclosure: I’m a huge D.J. Moore fan. I’ve tried to acquire him wherever I can in all different format types and he’s been stellar.

So why is he on this list?

There is a lot of love for second-year guys and players coming off pretty good seasons and that always plays well at the draft. Look no further than love for Justin Jefferson, Tee Higgins and CeeDee Lamb (the return-of-Dak factor) to some who outperformed last year’s ADP and that will be reflected this year. Don’t forget about Calvin Ridley, who will see a big bump to his ADP and plenty of others in that same boat.

Moore has done nothing but shine since he came into the NFL, so the opportunity for him to be a steal at a projected ADP of WR18 is certainly there.

His last two seasons he has averaged 76.5 receptions for 1,184 yards and four touchdowns on 126.5 targets with Teddy Bridgewater, P.J. Walker, Kyle Allen, Will Grier and a broken Cam Newton throwing him the ball.

That’s not a “Murderer’s Row” of quarterbacks for those playing the home game.

Moore has all the talent in the world and has proven he’s pretty QB proof considering the numbers over the last two seasons. The only issue that we’ve seen is his inability to get into the end zone.

How much of this is due to quarterback play? Let’s go with a lot.

The combination of quarterbacks in Carolina over the last two seasons have thrown for a grand total of 33 touchdowns. To put that into perspective, nine quarterbacks threw for as many or more than that total in 2020 alone.

Unless the Panthers somehow get Deshaun Watson, Moore’s ADP should be around WR18 and, in many cases, he could be paired with two high-end running backs on your roster. You could do a lot worse than Moore as your WR1.

Tight End

Tyler Higbee
2020 ADP: TE5
2021 Projected ADP: TE15

I was one of those who was very high on Tyler Higbee after his insane finish to 2019 and heading into 2020. I was wrong.

It was a miserable season for Higbee based on expectations outside of a three-touchdown performance in Week 2 against the Eagles. He finished the year with 44 catches for 521 yards and five touchdowns, far underperforming his TE5 ADP.

This drop in ADP is a pretty easy one to predict, but will there be value as a mid-TE2? There could be.

Incoming quarterback Matthew Stafford is by far a better player at this point than Jared Goff, so that’s a bonus. The expected departure of fellow tight end Gerald Everett should also be helpful. But there are some other issues.

Higbee ran routes on 56.7 per cent of passing plays for the Rams last season, which ranked him 29th among tight ends. He’s a really good blocker and gets on the field, but if he’s not running routes on passing plays, that’s going to be a problem.

He’s also not the only tight end on the roster who has some upside. Brycen Hopkins was taken in the fourth round of the draft last year and has a pretty good athletic profile, was successful in his final year at Purdue in 2019 and didn’t have a real NFL training camp with pre-season games in his rookie season.

I like the Stafford addition for the Rams and Higbee does play a lot of snaps (ranked 12th among tight ends this season), but there’s a real wonder if he is the guy who’s going to be catching the most passes at the position.

Zach Ertz
2020 ADP: TE4
2021 Projected ADP: TE10

The fall from grace for Zach Ertz was one of the more puzzling things that we saw in 2020. This was a guy who was a consensus top-three tight end over the last few seasons and, even with the emergence of Dallas Goedert, we all expected him to at least come close to numbers that he had put up in recent seasons.

That was absolutely not the case. Not even close.

Ertz missed five games due to injury but didn’t look the same in the 11 that he played. He caught only 50 per cent of his targets, which was down 18.6 per cent from his career average, his yards per game was down 23.7 yards from his career average and he only scored one touchdown.

We’ve also seen his yards after catch per reception has dropped by two full yards since 2017. To put that into perspective, think about it this way: if Ertz has five catches, that’s a full point less per game in the last four seasons. You may not think that’s a big deal, but 11 points for Ertz would have made him TE25 instead of TE31.

There’s a real chance Ertz isn’t a member of the Eagles by the start of next season and a change of scenery could do him a lot of good, but it’s probably a safe assumption that his days as a TE1 are behind him.



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