Saturday, January 23, 2021

Fantasy Football Rankings: Conference Championship Game TE Rankings

The 2020-21 NFL season is down down to four teams and three games to go with the Conference Championship Games this weekend and Super Bowl LV in two weeks in Tampa.

More rankings for this weekend's games:

Here are our tight end rankings for Sunday's games:

1. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

Kelce extended his 1,000-yard streak to five seasons and broke the single-season receiving yardage record (1,416) for tight ends in the process. In fact, he set career highs across the board (105/1,416/11) in his age-31 campaign.

Kelce ended the regular season with eight consecutive games with at least seven catches and continued that streak in the playoffs with eight catches for 109 yards and a score on 10 targets against the Cleveland Browns.

2. Robert Tonyan, Green Bay Packers

Breaking out in his third season, Tonyan scored the third-most fantasy points among tight ends in 2020 and tied Travis Kelce for the positional lead in touchdowns (11) this season. While Aaron Rodgers often looks his way in the red zone, the third-year tight end had only two games with more than five targets this season.

3. Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

It has been Brate, not Rob Gronkowski, as the team's most productive tight end in the postseason. Brate followed up his four-catch, 80-yard performance in the Divisional Round with a four-catch, 50-yard performance against the New Orleans Saints last week. Along with his 4/54 outing in Week 15, those were two of his three 50-yard games this year.

4. Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Through two playoff games, Gronk has only one catch for 14 scoreless yards on six targets. With Antonio Brown ruled out, there may be an extra target or two for the tight ends this week, but Gronk is a TD-dependent play, even in two-game slate.

5. Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills

Knox has scored in four of his past eight games and like most tight ends, Knox will be a TD-dependent play compared to the more consistent options from the other teams this weekend.

6. Tyler Kroft, Buffalo Bills
7. Marcedes Lewis, Green Bay Packers
8. Nick Keizer, Kansas City Chiefs
9. Deon Yelder, Kansas City Chiefs
10. Dominique Dafney, Green Bay Packers

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Fantasy Football Rankings: Conference Championship Game RB Rankings

The 2020-21 NFL season is down down to four teams and three games to go with the Conference Championship Games this weekend and Super Bowl LV in two weeks in Tampa.

More rankings for this weekend's games:

Here are our running back rankings for Sunday's games:

1. Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers

One year after leading the NFL in touchdowns (19, 2019), Jones averaged a career-high 5.89 yards per touch and 104.2 YFS per game for the league's top-scoring offense in 2020. Jones had his least efficient performance of the season against the Buccaneers in Week 6 when he carried the ball 10 times for 15 yards and a touchdown and added three catches for 26 yards. Even though the Buccaneers have one of the league's best run defenses, Jones is the top option at what is the weakest position of the two-game slate.

2. Devin Singletary, Buffalo Bills

Even with Zack Moss sidelined, Singletary had only seven carries for 25 yards and three catches for 12 yards against the Baltimore Ravens last week. While Singletary should dominate backfield touches once again with Moss out for the rest of the playoffs, it's also possible that the Bills utilize a pass-heavy approach this weekend that limits Singletary's effectiveness on Sunday.

3. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs

After missing last week's playoff game, Edwards-Helaire (hip) is expected to play on Sunday despite a questionable injury designation. Edwards-Helaire last played more than a month ago (Dec. 20th).

Even if Le'Veon Bell (knee, questionable) misses the game, he will likely form a timeshare with Darrel Williams. On a positive note, Edwards-Helaire rushed for a career-high 161 yards against the Bills in Week 6.

4. Ronald Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The third-year back was just shy of his first 1,000-yard season, but he set career highs in both rushing yards (978), yards per carry (5.1) and total touchdowns (eight). Upgraded to a full participant at Friday's practice, Jones had 13 carries for 62 scoreless yards against the New Orleans Saints last week. Fournette will likely lead the backfield once again, but it wouldn't be a huge surprise to see a healthier RoJo just as (or even more) involved as (than) Fournette.

5. Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Handling 36 carries and catching nine-of-10 targets in Tampa's two playoff games, Fournette has surpassed 100 scrimmage yards and scored in back-to-back games this postseason. During that span, he has handled roughly twice as many touches as Ronald Jones (25), but Jones enters Sunday's game the healthiest he's been this postseason. In the regular season, Fournette (3.78 YPC, 6.47 Y/R) was much less efficient than Jones (5.09 YPC, 5.89 Y/R).

6. Darrel Williams, Kansas City Chiefs

With CEH sidelined, Williams had 13 carries for 78 yards and four catches for 16 yards against the Cleveland Browns last week. While a repeat of last week's 17 touches is unlikely, Williams could reasonably reach double-digit touches as he shares work with Edwards-Helaire. Le'Veon Bell is listed as questionable, but may be closer to doubtful.

7. Jamaal Williams, Green Bay Packers

Williams had 12 carries for 65 yards against the Los Angeles Rams last week. In his past six games, Williams has 17, five, 10, one, five and 12 carries, respectively. Even though the number of his carries has been all over the place recently, Williams will likely finish in the range of 8-12 touches on Sunday.

8. A.J. Dillon, Green Bay Packers

Given that the Packers involve multiple running backs in their game plan, Dillon could have some fantasy viability if Williams (ankle, questionable) isn't able to go or reaggravates his injury on Sunday.

9. T.J. Yeldon, Buffalo Bills
10. Darwin Thompson, Kansas City Chiefs
11. LeSean McCoy, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Fantasy Football Rankings: Conference Championship Game WR Rankings

The 2020-21 NFL season is down down to four teams and three games to go with the Conference Championship Games this weekend and Super Bowl LV in two weeks in Tampa.

More rankings for this weekend's games:

Here are our wide receiver rankings for Sunday's games:

1. Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers

Despite missing two games, Adams led the NFL in receiving touchdowns (18) and yards per game (98.1) and also set a career high in receptions (115). With double-digit touchdowns in four of five seasons, Adams has a total of 58 scores in 71 games over that span.

It was a modest outing (6/61) in the first matchup this season against the Buccaneers as Adams returned from a two-game absence, but he then went he scored in 11 of 12 games including last week's win over the Los Angeles Rams. Wide receiver is loaded on a such a small slate with the top three receivers being more of a 1(a)-1(b)-1(c) than a clear 1-2-3 in our wide receiver projections.

2. Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills

Things could not have gone better for Diggs in his first season with the Bills. A top-three performer across all scoring formats, Diggs led the league in targets (166), receptions (127) and yards (1,535) in 2020. In two difficult playoff matchups, Diggs had 6/128/1 and 8/106/1 against the Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens, respectively.

3. Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs

This weekend's two-game slate has this season's top three scoring leaders in fantasy points at wide receiver -- Davante Adams, Hill and Stefon Diggs. All three are elite options in any week, but none have a higher ceiling (or a lower floor) than Hill. Speaking of floors, Hill set or tied his season lows in Week 6 against the Bills -- three receptions, three targets, 20 receiving yards and 4.0 half-PPR fantasy points.

4. Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Posting a career-high catch rate (77.4%) and career-low Y/R (12.9), Godwin has seen his overall per-game production decline on a year-over-year basis: 6.1/95.2/0.64 (2019) to 5.4/70.0/0.58 (2020).

Godwin had a relatively modest performance against the Packers in Week 6 with five catches for 48 yards on seven targets. Given that Mike Evans will likely draw a lot of Jaire Alexander and Antonio Brown will miss Sunday's game, Godwin offers as much upside as any receiver outside the top three this weekend.

5. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Although he set a career low in yards per game (62.9), Evans exceeded the 1,000-yard mark -- now seven consecutive seasons to begin his career -- and set a career high with 13 scores. Facing one of the league's best corners (Jaire Alexander), Evans has a difficult matchup and had just one catch for 10 yards on two targets in their regular-season matchup.

6. John Brown, Buffalo Bills

Brown bounced back from a four-target goose egg against the Colts with eight catches for 62 yards on 11 targets against the Ravens. Brown coincidentally had a four-target goose egg against the Chiefs during the regular season. Given that the Bills have promoted Kenny Stills to the 53-man roster from the practice squad, so it's possible that the team could be without either Cole Beasley and/or Gabriel Davis on Sunday.

7. Cole Beasley, Buffalo Bills

Beasley had five 100-yard games during the season and he set career highs in receptions (82) and yards (967). Beasley failed to haul in either of his targets against the Ravens. The slot receiver had a 4/45/1 game earlier in the season against the Chiefs.

8. Allen Lazard, Green Bay Packers

Hauling in four catches for 96 yards and a touchdown, it was the best game for Lazard since returning from his core injury in late-November. With the Buccaneers focusing on slowing down Adams and running back Aaron Jones, it could be a tertiary option for the Packers (such as Lazard) that becomes the difference-maker for this weekend's two-game slate.

9. Sammy Watkins, Kansas City Chiefs

Watkins played in only 10 games this season and hasn't played since Week 16, but he's expected to return this week. When he's been on the field, Watkins has averaged a career-low 11.4 yards per reception and his per-game average of 42.1 yards is the lowest during his three-year tenure in Kansas City.

10. Mecole Hardman, Kansas City Chiefs

With game-breaking speed in a high-powered offense, the speedster is capable of breaking off a long touchdown on any given play. More likely, however, fantasy managers will get a modest, low-volume performance from Hardman, who has reached 50 scrimmage yards in only one of his past nine games, especially with Watkins expected to return.

11. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay Packers
12. Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
13. Scotty Miller, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
14. Demarcus Robinson, Kansas City Chiefs
15. Gabriel Davis, Buffalo Bills
16. Equanimeous St. Brown, Green Bay Packers
17. Isaiah McKenzie, Buffalo Bills

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Fantasy Football Rankings: Conference Championship Game QB Rankings

The 2020-21 NFL season is down down to four teams and three games to go with the Conference Championship Games this weekend and Super Bowl LV in two weeks in Tampa.

More rankings for this weekend's games:

Here are our quarterback rankings for Sunday's games:

1. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

Taking all of the reps at practice on Wednesday and Thursday, Mahomes clearing concussion protocol on Friday was not much of a surprise. While the 2019 NFL MVP will be under center on Sunday, he's also dealing with a toe injury as well.

That said, Mahomes projects as our top-scoring fantasy quarterback for the week. While Mahomes threw for only 225 yards in his regular-season matchup against the Bills, his 80.77% completion percentage (21-of-26) was a season high. With the most talented duo of pass-catchers (Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce) at his disposal, Mahomes and the Chiefs have the highest implied total for Sunday's games.

2. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

Making an even greater year-over-year jump in 2020, Allen had an MVP-caliber season as he shattered previous career highs in completion percentage (69.2%), passing yards (4,544, 7.9/A) and passing touchdowns (37, 6.5%). While he set or tied career lows in rushing yards (421) and touchdowns (eight), the fact that those are "lows" shows how much of a threat he is as a runner as well.

As great of a season as Allen has had, things did not go so well against the Chiefs in Week 6. In that loss, Allen completed only 14-of-27 (51.85%) for 122 yards (4.52 Y/A), two touchdowns and an interception.

Since Week 9, however, Allen has played his best football. Over that 10-game span (including two playoff wins), Allen has compiled a 24-to-five TD-to-INT ratio and added five more rushing scores.

3. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

The favorite to win the MVP award, Rodgers led the league in completion percentage (70.7%), passing touchdowns (48) and TD% (9.1) as well as INT% (1.0) and passer rating (121.5). In his age-37 season, he led the league's highest-scoring offense.

The one game that did not look like the others this season was his performance against the Buccaneers, where Rodgers completed less than half of his pass attempts (16-of-35) for 160 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions in a 38-10 road loss. While the Buccaneers have a talented defense, we should expect a much better performance from Rodgers at Lambeau Field on Sunday.

4. Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

With the most talented group of pass-catchers in his career, Brady threw for 4,633 yards, 40 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. The 40 touchdowns were the second-most of his career and his 6.6% TD% was his highest since 2010. In his first season with the Bucs, Brady scored the eighth-most fantasy points in 2020.

Like other quarterbacks on this list, Brady's regular-season matchup against this week's opponent was one of his more modest performances. Given that the Buccaneers won that game by a 28-point margin, Brady threw only 27 pass attempts for 166 yards (6.15 Y/A) and two touchdowns.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Fantasy Football 2021: Way-too-early three-round mock draft

With three playoff games still to be played, we are roughly seven months away from when most casual fans begin to think about their fantasy football draft(s).

Between now and then, much will change due to NFL free agency, the 2021 NFL Draft, injuries and breakouts in training camp and the preseason, etc.

That said, it won't stop us from taking a way-too-early look at how the top of a fantasy football draft may shake out -- at least, if we were selecting for every team.

Our initial one-man, 12-team mock draft will go three rounds. For those 12 teams, all but three have started with at least two running backs.

While running backs (20, 55.6%) make up the majority of players selected, there were also 13 wide receivers and three tight ends selected. No quarterbacks were selected in the first three rounds.

[Note: We will release the first iteration of our 2021 fantasy football rankings no later than the Monday after the Super Bowl.]

2021 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Round 1

1.01 - Team 1: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

If you drafted McCaffrey first overall in 2020, you likely find little solace that he was fantasy's top-scoring back in the three weeks in which he appeared (Weeks 1, 2 and 9). In those games, however, CMC handled 76 touches including 17 receptions, racked up 374 yards from scrimmage and scored six touchdowns. All of those numbers were either first or second among running backs.

Before his lost season due to injury, McCaffrey was nearly an every-snap iron man in 2019. Heading into his age-25 season, he remains the top choice for me in 2021 drafts.

1.02 - Team 2: Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings

Once again, Cook has missed multiple games, but he set career highs in touches (356), yards from scrimmage (1,918) and touchdowns (17) and scored the third-most fantasy points (half-PPR) among running backs. The clear lead back in one of the league's most run-heavy offenses, Cook averaged a career-high 5.0 YPC and has a minimum of 40 catches in each of the past three seasons.

1.03 - Team 3: Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans

The clear favorite among the top five picks in this mock to finish last in receptions, Henry more than compensates for his smaller role as a receiver with his dominant rushing production. Not only is he the back-to-back rushing champion coming off a 2,000-yard campaign, but Henry has led the league in rushing touchdowns in the past two seasons with 33 rushing scores in 31 games.

No running back scored more fantasy points in non-PPR formats, but Henry finished second in half-PPR and third in PPR as well. In other words, the limited passing-game role hasn't hurt his value much, even in leagues that reward a full point per reception.

1.04 - Team 4: Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

No running back scored more fantasy points in half-PPR formats than Kamara in 2020. The versatile back had exactly 81 receptions in each of his first three NFL seasons and then set a career high (83) in 2020. That said, he was on pace for a much higher career-best number before Drew Brees (ribs) missed four weeks. The only three games that Kamara failed to reach three catches came with Brees sidelined.

If Brees retires and the Saints utilize Taysom Hill as their starter, it will cap Kamara's upside and lead to more volatility in his weekly production. In the four-game span with Hill under center, 10 running backs scored more half-PPR fantasy points than Kamara. In the 12 games with Brees, Kamara was a top-10 weekly producer in all but one game. In four games with Hill, here were Kamara's weekly finishes: RB25, RB36, RB9 and RB9, respectively.

1.05 - Team 5: Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

As a rookie, Barkley was as good as it gets. Technically, Todd Gurley was better as fantasy's RB1, but Barkley was the RB2 in his rookie season and led the NFL in scrimmage yards (2,028), scored 15 touchdowns and hauled in 91 catches. Injuries have kept him out of 17 of the team's past 19 games, but if his health cooperates, he has the skill set to finish as one of the top two or three backs in the league.

1.06 - Team 6: Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers

Not only did Adams miss two games in 2020, but he has missed multiple games in three of his past four seasons. The seven-year veteran led the NFL in receiving touchdowns (18) and yards per game (98.1) and also set a career high in receptions (115). With double-digit touchdowns in four of five seasons, Adams has a total of 58 scores in 71 games over that span.

MORE: Green Bay Packers NFL Mock Draft Roundup, 4.0

1.07 - Team 7: Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns

Despite missing four games, Chubb still finished as fantasy's RB9. Chubb has finished second and third in rushing yards per game in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Even with the league's best No. 2 back (Kareem Hunt), Chubb has averaged 18.05 touches per game since Hunt returned from his 2019 suspension.

1.08 - Team 8: Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs

Tampa Bay's Rob Gronkowski finished as fantasy's TE8 (126.8), but Kelce doubled him up (260.26, TE1). Here's another way to look at Kelce's dominance: Denver's Noah Fant (55/626/3) scored 110.1 fantasy points, roughly the gap (109.66) between Kelce and the TE3 (Robert Tonyan, 150.6).

Kelce extended his 1,000-yard streak to five seasons and broke the single-season receiving yardage record (1,416) for tight ends in the process. In fact, he set career highs across the board (105/1,416/11) in his age-31 campaign. Kelce ended the regular season with eight consecutive games with at least seven catches.

1.09 - Team 9: Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts

Over his final seven games of the season including a playoff loss, Taylor handled a massive 156 touches, racked up 921 yards and scored nine total touchdowns. Excluding the playoff appearance, Taylor ranked top four in the NFL in touches, YFS, touchdowns and half-PPR fantasy points from Week 11 on. Running behind one of the league's best offensive lines, Taylor carries plenty of momentum with him heading into 2021.

1.10 - Team 10: Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

Few players at any position have as much upside as Hill to erupt for a massive performance in any given week. Setting a career high in touchdowns (17), Hill had 87 receptions for 1,276 yards and 13 carries for 123 yards.

1.11 - Team 11: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

The offense went off the tracks when Dak Prescott sustained his season-ending injury and the offensive line injuries further impacted Elliott's production. From Weeks 6 to 17, Zeke finished as a top-12 fantasy running only twice in 10 games after doing so three times in the team's first five games. While Tony Pollard may have earned more touches in 2021, Elliott should rank near the top of the league in workloads and production in 2021 as long as Prescott is back and healthy. In fact, only three backs had more than six games with at least 20 touches -- Henry (14), Cook (11) and Elliott (11).

1.12 - Team 12: Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

Missing a significant chunk of time due to injury and not 100 percent when returning to the field, Ekeler averaged 5.5 yards per touch and scored only three touchdowns, both of which were career lows. Given his lead-back role and immense upside as a receiver, a healthy Ekeler is worth a late-first round pick in 2021.

Continue reading our 2021 Fantasy Football Mock Draft

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Monday, January 18, 2021

Detroit Lions 2021 NFL Mock Draft Roundup, 4.0

Throughout the year and leading up to the 2021 NFL draft, we will update our Detroit Lions Mock Draft Roundup showing picks for the Detroit Lions from several prominent sites and draft analysts.

For a more inclusive lists of mock drafts for the Detroit Lions, check out our 2021 Detroit Lions Mock Draft Database.

The following are picks in recent mock drafts for the Lions:

EDSFootball - Kevin Hanson (1/15)

7. Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

The best available prospect on my big board in this mock, Parsons is a rare athlete. Given that we don't know what the next regime will prefer, going BPA at this point seems reasonable.

Before opting out of the 2020 college season, there was a moment where the 244-pound linebacker was listed as Penn State's top kick returner. Even if perhaps by mistake, that highlights the type of athlete that the first-team All-American (2019) is. Parsons uses his athleticism, length and instincts to impact the game against the run, in coverage and as a blitzer.

San Diego Union Tribune - Eddie Brown (1/13)

7. DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

Matthew Stafford's future with his only team during an impressive professional career is up in the air, but I'll wait and see. Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola are all unrestricted free agents. The Heisman winner actually had a better statistical season than 2020 first-round picks Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy last year -- who both were top-15 picks -- leading the Crimson Tide with 1,256 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns. Smith has taken his game to another level since Waddle was sidelined -- he had 1,300 yards on 72 receptions and 19 touchdowns in his last eight games.

CBS Sports - Chris Trapasso (1/13)

7. DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

If Matthew Stafford isn't moved in a trade this offseason, Detroit will have to revamp his receiver room. Smith is a darn good start.

The Athletic - Dane Brugler (1/12)

7. Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

The Lions could be in the wide receiver market with this pick, but they also need difference-makers on defense. Although maturity concerns will follow him into the NFL, Parsons has a freaky combination of height, weight and speed, along with the skills to be a three-down player.

The Draft Network - Joe Marino (1/7)

7. Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU

Matthew Stafford continues to perform at a high level, but Detroit can't seem to get the pieces right around him. With several decisions to be made at the wide receiver position and plenty of needs on defense, Chase makes sense for Detroit in this scenario. A do-everything receiver, Chase can elevate the Lions' offense, especially if the Lions are unable to bring back Kenny Golladay.

ESPN - Todd McShay (1/7)

7. Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU

Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr. and Danny Amendola are all set to be free agents, and Chase is an explosive route runner with great body control. He opted out in 2020 but set a SEC record for receiving yards in 2019.

Some will point to a defensive need after Detroit allowed a league-worst 419.8 yards per game. Some will argue it is time for a new quarterback, with Matthew Stafford turning 33 and having a potential out on his contract after next season. A new coaching staff and general manager might take the team in a new direction, and maybe that direction is with Justin Fields driving the offense. But it's tough to ignore how well Chase matches need with value here for the Lions.

USA Today - Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz (1/5)

7. Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

Where does Detroit start with overhauling a defense that ranked last in yards and points allowed? Given the Lions' modest cap space before addressing wide receiver Kenny Golladay, investing early and often in the draft has to be a priority. Parsons has a strong claim to the title of the draft's most explosive defender, and he's a standout in almost any assignment.

Athlon Sports - Bryan Fisher (1/5)

7. Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

Matthew Stafford wanting to see out his final years on a contender could line up nicely with the franchise drafting his replacement with this top-10 pick. Wilson is not unlike a more athletic version of the team's current QB and could be just the kind of selection that energizes a fan base going through a new change in direction under new ownership.

Previous update: Detroit Lions Mock Draft Roundup 3.0

MORE TEAMS: All NFL Team Mock Draft Roundups

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Carolina Panthers 2021 NFL Mock Draft Roundup, 4.0

Throughout the year and leading up to the 2021 NFL draft, we will update our Carolina Panthers Mock Draft Roundup showing picks for the Carolina Panthers from several prominent sites and draft analysts.

The following are picks in recent mock drafts for the Panthers:

EDSFootball - Kevin Hanson (1/15)

8. Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

In Matt Rhule's first draft with the Panthers, it was all defense (literally). In the previous iteration of this mock, I slotted Northwestern's Rashawn Slater here. With Russell Okung and Taylor Moton set to become free agents in March, that remains a possibility as does a potential long-term upgrade (Trey Lance) of Teddy Bridgewater. The winner of the John Mackey Award, given to college football's top tight end, Pitts is in the mold of Darren Waller and a mismatch for opposing defenses. In eight games, Pitts had 43 catches for 770 yards (17.9 Y/R) and 12 touchdowns.

San Diego Union Tribune - Eddie Brown (1/13)

8. Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

I'd consider a quarterback here if Wilson or Fields were available. However, Rasul Douglas is clearly the weakest link in a young, up-and-coming defense. Farley is a physical press corner with elite athleticism and size (6-foot-2, 197 pounds) who also opted out due to COVID.

CBS Sports - Chris Trapasso (1/13)

8. Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

The logical pairing for both the prospect and the franchise. Get Trey Lance a season behind Teddy Bridgewater.

The Athletic - Dane Brugler (1/12)

8. Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

The Panthers need to upgrade at quarterback. It will just come down to how they feel about those in the draft. The concerns with Lance are obvious (he has only made 17 starts, all against FCS competition), but his talent, work ethic and college production are strong selling points. And with Teddy Bridgewater and P.J. Walker under contract, Carolina won't need to rush Lance's development.

The Draft Network - Joe Marino (1/7)

3. Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

TRADE: Carolina receives 3rd overall pick from Miami in exchange for 8th overall pick, 72nd overall pick, 2022 first-round pick.

The Panthers showed some promise in Year 1 of the Matt Rhule era and the next phase of the rebuilding process for Carolina is finding its next franchise quarterback. In striking distance to land an exciting new option, the Panthers should be thinking about a move up the board. With Miami being only one year removed from drafting Tua Tagovailoa with the No. 5 overall selection and earning the No. 3 pick courtesy of the Laremy Tunsil trade and a poor season from the Texans, trading back to build the talent around Tagovailoa is a wise move. The Dolphins and Panthers are perfect trade partners. Wilson is a dynamic quarterback prospect that fits nicely with how the NFL game is trending and would provide Carolina with a potential difference-maker at the position. With a fairly complete set of weapons already in place and all the investments made on the defensive side of the football, Carolina is ready to pick a quarterback high in the draft.

ESPN - Todd McShay (1/7)

8. Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

This is another spot where QB could be in play -- Teddy Bridgewater struggled down the stretch -- as well as an offensive line that will need to navigate free-agency issues. But what about Pitts? He would be a problem for opposing defensive coordinators, bringing size, speed and hands to a position that has lacked a punch for Carolina since Greg Olsen left town. Pitts caught 12 touchdowns in eight games this season at Florida, and he would be a real matchup advantage for offensive coordinator Joe Brady. No team had fewer passing yards when targeting a tight end in 2020 than the Panthers (195). Pitts would join 10 other tight ends to be drafted this high in the common draft era (since 1967).

USA Today - Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz (1/5)

8. Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

Teddy Bridgewater's viability as Carolina's starter took a significant hit when Matt Rhule left the team's outlook at quarterback open after benching the veteran in the season finale against the Saints. The 6-3, 224-pound Lance would change the face of the offense with his deep-throwing prowess and ability to burn teams on designed runs and scrambles. Given that Lance has started just 17 games at the Football Championship Subdivision level, Bridgewater could stay on as a starter and mentor until it's time to hand over the reins to the Panthers' attack.

Athlon Sports - Bryan Fisher (1/5)

8. Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

There's not a large sample size to judge Lance on but what he has put on tape has been impressive enough, combined with his physical attributes, to land in the top 10. Matt Rhule has an eye on building a sustainable team for years to come so he won't be scared off by any need to give the Bison star some time to sit and learn behind a vet like Teddy Bridgewater.

Previous update: Carolina Panthers Mock Draft Roundup 3.0

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Sunday, January 17, 2021

Los Angeles Chargers 2021 NFL Mock Draft Roundup, 4.0

Throughout the year and leading up to the 2021 NFL draft, we will update our Los Angeles Chargers Mock Draft Roundup showing picks for the Los Angeles Chargers from several prominent sites and draft analysts.

The following are picks in recent mock drafts for the Chargers:

EDSFootball - Kevin Hanson (1/15)

13. Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern

While the Chargers have hit a home run with rookie quarterback Justin Herbert, the offensive line has been a perennial need for the franchise. While most analysts view Oregon's Penei Sewell as the top offensive line prospect, Daniel Jeremiah, former NFL scout and current Chargers color commentator, ranks Slater as his top offensive line prospect in 2021.

While I have those two swapped in my OL rankings, Slater could be off the board much earlier than this. Even if he lacks ideal length and may eventually kick inside, the way he held his own against Chase Young last year suggests that he can more than hold up at tackle at the next level.

San Diego Union Tribune - Eddie Brown (1/13)

13. Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

The Chargers were picking fourth overall before finishing the season with a four-game win streak. Three of their five starters on the offensive line are scheduled to hit free agency -- in addition to injured Pro-Bowler Mike Pouncey. Darrisaw could find his way into the top 15 if he tests as well as I believe he will during the draft process (assuming we are able to have a combine or pro days).

CBS Sports - Chris Trapasso (1/13)

13. Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

The Chargers need to get Justin Herbert more weapons, especially those who can stretch the field. Waddle absolutely can do that.

The Athletic - Dane Brugler (1/12)

13. Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

The Chargers offensive line was among the worst this season. Imagine what Justin Herbert and the offense could do with more protection up front? Darrisaw is a bully who moves with balance and would give the franchise a long-term answer at left tackle.

The Draft Network - Joe Marino (1/7)

13. Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

The Chargers have to be elated with the dynamic play of Justin Herbert in his rookie season and nothing is more critical for Los Angeles moving forward than making sure its new franchise quarterback has outstanding pass protection. Darrisaw is a long, fluid, and powerful left tackle that is a wall in pass protection, an exceptional blocker on the move, and a mauler in the run game.

ESPN - Todd McShay (1/7)

13. Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State

Los Angeles will deal with a lot of free-agency issues this offseason, with players at key positions on expiring deals. Keep a close eye on what happens in March, because it will determine everything about where the Chargers go with this pick, especially as they hire a new coach. They had one of the stingiest pass defenses in the NFL in 2020, but Casey Hayward Jr. and Chris Harris Jr. will both be turning 32 years old this season. Wade can play inside or outside, and he excels in zone coverage -- which the Chargers use at the 10th-highest rate in the NFL.

USA Today - Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz (1/5)

13. Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

Call this the 2021 version of the Cowboys scooping up CeeDee Lamb. With no offensive lineman worthy of this slot, the Chargers can instead score tremendous value in Pitts, a supersized target who can flummox defenses with his speed and keep Herbert's development on track even if Hunter Henry goes elsewhere.

Athlon Sports - Bryan Fisher (1/5)

13. Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama

The depth of pass catchers could allow more weapons for Justin Herbert to be added later but up first is protecting their young QB in the trenches. Leatherwood could fill either tackle spot and help in the run game early in his career.

Previous update: Los Angeles Chargers Mock Draft Roundup 3.0

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Washington Football Team 2021 NFL Mock Draft Roundup, 4.0

Throughout the year and leading up to the 2021 NFL draft, we will update our Washington Football Team Mock Draft Roundup showing picks for the Washington Football Team from several prominent sites and draft analysts.

The following are picks in recent mock drafts for Washington:

EDSFootball - Kevin Hanson (1/15)

19. Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

Darrisaw, a three-year starter, has continued to improve each season. His athleticism and length will allow him to handle NFL-caliber edge rushers and he's been dominant as a run blocker as well.

San Diego Union Tribune - Eddie Brown (1/13)

19. Kyle Trask, QB, Florida

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say Taylor Heinicke isn't the quarterback of the future here. Trask has legit pocket presence and a surprising touch for such a strong arm. He had a horrible Cotton Bowl against Oklahoma, but that doesn't erase a Heisman-worthy season (he finished fourth). He had 43 touchdown passes (first in the nation) against only eight interceptions, 4,283 passing yards (second in the nation) and a QBR of 88.3 (sixth in the nation).

CBS Sports - Chris Trapasso (1/13)

19. Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, USC

The Washington Football Team will see a lot of Terry McLaurin in St. Brown. They'll formulate a fun duo that can routinely get open. I think Washington goes the free-agent or trade route at quarterback.

The Athletic - Dane Brugler (1/12)

19. Alijah Vera-Tucker, IOL, USC

Although Cornelius Lucas played above expectations this season, left tackle is a position Washington will consider upgrading. Vera-Tucker was graded as a second-round guard before the season, but he moved to left tackle and played at a high level, boosting his draft grade.

The Draft Network - Joe Marino (1/7)

19. Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan

Mayfield is a toolsy blocker that brings an exciting blend of length, size, movement skills, and power to the table. Washington never truly replaced Trent Williams and is in need of an answer at tackle. While the offense is in need of weapons, football games are still won up front, so taking this chance to improve the trenches makes sense.

ESPN - Todd McShay (1/7)

19. Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

Here we are again, two years after Washington selected Dwayne Haskins in the first round. It didn't work out. And while Alex Smith has completed an inspiring comeback and led Washington to the playoffs, he isn't the future of this team. Smith averaged just 5 air yards per attempt this season. Coach Ron Rivera needs to be thinking about the direction he wants to take his roster, and Lance would give him a QB to develop. The third-year sophomore had a one-game season in 2020, and he never saw an FBS opponent in his career. But he has strong downfield touch and can tuck and run, and he went the entire 2019 season without an interception.

USA Today - Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz (1/5)

19. Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

Should Ron Rivera look to stay the course with Alex Smith at quarterback, the most reasonable route for Washington to buoy its offense might be bringing on a stalwart tackle.

Athlon Sports - Bryan Fisher (1/5)

19. Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

Don't be shocked if the WFT aims to move up a few spots to secure OL help but if they stick here, they could still have their pick among top wideouts. Bateman's sure hands and size would turn him into a fantastic running mate to Terry McLaurin.

Previous update: Washington Football Team Mock Draft Roundup 3.0

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Tennessee Titans 2021 NFL Mock Draft Roundup, 4.0

Throughout the year and leading up to the 2021 NFL draft, we will update our Tennessee Titans Mock Draft Roundup showing picks for the Tennessee Titans from several prominent sites and draft analysts.

EDSFootball - Kevin Hanson (1/15)

22. Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia

Only the Bengals (17) and Jaguars (18) recorded fewer sacks this season than the Titans (19). Only a redshirt sophomore, Ojulari is an ascending prospect with a chance to go (potentially much) higher than this. Leading the team with 9.5 sacks in 10 games, the 20-year-old edge rusher has three sacks and two forced fumbles in the team's bowl game against the Cincinnati Bearcats.

San Diego Union Tribune - Eddie Brown (1/13)

22. Carlos Basham Jr., EDGE, Wake Forest

The Titans finished with only 19 sacks this season -- only the Bengals and Jaguars had fewer. Basham is a strong, athletic, productive pass rusher who can disrupt an offense. He had 11 sacks and 18 tackles for loss as a first-team All-ACC selection in 2019 and opened 2020 with a sack in each of his first five games.

CBS Sports - Chris Trapasso (1/13)

22. Christian Barmore, IDL, Alabama

While edge is a more glaring need, Barmore is a disruptive pass rusher on the interior and would wreak havoc next to Jeffery Simmons.

The Athletic - Dane Brugler (1/12)

22. Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa

The Titans need to address several spots in their front seven and a versatile player like Collins will be very intriguing to coach Mike Vrabel. At 6-foot-3 and 260 pounds, he can rush the passer or play in space as an off-ball linebacker who creates impact plays. He had 11.5 tackles for loss and four interceptions and scored two touchdowns this season.

The Draft Network - Joe Marino (1/7)

24. Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas

All of the Titans' plans to solidify their pass rush this season failed and Tennessee was last in the league in sacks. Ossai is a long and explosive pass rusher that plays with an unrelenting motor. He's a versatile defender that can win with his hand in the dirt and play in a standup position, which is ideal for a Tennessee defense that is multiple with its looks.

ESPN - Todd McShay (1/7)

24. Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas

It took a four-sack performance in Week 17 against a woeful Houston offensive line for the Titans not to finish last in the NFL in sacks this season. They still finished third to last with 19. Harold Landry was the only player to have more than three sacks (5.5). The pass rush is the biggest flaw in their playoff roster, so this pick comes down to guys like Ossai, Kwity Paye (Michigan), Joe Tryon (Washington) and Jaelan Phillips (Miami). With a 3-4 defense, I like Ossai's fit in Tennessee. He had five sacks and 16 tackles for loss this season, showcasing high-end instincts and speed.

USA Today - Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz (1/5)

24. Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas

If Tennessee is to make the leap into the AFC's elite tier, it will need to add a hard-charging edge presence like Ossai to invigorate its flatlining pass rush.

Athlon Sports - Bryan Fisher (1/5)

24. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame

Giving up big plays continues to hamper Mike Vrabel's defense and the lack of pressure on the QB has a big reason to do with it. The Irish star can help on that front plus provide the ability to stay on the field all three downs as a regular starter early as a rookie.

Previous update: Tennessee Titans Mock Draft Roundup 3.0

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Minnesota Vikings 2021 NFL Mock Draft Roundup, 4.0

Throughout the year and leading up to the 2021 NFL draft, we will update our Minnesota Vikings Mock Draft Roundup showing picks for the Minnesota Vikings from several prominent sites and draft analysts.

The following are picks in recent mock drafts for the Vikings:

EDSFootball - Kevin Hanson (1/15)

14. Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan

The Vikings traded for Yannick Ngakoue and then traded him away after he played only six games with Minnesota. Even so, Ngakoue, now in Baltimore, led the Vikings in sacks (five) this season. Not only is Paye an outstanding run defender, but his elite athletic profile gives him enormous upside as a pass-rusher. Topping Bruce Feldman's annual college football freaks list, Paye runs a 4.57 forty and his 3-cone time (6.37) would have been the best time at last year's combine.

San Diego Union Tribune - Eddie Brown (1/13)

14. Daviyon Nixon, IDL, Iowa

Coach Mike Zimmer didn't hold back when he called his defense the "worst one I've ever had." Nixon, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, was named a consensus All-American. He'd pair nicely with Danielle Hunter to revitalize a once fearsome pass rush.

CBS Sports - Chris Trapasso (1/13)

14. Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

Not that the Vikings would be pushing Anthony Barr out the door with this pick, but it's a selection made with the long-term future at linebacker in mind.

The Athletic - Dane Brugler (1/12)

14. Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami (FL)

The lack of a consistent pass rush by the Vikings will eat at Mike Zimmer all offseason. The organization might be in position to draft the top pass rusher on its board, and that could be Rousseau, who has the length, flexibility and upside to blossom in Minnesota.

The Draft Network - Joe Marino (1/7)

14. Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami (FL)

The Vikings are a team in transition after saying goodbye to some key veterans in recent years and restocking the roster through the draft. Minnesota is loaded with draft capital once again in 2021 and it's important for the early picks to be used on high-upside prospects at premium positions. While Rousseau has plenty of room to improve technically to take advantage of his physical gifts, he's a high-ceiling defensive lineman that has the potential to become a difference-maker in the NFL if everything comes together.

ESPN - Todd McShay (1/7)

14. Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

Ezra Cleveland, last year's second-rounder, has helped the offensive line, but the Vikings still need a dominant tackle. They were one of 12 teams that allowed quarterback pressure on at least 30% of their dropbacks. Darrisaw is a talented left tackle who has power as a pass protector and can get to the second level to help block for Dalvin Cook in Minnesota's zone run schemes. Other possibilities might include pass-rush aid -- the Vikings had the fifth-fewest sacks in 2020 with 23 -- or a safety.

USA Today - Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz (1/5)

14. Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami (FL)

Mike Zimmer's remark that this year's defense was the "worst one I've ever had" no doubt will shape Minnesota's offseason. The Vikings might have to part with some key defensive figures if they can't restructure several deals, so replenishing the roster with a disruptive talent like Rousseau looks to be a vital move.

Athlon Sports - Bryan Fisher (1/5)

14. Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas

It's no secret that Kirk Cousins had a hand in his face just about every drop back this past season despite having one of the more productive run games to lean on. Riley Reiff could be on the way out the door so Cosmi could slide in right away and provide for a cheaper replacement that could be a better long-term fit.

Previous update: Minnesota Vikings Mock Draft Roundup 3.0

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