Sunday, February 21, 2021

Way-too-early 2021 Fantasy Football TE Rankings

The 2020 NFL season is now two weeks behind us.

Even so, it's arguably never too early to look ahead to the upcoming season. NFL free agency in March and the NFL Draft in April will certainly alter our early fantasy football rankings and we will update these rankings after the start of the NFL free-agency period and the NFL Draft.

More way-too-early 2021 fantasy football rankings:

For now, here are our early fantasy tight end rankings for 2021 season:

1. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

Tampa Bay's Rob Gronkowski finished as fantasy's TE8 (126.8). Kelce was so good in 2020 that he actually doubled Gronk up (260.26, TE1).

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.

Regardless of how you slice it, Kelce is not only the slam-dunk TE1 heading into 2021, but he's worthy of drafting in Round 1.

2. George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers

The only thing that can slow Kittle down is injury. Missing exactly half of the 2020 season, Kittle had 48/634/2 in eight games, which is comparable to a 96/1,268/4 pace. Meanwhile, Kittle had 85/1,053/5 in 2019 and 88/1,377/5 in 2018.

3. Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders

Waller set career highs across the board -- 107 receptions on 146 targets for 1,196 yards and nine touchdowns -- and was dominant down the stretch. Not only did Waller have a 13/200/2 game in Week 13, but he exceeded the 100-yard mark in four of his final five games of the season.

4. Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens

Andrews missed a couple of games and Marquise Brown (58/769/8) outproduced Andrews (58/701/7) over the full season, but the third-year tight end led the team in YPG (50.1). Even if he gets the biggest slice of the pie, the team's passing offense ranked last in the NFL (171.2 YPG) in 2020.

5. T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions

Hockenson basically doubled up his rookie production with 67 catches for 723 yards and six touchdowns. With so many impending free agents in the wide receiver corps, Hockenson may be forced into an even higher-volume role in 2021 depending on who's re-signed or added.

6. Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles

Goedert missed five games including Week 17 last season, but he was a consistent producer following the team's Week 9 bye through Week 16. Over that stretch, Goedert scored the sixth-most fantasy points among tight ends and ranked top five in both receptions (32) and yards (371). If the Eagles part ways with Zach Ertz this offseason, Goedert could perform as one of the top five or six tight ends in 2021.

7. Noah Fant, Denver Broncos

Playing at less than 100% in 2020, Fant averaged only 10.9 Y/R after averaging 14.1 in 2019. Fant's ADOT (7.6 to 6.7) and YAC/R (8.3 to 6.1) both declined year over year, but he also set career highs in receptions (62) and yards (673).

8. Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team

Thomas was the only tight end in the league to have a minimum of four targets in every game last season. While he was consistent throughout the season, he was especially productive down the stretch. From Week 6 to 17, Thomas scored the third-most fantasy points with 58 receptions (third-most), 564 yards (third-most) and five touchdowns (tied fifth-most). The breakout tight end will enter 2021 as a viable TE1 (top-12 option).

9. Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins

There was a stretch (Weeks 3 to 8) last season where Gesicki had only zero or one catch in all but one game, but he was highly productive outside of that five-game span. The third-year tight end posted career highs across the board with 53 receptions, 703 yards and six touchdowns. The freakishly athletic tight end should be drafted as a top-10 option in 2021.

10. Robert Tonyan, Green Bay Packers

Entering 2020 with 14 career receptions, Tonyan scored nearly as many touchdowns (12 counting the playoffs) as he had career receptions prior to last season. While teammate Davante Adams led the NFL with 18 touchdown receptions, Tonyan's 11 regular-season scores tied a position high with Travis Kelce.

11. Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers

Missing multiple games in three consecutive seasons, Henry had 60 catches on 93 targets, both of which were career highs, for 613 yards and four touchdowns in 2020. Henry is slated to become a free agent in March.

12. Jonnu Smith, Tennessee Titans

Smith scored more touchdowns in 2020 (nine counting a rushing score) than he did in his first three NFL seasons combined (eight). And while he set career highs in targets (65), receptions (41) and receiving yards (448), Smith likely frustrated his fantasy managers as he was held to 20 receiving yards or less in more than half of his games last season. Smith is an impending free agent.

13. Evan Engram, New York Giants

After two injury-plagued seasons, Engram was able to play a full 16-game slate and finished with 63 catches for 654 yards and only one touchdown. Not only was the single touchdown disappointing for fantasy managers, but Engram's YPG (40.9) and Y/R (10.4) were both career lows.

14. Hayden Hurst, Atlanta Falcons

Hurst performed as the TE9 in half-PPR and PPR formats and the TE11 in non-PPR formats and he set career highs in targets (88), receptions (56), yards (571) and touchdowns (six) in year one in Atlanta. Unfortunately for fantasy managers, his weekly performance was inconsistent as he had five games with single-digit receiving yards.

15. Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears

Down the stretch, Kmet moved ahead of Jimmy Graham on the depth chart in terms of snaps played. The rookie out of Notre Dame averaged 6.0 targets per game over the five final regular-season games. Especially if the Bears release Graham in the offseason, Kmet could be poised for a breakout sophomore campaign.

16. Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
17. Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams
18. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
19. Kyle Pitts, Free Agent
20. Irv Smith, Minnesota Vikings
21. Austin Hooper, Cleveland Browns
22. Eric Ebron, Pittsburgh Steelers
23. Blake Jarwin, Dallas Cowboys
24. O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
25. Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills
26. Jared Cook, New Orleans Saints
27. Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Rams
28. Chris Herndon, New York Jets
29. Jimmy Graham, Chicago Bears
30. Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts

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Way-too-early 2021 Fantasy Football WR Rankings

The 2020 NFL season is now two weeks behind us.

Even so, it's arguably never too early to look ahead to the upcoming season. NFL free agency in March and the NFL Draft in April will certainly alter our early fantasy football rankings and we will update these rankings after the start of the NFL free-agency period and the NFL Draft.

More way-too-early 2021 fantasy football rankings:

For now, here are our early fantasy wide receiver rankings for 2021 season:

1. Davante Adams, 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. Even so, 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. With Aaron Rodgers still playing at an MVP level, Adams is the clear choice to be drafted as fantasy's WR1 in 2021.

2. Tyreek Hill, 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 in 2020.

3. DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals

In his first season in Arizona, Hopkins tied a career high in receptions (115) and his 1,407 receiving yards were the third most of his career while Stefon Diggs (166) was the only receiver with more targets than Hopkins (160). While his six touchdowns were a four-year low, Hopkins still finished as a top-five fantasy receiver in half-PPR formats.

4. Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills

Things could not have gone better for Diggs in his first season with the Bills. Buffalo's starters played fewer snaps than usual in Week 17, as Diggs played a season-low 48% of the team's offensive snaps. Even so, that Week 17 performance (7/76) was the only game over the final five weeks where Diggs had fewer than 128 receiving yards. A top-three performer across all scoring formats, Diggs led the league in targets (166), receptions (127) and yards (1,535) in 2020.

5. D.K. Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks

The sky is the limit for Metcalf, who is coming off a breakout sophomore campaign (83/1,303/10). Through Week 9, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks passing offense were unstoppable and Metcalf had more than 90 yards in seven of his first eight games. Through Week 9, only Tyreek Hill had scored more fantasy points than Metcalf.

The only concern for Metcalf (and Wilson) is the Seahawks resistance to letting Russ "cook." Over the final eight regular-season games, Metcalf exceeded 61 yards in only two games. As great as Metcalf was in the first half of the season, he was tied with Carolina's Curtis Samuel as the WR25 from Weeks 10-17.

6. Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons

Ridley closed the season the same way he started it (with 100-plus yards in four of five games). Along with Davante Adams (six) and Stefon Diggs (three), Ridley was one of three receivers to finish as a top-two weekly fantasy receiver at least three times in 2020. Ridley finished last season with 90 catches on 143 targets for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns and should be a top-six fantasy wide receiver in 2021.

7. Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints

It was an injury-plagued 2020 season for Thomas, who failed to score in seven regular-season appearances. While Thomas played in the four Taysom Hill starts and had a pair of 100-yard games, both against the Falcons, an expected Drew Brees retirement this offseason tempers expectations of what fantasy managers should expect from a healthier Thomas in 2021.

8. Allen Robinson, Chicago Bears

A free agent-to-be in March, it's unclear where Robinson will play football in 2021. Fantasy managers could easily argue that Robinson would benefit by escaping his recent situation in Chicago. Even so, Robinson has a total of 200 receptions and a minimum of 1,147 yards over his past two seasons in Chicago.

9. Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers

Allen missed a couple of games and was limited in others, but he finished with 100 catches for the third time in four seasons despite playing with a rookie quarterback. Although just shy of the 1,000-yard mark and averaging a career-low 9.92 Y/R, Allen tied his career high (set as a rookie in 2013) with eight touchdowns. Along with Davante Adams and Diontae Johnson, Allen was just one of three receivers to get double-digit targets in 10 games in 2020.

10. A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans

Brown missed a couple of games, but he followed up a strong rookie campaign (52/1,052/8) with career highs across the board -- 70 catches, 1,075 yards and 11 touchdowns on 106 targets. Despite playing in a run-first offense, Brown has averaged 17.4 Y/R and scored a touchdown on 15.6% of his receptions through his first two NFL seasons.

11. Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings

Jefferson exceeded all expectations in his inaugural season with 88 catches for a rookie-record 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns. Not only did the former LSU Tiger have seven 100-yard games, but he had double-digit targets in five of his final six games after doing so in only two of his first 10 games. Going forward, Jefferson will be the 1(a) to Adam Thielen's 1(b) in Minnesota's passing offense.

12. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons

Jones missed nearly half of the season, but he finished with at least 94 yards in five of his nine games played in 2020. Averaging 85.7 YPG last year, Jones was still on a full-season pace of 1,371 yards. Before last season, he had a minimum of 1,394 yards in six consecutive seasons.

Even with Ridley taking a massive step forward, Jones is on the WR1 fringe and could reward fantasy managers handsomely if he's able to stay healthy in his age-32 season.

13. 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. Even though I assume the Bucs will re-sign all of these pass-catchers, it's worth noting that Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski are all scheduled to become free agents in March.

14. Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions

It was a lost season for Golladay, who appeared in only five games and will be an unrestricted free agent in March. When healthy, however, Golladay is a top-10 talent and could be available at a slight discount in 2021 drafts if fantasy managers let recency bias cloud their judgment.

15. Terry McLaurin, Washington Football Team

While the team's quarterback play doesn't do him many favors, McLaurin managed to set career highs with 87 catches and 1,118 yards in his second season. While his Y/R dipped to 12.9 from 15.8, he set career highs in YPG (74.5) and catch rate (64.9%).

As much as Washington may be a potential landing spot for a Round 1/Round 2 quarterback prospect, it's likely that the top four quarterback prospects will be off the board by the time they pick at No. 19. In other words, McLaurin is a high-end WR2 that will likely be held back by quarterback play in 2021.

16. Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

While he's a free agent-to-be, the expectation is that the Buccaneers will re-sign Godwin as they look to make another Super Bowl run with Tom Brady under contract for (at least) one more year. Missing four games, Godwin finished 2020 with 65/840/7 and averaged more than 25 fewer yards per game than in 2019.

17. D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers

Moore averaged only 6.9 targets per game through his first 10 games, but that number ticked up to 9.8 per game over his final five games. In addition, three of his four 100-yard games occurred over that final five-game stretch. Even though his 55.9% catch rate was a career low, the 23-year-old receiver's ADOT (13.2), Y/R (18.1) and receiving yards (1,193) were all career highs.

18. Robert Woods, Los Angeles Rams

It was a disappointing season for Woods and the Rams offense in general. Woods tied a career high in receptions (90), but his receiving yardage (936) and yards from scrimmage (1,091) were three-year lows. Replacing Jared Goff with Matthew Stafford generates some optimism for the skill-position players.

19. Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings

Thielen averaged only 61.7 YPG, but he scored 14 touchdowns in 2020. Only three receivers were targeted more often in the red zone than Thielen (19).

20. Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys

Cooper finished 2020 with a career-high 92 receptions for 1,114 yards and five touchdowns. It was his third consecutive 1,000-yard season and fifth of his career. In 41 games as a member of the Cowboys, Cooper has averaged 73.9 yards per game, which is equivalent to an 1,182-yard 16-game pace.

21. Diontae Johnson, Pittsburgh Steelers

Tied with Davante Adams and Keenan Allen, no receiver had more games with double-digit targets than Johnson (10). The second-year receiver averaged only 10.5 Y/R, but he turned his 144 targets into 88 catches for 923 yards and five touchdowns. While he needs to cut down on the drops, JuJu Smith-Schuster an impending free agent and Johnson should be one of the league's most-targeted wideouts in 2021.

22. Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams

While Kupp averaged a career-high 6.1 receptions per game, he set career lows with 10.6 Y/R and only three touchdowns. As noted with Woods, the upgrade at quarterback should provide a boost to Kupp, Woods and the offense overall.

23. Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals

From Week 2 (Higgins' debut) until Week 11 (Joe Burrow's knee injury), Higgins scored the 19th-most fantasy points (half-PPR scoring) amongst wide receivers. With A.J. Green set to become a free agent, Higgins will have an opportunity for a second-year improvement in what should remain one of the league's most pass-heavy offenses with good health from Burrow.

24. Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers

In 12 games as a rookie, Aiyuk ended the year with 60 receptions for 748 yards and five touchdowns and added 77 rushing yards. Aiyuk had a six-game stretch through Week 15 with a minimum of 73 yards per game and an average of 94.7 over that stretch.

25. CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys

With a healthy Dak Prescott, Lamb began his NFL career with two 100-yard games and a minimum of 59 yards in each of his first five games. During that five-game span, Lamb scored the 11th-most fantasy points (Amari Cooper was 12th) and ranked sixth in receiving yards (433). Based on skill set, Lamb should eventually emerge as the Cowboys 1(a) to Cooper's 1(b) ... potentially as early as 2021.

26. Odell Beckham, Cleveland Browns

Beckham tore his ACL in Week 7. Outside of a massive three-TD performance against the Cowboys in Week 4, Beckham performed as a weekly top-40 wide receiver in only one other game. Excluding Week 7 when he sustained the injury, he averaged only 3.8 receptions per game and never exceeded five catches any week.

27. Will Fuller, Houston Texans

Once again, Fuller missed five games, but this time it was due to suspension. In fact, he will finish serving his six-game suspension in Week 1 of the 2021 season. If he's re-signed by Houston and the Texans don't trade Deshaun Watson, there is enormous upside as Fuller had set career highs in receptions (53), yards (879), YPG (79.9), Y/R (16.6) and touchdowns (eight) with DeAndre Hopkins in Arizona. Before the suspension, he was on a 77/1,279/12 pace.

28. Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks

The full-season numbers (100/1,054/10) look great and Lockett now has back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns and three consecutive seasons with at least eight touchdowns. That said, there were three huge games (9/100/3, 15/200/3 and 12/90/2) and mostly modest performances the rest of the season. From Weeks 4 to 16, Lockett finished as fantasy's weekly WR45 (or worse) in nine of 12 games. Given Seattle's run-first tendency, there is week-to-week volatility with the team's top pass-catchers.

29. Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos

Sutton missed nearly all of 2020 with a torn ACL, but he had a breakout season in 2019 with 72 catches for 1,112 yards and six touchdowns. Even though the team drafted Jerry Jeudy in the first round last spring, Sutton should reinsert himself as the team's top receiver and he's an upside WR3 heading into 2021.

30. Chase Claypool, Pittsburgh Steelers

Claypool scored 11 touchdowns -- nine receiving and two rushing -- in the regular season and added two more receiving scores in the team's playoff loss to Cleveland. Especially if the Steelers let JuJu Smith-Schuster sign elsewhere in free agency, Mapletron would have enormous upside in year two.

31. D.J. Chark, Jacksonville Jaguars

Chark missed three games in 2020 and averaged 12.9 yards per game less than in 2019, but it's a virtual lock that the Jaguars will draft Trevor Lawrence with the first overall pick in April. Improved quarterback play makes Chark a bounce-back candidate for 2021.

32. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers

After averaging 65.5 and 89.1 yards per game, respectively, in his first two seasons with the Steelers, Smith-Schuster has averaged 46.0 and 51.9 per game in 2019 and 2020, respectively. As an unrestricted free agent, it's likely that JJS signs elsewhere given the Steelers salary-cap situation. Per Over the Cap, the Steelers are more than $30 million over the cap and only three teams have less salary-cap space.

33. Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals

Boyd had just one catch for one yard in Weeks 15 and 17 -- he was out in Week 16 -- as he failed to extend his 1,000-yard streak to three seasons. Through Week 11 (when Joe Burrow tore his ACL), however, Boyd was averaging 71.0 yards per game, which put him on a 16-game pace of 1,136 yards. With a healthy Burrow, Boyd is a solid WR3.

34. Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans

Averaging a career-high 76.7 YPG, Cooks finished his first season in Houston with 81 catches for 1,150 yards and six touchdowns. From Week 5 on, Cooks had at least 59 yards in 10 of 11 games. During that 11-game span, he averaged 6.5 catches and 92 yards per game. Provided that Deshaun Watson isn't traded and that Will Fuller signs elsewhere as a free agent, Cooks could move much higher in our rankings when/if we get that clarity.

35. DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins
36. Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers
37. Robby Anderson, Carolina Panthers
38. Jarvis Landry, Cleveland Browns
39. Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans
40. Jerry Jeudy, Denver Broncos
41. Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens
42. Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys
43. Curtis Samuel, Carolina Panthers
44. Antonio Brown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
45. Laviska Shenault, Jacksonville Jaguars
46. Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers
47. Cole Beasley, Buffalo Bills
48. Marvin Jones, Detroit Lions
49. T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
50. Jamison Crowder, New York Jets
51. Sterling Shepard, New York Giants
52. Darius Slayton, New York Giants
53. Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals
54. Ja'Marr Chase, Free Agent
55. Emmanuel Sanders, New Orleans Saints
56. Jalen Reagor, Philadelphia Eagles
57. DeVonta Smith, Free Agent
58. John Brown, Buffalo Bills
59. Allen Lazard, Green Bay Packers
60. Jaylen Waddle, Free Agent

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Way-too-early 2021 Fantasy Football RB Rankings

The 2020 NFL season is now two weeks behind us.

Even so, it's arguably never too early to look ahead to the upcoming season. NFL free agency in March and the NFL Draft in April will certainly alter our early fantasy football rankings and we will update these rankings after the start of the NFL free-agency period and the NFL Draft.

More way-too-early 2021 fantasy football rankings:

For now, here are our early fantasy running back rankings for 2021 season:

1. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers

If you drafted McCaffrey first overall in 2020, you likely find little solace that he was fantasy's top-scoring back over the three-week window 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 in that split timeframe.

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.

2. Dalvin Cook, 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.

3. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans

The clear favorite among the top five running backs in my rankings 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 each of the past two seasons with 33 rushing scores in 31 games.

No running back scored more fantasy points in non-PPR formats, but Henry also finished second in half-PPR and third in (full) 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.

4. Alvin Kamara, 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 (although Jameis Winston may be the early favorite), it would likely 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.

5. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants

As a rookie, Barkley was about as good as it gets. Technically, Todd Gurley was better (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 in 2021, he has the skill set to finish as one of the top two or three backs in the league.

6. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns

Despite missing four games, Chubb still finished as fantasy's RB9 in 2020. 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 after Hunt returned from his 2019 suspension.

7. Jonathan Taylor, 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 that 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 into 2021.

8. Ezekiel Elliott, 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 workload and production assuming Prescott is back and healthy. In fact, only three backs had more than six games last season with at least 20 touches -- Derrick Henry (14), Dalvin Cook (11) and Elliott (11).

9. Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers

Missing a significant chunk of time due to injury and playing at less than 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, however, a healthy Ekeler is worth a late-first round pick in 2021.

10. 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 in the league's top-scoring offense. Even though he missed two games and scored eight fewer touchdowns in 2020, he has finished as a top-five fantasy running back in consecutive seasons. Scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in March, Jones will move up in our rankings if re-signed this spring.

11. Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders

Bad news first, Jacobs was less efficient (4.26 yards per touch) compared to his rookie season (5.02) and was only slightly more involved as a receiver (2.2 receptions per game). That said, Jacobs missed only one game, scored 12 touchdowns (compared to seven in 2019) and only Derrick Henry and Dalvin Cook had more touches than Jacobs (306). Despite the drop in efficiency, Jacobs still finished eighth in fantasy scoring in 2020.

12. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals

Mixon appeared in only six games in 2020 and he has now missed multiple games in three of his four NFL seasons. That said, Mixon had a minimum of 19 touches in the six games in which he appeared in 2020. Through Week 6, Mixon had more carries (119) than all running backs not named Derrick Henry (123) and was top 10 among running backs in targets (26).

With offensive line a common target for the Bengals in mock drafts, that would be a welcome sight for Joe Burrow, Mixon & Co.

13. James Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars

Robinson had modest performances in Weeks 14 and 15 and missed Weeks 16 and 17. Before that, however, he was the favorite for fantasy football MVP (if such an award existed).

As lead back of a one-win team, the UDFA was fourth in half-PPR fantasy points, fourth in YFS and third in touches through Week 13. It's possible that competition is added in 2021, but Robinson has shown that he can be highly effective as the featured back. Depending on who's added (or not) in free agency and the draft, Robinson could move up (or down) in these rankings.

14. Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams

In his final six games played including the playoffs, Akers averaged 23.8 touches per game as the team's lead back. During that six-game span, the rookie averaged 118 yards from scrimmage per game. While the Rams will still try to sprinkle in some reps for Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown, I'd expect Akers to handle in the range of 15-20 touches per game in 2021. And with the upgrade of Matthew Stafford over Jared Goff, the offense overall should be improved in 2021.

15. Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles

Vastly underperforming compared to preseason expectations, Sanders missed four games and averaged just 3.1 yards per target after his catch rate dropped from 79.4% as a rookie to 53.8% in 2020. Although he averaged an impressive 5.3 yards per carry for the season, Sanders failed to exceed 3.8 YPC in four of his final five games. Given the offense's general struggles in 2020, I'm inclined to bet on his skill set with better things to come in his third season in 2021.

16. D'Andre Swift, Detroit Lions

Swift was much more involved in the second half of the season and he finished his rookie campaign with 114/521/8 (4.6 YPC) rushing and 46/357/2 (7.8 Y/R) receiving. Swift had three-plus catches in 12 of 13 games and his ability as a receiver gives him the upside to outperform his spot in our rankings.

17. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs

Given how productive a third-round rookie (Kareem Hunt) was in Andy Reid's offense just a few seasons ago, Edwards-Helaire, the only first-round running back in the 2020 NFL Draft, was a relative disappointment despite a couple of big performances in the first half of the season. Even so, he has the skill set and draft pedigree to be much more productive than he was as a rookie.

18. David Montgomery, Chicago Bears

Over the final six weeks of the season, Montgomery was absolutely dominant. The second-year back scored no less than 19.1 fantasy points and finished no worse than fantasy's RB9 during that stretch. Montgomery exceeded 100 scrimmage yards and scored a touchdown (or two) in all six of those games and only Derrick Henry had more fantasy points during that span.

The return of a healthy Tarik Cohen in 2021 may lead to a few less touches for Montgomery, but he'll be a high-upside RB2 in 2021 and you could easily make the case that he's too low in our rankings.

19. Antonio Gibson, Washington Football Team

Before suffering a turf toe injury early in his Week 13 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Gibson had a five-game stretch where he performed as fantasy's RB5, RB11, RB8, RB7 and RB2, respectively. Even without adjusting for Washington's Week 8 bye, only Dalvin Cook and Derrick Henry scored more fantasy points during that stretch. Especially if Washington has more stable quarterback play in 2021, Gibson would have tremendous upside if drafted as an mid-RB2.

20. J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens have had a 1,000-yard rusher in back-to-back seasons. Unfortunately (for the team's running backs), that player is quarterback Lamar Jackson.

Dobbins emerged as the team's lead back down the stretch, however, as Mark Ingram was often a healthy scratch. Although Gus Edwards is a free agent and Ingram will likely be a cap casualty, Dobbins may still not get as many touches as fantasy managers would like as Jackson will push to lead the team in rushing for a third consecutive season. Given his talent and the team's run-first offensive philosophy, however, there is plenty of profit potential with Dobbins at this draft-day cost.

21. Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns

While Chubb (RB9) was a top-10 fantasy running back in 2020, so was Hunt (RB10). Outside of Week 16, Hunt had double-digit touches in all of his other 15 games. In one of the league's most run-heavy offenses, there is enough to go around for both Chubb and Hunt to be drafted as viable starters in 12-team leagues.

22. Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks

Few teams want to "establish the run" more than Seahawks. Even though the Seahawks were letting Russ cook in the first half of the year, Carson performed as fantasy's RB13 or better in four of the team's five games before their Week 6 bye. In fact, he was a top-five performer through Week 5. Coming out of the bye, Carson sustained a foot injury in Week 7 that kept him out of several games.

Carson is scheduled to become a free agent this offseason and his physical running style leads to an occasional missed game or two. If Carson and the Seahawks can reach a deal for his return, he would almost certainly outperform his ranking in the games in which he plays.

23. Myles Gaskin, Miami Dolphins

Gaskin was off to a strong start through Week 8, but he only appeared in three games (Weeks 13, 16 and 17) after that point. Even though he missed six games, he ranked 15th among running backs in receptions (41). In addition, only three running backs had more receptions in the 10 weeks that Gaskin played.

The former seventh-round pick out of Washington has shown the ability to be highly productive, but the Dolphins are one of the teams most often associated with top running back draft prospects like Travis Etienne and Najee Harris in mock drafts.

24. Ronald Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Leonard Fournette is a free agent. Given his role down the stretch and in the playoffs, Fournette would be the team's running back to own if he's re-signed. Despite missing a couple of games, Jones had his best season as a pro with career highs as a runner -- 192 carries, 978 yards, 5.1 YPC and seven touchdowns. RoJo took a step back as a receiver, however, with a 66.7% catch rate (77.5% in 2019) and 5.9 Y/R (10.0 in 2019).

25. Melvin Gordon, Denver Broncos

Only 14 yards shy of 1,000 rushing yards in his first season as a Bronco, Gordon was one of the better-performing fantasy running backs down the stretch. From Weeks 11-17, MG3 ranked seventh in touches (120), seventh in yards from scrimmage (618) and ninth in half-PPR scoring. One potential concern looming for Gordon is a possible suspension for his DUI charge.

26. Travis Etienne, Free Agent
27. Najee Harris, Free Agent
28. David Johnson, Houston Texans
29. Raheem Mostert, San Francisco 49ers
30. Kenyan Drake, Arizona Cardinals
31. Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals
32. Damien Harris, New England Patriots
33. James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers
34. Zack Moss, Buffalo Bills
35. A.J. Dillon, Green Bay Packers
36. Devin Singletary, Buffalo Bills
37. Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
38. Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts
39. Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams
40. Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys
41. J.D. McKissic, Washington Football Team
42. Latavius Murray, New Orleans Saints
43. Jamaal Williams, Green Bay Packers
44. Tarik Cohen, Chicago Bears
45. Phillip Lindsay, Denver Broncos
46. Todd Gurley, Atlanta Falcons
47. Jeff Wilson, San Francisco 49ers
48. Ke'Shawn Vaughn, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
49. Marlon Mack, Indianapolis Colts
50. Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks

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Way-too-early 2021 Fantasy Football QB Rankings

The 2020 NFL season is now two weeks behind us.

Even so, it's arguably never too early to look ahead to the upcoming season. NFL free agency in March and the NFL Draft in April will certainly alter our early fantasy football rankings and we will update these rankings after the start of the NFL free-agency period and the NFL Draft.

More way-too-early 2021 fantasy football rankings:

For now, here are our early fantasy quarterback rankings for 2021 season:

1. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

Barring injury, Mahomes is the easy choice as the top-ranked fantasy quarterback given the combination of his elite skill set, supporting cast and coaching. The only real decision for fantasy managers is whether or not to invest the early draft capital necessary to secure Mahomes as their starter. Leading the NFL with 316.0 passing yards per game, Mahomes was only a 260/2 game away from a second 5,000/40 season before the Chiefs rested him in Week 17.

2. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

One of the league's best young dual-threat quarterbacks, Allen has exactly 300 rush attempts in his three NFL seasons and has racked up 1,562 yards and 25 touchdowns on the ground. Remarkably, he has rushed for at least eight touchdowns in all three of his NFL seasons.

Continuing to make major strides as a passer, Allen shattered previous career bests across the board in 2020. In his third season, Allen threw for 4,544 yards (284.0/G, 7.9/A) and 37 touchdowns (6.5%) with only 10 interceptions (1.7%). Despite last year's unusual offseason, the trade for Stefon Diggs paid immediate dividends as the duo's instant rapport allowed Diggs to post career highs across the board as well.

3. Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals

While Murray played all 16 games, shoulder and leg injuries slowed him a bit down the stretch. Even so, he finished his sophomore campaign as fantasy's QB2 (and was QB1 after Week 16). When healthy, Murray scored more than 20 fantasy points and finished as a top-12 fantasy quarterback in 10 consecutive games to start the season. Heading into 2021, Murray will be a top-three option once again.

4. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

It's not a surprise that Jackson's year-over-year numbers dipped following his elite 2019 MVP season. Jackson threw 10 fewer touchdowns in 2020 and threw for 208 yards or less in 12 of 15 games. Even so, his real fantasy success comes from his rushing ability and he has now rushed for 1,000-plus yards in back-to-back seasons.

Over the final five weeks of the season, Jackson averaged only 161.8 passing yards per game, but he threw 11 touchdowns and rushed for 430 yards and four more scores. During that span, he averaged 27.67 fantasy points per game.

5. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans

In his first season without DeAndre Hopkins, Watson still performed as a top-five fantasy quarterback. In addition, Watson was the top-scoring fantasy quarterback in three weeks last season, which tied him with Patrick Mahomes for the most. Even though Watson is under contract through 2025, he has requested a trade and it's unclear if the franchise will (eventually) cave to his trade demands. Regardless of where he calls home in 2021, Watson elevates the play of those around him and will remain a high-end starter.

6. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

Once again, we enter an offseason with contract uncertainty with Prescott and the Cowboys. Playing on the franchise tag in 2020, Prescott was dominant before his season was cut short by a compound ankle fracture. In Weeks 2 to 4, Prescott threw for a minimum (yes, minimum) of 450 yards in all three games with a total of 11 touchdowns (eight passing and three rushing). During that stretch, he performed as the weekly QB1, QB4 and QB1, respectively. With a talented trio of wide receivers, Prescott has tremendous upside if he can stay healthy.

7. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

It was a tale of two season for Wilson. In his first eight games, Wilson averaged 29.52 fantasy points per game and scored no fewer than 21.9. In his final eight games, he averaged only 17.08 and scored more than 21.9 only once during that span.

Despite Pete Carroll's prioritization to establish the run, Wilson has never finished worse than the QB11 (2016) and has finished as a top-six fantasy quarterback in five of the past seven seasons.

8. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

Rodgers, the reigning and now three-time MVP, led the NFL in completion percentage (70.7%), passing touchdowns (48, 9.1%) and passer rating (121.5) last season. All of those were either career highs or the second-best of his Hall-of-Famer career.

9. Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers

The reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, Herbert had at least 300 passing yards and/or multiple touchdowns in 13 of his 15 starts as a rookie. Even with a new coaching staff in place, the second-year quarterback should benefit from a more normal offseason and he will enter the season already entrenched as the starter. It wouldn't surprise me if he makes a sophomore leap that catapults him into the top five or so QBs and that makes Herbert one of my favorite fantasy quarterback targets in 2021.

10. Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans

Since taking over as the starter in 2019, Tannehill has averaged only 28.9 pass attempts per game in Tennessee's run-heavy attack, but he's been extremely efficient. Tannehill has averaged more than 22 fantasy points per game and has averaged 8.54 Y/A with a 7.3 TD% over his past 26 games. From Week 7-17 (run as the starter) in 2019, Tannehill was fantasy's QB3. In 2020, he was the QB7. In other words, it's certainly possible that he's too low in our rankings.

11. Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers have a number of pass-catching free agents, but they are likely to bring back Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski to try to run it back with Brady. In his first season in Tampa, Brady scored the eighth-most fantasy points and only three quarterbacks had more top-five weekly finishes than the future Hall-of-Famer. Brady's 40 touchdowns thrown were the second-most of his career and his 4,633 passing yards were a five-year high.

12. Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams

Battling a laundry list of injuries, Stafford still managed to play a full 16-game slate. Without his No. 1 target (Kenny Golladay) for most of the season, Stafford's per-game numbers dropped considerably year over year from 312.4 yards and 2.4 touchdowns per game in 2019 to 255.3/1.6 in 2020. Traded to L.A. to play for a more creative offensive mind, Stafford is poised to bounce back with good health in 2021.

13. Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals

Sustaining his season-ending knee injury in Week 11, the only quarterback to throw more pass attempts than Burrow (404, 36.7/G) through that point in the season was Tom Brady (433, 36.1/G). If Burrow is ready for the start of the season and able to stay healthy, he has a legitimate shot to lead the NFL in pass attempts in 2021. That volume alone makes last year's No. 1 overall pick a worthy back-end QB1 in drafts this summer.

14. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

Franchise owner Arthur Blank has said that he'd be "completely shocked" if Ryan weren't back in Atlanta next season. Even though Julio Jones missed nearly half of the season, Ryan finished with comparable numbers to his 2019 season. The 13-year veteran quarterback remains in the (back-end) QB1 mix for 2021.

15. Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

Throwing 35 touchdowns and 13 interceptions (both career highs) in 2020, Cousins was especially good down the stretch. Cousins scored a minimum of 20 fantasy points in seven of his final nine games last season. Even though Stefon Diggs led the NFL in receiving, rookie Justin Jefferson (88/1,400/7) outproduced the 2019 version of Diggs (63/1,130/6).

16. Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles

17. Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

18. Daniel Jones, New York Giants

19. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

20. Jared Goff, Detroit Lions

21. Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders

22. Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins

23. Carson Wentz, Indianapolis Colts

24. Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers

25. Teddy Bridgewater, Carolina Panthers

26. Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints

27. Drew Lock, Denver Broncos

28. Sam Darnold, New York Jets

29. Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears

30. Cam Newton, New England Patriots

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Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Post-Super Bowl 2021 NFL Mock Draft

With Super Bowl LV now behind us, all 32 NFL franchises have now shifted their focus to the 2021 season.

NFL free agency -- and the new league year -- is more than a month away. Whether teams take an aggressive or more patient approach in free agency, team needs will look different before the draft than they do today.

In addition, we've already seen one blockbuster trade with Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff swapping home stadiums. Other quarterbacks like Deshaun Watson, Carson Wentz and Sam Darnold, among others, could soon be on the move.

Based on what we know today, here's how the 2021 NFL Draft could play out:

1. Jacksonville Jaguars - Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

The Jaguars have had a top-10 pick in 12 of the past 13 drafts, but the franchise has its first-ever No. 1 pick and the timing could not have been better. The presumptive top pick for several years now, Lawrence is arguably the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck. Lawrence has outstanding arm strength and throws with touch and accuracy to all three levels of the field to go along with an ability to make plays with his legs.

Not only does Urban Meyer get to begin his Jacksonville tenure with a franchise-changing quarterback, but the team is loaded with draft capital and cap space. No team has more available cap space this offseason and the Jaguars have nine picks in the first five rounds.

2. New York Jets - Zach Wilson, QB, BYU

There is zero mystery with the first pick, but it gets interesting (in terms of suspense) when the Jets are on the clock. Given a roster full of holes, the Jets could go in a number of different directions here.

Even though Sam Darnold won't turn 24 until June and wasn't necessarily put in a position to succeed, he has missed three-plus games in all three of his seasons and he hasn't yet shown that he's the long-term answer. Wilson has enjoyed a pre-draft rise similar to that of Joe Burrow last year. Wilson isn't the biggest quarterback, but he uses his athleticism to make and extend plays and is especially accurate throwing downfield.

3. Miami Dolphins - Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU

Chase opted out of the 2020 collegiate season, but the 2019 Biletnikoff Award recipient would have been the WR1 had he been eligible to join last year's talent-laden crop of wide receivers. As a true sophomore and a 19-year-old, Chase dominated SEC competition to the tune of 84 receptions for 1,780 yards (21.2 Y/R) and 20 touchdowns. Not only did he lead the country in yardage and touchdowns, no receiver had more 15-yard receptions (46) or 25-yard receptions (25) than Chase in 2019.

4. Atlanta Falcons - Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Based on contract data from Spotrac, Matt Ryan ($40.9 million cap hit) will account for nearly one-quarter (22.99%) of the team's 2021 salary cap. While franchise owner Arthur Blank says that he fully expects Ryan to be back in 2021, using their top-four pick on his heir apparent would make sense here.

While things didn't go as well against Alabama in championship game, Fields showed incredible toughness following James Skalski's targeting ejection as Fields went on to light up a talented Clemson defense for 22-of-28 for 385 yards and six touchdowns in the semifinal game. In his two seasons as Ohio State's starter, the dual-threat quarterback has accounted for 78 total touchdowns -- 63 passing and 15 rushing -- while throwing only nine interceptions over 22 games.

5. Cincinnati Bengals - Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

Upgrading the offensive line needs to be one of the team's top offseason priorities. While Sewell opted out of the 2020 season, the 2019 first-team AP All-American was dominant in his true-sophomore campaign and won't turn 21 until October. If Sewell lasts until No. 5, this should be a no-brainer selection.

6. Philadelphia Eagles - DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

Other than his slight frame (6-1, 175), what is not to like about Smith? An outstanding route-runner, the sure-handed receiver has been been uber-productive over the past two years.

If Smith had declared last year, he would have joined Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy as first-round receivers. This year, he'll join teammate Jaylen Waddle as first-rounders. Despite the star-studded receiving corps, it was Smith that led the team in receiving yards (1,256) and touchdowns (14) last season. This year, the Heisman Trophy winner really stepped up with the injury to Waddle as he led FBS in receptions (117) and yards (1,856) and is second in touchdowns (23).

Even though the Eagles drafted Jalen Reagor in the first round in 2020, it wouldn't be a surprise if they went back to the well in 2021 with a talent like Smith.

7. Detroit Lions - Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

Getting Jared Goff back in the trade that sent Matthew Stafford to L.A., it's possible that the Lions go in a different direction with their first pick in 2021. After all, they will have multiple first-rounders in both 2022 and 2023.

That said, the Lions have a potential out with Goff's contract after the 2022 season and Lance is making the jump from playing only 17 games (including only one in 2020) against FCS-level competition. With as much upside as the other top quarterbacks in this draft class, the dual-threat quarterback accounted for 48 touchdowns -- 30 passing and 18 rushing -- and threw only one interception.

8. Carolina Panthers - Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern

With four quarterbacks already off the board, will the Panthers make it five within the first eight picks? Even though Mac Jones isn't a top-eight talent, he won't be available when the Panthers are on the clock in Round 2. And in such a unique draft season, the opportunity to have coached Jones at the Senior Bowl likely means a lot to Matt Rhule and the team's decision makers.

Regardless of who's under center, the team's starting tackles -- Russell Okung and Taylor Moton -- are impending free agents. Even if he lacks ideal length and may eventually kick inside, the way Slater held his own against Chase Young in 2019 is evidence that he can more than hold up outside at tackle at the next level.

9. Denver Broncos - Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

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 Parsons is. The versatile, three-down linebacker was a first-team AP All-American in 2019 and uses his athleticism, length and instincts to impact the game against the run, in coverage and as a blitzer.

10. Dallas Cowboys - Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

Two of the team's top four corners -- Jourdan Lewis and Chidobe Awuzie -- are scheduled to become free agents next month. Along with Alabama's Patrick Surtain II, Farley is a top-10 prospect on our NFL Draft Big Board and is in the mix to be the first corner off the board in April. Farley (6-2, 207) had four interceptions and 12 passes defended in 2019 before opting out this season.

11. New York Giants - Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

In version 2.0 of this mock draft, the Giants went edge rusher and that's certainly a possibility here with both Miami's Gregory Rousseau and Michigan's Kwity Paye still on the board. It's also certainly possible that Waddle is the highest-ranked player still available on Dave Gettleman's big board.

Not the biggest receiver, Waddle is one of the most explosive athletes in the draft and is dynamic in the open field. With Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs off to the NFL, Waddle started the year with four 100-yard games before breaking his ankle. In fact, Waddle (557 receiving yards) outproduced DeVonta Smith (483) through the first four games of the season.

12. San Francisco 49ers - Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

Teams can't have too many corners, yet free agency is about to wipe out the team's cornerback depth chart. One way or the other, the team will need to address the position group this offseason. The 2020 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Surtain II has an NFL pedigree (father was a three-time Pro Bowl CB) with the size and length (6-2, 202) that the 49ers covet at the position.

13. Los Angeles Chargers - Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida

The reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, Justin Herbert has played as well as anyone could have expected in his rookie season. With Hunter Henry entering free agency this spring, Pitts provides some insurance if the team can't re-sign him, but he's a Darren Waller-type playmaker at the position that will help support Herbert's continued development in year two. In addition, Pitts is also the best available prospect here as the No. 6 prospect on our big board.

14. Minnesota Vikings - Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami (FL)

Trading for Yannick Ngakoue before the start of the season, the Vikings should have had a dynamic 1-2 pass-rush duo with Danielle Hunter and Ngakoue. Not only did Hunter miss all of 2020, but the Vikings traded away Ngakoue only six games into his Minnesota tenure. Even so, the short-term Viking still led the team with five sacks. If the Vikings have their choice of edge rusher here, it may be difficult to resist bolstering the group. Rousseau has outstanding length and burst and was second in the nation in sacks (15.5) in 2019 behind only Ohio State's Chase Young (16.5) before opting out of the 2020 season.

15. New England Patriots - Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

Taking the reigns from Tua Tagovailoa, the fifth pick in 2020, Jones really hit the ground running in 2020 after getting a few starts following Tua's injury in 2019. While Jones lacks the arm strength and athleticism that the top-four quarterback prospects possess, he makes quick reads and throws with outstanding accuracy and touch. Facing only SEC competition before Notre Dame and Ohio State in the College Football Playoff, Jones completed 77.4% of his pass attempts and threw for 4,500 yards (11.2 Y/A), 41 touchdowns and four interceptions last season. Jones numbers were even better in the CFP as he completed 81.3% of his pass attempts for 761 yards, nine touchdowns and no interceptions.

16. Arizona Cardinals - Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

With Patrick Peterson, Dre Kirkpatrick and Johnathan Joseph set to become free agents, the Cardinals will need to add corners via the draft and/or free agency that can contribute right away. Horn, son of former Pro Bowl receiver Joe Horn, excels in press-man coverage due to his size, physical playing style and a competitive demeanor.

Continue to 2021 NFL Mock Draft: Picks 17-32

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