The Athletes Hub is here to prepare all fantasy football owners for their respective draft seasons, as we provide insight on the 2021 rookie class. The evaluations will be based on redraft leagues for both standard and PPR scoring settings:
The most obvious of choices in rookie quarterbacks will be Jacksonville Jaguars’ Trevor Lawrence, who became the top selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. Fantasy owners can expect to land Lawrence in most 10-man leagues with an ADP (average draft position) of #98. He is currently being evaluated as the QB14 ahead of this season and provides plenty of upside as a potential second quarterback to roster.
Another that should be mentioned is New York Jets’ Zach Wilson, who was the second pick in this year’s draft. While he may go undrafted in select leagues, Wilson is projected at #159 overall and QB28.
Houston Texans rookie Davis Mills is an intriguing name, as the team is currently listening to offers on Deshaun Watson. Tyrod Taylor looks to be the favorite for the starting job, but the Texans did draft Mills in the third round of the draft. If Taylor disappoints, Mills could be a name to keep an eye on. Mills is nothing more than a waiver wire pickup, unless he is confirmed to start in Week 1 by some chance.
Pittsburgh Steelers’ Najee Harris has an ADP of #16 in redraft leagues, which is a second round pick in most leagues. Depending on the outlook, Harris could be the most impactful rookie of the 2021 season. While there is attention surrounding Jacksonville Jaguars’ Travis Etienne (#61 ADP) and Denver Broncos’ Javonte Williams (#64), Harris is likely to receive more volume this season.
New York Jets’ Michael Carter and San Francisco 49ers’ Trey Sermon are other names who have floated around in fantasy leagues, both are viewed as 8th-9th round value selections. At this time, Carter has maintained an ADP of #85, while Sermon sits at #94. Both have the upside to end up being the primary back for their respective teams, as Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert have an injury past. One could argue that Sermon is undervalued, due to Jeff Wilson being out for the first six weeks of the season.
Another name to keep an eye on is Javian Hawkins of the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons only have Mike Davis as a clear-cut starter on their depth chart, and while Hawkins is an undrafted free agent, so was Jacksonville Jaguars’ James Robinson last year. The production of the two are not being compared, but Hawkins but has a chance to prove his worth this season.
Cincinnati Bengals’ Ja’Marr Chase, Philadelphia Eagles’ DeVonta Smith, and Miami Dolphins’ Jaylen Waddle are immediate players with high volume opportunities during their rookie seasons. Chase currently holds an ADP of #56, making him a fifth round selection. Smith has an ADP of #76, while Waddle is projected for #101 in redraft leagues.
Baltimore Ravens’ Rashod Bateman has a chance at being the primary receiver in Baltimore, and while they are a run-first team, the Ravens haven’t had a receiver of Bateman’s potential in years. As a late round flyer, Bateman provides plenty of upside as a depth piece.
Elijah Moore of the New York Jets holds an ADP of #150, which places him next to Bateman in projected rankings. As a second round pick in the NFL Draft, Moore should be in line for a heavy role with the offense in his rookie season.
The last two mentioned are Arizona Cardinals’ Rondale Moore (#170) and Carolina Panthers’ Terrace Marshall Jr (#176). The Cardinals could be a pass-heavy team this season, especially if the running game doesn’t step up. Moore is in a crowded depth chart, as he sits behind DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk, and AJ Green. However, he is an explosive receiver and holds an NFL comparison to Baltimore Ravens’ Marquise Brown when utilized correctly. The Panthers lost Curtis Samuel in the offseason, leaving 97 targets on the table this season. Running back Christian McCaffrey returns to full health, which will impact the target share for the receiving core. Still, both Moore and Marshall Jr make for valuable waiver wire pickups.
Atlanta Falcons’ Kyle Pitts is going to be a top 10 tight end in fantasy this season, leaving him with a ADP of #50 this season. In select leagues, Pitts has been reached on between the 3rd-4th round.
Another prospect to watch out for is Pat Freiermuth of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The team spent a second round pick on him for a reason, as Eric Ebron reaches the twilight stage of his career. Freiermuth is likely a waiver wire target rather than a late round flyer with an ADP of #240.
Houston Texans’ Brevin Jordan is extremely undervalued entering fantasy drafts, as he could be one of few bright spots in the Texans offense. He will be another waiver wire target at the right time.
Carolina Panthers’ Tommy Tremble enters a creative offense that could use him in select situations this year. Ian Thomas remains the favorite to receive a majority of reps, but he hasn’t shown anything that says he’s an elite option. Carolina also signed Dan Arnold, making Tremble a deep sleeper in certain leagues.