‘Tis the season for fantasy football bold predictions. Here are some of mine for the 2021 season
Damien Harris Finishes as a Top-10 RB
Harris sneakily averaged 13.7 carries per game last season, which was 17th most in the league. He appears to be in line for an increased workload this season as he has drawn praise from Bill Belichik while the Patriots gifted Sony Michel a one-way ticket to Los Angeles. There’s no doubt almost all of the receiving work for RBs will go to James White as it always has. But if Harris becomes the undisputed leader of the ground game for New England he could be a massive asset in fantasy.
It’s been a while since a Patriots RB not named James has been a solid fantasy player. The last time was 2016, when LeGarette Blount ran for over 1,000 yards and 18 touchdowns. Those 18 TDs were the most in the league and his 299 carries were 2nd most in the league. That’s the role I envision for Damien Harris if he earns it. I believe he has done just that. Given that Cam Newton and Mac Jones are the options at QB, I’m sure the Pats want to run the ball as much as possible behind their extremely talented offensive line.
Harris could easily average the 18 carries/game that Blount got in 2016, and he’s undoubtedly the goal-line back. He’s a zero in the receiving game, which will hold him back, but given that Blount was RB9 in 2016 fantasy scoring (PPR), the possibility of a top-10 season is certainly in the cards.
CeeDee Lamb Leads The NFL In Receiving Yards
The only thing getting more hype than the new Spider-Man movie right now is CeeDee Lamb. And honestly, I’m in on it. CeeDee came into the 2020 NFL draft as the best receiver prospect and a consensus top-5 overall prospect. He slipped to the Cowboys at 17 and Jerry Jones celebrated from his yacht. That season did not go as planned for Lamb and the Cowboys though. Losing Dak Prescott and almost the entire offensive line was a worst-case scenario for every offensive player still healthy. So Lamb had a terrible season. Or did he?
Lamb caught 74 passes for 935 yards and scored 6 total touchdowns. He averaged 12.6 yards per reception. Now I know none of these stats are particularly amazing, especially for a guy currently going 31st in ESPN fantasy drafts (WR11). But that season he finished as the 20th highest scoring receiver in all of fantasy. Given the injuries, that’s incredibly impressive.
And now everyone is back (including Dak Prescott’s shoulder, trust me) and CeeDee is ready for redemption. Sophomore wide receivers have a tendency to break out (nice to see you D.K. and A.J.) and Lamb has arguably the best situation in the league. He has an elite QB in Prescott, a terrible defense that guarantees playing from behind, and is likely the best wideout on the roster in terms of pure talent. There is a reason this guy was so highly touted on draft day, and 2021 is the year we will get to see that reason.
Travis Kelce Finishes Outside the Top 2 TE
My dislike for Kelce in fantasy this year is well documented. The price is way too high, especially considering there are two equally valuable tight ends getting drafted two rounds later. I’m doing a Dirk Nowitzki level fade with Kelce right now. Of course, the other tight ends I’m referring to are George Kittle and Darren Waller. Here are the numbers each of these guys put up in the last full season they all played (2019):
- Kelce: 254.3 fantasy points (PPR), 16 games, 15.9 PPG
- Kittle: 222.5 fantasy points (PPR), 14 games, 15.9 PPG
- Waller: 221.0 fantasy points (PPR), 16 games, 13.8 PPG
Are you seeing what I’m seeing? George Kittle had the SAME fantasy points per game in 2019 as Kelce. And oh by the way, the 49ers only threw the ball 28.2 times per game that year (2nd least). The Chiefs threw it 36.2 times per game. From an efficiency standpoint, Kittle is the better player. But because of the Chiefs play style Kelce has outperformed him in fantasy.
Kelce’s 2020 season was legendary, and it’s for that exact reason his value is way too high. Do we really think he’s going to replicate those numbers? Did we really think Michael Thomas was going to replicate his 2019 numbers last year? Having such a short-term memory is why players get over drafted, and Kelce is the latest victim.
If Kittle stays healthy, he is just as valuable as Kelce in fantasy. Darren Waller has yet to prove he can be the top TE in fantasy, but a consistent trend of increased targets and efficiency in the Raiders offense make me think this could be the year he makes a really big splash. I would not be surprised if both Waller and Kittle outperform Kelce given the massive target share they figure to get.