As fantasy football becomes more and more popular, there is a lot of discussion focusing more and more on the statistical analysis of regression and outliers. Savvy fantasy football GMs should keep in mind that it is difficult for a player to continuously score at an above average rate, but they also need to understand that a very specific set of variables can line up for that a player has a real aberrant season.
We have to be careful with outliers, but at the same time, we have to accept outliers or at least look for them. Strong rosters are built on productive players outperforming those drafted into the same lineup, and the ability to find players who can significantly outperform their ADPs can turn those rosters into championship teams. These potential league winners can be the difference between a team that finishes with an average record of 7-7 and that same team that wins the trophy.
So who are the players who could win the fantasy football league in 2021? I’m going to share some tight tips currently being written outside of the top 10 that could end up as a midrange TE1. The tight end is pretty messy beyond the first six, so hitting these players is not advisable, but their advantage is higher than other end-of-turn options. You can also check out my league winners as a quarterback, running back, and wide receiver.
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Fantasy Football League 2021 winners
There was a certain excitement starting to grow around Jonnu Smith earlier this preseason, but a recent ankle injury has derailed that hype. A preseason injury is never good news for a player, but the silver lining here is a depressed ADP for Smith, who is currently settled in Round 12.
The ankle injury remains to be watched as a lingering ankle injury derailed his season last year. In the first four games of 2020 before the ankle injury, Smith averaged 4.5 receptions for 55 yards on 6.8 targets per game. In the 10 games Smith played after his Week 6 injury, his production fell to just 2.3 receptions for 23 yards on 3.8 targets per game.
Fortunately, from now on, reports are that the ankle injury Smith suffered this preseason is not considered serious. So what shows Smith could be among the league winners this year if he’s in perfect health? On the one hand, there’s the glowing praise given to him over a year ago by the usually cranky Bill Belichick who rarely speaks more than he needs to at press conferences. The Patriots head coach said in 2020:
“He’s just a very good tight end… He can do a lot of things: he blocks well, runs well, he’s a good receiver. I mean, damn it, they played it tailback. He looked pretty good there. He is therefore a very athletic player, difficult to tackle, who catches the ball well. He’s excellent after the capture – probably the best in the league. I mean, I can’t imagine anyone better than him after the capture.
Belichick’s comments foreshadowed a possible $ 50 million four-year free agency deal this offseason, and as usual, Belichick is right. As a catcher, Smith is a yards after the catch playmaker. His 5.8 yards after catch per reception (YAC / R) ranked fifth among tight ends in 2020, which was higher than the two Travis Kelce5.6 YAC / R and Darren waller‘s 5.3 YAC / R. And in 2019, Smith’s 7.8 YAC / R placed second among tight ends behind only Noah Fan.
It also doesn’t hurt that Smith can occasionally see rushed attempt also out of the backfield, as it was used in various ways in training camp. Belichick’s seemingly offhand commentary years ago has made its way into the playbook. Tight ends often depend on touchdowns for fantastic score, so any potential red zone for Smith only adds to his cap. fantasy potential.
Some are concerned about the presence of Hunter Henry, who the Patriots also signed in free agency on a three-year, $ 37.5 million contract. But Smith and Henry’s tandem are expected to be on the pitch together, except often for injury, with New England expected to use a lot of 12 people in 2021.
Last year, New England’s use of 12 staffers ranked last in the league, having used two tight end sets on just two percent of their offensive shots. However, that should change drastically this coming season. Belichick is infamous for crafting a game plan around the team’s strengths, and close-team talent clearly wasn’t among them in 2020. The Patriots’ tight ends were made up of a mate. Ryan izzo and a pair of disappointing and wasted third-round draft picks in 2020, Devin Asiasi and Dalton keene.
And with uninteresting options at the wide receiver consisting of Nelson agholor and Jakobi Meyers, Smith and Henry are both integral pieces of the passing offense this year. Henry also has the advantage, but Smith is the better option given his athleticism and yards after catching ability. It’s a long shot for any tight end outside of the Elite Three to be a fantasy league winner, but Smith has the knack for getting close if New England puts him in space and gives him many opportunities in the red zone.
There has been a lot of pre-season hype going into 2020 over a potential breakout from Blake jarwin, but now he’s nearly forgotten in the Fantastic Draft just a year later, often undrafted in shallower leagues. There’s a good reason many call the NFL the “Not For Long” league. Dalton schultz was a usable replacement last season after Jarwin tore up his ACL in Week 1, so can Jarwin return to fantastic relevance in 2021?
Last year, Dallas used 11 staff members on 71% of their offensive snaps, which ranked eighth in the league. This makes sense, as the Cowboys own one of the best wide receiver lines in the NFL in Amari Cooper, Lamb CeeDee, and Michael gallup. They would be foolish not having all three on the pitch as much as possible, but with Dallas rarely using two tight end sets, which Jarwin or Schultz wins the starting position will be crucial in their efforts to provide fantastic value this. season.
But even with their talented trio of wide receivers, there’s room for the relevance of fantasy to the tight end that wins the lead. In 2020, Dallas ranked 12th in terms of success rate, and when Dak prescott was healthy in the first five games, they placed second in success rate, passing on 66% of their offensive shots. Much of that was driven by the game’s script, as the Cowboys placed 21st in pass defense last year.
While Dallas used their top six draft picks in the 2021 NFL Draft on defensive players, they narrowly missed two priority targets. Micah Parsons was a nice consolation prize, but Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain were selected with both picks directly ahead of the Cowboys’ initial pick in the first round. Both players would have had an immediate impact on the secondary. There is still optimism that new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn can reverse that defense, but it will be a work in progress at best in his first season with the team.
The Cowboys still plan to be among the league’s heaviest offenses in 2021 to keep pace in high scoring games. Even with high target shares for wide receivers, the starting tight end could still be productive enough for the fancy. Dallas placed 22nd for tight targets in 2020, but in Weeks 1-5 when Prescott was healthy they ranked 11th for tight targets. In fact, Schultz’s 31 targets during that span were seventh among tight ends.
However, while the quarterback’s poor play was a negative factor following Prescott’s season-ending ankle injury, Schultz was not particularly effective as a receiver last year. His 9.8 yards per reception in 2020 was only 28th among tight ends, and his 1.16 yards per run (YPPR) was ranked 31st. Schultz offers value as a strong blocker, but if he’s perfectly healthy Jarwin will be the most dynamic receiving option between them on passing.
Despite limited action behind Jason witten in 2019 Jarwin was effective with his goals. That season, his 11.8 yards per reception was 12th among tight ends and his 2.37 YPPR was eighth. While those numbers are far from elite numbers, those solid efficiency measures were enough for the Cowboys to give Jarwin a four-year contract extension and $ 22 million last offseason to be their starter. .
Jarwin is still working since the ACL recovery, but with Schultz currently with a miner ankle injury, the door is open for Jarwin to see reps with the first team and consolidate his position at the top of the depth table. And while it looks like Cooper should be getting ready for Week 1, even with lingering ankle irritation after his surgery in January, there is an increased risk that Cooper will be running out of time this season. In this scenario, the starting tight end would have the option of adding a target share.
Watch for the close Cowboys battle over the next two weeks. If Jarwin wins the starting position, he could be among the league winners this season. He’s a cheap tight end to target in the final round or the final two drafts, and even in shallower bench formats he should at least be placed on the watchlists.
For more Fantasy Football and NFL content, follow me on Twitter @FFA_Meng. And for more rankings and analysis, check out our full Fantasy Football 2021 Draft Kit!
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