16 players I like

Your fantasy drafts are done, and it’s time for the regular season to start. If you drafted well, are effective in working the waiver wire and make a few good trades, you can win your league championship. Of course, you’re going to need some luck, too. Injuries and COVID are always a clear and present danger to derail your title hopes. If you didn’t draft well, you have made it difficult on yourself, but it’s not impossible to still win your league championship.

Before the NFL season kicks off on tonight, I want to go on the record and share with you 16 players I drafted on one or more of my three teams. My most important team is my home league team, and that draft was completed on Monday night. These players are listed below, along with several others that I believe were worth drafting. Some are just tremendous players, and others were drafted at a value. Not all of them will pay off, but you will see that unfold in the coming weeks.

 KEENAN ALLEN, WR, LA CHARGERS

Allen was my third pick in my home league draft and No. 24 overall. I drafted him slightly above his ADP, but I wanted him as my WR1. Allen has established himself as a high-volume receiver in a consistently pass-friendly offense. Better yet, his target share has gone from 8.5 per game in 2018 to 9.3 in 2019 to 10.5 in 2020 in exciting. When a good wide receiver sees that kind of bump in targets, that’s something to get excited. Justin Herbert, the Chargers’ young quarterback, had been a boon for Allen.

MICHAEL CARTER, RB, NEW YORK JETS

This rookie slipped down draft boards after playing behind Tevin Coleman and Ty Johnson in the first preseason game. But Coleman, the one standing in his way of 15-plus touches, played just 22-of-32 games the last two seasons. On top of that, he’s never been efficient when asked to carry a heavy workload. Carter does everything well, and though he’s undersized, that shouldn’t stop him from getting a lot of work. I drafted him in the 10th round in one of my public leagues.

COREY DAVIS, WR, NEW YORK JETS

Davis’ stock has been rising as Jets QB Zack Wilson made him a favorite target during the preseason. This makes me believe he’ll be a high-volume wide receiver – especially with what should be a number of negative game scripts. Negative game scripts mean more pass attempts. Davis has disappointed managers in the past, but he put together a solid fantasy season in 2020. He showed enough flashes in Tennessee to indicate that he could get the job done in a more pass-happy offense.

MYLES GASKIN, RB, MIAMI

Gaskin was one of only two players that I drafted on two different teams. In addition to a public league team, I took him with the 57th pick in my home league draft. If Gaskin gets off to a slow start, you might want to target him in a “buy low” trade early in the season (if you don’t already have him). Amassing 47 targets in 10 games, Gaskin was active in the passing and running game in 2020. He will be a mid-round steal in drafts (or trade) if he breaks out of the committee.

NAJEE HARRIS, RB, PITTSBURGH

Harris was the first running back drafted in the 2021 NFL Draft and he was the first rookie drafted in most 2021 redraft leagues. I took him with the 17th pick in my home league as my RB2. Harris should dominate touches in Pittsburgh after rewriting the record books at Alabama. The Steelers have traditionally been a one-back team when they have one they can trust. The only downsides are Pittsburgh’s shoddy offensive line and their pass-heavy offense.

DERRICK HENRY, RB, TENNESSEE

I took Henry No. 4 overall in my home league draft. He’s an awesome running back who has avoided injury, but I would have taken Alvin Kamara over him in PPR because Henry doesn’t catch very many passes. Every year he’s been in the league, we’ve watched Henry’s rushing yardage go up by at least 250 yards. I’m not too sure he peaked last year with 2,027 yards on the ground, since we’re now going to a 17-game season. The addition of Julio Jones could actually help him.

TEE HIGGINS, WR, CINCINNATI

When Ja’Marr Chase was selected at No. 5 overall, everyone seemed to downgrade Higgins significantly and move him down draft boards. But there’s more than enough volume available for both of these players to be top-24 WRs as early as this season. Higgins might take a back seat to Chase from a targets perspective, but Higgins should also be Burrow’s favorite target in the red zone due to his size. I took Higgins 67th overall in a public league draft, which I think was a bargain.  

JULIO JONES, WR TENNESSEE

On paper, Julio Jones landing via trade with the Titans may seem like a bad fit for his fantasy value, but ultimately the opposite could be true. For starters, Ryan Tannehill has been a more efficient deep-ball thrower and overall QB than Matt Ryan since joining the Titans. Tennessee is an excellent system fit for Jones, who should be able to eat up the. His injury history is concerning, which is why I was able to get him with the 64th pick in my home league draft. That was a bargain!

TRAVIS KELCE, TE, KANSAS CITY

Kelce led the Chiefs in receptions and yards in 2020, which is no small accomplishment with Tyreek Hill on his team. Don’t expect Kelce to repeat his record-breaking 20.9 PPR points per game he had in 2020. But remember that he averaged 17.9 PPR points in 2018 with a healthy Patrick Mahomes and was a few points down from there in 2019 when Mahomes missed time. I was surprised that Kelce was still on the board in the second round of my public league draft. I took him with the 13th pick.  

JOE MIXON, RB, CINCINNATI

Mixon is the Rodney Dangerfield of running backs. Here is a three-down back who should see plenty of volume. He has a reputation of an oft-injured player, but he has actually played more games than Dalvin Cook since they both came into the league in 2017. When Mixon is on the field, he’s going to receive one of the heaviest workloads in the entire league. I almost fainted when Mixon was available when I made my 28th pick in a public league draft. I considered that an early Christmas present.   

RAHEEM MOSTERT, RB, SAN FRANCISCO

When he’s been healthy Mostert has given the 49ers offense a jolt of explosiveness that the rest of the roster has difficulty matching. Unfortunately, the 29-year-old has struggled to stay on the field throughout his career, including a half-season lost in 2020. The 49ers improved their depth, including adding two rookie running backs. Matching the 13 carries per game Mostert had last year could prove to be difficult, but getting him in the 8th round was too good to pass up.  

JONNU SMITH, TE, NEW ENGLAND

When Smith signed with the New England Patriots for a massive deal in free agency, I wondered if he would be a top-5 option at the TE position. But Hunter Henry signing a day later put an end to that speculation. It also deflated his ADP, which I took advantage of by drafting him in the 12th round of my home league draft. With a lackluster WR corps in Foxboro, there’s a strong possibility this electric tight end could still be gold. FYI, Smith might be on your waiver wire right now.

COURTLAND SUTTON, WR, DENVER

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Sutton on a football field, but let’s not forget how good he can be when he’s fully healthy. Despite inadequate QB play, Sutton’s thrived the past few seasons and has displayed his talent on multiple occasions. While he does have a crowded offense to worry about now, Sutton should be the favorite to lead this team in targets in 2021. If that is the case, Sutton’s absolutely going to return value on where I drafted him (84th overall).

JAYLEN WADDLE, WR, MIAMI

The Dolphins spent the No. 6 overall pick in the NFL Draft on Waddle, and he looked great during the preseason. He’ll compete with DeVante Parker, Will Fuller and Mike Gesicki for targets, but Waddle has a history with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa from their time together at Alabama. Waddle was impressive for the Tide. On just 133 collegiate targets, Waddle produced 1,999 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns on 106 catches. I took a flyer on him in the 13th round.

DARREN WALLER, TE, LAS VEGAS

Waller is a consensus top-three fantasy tight end with every analyst. He has now posted back-to-back 1,100-yard seasons. He had a strong finish in 2020, totaling 765 yards and five touchdowns in the final seven games. At that pace, he would have a chance to break every receiving record for a tight end in a 17-game season. With his guaranteed workload, plus his chemistry with QB Derek Carr, it’s hard to see how Waller is a bust. I was happy to get him with the 27th pick in a public league draft.  

ROBERT WOODS, WR, LA RAMS

Woods was the other player I drafted in two leagues. I drafting him No. 37 overall in my home league draft and gladly took him when he slipped to No. 48 in a public league draft. It appears that Woods gets an upgrade at QB to Matthew Stafford. Consider that the 7.1 air yards per target Woods saw in 2020 was the 10th-lowest mark among wide receivers. But Stafford likes to push the ball down the field more than Jared Goff. He may not be flashy, but Woods is a solid WR with a high floor.  

Follow Thomas L. Seltzer, AKA Doubting Thomas, on Twitter @ThomasLSeltzer1.

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