Fantasy Football 2021: Updated Rankings After Early Free-Agency Signings

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2021

Fantasy Football 2021: Updated Rankings After Early Free-Agency Signings

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    The start of the 2021 NFL season is still a long way off. However, diehard fantasy football enthusiasts know that it's never too early to start studying the landscape.

    If you've been paying attention, you've noticed that the NFL landscape has changed considerably over the past few days. Free agency unofficially began on Monday, and multiple fantasy-relevant players have changed teams in the days since.

    There's still plenty of free agency left to unfold, but now is a perfect time to examine how recent changes have affected the draft rankings. Here, you'll find a look at the top players at each major position for point-per-reception (PPR) formats, along with some of the most notable fantasy-relevant moves.


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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    1. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

    2. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

    3. Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals

    4. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

    5. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

    6. Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers

    7. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

    8. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans

    9. Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals

    10. Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams


    Bears Sign Andy Dalton

    The early offseason swap of quarterbacks Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff is noteworthy. Stafford has remained a viable fantasy starter even when surrounded by middling talent. With the Los Angeles Rams, he'll get to throw to the likes of Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods.

    However, we're focusing on free agency here, which may just have provided a fine sleeper option. The Chicago Bears have added quarterback Andy Dalton on a one-year, $10 million deal, according to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport.

    Dalton should be an upgrade over the combination of Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles. While not an elite passer, Dalton is a three-time Pro Bowler who has thrown for 25 or more touchdowns four different times.

    With Darnell Mooney, Cole Kmet and Allen Robinson II on the Bears' roster—Robinson recently signed his franchise tender, according to Rapoport—Dalton should be a serviceable streaming option.

Running Back

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    1. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers

    2. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints

    3. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants

    4. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans

    5. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings

    6. Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers

    7. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns

    8. Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts

    9. Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers

    10. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys

    11. Miles Sanders, Pittsburgh Steelers

    12. D'Andre Swift, Detroit Lions

    13. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals

    14. Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders

    15. Antonio Gibson, Washington football Team


    Raiders Sign Kenyan Drake

    According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Las Vegas Raiders have signed running back Kenyan Drake to a two-year deal worth up to $14.5 million. While Drake was merely serviceable in 2020, he was fantastic during an eight-game stretch with the Arizona Cardinals the previous year.

    In those eight games, Drake totaled 814 scrimmage yards and eight touchdowns.

    This addition could cause some managers to worry about the stock of Raiders Pro Bowler Josh Jacobs. It shouldn't.

    Last season, Jacobs split time with Devontae Booker. He managed to produce 1,303 scrimmage yards with 33 receptions and 12 touchdowns despite Booker playing 22 percent of the offensive snaps.

    While Jacobs' production may take a slight hit with Drake replacing Booker, it shouldn't be a significant drop.

Wide Receiver

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    1. Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers

    2. Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills

    3. Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs

    4. DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals

    5. Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints

    6. Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons

    7. DK Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks

    8. Allen Robinson II, Chicago Bears

    9. A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans

    10. Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings

    11. Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers

    12. Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    13. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons

    14. Terry McLaurin, Washington Football Team

    15. Kenny Golladay, Free Agent

    16. Robert Woods, Los Angeles Rams

    17. Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings

    18. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    19. D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers

    20. Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks


    Washington Signs Curtis Samuel

    While runner/receiver Curtis Samuel doesn't quite crack our top 20, managers should take note of his addition to the Washington Football Team. According to Schefter, Samuel is signing a three-year $34.5 million deal with the Football Team.

    Last season, Samuel totaled 1,051 scrimmage yards with 77 receptions and five touchdowns. In Washington, he'll reunite with head coach Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner, both of whom were with the Carolina Panthers previously.

    Samuel will also benefit from playing opposite No. 1 receiver Terry McLaurin—who should likewise benefit from having a viable second option on the roster.

    Samuel and McLaurin should both receive a boost from the addition of journeyman gunslinger Ryan Fitzpatrick. He signed a one-year deal worth up to $12 million, according to Schefter. Last season, Fitzpatrick averaged 256 passing yards and 1.7 touchdowns per start.

Tight End

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    1. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

    2. George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers

    3. Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders

    4. T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions

    5. Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens

    6. Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles

    7. Noah Fant, Denver Broncos

    8. Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins

    9. Hayden Hurst, Atlanta Falcons

    10. Hunter Henry, New England Patriots


    Patriots Sign Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith

    The New England Patriots added two fantasy-relevant tight ends in free agency this past week, bringing in both Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry.

    The Patriots paid heavily for the duo. Henry is getting a three-year, $37.5 million deal, according to Schefter. Smith is getting a four-year, $50 million deal, according to Rapoport.

    Price tag aside, these should be solid moves for the Patriots offense. However, fantasy managers need to be wary. The presence of both tight ends on the same roster could hurt each one's individual value. The presence of quarterback Cam Newton could also be a factor.

    With Newton under center in 2020, the Patriots ranked just 30th in passing yards. The addition of players like Henry and Smith might allow the Patriots to lean away from their run-oriented attack, but there's no guarantee.