Fantasy Football 2021: 5 Players in Situations That Should Be Avoided
For the best possible outcome in fantasy football drafts, try to avoid unknowns and fluid situations.
Beyond uncertainties, managers should look at recent downward trends as signs to steer clear of risky players. In the middle of the draft, target sleepers with upside rather than big names who may have low-ceiling outlooks.
Always consider a player's supporting cast and fit within a system. Will he accept a lesser role with the addition or return of a lead playmaker? Is the offense heavily reliant on production at his position? Does this player have a secure workload?
With those questions in mind, we’ll highlight five players to stay away from—at least for now. The selections are listed in ascending order of average draft position (ADP) for 12-team points-per-reception leagues.
WR Jerry Jeudy, Denver Broncos
Going into training camp, the Denver Broncos have a quarterback battle between Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater. Regardless of who starts, Jerry Jeudy may disappoint fantasy managers.
Jeudy is hard to trust with Lock's inaccuracies. The Broncos signal-caller has completed 59.1 percent of his passes in 18 starts.
Bridgewater doesn't stretch the field much, averaging 193.0 passing yards per game for his career, but he's completed 66.5 percent of his passes.
In addition to the limitations at quarterback, Jeudy will likely slide back into the No. 2 wide receiver role behind Courtland Sutton, who tore his ACL in last year's season opener. In 2020, both tight end Noah Fant and wideout Tim Patrick recorded more than 50 catches and 600 receiving yards. They'll soak up a fair number of targets as well.
With questions about Denver's dueling quarterbacks and Jeudy's target share, managers should look elsewhere for a better middle-round draft selection.
WR Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers
Don't expect Deebo Samuel to bounce back from an injury-riddled 2020 campaign with big numbers. He's possibly the third pass-catching option in a run-dominant offense.
Last year, star tight end George Kittle missed eight outings with knee and foot injuries. Now healthy, he'll likely lead the passing attack in targets.
While Samuel battled foot and hamstring issues through the previous term, Brandon Aiyuk emerged as a consistent playmaker, catching 60 passes for 748 yards and five touchdowns.
Samuel and Aiyuk have built a rapport with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, but the San Francisco 49ers selected Trey Lance with the No. 3 overall pick in this year's draft. Head coach Kyle Shanahan may start the rookie at some point this year, which adds uncertainty to the 49ers' offensive outlook.
Also, keep in mind, Garoppolo has missed 25 games over the past three seasons because of knee and ankle injuries.
The Athletic's Matt Barrows believes Lance's arm strength will mesh well with Aiyuk's ability to beat defenders downfield.
"Aiyuk has the makings of an excellent accomplice whenever Lance takes over,” Barrows wrote.
Lastly, according to Barrows, the 49ers "aspire" to run the ball more than 500 times in 2021, which would be up from 437 last year. If San Francisco averages more than 29 rush attempts per outing, that would limit the target volume of the receiving group. With Kittle healthy and Aiyuk on the rise, leave Samuel in the draft pool.
RB James Conner, Arizona Cardinals
Fantasy managers in point-per-reception leagues may look at James Conner as a sleeper pick because of his solid hands as a receiver. He recorded 124 receptions for 963 yards and four touchdowns over the last three seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
However, after three consecutive years in a lead role, Conner seems like the No. 2 option in Arizona. According to Pro Football Network's Adam H. Beasley, Chase Edmonds "is the favorite" to take on the featured role following the departure of Kenyan Drake in free agency.
Last year, Edmonds ranked third on the team in carries (97), behind Drake (239) and quarterback Kyler Murray (133), but the 5'9", 210-pound back had a significant role in the short passing attack, recording 53 catches for 402 yards and four touchdowns. He ranked third on the team in receptions.
Edmonds' dual-threat skill set will likely cut into Conner's pass-catching opportunities, which may have been the case with Drake, who only saw 31 targets in 2020, which is a drop-off from 68 in 2019 (35 with the Cardinals in eight contests).
If Edmonds handles the majority of touches on the ground and sees the most targets out of the backfield, Conner will have to fight for scraps.
Conner has a history of injuries, missing 14 career games. This offseason, he underwent toe surgery following an ATV accident. The Cardinals may limit his touches out of necessity in order to keep him healthy.
RB David Johnson, Houston Texans
This offseason, the Houston Texans stocked up on notable veteran running backs, signing Phillip Lindsay, Mark Ingram II and Rex Burkhead.
ESPN's Sarah Barshop thinks Ingram could be the "odd man out" in a crowded backfield. Even so, Johnson isn't in an ideal fantasy situation with Lindsay, who has two 1,000-plus-yard rushing seasons, and a savvy veteran third-down pass-catcher in Burkhead. Obviously, the Texans would be a fantasy football nightmare with all four running backs.
Last season, Johnson led the Texans in rushing with 691 yards, but he hasn't been able to recapture his 2016 All-Pro form when he led the league in scrimmage yards (2,118) and touchdowns (20). Don't expect him to turn back the clock behind an unsettled offensive line.
Furthermore, opposing teams can load the box against the Texans with Tyrod Taylor under center. Averaging 6.9 yards per pass attempt, he doesn't pose a threat with the deep ball. Eight men eyeing the Texans' ball-carriers could thwart offensive coordinator Tim Kelly's plan to field an effective ground attack.
WR Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns
Typically, we'll give star players the benefit of the doubt after a down year or an injury-riddled campaign. However, Odell Beckham Jr. hasn't shown enough signs of the electric playmaker we saw with the New York Giants between 2014 and 2016.
Since then, Beckham has battled injuries, missing 25 contests in a four-year span.
Though fellow Browns wideout Jarvis Landry thinks Beckham looks "amazing" in his recovery from a torn ACL, the three-time Pro Bowler needs to build a stronger rapport with quarterback Baker Mayfield.
In 23 contests with the Browns, Beckham has averaged 58.9 receiving yards per outing with a 55.1 percent catch rate. Last season, without him in the second half of the term, Cleveland established a strong run game, finishing fourth in rush attempts and third in yards.
With a winning formula, Cleveland will likely maintain its run-heavy attack with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, which means the receivers have to make the most of their opportunities. With Beckham's struggles in efficiency, he's hard to trust with a high-volume wideout in Landry along with a pass-catching tight end in Austin Hooper involved in the offense.
Player average draft positions are provided by Fantasy Football Calculator and current as of Friday.