Fantasy Football 2021: PPR Rankings Cheatsheet and Expert Reaction
With NFL training camp upon us, focus turns to fantasy football and planning top picks for your PPR league drafts.
There are the usual suspects in Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara, but new faces and explosive offenses have helped elevate others up projected top-25 lists.
As you prepare to compile your draft board, check out these rankings and what some of fantasy's top experts are saying about key players.
Projecting the Top 25 Players for PPR Leagues
- Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers (Bye 13)
- Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints (Bye 6)
- Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans (Bye 13)
- Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns (Bye 13)
- Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings (Bye 7)
- Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers (Bye 13)
- Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants (Bye 10)
- Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys (Bye 7)
- Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers (Bye 13)
- Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs (Bye 12)
- Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers (Bye 7)
- Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons (Bye 6)
- Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals (Bye 10)
- D.K. Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks (Bye 9)
- Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs (Bye 12)
- A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans (Bye 13)
- Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs (Bye 12)
- Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts (Bye 14)
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs (Bye 12)
- Allen Robinson II, WR, Chicago Bears (Bye 10)
- Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Rams (Bye 11)
- C.D. Lamb, WR, Dallas Cowboys (Bye 7)
- George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers (Bye 6)
- Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers (Bye 7)
- Darren Waller, TE, Las Vegas Raiders (Bye 8)
Saquon Barkley's return to the New York Giants lineup in 2021 may have fantasy football fans salivating at the opportunity to select the all-world running back, but they should be cautious given questions about his availability for Week 1.
Where does he fall in these projected PPR fantasy rankings?
Could Carolina's Passing Game Be Concerning for Christian McCaffrey Owners?
If you are holding on to the top pick in your fantasy draft, you should select the Carolina Panthers' Christian McCaffrey.
He may have missed 13 games in 2020 because of injury, but he still averaged 24.5 fantasy points in the games he did play, according to Fantasy Data. He is the centerpiece of Carolina's offense. As he goes, it will go.
The one question surrounding his fantasy effectiveness this year, discounting the potential for injury that exists for every player, is his role in the passing game.
Fantasy expert Chris Towers of CBS Sports wrote, "If there's one way McCaffrey's season could go wrong, maybe his role in the passing game won't be quite as robust as what it has been in the past—he was on pace for 101 targets in his three games in 2020, but 10 of them came in one game, and he and Mike Davis combined for just 89 in 15 games."
The 89 receptions split between McCaffrey and Davis is a far cry from the 124 and 143 the star running back had by himself in 2018 and 2019, respectively, and may be an indicator that head coach Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Joe Brady may not lean on running backs in the passing game the way the previous regime did.
Even then, McCaffrey is an explosive back who is a threat to take every pass he receives to the house. Add that to his elite rushing ability, and there's no reason to believe McCaffrey will not flourish a year removed from a frustrating, injury-plagued season.
Will Colts Injuries Hurt Jonathan Taylor's Fantasy Production?
Injuries to quarterback Carson Wentz and offensive linemen Quenton Nelson and Eric Fisher have created realistic concerns about second-year running back Jonathan Taylor's ability to improve on an impressive first fantasy season.
Taylor averaged 14.5 points per game last year, scored 11 touchdowns on the ground and added an additional receiving score. He was an asset to a Colts team that made the postseason and had similar aspirations this season before the injury bug bit hard in the offseason.
PFF's Andrew Erickson believes Taylor is untouchable in the first round, a spot that may have been a stretch regardless of the injuries.
Fantasy expert Matthew Berry believes Taylor is worth drafting but did not elaborate as to when.
With Wentz out of the lineup and the Colts relying on 2020 second-round quarterback Jacob Eason under center, Taylor should get his fair share of carries. Whether he can do anything with them without two starting linemen clearing the way—and all defensive eyes on him as the lone playmaker in the offense—is another question.
Still, he is worth a third- or fourth-round pick on potential for explosive playmaking alone.
Calvin Ridley: Top WR in Fantasy This Season?
Calvin Ridley could be poised to have a big fantasy year for the Atlanta Falcons.
"Ridley could be the No. 1 receiver in all of fantasy when all is said and done," Matthew Berry said on ESPN Fantasy Focus.
Without Julio Jones on the field in 2020, Ridley was targeted 26.8 percent of the time.
Jones is gone, leaving Ridley as the top target for quarterback Matt Ryan. That may well limit his touches, as defenses are sure to game-plan specifically for him based on last year's breakout season. But the presence of top draft pick Kyle Pitts will take some of the pressure off of Ridley.
With 1,374 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in 2020, and 281.5 total fantasy points, he sent a loud and clear message to fantasy owners that he should be considered as a top wide receiver pick. If Berry is right, owners should consider him as the pick at the position.