Fantasy Football 2021: Top Player Rankings, Ideas for Team Names, League Names

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistAugust 10, 2021

Fantasy Football 2021: Top Player Rankings, Ideas for Team Names, League Names

0 of 5

    Michael Owen Baker/Associated Press

    It takes more than nailing the first round in a fantasy draft to win a season-long league. While getting a centerpiece in the top round—and more importantly, avoiding a bust—is important, a smart strategy for acquiring depth is just as valuable.

    As we saw last season, injuries to players such as Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey and Julio Jones can quickly negate a smart first-round grab. While injury risk cannot be avoided completely, having multiple starting-caliber options at each key position can help mitigate it.

    Here, we'll examine the top players at each key position—running back, wide receiver, tight end and quarterback—and perhaps more importantly, zero in on some prime second-tier targets who could help lessen the loss of a first-round bust.

    We'll also dig into some team- and league-name suggestions for managers still looking to get their seasons started.


1 of 5

    Stephen Brashear/Associated Press

    1. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

    2. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

    3. Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals

    4. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

    5. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

    6. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

    7. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

    8. Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers

    9. Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals

    10. Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    11. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

    12. Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams

    13 Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

    14. Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

    15. Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns


    Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks

    Russell Wilson remains one of the most consistent quarterbacks in the NFL. The Seattle Seahawks have only missed the postseason once with him as the starter, and he has thrown at least 30 touchdowns in each of the last four seasons.

    Yet, the 32-year-old also remains a second-tier fantasy QB—a notch below guys like Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen.

    With an average draft position (ADP) of 51, Wilson can be had in the fourth or fifth round or later in most season-long leagues. This is important because managers who target him can realistically nab two starting backs and two starting receivers before getting their quarterback.

    Those managers shouldn't have to sacrifice fantasy value, either. In addition to throwing 40 touchdown passes and for 4,212 yards last season, Wilson also rushed for 513 yards and two more scores.

Running Back

2 of 5

    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    1. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers

    2. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings

    3. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints

    4. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans

    5. Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers

    6. Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers

    7. Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts

    8. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys 

    10. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns

    11. Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers

    12. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals

    13. Antonio Gibson, Washington Football Team

    14. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs

    15. Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks

    16. D'Andre Swift, Detroit Lions

    17. David Montgomery, Chicago Bears

    18. Travis Etienne, Jacksonville Jaguars

    19. J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens

    20. Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders


    J.K. Dobbins, RB, Baltimore Ravens

    It's usually wise to target running backs who dominate their team's carry shares. That's not what managers are going to get out of second-year back J.K. Dobbins, though Baltimore's run-heavy offense should keep the opportunities rolling.

    Though the 22-year-old shared the load with Gus Edwards, Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram II last season, he still racked up 925 scrimmage yards, 6.0 yards per carry and nine rushing touchdowns.

    With Ingram out and the Ravens presumably focusing more on Jackson's passing ability—after adding receivers Sammy Watkins and Rashod Bateman—Dobbins should have a heavier workload than he had in 2020.

    The Ohio State product has legitimate 1,000-yard rushing potential and could be a top-10 back if he can boost his point-per-reception (PPR) upside.

    "I think he could have a monster season," NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah said on NFL Network.

    With an ADP of 25, Dobbins is the perfect target for managers looking to double-up on running backs at the top of drafts.

Wide Receiver

3 of 5

    Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

    1. Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers

    2. Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills

    3. DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals

    4. Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs

    5. Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers

    6. Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings

    7. Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons

    8. DK Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks

    9. A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans

    10. Allen Robinson II, Chicago Bears

    11. CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys

    12. Terry McLaurin, Washington Football Team

    13. Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    14. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    15. Robert Woods, Los Angeles Rams

    16. Julio Jones, Tennessee Titans

    17. Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys

    18. D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers

    19. Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks

    20. Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings


    CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas Cowboys

    Managers looking to double-up at wide receiver early may want to target CeeDee Lamb of the Dallas Cowboys in the third or fourth round.

    While the 22-year-old is more of a high-end WR2 than a low-end WR1, this doesn't mean that he couldn't end up being a top-10 fantasy receiver this season. He didn't have WR1 production as a rookie last season—he had 1,017 scrimmage yards and six touchdowns—but it's important to remember he played the bulk of the season without starting quarterback Dak Prescott.

    With Prescott back in the fold, the Oklahoma product could be in line for 1,200-plus scrimmage yards and double-digit touchdowns.

    With an ADP of 38, Lamb is the perfect target for managers already grabbing a receiver in the first or second round. Pairing him with someone like Tyreek Hill and a top-12 running back would make for a tremendous foundation in virtually any scoring format.

Tight End

4 of 5

    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    1. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

    2. Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders

    3. George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers

    4. T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions

    5. Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons

    6. Noah Fant, Denver Broncos

    7. Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles

    8. Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens

    9. Robert Tonyan, Green Bay Packers

    10. Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team

    11. Irv Smith Jr., Minnesota Vikings

    12. Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams

    13. Hunter Henry, New England Patriots

    14. Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins

    15. Jonnu Smith, New England Patriots


    T.J. Hockenson, TE, Detroit Lions

    Unless you're targeting Travis Kelce, George Kittle or Darren Waller, there's really no reason to reach for a tight end before the fifth or sixth round. However, managers looking to find upside in that range would be smart to consider T.J. Hockenson.

    The Detroit Lions tight end had a strong campaign in 2020, with 67 receptions, 723 yards and six touchdowns. He could be even more productive this season, even with the team swapping out quarterback Matthew Stafford for Jared Goff.

    The reality is that the Lions lack a high-end wide receiver—players like Breshad Perriman and Tyrell Williams headline their receiver corps—and Hockenson may be the team's No. 1 target in 2021.

    With an ADP of 61, the 24-year-old is a terrific second-tier target for managers who don't want to reach for one of the big three. It's not outlandish to believe he could sniff the coveted 1,000-yard mark this season.

League and Team Names

5 of 5

    John Locher/Associated Press

    League Names

    • The Greatest Show on Paper
    • This is Us
    • A League of Our Own
    • Win or Go Home
    • Race to Avoid Last Place
    • Prime Nap Time
    • All in the Family
    • Monday Morning Meltdown
    • The Dirty Dozen
    • Autodraft Extravaganza


    Team Names

    • You Mad, Burrow?
    • Cooks and Bakers
    • Judge Jeudy
    • Tried and Trevor
    • Look Who's Dak
    • Tua Legit to Quit
    • Came and Wentz
    • Aaron It Out
    • The Jeffersons
    • Zach Daddies
    • A Kyler on the Loose
    • Zeke and Destroy
    • What's Up, Mahomes?
    • Hooked on a Thielen
    • Game of Jones


    *Draft Positioning from FantasyPros.