Fantasy Football 2021: Full Position-by-Position Rankings, Creative Team Names

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistAugust 17, 2021

Fantasy Football 2021: Full Position-by-Position Rankings, Creative Team Names

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    The first full week of the 2021 NFL preseason wrapped on Sunday, when the Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts faced off.

    The return of the preseason has been a welcome addition to the football landscape, and it's going to provide some extra insight into the fantasy world. Fantasy managers didn't get an early look at players last year, which led to some noteworthy draft misses—particularly where rookies were concerned.

    Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, for example, became a fantasy star after taking over the starting job. While an injury to Tyrod Taylor opened the door for the 23-year-old, a preseason look at the Oregon product might have led managers to anticipate his quick ascension. Instead, most were left scrambling to add him off the waiver wire.

    Here, we'll examine some noteworthy rookies worth following in the preseason—in some cases, ones who have already revealed themselves—along with the top fantasy draft prospects for points-per-reception (PPR formats). We'll also dive into some team-name suggestions for those looking to add a little fun to their fantasy league in 2021.


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    Nam Y. Huh/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


    Justin Fields, QB, Chicago Bears

    New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson and Jacksonville Jaguars signal-caller Trevor Lawrence are both expected to be Week 1 starters. Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields, on the other hand, seemed likely to sit behind veteran Andy Dalton early.

    However, the 22-year-old's performance in Chicago's preseason debut may have changed the narrative. He finished 14-of-20 for 142 yards and a touchdown. He also ran five times for 33 yards and another score. At no point did he seem overwhelmed by the level of competition.

    "The rookie first-round draft pick didn't look jittery," Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune wrote. "If you could see through the visor he wears on his helmet, surely he didn't have big eyes for the moment. Veteran tight end Jesse James said Fields did a good job of taking control of the huddle, not a small task for a player who didn't use a huddle at Ohio State."

    Fields could be this year's version of Herbert—ready to start far earlier than anticipated—and managers should pay attention to how he performs over the next couple of weeks.

Running Back

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    Bruce Kluckhohn/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. J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens

    19. Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders

    20. Travis Etienne, Jacksonville Jaguars


    Javonte Williams, RB, Denver Broncos

    Rookie first-round picks Najee Harris and Travis Etienne—of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Jaguars, respectively—are likely to gain plenty of early draft attention. Harris projects as an every-down back, while Etienne has loads of PPR upside.

    Denver Broncos rookie Javonte Williams may be a bit more of a sleeper. However, he stands a reasonable chance of producing early and often for the Broncos.

    While the 21-year-old will compete with Melvin Gordon III, Royce Freeman and Michael Boone for touches, he could emerge as the primary option quickly. He was phenomenal in Denver's preseason opener against the Minnesota Vikings, rushing for 29 yards on just five carries.

    Because backs like Gordon and Freeman are established receiving backs, Williams might have more value in standard leagues than in PPR. However, it's worth following him through the preseason to see just how big of a workload for him the Broncos could have in store.

Wide Receiver

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    Ross D. Franklin/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. Allen Robinson II, Chicago Bears

    9. DK Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks

    10. A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans

    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. Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks

    19. D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers

    20. Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings


    Rondale Moore, WR, Arizona Cardinals

    As is the case at running back, first-round picks like Jaylen Waddle and Ja'Marr Chase are likely to get all of the rookie attention on draft day. However, second-round pick Rondale Moore should be on your fantasy radar.

    Yes, the Arizona Cardinals are deep at receiver, with players such as DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk topping the depth chart. Arizona showed in preseason Week 1, though, that it will find ways to get Moore the football.

    According to Nathan Jahnke of Pro Football Focus, the 21-year-old played 16 snaps during Arizona's first two drives, two out wide and 14 in the slot. He finished the first half against the Dallas Cowboys with three receptions, two carries and 39 scrimmage yards.

    Kliff Kingsbury is an offensively creative head coach, and if he's going to utilize Moore as both a runner and a receiver, the Purdue product is likely to see plenty of on-field opportunities. This should give him a strong floor with multiple touches each week.

Tight End

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    Brynn Anderson/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. Noah Fant, Denver Broncos

    6. Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles

    7. Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens

    8. Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons

    9. Robert Tonyan, Green Bay Packers

    10. Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team

    11. Irv Smith Jr., Minnesota Vikings

    12. Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams


    Kyle Pitts, TE, Atlanta Falcons

    Rookie tight ends can be underwhelming in fantasy, and that's likely to be the case in 2021...with one notable exception. Atlanta Falcons rookie and fourth overall pick Kyle Pitts has the goods to be an early impact player.

    "Overall, Pitts may have an adjustment period early in his career as he adds play strength, but he has the incredible combination of elite athleticism, size, skills and work ethic that will allow him to be one of the best TEs and receiving threats in the NFL for years to come," Nate Tice of the B/R Scouting Department wrote.

    The 20-year-old may not be dominant right out of the gateand we didn't see him in the preseason opener—but he should get several early opportunities.

    It's not worth targeting Pitts as an elite tight end, as that group is limited to Travis Kelce, George Kittle and Darren Waller, but he should be valued as a mid-level starter.

    Just keep in mind that the Falcons also have Hayden Hurst at the position, and drafting both would be far from the worst strategy.

Team Names

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    What would fantasy football be without a little innovation in the naming department? Whether you're looking to showcase your wit or just elicit a few chuckles and/or groans on the schedule, it's always fun to play around with naming options.

    Obviously, picking names that suit your style and roster is advisable, but here are a few suggestions to help get you started:

    • Hot Chubb Time Machine
    • You Mad, Burrow?
    • Lamar Trek
    • Cooks and Bakers
    • Judge Jeudy
    • Tried and Trevor
    • Goff Topic
    • Chiefs of Stafford
    • Guess Who's Dak, Dak Again
    • DeSean of the Dead
    • Tua Legit to Quit
    • Came and Wentz
    • Liquid Schwartz
    • Aaron It Out
    • The Jeffersons
    • Zach Daddies
    • A Kyler on the Loose
    • Holy Rashod, Bateman
    • Zeke and Destroy
    • What's Up, Mahomes?
    • Hooked on a Thielen
    • Game of Jones
    • Harry and the Hendersons
    • Landry, Ho!
    • Tyreek of Success