Fantasy Football 2021: 3 Rookie Sleepers Undervalued in Drafts

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIAugust 21, 2021

Fantasy Football 2021: 3 Rookie Sleepers Undervalued in Drafts

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    Elise Amendola/Associated Press

    Everybody knows the rookies who are most likely to make an impact in fantasy football in 2021.

    Najee Harris is likely going to get a ton of touches out of the Pittsburgh Steelers backfield. Trevor Lawrence may immediately excel as the Jacksonville Jaguars' new franchise quarterback. Kyle Pitts should quickly become a top fantasy tight end with the Atlanta Falcons.

    But there were seven rounds' worth of players taken during the 2021 NFL draft, and that's not to mention those who later signed as undrafted free agents. There are a ton of rookies entering the league, some of whom could break out and make a seamless transition from college to the pros.

    Drafting an overlooked rookie who goes on to exceed their value can be a huge boost to league-winning fantasy teams. You never know exactly how a player will look once he starts playing on Sundays, but the high risk of those selections can yield a high reward.

    Here's a look at three undervalued rookies you may want to target during fantasy drafts this year.

Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, New England Patriots

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    Winslow Townson/Associated Press

    It's never clear which Patriots running back is going to be the best fantasy option in a given season. They're a team known for utilizing multiple backs without a clear-cut No. 1 option. That's again the case heading into 2021, with Damien Harris, Sony Michel and James White all back with the team.

    Then, there's Stevenson, who was selected by the Pats in the fourth round of the 2021 draft. It's not yet clear how much playing time the former Oklahoma standout will get once the regular season arrives, but he's impressed so far in preseason action. He ran for 127 yards and two touchdowns against Washington on Aug. 12, then ran for 66 yards and another pair of touchdowns against the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday.

    If Stevenson remains productive once the regular season begins, he has the potential to be a breakout offensive star for New England. And considering his average draft position in points-per-reception leagues is in the 14th round (per Fantasy Football Calculator), he's a great player to take late in fantasy drafts.

    Take Stevenson in drafts now before the Patriots potentially make it known that he could have a big role this year. If that ends up happening, then he could end up being the steal of the draft. It's a risk because of New England's other backfield options, but it's one worth taking.

Rashod Bateman, WR, Baltimore Ravens

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    Gail Burton/Associated Press

    Some fantasy managers may be steering clear of Bateman because he recently underwent a core muscle surgery that could cause him to miss the start of the 2021 season. However, it seems like he's progressing as Jonas Shaffer of the Baltimore Sun shared a video from Bateman's Instagram on Friday that showed the rookie wide receiver running routes.

    Even if Bateman misses a week or two or even three at the start of the regular season, that shouldn't be enough to avoid him in fantasy drafts. The former Minnesota receiver was taken in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft because of his talent and potential, and he should live up to that once he's on the field for the Ravens, whenever that may be.

    Baltimore's other top receiving options are Marquise Brown, who had a bit of a disappointing sophomore season in 2020, and free-agent acquisition Sammy Watkins, who hasn't been a top fantasy performer in recent years. Bateman could quickly become a top target for quarterback Lamar Jackson, which makes him an intriguing fantasy option.

    Bateman's ADP isn't until the back half of the 14th round (per Fantasy Football Calculator). Yet once he's healthy, he could become worthy of consideration for your starting lineup, especially if the Ravens' offense clicks and puts up big numbers this season.

Rondale Moore, WR, Arizona Cardinals

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Moore is another rookie who isn't typically getting picked until the 14th round in fantasy drafts (per Fantasy Football Calculator). That's much too late for a dynamic playmaker who could be heavily involved in the Cardinals' offense right from the start of his NFL career.

    Arizona could potentially utilize the 5'7" Moore in various ways in its offense. Perhaps he ends up in the backfield at times, giving him more chances to touch the ball. And it's unclear how much A.J. Green can still contribute at this stage in his career, so Moore could get plenty of time lining up at receiver, too.

    In the Cardinals' preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys on Aug. 13, Moore had three catches for 23 yards and two rushes for 16 yards. On Friday, he had three catches for 15 yards and a 9-yard rush. Those may not be the most impressive stats, but the important thing is that it shows how Arizona may use him.

    Moore has a ton of breakout potential and the Cardinals have a lot of offensive playmakers, including quarterback Kyler Murray. That could be a recipe for a lot of fantasy points for Moore in 2021.