Fantasy Football 2021: Updated Rankings and Advice for Team Names

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistAugust 24, 2021

Fantasy Football 2021: Updated Rankings and Advice for Team Names

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    Jacob Kupferman/Associated Press

    With only one week left in the 2021 NFL preseason, we're entering a critical period for fantasy drafts. Leagues that haven't already drafted will do so soon, and it's up to managers to be prepared.

    With two weeks of exhibition play in the rearview, managers do have some information on which to rely. While rosters won't be finalized until August 31, we have a good idea of what many of the starting lineups will look like. We also have a grasp on which rookies and free-agent additions are likely to see significant roles.

    Injuries—and injury recoveries—should also play a factor in the predraft process. Few feelings in fantasy are worse than drafting a player only to realize that he won't be available until midway through the season.

    Here, we'll examine some of the latest fantasy-related buzz around the NFL entering preseason Week 3. We'll also run down the top players for points-per-reception (PPR) leagues and some creative team-name suggestions for those looking to get their squads started.

Fantasy Top 40

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    1. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

    2. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings

    3. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

    4. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers

    5. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans

    6. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

    7. Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers

    8. Stefon Diggs, WR, Buffalo Bills

    9. Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

    10. Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

    11. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Arizona Cardinals

    12. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

    13. Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons

    14. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs

    15. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts

    16. Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings

    17. DK Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks

    18. Darren Waller, TE, Las Vegas Raiders

    19. Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

    20. Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns

    21. A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans

    22. Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

    23. Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington Football Team

    24. Allen Robinson II, WR, Chicago Bears

    25. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs

    26. George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers

    27. Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

    28. Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Football Team

    29. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

    30. CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas Cowboys

    31. Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Rams

    32. Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    33. Amari Cooper, WR, Dallas Cowboys

    34. Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders

    35. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    36. David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears

    37. J.K. Dobbins, RB, Baltimore Ravens

    38. Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams

    39. Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills

    40. DJ Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers

Justin Fields Will Have to Wait

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    David Banks/Associated Press

    Rolling with a rookie quarterback in fantasy is a boom-bust proposition. First-year signal-callers can often be found late because they are not proven at the pro level. This can lead to uncovering a gem, as was the case with Justin Herbert last season.

    The problem is that there's no telling how a rookie will fare, and in many cases, when he'll take the field.

    Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields has shown flashes in the preseason and might be a smart late-round pickup like Herbert. However, he isn't going to be the Week 1 starter. Bears coach Matt Nagy recently made it clear that veteran Andy Dalton will get the call to start the season.

    "We need to see him in the regular season," Nagy said of Dalton, per ESPN's Michele Steele.

    Managers should consider taking a late flier on Fields because he does have Herbert-esque upside. However, they cannot target him as their primary quarterback heading into Week 1.

Dak Prescott Could Be Hampered by Injuries All Season

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is far more proven than a rookie like Fields. He has an offense loaded with talent, and he was leading the NFL with 1,856 passing yards when he suffered a season-ending ankle fracture last season.

    However, his recovery must be considered on draft day. The ankle injury is one thing, but the 28-year-old has also been dealing with a shoulder issue in camp.

    On one hand, Prescott is expected to be ready to play by Week 1, according to ESPN's Stephania Bell; on the other, ESPN's Adam Schefter has reported that he may not be at 100 percent at any point this season.

    "He's not fully back. He may not be back all season long," Schefter said Friday during ESPN's broadcast of a preseason game (h/t Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk).

    If fully healthy, Prescott would be a safe QB1 selection. Given the latest information, though, he is also a bit of a boom-bust prospect.

Saquon Barkley Could Play in Preseason Finale

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    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    Like Prescott, New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley is returning from injury. He suffered a torn ACL that eliminated most of his 2020 campaign.

    While Barkley has yet to make his 2021 preseason debut, it could potentially happen this week against the New England Patriots.

    "I'd say that's not decided yet," head coach Joe Judge said, per SNY's Scott Thompson. "We're going to talk with the medical team. The priority will be to continue ramping him up and doing more and more."

    While it makes no sense for the Giants to rush Barkley onto the field for an exhibition game, the fact that the team is considering it is a positive sign. This suggests the Penn State product is close to being game-ready.

    Managers can target Barkley with the expectation that he'll be available in Week 1, though they must still consider that he may not be in preinjury form.

Team Names

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    Aaron Doster/Associated Press

    Managers should pick names that reflect both the players on their rosters and their own individual tastes. Therefore, it's usually best to wait until after drafting to put a name to your squad. However, we have a few fun suggestions for the 2021 season to help get you started:

    • Walking on Burrow-ken Glass (Joe Burrow)
    • Russell Will, Son (Russell Wilson)
    • JustiNatural (Justin Herbert)
    • Kyler on the Loose (Kyler Murray)
    • TreVor-Tex (Trevor Lawrence)
    • Fields of Dreams (Justin Fields)
    • Country Roads, Take Mahomes (Patrick Mahomes)
    • Derrick of the Edmund Fitzgerald (Derrick Henry)
    • Hot Chubb Time Machine (Nick Chubb)
    • Lights, Kamara, Action (Alvin Kamara)
    • Gibson, Les' Ball (Antonio Gibson)
    • Nuthun' But Najee Thang (Najee Harris)
    • My Bite is Worse Than My Barkley (Saquon Barkley)
    • Odell's Bells (Odell Beckham Jr.)
    • Chasing Glory (Ja'Marr Chase)
    • Tyreek of Greatness (Tyreek Hill)
    • Hopkins and a Jump Away (DeAndre Hopkins)
    • Jefferson Airplane (Justin Jefferson)
    • Boyd of This Game (Tyler Boyd)
    • Stefondu (Stefon Diggs)
    • Pop Lockett Drop It (Tyler Lockett)
    • Glass Half Fuller (Will Fuller)
    • The Big Gronkowski (Rob Gronkowski)
    • Hockenson Loogies (T.J. Hockenson)
    • Brick Waller (Darren Waller)
    • Kelce'n Ghosts (Travis Kelce)
    • Up Pitts Creek (Kyle Pitts)
    • Put the Kittle On (George Kittle)