(Image credit: Eliana Brown/USA Today)
By: Jett Rosenstein
All summer long, fantasy football managers everywhere have been doing all the necessary research to get themselves ready for their upcoming fantasy football drafts. Now that draft season is officially upon us, fantasy football managers will be determined to nail each one of their picks. Whether you are a casual who plays in 1 or 2 leagues or a die-hard who plays in 4+ leagues, this article is a great cheat sheet to have at your side come draft day. In my last article, I detailed my favorite selections in each round. In this article, I will go over which player I will be avoiding in each round. All ADPs courtesy of FantasyPros.com and based on a 12-team PPR league.
Round 1: Nick Chubb (RB-CLE) ADP: 9.3
Don’t get me wrong, Nick Chubb is one of the most talented RBs in football. However, drafting him in the first round isn’t worth it to me, especially in a PPR league. His ceiling is capped due to him not being heavily involved in the passing game and Kareem Hunt is still breathing down his neck. He is going ahead of guys like Austin Ekeler and Aaron Jones, who are more involved in their respective team’s passing games.
Round 2: Patrick Mahomes (QB-KC) ADP: 19.0
Patrick Mahomes is undoubtedly fantasy gold year in and year out. However, drafting him in the 2nd round makes zero sense to me. In my opinion, you shouldn’t be considering a QB until round 4 at the earliest. The position is that deep. Mahomes is part of the most electric offense in football, but from a fantasy perspective, there are more important needs to fill at this point in the draft.
Round 3: Josh Jacobs (RB-LVR) ADP: 37.5
Josh Jacobs was an RB1 in 2020. However, his outlook for 2021 is much less appealing. With the addition of Kenyan Drake in free agency, Jacobs’ upside is even more capped than it already was. Just like Chubb, Jacobs is not active in the passing game. In order for him to be productive for your fantasy team, he will need to be efficient with his carries and find the end zone a ton. I just don’t see that happening.
Round 4: Kyle Pitts (TE-ATL) ADP: 47.0
Kyle Pitts, the highest-drafted TE in NFL history is already making waves within the fantasy community. He has many fantasy football managers fully aboard his hype train. Frankly, it is not worth it to draft Pitts this early on. Just a reminder, rookie TEs have not fared well in fantasy football in the past. While Pitts is not your prototypical TE, I much rather shore up a different spot on my roster and focus on more proven TEs at a different stage in the draft.
Round 5: Mike Davis (RB-ATL) ADP: 55.0
All offseason long I have gone back and forth on Mike Davis. Davis is coming into an Atlanta Falcons backfield that has no real competition. To begin play, he should see a heavy workload. While Davis showed his ability to produce as the bell cow in Carolina, his body seemed to wear down as the season went on. For most of his career, Davis has been an inefficient backup and 2020 could prove to be an outlier. Avoid Davis in the “RB Dead Zone.”
Round 6: JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR-PIT) ADP: 74.2
JuJu Smith-Schuster had a promising start to his NFL career. He finished as high as the WR8 in 2018. However, he has not been the same player since then. With an aging Ben Roethlisberger, JuJu has seen his average yard per reception take a tumble. This goes along with 2 emerging receivers by his side in Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool. In the end, JuJu lacks the upside he used to and will most likely score more points for his Tik Tok dances than in fantasy football in 2021.
Round 7: DJ Chark Jr. (WR-JAC) ADP: 91.3
DJ Chark has shown flashes of what he is capable of as a receiver. For the first 3 years of his career, he had to deal with subpar QB play. Now, Trevor Lawrence comes into play. While Trevor Lawrence is going to upgrade all of the weapons in this offense, there may be some growing pains early on. On top of that, Chark has just undergone surgery which limits his time to develop a rapport with Lawrence. With Marvin Jones Jr. seemingly being a favorite of Lawrence early on in preseason and Laviska Shenault on the rise, there may not be enough work left to keep Chark fantasy relevant.
Round 8: Deebo Samuel (WR-SF) ADP: 96.3
Deebo Samuel’s 2020 campaign was largely lost due to injury. He is back healthy for the 2021 season, but pump the brakes on him having a significant impact on your fantasy teams. Samuel should provide a decent floor from week to week, but lacks significant upside due to all of the weapons on this 49ers offense. Being that we are approaching the later portion of the draft, I rather shoot my shot on someone who could return huge dividends.
Round 9: Jalen Hurts (QB-PHI) ADP: 99.8
A lot of people are expecting Jalen Hurts to make a jump in year 2 in the NFL. I am not one of those people. While he certainly has the rushing floor to maintain his fantasy value, his passing abilities are most likely going to hinder him in 2021. He only completed 52% of his passes in 2020. Hurts will be reunited with former Alabama teammate DeVonta Smith. Despite a decent cast of supporting characters, Hurts has struggled in camp and I expect those struggles to carry over into the regular season.
Round 10: Mike Gesicki (TE-MIA) ADP: 123.5
With the Dolphins adding Jaylen Waddle in the draft and Will Fuller in free agency, it seems as if it may take a toll on Mike Gesicki’s production in 2021. While Gesicki is coming off a 2020 campaign where he finished as the TE6, I fully expect Tua to spread the wealth. With the TE position being so scarce, it is important to seek out volume. I believe Gesicki will fall outside the top 10 at his position in 2021.
Round 11: Rob Gronkowski (TE-TB) ADP: 132.8
Here we have another TE from who I am expecting somewhat of a drop in production. Rob Gronkowski came out of retirement in 2020 and surprisingly had an impact on fantasy football rosters finishing as the TE8. However, 2021 will most likely be a different story. With all of the Bucs weapons on offense back to full health, Gronk will not be able to be as productive in 2021. We all know Brady loves to get Gronk the ball, but he also loves spreading the wealth.
Round 12: Baker Mayfield (QB-CLE) ADP: 138.5
The simple fact is that the Cleveland Browns offense will be leaning heavily on the run once again in 2021. It makes logical sense considering they have 2 high-level backs in Chubb and Hunt and the best offensive line in the game. This puts a damper on Baker Mayfield’s outlook. There is seemingly no upside with Baker as his attempts will be limited and he doesn’t provide any value on the ground. Pull the trigger on another QB with more upside at this stage of the draft.
Round 13: TY Hilton (WR-IND) ADP: 153.9
TY Hilton was once a huge asset to fantasy football teams. Now, in the year 2021 that is no longer the case. Besides the fact he is entering his age 31 season, he also has to contend with a few young receivers in Michael Pittman and Parris Campbell who are looking to make their mark on the league. There is simply no logical explanation for taking Hilton in fantasy drafts anymore. Hilton has very little upside. Take a chance on someone like Elijah Moore instead.
Round 14: Phillip Lindsay (RB-HOU) ADP: 157.8
Ever since bursting onto the scene as an undrafted RB for the Denver Broncos, Phillip Lindsay has seen his fantasy production take a considerable dip. He now joins a Texans team that is a mess. To go along with the Texans being bad for fantasy production in 2021, Lindsay will have to compete with Mark Ingram, Rex Burkhead, and David Johnson for touches. Stay away!
Round 15+: AJ Green (WR-ARI) ADP: 197.5
As recently as 2017, AJ Green was amongst the top fantasy WRs. With his age seemingly catching up to him, he certainly doesn’t have the same luster he used to. While he is going to be a part of a Cardinals offense that will be great for fantasy, there isn’t going to be enough work to go around to be able to keep Green relevant. Shoot your shot on someone like Bryan Edwards or Marquez Callaway who have much more upside.