Fantasy Football 2021: Updated Rankings and Advice for Team Names

·5 min read

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 rear view, 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 point-per-reception (PPR) leagues and some creative team-name suggestions for those looking to get their squads started.

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

Rolling with a rookie quarterback in fantasy is a boom-bust proposition. First-year quarterbacks 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 Los Angeles Chargers quarterback 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.

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 Prescott has also been dealing with a shoulder injury 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 hand, ESPN's Adam Schefter has reported that Prescott 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 too is a bit of a boom-bust prospect.

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 that 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.

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: