2021 Fantasy Football Stat Projections

The number-crunching experts at TeamRankings are back with their analytical approach to fantasy football rankings and player stat projections for 2021. All rankings and projections for the season are available for free in the fantasy football section of their new site BetIQ. Consider them a must-read before finalizing your rankings, auction values, sleeper lists, and draft cheat sheets.

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TeamRankings’ fantasy football rankings are grounded in objective data. We start with betting market expectations for wins by each team this season. Then, we use team stats and other situational variables (e.g. new coaches, new quarterbacks, ages, etc.) to find similar historical teams that can serve as a baseline for predicting future performance. 

We have also developed models that analyze similar players by age, stats, and other factors, and we examine how teams historically have distributed touches among position players. You can read a full explanation of what went into creating these player rankings here. 

Last season was the first year we put these models to work, and the results were positive. When our rankings differed from the ADP of the top 10 QB/TEs or top 20 RB/WRs by three or more slots, our rank was closer to the actual player finish 64 percent of the time. We were ahead of the market on notable breakouts, such as Josh Allen, Calvin Ridley, DK Metcalf, and T.J. Hockenson. We were also bearish on some big-name players, like Odell Beckham Jr., Todd Gurley, and Drew Brees, all of whom disappointed.

DOMINATE YOUR DRAFT: Ultimate 2021 Cheat Sheet

Below, we’ve listed the top 10 quarterbacks and tight ends and top 20 running backs and wide receivers in our 2021 fantasy rankings for standard scoring. Check out our full 2021 fantasy football projections for the complete list of players and more scoring formats, such as PPR and half-PPR.

NOTE: The projections and rankings below were generated on Aug. 16, 2021 and are subject to change based on breaking news, injuries, etc. Our latest numbers will always be available on the fantasy football section of BetIQ.com.

Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Each team

2021 ;Fantasy Football Stat Projections: QB

These projections are for four-point passing TD leagues.

Our quarterback projections don’t contain a lot of surprises. Patrick Mahomes tops the list, followed by Josh Allen. After that, Kyler Murray and Lamar Jackson again rank highly as dual-threat options.

The one newcomer here is Jalen Hurts, who is ninth in our rankings despite being just outside the top 10 in average draft position. Hurts has massive rushing upside in the same vein as Jackson and Murray. 

After taking over at quarterback for Carson Wentz last year, Hurts averaged 11.5 rushing attempts and 68 rushing yards per game in four starts. If he can hold onto the Eagles’ starting role this year, he has top-five upside due to his rushing projection. 

2021 Fantasy Football Stat Projections: RB

Injuries caused Christian McCaffrey to miss most of the 2020 season, but he is still our top projected running back. Dalvin Cook, Derrick Henry, and Alvin Kamara round out our top four.

It’s important to pay attention to your scoring settings when drafting running backs. In 2021, the optimal choice among the second group of running backs is dictated by league format. 

Austin Ekeler is 11th in our PPR RB rankings because of his projected number of catches, but he drops to 19th in standard scoring. D’Andre Swift and Clyde Edwards-Helaire also rank higher in PPR formats than they do in standard scoring.

Meanwhile, backs like Josh Jacobs and JK Dobbins rank much higher in non-PPR scoring but fall toward the bottom of our top 20 in PPR leagues. Average draft position results show that most fantasy owners don’t adjust enough for the PPR aspect, as those five backs rank similarly across all scoring formats.

The one back outside the top 20 in ADP who appears in our rankings is Darrell Henderson Jr. of the Rams. Cam Akers was being drafted around the top 12 before he suffered a season-ending Achilles’ injury in July, and it doesn’t appear as though the public has fully accounted for Henderson’s role and opportunity now. 

Akers was highly valued coming off his strong performance in last year’s NFL playoffs, but Henderson had more total yards and touchdowns than Akers in the regular season. He has a three-down skillset and should serve as the lead back for a top offense with plenty of goal-line opportunities.

These projections are for standard, non-PPR leagues. For PPR projections, click here. 

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2021 Fantasy Football Stat Projections: WR

The top three receivers in our rankings are all first-round options, particularly in PPR formats.

Tyreek Hill had a career-high 15 touchdowns last year and plays for the NFL’s top passing offense in Kansas City. Stefon Diggs led the league in both receptions and yards last season. Davante Adams led the NFL in receiving touchdowns in 2020 (18) and is the clear top option for Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay.

Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp are both outside the top 12 wideouts in ADP, but they’re inside that range in our rankings. Although they both had over 90 receptions last year, they averaged fewer than 11.0 yards per catch as Jared Goff struggled to push the ball down the field. New Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford should improve upon that. (We have the Rams projected as a top-six passing offense in volume for 2021, which means you want their top two receivers.)

We are also higher on several second-year breakout candidates, including Brandon Aiyuk and Tee Higgins, CeeDee Lamb, and Justin Jefferson. Both Aiyuk and Higgins showed potential as rookies in 2020 despite dealing with major quarterback turnover. They each profile as the type of receivers who can make a big sophomore-year leap.

Meanwhile, veteran wideouts Allen Robinson II and Adam Thielen are going higher with the public but just miss our top-20 list.

Thielen is heading into his age-31 season and is coming off a career-high 14 touchdowns on fewer than 1,000 receiving yards, which suggests he’s likely due for some scoring regression. The passing volume in Chicago is the biggest concern for Robinson, particularly if rookie Justin Fields takes over at quarterback and brings more of a rushing element to the Bears’ offense.

Robinson has been peppered with at least 150 targets in each of the past two years, and he ranked third in that category both times. If that volume declines, he won’t live up to his ADP.

These projections are for standard, non-PPR leagues. For PPR projections, click here. 

2021 Fantasy Football Stat Projections: TE

There is a clear top three in our 2021 tight end rankings with Travis Kelce on top followed by Darren Waller and George Kittle. 

Kelce had a career-high 1,416 receiving yards last year, while Waller followed up his breakout 2019 campaign with an even better season, topping 100 receptions and scoring nine touchdowns. Injuries limited Kittle to just eight games last year, but he is still an elite tight end when healthy.

The next tier includes Falcons rookie Kyle Pitts, Detroit’s T.J. Hockenson, and Baltimore’s Mark Andrews. Pitts was the fourth overall pick this year and packs freakish athleticism. With Julio Jones now in Tennessee, Pitts is expected to make an instant impact.

After those three, there is a drop-off to a much larger tier of tight ends who could serve as starters. One whom we have ranked higher than his ADP is Tyler Higbee. 

Higbee was a notable disappointment last year after often being drafted inside the top eight at tight end. Now, he has Stafford at quarterback instead of Goff, while former fellow tight end Gerald Everett left for Seattle. So Higbee should enjoy more target opportunities.

These projections are for standard, non-PPR leagues. For PPR projections, click here. 

Full Fantasy Rankings & Week 1 Picks

For our complete projections of nearly 300 players and team defenses, visit our fantasy football section on BetIQ.com.

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