Latest Fantasy News and Notes
With fantasy football draft season drawing ever nearer, what is the latest news from around the NFL, and how does it impact your fantasy teams? Pro Football Network’s Senior Fantasy Analyst Eric Moody casts his eye over the latest fantasy football news and discusses how fantasy values are impacted.
Fantasy Football News | Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones could lose touches to Giovani Bernard
Question: Should we be worried about either Leonard Fournette or Ronald Jones losing a significant number of targets to Giovani Bernard?
We should be concerned. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady is very particular about pass protection. Both Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones were inconsistent in that area last season. Giovani Bernard was a very savvy signing by Tampa Bay.
The former Cincinnati Bengal has played in 115 games and rushed for 3,697 yards and 22 touchdowns on 921 attempts in his career. Bernard also contributed as a receiver out of the backfield with 342 career receptions. Were you aware that was the most by a running back in Bengals history? Additionally, Bernard’s 2,867 receiving yards are the second-most in franchise history.
We have Bernard projected to lead the Buccaneers’ backfield in targets. He could see around 60 in 2021.
Moody’s Mailbag | Damien Harris the “sure-fire No. 1 option” in New England
Question: How high would you draft Damien Harris if recent reports are accurate, and what does it do to Sony Michel’s value?
Damien Harris is a great option at his sixth-round ADP on Fantasy Football Calculator. The New England Patriots averaged the third-most rushing attempts (31.4) last season.
Harris got off to a slow start in 2020 because of an ankle injury. In 10 games played, he averaged nearly 14 rushing attempts and 69 rushing yards per game. Harris’ floor in 2021 is a little over 200 rushing attempts, and he could see an even larger workload.
These reports tank Sony Michel’s fantasy value and add even more gasoline to the rumors that he’s a cut candidate prior to the start of the 2021 season.
Question: With the report out of Los Angeles that Darrell Henderson could see more involvement in the passing game, does that hurt Cam Akers’ fantasy value?
I wouldn’t be concerned about Cam Akers’ fantasy value this season. Darrell Henderson did play well early last year as the rookie dealt with injuries. However, from Week 13 on, Akers operated as the lead running back for the Los Angeles Rams. He averaged 24.2 opportunities per game.
Henderson will have more of a change-of-pace role in the Rams’ backfield in 2021. We have Akers projected for around 305 opportunities and Henderson for around 110.
Akers will be used as a three-down back, and head coach Sean McVay may look to replicate what he did with Todd Gurley from 2017 to 2018. Gurley averaged 24 opportunities per game during that time frame, and Akers can handle that type of workload.
The former Florida State running back was the third RB in school history with multiple 1,000-yard rushing seasons. The other two are Warrick Dunn and Dalvin Cook. Akers ranked fifth all-time in Florida State history with 586 rushing attempts. Moreover, his 2,874 rushing yards and 11 100-yard games ranked sixth. Akers’ 34 touchdowns tied for sixth in Florida State history while his 27 rushing touchdowns rank seventh.
Akers is going to thrive in 2021 for the Rams with new quarterback Matthew Stafford under center.
Question: Will Nico Collins be fantasy-relevant this season?
Drafted by the Houston Texans in Round 3, I believe Nico Collins can be a sleeper for fantasy managers in 2021. Collins only appeared in 29 games at Michigan, with 22 starts from 2017 to 2019. He stockpiled 78 receptions for 1,388 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns in his career.
Brandin Cooks will enter the 2021 season as the Texans’ de facto No. 1 receiver following the departure of Will Fuller. Thus, Collins will be competing for targets with the often injured Randall Cobb and Chris Conley. This is a training camp battle the rookie can win. Collins could see up to 80 targets if he supplants Cobb or Conley. He’s someone to target in deeper redraft formats and dynasty.
Question: If Taylor Heinicke is named the starter in Washington, what is his fantasy value, and how does it impact Terry McLaurin and the pass catchers?
If Taylor Heinicke is named the starter, then his fantasy value would be similar to Ryan Fitzpatrick. He could be viewed as a mid-range QB2.
Terry McLaurin will be fine. He has caught at least 1 reception from six different quarterbacks during his first two NFL seasons. Despite this, McLaurin has developed into one of the most talented receivers in the league. He has averaged 8 targets, 5 receptions, 70 receiving yards, and 14.4 PPR fantasy points per game in his 29 active games.
In truth, he’s prospered without a viable quarterback under center. The same can be said for the other pass catchers in Washington. If this scenario comes to fruition, McLaurin could still be viewed as a high-end WR2. Likewise, Curtis Samuel would still be a mid-range WR2 and Logan Thomas a TE1.
Moody’s Mailbag | Can Ezekiel Elliott still finish as an RB1 in 2021?
Question: There has been A LOT of hype around Ezekiel Elliott on social this past week. Where do you have him ranked, and do you think he can finish as RB1 in 2021?
I view Elliott as a top-six fantasy running back. The entire Dallas Cowboys’ offense struggled last season without Dak Prescott.
With Prescott under center last season, Elliott averaged a robust 24.4 opportunities (rushing attempts and targets), 107.4 total yards, and 23 PPR fantasy points per game. In four of those five games, Elliott finished as an RB1.
However, as the Cowboys played musical chairs at quarterback, Elliott saw more stacked boxes. From Week 6 on, he averaged 19.5 opportunities, 78 total yards, and 11.8 PPR fantasy points per game. He was active in 10 games and only finished as an RB1 three more times.
Dallas’ offensive line should also bounce back. Multiple reports suggest that none of their key linemen have suffered setbacks in their recovery. Therefore, the unit is well-positioned to reclaim its elite status in 2021.
No other running back has scored more PPR fantasy points than Elliott (1,413) since being drafted in 2016. He also ranks first in opportunities (1,413) over that time frame. Elliott can easily finish as an RB1.
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Eric is a Senior Fantasy Analyst for Pro Football Network and a member of the FSWA (Fantasy Sports Writers Association). You can read more of his work here and follow Eric on Twitter @EricNMoody.