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Way-Too-Early Fantasy Football Rankings: QB, RB, WR & TE Tiers for 2021

Way-Too-Early Fantasy Football Rankings: QB, RB, WR & TE Tiers for 2021 article feature image

Getty Images. Pictured: Davante Adams, Josh Allen, Christian McCaffrey

Free agency. Trades. The 2021 NFL Draft.

There’s still a full offseason ahead of us, but in an effort to start preparing for the next season, I’ve projected my way-too-early edition of 2021 fantasy football rankings. You’ll find them outlined into positional tiers below.

Note: These rankings are based on half-PPR scoring. Rookies are identified with a single asterisk and pending free agents are identified with double asterisks.

QB Rankings

Tier 1
Patrick Mahomes
Josh Allen
Tier 2
Kyler Murray
Lamar Jackson
Deshaun Watson
Tier 3
Dak Prescott**
Russell Wilson
Tier 4
Aaron Rodgers
Justin Herbert
Ryan Tannehill
Tier 5
Tom Brady
Matthew Stafford
Joe Burrow
Tier 6
Matt Ryan
Trevor Lawrence*
Kirk Cousins
Baker Mayfield
Tier 7
Derek Carr
Daniel Jones
Carson Wentz
Taysom Hill
Ben Roethlisberger
Jared Goff
Tier 8
Tua Tagovailoa
Tier 9
Drew Lock
Justin Fields*
Jameis Winston**
Jimmy Garoppolo
Tier 10
Teddy Bridgewater
Mitchell Trubisky**
Zach Wilson*
Sam Darnold
Jalen Hurts
Tier 11
Cam Newton**
Ryan Fitzpatrick**

Quarterback will be a fun position to watch this offseason.

We’ve already seen one blockbuster trade that sent Matthew Stafford to the Rams and Jared Goff to the Lions. Drew Brees and Philip Rivers have likely played their final snap. Deshaun Watson, Aaron Rodgers, Dak Prescott, Mitch Trubisky, Sam Darnold and Jameis Winston (just to name a few) could start for new teams. And rookies Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields and Zach Wilson could become Day 1 starters for their future teams.

Taysom Hill will likely have the most volatile QB ranking over the next couple months. If he can come out of the offseason as the Saints’ Week 1 starter, his rank would be in the QB8-15 range. They may end up signing a different QB to be their starter, which would result in Hill’s rank falling to 30-35, so I’m splitting the difference with him for now.

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I also can’t wait to see how the Eagles sort out the Carson Wentz and Jalen Hurts situation. Hurts was the QB7 in his four starts to close out the season. I don’t expect him to be a Week 1 starter, but he may be worth stashing in deeper leagues as a backup.

The uncertainty at QB also complicates forecasting rankings for other positions until we have more clarity. It’s shaping up to be a fascinating offseason in which we could see a handful of QBs starting for different teams.

RB Rankings

Tier 1
Christian McCaffrey
Tier 2
Dalvin Cook
Tier 3
Derrick Henry
Jonathan Taylor
Saquon Barkley
Alvin Kamara
Tier 4
Ezekiel Elliott
Tier 5
Nick Chubb
Aaron Jones**
Tier 6
James Robinson
Josh Jacobs
J.K. Dobbins
Cam Akers
Tier 7
Joe Mixon
David Montgomery
Miles Sanders
D’Andre Swift
Austin Ekeler
Antonio Gibson
Tier 8
Clyde Edwards-Helaire
Najee Harris*
Chris Carson
Ronald Jones II
Kareem Hunt
Tier 9
David Johnson
Melvin Gordon
Leonard Fournette**
Kenyan Drake**
Myles Gaskin
Tier 10
Raheem Mostert
Travis Etienne*
Chase Edmonds
Tier 11
James Conner**
Devin Singletary
A.J. Dillon
Tier 12
Damien Harris
Tony Pollard
Zack Moss
Nyheim Hines
Le’Veon Bell**
Gus Edwards**
Todd Gurley**
Latavius Murray
Darrell Henderson
Tier 13
Jaret Patterson*
Benny Snell
J.D. McKissic
Kenneth Gainwell*
Alexander Mattison
Damien Williams
Javonte Williams*
Rashaad Penny
Phillip Lindsay**
Tier 14
La’Mical Perine
Duke Johnson Jr.
Salvon Ahmed
Tarik Cohen
Jamaal Williams**
Sony Michel
Marlon Mack**
Trey Sermon*
Michael Carter*
Ito Smith
James White**

Running back is going to be loaded heading into 2021.

I’m usually bearish on the tail end of the RB2 Tier — last season, I highlighted Todd Gurley, Leonard Fournette, Le’Veon Bell and Melvin Gordon as backs to avoid. And for the past few seasons, I’ve urged caution against targeting RB2s because the talent fell off a cliff in that range, but that doesn’t appear to be the case in 2021: I’ll gladly draft RBs like David Montgomery, D’Andre Swift, Antonio Gibson and Cam Akers as my RB2s in this range.

Najee Harris, Travis Etienne and Javonte Williams will be the rookie RBs to watch. All three will have RB2+ potential depending on their landing spot.

As always, we will want to load up our bench with high-upside backups. Once we get closer to draft season, I’ll roll out my high-upside RB ratings to start planning which backs we should target in the later rounds.

WR Rankings

Tier 1
Davante Adams
Tier 2
Tyreek Hill
Tier 3
Stefon Diggs
D.K. Metcalf
DeAndre Hopkins
Calvin Ridley
Tier 4
Justin Jefferson
Allen Robinson**
A.J. Brown
Tier 5
Michael Thomas
Chris Godwin**
Keenan Allen
Julio Jones
Mike Evans
Terry McLaurin
Adam Thielen
Amari Cooper
CeeDee Lamb
Tyler Lockett
Tier 6
Diontae Johnson
Robert Woods
Brandon Aiyuk
Odell Beckham Jr.
Kenny Golladay**
JuJu Smith-Schuster**
D.J. Moore
Cooper Kupp
Tier 7
Will Fuller**
Chase Claypool
Robby Anderson
Brandin Cooks
Tee Higgins
Devonta Smith*
D.J. Chark
Tyler Boyd
Curtis Samuel**
Courtland Sutton
Deebo Samuel
Marquise Brown
Tier 8
Sterling Shepard
Corey Davis**
Antonio Brown**
Jamison Crowder
DeVante Parker
Michael Gallup
Ja’Marr Chase*
Cole Beasley
Laviska Shenault
Jarvis Landry
Tier 9
Marvin Jones**
Rondale Moore*
Emmanuel Sanders
Jaylen Waddle*
Mike Williams
Jerry Jeudy
John Brown
Christian Kirk
Mecole Hardman
T.Y. Hilton**
Allen Lazard
Russell Gage
Tier 10
Denzel Mims
Jalen Reagor
Darnell Mooney
Henry Ruggs
Michael Pittman Jr.
Parris Campbell
Julian Edelman
Rashod Bateman*
Kadarius Toney*
Terrace Marshall*
Preston Williams
Sammy Watkins**
Randall Cobb
Zach Pascal

We’re in store for a handful of teams starting new quarterbacks, which will have a ripple effect on other skill positions, specifically wide receiver. We could also see free agents Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin, Kenny Golladay, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Curtis Samuel end up on new teams in 2021.

Terry McLaurin has produced WR1/2 numbers despite poor QB play in his first two seasons. He could see a significant boost in value if Washington brings on a QB like Jameis Winston.

Devonta Smith and Ja’Marr Chase will likely be the top rookies, depending on which teams they land with. It’s another loaded WR class, so it seems like a given we could see a couple others pop up as WR3+ plays in 2021. Rondale Moore, Jaylen Waddle, Rashod Bateman, Kadarius Toney and Terrance Marshall will be the other rookies to keep an eye on over the next few months.

TE Rankings

Tier 1
Travis Kelce
Tier 2
Darren Waller
George Kittle
Tier 3
Mark Andrews
T.J. Hockenson
Tier 4
Mike Gesicki
Dallas Goedert
Tier 5
Hunter Henry**
Robert Tonyan Jr.**
Noah Fant
Logan Thomas
Hayden Hurst
Jonnu Smith**
Evan Engram
Tier 6
Blake Jarwin
Kyle Pitts*
Austin Hooper
Irv Smith Jr.
Cole Kmet
Rob Gronkowski**
Eric Ebron
Tyler Higbee
Jared Cook**
Zach Ertz
Tier 7
Dawson Knox
Jimmy Graham
Adam Trautman
Harrison Bryant
Chris Herndon
David Njoku
Gerald Everett**
O.J. Howard

Travis Kelce deserves first-round treatment in 2021. He’ll be turning 32 next season, but I’m not expecting much of a decline — there’s such a steep drop-off after the top three tight ends that it’ll be critical to target the position early.

T.J. Hockenson gets a slight downgrade with Goff replacing Stafford, but Hockenson is still a top-five TE. On the flip side, Tyler Higbee gets a significant boost with Stafford going to the Rams. Gerald Everett will likely be playing for a new team in 2021 as well. Higbee has sneaky TE1 potential next season.

Tight ends usually need a couple seasons before they become reliable fantasy options. But Kyle Pitts has the potential to produce on Day 1, and depending on his landing spot, could be a TE1/2 option as a rookie.

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