Way-Too-Early Fantasy Football Rankings: QB, RB, WR & TE Tiers for 2021
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.
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.
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.
Ronald Jones II
Duke Johnson Jr.
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.
Odell Beckham Jr.
Michael Pittman Jr.
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.
Robert Tonyan Jr.**
Irv Smith Jr.
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.