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Barnes: Favorite Fantasy Football Picks for 2021

One player at each position who you will regret not picking in your fantasy football draft.

On the precipice of the fantasy football season, I’ve put together the list of my favorite picks for 2021. No first rounders on this list here, no hanging my hat on Christian McCaffrey as my RB1. These are all players everyone will have a chance to draft, and they’re all players you’ll regret not drafting if you don’t heed my advice! I’ve got one player for each position.

Quarterback: Russell Wilson

We need to get away from looking at quarterbacks through the lens of “he is a QB1”. If we draft Patrick Mahomes as the QB1 (the first quarterback drafted, the quarterback who we believe will lead all quarterbacks in scoring), and he ends up as the QB12 (the 12th highest scoring quarterback for the year), then Mahomes was still technically “a QB1”, and also a huge disappointment.  

I want to find the last quarterback (by ADP) with a good shot at finishing as the QB1 and pounce on that quarterback. This year, that guy is Russell Wilson. I won’t spend a lot of ink trying to convince you Wilson is good, rather I’ll say that Wilson was leading the fantasy pack through the first half of the season in 2020. I wrote a more expansive article on this topic earlier this offseason, but I’ll top-line it here. 

Pete Carroll appears to be softening on his “three yards and a cloud of dust” offensive philosophy. In the offseason, the Seattle Seahawks hired Shane Waldron (former Los Angeles Rams passing game coordinator) to be their offensive coordinator, and they added dynamic tight end breakout candidate Gerald Everett to the receiving corps already boasting D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Wilson has the best surrounding cast of his career. 

Wilson is ranked as my QB2 for 2021. With an ADP of the middle of the sixth round, Wilson is a must draft. 

Running Back: Clyde Edwards-Helaire

We saw excellent burst, good receiving skills, and willingness to run inside when called to do so from CEH in his rookie season, and so we know dominance is within his range of outcomes. The Kansas City Chiefs offense is one of the most explosive in the league, and CEH is the unquestioned No. 1 man in the backfield. Andy Reid is still calling the plays for KC, and with the track record we’ve seen with Reid and fantasy running backs, I don’t want to be caught on the outside looking in when the next big thing comes along.

Related: Breakout Candidates Based on Touchdown Dependency

Competent backups should not scare you out of drafting Edwards-Helaire early in the first round of your fantasy drafts, even though his current ADP has him going in the middle of the second. Some have said Edwards-Helaire had a disappointing rookie season, an over-correction for unreasonable expectations set by fanatic fantasy drafters in 2020. I look at the 1,000+ yards of production and Kansas City’s moves in the offseason, mainly the release of Damien Williams, and I wonder if having CEH as my RB4 might be too low. 

Wide Receiver: Will Fuller

Fuller will miss Week 1 as he serves the final game of his six-game suspension for failing a drug test late in the 2020 campaign. In Week 2, Fuller will take over as the No. 1 wide receiver on a Miami Dolphins team on the rise. Currently the WR44 by ADP, Fuller is going off the board at the beginning of the 10th round. 

Last year’s WR8 in points per game (11 games played) is going off the board as the WR44. 

Fuller is a great pick in the sixth round. That he is available in the 10th is a failure of the fantasy analyst community. 

Tight End: Mark Andrews

Andrews is a bit like my Russell Wilson pick in that Andrews is the last tight end that could tilt weeks for your team against nearly every opponent. 

In the offseason, the Baltimore Ravens took a bunch of swings trying to upgrade their receiver corps. They drafted Rashod Bateman and signed Sammy Watkins to flesh out a receiver room that was Marquise Brown and not much else. Injuries have laid waste to the Ravens’s plan at wideout, and Andrews, on top of being one of Lamar Jackson’s favorite targets over the past two seasons, is the last man standing. We should expect Andrews to see plenty of targets early and often, giving him plenty of tries to top his 2019 season, 10 touchdown performance.