After a heart-breaking loss in the NFC championship, the Green Bay Packers enter the 2021 season with very minimal changes on the offensive side of the ball. They drafted Amari Rodgers in the 3rd round, who could be an intriguing slot option for this team. In addition, Devin Funchess, who opted out in 2020 due to COVID, will be returning as well. Perhaps the most significant change for the team could be the loss of Corey Linsley, who was one of the best centers in the league last season. As his replacement, the Packers drafted Josh Myers, center out of Ohio State. Regardless, this offense will only go as far as Aaron Rodgers takes them. If he remains on this team, the Packers are likely to lead the NFC North once again.
Aaron Rodgers had another MVP season compiling 4,292 passing yards, 48 passing touchdowns, and only 5 interceptions in 2020.
Per Next Gen Stats, Rodgers also finished the season as the QB3 in Completion Percentage Over Expected with +4.4, proving that he was one of the most accurate QBs in the league.
His 2020 QB rating of 121.5 was also the 2nd best in his career, behind only his 2011 season.
For fantasy, Rodgers was extremely consistent as well, finishing as a top-12 quarterback in 13 of his 16 games.
If Rodgers remains with the Packers, expect another QB1 season from the reigning MVP.
Aaron Jones finished as the RB6 in PPR points per game in 2020, averaging 18.4 points in 14 games.
His upside for fantasy is rooted in his heavy involvement as a receiver, averaging the 6th highest target share (14.5%) among running backs this past season.
After several years of mediocre quarterback play, the Chicago Bears might finally have their next franchise quarterback in Justin Fields, who was drafted with the 11th overall pick. That alone raises the upside of this offense, giving them a better chance at winning the NFC North. Outside of that, the Bears offense should look fairly similar this upcoming season. Allen Robinson was franchise tagged and will remain the primary receiving option, while David Montgomery is set to lead this backfield once again. While this might not be the most explosive offense, there should be several fantasy-relevant players on this team.
In the 2020 draft, the Bears traded up to the 11th overall pick to draft Justin Fields out of Ohio State.
Over the past two years, Fields averaged 244.2 passing yards, 2.9 passing touchdowns, and 39.4 rushing yards in 22 games.
Per sports reference, his career adjusted passing yards per attempt of 10.7 ranks 4th-best among all quarterbacks since 1956.
With his outstanding accuracy, arm strength, and dual-threat ability, Fields has the potential to be a very productive fantasy quarterback if given the opportunity.
David Montgomery set career-highs across the board this past season with 1,508 scrimmage yards, 10 total touchdowns, and 54 receptions.
Per our NFL Study Hub, he also received 44 carries inside the 20, which ranked RB8 this past season.
Montgomery finished as a top-24 running back in 73.3% of his games. He also finished as a top-12 RB in his final six games.
He set a career-high in target share at 14%, partially due to Tarik Cohen’s absence (ACL injury).
Expect Montgomery to be an RB2 at the very worst, even with Cohen set to return healthy this season.
Tarik Cohen missed the majority of the 2020 season due to an ACL injury.
In three games, he averaged 7.7 opportunities, an 8% target share, and 38.3 yards per game.
Cohen should remain involved in the offense, though his upside will be capped with Montgomery set to lead this backfield in 2021.
In 2020, Allen Robinson finished as the WR13 in PPR per game, averaging 16.4 points in 16 games.
Despite dealing with a QB change multiple times throughout the season, Robinson remained the focal point of the Bears offense, averaging a 25.4% target share.
He also finished as the WR7 in total air yards (1,490), converting 64.1% of those air yards into actual receiving production.
Robinson was not the most consistent receiver, finishing as a WR1 in only 31.3% of his games last season.
With the projected QB upgrade, Robinson could see a boost in consistency and production in 2021.
Darnell Mooney finished the season with 6.1 targets, 39.4 receiving yards, and a 16.5% target share on a per-game basis.
Despite a slower start to the season, Mooney received the 11th most deep targets with 23.
Per our NFL Study Hub, Mooney saw 8 fewer targets than Robinson in the red zone, but finished with the same number of receptions (7) and receiving touchdowns (4).
Expect Mooney to operate as the WR2 in this offense behind Allen Robinson in 2021, greatly benefiting from their QB upgrade to Justin Fields
The athletic second-round rookie out of Notre Dame was not an immediate contributor, averaging only 1.1 targets per game prior to the Bears’ bye week.
After their bye week, Kmet emerged as Chicago’s lead TE averaging 5.5 targets, 26.2 receiving yards, and 59.2 snaps per game.
He finished as a top-20 TE three times in his six games.
With very little receiving competition behind Robinson and Mooney, Kmet could emerge as a primary option for Justin Fields in 2021.
After finishing 4th in the NFC North, the Detroit Lions made waves earlier this off-season when they traded away their franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford for Jared Goff and several picks. Furthermore, they took a significant hit at wide receiver, losing both Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones in free agency. As a result, they have the most vacated WR targets in the league with 289 heading into 2021. This could potentially present an opportunity for some of the new additions to the team, such as Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman, and Amon-Ra St. Brown. The most impactful addition to this team, however, might be offensive tackle Penei Sewell, who the Lions drafted with the 7th overall pick in this year’s draft. With so many changes to the roster and coaching staff, expect the Lions to be a revamped offense in 2021.
Jared Goff finished as the QB23 in points per game (21.8) last season, totaling 3,942 passing yards, 20 passing touchdowns, and 13 interceptions.
Goff struggled the most when targeting his receivers downfield, averaging a 27.1% deep ball competition rate and ranking QB32 in that metric.
In addition, Goff was the QB25 in quarterback rating with 90, ranking behind players like Teddy Bridgewater and even Mitchell Trubisky.
In what will likely be a run-heavy offensive scheme, Goff’s fantasy upside will be capped. Expect him to be a steady, yet unexciting option at quarterback for your fantasy teams.
Despite starting the season in a running back committee, Swift emerged as one of the more dynamic fantasy options, finishing as the RB18 in PPR per game (14.9).
Swift’s prowess is in the receiving game, running 16.2 routes per game in 2020 and averaging the 6th highest yards per route run among running backs.
Swift is also one of only 18 rookie running backs since 2000 to compile at least 900 yards from scrimmage and 45 receptions.
With several question marks at wide receiver, I expect Swift to be a focal point of this Lions offense, both in the rushing and receiving game. He has a very high RB2 floor, with the upside to be an RB1 for fantasy.
After spending four seasons with the Packers, Jamaal Williams was signed by Detroit this off-season and will complement D’Andre Swift in that backfield.
Despite playing behind Aaron Jones, Williams still managed to finish as an RB3 or better in 42.9% of his games.
He led all running backs in catch rate last season at 88.6%.
Williams will be a high-upside backup to Swift, though he should have some flex-worth games as well.
In his only season with the Jets, Breshad Perriman totaled 505 receiving yards, 30 receptions, and 3 receiving touchdowns in 12 games.
He operated as a deep threat for Sam Darnold, averaging the 8th highest average target distance in the league with 15.2.
Perriman also ranked as the WR7 in drop rate (8.5%), dropping a pass for every 11.8 targets.
With very little competition at the wide receiver position, Perriman could see several deep targets in this Lions offense.
Amon-Ra St. Brown
The rookie out of USC was drafted with the 7th pick in the 4th round and could be the primary slot option for Jared Goff.
In his three-year collegiate career, St. Brown never fell below a 24% receiving yards market share, indicating that he was very involved even as a true freshman.
His best season was in 2020 where he compiled 478 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns in only 6 games, averaging a 33% receiving dominator rating.
While day 3 rookies are rarely productive early on in their career, considering the Lions’ depth chart, I would not be surprised to see St. Brown lead this team in both targets and receiving yards at the wide receiver position.
After an uneven rookie year, T.J. Hockenson set career highs across the board, while averaging the 6th most PPR points per game (11.1) at the TE position.
According to our NFL Study Hub, Hockenson ranked as the TE10 in target share with 18.1% and 6.31 targets per game.
He was also a legitimate threat with the ball in his hands, totaling the 4th most yards after catch among TEs with 328 yards.
Despite the change in coaching staff, Hockenson should operate as the primary target for Jared Goff, likely leading this team in target share and red-zone opportunities.
After missing the playoffs and finishing 3rd in the NFC North, the Minnesota Vikings did very little to change their offense. Instead, they spent most of the free agency adding pieces to their defense. In the draft, however, they did select a quarterback in Kellen Mond, who will likely be the primary backup to Kirk Cousins. In addition, they also added Iowa wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette, who has an opportunity to seize the WR3 role in this offense. Regardless, the primary fantasy options on this team will remain unchanged with Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, and Justin Jefferson leading the way.
Kirk Cousins had another productive season, throwing for 4,265 passing yards, a career-high 35 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions.
He was once again one of the more accurate quarterbacks in the league, finishing the season as the QB4 in completion percentage over expected (+4.3).
In addition to being accurate, Cousins was also very efficient, averaging the 3rd highest yards per attempt (8.2) in the league last season.
Cousins should once again be a borderline QB1, making him an excellent late-round target in single quarterback leagues.
In 14 games, Dalvin Cook was the RB3 in PPR points per game (24.6), totaling 1,918 scrimmage yards and 17 touchdowns.
According to our NFL Study Hub, Cook had the 3rd most carries (58) and the most rushing yards (222) inside the 20. That led to 13 rushing touchdowns in the red zone.
He was also outstanding at creating opportunities beyond the offensive line, evading a tackle on 29.8% of his touches.
In addition to his heavy involvement as a rusher, Cook saw the 9th highest target share (13%) among running backs in 2020.
Cook should remain a top-3 fantasy running back this upcoming season, with the upside to finish as the overall RB1 in all formats.
In his second season, Alexander Mattison was the primary backup to Dalvin Cook, receiving only a few opportunities per game as a change-of-pace running back.
In games without Dalvin Cook, Mattison has averaged 16.8 PPR points, 87.5 total yards, and 1 touchdown.
At only 22 years old, Mattison is a high-upside backup and could be a league-winner if Cook were to suffer an injury.
Justin Jefferson had a historic rookie season, averaging the 5th highest PPR points per game (17.1) among all rookie wide receivers in NFL history.
In addition to seeing 125 targets, Jefferson was also one of the more efficient receivers with 2.65 yards per route run.
He also finished as a WR2 or better in 50% of his games, scoring at least 15 PPR points in 8 games.
What is most impressive about Jefferson’s season is that he remained productive despite the Vikings 27th ranked offensive passing rate of 54%.
Heading into his second year, Jefferson has WR1 upside as the focal point of the Vikings’ passing offense.
Adam Thielen finished the 2020 season as the WR11 in PPR points per game with 16.9, despite only averaging 61.7 yards per game.
His heavy involvement in the red zone is what made him such a valuable fantasy receiver, finishing with the 3rd most touchdowns (14) among wide receivers.
According to our NFL Study Hub, Thielen saw the 3rd most red-zone targets with 19 last season.
With Jefferson’s emergence, Thielen will remain a touchdown-dependent wide receiver in 2021.
Irv Smith Jr.
With Kyle Rudolph no longer on the team, Irv Smith Jr. steps up as the primary option at the TE position for the Vikings.
In games without Rudolph, Smith has averaged 10.9 PPR points, 4.4 targets, and 38.8 receiving yards per game.
During the fantasy playoffs last season (weeks 14 to 16), Smith led all TEs in receiving touchdowns (3), PPR per game (15.5), and receiving yards per game (51).
If you are unable to grab a Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, or George Kittle early in your drafts, Irv Smith is the perfect late-round TE target in fantasy drafts.
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