One of the biggest issues in fantasy football drafting is failing to account for offseason transactions. Some acquisitions are a precursor to a role adjustment for a once-trusted player. Even a minor loss in targets or touches can be a major problem if you pay a premium for the wrong playmaker.
The fantasy football season is almost upon us and we're making sure your strategy is tight. The last thing you need is to be a victim of autopick and land someone who has been phased out due to scheme or competition for touches. It's important to make your board before you enter the lobby to avoid the panicked feeling looming until you see the damage.
We're not fading every player on this list but we're also not optimistic about their outlook, either. Some of these familiar stars have more defined roles or potential now than before. They've each lost value since the end of last season and drafters must be wary of paying their sticker price.
Sony Michel, New England Patriots
The running back hierarchy in New England was already a mess for fantasy players in standard leagues. James White offered some value in PPR leagues, and Damien Harris appears to be the man as far as toting the rock. There was hope New England would lose White and expand either Harris' or Sony Michel's role but the team re-signed their longtime role player.
The ceiling has clearly lowered for Michel in particular. He's been banged up and relatively unimpressive throughout his three-year career. Michel amassed volume numbers but Harris was a better rusher when given the chance in 2020.
Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The fact that Leonard Fournette's still being drafted as RB27 is absolutely insane. He's in front of starting running backs Chase Edmonds, Mike Davis, Ronald Jones, and a slew of higher-end backups. But this is mainly due to name recognition.
Fournette's playoff performance was solid as he accumulated 55 or more yards in each game and three touchdowns in Tampa Bay's four outings. However, there's nothing to hint towards him receiving a bigger role in 2021. Jones was the starter because he's a smoother runner with better vision, and Bruce Arians has staunchly defended him.
The other issue with Fournette's role in 2021 is the addition of Giovani Bernard. The 29-year-old is a natural pass-catcher who will fill the James White role for Tom Brady. This will relegate Jones to a rusher, Fournette to short-yardage back, and Bernard as a receiver.
D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers
D.J. Moore is the player on this list I most want on my team. However, amid his breakout with an absurd average of 18.3 yards per catch last year, he scored just four times and then lost his quarterback. The Panthers' decision to swap Teddy Bridgewater for Sam Darnold is a gutsy one that I'm pessimistic about.
Of course, all is not equal, but the last time we saw Darnold with Robby Anderson, the explosive stud managed to top out at 779 yards and six scores over two years. Bridgewater and Joe Brady helped him hit a career-high with almost 1,100 receiving yards on 95 catches. Is it reasonable for Darnold to reach that level under Brady?
I don't think it is. Darnold struggles playing within a scheme, and these receivers thrived with a timing passer last year. Moore will take a hit in efficiency and overall ceiling due to Darnold, and the addition of Terrace Marshall and Christian McCaffrey. There are simply not enough passes to go around.
Chase Claypool, Pittsburgh Steelers
There's no question Chase Claypool has impressive movement skills for someone with an amazing 6-foot-4, 238-pound frame. He dominated several games with his catch radius and coordination. However, his fantasy value is too inflated due to his monstrous seven-catch, 110-yard and three-touchdown performance in Week 5 against the Eagles.
The rest of his season was great for a rookie but nothing terribly impressive overall. Ben Roethlisberger's arm is weakening by the day, and there's a ton of competition on the Steelers' roster for targets. JuJu Smith-Schuster is back, shockingly, and adding Najee Harris hurts Claypool even more. Diontae Johnson and James Washington are legitimate receivers as well.
There will be touchdown regression for Claypool even if his receptions and yards stay consistent. Claypool is being drafted over Tee Higgins, Odell Beckham Jr., Courtland Sutton, and D.J. Chark. I won't be following suit come draft day.
Kenyan Drake, Las Vegas Raiders
Life is difficult as a free-agent running back. Kenyan Drake is a good playmaker who can make something out of nothing. The former Alabama product performed well in his role with the Dolphins and Cardinals but he was unable to keep a starting job.
Shockingly, Jon Gruden splurged on Drake as a backup to Josh Jacobs despite other roster needs. Drake led the league in carries inside the 10-yard line, artificially boosting his 10 total touchdowns in 2020. He's more effective as a receiving threat and third-down presence.
Drake's ADP already took a hit and he's drafted among other backups and unproven youngsters. We can look at the Raiders' backup running back usage in 2020 to project the workload Drake will get. Devontae Booker, a significantly inferior player, received 93 rushes for 423 yards, and an additional 17 receptions for 84 yards.
Drake will produce more than that with those touches but it'll be a marginal improvement for the heavy cost. The only way Drake has fantasy value is if Jacobs suffers an injury and misses significant time.
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