June 29, 2021

Buy or Sell: 2021 Offseason Fantasy Football Hype

It's hard to ignore offseason hype

The NFL's organized team activities (OTAs) are the primary culprit for the rosy headlines that seem to prop up players this time of year. It's the first time this season that beat writers get to check out the latest developments on each roster. These practices sometimes predict a breakout season or end up falling flat when the games matter.

We're going to buy or sell some of the hottest rumors from across the league in order to help your fantasy team. Don't fall for the trap or else you'll overpay or miss out on a key draft pick. 

Buy: Trey Sermon Will Make Impact for 49ers

The Shanahan father-son legacy has made a clear impact in the NFL. Former Denver Broncos legendary coach Mike Shanahan and current San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan maximized Alex Gibbs' zone-rushing attack. Both manufactured incredibly productive backs despite having unheralded talents in the backfield.

The best players the two coaches ever had were Terrell Davis and Clinton Portis. But I'd venture to say the third-best in their vast history of backs will be Trey Sermon.

Sermon is an explosive and violent runner capable of creative after contact unlike most of either Shanahan's past backs. While Arian Foster and many others had great traits of their own, none had the elite combination of power and burst like Sermon.

It must translate to the field and scheme, but expectations should be high for the third-rounder. He'll rotate with Raheem Mostert in 2021, but don't be surprised when Sermon takes more of the workload as the season progresses. 

Sell: Laviska Shenault is primed to breakout

One of the biggest headlines of the offseason thus far is the potential Laviska Shenault breakout. According to ESPN, he's been the best offensive player for the Jaguars in OTAs. While Shenault's clearly incredibly talented, he won't break out quite yet. 

This is a tough offense to emerge in. D.J. Chark is a deadly big-play threat who should show off a more well-rounded game with Trevor Lawrence under center. And veteran Marvin Jones is the reliable, sure-handed type who can win on jump balls.

Shenault likely won't be the Percy Harvin for Urban Meyer either since Travis Etienne was pegged for that role already. That leaves Shenault fighting for whatever is left in a loaded offense with a rookie passer. 

The best case for Shenault is he sees a major touchdown bump through forced touches or random luck. That'll be tough to accomplish when both Chark and Jones are jump-ball threats and more durable than Shenault.

Buy: Antonio Gibson Will Fuel WFT Offense

There's a ton to like about the Washington Football Team's offense. The receivers can create big plays and make up for the deficiencies Ryan Fitzpatrick plays with. And there's a budding Pro Bowl-caliber runner in Antonio Gibson.

It's clear the sophomore is the key cog for the Football Team's success. A smooth runner with great speed and sharp cuts, Gibson burst onto the scene as a former third-rounder who transitioned from receiver in college. 

It's clear he's obscenely talented based on his production with a horrible quarterback situation in 2020. This offense has a significant amount of playmakers in Terry McLaurin, Gibson, Curtis Samuel, Logan Thomas and rookie Dyami Brown

Gibson will be the consistent one, though. The offense is built to feed off him and try to find big plays off play-action. 

Sell: Trai Turner is a difference-maker

The Steelers' decision to swap guard David DeCastro for Trai Turner was lukewarm at best. Turner was traded by the Panthers last year after the new staff saw a declining athlete who does his best work downhill. Then the Chargers, who had a porous offense line, chose to sign former Steeler Matt Feiler instead of retaining Turner.

DeCastro had his own injury concerns. But his upside was better than Turner's at this point. Turner is an OK stopgap who bolsters the run game more than the passing game.

The rest of the Steelers' offensive line is still garbage, though. It's possible they'll end this season with a bottom-five unit barring some stunning developments across the unit. How Ben Roethlisberger will survive the season is a massive question mark.

In a nutshell, the move to bring in Turner is just fine. However, it's too little, too late for a franchise that lost in a big way this offseason due to cap ramifications of big contracts. Turner's signing isn't big enough to help the team make a playoff push.

Buy: Tua Tagovailoa will be aggressive

The Miami Dolphins put in serious work to overhaul their offensive core. Receivers Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle are star-level playmakers who can transform this offense. And it was all to make Tua's life easier.

Tagovailoa had some great moments at the end of the 2020 season after a rocky start. Miami had little around him, and the weird platoon with Fitzpatrick was a product of insecure coaching. The Dolphins now have a strange co-offensive coordinator set up, but the focus is on the former Alabama passer. 

Tagovailoa reportedly focused on being more aggressive downfield this offseason. This is an easy buy. Although Tagovailoa doesn't have a cannon and is a smaller-bodied-passer, we saw him be a playmaker at Alabama before becoming more of a pocket passer in his junior season.

Tua's brilliance stems from great leverage reads, accuracy, and timing. His confidence coming back from his major hip surgery will be as helpful as his newfound weaponry. And everything will culminate into a solid sophomore season that could lead to a playoff berth.

Sell: Rashod Bateman will be fantasy relevant

Getting to play with a recent NFL MVP is a great advantage for most rookies. However, Baltimore is a unique spot. Lamar Jackson is a phenomenal quarterback but not for producing a consistent fantasy football receiver.

Baltimore wisely added two legitimately good talents at receiver in Sammy Watkins and Rashod Bateman this offseason. Watkins was reportedly the best player in OTAs. This should come as no surprise considering his impressive stints in Buffalo and Los Angeles before injury-shortened seasons in Kansas City.

Watkins is a good route-runner and great speedster. Bateman and Hollywood Brown must fight for targets with Mark Andrews as well. And this is all in an offense trying to throw the ball less than most.

Bateman is highly talented, but we'd need to see a massive transformation from Greg Roman's offense to make him more than a late-round flier and depth piece. There's too much competition in a low-volume scheme. 

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