5 fallers After the 2021 NFL Draft
James Robinson, RB, Jaguars
James Robinson’s rookie campaign was one for the ages. He recorded 289 touches for 1,414 yards and found the end zone 10 times. It was one of the best (if not the single best) seasons for a UDFA back in the history of the league. The Jaguars rewarded him by taking Clemson runner Travis Etienne in the first round. With the 25th pick, Jacksonville dashed any hopes of Robinson repeating as an RB1 in 2021. This should not be a massive surprise either. Look how Denver treated their star UDFA back, Phillip Lindsay. After a pair of breakout seasons to open his career, they added Melvin Gordon on a massive contract. Coaches anchor to what they spend on players as much as they claim to be talent-first minds of the game. Robinson will be relegated to a grinder role and has no more than an RB2 season in his range of outcomes. Etienne will serve as the pass-catching back at a minimum and is also a threat to Robinson’s rushing and goal line work. Robinson will serve as a reminder for years to come that selling the late-round breakouts and UDFA studs is the long-term optimal strategy.
Davante Adams and Aaron Jones, Packers
While the Packers did not make any selections in the draft that greatly affected the fantasy options on the team, but news broke that could destroy the fantasy fortunes of the team’s biggest names. Aaron Rodgers reportedly wants out of Green Bay and is willing to retire from football if he doesn’t get his way. If this does happen, the results would be drastic. Over his entire career as a starter, Rodgers per-game averages would be good for a season with 365 completions, 4,374 yards, and 35.2 touchdowns. Last year, the average team got a 366-3840-27 line from their collective quarterbacks. That equates to nearly 100 PPR points disappearing if the Packers go from Rodgers to an average passer. If Jordan Love, a raw prospect who was drafted late in the first round based on his tools, can’t produce league-average play in his first season, the Packers are going to fall apart as a fantasy team.
Will Fuller, WR, Dolphins
The Dolphins have surrounded Tua Tagovailoa with a cavalcade of weapons, the first of which, Will Fuller was brought in via free agency. At first, this seemed like a decent landing spot for Fuller. Tagovailoa was a dynamic college prospect and the Dolphins only had Devante Parker as an established receiver. However, the drafting of Jaylen Waddle, plus a closer examination of the rest of the roster makes a repeat of Fuller’s 2020 campaign nearly impossible. Waddle is a multifaceted receiver but his role in year one will likely be as a deep threat. The Dolphins also have Preston Williams, who will take up snaps on the outside, where Fuller got most of his work last year. Fuller can be successful with the Dolphins but it’s going to take him reaching another level. He won last year by beating out Keke Coutee and Randall Cobb for targets on a team helmed by Deshaun Watson. He won’t have that luxury in 2021.
Broncos, All of Them
The Broncos lost a golden opportunity to make the most of a falling Justin Fields in the draft. Prior to the big night, Denver traded for Teddy Bridgewater and decided that he was enough to command their offense. Bridgewater is likely an upgrade over Drew Lock but he’s not the ascending rookie that many were pricing into the current Denver roster. Bridgewater’s offense in Carolina created three top-25 receivers but none placed higher the WR19. The same can’t be said for Lock’s offense last year. With the bevy of talented wideouts in Denver, we could see a very similar situation playout for the Broncos this year. With Noah Fant, Jerry Jeudy, and Courtland Sutton vying for targets, Bridgewater doesn’t have the ceiling to get multiple of his receivers to high-end WR2 status or a single player to a WR1 season.
Logan Thomas, TE, Washington Football Team
Logan Thomas broke out last year but his big season was largely propelled by volume. He finished third in receptions, seventh in receiving yards, and ninth in touchdowns among tight ends last year. However, he was 31st in yards per target and yards per reception. Thomas’s biggest asset was his ability to be on the field for a full season and play starting-caliber football. Given his middling efficiency numbers, he doesn’t look like a player who should be cast in a George Kittle or Travis Kelce level of role. The Football Team went out and addressed that this offseason with the signing of Curtis Samuel and the drafting of Dynami Brown. Samuel has the ability to operate in the same portion of the field as Thomas but is much more like to rack up yards after the catch. Brown, on the other hand, may simply help ease the transition from Alex Smith’s dink-and-dunk style to Ryan Fitzpatrick’s downfield aggression. Thomas likely falls back into fringe-TE1 territory unless he drastically turns his efficiency around.