AFC SOUTH – Fantasy Football 2021
Before you know it, the 2021 fantasy football season will be here. The NFL is set to open free agency on March 17, and the NFL Draft is the last weekend in April. Heck, we’ve already seen a blockbuster trade among the Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams. The former Defensive Player of the Year JJ Watt was released by the Houston Texans and will sign with the Arizona Cardinals once free agency starts.
No team is worse off than the Texans right now. In fact, it’s been a rough 12 months for the franchise. Before starting the 2020 season, they traded WR DeAndre Hopkins for RB David Johnson in a swap that favored the Arizona Cardinals. On top of that, Houston went just 4-12 last season, leading to head coach Bill O’Brien‘s firing. Trying to resurrect the once-proud franchise, the Texans hired former Ravens assistant David Culley as their head coach, which turned out unpopular for superstar QB DeShaun Watson other veterans in the franchise. While Watson is demanding a trade or threatening to hold out, former NFL Defensive Player of the Year, JJ Watt, asked for his release and signed with the Arizona Cardinals. It’s looking like Houston will trade Watson before the draft and take a franchise QB with their Round 1 section in what will be a full rebuild. The team did sign free agent Mark Ingram earlier in the week, and he will compete with RB David Johnson for backfield touches. Neither enters the 2021 season as anything more than a RB3 on your fantasy football draft boards. In my opinion, the only bright spot on offense was the re-emergence of WR Brandin Cooks and the breakout season from WR Will Fuller. However, if Watson doesn’t stick in Houston, you can expect both of their numbers to take a hit. On top of that, Fuller still has one game left on his six-game PED suspension, and he is a free agent in 2021, so there is no guarantee Fuller stays with the team. In short, the Texans are a mess.
The Colts had a good run last year (11-5 overall, Round 1 playoff loss) and are primed to be even better in 2021. QB Philip Rivers played admirably in his lone season (before retirement) in Indianapolis. Still, once he left town, the Colts made an offseason splash by trading for former Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz. Wentz struggled in 2020 (16 TD passes; 15 Interceptions), leading to the former No. 2 overall pick falling out of favor of the front office and staff, thus the trade. However, if you look at Wentz‘s career stats, the strong-armed QB had a stretch of 81 touchdowns passes against 21 interceptions from 2017-2019. In my opinion, Wentz is surrounded with weapons to help his bounce-back campaign. Second-year RB Jonathan Taylor emerged as a top-10 dual-threat in the NFL and will only be better next season. Nyheim Hines hauled in 63 receptions to go along with 7 TDs a year ago and is a true threat in fantasy football PPR leagues. With T.Y Hilton being an impending free agent, there is no guarantee he will come back, but even if Hilton is gone, 2nd-year wideout Michael Pittman Jr. is primed for a breakout season. The 6-4, 223 physical wideout had just 40 receptions as a rookie but showcased what to expect with a 5-91 on 11 targets in the playoffs. Pittman will emerge as the WR1 in Indianapolis and should be drafted as a top-24 wideout.
Big changes as we enter 2021 in Jacksonville. New head coach, and college football legend, Urban Meyer tests his luck in the NFL, and it’s all but guaranteed Meyer will draft Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence as the QB1 this year. I have Lawrence just behind Zach Willson on the 2021 fantasy football draft board in my early rookie QB rankings. RB James Robinson had a huge rookie season, going for 1,070 rushing yards, 344 receiving yards, and 10 total touchdowns, but I can’t see the undrafted running back repeating his season. In fact, Jaguars GM Trent Baalke insinuated that he would like to get more running backs involved in 2021 to prolong someone like Robinson‘s shelf life. Out wide, the Jaguars will rely on a combination of D.J Chark and Laviska Shenault to catch passes from what is believed to be Lawrence. Chances are Cole will leave in free agency, and odds are the Jaguars brass will target veteran free agents to help make Lawrence‘s transition to the NFL smoother. The WR I am intrigued by is the 2020 Round 2 selection Laviska Shenault. He finished with 58 receptions for 600 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns in 14 games. Shenault also saw 79 targets over 14 games and, with a better QB, should see an increase in progression. Outside of 2-3 guys, the Jaguars enter the 2021 season with minimal talent on their fantasy football draft board, and hopefully, a new GM, new coach, and some new talent can help turn things around.
The Titans have created a three-headed monster on offense over the last couple of years, which should continue in 2021. Ryan Tannehill posted a 3,819 passing yard, 33-7 touchdown/interception ratio. RB Derrick Henry had one of the greatest seasons ever at the running back spot, going for 2,027 rushing yards, 114 receiving yards, and 17 touchdowns. It’s safe to say that Henry is a bonafide top-5 overall pick come September. The last of the three-headed monsters is third-year WR A.J. Brown. Talk about a physical specimen. Brown is 6-1, 226lbs, and one of the toughest wideouts to guard in the NFL. He finished with 70 receptions, on 106 targets, for 1,075 yards and 11 touchdowns. Brown has back-to-back 1,000 receiving yard seasons to start his NFL career, and it’s pretty much automatic that if healthy, he makes it three in a row. Outside of the big three, WR Corey Davis and TE Jonnu Smith aren’t locked to return, as both had productive stints with the Titans but could see better value from another team during free agency.
The 2021 Commish Kit Fantasy Football Draft Boards will be available soon.