Despite entering one of the most talented receiver rooms in the NFL, Chase Claypool managed to stand out even as a rookie for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now that his ADP has risen in fantasy football due to his previous success, should you consider drafting Claypool in 2021, or does his fantasy outlook suggest staying away?
Chase Claypool’s fantasy outlook for 2021
The Steelers’ offense will be hotly debated going into the 2021 fantasy season. Did Ben Roethlisberger make a mistake by returning, or did he bail out the Steelers as they had no better option? How much of an impact will losing three offensive line starters have on production? Can all three receivers produce enough to be fantasy assets, or are their ceilings drastically limited by each other?
Until we see them in action, we can not be certain, but we know their individual roles in the offense. The Steelers view Claypool as their field stretcher and their go-to receiver for explosive plays. Also, he is a red-zone threat not just with his hands but with his legs on jet sweeps.
Even with a change at offensive coordinator to Matt Canada, this will not change. Claypool (6’4″, 238 pounds) is a monster on the field. While he may never have a high completion percentage (56.9% in 2020), his big-play ability, along with creative play-calling, makes him a valuable asset in fantasy.
Although the selection of Najee Harris suggests a commitment to the rushing game, the Steelers are going to have to win via the passing game. Unfortunately, it’s going to be a nightmare trying to figure out which receiver will be the one to be the focal point in any given week.
I expect Claypool to be a stable weekly receiver in fantasy. Although his outlook is more of a WR3 than a high-end WR2.
Chase Claypool’s fantasy projection
When selecting a receiver, consider the scoring system of your league. If you are in a full PPR league, high-volume receivers with higher catch rates get a significant boost up. On the Steelers, this would be Diontae Johnson. However, it negatively impacts someone like Claypool, whose game relies on deeper targets, as his team-high 1,431 air yards and 13.0 aDOT (average depth of target) would indicate.
If JuJu Smith-Schuster had signed elsewhere in free agency, Claypool could have had a massive season in 2021. But with his return, there are only so many targets to go around, and Claypool is third on the totem pole.
While the Steelers were one of only two teams to have three receivers with 100+ targets, Claypool was third with 109 in 2020. That trend should hold true in 2021. I expect to see Claypool be more efficient with his targets as a second-year player (1.83 pts/target in 2020); his catch rate will remain low considering his role on the offense.
I do believe he sees over 100 targets again in 2021 with a slightly improved catch rate (61%), which would have him around 70 receptions for 950 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Chase Claypool’s fantasy ADP
According to Sleeper, Claypool is currently being selected as the WR35 with an ADP of 86.9 in PPR formats. According to NFC (a high-stakes fantasy platform), Claypool is the WR28 with a 69.2 ADP.
Should you draft Claypool in 2021 for fantasy?
As I have said throughout this piece, the Steelers are an enigma in 2021. They are a team that believes they can compete in 2021. Whether or not they can is a different situation entirely. In all honesty, they may be the third-best team in their own division.
I do believe the Steelers will try to be a more balanced team in 2021. With that said, the passing volume will still be there. But as I said, that will be split between three talented receivers.
Claypool is the third Steelers WR coming off the board at his current ADP, and I honestly like this draft strategy. I do not know if they will separate themselves enough throughout the season, and I would be comfortable taking whichever one slipped the furthest in drafts.
With that said, his ceiling is the highest amongst the three. His size and speed make him a mismatch on the outside. We should also expect to see a more developed route tree in 2021. While Johnson will see the volume in targets, Claypool could easily lead the team in yards and touchdowns in 2021. For fantasy, I’ll take a shot at the potential ceiling of Claypool as my WR3.
Tommy Garrett is a writer for Pro Football Network covering the NFL and fantasy football and a member of the FSWA (Fantasy Sports Writers Association). You can read more of his work here and follow him at @TommygarrettPFN on Twitter.