After back-to-back successful seasons since joining the Buffalo Bills, WR Cole Beasley seems to once again have an undervalued fantasy outlook for the 2021 season. However, can he maintain this role after additional competition was added, and should Beasley be on your radar come draft day based on his current fantasy football ADP?
Cole Beasley’s fantasy outlook for 2021
Unless you paid attention, Beasley’s last campaign could have slid under the radar. While Stefon Diggs rightfully stole the show, Beasley was having a career year. Playing in 15 games, Beasley commanded a 20.1% target share on what was a surprisingly pass-heavy offense. In total, he caught 82 of 107 targets for 967 yards and 4 touchdowns. Beasley played 66% of the Bills’ offensive snaps, ending the season as the WR27 overall and 31st in fantasy points per game (13.8).
He recorded double-digit fantasy points in nine of his 15 games (60%), including six straight from Weeks 2-7. The issue during all of this was that Beasley was simply middle of the road in weekly standings.
He was a WR3 or better in just six games (40%) and inside the top 24 five times (33%), 35th amongst WRs. While heavily targeted, Beasley’s lowly 7.0 aDOT (average depth of target) led to an even worse 1.89 fantasy points per target (34th among WRs with at least 40 targets).
Beasley has been a success since joining the Bills. In 2019, the wideout was second on the team in targets (106), receptions (67), and yards (778), but tied for the team lead in touchdowns (6). He ended the season as the WR36 in PPR formats while averaging 12.3 ppg.
Can Beasley keep this up with the new WRs in Buffalo?
There is a concern if he can maintain this type of production in 2021. Although John Brown is off the roster (Las Vegas Raiders), the Bills signed veteran Emmanuel Sanders. Plus, Gabriel Davis appears poised to build off a successful rookie campaign where he posted 35 receptions on 62 targets for 599 yards and 7 touchdowns.
I do not expect Beasley to maintain his 22% market share average since joining the Bills (24% of WR targets). Still, there should be enough for him to be a reliable bye week fill-in as a WR3 or flex option, as all signs point to the Bills having another explosive season in 2021.
The Bills’ transformation last year was nothing short of remarkable. The Bills went from a 54.9% pass rate in 2019 (26th) to a pass-happy 61.7% in 2020 (11th). It was a complete shift in philosophy. They went from running four-plus wide receiver sets on 0.006% of snaps (7) to the second-most in 2020 at 16.3% (198).
You don’t mess around, go 13-3, win the AFC East for the first time since 1995, and change everything up. Thus, no reason to expect anything differently in 2021, especially not after giving Allen a six-year, $258 million contract extension worth up to $288 million.
Even with the loss of Brown, the Bills are just 21st in vacated targets at 83 (14.5%). The majority of which will go to Sanders. At 34, the Bills must be cognizant of his workload as they look to make a deep run in the playoffs in a new 17-game season. Last year, Sanders played 65% or more of the snaps just five times (35%). I also project an increased number of targets going towards Davis, further cutting into Beasley’s overall market share and subsequent upside.
While it is entirely possible that Sanders and Davis vault Beasley in the pecking order, I am leaving that as camp news until we see otherwise. My current projections have Beasley slated for around 95 targets with 65 to 70 receptions for 757 to 800 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Cole Beasley’s ADP
According to Sleeper, Beasley is currently being draft at an ADP of 149.7 in half-PPR formats. Similarly, on Fleaflicker, Beasley has an ADP of 150.3. On the high-stakes NFC platform, his ADP is slightly later at 159.06.
Should you draft Beasley for fantasy in 2021?
On most sites, Beasley is going as Buffalo’s WR2 based on ADP. But interestingly, he is the WR4 on Underdog. However, it makes sense when you consider the format. There isn’t much upside with his playstyle. But even at the WR4, only 10 picks separate Davis, Sanders, and Beasley in ADP on the site.
As for your more traditional redraft formats and sites, Beasley is going between the 11th to 13th round in drafts. At that spot, he is a solid bench player who can help you get through troublesome bye weeks. Both Davis and even Sanders have more potential upside, but as a floor, Beasley has the more secure fantasy outlook for now.