Most underrated fantasy football players to target in 2021

These are 10 underrated fantasy players you need to keep your eye on as you prepare for fantasy football drafts heading into the 2021 season.

We are getting closer to the NFL preseason and, most importantly, fantasy football draft season. Here are 10 underrated fantasy football players you’ll want to keep on your radar as you prepare for your drafts in 2021.

Underrated Fantasy Football Players | Quarterback

This young signal-caller has one of the best on-paper rosters in the NFL at his disposal.

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

Mayfield finished as a QB2+ in 69% of his games last season. He averaged 18.3 fantasy points per game with five QB1 performances. This momentum should continue in 2021 as Mayfield enters his second season in Kevin Stefanski’s offense.

The Browns had the fifth-most rushing attempts per game (30.4) in 2020. However, I’m optimistic that Cleveland will lean more on Mayfield and the play-action passing game next season. If you exclude Cleveland’s two bad-weather games from 2020, Mayfield averaged 31 pass attempts per game.

We have Mayfield projected for around 520 pass attempts, 330 completion, 3,700 passing yards, 30 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions in 2021. He’s a high-end QB2 with upside. According to his National Fantasy Championship (NFC) ADP, Mayfield is currently the QB18.

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Running Backs

These three running backs could exceed their ADPs this season.

Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks

Carson continues to be a nice value in fantasy football drafts. According to NFC, he is the RB21. The Seahawks trust Carson as a runner between the tackles and as a receiver out of the backfield. He’s averaged 19 opportunities, 92 total yards, and 15.5 PPR fantasy points per game since 2018.

We project Carson for around 280 opportunities, 1,200 total yards, and 10 touchdowns next season. He’s a solid RB2 in PPR formats who you shouldn’t overlook.

David Montgomery, Chicago Bears

Montgomery was a value in fantasy drafts last summer, and he should be once again in 2021. He finished the 2020 season as a league winner, feasting on the poor run defenses of the Texans, Jaguars, and Lions. Montgomery averaged 24 opportunities, 137.4 total yards, and 25.7 PPR fantasy points per game over the final six games.

The Bears did add Damien Williams to the backfield this offseason, and Tarik Cohen will return from a torn ACL. It is worth noting that Montgomery has averaged 17.3 opportunities in the 19 games he and Cohen were on the field together.

In 2021, Montgomery is projected for around 300 opportunities, 1,400 total yards, and 7 touchdowns. He’s firmly on the RB2 radar in PPR formats and is one of the most underrated players in fantasy drafts.

Zack Moss, Buffalo Bills

Moss only played 45% of the Bills’ offensive snaps and commanded a 43% opportunity share. He averaged 8 PPR fantasy points per game last season. Yet, this is not what fantasy managers expected from Moss.

Despite this, the Bills ranked fourth in total yards per game (385.4). Obviously, they had to lean heavily on quarterback Josh Allen and the passing game. Nevertheless, Buffalo didn’t add another notable running back to the roster this offseason. The Bills are projected to be playing with a lead quite a bit this season. This is a good thing for Moss’ fantasy outlook in 2021.

Last season, Moss received 15 rushing attempts and 2 targets inside the 10-yard line. Both were more than backfield mate Devin Singletary. Moss is currently the RB39 according to NFC’s ADP. He could easily outperform that and provide a sneaky value late in drafts.

Underrated Fantasy Football Players | Wide Receivers

Although the Houston Texans are the favorite to land the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, they have one player who could be an excellent selection in fantasy drafts.

Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans

The uncertainty surrounding Deshaun Watson and the Texans’ quarterback situation has a ripple effect on the ADPs of the rest of Houston’s players. Cooks is currently the WR42 according to NFC. In five of the last six seasons, he has surpassed 1,000+ receiving yards while playing with four different teams.

Cooks is accustomed to change and can thrive in it whether he’s catching passes from Watson, Tyrod Taylor, or Davis Mills. He’s the Texans No. 1 receiver and is projected to see 120+ targets in 2021. Cooks can be viewed as a high-end WR3 in PPR formats.

Antonio Brown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Brown has only played in nine games since 2018. While a knee injury did hamper his 2020 season, he finished with 45 catches for 483 yards and 4 touchdowns. Brown closed out last year with a masterful performance in Week 17, generating 138 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns.

The veteran receiver will be competing with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin for targets. However, all three could see enough work to prosper in 2021.

Quarterback Tom Brady is in a great position to exceed 600+ pass attempts next season. Brown projects for around 100 targets, 900 receiving yards, and 7 touchdowns in 2021. He provides you with a low-end WR3 floor and a low-end WR2 ceiling. Brown will have some monster games in 2021 with the Buccaneers’ favorable schedule.

Per NFC, Brown is the WR46. He’s an inexpensive way to get exposure to one of the most productive offenses in the NFL.

Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos

Sutton is another receiver fantasy managers are overlooking in drafts. He’s the WR32 according to NFC and is expected to open the season as the Broncos’ No. 1 receiver. Sutton broke out in 2019, catching passes from Joe Flacco, Brandon Allen, and Drew Lock. He caught 72 of 124 targets for 1,112 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns. Unfortunately, a torn ACL ended Sutton’s 2020 campaign.

The quarterback competition between Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock ultimately benefits the Broncos’ offense. Sutton is a receiver you should aggressively target in drafts at his ADP. He projects for around 130 targets, 78 receptions, 1,100 receiving yards, and 8 touchdowns next season. It is baffling to see some of the players being selected ahead of Sutton in drafts.

Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks

Lockett is the WR23 according to NFC. Many fantasy managers are allowing recency bias to influence Lockett’s outlook in 2021. After the first eight weeks of last season, he was the fantasy WR1 in PPR formats.

The Seahawks’ decision to establish the run during the second half of the year torpedoed Lockett’s fantasy value. Seattle also faced several stout pass defenses during this time frame. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s inability to make the proper adjustments resulted in his termination.

The good news is that the Seahawks hired Shane Waldron as their new offensive coordinator. He was previously the passing game coordinator with the Rams. Lockett will prosper in Waldron’s offensive scheme. He’ll use his athleticism and agility in all areas of the field.

Lockett projects for around 125 targets, 90 receptions, 1,100 receiving yards, and 8 touchdowns next season. He provides you with a mid-range WR2 floor in PPR formats but has the potential to finish as a low-end WR1.

Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams

Kupp has averaged 7.6 targets, 5.3 receptions, 66 receiving yards, and 14.7 PPR fantasy points per game. The slot receiver’s best statistical season was in 2019. Kupp finished as a WR2+ in 43%  of his games in PPR. He’s been able to prosper with inconsistent quarterback play from Jared Goff. Now, Kupp will be catching passes from former Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. Rams head coach Sean McVay finally has a quarterback who can unleash every aspect of his scheme.

Kupp can set career highs this season in multiple statistical areas. He is also being drafted a round or two later than teammate Robert Woods. Kupp projects for roughly 140 targets, 97 receptions, 1,100 receiving yards, and 7 touchdowns in 2021. He’s a solid WR2 with low-end WR1 upside.

Tight End

There is one tight end at such a desolate position who should be drafted higher than his current ADP.

Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team

Thomas finished last season as the TE3 in PPR formats, catching passes from multiple quarterbacks. Now, Washington has a legitimate passer under center in Ryan Fitzpatrick to go along with additional receiving weapons.

The veteran tight end will play in the same offense for a second season for the first time in his NFL career. Thomas won’t have to spend time learning a new playbook and can instead use that additional time studying other tight ends like George Kittle, Travis Kelce, and Darren Waller. He can also refer to film from the previous season to analyze how defenses covered him. All of these things will allow Thomas to make adjustments to his overall game.

Thomas may also have the opportunity to run more downfield routes inside Norv and Scott Turner’s offense this season. His red-zone targets and touchdown totals have an excellent chance of increasing in 2021.

Thomas is firmly on the TE1 radar. He projects for around 100 targets, 70 receptions, and a little over 750 receiving yards in 2021. Moreover, Thomas could score as many as 8 touchdowns. He is the TE9 according to NFC’s ADP. Thomas is a candidate to finish as a top-three tight end. Washington will have to lean heavily on its offense, given their schedule in 2021.

Eric is a Senior Fantasy Analyst for Pro Football Network and a member of the FSWA (Fantasy Sports Writers Association). You can read more of his work here and follow Eric on Twitter @EricNMoody.

Eric Moody is a Senior Fantasy Analyst for Pro Football Network and a member of the FSWA (Fantasy Sports Writers Association). He is also the co-host of the In The Mood for Fantasy Football podcast. You can read more of his work here and follow Eric on Twitter @EricNMoody.

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