The week-to-week rankings are based on quite a few things. One of the first steps we take is viewing all the injuries and changes that have happened leading up to the current week. That even means taking a look at defensive injuries that many overlook, and offensive line injuries that could deter a running back with said lineman being out. We want to get a good grip on the current week before we start diving in. With the correlation between fantasy points and faster-paced games, we take a look at games that are going to be quick-moving and present a lot of chances for teams to have an above-average number of possessions.
For example, the Arizona Cardinals are playing at one of the fastest paces in the league, and their passing volume has gone through the roof under Kliff Kingsbury. This has spiked a jump in wide receiver production across the board, but also made Kyler Murray a quicker fantasy threat than expected. Each week the matchups play a big part in how we set our fantasy football lineups. Within our rankings, you will find weekly projections, streaming options, players to avoid, and much more.
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Opportunity is king, and opportunity is one of the bigger variables across the season. For wide receivers and tight ends we want to see who is getting targets, and also seeing targets within the red zone. Running backs we are looking at touches, which is a combination of rushing attempts and receptions. We also dive into red zone usage, which correlates with fantasy points. As for quarterbacks, volume is something we look at, but we want efficiency to be a part of it as well. Drew Brees isn’t throwing the ball as much as he once was, but he has still kept that same efficiency. We look at defenses and kickers in a similar way where matchups factor in a bit more. Kickers on high scoring teams are always at the top of the table, while defenses we look directly towards the matchups.
When digging into matchups, defenses just simply allow more and less fantasy points to specific positions. The Dolphins have established themselves as a team to pick on with just about every position this season. When we look at teams to target through the air, we want teams with weaker secondaries, but also ones who struggle to get towards the quarterback. Tight ends and wide receivers can pick on struggling secondaries, while teams like Arizona, Oakland, and Cincinnati have shown to struggle against teams on the ground. Using all these factors, we come up with our weekly rankings and projections.
The Best Players for fantasy football in 2021
Cumulatively ranking players across all fantasy football positions is a bear, but Lineups 2021 fantasy football Rankings eliminates the need to blindly do so on your own. Additionally, the page provides last year's statistics and fantasy scoring totals (for Standard, PPR and Half PPR) as well as Lineups own projected fantasy footall stats and 2021 fantasy football projections (again, for Standard, PPR, and Half PPR). Regardless of the scoring type selected, the top of the rankings and Tier 1 is dominated by running backs. It seems the death of feature backs has been overstated, and they once again rule the roost owning the top four spots in the rankings for all three league scoring types.
Starting with quarterback, there are two clear top end fantasy quarterbacks right now, and they should be for a very long time. Lamar Jackson just posted a monster year going for over 1,000 yards on the ground, but also throwing for over 3,000. He accumulated 43 total touchdowns. Patrick Mahomes had an injury that took a few games out of his schedule, but Mahomes is certainly a new era quarterback who is going to bring fantasy stability to your lineups.
Running back can be an inconsistent scoring rank from year-to-year, but one thing for sure is that Christian McCaffrey is running the show in Carolina. Even in non-PPR leagues, McCaffrey is posting big numbers. He had over 2,300 total yards last season and 19 total touchdowns. He is the unanimous number one fantasy football player right now. Michael Thomas is showing much of the same consistency, and volume has been a big factor in both of their successes.
Travis Kelce and George Kittle are two of the top tight ends in the game, and that translates to fantasy football as well. We want the high volume targets, and both deliver that. Although touchdowns were down in 2019, both posted over 1,000 receiving yards again. They also play in two of the best fantasy offenses.
Aaron Rodgers ends the quarterback ranking slide near the top of Tier 2 in Standard scoring rankings, and not far behind him is sophomore dual-threat quarterback Deshaun Watson. The quarterback duo (as well as Tom Brady) also call Tier 2 home in the other scoring format rankings, too. The rankings show no bias against rookies. Saquon Barkley proves that immediately ranking in the top 10 overall and sitting firmly in Tier 1. He's not alone as a projected impact player, though. Change-of-scenery breakout candidate Jerick McKinnon stands out as a player projected to have a breakout season featured in Tier 1, Alex Collins is firmly in Tier 2 after a breakout season that he projects to follow up favorably, and Amari Cooper and Allen Robinson project to bounce back after the former struggled mightily last season and the latter was injured for the season in Week 1 and changed teams in the offseason. Be sure to click through the rankings to help identify middle-round targets with breakout potential such as second-year receiver Corey Davis or tight end Trey Burton, a duo that kicks off Tier 4 of the rankings.
Fantasy Football Rankings Frequently Asked Questions
Ideal fantasy football lineups are widely going to range based on where you are picking, what scoring system you are in, and also what size your league is. This is a popular 12-team PPR league, and with a randomized pick, we ended up with the 12th pick overall. We will look at the likeliness of players being there at each pick being over 70%. Anything less I will not include. QB - Matt Ryan (7.12)
Matt Ryan still finished as a top ten fantasy quarterback last year, and still has plenty of weapons around him. Kyler Murray and Carson Wentz are also honorable mentions in this ADP range. v RB - Leonard Fournette (1.12)
Leonard Fournette saw 100 targets last season, and with over 300 touches and three total touchdowns, positive regression is coming. Picking last in the first round, I like securing high volume at running back. RB - Miles Sanders (3.12)
Miles Sanders ended up finishing RB15 in scoring, and he should make the jump this year to more stable playing time. We saw that upside in the second half of the season. WR - Chris Godwin (2.01)
Chris Godwin has established himself as a top tier wideout, and is involved in a heavy Tampa Bay offense. He will be going higher than he was last season. WR - Robert Woods (4.01)
Another positive touchdown regression candidate is Robert Woods, who finished 14th in PPR scoring despite scoring two touchdowns. In a fantasy friendly offense, he fits great as a WR2 with WR1 upside. TE - Hunter Henry (6.01)
Hunter Henry missed four games, and finished top ten in PPR scoring. He is a true talent, and wherever he goes this offseason he will be tier two tight end target. Henry went around this range last year. FLEX - Kenyan Drake (5.12)
The ADP is currently in the 5th round, although that could change over the summer. Drake bumped David Johnson from relevance and finally is getting his opportunity. Devin Singletary is another honorable mention. K - Harrison Butker (12.1)
In later rounds, getting one of the top fantasy kickers is an option. He is on the best offense in football and will get plenty of volume. DEF - Pittsburgh (11.12)
New England got all the buzz, but Pittsburgh was the top fantasy defense when the season ended. They are stacked at all three levels and will be among the top five again.
When we look at position depth, running backs can get thin pretty quickly. There are very few true workhorses anymore, and year to year stability can also be tricky. Christian McCaffrey has already come into the league and established himself as the two fantasy football player. He finished as RB2 in PPR leagues in his rookie year, then posted one of the best fantasy football seasons of all-time. Volume is one of the things we look for, and McCaffrey saw the fourth most rushing attempts, and most targets of any running back. If he was a wide receiver, he would be tied for eighth in targets.
There are some general tips for drafting fantasy football teams each season. As mentioned above, running backs can dry out very quickly. They go early in drafts, and you should be at least focusing on a few early on. With more value and depth at other positions, running back is a good place to get a featured back early and then address the rest of your positions later on. You can bank on consistent production from guys that see 20+ touches a game compared to 12-15.
Quarterbacks are always a touchy subject, as most will tell you to wait. If you did in 2019, you ended up with names like Lamar Jackson or Dak Prescott. Both crushed, but now have higher average draft positions in 2019. We have seen historic years from Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson over the last two, and could be considered league winners. Repeating those numbers is tough to do, and following up their draft value is going to be tough. The differences between the quarterbacks in higher rounds compared to mid-rounds can be quite small sometimes. Address other positions, as there are 15-18 strong fantasy quarterbacks you can rely on.
Don’t be afraid to reach for the guys you want. It can be a long turnaround depending on your draft position, so don’t tie your players you like to their ADP. For example, if you wanted Chris Godwin but were picking early second round, you’d have to of reached 8-9 spots. It paid off, because you would not be getting him on the turn.
Look for upside later in drafts, and take some risks. There are going to be breakout players each and every year going in the double-digit rounds. You are going to be looking for high floor players early, which helps negate if you take risk late. The deeper you go in drafts, the lower the floors get.
Don’t draft kickers and defenses until very late. They are your lowest scoring positions, and 30-40 fantasy points can separate the top from the middle tier, which isn’t a huge drop off. You can also look to stream on a week to week basis and play more the matchups there.
This is a passing league, and therefor quarterbacks are your highest scorers. Outside of insane years like Michael Thomas and Christian McCaffrey, most of the year end scorers will be quarterbacks. They have the most volume of any position, where they have 35+ chances a game to put up fantasy points. Wide receivers and tight ends can range from 5-15 touches a game. Running backs truly need double-digit touches to have any sort of real impact. Wide receivers come in second, then running back, and finally tight end.
Do I Worry About Bye Weeks?
Teams have one week off a season, and that can create a headache for fantasy teams. Does it really matter? No. If you have three strong players on bye in Week 7, I would much rather be weak one week out of the season rather than not drafting players I truly want. Do not worry about bye weeks, and in fact don’t even bother looking at them when you are drafting. It should have no influence on building your roster.
What Are RB Handcuffs?
We have seen plenty of running backs go down over recent years due to injuries, and this can create league winning volume for running backs. Often you will see backup running backs being drafted. If they can bring some standalone value already without the RB1 being injured, that is great. Names like Alexander Mattison and Tony Pollard are strong talents, who are backing up Dalvin Cook and Ezekiel Elliott. Anything happens to those names, you are looking at RB1/2 type production for as long as they are out.
You will be able to find the key backups to pick up within our running back handcuff chart. Be sure to keep a few bench spots open for backups.
What Positions Do I Take For Bench Spots?
Generally we look at our bench spots as a place to backup each individual position. If you have a deeper bench in your league format, that can be the case. If you have a standard five-six spots, then you should be looking to get more running backs and wide receivers. They help give you options throughout the year, as you will be leaning on your quarterback each week regardless. They are also less likely to get injured, and the waiver wire will still have decent names out there.