Fantasy Football: How does Round 1 of 2021 look now? Comparing our experts' early top 12 rankings

Fantasy Football: How does Round 1 of 2021 look now? Comparing our experts’ early top 12 rankings

We’ve spent all week showing you our top 12 PPR rankings at each position for 2021 to give you a sneak peek of what we’re thinking about already for next season. And you can check out those rank lists here:

QuarterbacksRunning backsWide receiversTight ends

Now, we want to show you what the first round could look like for 2021 with the top 12 overall picks for me, Dave Richard, Heath Cummings and Chris Towers.

These rankings will change many times between now and August. But based on what just happened in the 2020 regular season, as well as what we project to happen in the future, here’s how we view the first 12 PPR picks for next year.

As a reference point, here are the top 12 overall non-quarterbacks in 2020 based on total PPR points for the season on CBS Sports. The scoring is based on six points for all touchdowns.

1. Alvin Kamara 364
2. Davante Adams 353
3. Dalvin Cook 327
4. Derrick Henry 321
5. Stefon Diggs 320
6. Tyreek Hill 317
7. Travis Kelce 305
8. DeAndre Hopkins 281
9. Calvin Ridley 277
10. Darren Waller 271
11. Justin Jefferson 267
12. DK Metcalf 265

And here are the top 12 overall non-quarterbacks in 2020 based on PPR points per game with at least three starts.

1. Christian McCaffrey 28.7
2. Davante Adams 25.2
3. Alvin Kamara 24.3
4. Dalvin Cook 23.4
5. Tyreek Hill 21.1
6. Travis Kelce 20.3
7. Derrick Henry 20.1
8. Stefon Diggs 20.0
9. Calvin Ridley 18.5
10. Aaron Jones 17.6
11. DeAndre Hopkins 17.6
12. Keenan Allen 17.0

Dave and Jamey discuss their top 12 players for 2021 on the Fantasy Football Today podcast. Listen below and subscribe at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts:

The rankings

Jamey Eisenberg

1. Christian McCaffrey
2. Dalvin Cook
3. Alvin Kamara
4. Davante Adams
5. Derrick Henry
6. Jonathan Taylor
7. Saquon Barkley
8. Travis Kelce
9. Austin Ekeler
10. Ezekiel Elliott
11. Tyreek Hill
12. Nick Chubb

Dave Richard

1. Christian McCaffrey
2. Dalvin Cook
3. Alvin Kamara
4. Saquon Barkley
5. Derrick Henry
6. Jonathan Taylor
7. Davante Adams
8. Tyreek Hill
9. Ezekiel Elliott
10. Travis Kelce
11. James Robinson
12. Nick Chubb

Heath Cummings 

1. Christian McCaffrey
2. Dalvin Cook
3. Alvin Kamara
4. Davante Adams
5. Derrick Henry
6. Saquon Barkley
7. Tyreek Hill
8. Travis Kelce
9. Aaron Jones
10. Stefon Diggs
11. Austin Ekeler
12. Jonathan Taylor

Chris Towers

1. Christian McCaffrey
2. Alvin Kamara
3. Saquon Barkley
4. Dalvin Cook
5. Austin Ekeler
6. Ezekiel Elliott
7. Travis Kelce
8. Davante Adams
9. George Kittle
10. Derrick Henry
11. James Robinson
12. Darren Waller

We’re all going with running backs with our first three picks, and Dave and Chris don’t have a non-running back until No. 7 overall. In total, Dave and I only have three non-running backs in our top 12 (Adams, Kelce and Hill), while Heath (Adams, Kelce, Hill and Diggs) and Chris have four (Adams, Kelce, Kittle and Waller). 

We all have McCaffrey at No. 1 overall despite him playing just three games in 2020 because of various injuries. But if you look up and see his points per game, which were No. 1 by a wide margin, it’s easy to buy back into McCaffrey again in 2021.

Everyone but Chris has Cook at No. 2 overall, and I’m torn on Cook and Kamara at that spot. The quarterback situation for Kamara will likely determine his ranking, and if Drew Brees retires and is replaced by Taysom Hill, I’d be a little concerned. Kamara averaged just 2.5 catches per game in the four games Hill started for Brees in 2020. If Hill isn’t the starter then I will likely rank Kamara second.

As for Cook, he only missed one game in 2020 due to injury — he didn’t play in Week 17 following the death of his father — and hopefully the injury concerns for him are a thing of the past. He had 40-plus catches for the third year in a row, but he had at least four receptions in five of his final seven outings.

Adams is the consensus No. 1 receiver for all of us, and deservedly so. Despite missing two games in 2020, Adams was the top Fantasy receiver by a wide margin, and he became one of three receivers in NFL history — joining Randy Moss (2003) and Cris Carter (1995) — with 100-plus receptions and at least 17 receiving touchdowns in a single season. As long as Aaron Rodgers doesn’t severely decline in 2021, Adams should be locked in as the first receiver off the board in all formats.

Henry is No. 5 for everyone but Chris, who has him at No. 10, and hopefully Henry can have another dominant campaign in 2021. He just ran for 2,027 yards and led the NFL in rushing for the second year in a row, and he has consecutive years of at least 17 total touchdowns.

I’m the highest on Taylor at No. 6, and I could see myself ranking him as high as the No. 4 overall. He was amazing to close his rookie season in 2020, scoring at least 15 PPR points in each of his final six games, including three games with at least 22 PPR points. If you project his stats over that span — he averaged 23.8 PPR points per game — for a full season then he would have been the No. 1 running back in total points with 381.

Chris has Barkley the highest at No. 3 overall, and he has No. 1 upside as we saw in 2018 when he finished just behind McCaffrey for the top spot. Injuries have marred his past two seasons, including a torn ACL in 2020, but hopefully he’ll rebound at 100 percent and have a dominant campaign in 2021.

Kelce has been the No. 1 PPR tight end in every season since 2016, and he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down after nearly leading the NFL in receiving yards in 2020 with 1,416, which was second behind Diggs (1,535). Chris is the highest on Kelce, and Chris would draft Kelce ahead of Adams.

Dave is the only one who doesn’t have Ekeler in his top 12, and Chris would draft him at No. 5 overall. Ekeler played eight full games in 2020, and he was on pace for 214 carries for 1,000 yards and two touchdowns, as well as 94 catches for 736 yards and two touchdowns. He should continue to be a PPR monster with Justin Herbert in 2021.

We know many Fantasy managers might find it tough to trust Elliott based on a disappointing finish in 2020, and Heath doesn’t have Elliott ranked in his top 12. But hopefully the healthy return of Dak Prescott (ankle), as well as his offensive line getting back to full strength, will help Elliott rebound. He scored 20-plus PPR points in four of his first five games but had eight PPR points or less in five of his final nine outings.

Chris is the only one without Hill in his top 12, which is surprising. Hill is never going to be among the leaders in receptions, and his 87 catches were No. 15 in 2020. But he scored 17 total touchdowns with more than 1,300 total yards, and he plays with the best quarterback in the NFL in Patrick Mahomes. Hill and Adams will likely be the only two receivers I draft in Round 1 in 2021.

Heath and Chris don’t have Chubb ranked in their top 12, but it’s hard to overlook his upside, even with his lack of involvement in the passing game. He scored at least 16 PPR points in eight of the 11 healthy games he played in 2020, including four games with at least 23 PPR points.

Dave and Chris each have Robinson at No. 11 overall, and hopefully he wasn’t a one-hit wonder as a surprise rookie for the Jaguars. The nice thing for Robinson is the quarterback play in Jacksonville should improve with the expected addition of Trevor Lawrence, but we don’t know the coach of the Jaguars or the backfield competition yet. As of now, the earliest I would draft Robinson is Round 2.

Heath is the only one with Jones ranked in his top 12, and I might put him there also depending on what happens in free agency. If he leaves the Packers then I likely won’t have him in the top 12 — and I’d be much more excited about A.J. Dillon. We’ll see what happens, but this is now back-to-back years averaging at least 17.6 PPR points per game.

Heath is also the only one with Diggs ranked in his top 12, and his first year in Buffalo was exceptional. Diggs led the NFL in receptions (127) and receiving yards (1,535), while also scoring eight touchdowns. If I were to draft a third receiver in Round 1 along with Adams and Hill then it would be Diggs.

Chris has three tight ends in his top 12 with Kittle and Waller joining Kelce. I like the aggressive ranking of the three top players at a thin position, but I don’t expect Kittle and Waller to be first-round selections in most leagues. And I would draft Waller over Kittle at this point without knowing who will be San Francisco’s quarterback in 2021.

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