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Countdown to 2021 fantasy football drafts: Tee Higgins No. 67

The Bengals WR comes in at 68 in our fantasy football rankings countdown to the 2021 NFL season.

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (85) reacts after making a reception for a touchdown against the Houston Texans during the third quarter at NRG Stadium. Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Last season we saw Tee Higgins flourish despite being a rookie with a rookie throwing him the ball and then a backup after that rookie quarterback went down in Week 11. He’ll have more competition for targets in his second year, but he’s proven himself and the offense will be better. Will he and first rounder Ja’Marr Chase help each other to bigger and better things this season?

To commemorate the 2021 NFL season, we’ll be counting down the 75 best fantasy football players in the league. Picking a Top 75 is subjective, especially when you are projecting a whole season of accumulated fantasy points, but that’s part of the fun. We’ll assume what I see as an average league, which is 12 teams, .5 PPR scoring and a roster of 1QB, 2RB, 3WR, 1TE, & 1RB/WR/TE. Kickers and defenses need not apply.

Change is the nature of the NFL beast, so trades and injuries will likely impact this list as we go along, but hey, this isn’t rocket science. We’re here to have a little fun and build up some much needed anticipation for a league cast in the shadow by baseball, soccer, hockey, etc. Sarcasm aside, the NFL is addictive and we’re here to give your daily fix as we close in on the season.

The official and often updated fantasy football drafting tiers can be found here.

No. 68, Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals, WR

Higgins didn’t see a target in Week 1 of last season, but from Week 2 to Week 10 he averaged five receptions on 7.6 targets for 75.4 yards per game and four touchdowns. Those were games where Joe Burrow played every down. After Burrow left, Higgins saw a dip to 4.2 receptions for 55.8 yards and two touchdowns in five games. Extrapolated to 16 games, Higgins would have caught 80 passes for 1,206 yards and eight touchdowns with Burrow.

Competition for touches

Last season A.J. Green lined up on the other side of Higgins and saw 104 targets to Higgins 107 and Tyler Boyd’s 110, while the tight end Drew Sample played all 16 games and had just 53. That’s a big chunk of targets for three separate receivers. Higgins was by far the most productive per target, while Green was the least productive.

Ja’Marr Chase will replace Green this season and should be a much more dynamic player. He will be a rookie, but he also could move into the No. 1 role. Higgins could lose that role, but he will also benefit from Chase’s presence. I think it’s somewhat of a wash and both have good upside as the 1-2 punch in the passing offense.

Team offensive expectations

Expectations for the team overall are still low in the win total department, but there should be above average expectations for their offense. The Bengals defense will still make it tough for their offense to be balanced, meaning we should see plenty of passing once again. He averaged a whopping 40.4 per game last season and even though efficiency will take a hit with teams prepared to face a pass-first team, Higgins should benefit.

What’s his upside?

Higgins has plenty of upside with a healthy Joe Burrow in year two and Chase taking away safety help. He should have a leg up on Chase as the “veteran” starting outside receiver and will likely get the majority of targets early in the season. If he runs with that and defenses can’t key on him, he could exceed his lofty rookie season.

What’s his downside?

Higgins’ downside is linked to Joe Burrow and the offensive line. If the line can come together and Burrow can take a step forward literally and figuratively, they will move the ball. If the line can’t keep Burrow upright and he misses time again, we likely won’t see Higgins beat his rookie year numbers.

Projection

85 receptions, 124 targets, 1175 yards, 6 touchdowns