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2021 fantasy football draft guide

2021 fantasy football is at hand, and draft time is upon us. We’ve put together a strategy guide to help you get ready. We’ve got position rankings, potential sleepers and busts, rookies and second-year players to watch, and even some best ball strategy.

Christian McCaffrey #22 of the Carolina Panthers participates during mandatory minicamp at Bank of America Stadium on June 15, 2021 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The 2021 NFL season is just around the corner with the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers facing off to open the season on Thursday, September 9th. We’re working our way through the preseason in the meantime and that means fantasy football drafts are underway.

A lot of people won’t start drafting until the third full weekend of preseason action, but it’s never too early to begin preparations. There’s only three preseason weekends plus the Hall of Fame Game this season, so decisions will come faster than in previous years. There’s a whole extra week off without the normal final week of Thursday preseason action.

Last year, the big question was around the COVID-19 pandemic. We still will see players dealing with COVID-19, but with most players vaccinated, it will hopefully not be as big an issue. The bigger question this year is the league expanding to a 17th game for each team. That means we now have 18 weeks of regular season football instead of the traditional 17 weeks. That also means an extra week of fantasy football!

We’ve got plenty to help you as you figure out your fantasy draft decisions. Dive in and good luck!

Printable drafting tiers

Positional rankings

Overall: Aug 20 | Aug 16
Quarterbacks: Aug 16
Running Backs: Aug 16
Wide Receivers: Aug 16
Tight Ends: Aug 16
Defense/Special Teams: Aug 16

Full PPR

Overall: Aug 20 | Aug 16
Running Backs: Aug 16
Wide Receivers: Aug 16
Tight ends: Aug 16

Pat Mayo rankings

Top 150
Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends

Sleepers

”Sleepers” has turned into a cliche in some ways, but there is still value to be found. Every year there are players who outperform their average draft position, and the occasional deeper sleeper that is a big waiver wire pick-up.

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends

Deep sleepers

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends

Fades

Instead of using the term “bust” as you’ll often see, we’re going with players to “fade” for one reason or another. They might be productive players, but for their draft position, you can find other options.

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends

Values

These aren’t quite sleepers, but rather guys that we like just a little more than some might in light of average draft position.

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends

Rookies with upside

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends

Second year breakout candidates

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends

Biggest offseason transactions

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends

Additional content

Running Back Handcuffs
Who should I draft #1 overall?
Who should I draft in the first round?
When should I draft a QB?
When should I draft a kicker?
Run defenses to avoid and target
Pass defenses to avoid and target
HC and OC changes impacting fantasy football