Marcas Grant and Michael F. Florio recap every game from Week 5. The guys start with fantasy headlines, including the latest injury news and what it means for Russell Wilson, Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, Kenny Golladay, Joe Burrow and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Then, Marcas and Michael discuss what they learned this week, including thoughts on a couple of stud wide receivers, Mike Williams and Ja’Marr Chase. Afterwards, our experts recap the top performers from Week 5, chatting about their confidence levels in Myles Gaskin and ranking the Bucs’ receivers for the rest of the season. Later, the experts talk about some disappointing performances, including Marvin Jones, Laviska Shenault, Brandin Cooks and Sam Darnold. After that, Marcas and Michael hand out way-too-early Fantasy Superlatives, picking their Fantasy MVPs through this point in the season in addition to Biggest (Good) Surprise, Biggest (Bad) Surprise, and Best Waiver Wire pickup. Then, the hosts discuss the top waiver wire targets for Week 6, and finally, we wrap the show with a fantasy preview of the the upcoming Monday night matchup between the Colts and Ravens.
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Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: Best tips, advice for dominating your 2021 snake draft
When it comes to drafting a strong fantasy football team, you want to be well prepared to kill the snake -- snake draft, that is. Between the pick you get in the lottery, who's all playing in your league, and the depth of offensive skill talent in the NFL, it's not just preseason rankings and sleeper lists that are different from one year to the next. All the tips and strategy advice you've noted on your cheat sheets in the past need to be reevaluated for 2021.
Of course, nothing changes the fact you should be in a position to dominate the draft from the first round to the last. If you do the right amount of studying and practicing, you shoud give yourself a chance to finish in the money.
DOMINATE YOUR DRAFT: Ultimate 2021 Cheat Sheet
You should also lean on all the help and resources available to you, from player rankings to more in-depth analysis pieces to Fantasy Pros' fully customizable mock draft simulator. Here's one more: A comprehensive, step-by-step draft strategy guide breaking down how you can get to that desired domination.
2021 PPR FANTASY RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker | Top 200
2021 Fantasy Football Draft Strategy Advice, Tips
Start with a five-round plan of attack
The one thing you do know going into a 12-team fantasy football draft is that you will end up with five of the top-60 picks. Once you draw a selection between No. 1 and No. 12, it's easy to think too much about that first pick and not about the other core-four picks that follow. In most leagues, these are the players who should consistently make up at least half of your weekly starters.
A no-brainer first-round pick of an RB1 or WR1 means little if you don't back him up with a bevy of support. Participate in mock drafts with your pick and league specifics to know what combinations of talent you can get so when you're on the clock for real, you know your best options and how you can audible if a pick doesn't fall as you expected.
This is the fantasy football version of your opening drive, and whoever scripts their first series the best usually ends up having the most success all season long.
2021 STANDARD FANTASY RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker | Top 200
Go early and often with running backs
Running backs are back in a major way in fantasy football. The truth is, they never went anywhere.
Like with every position, talent reigns, but volume is just as important. Considering your league's format — standard vs. PPR-leaning — is valuable, in the end, you're looking for the best bottom-line production with scrimmage yards and TDs.
Looking at the top running back tier this season, the workhorses are varied. Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara do a lot with receiving, while Dalvin Cook and Derrick Henry deliver more with rushing and scoring. In the era of committees, you should consider backs who get at least 17-20 touches per game.
In your RB1-RB2 combination, you should have one dependable, often explosive back and one consistent, complementary one. If you are required to start just two, you should draft five or six among your 17 total players. If you have a flex position, having up to seven backs would be acceptable.
The key to your backups is diversifying your portfolio. Draft some who have well-defined roles for early in the season and some who have massive upside for the second half. Later, make sure you try to land whatever insurance you can, handcuffing your top backs or even someone else's, depending on the injury history of said backs atop a team's depth chart.
There are a few durable rushers at the top, but there tends to be a lot of attrition tied to both fading veterans and injuries. Make sure you have enough hedged bets and lottery tickets when it's time to scratch them.
2021 FANTASY TIERS & DRAFT STRATEGY:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST
Get at least one elite wide receiver
The best running backs might seem to have the ultimate relevancy in fantasy football, but the league's passing boom has brought standout wideouts to a whole new level. Studs such as Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, Stefon Diggs, and DeAndre Hopkins are so good catching passes from top-level quarterbacks that they serve as surer things than most running backs. They obviously carry more top-24 weight in PPR-leaning leagues, but they are also standard stars.
The key here is knowing your tiers across positions. With running back becoming even deeper this year, you should take a receiver somewhere before the mid-third round. Should you start by picking No. 8 or No. 9 overall, followed by No. 16 or No. 17 in the second round, it's also OK to open WR-WR or even WR-TE with a combination starting with say, Adams or Hill because that's the better value play in relation to forcing a pick on a back.
If you begin with a good baseline of a tried-and-true gamebreaker or two at receiver, that can take the pressure off hitting on all the right high-upside sleepers later. There also is less attrition at the position with most of the top players being durable, so in more drafts than not, you should want to tap into wideout twice before the fourth-round dropoff.
2021 FANTASY SLEEPERS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Each team
Know that it's no longer only "early or late" for a tight end
The tight end cupboard has been quickly restocked in the NFL. In recent seasons, the adage has been you either take a top eight end, such as Travis Kelce, within the first three rounds or wait a while to address the position after filling out running back, wide receiver, quarterback and flex. While Kelce, Darren Waller, and George Kittle are the latest formidable big three, tight end is now stacked with promising youngsters right behind them.
T.J. Hockenson, Kyle Pitts, and Mark Andrews are all worthy targets in the fourth and fifth rounds. After that, there's more upside on their heels with Dallas Goedert, Noah Fant, and Robert Tonyan.
It's also smart to nab a top-12 starter at the right time — when his value is better than that of a player from another position — then dive into a deep sleeper pool late. That group includes Irv Smith Jr., Cole Kmet, and Adam Trautman.
Tight end hasn't had this many intriguing tiers for a while, but you need to stay sharp and have the position in mind throughout, as there's a strong possibility it makes sense to grab one during the heart of your draft.
2021 FANTASY AUCTION VALUES (Standard & PPR):
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker | Overall
Find the best values at quarterback
Tight end is back to being a deep position. Quarterback was already there, and in 2021, more teams throughout the league have exciting options at the position.
Josh Allen and Kyler Murray enjoyed big breakout 2020 seasons that put them right up there with Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson as elite fantasy QBs. Allen and Murray are ranked right behind Mahomes in the top three going into this season.
That means you will need to pay a premium draft pick to get them, starting with Mahomes in the second round and continuing with Allen and Murray around the third or fourth round. Although there's nothing wrong with believing they will live up to their recent past production and follow-up expectations, savvier drafters will look for a bigger return in relation to investment from this year's similar sleepers.
Aaron Rodgers is due for some TD regression after his monster MVP season, but his dropping six or seven spots in the QB1 rankings make him a little undervalued. Jalen Hurts is getting some buzz for Year 2 in Philadelphia. In his four rookie starts, he put up numbers that would have put him in the top five, but his current ranking is around QB10.
Digging deeper in the borderline of the top 12, Matthew Stafford and Joe Burrow each have great weapons and are destined for high passing volume, making many believe they will outperform their current eighth-round average draft positions (ADPs). Going into the QB2s, both Kirk Cousins and Baker Mayfield have the potential to produce like QB1s.
Quarterback production tends to look very different from preseason projections. There are plenty of QBs ranked well into the QB2s who carry upside as solid QB1s, such as Daniel Jones and Trevor Lawrence. Also, don't forget other rookies who can have a big scoring impact soon, such as Trey Lance and Justin Fields. This year, once again, there are several excellent values outside the top eight.
2021 FANTASY CONSISTENCY RATINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end
Know why you're taking a player
Sounds simple, right? Make sure you've heard of the guy you're taking in each round. Have a general idea of his talent level and what his potential role can be — both on his real team and your fantasy team. Don't go for some shaky veteran WR5 when you can take a more valuable young RB4 who is an injury away from big touches. You're not taking a player because you like his name or where he went to college. You're making every pick count with the intent that each pick can help you win a championship.
Don't be a slave to the rankings
While you do want to follow somewhat of a script early, be prepared to pivot and freelance a little once you see your early draft results develop. Are you happier about some positions more than others? If a player doesn't excite you or can give you only limited help, you shouldn't take him. Use your cheat sheet as more a rough outline than a stone tablet. Make sure you use your gut and make your draft your own. The one predictable thing about a fantasy draft is its unpredictability.
FANTASY DRAFT STRATEGY:
Auction | Best Ball | Dynasty/Keeper | IDP
Don't be influenced by other picks
This is an addendum to the previous tip. During your draft, there are bound to be position runs or drafters going straight down the list, filling out their starting lineups before getting backups. Every pick should be your own. Don't base it on what everyone is doing because you think that's what you should be doing.
MORE 2021 FANTASY RANKINGS:
Superflex Top 200 | Superflex Top 200 PPR | IDP | Rookies | O-lines
Avoid getting too caught up in bye weeks
Other than the exception of making sure not to take two top quarterbacks who are off during the same week — Rodgers and Mayfield both have byes in Week 13, for example — you don't need to pay much attention here.
Does it matter that DK Metcalf, Terry McLaurin, and Chris Godwin are all off in Week 9? If you can get all three early to have a loaded wide receiver corps, you would do it. For the backfield, the same goes for drafting say, Aaron Jones and Kareem Hunt, both also off in Week 13. Sure, you will have a tough go of it that particular week, but you will be in great shape the rest of the season.
First and foremost, the goal is to have as much productive talent as possible, then worry about minimizing availability conflicts. Things also can change so much at the non-QB positions that a seemingly solid bye-week fill-in on draft day is a waiver-wire afterthought come Week 6. Know your byes so you are prepared during and after the draft, but obsessing over them is a waste of energy.
MORE 2021 FANTASY HELP:
Mock Draft Simulator | Position battles | Bye weeks | Best team names
Embrace the stream with defenses
There's always one defense that has a ridiculous season. Last season, it was the Rams. The year before, it was the Patriots. In 2018, it was the Bears; in '17, it was the Jaguars. But it's hard for a defense to sustain a high level of playmaking (sacks, interceptions, TDs) in an offensive-minded league, especially if it faces a tougher set of matchups.
In New England's case in 2020, it lost a lot of pass-rushing pop in the offseason, wasn't playing with as many leads without Tom Brady, and had a more difficult schedule. The Patriots slid all the way down outside of the top 10 in most formats.
The Rams didn't just lose their ace defensive coordinator, Brandon Staley, who took over as the Chargers' head coach, but they also took some key personnel losses in the secondary and look weaker in a few spots around Aaron Donald up front. The Rams also face a top-11 scoring offense from 2020 in eight of their 17 games.
Don't spend a pre-10th-round pick trying to outsmart everyone at D/ST. You can get fortunate with the next Rams, Patriots, Bears, or Jaguars, but wait everyone out to try to get that unit. The Browns and Chargers are some of the hot sleepers for 2021.
Look at the early part of the schedule to see who has the best matchups, and think about taking a second defense that can be of great service in subsequent weeks. That gets you ahead of the mad dash to get the D/ST everyone is recommending on the waiver wire. Most important, unless it's evident you're right on a team like the Rams that can be a weekly play, treat the position as disposable and interchangeable.
Take kickers in the last round (if your league still uses them)
This position really should get the boot from fantasy football leagues for good. Besides, 2021 seems like an ideal year for that kind of cancellation. It's lucky to win with your kicker and frustrating to lose because of your opponent's kicker. We all know the best kickers are from the better offensive teams, making the weekly results random from that point. If you're in a league with kickers, you shouldn't make that pick until the final round, and when you do just go for someone accurate who can make a few long ones.
2021 Fantasy football draft kit: Rankings, cheat sheets, mock drafts, sleepers and analysis
The fantasy football season begins Thursday, when the Dallas Cowboys take on the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Whether you play in a casual re-draft league or a more serious deep dynasty format, a traditional or a modified scoring format, with your friends and family or with your co-workers, we know that no two leagues are alike.
With that in mind, this will serve as a one-stop shop for all of our best material to ensure you make the best fantasy football picks you can in every draft you're in: rankings and cheat sheets for PPR and non-PPR, mock drafts for various league types, sleepers and busts for this season, and plenty of helpful information and tips from our expert team of fantasy football analysts.
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Whether you have been doing this for years or are a fantasy first-timer, we have everything you need to help you draft a great team and start the season with a shot at a championship.
Below you'll find all of our best content as we lead up to the start of the NFL season!
Fantasy football cheat sheets, mock drafts, projections
Get all of our best fantasy intel, compiled on a printable cheat sheet to bring with you to your fantasy football drafts.
Cheat Sheet Central
A collection of downloadable, printable cheat sheets for the 2021 fantasy football season, including PPR, non-PPR, superflex and dynasty/keeper leagues. Perfect for your drafts.
10-team, PPR (5/18) | 10-team, 1/2 PPR (6/24) | 10-team, PPR (7/20)
12-team, PPR (7/30) | 12-team, non-PPR (8/6) | 10-team, 1/2-PPR (8/13)
10-team, 2-QB (8/20) | 12-team, 1/2-PPR (8/27) | 8-team, PPR (9/2)
12-team, PPR with the Fantasy Focus crew (9/1)
Mike Clay's projected output for players at every fantasy position, sortable by specific category.
Depth charts:Offense | Defense
These rankings represent the consensus among our fantasy football analysts for the 2021 season. Each analyst maintains their personal ranking for the top 25 quarterbacks, 50 running backs, 50 wire receivers, 25 tight ends, 25 kickers and 25 defense/special teams units. The players are then ranked by the average of those rankings. Each position can also be sorted by any individual analyst's rankings.
Eric Karabell's tiered rankings (PPR):Running backs | Wide receivers
Matthew Berry:PPR Top 200
Mike Clay:The 192 players who should be drafted
Tristan H. Cockcroft:Top 200 | Superflex/2-QB Top 200
Clay's top 240
Clay's top 80 rookies
IDP rankings and content
Clay, Cockcroft and McCormick:Top 50 DLs, LBs and DBs
IDP breakouts and sleepers for 2021
Defensive players ready to take a big step and those who could provide surprising value.
Custom dollar value generator
Input your league's scoring system and roster requirements to generate values for your fantasy football auction. Custom Dollar Value Generator
Fantasy football advice and strategy
Best picks from each draft slot
Tristan H. Cockcroft helps you get ready for your draft -- regardless of when you pick -- by planning ahead for Rounds 1 and 2.
Mike Clay's Ultimate Draft Board
Things never go as planned in drafts, but Mike lists his ideal picks in each round this year and his overall draft strategy.
Draft-Day Manifesto: 7 habits of highly effective drafters
Matthew Berry highlights the most common traits of successful fantasy managers on draft day.
Mike Clay's Fantasy Football Playbook: How to draft and play like an expert
Whether you're new to fantasy or a seasoned vet who plays in a dynasty league, there's something here for you.
In which leagues is a zero-RB strategy most viable?
You hear talk of taking this approach, but how successful are those who employ it?
Why D/ST has become the mandatory final pick in fantasy football drafts
For years, most fantasy veterans have strongly recommended spending your final pick on a kicker. What has changed to suggest a different approach?
Lists and insight
Matthew Berry's 100 facts
Matthew drops knowledge you should be aware of in advance of the 2021 season.
Matt Bowen's 10 favorite draft-day targets
Matt breaks down the players he's highest on at different stages of the draft.
Adam Schefter's cheat sheet
Adam's favorite values in the early, middle and late rounds.
Eric Karabell's 'Do Draft' list
Eric lists players who are being undervalued in drafts and, thus, keep winding up on his rosters.
Eric Karabell's 'Do Not Draft' list
This is all about value. Eric highlights players being drafted way too soon.
Love/Hate for 2021
It's Matthew Berry's must-read column of the preseason, highlighting his most undervalued and overvalued players in drafts.
Field's Fantasy Favorites for 2021
They aren't necessarily highly ranked nor are they sleepers. Just players Field Yates wants on as many of his fantasy teams as possible.
Van Jefferson, Sam Darnold among deep fantasy football sleepers for 2021
Tristan H. Cockcroft lists his favorite off-the-radar options for deeper leagues this season.
NFL Nation training camp mailbag
No one is more locked in on all 32 teams than our NFL Nation reporters. Get the latest news and camp insight.
Sleepers, busts, breakouts for 2021
Our analysts' picks to overachieve, underachieve and emerge.
Preseason weekend wrap: Rookie QB ranks, Lindsay, Gaskin, and more
Eric Karabell provides his initial read on the rookies, as well as early usage trends in backfields around the league.
Mike Clay's TD regression alert for 2021
Players who will score more TDs | Players who will score fewer TDs
2021 versions of last year's breakouts
Mike Clay compares this year's top candidates to break out to those who did it in 2020.
Preseason Shadow Report: WR upgrades and downgrades
Mike Clay highlights the easiest and toughest schedules for WRs this season.
Breaking down the most contentious backfield battles
Matt Bowen breaks down the backfields with the most competition for touches.
Backup RB rankings
Mike Clay ranks the top backups who could flourish if opportunity presents itself.
Top 10 veteran wide receivers on new teams in 2021
Matt Bowen explains which wideouts in new places will benefit from new schemes.
Ranking the best 3-WR groups for fantasy football in 2021
Mike Clay breaks down which fantasy wideouts to upgrade or downgrade, based on frequency of teams' 3-wide sets.
Eric Karabell's divisional storylines to watch
AFC East | AFC North | AFC South | AFC West
NFC East | NFC North | NFC South | NFC West
Individual player analysis
Roundtable: Varying levels of confidence in Saquon Barkley
A combination of NFL reporters and fantasy analysts give their expectations on the Giants' RB in his return to action.
Is Kyle Pitts the exception to the 'Don't draft rookie TEs' rule?
Tristan H. Cockcroft delves into how history has treated rookie TEs and how to value the Falcons rookie.
Is Jalen Hurts the next to use his legs to finish as a top-10 QB?
Hurts showed flashes as a rookie. Eric Karabell takes a closer look at Philadelphia's versatile quarterback.
Will Ezekiel Elliott bounce back from his disappointing 2020?
Matt Bowen explains whether there is reason for optimism for the Cowboys' star.
Is Logan Thomas a one-hit wonder or a legit TE1?
Mike Clay explains whether Thomas can match his impressive production from last season.
How Julio Jones trade affects Titans and Falcons
Mike Clay pores over the ramifications of Jones moving to the Titans.
Should we be concerned about regression for Josh Allen in 2021?
Tristan H. Cockcroft details what to expect from the Bills' quarterback after a breakout 2020.
The new reality for Odell Beckham Jr.'s fantasy value
What can fantasy managers expect from OBJ in 2021? Matt Bowen digs in.
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Mock draft lobby
Practice makes perfect! Hop into a mock draft and prepare for the real thing against other ESPN Fantasy players.
Sign up for ESPN Fantasy Football
It's free to play! Create or join a league with friends, customize your settings and battle all season for the top spot.
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Public and Private Prize Leagues
Yahoo Fantasy Shop
CFP expansion: Bump Army-Navy or go head-to-head with NFL?
If a 12-team format is the future of the College Football Playoff —- and odds are that it still is despite a recent detour on the road to expansion — among the many details that need to be worked out is when it would start. — Hold the first round…RALPH D. RUSSO
More than a glitch: Jon Gruden dropped by Madden video game
Jon Gruden is being dropped from the Madden NFL 22 video game after he resigned as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders because it was reported that he used racist, homophobic and misogynistic language in emails. The Wall Street Journal and The New York…The Associated Press
Fallout continues from Gruden resignation over emails
The NFL is not planning to make public any of the hundreds of thousands of emails it obtained as part of an investigation of the Washington Football Team, some of which led to the resignation of Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden. “Based on the…ROB MAADDI AND BARRY WILNER
Cardinals, Bills tied for top spot in latest AP Pro32 poll
Each team received six of the 12 first-place votes for 375 points in balloting Tuesday by media members who regularly cover the NFL. The Cardinals are still undefeated after five games into the season for the first time since 1974. “Nothing…SIMMI BUTTAR
'Punting Is Winning' shirts symbolize No. 2 Hawkeyes' season
Tory Taylor is selling a T-shirt for charity that bears the three-word slogan “Punting Is Winning.” No. 2 Iowa enters its home game against Purdue on Saturday with records of 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the Big Ten in large part because of the…JOHN BOHNENKAMP
Veronica kept that handbag there all the time. There were medicines that Veronica always carried with her. She often had headache attacks, and there were always the right pills.
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