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Fantasy Football 2021: Evaluating the Impact of Key Players on New Teams

Kenny Golladay, New York Giants

The Giants and fantasy football owners are hoping that Kenny Golladay catches on quickly with his new team

In the offseason, there is always a lot of player movement. Often these players changing teams are the result of free agency. However, sometimes players are traded around the time of the NFL draft. This year was no exception. It seems that more quarterbacks than usual changed teams. Fantasy owners need to be aware of where each player landed and what the potential fantasy impact may be.

Note: Players are listed alphabetically and some new teammates are grouped together.

Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne, WRs, New England Patriots

Agholor is coming off the best year of his career, posting 896 receiving yards and eight touchdowns with the Raiders. He’s had more receptions previously (career-high 64 in 2018), but he made the most of his opportunities in 2020, averaging 18.7 yards per catch. Bourne also experienced success last season, finishing with a career-high 667 receiving yards in San Francisco. He managed just two touchdowns.
Impact: Agholor and Bourne were part of the Patriots’ record-setting free agency splurge and will start ahead of N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers on the depth chart with Julian Edelman now retired. After missing out on the playoffs last season, New England head coach Bill Belichick made significant changes, hoping for much better production on offense. Neither Agholor nor Bourne may be an exciting pick on draft day, but they could end up being serviceable WR3 options, especially if Cam Newton bounces back or rookie Mac Jones turns out to be the real deal.

Tevin Coleman, RB, New York Jets

After being part of a committee in San Francisco, Coleman is likely going to be given the opportunity to be the No. 1 back for the Jets. Coleman also dealt with knee injuries most of last season. He played behind Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson Jr. and Jerick McKinnon and finished with a total of 87 yards from scrimmage in eight games.
Impact: Just 28, Coleman should at least start the season as the Jets’ top backfield option. Ty Johnson, La’Mical Perine and fourth-round pick Michael Carter figure to be behind him on the depth chart, and the team now has a new quarterback in Zach Wilson. The offense — hopefully — will show more signs of life than it did in 2021, but Coleman is just a low RB2.

Related: Running Back Tiers for 2021

James Conner, RB, Arizona Cardinals

Conner hasn’t been able to re-create his successful 2018 season in Pittsburgh, and now he’s on a new team. He’s dealt with injuries in the past, and he suffered an offseason toe injury in an ATV accident that required surgery. In 2020, he had 721 rushing yards and six touchdowns in 13 games.
Impact: Conner will share the workload with Chase Edmonds in Arizona. Edmonds will continue to be used on passing downs, but Conner should see a fair amount of carries. It’s hard to tell which back will get the goal-line work, and Kyler Murray will get his opportunities to run the ball as well. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, this situation is one that lowers both backs’ fantasy value. Edmonds is an RB2; Conner is an RB3.

Jared Cook, TE, Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers will be the sixth team Cook has played for as he enters his 13th season. He enjoyed a nice run in New Orleans, catching 16 TD passes in two seasons with Drew Brees.
Impact: For the Chargers, Cook will replace Hunter Henry, who seemed to work well with rookie Justin Herbert last season. Still, it’s going to be hard to trust Cook as a solid, every-week fantasy option. That’s not to say he won’t have TE1 value some weeks, but it’s probably best to target him later in drafts and look to pair him with someone else to form a solid rotation at the position.

Related: Tight End Tiers for 2021

Sam Darnold, QB, Carolina Panthers

Darnold will be only 24 at the start of the 2021 season. The Panthers have been looking for an answer at quarterback, and the answer just may be Darnold. With the Jets in 2020, he had career lows in passing yards and touchdowns. He did have a shoulder injury, which cost him a few games, but it was the offense that really brought him down. Carolina also showed its commitment to Darnold (at least for 2021) by trading away Teddy Bridgewater and not taking a quarterback in the draft.
Impact: In Carolina, Darnold should have a little more freedom to run his plays, and hopefully the team will work with him to develop him into what could be a quarterback for the future. He’s reunited with Robby Anderson, who caught five of Darnold’s 19 TD passes with the Jets in 2019 and added three more with Carolina in 2020, and he also has DJ Moore as well as Christian McCaffrey. Darnold’s arrow is pointing up, but he’ll be hard to trust for fantasy right away.

Corey Davis, WR, New York Jets

Davis is coming off a career-best year in Tennessee, where he had 984 receiving yards and five touchdowns. He did have five 100-yard games but disappeared at times for others, so consistency is still an issue.
Impact: With the Jets, quarterback play won’t be the same as it was in Tennessee, with Davis swapping Ryan Tannehill for rookie Zach Wilson. The pecking order also will need to be sorted out among the receivers with Davis joining Jamison Crowder, Denzel Mims and second-round pick Elijah Moore, among others. New York’s offense will be a work in progress as Wilson gets acclimated to the pros, which impacts everyone else’s fantasy value. Davis is just a WR3.

Mike Davis, RB, Atlanta Falcons

A complementary back during his first five seasons in the NFL, Davis filled in admirably for an injured Christian McCaffrey in Carolina last season, rushing for 642 yards and six touchdowns while also catching 59 passes for 373 yards and two more scores in 15 games (12 starts).
Impact: In Atlanta, Davis should get a decent workload since there doesn’t appear to be much competition for carries. Qadree Ollison and former Chicago Bear Cordarrelle Patterson are both on the roster (and undrafted free agent Javian Hawkins is someone to keep an eye on), but it should be Davis’ job to lose. Fantasy owners have seen what Davis can do, and while Atlanta does usually favor the pass over the run, Davis’s pass-catching ability will make him an RB2, especially in PPR formats.

Kenyan Drake, RB, Las Vegas Raiders

Last season, Drake was with the Cardinals, where he was rarely utilized as a receiver. He had 955 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. He did deal with an ankle injury in the middle of the season that cost him a game. Chase Edmonds also took away carries (and got more targets), and Kyler Murray got his opportunities to run the ball too.
Impact: Drake is now in Las Vegas, and instead of working alongside Edmonds, he’s paired with Josh Jacobs. This has all the makings of a timeshare that will decrease both backs’ fantasy value. Seemingly, Drake will be used more in the passing game, and Jacobs will be the between-the-tackles runner. However, it puts both running backs in the RB2 tier unless one is injured.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Washington Football Team

Fitzpatrick looked good in Miami last year, but he was benched for Tua Tagovailoa in Week 6. When Tagovailoa was injured, Fitzpatrick came back in and looked good again. At 38, he’s not going to be a real-life or fantasy team’s answer, but he’s serviceable enough to put up points when needed.
Impact: With Washington, Fitzpatrick seems to be the Week 1 starter, as the team did not add a quarterback in the draft. He is technically competing with Kyle Allen, Taylor Heinicke and Steven Montez for the job, but odds are that Fitz wins. He’ll be a QB2 for fantasy purposes, as he certainly won’t shy away from throwing the ball around or downfield.

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Will Fuller V, WR, Miami Dolphins

Fuller has spent much of his career injured, yet in 2020 he was able to remain healthy — but ended up with a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs that will carry into Week 1 of the 2021 season. He posted career-highs in receptions (53), yards (879) and touchdowns (eight) last season, but his PED-related suspension understandably casts some doubt.
Impact: Fuller landed in a great spot, getting the opportunity to catch passes from Tua Tagovailoa, but he’s not alone. DeVante Parker is already there, and the Dolphins added first-round pick Jaylen Waddle, Tagovailoa’s former Alabama teammate. Fuller and Waddle both can serve as deep threats, and fantasy owners already know that Fuller isn’t going to play a full season because of the suspension and is likely to miss a game or two due to injury at some point. Draft him as a WR3.

Jared Goff, QB Detroit Lions

The Lions took Goff in the Matthew Stafford trade, but it seems that the Rams got the better end of that deal. Stafford has been consistent; Goff has had two good years and two decent years. In 2018 and 2019, he had more than 4,600 passing yards. In 2017 and 2020, he had fewer than 4,000. He threw only 20 touchdowns last year (although he did add four on the ground), and turnovers (17 total last season, 21 in 2019) have certainly been a problem.
Impact: Goff joins the Lions, who don’t have the same weapons that he had in Los Angeles. Breshad Perriman is listed as the No. 1 receiver, which isn’t a promising sign. Tyrell Williams has joined the team, and second-year man Quintez Cephus may be given more of an opportunity than he had as a rookie, but this is going to be tough for a quarterback who relies on his slot receiver, not deep throws. Goff is a QB2, but keep expectations low.

Kenny Golladay, WR, New York Giants

After missing the first two games with a hamstring injury, Golladay later injured his hip, ending his season after Week 8. After back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns with 16 total touchdown catches, Golladay managed just 338 yards and two scores in five games in 2020.
Impact: Golladay was looking like the shiny new toy for the Giants — until draft day, when the team used its first pick on wide receiver Kadarius Toney. New York also signed John Ross III, who joins Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton in a crowded position group. Golladay should still be the first Giants wide receiver off the board on draft day, but Daniel Jones’ play and the sheer number of pass catchers on this team (don’t forget about Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram) make him a shaky WR2.

A.J. Green, WR, Arizona Cardinals

Green will be 33 at the start of the season, and it’s hard to imagine him regaining anything close to the fantasy value he once had. After missing the entire 2019 season due to an ankle injury, Green returned in 2020 and had 523 yards and two touchdowns. What’s more concerning is that he was targeted 104 times and finished with just 47 catches.
Impact: In Arizona, Green gets to work with Kyler Murray, but he’s well behind DeAndre Hopkins in the pecking order and probably Christian Kirk as well. The Cardinals also drafted Rondale Moore, who will certainly be involved in the gameplan. Green can be considered a WR3, but that doesn’t mean he’ll pan out.

Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, TEs, New England Patriots

Injuries marred Henry’s tenure with the Chargers, but he posted back-to-back 600-yard seasons with nine total TD catches over the past two years. Smith is coming off the best season of his four-year career, putting up 41 catches for 448 yards and eight touchdowns (he also had one rushing) last year with the Titans.
Impact: The Patriots have had plenty of success with two tight ends during Bill Belichick’s tenure, and both figure to get their opportunities considering the Patriots’ struggles with their passing game last season. However, what’s good for New England may not be good for fantasy owners. Cam Newton likes to throw to tight ends (remember Greg Olsen when both were in Carolina), but he also has new wide receivers as well as running back James White. There are only so many targets to go around, and the Patriots likely aren’t going to go pass-happy all of a sudden either. Rookie Mac Jones also could get his chances to run the offense or even take over at some point. It just paints a murky fantasy picture for the two tight ends. There are going to be games when Henry is the top dog and others when it’s Smith. Both are certainly draftable, but neither is a clear-cut TE1, unless the other gets hurt.

Mark Ingram II and Phillip Lindsay, RBs, Houston Texans

The Houston Texans may not be sure what they are doing on offense, but they don’t lack for backfield options. An undrafted free agent in 2018, Lindsay posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in Denver before injuries and the addition of Melvin Gordon III limited him to just 502 yards and a touchdown in 11 games (eight starts) in 2020. Similarly, Ingram started his career in New Orleans before signing with Baltimore in free agency in 2019. A 1,000-yard rushing season with 15 total touchdowns in his Ravens debut gave way to just 299 yards and two scores on the ground last season.
Impact: The Texans still have David Johnson as their No. 1 running back. Ingram was signed first, but Lindsay should get his chances as well, especially given the trio’s collective injury history. Houston also is a team fully in rebuild mode, so the not-so-optimistic outlook combined with the competition for touches will make it hard to trust any of these guys in fantasy. Johnson likely slots in as an RB2, while Ingram and Lindsay will be late-round guys to grab hanging on to the hope that one breaks out.

Julio Jones, WR, Tennessee Titans

Jones played in just nine games last season because of injuries, ending his impressive streak of six straight seasons with 1,300-plus receiving yards. After the 2020 season, the seven-time Pro Bowler asked to be traded and the Falcons granted his wish, sending him (and a 2023 sixth-round pick) to Tennessee for a second-round pick in next year's draft and a fourth-rounder the following year.
Impact: The change of scenery for Jones also comes with a change of roles. A.J. Brown is the undisputed No. 1 wide receiver for the Titans as the 2019 second-round pick is coming off of his first Pro Bowl campaign. That doesn't mean that Jones can't complement Brown or bolster Tennessee's passing game. But this offense will continue to revolve around Derrick Henry, so don't expect the same number of targets that Jones got in Atlanta. Health also becomes more of a factor for the 32-year-old. Value Jones as a WR2/3 in your draft but be prepared for him to miss a game or two as well.

Marvin Jones Jr., WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

With Kenny Golladay injured for most of the 2020 season, Jones just missed out on 1,000 yards (978) and caught nine touchdowns for the Lions. It didn’t help his fantasy owners that 180 of his yards and two of his touchdowns came in Week 17.
Impact: Now in Jacksonville, Jones should start alongside DJ Chark Jr. Both wideouts’ fantasy values take a slight hit, especially considering that rookie QB Trevor Lawrence will need some time to acclimate. Laviska Shenault Jr. is another wideout on the roster to remember, and the running backs and tight ends will be involved in the passing game as well. Jones landed in an intriguing spot but is probably best viewed as a WR4 in this offense.

Breshad Perriman and Tyrell Williams, WRs, Detroit Lions

Perriman has bounced around since Baltimore selected him in the first round (26th overall) in 2015. Last season with the Jets, he recorded 30 catches for 505 yards and three touchdowns. Williams may be forgotten by fantasy owners because he missed the entire 2020 season with a shoulder injury. In 2019 with the Raiders, Williams was solid — posting 42 receptions, 651 yards and six TDs — but not spectacular.
Impact: In Detroit, Perriman and Williams will likely lead a practically brand-new receiving corps with Jared Goff taking over at quarterback. Everyone gets a clean slate in some ways, so either Perriman or Williams could provide sneaky fantasy value, if Goff is able to get them the ball. Both should be considered as decent WR3 options but they also carry some injury risk and volatility because of Goff’s up-and-down nature.

Josh Reynolds, WR, Tennessee Titans

Reynolds played a fairly quiet four years with the Rams. In 2020, he had a career-best 618 yards but caught only two touchdowns. He can play the slot, but in Los Angeles, Cooper Kupp filled that role. Reynolds totaled only nine touchdown catches during his time with the Rams, with five of those coming in 2018.
Impact: Now in Tennessee, Reynolds should slide into the slot receiver role with Corey Davis (New York Jets) and Adam Humphries (Washington Football Team) having gone elsewhere. Tight end Jonnu Smith (New England) also departed in free agency, so someone will need to step up to take some of the load off of A.J. Brown. If Reynolds can establish a good rapport with Ryan Tannehill, he should put up decent numbers. He will probably have more value in PPR formats, as it doesn’t seem likely he’ll rack up a lot of touchdowns.

Curtis Samuel, WR, Washington Football Team

Samuel had a fairly successful four seasons in Carolina, although the past year was tough because of inconsistent quarterback play. In 2020, he had 851 receiving yards and three touchdown catches. He also had two rushing touchdowns, as the Panthers were creative in how he was utilized in their offense.
Impact: In Washington, Samuel will be the clear No. 2 wide receiver behind Terry McLaurin. Ryan Fitzpatrick should be able to establish a connection with Samuel, who will likely be used in the backfield as well. The team has other young, talented wide receivers, but if McLaurin and Samuel can stay healthy, they will be the receivers to target. McLaurin is a borderline WR1 and Samuel is a high WR3.

Matthew Stafford, QB, Los Angeles Rams

After 12 years, Stafford is no longer in Detroit, and the Rams believe they have their quarterback for the foreseeable future. Stafford is 33, so the future is probably about five years, but that should be good enough for now. With the exception of an injury-shortened 2019, Stafford has been fairly consistent throughout his career.
Impact: With the Rams, fantasy owners can set the floor at his typical baseline: 4,000 passing yards, 20-plus touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He’s not mobile, but he does have solid weapons with the Rams. It will be interesting to see how the offense looks. Stafford is a QB2 with QB1 upside.

Carson Wentz, QB, Indianapolis Colts

In February, the Eagles traded Wentz to Indianapolis for draft picks. It was clear that the Eagles and Wentz were heading towards a breakup, even after signing him to a massive contract extension. In 2020, Wentz was benched after throwing 15 interceptions (compared to 16 touchdowns). His completion percentage (57.4) was the lowest it’s been since he was in the league. With Jalen Hurts, who gave this team a spark late in the season, also on the roster, and with the team moving on from head coach Doug Pederson, the Eagles likewise decided to part with Wentz.
Impact: In Indianapolis, Wentz will have a second chance with Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich, one of his former offensive coordinators in Philadelphia. Wentz was positioned to be an excellent bounce-back candidate, but a foot injury early in training camp means he will miss the first few games to start the season. He could still be a QB1 upon his return, but the risk is obvious and after this latest injury, he shouldn't be drafted as any more than a QB2, if that.

Jamaal Williams, RB, Detroit Lions

Williams isn’t a player who’s going to be a bell-cow running back on any team, but he’s versatile and has produced when called upon. In 2020, he had 505 rushing yards with two rushing touchdowns and 236 receiving yards with another score.
Impact: Williams trades off being a complement to Aaron Jones for doing the same with D’Andre Swift. The Lions seem committed to Swift, who did miss three games in 2020, albeit for illness. He’s yet to handle a heavy workload, so Williams offers good insurance and gives the coaching staff another option they can trust. For now, treat Swift as a high RB2 and Williams as his direct handcuff.

Others to Remember

Dan Arnold, TE, Carolina
Giovani Bernard, RB, Tampa Bay
Devontae Booker, RB, New York Giants
Mike Boone, RB, Denver
Matt Breida, RB, Buffalo
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Denver
John Brown, WR, Las Vegas
Malcolm Brown, RB, Miami
Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay
Keelan Cole, WR, New York Jets
Andy Dalton, QB, Chicago
Gerald Everett, TE, Seattle
Wayne Gallman Jr., RB, San Francisco
Brian Hill, RB, Tennessee
Adam Humphries, WR, Washington
Carlos Hyde, RB, Jacksonville
DeSean Jackson, WR, L.A. Rams
Jerick McKinnon, RB, Kansas City
Anthony Miller, WR, Houston
Cordarrelle Patterson, RB, Atlanta
John Ross III, WR, New York Giants
Kyle Rudolph, TE, New York Giants
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Buffalo
Tyrod Taylor, QB, Houston
Mitchell Trubisky, QB, Buffalo
Sammy Watkins, WR, Baltimore
Damien Williams, RB, Chicago

Athlon Sports' 2021 Fantasy Football Magazine