The 3 Riskiest Picks in the First Round of 2021 Fantasy Football

The 3 Riskiest Picks in the First Round of 2021 Fantasy Football

Yesterday I put out a "short" identifying my top-3 riskiest picks in the 1st round of fantasy drafts.

I like making the shorts for y'all, because you guys like them and they work well on YouTube, but at the same time I kind of hate them - because they go against the way I work. They're very clickbaity with very little substance within them - because they have to be < 60 seconds. So, it's basically like every other fantasy person's analysis on the regular.

But I like to dive deeper on players, something just doesn't sit right with me when i just do a short list. So I wanted to expand upon the short I did - identifying the three riskiest players in the first round of fantasy drafts.

Based on the ADP from Underdog these are your current top-12 for fantasy football. You can do or say what you want, Ekeler and Chubb weren't listed on my top 3 riskiest players for the 2021 season, but with the Rodgers news, Aaron Jones and Davante Adams will push them out within a few days and they won't be considered first round picks anymore so it doesn't matter.

Saquon Barkley - NYG

Current ADP: 1.06

The injury news is getting weirder by the day. It's very possible they're just straight up keeping this close to vest and will keep toying with people saying he may or may not be ready for Week 1 but given the timeline on the injury, it would make sense that these reports are real. 

He's starting to slowly slide. I think with this news we'll see him slide into the back of the 1st half, possibly even early 2nd round in some leagues (with Rodgers byke in GB - you move Aaron Jones & Davante Adams above him probably).

The knee injury as we've covered was a big one, it wasn't just the ACL it was other areas of the knee which took longer to make sure they were okay before they could go in and operate on the ACL which means a pushed back timetable for recovery.

They're haven't been any setbacks (that we know of). When asked if he'll be ready for Week 1 -- Saquon says "we'll see", Joe Judge says "we're taking a long-term approach to it". Which is interesting, because they took Saquon #2 overall in the 2018 draft, impossible to forget. And have since been laid out by like a cardboard box and stepped all over for it by football Twitter. 2021 will be Saquon's 4th-year of his rookie contract.

Each player drafted in the first round receives a four-year contract. They aren’t eligible to renegotiate their deals until after their third contracted year. The 4-year contract also has a 5th year team option on it - so for those of you guys that dont know what that means - you hear player option, team option. Basically you sign a contract for however many years, 3 years, 4 years, and you'll hear 3 years with a 4th year player option. That means that the PLAYER gets to choose whether or not he wants to keep that contract going for the fourth year. 

Every first round pick in the NFL draft gets a 4-year contract with a 5th year TEAM OPTION. After the 3rd year of their contract, the team has to decide if they want to pick up that 5th year option - the giants already did that with Saquon - he'll be byke in NY for 2022. But after year 3, you can also start to negotiate for the extension which I'm assuming Saquon's side will start doing as soon as he shows he's healthy. You have to be a pretty fucking terrible first round pick to not get your fifth option picked up. 

Of the 2018 NFL Draft first-rounders, nine players didn't have their options picked up: Josh Rosen (released), Leighton Vander Esch, Billy Price, Rashaan Evans, Hayden Hurst, Rashaad Penny, Terrell Edmunds, Sony Michel and Mike Hughes.

With that being said, they're taking a long-term approach because they have him tied up through 2022. And they're going to start negotiating an extension probably relatively soon.

While I do think Saquon will finish strong, it's going to be tough to stomach the first month of the season. If he's even playing. The range of outcomes for September for him is like, misses games, playing by week 1 but limited, just hard to see, based on reports at this point that he steps on the field at the start of the regular season at 100%. You compare Saquon to someone like Joe Burrow. Also tore his ACL.

The reports between the two are schizophrenic.

Burrow is full go and cleared for training camp. We're already worried about Saquon's Week 1 status. Very big concern.

We know that if a player steps on the football field at less than 100% health, he's likelihood to re-injure something is much higher than a normal, fully health player. He is RISKY.


Next up I think we had Jonathan Taylor

Now, I like JT and I'm probably fine drafting him in the 1st round, but the risks are definitely real.

For starters, we have a split backfield. Taylor will obviously be the starter, get the early down work, get most of the GL work.

But Nyhiem Hines over the last three years:

  • '20: 77-64-482-4 (3rd among RBs in all 3)
  • '19: 58-44-320-0  
  • '18: 81-63-425-2 

He's a top-10 guy in the receiving game. He's probably not even as good as Taylor there tbh, but they're going to continue forcing it to him.

Marlon Mack, it obviously remains to be seen if he can bring anything to the field after the torn achilles, but I'm not ready to write him off. We remember this as completely Mack's backfield before he got hurt last year, Indy loves this kid. Probably the smallest risk here for Taylor but still something.

With the pass-catching work, they move from Rivers to Wentz, it's just pretty glaring, Rivers and the Indy O targeted RBs on 25% of their throws in 2020, 3rd highest rate in the NFL. In 2019, Rivers in LA targeted RBs on 32% of his throws, highest rate in the NFL. The year before 27%, it's a huge portion of Rivers' game. Not so much Wentz'- so the dip-off in overall volime for the RB targets is going to be there in 2021. And it might come at the expense of Hines, very possible, but still a risk.

And speaking of Wentz, what if Wentz is just permanently broken and this offense just stinks. I think he'll be fine, at least like league average behind this great offensive line, but another risk.

And lastly, Taylor STUNK in the beginning of last year, for like 11 weeks. And then they're scheduled turned to absolute shit. And he went off. How much of Taylor going off was due to facing some of the worst run defenses in the NFL, that were out of the playoff picture, not playing for much, factored into his 1st round draft price right now. I'm willing to say a decent amount.


Taylor's a very good player, but I'm starting to question his ADP more and more.


Alvin Kamara - Saints

And the last guy I have on this list, which I realize has become a hot take, is Alvin Kamara.

There's a ton to dissect here so I'll try to do it in short order without yelling.

And I know, the first thing on everyone's mind is, no Thomas that probably means 130 targets for Kamara, and very very possible, but let me lay out my case here for why he becomes risky imo this year.

We have Brees gone, which led me to believe Jameis is going to be the starter. Then Michael Thomas gets hurt, and it led me to believe Taysom will get the nod now. And then we hear reports that they're leaning Taysom. Taysom makes sense following the Michael Thomas injury because this injury is lacking playmakers big time.

Winston without Michael Thomas, is like ketchup without the burger. Now you just have ketchup on a plate. That's what Jameis is with this offense. Tre'Quan Smith is maybe a pickle, Adam Smith a slice tomato, but Marquez Callaway is a gluten free bun and now you're left eating a gluten free bun with a tomato pickle and ketchup sandwich.

Taysom is like a margarita. Lot of upside. You don't know where the night, or the meal is going to take you - but it brings excitement to the table.

I think they need that.

But, Taysom on the field means a few things.

  • First off, without Thomas and Brees, it's possible that this offense just stinks. Just 58% run rate, eating clock, just boring, slow and gross.
  • With Taysom, it's less passes overall, less targets for Kamara.
  • With Taysom, you have questions about what happens on the GL, too. Taysom only started 4 games last year, and had 9 GL carries. Kamara has 12 on the season. We could EASILY see that flip, if not more with him as a full-time starter.

We also saw the splits with Taysom as the starter last year:

I mean yeah we can look at each individual game - he got 1 target here, 10 there, but here are the averages and it wasn't pretty.

Trust me, I'm probably not fading Kamara in the 1st because he's just so talented and there's a real chance the entire offensive game plan just revolves around Kamara getting 8 dump-offs a game, but you have to acknowledge what this offense can turn into, quickly.

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