The 2020 fantasy football season saw players such as Jonathon Taylor, James Robinson and Justin Jefferson go from rookies, to league winners. Let’s take a look at five rookies who are going to have immediate fantasy value in 2021 regardless of where they land in the draft.
Florida’s Kyle Pitts is the most polished tight end in the draft, which makes him an even hotter commodity in fantasy football. Pitts is a 6’6” beast who is fit for the mold of the modern NFL tight end. The 2020 season showed just how scarce the tight end position is in fantasy football. This is a player who can be a starting fantasy tight end from week one. Pitts can line up as a tight end or receiver. He has the hands to make catches all over the field. His catch radius makes him a great red zone threat, and his speed should not be possible for someone with his size. He’s a mismatch on the field. Pitts is going to be a top 10 fantasy tight end in 2021.
Florida TE Kyle Pitts in 2020: 66 targets, 43 catches, *zero* drops. pic.twitter.com/Fuhn1XuqSv
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) February 21, 2021
The Heisman winner himself, Wide Receiver Devonta Smith is special. Smith produced great numbers in an impressive Alabama offense throughout college. It’s easy to think that Smith was just a piece of a great system. Fantasy owners should look past this in 2021. The Alabama product is an elite route runner on the field. He has the awareness and quickness to create separation from defensive backs. Although his less than ideal size, Smith plays bigger than his frame. He simply makes a lot of football plays. Smith finished the 2020 season with 117 catches, 1,856 yards, and 23 touchdowns. Production matters the most in fantasy football. Smith has proven that he has the ability to put up big numbers.
This Devonta Smith catch is just silly.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) December 6, 2020
Another Alabama product, the running back is coming off an exceptional 2020 campaign. Harris averaged 6 yards per carry in college and racked up over 50 touchdowns is his career for the Crimson Tide. Harris is a balanced runner that uses his vision and patience to make his way down the field. On top of these skills, Harris is comfortable as a pass catcher. He improved as a receiver every year in college, ending his senior year with a career high 43 receptions. This versatility makes his fantasy potential skyrocket. A year removed from rookies Jonathon Taylor and Clyde Edwards-Helaire producing for fantasy squads, Harris could follow next season.
Najee Harris hit the stiff arm before finding the end zone 😤 pic.twitter.com/JTZh0cMoFz
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) November 21, 2020
Travis Etienne out of Clemson is another highly touted running back. The ACC’s all-time leading rusher has the tools to be a three-down running back in the NFL. Combining explosiveness and versatility, Etienne should make an immediate impact on the field for whoever drafts him. Etienne’s speed allows him to be a dangerous weapon at the next level. Look for him in 2021 drafts as he will be a valuable weapon in the pass and run game for an NFL team. A back like this has even more value in PPR leagues. Etienne’s improvement in the receiving game should make him a difficult player to not have on the field.
After only 12 catches for 78 yards as a sophomore, Travis Etienne came to camp the next year asking for more practice reps in the passing game
In 2020, Etienne led all running backs in college football with 588 receiving yards pic.twitter.com/3NEx4cs8jN
— Mike Renner (@PFF_Mike) February 17, 2021
Chase opted out of the 2020 season at LSU. However, he remains near the top of most draft boards. He should be on your radar for your fantasy draft too. Last year, we saw Justin Jefferson (also out of LSU) breakout as one of the top fantasy WR’s in 2020. This upcoming year, Chase has the skillset to do so as well. His 2019 season speaks for itself with over 1,700 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns. He looks to be able to convert this production to the NFL with his great contested catching ability. This bodes well for his touchdown production. He can be an immediate downfield threat in an NFL offense.
Let’s revisit the time Ja’Marr Chase beat up a CB who was 3 years older, 5 pounds heavier, and is currently starting in the NFL pic.twitter.com/kpsIQg5FZY
— Mike Renner (@PFF_Mike) February 16, 2021
These are five rookies with immediate fantasy value. Whether you are in a dynasty league, or a season league, these prospects are going to be playmakers at the NFL level. While these players are not going to be your first selections at your draft, every year we see rookies who burst onto the scene. These rookies have massive fantasy potential in 2021.