Is there really an ideal landing spot for any talented player? I argue systems and coaches matter, so I do believe there some ideal situations out there. This article will cover the dream 2021 NFL draft matches between five teams and the players that would be the “perfect” fit for their organization, from a fantasy football perspective.
2021 NFL Draft Matches: Michael Carter
First up on the list of 2021 NFL Draft matches, is finding a home for Michael Carter. The UNC Tarheel showed off his skills at the Senior Bowl, especially on game day. He was the only running back that day to find any running room, and it showed up in the box score. If you watched any North Carolina football games this year, you probably weren’t surprised with Carter’s performance. Carter was part of one of the most dynamic running back duos in college football history with his teammate Javonte Williams.
Carter has a knack for using his lateral quickness to make people miss, plant his foot, make a cut, and turn on the jets to burst upfield. As someone, who enjoys watching the nuances of the running back position; I am thoroughly impressed with both Tarheel running backs. Frankly, both backs, in my opinion, are perfect for a zone-blocking run scheme.
You typically will find Carter listed around the 6th best running back prospect in this class. Here’s one list and it is just one list, but if you dig around the internet that seems to be the spot that most view Carter. If Carter is the 5th or 6th best back in this class that probably puts him being drafted somewhere around the 4th round, give or take.
Most teams these days aren’t spending a lot of draft capital to get “their guy,” and the San Francisco 49ers with Kyle Shanahan have a history of finding their back elsewhere. This goes back to his father Mike, and even Gary Kubiak who found success with Arian Foster.
All that said, for me, this would be the absolute dream of all the 2021 NFL Draft matches. to see Carter land with the 49ers. He’s a perfect fit with the 49ers run game, and he’s comparable in size to all the running backs San Francisco employed this year. Carter is also used to sharing a backfield. Picking Carter would be a home run for the 49ers, San Francisco make it happen!
2021 NFL Draft Matches: Javonte Williams
Since we are already talking about 2021 NFL Draft matches for the Tarheels’ backfield, let’s dream about an ideal landing spot for Javonte Williams. Now, at his size, Williams could be a stud as a three-down bell cow or as a part of a shared backfield. None other than the Buffalo Bills is my ideal landing spot for this rookie.
The Bills didn’t have a consistent run game all year, and it became very apparent in their last playoff game. In the playoff game with the Kansas City Chiefs, the running backs combined for only 32 yards. The Bills were a playoff team facing the Chiefs’ 21st ranked rushing defense, and outside of Josh Allen’s 88 yards, the Bills had a total of 41 rushing yards.
Brian Daboll does like to run a bit of a running back by committee, and thus far, it has not worked out with Devin Singletary and Zack Moss. I would love to see Williams in a bell-cow type of role, but I am just not sure we will ever be that fortunate. The Bills have other holes to fill, but this is a well-rounded team ready to win now.
Williams brings the size that most coaches desire for goalline opportunities and has soft hands to be effective catching the ball out of the backfield. Williams is a complete back with all the tools to be whatever this offense needs him to be and is a perfect fit for the Bills in our 2021 NFL Draft matches.
2021 NFL Draft Matches: Mac Jones
This next player on our fantasy football 2021 NFL Draft matches might surprise you a bit, as I have previously been down on Mac Jones. Let me be clear about a few things. I am not an expert scout, I don’t have a radar gun to test the speed of throws, and I don’t work for any NFL team. I am one person that has watched a lot of football over the decades and has found some trends that I have noticed.
One of those things is that I firmly believe is that you need to be able to put a throw “on a rope” to have consistent success in the NFL. I am not sure Mac Jones has that kind of arm, but at the same time, I am not willing to take a hard-nosed stance that he doesn’t.
The biggest complaint about Jones revolves around his lack of mobility. However, Jones does all the right things at the position and he’s a natural leader. He knows how to direct an efficient offense, and he’s not afraid to take his shots when it’s appropriate. From the neck up, I think Jones is the best quarterback in this class. It’s the lack of athleticism that is holding him back in the eyes of NFL scouts.
Notice how successful Jones was with Alabama this year. Mac’s faults didn’t go away this past year, and Alabama didn’t try to “hide” Jones. Alabama let Mac Jones do what he does best, be a field general. Jones put up gaudy numbers in all aspects of his passing game, and it is especially noticeable with his deep ball numbers. Jones was surrounded by talented weapons everywhere around him, and he made sure to get the ball in those players’ hands. After all, that is the quarterback’s job.
If Mac can find a team that will give him a chance by protecting him with a talented offensive line, where he can lean on a solid run game, and gives him talented weapons to throw to, I see no reason why he can’t have success. I still have concerns about his arm strength, but I was reminded there were similar concerns with Tom Brady. I am not comping Jones to Brady, just saying that sometimes we are wrong about our concerns.
While I don’t think Jones will be available to the Indianapolis Colts with their pick in the first round, this is one of the 2021 NFL Draft matches that can produce a rookie of the year. The Colts have an amazing running back in Jonathan Taylor, a solid offensive line, no diva receivers, and a defense that is ready to win now. That is the perfect recipe for a young QB.
2021 NFL Draft Matches: Rashod Bateman
Isn’t it every fantasy player’s dream to see the Green Bay Packers draft another talented wide receiver for Aaron Rodgers? Most of us thought that was going to be last year, and nope it sure wasn’t. Am I setting myself up for my dreams and goals to be dashed? Possibly, but at some point, the Packers have to get more receiver depth on this roster. I get that the Packers have been making their average receivers look good for three decades, but are we sure we want to test Jordan Love with a lack of tools?
The receiver I would love to see the Green Packers get is Rashod Bateman. Bateman was starting coming into his own at the end of 2019 for the Minnesota Golden Gophers. During the 2019 football season, both Tyler Johnson, now with the Tampa Buccaneers, and Batemen looked impressive on the football field. Bateman was a dominant factor in the number 17 Gophers upsetting the number four Penn State Nittany Lions back in 2019. I was at the game, and I went there expecting to watch Tyler Johnson be the shining star, when in fact, it was Bateman.
We only got to see Bateman for a handful of games this year, as the B1G was late to the college football party. Rashod initially elected to opt-out of the 2020 season before changing his mind and playing this year. I bring this up because what we saw from Bateman this year wasn’t quite what most of us were hoping for. That said, the Gopher football team was kind of all over the place too. After looking much improved in 2019, there were higher hopes for the Gophers in 2020. I understand that the year of “Covid,” or maybe its years, really turned the offseason and regular season in NCAA on its head.
Rashod is not a fine-tuned product yet. He still needs some work with route running and creating more separation. He also is not someone you are going to use to stretch the field with his speed.
Of all the 2021 NFL Draft matches, this one is the closest to a pipedream. But, I want one more solid moveable target for Rodgers to use. Bateman can be moved all over the formation, and he’s got great size at 6’2″ and 220 lbs. I am debating on rounding up some folks and taking flyers down to Lambeau to try to motivate the front office to get Rodgers some more help on the outside.
Najee Harris Ideal Fantasy Rookie Matchup
We have covered a few ideal landing spots for rookies, but none have me more excited than the last of my 2021 NFL Draft matches. The trick bag with running backs is that the market value for them is low. Meaning, it’s not uncommon for teams to wait on running back. I have already mentioned two I like, but this next one? He has proven he can be leaned on and carry a team, and news flash, he’s better at catching the ball than most folks will admit.
Picture this if you will, the Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers decide to move on from Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones and select Najee Harris with the last pick in the first round. I realize most of us were overly excited when Cylde Edwards-Helaire was drafted in that very spot last year by the Chiefs. At that time what as there not to love? It seemed like the perfect fit for Andy Reid and the Chiefs offense, and maybe it is and we just didn’t get to see it with lack of the offseason.
Don’t get me wrong Leonard Fournette looked decent down the stretch at the end of the year, but he is now an unrestricted free agent and we have no idea what his contract demands will be. We do have an idea of what a rookie contract looks if Najee Harris is drafted 32nd overall. It’s a benefit to have these rookies on their initial contract relative to the team salary cap. It’s a way to find value.
Harris has all the tools to be “The Guy” in Tampa Bay. He has soft hands and is a better receiver than what we have seen from Ronald Jones. He runs with excellent power, constantly falls forward, and ready to step into a pro offense. Who doesn’t want a three-down consistent starter on the Buccaneers’ offense? I know I would love it! This particular pick, in my opinion, is plausible.
If the Buccaneers take Harris, I would pencil him in as a high upside RB2 with RB1 potential. Imagine having Harris in your fantasy lineups as he averages 17+ touches a game, in that offense. Najee Harris could potentially be a league winner for you.
Keep in mind these are ideal 2021 NFL Draft matches based on coaches, schemes, and the skill sets of the players mentioned. Based on these landing spots, I would find all of these players significant fantasy assets to add to your rosters.