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Best and Worst Fantasy Landing Spots From the 2021 NFL Draft

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Not all teams or draft positions are created equal, especially from a fantasy point of view. Players drafted can end up at the bottom of the depth chart or just in a bad spot in general. Here’s our list of players that ended up in the best and worst landing spots.

2021 NFL Best Landing Spots

Ja’Marr Chase

One of my favorite landing spots from the 2021 NFL draft was Ja’Marr Chase going to the Cincinnati Bengals fifth overall. This pick was rumored to have happened before the draft but it was far from a lock given the Bengals’ offensive line needs. To the dismay of many (those that want to keep Burrow upright), Chase was the selection for the Bengals and frankly, I could not be more excited.

Chase and Burrow are now reunited one year after connecting 84 times for 1780 yards and an astounding 20 touchdowns. The chemistry is there. Before the draft, Burrow was asked about Chase and stated, “Certain receivers just have a way of getting separation at the top of the route. Whether they’re accelerating past them or they get a little push, whatever it is, he’s got that receiver ability to just run past people. He ran a 4.38 [40-yard dash]. I think that’s what it was. I didn’t expect it. Nobody is catching him, though. He just has a great way of getting open. He has a great feel for zone, a great feel for man. He just really understands it all. He’s a complete player.”

What makes this pick even more exciting was the fact that the Bengals did address the offensive line later in the draft by selecting Jackson Carman, a guard out of Clemson, with the 47th overall pick. In the 4th round, they selected D’Ante Smith, a tackle out of East Carolina. Then, in the sixth round, they selected Trey Hill, a center out of Georgia. No, they are not Penei Sewell or Rashawn Slater but they are upgrades to a line that desperately needed it.

Another aspect of this landing spot that has me excited is the fact that the Bengals already have two strong receivers in Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins. This should allow Chase to transition to the NFL without an overabundance of pressure that some high-profile rookies face when they are asked to carry a significant load of the offense right out of the gate. In regards to his dynasty potential, the sky’s the limit. He could be a perennial top 5 wide receiver. In his rookie year, I expect him to finish as a top-end wide receiver two with back-end wide receiver one upside. 

DeVonta Smith

Although it’s bittersweet for me (a New York Giants fan), another landing spot that I love is DeVonta Smith being selected 10th overall by the Philadelphia Eagles. This is another spot where college teammates are being reunited. Jalen Hurts and DeVonta Smith have chemistry from their days as Alabama teammates.

After being drafted by the Eagles, Smith was asked about Jalen Hurts and what it meant to be teammates once again. “Jalen taught everybody the game,” he said. “He was just one of those guys that was a student of the game and taught everybody the game. When you got reps with him, he was always telling you about coverages and rotations. The connection is there, the chemistry is there. Overall, he’s just always helped everybody else be better on the field.”

Although they did not have the same “on the field success” as Burrow and Chase, their relationship should not be understated. Smith will undoubtedly become the number one wide receiver on this Eagles team and should receive a ton of targets right away. I see Smith becoming a wide receiver three in his rookie season with wide receiver two upside which may be dependent upon touchdowns. He is another talented player with great upside and could be a perennial top 10 fantasy finisher for years to come.

MIAMI GARDENS, FL – JANUARY 11: Alabama Crimson Tide running back Najee Harris (22) runs with the ball during the CFP National Championship game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Ohio State Buckeyes on January 11, 2021 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fl. (Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Najee Harris

Another fantasy landing spot that I love is Najee Harris going 24th overall to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He just seems like a Steelers running back, doesn’t he?

He is a decisive runner with great size and versatility. He has shown the ability to be a good to great route runner and his talent as a pass-catcher was on full display for Alabama last year with 43 receptions for 425 yards. He is primed to be a workhorse in a backfield that typically produces good fantasy backs.

The only caveat, however, is the Steelers’ offensive line woes. According to PFF, the Steelers’ run blocking was rated 31st in the NFL and that was before Maurkice Pouncey retired and Alejandro Villanueva and Matt Feiler left via free agency. It will be difficult to be productive on the ground this upcoming season but he could very well see close to 300 touches on an offense that should be in the top half of the league in scoring. He may very well end up being a back-end RB one in his rookie season especially if the passing targets are there. 

Elijah Moore and Michael Carter

The New York Jets have revamped their offense this off-season. They added Corey Davis, Keelan Cole, and Tevin Coleman in free agency, all of whom should be able to contribute this upcoming season. In the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, they selected their quarterback of the future in Zach Wilson then proceeded to trade up and fortify their offensive line with the selection of Alijah Vera-Tucker out of USC.

Both Wilson and Vera-Tucker may prove to be great value for the Jets in the next couple of years but maybe the greatest value picks they had in the entire draft was their second-round pick Elijah Moore, a wide receiver out of Ole Miss, and their fourth-round pick, Michael Carter, running back out of North Carolina. These two will have the opportunity to play a major role in this Jets offense for years to come. 

I will start with Elijah Moore. He currently sits behind Corey Davis, Denzel Mims, and Jamison Crowder on the depth chart at this point in the offseason but prior to the start of the 2021 season, many things can change. Even if it does not, Moore can still provide some instant fantasy impact.

His versatility will allow him to be used in a multitude of ways. New Jets Head Coach Robert Saleh was recently asked about Moore and stated, “He can be in the backfield, he can get those jet sweeps. He can play the X. He can take the top off of the coverage. His ability to separate on routes, run the jet sweeps, come out of the backfield — he’s extremely versatile. I’m ecstatic he was able to get to us. There’s not a lot of things he can’t do.”

Moore will be used quite a bit this upcoming season and could potentially develop into a consistent flex play in his rookie year. If he overtakes Crowder at any point this season he automatically has WR two upside. He is going to have the opportunity to build a rapport and grow with Zach Wilson. He can quickly become his security blanket and be peppered with targets on a game in game out basis. Moore is an exciting player to keep an eye on and should be a fantasy favorite for quite some time.

Michael Carter also has the opportunity to carve out a significant role right away with the Jets. Although there is a bit of a log jam in the Jets backfield (La’Mical Perine, Ty Johnson, and Coleman), Carter has the talent to be able to work towards the top of the depth chart early on.

Carter is coming off of back-to-back 1000 yard seasons at North Carolina. He added 20+ receptions each of those seasons all while not losing a fumble. Pass protection typically keeps rookie running backs off the field until they prove they can keep the quarterback upright but Carter has proved to be both willing and effective in that area. If it translates into the NFL then he may be on the field quite a bit. I don’t know if he will ever be a true workhorse back but he will not need to in order to become a great fantasy option. He could be a consistent flex start this year with the potential for more. 

2021 NFL Worst Landing Spots

Travis Etienne

Travis Etienne is just spectacular. I believe he was the best running back prospect in this year’s draft and he has quite the resume to back up that claim. He rushed for over 1600 yards in both his Sophomore and Junior seasons at Clemson totaling 49 touchdowns. That’s right, 49 touchdowns. Just absurd numbers from an uber-talented player. In his senior season, he continued to improve, becoming more involved in the passing game totaling 48 receptions for 588 yards and 2 touchdowns.

He could have ended up with the Steelers, Dolphins, Jets, Bills, or even the Cardinals. All places he would have ended up on my top 5 fantasy landing spot list. Unfortunately, he ended up going to the Jaguars, a backfield that already has James Robinson. Urban Meyer went on the record and identified James Robinson as a building block for the team’s future.

He stated,  “Running back, James [Robinson], we feel pretty good about him, he had a good year, so we want to build a room with him being an integral part of it.” He then went on to say, “I see Carlos and James the 1-2, downhill, powerful running backs, and I see Travis — there are times where we could be in two-backs and Travis is a guy that goes out. Or we’re still playing with it, but he’s certainly a third-down back and he’s a guy that’s a matchup issue for the defense.”

If you were counting on Etienne being a major part of the Jaguars offense right away these were not the comforting statements you wanted to hear. Of course, It may just be coach speak. It’s also only the beginning of May. Many things can change between now and the beginning of the season.

Etienne may end up carving out a larger role as we approach the year but there were a lot of other locations I would have liked to see him land. With all that being said, If anyone is talented enough to overcome a crowded backfield, Etienne is the guy. 

Landing spot loser Rashod Bateman
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – NOVEMBER 20: Rashod Bateman #0 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers warms up before the game against the Purdue Boilermakers at TCF Bank Stadium on November 20, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Rashod Bateman

I love Rashod Bateman as a prospect. I love Lamar Jackson as a quarterback. I love the Ravens as a team. I simply do not like the target potential. Over the course of the past two seasons, the Ravens have averaged 423 pass attempts.

During that time only 1 wide receiver has had over 50 receptions. Marquise Brown did it twice. I do not see Brown’s role changing in the offense and I do not see the Ravens’ pass attempts drastically going up. As good as Bateman is, his production will be capped based on opportunity. 

Tutu Atwell

Chatarius “Tutu” Atwell is an intriguing prospect. He is a 5’9, 165-pound speedy wide receiver out of Louisville. He was a productive receiver over the course of his three years at Louisville. He totaled over 2300 yards, 21 touchdowns and has been projected to be drafted anywhere between the 3rd and 5th round.

He is an explosive prospect that will bring a unique skill set to the team that drafts him. He has game-breaking speed, can stop on a dime, and is a true deep ball threat. However, Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Desean Jackson, Van Jefferson, Tyler Higbee, Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson. I just can’t see a world where Tutu Atwell comes in and can be a productive member of anyone’s fantasy team in the 2021 season. 

Nico Collins

Nico Collins is an intriguing wide receiver prospect coming out of Michigan. He is a huge target standing at 6’4”, he is a talented route runner and has a great ability to go up and get it. In the right location, I feel Collins could have been an instant fantasy producer.

There are however so many question marks this year in Houston surrounding Deshaun Watson and the quarterback situation. Where we stand right now, I do not see a world where Watson plays at all this season. That leaves Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Finley, and David Mills battling it out to start the season. If that is the case it does not bode well for Collins. Everything is pointing to a long, ugly season in Houston and unfortunately, I would stay away from Collins in any fantasy format. 

Thank you for reading my article on the top five Landing Spots for Tutu Atwell! For more content, be sure to follow @OTH_Football.

Main Image Credit

Landing Spots Winner DeVonta Smith
CLEVELAND, OHIO – APRIL 29: DeVonta Smith poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell onstage after being selected 10th by the Philadelphia Eagles during round one of the 2021 NFL Draft at the Great Lakes Science Center on April 29, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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