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2021 Fantasy Football: Five underrated players we're already excited to draft next season

Yahoo Sports Fantasy Staff
·4-min read

With the 2020 fantasy football season in the books, let’s look forward to the future and next season. Our analysts reveal one player who might not look like much now, but whom they’re amped to take next season.

Hollywood ready for his star turn in 2021

Matt Harmon: Marquise Brown burned a ton of players in 2020 but my advice would be to get over it. When the Ravens offense turned around after their COVID-19 outbreak and even one week before Lamar Jackson returned, Brown began to turn the corner. Over the last six games of the season, Brown scored six times. He found the end zone in five of six contests and in the lone game he didn’t post a touchdown, he dropped 98 yards on the Jaguars. Even more important, the usage metrics were there. Brown owned a team-high 33.6 percent share of the team’s targets in the last six games and averaged 10 air yards per target. That second figure marked a clear change from when the team was only trying to force him deep targets with no layups. Don’t give up on this player yet.

Mooney brings upside despite Bears’ questions

Andy Behrens: We don't yet know who's going to start at quarterback for the 2021 Chicago Bears nor do we know if Allen Robinson will remain in the team picture. But we can say with confidence that Darnell Mooney will be a significant weapon moving forward, coming off a promising first season. He became a starter for Chicago at mid-season and averaged 6.8 targets per game over the final nine weeks. Mooney was effective near the goal line ...

... and he was a devastating deep threat, on the rare occasions a Bears QB had time and arm enough to get him the ball:

His 4.38-speed translated immediately to in-game success, as he had no issues separating from coverage. Mooney won't require an early pick in 2021, but he has clear 1,000-yard potential.

Hurts just scratching the surface

Dalton Del Don: I’m not positive Jalen Hurts meets the “might not look like much now” qualifier here, but he was benched in Week 17, and questions remain in Philadelphia (including Carson Wentz still on the roster with a huge contract). But I’m amped to draft the sophomore QB next year, as there’s little doubt the franchise has every intention to make him their starter moving forward, and he offers big-time fantasy upside with rushing ability. Hurts ran for 1,298 yards and 20 touchdowns during his final season in college, and he’s also a plenty capable passer. You’re giving yourself a big disadvantage if you don't draft a QB who runs these days in fantasy leagues, and Hurts has top-three QB upside in 2021.

Intriguing options on two rebuilding squads

Scott Pianowski: It was encouraging to see Chris Herndon play some useful football at the end of 2020, though it was just past a forgettable TE34 season. He was a miss, a brick, a player who brought you nothing. But Adam Gase is gone, and maybe the quarterback will be different, too. The memory of Herndon’s splashy 2018 rookie season is still fresh in my head. I’ll keep an open mind here.

If you'd like a more obvious player that I'm excited to draft, get me to D’Andre Swift. The Lions were very slow to give him his fair share of the offense, but his efficiency per touch was very high and although the defense will take a long time to rebuild, I see plenty of positive positive things on this offense. Detroit is going to score points.

Higgins will have even more to offer in Year 2

Liz Loza: Over the summer, Andy summed up Tee Higgins perfectly, calling him an “A.J. Green replicant.” We all knew what the Bengals were doing and why they were doing it when they selected Higgins with the 33rd overall pick in last April’s draft. I don’t think many — if any — of us expected the torch passing to happen so immediately. As early as Week 3, Higgins was already posting top-15 fantasy numbers, drawing 9 looks, and recording his first multi-touchdown effort. Even with Joe Burrow’s season cut short, Higgins has managed 24 deep targets (WR10) on the season. The timing of Burrow’s return is still muddy and probably less than ideal, but with Green presumably done in Cincy, and assuming the Bengals give Burrow some protection by drafting Penei Sewell… well then, Higgins is in line for a 1,200 yard and 8 TD season.