Najee Harris - Pittsburgh Steelers
I see no fathomable path to Najee Harris finishing outside of the top-12 fantasy running backs this year based on volume alone.
Everything out of Pittsburgh's camp has been boner-inducing about Najee. He's a 3-down trojan horse ready to bust onto the scene. With 1st round draft capital and an every-down skill-set attached to a head coach that has been insistent on using a featured running back throughout his tenure (Le'Veon Bell, DeAngelo Williams, Rashard Mendenhall, Willie Parker) it's safe to sharpie in 350+ touches as a rookie.
All of these guys:
- Parker - 23.5 opp/game season (2007)
- Mendenhall - 22.2 opp/game season (2010)
- Bell as a rookie = 23.8 opps/game, 24.7, 23.2, 29.6, 28.5,
- James Conner = 22 opps/game
- DeAngelo once Lev went down = 21.7 opps/game
The offensive line will certainly be a problem, but I expect Harris's involvement in the passing game (55+ targets), to more than make up for the lack of efficiency on the ground. Harris is an excellent pass-catcher, reeling in 70 balls for 729 yards and 11 touchdowns over his final two seasons at Alabama.
If James Conner and Benny Snell can combine to score 10 times on the ground last year WITHOUT any receviing scores, behind this line, Harris can eclipse double-digit scores. He has more upside than he's given credit for with one of the safer floors in all of fantasy football.
Terry McLaurin - Washington Football Team
Current ADP: SF 44 - UD - 28.
Terry is just straight up absolutely goated. One of the funner players to watch, going into last year, I likened him to Robert Woods with 4.35 speed. I was right. Well I was probably wrong. He's probably better than that.
Few factors at play in 2021.
Washington adds Curtis Samuel to play the WR2 role, and Dyami Brown got drafted to be their WR3. Both great adds by them.
Terry was double-teamed nearly 13% of his routes last year, only Tyreek, Dhop and Diggs had higher rates. It will help out in that sense, and there's not a matchup Terry can't win straight up against man by himself.
Ryan Fitzpatrick comes over to QB for Washington, too. It can be a match-made in heaven. One of the reasons I think I haven't been able to pull the trigger too often on Terry is because I don't fully buy into Fitzpatrick being good for a full season, when he's expected to be coming in. But if he is, Terry is going to explode. Fits has a history of making his top wideouts extremely fantasy relevant and we'll probably see that for Terry.
Last year McLaurin ranked 75th in catchable target rate, and 69th in overall target quality rating taking into account depth and what not.
Fitz was top-3 amongst QBs in completion % on deep balls and man, Terry has all the makings of a blowout year right now and I need to start drafting more of him.
Brandon Aiyuk - San Francisco 49ers
I think I'm just going to not think too hard about this one. As a pure receiver, it's Aiyuk over Deebo and it's not close. Deebo is a great athlete, but he's not a great outside wide receiver, seperator. Not only is Aiyuk better but he's actually really, really good at it.
I can't give everyone of Matt Harmon's coverage charts away to y'all for free so go support the man over at receptionperception.com, but he ended Aiyuk's profile by saying, and I quote: "After his rookie season Reception Perception results, I’m ready to put Aiyuk on the Stefon Diggs, Calvin Ridley, Terry McLaurin axis in the wide receiver typology. If you’ve been following the series for long enough, you know what that means."
There are very valid arguments to be made against Aiyuk - he produced when Deebo and Kittle were hurt - this is going to be a run-first offense, maybe a mobile QB if Lance is under center. These are arguments that I myself have made this summer, but man, this is probably going to be a very good team and he's going to be the best outside weapon they have. That enough should warrant his 5/6th round ADP as WR25.
Over the 2H of the season, he was unstoppable:
He was a decoy in Week 17 because of his ankle, but the other games Aiyuk was in there for you, you guys who owned him last year know how good he was, starting in Week 7:
These are consecutive games he played in while dealing with a hamstring tweak and covid.
Just a great player, who has already produced at a high-level on an NFL field, with superb route-running and seperation skills in an offense with a very high ceiling.