The preseason is finally over, and the next NFL game is on September 9, when Dallas travels to Tampa Bay in the Week 1 opener on Thursday night. Some say the preseason doesn’t matter, but it certainly does for potential sleepers and breakouts on this list – such as Ty’Son Williams, Mac Jones, Trey Lance and Marquez Callaway – in especially in the fantasy football rankings and draft.
The preseason is the time for undrafted players like Williams to show they deserve to be part of the 53-man roster. Even top draft picks like Zach Wilson and Trey Lance stand a chance to have invaluable playing reps before their careers begin. In our case, we get a glimpse of how they might help our fantastic teams during their rookie seasons. So, yeah, preseason isn’t everything, but as fantasy owners we have to be careful of anything that gives us more insight into a given player’s outlook.
Below, we dive into the top risers in each position and provide you with their current values based on our rankings. Even though they are not “spotty players”, they are guys you should add to your watchlists at the start of the season.
DOMINATE YOUR PROJECT: Ultimate 2021 Cheat Sheet
Fantasy Football 2021 preseason summary
QB Riser: Mac Jones, Patriots
Preseason stats: 36 for 52, 389 yards, one passing touchdown, zero INTs, 97.4 passer rating
Jones has appeared ready for the NFL this preseason, and news of Cam Newton cut by the Patriots means he will step in as a Week 1 starter against Miami. Many thought he would win the job at some point this season, but winning it in the preseason seemed like a long shot. He is now absolutely a factor in the two QB / Superflex leagues. Don’t rely on him much in a traditional one-quarterback league, however, as the Patriots are designed to throw the ball early and often and will likely start Jones off with practice wheels. It’s hard to even see it as a low-end QB2 at this point, but it could obviously reach that status if all goes well.
Jones climbed our ranks to QB28
STANDARD FANTASY 2021 RANKS:
quarterback | Back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D / ST | Kick | First 200
QB Riser: Trey Lance
Preseason stats: 19 for 41, 276 yards, three passing touchdowns, one INT, one rushing touchdown, 83.0 passers.
While Lance’s completion percentage raises eyebrows, he showed off his raw talent and rocket arm during the preseason. Put simply, he’s twice the athlete Jimmy G could hope to be, and with the polish he could immediately make a huge, fantastic impact. It’s always a good sign to see a race designed near the goal line, where quarterbacks can go their separate ways in fantasy. His keen sense of rush will provide him with solid ground for fantasy when he becomes the starter, which we suspect will be at some point this season.
Lance is our QB23 given the uncertainty of when he will start – and the chipped bone in his finger doesn’t help – but he has an instant QB1 to the upside when the day comes. He might even have some value in the two-QB / superflex leagues if he doesn’t “start” based on the QB 49ers’ rotation in their last preseason game, but you probably don’t want to take that. luck until you see him getting at least half the shots in a game.
More QB risers: Zach Wilson, Jets; Jameis Winston, Saints
PPR FANTASY 2021 RANKS:
quarterback | Back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D / ST | Kick | First 200
Riser RB: Ty’Son Williams, Ravens
Preseason stats: 24 carries, 130 yards, 5.4 YPC, one rushing touchdown.
You never hope to get hurt, but when JK Dobbins tore his ACL, Williams definitely took advantage. He was flashed during the preseason and is rumored to be set to be part of the Ravens’ 53-man roster, but he is now set to be active for Week 1. He is posing as the short-range backup RB behind Gus Edwards. Last season, Edwards had 723 yards and six rushing touchdowns in that role. He’s never been the Ravens’ No.1 RB in quite some time, but he’s received at least 133 runs in his three seasons in the NFL. Edwards has been a thorn in the side of fantasy owners Mark Ingram and Dobbins over the past two seasons, and that means Williams can’t be Gus Edwards’ “Gus Edwards” – rushed TDs and valuable carries. . Behind a rushed high-powered attack, the Ravens can produce more than a fancy-relevant rusher. Don’t go out and spend too much on Williams, but his value certainly increased dramatically when the Dobbins news came out.
Williams is arguably the biggest player of the preseason, as he wasn’t even listed in our rankings until Dobbins news broke. He is currently our RB50 in Standard Leagues and RB65 in PPR Leagues.
FANTASY SLEEPING 2021:
quarterback | Back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D / ST | Each team
Riser RB: Rhamondre Stevenson, Patriots
Preseason stats: 30 carries, 216 yards, 7.2 YPC, five rushing touchdowns.
Stevenson hails the most impressive preseason stats in all of the NFL. Sure, it’s preseason, and he’s played against substitutes a lot, but he’s clearly shown enough to put the Patriots at ease with the Sony Michel trade. No, Stevenson won’t be a workaholic in the Pats’ offense this year (barring injury to Damien Harris), but he will be valuable. Like Williams, Stevenson could see the work on the goal line and even get a high number of runs at times. We’ve seen this movie so many times – the Patriots will be screening it any Sunday. At worst, it’s a leading RB handcuff to Harris.
Stevenson is classified No. 46 RB in standard and No. 51 RB in PPR.
More RB risers: Phillip Lindsay, Texans; Devin Singletary, Invoices
FANTASY 2021 AUCTION VALUES (Standard & PPR):
quarterback | Back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D / ST | Kick | Globally
WR Riser: Marquez Callaway, Saints
Preseason stats: Eight catches, 165 yards, two receiving touchdowns.
Callaway has the most hype around him as an NFL wide receiver, and he’s arguably the biggest preseason winner in this position. When Michael Thomas had ankle surgery, people quickly focused on Tre’Quan Smith. But Callaway’s hype began to move forward and he became a favorite target for the Saints’ pass catchers. He’s looking to settle into the role of X-receiver in Thomas’ absence, and Jameis Winston winning the QB job only helps his case as a downfield phenomenon. Since news of Thomas’ injury came out on July 23, Callaway’s ADP has increased by over 100 spots, per Underdog Fantasy
Callaway is our WR46 as standard and WR43 in the PPR leagues. It’s easy to see him greatly surpassing these rankings, especially if Thomas misses a huge part of the year. However, its rise has to stop somewhere.
2021 FANTASY LEVELS AND DRAFT STRATEGY:
quarterback | Back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D / ST
WR Riser, Marshall Terrace, Panthers
Preseason stats: Nine catches, 181 yards, one receiving touchdown.
Marshall has been impressive during the preseason and appears to be a factor in Year 1 although he is presumably behind DJ Moore, Robby Anderson and even Christian McCaffrey in the target pecking order. It’ll be hard to know when to start him unless there’s an injury, but his preseason play has made him appealing in top DFS ball and fantasy formats.
Marshall is our WR94 in the standard leagues and WR99 in PPR. Of course, these rankings won’t turn anyone on, but as noted above, it’s especially valuable in certain formats. Don’t expect a high floor from week to week. In the standard draft leagues, he’s one of the best guys to watch on waivers, especially if Moore or Anderson get injured.
More WR risers: Josh Palmer, chargers; Corey Davis, Jets; Tyrell Williams, Lions
2021 FANTASY CONSISTENCY ASSESSMENTS:
quarterback | Back | Wide receiver | Tight end
TE risers: Juwan Johnson, Saints
Preseason stats: three catches, 80 yards
The converted wide receiver is simply a riser because he was executed with the first team offense. He’s been there in two TE sets, with Adam Trautman. If he was just blocking it wouldn’t matter to us from a fantasy standpoint. However, he runs routes, and at a position so rare in fantasy football, that matters. Trautman was hauled off the field in the Saints’ pre-season game against Jacksonville, and while his injury wasn’t serious, there’s a chance he was running out of time in the regular season or not as well. effective with disease. Johnson still isn’t a guy you want to rush and get into some fantastic projects, but he’s worth watching and will likely be a factor in DFS.
Johnson is our TE36 in the standard leagues and TE39 in PPR – not too bad for a guy who got zero attention before the preseason.
FANTASY DRAFT STRATEGY:
Snake Draft | Auction | Best ball | Dynasty / Guardian | IDP
More TE risers: Chris Herndon, Vikings; Pat Friermuth, Steelers