We’re talking about bold predictions on our Fantasy Football Today podcast this week, and here are three that I’m excited about for this 2021 season. These are three players I plan to draft in a lot of leagues, and I’ll even reach for them if needed based on their potential upside.
No. 1: Jalen Hurts will be a top-five QB
Hurts looked the part of Fantasy star last year when he scored 20, 43 and 19 Fantasy points in his first three starts against New Orleans, Arizona and Dallas, and he was on pace for 4,517 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, as well as 1,269 rushing yards and five touchdowns over 16 games. That’s likely not realistic, but his rushing potential gives him a huge advantage over most quarterbacks. If he improves as a passer — and the Eagles gave him a nice weapon with DeVonta Smith with the 10th overall pick in the NFL Draft — Hurts has the chance to be special this year. The nice thing is you don’t have to draft him as a top-five quarterback, but he could definitely finish in that range based on his sample size in 2020.
No. 2: Terry McLaurin will be a top-five WR
I like McLaurin a lot on his own, but I love him with the addition of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Since 2010, in stops with the Bills, Titans, Texans, Jets and Dolphins, Fitzpatrick has eight seasons with at least nine starts. Over that span, his No. 1 receiver — Steve Johnson (three times), Kendall Wright, Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall (twice) and DeVante Parker — had at least 128 targets on the year. There were seven times where the No. 1 receiver had at least 72 catches, six times where the No. 1 receiver had at least 1,000 yards and three times where the No. 1 receiver had at least 10 touchdowns. McLaurin was solid as a rookie with 58 catches for 919 yards and seven touchdowns on 93 targets in 14 games in 2019. In 2020, he had 87 catches for 1,118 yards and four touchdowns on 134 targets in 15 games. I’m expecting this to be his best season yet, and Fitzpatrick could help McLaurin finish as a top-five receiver in 2021.
No. 3: T.J. Hockenson will be a top-three TE
You’re not drafting Hockenson ahead of Travis Kelce, George Kittle or Darren Waller, but he could finish ahead of them if things go right. Some of the best tight ends in recent years have come from guys who were the best receivers in their respective offenses with little competition for targets, including Kittle, Waller, Mark Andrews and Zach Ertz, among others. Hockenson could be that guy for the Lions this season when looking at their receiving corps, which features Breshad Perriman, Tyrell Williams, Amon-Ra St. Brown and Quintez Cephus. Jared Goff should lean on Hockenson quite a bit, and hopefully, we get similar production from him like Goff got from Tyler Higbee to close 2019 for the Rams when Higbee had five games in a row with at least eight targets, seven catches and 84 yards, along with two touchdowns. Last season with Stafford, Hockenson had 11 games with at least five targets, and he scored at least 13 PPR points in seven of them. I love Hockenson as a top-five tight end in all leagues, and he could finish in the top three with a huge year.