In this article we discuss which current NFC players have the most to gain in the upcoming NFL draft. What this means is if a team doesn’t draft a skill position player or quarterback in the first few rounds, the players mentioned in this article who are currently on those rosters today, could see their stock rise. 

In each section we will highlight below the team, how many picks each team has overall, how many picks they have rounds 1-3, and the players who have the most to gain. This article isn’t a mock draft nor does it predict any picks for the upcoming NFL draft. Most likely at least half of these players we talk about today will be impacted by draft picks, but just in case they aren’t here is why we think they can produce or improve in 2021.

Arizona Cardinals

Total picks: 6

Round 1: No. 16 overall

Round 2: No. 49

Round 3: N/A

Impacted Player: Chase Edmonds

Edmonds has nine career games where he received 10 touches. In those games he averaged 13.4 PPG which is equivalent to the running back 18 from 2020. His .89 fantasy points per touch in these games would tie him with Dalvin Cook last year. Edmonds only saw 10 touches in a game six times in 2020 so if he can be the primary back in a running back committee in 2021, he should improve on his RB28 finish from last season.

Impacted Player: Christian Kirk

The signing of A.J. Green provides an opportunity for Christian Kirk to play more in the slot. This is a much better suited position for Kirk who has a .18 higher yards per route run when playing in the slot including a career high 1.9 yards per route run in 2018. If Larry Fitzgerald isn’t re-signed, he is vacating 62 slot targets that could go Kirk’s way in 2021.

 

Atlanta Falcons

Total picks: 9

Round 1: No. 4 overall

Round 2: No. 35

Round 3: No. 68

Impacted Player: Mike Davis

A lot of people are correctly pointing out that new Falcons Head Coach Arthur Smith doesn’t have Derrick Henry, but it is important to note that Smith has been a part of the Titans offensive coaching staff since 2012. The running back 1s in those offenses averaged 220 carries per season with both DeMarco Murray and Chris Johnson seeing over 275 attempts. Mike Davis handled 13 or more carries in nine games and averaged four yards per carry in 2020.

Impacted Player: Hayden Hurst

The Titans offense under new Falcons Head Coach Arthur Smith finished inside the top eight in tight end target percentage each season he was with the team. Most recently in 2020, Jonnu Smith and Anthony Firkser combined for 80-835-9 receiving line while splitting targets 55%/45%. That combined production would have been good for the tight end three in fantasy. The current backup tight end for the Falcons is Lee Smith who has a career high 13 targets in a season. If Hayden Hurst can monopolize most of the tight end workload in this offense, he should improve on his tight end 9 finish from 2020. 

 

Carolina Panthers

Total picks: 7

Round 1: No. 8 overall

Round 2: No. 39

Round 3: No. 73

Impacted Player: Robby Anderson

Panthers Offensive Coordinator Joe Brady has a history of using big slot wide receivers with Michael Thomas in New Orleans and Justin Jefferson at LSU. This could be a big news for Robby Anderson with the departure of Curtis Samuel and the addition of David Moore. Among the top three wide receivers currently on the roster, Anderson has the highest usage rate in the slot from 2020 at 32.6%. Anderson thrived in the slot last year producing a 2.39 yards per route run which was fifth in the NFL. 

 

Chicago Bears

Total picks: 8

Round 1: No. 20 overall

Round 2: No. 52

Round 3: No. 83

Impacted Player: Cole Kmet

After the Bears week 11 bye Cole Kmet’s snap share and usage skyrocketed. His snaps went from 38%  to 87% and his targets jumped from 1.4 to 5.5. We have seen many Tight Ends make a huge leap in their second year in the NFL including top 12 tight end seasons from T.J. Hockenson, Mark Andrews, Dallas Goedert, Mike Gesicki, and George Kittle just in the last three seasons alone.   

 

Dallas Cowboys

Total picks: 10

Round 1: No. 10 overall

Round 2: No. 44

Round 3: Nos. 75, 99

Impacted Player: Blake Jarwin

Last season Dalton Schultz was third in the NFL in tight end routes with 553 and ninth in targets with 89. This usage led to a tight end 12 season even with Dak Prescott only playing five games. Meanwhile, in 2019 Blake Jarwin averaged two more yards per target. If we apply his career yards per target to Schultz targets from 2020 he would have had 783 yards good for third in the NFL among tight ends last season.

 

Detroit Lions

Total picks: 6

Round 1: No. 7 overall

Round 2: No. 41

Round 3: Nos. 72, 101 (from Rams)

Impacted Player: Breshad Perriman

The Lions are vacating the most targets in the NFL with 334. This should provide ample opportunity for all the pass catchers on the roster. Currently, Perriman sits on top of the depth chart and has proven to produce when giving the opportunity to be the #1 in a non-Adam Gase led offense. Back in 2019 the final four weeks after injuries to Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, Perriman averaged 20.4 PPG.

 

Green Bay Packers

Total picks: 10

Round 1: No. 29 overall

Round 2: No. 62

Round 3: No. 92

Impacted Player: Devin Funchess

Devin Funchess is a deep sleeper to monitor as his 6’4 225 frame gives Aaron Rodgers another red-zone weapon. In 2017, Funchess was a top 20 wide receiver and was top 10 in red zone targets and red zone touchdowns. He will only be 27 when the season starts, and with his ADP outside the 300s, it’s a dart throw with minimal downside in 2021. 

 

Los Angeles Rams

Total picks: 6

Round 1: N/A

Round 2: No. 57 overall

Round 3: Nos. 88, 103

Impacted Player: Tyler Higbee

The departure of Gerald Everett opens up a ton of opportunities for Tyler Higbee. In 2020 the Rams tight ends split targets evenly at 59 apiece. However, back in 2019 when Everett was hurt, Higbee saw 54 of 60 tight end targets and was the tight end one in fantasy during that stretch.  If you combine the production of Everett and Higbee from last season, they produced a 85-938-6 line which would be the tight end 3 in fantasy.

Minnesota Vikings

Total picks: 10

Round 1: No. 14 overall

Round 2: N/A

Round 3: Nos. 78, 90 (from Ravens)

Impacted Player: Irv Smith

With Kyle Rudolph now in New York, Irv Smith is in line for an expanded role. In the final four games of 2020 with Rudolph out, Smith was the tight end four in fantasy. During that time frame he was sixth in yards, tied for first in end zone targets and fourth in red zone targets among tight ends.

 

New Orleans Saints

Total picks: 8

Round 1: No. 28 overall

Round 2: No. 60

Round 3: Nos. 98, 105

Impacted Player: Adam Trautman

The Saints lost key veteran starters Jared Cook and Emmanuel Sanders leaving a wide-open competition for targets behind Michael Thomas. Adam Trautman steps into a situation with the Saints vacating 174 targets including 70 tight end targets from 2020. The Saints as a team under Sean Payton have a long track record of tight end one (top 12) seasons with Jimmy Graham (4), Ben Watson (1) and Jared Cook (1).

 

New York Giants

Total picks: 6

Round 1: No. 11 overall

Round 2: No. 42

Round 3: No. 76

Impacted Player: Daniel Jones

Daniel Jones will be heading into his second season under Jason Garrett with new weapon Kenny Golladay and Saquan Barkley now back in the fold. Under Garrett, Dak Prescott had four straight quarterback one seasons. Before his ankle injury last season in weeks 1-10, Jones was third in the NFL in quarterback rushing yards. During that time frame he only played with Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, Golden Tate and Evan Engram in three games. In those games he was the quarterback eight in fantasy.

 

Philadelphia Eagles

Total picks: 11

Round 1: No. 12 overall (from 49ers through Dolphins)

Round 2: No. 37

Round 3: Nos. 70, 84 (from Colts)

Impacted Player: Jalen Reagor

In the three full games that quarterback Jalen Hurts started in 2020, Jalen Reagor paced the team in receiving targets (19) and yards (125) while posting a 1.74 yards per route run.  This was a vast improvement on his 1.17 yards per route run in the other eight games he played last season. If we apply his 1.74 yards per route run to his 29.6 routes per game, Reagor would have 824 receiving yards in 2021.

 

San Francisco 49ers

Total picks: 9

Round 1: No. 3 overall (from Texans through Dolphins)

Round 2: No. 43

Round 3: No. 102

Impacted Player: Jeff Wilson

The departures of Jerick Mckinnon and Tevin Coleman will make available 109 carries and 51 targets from last season. More importantly, the departure of Mckinnon will open up more passing game work. In the final five weeks of 2020 Jeff Wilson took over as the primary passing down back receiving 3.6 targets per game. Along with the pass game usage Wilson led the team in red zone carries with 14 and was the running back 8 in fantasy during that stretch.

 

Seattle Seahawks

Total picks: 3

Round 1: N/A

Round 2: No. 56 overall

Round 3: N/A

Impacted Player: Gerald Everett

Gerald Everett has a leg up on his new teammates as he knows the incoming offense better than anyone on the roster. New Offensive Coordinator Shane Waldron comes over from the Rams, and will bring an offense that has given at least 125 targets to the tight end position in each of the last two seasons. The bigger question is can Everett win the job outright as the Rams have used a timeshare for most of the time in LA. See Higbee section above for more details.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Total picks: 8

Round 1: No. 32 overall

Round 2: No. 64

Round 3: No. 95

Impacted Player: Chris Godwin

In the 12 games Chris Godwin played in 2020 he led the team in targets (83), receptions (65) and yards (840) while securing 7 touchdowns. In those weeks Godwin was the wide receiver 13 in fantasy averaging 13.2 PPG in half PPR. The slot role in Bruce Arians offense continues to offer major upside with Larry Fitzgerald (twice), Reggie Wayne (once) finishing as a top 12 wide receiver and Hines Ward locking in two top 16 finishes.

 

Washington Football Team

7-9 · Total picks: 8

Round 1: No. 19 overall

Round 2: No. 51

Round 3: Nos. 74 (from 49ers), 82

Impacted Player: Ryan Fitzpatrick (WSH FT Pass Game)

We should all be crossing our fingers hoping that the Washington Football Team doesn’t draft a QB early. 16 games of Ryan Fitzpatrick should be a welcome sign for all the pass catchers in D.C. In 2020, during Fitzpatrick’s starts in weeks 1-6 the Dolphins had a top 20 running back, top 26 wide receiver and top 12 tight end. Fitzpatrick was able to produce these results while only attempting 32.8 attempts per game. Last year the murderers row of Washington Football Team starters averaged 37.6.

References: Razzball, NFL.com, Pro Football Focus, Pro Football Reference, Sharp Football Stats and Fantasy Pros

  1. Jolt In Flow says:
    (link)

    Excellent report, Bobby. Just getting around to football on Razz. This report’s going to help on who to draft in the toughest part of drafts for me; the middle. So many similar players and I don’t always know if I’m using the proper variables as the deciding factor.

    Thanks,

    Jolt

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