Fantasy News & Analysis

2021 NFL Draft: Biggest risers and fallers in fantasy football after Rounds 2 & 3

Dec 26, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Myles Gaskin (37) against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Day 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft lived up to the hype. We witnessed a number of players see their fantasy values rise and fall, but things really started to get interesting on Day 2. Plenty of running backs and wide receivers found new homes, which shook up depth charts all across the league.

View PFF's 2021 NFL Draft position rankings:

QB | RB | WR | TE | T | iOL | DI | EDGE | LB | CB | S

Here are the players whose fantasy values rose the most during the second day of the draft, along with those who lost value. For a more complete picture of where every player currently stands, check out my 2021 dynasty rankings and 2021 dynasty rookie rankings.

Biggest Risers

RB Myles Gaskin, Miami Dolphins
RB Mike Davis, Atlanta Falcons

Only four running backs went off the board through three rounds of the draft. The Dolphins and Falcons seemed like two of the teams most likely to pick a back, but they both passed. There is still a chance these teams pick an RB in Round 4 or later, but that shouldn’t stop Gaskin and Davis from remaining lead backs.

The Dolphins added Malcolm Brown in free agency and still have Salvon Ahmed, who played well in limited opportunities. Neither back should stop Gaskin from playing 60-70% of the Dolphins offensive snaps. Miami added receiving options throughout the offseason, which should force teams to respect the pass. That only helps Gaskin.

Davis joined the Falcons in free agency after the team lost its top three running backs from the 2020 season. Cordarrelle Patterson is currently slated to be his backup. Even if the Falcons pick a back to start Round 4, Davis could easily see 70% of the offensive snaps on a consistent basis.

Both players will be drafted as RB3s, which is their floor as long as they stay healthy. If they outplay expectations, they can be consistent RB2s.

WR Rondale Moore, Arizona Cardinals

Moore was one of the most exciting players in the draft, and he lands in one of the best situations for a wide receiver drafted so far. We ranked him as a first-round player, so Arizona is getting a steal in the middle of the second round.

Nov 20, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Purdue Boilermakers wide receiver Rondale Moore (4) rushes with the ball in the first quarter against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at TCF Bank Stadium. Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Larry Fitzgerald seems unlikely to return to Arizona, so his slot snaps are up for grabs. The top three wide receivers on the team primarily play on the outside, and the Cardinals use a lot of four-wide-receiver sets — Moore should see playing time right away. Based on his talent, he should see the second-most targets in the offense behind DeAndre Hopkins. He could easily make his way into the back of the first round of dynasty rookie drafts.

QB Davis Mills, Houston Texans

The end of the second round and start of the third round saw a run on quarterbacks. They'll all be backups in 2021 and can only become starters once other QBs retire or leave their teams. Mills was the exception — he was the Texans first pick of the 2021 draft, giving him more importance than the typical third-round pick.

Deshaun Watson is unlikely to take another snap in a Texans uniform. Tyrod Taylor will likely be the starter in Week 1, but if the Texans are out of playoff contention midseason, or if Taylor isn’t playing well, then Mills could end up as the starter. 

WR Terrace Marshall Jr., Carolina Panthers

Marshall was declared a draft riser just days ago and lands in a very favorable situation for fantasy football purposes. All three Panthers wide receivers finished among the top 25 in PPR points last season, and Curtis Samuel left in free agency. Marshall should be able to play in three-wide-receiver sets immediately, giving him access to more targets than most wide receivers picked on Day 2.

Many of the wide receivers selected so far are shorter and best suited to play in the slot. The best fantasy WRs play on the outside or both outside and in the slot. Marshall should have the chance to do both in Carolina. The main thing limiting his upside will be the Panthers' quarterback play.

Biggest Fallers

WR Jamison Crowder, New York Jets

As the Jets slot receiver over the last two seasons, Crowder has seen 146 targets despite missing a few games with injury. At times, he was the only fantasy-relevant player on the team. 

Crowder's 2021 cap hit is over $11 million, but it would only leave $1 million in dead money if he's released. The question of whether he'll make the roster intensified after the Jets took the first skill player of the night in Elijah Moore

According to the PFF Draft Guide, Moore is the quintessential slot receiver. Crowder would have been a WR4-WR5 if healthy, but now he might be out of a job. If he remains with the Jets, he won’t see as much playing time with Moore in the slot and Corey Davis and Denzel Mims out wide.

RB Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos

There were several intriguing landing spots for Williams at the start of the second round where he could have ended up as a lead back. But the Broncos traded up to pair him with Melvin Gordon III.

Oct 3, 2020; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels running back Javonte Williams (25) scores a 41-yard receiving touchdown during the second quarter at Alumni Stadium. Credit: Adam Richins-USA TODAY Sports

The Broncos have stuck with a committee approach over the past couple of seasons even when Gordon or Phillip Lindsay missed time. There's a very real chance that Williams could pass Gordon on the depth chart and still only see around 60% of the offensive snaps. The Broncos were also in the bottom five in terms of run-blocking grade, so Williams won’t get a lot of help.

Williams should be in the RB3 conversation this year — and for years to come — but his upside is limited compared to the top two 2021 rookie running backs as long Gordon is in Denver and healthy.

WR Tutu Atwell, Los Angeles Rams

Atwell’s player comparison was Tavon Austin, and he lands with Austin’s former team. The problem for Atwell is that there won’t be the opportunity for him to see enough touches to be fantasy relevant, and it might take some time before that situation changes. Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp will continue to lead the team in targets. Van Jefferson was a second-round pick just one season ago, and the team added DeSean Jackson in free agency. Atwell could very well be fifth on the depth chart.

The best scenario for Atwell is for Woods or Kupp to be traded next offseason. Until one of those two players is off the roster, Atwell is a luxury for the Rams that they'll use a few times per game. A few touches a game won’t get him on your fantasy roster.

TE Eric Ebron, Pittsburgh Steelers

Ebron joined the Steelers last season and took over as the starting tight end. It was difficult at times for him to find targets among so many receiving options, but he was still worthy of being started in fantasy at times because of the lack of options at the position. 

Ebron’s time as a TE1 might have come to an end after the Steelers added Penn State's Pat Freiermuth — the second tight end off the board. He probably won’t take the starting job from Ebron in 2021, but he will eat into his playing time. Ebron’s contract voids at the end of the season, at which point Freiermuth will probably take over as the Steelers starting tight end. Ebron is left with little value this year except in two-TE leagues.

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