Justifying a first-round price tag in fantasy football drafts can be hard, as the talent disparities between players are often minimal and most of their situations appear to be foolproof.
Here, we'll dive into every current first-round player by way of average draft position (ADP) and make the case for why they deserve their current price tag.
Editor's Note: All ADP info is sourced from Underdog Fantasy.
RB Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers: RB1 (1.0 ADP)
After an incredible 2019 campaign, McCaffrey was the rightful selection at 1.01 in basically every draft heading into 2020. Unfortunately for him, he appeared in only three games due to various injuries. He still managed to see 59 rushing attempts and accumulate 225 rushing yards and five touchdowns, in addition to 17 receptions on 19 targets for 149 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown. His 90.4 total fantasy points display how incredible his ceiling is.
Even with Mike Davis playing the best football of his career, McCaffrey led the way with 1.19 fantasy points per touch and ranked second on the team with 0.53 points per snap. With a total of 10 top-five finishes at his position in 2019, McCaffrey has the stability and history worthy of a No. 1 pick.
This season shouldn’t be drastically different. McCaffrey could challenge the 74.2% rushing share and 23.3% target share he totaled in 2019. Davis — who is clearly far less talented — had a 40.5% rushing share and 13.1% target share as the lead back this past season.
The Panthers lost Davis in free agency, as well as Curtis Samuel and his 93 targets. Even if McCaffrey doesn’t match his insane usage from 2019, he should land within striking distance and will be re-joining an offense that ranked 17th in average yards per play (5.6) and 15th in red-zone plays (164) without him.
Expect a massive workload for one of the game’s most well-rounded and productive players in 2021. PFF’s fantasy projections peg him as the top player in 2021.
RB Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings: RB2 (2.1 ADP)
Even though he missed two games last season, Cook finished second among all running backs in scoring with a dominant 337.8 fantasy points (24.13 points per game). He has one of the most stable workloads at the position, totaling a 66.7% rushing share and a 10.9% target share.