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Fantasy Football: Should Eagles WR DeVonta Smith be considered the favorite to lead all rookies in targets?

Jan 11, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

We’re in the thick of the NFL offseason, and it’s officially time to start fantasy football prep. I’ll be answering the biggest questions heading into the 2021 season. Click here to read the series of questions answered so far.

The Philadelphia Eagles added to their passing game in a major way this offseason, trading up to pick No. 10 in the 2021 NFL Draft to select Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith. The 2020 Heisman Trophy winner has faced plenty of scrutiny in regard to his 166-pound frame, but few, if any, college corners managed to bully Smith over the past four seasons.

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He truly didn’t miss during his final college campaign. Overall, Smith scored multiple touchdowns and reached the 130-yard mark in an absurd nine of 13 games. His “worst” performances were seven receptions for 73 yards and no touchdowns against Tennessee and a 3-22-0 line against Arkansas, although the latter game included a punt return score.

There was little doubt that Alabama was going to feed Smith the ball ahead of any given Saturday last fall, and yet, defenses still largely had zero answers for the 22-year-old talent.

What follows is a breakdown of just how special Smith was during his final season at Alabama and what we should expect from him as a fantasy football asset in 2021.

Smith is fresh off one of the better college football seasons we’ve ever seen

PFF's Mike Renner stated the following about Smith in the 2021 draft guide:

“It's difficult to find on-field cons for Smith. His weight will be brought up again and again over the course of the spring, but that's it. That's his con. Not his routes, his ball skills, his releases, his body control or his speed. When that's your only concern — and it hasn't even come to light as an issue on a college football field — then there's not much to be worried about. Smith is a versatile gamebreaker who just wins. That's a fit for any scheme in the NFL.”

It’d be a lot easier to write off Smith if we had examples of his size being an issue on the football field. Alas, all Smith did during his four years at Alabama was ball out, regardless of which poor defender was tasked with guarding him.

We simply didn't see Smith struggle in any area of the game in 2020. He posted an absurd PFF grade as an overall receiver (95.6), averaged an asinine 4.39 yards per route run and generally proved too dominant for any mere mortal to deal with.

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