These rookies landed into less than ideal situations for us fantasy fans and Michael Fabiano breaks down their fit & opportunity
The 2021 NFL Draft is in the books, and we now have a clearer picture of how all 32 rosters are going to look heading into the summer months. That means it’s time for fantasy fans to dig into the depth charts and start getting their rankings ready for the upcoming best-ball league and redraft madness that is just around the corner.
READ MORE: Fantasy Rookie Draft Winners
Before we do that, let’s look at which rookies were the biggest losers coming out of the draft. Whether it’s based on talent, depth chart, or a combination of both, here are the first-year players who are unlikely to make an immediate impact in most redrafts.
Note: Players are listed in the order they were selected in the draft.
Kadarius Toney, WR, Giants
The selection of Toney might be peculiar since the Giants just signed Kenny Golladay to a big deal and also have Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton at wide receiver. The Florida product was a dynamic playmaker in college, recording nearly 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns last season as the Gators’ main slot receiver. His 70 catches were tied for the seventh-most in the nation, too. However, consistent targets could be tough to come by as a rookie, so don’t expect Toney to be worth much more than a late rounder.
Travis Etienne, RB, Jaguars
Fantasy fans love Najee Harris going to the Steelers, but Etienne landing in Jacksonville isn’t as appealing. After all, James Robinson came out of nowhere to produce an RB7 year while averaging nearly 18 fantasy points a game in 2020. As a result, Etienne won’t have a clear path to touches as a rookie. What’s more troubling is that coach Urban Meyer said he envisions Etienne as a “third-down back” behind Robinson and Carlos Hyde. That is an odd quote for a player you took in the first round, but ultimately I see Etienne emerging as the Jaguars’ top runner in a projected committee in 2021. He’ll be a tough player to project until the summer months, but his ceiling doesn’t look great.
Rashod Bateman, WR, Ravens
The Ravens run the football a ton, and their wide receivers ranked dead last in routes run and targets a season ago. That’s bad news for Bateman, who lands in a crowded Baltimore pass attack. Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin, and Devin Duvernay remain on the roster, and the team also added Sammy Watkins and Tylan Wallace. Oh, and let’s not forget the target machine, Mark Andrews. I wouldn’t expect much in terms of production from Bateman as a rookie, but he’ll be worth a late look in dynasty drafts.
Rondale Moore, WR, Cardinals
Moore is considered a wild card at the wide receiver position. He played in just seven games over his final two seasons with the Boilermakers due to injuries. His best college season came in 2018 when he produced 114 catches, 1,258 yards, and 12 touchdowns while also rushing 21 times for 213 yards. He’s a great fit for the Cardinals’ offense, but this is a better real football than fantasy football move in the short term. With DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, Christian Kirk, and Andy Isabella in the mix, targets won’t be easy.
Pat Freiermuth, TE, Steelers
Freiermuth, nicknamed “Baby Gronk” due to his similar skill set to Rob Gronkowski, can be a playmaker on the next level. He scored eight touchdowns as a freshman and found the end zone 15 times in his first 25 games at Penn State. He was also tough to bring down his final full season, breaking nine tackles on his 43 catches. Freiermuth won’t immediately impact a crowded Steelers pass attack, so don’t look to call his name in redrafts. Instead, he’ll be a nice dynasty stash with future upside.
D’Wayne Eskridge, WR, Seahawks
During his time at Western Michigan, Eskridge put up big totals, averaging more than 18 yards per catch. He’s not a big wideout at 5′ 9″ and 190 pounds. However, and he’ll be hard-pressed to make a rookie impact behind D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. He won’t be on the redraft radar but could sneak into some dynasty drafts next season.
Tutu Atwell, WR, Rams
Atwell was solid as Louisville’s top slot receiver in 2019, posting nearly 1,300 yards and 12 touchdowns. He’s not a big receiver at 5′ 8″ and 155 pounds, however, and Atwell won’t make an impact as a rookie with Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Van Jefferson, and DeSean Jackson ahead of him on the Rams crowded depth chart.
Hunter Long, TE, Dolphins
Long is coming off an impressive 2020 that saw him lead all tight ends in targets (89) and catches (57) while also ranking second behind Kyle Pitts in yards (685). He didn’t land in a great spot from a fantasy perspective, though, as the Dolphins have Mike Gesicki and plenty of mouths to feed in the passing attack. He’ll have no redraft value.
Amari Rodgers, WR, Packers
Rodgers isn’t a tall wideout at 5′ 9″, but he’s strong at 212 pounds and can use his strength to win battles with defensive backs at the line of scrimmage. The problem is that he’ll have Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Allen Lazard to contend with as a rookie, and we aren’t even sure if Aaron Rodgers will be a Packer in 2021.
Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, Patriots
Stevenson landed with the Patriots, who already have two similar backs on their roster in Damien Harris and Sony Michel. A powerful, downhill runner who can also give NFL teams a good pass-catching option out of the backfield. Unfortunately, he won’t be allowed many targets with James White on the roster. Stevenson will only have redraft value if New England decides to move on from Michel. Otherwise, he’s a dynasty stash.
Chuba Hubbard, RB, Panthers
Hubbard was a Heisman trophy candidate in 2019 when he racked up 2,094 yards on the ground and 21 touchdowns for the Cowboys. He also led all running backs in yards after contact and total yards per game, and he tied for 14th in the nation in broken tackles. However, he wasn’t as impressive this past season, and landing in Carolina means he has no chance to see significant touches with Christian McCaffrey in the mix. He can earn the second spot on the depth chart; however, Hubbard would be a very worthwhile late-round flier as a handcuff for fantasy managers who land McCaffrey.
Tylan Wallace, WR, Ravens
Wallace is a fantasy loser for all of the same reasons as Bateman. The Ravens don’t throw the ball a ton, and that group of wideouts is very crowded with Marquise Brown, Sammy Watkins, Devin Duvernay, Miles Boykin, and now Bateman in the mix. As much as I liked Wallace as a sleeper coming out of college, this is a terrible landing spot.
Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Eagles
Gainwell opted out of the 2020 campaign due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Much like his fellow Tigers alum Antonio Gibson, Gainwell was used as a running back and receiver during the 2019 campaign. In that role, he developed into quite a dynamic offensive playmaker for Memphis. Unfortunately, he lands in a Philadelphia backfield that has an established starter in Miles Sanders. Gainwell could etch out a Nyheim Hines role if he beats out Boston Scott as the team’s No. 2 back, but his ceiling isn’t great as a rookie.
Demetric Felton, WR, Browns
Felton played both running back and wide receiver at UCLA and was also used as a returner on special teams. He’s undersized at 5′ 8″ and 189 pounds, though, and he’ll have little appeal in Cleveland considering the level of offensive talent ahead of him.
Khalil Herbert, RB, Bears
Herbert left Kansas for Virginia Tech last season and went on to rush for nearly 1,200 yards and averaged 7.6 yards per attempt. He’ll be hard-pressed to see many touches as a rookie (and beyond), as the Bears already field David Montgomery, Damien Williams, and Tarik Cohen. At best, Herbert will be a dynasty draft and stash in 2021.
Jermar Jefferson, WR, Lions
Jefferson was a three-year starter at Oregon State who averaged nearly six yards per rush at the collegiate level. The Lions backfield is a crowded one, though, as the team will lean on starter D’Andre Swift and free-agent addition Jamaal Williams next season and moving forward. At best, Jefferson will compete with Kerryon Johnson for the third spot on the depth chart. He’ll have no redraft and limited dynasty league value.
Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on Sports Illustrated and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for all of the latest breaking fantasy football news and the best analysis in the business!
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