Nick Mimi @nmimi
2021 Fantasy Football Preseason Winners and Losers
The preseason has come to an end, and preseason cuts have commenced. With these cuts and the preseason, we have seen winners and losers. With cuts underway, starting roles have begun to become clear. The big notable winner is Mac Jones who now is the starting quarterback for the New England Patriots.
Mac Jones, Quarterback, New England Patriots
It is clear Mac Jones is one of the biggest winners this summer. The 14th overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft came into training camp battling Cam Newton for the starting job. Newton was the 2020 starter, with the clear advantage going into camp.
In a stunning twist of events, Cam Newton was cut this past week, thus awarding the starting job to Jones. Jones now takes the helm, and several players around him should see significant boosts.
Jonnu Smith and Jakobi Myers are two players who will see upticks in volume.
Rookie quarterbacks tend to rely on their tight ends as the safety blanket. I’ll discuss the running backs later in this article, but overall, Mac Jones starting is best for the entire offense.
Zach Wilson, Quarterback, New York Jets
I write about Zach Wilson a lot. I am very high on the rookie quarterback, and he proved why this summer. The Jets received a lot of negative media attention for trading Sam Darnold and drafting Zach Wilson second overall.
It has been speculated that Wilson has been called a bust all offseason. He had a string of bad practices and a bad scrimmage, and the media attacked him. Wilson has silenced his critics by coming out and playing amazing ball this preseason. Over two games, he completed 15 of 20 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns and has not turned the ball over at all.
Outside of Wilson, it can be stated Corey Davis and Tyler Kroft are big winners. Kroft as of now is the starting Tight End and caught two touchdown passes from Wilson. Meanwhile, Davis seems like he is going to be a target monster.
Jameis Winston, Quarterback, New Orleans Saints
Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill battled all summer for the starting quarterback job. Jameis looked fantastic as the starter, and rightfully so was awarded the starting job. Among players who appear also to benefit is Alvin Kamara who does not have to worry about Taysom Hill goal line touches, and can have a natural quarterback dumping the ball off to him.
Marquez Calloway also will see a huge uptick. He had five catches for 104 yards and two touchdowns in their preseason contest against the Jaguars.
One more player who benefits from Winston starting is Adam Trautman. Across his five years in Tampa Bay, he had 40 touchdown passes to tight ends. Boost New Orleans tight ends!
Chris Evans, Running Back, Cincinnati Bengals
Chris Evans is a 6th round rookie out of Michigan, and he has looked very impressive for the Bengals this preseason. Ideally, he would fill into the Giovanni Bernard role in the offense, and be the pass-catching back. Bernard was a valuable asset to the Bengals and recently left for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this offseason.
This preseason, Evans has flashed talent. In the final preseason game, he brought in a great 29-yard pass for a touchdown and has shown in other games why he is rising as a pass-catching back.
Joe Mixon missed time last season with a foot injury. He’s healthy and ready to go this season, but in the event, he was to miss time, Evans would receive a huge bump. The Bengals' offensive line is really bad. They may need to get rid of the ball in seconds, and dump downs to the running backs would fit well.
Mike Davis, Running Back, Atlanta Falcons
Mike Davis is by no means a sleeper. He was signed in the offseason by the Falcons, and throughout the summer, had zero competition brought in. Javian Hawkins was the big hyped rookie across social media, but he was cut.
Currently, Qadree Ollison is the second-stringer. With veterans such as Todd Gurley and Le’Veon Bell available in free agency, it says a lot about the confidence the Falcons have in Davis by not bringing any of them in, as of yet.
Davis filled in for an injured Christian McCaffrey last season and played fantastically. Atlanta sees that and looks as if he’s going to be the true number one running back there. Last season, Gurley had 9 touchdowns. If Davis sees that, he’s already a value.
Rhamondre Stevenson, Running Back, New England Patriots
With Newton leaving New England, the running backs take a big boost with the goal line carries being vacated. Newton had 22 carries inside the five-yard line last season, which now are all vacated.
Damien Harris projects to be the starter, but Stevenson is going to see time after having a very impressive preseason where he finished as the NFL leader in rushing yards (217) and touchdowns (5).
The rookie was extremely impressive and is a great backup option to Harris. If Harris were to miss any playing time this season, Stevenson would immediately jump to the top of every waiver article.
Nico Collins, Wide Receiver, Houston Texans
Nico Collins is a personal favorite dynasty sleeper of mine. Brandin Cooks is the only wide receiver in Houston that merits fantasy value, and it seems as if the Texans are in sell mode.
Collins, the third-round rookie out of Michigan, slides into the starting outside role. Collins is a big receiver standing at 6’4 and presents a big red zone target on top of his physical play. To add, the Texans cut Keke Coutee, who he was battling in camp against.
Currently, the Texans are projected to be one of the worst teams in football and could be in line to draft one of the top quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL draft. Collins stock could boost immensely in the offseason with the projection of a new quarterback coming in.
This preseason Collins has impressed. He’s been running with the first-team offense. He has a touchdown reception, and had a nice catch and run 24 yard catch in their first game. Grab Collins now if you’re able to. The breakout is going to come.
Terrace Marshall Jr, Wide Receiver, Carolina Panthers
David Moore was recently cut by Carolina, opening up a path for Terrace Marshall Jr. to have a lot of playing time. Marshall is a very popular deep sleeper, and he continues to rise in draft boards. A few weeks into the season, he may be on every waiver wire article.
Right now, the Panthers have DJ Moore and Robby Anderson as their top two wideouts, but the rookie out of LSU will see the field plenty. The speedy WR ran a 4.4 and brings a dynamic element to the Panthers' offense led by Sam Darnold. In his most recent preseason game against Baltimore, Marshall caught three passes for 50 yards, and against the Colts had three catches for 88 yards
Darell Henderson, Running Back, Los Angeles Rams
Once Cam Akers was ruled out for the season, Darrell Henderson was elevated to the starting running back role. Now the Rams went out and spent more draft picks on Sony Michel.
Sean McVay claims Henderson is still going to get the bulk of the carries, but I find it hard when you go out and move two draft picks for a running back. Henderson has never carried a full workload, and I can see a hit to his projected role.
D’Andre Swift, Running Back, Detroit Lions
Injuries have hit Swift and he is now in question to miss week one. His groin is lingering, and now there are a lot of question marks. The current coach and general manager did not draft him and have no connection. They did sign Jamaal Williams this offseason, and they seem very high on him. Don’t be surprised to see Jamaal Williams play a big week one role.
Michael Carter, Running Back, New York Jets
Before the preseason, Michael Carter was a big candidate for a big role. This preseason we saw the Jets use Tevin Coleman, Ty Johnson, and La’Mical Perine all play roles in the backfield. It’s going to be a true committee backfield to start, and it may take half the season for Carter to elevate to the true starter.
Kenny Golladay, Wide Receiver, New York Giants
Fade Fade Fade. That’s what I am doing for the big-ticket free agent signing by the Giants. Kenny Golladay signed a four-year deal worth 72 million dollars with 40 million in guaranteed money. The issue? He’s injured again, and hurt his hamstring.
Hamstring injuries linger, and Golladay has a history of missing time with injuries. To add, Daniel Jones is playing behind a line that cannot block at all, and he may not have a lot of time in the pocket to throw.
Ja’Marr Chase, Running Back, Cincinnati Bengals
Chase was drafted with the fifth pick in the 2021 NFL draft. He was drafted to play with his college quarterback, Joe Burrow. Many issues come into play. First, the Bengals' offensive line is terrible. Second? Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. Third, Chase has had issues with drops all summer. I’m fading at his current ADP.
Amon-Ra St. Brown, Wide Receiver, Detroit Lions
I am a big fan of Amon-Ra St. Brown. He’s on a team desperate for wide receiver help. The issue is, this summer he only seemed to see the field on three-wide receiver sets. St. Brown may need weeks to settle into a major role in Detroit.
For more options, or questions about these options, please check me out on Twitter @Nmimi. Otherwise, please tune in LIVE every Wednesday night at 9 pm to the Stack Attack Fantasy Podcast, now proudly a part of the Fantasy Six Pack YouTube channel family of podcasts.