The New Reality No.162: Early 2021 NFL Draft Metrics

Navigating the ever-changing landscape of dynasty fantasy football

With the fantasy football season complete and the NFL shifting firmly to playoff mode, dynasty teams shift to 2021 NFL Draft mode with rookies drafts in a few months the next critical items on the to-do list. Here is an early look at the metrics of the 2021 class across the skill positions:

*Data included reference the author's projection model, designed to improve the probability of predicting skill position prospects to produce fantasy starter seasons in the NFL*

*With the declaration deadline not until mid-January, some of the non-senior prospects mentioned here may end up returning to school*

Quarterbacks

The best-case quarterback class in 2021 is a robust one from a projection model standpoint. Rushing potential and acumen is the fast-track towards high-level fantasy production for the position. The path to strong QB1 production is at least one of these two subsets: being a diabolical passer or a strong rushing option. Ideally, a quarterback has a blend of both. The generally discussed top-four quarterbacks for 2021 are all strong rushing options in Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Trey Lance, and Zach Wilson. Lance is especially rare as a rushing prospect. He is also a work in progress as a passer, but recent examples like Josh Allen (longer-term progression) and Jalen Hurts producing well centering as a runner offer promise to a profile like Lance, especially if he garners top-10 NFL Draft pedigree. All four of the 2021 prospects mentioned also check the requisite strong Round 1 historical boxes as passers.

The biggest early metric and film notes observation to start the NFL Draft reside with Mac Jones and Kyle Trask. Both are good enough passers at the college level, but with some degree of arm strength limitations. Plus, Jones is an awkward pocket mover. Also, both are limited in their rushing potential, which goes back to the opening tenet of needing an elite passer or at least good enough rushing production. Both are confident 'no' responses for the rushing potential and the early projections are the pair are clearly behind the big four in NFL Draft position.

Running Backs

The 2017, 2018, and 2020 recent classes have set the bar sky-high for what a good running back class provides. The early view of the best case - assuming all notable underclassmen declare - is a lack of top-end depth and true bulletproof profiles like in 2020. The ideal profile is 21 years old with good enough size and strong two-way production. None of the 2021 prospects fit all the criteria like so many of the top 2020 running backs.

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