While most coaches use exhibition games as a way to get starters ready for the regular season, Rams head coach Sean McVay has an entirely different approach. For the fourth straight season, McVay is resting his starters throughout preseason, so Fantasy football 2021 owners will have to wait until Week 1 to see how new quarterback Matthew Stafford gels with receivers Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. The philosophy hasn’t hurt the Rams in the past, as Todd Gurley was the Fantasy football MVP in 2018 despite not taking a snap before Week 1. McVay’s approach allows younger players to get meaningful snaps and also gives those players chances to rise up the 2021 Fantasy football rankings.
Xavier Jones accounted for 27 yards from scrimmage in the Rams’ preseason opener. He is pushing for the team’s backup running back position behind Darrell Henderson, and McVay is infamous for featuring rushers throughout the season. Where should Jones factor in when it comes to your Fantasy football draft picks, and who are the 2021 Fantasy football sleepers, breakouts and busts to monitor? Before setting your 2021 Fantasy football draft strategy, be sure to check out the 2021 Fantasy football cheat sheets from the proven computer model at SportsLine.
Last year, the model accurately predicted that Bills quarterback Josh Allen was being drastically undervalued. His Fantasy football ADP was barely in the top 70, but the model pegged him as a top-five Fantasy quarterback, a QB1 who would finish well ahead of players like Kyler Murray, Tom Brady and Drew Brees. Allen ended up being the No. 2-scoring Fantasy QB, outscoring all three of those other quarterbacks and even surpassing Patrick Mahomes. Fantasy players who followed SportsLine’s advice reaped plenty of value with that pick.
The same model has a proven track record providing Fantasy football tips, also identifying A.J. Brown as another sleeper in 2020 and players like Devin Singletary and JuJu Smith-Schuster as busts last season. Additionally, it’s called past Fantasy football sleepers like Derrick Henry in 2019, Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara in 2018, and Davante Adams in 2017. Anybody who banked on players like those made a run at their league title.
The model is powered by the same people who generated projections for all three major Fantasy sites, and it beat human experts last season when there was a big difference in ranking. The projections update multiple times daily, so you’re always getting the best Fantasy football advice.
Now, SportsLine has simulated the entire NFL season 10,000 times and released its latest Fantasy football rankings 2021, along with plenty of sleepers, breakouts and busts. Head to SportsLine now to see them.
Top 2021 Fantasy football sleepers
One of the 2021 Fantasy football sleepers the model is predicting: Browns tight end Austin Hooper. In his first year in Cleveland, the former Falcon posted 46 catches for 435 yards and four scores. His production was limited by a midseason appendectomy and neck injury. However, Hooper developed a rapport with quarterback Baker Mayfield, as he had 20 receptions on 34 targets over his last four games, including the postseason.
Top 2021 Fantasy football breakouts
The model is also projecting Rams running back Xavier Jones as one of its top 2021 Fantasy Football breakouts. As a redshirt senior at SMU in 2019, Jones amassed 25 total touchdowns, all while averaging 5.2 yards per carry.
Jones has a chance for meaningful playing time after Cam Akers suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in July. He’s currently listed as the No. 2 running back on Los Angeles’ depth chart, behind only Darrell Henderson. If Henderson misses any time this season, Jones could be in line for the majority of the work in Sean McVay’s explosive offense.
Jones is currently being drafted in the 19th round according to the latest 2021 Fantasy football ADP. However, SportsLine’s model says Jones will outperform fellow running backs like Zack Moss (13th-round ADP), Devin Singletary (13th) and Tarik Cohen (14th), making him one of the top Fantasy football breakouts 2021 you should be all over.
Top 2021 Fantasy football busts
As for players to avoid, the model lists Washington running back Antonio Gibson as one of its biggest 2021 Fantasy football busts. After playing as a slot receiver who routinely carried the ball on misdirection plays at Memphis, Gibson quickly adjusted to playing running back for Washington and wound up with 1,042 scrimmage yards and 11 touchdowns.
However, there are questions about his durability after he dealt with a lingering toe sprain that cost him two games and kept him on the injury report for five weeks as well as an ankle sprain. There are also concerns about whether his touchdown rate (5.3 percent) is sustainable, especially with J.D. McKissic still playing a large role on third downs. That’s why the model ranks Gibson behind fifth-round backs like Josh Jacobs and Miles Sanders despite a third-round 2021 Fantasy football ADP.
SportsLine is also extremely high on a surprising quarterback you aren’t even thinking about being drafted in the middle rounds of 2021 Fantasy football drafts. This quarterback is listed as a shocking top-five option ahead of superstars like Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson. You can only see who it is, and the 2020 Fantasy football rankings for every player, at SportsLine.