Draft Strategy by Platform CBS

With less than three weeks left before the kickoff to the 2021 NFL season, the August 27th and September 3rd weekends are the two biggest draft weekends of the year. Fantasy players across the world will stake their claim to be champions in their leagues and many will be drafting on three websites. Welcome to the CBS site coverage of our three-part site ranks deep dive. Just as our other two parts for Sleeper and ESPN, we are comparing our ranks against the online draft clients for full PPR purposes. For each position, we are stating an over and undervalued player to each site. Additional players with a large difference from rankings to draft clients will also be listed.
(Note CBS in their draft client lists their players in a fresh draft client by their partner Sports line’s projections. We went back and forth over which version of the client to use for this purpose and chose the site’s actual ranks instead of the projections. A drop down in the client will filter players by the site ranks if you use their expert’s ranks for those drafts.)

Trey Lance (San Francisco 49ers) Listed Rank 15/ My Rank 23,

Lance’s hype is enormous, but we need to dig deeper to understand the 49ers QB situation. Unlike fellow rookies drafted highly in the first round, Lance’s path to start isn’t wide open. Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson drafted just before Lance, have clear paths to start. Even Chicago Bears rookie Justin Fields is slated to start, perhaps not week one, but eventually. That starting role handoff is there for no other reason than to save the jobs of Chicago management and coaching staff. That isn’t the case in San Francisco, they aren’t rebuilding or a desperate to right the ship franchise. Injuries ravaged the team in 2020, leading to a 6-10 record and 21st and 15th in points scored and allowed. The 2019 49ers however, were a 13-3 regular season record Super Bowl contestant who lost to the Kansas City Chiefs. In 2019 San Francisco was top four for both yards and points scored on offense, 2nd and 8th for defense. This is a great football team when all things are rolling. The three main receiving options of receivers Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel, and tight end George Kittle only played four games together healthy for all of 2020. Starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was only healthy with those three players for two games, weeks six and seven. That week seven thrashing of the New England Patriots was a season-high in total yards (467), top three in score (33), and top three in first downs (26). San Francisco wants Lance for the future, but when that future will happen is very murky. Garoppolo hasn’t been tasked with winning games all on his own, which is the key. Deciding to insert a rookie quarterback to lead your team is a move of desperation. Garoppolo and the 49ers are in no way a desperate situation, and Lance very well may be shelved for the entire season. Lance can be drafted, but not so close to the top 12 as he currently is, he’s a very high upside dart throw that just might not happen in 2020.
Draft instead: Matthew Stafford (Los Angeles Rams), Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons)

Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers) Listed Rank 10/ My Rank 7

The “will he—won’t he” scare of the early preseason is long over for Rodgers. A “Last Dance” season such as that of the Micheal Jordan Chicago Bulls in basketball is anticipated for Rodgers and co. With no guarantee for another season in green and gold Green Bay seems poised to unleash the offense this season. In the 2020 season, only Green Bay was able to have three offensive skills players score 10 or more touchdowns. Redzone efficiencies of 67.86 in 2019, and 76.81% in 2020, good for second and league-best in those respective seasons. Being able to have northward of a 75% chance to come away with a touchdown in fantasy-rich situations has been a boon for the entire Packers offense. Rodgers has a sizable chance to repeat in passing scores, 48 in 2020 Another positive that comes with any Rodgers season is his next-level ability to limit turnovers. Rodgers has not thrown for double-digit interceptions since 2010, limiting stalled drives and negative fantasy points have been paramount.
Draft over: Jalen Hurts (Philadelphia Eagles), Tom Brady (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

Other QB’s of note:

Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons) Listed Rank 22/ My Rank 14
Daniel Jones (New York Giants
Carson Wentz (Indianapolis Colts) Listed Rank 33/ My Rank 19

Running Back
Javonte Williams (Denver Broncos) Listed Rank 26/ My Rank 36

Williams is a redraft versus dynasty discussion if there ever was one. Current starting running back Melvin Gordon is entering both his second year and age 28 season for the Denver Broncos. Gordon is only under contract through the 2021 season, with Williams’ round two draft selection the writing on the wall for the Broncos future. The hesitation against Williams being a sure-fire RB2 selection is twofold. The first part can be simply Gordon was and has been, a good player in his six-year career. What has been Gordon’s best trait has been being a dual-purpose back, seeing 1100 yards for the fourth time in his career. While he had lows in both receptions and receiving yards in 2020, Gordon’s ability to be a near 1000 yard rusher and add-in receiving ability is valuable in the NFL. Williams in his three-year college career with the University of North Carolina comes into the NFL with only 50 career receptions. Williams has been praised for his rushing and tackle-breaking ability by head coach Vic Fangio, but not his receiving ability. The other issue is that of Williams splitting work all through his college tenure with New York Jets rookie rusher Micheal Carter. While both are excellent runners, both north of 7.5 yards per carry in 2020, the near-identical snap and carry numbers are interesting. While New York can cede touches to Carter naturally over time from starting veteran Tevin Coleman, Denver is tricky. The shoe may drop week one, or it may never come, or Williams having nothing more than a role that splits down the middle. That does no one any good. Caution needs to be taken overreaching for a player fantasy managers think is a lock for a starting role.
Draft instead: Chase Edmonds (Arizona Cardinals), Raheem Mostert (San Francisco 49ers)

Saquon Barkley (New York Giants) Listed Rank 8/ My Rank 5

There is no more polarizing player in fantasy in terms of risk acceptance. Whether a fantasy player will, or won’t take on the presumed risk Barkley carries is a daunting predicament. What we do know is that by September 1st it will be 11 months since his surgery to repair his ACL, MCL, and meniscus damage. We also know that to this point, Barkley has not engaged in any contact practice work. As of a report from August 19th by RotoWire, Barkley has a shot to return to full-team drills as soon as next week. Barkley may be three years removed now from his rookie of the year, 91 reception, 2000 yard 2018 season, so what is his future? The versatile back should still be considered an elite option for PPR, the last of the elite backs, but one of them all the same. A 5.5 yards per touch, 50 or more reception player is incredibly hard to find. The fear that the dynamic back will have any “pitch count” or limitations in week one can evaporate by week’s end, but reservations are completely understandable. Stating how good Barkley is isn’t the conversation here. We know his true generational talent pedigree. It is simply how risky a fantasy player would like to be. It looks like Saquon is currently slated to play weeks two through seventeen. Think on that if you prefer another player to Barkley.
Draft over: Derrick Henry (Tennessee Titans), Jonathan Taylor (Indianapolis Colts)

Other RB’s of note:

David Montgomery (Chicago Bears) Listed Rank 14/ My Rank 18
Myles Gaskin (Miami Dolphins) Listed Rank 24/ My Rank 19
Jamaal Williams (Detroit Lions) Listed Rank 34/ My Rank 46

Wide Receiver
Robert Woods (Los Angeles Rams) Listed Rank 12/ My Rank 16

There is a term in fantasy, drafting a player at their ceiling. Simply it means reaching for a player in a spot where value doesn’t exist as you’re already taking him at his best possible finish. Woods is a common fantasy favorite who has finished between WR11 to WR14 over the last three seasons. Even with the addition of Matthew Stafford as the new starting quarterback, pushing the upside is hard to see. Woods has already seen at least 129 targets in each of the last three seasons, with quarterback Jared Goff throwing for no less than 550 times in that span. Volume has always been there, touchdowns have not. Woods has yet to eclipse six scores in any one season, if this is the one, excellent, yet you are still drafting Woods at his ceiling.
Draft instead: Amari Cooper (Dallas Cowboys), Chris Godwin (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

Odell Beckham Jr. (Cleveland Browns) Listed Rank 34/ My Rank 28

On the doorstep of the 2021 NFL season, the question around Beckham is how much of the once prolific player is left. The 108 yards per game rookie season is just a memory for Beckham, but there is something new for this version of Beckham. At the conclusion of the 2020 drafting season, Beckham was the 28th player off the board, now his receiver ADP for full PPR is that of receiver 26. The reason for this value is partly due to his injury sustained in 2020, as well as depressed production expectations for this season. On the injury front, Beckham was not placed on the physically unable to perform list for training camp. Beckham has progressed well from his ACL injury sustained in 2020 and Cleveland has no sign of worry. In terms of passing production, we need to compare the Browns pass attack pre and post Beckham injury. With a slight uptick in average passes, 28.3 attempts per game to 32, and passing yards 198.9 to 241, there is hope that Cleveland continues that measure into 2021. The full circle idea is still that the talent of Beckham has never been more affordable, whether or not he returns to his New York Giants performance glory.
Draft over: Antonio Brown (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Chase Claypool (Pittsburgh Steelers)

Other WR’s of note:

Laviska Shenault Jr. (Jacksonville Jaguars) Listed Rank 33/ My Rank 42
Jaylen Waddle (Miami Dolphins) Listed Rank 35/ My Rank 51
Tre’Quan Smith (New Orleans Saints) Listed Rank 71/ My Rank 55

Tight End
Logan Thomas (Washington Football Team) Listed Rank 8/ My Rank 17

A word to describe the 2020 Washington team was desperation. Outside of receiver Terry McLaurin and running back Antonio Gibson, a rookie at the time, there was not much optimism on a third option emerging on this offense. Thomas steps in and sees 110 targets, third for all tight ends in 2020, and the 9th most any TE has seen in the last three seasons. The last 10-year average targets for tight ends with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center has been 61. The most a tight end has seen in a single season since 2011 has been 97 with Fitzpatrick at the helm. The additions of receivers Curtis Samuel and Adam Humphries hit the target pool somewhat as well. Thomas was able to accomplish a very nice 2020 season there was no question about that. Thomas now falls into a category of tight end two’s who all have similar odds to succeed or fail for 2021.
Draft instead: Jonnu Smith (New England Patriots), Noah Fant (Denver Broncos)

Evan Engram (New York Giants) Listed Rank 15/ My Rank 14

When Engram was announced as the 2020 Giants representative for the Pro Bowl, many groaned at the award. Perhaps though for a moment, we think that he deserved the reward. In full PPR Engram finished as the TE15 for 2020. A grand total of only eight fantasy points separated him from TE8. That whole group of TE8 to TE15 Engram led in targets(109), tied for the lead in receptions(63), and 2nd in yards(654). What Engram lacked was scoring, a career-low of only one solitary score in 2020. For as poor as people thought Engram played, he really only lacked in one area. Unfortunately, that stat of scoring holds such great fantasy importance. With the return of dynamic running back Saquon Barkley, and the addition of receiver Kenny Golladay in the offseason, Engram is no longer tasked with being New York’s main target. That freedom to be lost by defensive coverage can do wonders for the once top six drafted tight end in fantasy.
Draft over: Austin Hooper (Cleveland Browns), Logan Thomas (Washington Football Team)

Other TE’s of note:

Eric Ebron (Pittsburgh Steelers) Listed Rank 19/ My Rank 27
Hayden Hurst (Atlanta Falcons) Listed Rank 28/ My Rank 21

For Matthew’s rankings check them out here!

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