The 2021 NFL draft was filled with tons of talent. Through six weeks of the NFL season, it’s not surprising to see some of the rookies look great amidst an injury-plagued season. Here are some of the highs and lows of the 2021 rookies.
Najee Harris, RB PIT
Harris produced his fourth consecutive 20+ point game, and he once again dominated the workload. This is exactly what dynasty managers dreamed of when many drafted Harris in the first round of rookie drafts. Though he is in a subpar offense and a terrible offensive line, the sheer workload allows Harris to produce RB1 numbers. Not only is he getting a ton of work on the ground game, but Harris has also been targeted 19 times within three weeks. The Steelers desperately needed an elite RB, and it seems like Mike Tomlin has found his workhorse RB going forward. Harris has a tough match-up against the Cleveland Browns following his Week 7 bye, but his workload should keep him as a solid RB1 in Week 8.
Khalil Herbert, RB CHI
The rookie out of Virginia Tech posted a monster game in the absence of Damien Williams in Week 6. Herbert rushed 19 times for 97 yards and scored a touchdown. He also brought in a pair of receptions for 15 yards. Herbert looked outstanding for the Chicago Bears, and it seems like the Chicago Bears have found a diamond. They drafted him in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL draft. Though he filled in well for the Bears, Williams is still projected to return in Week 7. Williams is expected to handle most of the workload if he comes back, but Herbert made enough noise where he will be involved if star RB David Montgomery is out. Herbert is a nice stash in dynasty formats, but even with the great game, it seems he will still have to earn his opportunities in this poor Chicago offense.
Jaylen Waddle, WR MIA
The sixth pick of the 2021 NFL draft had an excellent bounce-back game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He brought in 10 receptions for 70 yards and scored twice in this game. The Alabama connection between Tua Tagovailoa and Waddle was in full effect, as he led all receivers in targets and receptions. Waddle hasn’t topped 100 yards yet this season, but the sheer amount of volume in the passing game keeps him safely as a WR1 in fantasy. It is also good to note the difference in production when Tagovailoa is playing versus when he is not. Dynasty managers should be happy with what they are seeing from Waddle and should be safely considered a high-end WR2 having a potential of a strong WR1 every week.
Pat Freiermuth, TE PIT
The rookie out of Penn State had a nice game against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 6. Eric Ebron ended up being the TE to score on Sunday night. Although Freiermuth didn’t score, he was the more productive TE overall for the Steelers. Freiermuth caught all of his seven targets and racked up 58 yards. Though these numbers aren’t spectacular, it is encouraging to see Freiermuth get more involved in this offense. He has out-snapped Ebron in the last three weeks, and it seems like the Steelers are looking to get the second-round rookie more involved in the passing offense. Freiermuth is trending in a positive direction and could be an asset moving forward.
And… The Bad
Kadarius Toney, WR NYG
Just when Toney was on pace for another breakout game, he went down with an ankle injury in the first quarter against the Los Angeles Rams. He ended up finishing with three receptions for 36 yards. Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton are both looking to make their return in Week 7. Toney is in line for regression. He was already reported to miss Week 7 and he may miss more. Dynasty managers should hold on to him but lower his expectations for the rest of the 2021 NFL season.
Terrace Marshall Jr., WR CAR
Marshall has not have had more than five fantasy points in the past three weeks. The Carolina Panthers scored 28 points and went into overtime as they lost to the Vikings 34-28. Marshall only received two targets in this game, and he brought in one of them for only nine yards. He has never made a mark in the Panthers’ offense, and he is still the WR3 to Robby Anderson and DJ Moore. What’s even scarier to see was his snap percentage drop from 76% to 31% from Week 5 to Week 6. It is hard to see his role with Robby Anderson and DJ Moore slated to be on the roster through 2022. Until Marshall gets a real opportunity, he is safe to leave on benches until his opportunity situation changes.
Devonta Smith, WR PHI
It was just a poor outing for the Philadelphia Eagles in this game. Smith was a victim of a poor offense. On Thursday night, no receiver on the Eagles topped more than 50 receiving yards or more than five receptions. Jalen Hurts ran away with all of the touchdowns in this game. He rushed for two touchdowns, and he threw his lone TD to Zach Ertz. Smith is still the clear-cut WR1 for the Eagles, but his fantasy production is dependant on how well the Eagles’ offense does. He is now a solid flex play and has the potential to be a strong WR2 for dynasty managers in Smith’s rookie year. He will look to bounce back in Week 7. The Philadelphia Eagles will face off against a Las Vegas Raiders team that gave up 94 yards to Courtland Sutton and 97 yards to Noah Fant.
Rondale Moore, WR ARZ
Moore posted 16 receiving yards on three receptions last week. He also added ten rushing yards on three carries. This was a high-scoring game for the Cardinals, but Moore could not cash in on the high-scoring night. Christian Kirk once again dominated the snaps in the slot, and it doesn’t seem like the Cardinals are intending to replace Kirk just yet. Although Moore posted a dud, it is encouraging to see his snap percentage increase every week. His snap percentage increased from 48 to 56 this week, and it should continue to increase. With this current projection, Moore should have an opportunity this year to post high-scoring fantasy weeks. The only problem is, when? Moore will look to bounce back against a favorable match-up against the Houston Texans in Week 7.
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