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The Good, Bad, and Ugly of the 2021 Season

A few players had phenomenal seasons, one bad, and one downright terrible. With the good, the bad, and the ugly – what do we do with these players going forward?

When it comes to fantasy football, all managers suffer from short-term memory, and rightfully so. 

You always hear that you should never pay the premium for someone after a career year. On the contrary, many say you should believe the dip in a player’s production and sell them going forward because it will continue. 

The 2021 NFL season was a wild one. For the first time in NFL history, there was a 17 game season. The one thing that we undoubtedly see each year is the boom and bust seasons from players across the league. Out of all of these players, which ones should we be buying into going forward?

THE GOOD

Cooper Kupp, WR LAR

Courtesy of Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Holy. Moly. That is all that needs to be said when describing the season that Kupp just had. He had the best fantasy wide receiver season in history, scoring 367 fantasy points, topping the previous record of 353 that Jerry Rice held in 1995.

Kupp was the fourth player to win the triple crown of receiving stats. He led the NFL in receptions (145), receiving yards (1,947), and touchdowns (16). All of this came in the first season with Matt Stafford after making the big off-season acquisition to place him under the helm. In addition to those counting stats, Kupp leads the league with 10.4 YAC.

We get to see one more game from Kupp in Super Bowl 56. In the future, however, we should enjoy the history we just witnessed and not expect it to continue going forward. While the Rams passed the ball a league-high 72% of the time, the return of Akers and Robert Woods should cut some of the targets Kupp sees next season. That is not to say that Kupp will not be a top WR in fantasy, but we shouldn’t hold our breath in hopes for another historic season. 

Joe Burrow,QB and Ja’Marr Chase, WR CIN

Like Kupp, we will see one more game to finalize the incredible season that this duo put up this past season. In one case, we had a player coming off of a year that ended prematurely with a torn ACL, MCL, and PCL. The other is a rookie WR that opted out of his last season at LSU due to COVID and suffered from the “drops” in Training Camp that has a lot of people weary heading into the season. All of the skepticism was quickly put to rest when the duo continued to showcase the chemistry they had built, heading back to their days at LSU.

Playing behind an offensive line that allowed a league-high 51 sacks, Burrow could still complete 70.4% of his passes, throwing for 4,611 yards, 34 touchdowns, and a passer rating of 108.3. Chase had an insane rookie season, hauling in 81 receptions with 1,455 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns. 

The big-play ability that this elite chemistry has produced is something that we will marvel at for years to come. The youth surrounding them is also something that should not be overlooked. 

No matter the outcome of the final game, this season was definitely a success. This duo will continue to produce incredible numbers, and there is no reason to believe they will not be able to continue this going forward. 

THE BAD

Saquon Barkley, RB NYG

Courtesy of Steven Ryan/Getty Images

When Barkley was asked how this season went, he was talking about the Giants team as a whole. However, it perfectly describes his season as well. “Things haven’t been that great this year,” were his words exactly. That is putting it lightly. 

After tearing his ACL in 2020, we still valued Barkley near the top in terms of running back talent in the NFL. Drafting him in the first round of dynasty start-ups heading into the season left many people hopeful. Perhaps he would return to the same running back that had him drafted second overall in the 2018 draft. Things didn’t seem to go the way many expected in 2021. 

Six weeks into the season, Barkley was set to miss another substantial amount of games after spraining his ankle against Dallas. He has yet to play a full slate of games since his rookie year and has left a lot of owners soured on him. Even when Barkley returned to action, it just did not look like the superstar we once saw him as. Between a struggling offense and a poor offensive line, he could never get into a rhythm. He lacked the burst, strength, and speed we had hoped to see. 

Brian Daboll is now in control of this team. Many are, once again, hopeful that this is a sign of better things to come. We can still hope that Daboll can bring over the same mentality he had when transcending the Bills offense these past seasons. Only 24 years old and coming into his contract year, we have to think Barkley will, once again, come out with something to prove. 

THE UGLY

Allen Robinson, WR CHI

Courtesy of AP Images/Rick Osentoski

Man, were we excited to see Justin Fields drafted to Chicago in 2021. Everyone was excited for Robinson to finally get a quarterback that would help take him to that next level. The once QB-proof WR disappointed in 2021. 

Robinson was drafted as the 12th receiver off of the board in September drafts and ended as WR81. No other WR drafted within the top-12 at the position, who played at least 13 games, finished worse than 32nd. Before this season, Robinson didn’t finish worse than ninth in total points and ended this year with a career-low in targets, catches, yards, and touchdowns. 

The lows got to a point where people wondered if Robinson was purposely sitting out towards the end of the year to preserve his body in hopes of getting a new contract this off-season. Many looked at his routes run in game and judged his effort levels

He will be starting next season at age 29. Before 2021, Robinson was heralded as one of the safer options in fantasy. He had an ability to produce in any situation he found himself in. That narrative has definitely changed now. To buy back into him, Robinson will need to sign in an established offense and no longer requires him to be the number one option for us to believe in him in the future

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