Fantasy football rankings: The 192 players who should be rostered in 2021

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The fantasy football offseason is nearly upon us, which means it's time to start looking ahead to 2021.

Yes, the next fantasy season is many months away and the below rankings will be impacted in a significant way by retirements, free agency, the draft, coaching changes and much more. Nonetheless, we need to start somewhere, so below is the first run of "The 192" for 2021.

Why 192? Fantasy leagues come in all shapes in sizes, but many have settled into the vicinity of 12 teams and 16 roster spots. "The 192" is a list of the 192 players who should be drafted (and thus rostered) in a 12-team, 16-round, PPR league with relatively standard scoring and lineup settings. The players are technically listed in the order they should be drafted, though it's important to remember that drafts are fluid and your decisions should be altered based on what's left on the board and your previous selections.

So what if you're in an eight-team league? Or a 16-teamer? The 192 can still help you win, but you'll certainly need to make tweaks in the mid-to-late rounds. For example, in a smaller league, you might want to wait even longer at quarterback since the position is so deep. In deeper leagues, running backs and tight ends should be more of a priority, as those positions lack depth and could leave you with a weak spot if you wait until late.

The 192 should serve as a simple guide to help you maximize the value of your starting lineup while making the best possible decision each and every round.

For a deeper look, here is an early 2021 PPR Cheat Sheet

In parentheses below, you'll see each player's contract status. The year indicated is the final season of that player's contract and the letter notes what type of free agent the player will be when that contract expires (u = unrestricted, r = restricted, e = exclusive rights, v = void option). If the player is headed for free agency this upcoming offseason, his status is also indicated (UFA = unrestricted, RFA = restricted, ERFA = exclusive rights).

The 192

1. Christian McCaffrey, CAR, RB1 (2025u)

McCaffrey was limited to three games due to various injuries this season. His production in those three games: 37, 25 and 29 fantasy points, including exactly two touchdowns in all three. The fact that Mike Davis finished as an RB1 during the weeks McCaffrey was out should have you ecstatic about McCaffrey's upside in 2021. Same as last year, he's the first player I'd pick on draft day.

2. Dalvin Cook, MIN, RB2 (2025u)
3. Saquon Barkley, NYG, RB3 (2021u)
4. Alvin Kamara, NO, RB4 (2025u)
5. Derrick Henry, TEN, RB5 (2023u)
6. Davante Adams, GB, WR1 (2021u)

Wide receiver just keeps getting deeper and deeper and deeper, which makes placing Adams a bit tricky. Of course, he's unquestionably a first-rounder after missing 2 1/2 games and still leading all wide receivers in fantasy points by 29. Cook and Henry are fairly secure options and Barkley will hope to avoid the injury bug next season. Kamara's value could take a hit with Drew Brees out and Taysom Hill possibly in at quarterback.

7. Jonathan Taylor, IND, RB6 (2023u)
8. Ezekiel Elliott, DAL, RB7 (2026u)
9. Travis Kelce, KC, TE1 (2025u)
10. Aaron Jones, GB, RB8 (UFA)
11. Nick Chubb, CLE, RB9 (2021u)

Kelce scored 313 fantasy points this season. Take away 135 of those points (only 16 tight ends scored that many this season) and Kelce is still fantasy's No. 2 tight end. Incredible. He's now 31 years old, but Kelce is still far and away the top tight end in fantasy. Taylor finished his rookie season as the No. 6 RB in fantasy and there's room for growth as a receiver. Jones' future in Green Bay is uncertain.

12. Stefon Diggs, BUF, WR2 (2023u)
13. Tyreek Hill, KC, WR3 (2022u)
14. DK Metcalf, SEA, WR4 (2022u)
15. Josh Jacobs, LV, RB10 (2022u)
16. Austin Ekeler, LAC, RB11 (2023u)
17. Miles Sanders, PHI, RB12 (2022u)
18. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, KC, RB13 (2023u)
19. D'Andre Swift, DET, RB14 (2023u)
20. DeAndre Hopkins, ARI, WR5 (2024u)
21. Calvin Ridley, ATL, WR6 (2021u)
22. Cam Akers, LAR, RB15 (2023u)
23. James Robinson, JAC, RB16 (2022r)
24. Keenan Allen, LAC, WR7 (2024u)
25. Michael Thomas, NO, WR8 (2024u)
26. Allen Robinson II, CHI, WR9 (UFA)
27. Mike Evans, TB, WR10 (2023u)

This area of the draft is so loaded with talent that I didn't really know the best place to cut off the tier. Edwards-Helaire, Swift and Akers are high-caliber backs well positioned for a major boost in usage and/or production in their second season. Are the Jaguars committed to James Robinson as their high-volume option? Perhaps, but he'll probably get some help, perhaps in passing situations, in his second season. Allen Robinson's landing spot will help determine his value. A full-on rebound from Thomas seems unlikely with Brees set to retire.

28. Antonio Gibson, WAS, RB17 (2023u)
29. David Montgomery, CHI, RB18 (2022u)
30. J.K. Dobbins, BAL, RB19 (2023u)
31. Justin Jefferson, MIN, WR11 (2023u)
32. A.J. Brown, TEN, WR12 (2022u)

I might be a little heavy on early-round running backs here, but it's going to be hard to pass on up-and-comers like Gibson and Dobbins in this range. Montgomery is going to be a popular "return to earth" candidate after finishing as RB4, but even with Tarik Cohen back, Chicago's lead back will be a serviceable RB2 with room for more. Jefferson and Brown are two of the most exciting young WRs in the league and borderline WR1 plays.

33. Julio Jones, ATL, WR13 (2023u)
34. Terry McLaurin, WAS, WR14 (2022u)
35. Chris Godwin, TB, WR15 (UFA)
36. Darren Waller, LV, TE2 (2023u)
37. George Kittle, SF, TE3 (2025u)
38. Joe Mixon, CIN, RB20 (2024u)
39. Ronald Jones II, TB, RB21 (2021u)
40. Kenny Golladay, DET, WR16 (UFA)
41. Robert Woods, LAR, WR17 (2025u)
42. Diontae Johnson, PIT, WR18 (2022u)
43. Chris Carson, SEA, RB22 (UFA)

The Round 3/4 turn supplies us with plenty of strong WR2 and solid RB2 options, as well as a pair of star tight ends. Golladay, Godwin and Carson are both headed to free agency, so landing spot will be key. Does 32-year-old Julio Jones have one more elite campaign in the tank or is he headed down the A.J. Green path?

44. Amari Cooper, DAL, WR19 (2024u)
45. Odell Beckham Jr., CLE, WR20 (2023u)
46. Adam Thielen, MIN, WR21 (2024u)
47. Will Fuller V, HOU, WR22 (UFA)
48. Tee Higgins, CIN, WR23 (2023u)
49. CeeDee Lamb, DAL, WR24 (2023u)
50. DJ Moore, CAR, WR25 (2021u)
51. Tyler Lockett, SEA, WR26 (2021u)
52. JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT, WR27 (UFA)
53. Cooper Kupp, LAR, WR28 (2023u)
54. Mark Andrews, BAL, TE4 (2021u)

This area of the board speaks to the historic depth at wide receiver, as almost everyone on this list has WR1 upside. That includes second-year WRs Higgins and Lamb, as well as a healthy Beckham. Note that Fuller is a free agent and will be suspended one game to open 2021.

55. Patrick Mahomes, KC, QB1 (2031u)
56. Josh Allen, BUF, QB2 (2021u)

I'll open the door for some quarterback action here in the middle of Round 5. As Mahomes showed us in 2019 and Jackson/Mahomes did in 2020, there's really no reason to reach on a quarterback. Mahomes and Allen are high-floor/high-ceiling targets and fine in this range, but I wouldn't bother any earlier. As always, you'll have terrific options later in the draft.

57. Tyler Boyd, CIN, WR29 (2023u)
58. Brandon Aiyuk, SF, WR30 (2023u)
59. Deebo Samuel, SF, WR31 (2022u)
60. DeVante Parker, MIA, WR32 (2023u)
61. Kyler Murray, ARI, QB3 (2022u)
62. Deshaun Watson, HOU, QB4 (2025u)
63. Melvin Gordon III, DEN, RB23 (2021u)
64. Kenyan Drake, ARI, RB24 (UFA)
65. Kareem Hunt, CLE, RB25 (2022u)
66. Robby Anderson, CAR, WR33 (2021u)
67. Chase Claypool, PIT, WR34 (2023u)
68. Brandin Cooks, HOU, WR35 (2023u)
69. DJ Chark Jr., JAC, WR36 (2021u)
70. Jerry Jeudy, DEN, WR37 (2023u)
71. Courtland Sutton, DEN, WR38 (2021u)
72. Jarvis Landry, CLE, WR39 (2022u)

We're starting to get into WR3/flex territory here, but there are still a ton of attractive names. They include a high-floor PPR option like Boyd, who will be a candidate for a huge season in Joe Burrow's second season, as well as the Aiyuk/Samuel duo in San Francisco. Drake's value could be crushed if he doesn't re-sign as the Cardinals' lead back. Who will emerge as the No. 1 WR in Denver, Jeudy or Sutton?

73. Raheem Mostert, SF, RB26 (2021u)
74. Myles Gaskin, MIA, RB27 (2022u)
75. James Conner, PIT, RB28 (UFA)
76. Aaron Rodgers, GB, QB5 (2023u)
77. Russell Wilson, SEA, QB6 (2023u)
78. Lamar Jackson, BAL, QB7 (2021u)
79. T.J. Hockenson, DET, TE5 (2022u)
80. Dallas Goedert, PHI, TE6 (2021u)
81. Hunter Henry, LAC, TE7 (UFA)
82. Noah Fant, DEN, TE8 (2022u)
83. Jamison Crowder, NYJ, WR40 (2021u)
84. Marquise Brown, BAL, WR41 (2022u)
85. Corey Davis, TEN, WR42 (UFA)
86. Laviska Shenault Jr., JAC, WR43 (2023u)
87. Curtis Samuel, CAR, WR44 (UFA)
88. Antonio Brown, TB, WR45 (UFA)

Mostert, Gaskin and Conner are currently likely to start for their respective teams, though that could change during the offseason. This area of the board includes several serviceable quarterback and tight end options, including Goedert, who figures to benefit greatly from Zach Ertz's likely departure. Shenault will be a hot breakout candidate if the Jaguars select Trevor Lawrence first overall as expected. Will Brown find his way to a No. 1 or No. 2 gig somewhere? You'd think so after a fairly impressive showing in Tampa Bay.

89. Dak Prescott, DAL, QB8 (UFA)
90. Justin Herbert, LAC, QB9 (2023u)
91. Tarik Cohen, CHI, RB29 (2023u)
92. David Johnson, HOU, RB30 (2021u)
93. Michael Gallup, DAL, WR46 (2021u)
94. Jalen Reagor, PHI, WR47 (2023u)
95. Mike Williams, LAC, WR48 (2021u)
96. Michael Pittman Jr., IND, WR49 (2023u)
97. Parris Campbell, IND, WR50 (2022u)
98. Henry Ruggs III, LV, WR51 (2023u)
99. Denzel Mims, NYJ, WR52 (2023u)
100. Nyheim Hines, IND, RB31 (2021u)
101. Zack Moss, BUF, RB32 (2023u)
102. Devin Singletary, BUF, RB33 (2022u)
103. Damien Harris, NE, RB34 (2022u)

At least at running back and wide receiver, we're well into "load up your bench" territory here, which means lots of youth and breakout candidates. Second-year WRs Reagor, Pittman, Ruggs and Mims fit that bill, as does oft-injured but intriguing Campbell. Moss and Singletary will be tough to count on in Buffalo's pass-heavy scheme, but perhaps one will emerge as the lead back. We also have a few veterans here, including Johnson. I'll need to move him up if he remains the feature back on a Texans' team with a new coaching staff.

104. Ryan Tannehill, TEN, QB10 (2023u)
105. Joe Burrow, CIN, QB11 (2023u)
106. Mike Gesicki, MIA, TE9 (2021u)
107. Logan Thomas, WAS, TE10 (2021u)
108. Jonnu Smith, TEN, TE11 (UFA)
109. Robert Tonyan, GB, TE12 (RFA)

We're filling out our starting lineup at quarterback and tight end in this range. I'll feel better about Thomas if Alex Smith remains the quarterback and Washington doesn't add a quality No. 2 wide receiver. Tonyan was absurdly touchdown dependent and his weak target share gives me pause relative to other solid/emerging tight ends. Burrow ranked among the QB leaders in OFP prior to his season-ending injury.

110. Chase Edmonds, ARI, RB35 (2021u)
111. Darrell Henderson Jr., LAR, RB36 (2022u)
112. Leonard Fournette, TB, RB37 (UFA)
113. Todd Gurley II, ATL, RB38 (UFA)
114. J.D. McKissic, WAS, RB39 (2021u)
115. Tom Brady, TB, QB12 (2021u)
116. Cole Beasley, BUF, WR53 (2022u)
117. John Brown, BUF, WR54 (2021u)
118. Marvin Jones Jr., DET, WR55 (UFA)
119. Evan Engram, NYG, TE13 (2021u)
120. Cole Kmet, CHI, TE14 (2023u)
121. Irv Smith Jr., MIN, TE15 (2022u)
122. Zach Ertz, PHI, TE16 (2021v)

Fournette and Gurley ended the 2020 season as backups and their days as fantasy stars might be over, but we'll see where they land during free agency. It will be interesting to see where Jones signs, as well. Kmet is going to be a super-popular breakout candidate after taking over No. 1 duties from Jimmy Graham in the second half of the season. Ertz could rejoin the TE1 discussion if he lands an every-down gig away from Philadelphia. Edmonds and Henderson are intriguing young backs but neither is a lock for lead-back role right now. McKissic will be a strong candidate for a reduction in workload as Washington adds talent to its offense and promotes Antonio Gibson to a larger role.

123. Jamaal Williams, GB, RB40 (UFA)
124. James White, NE, RB41 (UFA)
125. Duke Johnson, HOU, RB42 (2021u)
126. Jeff Wilson Jr., SF, RB43 (RFA)
127. Marlon Mack, IND, RB44 (UFA)
128. Kirk Cousins, MIN, QB13 (2022u)
129. Matt Ryan, ATL, QB14 (2023u)
130. Darius Slayton, NYG, WR56 (2022u)
131. Sterling Shepard, NYG, WR57 (2023u)
132. T.Y. Hilton, IND, WR58 (UFA)
133. Julian Edelman, NE, WR59 (2021u)
134. A.J. Green, CIN, WR60 (UFA)
135. Preston Williams, MIA, WR61 (2021r)
136. Phillip Lindsay, DEN, RB45 (RFA)
137. Sony Michel, NE, RB46 (2021u)
138. Ke'Shawn Vaughn, TB, RB47 (2023u)
139. AJ Dillon, GB, RB48 (2023u)
140. Tony Pollard, DAL, RB49 (2022u)
141. Alexander Mattison, MIN, RB50 (2022u)
142. Damien Williams, KC, RB51 (2021u)
143. Hayden Hurst, ATL, TE17 (2021u)
144. Austin Hooper, CLE, TE18 (2023v)

There are quite a few free agents and "older" players here that we will need to monitor throughout the offseason. They include Mack, who missed all of 2020 because of a torn ACL and figures to depart Indianapolis. Do any of Hilton, Edelman and Green have one more top-30 campaign in them? It might be tough with how deep the position is. Pollard and Mattison figure to enter 2021 as, once again, two of the best insurance options at running back. We might be saying the same about Jamaal Williams after he opted out in 2020. With both Aaron Jones and Williams headed to free agency, could Dillon open 2021 as Green Bay's top back?

145. Matthew Stafford, DET, QB15 (2022v)
146. Taysom Hill, NO, QB16 (2021u)
147. Jalen Hurts, PHI, QB17 (2023u)
148. Giovani Bernard, CIN, RB52 (2021u)
149. Latavius Murray, NO, RB53 (2022u)
150. Benny Snell Jr., PIT, RB54 (2022u)
151. Anthony McFarland Jr., PIT, RB55 (2023u)
152. Gabriel Davis, BUF, WR62 (2023u)
153. KJ Hamler, DEN, WR63 (2023u)
154. Devin Duvernay, BAL, WR64 (2023u)
155. Darnell Mooney, CHI, WR65 (2023u)
156. Mecole Hardman, KC, WR66 (2022u)
157. Jakobi Meyers, NE, WR67 (2021r)
158. Nelson Agholor, LV, WR68 (UFA)
159. Darrynton Evans, TEN, RB56 (2023u)
160. Kerryon Johnson, DET, RB57 (2021u)
161. Mike Davis, CAR, RB58 (UFA)
162. Gus Edwards, BAL, RB59 (RFA)
163. Adam Trautman, NO, TE19 (2023u)
164. Rob Gronkowski, TB, TE20 (UFA)
165. Derek Carr, LV, QB18 (2022u)
166. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT, QB19 (2021u)
167. Baker Mayfield, CLE, QB20 (2021u)
168. Eric Ebron, PIT, TE21 (2021u)

If you wait until the final rounds of your draft, you're likely to have plenty of fine options, including veterans like Stafford and Roethlisberger. I'm hedging on Hill and Hurts, as both will be borderline QB1 targets if they cement a starting job. Of course, if they move up the ranks, other quarterbacks will fall into value territory. Trautman was a favorite tight end of mine during the 2020 draft process and he very well could be atop the Saints' depth chart in 2021.

169. Steelers D/ST, PIT, DST1
170. Rams D/ST, LAR, DST2
171. Ravens D/ST, BAL, DST3
172. Saints D/ST, NO, DST4
173. Colts D/ST, IND, DST5
174. Bills D/ST, BUF, DST6
175. 49ers D/ST, SF, DST7
176. Patriots D/ST, NE, DST8
177. Bears D/ST, CHI, DST9
178. Washington D/ST, WAS, DST10
179. Buccaneers D/ST, TB, DST11
180. Dolphins D/ST, MIA, DST12
181. Justin Tucker, BAL, K1 (2023u)
182. Harrison Butker, KC, K2 (2024u)
183. Tyler Bass, BUF, K3 (2023u)
184. Greg Zuerlein, DAL, K4 (2022u)
185. Younghoe Koo, ATL, K5 (ERFA)
186. Rodrigo Blankenship, IND, K6 (2022r)
187. Ryan Succop, TB, K7 (UFA)
188. Jason Myers, SEA, K8 (2022u)
189. Wil Lutz, NO, K9 (2023u)
190. Brandon McManus, DEN, K10 (2024u)
191. Ka'imi Fairbairn, HOU, K11 (2023u)
192. Mason Crosby, GB, K12 (2022u)

Did you learn nothing from the Jaguars' D/ST three years ago? What about the Bears' D/ST two years back? The Steelers this past season? Wait until the final two rounds to select your defense and kicker.