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Must Have Mid-Round Draft Targets

Fantasy football draft season is in full swing. While championships aren't won solely in the draft, they can set your team up for much success during the season. While the early rounds should be used to anchor your team, it's the middle rounds that can really make or break your draft.

In this article, I'll highlight five players I believe you must be targeting in the middle rounds of your fantasy football drafts. There may be some question marks on these guys, but there's no denying their immense ceilings this season. Let's get right to it!

Note: ADPs are half-point PPR from FantasyPros, and for the purpose of this article, mid-round is defined as rounds six through 10 in a 12-team, 1QB league (picks 61 - 120).

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Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals

ADP: #64 Overall, RB27

I've been banging the drum for Chase Edmonds all offseason after the Raiders signed former Cardinals RB Kenyan Drake. Even when Arizona signed James Conner to a one-year, $1.75M contract, I was still a believer in Edmonds. And after most of training camp and two preseason games, I'm starting to become even more bullish on his prospects this season.

Conner missed the first preseason game, but in the second one, Edmonds out-snapped him seven to three with the first-team offense on the field. Edmonds was also on the field for two of the three Cardinal third downs. Conner also saw some time with the second unit, while Edmonds did not. This could simply be the Cardinals giving their newly acquired asset more reps, or it could be a sign of things to come in the regular season.

For what it's worth, I'm in the camp that believes Drake's sizable role last season was due in large part to the fact that the Cardinals traded for him in 2019 and paid him $8M on the transition tag to keep him around in 2020. They had to feature him, and that's what they did early and often. This season, things are bound to change. Edmonds is the superior talent over Conner, and there's not much tying Arizona to the former Steelers running back.

Edmonds' touchdown total should also increase in 2021. In 2020, he scored a touchdown every 32.6 opportunities (carries + targets). In 2019, he scored every 16.2 opportunities. He now has a 1a role rather than a 1b role, and he should be able to capitalize on that opportunity.


DeVonta Smith, Philadelphia Eagles

ADP: #90 Overall, WR36

The Eagles head into the 2021-2022 season without their "top-two" wide receivers from a season ago, Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson. Sure, these guys were aging veterans, but they were still the de facto top-two wideouts for Philadelphia.

Even after going wide receiver in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft (Jalen Reagor), the Eagles clearly prioritized the position in the 2021 NFL Draft, going with Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith. Talk about an alpha WR1, right? Per PlayerProfiler, Smith had a 51.3% College Dominator rating, which was in the 96th percentile of all pass-catchers. Simply put, he's going to command targets at the next level by creating space with his incredible route-running ability.

Outside of the Eagles' two sure-handed tight ends, Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz, no other pass-catchers will come close to Smith in terms of target share this season. 23% doesn't seem outlandish for the Alabama product. If we project a modest 33 pass attempts per game this season for Philadelphia, Smith would see close to 123 targets. Truthfully, that feels like his floor given the Eagles are likely going to be playing from behind quite a bit this season.


Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals

ADP: #94 Overall, WR37

Are you playing in a PPR league? If you answered yes, then you shouldn't leave your draft without the Bengals' slot receiver. In Weeks 1-11 last season with a healthy Joe Burrow, Boyd averaged 6.9 receptions and 71 yards on 8.7 targets per game. That's more targets than Cooper Kupp averaged all of last season (8.3). I'm not saying I'd draft Boyd over Kupp, but what I am saying is that Boyd is severely undervalued right now. And he's a better athlete than you might realize.

Boyd is undervalued because of one reason, and one reason alone. The Bengals drafted Burrow's former teammate, Ja'Marr Chase, with the fifth overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. There's no other explanation for Boyd to be ranked outside of the top-30 wide receivers this season, especially in PPR leagues. He hasn't finished lower than WR29 in any of the past three seasons and Burrow averaged 40.4 pass attempts per game last season.

Even in half-PPR leagues, he's still a guy I'll be targeting in the middle rounds of my fantasy drafts. In non-PPR leagues, however, consider me out on Boyd, as he's not much of a field-stretcher and relies on the short, underneath targets for his fantasy value.


Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens

ADP: #112 Overall, RB42

Did you know Edwards had four more carries inside the 10-yard line (17) than J.K. Dobbins (13) last season? You might think, well that's because Dobbins didn't see the field a whole lot until after the bye week. While that's somewhat true, let's take a look and see what the split was between Edwards and Dobbins after the rookie took over for Mark Ingram II in Week 8.

Dobbins averaged 12.1 carries per game from Week 8 on, while Edwards averaged 9.6 carries per game. That's only a difference of 2.5 carries per game. Why on Earth is Dobbins RB15 while Edwards is RB41? That's a great question. Both aren't utilized much in the passing game with Lamar Jackson at the helm, so there's no real advantage there. And both Dobbins and Edwards are utilized almost the same amount inside the 10-yard line.

And why wouldn't the Ravens continue giving Edwards a fair share of work? He's pretty good at this whole running back thing.

He's flex-worthy as it is in half-PPR and non-PPR leagues in particular. If Dobbins is forced to miss any time, we're talking about a possible RB2 in Gus Edwards. He's one of my favorite targets at running back in the middle rounds of fantasy drafts this season.


Corey Davis, New York Jets

ADP: #124 Overall, WR47

The Jets prioritized signing a true WR1 this offseason and they landed on Corey Davis, who for all intents and purposes, had a career year in 2020 with the Tennessee Titans. He averaged 6.6 targets per game and a career-best 10.7 yards per target on a team that averaged just the 30th-most pass attempts (30.1) per game. He finished the season as the WR32 on a points per game basis in PPR leagues.

Now he joins the Jets, a team desperate for a go-to option in the passing game. They drafted Elijah Moore, but they also signed Davis to a three-year, $37.M contract, making him the 20th-highest-paid wide receiver in average annual salary. It's clear the Jets have plans to get him the football.

Take one good look at his target share in the preseason, and you'll quickly realize why you should be all-in on Corey Davis this season.

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