Fantasy Football: Safest draft picks in Rounds 1-10

·Yahoo Fantasy Contributor
·5-min read

Although we are all looking for league-winning upside picks, we also need to draft some anchors for our fantasy football teams. After all, a team full of boom-or-bust players — especially in the early rounds — is going to lead to a couple of hits but too many misses to fill out a competitive roster.

Running back definitely isn’t the position to target when looking for safe picks, as the physical nature of that role leads to more injuries. That being said, fantasy teams need running backs, so I made it a goal to include at least a couple ball carriers in this article.

Here are the safest picks in each round, using 10-team leagues and Yahoo ADP as our guide:

Round 1 – Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers

Jones narrowly squeaks into the first-round discussion with his 9th overall ADP, but I see him as an ultra-safe RB option. The 26-year-old’s workload has been carefully managed by the Packers, which should ensure a few more productive seasons. And with Aaron Rodgers fully committed for 2022, Green Bay will almost certainly be among the league leaders in total yards and points scored. A.J. Dillon replaces Jamaal Williams as the rusher who steals some carries for Jones, but the good news is that Dillon is less of a threat to take away pass targets.

Round 2 – Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs

Although I usually can’t get behind the selection of a QB in Rd. 2, I have to say that the safety of Mahomes is unparalleled. The 25-year-old is heading into his prime years as the best QB in the NFL and if not for one missed game last season would have tallied 5,000 passing yards in two of the past three seasons. It’s hard to imagine a healthy Mahomes finishing outside the top tier at his position.

Round 3 – DK Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks

A physical marvel, Metcalf is just getting rolling on what should be a memorable career. He has the skills to be considered a safe pick, and he also benefits from playing alongside football’s most durable QB, Russell Wilson. Additionally, Russ has no choice but to regularly target Metcalf, as Seattle lacks a dynamic third WR, a star TE, or a pass-catching RB.

[More draft tips: Round-by-round values | Who to avoid in Rounds 1-10]

Round 4 – Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

Allen is still on the right side of 30, has averaged 101 catches over the past four seasons, and works in tandem with a budding star in Justin Herbert. Mic drop.

Round 5 – Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Rams

The 5th round is generally lacking in terms of safe picks, but Woods sticks out as a good option. Like Allen, Woods is still under 30 and has had several productive, durable seasons in a row. And unlike Allen, Woods is set for a major QB upgrade this year, as the Rams switch from Jared Goff to Matt Stafford. The USC alum also averaged 142 rushing yards per season from 2019-20, which is a sneaky stat bonus that some managers don’t notice.

Round 6 – Russell Wilson / Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks

I’ll cheat the rules and cram two teammates into this pick. As I mentioned when discussing Metcalf, the Seahawks' top-two WRs should once again log heavy workloads due to a lack of explosive playmakers at other positions. And Wilson’s extreme durability (he has never missed a game) makes him one of the most dependable players to draft.

Russell Wilson #3 encourages Tyler Lockett #16 of the Seattle Seahawks
The duo of Russell Wilson and Tyler Lockett is as safe as it gets in fantasy. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Round 7 – Mike Davis, RB, Atlanta Falcons

Round 7 seems to be the point in the draft where secure options start to dry up. I don’t see Davis as a high-ceiling player, but he will get plenty of opportunities in an Atlanta offense that lacks other RB options. And as Davis showed last year while filling in for Christian McCaffrey in Carolina, he can be a serviceable RB2 in fantasy leagues when the opportunity arises. Davis’ safety score is boosted by the fact that he can get involved in the passing game (59 catches in 2020).

Round 8 – Chase Claypool, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

The Rd. 8 safety level is even lower than that of Rd. 7. I can’t choose Ja’Marr Chase, as we don’t know how Joe Burrow will distribute his pass attempts. And I can’t recommend oft-injured players such as Kenny Golladay or Raheem Mostert. Instead, I’ll choose Claypool, who showed exciting big-play potential in his rookie season. Claypool is part of a deep WR group in Pittsburgh, but at 6’4" the Notre Dame product can use his size to do things his teammates can’t. There is little doubt in my mind that Claypool will have a significant role.

Round 9 – Robby Anderson, WR, Carolina Panthers

Anderson has been quietly consistent in his career, producing at least 750 yards in his final three seasons with the Jets before exploding for 1,096 yards in his initial year with the Panthers. He had that success without the benefit of elite QBs or winning teams, which makes me believe that he can have another productive year in 2021, as the Sam Darnold experiment rolls into Carolina.

Round 10 – JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

Like Claypool, Smith-Schuster will have a major role in the Steelers' offense. Still just 24 years old, the USC alum has averaged 77 catches across his initial four NFL seasons and scored a career-high nine times last year. And after opting for a one-year contract in the offseason, Smith-Schuster enters 2021 with massive motivation to have a big year and earn a long-term deal.

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