Mike Davis Updated Fantasy Outlook: Locked-in Falcons Bell-Cow After 2021 NFL Draft - Roto Street Journal
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Mike Davis Updated Fantasy Outlook: Locked-in Falcons Bell-Cow After 2021 NFL Draft

Here’s a sentence I never expected to type: Mike Davis is, without question, the single biggest fantasy winner of the 2021 NFL Draft and offseason in general.

Bucking everyone’s expectation, the Falcons did not spend a single selection on a running back. This, despite a depth chart containing just Davis, Cordarelle Patterson, and Qadree Ollison. Ha!

Instead, Atlanta bolstered an already dominant weapons cabinet with Kyle Pitts, a generational TE, all while adding interior line beef.

The result? An offense that should border on unstoppable.

If new HC Arthur Smith brings the same hyper-efficient, run-centric Titans attack, Davis will be a centerpiece within this juggernaut. Let’s dig deeper into his 2021 Fantasy Outlook.

Talent: A Three-down, Tackle-Breaking Machine

Davis isn’t flashy. He won’t provide weekly “wow” plays or scorched turf.

Still, Davis is the exact type of runner Smith covets. He’s a physical, tackle-breaking bruiser who can thrive amidst poor blocking and on all three downs.

Among all RBs with 160+ carries Davis trailed only Nick Chubb in missed tackles per rush. He ranked fourth in total broken tackles and 14th in yards after contact. The man is a hard-charger who can get far more than what’s blocked — crucial given the question marks on this offensive line.

After doing his best CMac-lite impression, Davis proved to be a capable receiver. He snared 84% of his 76 targets (5th most), while forcing more missed tackles as a receiver than Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt, and Aaron Jones per PFF.

In short: Davis creates yardage for himself no matter his role; a poor man’s Derrick Henry as a runner with far better receiving chops.

Usage & Scheme: Who else to feed but Davis?

As mentioned, this depth chart consists of a gadget player, short-yardage plodder, and UDFA Javian Hawkins. Hawkins does bring some juice, but still: this projects to be the Davis show.

In his two seasons calling plays, Smith’s Titans ranked 10th and second in respective rushing attempts, third and second in rush yards, and second in rush TDs both years.

Yes, having a human steamroller like Henry influences playcalling and results. Additionally, hard-nosed HC Mike Vrabel likely influenced Smith’s approach.

Still, Smith crafted a creative run-game that thrived on blending wide-zone concepts with unique power-staples, akin to Greg Roman‘s creative run scheme with the Ravens.

Smith grew excited describing this rushing-backbone of his attack:

“Yeah, it is a blend of a lot of the offenses that I’ve been in,” Smith said. “We certainly ran the wide zone in Tennessee with Derrick. But we did a lot more of the power stuff that (former Titans head coach and Falcons offensive coordinator) Mike (Mularkey) was talking about. … A lot of times with different (blocking) schemes. It may look like a little bit like an inside-zone play, but it’s really power without a (pulling lineman).

“That was a staple play when I worked for Mularkey. We had Russ Grimm as our (offensive) line coach. That was a big run staple for us with Demarco Murray (in 2016 and 2017) and Derrick when he was younger. It’s a blend of that. We wanted to be a wide-zone, but a nasty, powerful team as well. We had a pretty good blend of that in Tennessee.”

Little stands in Davis’ way from 250-300 touches within this infinitely effective run-scheme.

Surrounding Talent: TD Opportunites Aplenty for Davis

Entering the 2021 Draft, the Falcons already boasted some of the league’s highest-powered weaponry. They then added the unstoppable Kyle Pitts at their only weak position, becoming borderline indefensible.

Meanwhile, Smith is an elite Red Zone playcaller. In his two seasons calling plays, the Titans ranked 1st and 2nd in Red Zone efficiency, scoring on 77.3% and 74.2% of their trips inside-the-20. In contrast, the Falcons ranked 25th and 26th  with 51.6% and 53.4% TD rates in that same span.

As long as Smith doesn’t get cute at the stripe with Ollison, Davis carries genuine 12-15 TD upside given the Falcons could lead the NFL in 2021 scoring.

Summary: Mike Davis Drips in 2021 Fantasy RB1 Upside

No, Davis isn’t Henry. He also isn’t Christian McCaffrey, yet still feasted as the RB12 while doing his best impression.

Davis brings enough power and pass-catching chops to thrive on the massive workload he should see in 2021. Smith crafts one of the NFL’s finest run-games, this offense could lead the NFL in TDs,  and there’s no one on the depth chart to threaten Davis’ volume in this gorgeous set-up.

Davis rises from RB28 all the way to my RB19 (+8 ECR) and OVR36 (+26). If no one else is added and these prices hold strong, Davis will be on every single one of my 2021 fantasy rosters.

Floor Projection: 230 touches (25 rec), 1020 YFS, 8 TDs

Ceiling Projection: 300 touches (45 rec), 1300 YFS, 15 TDs

Actual Projection: 270 touches (35 rec), 1150 YFS, 10 TDs

Check out The Wolf’s latest 2021 Fantasy Football Big Board & Rankings to see where all the rookies and veterans fall following the NFL Draft!

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Author

  • Founder of Roto Street Journal. Lover of workhorse backs, target hog wideouts, and Game of Thrones. Aspiring to be the "Brady" and "Leo" of the fantasy universe.

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