2021 Fantasy Football Week 1 Vampire League Starters

by Travis Argo
2021 Fantasy Football Vampire League Starters

Welcome to the 2021 Fantasy Football Week 1 Vampire League Starters article!

Let's answer the question you've been asking yourself since you clicked on this article. What the hell is a vampire league?

For real, here are the rules for vampire leagues. One player is the vampire; they can not draft; they have to build a team with the waiver wire. The people who draft a team can not use the waiver wire or trade for the whole season. The team you draft is what you're stuck with for the season. If a Fantasy owner loses a week to the vampire, the vampire gets to take a player from that person's starting lineup and trades the loser a player of the same position.

Those are the basic rules for the vampire league; feel free to modify it any way you want, especially this year with the uncertainty with COVID. My vampire league decided to allow trading among the drafters, and the non-vampire teams have set an amount of waive-wire adds (two).

So there is at least one way the managers can improve their teams and give them a chance to replace some players if struck by COVID. This rule change forces the vampire to be more aware of who is on the waiver wire and keeps them from using the wire as extended bench spots.

2021 Fantasy Football Week 1 Vampire League Starters

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Now that we've covered a vampire league's basics, it's time for me to help the vampires build their starting lineup.

I will start this article with a premature statement (I know what I'm talking about when it comes to premature matters)  roster-building will be the most challenging part of being the vampire in your league, especially Week 1. Of course, we have no idea what teams' offenses will look like and which teams improved their defense, so excuse me in any of my narrative-based points.

I have a few suggestions at each position to help build the best lineup so that you can steal a player from your future victims. Let's kick off the 2021 NFL season with the 2021 Fantasy Football Week 1 Vampire League Starters. 


Sam Darnold, Carolina Panthers

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Since we know nothing about the 2021 NFL season, let's lean into the revenge game narrative that will follow Sam Darnold in Week One. 

Darnold is away from Adam Gase and his constipated offense. Seriously, Darnold had games last season where his air-yards-per-attempt were 1.83, 1.30, and 3.96.

It's safe to say that Matt Rhule and Joe Brady will improve Darnold's air-yards-per-attempt and will give him every chance to prove himself. The Panthers averaged 63.8 offensive snaps last season, with the conservative pass-throwing of Teddy Bridgewater; hopefully, Darnold will provide more of a gunslinger mentality to the Panthers' offense. He should be able to have a high-power offense with his upgraded weapons and significantly improved offensive line.

It's not like the Jets' defense is something to fear; they allowed 19.7 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks last season. However, over the previous four weeks of last season, the Jets allowed 21.2 fantasy points per game to QBs. Robert Saleh is an excellent defensive play-caller, but I don't think he is that good enough to completely turn around the Jets' terrible defense in one offseason.

Zach Wilson, New York Jets

I told everyone how the Jets' defense would not provide much of a struggle for Darnold; well, that same logic applies to the Panthers' defense and Zach Wilson. 

The Panthers allowed 20.1 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks last season. Despite their offseason and draft additions, this defense is far from a top-15 defense that would smother a rookie QB.

Wilson looked pretty good in the preseason games and has reliable enough weapons in Corey Davis, Jamison Crowder (if he returns in time from COVID protocols). In addition, Elijah Moore is to do some damage against the Panthers' defense. However, Week 1 is the time for vampires to make risky moves, and betting on Wilson to have a breakout game is a much better option than taking a safe option like Teddy Bridgewater against the Giants.

Running Backs

Phillip Lindsay, Houston Texans 

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I mentioned how vampires have to take risks if they want a victory to steal players; well, the running back position is where we have to be more frugal. Phillip Lindsay in your starting lineup isn't sexy, but he has a few things going for him in Week One.

The Texans backfield is crowded. They are determined to take a committee approach, but Lindsay is the youngest and most explosive back in Houston, which means his carries will most likely be the most efficient on the team. Moreover, he has a 4.8 yards-per-attempt career average so that Lindsay can provide fantasy value for vampires even in this clustered committee. Hopefully, the Texans coaching recognizes that their early-down work is best suited for Lindsay and not old-man Ingram and the oft-injured Johnson. 

Another positive in Lindsay's favor is that the game script against the Jaguars could go in their favor to where they will not be forced to abandon the run game.

The Jaguars' defense allowed the third-most fantasy points (30.8 points per game) to running backs last season, and their offseason did nothing to improve that defense, so it's unlikely that will be different this year.

Tevin Coleman, New York Jets

Regarding choosing efficient backs in committees, Tevin Coleman is heading into Week One against the Panthers as the committee leader.

In games over the past two seasons where Coleman took 40 percent or more of his team's snaps, he averages 3.7 yards-per-attempt and 5.6 yards-per-target. 

That should be decent enough to do some damage against a Panthers defense who allowed 25.5 fantasy points per game to running backs last season.

Wide Receivers

Zach Pascal, Indianapolis Colts

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I feel that many fantasy managers will remember that Zach Pascal is a decent wide receiver that the Colts use a ton in Week One.

He played more than 60 percent of the Colts snaps in all 16 games last season, and now that T.Y. Hilton is on the injured reserve list, Pascal is set to have the Colts' second-largest target share.

The Colts utilized Pascal in their offense last season, he averaged 4.4 targets per game, and that was with old-man Rivers behind center. However, Carson Wentz is on track to start Week One, and he can sling the ball farther and make more out of Pascal's targets.

It also bodes well that he faces the Seahawks, who allowed the third-most fantasy points to wide receivers and allowed 58.9 yards per game to number-two wide receivers last season.

Jalen Reagor, Philadelphia Eagles

Jalen Reagor did not have a stellar rookie season and didn't prove he was worth the first-round draft pick.

But it's a new season, and he is still a gifted athlete, and his Week One matchup against the Falcons will provide him a chance to prove that.

The Falcons allowed the most fantasy points to wide receivers, allowing 44.6 fantasy points per game to wide receivers last year.

Jalen Reagor and Jalen Hurts only played in three full games last season, and in those games, Reagor averaged 6.3 targets and 12.5 yards-per-reception. So maybe this chemistry from the previous season will carry over to this season.

Tight End

Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles

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Let's face it, tight end is a play and pray position. However, there are a few reasons why the prayer of Zach Ertz will pay off for vampires.

He faces the Falcons, who allowed the fourth-most fantasy points and the most red-zone targets to tight ends last season. Plus, they allowed 60.2 yards per game to tight ends last year.

Ertz had the lowest touchdown total of his career last season. However, it's reasonable to believe his touchdowns will increase, considering he's still athletic and tall enough to snag balls in the red zone.

Ertz could end up being the more fantasy-relevant Eagles tight end, but we'll have to wait and see how the Eagles use him in the new offense.


Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons

I know everyone is high on Kyle Pitts and believes he'll be the second option in the Falcons' offense, but don't forget about Russell Gage. He could have a solid product, especially for vampires for Week One and the rest of the season.

Last season, Gage averaged 6.8 targets, and that was with Julio Jones. So with Jones gone, it's plausible that Gage will increase his target share this season.

In Week One, he faces the Eagles, who allowed wide receivers 40.2 fantasy points per game. The Eagles' secondary struggled to stop number-two wide receivers, allowing 67.4 yards per game last season.

Gage won't have explosive plays that win you a week, but he is a safe option to help you succeed.

Defense/Special Teams

Minnesota Vikings

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The Vikings face the Bengals, who allowed 48 sacks and 24 turnovers last season. Plus, the Bengals did nothing to improve their terrible offensive line. It will also be Joe Burrow's first game back after suffering his torn ACL. 

These are all the ingredients Mike Zimmer will need to cause chaos and havoc on the Bengals' offense.

Check out our 2020 Fantasy Football content from our excellent staff of writers here!

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