Clay: What I learned while doing 2021 fantasy football projections

Running back Alvin Kamara has been a fantasy star, but how will his production be impacted by the retirement of quarterback Drew Brees? Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

If you're not already aware, I'm the guy who does the fantasy football player projections here at ESPN.

Although some would swear the projection numbers are totally automated or randomly generated, I assure you they are not. I have a lengthy process that involves statistical calculations and subjective inputs. The latter is where this piece truly comes in handy. To begin each NFL season, I go team by team and thoroughly analyze historical league, team, coach and player trends. From there, on the player level, I generate projected dropback, carry and target shares for each player.

I recently completed that process and -- same as in recent years -- took notes. Below are my observations (including at least one for all 32 teams) as well as a brief application to fantasy football in 2021.

Be sure to also check out our sortable player projection page (the 17-game season has been applied) and my detailed and printable 2021 NFL Projection Guide for each team.

1. I spent some time looking at injury rates while compiling this article, so apologies in advance for it being a bit oversaturated with "games missed" data. That said, I did come across something interesting. We know injuries are an unfortunate but common occurrence in the NFL, and that shows up in a big way when you look at the number of players who have appeared in all 32 of their team's regular-season games over the past two seasons. At QB, the number is nine. It's 20 at WR, 14 at RB and 15 at TE. Pretty wild, right? Only four of the 15 tight ends were atop their respective team's depth chart all of last season; only five of the WRs are guys we'd consider weekly fantasy starters; and literally zero of the RBs are starters. If you enter your draft expecting a full 16 (now 17) games from your starters, you're living in Fantasyland (figuratively and literally). Make sure you're always working the waiver wire and making trades in order to keep your bench loaded with good replacement options when injuries inevitably strike.

2. Looking at head coach Kliff Kingsbury's two seasons with Arizona, the Cardinals' offense