The Fantasy Footballers Writing Staff Pre-NFL Draft Mock
It’s April but fantasy content never sleeps. Our writers have been eager to dive back into fantasy football after a winter break, so we decided to have our first official mock draft of the year. This mock draft was completed BEFORE the 2021 NFL draft – so player valuations will change soon!
Every experienced fantasy manager knows that player values are constantly changing. I find it to be a valuable exercise to do several serious mock drafts throughout the offseason. Afterward, you can compare player valuations and look at how they changed from April through August. Oftentimes, hype trains and coach speak will lead to big shifts in player average draft position (ADP). Similarly, players that aren’t talked about as much can slip and become draft day values. It helps to look at risers and fallers and ask “why?”. I, for one, am excited to revisit this article in August to compare ADP.
It was a blast to draft with some of the best minds in the fantasy industry as well as Matthew Betz. It would be a real shame if people started tweeting at my good friend Matthew Betz telling him he lost this draft. A real shame. His Twitter handle is @TheFantasyPT. So whatever you do, do NOT tweet at him telling him he lost the TFFB writers’ mock draft.
Alright, let’s get to it! Our writers’ first official mock draft of the 2021 season!
Note: As this took place before the NFL Draft, rookies were NOT included in this mock draft.
|1||Christian McCaffrey, RB||Dalvin Cook, RB||Saquon Barkley, RB||Derrick Henry, RB||Alvin Kamara, RB||Davante Adams, WR||Tyreek Hill, WR||Nick Chubb, RB||Ezekiel Elliott, RB||Aaron Jones, RB||Jonathan Taylor, RB||Antonio Gibson, RB|
With ten RBs going in the first round, it was clear that our writers followed the traditional “RB heavy” approach. Elite running backs are worth their weight in gold for fantasy football because they are the greatest difference makers when comparing replacement value from position to position. (Note: for more about positional replacement value, check out my article from last year analyzing data from the past decade). As with most fantasy drafts, there aren’t many surprises in the first couple of rounds. It is, however, interesting to see that Jason picked Ezekiel Elliot at the 1.09. He will be one of the most polarizing players this offseason because he was inefficient last year but also played with Andy Dalton under center. Coincidentally, Jason has always preached that he makes safe picks in the first round of fantasy drafts. In my opinion, Zeke is one of the riskiest players in fantasy (but could also be the best value in the draft).
Best Pick: Jonathan Taylor (1.11) | Worst Pick: Antonio Gibson (1.12)
|2||AJ Brown, WR||Stefon Diggs, WR||Miles Sanders, RB||George Kittle, TE||D’Andre Swift, RB||Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB||J.K. Dobbins, RB||Joe Mixon,
|DeAndre Hopkins, WR||Travis Kelce, TE||Cam Akers, RB||Austin Ekeler, RB|
RBs continue to be pushed up the board, accounting for 17 of the top-24 draft picks. However, we are already starting to see significantly more risk involved with some of the running backs in the second. Will J.K. Dobbins get a heavy workload? Will D’Andre Swift succeed on what looks like a poor Lions’ offense? What will Philly do with Sanders? Can CEH take a step forward next year?
Meanwhile, some of the writers went with more sure players at other positions. Most notably, Travis Kelce was drafted by Kyle at the 2.03. If he has another Travis Kelce year (which he has each of the past 4+ seasons), he is well worth the draft cost in the early second round. He’s a difference-maker that you can plug in and never have to worry about again. Kittle was taken at the end of the 2nd, which is fair value and he could potentially outproduce Kelce with a full healthy season.
Best Pick: Stefon Diggs (2.11) | Worst Pick: Cam Akers
|3||Calvin Ridley, WR||James Robinson, RB||Justin Jefferson, WR||Michael Thomas, WR||DK Metcalf, WR||Chris Carson, RB||David Montgomery, RB||Darren Waller, TE||Julio Jones, WR||Keenan Allen, WR||Melvin Gordon, RB||Allen Robinson, WR|
This is where we start to see more diversity with picks. Seven wide receivers were taken and we see a clear drop-off in RB talent. Every player taken in the third round has the upside to finish top-3 at their position. There is a strange mix of young up-and-comers (Justin Jefferson, James Robinson) as well as old-timers that could potentially be on their way out soon (Melvin Gordon, Julio Jones). Jason continues with his theme of older players that have a wide range of outcomes by picking Julio Jones. I think Julio will bounce back and be a great value, but one of these days he’s going to be past his prime. The James Robinson pick feels too early to me, but then again I like him significantly more than the other RB’s in this round, and the talent pool dries out quickly.
Best Pick: Julio Jones (3.09) | Worst Pick: James Robinson (3.02)
|4||Cooper Kupp, WR||Kenny Golladay, WR||Robert Woods, WR||Josh Jacobs, RB||Chris Godwin, WR||Patrick Mahomes, QB||Terry McLaurin, WR||Mike Evans, WR||Raheem Mostert, RB||Amari Cooper, WR||Kareem Hunt, RB||D.J. Moore, WR|
As we got into the middle rounds, our writers started to shoot their shots. We see Pat Mahomes taken in the middle of the fourth, which is probably later than you’d see in typical home leagues. As the first QB taken, the fourth round is decent value. My favorite pick of this round is Terry McLaurin. The guy is just a baller and produces no matter what. Meanwhile, I am not a big fan of the Raheem Mostert pick. If he stays healthy and gets a heavy workload, Mostert will certainly be a steal at a fourth-round cost…and it’s worth mentioning that my internet boss Kyle Juszczyk pumped him up during the TFFB interview a couple of weeks ago. However, no one’s workload is guaranteed in San Francisco similar to how we view the Patriots’ RBs.
Best Pick: Terry McLaurin (4.06) | Worst Pick: Raheem Mostert (4.04)
|5||Adam Thielen, WR||CeeDee Lamb, WR||Tee Higgins, WR||Brandon Aiyuk, WR||Mark Andrews, TE||Diontae Johnson, WR||Myles Gaskin, RB||Courtland Sutton, WR||Tyler Lockett, WR||Odell Beckham Jr., WR||DJ Chark, WR||Tyler Boyd, WR|
As we entered the fifth round, our writers were still punting on the QB position and focusing on other skill positions. We see an influx of rookie receivers who could take a big leap forward in CeeDee Lamb, Tee Higgins, and Brandon Aiyuk. Meanwhile, the RB depth has dropped off big time. While every draft is different, this is exactly why I try to draft RB’s early and then load up on WR’s – the WR talent in the middle rounds is significantly better than RB’s!
I took a shot on a player I think will surprise people this year in a good way: Mark Andrews. I think Andrews is the type of touchdown machine that can get it done with low volume, and he’s a plug-and-play guy. That being said, I realize now I probably could have waited another round to draft Andrews..and I now regret not drafting a WR and hoping he’d return in Round 6.
Best Pick: CeeDee Lamb (5.02) | Worst Pick: Mark Andrews (5.05)
|6||Lamar Jackson, QB||Robby Anderson, WR||T.J. Hockenson, TE||Jarvis Landry, WR||Deebo Samuel, WR||Ronald Jones II, RB||Will Fuller V, WR||Chase Edmonds,
|Josh Allen, QB||David Johnson, RB||JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR||Kyler Murray, QB|
Several QB’s were drafted in the sixth round now that we had a few RB’s and WR’s rostered. LJax, Josh Allen, and Kyler are all fine picks here and should provide decent production at their cost. It is worth noting that if you land a plug-and-play QB, it opens up your roster for other position players…unlike those who wait on QB and then end up rostering multiple QB’s throughout much of the season. Meanwhile…Will Fuller, Chase Edmonds, Deebo Samuel, and T.J. Hockenson present the best upside among players drafted in round 6. I am a huge Deebo Samuel fan – and it seems like he is the forgotten man.
Best Pick: Deebo Samuel (6.08) | Worst Pick: Robby Anderson (6.11)
|7||Leonard Fournette, RB||Curtis Samuel, WR||Chase Claypool, WR||Dak Prescott, QB||Brandin Cooks, WR||Jerry Jeudy,
|Michael Gallup, WR||Marquise Brown, WR||James Conner, RB||Damien Harris, RB||Dallas Goedert, TE||Laviska Shenault Jr., WR|
As our writers got into the later rounds, the tight end position became very thin. The RBs and WRs available here carry a lot of risk. Meanwhile, the QB pool remained solid. The paradox of drafting a QB in the middle rounds is that there are talented QBs available but it’s such an easy position to replace / stream. So the hit rate of QBs is greater here relative to the other positions but the upside for WR’s, RB’s, and TE’s is greater.
I really like the Dak Prescott and Laviska Shenault picks the most in this round. If Dak never got injured last year, he would probably be drafted in the 3rd round. I expect his ADP to rise as we get closer to September. Meanwhile, Laviska has a ton of talent and I get butterflies in my stomach thinking about his potential with Trevor Lawrence (although it could also work out terribly).
Best Pick: Dak Prescott (7.04) | Worst Pick: James Conner (7.09)
|A.J. Dillon, RB||Noah Fant, TE||Russell Wilson, QB||Zack Moss, RB||Aaron Rodgers, QB||Allen Lazard, WR||Jamison Crowder, WR||Michael Pittman Jr., WR||Jalen Reagor, WR||Corey Davis, WR||Justin Herbert, QB||Kenyan Drake, RB|
In the later rounds, our writers started throwing darts. Why not? The hit rate in later rounds is pretty low across all positions. It was that exact thinking that led me to pick Aaron Rodgers, who has been a stud every year of his career outside of 2019.
I think Noah Fant is a great value here, but I also love the Michael Pittman and Jalen Reagor picks. These are 2nd-year receivers with new QB’s that could take big leap forward.
Best Pick: Michael Pittman (8.05) | Worst Pick: Zack Moss (8.09)
Rest of the Draft
Ultimately, the best pick of the draft was by yours truly with Pat Ricard in the 13th. I needed a guy who could block for my other RB’s and really just unite the locker room. I had to stay #OnBrand with Fullbacks, although I meant to grab Kyle Juszczyk in round 12 but forget.
In all seriousness, it was a lot of fun to do a real draft with our team. It gave us a template to work off of as we start to develop our 2021 draft day strategies. My initial thought is that I will probably stay with my typical strategy of trying to go RB heavy early and then hammer WR for the middle rounds. However, it all depends on what’s on the board. It was interesting to see where the QBs and TEs were taken. I have a feeling that despite my Aaron Rodgers pick in the mock draft, I’ll probably punt on QB because there are so many great options. Also, I’m realizing Gus Edwards will probably become my favorite late-round target because he has a ton of upside if the stars align, and he’s an underrated back. My favorite teams from the mock draft are Betz, Kacey, Peter, Marvin, and myself. Overall, I think everyone did a pretty good job with roster construction – and naturally, I’m going to gravitate toward teams that have “my guys” as my favorites.
Whose team do YOU like the most? Hit us up on twitter!
Oh…and a reminder that you should definitely NOT tweet at Matthew Betz (@TheFantasyPT) to tell him his mock draft was the worst you’ve ever seen. That would be rude. And I would never give out his Twitter handle in one of my articles. It would be a shame if that happened.