2021 Fantasy Football PPR Mock Draft (12 Teams)
Throughout the offseason, you will see plenty of mock drafts analyzed on this site. While their peak value isn’t realized until August, there is still something to gain from conducting them at various times before draft season.
Obviously, much will change between February and August, and this particular mock does not yet have the benefits of the 2021 rookie class, but you can still derive value from an early mock. An early February mock draft can give you an idea of where players stand and provide a baseline for price changes over the coming months.
For this mock draft using our free mock draft simulator, I decided to go with the fourth spot. This is for a 12-team, PPR league with one QB, three WRs, two RBs, one TE, and one flex. I removed kickers and defenses because there isn’t any need to include them, especially this early in the process.
1.04: Dalvin Cook (RB – MIN)
Perhaps the most important lesson I learned from 2020 was that even though RB-RB is the optimal strategy, it only works if there are quality running backs worth taking. I am committed to going running back early and often if I can. When picking fourth, that will always be the case.
There’s a non-zero chance this is Jonathan Taylor by the time August rolls around, but for now, Dalvin Cook is as safe as it gets. He’s locked into a three-down role and has proven job security. Even if he gets hurt, no matter how well his replacements perform, he’s getting his job back. The same goes for Ezekiel Elliott, who was also considered, but Cook is a much better player.
2.09: Travis Kelce (TE – KC)
I conducted this mock hours after the draft simulator was updated for 2021. I committed to making the best pick in each round without applying the “in actual drafts, this player won’t be there” card. Travis Kelce is not making it out of the first round of any 2021 draft, but I will not pass on him here for that reason.
If he does somehow make it into the second round, he’s a must-draft. Kelce averaged 4.1 more PPG than the TE2, Darren Waller, in 2020. When you compare Kelce to every tight end not named Darren Waller, you quickly realize he was the single biggest advantage in fantasy football.
3.04: Antonio Gibson (RB – WAS)
Given that it is only February, the main point I want to make here is to take a running back in the third round if a quality one remains. My options here were Antonio Gibson, Joe Mixon, Miles Sanders, and Cam Akers. Quite frankly, it could’ve been any one of these guys. In my next mock, as we gain more information about the 2021 landscape, my choice may change.
For now, I’m quite bullish on Gibson’s usage for the upcoming season, and I have zero questions about his talent. Mixon has burned me twice now (but I still believe in him). Akers could be a strong pick and may very well be the guy next time, but Gibson showed more in 2020. Sanders is the least talented of these four by a significant margin and is on a clueless franchise. I like Gibson to build on his impressive rookie campaign.
4.09: Diontae Johnson (WR – PIT)
It was extremely close between Diontae Johnson and Mike Evans, who is as safe as it gets. Evans is a lock for 1,000 yards playing alongside Tom Brady. One of the most talented receivers in the league, Johnson is elite at generating separation. He’ll be 25 years old this season and is only getting better. Evans, while still great, has his best years behind him. Ben Roethlisberger cannot push the ball downfield anymore, but he’s still significantly better than the alternatives. If he retires, or the Steelers don’t bring him back and don’t acquire a competent replacement, this would flip to Evans.
5.04: Chris Carson (RB – SEA)
Coming off a down year and never particularly special, Chris Carson feels like a boring pick. But he’s the exact type of pick that bolsters a draft. Pete Carroll loves Carson more than any coach loves any player in the NFL. Carson has injury risk, but in the fifth round as my RB3, I’ll gladly solidify my backfield with a guy I know is commanding a 60% opportunity share when on the field, especially since he’s playing in a system that would never pass the ball if it could get away with it.
6.09: Courtland Sutton (WR – DEN)
I’m very curious to see how Courtland Sutton’s ADP fluctuates over the offseason. Coming off a torn ACL, it seems many people have forgotten about him. That could change quickly once we see him back on the field in training camp or preseason games as everyone is reminded of his tremendous talent. Denver has quarterback uncertainty, but Sutton broke out with a medley of bad quarterbacks in 2019. He has legitimate WR1 upside. If he remains a sixth-rounder, he’s going to be on many of my teams this season.
7.04: Deshaun Watson (QB – HOU)
The sixth round is where I start looking at quarterbacks. As J.J. Zachariason discussed in one of his recent podcast episodes, the late-round quarterback strategy may morph into the middle-round quarterback strategy. There are approximately 10 quarterbacks I’m OK starting, and my goal is to get as close as I can to the top of that list without burning a high pick.
We still don’t know where Deshaun Watson will play in 2021 (my guess is Houston). Regardless, he’s proven to be an elite fantasy producer regardless of the situation. If Watson ends up somewhere terrible and the Cowboys extend Dak Prescott, this could change. Either way, I feel comfortable enough with Johnson and Sutton at wide receiver — plus Kelce as my top pass-catcher at TE — to go quarterback here.
8.09: Leonard Fournette (RB – FA)
I would be shocked if Leonard Fournette returned to Tampa Bay this season. With that said, Fournette’s postseason run almost certainly earned him an opportunity to start somewhere. Wherever he ends up will impact Fournette’s ADP heavily. For now, this seems reasonable, and I’m happy to take Fournette as my RB4 as I continue to gamble on my ability to find wide receivers at what should be a deep position.
9.04: Laviska Shenault Jr. (WR – JAC)
The best values in fantasy football are typically second and third-year wide receivers that haven’t broken out yet. Laviska Shenault Jr. showed some flashes as a rookie, but no one is looking at him like he’s a sure thing. Although one was in Week 17, Shenault closed out the season with his two best fantasy games of the year. With the Jaguars likely to draft quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Shenault locked into the WR2 role opposite D.J. Chark without much other competition, he’s exactly the type of upside pick we’re looking for in the late rounds.
10.09: Logan Thomas (TE – WAS)
I didn’t plan on taking a second tight end behind Kelce, but Logan Thomas presented the best value. At this point, I need two more wide receivers, and everyone remaining is mostly a dart throw. I have enough players in mind that I’m not worried about going with a second tight end here. If Thomas ascends into a top-five tight end, I can trade Kelce.
11.04: Ja’Marr Chase (WR – ?)
With rookie wide receivers performing so well in 2020, we may see similar price inflation in ADP that we saw in 2015. Right now, it’s impossible to accurately gauge the value of any rookie without knowing the landing spot. In general, rookie wide receivers typically don’t go that high because they rarely produce in their first year. Ja’Marr Chase could burst out of the gate strong because he’s just that talented. I have no use for solid guys like John Brown and Mike Williams. There are always receivers on the waiver wire to plug in for a decent target floor. I’m Chase-ing the 2021 version of Justin Jefferson. See what I did there? Don’t worry … we’re almost done.
12.09: Preston Williams (WR – MIA)
If Preston Williams could only stay healthy, I’d fully expect a WR3 season. As my WR5, I will gladly take a shot on that upside. Other players considered here: Denzel Mims (would like to see who’s playing quarterback for the Jets first); Jalen Reagor (not writing him off yet); Parris Campbell (I believe in the talent, but am worried about where he falls with T.Y. Hilton and Michael Pittman Jr.); Jaylen Waddle (didn’t want to double up on rookies).
13.04: Javonte Williams (RB – ?)
This early in the process, I have no idea which running backs are worth a shot. Every back remaining is a backup or a third-stringer who looks pretty hopeless. Why not throw a dart at Javonte Williams? Whoever drafts him will likely have a situation where he has a chance to climb the depth chart.
- QB: Deshaun Watson
- RB: Dalvin Cook, Antonio Gibson, Chris Carson, Leonard Fournette, Javonte Williams
- WR: Diontae Johnson, Courtland Sutton, Laviska Shenault Jr., Ja’Marr Chase, Preston Williams
- TE: Travis Kelce, Logan Thomas
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