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Dynasty Startup Mock Draft: PPR (2021 Fantasy Football)

by Matt Barbato | @realmattbarbato | Featured Writer
Feb 12, 2021

One of the best things to come out of 2020 was that I played dynasty fantasy football for the first time. If you’re a dedicated fantasy football player — and let’s face it, you must be one if you’re reading fantasy content in February — then you’ll love a dynasty league.

Dynasty leagues challenge you to think differently about the NFL and the players on your fantasy team. Rather than just trying to assemble the best possible team for one season, drafting in a dynasty league requires a balance between trying to win now while keeping an eye on the future.

Using our Draft Wizard, I sat down and conducted a dynasty startup mock draft with the sixth pick in a 12-team, PPR, 1-QB league. As you’ll see, finding that balance was much easier said than done.

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1.6: Nick Chubb (RB – CLE)
The 6th pick in a dynasty startup is a tough spot. You’ll most likely miss out on the top four running backs to start your franchise with Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara. In this situation, those four tailbacks and Jonathan Taylor were off the board.

So what’s a drafter to do? Top receivers Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill were still on the board, but I felt running back was the better value.

Ultimately, my decision came down to Chubb and Derrick Henry. It was hard passing up the No. 3 tailback in PPR formats last year, but Henry just scares me. First off, he’s 27 years old. Second, he has a ton of tread on his tires already. Call me crazy, but I don’t see him staying healthy if another 378 carries are on deck.

Chubb is an elite talent, and I don’t mind him being in a timeshare with Kareem Hunt. Keep in mind that Chubb finished 11th among running backs last season despite missing four games and having Hunt in the fold. I’ll roll the dice with him as my featured back for years to come.

2.7: Stefon Diggs (WR – BUF)
Round 2 presented me with a handful of enticing options. I could’ve loaded up at running back by taking D’Andre Swift, taken by far the best quarterback in Patrick Mahomes, or pivoted to tight end and snagged George Kittle.

In the end, I decided to focus my attention on wide receiver to create more balance. I like Swift but don’t love him as a second-round pick. And in a 1-QB league with no tight end premium, it’s hard to justify selecting Mahomes or Kittle.

I always thought Diggs had the talent to be a WR1 in the NFL, and he finally joined a team that allowed him to be one. Needless to say, Diggs thrived, finishing as the WR3 in PPR leagues last season. Josh Allen might only get better, and Diggs is in the middle of his prime at just 27 years old. Barring injury, I can bank on at least a few more elite years of production. I chose Diggs over Calvin Ridley in Round 2.

3.6: Cam Akers (RB – LAR)
Interestingly, Ridley was still on the board in the middle of Round 3. However, young running backs are a more valuable commodity in dynasty leagues. And I’m thrilled to get Akers in the third round.

I’m really encouraged by how Akers finished his rookie campaign. In his last seven games, including the playoffs, the rookie rushed for 645 yards and four touchdowns. Matthew Stafford’s arrival adds more credibility to Los Angeles’ passing game, which should lighten the box for Akers and the run game. The Rams need to improve its offensive line, but Akers has serious upside entering his second season.

4.7: Keenan Allen (WR – LAC)
Round 4 presented some intriguing options for my WR2. Allen, Mike Evans, Kenny Golladay were all on the board. Allen is the oldest of the bunch, but he’s only 28, and his sharp route-running skills will age better than Evans or Golladay’s style.

Plus, Allen is attached to an exciting young quarterback, Justin Herbert. Meanwhile, Mike Evans might have two years maximum with Tom Brady, while Golladay could leave in free agency and will be stuck with Jared Goff in Detroit if he doesn’t.

Again, not every player in your dynasty draft has to be a young, upstart player. Sometimes taking the established vet can be the better move. In this case, Allen is the top choice on the board.

5.6: Josh Allen (QB – BUF) 
Quarterbacks have more value in a dynasty league than a redraft league. And with no great options at tailback or receiver on the board, I feel like this is the time to land my franchise passer for years to come.

Kyler Murray is ranked higher in our FantasyPros Consensus Rankings, but I’m taking the more proven player in Allen. Murray has a higher ceiling as a rusher, but Allen is the more polished passer and offers plenty of rushing upside himself.

After seeing what Allen and Diggs did together this season, I’m pretty excited to lock-up this combo.

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6.7: Ronald Jones (RB – TB)
Running back is drying up awfully quick. Chase Claypool and Brandon Aiyuk caught my eyes in this round, but I decided to add another young tailback in RoJo.

I admit I’m not a huge fan of Jones. However, he’s only 23 years old and rushed for 979 yards and seven scores in his third season for the Super Bowl champs. There’s a chance Leonard Fournette returns to Tampa, and chances are Tampa’s backfield will be a timeshare regardless. But RoJo is getting better and will be a solid RB3 with room to grow.

7.6: Melvin Gordon III (RB – DEN)
This is the point where I’m starting to get grossed out by my options. Kenyan Drake and Melvin Gordon are the best players on the board. Marquise Brown is still on the board and fits the youth movement premise, but I’m also not sold on him being anything more than a deep threat.

Part of me wanted to take the upside shot on tight end Dallas Goedert, but it feels way too early to take a tight end.

I chose Gordon as my RB4. He’s only 27 and should have a pretty substantial work share in Denver. Disclaimer: I don’t love the pick and would recommend trading out of this pick if you can.

8.6: Marquise Brown (WR – BAL)
Goedert, Brown, and Damien Harris were all considerations here. I still think Goedert will be available in the next round, and I’m not buying anything related to New England’s offense right now.

I’ll take the upside shot on Brown and hope he develops a more diverse skill set. Lamar Jackson taking a leap as a pocket passer would certainly help.

9.7: Tony Pollard (RB – DAL)
Goedert and Harris were still on the board in Round 9. I’m pressing my luck and waiting one more round on Goedert to make a speculative pick.

Pollard intrigues me more than ever after Ezekiel Elliott’s really rough 2020 season. Could Zeke be washed up? Or was the deterioration of Dallas’ offensive line, plus Dak Prescott’s injury too much to overcome. Either way, Pollard’s a good player who should be more involved in the future. In the event of an Elliott injury, he’s an instant starter with intriguing upside.

10.6: Dallas Goedert (TE – PHI) 
I want to give a shoutout to the Pick Predictor feature on the Draft Wizard, which gave me the confidence to wait to choose Goedert until Round 10. I’m thrilled to get Goedert, who should finally get the target share he deserves. Zach Ertz’s time in Philadelphia appears to be over. That means Goedert’s talent will begin to shine, and I’m buying low on a player I think has top-five potential at the position.

My starting lineup is complete.

11.7: Parris Campbell (WR – IND)
There were a handful of receivers ranked higher than Campbell still on the board. But I’m confident Campbell has great upside if he can stay healthy.

That’s a big if at this point, as Campbell has missed 23 games in his career, including 14 this season. If he can stay on the field, there’s plenty of opportunities to own the middle of the field in a Colts offense that could be really good with the right quarterback.

12.6: Jamison Crowder (WR – NYJ)
This draft is officially ugly. The running backs are all unappealing, so I’m looking for more proven production at receiver. That’s how I wound up with Crowder, who posted decent numbers despite being cursed with Adam Gase as his head coach.

With good quarterback play, Crowder could be one of the best slot receivers in the league. I need a high floor pass-catcher to counteract the upside wideouts on my bench. That’s exactly what Crowder offers.

13.7: Logan Thomas (TE – WASH)
Regardless of your roster size, you’ll be looking to take backup tight ends and quarterbacks in dynasty drafts. I’m snagging Thomas, who overcame miserable quarterback play to finish as the TE4 in PPR leagues.

And I don’t think Thomas’ breakout is a fluke either. At 6-6, 250 pounds, Thomas is a nightmare matchup who should only get better with improved quarterback play. He and Goedert give me juicy upside at a scarce position.

14.6: Trevor Lawrence (QB – FA)
For my last pick in this mock draft, I’m having some fun. Yes, I have Allen. But in the NFL, you never know what can happen. I’m willing to have Lawrence take up a roster spot to see whether he lives up to his potential. If he does, I could get a king’s ransom in a trade for him. Realistically, I don’t think Lawrence will last this long in dynasty drafts once he officially ends up in Jacksonville.

Draft Wizard Grade: B+ (87/100)

I’ll take a solid B+ from the Draft Wizard for my first dynasty mock of 2021. The Draft Wizard rated me as the No. 3 team overall, with the second-best starters. My bench ranked sixth, which makes sense because I took a handful of upside prospects who have plenty to prove.

What do you think of this mock draft? Let me know on Twitter @RealMattBarbato!

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Matt Barbato is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Matt, check out his archive and follow him @RealMattBarbato

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