Dynasty Startup Mock Draft: Standard (2021 Fantasy Football)
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 eighth pick in a 12-team, standard, 1-QB league with 10 bench spots. As you’ll see, finding that balance was much easier said than done.
You can also find my recent PPR dynasty startup mock draft here.
1.8: Nick Chubb (RB – CLE)
In a standard league, I knew I had to go running back early. It came down to Chubb and Derrick Henry. Yes, you might think I’m crazy for passing up on the No. 1 RB in standard formats last year. But I have a couple of reasons why I made that choice.
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.
2.5: DeAndre Hopkins (WR – ARI)
While this is a standard league, I felt I had to get a No. 1 receiver on my roster. Hopkins is a stud and at 28 years old, should have plenty of great years left. My biggest concern regarding Hopkins is his quarterback. Kyler Murray still has to develop more as a passer, and I’m not sure Kliff Kingsbury was the best choice to get Murray to elite status.
However, if Nuk’s floor is 1,400 yards and six touchdowns, I’ll take that any day of the week. With improved play from Murray, Hopkins should see more touchdowns in 2021.
3.8: Josh Jacobs (RB – LV)
I was stunned to see Josh Jacobs fall all the way to the third round, in a standard league, no less. For one second, I considered taking Patrick Mahomes because it’s Patrick Mahomes. But I ultimately went with Jacobs, who, at 23 years old, has a bright future ahead of him. Putting him and Chubb together gives me an incredibly dynamic duo at tailback, which is always a plus in dynasty leagues.
4.5: Keenan Allen (WR – LAC)
Round four presented some intriguing options for my WR2. Allen, Amari Cooper, Mike Evans, and 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. And Cooper is just too inconsistent to be considered this high in drafts.
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.
5.8: 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.
6.5: Melvin Gordon III (RB – DEN)
I chose Gordon as my RB3. He’s only 27 and should have a pretty solid work share in Denver. Gordon isn’t someone you get excited about drafting. But a 986-yard, nine touchdown season is nothing to sneeze at.
7.8: Ronald Jones (RB – TB)
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/RB4 with room to grow.
8.5: Jarvis Landry (WR – CLE)
Even with Odell Beckham Jr., back in the fold for Cleveland, I’d still prefer Landry. He closed out the season in incredible fashion and showed a strong rapport with Baker Mayfield. When in doubt, Mayfield goes to Landry. That’ll continue even with OBJ back on the field. Landry offers a really nice floor for my WR3 and allows me to take some upside shots later on at receiver.
9.8: Dallas Goedert (TE – PHI)
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.
10.5: Alexander Mattison (RB – MIN)
I really didn’t like my options in Round 10 and would’ve tried to trade out of this pick. In the end, I took a high-leverage backup in Mattison as my RB5. I could always trade him to the Dalvin Cook owner. And if Cook were to get hurt, he’s an immediate starting option.
11.8: Parris Campbell (WR – IND)
With my running backs group pretty much intact, I will start taking some chances at receiver. Campbell is my first high-risk, high-reward pick.
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 opportunity to own the middle of the field in a Colts offense that could be really good with the right quarterback.
12.5: Mike Gesicki (TE – MIA)
In Round 12, I didn’t plan on taking another tight end. But when I saw Gesicki on the board, I couldn’t help but get excited. The Draft Wizard praised me for this steal of a pick.
Gesicki finally showed the potential people had been waiting for years to see. He finished as the TE6, and I feel he has room to grow. At just 25 years old, he could be a star in the making, especially if Tua Tagovailoa takes a step forward in Year 2.
I love my tight end duo of Goedert and Gesicki.
13.8: DeVonta Smith (WR – Alabama)
Let’s have a little fun. Nothing screams upside quite like the Heisman Trophy winner!
I fell in love with Smith last season while watching film of Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs at Alabama. I couldn’t help but notice Smith, but I never thought that potential would blossom into a Heisman campaign.
Smith is my top receiver prospect in this draft, and I have high expectations for him as a rookie. The Draft Wizard scolded me for reaching, but I guarantee Smith won’t last until Round 13 once drafts really start heating up.
14.5: Ja’Marr Chase (WR – LSU)
Oops, I did it again. While I doubt you’ll be able to land Smith and Chase back-to-back in startup drafts this summer, this pick is more a philosophical statement. I could’ve taken a veteran like John Brown, Nelson Agholor, or Emmanuel Sanders. All three offer much safer short-term floors than Chase does.
However, dynasty is about balancing winning now and planning for the future. And if I’ve got a chance to add two potential rookie studs this late in the draft, I’m going to do it. Even if they don’t pan out, they’ll probably give me more over the long term than any of the vets mentioned above. Plus, they make for excellent trade capital.
Always keep an eye on the future.
15.8: Anthony McFarland (RB – PIT)
McFarland’s rookie season was… lackluster. He rushed for 113 yards on just 33 carries and caught six passes. In picking McFarland, I’m taking a flyer on a potential replacement for James Conner, who’s an unrestricted free agent. This late in the draft, it’s worth a shot.
16.5: Zach Wilson (QB – BYU)
Give me another top 10 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. It’s February. I can do what I want. Even in a 1-QB league, I recommend drafting a young backup quarterback. With Josh Allen as my starter, I can afford to take a bigger chance on Wilson, who has the arm talent to be a special player at the next level.
I’d rather take a shot on Wilson than take a depreciating asset like Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, or Derek Carr. There’s also almost no value in taking a veteran like Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger unless you’re desperate for a short-term starter.
17.8: Marquez Valdes-Scantling (WR – GB)
Valdes-Scantling can be maddening. But he also can win you weeks as Aaron Rodgers‘ No. 2 target. If my rookies pan out, I’ll only need Valdes-Scantling to start in a pinch, which is completely fine with my last pick in this draft.
Draft Wizard Final Grade: B+ (89/100)
I was thrilled to see the Draft Wizard looked so favorably upon this draft. I was projected to be the fifth-best team in the league, which makes sense considering I took a lot of flyers on young players late. Overall, I’ve drafted a team that can contend in 2021 and could be an even greater threat down the road. When drafting a dynasty team, that’s all you can ask for.
What did you think of this draft? Let me know on Twitter @RealMattBarbato!
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