2021 Fantasy Football PPR Mock Draft 2.0 (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 now 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. My first mock was in February. The NFL Draft is mere days away, but conducting one final mock before we have the landing spot for this year’s group of rookies is worth doing to gauge what has changed over the past two months. I will be taking you through another one of my mocks in early May and given that we should see some pretty relevant changes based on what happens in the NFL Draft, it will be useful to juxtapose that mock with this one.
For this mock draft using our free mock draft simulator, I decided to go with the 11 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.
1.11: Jonathan Taylor (RB – IND)
I would be very surprised if I didn’t go running back in the first round of every mock and every real draft I do this season. There are 10 running backs worthy of going in the first round and by the time it got to me here, I had my choice of Jonathan Taylor or Aaron Jones. This very well may be Jones in a couple of months from now, but I went with Taylor running behind the league’s best run-blocking unit on a team that actually calls run plays at the goal line.
2.02 Cam Akers (RB – LAR)
This is where things really get interesting because, like last year, RB-RB is objectively the best strategy, but there is a caveat – you can’t do it just to do it. If there are no quality running backs available at your second-round pick, you can’t just take one because of “the strategy.” This was where I went wrong last year, particularly in auction drafts, in overpaying for non-difference makers like Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake. I won’t make that same mistake again. With that being said, I am extremely high on both Antonio Gibson and Cam Akers. I would also be fine with D’Andre Swift in the second round as well (just not this high). These mocks are learning experiences so I went with Akers, who displayed three-down ability down the stretch last season on what should be an improved Rams offense with Matthew Stafford under center. In future mocks, I will definitely consider Travis Kelce here just to see how that plays out.
3.11: Diontae Johnson (WR – PIT)
There are a couple of running backs here that likely won’t be as the season draws closer, as running back ADP historically moves up as we get closer to draft season with fantasy managers realizing how valuable it is to get two of them. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, J.K. Dobbins, and Josh Jacobs are all very much in play here. However, since I went RB-RB to start, I am going to start loading up on wide receivers. The idea of taking Julio Jones in the late third round is very appealing, but he’s 32 years old and missed nearly half the 2020 season. I don’t think he’s done, but I would rather be out a year early than a year late. For everyone else available, it really comes down to personal preference. I legitimately like every wide receiver that could reasonably go right here. I decided to go with my guy, Diontae Johnson. Despite Ben Roethlisberger looking done, Johnson was still a WR1 if you remove the two games he left early due to injury. He is going to lead the Steelers in targets and they are always one of the pass happiest teams in the NFL.
4.02: CeeDee Lamb (WR – DAL)
Technically, both of my last two picks were reaches, but when you pick at the turns, you either get your guys or you don’t. I know what Mike Evans is. I know what Robert Woods is. I like both of them. But CeeDee Lamb is severely undervalued due to Dak Prescott’s injury. Lamb averaged 17.12 ppg with Prescott versus just 11.65 ppg without him. Amari Cooper is the WR1 in Dallas, but it would not surprise me if Lamb became that guy during the 2021 season. I fully expect Lamb to be a second-round pick in 2022 fantasy drafts and I want to reap the benefits of the breakout.
5.11: Courtland Sutton (WR – DEN)
In prior years, I would never even consider a quarterback this early, but times are changing. As J.J. Zachariason put it on his Late Round Podcast, the late-round quarterback strategy may be morphing into the mid-round quarterback strategy. With so many quarterbacks hitting the 20.0 ppg mark, it becomes a disadvantage not to have one. At this pick, I decided I was going with a quarterback, but knowing that there is only one team picking between this pick and my sixth-round pick and there are three quarterbacks in my sights, I went with Courtland Sutton because he is, by far, the most talented wide receiver on the Broncos and a true alpha being slept on because of a lost season due to a torn ACL. Sutton was hurt in Week 1, which is ideal if a player is going to suffer an ACL tear. Sutton will be fully recovered and I believe in him to produce even if he has to suffer through a full season of Drew Lock.
6.02: Kyler Murray (QB – ARI)
Sometimes, you have to suck it up and take a onesie position. Other times, it is a perfect confluence of factors making you at complete zen with the pick. This is one of those situations. This easily could’ve been Dak Prescott, but regardless of who I decided to go with, going quarterback was the move. Kyler Murray was the QB3 overall last season and will be leaned on heavily once again with the Cardinals lacking a run game and a defense.
7.11: Leonard Fournette (RB – TB)
I was really hoping to get Curtis Samuel here, but he is evidently going much earlier than I accounted for. I will need to adjust for that going forward. There were a number of ways to go here, but I settled on Leonard Fournette because it’s the seventh round and I know what the ceiling looks like. The Bucs still have Ronald Jones and they signed Giovani Bernard, who could, in theory, eat into Fournette’s passing down work. I just have a hard time believing Bruce Arians will turn away from Fournette after his playoff performance helped propel the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl victory last season. Bernard will turn 30 this season and if the Bucs believed in Jones, he would’ve gotten his job back from Fournette – he didn’t. Fournette certainly comes with bottom-tier job security, but after the top 12 or so running backs, none of them are exactly the pinnacle of safety.
8.02: Logan Thomas (TE – WAS)
Just to be clear, this would absolutely be Kyle Pitts, but I’m just choosing to exclude him from this mock altogether given how low his rank is. Once Pitts has a team, he is going to be firmly in the top 12 tight ends. For now, this can be Logan Thomas, who led all tight ends in snap share last season. There will be people out there that tell you Thomas won’t be as good as he was last year. Nonsense. The targets on this team are consolidated heavily between Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, Logan Thomas, and the running backs. Thomas is going to be on the field almost every play and will have improved quarterback play coming from Ryan Fitzpatrick.
9.11: Kenyan Drake (RB – LV)
At this point in the draft, it’s time to just search for upside. Kenyan Drake is not some mega talent, but he has the exact kind of upside you look for. I anticipate Drake will be on a lot of my teams this season. He’s cheap and he is in the type of situation where you know he’s a locked-in every week RB2 if something were to happen to Josh Jacobs. Even with Jacobs, Drake can be an RB3/Flex type option. I don’t think the Raiders believe in Jacobs and I certainly don’t think he’s particularly talented – maybe marginally better than Drake. All I care about is who is getting the ball. It will certainly be Jacobs in Week 1, but for a price of six rounds cheaper, I’ll take the shot on Drake.
10.02: Tony Pollard (RB – DAL)
Again, this is purely about upside. One of the biggest flaws for fantasy managers overall is their overconfidence in their ability to identify who the handcuff running back is and how he will produce if the starter got injured. There is no projection necessary with Tony Pollard. He is the most talented running back on the Cowboys and, at worst, a top-eight RB1 if Ezekiel Elliott were to miss time. We know this because we saw it happen. The only downside to this pick, and it’s significant, is Pollard has literally no value while Zeke is healthy.
11.11: Devonta Smith (WR)
At least two of these final three picks will be wide receivers. When the rookies have their landing spots, their value will shift considerably. This late in the draft, though, I’m looking to take rookies in the hopes of finding this year’s Justin Jefferson or Brandon Aiyuk. DeVonta Smith is going to have high first-round draft capital. Wherever he lands will be somewhere he can contribute immediately. I feel really good about my top three wide receivers so I can completely roll the dice on my next two or three and utilize the waiver wire early season to grab the inevitable unexpected breakout guy.
12.03: Rashod Bateman (WR)
Almost every rookie wide receiver remains available because that’s just how it goes before the NFL Draft occurs. Don’t get caught up on the specific players I’m taking, but rather focus on the idea of targeting talented rookies in good situations at this point. Rashod Bateman feels like the type of guy that can lead the NFL in targets one day. He can gobble up receptions even as a rookie if he ends up in the right spot.
13.11: Jalen Reagor (WR – PHI)
Unfortunately, Jalen Reagor probably just isn’t good. He will almost certainly be the first guy I’d drop if this were a real team. Even so, this is the final round and Reagor is technically the WR1 in Philly as of now. It’s a dart worth throwing.
QB: Kyler Murray
RB: Jonathan Taylor, Cam Akers, Leonard Fournette, Kenyan Drake, Tony Pollard
WR: Diontae Johnson, CeeDee Lamb, Courtland Sutton, DeVonta Smith, Rashod Bateman, Jalen Reagor
TE: Logan Thomas
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