Dynasty Start-Up 1QB Mock Draft: Half-PPR (2021 Fantasy Football)
You can never do enough mock drafts, and today, I will be looking at a dynasty start-up mock draft in 1QB formats (Half-PPR). There are several tenets in dynasty drafts by which you’ll need to abide for when you do your real draft, and I’ll go over them as I make each of my picks.
I will be doing a mock from the No. 3 spot and picking through 15 rounds. Let’s get started!
1.03 – Saquon Barkley (RB – NYG)
Just like in regular drafts, you always want to draft for security in the first few rounds. Barkley is a top-two running back in the league and is only entering his third season in the NFL. Some may be scared off by his season-ending injury, but I have no qualms that he’ll be able to return to form. Some could make the argument for Jonathan Taylor here, and I wouldn’t mind, but Barkley has already proven to be one of the few workhorse runners left in the NFL, while Taylor will always be dealing with Frank Reich’s committee.
2.10 – J.K. Dobbins (RB – BAL)
After bypassing one of the elite rookie running backs from the 2020 class in Round 1, I was able to snag Baltimore’s J.K. Dobbins in Round 2. Dobbins is slated to have a break-out season in his sophomore year with Lamar Jackson, as he was the RB6 over the last month of the season. He’s extremely young, the best running back in that backfield, and will undoubtedly average 15+ touches per game with only Gus Edwards as his running mate.
3.03 – Antonio Gibson (RB – WSH)
Woah, Dan, three running backs in a row? Are you ever going to draft wide receivers? I have two answers to these questions in the form of rules I live by during drafts. The first is you always draft for value, not for need. Gibson was on a tear before his injury and should see a higher volume of touches in his sophomore season; he’s young, locked into a role with Washington, and he’s an asset in both the rushing and passing attack. Gibson was the best value on the board given his age and future production, so I can’t bypass him. The second rule is there is always a bigger tier break for running backs than wideouts; I should be able to get plenty of great wide receivers later on.
4.10 – Cooper Kupp (WR – LAR)
Cooper Kupp is only 27-years old and has finally broken free from Jared Goff. Matthew Stafford’s receiver preferences in Los Angeles are still unknown, but Kupp has been extremely successful over the years in the slot and red zone. I took Kupp over Amari Cooper, given Amari’s days in Dallas could be numbered as the Cowboys will have tough cap decisions to make next year; I also took him over Golladay because I didn’t want to double-up on Giants players. Kupp will be a top-tier receiver for several more years, and even though you won’t get much trade value for him later on, you can’t ignore winning in the present for the “best-looking” roster.
5.03 – Chase Claypool (WR – PIT)
I love this value for Claypool, who showed signs of being a dominant outside wideout in his rookie season. JuJu Smith-Schuster‘s re-signing helped to drop his value to a more affordable level, and he could easily become the No. 1 wide receiver in Pittsburgh in 2022. Nonetheless, I expect him to be a borderline WR2 this coming season and give you multiple 20+ point performances given his big-play ability. I will not be shocked if Claypool sees his ADP rise to the second round by this time next year.
6.10 – Laviska Shenault (WR – JAX)
I’ve been a big proponent of Shenault since his college days, as he’s a swiss-army knife that can be used all over the field. With Trevor Lawrence coming to town in a few weeks, Shenault will have an elite quarterback who can properly utilize him and get the ball to him in space. It was a toss-up between Adam Thielen and Shenault at this pick, but Thielen is on the back nine of his career and could easily be relegated to the No. 2 wideout in Minnesota next season. Also, I don’t want to be left holding the bag with too many aging veterans on my team.
7.03 – Brandin Cooks (WR – HOU)
Cooks may be one of the most underrated receivers in the league, as all he does is put up 1,000-yard seasons. Cooks put up 81 receptions for 1,150 yards and six touchdowns in his first season with Houston. After many feared he would be too injury-prone or play second-fiddle to Will Fuller, he proved doubters wrong by playing 15 games and only accumulating three fewer yards per game than Fuller. When Fuller missed time to end the season, Cooks was the WR5. I understand Deshaun Watson’s legal status is still up in the air, and he plays for the worst organization in sports, but Cooks is an extreme value and will once again pay dividends on his draft price.
8.10 – Henry Ruggs III(WR – LVR)
Trust me. If you’ve read my articles, you know that I am not a big Henry Ruggs fan. But I have to draft for value here and put my own personal biases aside. Ruggs is still a high-priced dynasty asset given his draft pedigree, age, and the lack of competition of targets from other wideouts (yes, Darren Waller is still a thorn in his side). He’s a worthwhile gamble over who is left on the board, as he has the talent and opportunity to break out in 2021.
9.03 – Russell Wilson (QB – SEA)
At this point in the draft, I am okay taking a quarterback in 1QB leagues. In all honesty, if there are positional prospects you still like on the board, you could wait on quarterback even longer. You should factor in your decision to take a quarterback in dynasty just like you do in redraft: wait as long as possible. While you can’t stream the position, there are still more solid passers on the board that will allow you to get by. I personally wasn’t a huge fan of the running backs and wide receivers available at this point, so I’ll take the luxury of an elite quarterback with rushing ability and several prime years left.
10.10 – Darnell Mooney (WR – CHI)
Mooney showed flashes of being a solid wide receiver in Chicago, and he might rise up the depth chart this offseason should the Bears trade away disgruntled slot receiver Anthony Miller. Allen Robinson will draw away the most extensive coverage and allow Mooney to win one-on-ones with his speed and great route running. I’m not a fan of Andy Dalton, but we’ve seen multiple receivers have fantasy value with him in the fold. Also, I am playing the long game here; if Chicago drafts a quarterback or pulls off a trade for Wilson later this offseason, Mooney’s value skyrockets.
11.03 – Nyheim Hines (RB – IND)
With three elite running backs at my disposal, I didn’t need to overdraft an aging veteran or committee runner with my earlier picks. I could draft for value and let the better players fall down the board. Now that we are in the double-digit rounds, the tier break between wideouts and running backs is much smaller where I can afford to go back to that position. Hines will be a solid floor play if I need a replacement running back or even a FLEX play that I can count on for double-digit points. He won’t receive as many dump-offs with Philip Rivers no longer in the fold, but he’s a nice plug-and-play running back that should have a long career as a scat-back.
12.10 – Elijah Moore (WR – FA)
The ADP of these incoming rookies is slightly skewed towards the low-end, so I didn’t want to consistently take advantage of the ADP discrepancy, as you won’t get this value in your real drafts unless people are blindly following the system. Nonetheless, these rookies will still be somewhat undervalued as the casual player doesn’t know much about them. Moore (and all of the other rookies) should be going much higher than this, so when you are doing your draft, make sure to look for values in ADP mispricing. You can snag a lot of gems that way.
13.03 – Gus Edwards (RB – BAL)
Let’s not dismiss the value of handcuffs, especially one from the best rushing offense in football. Edwards on his own has weekly FLEX value given his touchdown propensity and efficiency on his few touches. Given I have already drafted J.K. Dobbins, I can’t think of a better strategy than securing my No. 2 running back with his running mate in the event of an injury or complete shift in carry distribution.
14.10 – Zach Ertz (TE – PHI)
If I were doing a 25-round mock, I would wait on tight end even later than this. Outside of the elite three tight ends (Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Darren Waller), there isn’t much difference at this position between the TE4, TE12, and TE24. All of these guys are extremely hit or miss and touchdown-dependent. I am fine taking a flier on Ertz, with the hopes that he either regains form after a down year in Philadelphia or gets traded to an offense that will better utilize his talents. Nonetheless, if the format isn’t tight end premium, there is no reason to draft a tight end in the early rounds outside of the Big-3.
15.03 – Tyler Johnson (WR – TB)
This is the last pick for this mock, and I went with a guy who showed flashes of great playmaking ability in his limited role with the Buccaneers. Antonio Brown is still unsigned, which gives credence to the notion that Johnson could slide in as the WR3 in this Tampa Bay offense. He still needs to survive the NFL Draft and Brown’s eventual signing to see his value jump, but I am willing to take a gamble on a young player this late in the draft.
Full Draft Board
This roster is a perfect combination of win-now and win-later. I have young anchors at the necessary skill positions like J.K. Dobbins, Antonio Gibson, and Saquon Barkley that project to be elite contributors for a long-time. I have young, high-upside players like Chase Claypool, Laviska Shenault, and Henry Ruggs that can break out next season. I also have several veterans like Cooper Kupp, Brandin Cooks, and Russell Wilson to help this squad compete for a championship right now. It’s vital to not only focus on younger players but attempt to win now as well. You need balance in your dynasty rosters, so be careful not to skew too heavily to one side.
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Dan Ambrosino is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Dan, check out his archive and follow him @AmbrosinoNFL.