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2021 Fantasy Football: Half-PPR Mock Draft 1.0 (12 Teams)

by Jason Katz | @jasonkatz13 | Featured Writer
May 9, 2021

Ezekiel Elliott should maintain the high workload to validate a first-round selection.

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 before draft season.

My third PPR mock draft recently published with the format in which I conduct most of my mocks. For this one, however, we’re switching it up a bit and going half-PPR. I view half-PPR as closer to PPR than non-PPR, but the value of low-efficiency, high-reception guys diminishes.

I’ve drafted toward the front and back ends in my PPR mocks drafts. For this mock, using our free mock draft simulator, let’s go right smack in the middle with the seventh spot. This is a 12-team, half-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.

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1.07: Ezekiel Elliott (RB – DAL)
There are three legitimate options here: Jonathan Taylor, Ezekiel Elliott, and Aaron Jones. The most talented of the three is Taylor, but he will lose some touches to Nyheim Hines and Marlon Mack. The least talented is Elliott, but he’s not losing touches to anyone and plays for the best offense of the three. In the middle is Jones, who just got paid, could see goal-line work siphoned by A.J. Dillon, and currently has the Aaron Rodgers situation looming over his head. Despite my position that Zeke is the second-most talented running back on his own team, it’s not like he is bad. He’s still good. He’s on a prolific offense with one of the league’s best quarterbacks and a top offensive line (when healthy). Regardless of how good Tony Pollard looks, Elliott is the guy when active. I’m going with the volume.

2.06: A.J. Brown (WR – TEN)
In most of my mocks, I end up with two running backs in the first three rounds or take Travis Kelce here. Let’s switch it up. Kelce is the optimal pick because of the positional value, but I want to see what happens if we go wide receiver. We’ve got many options in DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Brown, Calvin Ridley, Justin Jefferson, and D.K. Metcalf. My choice is Brown because he may get 150 targets this year. The Titans have no one else to catch passes. Brown is a legitimate threat to be the overall WR1 this season.

3.07: Allen Robinson (WR – CHI)
I’m passing on D’Andre Swift here because there is no chance he’s available at 3.07 in any real draft at any point, ever. He would be the clear pick here, but his selection would essentially flip rounds two and three for me positionally, resulting in the same basic RB-RB philosophy. I’m going wide receiver here because there’s value in seeing what my running backs look like if I don’t come away with two in the first three rounds.

There are two choices here: Allen Robinson and Terry McLaurin. I really like both of them. A-Rob produces every year, and his ADP never rises. He was the better fantasy player last season, but McLaurin dealt with some of the worst quarterback play you’ll ever see and now gets gunslinger Ryan Fitzpatrick. Having to choose between these two is like choosing your favorite kid. The only way I can ever get both is in an auction and even there, it won’t be as difficult because the price will dictate which one (or both) I end up with. Here, I am forced to choose. I went with Robinson, even though I easily could’ve gone with McLaurin and gave you just as sound reasoning.

Andy Dalton is already, by far, the most talented quarterback Robinson has ever received passes from going back to college. Robinson is established and provides guaranteed production. His 2020 WR13 finish feels like his floor. Like A.J. Brown, he has absolutely zero target competition. Finally, Justin Fields will likely take over for the Bears early in the season, and I believe in his talent as well.

4.06: Amari Cooper (WR – DAL)
David Montgomery is staring at me, but I do not think Montgomery is good enough to justify this pick. His 2020 was a fluke created by a confluence of favorable circumstances. I also don’t want to double up on Bears. That takes running back off the table for now. At wide receiver, I once again have to make impossible choices. Diontae Johnson is my guy, and I want him. But if I don’t take him now, I’m not getting him, especially since I’m most likely going running back next round. I like Robert Woods, but he’s more of a floor than ceiling play. I prefer the ceiling.

That leads me to a Cowboys wide receiver. But which one? I genuinely have no idea. It feels wrong taking CeeDee Lamb over Amari Cooper, as I’m reasonably confident that Lamb will be superior at this point next year. Lamb was on his way to a high-end WR2 season before Dak Prescott got hurt. Cooper, meanwhile, was on his way to a WR1 season. This is something I will wrestle with all summer, but, right now I’m going with Cooper.

5.07: Myles Gaskin (RB – MIA)
I was really banking on Travis Etienne here. That did not work out. The good news is I’m not enamored with any of the receivers available. I could go quarterback, but there are plenty of good ones available. This type of pick — the replacement-level running back drafted based entirely on situation and opportunity — has admittedly been questionable in the past. But I need an RB2, and Myles Gaskin has proven bell-cow abilities. Mike Davis also fits the bill here, but I’m more confident that the Dolphins don’t bring in someone to compete with Gaskin than I am that the Falcons don’t bring in someone to compete with Davis. Also, the 24-year-old Gaskin is four years younger than Davis.

6.06: Dak Prescott (QB – DAL)
If Tee Higgins fell to me here, I was 100% taking him. Unfortunately, he went one pick before me. This feels like the right time to take a quarterback. Since I already have Cooper, it’s an easy choice to go with Dak Prescott over Kyler Murray and Lamar Jackson. It is important to understand that I went with Prescott to pair him with Cooper. All three passers are worthy of this selection.

7.07: Javonte Williams (RB – DEN)
I have three legitimate WR1s, so I don’t need to take any more unless someone jumps out at me. There are rookies and upside plays to target later. With just two running backs, I’d like to add a third. David Johnson should still be the lead back for Houston, but that franchise is a disaster and may not have Deshaun Watson this season. They also inexplicably signed 31-year-old Mark Ingram and Phillip Lindsay, who could see work. I have no interest in Damien Harris.

That leads me to Kenyan Drake and Javonte Williams. I am intrigued by Drake this season because of his potential for standalone flex value with upside if Josh Jacobs gets hurt. Javonte Williams has 2020 Swift vibes. It will be Melvin Gordon‘s backfield to start, but he is 28 years old and probably won’t be on the Broncos in 2022. The Broncos traded up for Williams, so he’s going to play. How much? That will likely increase as the season progresses. If it’s similar to Swift’s 2020 season, and the coaching staff realizes the rookie is the best option, I could end up with a valuable player down the stretch. I’m going to have to wait a bit, but I’ll take that uncertainty over the uncertainty with the rest of the available running backs given Williams’ upside.

8.06: Kenyan Drake (RB – LV)
With Kenyan Drake and Dillon still here, the question is whether I want the talent buried behind a locked-in starter (Dillon) or the average back who will have more of an early opportunity (Drake). This is a tough decision because Dillon’s upside, should he take over for Aaron Jones, is significantly higher than Drake’s should he take over for Jacobs. However, Drake is more likely to get touches than Dillon given how much money the Packers just gave Jones. The only way Dillon ends up a value is if Jones gets hurt. Drake can return value simply by outplaying Jacobs, who isn’t particularly talented for an NFL starter either. The answer to this debate depends on what you’re looking for when constructing your roster. For me, it’s Drake.

9.07: A.J. Dillon (RB – GB)
The wide receiver dart throws all look the same, and I’m resigned to streaming tight ends. Dillon is still here. I’m taking him.

10.06: Noah Fant (TE – DEN)
After missing out on some of my guys early, I’ve been fortunate to draft the two players I was deciding between in the last two rounds. In the eighth round, it was between Drake and Dillon. It was between Dillon and Noah Fant, the clear best tight end on the board, in the ninth round. Fant fell to me in the 10th, so I scooped him up immediately. I will close out my draft with at least two, if not three wide receivers.

11.07: Denzel Mims (WR – NYJ)
Before making this pick, I surveyed the remaining receivers and pinpointed three I wanted: Denzel Mims, Rashod Bateman, and Rondale Moore. The question is what order to take them to maximize the chances I get them all. I plan to go Mims-Bateman-Moore. Let’s see if that works out. Mims, the clear WR2 on the Jets, has alpha WR1 talent. If Zach Wilson is the truth, then Mims’ upside could show itself this season. If not, I drop him.

12.06: Rashod Bateman (WR – BAL)
The Ravens eventually have to actually use the wide receivers they draft, right? I like the talented Bateman very much, but the landing spot is awful given how seldom the Ravens throw compared to the rest of the NFL. However, Bateman could lead this team in targets, as Marquise Brown is a stretch Z who was miscast as a WR1 last season. The Ravens didn’t spend a first-round pick on Bateman to not start him.

13.07: Rondale Moore (WR – ARI)
If Larry Fitzgerald doesn’t retire, then all bets are off. Assuming he does, there’s little target competition beyond DeAndre Hopkins. After three years, it’s pretty clearly not happening for Christian Kirk. He’s just a sold real-life WR3/4. Andy Isabella is not a good enough NFL receiver. How do I know this? If Isabella were good, he would’ve been on the field in both 2019 and 2020. He’s played 28 professional games and seen 48 targets.

A.J. Green looks completely done. I love Green. I think he belongs in the Hall of Fame. But he doesn’t belong anywhere near a professional football field in 2021. On the other hand, Moore fits perfectly with Murray’s quick-hitter offense and is a magician with the ball in his hands. And, as always, I drop him with no harm done if I’m wrong.

Final Roster/Projected Standings

QB: Dak Prescott
RB: Ezekiel Elliott, Myles Gaskin, Javonte Williams, Kenyan Drake, A.J. Dillon
WR: A.J. Brown, Allen Robinson, Amari Cooper, Denzel Mims, Rondale Moore, Rashod Bateman
TE: Noah Fant

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Jason Katz is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Jason, check out his archive and follow him @jasonkatz13.

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