2021 Fantasy Football PPR Mock Draft 3.0 (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, but we finally have the benefit of the 2021 rookie class. My first mock was in February. My second mock was in April. With the NFL Draft now in our rearview mirror, this our first chance to gauge the fantasy draft landscape with rookies having landing spots. This mock will likely end up being the baseline upon which I assess ADP movement throughout the summer, as it’ll be useful to juxtapose future mocks with this one.
For this mock draft using our free mock draft simulator, I decided to go with the four spot (which is the same one I used for my initial mock in February). 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.
1.04 Saquon Barkley (RB – NYG)
In every mock you see me do, barring exceptional circumstances, my first pick will be a running back. That doesn’t mean every draft will be RB-RB. I learned from my 2020 mistakes in forcing the RB-RB start with lesser talents, but, at the bare minimum, I’ll be going running back in the first round.
At fourth overall, there are a plethora of worthy options. Jonathan Taylor, Alvin Kamara, and Ezekiel Elliott are all very much in play here. I went with Saquon Barkley because, in addition to being the most talented, the Giants’ offense is much improved, and Barkley’s concerns are lesser than that of the other three. Taylor is going to cede more snaps than we’d like to Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines. Kamara was the overall RB1 in 2020, which means there is a 0% chance he finishes as the overall RB1 in 2021. Also, there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Saints’ offense, specifically the quarterback position. Outside of Kamara and Michael Thomas, the offense lacks playmakers. Elliott is the second-most talented running back on his own team, and he entirely depends upon Dak Prescott and the offensive line to produce. I may feel different in a month or two, but right now, Barkley is the choice.
2.09 Travis Kelce (TE – KC)
This is a very tricky spot because Travis Kelce is probably the correct pick based on value, but taking him could give me a very serious problem at RB2. I went with Kelce in my initial February draft, too. Normally, that would mean I’d want to try something different here, but I actually want to see how the rest of the draft plays out if I once again go Kelce.
3.04 D’Andre Swift (RB – DET)
I was really hoping to snag one of Cam Akers or Najee Harris with this pick, but they went back-to-back in the picks preceding mine. Unfortunate. With wide receiver so incredibly deep, and with Kelce as my de facto WR1, I want to lock up a second running back here. I’d be very surprised if either of the three running backs in consideration were available beyond the second round in August, but ADPs haven’t yet adjusted.
It’s very close for me between D’Andre Swift and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Yes, I have talked myself back in on CEH despite his lackluster rookie season. The Chiefs committed to a revamp of their offensive line and brought in no additional offensive weapons. This offense will funnel at least 75% of the touches through Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
The third back in consideration here is Miles Sanders, but I don’t think Sanders is good, so I’m not taking him. I settled on Swift amidst concerns about Jamaal Williams stealing snaps because the Lions are a team bereft of playmakers, and Jared Goff will have to check down early and often. Williams will have fantasy value this season, but Swift is still the lead back.
4.09 Robert Woods (WR – LAR)
I could go with a third running back here and take David Montgomery, but that goes against everything I stand for. To be fair, as much as I don’t like Montgomery, I can’t deny the production from 2020. Also, his volume should remain strong in 2021, even with the return of Tarik Cohen and the addition of Damien Williams. The early move to Justin Fields will only help, too.
However, it’s time to take a wide receiver. In terms of talent, Kenny Golladay is the best one on the board. I like Golladay, but between the injury concerns and the fact that he’ll have Daniel Jones throwing him the ball, I narrowed it down to Robert Woods and D.J. Moore. What Moore did last season with Teddy Bridgewater was impressive, but the talent disparity between Matthew Stafford and Sam Darnold is a chasm. Sorry, I am not buying a Darnold renaissance. He was a bad prospect in 2018 who showed nothing in three seasons at the professional level. I am not putting 100% of that on Adam Gase. Darnold is bad and will continue to be bad.
Meanwhile, Woods is the epitome of consistency. He’s as rock-solid as it gets. There is no chance that Woods busts. Granted, his ceiling isn’t as high as that of Moore and Golladay, but I’m planning to take a wide receiver next round anyway, and I want some guaranteed production. I wouldn’t fault anyone for going Golladay or Moore here, though.
5.04 Courtland Sutton (WR – DEN)
This is a very tough spot because Myles Gaskin and Mike Davis are jumping out at me. At the same time, I really don’t want to leave a draft without Courtland Sutton, and I’m reasonably confident that he won’t be available at my next pick. In fact, out of every player I like here: Gaskin, Davis, Sutton, Tee Higgins, I expect them all to be gone by my next pick. In assessing the board as a whole, I think it’s more likely that I’ll find one of those running backs than one of those receivers. As such, I’m going with my guy, Courtland Sutton.
6.09 Dak Prescott (QB – DAL)
My assessment of the situation was correct. There are a couple of running backs that I’m fine taking, and given the landscape of the draft right now, I’m comfortable waiting until my next pick, which isn’t too far away. Now is the time to pull the trigger on a quarterback. I am really not sure who I prefer between Kyler Murray and Dak Prescott. This early in the process, I’m going to assume Prescott is healthy and go with the guy who was going to shatter the single-season passing yards record last season. Neither is a bad pick, though.
7.04 Leonard Fournette (RB – TB)
There are still multiple running backs I like here. I went with Leonard Fournette because he has a proven ceiling. We saw it down the stretch last season and throughout the postseason. I see no reason for Bruce Arians to go back to Ronald Jones after what Fournette did to help the Bucs win a Super Bowl. I acknowledge the risk of Jones taking this job in the event a Fournette injury opens the door, but beyond the truly elite running backs, that’s the case for most of them.
8.09 Travis Etienne (RB – JAX)
I am still short one wide receiver, but the reality is that most of these picks end up getting dropped anyway. I will forego a quality WR3 to take a shot on Travis Etienne, who absolutely should not still be here. I don’t care about James Robinson. I don’t care about Urban Meyer’s comments. The Jaguars spent a first-round pick on their franchise quarterback’s college teammate. They’re going to use him sooner rather than later.
9.04 DeVonta Smith (WR – PHI)
I must say that I’m surprised at the overall quality of running backs still available. At this point, I need to prioritize wide receiver, but amongst guys worth drafting: David Johnson, Javonte Williams, Michael Carter, and Trey Sermon all stand out. I have an all-around strong, so the move here is to swing for the fences with a medley of WR3 upside plays. My first choice is DeVonta Smith, who steps in as the immediate WR1 in Philly with his former college quarterback. First-round draft capital + minimal target competition = upside.
10.09 Jamaal Williams (RB – DET)
I am not one to advocate for drafting handcuffs, but Jamaal Williams will likely have standalone value. As my RB5, he is simultaneously an insurance policy for D’Andre Swift and someone I can throw in my lineup in a pinch and know that he won’t get me zero. I can safely do this because there is still an abundance of wide receivers with 100-target potential out there.
11.04 Cole Beasley (WR – BUF)
Cole Beasley was quietly a strong WR3 last season. He’s my WR4. While this isn’t the swing-for-the-fences upside pick I mentioned above, Beasley is tethered to a prolific quarterback in a pass-first offense and provides me the safety I need at the WR3 position as I wait for one of my dart throws to pan out.
12.09 Rondale Moore (WR – ARI)
This is where it gets extremely difficult for me. I am going to take a shot on two wide receivers with my final two picks. The good news is there are many I like. The bad news is there are many I like. I am deciding between Denzel Mims, Rondale Moore, Mecole Hardman, Parris Campbell, Breshad Perriman, and Rashod Bateman. I won’t pretend to give you any legitimate reason to take one over the other. They all have plausible upside. None of them are safe. The two darts I throw now may be completely different than the darts I throw in my next mock draft. I went with Rondale Moore because the Cardinals, in theory, would not draft him if they believed in the wide receivers they already have behind DeAndre Hopkins. Moore meshes perfectly with what Kliff Kingsbury wants to do with Kyler Murray and the quick-hitting aerial attack.
- QB: Dak Prescott
- RB: Saquon Barkley, D’Andre Swift, Leonard Fournette, Travis Etienne, Jamaal Williams
- WR: Robert Woods, Courtland Sutton, DeVonta Smith, Cole Beasley, Rondale Moore, Denzel Mims
- TE: Travis Kelce
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