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Dynasty Startup Mock Draft (2021 Fantasy Football)

by Matt Barbato | @realmattbarbato | Featured Writer
Jun 9, 2021
Dalvin Cook

I have a small confession to make. Since joining my first dynasty leagues last season, I’ve become somewhat addicted to the format. Before, I was the guy conducting mock drafts for redraft leagues in May to get prepped for my upcoming draft three months later. Now, I can’t take my mind off my dynasty teams (while of course paying close attention to all of my redraft teams too).

Today, I’m going to scratch that itch, do a dynasty mock and take you along for the ride. Using our fantastic DraftWizard, I’m going to conduct a mock draft for a dynasty startup while breaking down every pick made. Before we get started, here are the league settings I’m working with:

  • 12 teams
  • Half-PPR format
  • Starters: 1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE and 2 regular FLEX spots (RB/WR/TE) with 7 bench spots
  • I was randomly assigned the 3rd overall pick

Here’s how the draft played out!

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Round 1: Dalvin Cook (RB – MIN) 

This was pretty much a no-brainer decision. Christian McCaffrey and Derrick Henry went first and second. Personally, I’d rather have Cook over Henry, who I’m weary of in dynasty startups because of his mileage. Barkley is a stud when healthy, but his durability can’t be trusted this high in drafts. Obviously, Cook isn’t the model for good health, but he’s only missed four games the last two years. At just 25 years old, he’s a stud to build around.

Round 2: Antonio Gibson (RB – WAS) 

It’s rare I buy into the hype train surrounding a player. But in this case, it’s hard not to get excited about Gibson. Granted, Gibson’s RB12 finish in half-PPR formats last season was greatly boosted by a whopping 11 touchdowns, a number that could see regression in 2021. However, Gibson should get more touches in his second season, and that will hopefully offset or overcome any touchdown regression. Many are expecting him to be more involved in the passing game this season too.

Plus, Gibson’s only 22 years old, and age is an important factor in dynasty leagues, especially at tailback. I chose Gibson over Austin Ekeler for that reason, as Ekeler is 26. Gibson’s long-term ceiling is much higher.

Round 3: Keenan Allen (WR – LAC) 

After going tailback with my first two picks, I know it’s time to segue to receiver. And in a world where any obscure wide receiver can post a WR1 performance on any given week, I want a reliable anchor as my WR1. That’s exactly what Allen is.

With him and Justin Herbert both healthy, I have no concerns regarding target and reception volume, which plays a factor in this half-PPR format. Yes, Allen’s 29 years old, but I’m confident his game and talent are built to last well into his 30’s. Allen relies on outstanding route-running skills to get separation, not insane athleticism. Technique lasts, and I’m hoping Allen delivers on that premise on this team.

Round 4: CeeDee Lamb (WR – DAL) 

I got my reliable WR1 in Round 3. Now I’m getting a guy who could be a stud down the road. Lamb put his amazing talent on display while playing on the outside and in the slot during his rookie season. He finished as the WR20 despite losing Dak Prescott early in the season. Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup are still in town this year, but I suspect at least one of them could be out the door by 2022.

I chose Lamb over tailbacks Josh Jacobs, Myles Gaskin, Kareem Hunt, and Mike Davis. The only guy on the board who gave me pause was Kyler Murray. I’m hoping he’ll still be available in five picks when I’m back on the clock. Per the Pick Predictor feature on the DraftWizard, there’s only a 17% chance that Murray will be taken between my fourth and fifth pick… let’s see if it’s right!

Round 5: Josh Jacobs (RB – LV)

The DraftWizard Pick Predictor was correct! Murray was on the board in Round 5. However, with so many quarterbacks available in this 1 QB format, I couldn’t justify taking him. Instead, I’m buying low on a running back who the entire world seems to be down on.

I get it; the Kenyan Drake signing stinks for Jacobs’ fantasy value. But here’s the thing, Kenyan Drake also kind of stinks. And Jacobs is still a much better player who’s only 23 years old and finished as the RB8 last year. I’m sure Drake will eat into some of Jacobs’ touches. But what if he’s primarily the team’s pass-catching back? Jacobs will still have plenty of opportunities to be a valuable fantasy asset.

Right now, the fantasy community is speculating on Jacobs’ value without having seen how the team will deploy him. I could do a lot worse for my RB3.

Round 6: Justin Herbert (QB – LAC) 

I really like this team’s core; now it’s time to lock up my quarterback of the future. Herbert surprised us all by being the most productive rookie from last year’s heralded class. I think it’s just the start of what could be a really good career. Plus, I get to stack him with Allen. Sign me up.

Round 7: Javonte Williams (RB – DEN) 

Sometimes you make picks in a dynasty startup draft with an eye toward the future. That’s exactly what this pick is. Williams likely won’t make a huge impact as a rookie with Melvin Gordon still in town. But Williams has three-down abilities and was a highly productive college player. Gordon’s on the last year of his deal, and Williams could be a bell-cow in 2022 and beyond. And as my RB4, there’s no pressure on him to perform for me.

Round 8: Jarvis Landry (WR – CLE) 

I made a future-focused pick in Round 7, but in Round 8, I’m making a win-now move. Landry is still a really good player who routinely gets undervalued in fantasy drafts for some reason. He’s one of just seven wideouts who have finished as a top 24 receiver in five of the last six seasons. I’m hoping I can get a strong return on investment out of him as my WR3.

Round 9: Laviska Shenault Jr. (WR -JAX) 

Running back is a dumpster fire at this point in the draft, so I’m really happy I got four tailbacks earlier on. This allows me to focus on my receiving depth, and Shenault is an intriguing year two breakout candidate. He’s a Deebo Samuel type of player who is a beast with the ball in his hands. I’m curious to see how he meshes with Trevor Lawrence.

Round 10: Darnell Mooney (WR – CHI)

I know what you’re thinking. I don’t have a starting tight end. And that’s okay. Logan Thomas, one of my favorite late-round tight ends to target, is still on the board. And Pick Predictor says there’s an 83% chance he’ll be on the clock by my next pick. So I’m going to continue adding upside flyers at receiver.

Mooney showed some flashes as a rookie. He can stretch the field and get open. Chicago’s lousy quarterback play hasn’t allowed many pass catchers to thrive. But if Justin Fields is the real deal, then Mooney could be a key weapon of the future for the Bears. That’s especially true if Allen Robinson leaves in the offseason.

Round 11: Logan Thomas (TE – WAS) 

No more risking it. I’m getting a tight end I’m really excited about in Thomas. I don’t get why Thomas is so undervalued. He was the TE6 last year with suboptimal quarterback play, and he’s a matchup nightmare with scary athleticism for his 6-foot-6, 250-pound frame. Many are hyping up the Washington offense now that Ryan Fitzpatrick is under center, yet Thomas seems to barely get mentioned in those discussions. He’ll be a Top 8 tight end this year.

Round 12: Tevin Coleman (RB – NYJ) 

It’s crazy to say that Tevin Coleman is undervalued, given his lackluster talent. But… he’ll start the year as New York’s starter. That… counts for something, right? He’s my RB5, and I’ve already taken a flyer on a rookie in Williams. If I need some production in a pinch, I can turn to Coleman and pray.

Round 13: Irv Smith Jr. (TE – MIN)

In a dynasty league, I’m willing to take a flyer on two tight ends, especially two young ones with loads of potential. Smith finished his second season strong and will seemingly be the team’s starting tight end with Kyle Rudolph out of the picture. He’s worth a shot.

Round 14: Tua Tagovailoa (QB – MIA) 

Everyone’s written off Tua because he wasn’t Justin Herbert or Joe Burrow in his rookie season. Have we all forgotten that rookie quarterbacks usually struggle? I haven’t given up on Tagovailoa, as I think he has traits that simply can’t be taught. Similar to tight end, I’m comfortable taking two quarterbacks in a 1 QB dynasty league. If Tua pans out, I have a huge trade chip or an alternative in case Herbert takes a step back. If he doesn’t, I spent essentially nothing to take him.

Round 15: Denzel Mims (WR – NYJ) 

Cue another year-two receiver on my roster. Mims has exciting size and athleticism, but he struggled to put it together during his rookie season. Injuries were the primary culprit, as Mims missed seven games. A competent coaching staff and a new QB could help unleash Mims’ potential.

Round 16: Rondale Moore (WR – ARI) 

Would I rather take a backup tailback with little to no value or an electric playmaker? It’s the last round. Why not shoot for the moon? If Moore can stay on the field, he can do special things with Kyler Murray.

Final Draft Grade: 90/100 (A)

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Matt Barbato is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Matt, check out his archive and follow him @RealMattBarbato

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