Fantasy Football PPR Mock Draft 5.0 (2021)
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.
There will be changes between now and August, but the most significant changes of the offseason have already occurred. My first mock was in February. My second mock was in April. My third mock was in May and was the first one with the benefit of rookie landing spots. My fourth mock was in June, and there haven’t been any significant ADP moving events since then. Going forward, shifts in ADP will occur largely due to either injuries or a change in public perception.
For this mock draft using our free mock draft simulator, I decided to go with the seven spot. My first four mocks were done from the four and 11 spots, and I know this won’t be the last one I do this summer, so let’s switch it up and see how things go from right in the middle. 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.
As I’ve stated previously, there is almost a 100% chance my first pick will be a running back. The only plausible scenario for where I would go with a wide receiver is if I picked specifically 11 or 12, and literally every single pick in front of me was a running back. At seven, it’s impossible for 10 running backs to be gone, so this pick is a running back. I’ve ragged on Ezekiel Elliott plenty over the past year, specifically for being definitively the second-best running back on his own NFL team. While I stand by that statement, Zeke is still at least above average, and the Cowboys have proven that when healthy, he’s their bell cow. With a returning Dak Prescott and an offensive line that can’t possibly be worse than it was last season, Zeke will once again prove that volume is king (and it doesn’t hurt to play for an elite offensive as well).
2.06 Cam Akers (RB – LAR)
I have to be honest here. I’m not sure what the issue is with Cam Akers’ ADP. There is exactly a 0% chance he will be available at the 2.06 in any real draft. If this wasn’t Akers, it would either be Antonio Gibson, Najee Harris, or Joe Mixon. The specific running back I take in a mock is less important than the overall approach, which is to go RB-RB if possible. Seven non-RBs are off the board, which seems extraordinarily high, but even if that number was at a more reasonable three or four, there are at least four running backs I’m taking over just about any wide receiver here (D’Andre Swift being a possible fifth), with Akers atop the list. My message to you is simple: if you can go RB-RB without sacrificing value, do it.
One of the biggest moves I’m coming around on is going tight end in the third round, specifically Darren Waller. However, it seems like that is a plan that only works with an early pick as he’s long gone (and rightfully so) at this point. Normally, I try to intentionally avoid what I perceive to be improbable scenarios, such as D’Andre Swift, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and J.K. Dobbins all being available at this pick, but let’s roll with it. One thing I’ve yet to try in a mock is the triple RB start. It’s certainly unlikely, but not impossible, that one of these three slips to the middle of the third round. If that happens, it’s not a smash draft because the available wide receivers matter, but it’s definitely my preferred direction to go in. I went with Swift. Let’s see how the rest of this draft plays out.
Sometimes, things just work out in your favor. In this particular mock, things are going my way. Diontae Johnson is, by far, the easiest pick I will make in this mock. He’s my top remaining wide receiver by a considerable margin. There was a time when I had a shot at getting him in the fifth round. That time is long gone, but fortunately, I do not anticipate his ADP rising much more. I think he remains a tremendous value in the fourth round as we enter the heart of fantasy draft season.
Here is where I need to try and get a little creative and take a risk to secure the wide receiving corps I desire. My top-ranked receiver is Courtland Sutton, by a very wide margin. I also really like Tee Higgins. I am attempting to leverage ADP and the discrepancy in my rankings against the consensus in order to obtain both Higgins and Sutton. If I take Sutton here, there is a 0% chance I get Higgins. If I take Higgins, there is about a 60% chance I take Sutton. Yes, I am risking missing out on who I deem to be the superior player. I’m okay with taking that risk in order to potentially get them both for two reasons. I really like Higgins anyway, and there’s a chance I’m more correct about Higgins than I am about Sutton.
Unfortunately, Courtland Sutton went off the board two picks before me. My plan did not work out, but that’s okay. At this point, I have three running backs, so I am not even looking at the position until later. Taking a middle-round tight end is historically a losing proposition, so that’s out. I need to round out my wide receivers, but there are a lot of guys with similar ranges of outcome available in the next three rounds. That puts me in a unique position to go quarterback earlier than I normally would. The only reason I’m doing this is that Dak Prescott is still here. While there are other quarterbacks I’m interested in, I’m not taking them this early. Prescott was the overall QB1 before breaking his ankle last season. That’s his ceiling.
While not as easy as the Diontae Johnson pick, selecting Curtis Samuel here was a no-brainer for me. I have Samuel ranked about 10 spots above consensus. He’s the clear WR2 on an improved Football Team offense. He’s probably better as a Flex/WR4 for a fantasy roster, but I absolutely believe he will finish as a top 36 receiver.
This pick was going to be Antonio Brown, but he went one pick before me. Bummer. I’d prefer not to double up on members of the Football Team, but Logan Thomas presents value here as I don’t need any other starter, and no wide receivers jump out at me. I am not going to sacrifice value simply to avoid having two players from the same NFL team.
I was very much hoping to pair Michael Gallup with Dak Prescott here, but evidently, I need to do that in the eighth round if it’s something I want to accomplish. Note taken. Mike Williams has been getting a ton of hype recently as someone has to catch passes for the Chargers besides Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler. Williams is athletic and has the size to be a problem downfield. There’s upside here. Mike Will is a solid WR4.
10.06 Tony Pollard (RB – DAL)
Inexplicably, Tony Pollard remains on the board. I really don’t like handcuffing my running backs, but part of the argument against handcuffs is we are not as good as we think at predicting who would benefit from an injury to the starter. The other part of the argument is the backup that takes over seldom produces as well as the starter. Pollard is an extremely rare case in that we’ve seen proof of concept. Pollard started one game for an injured Ezekiel Elliott in 2020 and was the overall RB1 that week. We know Pollard is talented. We know Pollard will be used as a bell cow in the same manner as Zeke if Zeke gets hurt. There’s also an outside chance Pollard has standalone RB value and is the type of guy you can plug in when in a pinch to get you 6-8 points. For those reasons, I’m willing to forego my general policy of not handcuffing my running backs to take Pollard.
11.07 Marvin Jones (WR – JAX)
At this point, I have four running backs, four wide receivers, a quarterback, and a tight end. I am not going to back up either onesie position because if something happens to my starter, I will just stream. I need one more wide receiver, but the final two spots can be either running back or wide receiver – I’m just looking for upside. I could go Darrell Henderson here, but that completely caps the upside of my bench. I would have a 0% chance at gaining any value from my bench running backs because the only way they would realistically emerge is if something happened to my RB1 or RB2. That doesn’t help me. Marvin Jones is not the type of player I typically target late because he’s old, but not every value pick has to be a swing for the fences. Sometimes hitting a double is good enough. If my WR5 can simply be a WR3, I’ve done well. Jones has a chance to do that.
12.06 Jalen Reagor (WR – PHI)
One thing I’ve learned from this mock is regardless of what approach I take with running backs early, don’t wait until the final couple rounds to finish out the position. There is not a single desirable running back remaining. Running backs should primarily be drafted in rounds 1-3 and 8-10, to the extent possible. Jalen Reagor has been the guy I constantly throw a dart at because he’s going to start in two-receiver sets alongside DeVonta Smith and has a legitimate chance at being third on the Eagles in targets. If he doesn’t pan out, we should know relatively early.
I’m kind of forcing a fifth running back here, but part of the reason I’m doing so is because of the date. The earlier you draft, the more valuable it is to take pure backup running backs because of the possibility of training camp injuries. Jerick McKinnon would certainly get increased burn if something happened to CEH. Why not?
- QB: Dak Prescott
- RB: Ezekiel Elliott, Cam Akers, D’Andre Swift, Tony Pollard, Jerick McKinnon
- WR: Diontae Johnson, Tee Higgins, Curtis Samuel, Mike Williams, Marvin Jones, Jalen Reagor
- TE: Logan Thomas
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