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The Perfect Fantasy Football Draft (12-Team League)

What if everything were to happen according to the script that goes on inside our noggins? For fantasy football, it would be pleasant to walk away with a player you wanted in every round, but there’s always that one dreaded person – or people – that ruin your plans. Getting sniped is almost a guarantee in every draft as there tend to be multiple people with a similar opinion on certain players. But within this article, I’ll be doing the nearly impossible, highlighting the perfect draft where I get the player I desire in each round.

Before we dive into who I took and why, I randomized the order in a 12-team league and was rewarded the fourth-overall pick. The 12-team league is comprised of rosters that include 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 TE, 2 Flex, and five bench players. Lastly, I used FantasyPros’ ADP Consensus tool to determine what players I could select from in each round. So, without further ado, let’s get started with my explanations on each selection that was made.

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Pick 1.04: Alvin Kamara (RB – NO)

At the start of the offseason, I was hesitant to name Alvin Kamara as a running back that you should target early in the first round. The uncertainty surrounding the quarterback position for the New Orleans Saints blindly led me to be indifferent on Kamara, but I should have never doubted the RB1 from 2020. Regardless of who is under center (my bet is mostly Jameis Winston), Kamara is going to be shouldering a heavy workload sans Michael Thomas to begin the season. Kamara hasn’t seen fewer than 97 targets in any of his first four seasons, and he’s averaged 6.2 yards per touch in his career. You should always be open to altering your stance on players depending on certain players due to new information, even though, in this instance, I should have never levied skepticism on Kamara in the first place. There’s no doubt in my mind that Kamara concludes the 2021 campaign as a top-five running back that has the ability to repeat as RB1.

Pick 2.09: Joe Mixon (RB – CIN)

It’s wise to adjust your drafting strategy to the way that everyone else in your league is drafting. For me personally, I tend to lean toward running back-heavy builds that gives me reliability at the running back position. Seeing that I don’t have to concern myself with someone taking a running back I want in the second round, I took Joe Mixon. Mixon has a love/hate relationship in the fantasy football community, but not many have legitimate reasons why they are fading him. All signs point toward Mixon exploding for the Cincinnati Bengals in the upcoming season. Mixon has shown he’s a capable dual-threat back, and Giovani Bernard is no longer on the Bengals. Also, with Joe Burrow returning from a serious knee ailment, I expect Mixon to be a go-to target for the second-year signal-caller to avoid taking big hits. As long as he can remain healthy — which he’s done in every season of his career besides last season — then Mixon has a clear path toward being somewhere in the RB5-RB10 range.

Pick 3.04: D’Andre Swift (RB – DET)

Give me all of the running backs you possibly can to start the draft. Some may be wary of D’Andre Swift right now due to the vagueness of Dan Campbell’s comments on his status for Week 1. However, I don’t think Campbell said anything that should cast doubts in our minds about the second-year running back. If Swift does proceed to slip a bit in drafts, I’ll happily take him at a further discount than he’s already going at. Swift, while he has to share touches with newly-signed Jamaal Williams, is expected to take on a heavy workload under new offensive coordinator, Anthony Lynn. On top of that, the Detroit Lions don’t have a definitive No. 1 wide receiver, which could lead to Swift being more involved in the passing game than he was in 2020. Even in a split backfield with Adrian Peterson last year, Swift still garnered a 12.8% target share as a rookie (ninth-highest mark among RBs).

Pick 4.09: Robert Woods (WR – LAR)

One of the most underappreciated players in the NFL is Robert Woods. Woods has consistently been a viable option in fantasy football, and he continues to be passed on by too many people in fantasy football. Ever since joining the Los Angeles Rams in 2017, Woods has finished as WR32, WR10, WR17, and WR13 in half-PPR formats. While we all want upside at each position, Woods has one of the safest floors, and with Matthew Stafford now throwing him passes, there is the opportunity for him to be a top-10 performer at the wide receiver position. Along with his receiving numbers, Woods has also notched 100+ rushing yards and at least one rushing score in each of the past three seasons. In the fourth round of drafts, there are really solid choices to select from at wide receiver, but it’s hard to pass on Woods. The guy I took after Woods is someone that you could definitely consider taking in the fourth round, and I wouldn’t bat an eye.

Pick 5.04: D.J. Moore (WR – CAR)

D.J. Moore has proven himself to be an up-and-coming star at the wide receiver position. Despite having less-than-ideal situations at quarterback, Moore has made the most of his opportunities, logging back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2019 and 2020. As the No. 1 option on the Carolina Panthers, Moore has concluded the last two seasons as WR18 and WR22 respectively. The only reason why Moore hasn’t finished higher at wide receiver is due to the lack of touchdowns, totaling only 10 touchdowns in his first three seasons in the NFL. But while many are skeptical of Sam Darnold, he could very well be the best quarterback Moore has played with thus far. With an upgrade at quarterback, Moore is being taken as WR22 in the majority of drafts despite him having a chance to end the season as a legitimate top-15 option. Friends don’t let friends avoid Moore.

Pick 6.09: Damien Harris (RB – NE)

Prior to the 2020 season, I was fully onboard the Damien Harris train as I felt that he would eventually unseat Sony Michel as the starting running back of the New England Patriots. My prediction became a reality as Harris took the starting job and ran with it from Weeks 4-14 before ending the season on injured reserve. Entering the 2021 season, Harris is slated to reprise his role as the starter, while Michel is no longer a member of the team after being traded to the Rams. Harris should share the backfield with James White, J.J. Taylor, and rookie Rhamondre Stevenson, but for the most part, Harris should receive the majority of the touches, making him one of my favorite mid-round running backs to take. Having Harris as my fourth running back — and a flex option — would be an ideal choice in any of my drafts.

Pick 7.04: Matthew Stafford (QB – LAR)

Waiting for a quarterback is still a viable strategy, strictly in 1QB leagues. In a perfect world, you could have a choice between Ryan Tannehill or Matthew Stafford in the seventh round of drafts. Given the run-first nature of Tennessee’s offense, I sided with Stafford, who gets to operate in an offense that is having plays called by Sean McVay. Stafford has long been an underrated quarterback that can now shine on a team that has its sights on a Super Bowl. We’ve seen Stafford be a top performer in fantasy football, finishing as nothing worse than a QB15 from 2014-2017. Even though he has run into some rough patches in recent seasons — partly due to injury — Stafford is primed for a stellar showing in his debut season with the Rams. Having Woods, Cooper Kupp, DeSean Jackson, Van Jefferson, Tyler Higbee, and Darrell Henderson makes Stafford a perfect mid-round quarterback to add to your roster.

Pick 8.09: Noah Fant (TE – DEN)

The tight end position can be tough to gauge every season due to the volatility we typically get from tight ends across the league. Besides the obvious names like Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, George Kittle, and Mark Andrews, everyone is far from a lock to be a consistent option at tight end. If I’m unable to snag one of the elite tight ends, I’m content with waiting for one that has the potential to sneak into a top spot at the end of the season. One of my favorite tight ends to draft is Noah Fant of the Denver Broncos. Whether it be Drew Lock or Teddy Bridgewater, Fant should have a prominent role in Denver’s offense alongside Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy. Fant is an athletic tight end that averaged 1.76 yards per route run, which was eighth among TEs in 2020. I’d feel more comfortable for a breakout season from Fant if Lock were to be named the starter, but he’d still put up solid numbers if Bridgewater wins the starting job. At his current price range, I’d much rather have Fant than Dallas Goedert or Logan Thomas, who both have similar ADPs as Fant.

Pick 9.04: Corey Davis (WR – NYJ)

Everyone has been crunching the numbers all offseason to discover who could be the No. 1 wide receiver on the New York Jets this season. Over the course of the offseason, the Jets added Corey Davis, Keelan Cole, and rookie Elijah Moore to a group that already featured Jamison Crowder and Denzel Mims. While Moore has received a ton of hype — and rightfully so — Davis is my favorite to separate himself as the clear go-to target for rookie Zach Wilson. Even though preseason games and stats from those games can be misleading, I think it’s worth noting that Davis has been targeted on 10 of Wilson’s 20 attempts in the preseason thus far, accruing 88 yards in the process. Despite the expectations of lowlight moments from Wilson in his rookie season, Davis is a major value at his current ADP. Mike Williams and Michael Gallup are other wide receivers that are worth consideration in the same range as Davis.

Pick 10.09: Jamaal Williams (RB – DET)

Earlier in the draft, I took Swift, and now I’m adding his backup in Williams. Even if Swift wasn’t dealing with an injury right now, Williams would be one of my favorite late-round choices at the running back position. Detroit didn’t lure Williams away from the Green Bay Packers for nothing this offseason. During his time with the Packers, Williams rushed for 460+ yards in each season behind Aaron Jones, and he corraled 78.7% of his 155 targets in his four seasons in Green Bay. Given the state of the wide receiver position on the Lions, and with Jared Goff being a timid quarterback, both Swift and Williams could make noise in fantasy football in 2021. While Williams is a top handcuff option this season, he could have standalone value if Detroit’s aerial attack is as mediocre as most expect it to be.

Pick 11.04: Marvin Jones Jr. (WR – JAC)

One of the most popular arguments this offseason has been around the wide receiver position on the Jacksonville Jaguars. Who will lead the pack between D.J. Chark, Laviska Shenault, and Marving Jones Jr.? To that, I answer: why can’t all three of them be viable in fantasy football? Yes, the offense of the Jaguars has looked less-than-exciting in the preseason, causing some people to panic. While I’m not a fan of Urban Meyer, Jacksonville has Trevor Lawrence operating an offense that will be playing from behind often. Also, the season-ending injury for Travis Etienne — who hopefully comes back stronger in 2022 — could lead to more targets for the wide receivers on the Jaguars. With Jones being the cheapest of the top three wideouts in Jacksonville, I’m completely fine making him my 11th round choice.

Pick 12.09: Trey Lance (QB – SF)

If you want to talk about upside at the quarterback position, multiple rookies are at the forefront of that discussion. Lawrence definitely has the upside to be a top-10 performer at the quarterback position if he can avoid turnovers and give us solid production with his legs. However, both Justin Fields and Trey Lance are being taken later in drafts, and they both have high ceilings due to their running abilities. What is causing some to pass on Fields and Lance is the fact that there is no date set in stone for either of them to start for their respective teams. While I like both to start sooner rather than later, Lance is the cheaper option, and he plays in a more quarterback-friendly offense under Kyle Shanahan. Taking a mid-round quarterback and pairing him with Lance is a seemingly ideal strategy as he possesses legitimate league-winning upside.

Pick 13.04: Marquez Callaway (WR – NO)

Upon his explosion in the preseason, it’s hard to gauge exactly where Marquez Callaway is going to land in drafts now. But for the time being, he’s still listed as a wide receiver going in the later rounds, though I fully expect him to see a meteoric rise in the coming weeks. With Thomas expected to miss a decent portion of the season, Callaway could emerge as the No. 1 wideout for the Saints in 2021. Kamara is going to put up gaudy numbers, but Callaway has shown he has a nice rapport with Winston, catching all five of his targets for 105 yards and two touchdowns in Week 2 of the preseason. Considering that the later rounds are used to find someone that could provide positive value in accordance with their ADP, I was elated to get Callaway in the 13th round. Once again, since you won’t be partaking in a perfect draft like the one I’ve conducted, you likely won’t find Callaway available in the 13th round.

Pick 14.09: Gerald Everett (TE – SEA)

To finish out the draft, I added another tight end to my roster, who could have a larger role than most expect. Gerald Everett departed from the Rams this offseason, joining forces with Los Angeles’ NFC West rivals in the Seattle Seahawks. D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are the top-two pass-catching options that will have targets funneled to them from Russell Wilson. But Everett could become the de facto No. 3 wide receiver as a hybrid tight end that is an excellent player after the catch. Even with him sharing playing time with Tyler Higbee in 2020, Everett averaged six yards after the catch per reception, which was fifth among TEs. The only tight ends to finish with more yards after the catch per reception were Dawson Knox, Kittle, Jonnu Smith, and Fant. It won’t take long for Everett to earn the trust of Wilson, making him one of my favorite late-round tight ends to take a flier on.

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Skyler Carlin is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Skyler, check out his archive and follow him @skyler_carlin.

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