The best way to become good at something is to practice. So, what should you do if you want to draft a better fantasy football team?
Practice, of course!
Leading up to the start of the 2021 NFL season, we will use the 2021 Fantasy Football Mock Draft Simulator (powered by FantasyPros) to complete fantasy football mock drafts.
We will use a variety of scoring formats -- PPR, half-PPR, standard scoring and even 2-QB leagues, league sizes and draft slots. The goal is to give you a good representation of the team that you may be able to construct given your league settings and the rationale of why we made the picks we did.
+ Our mocks will be tracked here: Fantasy Football Mock Drafts.
That said, nothing beats practicing yourself so (check out the simulator) and complete a mock in a matter of minutes.
Half-PPR Mock Draft: 12 Teams, 2nd Pick
If you drafted McCaffrey first overall in 2020, you likely find little solace that he was fantasy's top-scoring back over the three-week window in which he appeared (Weeks 1, 2 and 9). In those games, however, CMC handled 76 touches including 17 receptions, racked up 374 yards from scrimmage and scored six touchdowns. All of those numbers were either first or second among running backs in that split timeframe.
Before his lost season due to injury, McCaffrey was nearly an every-snap iron man in 2019. Heading into his age-25 season, he remains the top choice for me in 2021 drafts.
Allen missed a couple of games and was limited in others, but he finished with 100 catches for the third time in four seasons despite playing with a rookie quarterback. Although just shy of the 1,000-yard mark and averaging a career-low 9.92 Y/R, Allen tied his career high (set as a rookie in 2013) with eight touchdowns. Along with Davante Adams and Diontae Johnson, Allen was just one of three receivers to get double-digit targets in 10 games in 2020.
It was an injury-plagued 2020 season for Thomas, who failed to score in seven regular-season appearances. While Thomas played in the four Taysom Hill starts and had a pair of 100-yard games, both against the Falcons, the most-likely scenario for the 2021 Saints is that Jameis Winston takes over as the team's starter.
Before 2020, Thomas had improved every season -- 1,137 yards (2016), 1,245 (2017), 1,405 (2018) and 1,725 (2019). In his last full season (2019), he led the NFL in both receptions (149) and yards (1,725).
Falling short of preseason expectations, Sanders missed four games and averaged just 3.1 yards per target after his catch rate dropped from 79.4% as a rookie to 53.8% in 2020. Although he averaged an impressive 5.3 yards per carry for the season, Sanders failed to exceed 3.8 YPC in four of his final five games. Even though the team added a number of backs to the roster, several of those will be cut before the season and I'm willing to bet on Sanders skill set.
Few teams want to "establish the run" more than the Seahawks so returning to Seattle on a two-year deal was his ideal landing spot. Even though the Seahawks let Russell Wilson "cook" in the first half of the year, Carson performed as fantasy's RB13 or better in four of the team's five games before their Week 6 bye. In fact, he was a top-five performer through Week 5. Coming out of the bye, Carson sustained a foot injury in Week 7 that kept him out of several games. Carson's physical running style lends itself to a greater propensity to get banged up, but he will likely be undervalued in fantasy drafts this summer.
While Chubb (RB9) was a top-10 fantasy running back in 2020, so was Hunt (RB10). Outside of Week 16, Hunt had double-digit touches in all of his other 15 games. Playing in one of the league's most run-heavy offenses, there is enough to go around for both Chubb and Hunt to be drafted as viable starters in 12-team leagues.
Playing on the franchise tag in 2020, Prescott was dominant before his season was cut short by a compound ankle fracture. From Weeks 2 to 4, Prescott threw for a minimum (yes, minimum) of 450 yards in three consecutive games with a total of 11 touchdowns (eight passing and three rushing). As noted in our Dak Prescott 2021 Fantasy Football Profile, Prescott (three) had more 450-yard passing games than the rest of the league (two) combined in 2020. During that three-game stretch before getting injured, Prescott performed as the weekly QB1, QB4 and QB1, respectively. With a talented trio of wide receivers, Prescott has tremendous upside if he can stay healthy.
In hindsight, there were a couple of opportunities where I could have selected a safer WR3 for this squad. For example, the Chris Carson pick at 5.01 (a pick I really like in a vacuum) is where I could have selected Tyler Lockett (5.02), Brandon Aiyuk (5.04), Odell Beckham (5.05), Ja'Marr Chase (5.06), as examples.
Thomas was the only tight end in the league to have a minimum of four targets in every game last season. While he was consistent throughout the season, he was especially productive down the stretch.
From Weeks 6 to 17, Thomas scored the third-most fantasy points with 58 receptions (third-most), 564 yards (third-most) and five touchdowns (tied fifth-most) amongst tight ends. The breakout tight end will enter 2021 as a viable TE1 (top-12 option).
In 2018, Williams had 10 touchdowns. In 2019, he led the NFL with 20.4 Y/R and posted his first (and only) 1,000-yard season. Not only were overall numbers (48/756/5) disappointing, but he had only four top-36 performances (half-PPR) out of his 15 games last season.
Singletary followed up his rookie season with 687 rushing yards (4.4 YPC) and two touchdowns to go along with 38 catches for 269 yards. While I would prefer Moss over Singletary, both are not much more than a flex option heading into 2021.
With the Falcons trading Julio Jones to Tennessee, Gage should rank second or third on the team in receiving behind Calvin Ridley and possibly rookie Kyle Pitts in 2021. Gage set career highs across the board in 2020 with 72 catches, 110 targets, 786 yards and four touchdowns.
It was a disappointing rookie season for Reagor and even though the Eagles used a top-10 pick on DeVonta Smith, the 2020 Heisman Trophy recipient, Reagor is worth a roll of the dice here as my WR6.
14.12 - Ravens DST, DST, Baltimore Ravens
Down the stretch, Kmet moved ahead of Jimmy Graham on the depth chart in terms of snaps played. The rookie out of Notre Dame averaged 6.0 targets per game over the five final regular-season games. Kmet could be poised for a breakout sophomore campaign.
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