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.
Non-PPR Mock Draft: 12 Teams, 10th Pick
As a rookie, Barkley was about as good as it gets. Technically, Todd Gurley was better (fantasy's RB1), but Barkley was the RB2 in his rookie season and led the NFL in scrimmage yards (2,028), scored 15 touchdowns and hauled in 91 catches. Injuries have kept him out of 17 of the team's past 19 games (and his ACL rehab this offseason continues to be a major storyline). If his health cooperates in 2021, he has the skill set to finish better than this draft slot.
2.03 - Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
The all-time career rushing leader in Alabama history, Harris rushed for 1,466 yards and 26 touchdowns and added 43 receptions for 425 yards and four more scores last season. With few holes in his game, Harris will step in as a Week 1 workhorse. Given the team's propensity to feature its lead back, Harris is locked into one of the largest projected workloads, which makes him one of my favorite second-round RB targets.
While the team's quarterback play hasn't done him many favors, McLaurin managed to set career highs with 87 catches and 1,118 yards in his second season. While his Y/R dipped to 12.9 from 15.8, he set career highs in YPG (74.5) and catch rate (64.9%). Even though WFT didn't draft a QB in April, signing Ryan Fitzpatrick in free agency boosts McLaurin's outlook and puts him squarely in the WR1 (top 12) mix.
Cooper finished 2020 with a career-high 92 receptions for 1,114 yards and five touchdowns. It was his third consecutive 1,000-yard season and fifth of his career. In 41 games as a member of the Cowboys, Cooper has averaged 73.9 yards per game. Even though I started RB/RB in this mock, both McLaurin (Round 3) and Cooper (Round 4) are ranked in the top 12 of my preseason wide receiver rankings.
Claypool scored 11 touchdowns -- nine receiving and two rushing -- in the regular season and added two more receiving scores in the team's playoff loss to Cleveland. Re-signing JuJu Smith-Schuster to a one-year deal takes some steam out of Mapletron's upside in year two, but it wouldn't surprise me if he performed as the team's most productive wideout in 2021.
From Weeks 2 to 4 last season, 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 combined (two) 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 although his ankle and shoulder injuries led ESPN's Adam Schefter to suggest that Prescott "may not be (fully) back all season long."
Year 1 in Carolina was generally a success for Anderson, who set career highs in targets (136), receptions (95) and yards (1,096). On the other hand, he set a career low in Y/R (11.5) and his three touchdowns were a career low outside of his rookie season. Getting off to a great start, Anderson had 74-plus yards in six of his first seven games with all three of his 100-yard games during that span. Beyond that point, however, he reached 74 yards in only two of nine games and averaged nearly 40 YPG less over the final nine-game span (91.4 YPG in first 7G vs. 50.7 in final 9G). The free-agency departure of Curtis Samuel could help Anderson improve upon his 2020 numbers.
Joining the Cardinals on a one-year deal, Conner will steal some early-down carries from Chase Edmonds and could potentially be in a fairly even split. If he can stay healthy and earn a larger role, there is plenty of upside for Conner as well (as Edmonds).
In his four NFL seasons, Williams has averaged 736.5 scrimmage yards, 155.5 touches and 30.5 receptions per season with the Packers. While he remains his team's RB2 (to D'Andre Swift instead of Aaron Jones), Williams should get 8-10 touches per game even with both Swift and Williams healthy.
A fifth-round pick out of Tulane, Mooney had a highly productive rookie campaign (61/631/4). Earlier this offseason, coach Matt Nagy talked up Mooney by saying that he "has a rare element of speed, combined with route-running, hands and passion. And commitment." With the Bears trading Anthony Miller to the Texans, it only further boosts Mooney's outlook for 2021.
A common approach I've taken in drafts is to double-down on tight ends if I end up waiting on the position. With Gerald Everett signing with Seattle and the team trading for Matthew Stafford, there is optimism for improved numbers from Higbee.
Playing at less than 100% in 2020, Fant averaged only 10.9 Y/R after averaging 14.1 in 2019. Fant's ADOT (7.6 to 6.7) and YAC/R (8.3 to 6.1) both declined year over year, but he also set career highs in receptions (62) and yards (673). Fant is currently dealing with a "leg issue" that isn't believed to be serious or keep him out Week 1.
Meyers led the Patriots with 81 targets, 59 receptions and 729 yards in 2020. While the team added Nelson Agholor and Kendall Bourne in free agency, there's a good chance that the Meyers leads the position group in receiving once again.
14.03 - Washington DST, Washington Football Team
15.10 - Younghoe Koe, K, Atlanta Falcons
There is competition on the depth chart, but Snell -- or whichever back ultimately slides into the RB2 role -- would become a top waiver-wire add if Harris were to miss any time. With my last pick, I prevent missing out on Snell as a handcuff to Harris.
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