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, 1st 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 total 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.
Jefferson exceeded all expectations in his inaugural season with 88 catches for a rookie-record 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns. Not only did the former LSU Tiger have seven 100-yard games, but he had double-digit targets in five of his final six games after doing so in only two of his first 10 games. Going forward, Jefferson should be the 1(a) to Adam Thielen's 1(b) in Minnesota's passing offense.
Few teams want to establish the run more than the Seahawks so returning to Seattle on a two-year deal was Carson's ideal landing spot. Even though the Seahawks let Russell Wilson "cook" in the first half of the year, Carson performed as a weekly fantasy RB13 or better in four of the team's five games before their Week 6 bye. In fact, he was a top-five performer from Weeks 1 to 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.
It was a relatively disappointing season for Woods and the Rams offense in general. Woods tied a career high in receptions (90), but his receiving yardage (936) and yards from scrimmage (1,091) were three-year lows. Replacing Jared Goff with Matthew Stafford generates plenty of optimism for all of the skill-position players.
Moore averaged only 6.9 targets per game through his first 10 games, but that number jumped to 9.8 over his final five games. In addition, three of his four 100-yard games occurred over that final five-game stretch. Even though his 55.9% catch rate was a career low, the 23-year-old receiver's ADOT (13.2), Y/R (18.1) and receiving yards (1,193) were all career highs.
6.12 - D.J. Chark, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Chark missed three games in 2020 and averaged 12.9 yards per game less than in 2019, but improved quarterback play with Trevor Lawrence makes Chark a bounce-back candidate for 2021. Two seasons ago, Chark had 73 catches for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns in his age-23 season.
Missing half of the season, Mostert finished the year with 677 scrimmage yards (84.6/G) and only three touchdowns on 120 touches (15/G). Mostert has career averages of 5.6 YPC and 10.0 Y/R, but it's possible that Trey Sermon emerges as the team's top fantasy running back at some point this season. In hindsight, I should have taken Mostert/Sermon at 6.12/7.01.
With Drake often going in Round 9 or later in fantasy football mock drafts, Drake is worth the risk as an RB4 for this team. Based on the relative value compared to their ADPs, I'd prefer Drake (8.12 in this mock) to Josh Jacobs (4.02).
Averaging a career-high 76.7 YPG, Cooks finished his first season in Houston with 81 catches for 1,150 yards and six touchdowns. From Week 5 on, Cooks had at least 59 yards in 10 of 11 games. During that 11-game span, he averaged 6.5 catches and 92 yards per game.
Given Deshaun Watson's uncertain status as we approach the 2021 season, it's reasonable to project lower year-over-year numbers for Cooks, even with Will Fuller now in Miami. At the same time, he should be the recipient of as many targets as he can handle.
Following his breakout season -- correction: breakout month (December 2019), it was a disappointing 2020 for Higbee and his fantasy managers. The fifth-year tight end saw a year-over-year dip in targets (60), receptions (44) and yards (521), but he did set a career high in touchdowns (five), though three were caught in one game. That led to inconsistency as Higbee finished as a top-10 fantasy tight end in only two weeks last season.
With Gerald Everett signing with Seattle and the team trading for Matthew Stafford, there is optimism for improved numbers from Higbee.
Beginning his career by rushing for 1,000-plus yards and hauling in 35 receptions in back-to-back seasons, Lindsay missed five games but was also on the wrong side of Denver's timeshare with Melvin Gordon in 2020. The former UDFA joins a crowded backfield in Houston that will be hampered often by negative game scripts, but I wouldn't be surprised of he ends up the most productive of the team's backs.
Sustaining his season-ending knee injury in Week 11, the only quarterback to throw more pass attempts than Burrow (404, 40.4/G) through that point in the season was Tom Brady (433, 39.4/G). Burrow should rank near the top of the NFL in pass attempts in 2021. That volume makes last year's No. 1 overall pick a worthy back-end QB1 in drafts this summer.
From Weeks 6 to 17, Thomas finished in the top five among tight ends with 58 receptions (third-most), 564 yards (third-most) and five touchdowns (tied fifth-most). Last year's breakout tight end will enter 2021 as a viable top-10 option even with the team bolstering its receiving corps via the draft and free agency and I like targeted a pair of tight ends late in drafts like I did with this one with Higbee and Thomas.
If Derrick Henry were to miss time, it's possible that Evans would maintain a change-of-pace role, but he makes for a solid end-of-bench stash.
15.01 - Colts DST, Indianapolis Colts
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