Fantasy Football 2021: Early Mock Draft, Sleepers After NFL Draft

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMay 2, 2021

Fantasy Football 2021: Early Mock Draft, Sleepers After NFL Draft

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    The 2021 NFL draft has concluded, which means it's back to watching free agency, waiting for training camps to open and, of course, preparing for fantasy football.

    In terms of fantasy impact, the 2021 draft did not disappoint. We saw several potential fantasy stars—like Kyle Pitts, Ja'Marr Chase and Jaylen Waddle—come off the board early. Meanwhile, existing fantasy standouts likely got better.

    Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, for example, got a new left tackle in Northwestern's Rashawn Slater to go with a wideout in Josh Palmer and a tight end in Tre' McKitty.

    While not every rookie will make an immediate impact, the fantasy landscape has changed. Here you will find an early two-round fantasy mock and a look at some sleepers to keep an eye on as the march to training camp continues.

Draft Recap

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2021 Fantasy Mock Draft

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    1.01: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

    1.02: Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

    1.03: Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings

    1.04: Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

    1.05: Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers

    1.06: Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts

    1.07: Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans

    1.08: Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

    1.09: Stefon Diggs, WR, Buffalo Bills

    1.10: Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

    1.11: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Arizona Cardinals

    1.12: Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers

    2.01: Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns

    2.02: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

    2.03: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks

    2.04: Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs

    2.05: Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints

    2.06: George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers

    2.07: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs

    2.08: A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans

    2.09: Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings

    2.10: Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons

    2.11: Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

    2.12: Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

Sleepers to Watch

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    Trevor Lawrence, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

    Rookie quarterbacks aren't always fantasy gold, but Herbert proved to be an exception last season. Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback and 2021 No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence could be another. Not only does he have elite potential, but he also has a fine supporting cast that includes former teammate Travis Etienne, DJ Chark Jr., Laviska Shenault Jr., Marvin Jones and James Robinson.

    Lawrence should be a starting fantasy quarterback from day one.

    "Lawrence is a QB1 immediately and forever, while Etienne is a great mid-high RB2 with potential to reach the top 10," The Athletic's Jake Ciely wrote.

    While it's hard to be quite as high on Etienne as a rookie because of Robinson's presence, he should be a high-end third-down back. Lawrence is a fine quarterback to target in the middle rounds.


    Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

    Taking running backs in the first round of the actual draft is questionable, but the Pittsburgh Steelers' decision to nab Najee Harris could pay off for fantasy managers. The Alabama product doesn't have a ton of breakaway ability but is a punishing between-the-tackles runner.

    With Ben Roethlisberger back for another season, Harris should benefit from a dangerous vertical passing game. The addition of rookie center Kendrick Green should further assist Harris in the inside running game.

    Harris is also a fine pass-catching back, one who produced 43 receptions this past season.

    The Steelers should use Harris as a featured back immediately, and fantasy managers can likely expect production similar to that of James Conner in 2018—he had 973 rushing yards, 497 receiving yards and 13 total touchdowns that year.

    Harris should be a quality RB2 at worst in 2021.


    Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

    Plenty of fantasy managers will be in on Chase, who has vowed to rewrite the Cincinnati Bengals record books.

    "I'm going to break every record they've got," Chase told reporters. "That's my goal right there. I'm telling you right now."

    Managers, though, shouldn't sleep on second-year wideout Tee Higgins. While he doesn't have the preexisting chemistry with Joe Burrow that Chase does, he built plenty of rapport last season.

    Higgins also established himself as Cincinnati's new No. 1 receiver last year, producing 908 yards and six touchdowns despite not having Burrow for six games.

    While Chase will take some of the targets, he's going to take defensive attention too. Don't be surprised if Higgins has a Year 2 jump like the one experienced by DK Metcalf last season. Value him as a high-end WR2 with upside.