Fantasy Football 2021: Top-50 Player Rankings and 4-Round 12-Team Mock Draft

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIAugust 3, 2021

Fantasy Football 2021: Top-50 Player Rankings and 4-Round 12-Team Mock Draft

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    Nell Redmond/Associated Press

    If you've played fantasy football the past few years, then the beginning of most drafts are going to feel familiar this year. Many of the top-ranked players heading into the 2021 campaign are the expected stars who have quickly come off the board in recent seasons as well.

    Still, it's important to prepare before going into your draft. While the first-round players may be mostly obvious, other things have changed around the NFL. A new class of rookies has entered the league, while other names outperformed or underperformed in 2020, impacting their stock heading into a new season.

    Which players should you prioritize early in your draft? How will the first few rounds unfold? Every league is different, but rankings and projections can at least give you an idea of how things will go.

    With NFL training camps underway, here's the latest fantasy player rankings and a four-round mock draft.

Top 50 Player Rankings

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    1. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

    2. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings

    3. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans

    4. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

    5. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

    6. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs

    7. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

    8. Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns

    9. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers

    10. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts

    11. Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

    12. Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers

    13. Stefon Diggs, WR, Buffalo Bills

    14. Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

    15. Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

    16. Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington Football Team

    17. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Arizona Cardinals

    18. Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons

    19. DK Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks

    20. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

    21. A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans

    22. Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings

    23. Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Football Team

    24. Darren Waller, TE, Las Vegas Raiders

    25. David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears

    26. Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

    27. George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers

    28. Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

    29. J.K. Dobbins, RB, Baltimore Ravens

    30. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs

    31. Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

    32. D'Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions

    33. Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks

    34. Allen Robinson II, WR, Chicago Bears

    35. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    36. Amari Cooper, WR, Dallas Cowboys

    37. Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders

    38. Julio Jones, WR, Tennessee Titans

    39. Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    40. Darrell Henderson Jr., RB, Los Angeles Rams

    41. CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas Cowboys

    42. Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills

    43. Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Rams

    44. DJ Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers

    45. Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings

    46. Kenny Golladay, WR, New York Giants

    47. Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks

    48. Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams

    49. Myles Gaskin, RB, Miami Dolphins

    50. Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals

4-Round 12-Team Mock Draft

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    Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

    Round 1

    1. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

    2. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings

    3. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans

    4. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

    5. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

    6. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

    7. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers

    8. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs

    9. Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns

    10. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts

    11. Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers

    12. Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

                  

    Round 2

    13. Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

    14. Stefon Diggs, WR, Buffalo Bills

    15. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Arizona Cardinals

    16. Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

    17. Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington Football Team

    18. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

    19. Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons

    20. DK Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks

    21. A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans

    22. Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings

    23. Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Football Team

    24. David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears

                

    Round 3

    25. Darren Waller, TE, Las Vegas Raiders

    26. Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

    27. Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

    28. George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers

    29. J.K. Dobbins, RB, Baltimore Ravens

    30. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs

    31. D'Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions

    32. Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

    33. Allen Robinson II, WR, Chicago Bears

    34. Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks

    35. Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders

    36. Darrell Henderson Jr., RB, Los Angeles Rams

                     

    Round 4

    37. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    38. Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills

    39. Amari Cooper, WR, Dallas Cowboys

    40. Julio Jones, WR, Tennessee Titans

    41. Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    42. CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas Cowboys

    43. Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Rams

    44. DJ Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers

    45. Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals

    46. Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings

    47. Kenny Golladay, WR, New York Giants

    48. Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks

1st-Round Breakdown

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Many fantasy football managers who had the No. 1 overall pick in 2020 used it to take Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey. It made sense after he had a huge 2019 season, during which he had 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground as well as 116 catches for 1,005 yards and four touchdowns.

    However, those managers also ended the season disappointed. McCaffrey was limited to three games last year because of injuries. And while there are always unforeseeable issues that can greatly impact fantasy teams, it was especially tough to deal with considering how frequently he was going No. 1 overall.

    Even though the 25-year-old couldn't meet expectations in 2020, that doesn't change the fact that he should be the top selection again this year. He should have a bounce-back showing, and new Carolina quarterback Sam Darnold will likely rely on him to contribute to both the running and passing games.

    But there are several other running backs who could be considered at No. 1, and none of them would be bad picks. Minnesota's Dalvin Cook, Tennessee's Derrick Henry and New Orleans' Alvin Kamara are all coming off big seasons that have them as probable top-five selections and options to consider with the top pick.

    However, Nathan Jahnke of Pro Football Focus believes taking McCaffrey at No. 1 is a "no-brainer."

    "McCaffrey either touched the ball or was targeted on 42.0 percent of his offensive plays in 2019, and that increased to 48.8 percent in 2020," he wrote. "McCaffrey would have been on pace for the greatest fantasy season of all time if that usage continued and he wasn't hurt."

    Like most years, running backs are likely to come off the board quickly in your draft. It wouldn't be strange to see nine or 10 backs selected in the opening round. There aren't a ton of running backs who are guaranteed bell cows, so it's beneficial to take a top-tier one when you can.

    One added wrinkle to the first round this year is the possibility of Kansas City's Travis Kelce getting taken within the first 10-12 picks. Tight ends typically don't get selected that early, but once the few elite players at the position get taken, there aren't many reliable options, which often leads to streaming at the position.

    Kelce was much more impactful than every other tight end in fantasy last year, making him worthy of consideration with your top pick. In points-per-reception leagues in 2020, he had 312.8 fantasy points in 15 games (per FantasyPros). Las Vegas' Darren Waller had 278.6, then no other tight end had more than 176.6.

    "Kelce beat the third-place scorer (Logan Thomas and Robert Tonyan tied) by 124.2 points and Waller beat him by 102. This is just a massive advantage. You’ll never come close to this at any other position," Michael Salfino of The Athletic wrote.

    You shouldn't pass over players such as McCaffrey, Cook, Henry or Kamara to take Kelce. But if your pick is in the back half of the first round, and you know you can get a running back early in the second, then selecting the Chiefs star could end up being a huge advantage.

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