Fantasy Football 2021: Breaking Down Mock Draft, Bold Picks and Strategy

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIAugust 4, 2021

Fantasy Football 2021: Breaking Down Mock Draft, Bold Picks and Strategy

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Mock drafts may not be as much fun as the actual draft for your fantasy football league, when you get together with friends and make it an event. For mocks, you're often alone and drafting against strangers for a non-existent league, but they can be crucial to success in an upcoming season.

    If you're looking to get an edge over your leaguemates heading into the 2021 season, it may be worth your time to participate in a few mock drafts. It will give you an idea of when certain players may be selected so that you don't miss out on your top targets for your team.

    With many leagues holding their fantasy drafts over the next month, you may be looking for some tips and advice. So let's run a two-round mock draft using FantasyPros' Mock Draft Simulator to see what bold picks are made and which strategies could develop.

    Here's a look at how things shook out.

Simulated 2-Round Mock Draft

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    Nell Redmond/Associated Press

    Round 1

    1. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

    2. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings

    3. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

    4. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans

    5. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers

    6. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

    7. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs

    8. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

    9. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts

    10. Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

    11. Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns

    12. Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers


    Round 2

    13. Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington Football Team

    14. Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

    15. Stefon Diggs, WR, Buffalo Bills

    16. Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

    17. Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

    18. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Arizona Cardinals

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

    20. Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons

    21. DK Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks

    22. Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings

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

    24. Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

How Early Should Adams Be Taken in 1st Round?

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    Matt Ludtke/Associated Press

    The first few picks in most fantasy drafts are likely to all be running backs, but a wide receiver or two is sure to come off the board at some point during the opening round. And Davante Adams is the clear top WR heading into 2021.

    But how early should the Green Bay Packers star be drafted? In this simulated mock, Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara and Derrick Henry were selected with the first four picks, and that should be a common occurrence for most leagues.

    If you have the No. 5 pick, you may consider taking Adams there, which is what happened in this mock simulation. There are still a few strong running backs to consider, too, such as Ezekiel Elliott, Saquon Barkley and Jonathan Taylor.

    However, the Green Bay man should be taken around the Nos. 5-7 picks. He's coming off a huge 2020 season in which he had 115 catches for 1,374 yards and a career-high 18 touchdowns in 14 games. And now that quarterback Aaron Rodgers is at training camp, their connection should lead to impressive numbers again for both.

    So, if you're picking late in the first round and Adams has slipped through, make sure to take him anytime from around the sixth or seventh pick onward.

Kelce Is a Rare 1st-Round Worthy Tight End This Year

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    Steve Luciano/Associated Press

    You probably never thought there would be a day when you might take a tight end in the first round of your league's fantasy draft, and potentially with a pick as high as the No. 5 or No. 6 selection.

    However, Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs has redefined the position and is a huge step up from every other player in the role.

    The 31-year-old's fantasy stats in 2020 were unreal, especially considering the ones put up by the other tight ends around the NFL. In points-per-reception leagues, he had 312.8 fantasy points, per FantasyPros. Las Vegas' Darren Waller had 278.6, but no other tight end had more than 176.6.

    If you take Kelce in the first round, you could be getting about 150 more total fantasy points out of the tight end spot than if you waited until the middle rounds. Because of that, the Chiefs star is going to be in high demand in the opening round once you get past the top four running backs.

    The Cincinnati product went No. 6 in this mock simulation, and that's not a reach. In fact, there's even a case to be made that he is a better pick at No. 5 than Adams, considering the depth of strong wide receivers available throughout the draft.

    There's a chance that the gap between Kelce and other top tight ends isn't as wide in 2021, but he's been reliable enough that his production should warrant this first-round selection.

Rookie Harris Could Be a High-Risk, High-Reward Selection

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    It seems like there's always a rookie running back getting a ton of preseason fantasy hype. Last year, it was Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who was getting taken in the first round despite never before playing an NFL snap.

    Najee Harris isn't going to get selected in the first round, but the new starting Pittsburgh Steelers running back is likely to come off the board in Round 2 in many drafts. In this mock simulation, he went No. 17 overall, the only rookie to get picked in the first two rounds.

    The opportunities should be there for the 23-year-old to break out, considering James Conner is no longer in Pittsburgh's backfield and Harris has more potential than Benny Snell Jr. and Anthony McFarland Jr. That's why the Steelers used their first-round pick on him in the 2021 NFL draft.

    But rookies are never a sure thing. And even though Harris was dominant during his college days at Alabama, that doesn't mean he'll immediately become a top-tier NFL back. He could quickly put up some big numbers, though. 

    It's still worth taking the former Crimson Tide star around the middle of the second round because of the high potential for reward. But you may want to build some RB depth during the early rounds for insurance.