2021 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Updated 12-Team Round-by-Round AnalysisAugust 16, 2021
2021 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Updated 12-Team Round-by-Round Analysis
We're in it now, kids.
With the first full week of preseason games in the rearview mirror, we're getting that much closer to the season opener between the Dallas Daks and the Tampa Tommys on September 9. Football season is right around the corner.
Another NFL season means another fantasy football season. But before we can set lineups for Week 1, we have to draft teams.
It's the biggest day on the fantasy calendar, hands down.
There are numerous tools available to fantasy managers to help with predraft preparation, whether it's player rankings or strategy guides. But one of the most important tools is the mock draft—a practice run that can give you an idea where players are being drafted and when the big positional runs could start.
Now, some folks don't have the time (or inclination) to take part in a mock. But you can also glean some important information by examining this draft recently participated in by fantasy analysts, veteran players and, well, me.
It's a 12-team PPR league with a pretty straightforward setup—start one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, a tight end, a defense, a kicker and a "flex" spot. I drew the No. 2 pick this time.
Let's get rolling, starting with a 1.01 pick that has been about as close to unanimous as fantasy picks get.
Note: This draft took place before the first full weekend of preseason games, so player movement and injuries from those games are not reflected.
1.01: Christian McCaffrey, RB, CAR
1.02: Dalvin Cook, RB, MIN
1.03: Derrick Henry, RB, TEN
1.04: Alvin Kamara, RB, NOS
1.05: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, DAL
1.06: Nick Chubb, RB, CLE
1.07: Aaron Jones, RB, GBP
1.08: Travis Kelce, TE, KCC
1.09: Saquon Barkley, RB, NYG
1.10: Austin Ekeler, RB, LAC
1.11: Tyreek Hill, WR, KCC
1.12: Stefon Diggs, WR, BUF
Draft by Numbers
The first round of drafts isn't generally known for having a ton of surprises, and this one is no different. As is the case with most drafts in 2021, running backs ruled Round 1, with nine of the first 12 selections (and seven straight to start things off) hailing from that position.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce went a little earlier than some might expect at 1.08. But the No. 1 fantasy tight end in each of the past five seasons was actually drafted in just about the same spot as his ADP at Fantasy Football Calculator.
If you want Kelce, he's going to cost you.
Christian McCaffrey of the Carolina Panthers is the first overall pick in the overwhelming majority of drafts. There isn't as much unanimity with the second pick, but for my money, the clear No. 2 pick is Dalvin Cook of the Minnesota Vikings.
Cook's 1,557 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns both trailed Derrick Henry of the Tennessee Titans in 2020. But Cook also added 44 catches for 361 yards, and that passing-game usage vaulted Cook ahead of Henry in PPR fantasy points. Cook does have a bit of an injury history, but he stayed healthy a year ago and doesn't have Henry's workload concerns after a 378-carry 2020 campaign.
2.01: Joe Mixon, RB, CIN
2.02: Jonathan Taylor, RB, IND
2.03: Davante Adams, WR, GBP
2.04: Calvin Ridley, WR, ATL
2.05: Najee Harris, RB, PIT
2.06: David Montgomery, RB, CHI
2.07: Patrick Mahomes, QB, KCC
2.08: Antonio Gibson, RB, WFT
2.09: Darren Waller, TE, LVR
2.10: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, ARZ
2.11: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, KCC
2.12: D'Andre Swift, RB, DET
Don't Do It
I have been banging this drum for so long that I'm surprised my arms haven't fallen off.
Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs is an outstanding quarterback. But there are numerous reasons why using a second-round pick on Mahomes is a bad idea.
Quarterback is easily the deepest position in fantasy—there are viable starters available much later in drafts. The scoring gap between the "best" (No. 1) and the "worst" (No. 12) starting quarterback is smaller than the same gap at running back, tight end or wide receiver. And it has been over a decade since the first quarterback drafted on average actually finished that high.
The "edge" you get from drafting an elite quarterback just isn't worth the hole it will create in your roster at another position.
Last year at this time, the hype around Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire was deafening. The former LSU star was being selected sixth overall on average, and in news that should surprise exactly no one, Edwards-Helaire wasn't able to live up to that draft-day price tag.
However, while Edwards-Helaire was overvalued as a rookie, he may be undervalued in 2021. Andy Reid offenses have a long history of producing top-10 fantasy running backs, and this year Edwards-Helaire has a season of experience and an actual offseason under his belt along with an improved offensive line opening holes for him.
3.01: A.J. Brown, WR, TEN
3.02: George Kittle, TE, SFO
3.03: J.K. Dobbins, RB, BAL
3.04: DK Metcalf, WR, SEA
3.05: Justin Jefferson, WR, MIN
3.06: CeeDee Lamb, WR, DAL
3.07: Allen Robinson, WR, CHI
3.08: Chris Carson, RB, SEA
3.09: Josh Jacobs, RB, LVR
3.10: Keenan Allen, WR, LAC
3.11: Miles Sanders, RB, PHI
3.12: Robert Woods, WR, LAR
Wide Receiver Run
As a whole, the first three rounds of fantasy drafts have been dominated by running backs in 2021; you can expect 20 or so to come off the board by the time Round 3 comes to a close.
But the third round is also where the pendulum starts to shift—beginning with A.J. Brown of the Tennessee Titans and finishing with Robert Woods of the Los Angeles Rams, seven high-end wideouts were drafted.
Given how the first three rounds have tended to flow this year, a pretty compelling argument can be made for an RB/RB/WR start to the draft. Landing two dependable starters in the backfield and a pass-catcher like DK Metcalf of the Seattle Seahawks or Allen Robinson of the Chicago Bears isn't a bad start.
There's no question that the top tier at tight end in 2021 contains three players—Kelce, Darren Waller of the Las Vegas Raiders and George Kittle of the San Francisco 49ers. The only question if you want one of those Tier 1 tight ends is how much you're willing to pay.
Of the three, Kittle is the least expensive for one reason—he has missed 10 games the past two seasons, including half of the 2020 campaign. Those durability concerns are legitimate, but when on the field, Kittle can be almost as effective as Kelce. Two years ago, his 15.9 PPR points per game was just a tenth of a point off Kelce's league-leading pace.
4.01: Darrell Henderson, RB, LAR
4.02: Mike Evans, WR, TBB
4.03: Terry McLaurin, WR, WFT
4.04: Chris Godwin, WR, TBB
4.05: Amari Cooper, WR, DAL
4.06: Adam Thielen, WR, MIN
4.07: Kyle Pitts, TE, ATL
4.08: DJ Moore, WR, CAR
4.09: Cooper Kupp, WR, LAR
4.10: Myles Gaskin, RB, MIA
4.11: Mike Davis, RB, ATL
4.12: Julio Jones, WR, TEN
Wideout Fire Sale
If Round 3 is where the wideouts start flying off the board in earnest, then Round 4 is where things kick into overdrive.
Between the third and fourth round, 15 of the 24 players selected in this draft were wide receivers—including eight in the fourth round. By the middle of that round, just about any pass-catcher who could reasonably be expected to challenge for a top-12 spot was off the board.
This isn't to say there isn't more depth at wide receiver than running back (there is). Or that there isn't value to be had at WR later in drafts (again, there is). But if you punt on wide receivers over the first four rounds of the draft (as I did in this mock), there is a price to be paid.
Had Cooper Kupp made it to 4.11, he probably would have been my pick—I expect the fifth-year pro to rebound quite nicely in 2021 catching passes from Matthew Stafford in Los Angeles.
But he wasn't—so a third running back it is.
Is Atlanta's Mike Davis an elite talent? Hardly—he failed to crack four yards a carry last year with the Carolina Panthers. But thanks to over 1,000 total yards and eight scores a year ago, Davis was a top-12 fantasy option.
There's not much on the depth chart behind Davis in Atlanta. Another season with over 200 touches is likely. And getting a featured back in the back half of the fourth round of a draft isn't easy—especially this year.
5.01: Josh Allen, QB, BUF
5.02: Tyler Lockett, WR, SEA
5.03: Diontae Johnson, WR, PIT
5.04: Travis Etienne, RB, JAX
5.05: Kareem Hunt, RB, CLE
5.06: Javonte Williams, RB, DEN
5.07: Mark Andrews, TE, BAL
5.08: Kyler Murray, QB, ARZ
5.09: T.J. Hockenson, TE, DET
5.10: Justin Herbert, QB, LAC
5.11: Chase Edmonds, RB, ARZ
5.12: Brandon Aiyuk, WR, SFO
Spreading Things Out
The fifth round of this draft was where things really started to diverge. The round was all over the place—four running backs, three quarterbacks, three wide receivers and a pair of tight ends came off the board.
The running backs have one thing in common: All four are embroiled in some level of carry-share. As talented as Kareem Hunt of the Cleveland Browns is, he's still the clear No. 2 back behind Nick Chubb. Javonte Williams of the Denver Broncos and Travis Etienne of the Jacksonville Jaguars are both rookies with loads of talent but uncertain short-term futures. No one is really sure how the split in Arizona will work between Chase Edmonds and James Conner.
If you want upside in the backfield, there will be some available in the middle rounds. If you want certainty, though, you will have to hit the position significantly earlier.
Heading into this draft, did I plan to not draft a wide receiver until the 50th pick? No.
Am I especially pleased that Tyler Lockett of the Seattle Seahawks is my WR1? Nope. Lockett topped 1,000 receiving yards and tied a career high with 10 scores last year, but 300 of those yards and six of those scores came in two games. To say that the 28-year-old is highly volatile from week to week is being kind.
But for the season, Lockett finished just outside fantasy WR1 territory in 2020, and that's more upside than the other wide receivers available at this spot offered.
At least, that's what I keep telling myself.
6.01: Jerry Jeudy, WR, DEN
6.02: Ja'Marr Chase, WR, CIN
6.03: Tee Higgins, WR, CIN
6.04: James Robinson, RB, JAX
6.05: Kenny Golladay, WR, NYG
6.06: Melvin Gordon III, RB, DEN
6.07: Michael Carter, RB, NYJ
6.08: Damien Harris, RB, NEP
6.09: Chase Claypool, WR, PIT
6.10: Lamar Jackson, QB, BAL
6.11: Trey Sermon, RB, SFO
6.12: Ronald Jones II, RB, TBB
There are any number of things that can cause a positional run in a fantasy draft. Take some positional scarcity and add in a few picks in a row that all target a certain position, and whammo—it's run time.
That is what happened in the sixth round of this draft. While three straight wide receivers kicked off the round (and five total were taken) six of the last nine picks in the round were running backs. By the end of the round, 33 backs had been selected—just south of half the picks overall.
If veterans like James Robinson of the Jaguars and Melvin Gordon III of the Broncos can hold off rookie challengers, or first-year backs like Michael Carter of the New York Jets and Trey Sermon of the 49ers seize lead roles, this could be the round that swings the league. But those are far from certain bets.
What is certain is that "Zero RB" (fading the position in the first handful of rounds) is a tough strategy to pull off this year.
Yes, that's right—four running backs in the first six rounds.
That's just how I roll.
Trey Sermon is something of a favorite son of the fantasy community in 2021. It's not especially hard to see why—his skill set appears to be a fantastic fit for what Kyle Shanahan does offensively, and the only thing standing between Sermon and lead back duties in San Francisco is the oft-injured Raheem Mostert.
We have seen a number of backs emerge as fantasy contributors in Shanahan's offense, whether it was Mostert in San Francisco, Devonta Freeman in Atlanta or Steve Slaton in Houston.
Sermon may well be the most talented of the lot.
7.01: Courtland Sutton, WR, DEN
7.02: Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, CLE
7.03: JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, PIT
7.04: Raheem Mostert, RB, SFO
7.05: Dak Prescott, QB, DAL
7.06: DeVonta Smith, WR, PHI
7.07: Brandin Cooks, WR, HOU
7.08: Michael Thomas, WR, NOS
7.09: Russell Wilson, QB, SEA
7.10: Aaron Rodgers, QB, GBP
7.11: Dallas Goedert, TE, PHI
7.12: Tom Brady, QB, TBB
Now, just because this particular draft contained a big run on quarterbacks doesn't mean that it will happen in yours. But if nothing else, this should serve as notice that by the time Round 7 rolls around, you should be prepared for a run under center.
Still, this also shows some of the folly of spending an early pick on a fantasy quarterback. Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys was the No. 2 fantasy option at his position over the four full games he played in 2020.
Prescott came off the board in this draft almost five full rounds later than Patrick Mahomes. Whereas the latter was a major reach, getting Prescott this late was outstanding value.
After missing out on Courtland Sutton of the Denver Broncos by one lousy pick, I was tempted to snag Prescott myself and fade the wide receiver spot for one more round. But there's a big gap between 7.02 and 8.11—a gap that I was leery of having to wait out.
It's not realistic to assume (or even hope) that Odell Beckham Jr. is going to rebound to the top-five heights we saw from him in New York. He hasn't cracked the top 15 in PPR points since 2016 and plays for a Cleveland Browns team whose offensive focus is running the ball.
However, as recently as two years ago, Beckham was a top-25 PPR option as a member of the Browns. With Cleveland's ground game drawing safeties closer to the line of scrimmage, it's not that hard to imagine a healthy Beckham serving as a solid fantasy WR2.
8.01: Logan Thomas, TE, WFT
8.02: Matthew Stafford, QB, LAR
8.03: Zack Moss, RB, BUF
8.04: DJ Chark Jr., WR, JAX
8.05: Leonard Fournette, RB. TBB
8.06: Ryan Tannehill, QB, TEN
8.07: David Johnson, RB, HOU
8.08: Noah Fant, TE, DEN
8.09: Antonio Brown, WR, TBB
8.10: Robert Tonyan, TE, GBP
8.11: Tyler Boyd, WR, CIN
8.12: James Conner, RB, ARZ
What Can Brown Do for You?
In a Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense that contains a pair of star receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown often gets lost in the shuffle. He was the 36th wide receiver drafted here—the last weekly starter.
A compelling argument can be made that is a value pick.
Brown has impressed in camp, with head coach Bruce Arians stating that he "is playing at a speed he was at four-five years ago." It's also worth pointing out that from Week 10 to Week 17 last season, Brown was quietly a top-20 PPR option.
Much like the aforementioned Antonio Brown, Tyler Boyd of the Cincinnati Bengals has fallen down draft boards as a result of the players ahead of him in Tee Higgins and rookie Ja'Marr Chase.
Yes, Boyd's numbers were down in 2020 after he surpassed 1,000 receiving yards in each of the prior two seasons. But even then, his 79 receptions for 841 yards and four touchdowns were good for a WR28 finish—almost 10 slots higher than where he was drafted here.
Add in the very real possibility of a rebound season in 2021 with Boyd consistently facing single coverage, and he's a wonderful low-cost WR3 target.
9.01: Mike Gesicki, TE, MIA
9.02: Robby Anderson, WR, CAR
9.03: Kenyan Drake, RB, LVR
9.04: AJ Dillon, RB, GBP
9.05: Evan Engram, TE, NYG
9.06: Russell Gage, WR, ATL
9.07: Devin Singletary, RB, BUF
9.08: Jarvis Landry, WR, CLE
9.09: Deebo Samuel, WR, SFO
9.10: Gus Edwards, RB, BAL
9.11: William Fuller V, WR, MIA
9.12: Jaylen Waddle, WR, MIA
Swimming in the Deep End
Fantasy drafters searching for an example of how much deeper the pool of talent is at wide receiver than running back in 2021 need look no further than Round 9 of this mock draft.
The four running backs selected in the ninth round are all on the wrong end of committee attacks this year. For AJ Dillon of the Green Bay Packers to have any real value in 2021, something has to happen to Aaron Jones. Ditto with Gus Edwards of the Baltimore Ravens and J.K. Dobbins.
At wide receiver, there's some real upside, though. Russell Gage of the Atlanta Falcons should see a massive bump in target share with Julio Jones gone. Jarvis Landry of the Browns has at least 72 catches and 758 receiving yards in all seven of his professional seasons.
This late, your odds of finding a viable starter are exponentially better at wide receiver.
Of all those wide receivers drafted in Round 9, Robby Anderson of the Carolina Panthers had the best 2020 season. The sixth-year pro set career highs last year in catches (95) and receiving yards (1,096) on the way to a top-15 finish among wideouts in this league's scoring.
Yes, those numbers could be difficult to duplicate in 2021, especially with a new quarterback in town. But Sam Darnold isn't exactly "new" to Anderson, as the wideout has two seasons of 50-plus catches, 750-plus yards and five-plus scores playing with Darnold in New York.
10.01: Trey Lance, QB, SFO
10.02: Curtis Samuel, WR, WFT
10.03: Jonnu Smith, TE, TEN
10.04: Latavius Murray, RB, NOS
10.05: Jamaal Williams, RB, DET
10.06: Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, JAX
10.07: Marvin Jones Jr., WR, JAX
10.08: Mike Williams, WR, LAC
10.09: Elijah Moore, WR, NYJ
10.10: Michael Gallup, WR, DAL
10.11: Alexander Mattison, RB, MIN
10.12: Corey Davis, WR, NYJ
But Wait, There's More!
That depth at the wide receiver position that was just mentioned in Round 9 carried over to Round 10, where a number of wideouts with some genuine fantasy potential were selected.
Laviska Shenault Jr. of the Jacksonville Jaguars has made an appearance or two on fantasy "sleeper" lists this summer. So has Michael Gallup of the Dallas Cowboys. Mike Williams of the Los Angeles Chargers has been tabbed a breakout candidate in Joe Lombardi's offense in Los Angeles.
Marvin Jones Jr. of the Jaguars and Corey Davis of the New York Jets both flirted with 1,000 receiving yards last year and finished well inside fantasy WR3 territory.
There's still meat on the bone at wide receiver even as the double-digit rounds begin.
Had Gallup or Williams made it to my pick at 10.11, I likely would have added a fifth receiver here. But that was not the case, and fantasy drafters sometimes need to be able to pivot to a Plan B quickly.
Here, that meant breaking out the handcuffs.
Unless something happens to Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison's fantasy value in Minnesota will be minimal. But Cook has missed time in all four of his professional seasons (including two games a year ago), and when Cook has been unable to play or limited, the Vikings have demonstrated that they are confident using Mattison as a featured back.
11.01: James White, RB, NEP
11.02: Joe Burrow, QB, CIN
11.03: Tyler Higbee, TE, LAR
11.04: J.D. McKissic, RB, WFT
11.05: Tony Pollard, RB, DAL
11.06: Jalen Hurts, QB, PHI
11.07: Irv Smith Jr., TE, MIN
11.08: DeVante Parker, WR, MIA
11.09: Henry Ruggs III, WR, LVR
11.10: Nyheim Hines, RB, IND
11.11: Matt Ryan, QB, ATL
11.12: Boston Scott, RB, PHI
12.01: Darnell Mooney, WR, CHI
12.02: Tarik Cohen, RB, CHI
12.03: Mecole Hardman, WR, KCC
12.04: Devontae Booker, RB, NYG
12.05: Phillip Lindsay, RB, HOU
12.06: Chuba Hubbard, RB, CAR
12.07: Tre'Quan Smith, WR, NOS
12.08: Trevor Lawrence, QB, JAX
12.09: Justin Fields, QB, CHI
12.10: Giovani Bernard, RB, TBB
12.11: Michael Pittman Jr., WR, IND
12.12: Marquise Brown, WR, BAL
13.01: Hunter Henry, TE, NEP
13.02: Jared Cook, TE, LAC
13.03: Darius Slayton, WR, NYG
13.04: Kirk Cousins, QB, MIN
13.05: Bryan Edwards, WR, LVR
13.06: Kadarius Toney, WR, NYG
13.07: Rashod Bateman, WR, BAL
13.08: Baker Mayfield, QB, CLE
13.09: Rob Gronkowski, TE, TBB
13.10: Austin Hooper, TE, CLE
13.11: Tevin Coleman, RB, NYJ
13.12: Washington Football Team Defense
Once you get 10-plus rounds into the draft, more picks than not are dart throws. But there are still some intriguing picks that took place in this portion.
It might seem a little odd to call a quarterback with an MVP award on his NFL resume a "sleeper," but that's where we find ourselves with Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons in 2021. Ryan should be throwing the ball a ton for a mediocre Falcons team this season.
When the Houston Texans released their first depth chart of 2021, it was Phillip Lindsay and Mark Ingram II (and not David Johnson) who were listed as co-starters at RB for the team. It may be nothing, but Lindsay has shown the ability to produce when the touches are there.
Las Vegas wide receiver Bryan Edwards has been one of the stars of training camp for the Raiders, evoking comparisons to Terrell Owens and Randy Moss. That may be pushing it, but there are targets to be had in that offense.
Given that I didn't draft a quarterback until the 11th round, the wise course of action was to take a calculated risk and go for the upside play. Joe Burrow was the first overall pick in the 2020 draft for a reason, and the Bengals quarterback certainly isn't hurting for passing-game weapons.
With recent news that Carson Wentz and Quenton Nelson of the Colts are trending toward playing in Week 1, the fantasy value of Indy's pass-catchers has gotten a boost. Wentz or no Wentz, Michael Pittman Jr. is the most likely candidate to lead the Colts in targets and receptions.
In this writer's opinion, the fantasy community is undervaluing Los Angeles Chargers tight end Jared Cook in 2021. If his target share is anywhere near the 6.6 looks a game that Hunter Henry got in 2020, he could easily crack the top 10 at his position.
14.01: Harrison Butker, PK, KCC
14.02: Adam Trautman, TE, NOS
14.03: Los Angeles Rams Defense
14.04: Pittsburgh Steelers Defense
14.05: Ben Roethlisberger, QB, PIT
14.06: Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB WFT
14.07: Chicago Bears Defense
14.08: Rondale Moore, WR, ARZ
14.09: Damien Williams, RB, CHI
14.10: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense
14.11: Tua Tagovailoa, QB. MIA
14.12: Daniel Jones, QB, NYG
15.01: San Francisco 49ers Defense
15.02: Denver Broncos Defense
15.03: Sam Darnold, QB, CAR
15.04: Miami Dolphins Defense
15.05: Buffalo Bills Defense
15.06: Younghoe Koo, PK, ATL
15.07: Baltimore Ravens Defense
15.08: Carson Wentz, QB, IND
15.09: Derek Carr, QB, LVR
15.10: Justin Tucker, PK, BAL
15.11: Indianapolis Colts Defense
15.12: Randall Cobb, WR, GBP
16.01: New England Patriots Defense
16.02: Greg Zuerlein, PK, LAR
16.03: Malcolm Brown, RB, MIA
16.04: Ryan Succop, PK, TBB
16.05: Wil Lutz, PK, NOS
16.06: Jason Sanders, PK, MIA
16.07: Qadree Ollison, RB, ATL
16.08: Mason Crosby, PK, GBP
16.09: Tyler Bass, PK, BUF
16.01: Jason Myers, PK, SEA
16.11: Robbie Gould, PK, SFO
16.12: Matt Prater, PK, ARZ
That quarterbacks like Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger and Washington's Ryan Fitzpatrick are available in Round 14 confirms the ridiculous depth available to drafters at the position. Roethlisberger was a top-12 fantasy quarterback in 2020, while Fitzpatrick has 18 QB1 finishes in 37 starts over the past four years.
Randall Cobb is unlikely to ever top 1,000 receiving yards in a season again. But now that he's back with Aaron Rodgers in Titletown, Cobb has a chance to emerge as Green Bay's de facto No. 2 wideout. Just two years ago, Cobb posted a 55/828/3 line and WR45 PPR finish with the Dallas Cowboys. The veteran slot receiver is a solid depth addition late.
This was a tough draft filled with savvy drafters—and the last round bears that out. I have long been a proponent of waiting to select a kicker until the final round of the draft. Nine of the 12 drafters here did just that.
Round 14 wasn't especially kind to me. I would have liked to pair Joe Burrow with a veteran quarterback like Roethlisberger and Fitzpatrick. But after being sniped, I decided to roll the dice with another second-year upside play in Tua Tagovailoa. Here's hoping at least one pans out.
The Denver Broncos bring the best of both worlds to the table for fantasy drafters. Denver has talent at all three levels of the defense and a fantastic threesome of matchups to open the season against the Giants and Jaguars on the road and the Jets at home.
Robbie Gould of the 49ers is a steady veteran kicker who has demonstrated consistent ability to post top-10 fantasy numbers when healthy. As the 11th kicker off the board here. Gould isn't a bad pick.
Joe Burrow, CIN (11.02); Tua Tagovailoa, MIA (14.11)
There's admittedly some real risk here—the day may come when I wish I had addressed the quarterback position a round or two earlier. But going with the first two quarterbacks drafted in 2020 also offers some substantial fantasy upside. If one of these youngsters can pull off a top-12 (QB1) finish, this team should be fine.
Dalvin Cook, MIN (1.02); Clyde Edwards-Helaire, KCC (2.11); Mike Davis, ATL (4.02); Trey Sermon, SFO (6.02); Alexander Mattison, MIN (10.02)
As is usually the case with fantasy teams I draft, the running backs are the strength of my team. A healthy Cook is just about a lock to finish in the top 10, and cuffing Mattison offers a measure of insurance. Edwards-Helaire and Davis are safe bets to at least finish in RB2 territory, and an RB1 season can't be ruled out. Sermon's value will depend on his workload—if he can seize the lead role in San Francisco, the sky is the limit.
Tyler Lockett, SEA (5.02); Odell Beckham Jr., CLE (7.02); Tyler Boyd, CIN (8.11); Robby Anderson, CAR (9.02); Michael Pittman Jr., IND (12.02)
Fantasy drafts are a series of tradeoffs, and when you don't draft a wide receiver until the fifth round, it is going to make an impact. However, a front four of Tyler Lockett, Odell Beckham Jr., Tyler Boyd and Robby Anderson is actually pretty solid, all things considered. The question is whether Lockett can back up last year's WR13 fantasy finish in this scoring system. If he can, this group is good enough. But if none of these receivers can crack the top 20, there is going to be ground to make up.
George Kittle, SFO (3.02); Jared Cook, LAC (13.02)
As would be expected after investing an early pick in a "Big Three" tight end like Kittle, the position is a strength for this team. The late selection of a capable veteran backup in Jared Cook offers a couple of things: a measure of insurance given Kittle's durability issues of late and the possibility that if Cook emerges as a solid weekly TE1 that Kittle could pivot into the "flex" spot.
Defense and Kicker
Denver Broncos Defense (15.02); Robbie Gould, SFO (16.02)
In addition to that aforementioned favorable early-season schedule, the Broncos have players capable of logging the big plays fantasy defenses rely on, whether it's Bradley Chubb and Von Miller on the edge or a secondary featuring Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby at cornerback and Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson at safety. Both Denver and Gould are fine values late.
This team isn't without potential weaknesses, as both quarterback and wide receiver could be problem areas, and the latter group is a below-league-average quintet. But in a brutal draft in which running backs flew off the board, it was worth it to build a rock-solid backfield and obtain a top-three tight end.
All told, I'd give this draft a "B." It's a team that should be in the mix.
Gary Davenport is a two-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association Football Writer of the Year. Follow him on Twitter at @IDPSharks.
Average Draft Position data courtesy of Fantasy Football Calculator.
Fantasy scoring info courtesy of My Fantasy League.