Fantasy Football 2021: Mock Draft Strategy, Dynasty and Keeper Cheatsheet

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistAugust 19, 2021

Fantasy Football 2021: Mock Draft Strategy, Dynasty and Keeper Cheatsheet

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    Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press

    With Week 2 of the 2021 NFL preseason set to kick off, we're right in the middle of fantasy draft season. After not having a preseason in 2020, draft preparation is back to relative normalcy, and we're getting a look at many of the top rookies ahead of opening day.

    This is particularly relevant in keeper and dynasty leagues, where drafting for a single season isn't the only priority. Training camp reports and fantasy mock drafts can further help managers evaluate young talent. While a mock draft won't clarify how a player will perform, it will provide insight into consensus expectations.

    Here, we'll examine the first two rounds of a mock fantasy draft simulated with FantasyPros' Mock Draft Simulator. We'll also dive into some tried-and-true draft strategies and examine the top 10 players at each key position for dynasty and fantasy leagues.

    First, though, let's take a look at this year's top fantasy prospects. Rankings and mock are based on point-per-reception scoring.

Top 2021 Fantasy Prospects

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    Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press

    1. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

    2. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings

    3. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

    4. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers

    5. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

    6. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans

    7. Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers

    8. Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

    9. Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

    10. Stefon Diggs, WR, Buffalo Bills

    11. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Arizona Cardinals

    12. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

    13. Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons

    14. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs

    15. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts

    16. Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings

    17. DK Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks

    18. Darren Waller, TE, Las Vegas Raiders

    19. Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

    20. Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns

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

    22. Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

    23. Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington Football Team

    24. Allen Robinson II, WR, Chicago Bears

    25. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs

    26. George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers

    27. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Cheifs

    28. Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Football Team

    29. Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

    30. CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas Cowboys

    31. Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Rams

    32. Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    33. Amari Cooper, WR, Dallas Cowboys

    34. Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders

    35. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    36. David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears

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

    38. Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams

    39. Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills

    40. DJ Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers

2-Round Fantasy Mock

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    John Locher/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. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

    6. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers

    7. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

    8. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs

    9. Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

    10. Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers

    11. Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns

    12. Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

    Round 2

    1. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts

    2. Stefon Diggs, WR, Buffalo Bills

    3. Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

    4. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Arizona Cardinals

    5. DK Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks

    6. Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons

    7. Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington Football Team

    8. Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

    9. Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

    10. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs

    11. Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings

    12. Allen Robinson II, WR, Chicago Bears

Draft Strategy

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    Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

    The first five selections in this mock—and nine of the first 12—were running backs, and this isn't a surprise. Even in PPR leagues, running backs are the backbone of most championship rosters. This is because the best backs have higher floors than receivers—who can be taken out of games with the right coverage schemes and/or a big early lead.

    The other reason early runs on backs occur is that the best ones aren't going to last. Managers can often find elite receivers and tight ends in Rounds 2 and 3. That rarely occurs with the top dual-threat backs.

    When targeting receivers, only the very best should be considered in the first couple of rounds. No. 2 wideouts regularly top the coveted 1,000-yard mark. That doesn't happen with No. 2 running backs. In 2020, for example, only eight running backs topped 1,000 rushing yards, while 18 receivers topped 1,000 receiving yards.

    For this reason, doubling up on elite backs at the top of the draft can be a winning strategy.

    Kansas City Chiefs signal-caller Patrick Mahomes is the only quarterback worth considering in the first two rounds, though Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen is inching near that territory. Mahomes' floor is undeniable, though—he topped 200 passing yards in every single start last year, while throwing two or more touchdowns in all but two games—which is why he's usually first off the board.

    After Mahomes, it can be worthwhile to wait on a second-tier quarterback or consider streaming options. There are typically more than 12 viable fantasy starters at QB but fewer than 12 elite running backs and receivers.

    If you're in a dynasty league and have an older quarterback like Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger, be sure to grab a young signal-caller for the future. Pick one with either proven production—like Kyler Murray or Baker Mayfield—or an elite rookie prospect like Trevor Lawrence.

    "Overall, Lawrence is living up to the hype he received as the top high school quarterback in the country and looks like a Week 1 franchise quarterback with the upside to win multiple MVPs and only injuries or an incompetent franchise will put him on a path toward failure," Nate Tice of the B/R Scouting Department wrote at the draft.

    Similar strategies should be employed with rookie running backs and receivers.

    Outside of the top three tight ends—Travis Kelce, Darren Waller and George Kittle—the position is best avoided in the first few rounds. While Kelce, Waller and Kittle serve as their teams' go-to targets, this isn't the case for most tight ends.

    Don't overdraft a defense and never take a kicker before the last round, unless you have one of the very last picks in the draft. As always, pay attention to camp reports and injury news for all positions.

    Don't be the manager who drafts Michael Thomas in the first round—he's expected to miss multiple weeks in the regular season—because you weren't paying attention.

Keeper and Dynasty Rankings

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    Gregory Bull/Associated Press

    Quarterback

    1. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

    2. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

    3, Russell Wilson Seattle Seahawks

    4. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

    5. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

    6. Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals

    7. Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers

    8. Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals

    9. Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

    10. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

               

    Running Back

    1. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers

    2. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings

    3. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints

    4. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans

    5. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys

    6. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns

    7. Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers

    9. Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders

    9. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals

    10. J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens

               

    Wide Receiver

    1. Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills

    2. Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs

    3. Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers

    4. Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings

    5. DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals

    6. A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans

    7. Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    8. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    9. Robert Woods, Los Angeles Rams

    10. CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys

                

    Tight End

    1. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

    2. Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders

    3. George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers

    4. Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons

    5. T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions

    6. Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens

    7. Noah Fant, Denver Broncos

    8. Hunter Henry, New England Patriots

    9. Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams

    10. Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears

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