Fantasy Football 2021: First-Round Mock Draft, Projections and Top Team Names

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistAugust 22, 2021

Fantasy Football 2021: First-Round Mock Draft, Projections and Top Team Names

0 of 5

    Don Wright/Associated Press

    We're approaching the end of preseason Week 2. This means that many NFL teams are finished playing starters until the regular season. Several teams are resting their biggest stars during the preseason anyway, and standouts rarely see significant time in final exhibition games.

    This makes now the perfect time for fantasy drafts. Injuries can never be avoided, but managers can draft with relative confidence in the health of early-round targets. Managers have also seen enough action to form opinions on the roles and upside of players in 2021.

    Fantasy football is, after all, a game of projections.

    Here we will make predictions for a few noteworthy fantasy options, examine a 12-team, points-per-reception (PPR) mock draft and dive into some fun team-name suggestions for the upcoming season.

Round 1 PPR Mock

1 of 5

    Jacob Kupferman/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. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

    12. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Arizona Cardinals

Going Too High: Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts

2 of 5

    Zach Bolinger/Associated Press

    To be clear, we're not projecting Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor to be an outright bust. He amassed 1,169 rushing yards, 36 receptions, 299 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns as a rookie last season. Those are great numbers in any scoring format.

    However, the Colts are dealing with injuries (foot surgery for both) to quarterback Carson Wentz and guard Quenton Nelson. Indy is optimistic about their recoveries.

    "We feel good about where we're at right now," head coach Frank Reich said, per JJ Stankevitz of the team's official website. "I think that's the main thing."

    Yet there's no guarantee that either will be available to play or when they will be near 100 percent—and that hurts Taylor's value. The general uncertainty at quarterback could be a factor too, as opponents will gear up to stop Taylor until that strategy stops working.

    Managers also must factor in the presence of Marlon Mack, Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines. Taylor is the lead back, but Indianapolis will still use a committee approach.

    With all of these factors considered, Taylor's average draft position (ADP) of eighth overall feels much too high. Expect second-round production out of Taylor this season. And if you can get him there, go for it.

    2021 Projection: 1,188 rushing yards, 32 receptions, 260 receiving yards, 10 touchdowns

Going Too Low: Kareem Hunt, RB, Cleveland Browns

3 of 5

    David Dermer/Associated Press

    Like Taylor, Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt is in a bit of a committee situation. The Browns employ a two-headed backfield attack, utilizing Hunt and two-time Pro Bowler Nick Chubb. However, Hunt sees his fair share of opportunities in Cleveland's offense.

    While it must be noted that Chubb missed four games last season, it's also worth highlighting that Hunt finished with 841 rushing yards, 38 receptions, 304 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. His workload is not likely to significantly decrease this season. Running backs coach Stump Mitchell believes that both backs can be 1,000-yard rushers this year.

    "We have to keep both those guys healthy, and if that be the case and we improve some of our reads from last year, it will happen," Mitchell said, per Jeff Schudel of the News-Herald.

    With the NFL moving to a 17-game schedule this year, the goal of having two 1,000-yard backs is not fanciful.

    Because the Browns are so run-heavy offensively (fourth in attempts last season), Hunt should be viewed as a low-end RB1. Yet his ADP stands at 43rd overall. That's low for a player with 1,000-plus scrimmage yards and double-digit touchdowns as a reasonable floor.

    2021 Projection: 927 rushing yards, 45 receptions, 379 receiving yards, 12 touchdowns

Rookie Sleeper to Watch: Rondale Moore, WR, Arizona Cardinals

4 of 5

    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    The Arizona Cardinals have several quality veteran receivers on their roster, most notably DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green and Christian Kirk. However, rookie Rondale Moore is likely to see his fair share of touches this season.

    If we have learned one thing over the first two weeks of the preseason, it's that head coach Kliff Kingsbury is going to try to find ways to get the ball in Moore's hands.

    In the opener against the Dallas Cowboys, Moore was on the field early and often—and in multiple roles. According to Nathan Jahnke of Pro Football Focus, Moore played 16 snaps during Arizona's first two drives, two out wide and 14 in the slot. He finished with three receptions, two rushes and 39 scrimmage yards.

    On Friday against the Kansas City Chiefs, Moore caught three passes, rushed once and had 24 scrimmage yards.

    The fact that Arizona is going to use Moore as both a runner and a receiver should provide managers with a relatively solid floor. While the Purdue product might not regularly top 100 yards in a game, he should have a handful of receptions and 30-50 yards minimum just about every week.

    Moore is worth targeting as a regular flex option, and he's being undervalued with an ADP of 189th overall.

    2021 Predictions: 238 rushing yards, 51 receptions, 564 receiving yards, 6 touchdowns


    Draft positioning from FantasyPros.

Fantasy Team Names

5 of 5

    John Locher/Associated Press
    • Aaron It Out (Aaron Rodgers)
    • Russell Will, Son (Russell Wilson)
    • JustiNatural (Justin Herbert)
    • Kyler on the Loose (Kyler Murray)
    • TreVor-Tex (Trevor Lawrence)
    • Fields of Dreams (Justin Fields)
    • You Mad, Burrow? (Joe Burrow)
    • Hanging With Mahomes (Patrick Mahomes)
    • Derrick of the Edmund Fitzgerald (Derrick Henry)
    • Hot Chubb Time Machine (Nick Chubb)
    • Kamara Shy (Alvin Kamara)
    • Gibson, Les' Ball (Antonio Gibson)
    • Nuthun' But Najee Thang (Najee Harris)
    • O Saquon You See? (Saquon Barkley)
    • Odell's Bells (Odell Beckham Jr.)
    • Ja'Marr Wars (Ja'Marr Chase)
    • Tyreek of Greatness (Tyreek Hill)
    • Hopkins and a Jump Away (DeAndre Hopkins)
    • Jefferson Starship (Justin Jefferson)
    • Tyler, the Creator (Tyler Boyd)
    • Can You Diggs It? (Stefon Diggs)
    • Pop Lockett Drop It (Tyler Lockett)
    • Glass Half Fuller (Will Fuller)
    • The Big Gronkowski (Rob Gronkowski)
    • Hockenson Loogies (T.J. Hockenson)
    • Brick Waller (Darren Waller)
    • Kelce'n Ghosts (Travis Kelce)
    • Hula Hooper (Austin Hooper)
    • Up Pitts Creek (Kyle Pitts)
    • Put the Kittle On (George Kittle)