Fantasy Football 2021: Examining Expert Mock Drafts After Preseason Week 2

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistAugust 23, 2021

Fantasy Football 2021: Examining Expert Mock Drafts After Preseason Week 2

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    Fantasy football intel can be hard to gather during the NFL preseason.

    Not all starters play, those who do may not see the field long and the resulting warped roles can inflate stat lines in ways that won't carry over into the 2021 campaign.

    But there is merit in monitoring these on-field tune-ups. Ben Roethlisberger looked great in his first game action with new Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada. That's worth knowing. Justin Fields came back to earth in Week 2 and reminded everyone he'll have his rookie moments. That's helpful information, too.

    What do these preseason performances mean? We'll turn to the experts to find out by analyzing three recent mock drafts from industry professionals.

10-Team, 2-QB Mock at ESPN

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    League formats can dramatically alter player values and draft stocks, so it makes sense to start with a 10-team, two-quarterback mock from ESPN.

    In this setup, all of those instructions you've received about waiting for quarterbacks go out the window. Patrick Mahomes went first overall, Josh Allen was right behind him and Kyler Murray cracked the first round (No. 9), too.

    Those three signal-callers all went ahead of the first wide receiver, Davante Adams, who went 14th overall. Before the next pass-catcher came off the board, two more passers were gone: Dak Prescott and Lamar Jackson, who went 15th and 16th, respectively.

    Jalen Hurts went in the fourth round. Baker Mayfield was gone in the fifth. Fields was snatched up in the sixth (No. 57), though it's worth noting this mock was held before Week 2. That might also explain the 20-pick gap between Fields and Trey Lance (No. 77), who followed his 5-of-14 professional debut by going 8-of-14 for 102 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

12-Team, 2-QB, PPR Mock at CBS

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    At this point of mock draft season, there might be millions of mocks floating around the interwebs—and that only feels like a slight exaggeration. Perhaps that's why experts are getting more funky with their formats, as the CBS Sports crew also went the two-quarterback route, this time with a 12-teamer that awarded a point per reception and six points for passing touchdowns.

    The result was a quarterback frenzy that almost made the ESPN crew seem bearish about the league's marquee position. Six different quarterbacks went in the first round, and 13 were taken inside the first three rounds.

    Trevor Lawrence led all rookie quarterbacks as the second pick of the fourth round (No. 38). Fields went next as the third pick of the fifth round (No. 51). Lance went early in round six (No. 63), though this was another mock held between the first and second weeks of the preseason. Zach Wilson was the final pick of the eighth round (No. 96). Mac Jones opened the 10th round (No. 109).

    If this is your preferred format, then you arguably can't go too early at quarterback. And if you're bullish about a first-year player at the position, you might need to use one of your first five or six picks to get him.

12-Team, PPR Mock at FantasyPros

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    Using his site's unique Draft Wizard—a mock simulator which utilizes expert cheat sheets and average draft position to generate picks—FantasyPros' Aaron Pags put together a 12-team, PPR mock.

    This fell more in line with what you're probably used to seeing from a standard mock, which makes sense given the format. Running backs went with the first five picks (stretching from Christian McCaffrey to Ezekiel Elliott) and 10 of the opening round's 12 selections. No tight end went until the second round (Travis Kelce, No. 14), and no quarterbacks came off the board until the third (Mahomes, No. 25).

    This draft put a premium on Lamar Jackson, who was the third quarterback taken and 32nd player selected overall. Considering Kyler Murray didn't go until the fifth (No. 51) and Aaron Rodgers lasted until the sixth (No. 67), that's the reason so many pundits preach patience at the position. Saying that, Jackson is only two seasons removed from being the highest scorer in fantasy, so don't hold back if you have a hunch.

    Perhaps because the human element is largely removed in this exercise, no rookie quarterbacks were taken in the 14-round mock. That seems highly unlikely in the real-world version, given our perpetual obsession with shiny, new objects. But it might be food for thought that a data-driven algorithm didn't see any freshman signal-caller worthy of being among the top 168 picks.