2021 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Overall Drafting Strategy and Cheat Sheet

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIAugust 29, 2021

2021 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Overall Drafting Strategy and Cheat Sheet

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    David Dermer/Associated Press

    If your fantasy football league hasn't yet held its draft, it has to be coming up soon. The start of the 2021 NFL season is quickly approaching, with the opener set to be played Sept. 9.

    There's one big advantage to having a fantasy football draft after the preseason is over: injury knowledge. If you had a draft earlier in August, then it's possible you've already lost players to significant injuries (such as Jacksonville Jaguars rookie running back Travis Etienne Jr.).

    Even though you are likely aware of which players are dealing with injuries, it's still important to get in some late-minute preparation. You never want to go into a draft without strategies, otherwise things could quickly fall apart when your initial targets come off the board.

    Here's a look at a two-round mock draft via the FantasyPros Mock Draft Simulator, followed by some strategy tips to keep in mind when drafting your team this year.

2-Round Mock Draft

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    Ed Zurga/Associated Press

    Round 1

    1. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

    2. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings

    3. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans

    4. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

    5. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

    6. Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers

    7. Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns

    8. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts

    9. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers

    10. Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

    12. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs


    Round 2

    13. Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

    14. Stefon Diggs, WR, Buffalo Bills

    15. Patrick Mahomes II, QB, Kansas City Chiefs

    16. Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington Football Team

    17. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Arizona Cardinals

    18. Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

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

    20. Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons

    21. Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

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

    23. Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings

    24. DK Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks

Try to Land a Strong RB Duo Early

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    Matt Durisko/Associated Press

    There's a limited number of bell-cow running backs in the NFL. These are those who are the clear No. 1 options out of the backfield on their teams who don't have to split carries with other backs and potentially lose touches, which also lowers fantasy value.

    If you miss out on a star quarterback, top wide receivers or a solid tight end, you will be able to find strong replacements on the waiver wire throughout the season. It will be much more difficult to find starting-caliber running backs, though, especially if there aren't injuries that create opportunities for others.

    That's why it's important to draft two lead running backs you can plug into your lineup and rely on to put up consistently strong numbers throughout the season. This means you should come away from the first three rounds with two running backs, potentially even taking one in each of the first two rounds.

    More running backs will be drafted than any other position in the first round. After that, you can still get a second solid running back when the order snakes back around in the second. For example, if you draft Alvin Kamara at No. 4, you could get somebody like Joe Mixon at No. 21.

    Of course, how effective this strategy is will depend on where you draft. Still, be mindful of how many clear No. 1 running backs are on the board early, and don't get stuck with a committee running back in one of your starting spots by the end of the draft.

Keep an Eye Out for Potential Breakout WRs

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    In the early rounds, fantasy managers can come away with proven star wide receivers. And it is important to pick up one or two of them at that time. However, you are going to need to build a lot of wideout depth throughout your roster.

    Fortunately, there's a ton of talent available at the position this year. Among the wide receivers who will still be available in the middle rounds are several second-year players who seem on the cusp of breaking out in 2021.

    These second-year receivers all have average draft positions in the sixth round or later in points-per-reception leagues, per Fantasy Football Calculator: the Denver Broncos' Jerry Jeudy (sixth), the Jacksonville Jaguars' Laviska Shenault Jr. (eighth), the Indianapolis Colts' Michael Pittman Jr. (10th) and the Las Vegas Raiders' Henry Ruggs III (11th).

    Considering these wide receivers weren't consistent fantasy options as rookie last year, they are risky plays to begin 2021. But there's the potential for all of them to take big steps forward.

    So these are high-risk, high-reward players you likely want to be targeting in the middle rounds.

Take Lance as Your 2nd QB Late in Draft

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    Sometimes, the best strategy is to draft only one quarterback in order to build depth at other positions. That isn't the case this year. No matter who you pick as your starting signal-caller, there's one player you should be targeting late to add to your bench: San Francisco 49ers rookie Trey Lance.

    It's not known how much Lance will play early in the season. San Francisco hasn't announced whether he or Jimmy Garoppolo will be its starter, but both have still been splitting time with the first team late in the preseason, and head coach Kyle Shanahan said earlier in August that Lance will get playing time in some way in 2021, per NFL.com's Chase Goodbread.

    Whenever Lance assumes the starting job, which is likely to happen at some point this season, he will immediately become worth plugging into fantasy lineups. There are a lot of playmakers on the 49ers offense, while Lance's mobility will make him an intriguing fantasy option.

    In some leagues, Lance won't get drafted. That will set up a chaotic dash to the waiver wire when he becomes San Francisco's starter. Keep that from happening by drafting Lance and stashing him on your bench.

    Then you will either have a starting-worthy QB to plug in later or you could use him as a trade chip once you know what other positions you will need to upgrade down the line.