All 32 NFL teams will be in training camp by tomorrow. The real work has begun for our favorite players which means there’s work to be done for fantasy football managers. With that said, the fantasy football world got rocked last week by news of Los Angeles Rams’ starting running back, Cam Akers’, season-ending Achilles injury. Then, news broke that New Orleans Saints’ top receiver, Michael Thomas, is likely to miss significant time while recovering from ankle surgery. If that wasn’t enough, rumors are swirling that Green Bay Packers’ quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, might retire this week. Exhausted yet? Regardless, we plow ahead and mock draft with the information we have and prepare for plenty more in the coming weeks. The best preparation for tomorrow is doing our best today. So, let’s mock draft before things really get crazy.
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Picking Fourth Overall in the Fourth Mock Draft
The following mock draft was completed, simulating my strategy and results for a 10-team, one quarterback, Points Per Reception league. The hypothetical roster consists of three wide receivers, two running backs, one tight end, and one RB/WR/TE Flex position. I drafted from the fourth overall pick in this mock draft and will make selections from different draft positions each week. For this mock draft, I will break down just the first 10 of the total 16 rounds as many Average Draft Positions, particularly for the later rounds, are bound to change as NFL training camps get moving. Now, let’s get to it!
1.01- Christian McCaffrey (CAR RB)
1.02- Dalvin Cook (MIN RB)
1.03- Alvin Kamara (NO RB)
1.04- Ezekiel Elliot (DAL RB)
1.05- Derrick Henry (TEN RB)
1.06- Saquon Barkley (NYG RB)
1.07- Travis Kelce (KC TE)
1.08- Jonathan Taylor (IND RB)
1.09- Davante Adams (GB WR)
1.10- Tyreek Hill (KC WR)
MY PICK: Ezekiel Elliot
I selected Zeke last week at the 1.03 spot and felt extremely good about it. To have him available again at 1.04 is a value to me.
The future HBO “Hard Knocks” stars, the Dallas Cowboys, reported to training camp last week. Elliot turned heads with a noticeably slimmer physique and claims to have lost almost 10 pounds.
Sitting at approximately 218 lbs, he will enter the 2021 NFL season as light as he did as a freshman playing at Ohio State. He’s clearly made his nutrition a focus in off-season training, which is good, because Dallas will still feed Zeke the football early and often in 2021.
Aside from my own selection in this mock draft, it is noticeable that Davante Adams still remains a first round pick. All eyes will be on Aaron Rodgers reporting to camp this week. Major fantasy football implications are to follow based on his decision. His availability, in addition to the aforementioned Cam Akers and Michael Thomas injuries, affects fantasy football rankings tremendously because of their heavy impact on the game.
2.01 – Nick Chubb (CLE RB)
2.02- Calvin Ridley (ATL WR)
2.03- Stefon Diggs (BUF WR)
2.04- Aaron Jones (GB RB)
2.05- Deandre Hopkins (ARI WR)
2.06- Austin Ekeler (LAC RB)
2.07- Justin Jefferson (MIN WR)
2.08- Najee Harris (PIT RB)
2.09- Joe Mixon (CIN RB)
2.10- Antonio Gibson (WFT RB)
MY PICK: Justin Jefferson
Had I selected Derrick Henry, Alvin Kamara, or Saquon Barkley with my first pick, I may have double-dipped and selected another running back here. Those three backs are sure-things at RB1, but I have a few nit-picky concerns with them, such as PPR value, lack of carries, and health, respectively. That being said, I would likely have solidified the position with another potential top-10 running back here.
Instead, I selected Justin Jefferson who I have confidence in, with his role on the Vikings, to be my WR1. It is extremely difficult, for me, to choose between Jefferson and AJ Brown. In this mock draft, I went with my gut, and hoped Brown could slip to my pick in the third round.
3.01- AJ Brown (TEN WR)
3.02- DK Metcalf (SEA WR)
3.03- George Kittle (SF TE)
3.04- Keenan Allen (LAC WR)
3.05- Julio Jones (TEN WR)
3.06- Allen Robinson (CHI WR)
3.07- Patrick Mahomes (KC QB)
3.08- Darren Waller (LV TE)
3.09- Terry McLaurin (WFT WR)
3.10- Amari Cooper (DAL WR)
MY PICK: Keenan Allen
While Brown did not fall to me, I was able to adjust quickly and selected another top receiver in Keenan Allen. In previous mock drafts, I often had to debate between many of the above names and Saints receiver, Michael Thomas.
With news of his injury recovery, not only was Thomas no longer an option here for me, but that limits the number of top receivers available at this point in the mock draft. Considering supply and demand, I made sure to select a top pass catcher here.
Allen has been known to carry the label of “injury prone” amongst the fantasy football community, but it is simply not the case. He played just nine games total throughout the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Of that time missed, half of the 2015 season was due to a lacerated kidney, which is simply rare and has not been an issue since.
From 2017 on, he has played 62 of a possible 64 regular season games. In that time, he’s averaged just over 100 receptions, 1,195 yards, and 6.5 touchdowns per season. If the guy next to you passes on Allen for an incorrect, fearful analysis of his injury history, capitalize on his mistake.
4.01- Ceedee Lamb (DAL WR)
4.02- Robert Woods (LAR WR)
4.03- Mike Evans (TB WR)
4.04- Chris Godwin (TB WR)
4.05- Clyde Edwards-Helaire (KC RB)
4.06- Kyle Pitts (ATL TE)
4.07- D’Andre Swift (DET RB)
4.08- Cooper Kupp (LAR WR)
4.09- D.J. Moore (CAR WR)
4.10- Josh Allen (BUF QB)
MY PICK: D’Andre Swift
With two high-end wide receivers, I turned my attention back toward running back and selected Swift. While the Detroit Lions offense may lack scoring opportunities, I still expect Swift to see enough weekly volume to warrant RB2 production.
This is an interesting backfield to watch as training back gets going. Offensive coordinator, Anthony Lynn, has been known to support quality running back performances for fantasy football. The bad news is, he has made it clear he expects to utilize a committee, which would include free agent signing, Jamaal Williams.
Still, I don’t expect the Lions to run away with, or simply lead, many games in 2021. Therefore, Swift’s best asset in 2021 fantasy football may be his role in the passing game, especially in late-game situations.
Elsewhere in the mock draft, Kyle Pitts, yet again, was carries a lot of hype as a rookie fantasy football tight end with this fourth round selection. This just means one less team to compete against for a tight end later in drafts, and one less team taking my running back and wide receiver depth now.
5.01- Dionte Johnson (PIT WR)
5.02- David Montgomery (CHI RB)
5.03- Adam Thielen (MIN WR)
5.04- Chris Carson (SEA RB)
5.05- Lamar Jackson (BAL QB)
5.06- Tyler Lockett (SEA WR)
5.07- Kenny Golladay (NYG WR)
5.08- J.K. Dobbins (BAL RB)
5.09- Travis Etienne (JAX RB)
5.10- Brandon Aiyuk (SF WR)
MY PICK: Chris Carson
This was a complete value pick. Chris Carson is as steady as they come at the running back position. Not only do the Seahawks love to run the ball, but they gave Carson a two-year extension in March. I fully expect Seattle to make the most of his time there and keep Carson on the field as much as possible. He is a great Flex for this mock draft team, but also safe insurance in case the aforementioned Swift pick backfires.
6.01- Ja’Marr Chase (CIN WR)
6.02- Kyler Murray (ARI QB)
6.03- Miles Sanders (PHI RB)
6.04- Jerry Jeudy (DEN WR)
6.05- Michael Thomas (NO WR)
6.06- Josh Jacobs (LV RB)
6.07- Tee Higgins (CIN WR)
6.08- Odell Beckham, Jr. (CLE WR)
6.09- Dak Prescott (DAL QB)
6.10- Mark Andrews (BAL TE)
MY PICK: Tee Higgins
I’ve now selected Higgins in two of my four mock drafts. I had talked briefly in Mock Draft 2.0 that Higgins saw seven targets per game in quarterback, Joe Burrow’s, absence last season. That did not include the final game in which Higgins was banged up.
With Burrow back from a season-ending knee injury last season, I expect Higgins and him to pick up where they left off. Yes, Ja’Marr Chase is going to have a role in this offense and has a rapport with Burrow, but prior to his injury, Burrow threw the ball 404 times in just 10 games. I don’t care who else is catching passes in Cincy. If they are going to throw the ball that often, I want one of those receivers.
Side note: Michael Thomas has come off the board! I am not considering using anything higher than a double-digit round draft pick on Thomas as of now for 2021, if at all. The medical projections for his return range anywhere from four to twelve weeks into this season. That timeline will hopefully clear up soon, but I am not interested in spending this high of a pick on a player I know I have to wait for to play.
7.01- Chase Claypool (PIT WR)
7.02- T.J. Hockenson (DET TE)
7.03- D.J. Chark (JAX WR)
7.04- Darrell Henderson (LAR RB)
7.05- Will Fuller (MIA WR)
7.06- Justin Herbert (LAC QB)
7.07- JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT WR)
7.08- Aaron Rodgers (GB QB)
7.09- Mike Davis (ATL RB)
7.10- Russell Wilson (SEA QB)
MY PICK: Darrell Henderson
With Akers’ injury, Henderson’s stock got a huge boost. Henderson opened the 2020 season nursing a hamstring injury, but then acted as the L.A. Rams’ lead back, of a three-back committee, until about Week 12. During that time, he was a top-20 fantasy football running back.
Without Akers, and the other piece of that aforementioned committee, Malcolm Brown, Henderson is in a position to be the bell-cow once again. He does not present a significant role in the passing game, but that’s okay. On an offense with Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Desean Jackson, and Tyler Higbee, this team is going to move the ball efficiently.
As of now, I feel comfortable selecting Henderson in this round of the mock draft. However, if the Rams add any running back of note, and they likely will, before the season, Henderson’s value will take a slight hit. Still, the starting running back on the Rams is worth stashing on the bench with a track record of success under head coach, Sean McVay.
8.01- Courtland Sutton (DEN WR)
8.02- Deebo Samuel (SF WR)
8.03- Devonta Smith (PHI WR)
8.04- Robby Anderson (CAR WR)
8.05- Kareem Hunt (CLE RB)
8.06- Antonio Brown (TB WR)
8.07- Tyler Boyd (CIN WR)
8.08- Tom Brady (TB QB)
8.09- Curtis Samuel (WFT WR)
8.10- Myles Gaskin (MIA RB)
MY PICK: Tyler Boyd
I will admit that I panicked here. Remember though, panicking in a mock draft is a learning experience and better than making a mistake in your real fantasy football draft.
I do not regret drafting Tyler Boyd. His value in the 8th Round of this mock draft is actually quite appealing. Having just selected his teammate, Tee Higgins, two rounds prior, I was targeting DeVonta Smith, Courtland Sutton, and Deebo Samuel with this pick instead.
So, I was unprepared with the options that were left when I was on the clock. It happens, especially when building a bench in the mid to late rounds.
In reference earlier to the heavy passing volume the Bengals offense is likely to have, the Boyd selection has a ton of potential. In fact, he saw more targets per game than Higgins did with Burrow under center last season.
It’s fine to roster two wide receivers on the same team as multiple NFL offenses in the past few seasons have supported two top-15 to 20 pass catchers in fantasy football. It’s not out of the question for Cincinnati to do the same in 2021.
9.01- Michael Pittman (IND WR)
9.02- Brandin Cooks (HOU WR)
9.03- James Robinson (JAX RB)
9.04- Jarvis Landry (CLE WR)
9.05- Jalen Hurts (PHI QB)
9.06- Javontae Williams (DEN RB)
9.07- Laviska Shenault (JAX WR)
9.08- Raheem Mostert (SF RB)
9.09- Corey Davis (NYJ WR)
9.10- Chase Edmonds (ARI RB)
My Pick: Jarvis Landry
Similar to my 5th Round pick in Chris Carson, this selection of Landry is a safe, steady bench player with potential to start any given week. At a glance, Landry had his worst season as a Cleveland Brown last year, but the game by game stats tell a different story.
Not only was Landry a reliable target the week after OBJ’s Week 7, season-ending knee injury, but he saw 44 targets in the final five games of the season, scored three times, and averaged 74 receiving yards per game.
Furthermore, Landry recorded 12 catches for 112 yards and two scores in two games during the NFL playoffs. He and quarterback, Baker Mayfield, were totally in-sync.
It seems like Landry’s been around forever, and that’s because Landry has only missed one game in his seven-year career. That was last year and he arguably should’ve missed more time with an ongoing hip issue.
This is not a flashy pick, but if you want a reliable PPR scorer to plug and play coming off of your fantasy football bench, you should keep Landry in mind on draft day.
10.01- Melvin Gordon (DEN RB)
10.02- Michael Carter (NYJ RB)
10.03- Damien Harris (NE RB)
10.04- Michael Gallup (DAL WR)
10.05- Russell Gage (ATL WR)
10.06- Ronald Jones (TB RB)
10.07– David Johnson (HOU RB)
10.08– Marquis Brown (BAL WR)
10.09– Devante Parker (MIA WR)
10.10– Darnell Mooney (CHI WR)
MY PICK: David Johnson
David Johnson was the MVP of one of my fantasy football leagues in 2016. He also completely devastated another team of mine in 2019. While he has been completely hot and cold for many fantasy football managers, I think there is still some value left to get out of the 29-year-old back.
It’s going to come down to volume in 2021 for Johnson to have any sort of relevance. The Texans spent the offseason acquiring a large handful of skill position players, specifically at wide receiver but also running back, which makes matters messy.
While I think Johnson’s best weeks will be earlier in the season, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how this is going to operate this year at the current moment. For mock draft purposes, he seemed like the only one of the remaining backs who has a chance to touch the ball 230 or more times this season and that is worth betting on.
Following the trade of wide receiver, Anthony Miller, to Houston from Chicago, over the weekend, I was curious to see where receiver, Darnell Mooney, would be selected. I would have liked to have used my next pick on him, but moving forward, expect his ADP to creep a little higher, especially if quarterback, Justin Fields, is named the Bears’ starter.
QB- Ryan Tannehill (13.04)
RB- Ezekiel Elliot, D’Andre Swift
WR- Justin Jefferson, Keenan Allen, Tee Higgins
TE- Dallas Goedert (11.04)
FLEX- Chris Carson
Bench: Darrell Henderson (7.04), Tyler Boyd (8.07), Jarvis Landry (9.04), David Johnson (10.07), Marvin Jones, Jr. (12.07), Latavius Murray (14.07)
Mock Draft 4.0 CONCLUSION
Truthfully, this is the least favorite of my mock draft teams. Nothing about it really pops off the page or excites me ahead of the 2021 season. It all comes across as very safe. I definitely advise making safe picks along the way to anchor your team. However, a safe team rarely wins a fantasy football league and I play to win.
My wide receivers are definitely the stronghold of this mock draft team. More often than not, they will carry this team on a weekly basis. While the potential is there for Swift, Henderson, and Johnson to have large roles in their respective offenses, if all three underwhelm, I could be in trouble at running back.
Landing Ryan Tannehill in the 13th Round was a huge break. The quarterback position dried up fast and before I could snag Jalen Hurts in the 8th Round, he, of course, went off the board the pick before mine. Only three quarterbacks, including Tannehill, went in the next six rounds. Two of those quarterbacks were notably backups for managers who had already selected their starter.
Mock Draft 4.0 may not be the best, but it’s the last mock draft before training camp, and preseason action paints a clearer picture for these players. One takeaway I have noticed is that drafting from the middle of the round makes for very difficult decisions. I felt more comfortable with the early, wrap-around picks in previous mock drafts.
As this week starts rolling, take a minute to enjoy that football is back and our favorite teams and players are putting in work on the field. I never take it for granted, especially after a tense 2020 season. Get ready to buckle up as news, analysis, injuries, and much more starts to pour in across the league. Be sure to mock draft more often as the game of fantasy football changes on a daily basis!
For more Rankings and Analysis please check out our full 2021 Fantasy Football Draft Kit.
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