Now that training camp has begun for all 32 NFL teams, fantasy football draft preparation has become that much more important. Fantasy football managers now have access to daily news, reports, injury information, and more surrounding each player. As each practice goes by, evaluations and projections for these players are constantly changing. That said, keeping up with mock drafts each week is of utmost importance as to not be blindsided as these players come off the board in real drafts. In mock draft 5.0, I get my first look at how things shake out with the first week of training camp behind each team.
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Picking Fifth Overall in the Fifth 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 fifth overall pick in this mock draft and make selections from different draft positions each week. For this mock draft, I will break down 14 of the total 16 rounds now that training camp is underway. It’s important, with just a few weeks until the start of the season, to consider how to build the bench in fantasy football beyond construction of a starting lineup. The last two rounds will always be my kicker and defense selections. Now, let’s get to it!
1.01- Christian McCaffrey (CAR RB)
1.02- Dalvin Cook (MIN RB)
1.03- Ezekiel Elliott (DAL RB)
1.04- Alvin Kamara (NO RB)
1.05- Davante Adams (GB WR)
1.06- Derrick Henry (TEN RB)
1.07- Aaron Jones (GB RB)
1.08- Saquon Barkley (NYG RB)
1.09- Nick Chubb (CLE RB)
1.10- Austin Ekeler (LAC RB)
MY PICK: Davante Adams
I usually target a top-tier running back with my first pick, especially in the top-5. In this mock draft, however, Adams is the best player available at fifth overall, especially with Aaron Rodgers back in action for the 2021 season.
I was deciding between Adams and Derrick Henry with my first pick. While Henry is the focal point of the Titan’s offense, with his lack of pass catching in PPR formats, I’d hate to have to wish for touchdown production from him any given week to live up to his top-5 draft pick price tag.
Sure, the running back position isn’t as deep as wide receiver, but Adams is truly one of a kind. The Titans upgraded their offense with the addition of Julio Jones ahead of this season and lost offensive coordinator, Arthur Smith, whom Henry has thrived under. Meanwhile, the Packers made no significant changes to their offense and there is a strong indication this could be the final year Rodgers and Adams play together in Green Bay.
This doesn’t mean Henry is going to have a bad season, but when considering what to do with my top pick, Adams’ ceiling is higher any given week. There is no reason to believe he can’t have another elite year, having averaged double-digit scores the last five of them, and finishing as WR1 last season. That is the kind of player I want to build my team around.
2.01 – Jonathan Taylor (IND RB)
2.02- Travis Kelce (KC TE)
2.03- Tyreek Hill (KC WR)
2.04- Stefon Diggs (BUF WR)
2.05- Calvin Ridley (ATL WR)
2.06- Deandre Hopkins (ARI WR)
2.07- Joe Mixon (CIN RB)
2.08- Antonio Gibson (WFT RB)
2.09- Najee Harris (PIT RB)
2.10- Justin Jefferson (MIN WR)
MY PICK: Deandre Hopkins
This is the first time in my weekly mock draft series where I don’t have at least one running back after the first two rounds. Let this be a reminder to be flexible in your fantasy football drafts. You don’t have to stick to a strategy if the flow of the draft presents value that differentiates from your original plan.
In this case, I could have selected Mixon, Gibson or Harris as my RB1, but my fifth ranked wide receiver, Hopkins was still on the board. It is nice to have balance in the starting lineup early on in the mock draft, but the combination of Adams and Hopkins as the core of my team was too good to pass up. Any deficiencies my eventual starting running back may present will likely be overcome by these two elite wide receivers any given week.
With the news of Colts starting quarterback, Carson Wentz’, foot injury, I noticed Jonathan Taylor fell just outside of the first round. I still value Taylor as a top-10 option at the position, regardless of who is under center. The Indy O-line is still top notch and his projected bell-cow volume is worth betting on.
3.01- Patrick Mahomes (KC QB)
3.02- Darren Waller (LV TE)
3.03- A.J. Brown (TEN WR)
3.04- DK Metcalf (SEA WR)
3.05- Keenan Allen (LAC WR)
3.06- Terry McLaurin (WFT WR)
3.07- Allen Robinson (CHI WR)
3.08- Clyde Edwards-Helaire (KC RB)
3.09- D’Andre Swift (DET RB)
3.10- George Kittle (SF TE)
MY PICK: Keenan Allen
I am going to sound like a broken record here, but value is more important than filling out your starting lineup early on in the draft. I want the best players available to build my team around, regardless of what position they play.
So, again, I could have selected CEH or Swift, both second-year running backs, as my RB1 in this mock draft. Instead, I had a chance to select another top-10 wide receiver on my board in Keenan Allen.
Adams, Hopkins, and Allen finished as the WR1, WR5, and WR7, respectively, on a points per game basis in 2020 PPR formats. I’ll figure out running back soon enough while confident in weekly production from those three pass catchers.
4.01- Ceedee Lamb (DAL WR)
4.02- Chris Godwin (TB WR)
4.03- Josh Allen (BUF QB)
4.04- Miles Sanders (PHI RB)
4.05- Robert Woods (LAR WR)
4.06- David Montgomery (CHI RB)
4.07- Amari Cooper (DAL WR)
4.08- Mike Evans (TB WR)
4.09- Julio Jones (TEN WR)
4.10- J.K. Dobbins (BAL RB)
MY PICK: David Montgomery
So, of course, I am looking at running back now having completed my wide receiver corps in the first three rounds of this mock draft. While seven other teams selected non-RB players, I was able to land Montgomery in this round. He notably finished as RB1 on a points per game basis last season from Weeks 10 to 16.
At the start of Bears training camp, head coach, Matt Nagy, commented that Montgomery could easily see 20 carries per game. Even if he falls short of that total, Montgomery has had no less than 242 carries in each of his first two seasons. He also more than doubled his reception total from his rookie season to last year’s.
If he gets similar volume in 2021, sign me up to select him in the fourth round of any draft I’m in. Also, consider that he’s had Mitchell Trubisky, Nick Foles, and Chase Daniel under center for his entire career. When (yes, when) Justin Fields finally steps on the field, the entire Bears offense is sure to improve. Until then, Andy Dalton can’t be much worse than what Montgomery’s used to.
5.01- Adam Thielen (MIN WR)
5.02- Dionte Johnson (PIT WR)
5.03- Cooper Kupp (LAR WR)
5.04- Michael Thomas (NO WR)
5.05- Chris Carson (SEA RB)
5.06- Ja’Marr Chase (CIN WR)
5.07- D.J. Moore (CAR WR)
5.08- Tyler Lockett (SEA WR)
5.09- Kenny Golladay (NYG WR)
5.10- Brandon Aiyuk (SF WR)
MY PICK: Chris Carson
Take a look at this round again and what do you see? That’s right. I am the only team that selected a running back while all of the other teams went after wide receivers.
That doesn’t mean my mock draft, thus far, is the right way to do things and everyone else’s is wrong. It just indicates what can happen when you hammer a position early, as I did at wide receiver, while everyone else is gobbling up running backs. Don’t be afraid to zig when everyone else zags!
I love Chris Carson’s value, again, in the fifth round. Having just signed an extension with the Seahawks, I expect Carson to receive his usual, heavy workload. Seattle likes to run the ball and Carson, if fully healthy, should be good for close to 300 touches in a complete 2021 season.
When you look at this group of wide receivers, they may differ from your own rankings, and that’s okay. At this point in the mock draft, you may be faced with decisions between less than obvious choices of players at the same position. Make sure you’re confident with your evaluations when your draft rolls around so you don’t get flustered by all of the options.
6.01- Lamar Jackson (BAL QB)
6.02- Odell Beckham, Jr. (CLE WR)
6.03- JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT WR)
6.04- Tee Higgins (CIN WR)
6.05- Kyler Murray (ARI QB)
6.06- T.J. Hockenson (DET TE)
6.07- Josh Jacobs (LV RB)
6.08- Chase Claypool (PIT WR)
6.09- Devonta Smith (PHI WR)
6.10- Kyle Pitts (ATL TE)
MY PICK: T.J. Hockenson
At this point, I am comfortable with my starting wide receivers and running backs in this mock draft. From here on out, I will be deciding between depth at those positions or making the move to select my starting quarterback or tight end. Those are positions that I only start one player at each week.
In this mock draft, I chose Hockenson with the idea of getting an advantage at the tight end position over most other teams in the league. Early reports out of Lions training camp say that Hockenson is likely the top target in the 2021 Detroit passing attack. That’s not much of a surprise given their three starting receivers from the 2020 season, Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, and Danny Amendola, are no longer with the team.
I would have loved to select Kyler Murray with this pick. Murray himself is a top-5 option at quarterback in 2021. In this mock draft, though, I especially liked the idea of stacking him with Cardinals receiver, Deandre Hopkins.
For those unfamiliar, “stacking”, in fantasy football, is starting two or more players on the same NFL team to maximize on that team’s production. The most common type of stack is QB/WR. In this case, stacking Murray with Hopkins capitalizes on Hopkins’ elite production by also earning Murray’s points that are directly correlated as Hopkins’ quarterback.
I don’t always try to stack, as it can backfire, but won’t hesitate if an elite stack presents itself at a reasonable value. Unfortunately, I missed the opportunity to do so with these Cardinals by one pick.
7.01- Courtland Sutton (DEN WR)
7.02- D.J. Chark (JAX WR)
7.03- Mark Andrews (BAL TE)
7.04- Dak Prescott (DAL QB)
7.05- Darrell Henderson (LAR RB)
7.06- Myles Gaskin (MIA RB)
7.07- Justin Herbert (LAC QB)
7.08- Robby Anderson (CAR WR)
7.09- Jerry Jeudy (DEN WR)
7.10- Michael Pittman (IND WR)
MY PICK: Darrell Henderson
Rams’ head coach, Sean McVay, made it very clear at the start of training camp that Henderson’s health is a priority. That indicates, to me, that the team has big plans for Henderson as the RB1 following Cam Akers’ season-ending Achilles injury.
I have Henderson ranked as my RB18 and was happy to get him as the 21st RB off the board in this mock draft. At a position I waited to draft early on, Henderson is a great option for depth on an NFL offense whose bound to have success in 2021.
In reference to the aforementioned idea of stacking, I knew if I was to stack Herbert with Keenan Allen, or Rodgers with Davante Adams, I was to do it soon. Instead, depth at the running back position is more valuable than either of those quarterbacks at this time.
With a potential Murray stack last round, in contrast, I thought he was more valuable than having a top ranked tight end in Hockenson. Stick to your principles, but don’t be too rigid about them.
8.01- Brandin Cooks (HOU WR)
8.02- Russell Wilson (SEA QB)
8.03- Laviska Shenault (JAX WR)
8.04- Tyler Boyd (CIN WR)
8.05- Will Fuller (MIA WR)
8.06- Travis Etienne (JAX RB)
8.07- Mike Davis (ATL RB)
8.08- Kareem Hunt (CLE RB)
8.09- Aaron Rodgers (GB QB)
8.10- James Robinson (JAX RB)
MY PICK: Travis Etienne
I don’t expect Etienne to start in this mock draft lineup in Week 1, nor do I need him to. I do expect, however, him to take over as the running back to roster in this Jaguars offense by the end of the season.
In his final two seasons at Clemson, with quarterback and now Jags teammate, Trevor Lawrence, Etienne averaged 1,758 scrimmage yards per season. I just don’t see a scenario in which undrafted free agent, James Robinson, is on the field more than 2021 1st Round pick, Etienne with that familiarity and production.
Robinson had a breakout 2020 season, but this team has a new head coach, quarterback, and outlook for the future. Compared to other running backs selected in this round of the mock draft, I like Etienne’s ceiling, especially later in the 2021 season than them, especially Robinson.
If you do choose to prioritize other positions over running back early in your drafts, the seventh to ninth rounds are usually the last chances to draft backs with the ability to start in Week 1.
9.01- Deebo Samuel (SF WR)
9.02- Javontae Williams (DEN RB)
9.03- Chase Edmonds (ARI RB)
9.04- Curtis Samuel (WFT WR)
9.05- Jalen Hurts (PHI QB)
9.06- Raheem Mostert (SF RB)
9.07- Jarvis Landry (CLE WR)
9.08- Michael Gallup (DAL WR)
9.09- Melvin Gordon (DEN RB)
9.10- Leonard Fournette (TB RB)
My Pick: Jalen Hurts
Through the first eight rounds of the mock draft, I think I have taken a good approach toward value while keeping depth in the back of my mind along the way. My starters at wide receiver are all locks, and with a large pool of players at that position still available, I know I can wait to add more to the bench as the draft progresses.
So, with a top tight end, and running back depth, taken care of, I took the opportunity in the 9th Round to secure Jalen Hurts as my starting quarterback. As I have mentioned in prior mock drafts, Hurts is usually the last quarterback off the board that adds significant value running with the football.
The next quarterback, Tom Brady, isn’t selected until Round 12. He had six total rushing yards in 2020. That’s not to say Brady isn’t going to light it up in fantasy football in 2021 as a passer, but having a quarterback who runs is important to me. I did not want Hurts to go off the board and settle for someone else later on.
10.01- Damien Harris (NE RB)
10.02- Michael Carter (NYJ RB)
10.03- Jaylen Waddle (MIA WR)
10.04- Corey Davis (NYJ WR)
10.05- Darnell Mooney (CHI WR)
10.06- Antonio Brown (TB WR)
10.07- David Johnson (HOU RB)
10.08- Devante Parker (MIA WR)
10.09- Marquis Brown (BAL WR)
10.10– Ronald Jones (TB RB)
MY PICK: Antonio Brown
By now, my starting lineup in this mock draft is set. Depth is the name of the game for the remainder of the mock draft. Since there is more than one starting position for both wide receiver and running back, I often load up there until it’s time to pick a defense and kicker in the final two rounds.
That being said, Antonio Brown seems like a no-brainer in the 10th Round. The argument against AB is that he’s on a crowded offense behind Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. However, in games with all three receivers on the field in 2020, he was just as productive as the other two.
With Godwin and Evans finishing as the PPR WR15 and WR16 on a points per game basis, respectively, in 17 weeks, AB finished as WR24 in points per game in 8total games once he joined the team. There is a very real scenario all three receivers have top-30 finishes in 2021, yet Brown is available five rounds later than the other two.
I’ll take Brown in the 10th Round every time with his production potential, especially if one of the other Bucs receivers misses time. The benefits outweigh the cost! We’ve seen back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back top-3 wide receiver finishes out of AB from 2013-2018. He’s worth the stash on the fantasy football bench in 2021.
11.01- Kenyan Drake (LV RB)
11.02- Trey Sermon (SF RB)
11.03- Dallas Goedert (PHI TE)
11.04- Zach Moss (BUF RB)
11.05- Mike Williams (LAC WR)
11.06- Cole Beasley (BUF WR)
11.07- James Conner (ARI RB)
11.08- Devin Singletary (BUF RB)
11.09- Mecole Hardman (KC WR)
11.10– Marvin Jones (JAX WR)
MY PICK: Mike Williams
This is a make-or-break year for Big Mike Williams, especially in fantasy football. The 2016 7th overall draft pick has never recorded more than 50 receptions and has only topped 1,000 yards receiving once (1,001 in 2019) in his career.
In a contract year for Williams, I predict a late breakout for him in 2021, especially with quarterback, Justin Herbert, getting a non-COVID offseason to work with Williams. He will always be the Chargers’ WR2 as long as Keenan Allen is on the field, but that may just benefit him.
With an average of 16.2 yards per catch in his career, Williams is always a good bet for a big play in this offense. At the start of training camp, Williams has also discussed the probability of more targets in a new-look, 2021 offense.
While I don’t expect him to start on a weekly basis out of the gate, I want to be there for a potential Williams breakout, or at least have him for flex consideration. If my starter, Keenan Allen, were to miss time, Williams becomes a very valuable fill-in, as well.
12.01- Tarik Cohen (CHI RB)
12.02- Tom Brady (TB QB)
12.03- Logan Thomas (WFT TE)
12.04- Noah Fant (DEN TE)
12.05- Russell Gage (ATL WR)
12.06- Tony Pollard (DAL RB)
12.07- Henry Ruggs (LV WR)
12.08- AJ Dillon (GB RB)
12.09- Matthew Stafford (DET QB)
12.10– T.Y. Hilton (IND WR)
MY PICK: Tony Pollard
Tony Pollard remains one of the most valuable running back handcuffs in 2021 fantasy football. In the event that Ezekiel Elliott misses time due to injury, Pollard can fill in as a high-volume back in this top of the line offense.
Just because I don’t have Elliott on my roster, doesn’t mean I should avoid Pollard and try to get backups to my own players. Not every running back has a backup worth considering in fantasy football each week, either.
For instance, if my mock draft running back starter, David Montgomery, were to succumb to injury, I am more likely to find a running back on another team than pick up, and start, Montgomery’s backups, Damien Williams or Tarik Cohen. Why? Because there are likely other backs available with more volume and more efficiency on their own teams than Williams or Cohen would have on the Bears any given week.
I am not always targeting handcuffs for my own players, or anyone else’s, for that matter. However, in Pollard’s case, he could be a top-10 player if something were to happen to Zeke, which is a unique situation and worth having on my bench.
13.01- Nyheim Hines (IND RB)
13.02- Elijah Moore (NYJ WR)
13.03- Joe Burrow (CIN QB)
13.04- Robert Tonyan (GB TE)
13.05- Rashod Bateman (BAL WR)
13.06- Tyler Higbee (LAR TE)
13.07- Gus Edwards (BAL RB)
13.08- J.D. McKissic (WFT RB)
13.09- Jamaal Williams (DET RB)
13.10– Phillip Lindsay (HOU RB)
MY PICK: Rashod Bateman
While I do like Gus Edwards as another top running back handcuff to J.K. Dobbins, I did not want to continue gathering an entire bench of handcuffs in this mock draft that may never be worth starting. Instead, I went with his teammate, rookie wide receiver, Rashod Bateman. His ADP has risen since the start of training camp, but I admittedly reached for him in the 13th Round of this mock draft.
The odds of a rookie wide receiver achieving weekly production you can count on in fantasy football are often slim. What Justin Jefferson did last season is the exception, not the rule of rookie pass-catchers. Though, in the last few seasons, players like Jefferson, Lamb, Metcalf and others have had notable impacts late in the fantasy football season.
That being said, it may be worth betting on one of the 2021 rookie receivers in hopes they can do the same for you this season. Especially with the mock draft wide receivers I have on this team already, Bateman is a good bet to make in Round 13. In order for Lamar Jackson to take the next step toward success, he needs to continue to improve as a passer. Bateman should help that cause.
14.01- Alexander Mattison (MIN RB)
14.02- Ryan Tannehill (TEN QB)
14.03- Gabriel Davis (BUF WR)
14.04- Tre’Quan Smith (NO WR)
14.05- Nelson Agholor (NE WR)
14.06- Latavius Murray (NO RB)
14.07- Randall Cobb (GB WR)
14.08- Irv Smith (MIN TE)
14.09- Mike Gesicki (MIA TE)
14.10– James White (NE RB)
MY PICK: Latavius Murray
I know I had mentioned not loading up on handcuff running backs in the event that none of them start. Latavius Murray, however, has standalone value in the Saints’ backfield. He has acted as the “1B” to the “1A” that is Alvin Kamara, providing weekly flex production. That, coupled with his ability to start if Kamara misses time, is a steal this late in the mock draft.
QB- Jalen Hurts
RB- David Montgomery, Chris Carson
WR- Davante Adams, Deandre Hopkins, Keenan Allen
TE- T.J. Hockenson
FLEX- Darrell Henderson
BENCH: Travis Etienne, Antonio Brown, Mike Williams, Tony Pollard, Rashod Bateman, Latavius Murray
Mock Draft 5.0 CONCLUSION
Don’t be afraid to follow non-traditional draft methods, such as selected three wide receivers with your first three picks. There will be comments from your league that you don’t have any running backs, but it will work itself out. Value is value and should not be ignored.
By chasing the value early on in this mock draft, I still managed to acquire David Montgomery and Chris Carson as my starting running backs. They may not have the flashy names of those selected in the first round, but have fantasy-friendly volume you want in a starting running back. Meanwhile, I have the best wide receiver corps across the entire mock draft league.
While I did not plan to begin the mock draft this way, I did plan to be flexible. I kept a few names at running back in mind, such as Henderson and Etienne, especially since I needed strong depth with prioritizing wide receiver early. Make sure to adjust your rankings and value of players to coincide with the team you are currently drafting.
I think this mock draft is best set up for success in the 2021 fantasy football season, especially early on. All of the starting players have a high probability of being the main components of their respective offenses and should see a ton of volume, and scoring, out of the gate. The bench, on the other hand, has some preseason upside worth betting on but is always subject to change.
Each mock draft from here on out will prove to be more valuable than any prior. Training camp is in full swing and we will have our first preseason game kicking off this week. Make sure to stay up to date with the daily, ever-changing news. The mock drafts will be a reflection of it all!
For more Rankings and Analysis please check out our full 2021 Fantasy Football Draft Kit.
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