Fantasy football can change on a dime. Just this past week, there have been season-ending injuries, as well as a trade, that have changed the landscape of the running back position. Later today, NFL teams will be required to make their final cuts and begin to shape their initial 53-man rosters. From there, released players will be free to sign with any team, changing the game that much more. With all of this in mind, how fantasy football managers are drafting toward the beginning of the season is also changing. See how the most recent news has impacted the latest mock draft results. Don’t be the one blindsided at your fantasy football draft because you haven’t been paying attention.
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Picking Ninth Overall in the Ninth Mock Draft
The following mock draft was completed, simulating my strategy and results for a 10-team, one quarterback, Point 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 ninth 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 to analyze as many players as possible. It’s important, with less than two weeks until the start of the season, to consider how to build the bench in fantasy football beyond the 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- Alvin Kamara (NO RB)
1.04- Derrick Henry (TEN RB)
1.05- Saquon Barkley (NYG RB)
1.06- Ezekiel Elliott (DAL RB)
1.07- Jonathan Taylor (IND RB)
1.08- Nick Chubb (CLE RB)
1.09- Aaron Jones (GB RB)
1.10- Davante Adams (GB WR)
MY PICK: Aaron Jones
Jones is entering the 2021 NFL season as the reigning RB5 in PPR formats last fantasy football season. The year prior, he was RB2. With Aaron Rodgers returning and a new offseason contract extension for Jones, he is in a prime position, with his expected volume on a high-quality offense, to finish in the top-five again.
Eight running backs go off of the board with the first eight picks in this mock draft. When that happens, my instinct is usually to target Davante Adams or Travis Kelce. However, with the ninth pick, there has to be some consideration as to what the back-to-back picks in the tenth slot may be.
In this case, I felt optimistic that if I snagged Jones, a running back I value as a top-five back who fell to me here, then the tenth slot manager may feel pressure to also draft a running back. If that were the case, I would have the opportunity to select one of Adams or Kelce with the second pick in the second round.
2.01 – Travis Kelce (KC TE)
2.02- Austin Ekeler (LAC RB)
2.03- Tyreek Hill (KC WR)
2.04- Stefon Diggs (BUF WR)
2.05- Najee Harris (PIT RB)
2.06- DeAndre Hopkins (ARI WR)
2.07- A.J. Brown (TEN WR)
2.08- Antonio Gibson (WFT RB)
2.09- Calvin Ridley (ATL WR)
2.10- DK Metcalf (SEA WR)
MY PICK: Austin Ekeler
So, the tenth slot has me eating crow with back-to-back selections of Adams and Kelce. I now have a choice of a top-three ranked wide receiver or doubling down on a low top-10 running back. I figure the quality of wide receiver available to me at the end of the third round is likely better than that of running back.
With that said, adding Ekeler is the right choice for the position I’m in. With my time allotted, I quickly count how many picks are between this and my next and look at the list of wide receivers that could be available. Hypothetically speaking, I still have a shot at one of, or close to, my top-10 ranked receivers.
Also, with my knowledge from previous mock drafts, I know there is a good chance Patrick Mahomes and/or Josh Allen are taken in the third round. That just slides higher-quality running backs and receivers down the list in my direction at the end of that round.
3.01- Joe Mixon (CIN RB)
3.02- Justin Jefferson (MIN WR)
3.03- Darren Waller (LV TE)
3.04- George Kittle (SF TE)
3.05- Keenan Allen (LAC WR)
3.06- Patrick Mahomes (KC QB)
3.07- Clyde Edwards-Helaire (KC RB)
3.08- Josh Allen (BUF QB)
3.09- Allen Robinson (CHI WR)
3.10- David Montgomery (CHI RB)
MY PICK: Allen Robinson
As expected, Mahomes and Allen are gone when my pick rolls around. I am able to select Allen Robinson who, similar to Aaron Jones, is a solid bet to outperform his draft position and ranking.
Robinson’s biggest knock is usually who’s throwing him the ball. He’s made it this far in his career with Blake Bortles and Mitchell Trubisky primarily at quarterback. Now, he’s got some unclear combination of starts between Andy Dalton and rookie, Justin Fields.
It’s likely the best he’s ever had under center so a 100 or more reception season is very much at play for Robinson. Locking in a wide receiver with that expected volume is fantastic in the third round of this mock draft. I am happy to have a wide receiver here who is expected to lead his team in target share after selecting two running backs early on.
4.01- Terry McLaurin (WFT WR)
4.02- Ceedee Lamb (DAL WR)
4.03- D’Andre Swift (DET RB)
4.04- Mike Evans (TB WR)
4.05- Robert Woods (LAR WR)
4.06- James Robinson (JAX RB)
4.07- Julio Jones (TEN WR)
4.08- Amari Cooper (DAL WR)
4.09- Chris Godwin (TB WR)
4.10- Adam Thielen (MIN WR)
MY PICK: Ceedee Lamb
There isn’t a need to select three running backs in the first four picks of this mock draft. Sure, I would love to have the talents of D’Andre Swift as my flex. However, investing that heavily into a position that’s historically risky with injuries and a lower number of games played isn’t advisable. I would rather balance out the roster with another strong option at wide receiver.
Ceedee Lamb is coming off of a 111 target-filled rookie season. While he fell just short of 1,000 yards receiving, keep in mind that quarterback, Dak Prescott was lost to a season-ending injury in Week 5. Lamb still saw 71 of his 111 targets from that point on.
Amari Cooper is still the best receiver on this roster until proven otherwise. Lamb, however, is continuously proving throughout the preseason that he is a playmaker and a go-to option in this projected high-scoring offense. Since Cooper is coming back from minor ankle surgery, I give Lamb the nod here as a solid fourth-round pick.
5.01- Cooper Kupp (LAR WR)
5.02- Miles Sanders (PHI RB)
5.03- Dionte Johnson (PIT WR)
5.04- Josh Jacobs (LV RB)
5.05- Tyler Lockett (SEA WR)
5.06- D.J. Moore (CAR WR)
5.07- Ja’Marr Chase (CIN WR)
5.08- Brandon Aiyuk (SF WR)
5.09- Tee Higgins (CIN WR)
5.10- Chris Carson (SEA RB)
MY PICK: Tee Higgins
Getting a piece of the Bengals passing attack isn’t a priority for me, but I find myself doing it a lot. In this mock draft, rookie, Ja’Maar Chase, goes just before teammate, Tee Higgins. Admittedly, I think the other wide receiver in this offense, Tyler Boyd, is the best value, going a round or two after these guys.
However, depending on where you’re drafting, you have to strike while the iron’s hot. Higgins has a nice high floor to count on as the third wide receiver on this mock draft team. With Joe Burrow back under center, the Bengals are likely going to utilize his talent and throw often.
In just ten games last season, Burrow was throwing approximately 40 times per game. I want any receiver who see the bulk of the snaps in an offense with that approach. Higgins’ 67-catch, 908-yard, and 6-touchdown season is overlooked amongst other second-year receivers, such as Jefferson, Lamb, and Aiyuk.
6.01- JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT WR)
6.02- Kyle Pitts (ATL TE)
6.03- Michael Thomas (NO WR)
6.04- Kyler Murray (ARI QB)
6.05- Odell Beckham, Jr. (CLE WR)
6.06- Mark Andrews (BAL TE)
6.07- Chase Claypool (PIT WR)
6.08- Jerry Jeudy (DEN WR)
6.09- Tyler Boyd (CIN WR)
6.10- Kenny Golladay (NYG WR)
MY PICK: Kyle Pitts
Lately, I’ve been prioritizing having a top-ranked tight end on my rosters. In this mock draft, the sixth round seems like an appropriate time to select Kyle Pitts. Especially after his catch-and-run in his final preseason game, I knew it was now or never to get him on this mock draft roster.
Pitts is going to be the second pass-catching option in the Atlanta Falcon’s offense. Reports out of training camp claim Pitts is going to be moving all over the field. He’s the highest-drafted tight end ever, at fourth overall in 2021, and has a great chance to break the rookie tight end receiving yard record of 1,076 yards.
Side note, if anyone can explain why Michael Thomas deserves a sixth-round selection, please let me know. Maybe I’m still bitter about his frustratingly lengthy absence from last season. I’m not questioning his talent when he’s on the field, but when will he be on the field? That debate is enough for me to look elsewhere at wide receiver this early in the draft.
7.01- T.J. Hockenson (DET TE)
7.02- Logan Thomas (WFT TE)
7.03- Antonio Brown (TB WR)
7.04- Devonta Smith (PHI WR)
7.05- Robby Anderson (CAR WR)
7.06- Myles Gaskin (MIA RB)
7.07- D.J. Chark (JAX WR)
7.08- Darrell Henderson (LAR RB)
7.09- Lamar Jackson (BAL QB)
7.10- Courtland Sutton (DEN WR)
MY PICK: Lamar Jackson
This is one of the easiest decisions of the entire mock draft. Lamar Jackson at the end of the seventh round is an absolute steal. Given that the team just lost running back, J.K. Dobbins, to a season-ending ACL injury, Lamar is going to be busy as a passer and runner this season.
The Ravens led the league in rushing attempts in 2019 (596) and 2020 (555). A big part of that is Lamar’s average of just under 166 attempts per season. In fact, he recorded the sixth-most rushing yards of any player in his 2019 MVP season.
With most fantasy football leagues awarding 1 point for every 10 rushing yards, having him as a starting quarterback provides a huge advantage against most others across your league. It’s not out of the question for Lamar to lead the team in rushing attempts for the second year in a row.
8.01- Dak Prescott (DAL QB)
8.02- Mike Davis (ATL RB)
8.03- Kareem Hunt (CLE RB)
8.04- Deebo Samuel (SF WR)
8.05- Brandin Cooks (HOU WR)
8.06- Chase Edmonds (ARI RB)
8.07- Jarvis Landry (CLE WR)
8.08- Aaron Rodgers (GB QB)
8.09- Gus Edwards (BAL RB)
8.10- Javontae Williams (DEN RB)
MY PICK: Mike Davis
Adding Mike Davis to my mock draft team is a weekly occurrence at this point. It is August 31st and he is the clear-cut starting running back for the Atlanta Falcons. Davis also adds value as a pass-catcher out of the backfield.
When the Falcons added undrafted rookie, Javian Hawkins, to the roster, many believed he could eat into Davis’ pass-catching workload. Hawkins is now a Tennessee Titan after being waived by the Falcons last week.
As teams trim their rosters down to 53 players, the Falcons could be on the lookout for running back depth. However, with less than two weeks until the start of the season, Davis will have every opportunity to prove why he should be the workhorse for the entire 2021 season.
Gus Edwards is this week’s biggest riser of the mock draft. Following the aforementioned Dobbins injury, Edwards figures to be the lead back in Baltimore. Speaking of roster cuts, Baltimore may also be in the market for running back depth in the coming days. Their move, or lack thereof, to address the position will be very telling for Edwards’ value moving forward.
9.01- Raheem Mostert (SF RB)
9.02- Leonard Fournette (TB RB)
9.03- Damien Harris (NE RB)
9.04- Melvin Gordon (DEN RB)
9.05- Laviska Shenault (JAX WR)
9.06- Jaylen Waddle (MIA WR)
9.07- Michael Gallup (DAL WR)
9.08- Will Fuller (MIA WR)
9.09- Trey Sermon (SF RB)
9.10- Ronald Jones (TB RB)
My Pick: Trey Sermon
This is a high upside bench stash. Rookie, Trey Sermon, is probably going to take a back seat to Raheem Mostert early on this season. However, given that Mostert averages 11 games played per season in four years as a San Francisco 49er, Sermon is going to have an impact in the 2021 fantasy football.
Kyle Shanahan’s offense loves to run the football. With the strong offensive line, innovative play-calling, and the potential of dual-threat quarterback, Trey Lance, waiting in the wing, this offense could be humming by mid-season. I love getting Sermon on this mock draft roster, as a future flex, or insurance to Jones and Ekeler.
10.01- Michael Carter (NYJ RB)
10.02- Corey Davis (NYJ WR)
10.03- Michael Pittman (IND WR)
10.04- Marquis Brown (BAL WR)
10.05- Marquez Callaway (NO WR)
10.06- Sony Michel (LAR RB)
10.07- Zach Moss (BUF RB)
10.08- Cole Beasley (BUF WR)
10.09- Curtis Samuel (WFT WR)
10.10– Devante Parker (MIA WR)
MY PICK: Corey Davis
Just yesterday, the Detroit Lions waived wide receiver, Breshad Perriman, from their roster. Immediately, there was hype around Tyrell Williams as the top receiver in Detroit. I’m not a fan of the idea that “someone has to catch passes in the (Enter Team Name) offense.” It shouldn’t take waiving a player like Perriman to make the case for a player like Williams.
I bring this up because the New York Jets are usually a team where this sort of concept lives. I’m here to tell you that 2021 is going to be different. Not only is there a new and improved coaching staff, but second overall pick, Zach Wilson, looks the part at quarterback.
That said, Corey Davis is starting to receive some well-deserved hype. He’s a free agent signee that’s been brought in with the idea that the Jets were going to need a veteran to help develop their quarterback selection. Davis is a target hog so far with Wilson under center. If that continues, he could be a PPR machine in 2021 with a chance to be a weekly WR3 with major upside.
11.01- Robert Tonyan (GB TE)
11.02- Noah Fant (DEN TE)
11.03- AJ Dillon (GB RB)
11.04- Marvin Jones (JAX WR)
11.05- Mike Williams (LAC WR)
11.06- Russell Gage (ATL WR)
11.07- Henry Ruggs (LV WR)
11.08- James Conner (ARI RB)
11.09- Darnell Mooney (CHI WR)
11.10– Jamaal Williams (DET RB)
MY PICK: Darnell Mooney
Darnell Mooney is going to have weekly value throughout the 2021 fantasy football season. As for this mock draft team, he is also insurance in the event my top wide receiver, Allen Robinson, misses time for any reason. Handcuffing wide receivers isn’t a common practice. If it’s available, within reason, though, it’s not a bad idea.
I did notice that Aaron Jones’ handcuff, AJ Dillon, is off the board earlier this round. Previous mock drafts have shown this to be about where he’s usually selected. Of course, I would have considered selecting him, if available. However, handcuffs become more valuable toward the latter portion of the fantasy football season as you approach the playoffs.
Let the draft be about building a roster of quality players that fulfill a variety of different needs. It’s nice to handcuff running backs, but it’s not the end of the world if you can’t pull it off. There is always the likeliness of trade opportunities throughout the season.
12.01- Mecole Hardman (KC WR)
12.02- Jakobi Meyers (NE WR)
12.03- Kenyan Drake (LV RB)
12.04- Devin Singletary (BUF RB)
12.05- David Johnson (HOU RB)
12.06- Russell Wilson (SEA QB)
12.07- Tony Pollard (DAL RB)
12.08- Justin Herbert (LAC QB)
12.09- Tom Brady (TB QB)
12.10– Jalen Hurts (PHI QB)
MY PICK: Jakobi Meyers
Mac Jones is my pick to win the starting quarterback job in New England. He’s been impressive in the preseason and much more poised for the NFL than I thought he’d be as a rookie so far. If Cam does get the nod and plays anything like he did for the majority of the last season, Jones will be on the field sooner than later.
With that said, Jakobi Meyers is a leading candidate to lead the Patriots in targets in 2021. He is another player who is surprising, given his college transition from quarterback to wide receiver.
The biggest surprise of this mock draft is this twelfth-round quarterback run. As you will see, it bleeds over into the next round, as well. Most of these quarterbacks are in my top-10 rankings. Had I known Russell Wilson or Tom Brady would be available this late, I may not have taken Lamar.
Keep this in mind as you look at this mock draft and apply certain elements of it into your own league. Some fantasy football managers love to select their quarterback early. Usually, when one goes, others quickly follow. Here, it was apparently an unspoken agreement to wait at the position that I did not get the memo about.
13.01- Matthew Stafford (DET QB)
13.02- Ryan Tannehill (TEN QB)
13.03- Rashod Bateman (BAL WR)
13.04- Jalen Reagor (PHI WR)
13.05- Dallas Goedert (PHI TE)
13.06- Tyler Higbee (LAR TE)
13.07- Rob Gronkowski (TB TE)
13.08- Sterling Shepard (NYG WR)
13.09- Nyheim Hines (IND RB)
13.10– Joe Burrow (CIN QB)
MY PICK: Nyheim Hines
I don’t have much of a reason for selecting Nyheim Hines here. With offensive coordinator, Nick Sirianni, moving on to Philadelphia, I’m not confident Hines sees as many snaps as he did in 2020. I should have gone with a similar player with a bit more upside in Giovanni Bernard.
Seeing Gio go in the next round momentarily made me feel like he would have been a reach in the thirteenth. There’s really no such thing as a reach in the later rounds, especially the thirteenth round. If there is a player you don’t want to leave your draft without that’s available this late, then draft him. Before you know it, you only have one pick left before defenses and kickers start to go. The margin between talent and production by players selected at this point is slim.
14.01- Philip Lindsay (HOU QB)
14.02- Mike Gesicki (MIA TE)
14.03- J.D. McKissic (WFT RB)
14.04- James White (NE RB)
14.05- Latavius Murray (NO RB)
14.06- Elijah Moore (NYJ WR)
14.07- Carlos Hyde (JAX RB)
14.08- Rhamondre Stevenson (NE RB)
14.09- Alexander Mattison (MIN RB)
14.10– Giovani Bernard (TB RB)
MY PICK: Mike Gesicki
This selection is in response to the tight end run that occurred in Round 13. The 2021 NFL season adds one extra game to each team’s schedule. That means the fantasy football season is one week and one game longer, too. Depth is going to be a factor for a large handful of fantasy football teams. With that said, adding Gesicki as a backup tight end to rookie, Kyle Pitts, is a low-risk/high-reward move with my last position player pick.
QB- Lamar Jackson
RB- Aaron Jones, Austin Ekeler
WR- Allen Robinson, Ceedee Lamb, Tee Higgins
TE- Kyle Pitts
FLEX- Mike Davis
BENCH: Trey Sermon, Corey Davis, Darnell Mooney, Jakobi Meyers, Nyheim Hines, Mike Gesicki
Mock Draft 9.0 CONCLUSION
The top-eight picks in this mock draft are running backs. Quarterbacks stay on the board much later than ever before, as well. Above all else, depth is a priority for every team, specifically at quarterback and tight end.
Drafting back-to-back running backs with my first two picks is not something I had in mind with the ninth pick of the mock draft. The running back position dries up quickly. I did not want to completely fade the position and select my starter in the third round.
The quality of receivers still available in the third and fourth rounds is far better than that of running backs. My “core four” of Jones, Ekeler, Robinson, and Lamb is nicely balanced and made possible by targeting at least one of the top-12 running backs early on.
I tend to trend toward waiting at quarterback and tight end. However, in this mock draft, with my core set, I like where I selected Lamar Jackson and Kyle Pitts. Having an advantage at the quarterback and tight end positions to round out my starting lineup is important with this team. I felt confident in the depth I could select at running back and wide receiver later on once I filled in my starting lineup.
Let this be a reminder to stay on top of the most recent news across the NFL. Having an extensive knowledge of late-round players is key. Don’t waste a pick on a player who just got cut, injured, or isn’t likely to be a factor in the 2021 fantasy football season. A mock draft is a great tool to utilize to see what names are coming off the board later on.
For more Rankings and Analysis please check out our full 2021 Fantasy Football Draft Kit.
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