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2021 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Final 12

Oct 20, 2023

It's the two-minute warning of fantasy draft season.

With just over a week until the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers kick off the 2021 NFL season, there's one more big weekend of drafts ahead. The biggest weekend of them all.

The reason for waiting this long was demonstrated quite clearly this past weekend when J.K. Dobbins of the Baltimore Ravens became the latest prominent running back felled by a major injury.

As we have moved through the summer, fantasy values have changed significantly. Some players have climbed multiple rounds. Others still have gone from hero to zero—from coveted fantasy option to off the radar altogether.

The difference in those values is plainly evident when you look at the drafts from any point of time. In just the past month or so since the first of these mock drafts was published here at Bleacher Report, the draft stock of any number of players has pinged and ponged in every direction.

There was yet another mock a couple of weeks after that one, but for the last time in 2021, a dozen fantasy analysts and veteran players joined for one more 16-round PPR draft to help you get a feel for where players are being drafted, and the potential values to be had.

There is, however, one sizable difference and this draft, in which I drew the 12th and final pick in Round 1.

We are playing this league out.

1.01: Christian McCaffrey, RB, CAR

1.02: Dalvin Cook, RB, MIN

1.03: Alvin Kamara, RB, NOS

1.04: Derrick Henry, RB, TEN

1.05: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, DAL

1.06: Aaron Jones, RB, GBP

1.07: Jonathan Taylor, RB, IND

1.08: Austin Ekeler, RB, LAC

1.09: Travis Kelce, TE, KCC

1.10: Davante Adams, WR, GBP

1.11: Tyreek Hill, WR, KCC

1.12: Saquon Barkley, RB, NYG

Draft By Numbers

The first round of fantasy football drafts is easily the most predictable of the lot in 2021.

The order of the first five backs off the board may vary a bit. So will the players selected at the tail end of the round. But those first five picks are almost always going to be McCaffrey, Cook, Henry, Kamara and Elliott. There will be nine or 10 running backs chosen, along with Travis Kelce and a wide receiver or two.

The safest play in 2021 is just to go with a running back in Round 1—especially if you're picking in the front half of the round. If you do take Kelce or an elite receiver in Round 1, be ready to circle back for an RB in Round 2.

My Pick

There probably isn't a first-rounder whose value has varied more this summer than New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley. He has been drafted inside the top five. And outside the first round altogether.

As it happens, after a summer of questions regarding Barkley's early-season availability, his ADP at Fantasy Football Calculator has settled in exactly where I took him, at 1.12. It's admittedly something of a risky pick—something that became a theme for my team in this draft.

However, Barkley is finally back on the practice field, and if the fourth-year pro is 100 percent (or relatively close) and can stay on the field, there's top-five upside to potentially be had at a discount.

2.01: Nick Chubb, RB, CLE

2.02: Stefon Diggs, WR, BUF

2.03: DK Metcalf, WR, SEA

2.04: Joe Mixon, RB, CIN

2.05: Najee Harris, RB, PIT

2.06: Calvin Ridley, WR, ATL

2.07: Antonio Gibson, RB, WFT

2.08: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, ARZ

2.09: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, KCC

2.10: Keenan Allen, WR, LAC

2.11: A.J. Brown, WR, TEN

2.12: Darren Waller, TE, LVR

Running Wild

In Round 2 of this draft, things opened up a bit—there were more wide receivers (six) selected than running backs (five). They were joined by Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller, who is generally coming off the board in the latter stages of the second round.

Again, this is how most drafts have proceeded this summer—the first two rounds almost always feature 14-15 running backs, seven or eight wideouts and the first two tight ends.

If there's a lesson to take from that, it's that while passing on backs with your first two picks can certainly be a viable strategy, understand that by the time Round 3 begins, you'll already be in mid-range RB2 territory.

My Pick

This isn't the first time I have drafted from the 12th slot in 2021—and just about every time, I have come away with a pair of running backs. To me, it makes more sense than sifting through the backs who will be available at No. 36, knowing that I have to count on them as a weekly fantasy starter.

Yes. Nick Chubb of the Browns has to share backfield duties with Kareem Hunt. He's also not much of a factor in the passing game. But in 12 games in 2020, Chubb topped 1,000 rushing yards, averaged 5.6 yards per carry and averaged a touchdown per game. He was ninth in PPR points per game among running backs.

So long as Chubb stays healthy, he's a safe bet to produce at a similar level in 2021.

3.01: Justin Jefferson, WR, MIN

3.02: David Montgomery, RB, CHI

3.03: James Robinson, RB, JAX

3.04: Terry McLaurin, WR, WFT

3.05: Allen Robinson II, WR, CHI

3.06: CeeDee Lamb, WR, DAL

3.07: Chris Carson, RB, SEA

3.08: D'Andre Swift, RB, DET

3.09: Miles Sanders, RB, PHI

3.10: Myles Gaskin, RB, MIA

3.11: George Kittle, TE, SFO

3.12: Josh Jacobs, RB, LVR

Wide Open

The talent available to fantasy managers at wide receiver is its own argument for attacking the running back position early in drafts.

Minnesota's Justin Jefferson and CeeDee Lamb of the Cowboys are electrifying youngsters coming off impressive (and in Jefferson's case record-setting) rookie seasons. Allen Robinson II of the Bears may not have their fantasy ceiling, but he's the epitome of a high-floor veteran.

By comparison, the running backs all carry at least one significant question mark by the back half of the third round. For Detroit's D'Andre Swift and Miles Sanders of the Eagles, it's durability concerns, and for Miami's Myles Gaskin and Josh Jacobs of the Raiders, it's the backfield split for their respective teams.

Round 3 is also where you can expect the last of the "Big Three" tight ends (George Kittle of the 49ers) to come off the board.

My Pick

That Kittle came off the board one stinking pick before mine was a punch in the gut.

It would be a lot easier to feel good about Jacobs had the Raiders not handed Kenyan Drake a sizable contract in the offseason. Giving Drake $11 million over two seasons was one of the more surprising moves of free agency.

But Jacobs is still a talented young back who has eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards twice in as many seasons and posted fantasy RB2 numbers both times.

He was also the last back in his tier in my rankings, and there was no way I was going to wait all the way to 5.12 before taking an RB3.

4.01: Mike Evans, WR, TBB

4.02: Chris Godwin, WR, TBB

4.03: Chase Edmonds, RB, ARZ

4.04: Robert Woods, WR, LAR

4.05: Mark Andrews, TE, BAL

4.06: Julio Jones, WR, TEN

4.07: Jerry Jeudy, WR, DEN

4.08: Tyler Lockett, WR, SEA

4.09: Cooper Kupp, WR, LAR

4.10: Amari Cooper. WR, DAL

4.11: DJ Moore, WR, CAR

4.12: Mike Davis, RB, ATL


To say that there was a run on wide receivers in Round 4 is an understatement—beginning with Mike Evans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, nine picks in the round hailed from that position.

Now that's what you call a run at the position.

Seven of eight picks from 4.04 to 4.11 were wide receivers, including six straight at one point. The lone dissenter in that run went the tight end route, snagging Mark Andrews of the Baltimore Ravens.

It can be easy to get caught up in a run. Or to panic when one gets rolling and reach for a player.

Be true to your strategy and rankings. If you planned to grab a wideout in a spot like this and one of your targets is available, go for it.

But getting pressured into grabbing a lower-ranked player unnecessarily will more often than not backfire.

My Pick

Again, had George Kittle fallen one more spot in the previous round, I probably would have punted wide receiver until the Round 5/6 turn.

Still, Mike Evans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers isn't a bad consolation prize. Over seven seasons in the NFL, Evans has never failed to surpass the 1,000-yard mark in receiving yards. He has also averaged over eight touchdowns a season and posted double-digit scores three times—including a career-high 13 scores in 2020.

Evans has posted top-12 fantasy numbers among wide receivers two of the past three years, and the 28-year-old hasn't finished outside the top-20 in PPR points since 2015.

5.01: Adam Thielen, WR, MIN

5.02: Kyle Pitts, TE, ATL

5.03: Patrick Mahomes, QB, KCC

5.04: Josh Allen, QB, BUF

5.05: Diontae Johnson, WR, PIT

5.06: Michael Gallup, WR, DAL

5.07: T.J. Hockenson, TE, DET

5.08: Tee Higgins, WR, CIN

5.09: Brandon Aiyuk, WR, SFO

5.10: Lamar Jackson, QB, BAL

5.11: Darrell Henderson Jr., RB, LAR

5.12: Kareem Hunt, RB, CLE

Patience is a Virtue

I'm generally not a big fan of drafting a quarterback early—there's just too much depth at the position to make the edge under center worth the cost of having an area of weakness at another position.

However, it's awfully hard to find fault with getting Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs with the third pick of the fifth round. That's 27 spots lower than his ADP at Fantasy Football Calculator—over two full rounds later than average.

Staying true to your draft strategy is important, but you also need to know when to diverge from it and grab the value that has fallen into your lap.

Landing Mahomes (and, to a lesser extent, Josh Allen of the Bills) this late is a steal.

My Pick

Unfortunately, I didn't get a top-two quarterback at a steep discount. Or the wide receivers I was hoping might fall a bit farther in Round 5. Or the tight end I was targeting in T.J. Hockenson of the Detroit Lions.

I did score a value, though—and some insurance.

Kareem Hunt of the Cleveland Browns has experienced a bit of a drop in ADP as Week 1 gets closer. It's understandable—while Hunt was a top-10 fantasy back last year in this scoring system, he did so with touchdown totals that could be hard to duplicate in 2021, and the 26-year-old is a clear No. 2 back behind Nick Chubb.

But Hunt is also much more than just a backup. He should see enough touches to at least possess value as a "flex" option, and were anything to happen to Chubb, Hunt rockets into the RB1 conversation.

6.01: J.K. Dobbins, RB, BAL

6.02: Raheem Mostert, RB, SFO

6.03: Ja'Marr Chase, WR, CIN

6.04: Javonte Williams, RB, DEN

6.05: Dak Prescott, QB, DAL

6.06: Kyler Murray, QB, ARZ

6.07: Tyler Higbee, TE, LAR

6.08: Sony Michel, RB, LAR

6.09: Gus Edwards, RB, BAL

6.10: Damien Harris, RB, NEP

6.11: Leonard Fournette, RB, TBB

6.12: Trey Sermon, RB, SFO

Back to the Backs

Round 6 brought with it another positional run—this time at running back.

We'll get to the guy who started that run in a second.

Gus Edwards of the Ravens, Sony Michel of the Rams and Damien Harris of the Patriots are all backs who have received ADP spikes based on recent developments. The backfield battle in San Francisco between veteran Raheem Mostert and rookie Trey Sermon could have major implications in fantasy leagues. Ditto for a crowded Tampa backfield that includes Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones II and Giovani Bernard.

There are no sure things at running back this late, but hitting on one of these mid-round backs is how leagues are won—especially for teams that went WR-heavy early.

My Pick

This draft was conducted on the Saturday night that Baltimore Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins injured his knee—but before it was revealed that the second-year tailback had suffered a season-ending ACL tear.

I rolled the dice that the injury wasn't serious. Those dice came up snake-eyes. It happens.

With Dobbins done for the year, it's Gus Edwards who will assume lead back duties for the Ravens in 2021. The 26-year-old might not have the RB1 ceiling that Dobbins possessed, but Edwards has averaged 5.2 yards per carry over three NFL seasons and is in the conversation as a second starter in the backfield.

Of course, Edwards' asking price is spiking right along with his fantasy value. By the time the final weekend of fantasy draft season really gets going, drafting him in the second half of Round 6 may be a pipe dream.

7.01: JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, PIT

7.02: Courtland Sutton, WR, DEN

7.03: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, CLE

7.04: Michael Thomas, WR, NOS

7.05: Russell Wilson, QB, SEA

7.06: Russell Gage, WR, ATL

7.07: Corey Davis, WR, NYJ

7.08: Marvin Jones Jr., WR, JAX

7.09: Justin Herbert, QB, LAC

7.10: Dallas Goedert, TE, PHI

7.11: Aaron Rodgers, QB, GBP

7.12: Chase Claypool, WR, PIT

The Thomas Conundrum

The question of what to do about New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas might be the most potentially impactful puzzle in the middle rounds of drafts.

When healthy and on his game, Thomas is capable of elite fantasy production. Two years ago, he set a single-season record with 149 receptions. The installation of Jameis Winston as the Saints' new starting quarterback would appear beneficial for Thomas' fantasy prospects, too.

But Thomas is also coming off an injury-marred 2020 campaign, and the same ankle that ruined last year will sideline the 28-year-old to begin this one. He's expected to begin the season on the physically unable to perform list, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, which will sideline him through at least Week 6.

Despite all of the uncertainty surrounding Thomas, his ADP of 67 at Fantasy Football Calculator is about 10 picks higher than where he was taken here. So in the fantasy community's opinion, Thomas was worth the dice-roll in Round 7.

My Pick

There is nothing more aggravating than watching target after target come off the board when you're in the midst of the long wait that comes with picking on the turn.

There were a couple of wide receivers taken before Chase Claypool of the Steelers that I likely would have drafted ahead of the second-year pro. His second-half fade last year is a legitimate concern. So is his target share in a crowded Pittsburgh receiving corps.

But Claypool also scored eight touchdowns over the first 11 weeks of the 2020 season, including three in a single game against the Eagles.

Given how long I waited to draft a second receiver, that upside is appealing.

8.01: Brandin Cooks, WR, HOU

8.02: Melvin Gordon III, RB, DEN

8.03: Deebo Samuel, WR, SFO

8.04: Kenny Golladay, WR, NYG

8.05: Ronald Jones II, RB, TBB

8.06: James Conner, RB, ARZ

8.07: Kenyan Drake, RB, LVR

8.08: Jamaal Williams, RB, DET

8.09: Logan Thomas, TE, WFT

8.10: Tyler Boyd, WR, CIN

8.11: DJ Chark Jr., WR, JAX

8.12: Zack Moss, RB, BUF

Values at Receiver

Round 8 was just about equally split between backs and wideouts, with a single tight end (Washington's Logan Thomas) crashing the party.

The backs are almost exclusively those mired in uncertain timeshares, though Denver's Melvin Gordon III, Tampa's Ronald Jones II and Buffalo's Zack Moss should all at least open the season as the No. 1 back on their respective teams.

But there are some interesting selections at wide receiver. A broken finger has sidelined Jacksonville's DJ Chark Jr., but the ostensible No. 1 receiver for the Jaguars is expected to be ready for Week 1. The arrival of Ja'Marr Chase has put a sizable dent in Tyler Boyd's fantasy value, but the Bengals receiver has two 1,000-yard seasons over the past three years.

My Pick

The Houston Texans are all but certainly going to be terrible in 2021. Maybe the worst team in the entire NFL. The odds that Deshaun Watson plays another snap under center for the team are not at all good.

But veteran receiver Brandin Cooks is still being undervalued in many fantasy drafts.

Cooks has long shown the ability to be productive, tallying five 1,000-yard seasons over seven years with three different teams—including an 81/1,150/6 line (and WR17 fantasy finish) last year in Houston.

With William Fuller V gone, Cooks will no doubt dominate target share for a Texans team that will be playing from behind just about every single week.

Garbage time stats count the same as all the rest.

9.01: Robby Anderson, WR, CAR

9.02: AJ Dillon, RB, GBP

9.03: Antonio Brown, WR, TBB

9.04: Jarvis Landry, WR, CLE

9.05: DeVonta Smith, WR, PHI

9.06: William Fuller V, WR, MIA

9.07: Jaylen Waddle, WR, MIA

9.08: Mike Williams, WR, LAC

9.09: Phillip Lindsay, RB, HOU

9.10: Noah Fant, TE, DEN

9.11: Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, JAX

9.12: Darnell Mooney, WR, CHI

What Can Brown Do for You?

There were a few wideouts taken in Round 9 of this draft that I had my eye on. Of course, I didn't land any of them because that is the kind of draft this was.

None of those near-misses stung more than Antonio Brown of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Brown was a significant part of Tampa's offense once he returned from suspension last year—he averaged 5.6 receptions, 60.4 yards and .5 touchdowns per game. From Week 10 on, he was a top-20 fantasy option at his position in this scoring.

Spread out that production over 17 games, and you have 95 receptions for over 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns—and the potential for a massive fantasy value this late.

My Pick

It could be argued that I need to do a better job of taking my own advice and not getting caught up in a positional run. But one of the two picks on this turn needed to be a wide receiver—it's just unfortunate that eight receivers were taken in the ninth before I had a chance to secure one.

Chicago's Darnell Mooney set a new Bears rookie record last year with 61 catches, and after drawing raves for his improved route-running from head coach Matt Nagy in training camp, the 23-year-old Tulane product has generated some fantasy "sleeper" buzz this summer.

Mooney isn't necessarily the fourth wide receiver I wanted, but he's the fourth wide receiver I got.

And there is at least some upside present with the youngster.

10.01: Irv Smith Jr., TE, MIN

10.02: Michael Carter, RB, NYJ

10.03: Nyheim Hines, RB, IND

10.04: Cole Beasley, WR, BUF

10.05: Michael Pittman Jr., WR, IND

10.06: Robert Tonyan, TE, GBP

10.07: Matt Ryan, QB, ATL

10.08: Jonnu Smith, TE, TEN

10.09: Devin Singletary, RB, BUF

10.10: Marquez Callaway, WR, NOS

10.11: Matthew Stafford, QB, LAR

10.12: Tom Brady, QB, TBB

Old-School QBs

The quarterbacks who came off the board in Round 10 are something of an object lesson in how fantasy managers can hold off at quarterback and still procure a quality veteran starter.

Granted, quarterbacks like Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons, Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Matthew Stafford of the Los Angeles Rams don't have the fantasy ceiling of a Patrick Mahomes or a Josh Allen. In fact, it would likely take everything falling just so for one of that group to crack the top-five at the position in fantasy points.

But all three veterans have demonstrated the ability to pile up fantasy points in the past. All three have no shortage of passing-game weaponry. Ryan and Brady both cracked the top-12 last season. Stafford wasn't that far behind.

All three should be solid weekly fantasy starters more weeks than not, and all three are coming off the board here well outside the top 100.

My Pick

Again, this draft took place over the weekend. At the time, Minnesota's Irv Smith Jr. was an intriguing young upside pick at the tight end position now that Kyle Rodolph is no longer on the team.

That was before news broke that Smith needed surgery to repair his meniscus. Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, that surgery will effectively end Smith''s season.

Given that, when this particular league runs its preseason waiver pass, Smith will be joining J.K. Dobbins on the waiver wire.

Losing two players off a 16-player team before the season even starts is…not ideal.

11.01: Bryan Edwards, WR, LVR

11.02: Elijah Moore, WR, NYJ

11.03: Marquise Brown, WR, BAL

11.04: Sterling Shepard, WR

11.05: Giovani Bernard, RB, TBB

11.06: David Johnson, RB, HOU

11.07: Henry Ruggs III, WR, LVR

11.08: Curtis Samuel, WR, WFT

11.09: Mecole Hardman, WR, KCC

11.10: Breshad Perriman, WR, FA

11.11: J.D. McKissic, RB, WFT

11.12: Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, DET

12.01: Jared Cook, TE, LAC

12.02: DeVante Parker, WR, MIA

12.03: Darrel Williams, RB, KCC

12.04: Jalen Hurts, QB, PHI

12.05: Jakobi Meyers, WR, NEP

12.06: Ryan Tannehill, QB, TEN

12.07: Eric Ebron, TE, PIT

12.08: Tony Pollard, RB, DAL

12.09: Rondale Moore, WR, ARZ

12.10: Evan Engram, TE, NYG

12.11: James White, RB, NEP

12.12: Chuba Hubbard, RB, CAR

13.01: Mike Gesicki, TE, MIA

13.02: Parris Campbell, WR, IND

13.03: Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, CAR

13.04: Zach Ertz, TE, PHI

13.05: Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, NEP

13.06: Gabriel Davis, WR, BUF

13.07: Boston Scott, RB, PHI

13.08: Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR, GBP

13.09: Trey Lance, QB, SFO

13.10: Justin Fields, QB, CHI

13.11: Joe Burrow, QB, CIN

13.12: Ben Roethlisberger, QB, PIT

Sleeper Alert

When it comes to preseason hype, no one in 2021 can touch Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Bryan Edwards, who has drawn comparisons to everyone from Randy Moss to Davante Adams. Hyperbole aside, Edwards appears slated to start in a Raiders WR corps that isn't exactly loaded,

Much like the group in Las Vegas, the wide receivers for the New England Patriots aren't blowing anyone's doors off. It was Meyers who paced the team in receptions and yards among wide receivers, and the third-year pro has reportedly impressed in camp this summer.

The 13th round featured a run on quarterbacks at the beck end, including three youngsters with substantial upside. Cincinnati's Joe Burrow is locked in as the starter for a Bengals team loaded at wide receiver, while Chicago's Justin Fields and Trey Lance of the 49ers have the sort of athleticism and scrambling ability that gives fantasy managers the vapors.

My Picks

The Lions apparently thought enough of rookie wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown to cut loose veteran wideout Breshad Perriman. If the snaps are there, the targets should be too—Detroit is likely to be playing catch-up on a regular basis.

Jared Cook of the Los Angeles Chargers is easily my favorite late-round draft target at the tight end position. If the 34-year-old gets close to the per-game target share that Hunter Henry did in Los Angeles last year, he'll finish well inside fantasy TE1 territory.

Had one of those young signal-callers I mentioned been available at 13.12, this pick may well have been a different one. But Ben Roethlisberger of the Steelers was a top-15 fantasy option last season, and he has looked healthy and accurate in camp.

14.01: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, MIA

14.02: Washington Football Team Defense

14.03: Justin Tucker, PK, BAL

14.04: Cole Kmet, TE, CHI

14.05: Buffalo Bills Defense

14.06: T.Y. Hilton, WR, IND

14.07: Jameis Winston, QB, NOS

14.08: Ty Johnson, RB, NYJ

14.09: Pittsburgh Steelers Defense

14.10: Los Angeles Rams Defense

14.11: Alexander Mattison, RB, MIN

14.12: Kirk Cousins, QB, MIN

15.01: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense

15.02: San Francisco 49ers Defense

15.03: Harrison Butker, PK, KCC

15.04: Tyler Bass, PK, BUF

15.05: Denver Broncos Defense

15.06: Younghoe Koo, PK, ATL

15.07: Cleveland Browns Defense

15.08: Tony Jones, RB, NOS

15.09: New England Patriots Defense

15.10. Indianapolis Colts Defense

15.11: Greg Zuerlein, PK, DAL

15.12: Baltimore Ravens Defense

16.01: Ryan Succop, PK, TBB

16.02: Tre'Quan Smith, WR, NOS

16.03: Justice Hill, RB, BAL

16.04: Daniel Carlson, PK, LVR

16.05: Rodrigo Blankenship, PK, IND

16.06: Mike Badgley, PK, LAC

16.07: Seattle Seahawks Defense

16.08: Jason Sanders, PK, MIA

16.09: Baker Mayfield, QB, CLE

16.10: Gerald Everett, TE, SEA

16.11: Jason Myers, PK, SEA

16.12: Robbie Gould, PK, SFO

Waiting Their Turn

The last three rounds of this draft were like a Walmart on Black Friday three hours after the sales start—the shelves have been picked clean. There was a value pick or two (Seattle Seahawks tight end Gerald Everett in Round 16 stands out), but for the most part it was tough sledding.

It's a sign of fantasy managers who know their stuff—as is over half the league waiting until the final round to draft a kicker.

There's just no point in doing so before your last pick. Even if you can identify with certainty who will be the top kicker in a season (which is harder than it sounds), the difference in scoring between the No. 1 kicker and No. 12 kicker last year was only about 2.5 fantasy points per game.

My Picks

Yes, there has been speculation the Miami Dolphins could be the front-runners to obtain Deshaun Watson from Houston. But there has also been quite a bit of positive feedback regarding Tua Tagovailoa's development in Year 2. As a fantasy back-up, he possesses more than a little fantasy upside.

The biggest names among team defenses were long-gone by the time I went on the board with the final pick of the 15th round. So was my favorite matchup play of 2021 in the Denver Broncos. But the Baltimore Ravens are a solid defensive football team with a decent Week 1 matchup against the Raiders in Las Vegas.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Ryan Succop wasn't a great fantasy option last season—he was ninth in fantasy points per game at the position. But he's an accurate veteran kicker playing for a potent offensive football team. He'll do nicely.


Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (13.12); Tua Tagovailoa, MIA (14.01)

Some might view this pair of signal-callers as a liability. It could also be an excellent value. A healthy Roethlisberger is more than capable of cracking the top-12 given his NFL resume and skill-position weapons. Given the improved passing-game weaponry and his ability to gain yardage with his legs, Tagovailoa should at least be a high-ceiling reserve.

Running Backs

Saquon Barkley, NYG (1.12); Nick Chubb, CLE (2.01); Josh Jacobs, LVR (3.12); Kareem Hunt, CLE (5.12); J.K. Dobbins, BAL (6.01)

There's no sugarcoating it—the Dobbins gambit blew up in my face. But the running backs are still the strength of this team, and if you can't survive the loss of your sixth-round pick your fantasy build wasn't a good one anyway. If Hunt can come close to matching last year's touchdown numbers and the Browns play with a fair number of leads, then the Chubb/Hunt "stack" could be a highly productive combo.

Wide Receivers

Mike Evans, TBB (4.01); Chase Claypool, PIT (7.12); Brandin Cooks, WR, HOU (8.01); Darnell Mooney, CHI (9.12); Amon-Ra St. Brown, DET (11.12)

Evans is a good high-floor anchor for fantasy managers who hit the running back spot hard early. Claypool is a bit riskier but carries a high ceiling if he has a Year 2 jump. Cooks is almost criminally undervalued for no reason save the lousy team he plays for. The dept behind the top three isn't especially good here, so fingers crossed that Mooney or St. Brown can at least serve as a "flex" option from time to time.

Tight Ends

Irv Smith Jr., MIN (10.01); Jared Cook, LAC (12.01)

Given how many of shares of Cook I have acquired in 2021, the veteran is probably doomed. But if he notches the 100 targets or so I believe he can (Hunter Henry had 93 in 14 games in 2020) then he'll finish inside the top 10. With Henry, Rob Gronkowski, Blake Jarwin and Austin Hooper all still sitting of the waiver wire, Smith is headed off the team in the first waivers pass.

Defense and Kicker

Baltimore Ravens (15.12); Ryan Succop (16.01)

Using past performance to predict future success can be tricky with team defenses—so much can change from one year to the next that penthouse-to-outhouse-style swings aren't uncommon. But the Ravens were a top-five fantasy defense in 2020, and the Week 1 matchup is at least OK. Ryan Succop is a kicker. I needed a kicker. I drafted him.

This isn't close to my favorite draft of 2021—given that two players are already down it's closer to the bottom of that list than the top. But there's a lesson to be learned there as well.

Sometimes the draft just doesn't go especially well.

All you do is that point is repair the damage as best you can. So I'll be adding one of those tight ends I mentioned and a running back like Devontae Booker of the Giants (as Barkley insurance), Malcolm Brown of the Dolphins or Ty'Son Williams of the Ravens,

Fantasy football is a marathon, not a sprint.

And the season is only just getting started.

ADP data of Fantasy Football Calculator.

Scoring data courtesy of My Fantasy League.

Gary Davenport is a two-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association Football Writer of the Year. Follow him on Twitter at @IDPSharks.

1.12: Saquon Barkley, RB, NYG Draft By Numbers My Pick 2.01: Nick Chubb, RB, CLE Running Wild My Pick 3.12: Josh Jacobs, RB, LVR Wide Open My Pick 4.01: Mike Evans, WR, TBB RUN! My Pick 5.12: Kareem Hunt, RB, CLE Patience is a Virtue My Pick 6.01: J.K. Dobbins, RB, BAL Back to the Backs My Pick 7.12: Chase Claypool, WR, PIT The Thomas Conundrum My Pick 8.01: Brandin Cooks, WR, HOU Values at Receiver My Pick 9.12: Darnell Mooney, WR, CHI What Can Brown Do for You? My Pick 10.01: Irv Smith Jr., TE, MIN Old-School QBs My Pick 11.12: Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, DET 12.01: Jared Cook, TE, LAC 13.12: Ben Roethlisberger, QB, PIT Sleeper Alert My Picks 14.01: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, MIA 15.12: Baltimore Ravens Defense 16.01: Ryan Succop, PK, TBB Waiting Their Turn My Picks Quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (13.12); Tua Tagovailoa, MIA (14.01) Running Backs Saquon Barkley, NYG (1.12); Nick Chubb, CLE (2.01); Josh Jacobs, LVR (3.12); Kareem Hunt, CLE (5.12); J.K. Dobbins, BAL (6.01) Wide Receivers Mike Evans, TBB (4.01); Chase Claypool, PIT (7.12); Brandin Cooks, WR, HOU (8.01); Darnell Mooney, CHI (9.12); Amon-Ra St. Brown, DET (11.12) Tight Ends Irv Smith Jr., MIN (10.01); Jared Cook, LAC (12.01) Defense and Kicker Baltimore Ravens (15.12); Ryan Succop (16.01)