“Welcome to the best day of the year, DRAFT day.” – Matthew Berry
If you’re anything like me you’re getting pretty tired of hearing Matthew Berry spit out that same comment over and over again from all the ESPN mock drafts you’ve been doing to prepare for this year’s draft. That said, we’re finally creeping up on D Day for most leagues so all that work can finally pay off!
While working through hundreds of different mock drafts this off-season I thought to myself, “What would an ideal draft look like if I had to make every single pick?” Not just draft rankings but taking into account draft position, team needs, etc.
Well here you have it folks. A full in depth analysis, pick by pick, for exactly how I’d go about drafting throughout the first 4 rounds of a 10 team PPR snake draft. Obviously there’s going to be a handful of picks that are up in the air as of today due to contract disputes *cough* Aaron Rodgers *cough* so these picks reflect the current day mindset (any picks currently subject to change are denoted by an asterisk).
Pick 1: Christian McCaffrey (RB1)
- No surprise here. After making some slight improvements to the offense through the draft/offseason, CMC should get close to 400 touches this season and bounce back HEAVILY from last year’s injury plagued waste of time. Take it from a Panthers fan, CMC is the top asset in fantasy football and could very well top his production from 2019.
Pick 2: Dalvin Cook (RB2)
- Cook will once again be the feature back on a team that ranked in the top 5 in TDs last year and has one of the easiest schedules for RBs inside our projected top 10 this year. I watched my Clemson Tigers struggle for 4 quarters against this guy in Tallahassee during our 2017 National Championship game and if it hadn’t been for Deshaun Watson being the GOAT, they might’ve pulled off the upset just from Cook’s efforts alone. The guy is electric when he’s on the field and you should feel safe taking him at 2 as long as you grab his handcuff in later rounds (because he has had some slight durability issues in the past but not enough to fret over)
Pick 3: Derrick Henry (RB3)
- King Henry, the guy who broke 2,000 yards in ONE SEASON. That is ridiculous. The only reason he falls to 3 for me is because good defenses are capable of slowing him down if they force him to change directions and he doesn’t have a super easy schedule. That said, his freakishly large frame gives him the ability to consistently make NFL defenses look like JV squads and, IDK about you, I want that in my RB1. Another crown jewel in the draft if you’re able to snag him.
Pick 4: Alvin Kamara (RB4)
- Last year’s RB champ. The only reasons he’s falling to 4 for me this season is due to the departure of their OC this offseason as well as their future HOF’er Drew Brees. I do still think Jameis will do surprisingly well running this offense and I could regret taking him this late but those two unknowns are enough for me to take the “sure bets” in CMC/Cook/Henry over Alvin this year. That and I doubt he’ll have another 50 burger this year so statistical regression is quite likely.
Pick 5: Saquon Barkley (RB5)
- So there’s a couple reasons I’m letting Saquon fall this far. First off, his durability has obviously been atrocious over the last two years which isn’t necessarily his fault but leads me into my next point. Next points, the Giants still suck in my opinion and they have the second hardest schedule for RBs this year in the entire league. That has bust written all over it to me. Have to take him at 5 due to his talent and potential bounce back but not going to risk my season on a RB in a bad situation if I have a top 4 pick this year.
Pick 6: Jonathan Taylor (RB6)
- My favorite pick of the draft this year by far. Jonathan Taylor exploded towards the back half of last season and I’m trying to ride that train to the moon this year. He’s super young and talented, has one of the best O lines in the league on a run heavy offense and, last but absolutely not least, THE 2ND EASIEST SCHEDULE FOR RBS IN THE LEAGUE. Take him at 6 and enjoy the ride.
Pick 7: Davante Adams* (WR1)
- So this pick is obviously entirely dependent on how the Aaron Rodgers drama pans out. If the Packers can appease his requests, can’t let the #1 WR and probably a top 3-5 asset overall fall past 7. That said, he’s most likely falling out of my top 10 if Rodgers departs Green Bay. I also despise taking a WR with my first pick in the draft but for Adams and Hill I’ll make an exception.
Pick 8: Ezekiel Elliott (RB7)
- So I keep hearing a lot of people claiming that Zeke is washed up now after signing his massive contract last year and giving a lackluster effort after Dak went down. Uhhh who wouldn’t have sandbagged last year if they were the RB on an Andy Dalton “led” offense?? Zeke was producing just fine before Dak went down and how quickly we all forget his numerous rushing titles in the past few years. The Cowboys sucked last year, don’t let the NFC Least confuse you (since they were still in playoff contention despite how bad they were all year) and definitely don’t blame that on Zeke. I’m predicting a “Comeback Player of the Year” trophy for Dak’s mantle after this season and Zeke should play a large role in that pursuit. Take him at 8 with confidence.
Pick 9: Austin Ekeler (RB8)
- I know what you’re thinking, durability concerns. While I have those same concerns, those concerns are outweighed by the potential of the situation he’s found himself in. Ekeler is the lead back on a Joe Lombardi coached offense (the guy who made Kamara a fantasy god on the Saints) so you can expect quite a bit of involvement from Ekeler in the offense on a team with an already emerging star in Justin Herbert. Couple that with the fact that the Chargers offense is pretty easy for RBs this year and he should get even more pass targets this year than in past seasons and you get a 9th pick you should be stoked about.
Pick 10: Tyreek Hill (WR2)
- I think Tyreek will take the WR crown this year. When you take into account his ability to absolutely blow the top off games coupled with the fact that the guy throwing him the ball is already considered a potential all time great and you get incredible value at the 10 spot for Hill. Sure, his production can be somewhat hit or miss at times but his hits so much outweigh the misses I just don’t care. Take him at 10 and it will increase your seasons excitement factor this year tenfold.
Pick 1 (11 overall): Nick Chubb (RB9)
- Last pick(s): Tyreek Hill
- So here’s where draft strategy/preference starts to come into play. Given the fact there’s only about half as many serviceable RBs in the league vs WRs, you have to make sure to try and land at least one with your first two picks in my opinion (if not two). So since you already have Hill (arguably the best WR in the league), you can afford to start bolstering your RBs with this pick. Who better to do that with than the freakishly athletic Nick Chubb out of Georgia? I know what you’re thinking, “But what about Kareem Hunt?” Somewhat valid concern (which is what’s keeping him out of my top 10) but, even with Hunt in the mix, Chubb was one of the more consistent backs in the league last year post injury. He’s got a great O line on a good offense, easy schedule this year and a mixture of power+speed that always makes him dangerous to pop one off. Oh, and he’s got power. Make him your RB1 to complement Hill with confidence.
Pick 2 (12 overall): Aaron Jones* (RB10)
- Last pick(s): Austin Ekeler
- This pick is highly dependent on the Aaron Rodgers fallout, similar to Davante Adams, but I was planning on bringing Jones down a peg regardless this year. The team seems intent on getting AJ Dillon more involved which will probably eat into Jones’ TD production. That said, he’s still one of the most targeted RBs in the league and starting your draft with 2 solid RBs really opens things up for you as the draft progresses. Contemplated taking Diggs here but given the fact there’s risk with Ekeler’s durability (a risk worth taking in my opinion) I took one of the last historically consistent top performing RBs left here off the board to ease my concerns. That said, he would likely fall further if Rodgers departs but the same RB/RB concept remains for this spot in the draft.
Pick 3 (13 overall): Stefon Diggs (WR3)
- Last pick(s): Ezekiel Elliott
- Given I trust that Zeke is going to have at the very least a decent to high end season this year, I have no problem taking my first WR of the draft here in Stefon Diggs. Diggs has shown flashes of greatness before showing up in Buffalo (that playoff game winning catch is just played on repeat in Saints fans purgatory) so it wasn’t a huge surprise when it all came together for him last year with Josh Allen. He’s the #1 receiver on one of the highest scoring (and young) offenses in the league and he’s got an edge I’d hope to see in my WR1. He’s got a pretty easy schedule for WRs this year as well. Pull the trigger on him at 13th overall.
Pick 4 (14 overall): Najee Harris (RB11)
- Last pick(s): Davante Adams*
- So this is by far my riskiest and most controversial pick in the draft up to this point. We’re talking about a rookie RB with one of the worst O lines in the league that will be thrown into the deep end immediately. Don’t care, and here’s why. His elusiveness, vision and catch radius make me want to salivate. Add to the mix that he’s got a great attitude, THE EASIEST SCHEDULE IN THE ENTIRE LEAGUE FOR RBS THIS YEAR, and a future HOF (meh we’ll see) returning for what could be his final season after absolutely embarrassing himself in the playoffs last year coming off a great regular season. They are going to feed Harris early and often, through the air and on the ground. He lacks break away speed but he doesn’t need it because he has the strength to wear a defense down and the Steelers are going to give him the ball enough to do just that. I think Najee has a solid chance at winning ROY this season and you’ve already got the #1 WR from last year on your squad. Take the chance at 14th overall so you don’t have to wonder what if all year after he pops off.
Pick 5 (15 overall): Deandre Hopkins (WR4)
- Last pick(s): Jonathan Taylor
- I’m honestly jealous I don’t have the 6th pick in any of my drafts this year. First you land Jonathan Taylor (my breakout favorite of the year) but then you also have the opportunity to land the best veteran WR in the draft in Nuk. I’m super bullish on the Cardinals this year (think Kyler could very well win MVP this season) and Nuk fit in like a glove as soon as he got out of Houston like a bat out of hell. Nuk is one of those guys that ALWAYS has something to prove, wants to win championships and just doesn’t drop the ball with those massive hands. Oh, and he likes to Moss people on Hail Marys to win games. Go Tigers (even though we didn’t utilize Nuk nearly enough while he was there), take Hopkins as you’re WR1 here.
Pick 6 (16 overall): Travis Kelce (TE1)
- Last pick(s): Saquon Barkley
- This is one of those logical picks I hate to make but have to. I try to never take a TE early in the draft by principle but this is about as far as I’d allow a 300 point non QB asset fall in the draft. I think the Chiefs are going to go nuts offensively this year after getting “bested” by the cheaters in the Super Bowl this year while playing at half strength. They’re tired of hearing it, they’re going to shut people up and Kelce will play a massive role in that process assuming he can stay healthy. Swallow the pill and take the best TE in football at 16.
Pick 7 (17 overall): Justin Jefferson (WR5)
- Last pick(s): Alvin Kamara
- I. Love. Justin Jefferson. Already a breakout star from last season, I fully anticipate that trend to continue this year as one of the most targeted WRs in the league. He’s one of those guys who’s just fun to watch so as long as Kirk can get him the ball (which he should considering they have the 6th easiest schedule for WRs in the league for 2021), it should pay dividends for your squad. Make him your WR1 and watch him dance all season.
Pick 8 (18 overall): DK Metcalf (WR7)
- Last pick(s): Derrick Henry
- So we’re at a point in the draft here where you have to put into play the short turnaround before your next pick in the 3rd round. Keeping that in mind, I’m going for value here since I think there will still most likely be some halfway decent RBs left for me next round (and my RB1 is King Henry so not that worried). Despite AJ Brown being my WR6 over DK Metcalf (WR7), I’m not a huge fan of taking RB/WR combos from the same team unless they are just absolutely explosive on offense. That’s not necessarily the case with the Titans (super run heavy) so I’m taking DK here instead. Let me be clear though, the only reason I list AJ Brown over DK is because there’s no one else in Nashville to throw the ball to (as of today) whereas the Seahawks have more mouths to feed. I’d pretty much mark these two down as even so given the King Henry factor in this case I’m taking the almost Olympic athlete here and watching him give DBs complexes all season.
Pick 9 (19 overall): AJ Brown (WR6)
- Last pick(s): Dalvin Cook
- I’m taking AJ Brown here as the clear and pretty much only WR on a good Titans offense. The only reasons he falls this far is due to how often the Titans run the ball and some slight durability concerns. As mentioned for the previous pick, I think AJ Brown and DK are pretty comparable in regards to fantasy production and I actually would give AJ the edge here due to the higher volume of targets. Starting out with Dalvin Cook and AJ Brown, not too shabby whatsoever and now you can focus on what RB you want to take next (3 picks from now).
Pick 10 (20 overall): Joe Mixon (RB12)
- Last pick(s): Christian McCaffrey
- So we’ve now reached the back to back pick spot for the lottery winner that took CMC first overall. I’m going RB/WR with these next two picks so obviously doesn’t matter what order you take them in. I’m going to take the more proven “tenured” (in quotes since he’s only 24) RB left on the board in Joe Mixon. Mixon has put up solid RB2 numbers for multiple seasons, has no competition in the backfield, has an average strength of schedule in regards to RBs and has another “Comeback Player of the Year” possibility in his QB Joe Burrow. If Burrow starts lighting it up it’s going to open up things for Mixon a lot more and provide for a lot more scoring opportunities than he’s accustomed to. Only concern is durability (as with all RBs) but I’m not worried since CMC is basically two RBs by himself when healthy. Enjoy the most stacked RB1/RB2 combo in your league.
Pick 1 (21 overall): Michael Thomas (WR8)
- Last pick(s): Christian McCaffrey, Joe Mixon
- I know what you’re thinking, “Michael Thomas?? Gross what a bust!” Well I’m here to remind you that good players can have a really good year, only GREAT players have the ability to pull off the historic season that Michael Thomas had 2 years ago. That type of talent/ability doesn’t just go away (even after an embarrassing holdout, followed by injury, followed by mediocrity). People overlook how run heavy the Saints were last year (hence Kamaras explosion) which definitely ate into Thomas’ production on top of all his other issues. Now he’s entering a situation where he will probably get more targets from an underrated QB in Jameis who absolutely loves to sling the ball downfield (even if it’s to his demise). He’s got an easy strength of schedule for WRs this year and is primed for a comeback. Take what could be the best WR in the league this year (again) as your WR1 in the THIRD ROUND.
Pick 2 (22 overall): Cam Akers (RB13)
- Last pick(s): Dalvin Cook, DK Metcalf
- At this point in the draft there’s only a handful of serviceable RBs left before a significant drop off at the position so I’m trying to find Cook’s RB mate before it’s too late. Akers doesn’t come off as the flashiest of picks upon first glance until you take a deeper look into the situation he’s walking into this year. The Rams run the ball in the red zone (especially inside the 5 yard line) more than almost anyone, causing them to also rank high in rushing TDs compared to the rest of the pack. Akers will be coming into this offense as the clear featured back, with a new veteran QB in Stafford, the second easiest strength of schedule for RBs in the league and a home stadium that will host this year’s Super Bowl. I’m taking Akers as my RB2 here due to his low floor (due to high red zone volume) and possibility of a serious second year breakout if he settles in.
Pick 3 (23 overall): Clyde Edwards Helaire (RB14)
- Last pick(s): Derrick Henry, AJ Brown
- CEH clearly fell victim to being overhyped right out of the gate last year as a rookie (as well as injuries to both himself and his O line). That doesn’t mean the hype wasn’t valid or that he can’t blow up this year now that expectations have died down since last season. Granted there’s a lot of mouths to feed on the best offense in the league but I mean come on… he’s still the lead back on the highest scoring team in the league. Their O line is better, they have the 12th easiest strength of schedule for RBs this season and I would think the Chiefs try to be a little more conservative with Mahomes coming off his surgery this past offseason. I expect quite a bit more production out of CEH this year (especially in the TDs and catches department) and he’s a great candidate for a Sophomore breakout.
Pick 4 (24 overall): Miles Sanders (RB15)
- Last pick(s): Alvin Kamara, Justin Jefferson
- Really only a couple of good RBs left at this point so it’s time to select my RB2. Never been super high on Miles Sanders mostly because it doesn’t seem like he’s played a ton of football due to injuries. That said, he’s a great pass catcher in an offense that favors the run behind a solid O line. When he’s healthy he’s been solid and he’s still young so rolling with Sanders here and hoping for lots of volume.
Pick 5 (25 overall): Allen Robinson (WR9)
- Last pick(s): Saquon Barkley, Travis Kelce
- I am always surprised at how much Allen Robinson produces given how terrible the Bears are every year. Granted they throw the ball quite a bit but he’s had nothing but trash QBs for most of his career. Now he finds himself in a situation with a young QB that could come in and turn the offense around. Need a WR1 and he’s one of the last ones left so pulling the trigger on him at 25.
Pick 6 (26 overall): D’Andre Swift (RB16)
- Last pick(s): Jonathan Taylor, Deandre Hopkins
- Need to take a RB2 and fast. I’m torn between Swift and Carson here but I’m going to favor Swift’s potential to break out in his second year over Carson due to Carson’s age and durability at this point of his career. Swift has scored on a small number of touches too so there’s potential for him to go off in his increased role on the offense.
Pick 7 (27 overall): Chris Carson (RB17)
- Last pick(s): Davante Adams, Najee Harris
- Definitely stoked to land a veteran high floor RB on a run heavy offense to join the RB ranks with my riskier pick in the rookie Harris. When Carson is healthy he’s been solid and consistent. He’s got serious durability issues but I think he’s a steal here given how much they’re probably going to run the ball under their new OC.
Pick 8 (28 overall): Terry McLaurin (WR10)
- Last pick(s): Ezekiel Elliott, Stefon Diggs
- Can’t resist taking McLaurin here as my WR2. With Fitzmagic coming to town I think he’s going to absolutely ball out this year. He’s got a pretty easy strength of schedule this year for WRs, is the clear primary target and has the speed to torch people. My WRs are now STACKED in addition to a consistent vet in Zeke as my RB1. Now I need to set my sights on my RB2 for the next round.
Pick 9 (29 overall): Calvin Ridley (WR11)
- Last pick(s): Austin Ekeler, Aaron Jones*
- After going RB/RB with my first two picks it’s allowed me to take the best available WR at 29. In this case that’s Ridley who had an incredible season last year. Ridley plays better when Julio Jones is actually healthy so it’s slightly concerning that Julio’s on his way out the door since Ridley hasn’t really made that jump to the lead guy on the offense yet. That said, with Kyle Pitts likely requiring significant coverage I think it’ll open things up for Ridley to make that final transition into being an independently elite WR. That and his schedule is easy this year for WRs/the Falcons will still suck so they’ll be throwing the ball quite a bit playing from behind all year. Happy with my WR1 here.
Pick 10 (30 overall): Antonio Gibson (RB18)
- Last pick(s): Tyreek Hill, Nick Chubb
- Given the fact I landed Tyreek Hill (in my opinion the best WR in the league) I’m making the move to bolster my RBs here with Gibson before it’s too late. Gibson used to be a WR (great pass catcher) and exploded onto the scene last year as a RB. He’s super young, produced heavily on a bad offense last season that I’m expecting to improve drastically this year with Fitzmagic and he’s only dealing with an average strength of schedule for RBs in 2021. Relieved to snag a RB2 with upside here before the turn.
Pick 1 (31 overall): Keenan Allen (WR12)
- Last pick(s): Tyreek Hill, Nick Chubb, Antonio Gibson
- So I thought long and hard about taking Jacobs here since he’s one of the last true RB2s left at this point in my opinion and it’s always nice to finish the 4th round with 3 RBs when possible. That said, Jacobs has a tough schedule this year and I’m expecting him to regress a bit so I’m taking the best pick available in Allen. Keenan Allen is that old guy that just won’t go away. He consistently produces year over year regardless of his QB but that shouldn’t be a concern this year with Herbert under center. Being the number 1 target on an offense set to explode this season isn’t a bad place to be. Solidifying my WR crops here and snagging Allen before my long break in picks.
Pick 2 (32 overall): Robert Woods (WR13)
- Last pick(s): Austin Ekeler, Aaron Jones*, Terry McLaurin
- Mr. Consistent. Woods has to have the most consistent high floor in the league year over year (always one of my WR2 targets). Thought about taking Jacobs again here but couldn’t resist Woods’ appeal given the upgrade at QB, the second easiest strength of schedule for WRs and the fact that they give him rushing looks inside the red zone on occasion. Only reason he’s falling this far is because of the numerous mouths to feed in that offense and how often they run the ball. Starting to build some depth here.
Pick 3 (33 overall): Josh Jacobs (RB19)
- Last pick(s): Ezekiel Elliott, Stefon Diggs, Calvin Ridley
- Can’t let Jacobs fall any further given he’s one of if not the last solid RB2 left on the board at this point. Granted he’ll have to split some carries with Kenyan Drake this year (who sucks) and he clearly had some off the field issues at the end of last season (guy likes to party, what 23 year old millionaire doesn’t?) but I still think he’ll have solid red zone production and could absolutely rebound to what he looked like his rookie year. Jacobs’ value is down around the goal line for sure.
Pick 4 (34 overall): Amari Cooper (WR14)
- Last pick(s): Davante Adams, Najee Harris, Chris Carson
- People shy away from Cowboys WRs but I honestly think if Dak’s healthy then Amari and Ceedee Lamb are both gonna eat this year. If anything, having so many good WRs on one team probably opens things up for Amari more and he’s still Dak’s favorite target in what I’m expecting to be a high scoring offense. Pair him up with the reigning WR champ and this team is really starting to come together.
Pick 5 (35 overall): Mike Evans (WR15)
- Last pick(s): Jonathan Taylor, Deandre Hopkins, D’Andre Swift
- You’re probably wondering how Mike Evans fell this far. That’s because he feels a little TD dependent to me but I can’t ignore who’s throwing him the ball and how consistent he’s been with 1,000 yard seasons over the past years. It also makes me nervous how many mouths there are to feed on the Bucs offense but Evans seems to have first dibs in that regard, especially around the red zone. I’m taking Evans here and banking on the instant chemistry he had with King Cheater last year to continue this season in a big way.
Pick 6 (36 overall): J.K. Dobbins (RB20)
- Last pick(s): Saquon Barkley, Travis Kelce, Allen Robinson
- I’m taking Dobbins here as the best available RB given the fact that I’m in dire need of an RB2 at this point in the draft. Anytime you take a TE early there’s going to be tradeoffs in depth on your roster and we’re seeing that now at RB. I do like Dobbins and think he’s the only good RB on that team with a relatively easy strength of schedule for RBs. They run the ball constantly but unfortunately his main competition for carries plays under center. That said, I think he’s the best available here and is a young talented back that has the potential for a breakout this season with the opportunities he is given. Making him my RB2 here and hoping the Ravens are a little more conservative with Lamar this season vs past years.
Pick 7 (37 overall): Diontae Johnson (WR16)
- Last pick(s): Alvin Kamara, Justin Jefferson, Miles Sanders
- I’m pretty comfortable with my RBs at this stage so I’m shifting my focus to WR2. If Diontae Johnson can stay healthy and cut out all the drops he’s going to absolutely explode. He’s Big Ben’s #1 target (in what I expect to be his last season) and the Steelers target him constantly (rightfully so since he’s always open). If he can stay on the field and capitalize more on all of those targets then he’s going to have a big year. Taking Diontae here because of the raw potential.
Pick 8 (38 overall): Julio Jones (WR17)
- Last pick(s): Derrick Henry, AJ Brown, Clyde Edwards Helaire
- Love how everyone is sleeping on Julio Jones this year. Yes, he’s older now. Yes, he dealt with injuries last year (on an awful team). But how quickly we all forget HE’S BEEN A TOP 7 WR FOR THE LAST 6 YEARS. He’s a no doubt HOF veteran who is still capable of shredding secondaries. Sounds like he’s probably leaving ATL which I think adds even more value since he will probably go to a better team and be a WR2 there so he won’t have to deal with every team’s best corner every week. I’d take Julio here even if he was staying in ATL but I truly hope he doesn’t.
Pick 9 (39 overall): David Montgomery (RB21)
- Last pick(s): Dalvin Cook, DK Metcalf, Cam Akers
- Snagging Montgomery here due to his ability to break tackles, the fact that his schedule is pretty easy this year and partially due to the fact I don’t trust Cam Akers not to turn into a total bust. Bolstering my RBs here to mitigate some of that risk with a guy that absolutely balled out last year towards the end of the season. Granted, the Bears schedule was a cakewalk last year and there’s two more RBs to deal with this season vs last but that still doesn’t take away from the fact that he’s their lead back in an improving offense. Let’s just hope Nagy doesn’t act like himself this year and maybe Montgomery helps him keep his job.
Pick 10 (40 overall): Adam Thielen (WR18)
- Last pick(s): Christian McCaffrey, Joe Mixon, Michael Thomas
- God this team looks good already. Thielen is probably no longer the #1 target in MINN anymore due to the star studded Jefferson taking the reins but he’s still one of the most consistent WRs in the league with a decently high floor. This offense is great and the trio of Cook/Jefferson/Thielen will all play into that. Honestly the Vikings really don’t have much outside of those three so even with Jefferson in the mix I still expect Thielen to have a huge target share. He absolutely has the potential for another top 10 season this year so I’m grabbing him as the WR18 here at 40.
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