“A player for every round“
With the NFL preseason behind us and NFL Football less than a week away, the excitement level around the Fantasy Football community is at its highest point for the year. Between now and September 8th, leagues all across North America will be getting together for the fabled ‘draft day’. Whether this is your first year playing Fantasy Football, or you’re an avid veteran, draft day has a special place for everyone.
Today we are going to run through a simulated draft based off a 12TM 0.5PPR league with the following roster construction: QB/RB/RB/WR/WR/TE/WRT/WRT. I’ve randomized the draft position for this write-up and come out with the 6th overall pick. For an ADP / ECR reference tool we are going to work off of FantasyPros rankings for a 15 round draft. Now, since you don’t read intro’s and neither do I…. let’s kick this thing off.
1.06 – Nick Chubb
Despite missing 4.5 games in 2020 Nick Chubb finished the season as an RB1. He ranked 9th on the year with 199.7 FPTS and averaged 16.6 FPTS/G, good for 6th overall amongst RB’s with >1 GP. Add in a lofty 5.6 Y/A average and your quickly find yourself into elite territory surpassing the likes of Derrick Henry (5.4) and Aaron Jones (5.5). Cleveland projects to have one of the easiest rushing schedule’s on the year and will use its top rated Offensive Line group to propel Nick Chubb high into the RB1 category.
2.07 – Darren Waller
I’m a big proponent of rostering an Elite TE in Fantasy Football, and we’ve got exactly that with Darren Waller. I’m happy to recommend that you reach by about half a round here and grab an elite option at the positions. In 2020 Darren Waller finished with 225.1 FPTS which we know to be good for 2nd overall at the position. What you may not have considered, is that would have placed him 8th at the WR position by comparison. By drafting Waller about a half round ahead of his ADP you secure one of the biggest positional advantages in Fantasy Football. For reference in 2020, TE6 finished the season with 140.6 FPTS while TE12 finished with 118.3 FPTS. Waller eclipsed those marks by an amount which establishes an impressive value above replacement at the position.
3.06 – David Montgomery
Did you know that David Montgomery finished the season as RB4 in 2020? That’s right, he finished the year ahead of some amazing players like Aaron Jones, Jonathan Taylor and Ezekiel Elliot. Montgomery took a big step forward in 2020 by increasing his year over year Y/A average from 3.67 to 4.33 and situationally his targets rose from 35 to 68. The increase in success for Montgomery in year 2 was unfortunately attributed by many to the injury suffered by Tarik Cohen and not the talent level of Montgomery himself. Well, in recent news the Chicago Bears have confirmed that Cohen will begin the season on the PUP list, meaning he is not eligible to play in the team’s first 6 games. Draft David Montgomery with confidence as your RB2, you won’t regret that decision.
4.07 – Adam Thielen
Wide receiver is arguably the deepest position in Fantasy Football and for that reason its much more important to prioritize the RB or TE position early on. After round 3 we enter into murky waters at those positions but are flush with options at WR. Adam Thielen is coming off a WR8 finish in 2020 where he caught 14 TD’s and re-established himself as Kirk Cousins favorite redzone target. His outlook is progressively getting better following season ending surgery for Vikings TE Irv Smith Jr. With the slight bump in expected production in 2021 I’m extremely happy taking Adam Thielen as my top WR in today’s excersize.
5.06 – Diontae Johnson
Again the options at RB are less than inspiring in this range of the draft. Sure, guys like Mike Davis, Kareem Hunt and Chase Edmonds could be great in 2021 but they also come with a number of concerns. In this case, I prefer to lock up a player which I’m very comfortable with a robust number of targets, Diontae Johnson. Diontae finished 6th in the NFL in targets last season, ahead of both Calvin Ridley and Tyreek Hill. No small feat to accomplish, and it speaks volumes to the confidence Pittsburgh has in him while both Juju Smith-Schuster and Chase Claypool are also on the field. With some expected refinement in his game going into his 3rd season he’s got the year over year trajectory to enter into the WR1 conversation.
6.07 – Damien Harris
Since the departure of Sony Michel to the LA Rams, Damien Harris has been steadily climbing the draft boards in both ADP and ECR. He has the confidence of HC Bill Belichick, one of the NFL’s top rated offensive line’s and a career average of 5.0 Y/A. If that wasn’t good enough to peak your interest level then the departure of Cam Newton should do the trick. A limiting factor for any New England RB is the extreme red zone usage of Cam Newton. Without him in town, it’s easy to increase the projected TD upside of all remaining New England backs. I like Harris as my Flex option on my team, he provides a healthy dose of league winning upside in round 6.
7.06 – Jerry Jeudy
Jeudy’s 2020 rookie campaign didn’t go very well. Jeudy led the league in uncatchable balls, had 12 dropped passes and only caught 46% of his 113 targets. Many of those points can be attributed to the Quarterback play from sophomore Drew Lock but it still leaves an aspect of concern for Jeudy which rightfully has him available to us in the 7th round. In 2021 Denver has announced Teddy Bridgewater as their starting QB and for that reason we should be bullish on our outlook of Jerry Jeudy. Bridgewater completed 11.8% more passes in 2020 than Lock and averaged a full 1.0 Y/A better that his now, 2021 counterpart. Jeudy fits well into the structure that we are playing with here and becomes the our 3rd WR, occupying our 2nd WRT Flex position.
8.07 – Raheem Mostert
Despite plenty of off-season hype surrounding Ohio State rookie Trey Sermon, the day 1 starter for San Francisco is going to be Raheem Mostert. You’re looking at one of the faster running backs in the NFL on a team who ranks among the leaders in rushing attempts on the season. His draft day price is reduced given that he’s only played in roughly two thirds of his teams games over the past two seasons. Having already drafted 3 running backs to this point we don’t need to rely on Mostert as an RB3/FLEX type player. We can comfortably start him when healthy, and park him on our bench when he’s hurt. Mostert has never averaged less that 5 Y/A in a season during his NFL Career, we can work with that as our upside while we understand his injury concerns.
9.06 – Brandin Cooks
At this point in the draft its difficult to find players who stand out as the top WR or RB on their respective teams. Cooks is that player and he’s available into the 9th round of most drafts. Speaking strictly from a fantasy perspective, a losing outlook isn’t going to hurt us knowing that the Texans project to be trailing at some point in every single game played this season. Following the logic of a losing game script Cooks is likely to see above average usage as the Texans WR1. He is coming off his 5th 1,000+ yard season and a WR15 finish in 2020.
10.07 – Joe Burrow
The double digit rounds are the earliest point at which I will recommend that you draft a QB. When you review value above replacement in a single QB league this position really doesn’t present a reason to be prioritized. I’m a believer that Joe Burrow will be the comeback player of the year in 2021 after a gruesome knee injury that derailed his rookie campaign. He’s joined by former LSU teammate Ja’Marr Chase and boasts prominent receiving options in Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd as well. With the Bengals team projecting to trail or be involved in some high scoring games this season I’ll gladly roster the keystone of this Fantasy offense.
11.06 – Nyheim Hines
The gap between Hines performance in 2020 and ADP in 2021 is a lot wider than it should be. Hines established himself as a stand-alone value by finishing as the RB20 in .5PPR formats(shoots up to the RB15 in full PPR). That was a better performance than CEH, Dobbins and Sanders. All 3 of those players are being drafted between the 2nd and 4th round in 2021 redrafts. The difference with Hines is that he is listed 2nd on the Colts depth chart behind young superstar Jonathan Taylor. Don’t let that point discourage you. Hines value as a receiver in 2021 is even greater while TY Hilton is away for the Colts. On top of his touches out of the backfield Hines will likely add some routes run out of the slot for Indianapolis. The Colts are keen to get Hines more touches in 2021 and you should be just as keen on getting him on your team.
12.07 – Darnell Mooney
The Chicago Bears are transitioning from the present to the future with Franchise QB Justin Fields selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Mooney stands to benefit from this transition and will draw favorable coverage opposite of superstar WR Allen Robinson. In 2020 Mooney showed us that he has the speed and skill to get open downfield. This lines up extremely well with Fields who projects to elevate the depth of the Chicago passing offense once he takes the reigns. Mooney left off with a strong 11/93/0TD stat line on 13 targets against GB to end 2020. Perhaps a sign of things to come in 2021, Mooney is the sleeper you want to acquire in this draft range.
13.06 – Jakobi Meyers
The Patriots shocked the NFL world by releasing Cam Newton less that a week ago. Mac Jones enters and clearly shifts the outlook from a short yardage, run heavy squad to a balanced and pass capable group. Meyers has the allure of being projected as the WR1 in New England and if you’ve followed my previous thoughts regarding upside, Meyers fits perfectly. Meyers had sneaky good usage in the second half of 2020 where he saw a 94+ SNP% in all but two games and finished the year with a 3 game stretch where he produced a 12.1 FPTS/G average.
14.07 – Parris Campbell
Indianapolis is in flux right now at a number of positions. With TY Hilton out for the early portion of the season it remains to be seen if Pittman or Campbell will be able to absorb the target share and take a step forward. Whether its Pittman or Campbell who has the higher usage, I feel really good about the draft capital investment here the 14th round.
15.06 – Rhamondre Stevenson
Stevenson comes into the picture for us given that we’ve drafted Damien Harris in round 6 and covers our upside in the New England offense. After a stellar pre-season showing, New England decided that Stevenson gave them the flexibility to trade Sony Michel to Los Angeles. Stevenson projects to compliment Harris in short yardage situations and has an NFL ceiling similar to that of LeGarrette Blount. Should Stevenson have less upside that we anticipate, it would be an easy choice to pivot towards a player who is trending during the first half of the season.
- QB – Joe Burrow
- RB – Nick Chubb
- RB – David Montgomery
- WR – Adam Thielen
- WR – Diontae Johnson
- TE – Darren Waller
- FLEX – Damien Harris
- FLEX – Jerry Jeudy
- RB – Raheem Mostert
- RB – Nyheim Hines
- RB – Rhamondre Stevenson
- WR – Brandin Cooks
- WR – Darnell Mooney
- WR – Jakobi Meyers
- WR – Parris Campbell
I’m recommending that you roster only 1 TE and 1 QB in this draft format. By drafting Darren Waller your looking to play him every week other that his bye. I would rather recommend that you pickup and stream an option in the weeks leading up to that bye. The same goes for Quarterback, and with only 12 TM’s drafting an average 18-22 QB’s your still left with approximately a third of the starting QB’s in the NFL able to fill in for Joe Burrow’s bye week. Many of the decisions I’ve made in this article centered around reliable production with my starting picks and shifted to pure upside with my bench players.
I hope that the process of this draft will give you some confidence and options going into you’re upcoming league drafts for 2021. Above all else, please remember this game must be fun to be worth you’re time. Enjoy yourself on draft day and go into the 2021 Fantasy season with great aspirations!
David Carey – @87_Carey