The most critical bit of research a fantasy football manager can do before their draft is not scour the internet for information, but participate in as many mock drafts as possible. It helps to figure out the best way to approach your draft, target specific tiers of players, and be prepared to pivot when the actual draft inevitably throws you a curveball. With the early rounds being the most impactful for your team’s outlook, here is an example of a 2021 Redraft Mock Draft to help give an idea of how a mock draft could pan out.
2021 Redraft Fantasy Football Mock Draft | Round 1
For reference, this mock was run with a 1QB/2RB/3WR/TE/Flex roster format with a 10-team league and PPR scoring settings.
1) Christian McCaffrey (RB1 – Carolina Panthers)
There should be no debate on who is the 1.01 in non-superflex fantasy drafts. In 2019, McCaffrey became the third player ever to eclipse 1,000 rushing and receiving yards in a single season. Furthermore, McCaffrey has an average weekly score of 29.5 PPR ppg over the last two years. Of his 19 games (2019-2020), McCaffrey has finished as an RB1 17 times, with 11 of those inside the top four. Don’t overthink this. McCaffrey is the most dominant RB we have seen for fantasy since LaDainian Tomlinson.
2) Dalvin Cook (RB2 – Minnesota Vikings)
We need to stop with the Dalvin Cook being injury-prone talk. Cook has missed just four games over the last two seasons. Of the top 20 players last year, only four played in all 16 games (Derrick Henry, Kareem Hunt, Nyheim Hines, J.D. McKissic). If you notice, three of those are RB2s on their depth chart. That’s not the case for Cook. Since 2019, he has racked up 3,572 total yards and 30 touchdowns, finishing as the RB6 and RB2 in PPR formats.
He can do even better in 2021. Despite having 97 receptions for 880 yards, he has just 1 receiving touchdown. Cook should be the second player off the boards in both mocks and actual fantasy football drafts this fall.
3) Derrick Henry (RB3 – Tennessee Titans)
The volume will catch up to him at some point, but until that day comes where King Henry’s crown tarnishes, you have to draft him. The guy is just a different breed, winning the rushing title in back-to-back seasons. Moreover, he finished as an RB2 or better in 71% of his weeks (22) and an RB1 in 58% (18). While you’d love for more passing volume to increase his ceiling, that’s like asking for more presents on Christmas Day. It’s already Christmas; stop being greedy.
4) Saquon Barkley (RB4 – New York Giants)
2021 is a prove-it year for the “generational talent” out of Penn State. Is that fair? Probably not, but the NFL is in the “what have you done for me lately” business. Barkley dominated his rookie season to the tune of over 2,000 total yards and 15 touchdowns. He missed three games in 2019 but still cranked out an RB10 performance. In 71% of his games, Barkley has scored 16+ PPR points, which is the kind of floor that’s hard to find. He is coming off an ACL tear, so you will have to be certain of his availability for Week 1 if you draft him as your cornerstone player.
5) Alvin Kamara (RB5 – New Orleans Saints)
While there are questions about how Drew Brees leaving will impact Alvin Kamara, the Saints have $75 million reasons to keep their star RB as a focal point of the offense. Since coming into the league, Kamara has averaged 21.8 ppg, finishing 83% of his games as an RB2 or better (65% RB1). Better yet, he has received 270 opportunities per season. Yes, Taysom Hill under center would cut into his volume, but Kamara is too special for the Saints to eliminate him from the game plan. He will be just fine in 2021.
6) Jonathan Taylor (RB6 – Indianapolis Colts)
Towards the end of the season, we finally saw what folks like myself knew Jonathan Taylor could do if given the opportunity. In Weeks 13-17, Taylor was the RB1 in fantasy with 130 points. As a rookie, he racked up 651 rushing yards and 8 total touchdowns. Taylor finished the season as the RB6 despite Indianapolis doing everything possible to use either Hines or Jordan Wilkins. If given a similar workload for the entire 2021 campaign, Taylor has top-three upside.
7) Tyreek Hill (WR1 – Kansas City Chiefs)
After six straight RBs, the first wide receiver comes off the board. Traditionally seen as a boom-or-bust player, Hill was one of the most consistent WRs last season, finishing inside the top 24 in 73.3% of his games (highest amongst WRs).
There is a legitimate debate for this pick being either Hill or Davante Adams. The questions surrounding Aaron Rodgers’ plans are concerning enough for me to go Hill if I were drafting today. Ask me again in a few weeks, and I might have a different answer, though neither is wrong.
8) Ezekiel Elliott (RB7 – Dallas Cowboys)
There’s a case to be made that Ezekiel Elliott is the best value inside the first round of fantasy football mock drafts. I’ve seen him go even further than this, which is nuts to me. Elliott is a top-three RB masquerading as a low-end RB1. Is there a reason why he is no longer being considered one of the elite RBs in the NFL? All he has done is finish as the RB2, RB12, RB5, RB3, and RB9 while averaging 1,276 rushing yards, 391 receiving yards, and 11.2 total touchdowns per season.
In 2020, with Dak Prescott in the lineup (Weeks 1-5), Elliott was the RB3 (22.3 ppg). He averaged 107 total yards and a touchdown on 24.4 opportunities per game during that time. He probably won’t be far off that again in 2021. Sign me up.
9) Davante Adams (WR2 – Green Bay Packers)
In the end, I believe Rodgers plays. Even in my rankings and projections, I have them based on him being the Packers’ starting QB. Until we hear differently, that’s how I have to view it going forward. With that said, Adams is unstoppable on the field.
He took on every single team’s best corner. Even when they knew he was the target, they could not stop him as he rattled off 18 touchdowns in just 14 games. As mentioned with Hill, they can be flip-flopped but should go directly after the other in fantasy football mock drafts.
10) Travis Kelce (TE1 – Kansas City Chiefs)
Once the elite tier of RBs has gone along with Hill or Adams, Travis Kelce must be considered. While Darren Waller and George Kittle have proven to be elite options, there is just as massive of a gap between Kelce at the TE1 as it is from them to the TE4.
Kelce has been the overall TE1 for five straight seasons. Additionally, he’s finished 78% of his games as a TE1, including 28 of 31 active games since 2019. He generates points equivalent to a high-end WR1 at a position that lacks upside. I would not hesitate to draft Kelce in the back-end of the first round in mock drafts or actual fantasy football drafts.