Fantasy Football First-Round Mock Draft: Top 12 Players Off The Board

Fantasy Football First-Round Mock Draft: Top 12 Players Off The Board

Tyler Vaysman
3 years ago
6 min read
Fantasy Football First-Round Mock Draft: Top 12 Players Off The Board

It’s fantasy football season, folks. With Week 1 just a little over a month away, millions of football fans will be putting together their big boards and preparing for their drafts.

Today, let’s look at how the first 12 picks could shake out in the majority of leagues. The draft is based on standard scoring (six points per rushing or receiving TD, one point per 10 yards), as well as a half-point per reception.

1. RB Christian McCaffrey, Panthers

2020 was largely a bust for McCaffrey, who was limited to just three games. Yet he still managed six total touchdowns in those three games along with 374 combined rushing and receiving yards, which shows that as long as he’s healthy he’s the top player in fantasy football.

McCaffrey has not only had two seasons with 1,000+ rushing yards but also eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards in 2019. Over a 17-game season, CMC has the ability to net over 2,000 all-purpose yards, over a hundred catches, and anywhere from 15 to 20 touchdowns, making him the no doubt top choice for fantasy leagues.

2. RB Dalvin Cook, Vikings

Cook built off of a breakout 2019 with a massive 2020, finishing second in the league with 1,557 rushing yards and 16 rushing TDs. He managed to reach those totals in just 14 games as well, his second straight season with 14 games played.

The one thing that holds Cook back from being a potential first overall pick is his lack of production in the passing game, but his rushing usage alone makes him a fantasy stud. There are also concerns about his durability given that he has never played a full season, but his consistency and production off the field make Cook worth the high pick.

3. RB Derrick Henry, Titans

In a game like fantasy football where having elite running backs is key, there are not many better options than Henry. The big back was the NFL leader with 2,027 rushing yards, 17 rushing touchdowns, and 378 attempts in 2020, which also was his fifth straight year of playing in 15 or more games.

Henry is as traditional of a “workhorse” running back as you’re going to find, and at 27 years old he should continue to get plenty of rushing attempts in his sixth season in the league. However, it’s possible that the addition of wide receiver Julio Jones will make Tennessee throw a little more often, hence why Cook is just ahead of Henry.

4. RB Alvin Kamara, Saints

After a couple of traditional running backs, Kamara is more like McCaffrey in the sense of being a dual-threat. In 2020, the 25-year old fifth-year back mustered up 932 rushing yards and 756 receiving yards, earning 21 total touchdowns to set a new career-high.

The biggest question surrounding Kamara is what his role looks like with a new quarterback, as future Hall of Famer Drew Brees retired this offseason. Regardless, Kamara’s overall versatility makes him a threat to reach 2,000 all-purpose yards and be the number one option for both the Saints and your fantasy team.

5. RB Saquon Barkley, Giants

Barkley is the ultimate risk-reward pick projected to go in the first round. While his talent and production are undeniable, the fourth-year running back suffered a torn ACL in the second game of last season and is still recovering.

When healthy, Barkley is a near-lock for 1,000 rushing yards and a high number of catches, evident by his rookie year totals of 1,307 rushing yards with 721 receiving yards and 15 total scores. There is a chance that New York brings Barkley up to speed slowly, but if he is all systems go, he remains an elite fantasy option.

6. WR Davante Adams, Packers

Now that the Aaron Rodgers drama has passed and the future Hall of Fame QB will play for Green Bay, Adams is once again the top option among all fantasy wide receivers. The eight-year vet had close to 1,400 receiving yards with a whopping 18 touchdowns last season, doing so in just 14 games as well.

Adams was tied for second last season with 115 receptions and should be targeted plenty once again in 2021. While it’s sometimes risky to use a high draft pick on a non-running back, Adams’ numbers are strong enough to justify being selected as your team’s first player.

7. RB Ezekiel Elliot, Cowboys

Last season was admittedly a down year for Elliot, who spent the bulk of the season without starting quarterback Dak Prescott and with a bad defense that forced the Cowboys to play from behind. And yet, the sixth-year running back nearly had 1,000 rushing yards (979) and looks to get back to normal in 2021.

Zeke has had over 1,300 rushing yards three times, including an epic rookie season where he finished with 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns. Still just 25 years old and getting his QB back should both help Elliot return to normalcy, which means another strong season and a pick worth selecting in the middle of the first round.

8. RB Austin Ekeler, Chargers

Ekeler is almost more receiver than running back, evident by a near-finish of 1,000 receiving yards in 2019 compared to 557 rushing yards. However, his overall numbers didn’t pop last season, as he was limited to just 10 games.

At full strength, Ekeler can come close to 1,000 rushing yards while also being one of the best pass-catchers in the backfield. He has never been considered a first-round pick before either since most of his career he was behind Melvin Gordon, but 2021 could be his breakout into a Kamara-like season.

9. RB Jonathan Taylor, Colts

Taylor is the youngest and least-experienced player you’ll see go as a first-round pick. However, the 22-year old had an impressive rookie season in which he finished third in the league with 1,169 rushing yards to go with 12 total touchdowns in 15 games with Indianapolis.

Despite entering last year as a backup, Taylor will be the number one back in 2021 running behind an elite offensive line. There are such things as sophomore slumps, but Taylor’s improvements as the year went on the signal that he hasn’t reached his ceiling by any means, a good sign for fantasy managers who take him early.

10. TE Travis Kelce, Chiefs

The first and only tight end to consider in the first round, Kelce put up numbers that would make him one of the top wide receivers in football. The 31-year old set a career-high in 2020 with 1,416 receiving yards, second to only Adams, while also reeling in a personal-best 11 touchdowns.

Kelce’s spot in the first round is all about positional value, where landing the clear best at his position is worth using a first-round pick to acquire him. That’s what you get with Kelce, a consistent force to get over 1,000 yards and double-digit touchdowns playing in the top offense in the NFL.

11. RB Aaron Jones, Packers

While the Packers as a whole are known for their passing game, Jones has become an established force in the running game in each of the last two seasons. While he didn’t come close to the 19 total touchdowns he had in 2019, Jones set a career-high with 1,104 rushing yards.

Ridgers’ return to Green Bay also benefits Jones, as the team’s high-powered offense will include well over 200 attempts for the fifth year back throughout the season. This is the range of the draft where you can make the argument for other players, but an elite running back on a good team makes Jones a safe option.

12. RB Nick Chubb, Browns

The newly-extended Chubb has been nothing but productive and consistent in three seasons with Cleveland. The 25-year old ran in a career-best 12 touchdowns in only 12 games in 2020, while still reaching the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the second time in as many seasons.

The reason Chubb is not viewed as more of a strong first-round pick is due to his lack of involvement in the passing game, which is mostly handled by Kareem Hunt. However, he’s still a decent RB1 in PPR leagues and a no-doubt first-round pick in standard leagues.

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