2021 NFL Mock Draft: The Dream Fantasy Football Edition
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images. Pictured: Travis Etienne, Justin Fields, Elijah Moore
Every year we have a handful of picks that are disappointing for fantasy football reasons. Like in 2020, when the Packers traded up to draft quarterback Jordan Love at 26th overall instead of adding another weapon for Aaron Rodgers in what was a loaded wide receiver class.
So this is a dream-scenario mock draft for fantasy football — and all the picks are made to maximize the fantasy potential for this class of prospective first-rounders (and their theoretical future teammates).
Because this is only an exercise, there are two trades. They’re indicated by asterisks or in parenthesis below.
NFL Mock Draft: Dream Fantasy Edition
CLICK THE DROPDOWN TO GET A FULL LIST OF PICKS
|1||Jaguars||QB Trevor Lawrence|
|2||Jets||QB Zach Wilson|
|3||49ers||QB Justin Fields|
|4||Falcons||WR Ja’Marr Chase|
|5||Bengals||TE Kyle Pitts|
|6||Dolphins||OT Penei Sewell|
|7||Lions||WR DeVonta Smith|
|8||Panthers||OT Rashawn Slater|
|9||Patriots*||QB Trey Lance|
|10||Cowboys||CB Patrick Surtain II|
|11||Cardinals*||WR Jaylen Waddle|
|12||Eagles||CB Jaycee Horn|
|13||Chargers||EDGE Kwity Paye|
|14||Vikings||EDGE Jaelan Phillips|
|15||Broncos*||LB Micah Parsons|
|16||Giants*||G Alijah Vera-Tucker|
|17||Raiders||OT Teven Jenkins|
|18||Dolphins||RB Travis Etienne|
|19||Football Team||OT Christian Darrisaw|
|20||Bears||QB Mac Jones|
|21||Colts||EDGE Azeez Ojulari|
|22||Titans||CB Caleb Farley|
|23||Jets||EDGE Gregory Rousseau|
|24||Steelers||RB Najee Harris|
|25||Jaguars||DT Christian Barmore|
|26||Browns||LB Jamin Davis|
|27||Ravens||EDGE Jayson Oweh|
|28||Saints||WR Rashod Bateman|
|29||Packers||WR Elijah Moore|
|30||Bills||LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah|
|31||Ravens||C Landon Dickerson|
|32||Buccaneers||S Trevon Moehrig|
1. Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence, QB
Lawrence is a generational prospect who lands in an ideal scenario, at least from a fantasy perspective.
The Jaguars’ defense is still being rebuilt and should offer up plenty of pass-happy game scripts. He also inherits a solid trio of wide receivers in D.J. Chark, Marvin Jones and Laviska Shenault.
Lawrence’s floor in Year 1 will be a solid QB2. Head coach Urban Meyer has a history of maximizing his quarterbacks’ rushing ability, and if Lawrence ends up averaging 5-6 rushing attempts a game, it will unlock his QB1 ceiling.
2. Jets: Zach Wilson, QB
Wilson will be the Jets’ Week 1 starter, which makes it a great landing spot for him. However, it’s essential to realize that Wilson is much closer to the Justin Fields/Trey Lance/Mac Jones Tier than Lawrence.
Wilson carries a fairly low floor heading into his rookie season. I view him as a low-end QB2 with upside.
3. 49ers: Justin Fields, QB
The 49ers fool everyone and end up taking the quarterback many thought they should take. Fields would thrive in Kyle Shanahan’s system with Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle at his disposal. He would have low-end QB1 potential out of the gate.
4. Falcons: Ja’Marr Chase, WR
The Falcons also surprise everyone and go with the top wideout in the draft. At first, it feels a lot like CeeDee Lamb being drafted by the Cowboys last year.
How is Chase supposed to have fantasy value as the team’s third option at receiver? Well, we get the clarity we need on June 1 when Julio Jones is traded to the Ravens. Chase heads into his rookie season as a low-end WR2 and Lamar Jackson finally gets a true No. 1 WR in Jones.
Bonus: Atlanta takes Javonte Williams with its second pick. New head coach Arthur Smith indicates that he plans on using him in the Derrick Henry role within the offense.
5. Bengals: Kyle Pitts, TE
The Bengals land a generational talent at tight end in Pitts. He provides a massive upgrade over Drew Sample and can provide low-end TE1 value in his rookie season. Even if he ends up in Atlanta, he should provide TE1/2 value, no matter what they decide to do with Hayden Hurst. However, landing in Cincy would give instant clarity and the potential to form a long-term trio in Joe Burrow, Tee Higgins and Pitts.
6. Dolphins: Penei Sewell, OT
I want Jaylen Waddle to end up in Arizona, so the Dolphins choose to help beef up their offensive line.
7. Lions: DeVonta Smith, WR
The Lions have the thinnest WR depth chart in the league right now. Smith would instantly become the team’s No. 1 WR and provide WR2/3 value. The Lions will likely trail a ton in 2021 and provide plenty of pass-happy game scripts. Jared Goff will limit Smith’s ceiling, but this would still be an ideal landing spot.
8. Panthers: Rashawn Slater, OT
Carolina decides to address its offensive line issues. This pick would be great news for both Sam Darnold and Christian McCaffrey.
9. Patriots (trade with Broncos): Trey Lance, QB
The Patriots trade up to hopefully land their long-term answer at QB. They also find a way to trade for Jimmy Garoppolo to be their “bridge” QB for the next 1-2 seasons to give Lance time to become NFL-ready.
Either way, I would not have to attempt to project Cam Newton as the Patriots starter anymore. If there is one wish that I hope comes true, it’s this.
10. Cowboys: Patrick Surtain II, CB
11. Cardinals (trade with Giants): Jaylen Waddle, WR
I can’t stop dreaming about Kyler Murray throwing to DeAndre Hopkins and Jaylen Waddle — it’s a scenario that I feel offers the most upside for Waddle. Opposing defenses will already have their hands full with Hopkins and the threat of Murray running. Waddle would be capable of putting up WR2/3 numbers as a rookie if he lands in Arizona.
12. Eagles: Jaycee Horn, CB
13. Chargers: Kwity Paye, Edge
14. Vikings: Jaelan Phillips, Edge
15. Broncos (via Patriots): Micah Parsons, LB
16. Giants (via Cardinals): Alijah Vera-Tucker, G
17. Raiders: Teven Jenkins, OT
The Raiders decided to take a wrecking ball to their offensive line at the beginning of free agency. I would expect them to begin the rebuild with their first pick. If not, Josh Jacobs’ stock will continue to plummet.
18. Dolphins: Travis Etienne, RB
Miami selects Etienne to be their long-term solution at running back. Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed were both stellar when asked to start last season. However, Etienne is far more talented than either back and should fit right into their RPO-based offense. He would provide RB2 value out of the gate.
19. Football Team: Christian Darrisaw, OT
20. Bears: Mac Jones, QB
The 49ers ended up taking Fields, which allowed Jones to fall all the way down to No. 20.
This has minimal fantasy impact considering David Montgomery and Allen Robinson are the only Bears worth targeting in fantasy drafts. Andy Dalton gets benched for Jones by Week 5, and Matt Nagy lets the rookie air it out. As a result, we see Darnell Mooney break out and put up WR3 numbers the rest of the way.
21. Colts: Azeez Ojulari, Edge
22. Titans: Caleb Farley, CB
23. Jets: Gregory Rousseau, Edge
Bonus: The Jets take Michael Carter with their third pick. Carter would have very little competition in the Jets backfield. I think he’s capable of having an Antonio Gibson-esque rookie season.
24. Steelers: Najee Harris, RB
The Steelers should probably address their offensive line here, but instead, they draft a workhorse back. Mike Tomlin makes it crystal clear that Harris will be a three-down back and that Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland are merely change-of-pace backs.
25. Jaguars: Christian Barmore, DT
26. Browns: Jamin Davis, LB
27. Ravens: Jayson Oweh, Edge
28. Saints: Rashod Bateman, WR
The Saints take the best WR available to fill the void left by Emmanuel Sanders. Bateman ends up being the Saints’ No. 2 WR heading into Week 1 with Jameis Winston as the full-time QB. Bateman would offer WR3/Flex potential in this scenario.
Bonus: Taysom Hill sees only four to five designed plays a game in 2021. He is an absolute nightmare when it comes to player projections. Hill’s presence also lowers Alvin Kamara’s value. Fantasy football is much more enjoyable when Kamara is a top-five RB.
29. Packers: Elijah Moore, WR
The Packers finally take a WR with their first pick. Elijah Moore would fill the hole left by Randall Cobb since 2018 and offer WR3/4 upside in PPR formats.