Five-Round Fantasy Mock Draft: Finding the Best Roster Construction Strategy

SI Fantasy analyst Michael Fabiano mocks the first five rounds of a fantasy draft using different roster construction strategies.
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It’s NFL mock draft season! Everywhere you look, there’s a new mock attempting to predict the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft. I even put out my fantasy version of a first-round mock, including just offensive skill position players and offensive linemen. The fantasy football world is doing way-too-early mock drafts too, and far be it from me not to participate in the fun! I’ve been doing these mocks for over 20 years now, but I still get that same excitement in producing my first version for a new NFL campaign.

This one-man, five-round mock includes 12 teams and is based on PPR scoring. These teams used different "strategies" with their first three overall picks, so you can see how the roster is constructed. Notice that no team took a quarterback in the first three rounds.

  • Team 1: Running back, tight end, wide receiver
  • Teams 2, 3: Running back, running back, wide receiver
  • Teams 4, 5, 7, 9: Running back, wide receiver, running back
  • Teams 6, 10: Wide receiver, running back, wide receiver
  • Team 8: Running back, running back, tight end
  • Team 11: Tight end, wide receiver, running back
  • Team 12: Wide receiver, wide receiver, running back

I’ll be running longer mocks after the NFL draft, so keep checking back for updates!

Note: * denotes an unrestricted free agent, ** denotes a restricted free agent

ROUND 1

  • 1.1. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers
  • 1.2. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings
  • 1.3. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints
  • 1.4. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
  • 1.5. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
  • 1.6. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers
  • 1.7. Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns
  • 1.8. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts
  • 1.9. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
  • 1.10. Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
  • 1.11. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
  • 1.12. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Arizona Cardinals
MCCAFFREY THUMB

A total of eight running backs came off the board, with McCaffrey leading the charge. While he missed most of last season due to injuries, he still averaged over 30 fantasy points in his three games. Kamara remains my No. 3 overall player, at least until we find out who the Saints quarterback will be in 2021. I doubt he would fall out of my top five, though. Adams was the first wideout chosen, and Hill was second, and Hopkins joined them in the first round. Elliott went ninth in this mock. He averaged more than 22 fantasy points a game before Dak Prescott went down the season, so he could end up being a real bargain. Kelce was also a first-rounder, which is a trend that will no doubt continue in mocks. I wouldn’t take him that high, but it’s where he’s going.

ROUND 2

  • 2.13. Stefon Diggs, WR, Buffalo Bills
  • 2.14. D.K. Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks
  • 2.15. Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
  • 2.16. Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons
  • 2.17. Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers*
  • 2.18. Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
  • 2.19. James Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
  • 2.20. Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
  • 2.21. A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans
  • 2.22. Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders
  • 2.23. D’Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions
  • 2.24. George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers
Bills Stefon Diggs

Six of the 12 selections in this round were wideouts, led by Diggs and Metcalf. I went Ridley, Allen, Jefferson, and Brown (in that order) in this round, and they're all very close in value. The order of selection is a personal preference. Five runners were picked in the round, including Ekeler, Jones, Robinson, and Jacobs. Swift, whose stock seems to be on the rise with Anthony Lynn and Duce Staley now on the Lions coaching staff, was also selected in the top 24. Kittle was the second tight end to come off the board.

ROUND 3

  • 3.25. Allen Robinson, WR, Chicago Bears*
  • 3.26. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
  • 3.27. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints
  • 3.28. Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
  • 3.29. Cam Akers, RB, Los Angeles Rams
  • 3.30. Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers*
  • 3.31. J.K. Dobbins, RB, Baltimore Ravens
  • 3.32. Darren Waller, TE, Las Vegas Raiders
  • 3.33. David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears
  • 3.34. Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Football Team
  • 3.35. Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington Football Team
  • 3.36. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Allen Robinson

Robinson could be a second-rounder in some drafts. I have no good idea where to rank Thomas at this point because the Saints don't have a locked-in quarterback. I fear he'll never return to elite fantasy status again. This round also had a few potential bargains at the running back position, with Mixon, Akers, Dobbins, Gibson, and CEH coming off the board. Edwards-Helaire, a first-round pick as a rookie runner, falls into the third round. I’ve seen him go in the mid to late second round in other mocks. Until we find out the status of Damien Williams, his value will be a point of contention. To the surprise of no one, Waller was the third overall tight end selected. McLaurin is a third-rounder in this mock, despite quarterback questions in Washington.

ROUND 4

  • 4.37. Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
  • 4.38. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
  • 4.39. Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks*
  • 4.40. Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions*
  • 4.41. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • 4.42. Amari Cooper, WR, Dallas Cowboys
  • 4.43. Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Rams
  • 4.44. CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas Cowboys
  • 4.45. Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings
  • 4.46. Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
  • 4.47. Will Fuller, WR, Houston Texans*
  • 4.48. D.J. Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers
miles-sanders-fantasy

Mahomes was the first quarterback to be selected, as Team 11 created a Mahomes-Kelce stack. This was a wide receiver heavy round, with eight coming off the board. Golladay could be a steal near the top of the round, and the same can be said of Evans. Notice how Lamb went just two spots behind Cooper, his teammate in Dallas. I’m all in the second-year wideout. Johnson could move up in future mocks if Pittsburgh parts ways with JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Fuller’s in question as a pending free agent. If he remains in Houston and the Texans keep Deshaun Watson, Fuller could move up.

ROUND 5

  • 5.49. Melvin Gordon, RB, Denver Broncos
  • 5.50. Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams
  • 5.51. Ronald Jones, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • 5.52. Kenyan Drake, RB, Arizona Cardinals*
  • 5.53. Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
  • 5.54. Kareem Hunt, RB, Cleveland Browns
  • 5.55. Brandon Aiyuk, WR, San Francisco 49ers
  • 5.56. Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks
  • 5.57. David Johnson, RB, Houston Texans
  • 5.58. Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos
  • 5.59. Raheem Mostert, RB, San Francisco 49ers
  • 5.60. Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills
Broncos RB Melvin Gordon was charged with DUI on Tuesday night in Denver.

This round is a real mish-mash of risk-reward players and those like Higgins and Aiyuk who'll be considered breakout candidates. Gordon doesn't elicit much excitement in fantasy drafts, but he did rank as a top-15 running back last season. Phillip Lindsay is also a restricted free agent. Drake, a free agent, heading into 2021, ranked 16th at the position and was the third back selected by Team 4. Hunt was a fifth-round pick in many 2020 drafts, and his value won't change a ton despite a top-10 finish among running backs. He’ll be a borderline RB2/RB3 in drafts. Johnson's stock has risen a bit with Duke Johnson's release, but the Texans are sure to draft or add a free-agent runner. Allen, the top fantasy quarterback last season, was the second field general picked.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on Sports Illustrated and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for all of the latest breaking fantasy football news and the best analysis in the business!

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