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2021 NFL Mock Draft: Projecting Picks by Fantasy Needs Only 2.0

SI Fantasy senior analyst Michael Fabiano mocks the 2021 NFL Draft first round for fantasy-based needs only

It’s NFL mock draft season! No matter where you go on the world wide web, there’s a good chance you’ll see multiple mocks ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft. So, rather than focusing on the norm, this first-round mock draft will be based on fantasy needs alone. That means there won’t be any defensive players (apologizes to the IDP fans) but will instead include offensive skill positions and offensive linemen alone.

Will all the players in this mock draft be valued as first-round selections? Nope, but then again, you never know for sure in the National Football League, right? With most of the top free agents gone, it’s time to put in an update on my Version 1.0 mock draft that I did earlier in the offseason. As you’ll see, there’s plenty of changes.

Here’s my “fantasy football” first round, version 2.0.

Should the Jets do anything other than draft Trevor Lawrence if they land the No. 1 pick?

1. Jacksonville Jaguars—Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson: This is the biggest no-brainer of the 2021 NFL Draft. Lawrence is the best quarterback prospect to come out of college since Andrew Luck, and his presence in Jacksonville improves the value of James Robinson, D.J. Chark, and the entire Jaguars offensive attack.

2. New York Jets—Zach Wilson, QB, BYU: It seems like the Jets are all in on Wilson, who is coming off a bananas season with the Cougars and impressed at his Pro Day. New York still has Sam Darnold on the roster, so he’ll likely be on the move at some point before camp starts. In that scenario, Wilson will be a late flier.

3. San Francisco 49ers—Mac Jones, QB, Alabama: The Niners moved up to third overall to grab a quarterback, and the speculation has been that it will either be Jones or North Dakota State’s Trey Lance. I’d rather have Jimmy Garoppolo hold the top spot, even as a bridge, but competition for the starting job seems inevitable.

4. Denver BroncosJustin Fields, QB, Ohio State: I'm predicting a trade with the Falcons, with the Broncos moving up from No. 9 to No. 4 to grab their new franchise quarterback. It will cost at least a pair of future first-rounders, but Denver will get its man. I'd suggest Fields will come right in and win the top spot ahead of Drew Lock.

5. Carolina PanthersTrey Lance, QB, North Dakota State: Another trade! This one has the Panthers moving up to No. 5 in a blockbuster deal with the Bengals. Carolina wants their future franchise quarterback, and Lance is the best left on the board. Teddy Bridgewater would either be traded or serve as the bridge to Lance.


6. Miami DolphinsJa'Marr Chase, WR, LSU: The Dolphins added Will Fuller as a free agent, but they’ll draft another weapon for Tua Tagovailoa. Chase is the best wideout in a deep class and could emerge into a potential fantasy star in the NFL. His presence, along with Fuller, DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki, is great for Tua.

7. Detroit LionsDeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama: The Lions have not always had the best luck with first-round wide receivers, but Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr., and Danny Amendola are all gone, and wideouts are a huge need. Based on a high target share projection, Smith would be the best rookie wideout in fantasy land.

8. Cincinnati BengalsPenei Sewell, OL, Oregon: The Bengals’ top priority this offseason is simple: Protect Joe Burrow coming off a torn left ACL and MCL. Adding Sewel to 2019 first rounder Jonah Williams is a good start for the Bengals to accomplish this feat. Better protection will mean good things for this offense.

Kyle Pitts

9. Atlanta FalconsKyle Pitts, TE, Florida: The Falcons don't have a need at tight end, but Pitts is a generational talent, and the team won't be able to pass on him. He might not have great fantasy value as a rookie, but Pitts could emerge into one of the five best tight ends in fantasy football once he's in the prime of his career.

10. Dallas CowboysRashawn Slater, OL, Northwestern: The Cowboys offense is loaded with talent, but the line needs work. Enter Slater, who is considered the best offensive tackle in the 2021 draft class. Solidifying the offensive line will be good news for Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and all the Dallas weapons.

11. New York GiantsAlijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC: The Giants won't go wide receiver here after adding Golladay, and Pitts is gone, so they'll look to improve their offensive line. Remember, the team released Kevin Zeitler (Ravens) in a cost-cutting move, and it's never a bad idea to add protection to help Daniel Jones develop.

12. Philadelphia EaglesJaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama: The Eagles will have a new look on offense after the trade of Carson Wentz and the release of both Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson. Zach Ertz could be traded, too. Adding Waddle to an offense with Miles Sanders, Jalen Reagor, and Dallas Goedert would be exciting.

13. Los Angeles ChargersChristian Darrisaw, OL, Virginia Tech: The Chargers have one of the league’s top young quarterbacks in Justin Herbert, so protecting him is imperative. Darrisaw could turn out to be his blindside protector for years to come.

14. Minnesota VikingsJalen Mayfield, OF, Michigan: Protecting Kirk Cousins is a must, and adding Mayfield would fill a void on the offensive line. Better protection for Cousins means good things for Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen and Irv Smith Jr.

15. New England PatriotsTeven Jenkins, OL, Oklahoma State: I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see the Patriots move up to land a quarterback, but for now, I have them standing pat at No. 15. The team added a ton of receivers in free agency, and it won't go running back. So, adding to their offensive line is the best fantasy option.

16. Arizona CardinalsSamuel Cosmi, OL, Texas: The Cardinals could go with a running back or even a wide receiver with this selection, but adding another piece to the offensive line to better protect Kyler Murray is also a positive fantasy move.

17. Las Vegas RaidersAlex Leatherwood, OL, Alabama: The Raiders could go with a wide receiver in this spot, but they’d be wise to see what they have in Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards. Their offensive line needs help after the offseason.

18. Miami DolphinsTravis Etienne, RB, Clemson: No disrespect to Myles Gaskin in this scenario, but Etienne is a game-changer who could be a featured runner as a rookie. He'd bring potential RB2/FLEX starter value as a rookie in redraft leagues.

19. Washington Football TeamLiam Eichenberg, OL, Notre DameWashington added both Curtis Samuel and Adam Humphries as free agents, so it'll go with an offensive lineman in this mock. This will help Ryan Fitzpatrick and his weapons.

LSU WR Terrace Marshall Jr.

20. Chicago BearsTerrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU: The Bears did use their franchise tag on Allen Robinson, but who knows where he’ll be in 2022 and beyond. Marshall isn’t the complete package yet, but he could emerge into a star in the NFL.

21. Indianapolis ColtsQuinn Meinerz, OL, Wisconsin-Whitewater: The Colts have a new quarterback in Wentz, and they’ll be looking to bolster their offensive line help following the retirement of Anthony Costanzo. Meinerz is a draft riser.

22. Tennessee TitansRashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota: The Titans lost Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith as free agents, so the team needs to bolster its cast of pass-catchers. Bateman could come right in and become a starter opposite A.J. Brown.

23. New York JetsNajeh Harris, RB, Alabama: The Jets have a glaring need at running back, and Harris would be a perfect fit. A potential three-down back at the NFL level, Harris would bring RB2/FLEX starter value in most redraft leagues.

24. Pittsburgh SteelersJavonte Williams, RB, North Carolina: The Steelers could go offensive lineman hereafter the retirement of Maurkice Pouncey, but I would love to see them get Williams to lead their backfield for years to come.

25. Jacksonville JaguarsLandon Dickerson, OL, Alabama: The Jaguars added Marvin Jones Jr., so taking a wideout here doesn't make sense. Protection for Lawrence will be imperative. Dickerson has injury concerns, but he's uber-talented.

26. Cleveland BrownsRondale Moore, WR, Purdue: The Browns don’t have a glaring need on offense, but Odell Beckham Jr. is coming off an ACL repair, and Moore is a playmaking fiend. As a result, wideout depth could be on their roadmap.

27. Baltimore RavensElijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss: The Ravens did add Sammy Watkins as a free agent, but it was just a one-year deal. Moore was a first-team All-SEC selection and All-American and could become their first No. 1 wide receiver.

28. New Orleans SaintsKadarius Toney, WR, Florida: Michael Thomas is fresh off a bad season, veteran Emmanuel Sanders was released, and Tre'Quan Smith hasn't panned out to this point. That could push the Saints to draft a wide receiver.

amon-ra st. brown

29. Green Bay PackersAmon-Ra St. Brown, WR, USC: The Packers add a wide receiver this time around rather than Aaron Rodgers' replacement (it still sounds dumb). St. Brown would join his brother, Equanimeous, in the land of cheese.

30. Buffalo BillsJackson Carman, OL, Clemson: The Bills could use a running back, but it's not a first-round need with Zack Moss and Devin Singletary on the roster. They're set at wideout, so adding protection for Josh Allen makes sense.

31. Kansas City ChiefsWyatt Davis, OL, Ohio State: The Chiefs have added Joe Thuney and Kyle Long to improve their offensive line, but you can never have too much protection for Patrick Mahomes. Davis is one of the top interior linemen.

32. Tampa Bay BuccaneersDillon Radunz, OL, North Dakota State: The Bucs tagged Chris Godwin and re-signed Rob Gronkowski, so adding O-line depth to protect the soon-to-be 44-year-old Tom "The GOAT" Brady makes sense.

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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