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Fantasy Football PPR Mock Draft: Evaluating Industry Expert Strategies

Reviewing draft strategies and observations from a recent fantasy football mock draft among SI Fantasy staff, colleagues and friends

With the calendar hitting late August, we are deep in the throes of fantasy football draft season, including practicing with mock draft. To help you build your draft strategies and give you a look into what your drafts might look like, we at Sports Illustrated put together a mock draft with some of the best and brightest minds in the industry. You'll get into my head as I'll give you a breakdown of each of my picks, strategies, and thoughts for each of my players.

Of course, you can also use the results to get smarter regarding player values and learn where these analysts would draft those with, shall we say, questionable appeal.

Mocking with me were Bill Enright, Shawn Childs, Frankie Taddeo, and Matt De Lima from Sports Illustrated; Bob Harris, Mike Dempsey, Lindsay Rhodes, and Jen Piacenti from SiriusXM, Jamey Eisenberg from CBS Sports, Jeff Ratcliffe from Fade the Noise and David Newton, who was the winner of the 2020 Beat Fabs Fantasy Challenge.

This 14-round mock draft includes 12 teams and is based on a full PPR scoring system. Each team must start one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end, and two flex starters (non-super flex). No kickers or D/STs were required.

ROUND 1

  • 1.1. Bob Harris: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Panthers
  • 1.2. Michael Fabiano: Dalvin Cook, RB, Vikings
  • 1.3. Lindsay Rhodes: Alvin Kamara, RB, Saints
  • 1.4. Jamey Eisenberg: Derrick Henry, RB, Titans
  • 1.5. Mike Dempsey: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys
  • 1.6. Matt De Lima: Davante Adams, WR, Packers
  • 1.7. Jen Piacenti: Nick Chubb, RB, Browns
  • 1.8. Jeff Ratcliffe: Saquon Barkley, RB, Giants
  • 1.9. David Newton: Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs
  • 1.10. Bill Enright: Aaron Jones, RB, Packers
  • 1.11. Shawn Childs: Austin Ekeler, RB, Chargers
  • 1.12. Frankie Taddeo: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Cardinals

There’s not a whole lot of analysis needed here, as I landed the second overall pick and was taking Cook (unless McCaffrey wasn’t taken first). A three-down back who scored nearly 340 fantasy points last season, Cook averaged more than 25 touches a week and was quite prolific in both the ground and air attacks in the Minnesota offense.

ROUND 2

  • 2.13. Frankie Taddeo: Calvin Ridley, WR, Falcons
  • 2.14. Shawn Childs: Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs
  • 2.15. Bill Enright: Stefon Diggs, WR, Bills
  • 2.16. David Newton: Jonathan Taylor, RB, Colts
  • 2.17. Jeff Ratcliffe: Najee Harris, RB, Steelers
  • 2.18. Jen Piacenti: Joe Mixon, RB, Bengals
  • 2.19. Matt De Lima: J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ravens
  • 2.20. Mike Dempsey: Darren Waller, TE, Raiders
  • 2.21. Jamey Eisenberg: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Chiefs
  • 2.22. Lindsay Rhodes: Antonio Gibson, RB, Football Team
  • 2.23. Michael Fabiano: Chris Carson, RB, Seahawks
  • 2.24. Bob Harris: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs

I have gone running back-running back in most of my drafts, whether it be best ball or mocks, and I wanted to stick with the particular strategy because 14 runners had been drafted in the first 22 picks. I could have taken DK Metcalf here and waited to grab Carson, but Harris loves the Seahawks runner, and I was afraid he’d snake me with one of his two back-to-back picks. The second round might be too soon to grab Carson in many leagues, but the flow of the draft and my fear of losing out crafted this decision.

ROUND 3

  • 3.25. Bob Harris: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Seahawks
  • 3.26. Michael Fabiano: Justin Jefferson, WR, Vikings
  • 3.27. Lindsay Rhodes: A.J. Brown, WR, Titans
  • 3.28. Jamey Eisenberg: George Kittle, TE, 49ers
  • 3.29. Mike Dempsey: Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers
  • 3.30. Matt De Lima: Allen Robinson, WR, Bears
  • 3.31. Jen Piacenti: Terry McLaurin, WR, Football Team
  • 3.32. Jeff Ratcliffe: Amari Cooper, WR, Cowboys
  • 3.33. David Newton: Josh Allen, QB, Bills
  • 3.34. Bill Enright: D’Andre Swift, RB, Lions
  • 3.35. Shawn Childs: David Montgomery, RB, Bears
  • 3.36. Frankie Taddeo: CeeDee Lamb, WR, Cowboys

Harris took Metcalf with one of his next two picks, leaving Jefferson at No. 26. Coming off a historic rookie season, he posted a bananas 1,400 yards despite seeing just six combined targets in his first two games. Jefferson has missed time in camp with an injured shoulder, but he's not expected to miss regular-season contests.

ROUND 4

  • 4.37. Frankie Taddeo: Tee Higgins, WR, Bengals
  • 4.38. Shawn Childs: Chris Godwin, WR, Buccaneers
  • 4.39. Bill Enright: Darrell Henderson, RB, Rams
  • 4.40. David Newton: Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers
  • 4.41. Jeff Ratcliffe: Robert Woods, WR, Rams
  • 4.42. Jen Piacenti: Kyle Pitts, TE, Falcons
  • 4.43. Matt De Lima: Miles Sanders, RB, Eagles
  • 4.44. Mike Dempsey: Travis Etienne, RB, Jaguars
  • 4.45. Jamey Eisenberg: Julio Jones, WR, Titans
  • 4.46. Lindsay Rhodes: Kyler Murray, QB, Cardinals
  • 4.47. Michael Fabiano: Diontae Johnson, WR, Steelers
  • 4.48. Bob Harris: Josh Jacobs, RB, Raiders
Dec 1, 2019; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders (26) scores a touchdown in the first half against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Following my draft strategy in the first four rounds, I was looking for a No. 2 wide receiver to pair with Jefferson. That wideout was Johnson, who was the best option on my draft board at the position. He ranked as the WR21 last season, posting 88 catches on team-high 144 targets for the Steelers. I don’t think D.J. has yet received his ceiling from a statistical perspective, so I can easily see him breaking into the top 20 wideouts.

ROUND 5

  • 5.49. Bob Harris: Myles Gaskin, RB, Dolphins
  • 5.50. Michael Fabiano: Mike Davis, RB, Falcons
  • 5.51. Lindsay Rhodes: Mark Andrews, TE, Ravens
  • 5.52. Jamey Eisenberg: D.J. Moore, WR, Panthers
  • 5.53. Mike Dempsey: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Bengals
  • 5.54. Matt De Lima: Cooper Kupp, WR, Rams
  • 5.55. Jen Piacenti: Adam Thielen, WR, Vikings
  • 5.56. Jeff Ratcliffe: T.J. Hockenson, TE, Lions
  • 5.57. David Newton: Kareem Hunt, RB, Browns
  • 5.58. Bill Enright: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Browns
  • 5.59. Shawn Childs: Tyler Lockett, WR, Seahawks
  • 5.60. Frankie Taddeo: Javonte Williams, RB, Broncos

At this point in drafts, I usually grab the best running back or wideout on the board. However, I decided to go with Davis here due to the lack of starting backs. There are some risks with the 28-year-old runner, but he does have a clear path to work in the Falcons backfield. Davis also finished as the RB12 for the Panthers last season, and he did it despite seeing limited work in three games started by Christian McCaffrey.

ROUND 6

  • 6.61. Frankie Taddeo: Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys
  • 6.62. Shawn Childs: JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Steelers
  • 6.63. Bill Enright: James Robinson, RB, Jaguars
  • 6.64. David Newton: D.J. Chark, WR, Jaguars
  • 6.65. Jeff Ratcliffe: Michael Thomas, WR, Saints
  • 6.66. Jen Piacenti: Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks
  • 6.67. Matt De Lima: Lamar Jackson, QB, Ravens
  • 6.68. Mike Dempsey: Brandon Aiyuk, WR, 49ers
  • 6.69. Jamey Eisenberg: Chase Claypool, WR, Steelers
  • 6.70. Lindsay Rhodes: Chase Edmonds, RB, Cardinals
  • 6.71. Michael Fabiano: Kenny Golladay, WR, Giants
  • 6.72. Bob Harris: Courtland Sutton, WR, Broncos

Part of the reason I went with Davis in the previous round is that there were still many good available wideouts. That list includes Golladay, who I'm comfortable with as a No. 3 fantasy receiver. While I do expect a possible slow start to the season due to time missed with a bum hamstring, I do think Golladay will see plenty of chances after signing a huge contract with the Giants this offseason. He's a risk-reward draft choice.

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ROUND 7

  • 7.73. Bob Harris: Robby Anderson, WR, Panthers
  • 7.74. Michael Fabiano: Dallas Goedert, TE, Eagles
  • 7.75. Lindsay Rhodes: Melvin Gordon, RB, Broncos
  • 7.76. Jamey Eisenberg: Michael Carter, RB, Jets
  • 7.77. Mike Dempsey: Damien Harris, RB, Patriots
  • 7.78. Matt De Lima: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Dolphins
  • 7.79. Jen Piacenti: Devonta Smith, WR, Eagles
  • 7.80. Jeff Ratcliffe: Trey Sermon, RB, 49ers
  • 7.81. David Newton: Leonard Fournette, RB, Buccaneers
  • 7.82. Bill Enright: Antonio Brown, WR, Buccaneers
  • 7.83. Shawn Childs: Deebo Samuel, WR, 49ers
  • 7.84. Frankie Taddeo: Zack Moss, RB, Bills

Based on my tight end strategy, I have a ton of Goedert shares this season. He's usually the best player available when I'm looking to fill the position, which was the case in this mock draft. A solid pass catcher, Goedert could lead the Eagles offense in targets when you consider all of the questions at wideout. DeVonta Smith is talented, but a rookie, and Jalen Reagor, Greg Ward, Quez Watkins, and JJ Arcega-Whiteside don't figure to light the world on fire. The fact that the Eagles haven't dealt Zach Ertz is a concern, but I still see Goedert as the top option for Jalen Hurts.

ROUND 8

  • 8.85. Frankie Taddeo: Noah Fant, TE, Broncos
  • 8.86. Shawn Childs: Ronald Jones, RB, Buccaneers
  • 8.87. Bill Enright: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
  • 8.88. David Newton: Rob Gronkowski, TE, Buccaneers
  • 8.89. Jeff Ratcliffe: Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Jaguars
  • 8.90. Jen Piacenti: Brandin Cooks, WR, Texans
  • 8.91. Matt De Lima: Raheem Mostert, RB, 49ers
  • 8.92. Mike Dempsey: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Broncos
  • 8.93. Jamey Eisenberg: Justin Herbert, QB, Chargers
  • 8.94. Lindsay Rhodes: Jarvis Landry, WR, Browns
  • 8.95. Michael Fabiano: David Johnson, RB, Texans
  • 8.96. Bob Harris: James Conner, RB, Cardinals
Broncos Jerry Jeudy Fantasy Football

There were still plenty of good quarterbacks on the board in this round, so I went back to looking at runners and wideouts. At the time, Johnson was projected to be the top back in Houston, so I grabbed him as an RB4. Little did I know that he would open the preseason behind both Phillip Lindsay and Mark Ingram on the team’s first unofficial depth chart. Had I to do it over again, I likely would have taken Nyheim Hines here.

ROUND 9

  • 9.97. Bob Harris: Irv Smith Jr., TE, Vikings
  • 9.98. Michael Fabiano: Curtis Samuel, WR, Football Team
  • 9.99. Lindsay Rhodes: Tyler Boyd, WR, Bengals
  • 9.100. Jamey Eisenberg: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Jaguars
  • 9.101. Mike Dempsey: Tom Brady, QB, Buccaneers
  • 9.102. Matt De Lima: Logan Thomas, TE, Football Team
  • 9.103. Jen Piacenti: Phillip Lindsay, RB, Texans
  • 9.104. Jeff Ratcliffe: Joe Burrow, QB, Bengals
  • 9.105. David Newton: Mike Gesicki, TE, Dolphins
  • 9.106. Bill Enright: A.J. Dillon, RB, Packers
  • 9.107. Shawn Childs: Michael Gallup, WR, Cowboys
  • 9.108. Frankie Taddeo: Nyheim Hines, RB, Colts

The quarterback position still had a few good options, and many of my fellow managers had already filled that spot at this point. As a result, I grabbed Samuel as a No. 4 fantasy wideout. A top-24 wideout last season in an offense that had D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson, Samuel should see a prominent part of a revamped offense in Washington. He could end being a solid flex, so I love the value at this point in the draft.

ROUND 10

  • 10.109. Frankie Taddeo: Jamaal Williams, RB, Lions
  • 10.110. Shawn Childs: Tony Pollard, RB, Cowboys
  • 10.111. Bill Enright: Tyler Higbee, TE, Rams
  • 10.112. David Newton: Devin Singletary, RB, Bills
  • 10.113. Jeff Ratcliffe: Kenyan Drake, RB, Raiders
  • 10.114. Jen Piacenti: Mike Williams, WR, Chargers
  • 10.115. Matt De Lima: Matthew Stafford, QB, Rams
  • 10.116. Mike Dempsey: Jalen Hurts, QB, Eagles
  • 10.117. Jamey Eisenberg: Latavius Murray, RB, Saints
  • 10.118. Lindsay Rhodes: Will Fuller, WR, Dolphins
  • 10.119. Michael Fabiano: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Titans
  • 10.120. Bob Harris: Corey Davis, WR, Jets

When Stafford and Hurts went a few spots ahead of me, I knew it was time to grab a quarterback in this round. That quarterback was Tannehill, who continues to be disrespected in the fantasy world. The veteran field general finished seventh in points at the position last season, and he was the QB4 over the final eight games of 2019. Now that he has Julio Jones in the mix, Tannehill should be a good bet to produce again.

ROUND 11

  • 11.121. Bob Harris: Henry Ruggs III, WR, Raiders
  • 11.122. Michael Fabiano: Alexander Mattison, RB, Vikings
  • 11.123. Lindsay Rhodes: Darnell Mooney, WR, Bears
  • 11.124. Jamey Eisenberg: Elijah Moore, WR, Jets
  • 11.125. Mike Dempsey: Marvin Jones Jr., WR, Jaguars
  • 11.126. Matt De Lima: Robert Tonyan, TE, Packers
  • 11.127. Jen Piacenti: Mecole Hardman, WR, Chiefs
  • 11.128. Jeff Ratcliffe: Rashod Bateman, WR, Ravens
  • 11.129. David Newton: Marquise Brown, WR, Ravens
  • 11.130. Bill Enright: Gus Edwards, RB, Ravens
  • 11.131. Shawn Childs: Evan Engram, TE, Giants
  • 11.132. Frankie Taddeo: J.D. McKissic, RB, Football Team

At this point in drafts, it’s time to start looking at handcuffing your top running backs when it makes sense. In this case, with Cook as my No. 1 back, it made all the sense in the world to land Mattison as a No. 5 runner. In the unfortunate event that Cook goes down with an injury, I’d feel much better with Mattison in my back pocket.

ROUND 12

  • 12.133. Frankie Taddeo: Russell Gage, WR, Falcons
  • 12.134. Shawn Childs: Kirk Cousins, QB, Vikings
  • 12.135. Bill Enright: DeVante Parker, WR, Dolphins
  • 12.136. David Newton: Justin Fields, QB, Bears
  • 12.137. Jeff Ratcliffe: Michael Pittman Jr., WR, Colts
  • 12.138. Jen Piacenti: Hunter Henry, TE, Patriots
  • 12.139. Matt De Lima: Nelson Agholor, WR, Patriots
  • 12.140. Mike Dempsey: Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Eagles
  • 12.141. Jamey Eisenberg: Darrel Williams, RB, Chiefs
  • 12.142. Lindsay Rhodes: Trey Lance, QB, 49ers
  • 12.143. Michael Fabiano: Deshaun Watson, QB, Texans
  • 12.144. Bob Harris: Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons
Dec 27, 2020; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) rolls out of the pocket against the Cincinnati Bengals during the third quarter at NRG Stadium.

There are far more questions than answers about Watson, who I took in this round as a No. 2 quarterback. Will he play for the Texans? Will he play at all in 2021? I'm not sure, but he was worth a roll of the dice at this point of the draft. If he is suspended or otherwise, I'd drop Watson for a quarterback off the waiver wire (there should be some decent ones). But if he does end up playing this season, even for part of the campaign, I landed a potential top-five player at his position for the stretch.

ROUND 13

  • 13.145. Bob Harris: Adam Trautman, TE, Saints
  • 13.146. Michael Fabiano: Jonnu Smith, TE, Patriots
  • 13.147. Lindsay Rhodes: Gerald Everett, TE, Seahawks
  • 13.148. Jamey Eisenberg: Rondale Moore, WR, Cardinals
  • 13.149. Mike Dempsey: Gio Bernard, RB, Buccaneers
  • 13.150. Matt De Lima: Jakobi Meyers, WR, Patriots
  • 13.151. Jen Piacenti: Chuba Hubbard, RB, Panthers
  • 13.152. Jeff Ratcliffe: Rashaad Penny, RB, Seahawks
  • 13.153. David Newton: Le’Veon Bell, RB, free agent
  • 13.154. Bill Enright: Cole Beasley, WR, Bills
  • 13.155. Shawn Childs: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Dolphins
  • 13.156. Frankie Taddeo: Chris Evans, RB, Bengals

I'm pretty confident in Goedert as my top tight end, but I still needed to get a backup at the position. The best player on the board was Smith, a usable No. 2 tight end as long as the Patriots run a lot of 12 personnel. The presence of Hunter Henry does put a camp on his ceiling, but Smith is still worth a backup role in fantasy.

ROUND 14

  • 14.157. Frankie Taddeo: Sammy Watkins, WR, Ravens
  • 14.158. Shawn Childs: Xavier Jones, RB, Rams
  • 14.159. Bill Enright: Sterling Shepard, WR, Giants
  • 14.160. David Newton: A.J. Green, WR, Cardinals
  • 14.161. Jeff Ratcliffe: Jalen Reagor, WR, Eagles
  • 14.162. Jen Piacenti: Baker Mayfield, QB, Browns
  • 14.163. Matt De Lima: Tre’Quan Smith, QR, Saints
  • 14.164. Mike Dempsey: Jared Cook, TE, Chargers
  • 14.165. Jamey Eisenberg: Justin Jackson, RB, Chargers
  • 14.166. Lindsay Rhodes: Marquez Callaway, WR, Saints
  • 14.167. Michael Fabiano: Randall Cobb, WR, Packers
  • 14.168. Bob Harris: Tevin Coleman, RB, Jets

Cobb might not be the same elite fantasy wideout he was for part of his first run with the Packers, but he’s a good get as a fantasy backup and matchup-based starter. After all, Aaron Rodgers requested that the team acquire him in a trade, so I would guess he plans to throw him the ball (right?). If he doesn't pan out, I'll toss Cobb to the wire.


Michael Fabiano's PPR Redraft Rankings

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Game Script
Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Wide Receivers | Tight Ends

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Fabiano's Top 10 Lists
Breakouts | Sleepers | Deep Sleepers | Busts | Rookies

"The Fantasy Case Against" Series

Justin Herbert | Jalen Hurts | Zach Wilson (Dynasty) | Alvin Kamara | Darrell Henderson | Derrick Henry | Michael Carter | David Montgomery | Saquon Barkley | D’Andre Swift | Brandon Aiyuk | Ja'Marr Chase | Julio Jones | Justin Jefferson | Kenny Golladay | Kyle Pitts | Travis Kelce

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. Click here to read all his articles here on SI Fantasy. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for your late-breaking fantasy news and the best analysis in the business!