Ezekiel Elliott was a bust in 2020, but I'm buying back in on him this year. He's the player I plan to target at No. 5 overall, which is what happened here.
This is our 12-part, pick-by-pick series where me, Heath Cummings, Chris Towers and Dave Richard all took part in a 0.5 PPR mock draft. We each built three of the 12 teams in this 15-round draft to show you a different strategy from each spot.
I expected the top four picks to be Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara and Derrick Henry, and that's how it unfolded. You can make a case that Elliott, Aaron Jones, Travis Kelce or Jonathan Taylor could be No. 5 overall, and all of them are worthy of that selection.
But I like Elliott the best as long as Dak Prescott is healthy. In five games with Prescott last year, Elliott averaged 19.2 points per game in this format. The only running backs better on a per-game basis were McCaffrey, Cook, Kamara and Henry.
I'm hoping Elliott performs at that level again, and I'm excited about his outlook this year. He started this team in the right direction at No. 5 overall.
As a reference point for this league, all touchdowns are worth six points, and we award one point for every 10 yards rushing and receiving and one point for every 25 yards passing. We also award 0.5 points for every reception. We feature a starting lineup of QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, TE and FLEX (RB/WR/TE).
Here's my team from No. 5 overall:
1.5: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys
2.8: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Chiefs
3.5: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Seahawks
4.8: D.J. Moore, WR, Panthers
5.5: Mike Davis, RB, Falcons
6.8: Courtland Sutton, WR, Broncos
7.5: Brandin Cooks, WR, Texans
8.8: Trey Sermon, RB, 49ers
9.5: Tony Pollard, RB, Cowboys
10.8: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Titans
11.5: John Brown, WR, Raiders
12.8: Tyler Higbee, TE, Rams
13.5: Darrel Williams, RB Chiefs
14.8: Cole Kmet, TE, Bears
15.5: Demarcus Robinson, WR, Chiefs
Any time I can leave a draft with three of my top 24 running backs, three of my top 30 receivers and a top-10 quarterback, I feel confident about my team. And that's what happened here.
Elliott and Edwards-Helaire were easy selections in the first two rounds, and I expect Edwards-Helaire to perform better in his sophomore campaign after an inconsistent rookie year. I also handcuffed both guys with Pollard and Williams, and I like doing that for running backs in high-powered offenses.
Davis isn't the ideal flex, but he's a solid No. 3 running back. And I also have Sermon to round out this backfield, and he's a sleeper this season, especially if he earns a prominent role in San Francisco's backfield alongside Raheem Mostert.
I love this receiving corps with Metcalf, Moore and Sutton as the top three options. Cooks could be a steal in Round 7 if Deshaun Watson plays for the Texans this year, and Brown is a great sleeper in Round 11. I also took a flier on Robinson in case he emerges as the No. 2 receiver in Kansas City, although it appears that Mecole Hardman has that job heading into the season.
Tannehill is an excellent quarterback this season with the addition of Julio Jones, and I love his value in Round 10. The only flaw on this team could be at tight end, which is why I drafted two guys that I like in Higbee and Kmet. If one of them becomes a weekly starter, this team is set.
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TEN Tennessee • #17
Age: 33 • Experience: 10 yrs.
Tannehill is one of the best value picks in any Fantasy league right now, including this one. He was the No. 8 quarterback off the board in Round 10, but he has top-five upside with the addition of Julio Jones joining A.J. Brown. If you pass on the top-five quarterbacks of Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray and Dak Prescott then keep an eye on Tannehill, who you can typically draft several rounds later than those other guys.
Mike Davis RB
ATL Atlanta • #28
Age: 28 • Experience: 7 yrs.
I like Davis as the starting running back for the Falcons, and he's a solid flex option in this league. But I could have drafted T.J. Hockenson or Kyle Pitts instead of Davis in Round 5, and that would have solved my tight end problem. If Davis doesn't play like he did last year in place of the injured Christian McCaffrey for the Panthers, or if he loses his job in Atlanta, then my running back depth could be an issue. The good thing is I have Cooks as a flex option if needed, so I should be OK.
Tyler Higbee TE
LAR L.A. Rams • #89
Age: 28 • Experience: 6 yrs.
In building this team, I waited on tight end, so I drafted two guys late with upside in Higbee and Kmet. All I need is one of them to be a quality starter and then this team is set, but it's risky to count on Higbee and Kmet heading into the start of training camp. I like Higbee with Gerald Everett gone, and Matthew Stafford should be good for Higbee. And Kmet should become the lead tight end for the Bears, and he has the chance to be a sophomore sensation. If you miss on the top-tier tight ends then these are two guys to target in the later rounds.