The end of the first round is a fantastic spot in fantasy football drafts, offering a variety of paths to a 2021 best ball title. The beauty of the 1.12 draft slot is the additional control in player selection with back-to-back picks in every round.
There are two preferred strategies with the first and second picks when picking at 1.12:
- Load up on running back by grabbing two studs.
- Get one elite running back and one elite wide receiver.
Let’s dive into the plan for building a top-tier best ball roster out of the 1.12.
Editor's Note: Dive into PFF's 2021 Best Ball DraftKit for everything you need to win it all at the end of the year!
1.12: RB Tier 2
Austin Ekeler is too underrated — he is the best first-round value in fantasy drafts right now. New Chargers offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi has spent the last four seasons with Alvin Kamara, and he is already talking about creating a Kamara-like role in Los Angeles for Ekeler.
The Chargers dynamic playmaker flashed his elite ceiling when he finished as the PPR No. 4 overall running back in 2019. If Justin Herbert makes a Year 2 jump and elevates the entire Los Angeles offense, then Ekeler would become a strong candidate to post another top-five fantasy finish.
2.1: RB Tier 2
Joe Mixon has broken the hearts of his fantasy managers in each of the last two seasons, but we are ready to get hurt again. This is a bet on the two most important factors for running back fantasy production — volume and situation.
Giovani Bernard is out the door, which means Mixon is locked into a featured bell cow role with rushing and receiving work. Additionally, the Bengals should be a much-improved offense with a healthy Joe Burrow under center — Cincinnati should be a top-10 offense with legitimate top-five upside next season.
If Mixon can stay healthy (we are not in the fortune telling business of predicting injuries), then he holds top-five upside with 1,500 total yards and 10-plus touchdowns in his range of outcomes.