I’m not usually one to toot my own horn, but when it comes to fantasy football, BEEP BEEP! After finishing in first place five times over the past two years, it’s safe to say that I know what I’m doing. With the NFL draft now in our rear-view, now seems like as good a time as ever to do a fantasy mock draft to get a perception of the value for each veteran player. I think it’s only fair to explain the method to my madness, so that you get an idea of where each pick is coming from. Running back heavy is my style of drafting, with the intention to save quarterback for the 10+ rounds and perhaps not draft a TE at all. That may not sound sensible, but you’ll notice by the end of the mock draft just how well it plays out. The rules of the draft were as such: 12 Team Half PPR, 1 QB, 2RB, 2WR, 1TE, 1 FLEX, 1 D/ST, 1 K, and 6 bench spots…I owned the 4th pick. Now, the NFL Draft will change the rankings and selection process with rookies added to the mix on their actual teams, so make sure to check out my post-draft fantasy draft! I participated in this mock draft via draftwizard.fantasypros.com.
1.4 AntonioBrown– Well, I couldn’t snag one of the top two RBs in Bell/Gurley, so I selected Brown with a big smile on my face. David Johnson was gone as well, and Zeke was a tempting runner-up. However, I couldn’t resist the consistently excellent receiver for the Black and Yellow. According to rototwire.com, Brown has averaged 20+ fantasy points per game (PPR format) for the past four seasons. AB is automatic. AB is like death and taxes. AB’s stats are not hourly; they are a juicy salary, with plenty of bonuses to be had. With 1,088 targets and 59 touchdowns since 2011, choosing Antonio Brown with the 4th pick is like Nike, just do it.
2.21 RobGronkowski– Did I say I like RB heavy? I do, I swear! The case for Gronk here works in a couple of ways. The best RBs available were Ingram and McCaffrey, with Mike Evans being the top choice at WR. I was slightly worried about the remaining options at RB if I didn’t take one here, but the idea of AB and Gronk on the same team made the term “fantasy” more relevant then ever. It was like my team had huge, ferocious dragons ready to absolutely dominate opposing teams with points and fireballs. Since he came into the leage in 2010, Gronkowski four 1,000+ yards seasons with a whopping 76 touchdowns! No one else on the board at this point can offer your fantasy team what a healthy Gronk can. The only concern is his health, as #87 has only played all 16 games in a season just twice in his career.
3.28 Mark Ingram- Finally got my RB and couldn’t be happier! The choice between McCaffrey and Ingram would have been tough, but McCaffrey was taken just before my turn, saving me the hassle. Ingram may be seven years into his career but you wouldn’t know it from his stat line. The former Heisman winner has posted back-to-back 1,000+ yard seasons with career highs in rushing touchdowns and attempts. His 12 rushing touchdowns in 2017 were second only to Todd Gurley. Many fantasy owners are worried about the new hotness that is Alvin Kamara taking over the backfield, but I don’t see the workload changing enough to bump Ingram out of RB 1 status. Ingram’s runs from inside the 5 yard line increased from 9 in 2016 to 16 in 2017.
4.45 JoeMixon– Volume, volume, volume. That was the deciding factor with this selection. Joe Mixon is a guy that owners were distraught about drafting last year. He was an early pick for the Bengals with a ton of potential, but Marvin Lewis wasn’t going to give the keys to the kid right away. That kept his fantasy stock in limbo for the preseason, and behind a sub-par offensive line with ineffective quarterback play, Mixon failed to live up to the hype after finally taking over full time duties half way into the season. Still, the talented rookie did manage to churn out 626 rushing yards with four touchdowns in only seven games started. Cincinnati is making a point to improve the offensive line, and the value of Mixon’s volume at this point in the draft is too tasty to pass up, like a good cheesesteak. As much as I like Ingram, he will be splitting a lot more snaps than Mixon. With Jeremy Hill out of town, and receiving ability equal to backfield mate Gio Bernard, Mixon figures to dominate the workload, and could end up being a real steal in drafts this year.
5.52 Alex Collins- It seemed as though I was in a sauna during round five, because this pick had me sweating. This was going to be my third RB; my flex guy; the trick up my sleeve; the ultimate punch at the end of a street fighter combo! A great flex option will strike fear into the heart of your opponent, by letting them know that your team is already stacked, and this guy is just a throw-in. The top options in my mind were Carlos Hyde, Alex Collins, Chris Thompson, and Lamar Miller. If Cleveland does not take a RB with one of their first four picks, I’ll end up selecting Hyde in this scenario. If Lamar Miller ends up looking much better than D’Onta Foreman through the preseason, I’ll take Miller. If Chris Thompson somehow gains an extra ten touches per game, then he’ll be the pick. Until one of those things happens, I’m taking Alex “Lord of the River Dance” Collins here. Collins managed 970+ yards and six touchdowns in just twelve games started last season, and if he can improve his reception total, he will be a great value at 52 and hard to place on your fantasy bench in 2018.
6.69 Chris Thompson- When I let Thompson pass me by at 52 in favor of Alex Collins, I was little disappointed. I felt like a person shopping for a car, with visions of screaming down the highway in a sweet new sports car, but instead going with the more fuel-efficient sedan. Needless to say, when I saw Thompson still available seventeen picks later, the twinkle returned to my eye. Playing in a limited role, he had already scored five total touchdowns by week seven of last year, and gone over 100+ receiving yards in a game twice. The speedy Thompson would make a fine flex option if he stays healthy through 2018, but due to his usage and injury concerns, he falls to become the first skill player on my bench. In PPR format, Thompson was averaging close to 16 PPG before suffering a fractured fibula on November 19 of last year.
7.76 Robert Woods- After selecting four straight running backs, I was anxious to see which WRs would be available as my WR2. Woods was tempting in round five, and even more so in round six, but my faith in the process held strong and paid off! According to an article written on fantasyfootballmetrics.net, “Woods had five or more catches in a game in 8 of his last 11 games last season. He had 70 or more yards in a game in 5 of his final 8 games last season…” That’s great production and great value in the seventh round! When Sammy Watkins was moved to KC, Woods’ fantasy projection was looking great. Then, the trade by the Rams for Brandin Cooks put a big Ol’ pin in that volume balloon. Woods won’t see the targets that are ideal for a WR1, but this team moves the ball and scores points. He will make a fine WR2.
8.93 Tevin Coleman- The issue with Coleman since he entered the league in 2015 has been his role as Robin in the Dynamic Duo of Atlanta’s backfield. To make matters worse, Coleman’s rushing touchdowns took a plunge from 8 in 2016 to 5 last season. While the former Hoosier star possesses an awesome combination of speed and power, his ceiling is low with running mate Devonta Freeman in the mix. There is a silver lining for Coleman however, as his carries have been increasing over the past three seasons, while injuries have caused Freeman’s workload to decrease. A couple of other guys, such as Devontae Booker or Chris Carson, could end up with larger roles, but taking Coleman here reminds me of why I order beer instead of mixed drinks at the bar; I know what I’m getting. Give me a pint of satisfaction over a little cocktail of watered-down question marks any day. If Freeman misses time again in 2018, Coleman will taste less like a mediocre lite beer, and more like the delicious craft beer he can be.
9.100 Isaiah Crowell- My second run on RBs continues with Isaiah Crowell. His time in Cleveland ends on a low note, going from 956/7 in 2016 to 853/2 in 2017, but Crowell has an opportunity to start for NY, and starting RBs aren’t easy to come by this late in the draft. The Jets will need to improve the play of their offensive line significantly for Crowell to succeed, which won’t be happening early in the NFL draft after their trade with Indianapolis. What I like about Crowell is that he is young (25), durable (16 games started the last two seasons), and he got paid (3 year/$12 million with $6 million guaranteed). The Jets still have Bilal Powell, Elijah McGuire, and recently signed Thomas Rawls. Although Rawls isn’t expected to make much of a dent in the backfield, some reporters in New York believe that signing Rawls gives them flexibility to cut Powell. Also, the Jets are projected to select a QB with the 3rd overall pick, which means they will need to rely on the run game to help the youngster succeed. Add that all up and Crowell may end up as a great value pick late in the draft.
10.117 Devontae Booker- I have to be honest, even though I mentioned Booker earlier, I completely forgot that he was still on the board in round ten. Hell, I completely forgot about him. Luckily, each of the other “owners” did as well and I was able to snag a guy in Booker who will be an every down back on what should be (sans Siemian/Lynch) a good offense. In the tenth round, I was considering a third WR to lock up that position on my team. Donte Moncrief caught my eye as someone with a lot of potential, and who also got paid this offseason. Then, after a little scroll down, I spotted Booker just waiting to be selected. A fourth round pick in 2016, Booker started six games and scored five total touchdowns. Injuries and C.J. Anderson held Booker to a total of only 109 touches last season, and the Broncos may find themselves staring at Saquon Barkley on the board if there is a run on QBs early. Anderson is gone, and Denver has been making a real effort to implement the former Utah stud into their offense for years. If he can earn the job over DeAngelo Henderson whomever else the team brings in, Booker represents excellent value in the tenth round. There are still PLENTY of great options at QB on the board, and with some of the other owners taking theirs in earlier rounds, I know someone will fall to me later.
11.124 Terrelle Pryor- I know what you’re thinking…but hear me out! After three straight RBs, this seemed like a good spot to take a gander at which WR options remained. With AB and Robert Woods already on the team, I knew I had a little room for a gamble; guys like DeSean Jackson and Paul Richardson were intriguing. However, I’ll pass on the “boom-bust” types if I think there is someone else who may develop a larger role, which is what led to me to Pryor. I’ll be the first to acknowledge that 2017 was a disaster, since I drafted him in the third round to be my WR1. Due to injury, he played in nine games and started just two of them. However, a new team with an old friend at QB (Josh McCown) gives me hope that 2018 could be a bounce back year for the athletic freak out of Ohio State. With Robby Anderson’s troubles, Jermaine Kearse playing like a perpetual #2, and neither of last year’s rookies showing promise, Pryor has an awesome opportunity to regain his 2016 form, when he went 77/1,007/4.
12.141 LeGarrette Blount- This late in draft, most of the names on the board are guys that will be on the FA wire during the season. LeGarrette Blount doesn’t seem like a sexy pick, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find players with TD opportunity in the twelfth like Blount has. Zach Zenner has been fun to watch, but LeGarrette “The Rental” Blount is the short yardage hammer that Detroit has been missing. Matt Stafford can lead a dangerous arsenal attack, and 1,161 yards with 18 TDs in 2016 is proof enough for me that the vet can still get it done.
13.148 Philip Rivers- BAM! 7x Pro-Bowl QB Philip Rivers in the 13th round…delicious. Rivers has started every game since 2006, has thrown for less than 4,000 only three times, and finds himself with a multitude of weapons to work with in 2018. Keenan Allen had a strong comeback year, real strong, like opening a jar of pickles strong, Mike Williams will have an opportunity to shake off 2016 and display his talents, Travis Benjamin is always dangerous downfield, Hunter Henry flashed his skills as a mismatch problem for defenses, and Melvin Gordon is almost as good at pass protection as he is running the ball. The Super Chargers are shaping up to be a real problem for opposing teams on both sides of the ball in the coming season and Rivers stands to benefit greatly. You could go for someone like Rodgers or Wilson in the early rounds, and it could work out for your team, but I (and many others) won a title last season with Blake Bortles as my QB. Rivers finished 2017 with an average PPG better than Drew Brees, yet here he is sitting at pick 148! The bonus with Rivers is his durability, so you can “set it and forget it” when it comes to the QB position.
14.165 LAC D/ST– Unfortunately, I didn’t end up with the greatest defense ever in the Philadelphia Eagles (bias?) but the “The Other Team in LA” suits me just fine. Defense/ST scoring in fantasy is pretty simple; the more turnovers, sacks, and scores, the better. The Chargers are not short on playmakers by any means, with the duo of Bosa andIngram crushing QBs and/or forcing them into bad throws towards guys like Casey Hayward and Jason Verrett. As far as special teams go, Travis Benjamin and Austin Eckler figure to be the main return men unless the team drafts someone else. Each player possesses the speed to take a kick/punt to the house.
15.172 Wil Lutz- Nothing too deep here…just an accurate kicker on a team that scores a lot.