Can you believe it? Football season is less than 50 days away, fantasy drafts are just around the corner and Daenerys has finally made it to Westeros. I honestly don’t know which one I’m more excited about. (Who am I kidding, I’m obviously most excited about the Dragon Queen sitting upon her rightful throne.)
With fantasy drafts looming on the horizon, we decided it is the perfect time to throw together our first staff mock draft. Hopefully this will be a way for us writers to try out some different draft strategies and for you readers to see how those strategies play out and what trends we saw as we were drafting. Today’s mock is standard league, standard scoring, 12-team, 15-round snake draft where teams don’t need to draft a full roster (you’ll see I took full advantage of that). Drafting today are myself, J.E. Barnett, Ghoji Blackburn and Matias Wodner. We each drafted three teams and for each one we chatted a little bit about some of our moves, strategy, and what we ended up liking/disliking about our teams.
Let’s get it!
1. Team Ghoji A
QB: Jameis Winston (10.12), Matthew Stafford (11.1)
RB: David Johnson (1.1), Leonard Fournette (2.12), Spencer Ware (4.12), LeGarrette Blount (8.12)
WR: Martavis Bryant (5.1), Pierre Garcon (6.12), Jeremy Maclin (7.1), Quincy Enunwa (9.1), Curtis Samuel (13.1)
TE: Rob Gronkowski (3.1), Coby Fleener (12.12)
DEF: NY Giants (14.12)
K: Justin Tucker (15.1)
I like all three teams that I drafted, but I think I like this one the most. By picking first, I was able to get the best player on the board in David Johnson. I didn’t like any of the WRs at the Round 4 turn, so I grabbed the top TE and was the first team with a 3rd running back which will end up being great for depth. The WRs obviously didn’t get any better at the next turn, but I didn’t miss out on anyone amazing so I took the two best available because I needed some and knew I could continue to wait on QB with the top 3 off the board. Through Round 8, I think this was a mediocre team after Johnson. However, being able to grab Winston in the 10th and grab Stafford as the first backup was a big boost for this team. Justin Tucker, as the best kicker in the NFL, was a solid pick to be able to lead the Kicker run as well. This team is championship caliber if a couple players in the middle rounds stay healthy and contribute every week.
2. Team Pete A
QB: Tyrod Taylor (11.2)
RB: Le’Veon Bell (1.2), Isaiah Crowell (3.2), Mike Gillislee (5.2), Jamaal Williams (10.11), Kareem Hunt (12.11), Jonathan Williams (14.11)
WR: Dez Bryant (2.11), Tyreek Hill (4.11), Jamison Crowder (6.11), Mike Wallace (8.11), Adam Thielen (9.2)
TE: Tyler Eifert (7.2), Jason Witten (13.2)
K: Stephen Gostkowski (15.2)
If you have one of the top three picks, there are only so many players you can choose from. I went with Bell because I’m hoping that being in a contract year lights a fire under him and a) he stays healthy and b) he rips the league a new one. Getting Bell also let me take a few “risks” at RB since I’m assuming a solid weekly performance from Lev. Crowell has been underrated and is playing behind a stacked offensive line while Gillislee (I reached given who was still on the board in my opinion) and Jamaal Williams both have chances to be starting red zone running backs. Dez slipped to me and I love pairing him with Hill and Crowder, both of whom I think are in for big seasons. If Eifert stays healthy, I love the value of him in the 7th as he’s still only a year removed from scoring 13 touchdowns. LOVE Tyrod in the 11th round, he’ll be tough to start some weeks but he’s overall worth it. First move on the waiver wire: add Jaguars defense. Sounds crazy I know but I like them this year.
3. Team J.E. A
QB: Matt Ryan (4.10)
RB: Ezekiel Elliott (1.3), Lamar Miller (2.10), Doug Martin (7.3), Kenneth Dixon (10.10)
WR: Alshon Jeffery (3.3), Jarvis Landry (5.3), Kelvin Benjamin (6.10), John Brown (9.3), Taylor Gabriel (13.3)
TE: Eric Ebron (8.10), C.J. Fiedorowicz (12.10)
DEF: Carolina Panthers (14.10)
K: Matt Bryant (15.3)
I made a decision to use my three teams in three different strategies. For team A I went with a traditional concept and gave a little love to running backs. I moved some around from where I have them personally ranked, but not much. Ezekiel Elliott as the third overall pick was pretty consensus. The way the draft fell gave me a very logical RB-RB selection to start the draft. I found Doug Martin as a backup (before drafting a starting TE). Depth and he could be a play after the suspension. A little shaky in terms of reliability, but in the seventh round he was truly worth it. Kenneth Dixon gives me a lottery ticket guy in the later rounds to give me a solid RB group. My receivers are much more of a question. Went more with long yardage, lower reception guys (Alshon Jeffery, Kelvin Benjamin, John Brown). These could be great, but it will be more up and down in weekly production. These WRs are going to be matchup dependent. The QB position is strong with two top level guys and the TE position is very solid. All in all, this gave me a team where I feel very confident in the play from all positions other than WR. My first WR was the 13th one taken, making him essentially a WR2 in this league.
4. Team Matias A
QB: Russell Wilson (7.4), Andy Dalton (13.4)
RB: Ty Montgomery (4.9), Tevin Coleman (6.9) Derrick Henry (9.4), Jonathan Stewart (11.4)
WR: Antonio Brown (1.4), DeAndre Hopkins (2.9), Allen Robinson (3.4), Cameron Meredith (8.9), Rishard Matthews (10.9)
TE: Greg Olsen (5.4), Austin Hooper (12.9)
DEF: Baltimore Ravens (14.9)
K: Dan Bailey (15.4)
I didn't go into the draft with the specific plan in mind, but the way the board fell directed me into a WR-heavy start. Brown was a no-brainer and I love Nuk (I totally missed that Dez was still available to be honest) and Robinson as rebound candidates this season. After the first nine RBs, I'm really not fond of any of them in the second or third rounds with so many great WRs available, so I waited. Once the fourth round rolled around, it was time to start snagging RBs. Montgomery and Coleman make for a high-upside duo, though they may be better suited for a PPR league. Greg Olsen and Russell Wilson were luxury picks in my opinion. I love Andy Dalton as a late-round target, as his supporting cast is one of the best in the league.
5. Team J.E. B
QB: Andrew Luck (5.5), Philip Rivers (11.5)
RB: Eddie Lacy (4.8), Dalvin Cook (6.8), Rob Kelley (9.5), Duke Johnson Jr (12.8)
WR: Julio Jones (1.5), Amari Cooper (2.8), Davante Adams (3.5), Eric Decker (8.8), Sterling Shepard (10.8)
TE: Delanie Walker (7.5), Zach Miller (13.5)
DEF: Houston Texans (14.8)
K: Adam Vinatieri (15.5)
I went very different here placing an emphasis on getting top tier WRs. Mostly due to the way the draft fell, I ended up going WR in the first three rounds. These receivers (Julio Jones, Amari Cooper and Davante Adams) all finished in the top 13 of receivers last year. Adams and Jones both top ten. I expect Adams to regress to the mean some and Cooper to return to form. Even adding Decker and Sheperd as backups felt good. Running backs were more of a gamble, but Lacy in a “prove it” contract on a team built on running followed by Dalvin Cook also on a run first team, both feel like huge upside. Rob Kelley in a full backfield in Washington does not excite me as a backup though. This was the favorite of my three teams. Having Andrew Luck, the Houston Defense, one of the best WR groups (if not the best) and a RB corps with serious potential makes me happy.
6. Team Ghoji B
QB: Derek Carr (8.6)
RB: Todd Gurley (2.7), Marshawn Lynch (3.6), Joe Mixon (4.7), Samaje Perine (9.6), Thomas Rawls (13.6)
WR: Odell Beckham Jr (1.6), Julian Edelman (5.6), Donte Moncrief (6.7), Randall Cobb (7.6), Zay Jones (10.7), John Ross (11.6)
TE: Julius Thomas (12.7)
DEF: New England Patriots (14.7)
K: Mason Crosby (15.6)
This team is extremely close to Team A for me. Where I failed in the early rounds, the middle of this team was much easier to rock than at the turn. I love the WRs on this team. I have the consistent Beckham/Edelman paired with high ceiling vets and rookies. My running backs are all boom-or-bust and a playoff run would completely depend on who booms and if they are in my lineup that week. Derek Carr and Julius Thomas have late bye weeks, so I ignored grabbing a backup for either position. Instead, I went with Thomas Rawls who would be in for big volume if Eddie Lacy were to flop—or gain weight—in Seattle.
7. Team Matias B
QB: Cam Newton (9.7), Dak Prescott (11.7)
RB: LeSean McCoy (1.7), Christian McCaffrey (5.7), Bilal Powell (7.7), James White (12.6)
WR: Doug Baldwin (2.6), Michael Crabtree (4.6), Emmanuel Sanders (6.6), DeVante Parker (8.6), Kenny Britt (10.6)
TE: Travis Kelce (3.7), Cameron Brate (13.7)
DEF: Arizona Cardinals (14.6)
K: Cairo Santos (15.7)
I wanted to make one of my teams very balanced, and it worked out with this draft slot. I was between McCoy and Green with my first pick, but went McCoy because I knew I could get a stud WR in the middle of round two and the RBs at that point don't entice me. Baldwin has gone over 1,000 yards and scored 21 touchdowns since becoming Seattle's #1 guy over the last two seasons. Kelce might seem like a reach in the third, but he's set up for a monster season with Maclin gone in KC. I then alternated WR-RB for the next five rounds, getting two-high upside RBs, two WRs with a solid floor and one WR that's a bit of a dart throw (Parker). I was really hoping Cam fell to me in the ninth, as his ceiling is as high as any QB in the league. I drafted Dak two rounds later for some insurance, in case Cam has another poor season like 2016.
8. Team Pete B
QB: Marcus Mariota (8.5)
RB: Carlos Hyde (3.8), Ameer Abdullah (6.5), Theo Riddick (9.8), Rex Burkhead (12.5)
WR: A.J. Green (1.8), Michael Thomas (2.5), Larry Fitzgerald (5.8), Corey Davis (7.8), Breshad Perriman (10.5), Will Fuller (13.8)
TE: Jordan Reed (4.5), O.J. Howard (11.8)
DEF: Seattle Seahawks (14.5)
K: Matt Prater (15.8)
Loved getting Green and Thomas to start off my team. Green was on pace for a monster season last year only to get injured and we all know what Thomas did when he shared an offense with Brandin Cooks. Now it’s all his. While this is a mock draft, I had to snag Fitz because in actual leagues I tend to pass on him and live to regret it. He’s amazingly consistent and will always get me solid points. I snagged a few guys from my hypetrain including Davis, Mariota and Hyde. I’m really high on Hyde this year given that he’s probably the best offensive talent on the team and his new coach is Kyle Shanahan. Putting too much faith in Kyle? Maybe but I’m ok with it. He turned Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman into fantasy must haves so I’m hoping he does the same with Hyde. Was a little worried about taking Reed in the 4th given his injury history but he can produce numbers and I wasn’t moved by who was available around him.
9. Team Matias C
QB: Kirk Cousins (10.4), Carson Palmer (13.9)
RB: Melvin Gordon (1.9), Jordan Howard (2.4), Danny Woodhead (8.4)
WR: Demaryius Thomas (3.9), Sammy Watkins (4.4), DeSean Jackson (5.9), Tyrell Williams (7.9), Marvin Jones Jr (9.9), Cole Beasley (12.4)
TE: Jimmy Graham (6.4), Zach Ertz (11.9)
DEF: Minnesota Vikings (14.4)
K: Steven Hauschka (15.9)
I went into this draft hoping to come out with three different strategies early on, and it worked out that way. A was WR-heavy, B was balanced and C started out RB-RB. If there was a flex position, I might've gone RB in the third round as well, possibly pairing Mixon with Gordon and Howard, who have enormous volume ceilings. After securing two stud RBs, I focused on WR, going with a safe WR1 in Thomas and two WRs who will have huge games and some duds mixed in with Watkins and Jackson. Watkins is one of the most polarizing players in fantasy football this year; he might be a top 10 WR or struggle with injuries and nuke your team. I chose to wait on QB and was ecstatic to see Cousins fall to me in round 10, as he's been a top nine QB in each of the last two seasons. The Graham-Ertz pairing at TE gives me weekly matchup options. Tyrell Williams and Jones Jr. could have really nice seasons with Mike Williams and Anquan Boldin out of the way for both, respectively. Like Dalton, Palmer is one of my favorite late-round QB targets. Same can be said for Woodhead, who is perennially undervalued.
10. Team Pete C
QB: Drew Brees (4.3), Alex Smith (13.10)
RB: CJ Anderson (5.10), Terrance West (9.10), CJ Prosise (10.3)
WR: Jordy Nelson (1.10), TY Hilton (2.3), Terrelle Pryor (3.10), Stefon Diggs (6.3), Corey Coleman (8.3), Josh Doctson (11.10), Robby Anderson (14.3), Marqise Lee (15.10)
TE: Kyle Rudolph (7.10), David Njoku (12.3)
If you follow me on twitter, you know this was my zeroRB team because I didn’t take RBs until the 5th and then I spaced on my strategy and took two back to back. Oh well. Nonetheless, I went with low RB count and very high WR count and I like how the team played out. Nelson, Hilton and Pryor is a very strong starting WR group and my backups all have a chance to be breakout candidates, especially Diggs and Coleman. I also think Robby Anderson could be inline for a surprising year given the lack of receiving talent in New York. Very happy with CJ Anderson in 5th and West in the 9th. I have no idea how Seattle’s backfield will play out but Prosise was worth a pick. Of course, getting fantasy master Brees as my QB helped and I have high hopes for Njoku as a rookie tight end. If this was my actual team, I’d play week-to-week for DEF and K and ride the hot hand (or leg).
11. Team J.E. C
QB: Tom Brady (4.2), Carson Wentz (13.11)
RB: DeMarco Murray (2.2), Mark Ingram (5.11), Frank Gore (8.2), Matt Forte (10.2)
WR: Mike Evans (1.11), Brandin Cooks (3.11), Golden Tate (6.2), Jordan Matthews (7.11), Kenny Stills (11.11)
TE: Hunter Henry (9.11), Jack Doyle (12.2)
DEF: Denver Broncos (14.2)
K: Dustin Hopkins (15.11)
Almost had the back-to-back pick here. I focused on a balanced approach with this team. Starting off with Mike Evans and DeMarco Murray I got at least a solid number one at each position. I was stuck between going to Rodgers in the third round or getting a second WR. Since there are three WR slots and I knew Ghoji was only possibly taking one QB between this and my next pick, I went with Cooks. Ghoji sniped Rodgers, but the difference between Rodgers and Brady was not enough to be too upset. I nearly filled out all offensive positions before drafting a backup, but then Peter sniped me on Kyle Rudolph. I was then only competing with three other teams for TE and the value was on adding WR depth. Still, not terribly satisfied with the way RBs fell to me. Forte and Gore are getting up there and are only average performers at this point. They are just for depth. Murray is solid, but New Orleans has been pretty inconsistent in their treatment of Mark Ingram and they seem to always want to replace him. Feel that the WR corps will have to carry this team, the RB position is not worthless, legit RB1 and a streaming RB2.
12. Team Ghoji C
QB: Aaron Rodgers (3.12), Eli Manning (12.1)
RB: Devonta Freeman (1.12), Jay Ajayi (2.1), Paul Perkins (7.12), Adrian Peterson (8.1), Latavius Murray (10.1)
WR: Keenan Allen (4.1), Brandon Marshall (5.12), Willie Snead (6.1), Kevin White (11.12)
TE: Martellus Bennett (9.12), Evan Engram (13.12)
DEF: Kansas City Chiefs (14.1)
K: Graham Gano (15.12)
Through the first four rounds, I felt completely in control with this team. The turn to end round one was incredible and I grabbed the top QB the next time through with a target monster in Keenan Allen. After that, this team fell apart. It seemed that the “scraps” were falling to me and I either needed to deal with it or reach and get a round ahead of everyone else. I chose to deal with it and continue to take best available to see what kind of team assembled. Unfortunately, I ended up with a ton of Giants players! It is nice to double dip on a QB and WR, but for the Giants this team has QB/WR/RB/TE. That is too much on one team. Granted most would be backups on this team, but as the weeks move along I would need to play them. My thoughtful move of this draft was taking the KC defense as the first one off the board over Denver. Without room for a backup defense, I would end up with a week five decision on what to do with Denver’s bye. Kansas City has a much later bye week than Denver. This offers me much more time to make a decision on what player to drop for a spot-start that week. I would never advise to holding two defenses. It is a waste of a roster spot.