2011 Staff Mock Draft
By FBG Staff
May 30th, 2011

In late May, Footballguys gathered 12 staff members together using a standard point-per-reception (PPR) scoring system. Afterward, we asked them to go over each selection and comment on the player taken and/or the strategy involved with that pick. Below are the first four (of 22) rounds. We will be releasing this draft in 4 parts while explaining our thought processes with each of the picks. Hopefully, their thoughts will aid you in preparing for your own drafts.

Round One

Pick 1.01 - RB Adrian Peterson - MIN
Comments by Waldman: There are probably more small reasons why you shouldn't pick Peterson at 1.01 this year in a PPR league than to pull the trigger. He's been in the league longer than Arian Foster, Jamaal Charles, and Chris Johnson. His quarterback is likely to be a rookie (Christian Ponder) or a slightly more experienced "rookie" (Joe Webb who lacks a full season under center). And Peterson isn't the most prolific receiver of the other three I mentioned.

However at 1.01, I'm not aiming for a dead-on, bull's eye; I just want to be in the yellow because about two-thirds of the backs that produced as top-12 fantasy runners the previous year don't repeat the next. This stat has remained steady for the past seven years and it tells me that if I have the pick of any runner then I want the one I believe has the safest chance to repeat as a top-12 back with elite upside.

Peterson is the safest of those backs. Where Charles is still a minor question mark when it comes to handling a heavy workload, Peterson has four seasons of proof that he's a workhorse. The best backs also tend to come from teams that aren't great at throwing the football because they are leaned on a little more. I think Arian Foster got an extra bump in production last year than what I expect this year because of the injuries to Owen Daniels and Andre Johnson. Last year was also his first season of heavy production.

While I would be thrilled to have either Charles, Johnson, or Foster with one of the first three picks, Peterson is simply more proven. He's also improved his technique at protecting the football and unlike Charles or Foster I know that Peterson is a driven worker, which I think will be more important this year given the labor strife that is throwing off the normal schedule or workouts and practices. In this year of uncertainty, I want a player I believe I can lean on.

Pick 1.02 - RB Arian Foster - HOU
Comments by Bramel: There isn't a lot of mystery from the 1.02 pick in a PPR draft. Grab the RB at the top of your list and hope two stud PPR receivers fall to the next turn. Foster and Peterson were 1 and 1a on my list. Foster isn't a fluke. He is a perfect fit for the zone running scheme, should see a similar workload and kept his reception count up when Owen Daniels returned to the lineup last year.

Pick 1.03 - RB Chris Johnson - TEN
Comments by Wood: This was a no brainer selection for me. Picking 3rd, I knew I was going to come away with either Arian Foster, Adrian Peterson or Chris Johnson. I pre-ranked those RBs in that order, so basically this pick was chalk. After being the consensus #1 pick last year, some consider Johnson's 2010 season a disappointment, but he finished as the 5th overall RB and totaled 1,600+ yards and 12 TDs. With all the problems in Tennessee last year, that was pretty much his floor, which is one heck of a great margin of safety for your first rounder.

Pick 1.04 - RB Jamaal Charles - KCC
Comments by Dodds: Jamaal Charles has increased his carries, yards, yards per carry, receptions, receiving yards, and fantasy points in each of his first three years. At just 24 years of age, Charles is just starting his "prime" fantasy years. He scored just 5 rushing TDs in 2010, despite 1,467 yards gained on the ground (Note: Since 2002, 45 running back seasons have been recorded between 1300 and 1600 rushing yards. Those backs averaged 11.3 TDs).

Although Thomas Jones remains on the team to steal away carries, he saw his yards per carry nosedive to a paltry 3.7 per rush. At age 33, I suspect we see a lot less of Jones and a lot more of Charles going forward.

Pick 1.05 - RB LeSean McCoy - PHI
Comments by Tremblay: This would have been a difficult pick in a non-PPR league. I would have given strong consideration to Maurice Jones-Drew or Ray Rice. But when I'm getting a point per reception, McCoy becomes a pretty easy choice for me. He was targeted 90 times last season, leading all RBs by a decent margin with 78 receptions, and I see him being a huge part of the passing game again in 2011. In PPR leagues, I think there are five players that stand out ahead of the rest of the pack, so the 1.05 spot is a great spot to draft. (In non-PPR leagues, I'd greatly prefer 1.04 or better.)

Pick 1.06 - RB Ray Rice - BAL
Comments by Gray: At the 1.06 spot, I knew I'd get a top back, and that's exactly what happened. I also considered Maurice Jones-Drew but slightly favor Rice. One thing I did not consider was a receiver. There is a clear drop-off after the first tier of backs, so hitting the position at 1.06 seems like a no-brainer. By going receiver here, I would be locked into taking a runner in the second round, and I'm not too excited about building around a guy like Peyton Hillis or Rashard Mendenhall (in a PPR league). Having a guy like Rice gives me an elite anchor and allows me to target lots of receivers early in the draft.

Pick 1.07 - RB Maurice Jones-Drew - JAC
Comments by Rudnicki: As expected, RBs went early and often in this draft, but I was still happy to land a legit #1 anchor for my team in Jones-Drew with the 7th overall pick. He was the last RB I would have felt comfortable taking in the 1st round, so if I was picking later and missed out on all of them I would have switched gears and looked at taking the best available WR most likely. Jones-Drew came into last season with some concerns about his knee, yet he produced like a top-10 RB in PPR leagues. Although he's been in the league for 5 years now, he has not been overworked like many other backs have and he continues to consistently put up impressive numbers. His touchdown numbers were down last year as the passing game improved and Rashard Jennings took on a bigger role, but I think he rebounds this year and is a relatively safe bet to finish among the top fantasy RBs in the league. The drafting of a rookie QB is cause for some concern, but I think Garrard is good enough to hold him off for at least the first year.

Pick 1.08 - WR Andre Johnson - HOU
Comments by Bloom: When I saw that I had drawn the #8 pick, I knew that I was likely to get Johnson or Maurice Jones-Drew. MJD's knee issue has dropped him to the bottom of the no brainer #1 RB tier, but I think he still belongs in that tier - he was a stud on the bad knee last season, and its condition should improve with rest. When MJD went #7 to Aaron, that made my choice easy. No QB was worth the pick and I knew the RBs were deep enough to get an RB I would be fine with as a #1 at 2.05. I don't envy teams picking at the end of the first round because I believe they're getting players that are roughly the same value as the ones available through the late second round and would not seek to pick in the late first if I had a say in my draft position. The best slot seems like five or six this year with the depth among the potential uberstud RBs.

Pick 1.09 - WR Roddy White - ATL
Comments by Wimer: When I prepared for this draft, I kept in mind the extraordinary conditions that are prevailing in the NFL during 2011. The lack of organized team activities, coaching sessions, and mini-camps that the labor stoppage has imposed on everyone is especially troublesome for those teams that changed offensive coordinators during 2011, and for incoming rookies. Because of the uncertainty as to when training camp will begin (or even if we will have a full training camp this year), I wanted to make sure that my fantasy team's players were in well-established offenses that will have continuity from 2010 to this year as much as possible. I also decided to not draft any rookies this year as a result of the lockout, and to look for players who are being unduly discounted due to the arrival of a touted rookie via the 2011 draft, as I feel that rookies will have much more-than-usual trouble acclimating to the NFL this year.

Also, knowing that I drafted from the ninth hole in the first round, I knew that my team would miss out on the top tier of fantasy backs in the PPR paradigm, so I went in expecting to build my roster around elite wide receivers with a slightly weaker-than-average RB stable. Since this league is a 1 point per reception league (there is no additional premium of points awarded to tight ends for receptions, as there sometimes is), I initially planned to populate the flex position with a fourth wide receiver.

At pick 1.09, I selected Roddy White, who was my second-ranked wide receiver in the PPR paradigm - Bloom scooped my number one guy, Andre Johnson, one pick ahead at 1.08. White had 115 receptions last year (115 for 1,389 yards and 10 TDs on 177 targets), so he is obviously positioned to be a force in PPR leagues again this year. Mike Mularkey has been the offensive coordinator in Atlanta since 2008 and Matt Ryan has worked with him since his rookie season - the continuity factor in the passing game that I was looking for is definitely one of the Falcons' players' strong points in this labor-strife environment.

Pick 1.10 - RB Darren McFadden - OAK
Comments by Tefertiller: With the tenth pick, I was left in a precarious spot. Seven running backs and two wide receivers were off the board. My choice was either to take a back (McFadden) or elite receiver. I am not one to take a quarterback this high, preferring the cheaper options. Knowing there would be a pass catcher I liked after the turn, I took McFadden. Last year, he finished as the second ranked back (in PPR), and player nine overall. With another season in Hue Jackson's offense, I like his chances to repeat or come close to those numbers (especially the 21 points per game average) again.

Pick 1.11 - WR Calvin Johnson - DET
Comments by Pasquino: Drafting from the 11-hole presents a challenge, but that is a little better knowing that the league is both PPR and requires three starting wide receivers. With that in mind, I knew that I would likely grab a Top 3 WR (Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson and Roddy White) if one was there as I assumed the first 6-7 picks will all be running backs. That's pretty much how it went with Calvin falling to me at Pick 11.

Pick 1.12 - WR Hakeem Nicks - NYG
Comments by Lammey: In a PPR league with the option to start three wide receivers any week I knew going into this draft I would need a strong WR corps. Nicks has been very productive during his first two years in the league even though he's battled through injuries during both seasons. He has the ability to be one of the best WRs in the game today. He was a top 10 fantasy receiver last year even though he appeared in only 13 games. If he can stay healthy then he should easily be top 10 again this year, and could end the season as the best WR to own in fantasy football.

Round Two

Pick 2.01 - QB Aaron Rodgers - GBP
Comments by Lammey: I wanted an elite quarterback at the turn, and I didn't hesitate to select Rodgers as the first QB off the board. This way I can set it and forget it with that position and know that I'm getting a top 5 fantasy QB. The Packers added weapons to the offense in the draft and that will only make Rodgers more dangerous. They upgraded the offensive line too in the first-round with the selection of Derek Sherrod. This will help protect Rodgers better and keep him upright.

Pick 2.02 - RB Frank Gore - SFO
Comments by Pasquino: I figured I would grab a solid RB1 next and Frank Gore was there, so snagging him gave me a stud WR along with a solid second-tier RB1.

Pick 2.03 - WR Larry Fitzgerald - ARI
Comments by Tefertiller: As expected, a top wideout slipped. Yes, Fitzgerald had an off season in 2010, finishing as WR14 in points per game average. But, I expect a rebound with any upgrade at quarterback. He went from Kurt Warner throwing passes to the erratic passes of Derek Anderson. Kevin Kolb is rumored to be traded to Arizona. He would be a big improvement from Anderson. The other two players I considered here were Rashard Mendenhall and Reggie Wayne. With the expected improved quarterback play, I like the Cardinal receiver's chances to rebound.

Pick 2.04 - WR Reggie Wayne - IND
Comments by Wimer: I managed to snag the third-ranked wide receiver on my PPR board, Reggie Wayne. He has played his entire career in Indianapolis, with perhaps the best passer in NFL history, Peyton Manning, as the only starting QB that Wayne has ever known. Manning has been at or over 4,500 yards passing in each of the last two seasons, and over 4,000 yards passing in every season since 2006. There are plenty of footballs to go around in Indianapolis, and Wayne has two straight seasons with 100 or more receptions - last year he caught 111 for 1,355 yards and six TDs. The offensive continuity here is off the charts, with Manning acting as an assistant coordinator on every play.

Pick 2.05 - RB Steven Jackson - STL
Comments by Bloom: Jackson was an easy pick here. He is still in his prime and poised to play in the best offense he has been surrounded by in years. I was fine with waiting for the end of the top 7 QB tier and already had my #1 wideout. Rashard Mendenhall, Peyton Hillis and Matt Forte are also viable #1s in PPR leagues and all were available at my pick, so anyone taking an non-RB in the mid-to-late first should feel great about the selection of RBs they'll have in the second.

Pick 2.06 - WR Greg Jennings - GBP
Comments by Rudnicki: While waiting for the draft to come back around to me in the 2nd, I wanted to try and land one of the elite WRs. I like to start out this way in PPR leagues to give my team some balance and allow me to take the best player available later on rather than being forced to chase a specific position. Jennings was the last of the players in the top tier that I was interested in, so it was a pretty easy choice to make. The Packers have one of the most productive passing attacks in the league and Jennings has clearly established himself as their primary weapon. Although he got off to a slow start last year, he really took over in the second half and I expect that to continue even after Jermichael Finley returns to the lineup. With 2 picks in the top-18, I'm feeling good about landing one of my top-7 RBs and top-7 WRs. Both have the upside to finish #1 at their position, and limited downside if they can stay healthy given their respective situations.

Pick 2.07 - WR Vincent Jackson - SDC
Comments by Gray: Just as I knew my first rounder was going to be a running back, I was locked in on a wide receiver in this spot. Sure, in a perfect world, Larry Fitzgerald would drop to me, but I had little hope of that happening. With the top guys gone, I was looking at a group that included the likes of Vincent Jackson, Miles Austin, Dwayne Bowe, and DeSean Jackson. On the surface, none of these guys are ahead of the pack, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see Vincent Jackson take a big leap forward in his production this season. Philip Rivers is clearly an elite NFL quarterback, and he will allow Jackson to become truly elite.

Pick 2.08 - RB Peyton Hillis - CLE
Comments by Tremblay: My second RB who had more than 60 receptions last season. Some are a bit down on Hillis because they suspect he's not really as good as his 2010 stats would indicate. I watched most of his snaps last season, and I am convinced he's for real. He is versatile, athletic, and powerful, and he runs with tremendous determination. He picks his holes well, and has the balance to make yards after contact. In short, I am convinced that 2010 was no fluke. I don't expect him to finish as a top five RB again, but if he can stay healthy, I think he's a favorite to finish in the top ten. Montario Hardesty will not steal significant snaps from the Browns' best offensive player (by far) from a year ago. While I know that many will disagree with me, I consider Hillis a strong value pick at 2.08.

Pick 2.09 - RB Rashard Mendenhall - PIT
Comments by Dodds: I had hoped Hillis would slide to me here, but that didn't happen. I debated a bit between Forte and Mendenhall, but settled on Mendenhall here. At age 24 (and with limited options to take away carries from him), I think Mendenhall is an extremely safe pick at running back this season. He has improved his rush attempts, yards, TDs, and fantasy points in each of his first three years. He should benefit by having Ben Roethlisberger for all of the games this season. Although he only caught 23 passes in 2010, I believe he is capable of contributing a lot more in the passing game. Combined with his likely heavy workload and use at the goal line, this should be Mendenhall's best year to date.

Pick 2.10 - RB Matt Forte - CHI
Comments by Wood: A lot of fantasy owners avoided Forte last year, fearing Mike Martz' propensity for throwing the ball would make it hard for Forte to deliver viable fantasy numbers. Yet, he ended up with 1,616 yards from scrimmage and 9 TDs, and finished as RB10. Forte is an excellent receiver, averaging 54 receptions per season. With a dearth explosive offensive weapons, there's little question Forte will remain a fixture in the Bears offensive game plan week in, week out. It's worth noting that I had assumed I would grab a WR at this pick, but after 8 went off the board, the value just wasn't there.

Pick 2.11 - WR Dwayne Bowe - KCC
Comments by Bramel: I doubt Bowe repeats his 15 TD, WR2 overall 2010 season, but he's explosive and certainly capable of getting his reception count over 80 this year. Ideally, I'd have been able to get him as my WR2 at the 3.02 pick after getting another receiver from my top two tiers (which go nine deep through Bowe) at the 2.11 pick. Still, he's reasonable value as the WR9 in this draft.

Pick 2.12 - QB Drew Brees - NOS
Comments by Waldman: If you didn't know, Jene Bramel and I have friendly rivalry. If you're not reading his work you need your football card taken away. However, Bramel beat me in the Footballguys Staff Bravo League Championship Game last year in one of the leagues where for the past three years, we frequently get slotted side-by-side in drafts and we steal the other's picks.

I was hoping Dwayne Bowe, Matt Forte, or Vincent Jackson might fall to me in that order of preference. But of course, Bramel scooped Bowe just ahead of me.

Note to Jene: while I'm glad the tornado didn't hit your house, I did get a glimmer of evil joy when you apologized to the league that you were called away from the draft momentarily due to the sump pump. Thanks for taking the best receiver available after Lammey took Hakeem Nicks at 1.12 - payback is coming, brother...

Since I knew I was taking Antonio Gates a 3.01, I decided to opt for a quarterback. With Rodgers gone - another Lammey pick (we'll get to the motorboat captain from Denver after round four) - I considered Brees, Manning, and Vick with this pick. Brady and Rivers were also quarterbacks on my mind as a potential 4.12/5.01 selection, but I wasn't sure how far they'd fall.

Based on what I learned from this mock, I would have taken a wide receiver or runner at 2.12 with Michael Turner, Mark Ingram, Jahvid Best, Ryan Mathews and a host of quality receivers still on the board. If I made this choice, I believe Brady or Rivers would have slipped to me with my next pair of picks. It would have been the better move, and it was a good lesson for me.

Brees was my choice over the other two quarterbacks and it was about safety. Remember that despite a bum knee and injuries to his receivers and runners, Brees was only a point per game behind Aaron Rodgers in 2010. He's also been highly consistent as one of the top fantasy producers at the position.

I'm not worried the Mark Ingram is going to hurt Brees' production. If anything, I believe Ingram's ability to move the chains will make the Saints deep passing game more efficient, which means more big plays for Brees and fewer mistakes. Again, I'm looking at safe choices here because I want to pinpoint where some of my future options are falling that I see as riskier picks.

Round Three

Pick 3.01 - TE Antonio Gates - SDC
Comments by Waldman: At his rate of production prior to his injury, Gates would have been a top 12-15 fantasy performer in 2010 regardless of position. He's another safe pick because he's the No.1 or 1-A option in the Chargers passing game and a 1 or 1-A option if compared to wide receivers. Gates was also the first prong of my experiment to take two top tight ends in the early rounds.

In PPR leagues I played in last year, Gates was the 11th-best player after the half of season and if you compare him to wide receivers, his production was better than all but one wide receiver. His foot injury may be his second or third in as many seasons, but this injury was more of a painful nuisance than career threatening. Gates and Peterson were the two players I knew I was taking before this draft began.

Pick 3.02 - QB Michael Vick - PHI
Comments by Bramel: Working through a decision like the one I had at the 3.02 pick is the reason mock drafts should be an important part of your draft prep. Before the draft, I assumed this pick would be a receiver or maybe a back that fell through the cracks. But my tiers at both positions were unexpectedly dry. I considered another WR, specifically Miles Austin, Wes Welker or Brandon Lloyd, at this pick. Welker looks like a safe PPR WR2, but doesn't have elite upside. Lloyd has elite upside, but would've made for a risky pairing with Bowe. I nearly pulled the trigger on Lloyd, but my WR tiers looked deep enough to get a similar talent at the next turn. In the end, I decided the QB1 upside of Vick was an easy choice on the strength of relative value.

Pick 3.03 - WR Miles Austin - DAL
Comments by Wood: Having passed on WR in the first two rounds, I couldn't risk passing up the position any longer, particularly without having a choice until the tail end of the 4th. Luckily Austin was still on the board, as I felt there was a huge drop off after him. The fact Dez Bryant went just a few picks later illustrates that, and made me so glad I didn't try to hold off on grabbing my WR1 any longer.

Pick 3.04 - WR Mike Wallace - PIT
Comments by Dodds: Although it would be foolish to draft Mike Wallace as the #1 WR this year, I think he has a shot to be exactly that. He will be 25 this season and already is showing signs of an elite WR. On just 60 catches, he managed 1,257 yards and 10 TDs. He also did a lot of this despite his star QB missing the first 4 weeks. Add in Mike's easy schedule (6.7% easier opponents according to strength of schedule analysis), and his acsension to the WR1 position (over Hines Ward) and it's easy to get excited about what Mike brings to the table. I expect the 98 targets to increase substantially in 2011 and with it, a lot more production.

Pick 3.05 - WR Brandon Lloyd - DEN
Comments by Tremblay: As round two concluded, with four picks to go until my third pick, I was hoping to get Antonio Gates, Michael Vick, or Mike Wallace. None of them made it to me, but Lloyd isn't a terrible consolation prize. After three rounds, I now have the #2 and #3 RBs from last season in this scoring system, and the #2 WR. I'm not consciously trying to draft the All-2010 team, but Hillis and Lloyd are two players whose talents I think are generally underestimated right now. They each had breakout seasons a year ago, and there's always a possibility that they'll prove to be one-hit wonders; but after watching them play, I am sold on their talent. The Broncos' passing offense as a whole may take a step back this season, but Lloyd will still put up strong numbers. He has the quickness to separate and the hands to make the spectacular catch; and Tim Tebow may not come off his primary target (Lloyd) to look for his second or third options as frequently as a more experienced QB might. The other Bronco receivers are strong enough to keep teams from focusing only on Lloyd, but not strong enough to significantly eat into his production. (All that said, I would still have much rather had Antonio Gates.)

Pick 3.06 - WR Brandon Marshall - MIA
Comments by Gray: It's not often that you have your pick of 100-catch receivers in the third round of a PPR league, but that is exactly what is going on right now. So, Marshall and Wes Welker are staring at me. I went with Marshall for a couple of reasons. First off, he has more touchdown potential than Welker and is comfortable as his team's primary receiver threat. Also, while Welker has turned in some massive catch numbers, his elite seasons were with Randy Moss attracting most of the attention. If Welker is the focus of opposing defenses, can he continue to accumulate six or seven receptions a game? Regardless of player, taking a wide receiver here is the best move. Michael Turner was a bit tempting, but his tiny receiving totals are a big negative in this scoring system. Adding Marshall to Vincent Jackson gives me an excellent tandem.

Pick 3.07 - WR Wes Welker - NEP
Comments by Rudnicki: In the middle of round 3, it certainly appeared that there was a WR run in full effect as four straight had gone off the board when I went on the clock. With QBs only getting 4 points per passing touchdown and no reception bonus for tight ends, I was pretty set on waiting for those positions and grabbing the best available RB or WR here. None of the RBs felt like great options to me, although Michael Turner was tempting. His lack of receptions and the addition of new players like Julio Jones and Jacquizz Rodgers pushed me away and so that left me deciding among the best WRs. Welker stood out as a great option since he's a proven PPR performer who also gets to play with one of the best QBs in the league. Despite playing on a rehabbed knee last year, he still managed to put up very solid WR2 numbers. I think he'll be healthier now and remain the focal point of the Patriots passing game. Another 100+ reception season and a handful of touchdowns would make this a great value. I also think the fact that he puts up consistent reception numbers from week to week is a perfect complement to a big play threat like Jennings.

Pick 3.08 - WR DeSean Jackson - PHI
Comments by Bloom: Michael Turner was a glaring BPA here, and I immediately had remorse for not picking him. He is an outstanding RB2 to land in the late third, but going RB-RB in the second and third just didn't fit my usual strategy in PPR leagues with three wide receivers and a flex. I like to always have three of my top 20 wideouts, usually requiring three WR picks in the first four. I felt confident that I could get Santonio Holmes at 4.5, so this pick came down to DeSean Jackson or Mike Williams of Tampa. Jackson has a little downside of not being a consistent PPR force, and Williams has some off-the-field risk with last year's DWI and the potential sophomore slump. I went with Jackson because I anticipated that my depth at WR would allow me to ride out his valleys so I could be nearly unbeatable in his peak weeks.

Pick 3.09 - RB Michael Turner - ATL
Comments by Wimer: I selected Michael Turner, who was at ninth on my RB board in the PPR paradigm. Last year he played a full slate of 16 games and threw down 334/1371/12 rushing and had 20 targets (the first time in his career that Turner was targeted more than nine times) for 12/85/0. I think that Turner will continue to see double-digit targets in 2011, and I expect him to probably haul in 20+ passes this year, making him more valuable in the PPR paradigm than is generally expected. He has double-digit rushing TDs in each of this three seasons in Atlanta (17, 10, and 12, respectively, from 2008-2010) and is one of the increasingly-rare "featured" running backs in the NFL. I feel quite comfortable with him as my lead RB, and the offensive continuity I was looking for is definitely an aspect of the Falcons as outlined earlier. So far, the draft is working out well.

Pick 3.10 - WR Marques Colston - NOS
Comments by Tefertiller: Getting a very solid WR2 late in the third round is all I could have expected. Colston fits that bill as he is a perennial fantasy WR2 in a great situation. I understand the concerns over Colston's knee issues, but he is well worth the risk at this point. Lance Moore is a free agent, possibly opening up Colston for more pass targets. He was an easy choice for me over Jeremy Maclin and Mike Williams (TBB).

Pick 3.11 - WR Jeremy Maclin - PHI
Comments by Pasquino: Jeremy Maclin was very close to a WR1 (#14 in most PPR scoring systems) last year and had far more catches than DeSean Jackson in 2010 (70 to 47) and more targets than Jackson in 9 out of the last 11 games in which they both played. I just love Maclin as a WR2.

Pick 3.12 - WR Mike Williams - TBB
Comments by Lammey: With this pick I had to go back to the WR position, and I love the upside of Williams. The Buccaneers are an offense on the rise, and Williams is their primary weapon when they go through the air. Williams was the 12th best fantasy WR as a rookie, and will only get better this year. I expect him to be more productive, and make the most of his targets. He was targeted 128 times last year but ended the season with only 65 receptions. He scored 11 receiving touchdowns last year and I expect that number to fall slightly as the football should be more spread out amongst the weapons in the red zone. Less touchdowns (maybe 8 or 9) but more receptions and more receiving yards are what I'm expecting from the second-year stud.

Round Four

Pick 4.01 - RB Mark Ingram - NOS
Comments by Lammey: Waiting until round four to select my RB1 was indeed risky, so I was elated to see Mark Ingram there at the turn. I believe he will be the Saints starting RB in week one. The team was very high on him and traded back into the first-round to take him. He reminds many in the scouting community of former Cowboys RB Emmitt Smith because of his running style, toughness, and vision. Ingram has a good nose for the end zone and is a good receiving option out of the backfield too. The Saints could decide to let Reggie Bush go if he doesn't restructure his deal, which would only mean more touches for Ingram. He is the rare workhorse back in today's game, and can carry the entire load for the team if need be.

Pick 4.02 - QB Peyton Manning - IND
Comments by Pasquino: Once I saw that Cecil took Aaron Rodgers at the 1.12/2.01 turn I knew I had to take the WR before taking my stud QB (no way Cecil takes two QBs) so that gave me Peyton Manning in the fourth. That's a steal, and having a stud QB gives me lineup flexibility knowing that Manning will be my QB every week for the first 10 weeks without question. That let me draft RB, WR and TE the next 12 or so picks without even thinking about a second quarterback. Ideally I would have had my stud QB, 1 RB, and either WR/WR or WR/TE after four rounds, and that is how it went. Liked the start quite a bit for this team.

Pick 4.03 - WR Austin Collie - IND
Comments by Tefertiller: This turn was huge for my draft. I loved getting Colston a few picks ago as a strong fantasy PPR WR2. Now, the draft was at a point where I could take an upside WR3 and swing for the fence. Collie was the fourth best PPR receiver last season. He gives my team an awesome PPR WR3. I was elated to take him at this point as the 39th player off the board. DeAngelo Williams was my other choice, but decided to wait on RB2 until the next turn.

This was my first mock of the year and with my initial mocks, I like to experiment on two levels:

  1. Try something I've never done before in terms of draft strategy, but try to stick fairly close to my rankings with the exception of...
  2. Passing on potential values at spots where I would normally take them and watch how far they fall.

This exercise gives me a chance to test my rankings, determine where I need to make adjustments, and learn a little about what my peers think of certain players.

Pick 4.04 - RB DeAngelo Williams - CAR
Comments by Wimer: I drafted DeAngelo Williams. He was the 14th-ranked running back on my PPR board (assuming he stays in Carolina during 2011, which is yet to be determined - if he does land in Denver as some are inclined to believe, he'd move up my board into the top 12). Williams had a rough year in 2010, playing in just six games, but he is still a young guy (he's 28), and prior to last season he had logged at least 22 receptions over four seasons as the Panthers' lead back. One problem with Williams is that Jonathan Stewart siphons off scoring plays from Williams. The second concern is that the Panthers' coaching staff turned over this year, with John Fox moving on to Denver as the head coach while Ron Rivera took over as head coach and Rob Chudzinski arrived from San Diego to be the offensive coordinator in Carolina. There will be little time for Rivera and Chudzinski to install their systems this year due to the labor stoppage. However, given that they will either start a raw rookie at quarterback (Cam Newton) or a second-rate second-year quarterback (Jimmy Clausen), I expect that whatever the Panthers do on offense in 2011, they will focus heavily on the team's obvious strength at running back and slant the play-calling in that direction. I wouldn't dream of taking a Carolina receiver this year, but I'm comfortable projecting that there will be plenty of running plays for Williams and Stewart to split. I expect the team to approach or go over 500 carries vs. 450 or fewer passes this year, which should ensure solid RB two production for this fantasy squad from Williams, despite the turnover among the Carolina coaching staff.

Pick 4.05 - WR Santonio Holmes - NYJ
Comments by Bloom: Going into a draft, sometimes you have a player penciled in at a certain pick. You feel confident that his value exceeds the value of the pick enough that it is unlikely that another more compelling player will fall to the pick. What you know about ADP (Average Draft Position) and your leaguemates makes you believe that the player will be there at the pick, but won't fall to your next pick. This describes my pick of Holmes, a potential WR1 who I can play as my WR3. Holmes was a low-end WR1/ high-end WR2 in the second half of the season, and he should be at least that good again with the likely long-term contract from the Jets and departure of Braylon Edwards. Peyton Manning might have been a consideration if he had fallen to the pick, but Pasquino took him at 4.02. I was fine with hoping for the last elite QB, Tony Romo, to fall to 5.08, or waiting for value even later at QB, so I probably still would have gone with Holmes, but it would have been tough to pass on Manning in the fourth.

Pick 4.06 - RB Ahmad Bradshaw - NYG
Comments by Rudnicki: In round 4, I was willing to start considering the QB position a little more, but with only 4 off the board at this point it was safe to wait awhile longer. The reliable starting receivers had mostly been picked, so I decided it was a good time to find my RB2. I wanted someone with big upside who could also be relied on for steady production from week to week. The players I considered most were Ahmad Bradshaw, Ryan Mathews, and Jonathan Stewart. After carefully considering each of them, Bradshaw became a pretty easy selection. While the Giants backfield is somewhat unsettled at the moment, it felt to me like there was going to be less competition for him than either of the other backs will have. Mathews is still unproven and may need to compete with Mike Tolbert and Darren Sproles, and DeAngelo Williams may still wind up back in Carolina. The Giants are a talented team on both sides of the ball, and Bradshaw appears to be developing into one of the best young backs in the league. Despite sharing time with Jacobs in 2010, he still put up over 1500 yards from scrimmage while just missing the 50 receptions and double digit touchdown thresholds. Have to love that type of potential production from a 4th round pick.

Pick 4.07 - TE Jermichael Finley - GBP
Comments by Gray: I wasn't planning on taking a tight end here, but it feels like a run is about to happen. If it does, I'll gladly get out in front of it with Finley. Sure, it's a bit of a risk to get someone coming back from injury, but when healthy, Finley is a super stud. I had hoped to get Manning to drop here, but Pasquino didn't allow that to happen. I briefly considered Rivers here but decided to wait at quarterback since passing touchdowns are only four points each.

Pick 4.08 - RB Ryan Mathews - SDC
Comments by Tremblay: With two RBs and only one WR on my roster so far (in a league that starts 3 WRs), I came into the fourth round looking for another receiver. But Steve Johnson and Sidney Rice were the remaining WRs I liked best, and neither has nearly the upside potential of Ryan Mathews. Mathews missed time with various injuries last season, and the lack of practice reps may have contributed to his poor pass-blocking in games. Along with some fumbling problems, that caused him to watch from the sideline as Mike Tolbert led the way for much of the season. When Mathews had the ball in his hands, though, he showed terrific promise as a runner. His combination of size, speed, and balance makes him a big-play threat; and the Chargers' offense should give him plenty of scoring opportunities (even if Tolbert vultures a few of them). If he stays healthy and keeps the starting job - neither of which is a sure thing, which is why he slipped to the fourth round - I could have just snagged a solid fantasy RB1 for the price of a middling RB2.

Pick 4.09 - RB Jahvid Best - DET
Comments by Dodds: It was obvious that Jahvid Best was playing hurt most of 2010. Despite that, he still managed to showcase his awesome potential in the preseason and also in week 2 (where he had 232 combined yards and 3 TDs). Best is lightning fast and a quality receiver. Even through all of his dings in 2010, Best managed 58 receptions. I expect the team to be better (improved defensive pressure, added RB and WR talent, and will have Stafford back) in 2011. Despite adding a bruising back in Leshoure, I think Best will have a significant role in this upcoming offense. By taking my 3rd RB in 4 rounds, I now plan to mostly ignore this position as I round out my other positions.

Pick 4.10 - QB Tom Brady - NEP
Comments by Wood: I couldn't have scripted this better. I had considered Mike Vick early, but thought I would be able to construct a better overall team by passing on QB in the first few rounds. With the likes of Steve Johnson, Dez Bryant and Sidney Rice being the next WRs likely off the board, I felt I could wait a little longer and get better value. I was prepared to take either Brady or Philip Rivers with this pick, and was giddy when Brady fell to me. Brady was the #1 or #2 fantasy QB in most scoring systems last year, yet I got him at QB5. Unheard of.

Pick 4.11 - WR Dez Bryant - DAL
Comments by Bramel: I had Dallas Clark queued up at 4.11. I think he's 1a to Antonio Gates this year and capable of another 90 plus catch season. Just before I entered the pick, I remembered that Matt Waldman had drafted Drew Brees and Antonio Gates at the previous turn and had yet to take his WR1 or RB2. It seemed a no-brainer then to take the best available WR on my board and grab Clark at the 5.02, right? So I shifted gears to take Bryant, who I think is a great bet to breakout with a healthy Tony Romo this year, sure that Clark would be there on the backside of the turn. But Waldman, who always finds a way to mess with my fantasy football drafts, drafted Clark as his second TE through five rounds. Had I gotten Clark, I would've had a fighting chance at the top overall finisher at three positions (RB, QB and TE) and a solid WR1. Still, I'm very happy with this start in a PPR league, especially if I'm able to put together a run of solid RB and WR options behind Foster, Bowe and Bryant.

Pick 4.12 - TE Dallas Clark - IND
Comments by Waldman: This is where I served a little payback to my pal Bramel, because he just knew I wasn't taking another TE after I picked Gates. However, I couldn't resist taking Clark after these players were off the board:

Austin Collie (Tefertiller)
Santonio Holmes (Bloom)
Ryan Mathews (Tremblay)
Jahvid Best (Dodds)

Dodds' pick of Best might be the worst decision he's ever made in the history of his pathetic life. I let him know that he really screwed up here, too. Didn't he realize Best only had value at 4.12??? I'm beginning to wonder if he's lost his touch. He really has to pay more attention to me.

Then Bramel comes along and takes Dez Bryant - the last player with any redeeming value close to Clark's. You know it's true readers, because Bryant is just following along the path of spoiled, young, and dysfunctional athletes who do crazy stuff and then look great on the field. He's about to look great on the field. So Jene pretty much sealed the deal that Clark would be my choice.

Why another tight end? I already explained Gates, but Clark also fits into this category as a top wide receiver playing the tight end position. Halfway through the 2010 season Clarke was the No. 45 player overall in most PPR leagues. That doesn't sound impressive until you compare him to all wide receivers. As a fantasy wide receiver he would have been the 15th-ranked player. So I might not have a projected No. 1 fantasy wide receiver on my roster, but Gates and Clark are strong possibilities to be top-12 and top-20 receivers in 2011 when grouping WR/TE into one category. That means I still am on the positive side of a mismatch versus many rosters that might have just one top-tier receiver.

Certainly Austin Collie's injury gave Clark a bump last year, but the lack of a great running game was also a factor in Clark's hot start as well as his great season the year before. I don't believe the Colts will fully resolve their ground game until Delone Carter gets it going, and it might take a half the season for him to gain the confidence of his teammates and coaches.

I think the reason has to do with the labor issues. The more time these rookies miss from an organized routine, the smaller their chances will be to make an instant impact. This is why I think my buddy Cecil "Captain Motorboat" Lammey (see my comment on Mikel Leshoure in my RB rankings for re-draft leagues and you'll understand) has his engines revved a little high to be taking 2-3 times as many rookies as the rest of us.

Obviously, adding receivers hot and heavy for the next section of the draft is something you'll see from me soon, but I also planned to let some of the ones fall that I would normally target just to see how far they go. I needed to see where I could get these players to know if this strategy of two stud TEs could be viable. Based on what you'll see in the remaining rounds, I think it is a viable strategy, but there is not a lot of room for error. I'm still undecided if I'll try this strategy in another mock.

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