There are still a ton of fantasy drafts happening between now and Game One, including several for yours truly. Hence, I have spent time in some mock drafts at ESPN and Yahoo, where most drafts will be happening. Here are some things that have stood out throughout the mockery.
To Draft or Not Draft (Zeke), That is the Question
I am in a 12-team home league where I pick 12th. Hence, I have practiced a few mock drafts from that starting spot. In every draft, I am faced with the question: do I draft Ezekiel Elliott?
Unless we get some major news in the next few days saying the Zeke suspension is off or severely reduced, he is going to be available at the turn or early in the second round. He is assuredly not going to be there much later than that, so that is your shot to take him. What do you do?
If you are risk-averse, then the answer is simple. Six games is a lot to miss, and you don’t want to put your team behind the eight ball to start the season. But what if Zeke plays in Week 1, as the latest rumors suggest? What if his suspension is reduced to three or four games? What if he takes Goodell to court and plays out the entire year while the case drags out?
Here is a sample mock draft where I took Elliott at the turn:
|A.J. Green (Cin - WR)|
|Ezekiel Elliott (Dal - RB)|
|Kareem Hunt (KC - RB)|
|Ty Montgomery (GB - RB)|
|Stefon Diggs (Min - WR)|
|Sammy Watkins (LAR - WR)|
|Delanie Walker (Ten - TE)|
|Andrew Luck (Ind - QB)|
|Randall Cobb (GB - WR)|
|Philip Rivers (LAC - QB)|
|Robby Anderson (NYJ - WR)|
|James White (NE - RB)|
|Cooper Kupp (LAR - WR)|
|Charles Clay (Buf - TE)|
|Jamaal Williams (GB - RB)|
With health as an ally, covering up Elliott is doable, even for six weeks. Give me Zeke Elliott for the stretch run.
Incidentally, I immediately regretted taking Andrew Luck there. More on that in a bit.
Boo Short Benches
After an entire offseason of drafting MFL best-ball teams, it’s downright jarring to see just six or seven bench spots in standard leagues. This isn’t new, of course, but it does alter drafting strategy. No longer can you rely on a slew of late-round running backs to cover the position after you eschewed your second pick for seven rounds. Doing things like drafting Ezekiel Elliott becomes more perilous. If you are going to go Zero-RB on such a short bench, you must be on your A-game on the waiver wire every week.
The Kareem Hunt Bullet Train
When Spencer Ware went down for the count in the preseason, the grassroots Kareem Hunt movement turned into a speeding hype train. With everyone touting Hunt’s fantasy potential, Hunt’s ADP has skyrocketed well beyond a normal bump. Did you remember Spencer Ware regularly getting drafted in the third round? Me neither.
Hunt is so hyped that he has failed to make it out of the third round in a majority of mock drafts I’ve witnessed since Ware’s injury. I joined an actual ESPN public league where Hunt went 19th overall.
Folks, the value is completely gone on Hunt. Even if you believe he is going to exceed Ware’s expectations, taking him in the second or third round means you expect him to be an RB1 this season. He’s talented, and Chiefs running backs tend to deliver. But draft at your own risk.
Quarterbacks Are Actually... Falling?
It’s common knowledge among the fantasy expert community that quarterbacks tend to fall several rounds in expert drafts. We like to load up at other positions and wait to take quarterbacks. During my recent mock drafting exploits, however, I noticed that people are generally letting quarterbacks slip. The phenomenon is spreading!
The quarterback position is particularly loaded this year, so it makes sense that the excess supply is depressing the price. Usually, you can count on several of your home leaguemates to take quarterbacks before the fifth round, but they may be holding off longer than you are used to if these entirely anecdotal mock drafts prove to be a trend.
Defenses, Not So Much
In several mock drafts where most people stuck it out, one thing struck me--defenses continue to go far too early. You can usually count on that guy to draft the Denver defense in the ninth round, and that seems to still hold true in the Year of our Lord 2017. Don’t get suckered into taking a defense before the final rounds.
Andrew Luck went from being arguably the top fantasy option at quarterback to free falling. He is barely being drafted as a QB1 nowadays, and for good reason. There’s a small chance he could be put on the regular season PUP list, rendering him useless in fantasy football. Even if he avoids that, he has yet to practice with the team. He could miss the first few games, and who knows how effective he will be when he gets back.
We’ve known all this for some time. But what about his teammates? Why is T.Y. Hilton still being drafted in the third or fourth round if his quarterback will be Scott Tolzien and a convalescent Luck this season? Why is Donte Moncrief even a thing? The Colts offense is going to be a disaster for the first few games if not the first half of the season.
Blips on the Radar
I thought Bilal Powell would get a bigger preseason bump, but that Jets offense must be scaring away a lot of fantasy owners. He is readily available beyond the sixth round in most drafts in spite of his big performance and all the hype he carried with him earlier this season.
What’s the better value--Brandin Cooks at the top of the second round, or Chris Hogan in the 10th? That’s about where I am seeing them drafted. Hogan’s ADP is still on the rise, so he may be going in the eighth round by the time your draft rolls around. If he sticks to the 10th, though, you could be getting a huge bargain.
Speaking of huge bargains, what is Rob Gronkowski doing falling into the third round? This has happened in several drafts I’ve participated in across sites, and I’m wondering why. Yes, these are standard leagues, and Gronk has injury concerns. But his target count probably just went up with Julian Edelman injured for the year. If you can get him in the third, do not hesitate.
How crazy is it to pair Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill? If you are lucky, you might get the chance to do just that. Hunt’s floor is through the roof now that he has the backfield to himself, and Hill has some of the biggest upside in all of fantasy football. Heck, you could add Travis Kelce, too. Imagine the trash talk you would have gotten two years ago if you had stacked the Chiefs offense.