July and August of the annual fantasy football calendar signal mock and real draft season. Mock drafts are an excellent exercise to work out strategies, get battle tested, and refine player versus player decision-making as a clock ticks down. My go-to site to quickly join a mock draft is fantasyfootballcalculator.com.
- 12 Teams
- PPR Scoring, 6pt Passing TDs
- Start QB-2RB-2WR-TE-Flex
- Draft Position: 1.09
My typical approach is to wait on quarterback and tight end until the late rounds, unless overt value presents itself in the opening 8-10 rounds. I prefer to get at least one high-upside, high-floor/usage running back within the first two rounds. The only time I would potentially break the rule is in tight end or quarterback premium formats.
Leading up to my 1.09 selection, three running backs (LeVeon Bell, Adrian Peterson, and Todd Gurley) were drafted along with five wide receivers (Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr., DeAndre Hopkins, and A.J. Green). As I checked out the default ADP for the site, David Johnson was a target player at the outset. With a glut of top-shelf wide receivers remaining for Round 2 (Allen Robinson, Mike Evans, Keenan Allen notably), I nabbed Johnson fitting the criteria I like in an early-round running back. One theme which would develop across my picks is centering skill position players from quality offenses and paired with strong quarterbacks.
Jordy Nelson and Dez Bryant were the lone wide receivers off the board between my selections, leaving a tough decision if going receiver. However, one running back was in bright lights - one I expected to already be drafted - in Ezekiel Elliott. Scanning the high-floor wide receivers left beyond my previous three-player target list for Round 2, I splurge on Elliott to pair with David Johnson.
This was a long wait from 2.04 to 3.09. The comfort factor was high with a strong running back pairing through two rounds, but I knew a bevy of wide receivers were set to exit the available player pool. Of the 16 picks, 11 were receivers. The running backs were non-target players on my board, including Matt Forte, Doug Martin, and LeSean McCoy - all backs I could not take in this range. While I missed on Allen, Robinson, Evans, and Cooper, Kelvin Benjamin stood out as a high-floor option paired with a strong quarterback. Cam Newton progressed as a pocket passer in 2015 without Benjamin in the lineup, now the supersized receiver returns from injury with an upgrade under center from Benjamin's strong rookie season. A quarterback was yet to be drafted at 3.09. I was committed to waiting on the position, but would consider one of Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Aaron Rodgers, or Russell Wilson in Rounds 5-6 depending on the draft board.
Cam Newton was drafted at the Round 3/4 turn as the first quarterback - no surprise. The running backs were very unappealing in this zone (C.J. Anderson, Latavius Murray, Thomas Rawls, Dion Lewis) and I was already expecting to go wide receiver in these mid-rounds. Donte Moncrief was a relatively easy selection at 4.03, even with Sammy Watkins and Jordan Matthews available. Moncrief was night-and-day in 2015 when looking at his numbers with and without Andrew Luck under center; Moncrief's breakout hit the snooze button for a season as a result. I projected Watkins would be gone before my 5.09 selection, but Jordan Matthews had a chance to come back around. Through four rounds I had two running backs and two wide receivers.
Sammy Watkins went at 4.06, Aaron Rodgers was the second quarterback off the board at 4.09, and a run of wide receivers leading up to my Round 5 selection, including my target of Jordan Matthews. Reassessing the board produced Tyler Lockett and Kevin White as my next target receivers instead of backs like Jonathan Stewart, Ryan Mathews, or Jay Ajayi. Kevin White is a polarizing player coming off an injury redshirt rookie season. Calculating a better shot to snag both with Lockett in Round 5, I draft the Seattle sophomore receiver at 5.09. Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Crabtree were other receivers to go late Round 5.
The decision to go Lockett in Round 5 worked well as Kevin White made it back to 6.04. I did pass on Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson here, my lone second-thought moment of the draft after the selection. White was my WR4, but at the time I saw Luck, Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Palmer all as high-upside options on the still-stuffed quarterback board. If knowing I would see glaring best-player-available wide receivers in the coming rounds, passing on Kevin White for an elite quarterback would have easily been the preferred play here. This was a lesson learned.
Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck were scooped up to close Round 6 and three tight ends (now up to six drafted in total) were early Round 7 selections. After four straight wide receiver picks on Team Parsons, running back value was back on my big board. Charles Sims was my selection at 7.09. Full PPR scoring is key for Charles Sims, who I snag more than four rounds after his Tampa Bay running mate Doug Martin. At a minimum, Sims has 50+ reception upside and one of the best 1B backs for projected Week 1 depth charts. If Martin were to miss time, Sims enters the RB1 conversation weekly.
Two more wide receivers were clear targets on my board for the rest of the draft and I take one of them at 8.04 - Dorial Green-Beckham. In a shallow redraft league, the back-end roster churn will be hit in the opening weeks of the season. I watched every target for Green-Beckham from 2015 and see prototypical traits and a matchup nightmare. He may flame out from breakout season upside, but Green-Beckham is a season-changer if his tools, opportunity, and development coalesce.
No clear target players were drafted among the 16 picks between selections. Some off the board included Ameer Abdullah, T.J. Yeldon, DeAngelo Williams, Steve Smith, Eli Manning, Charcandrick West, and Philip Rivers. As mentioned in Round 8, I had two wide receivers left on my watch list and I draft the other here at 9.09, Devin Funchess. I liked Funchess' rookie tape. His head was swimming, but the ball skills were present, even in key moments during a Super Bowl run for Carolina. Drafting Funchess was independent of owning Kelvin Benjamin already, but an injury to one or the other could boost the other's stock. Now with six wide receivers, I was likely done at the position in this 15-round draft.
The time was approaching to hit tight end with viable options like Julius Thomas, Eric Ebron, and Zach Ertz still available. However, I pushed the envelope by going running back at 10.04 with C.J. Prosise. The Seattle backfield is a murky one with Thomas Rawls recovering from injury and reports are already strong for C.J. Prosise this offseason of at least a pass-catching role. With the position running on fumes in this draft for projected early impact, I drafted Prosise as my RB4 and committed to addressing quarterback and tight end with the remaining picks.
As hoped, Eric Ebron made it back to 11.09. Julius Thomas and Zach Ertz were drafted in Round 10 and I could not chance the six picks through the turn as only an owner with Rob Gronkowski was an unlikely bet to hit the position. Fortunately only Gary Barnidge was selected over the half-dozen picks. Blending young upside and steady veteran production, I add Antonio Gates to Eric Ebron in my tight end committee at 12.04. The quarterback watch was officially on with Andy Dalton, Jameis Winston, Ryan Tannehill, and Matthew Stafford left on my target list. I hoped to snag two in the final three rounds.
Andy Dalton and Marcus Mariota were the quarterbacks selected between 12.04 and 13.09, leaving most of my target list. I chose Jameis Winston at 13.09 and with the three teams at the turn all owning quarterbacks already (four between them), I felt confident I would get a second target signal-caller on the way back. No quarterbacks were selected and I took Ryan Tannehill to pair with Winston. Tannehill won out as a Dorial Green-Beckham-like pick where I feel he will 'declare' himself early in the season. Tannehill received a weapons boost this season (DeVante Parker projected ready to go Week 1, drafting Leonte Carroo) and the keys to the offense at the line of scrimmage. This is a make-or-break season or Tannehill and gaining clarity in the opening weeks is a positive for drafters in a shallow redraft format like this draft. Finally, I selected Chris Johnson in Round 15. If David Johnson were to be injured before Week 1, Chris Johnson would be a waiver wire competition as the projected fill-in starter. Without much left on the board in the final picks for early breakout potential, I hedge my Round 1 pick - at least until I need to drop two players for a kicker and defense.
While pleased with my late-round committee of Jameis Winston and Ryan Tannehill - plus the added depth at other positions by waiting until Round 13 before addressing quarterback - I missed a golden opportunity to land Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson in Round 6. Drafting Kevin White was a luxury and he may have even made it back to 7.09 as my WR4. Plus Dorial Green-Beckham and Devin Funchess were still available. Saving the roster spot with a single quarterback could have added an upside running back like Devontae Booker in the late rounds as well.
Running Backs: A
Wide Receivers: A
Mid-round wide receivers are typically easy targets. I drafted primary targets of Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, and Andrew Luck. Plus I added prototypical prospects like Kevin White, Dorial Green-Beckham, and Devin Funchess.
Tight Ends: B
Like quarterback I planned to wait for the demand to thin later in the draft. However, I did not miss a glaring elite value like at quarterback. Eric Ebron enters Year 3 with Calvin Johnson's glut of targets available in the Detroit passing game. Antonio Gates offers weekly touchdown upside even if his big plays down the seam are dwindling in regularity in his mid-30s.