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Mock Draft Report Card: The Early-Round Draft Position

Navigating a mock draft from an early draft position

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.

THE SETTINGS

  • 12 Teams
  • PPR Scoring, 6pt Passing TDs
  • Start QB-2RB-2WR-TE-Flex
  • Draft Position: 1.02

DRAFT PLAN

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. With an early draft position (1.02 in this case), I was unsure of my running back options late in Round 2 if I passed on a bell cow at 1.02. However, building around top receivers in PPR leagues is a high-floor strategy.

ROUND 1

After assessing the running back position - primarily David Johnson or Todd Gurley as 1.02 options - I decided on wide receiver to open the draft. The top spot went Antonio Brown, so I took Odell Beckham. If reversed, I would have been happy with Brown as well. The wait would be long until 2.11 to assess the running back position and I expected Ezekiel Elliott, who I drafted at 2.04 in my Late-Round Draft Position mock draft, to be long gone.

ROUND 2

As expected, Ezekiel Elliott was gone at 2.05. Jamaal Charles nearly made it to me, however, and would have been my selection at 2.11. In a few mock drafts, I am noticing Mark Ingram is a sturdy default pick in the 20-25 range if missing on running backs in the top-20. I decided to chance Ingram through the pair of picks at the turn and go with Brandin Cooks, pairing him with Beckham. 

ROUND 3

The owner at the turn stacked wide receivers (starting their draft haul with Antonio Brown, Jarvis Landry, and Demaryius Thomas), fitting well with my strategy to nab Mark Ingram at 3.02 beyond the turn. Ingram was a must-draft player as I did not see value in the next group of running backs (like Eddie Lacy, Doug Martin, Matt Forte, Thomas Rawls, etc) projected to go off the board.

ROUND 4

This is the pick I regret the most of the draft. The value is fine (Jordan Matthews at 4.02), but the big picture strategy is one I would change in retrospect. I have a wide net of target wide receivers in Rounds 4-10 this year. Combine that with going receiver in the opening two rounds and Matthews was a gluttonous selection. Even though I was not in love with any running backs in this zone for the price (Matt Jones, Danny Woodhead, Jay Ajayi, Giovani Bernard), adding another back here would have improved my overall draft result.

ROUND 5

My default pick in 45-55 range has been Donte Moncrief. Ideally, Moncrief would be my WR3, but as mentioned in Round 4, Jordan Matthews was my WR3 instead. The receiver depth is great, however, I knew it would be a volume-based approach at running back from here out. I contemplated going Russell Wilson (6-point passing touchdowns) as I missed on him in my previous mock, but with Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck, and Drew Brees also still available, I stuck with Donte Moncrief, who I knew would be gone.

ROUND 6

After missing on Jamaal Charles in Round 2, I found fortune waiting on quarterback in Round 6. Russell Wilson came back around to my 6.11 selection (Luck and Roethlisberger were drafted since my 5.02 pick). I saw a flat tier at running back and secured Wilson as QB5 drafted. 

ROUND 7

This marked a tough decision in my war room at 7.02. I took Charles Sims late in Round 7 in the previous mock draft, but felt I could get him on the way back in Round 8. The assumption turned out costly as I passed on running back (namely Sims) and took Delanie Walker. I like Walker as the wide receiver depth chart is unsettled in Tennessee and the best historical equation for a strong fantasy tight end is an above-average quarterback without an elite receiver. To be determined on Marcus Mariota, but the receiver aspect seems to quality for Walker. Taking Russell Wilson and Walker in Rounds 6-7 would allow for more running back focus in the final rounds, where I typically target the positions.

ROUND 8

As mentioned above, Charles Sims did not make it back to me, going at 7.12. Jonathan Stewart, Ameer Abdullah, Frank Gore, and Justin Forsett were also gone before my 8.11 selection. I had been officially squeezed at running back. Reshuffling my board, I chose Theo Riddick at 8.11, a back I would not consider outside of full PPR. In this format, however, Riddick is a welcome sight after ignoring running back since Mark Ingram at 3.02. 

ROUND 9

After Riddick in Round 8, it was back to the running back well - sifting through primary backups and pass-catching specialists to form a functional committee approach at my No.2 running back spot. C.J. Prosise was a consideration, but I chose Tevin Coleman - the Falcons Week 1 starter in 2015 before Coleman's injury and ultimate rising by Devonta Freeman to take the job for the rest of the season. I see Coleman with more of an opportunity than he saw when Freeman was hot in 2015.

ROUND 10

C.J. Prosise, like Charles Sims, was gone at the end of the round and did not make it back for my next selection. There were only two receivers on my target list for the rest of the draft and with no glaring running backs on my list, I locked up Sterling Shepard. The No.2 role with the Giants looks to be Shepard's and as my WR5, I could use one of my top receivers in trade talks to address running back if needed during the season.

ROUNDS 11-12

Like Theo Riddick, I targeted another pass-catching specialist as RB4 in Shane Vereen. While DeAngelo Williams could be a higher upside choice, in my position I needed a sturdier starting option weekly like Shane Vereen's likely usage. Seeing how these later rounds were playing out, mixing in one more early running back would have changed the entire team-building dynamic. On the way back, Devin Funchess made it to 12.11 as my final wide receiver upside target. Sammie Coates, Chris Hogan, Vincent Jackson, and Michael Thomas were other receivers to be drafted in Funchess' range.

ROUNDS 13-15

With quarterback and tight end already drafted, running back was the position to hammer in the final three rounds. My goal was running backs with depth chart optimism and potentially a preseason injury away from prominence early in the season. Jordan Howard was an easy selection, who could overtake Jeremy Langford even without an injury. My final two picks were Josh Ferguson (14.11) and DeAndre Washington (15.02). Kenyan Drake, Kenneth Dixon, James Starks, and Paul Perkins were other running backs to be drafted over the final two rounds.

REPORT CARD

QUARTERBACKS: A

Getting Russell Wilson in the Round 5-6 range is ideal. I view his upside and floor as high - or higher - than any of the other top quarterbacks. Getting a discount by even a round or two (Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton went in Round 4) is a quality value.

RUNNING BACKS: C-

My recovery method was sound in targeting pass-catching backs and depth chart optimism in the later rounds, but missing out on another top back in the first few rounds really hurt. With the early draft position, passing in Round 1 can hurt depending on an owner's view of common Round 3-6 options. Going Todd Gurley in Round 1 and sliding my receivers up a depth chart spot would have yielded a better team in retrospect. Also, a later round position looks to be more optimal this year if David Johnson (Round 1) or Ezekiel Elliott (Round 1/2) can be paired with a top receiver through two rounds.

WIDE RECEIVERS: A

Jordan Matthews was a luxury, but the quality depth at the position is enviable with Sterling Shepard and Devin Funchess as upside plays at WR5/6. 

TIGHT ENDS: B

Delanie Walker is a high-floor option, but Zach Ertz in Round 9/10 could be similar. Having a Charles Sims-Zach Ertz combination instead of Delanie Walker-Shane Vereen would have been preferred in retrospect swapping those two rounds of selections.