On July 30th, the Footballguys staff completed a 12-team PPR with flex mock draft. Below are the league's scoring and bylaws.
- 12 teams
- 20 roster spots
- Starting Lineup
- 1 quarterback
- 2 running backs
- 3 wide receivers
- 1 tight end
- 1 flex (either a running back, wide receiver, or tight end)
- 1 place kicker
- 1 team defense
- Offensive Players
- 4 points - passing touchdown
- 6 points - rushing/receiving touchdown
- 0.05 points - passing yard
- 0.1 points - rushing/receiving yard
- Place Kickers
- 3 points - field goal from 0 to 39 yards
- 4 points - field goal from 40 to 49 yards
- 5 points - field goal from 50 to 99 yards
- Team Defense
- 6 points - touchdown
- 2 points - turnover forced
- 2 points - safety
- 1 point - sack
- 10 points - 0 points allowed
- 7 points - 1-6 points allowed
- 3 points - 7-13 points allowed
- 0 points - 15-20 points allowed
- -3 points - 21-99 points allowed
The Draft Order
1. Daniel Simpkins
2. Justin Howe
3. Chris Feery
4. Cian Fahey
5. Dan Hindery
6. Stephen Holloway
7. James Brimacombe
8. John Mamula
9. Mark Wimer
10. Devin Knotts
11. Chris Kuczynski
12. Ryan Hester
Starting with Daniel Simpkins from the 1.01 spot, we will go over each person's selections in the mock draft.
Daniel Simpkins - Slot 1
Wide receiver heavy with late round tight end
I like several of Daniel's picks, including the Vikings defense in the 19th round, but his picks of Dion Lewis and Giovani Bernard at the 4/5 turn gives him two potential Top 20 running backs after selecting three straight wide receivers to begin the draft. He needed running back and those two gems fell to him. It was a combination of both luck and the knowledge to grab those backs when he did.
Jay Ajayi - I don't love this pick, but not necessarily because of the player. I think it would've been better used to select a tight end here or a different running back. Coby Fleener, Gary Barnidge, Julius Thomas and Antonio Gates were all available at this spot. Daniel did select Melvin Gordon at the turn in addition to Ajayi, but there were better backs than Ajayi to choose from here. Jonathan Stewart, Chris Ivory, and Matt Jones would've been better selections in my opinion.
This is a strong core team, led by dominance at wide receiver, and I think he can manage with Dion Lews and Giovani Bernard at RB1/RB2 and then a combo of other backs who can fill his RB3 role (if he decides to use it). My gut says his flex will be a wide receiver, either Travis Benjamin or Torrey Smith. Tight end has some question marks. Coby Fleener among others were all available when Daniel took Ajayi. Had he taken Fleener, Barnidge, Thomas or Gates, it would've strengthened his team.
1. You selected Jay Ajayi as your RB3 at 6.12. To some people, Ajayi is risky pick at his ADP, especially with Arian Foster in the picture. Explain why you have interest in Ajayi this year.
My Ajayi pick was in part because of the strategy that I had employed earlier in the draft. Picking three wide receivers with my first three selections, I had missed out on some of the premier running back talents. In order to compensate, I felt I needed to take aggressive shots on some of the mid-round runners. In PPR, I prefer Dion Lewis and Giovani Bernard to Ajayi, so I took them first. I honestly didn’t expect Ajayi to make it back to me. He is one of those backs I’m targeting this year. I have no confidence in Arian Foster at this stage of his career. You can’t convince me that Foster will stay healthy for any meaningful amount of time with the chronic soft tissue injuries he battles year in and year out. It’s also difficult to predict if he will even have the same effectiveness when he is on the field due to being less than one year removed from an achilles injury. When I watch Ajayi run, I see great foot frequency, explosion through the hole, the ability to change direction on a dime, and the ability to gain yards after contact. I’m certain that this offense is about to take a huge step forward under their new Head Coach. Adam Gase has the tendency to give the majority of snaps to one runner in his offenses. I think once this regime sees first hand that Ajayi can hold up in game situations, they’ll feel comfortable giving him that load. Once going in the early fourth, the Foster signing continues to suppress his price. Ajayi is a little banged up right now in camp, which should further depress his value in the short term. You may be able to take Ajayi even later than I did in your home leagues, which I feel is mind blowing value.
2. Your first three picks were wide receivers (Antonio Brown, Brandin Cooks, Amari Cooper). Talk about that strategy and also touch on why you passed on TY Hilton, Jarvis Landry, Sammy Watkins and Demaryius Thomas.
I’m a big believer in tiering players and taking talent over position of need in a draft. To me, it made more sense in this draft to get a clear positional advantage at wide receiver than to chase after running backs whom I have tiered similarly to some of the guys I was able to pick up in the middle of the draft. When I came to the turn in the second round, I saw that all the running backs I am predicting to finish in the top ten at their position were gone. However, there were still multiple wideouts on the board who have a shot at elite 2016 production. Brandin Cooks has no real challenger to his primary status in New Orleans' high-flying passing offense. After an impressive rookie season, Amari Cooper’s role in Oakland should continue to grow in year two. T.Y. Hilton should lose some PPR luster due to the emergence of Donte Moncrief. Jarvis Landry is kind of in the same boat. Leonte Carroo and DeVante Parker will make it difficult for Landry to get that same amount of volume that he benefited from last year. An aging and inconsistent Thomas in a ball control offense? No thanks. In hindsight, I admit that not selecting Watkins could very well be a mistake because he’s a supreme talent. It’s the seemingly constant injury problems and the lackluster offensive situation in Buffalo that kept me from pulling the trigger. To summarize, I trust the talent AND situation of Cooks and Cooper over those of Hilton, Landry, Thomas, and Watkins.
3. You selected Philip Rivers and Jameis Winston at the 10-11 turn. What advice would you give to those who use the late quarterback strategy?
I selected these two in particular because not only do I think they’ll both finish within the top ten at their position, I also believe they pair well for weekly streaming purposes. There is a common theme in my mock drafts: I seldom take a quarterback or tight end before round ten. I commonly employ this strategy because I have done research on positional scarcity and found that the points-per-game drop-off is steeper for wide receivers and running backs than it is for quarterbacks and tight ends. Scoring system or positional requirements can change those dynamics, of course; but for this particular PPR league, it made sense to wait. For those who enjoy taking their signal callers in later rounds, my best advice is to target four or five of those guys who commonly go late. Some of them will invariably end up going off the board sooner than you anticipated, but more often than not, one or two of them will fall into your lap at a price that makes sense for you.
Jusin Howe - Slot 2
|20.11||239||Def||Green Bay Packers||GBP|
Balanced team that needs a running back to emerge from the bench. Could lose point battle on tight end 50% of the time. If Colts win the AFC South, this team could be in first place
Ryan Fitzpatrick (14.11). Andy Dalton was selected two rounds earlier at 12.11, but Fitzpatrick may wind up being Justin's starting quarterback this year.
Dwayne Allen (10.11) Don't get me wrong, I like Dwayne Allen to perform well as the Colts primary receiving tight end, but I don't like him as a TE1 selection. Justin could have used one of his earlier picks to draft a more proven tight end as his starter. Drafting Jason Witten later (15.02) was a decent save for the tight end position on his roster, but there are questions with Witten too. Perhaps a better move would've been to select Coby Fleener, Gary Barnidge or Julius Thomas at 7.02?
This team has some players who can emerge as a go-to flex option or RB2 in the event Frank Gore doesn't perform well. Overall, it is balanced with a strong cast of point producers and adequate depth at running back and wide receiver. The tight position is what scares me the most, but nearly every team has at least one hole. Dorial Green-Beckham, Chris Ivory and LeGarrette Blount are the complimentary players who can put your team in position to succeed.
Chris Feery - Slot 3
|17.03||195||Def||New York Jets||NYJ|
Balanced draft, 10th round quarterback
Coby Fleener 7.03. Chris had three solid running backs and wide receivers through the first six rounds and when his seventh pick came, he was wise to select a tight end to strengthen his roster. Four tight ends were chosen between his selection and the next time he would pick. He started the inevitable seventh round run on tight end, and was able to secure a Top 8 player in Fleener, arguably the best available at the position. The run also allowed him to select from a pool of greater talent at another position when his eighth pick came around. He selected Corey Coleman as his WR4, which is decent value in the eighth round.
Mark Ingram 2.10. I only say this was his worst pick, because Jamaal Charles was still on the board and was selected one pick later. As long as he's healthy, he should outperform Ingram in PPR leagues. Ingram could see a reduction in receptions with C.J. Spiller back and 100% healthy. The term "worst pick" doesn't really apply here, I would've preferred Charles if it were me selecting.
Chris has a strong, formidable team at running back, wide receiver, tight end and with Eli Manning at quarterback, he could've done worse. I like Manning to jump into the Top 10 once again and provide consistent production on a more potent offense than last year with equal or heavier emphasis on the passing game. I didn't even mention the selection of Martellus Bennett as his second tight end. Solid draft with good depth.
1. You selected DeMarco Murray in the ninth round as your RB4. Explain why he is someone to target in drafts this year.
For this draft in particular, Murray offered up a nice value when I was able to snag him in the ninth round. He’s generally going in the range of RB19 according to early consensus rankings, but I was able to grab him at RB37. That’s just too much value to pass up, and I had no problem pulling the trigger.
While he’s not going to fall that far down the board in every draft, he’s someone I would definitely consider targeting in the range of his current ADP. The current book on Murray views him as being in the midst of a never-ending spiral of declining skills that will lead to him being out of the league over the next few seasons. I disagree, and think he could see a bit of a bounce back this year in Tennessee.
It’s no secret that he was a poor fit for the Eagles, and it’s also no secret that he quickly regretted the decision to sign there in the first place. Quite simply, it happens. Regardless of the occupation, people can make poor choices and/or find they have a poor fit with an organization they had set their sights on as a great fit for their talents. Recognizing that fact, mitigating the damage and moving on is usually the best course of action, and the overall impact on the total resume can be minimal if managed correctly.
Back to the field, Murray seems to have landed in a better situation with the Titans. Early reports indicate that he will have little trouble fitting in with the offense, and the reduced pounding he endured in the 2015 season could be a blessing for his overall health and productivity in 2016. Do I expect the 2014 version of Murray to suddenly reappear? Absolutely not, but to view him as providing absolutely no value due to a disappointing 2015 is pretty ludicrous. In short, I wouldn’t overpay to acquire his services this season, but I also won’t hesitate to pull the trigger if he slips too far down the board.
2. In a league that allows waiver claims, which position would you want to have the greatest strength from the draft? Explain your answer.
I wanted to walk away from this draft with strength at RB and WR, and I think I accomplished that on paper. The bones were picked pretty dry at both positions, and that will make waiver claims pretty challenging barring emergence of an off the radar player due to injury in the early part of the season. As a general rule, if I can walk away feeling as if I’m four deep at both spots, I hit my goals for the draft. As the season evolves, I’m pretty confident I can manage waiver claims as they come up, but it’s imperative to be operating from a position of strength for the first month of the season.
3. What is an underrated Defense/ST unit that people need to consider this year? Explain why you like that unit.
For this particular draft, I was torn between the Jets and the Bills when I decided to pull the trigger on a defense. I ultimately went with the Jets. The Bills remained undrafted for this draft, but I think they are a perfect example of an underrated unit that deserves consideration. They were disappointing overall in 2015 and that leads many to look past them, but there’s a simple factor that keeps pulling me back to them as a unit that will jump out this season.
This will be the second season for the Rex Ryan defensive scheme, and that should begin to bear more fruit in 2016. There are rumblings that he’s facing a playoffs or bust mandate, and that leads me to believe he’ll go down in a blaze of glory doing it his way. Expect smash mouth football and an aggressive defense that can rack up the sacks and turnovers in a hurry. We’ll have to wait and see how the Bills quest for a playoff berth turns out, but I fully expect them to put forth an exceptional defensive effort this season.
Cian Fahey - Slot 4
Upside picks can save this team
Isaiah Crowell. Cian started the draft with Ezekiel Elliott and Doug Martin, followed by three straight wide receivers, a tight end, another wide receiver, a running back, his second tight end and then...Isaiah Crowell, who will likely be his RB3 and potential RB2 if need be. That's solid value. Perhaps he could've used his third running back selection (Theo Riddick) on a quarterback instead?
Josh Gordon 4.09 was selected too high for my taste, but that's not where Cian's decision cost him the most. Theo Riddick at 8.09 turned out to be the pick that would've been better spent elsewhere. In hindsight, Cian didn't know he would be able to secure Crowell in the tenth round, but the pick on Riddick could've gone towards a quarterback (Carson Palmer, Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Blake Bortles were available). Instead, Cian waited on quarterback, taking Marcus Mariota and Jay Cutler as his signal callers. Both are a stretch to finish inside the Top 10.
Cian has several players oozing with the ability to shoot off fireworks in his lineup (Ezekiel Elliott, Josh Gordon, Kevin White). If they all hit, the results would give a spike to Cian's weekly point totals, which would put less pressure on his quarterbacks to come through every week.
Dan Hindery - Slot 5
Balanced team, 10th round quarterback
Arian Foster 9.05. There is not much risk involved when you draft Foster as your RB4. There is definitely a risk of injury with Foster. It may happen, it may not. We've seen him perform above expectations many times before. Why should we expect any differently now? He is not going to be relied upon in Dan's lineup, but his presence could pay big dividends when healthy. The running back draft before Foster was DeMarco Murray and the back selected after him was Rashad Jennings. I'd much rather have Foster in that grouping.
Tyler Eifert 6.08. The uncertainty around Tyler Eifert's ankle recovery from a surgical procedure in May is a big question mark. Reports suggest he could miss up to five or six months, which would put him back in the lineup around the end of September. If Dan wanted to go tight end here, Delanie Walker or Coby Fleener would've been better tight end picks. Aside from the injury concerns, Eifert wasn't the smartest pick at this point in the draft. Andrew Luck was on the board at 6.05, as was Michael Crabtree or Allen Hurns who would've been better WR4 options than Tavon Austin.
I like this draft, for the selection of Foster as his RB4 alone. Dan drafted good upside wide receivers late in Jaelen Strong and Jamison Crowder. He definitely has some good depth at the wide receiver position and we know running back is also strong with Devonta Freeman, Thomas Rawls, Matt Jones and Foster. Eli Manning over Blake Bortles would've been my preference and the uncertainty surrounding Eifert could hold him up for a few weeks, but this is a good team with potential.
1. Devonta Freeman at pick 2.08 is good value. Some people are sour on him this year. Why do you have high expectations?
Freeman is such a safe option in PPR leagues due to his heavy usage in the passing game. He caught 73 passes in 2015, despite missing almost two full games. In PPR leagues, he averaged over 10 points per game just through the passing game (with 1,061 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns on top of that). Even in a worst case scenario in which Tevin Coleman steals almost half of the carries, Freeman should still catch at least 60 passes and remain a strong RB1 in the PPR format.
2. Pick one of your other running backs (not including Freeman) and explain why you want him on your roster.
Arian Foster in the 9th round felt like a really nice value. While he is getting older and there will always be health concerns, the reward far outweighs the risk after the first seven rounds. Foster has dominated the first team reps early in camp and seems to be a favorite of Adam Gase, who recently said of Foster: “His resume speaks for itself. I don't think there's any question why we brought him in here. He's playing this year. Whether he's the guy that will be the first snap of the game, time will tell. He is going to be rolling with the ones." Foster’s abilities catching the ball out of the backfield make him a strong RB2 option in PPR leagues even if he doesn’t see 15-20 carries every week like he did in Houston.
3. What's your position preference on your first four picks? Where is the sweet spot for each position?
I will not take a quarterback in the first four rounds this season. I’m not buying Rob Gronkowski at his first round price tag either. I will strongly consider Jordan Reed in the late-3rd round or anywhere in the 4th. If I do not land Reed, each of my first four picks are reserved for RB and WR. I like to come out of the first four rounds with either three receivers and one running back or two of each.
The sweet spots for RB are: (1) after A.J. Green is off the board in the mid-late 1st round, where Gurley, Elliott and Johnson are nice options, (2) mid-late 2nd round, where Bell, Peterson and Freeman are nice options and (3) mid-3rd to mid-4th round, where Ingram, Hyde, McCoy, and Anderson all have RB1 upside and nice floors.
Stephen Holloway - Slot 6
|20.07||235||Def||New England Patriots||NEP|
Balanced Team, 6th round quarterback
LeSean McCoy 3.06 - Stephen was able to secure a solid RB2 in LeSean McCoy with the sixth pick in the third round. Todd Gurley and McCoy is a strong one-two punch at running back. He can focus on finding needed strength at other positions from the waiver wire and not have to worry about running back.
Picks in the sixth, seventh and eighth round were Ben Roethlisberger (6.07), Emmanuel Sanders 7.06 and Zach Ertz 8.07. The Ertz pick is the one that confuses me the most. He already drafted Greg Olsen in the fourth round. He could've used that pick to select a different position. In my opinion, he would've been better off drafting a wide receiver at 6.07 (Crabtree and Hurns were available), then a running back at 7.06 (Matt Jones and Jonathan Stewart were available) and then a quarterback in the eighth round (Palmer, Brady, Manning, Bortles were all available). The difference between that group and Ben Roethlisberger isn't much and he could've strengthened his running backs and wide receivers in the sixth and seventh rounds.
This was not a bad draft, despite my opinion of the sixth, seventh and eighth round picks. There is decent depth on this team with a strong base lineup, including defense/special teams. Stephen has the option of Willie Snead or Zach Ertz at the flex. Others have the potential to earn a flex spot, but it will take an injury or an unexpected performance to do so. If Ben Roethlisberger outperforms his expected outcome, this team will do really well, especially if not stung by injuries to any starters.
1. Name a player that you feel is underrated on the ADP ranks and explain why you have high expectations for them to outperform their draft position.
Demaryius Thomas is in an excellent spot to out-perform expectations according to ADP. He wide receiver The Broncos quarterbacks did not perform well a year ago, yet the team still threw 606 passes, 13th most in the NFL while their running backs had 377 rushes. That split could shade a little heavier to the running game this year, but Thomas has averaged 181 targets, 108 catches, 1,512 yards and 8.5 TDs over the past two seasons. He has finished in the top five WRs in three of the last four seasons. I will gladly take him at WR16 or earlier.
Doug Martin is a early round running back that I like to out-perform his ADP. He is coming off an outstanding season where he averaged a career best 4.9 ypc and the Buccaneers could be improved on offense in quarterback Jameis Winston’s second NFL season. Charles Sims is a really good receiving back so Martin takes a perspective hit there, but he had 33 catches last year and 49 in his rookie season, so he also has solid receiving potential.
2. Explain why drafting in a season long league with in-season waivers and/or trades is different from drafting a best ball league or MFL10?
The biggest difference to me is when you have play in a best ball league, you can and should draft late round players that have greater upside when they play. You love those boom-bust players like Ted Ginn was last season. You never knew when he was going to explode, but when he did he was a key scorer that week. He had eight games with two or less receptions and three games with over 25 fantasy points (ppr scoring) and four games with two touchdowns.
3. In your opinion, what is the biggest drafting mistake that people make in season long leagues?
Drafting multiple players as back-ups at positions where you only have one starter required and there are typically waiver wire fill-ins available all the time. This definitely applies to place kickers and team defenses. In ten or even twelve team leagues you should probably not draft more than two quarterbacks, particularly if you have a top five type player that you are likely going to play every week. Load up at running back and wide receiver with your late round players that could be difference makers when they get the opportunity.
James Brimacombe - Slot 7
Solid team with tight end weakness
I liked Kenneth Dixon at 13.07 as the team's RB4, but the best pick was probably taking Andrew Luck at 6.06. James had a window in the sixth round to go with his WR3 or be ahead of the competition with a Top 5 quarterback in Andrew Luck. He went the Luck route and I think it was a good decision. At 6.06, the wide receivers available were Michael Crabtree and Allen Hurns as the top options, but he was able to select Marvin Jones one round later at 7.07, followed by LaQuon Treadwell at 8.06. James was able to draft his WR3 by committee in the two subsequent rounds, all while securing a top quarterback talent in Andrew Luck.
Ladarius Green 9.07. James' decision to secure his WR3 by committee cost him the opportunity to lock down a strong tight end. Eight tight ends were selected after he took Luck in the sixth round, which I still stand by. He could've gone with a tight end in place of Tredwell at 8.06. Zach Ertz and Antonio Gates were available at that time. Would that have been a better selection than Treadwell? That's debatable, but probably not. Ladarius Green could turn into a solid pick that could pay dividends, but there is some risk involved because we don't know how he will respond in a lead role, on a new offense for that matter. He didn't have a lead role on his previous offense. We've seen other tight ends develop into quality starters on a new team, after being a complimentary player on his original team - Delanie Walker immediately comes to mind. James knew that he needed to strengthen his tight end corps, so he selected Jimmy Graham with his 12th round pick (12.06). I am not a fan of Graham this year. We don't see many players respond so quickly from a patellar tear injury, plus he's not in an offense that relies heavily on the tight end.
James built a strong, deep team at running back, wide receiver and quarterback, but his tight ends will tell the story of how far this team will go. If Ladarius Green turns into gold, this team will go far. I will be surprised if Jimmy Graham is a top 12 tight end this year. The odds are stacked against him.
1. Leagues can sometimes be won with successful drafting in the middle rounds. Who is one player that you are targeting this year in the 10th round or later and explain why you have high expectations.
I grabbed WR Chris Conley in the 15th round in this draft and the second year wide receiver has been a target of mine late in a lot of drafts this year. His ADP in redraft leagues is currently about the 17th round and playing for the Chiefs has likely deflated that value. The idea I like about Conley is that the Chiefs are high on him as they spent a 3rd round draft pick on him last season and he has a shot to be the teams #2 WR as he will likely battle with Albert Wilson for that spot. Andy Reid is a coach that looks to spread the ball around on offense and with Conley coming into his second NFL season he is going to be counted on to see a lot more targets from Alex Smith moving forward. He ended his rookie season with 17 receptions for 199 yards and a touchdown on 31 targets. With Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce as the main targets for Alex Smith, Conley should be able to find space in the open field with his 6'2" 213 lbs frame and become an additional option for Smith in the passing game. Finding a high upside WR after Round 15 is a tough task but with Conley you can tell yourself a story of how he can develop into an effective receiver in Andy Reid's offense.
2. What pick of yours do you feel you received the best value selecting him where you did?
Ladarius Green at pick 9.07 felt like a nice value pick as I got a piece of the Pittsburgh offense without having to overspend. Green has spent his career in San Diego as the second option behind Antonio Gates and rightfully so, but now he gets to take over for Heath Miller in Pittsburgh and will be counted on right away to contribute on offense. Some might still see Green as more of a high upside TE2 type but I see him more as a TE that can potentially crack the top 5 TE's by years end. In the last four years of Heath Miller's career he never had a season with less than 80 targets and it was a known fact that Miller was a release valve type of receiver for QB Ben Roethlisberger anytime he was in trouble. Green is coming off his best year stats wise last season with 63 targets for 37 receptions, 429 yards and 4 touchdowns. The target to reception rate wasn't the greatest last season and will need to be improved but if Miller can see at least 80 targets a season over the past four years there is no reason that Green can't see similar targets and improve upon his other statistics. A 50/600/6 type of statline feels like it would be a safe floor for Green with Roethlisberger at QB which makes Green a nice option later in drafts if you miss out on the top guys at the position.
3. Which running back would you choose as your RB2 between Giovani Bernard, Duke Johnson, Dion Lewis or Danny Woodhead? Explain your answer.
The easy answer on this one would be Duke Johnson as that is who I drafted at 5.07. Dion Lewis might be the safest option and have the highest ceiling out of the bunch but he also seems to get drafted ahead of the other three backs. With Duke Johnson you get a RB that shows he can be a threat in both the running and passing game and actually was a huge success in the passing game as a rookie with 61 receptions for 534 yards and a pair of touchdowns. On the ground he only had 379 yards with a 3.6 yards per carry rate. Coming into season two the Browns have made some big changes on offense with Robert Griffin III at QB and Josh Gordon coming back off of suspension and the drafting of Corey Coleman. The offense should open up even more this season for Johnson and he could be a nice outlet for Griffin III out of the backfield and the touchdown numbers should drastically improve this season. All four backs listed are PPR specialists but with Johnson you get a second year back that just seems to have more upside even if he is playing for a bad Cleveland Browns team.
John Mamula - Slot 8
Solid draft - Oh so close.
I like C.J. Spiller at pick 13.08 and Julius Thomas at pick 8.05, but the best pick that I think John will rely on more often is Kamar Aiken at pick 9.08. Aiken was the 10th ranked wide receiver in the last quarter of the season last year in PPR leagues. The Ravens have Steve Smith, who is recovering from a severe Achilles tear and Mike Wallace who hasn't been relevant in several years. Aiken is in prime territory to see a lot of targets (he had 127 in 2015 to lead the team). John selected Markus Wheaton as his WR3 in the seventh round, but Aiken may wind up being the WR3 that he turns to more often than not.
There's a few places I can go with this. I don't love Vincent Jackson at his WR5 at 10.05 or Darren Sproles at 11.08. John could've gone with Isaiah Crowell at 10.05 which would've given him an RB3 by committee with the oft-injured Ryan Mathews. The 11.08 slot could've been used to select Sammie Coates, who John could've paired with Markus Wheaton to ensure the Steelers WR2 position after Antonio Brown. I feel one of Wheaton or Coates will emerge as Ben Roethlisberger's WR2 and put up decent numbers in the process. John also could've targeted Jordan Howard with the 11.08 pick. It would've given him a big upside play as a bench running back as opposed to Sproles, who will see spot duty on an uncertain offense.
I like John's draft a lot, but it could've been even better. A few tweaks of picks in a few places would've made this one of the best drafts of the night. Aaron Rodgers is a strong anchor at quarterback and the rest of his picks didn't suffer because of the Rodgers pick.
1. If you could pick any defense, which team would you choose and why?
Denver is the clear top fantasy defense on the board this season. With Mark Sanchez at QB, the Broncos will focus on the running game and rely on their defense to win games. Since they are usually the first defense off the board, the issue is when is the appropriate round to select them. The Broncos defense has been drafted in the 13th round of the last two Footballguys mock drafts that I have participated in. If they perform up to expectations, that is solid value.
2. Which player or players do you find yourself targeting in every draft? Who is your must have player this year? Explain why you have high expectations for him this year?
I find myself targeting elite QBs this season. A popular strategy is to wait until late rounds to draft a QB1. If you are playing in a league where many of your opponents share in this drafting philosophy, this year you can find value with the elite QBs. I find myself targeting Cam Newton anytime after the middle of the third round and Aaron Rodgers anytime after the middle of the fourth round. I landed Rodgers in the 5th round of this draft! Also, Andrew Luck is a good value anytime in the fifth round.
3. What is the ideal team to pick your RB1 from? An offense with a strong passing game or an offense with a weak passing game? Explain your answer.
The ideal team to pick your RB1 from is an offense with a strong passing game because of game-flow and additional opportunities. Let's consider two consensus first round RBs, Todd Gurley and David Johnson. The Rams are projected to have a weak passing game this season and will focus their offense around Gurley. Expect opposing defense to challenge Gurley with stacked fronts. Gurley still has the talent to shine but it will be much more difficult with the lack of additional offenses weapons to help move the ball. The Cardinals are projected to have a solid all around offense with Carson Palmer and a trio of solid WRs, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, and John Brown. This will make it much more difficult for opposing defenses to focus on containing Johnson. Thus, Johnson will benefit from additional scoring opportunities. If I am deciding between Gurley and Johnson in the first round this season, I will be drafting Johnson 100% of the time.
Mark Wimer - Slot 9
|15.09||177||Def||Kansas City Chiefs||KCC|
A blueprint of how to draft when you select Gronkowski in the first round
Danny Woodhead 5.09. When you take a tight end in the first round, you have to sacrifice another position, which then needs to be made up in a later round. Mark was able to get strong wide receiver options with his second and third round picks and then focus on running back. Latavius Murray is a solid running back at pick 4.04. Carlos Hyde, Thomas Rawls and Matt Forte were also available, which I probably would've been happier with, but Mark made it work, especially by selecting DeAndre Washington later in the draft (10.04) to pair with Murray. The pick that makes this draft work for me is Danny Woodhead at pick 5.09. Mark needed an RB2 and the options were wearing thin. Last year Woodhead finished as the 3rd ranked running back in PPR format, which is amazing value to get near the end of the fifth round. Securing a strong RB2 in Woodhead laid the foundation for Mark's draft to be a successful one. When Drew Brees fell into his lap at pick 6.04, the pieces started to come together for this to be the best draft of the night. Mark followed it up with Gary Barnidge, Gronkowski's backup, plus strong upside picks in Sterling Shepard, Devin Funchess, DeAndre Washington and Jordan Howard.
Latavius Murray 4.04. As I said earlier, I would've been happier to see Mark take Carlos Hyde, Thomas Rawls or Matt Forte with his fourth round pick, but the later selection of DeAndre Washington was a brilliant addition, which secures an upside PPR running back as a bench player and potential gem if there's an injury promotion in Oakland.
There are many ways to have a successful draft - I really like what Mark was able to build after securing Rob Gronkowski in the first round. If you want to select Gronkowski in the first round, use this draft as a blueprint for how to draft after doing so.
Do what you always do - maximize value at each pick. In the case of this league, a two-tight-ends alignment is one of the weekly starting lineup options. In this draft, I managed to pair Gronkowski with another tight end I have in my top three at that position, Gary Barnidge. This provides me an option in case of injury or suspension to Gronkowski; a hedge for the first four games while Tom Brady is out (if Jimmy Garoppolo stinks up the field with his play); and also the ability to play two top tier tight ends on a weekly basis if both are healthy and ready to go come Week One of the regular season.
There is some concern that Washington could challenge Murray for the starting job during training camp (I am not one of those who considers this a high probability event, though); and numerous examples in the league (LeVeon Bell springs to mind) remind us that serious injury or suspension is always a possibility in the image-conscious environment of the NFL. Commissioner Goodell acts vigorously to 'protect the shield'.
Devin Knotts - Slot 10
|19.10||226||Def||Los Angeles Rams||RAM|
Early Quarterback, late round tight end
Devin drafted Cam Newton in the third round, which means a top pick from another position was sacrificed. His RB1 was Adrian Peterson and he needed to follow up with a good RB2 or RB2 by committee and that's exactly what he did. Jonathan Stewart at 7.10 and Justin Forsett at 8.03 will give him a committee approach at RB2. By stacking Newton and Stewart together, he all but assures most of Carolina's rushing touchdowns. Forsett is slated to be the Ravens starting running back to begin the season and should have decent value this year. He is arguably the best receiving back on a Marc Trestman led offense.
Cam Newton 3.10 - I'm a big Cam Newton fan, but he's not sneaking up on anyone this year. He deserves to be the first quarterback selected in the draft, however when the next quarterback goes almost two full rounds later, you better hope Newton has another stellar season, otherwise the pick can't be justified. Devin did a good job of constructing his team around the selection, but it's hard to commend that pick.
Holloway ran the zero-RB track and did it shrewdly. When you take the focus off of your running backs, your safest play is to target high-reception guys in the middle rounds, while the method allows you to absolutely stockpile WR production. Case in point, Holloway enters the season boasting four No. 1 wideouts – including two 100-catch certainties and arguably the league’s premier touchdown artist. Considering the mammoth value receivers carry in an MFL10 format (PPR, with 3-4 starting WR spots), he opens with a nice advantage.
Depending on the size of your draft, you can take more handcuffs than you otherwise could in a league that has a shallower bench. Taking a handcuff doesn't always mean taking your team's handcuff. For example, I selected Adrian Peterson and Jonathan Stewart as my #1 and #2 running backs, and neither have a great handcuff option. Taking a guy like Peterson I am looking for upside and the scenario that I feel has the most value/upside is the Seattle backup running backs. There is something going on in Seattle that they do not have full confidence in Thomas Rawls as they drafted both Prosise and Collins in the 2015 draft. Rawls was an undrafted free agent so Seattle has very little invested in him, and we are already seeing injuries in this offseason along with the injuries at the end of the 2015 season.
If you draft Cam Newton in the third round it is in your best interest to make sure that you already have a low-risk running back and a top end wide receiver. Also, I typically will wait on tight end as I want to make sure that I am getting as much depth in the middle rounds at the running back and wide receiver positions.
Chris Kuczynski - Slot 11
Wide receiver heavy, hope for a RB2 to emerge
Carson Palmer 9.11 - Chris went heavy on wide receiver taking four in the first five rounds. He also decided to take a tight end early, which left him with questions at running back and quarterback. In order to save face with this running back position, he had to continue to slough quarterback, until one fell into his lap at the end of the ninth round. The quarterbacks that I like, if I wait, are Eli Manning and Carson Palmer. Chris was able to secure a good quarterback after doing what he could to solidify his running back depth.
Travis Kelce 6.02 - After spending four of his first five picks on wide receiver, Chris decided to continue to blow off his running back depth and select Kelce. Had he picked a running back in the sixth round, over Kelce, he could've had built a stronger, more balanced team. Running backs available at 6.02 include Ryan Mathews, Jeremy Hill, Frank Gore, etc. Another option and perhaps a better strategy to securing a decent RB2 would've been to pair up the Tennessee or Jacksonville backs and ride the hot hand as his RB2. Chris did manage to draft T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry, but he doesn't have a same-team stack that could've been good for his depth.
Zero-running back strategy can work well, but you have to go with the flow in the draft and know when to strike. If you have a late slotted pick, like 10, 11 or 12, it's difficult to get that prized fifth round running back gem (Duke Johnson, Giovani Bernard, Dion Lewis, Danny Woodhead). If you are stuck at solidifying a position, like RB2, consider the RB2 by committee approach with a back-stack.
Ryan Hester - Slot 12
Quarterback and tight end early - RB2 by committee
Rashad Jennings 9.12 or Bilal Powell 11.12 - In this case, Ryan drafted LeVeon Bell in the first round and then went after wide receiver, tight end and quarterback before taking another running back, which in this case was DeAngelo Williams. Essentially Williams is his RB1 handcuff, not a true RB2 in the sense where he can effectively start both backs. He needed to find another running back, someone he can start with Bell/Williams. There's a few candidates in his roster who could potentially occupy this role, but Rashad Jennings may be the best one. Jennings should see the majority of the Giants carries and he is a decent receiver who will get receptions. Bilal Powell is another back who could fill in as a Ryan's RB2 if things break his way.
Either Jordan Reed (4.01) or Russell Wilson (5.12). Ryan really needed to focus on at least one running back with these picks. It's a challenge to build a solid team when you go early with quarterback or tight end. When you go early with both, the odds are stacked against you. Eddie Lacy, Matt Forte, Carlos Hyde, Latavius Murray were all available at 4.01. Any one of them, particularly Lacy or Forte would've given Ryan a stronger more balanced team.
Ryan's team is not out of the woods by any stretch. He has strength in several key areas, but running back, particularly his RB2 situation will have to get sorted out, whether that comes from his roster or free agency. If I'm Ryan, I study snap counts and injuries to other running backs hard in the first few weeks of the season and try to find that waiver wire gem that wasn't drafted (or released because someone couldn't hold onto that bench running back for the wide receiver flavor of the week). One will emerge and you have to pounce when you see the window open. If the ball bounces his way, Ryan could have a juggernaut team with Wilson at quarterback, Bell/Williams at RB1, RB2 emergence, Keenan Allen, Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson at wide receiver and Jordan Reed at tight end. He's one player away from having a strong team.
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