Late last month, 12 of us Footballguys banded together to undertake a 22-round mock draft for a superflex format – one with an additional flex spot that allows quarterbacks to be plugged in. I've already broken down the crucial first four rounds, as well as provided a primer on the significance quarterbacks take on in this format. Let's now peer into the next four rounds to see how we prioritized the ensuing tier of options. With most starting-level quarterbacks off the table, there's lots of opportunity for massive value at the other positions.
Click here if you're interested to see how the entire draft rounded out.
5.01 Justin Howe – Watkins, Sammy BUF WR
5.02 James Brimacombe – Stafford, Matthew DET QB
5.03 Simon Shepherd – Lynch, Marshawn OAK RB
5.04 Chris Feery – Kelce, Travis KCC TE
5.05 Jeff Tefertiller – Allen, Keenan SDC WR
5.06 Justin Bonnema – Montgomery, Ty GBP RB
5.07 Stephen Holloway – Palmer, Carson ARI QB
5.08 Jeff Haseley – McCaffrey, Christian CAR RB
5.09 Phil Alexander – Mixon, Joe CIN RB
5.10 Jason Wood – Adams, Davante GBP WR
5.11 Clayton Gray – Cook, Dalvin MIN RB
5.12 Scott Bischoff – Crowell, Isaiah CLE RB
Sammy Watkins – I opted for the upside play here, taking on massive risk in the hopes of a full Watkins season. Unfortunately for me, news of Jeremy Maclin’s and Eric Decker’s availabilities came less than a week after this pick was made, and both were quickly linked with Buffalo. Maclin has since signed with Baltimore, but Decker remains in play, and an addition of a rock-solid wideout like that would be problematic. The presence of a new, established No. 2 like that wouldn’t doom Watkins, who’s probably the superior player at this point, but it would certainly cap his upside. A week ago, a (presumably) healthy Watkins was entering the offseason program not only as a premier home run threat with weekly splash-play potential, but also as a target hog on a painfully understaffed WR corps. If Decker or another stud signs on, Watkins would, at the very least, lose that stranglehold and settle in as a low-volume No. 1, making a run at 75+ catches less likely. Also, his injury history would be an even bigger issue than before, as the team would be in better position to rest or limit him with minor dings. All told, I don’t hate this selection, as Watkins has game-breaking potential on every snap and could light the fantasy world on fire with a healthy season. Still, I’d love to have this one back and scoop up Travis Kelce instead.
Keenan Allen – Allen frightens away plenty of drafters with his extensive history, and it’s hard to blame them – dating back to his final year at California, he’s missed 29 of 76 possible games (38%) to a litany of injuries. That’s the reason I myself opted for Watkins in this round – but it’s also the reason to expect big value from him in 2017. According to the data from Fantasy Football Calculator, Allen currently sports a PPR ADP of 3.04 in single-QB leagues, and 4.09 in two-QB formats. That’s probably appropriate, given his history, but it’s a mark he could easily outproduce. It’s easy to forget that he’s still only 25, and that his shortened 2015 season would’ve extrapolated to a massive line of 134 receptions, 1,450 yards, and 8 touchdowns. It’s true that the team has added weaponry around him, but I don’t see it as much of a 2017 hindrance. The Chargers don’t spread the ball around much – last year they used three-wide sets less often than any other team in football, and their reserve wideouts saw extremely little attention when the starters were healthy. Allen’s health may be a scary “if,” but that risk is already baked into his too-low ADP, and by my estimation, Tefertiller may have ultimately plucked him a round too low.
Marshawn Lynch – This isn’t a terrible landing spot for Lynch (51st overall), and I get why Simon made the call. His top running back, Le'Veon Bell represents a walking case of the shakes, with near-constant concerns over injuries and suspensions. He’s fantastic when on the field, but it does make sense to prop up a riskier pick with a guy like Lynch, who’s all but guaranteed the Raiders’ lead back job to open the year. Still, I have my concerns over Lynch, and I think there’s a non-zero chance he busts completely in 2017. Our Adam Harstad has long covered age across the positional spectrum, and he’s pointed out more than once the hefty decline we see in RBs over 30 at the ends of their careers. Lynch is now 31 and has been out of football awhile; it’s a risky proposition to expect him to produce along the lines of his Seattle years. Again, Simon didn’t goof here in my estimation. I just would’ve preferred to see him chase down solid RB2 production in a guy like Isaiah Crowell or Christian McCaffrey.
6.01 Scott Bischoff – Coleman, Tevin ATL RB
6.02 Clayton Gray – Graham, Jimmy SEA TE
6.03 Jason Wood – Lacy, Eddie SEA RB
6.04 Phil Alexander – Crabtree, Michael OAK WR
6.05 Jeff Haseley – Reed, Jordan WAS TE
6.06 Stephen Holloway – Olsen, Greg CAR TE
6.07 Justin Bonnema – Powell, Bilal NYJ RB
6.08 Jeff Tefertiller – Diggs, Stefon MIN WR
6.09 Chris Feery – Abdullah, Ameer DET RB
6.10 Simon Shepherd – Eifert, Tyler CIN TE
6.11 James Brimacombe – Moncrief, Donte IND WR
6.12 Justin Howe – Sanders, Emmanuel DEN WR
Emmanuel Sanders – With Stefon Diggs, Michael Crabtree, and Donte Moncrief all sniped from me, I opted for Sanders, who probably represents the safest floor of this wideout tier. His production carried over nicely into the post-Peyton Manning Era, and he’s still a lock for close to a quarter of Broncos targets. I see no reason to expect a fall below the 80-catch, 1,100-yard range. There’s even a hint of upside in play as receiver-friendly coordinator Mike McCoy joins the ranks. All told, I’m totally fine with Sanders as a consolation prize here.
Stefon Diggs – If we take his 2016 injury struggles out of the equation, there’s really no reason to bump Diggs out of PPR top-20 WR value, at worst. Over his 13 healthy games, all he did was soak up 24% of Vikings targets and catch 75% of them. His numbers would’ve extrapolated to a line of 103 receptions and 1,117 yards. Those are better totals than we could ever expect of a Jarvis Landry or a Demaryius Thomas, yet both came off the board two rounds earlier. And I don’t expect the party to stop as the Vikings keep their continuity entering 2017. Cordarrelle Patterson left town, though, and even if Laquon Treadwell wakes up as the No. 3 option, he’s unlikely to eat much into the starters’ volume. Diggs may not be a major touchdown threat, and it’s never much fun to rely heavily on a Sam Bradford target. But his locked-in role as a chain-mover solidifies him as a true 100-catch threat, and a plug-and-play PPR WR2.
Eddie Lacy – I’ve rarely, if ever, been a subscriber to Lacy’s value. There are so many questions annually surrounding his outlook – conditioning, for one, as well as an ungodly injury history – and now, he’ll contend with by far the most crowded, talented backfield he’s even been in. In Seattle, Lacy looks highly unlikely to threaten his 2013-14 heights. He won’t see many passing-down snaps while C.J. Prosise is healthy, and he may not even be the most efficient or talented two-down runner on roster. Overall, his upside is definitely present, but it doesn’t appear to rise beyond the RB2 ranks. And I don’t consider that to be a very reachable ceiling. Lacy routinely struggles with his physique, to the point that his Seahawks contract is deeply inundated with weight clauses, and he carries a frightening history of concussions and lower-body ailments.
7.01 Justin Howe – Crowder, Jamison WAS WR
7.02 James Brimacombe – Tate, Golden DET WR
7.03 Simon Shepherd – Pryor, Terrelle WAS WR
7.04 Chris Feery – Cobb, Randall GBP WR
7.05 Jeff Tefertiller – Henry, Derrick TEN RB
7.06 Justin Bonnema – Taylor, Tyrod BUF QB
7.07 Stephen Holloway – Fitzgerald, Larry ARI WR
7.08 Jeff Haseley – Ware, Spencer KCC RB
7.09 Phil Alexander – Bryant, Martavis PIT WR
7.10 Jason Wood – Hill, Tyreek KCC WR
7.11 Clayton Gray – Edelman, Julian NEP WR
7.12 Scott Bischoff – Anderson, C.J. DEN RB
Jamison Crowder – I opted for Crowder partly because of his PPR consistency – he was a double-digit scorer in 10 of 16 games last year amidst a stacked WR corps. I also see upside in him that few other slot men tend to offer. For one, the departures of Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson free up 214 wideout targets, and Crowder stands as the only prominent returning piece. With all of that opportunity, my early projections of 114 targets and 80 receptions actually look light; he’s a darkhorse to lead the league in catches. Furthermore, Crowder actually brings red-zone chops and touchdown opportunity that few 180-pounders can boast. He’s drawn 15 targets from inside the 10 over the past 2 years – more than the likes of T.Y. Hilton, Amari Cooper, DeAndre Hopkins, or a handful of other higher-drafted guys we all assume will catch more touchdowns. He’s the ultimate arbitrage play on the Jarvis Landry/Michael Crabtree tier, and owners are able to snap him multiple rounds later.
Golden Tate – I dropped the ball here by not leaping at Tate, whom I had rated far too low in my early projection model. (He had been my WR19 with minimal upside, back when I was expecting the team to bring back Anquan Boldin. He’s now my WR14.) Instead, James struck gold and ended his slide here, roughly two rounds after Tate should be taken in a typical PPR draft. Tate is a volume machine, racking up 128+ targets over each of the last 3 seasons and never falling below 90 receptions, thanks to a dynamite 68.8% catch rate. And if Boldin doesn’t return to Detroit, there could be a hefty chunk of touchdown opportunity available for the remaining Lions receivers. Tate isn’t of the traditional touchdown-machine type, but he draws a healthy share of red zone attention – 18 looks from inside the 10-yard line over the last 2 years – that has room to grow.
C.J. Anderson – This was a rock-solid Round 7, I have to say. The only real quibble I have is with Anderson, who I feel is on his way down the short hill. In the post-Peyton Manning Era, Anderson has only drawn about 14 touches a game, and his effectiveness is wholly inconsistent. Over that span, the Broncos have added a young dual-threat back in Devontae Booker, and while I don’t expect Jamaal Charles to be impactful, he’s still in position to claim touches. There’s a decent chance Booker simply outhandles Anderson on the season, but either way, in my mind they’re much closer together in value than May/June ADP suggests. I credit Scott for snatching at a back with at least the potential to be a workhorse, but I feel he’d have been better served to jump on Mike Gillislee or Mark Ingram II.
8.01 Scott Bischoff – Parker, DeVante MIA WR
8.02 Clayton Gray – Gore, Frank IND RB
8.03 Jason Wood – Perine, Samaje WAS RB
8.04 Phil Alexander – Snead, Willie NOS WR
8.05 Jeff Haseley – Benjamin, Kelvin CAR WR
8.06 Stephen Holloway – Ertz, Zach PHI TE
8.07 Justin Bonnema – Perkins, Paul NYG RB
8.08 Jeff Tefertiller – Tannehill, Ryan MIA QB
8.09 Chris Feery – Blount, LeGarrette PHI RB
8.10 Simon Shepherd – Bortles, Blake JAX QB
8.11 James Brimacombe – Ingram, Mark NOS RB
8.12 Justin Howe – Gillislee, Mike NEP RB
Mike Gillislee – The instinct for most of us is to assume that, with LeGarrette Blount out of the picture, New England is poised to swing their run/pass ratio from run-dominant to the other end of the spectrum. That may well happen, but we can’t forget that we’re talking about a high-paced offense () that can easily support usage for both its passing and running games. Their ratio has jumped around from season to season, but their play volume has always allowed for difference-making rushing totals – particularly in terms of touchdown production. Their snap totals and tendency to carry leads into the fourth quarter have always boosted the fantasy values of their mediocre runners, and allowed Blount to average 0.86 touchdowns over the past 2 years. And their backfield, while insanely crowded, doesn’t feature much rushing competition for Gillislee; he should thoroughly dominate New England carries. James White and Rex Burkhead (a combined 2.8 rushes per game) have always been receivers first and foremost, and while Dion Lewis remains a wild card, I’m not concerned he’ll cut much into Gillislee’s opportunity. In 2016, Blount averaged 15.2 rushes (and 0.7 touchdowns) over the 10 games he played with a healthy Lewis. Furthermore, from a talent standpoint, Gillislee may be relatively untapped gold. He’s a true speedster who notched an absurd 5.70 yards per rush over his 2 seasons in Buffalo, and the Patriots coughed up a fifth-round pick to swipe him from Buffalo having already added Burkhead. There’s real downside in play, of course, but also a dynamite RB1/2 ceiling that looks more reachable than Gillislee’s ADP suggests.
Willie Snead IV – Snead’s upside looks, at first glance, to be capped fairly tightly. Sean Payton and Drew Brees tend to spread the ball around more than many realize, and the Saints’ starting wideouts are often solid from a fantasy perspective, but rarely jaw-dropping. That’s why we see Snead’s ADP dipping into the eighth round of superflex drafts: It’s hard to use recent history to project him beyond 70-75 catches, right around 1,000 yards, and a handful of touchdowns. But we need to add perspective and note that, prior to 2015, Saints wideouts had their usage choked off by the presence of Jimmy Graham. Graham was, of course, an all-world tight end in New Orleans, a sheer dominator who sucked up 149, 135, 143, and 124 targets over his 4 full seasons there. It’s no wonder the likes of Lance Moore and Brandon Coleman were unable to draw huge target totals while competing with a brute like Graham. And last year, the Saints’ (ample) wide receiver targets were distributed among three young, talented options (Snead, Michael Thomas, and Brandin Cooks, who’s now out of town), rather than two. The current Saints have nothing close to Graham at the TE spot, nor anything close to Cooks behind the starting wideouts. Coby Fleener is a thoroughly average player who’s publicly struggled to fit into this passing game – he drew just 82 targets over a full 2016 – and none of their reserve WRs look poised to siphon much 2017 work from the starters. So, while we can’t outright project Snead to catch 85 passes based on history, it’s well within his range of possibilities – we may be misevaluating his role entirely. In 2017, unlike most Saints seasons, nearly all of the receiving talent is concentrated in the two starters, so Snead could be much, much busier than many expect. He’s a high-floor guy who probably bottoms out as a top-tier WR3, but could easily finish much stronger. To snap him up here behind several major WR question marks was highway robbery by Phil.
DeVante Parker – I see the upside in Parker, who was a monstrous touchdown producer in school and has flashed real NFL ability. He’s the most gifted and dynamic member of the Dolphins’ receiving corps, and a healthy season could net true WR2 production – a huge boon in Round 8 of a PPR draft. But Parker’s health is far from a guarantee; over the last three years, he’s lost major practice and game time to a foot fracture, a long-term hamstring woe, and a late-2016 back injury. Even if he suits up for 16 games, his upside is capped by the Miami offense, which is decidedly run-dominant under Adam Gase and always devotes nearly a quarter of its targets to slot man Jarvis Landry. I see a ceiling around 70 receptions, which isn’t world-beating, as much of his tier boasts the same kind of upside. And while he boasts strong touchdown possibilities, his floor dictates this may have been a round or two too high. I would have opted for Willie Snead IV here (see above).