Mock Draft Mania

Written by Anthony Reimer, Writer and Contributer, @reimeras on Twitter and @mrmeseeks on the Fantasy Life App

It’s here! Football is finally back! As teams decide over the next four weeks who will fill out the back end of their 53 man rosters, we fantasy football fanatics should also use this time to figure out who will fill in our rosters in the coming season. The best way to do this is to mock draft as often as possible. You need these tools to figure out how to build the roster that will destroy your league mates and leave them no choice but to submit to your intellectual prowess. Now, the best piece of advice I can give you about mock drafting is to try new things each time you do one, the same way a coach might let a defensive back get playing time at running back just to see what the hell he can do. So take Gronk in the first, take a quarterback super early or super late, play around with your roster construction because ultimately, just like the preseason, mocks don’t really count. Or, you can just read this article and let me do all the work for you. I get it, thinking is hard and reading is less hard. So sit back and enjoy as I take you through a twelve man half point PPR mock and explain my logic, frustration and adulation along the way.

Pick     Player

1.1     Antonio Brown
1.2    David Johnson
1.3    Julio Jones
1.4    Todd Gurley
1.5    Odell Beckham
1.6    A.J. Green
1.7    DeAndre Hopkins
1.8    Adrian Peterson
1.9    Ezekiel Elliot
1.10   Lamar Miller
1.11    Rob Gronkowski
1.12   Dez Bryant
My Pick:  A.J. Green. Watching Odell Beckham Jr get drafted one pick before me was pretty hard to stomach as there is a clear drop-off after him. I could have taken any one of the three guys that went after me and been very happy with the pick. Ultimately, the combination of volume and elite talent is what made me take Green. 164. That’s the number of targets that left Cincinnati this offseason when Marvin Jones and Mohammed Sanu signed with Detroit and Atlanta respectively. While I understand that Green isn’t going to inherit all of those, adding 70 of them to his 2015 total puts Green in the upper echelon of receivers with guys like Julio Jones and Antonio Brown. AJ Green is a top 5 receiver in the league in terms of talent, and you combine that with the lack of competition for targets and he is going to feast this season and finish as a top five fantasy WR.  

2.1     Eddie Lacy
2.2    LeVeon Bell
2.3    Alshon Jeffery
2.4    Allen Robinson
2.5    Jordy Nelson
2.6    Keenan Allen
2.7    Brandon Marshall
2.8    Devonta Freeman
2.9    Jamaal Charles
2.10   Mike Evans
2.11    Mark Ingram
2.12   Amari Cooper

My Pick: Brandon Marshall. Before I get to my pick I just want to point something out: Eddie Lacy at the top of the second round? That is absolute insanity to me, and I love Skinny Eddie this season. That pick is a clear cut example of why you can’t fall in love with players too much before the season. Taking him there over some of the players available is a disgusting pick. Don’t be that guy. Let the value come to you; don’t reach for someone, especially this early in the draft. But I digress, Brandon Marshall. Last season, Marshall was a 31 year old wide receiver who was coming off an injury plagued year and joining a new team quarterbacked by Ryan Fitzpatrick. All he did to answer these questions was catch 109 balls on 174 targets for 1,502 yards and 14 touchdowns and finished the year as the number 3 wide receiver in fantasy. There was arguably no player in fantasy last season that was more consistent than Marshall, and there is no reason to think he can’t put up similar numbers this year. Marshall lost weight in the offseason and looks faster and more explosive while still possessing arguably the best catch radius in the NFL. Plus, if a player is willing to put his Porsche on the line against Antonio Brown and say that he will finish the year as the better receiver, he has earned pick and is an absolute steal at this point in the draft.

3.1     T.Y. Hilton
3.2    Sammy Watkins
3.3    Brandin Cooks
3.4    Demaryius Thomas
3.5    Doug Martin
3.6    LeSean McCoy
3.7    Jordan Reed
3.8    Jarvis Landry
3.9    Julian Edelman
3.10   C.J. Anderson
3.11    Thomas Rawls
3.12    Randall Cobb

My Pick: LeSean McCoy. Shady’s back, back again. Shady’s back, tell a friend. Sorry, just got a flashback to high school. Anyway LeSean McCoy is currently my favorite third round running back, and is the type of player that allows you to take two WR’s in the first two rounds and not be disgusted with the balance of your team. In 2015 the Bills were the number 2 team in adjusted rushing DVOA. There are two things we know about Rex Ryan: he loves feet and running the football, maybe those two things are connected. Coming into the offseason there was concern that maybe Karlos Williams would steal carries from McCoy. However, Williams decided to use Eddie Lacy’s 2015 offseason training program, coming into camp overweight and followed that up by getting suspended the first four games of the season. Mike Gillislee currently sits as the team’s number 2, and the team was so desperate for depth that they signed Reggie Bush. These moves point toward McCoy being the clear number 1 RB on the Bills, with the other backs only getting carries to give him a breather. Hopefully Sammy Watkins comes back healthy this season, leading to less eight man boxes for Shady to face. Whether that happens or not, barring injury, I see little chance that Shady doesn’t finish the year as a number 1 running back and is the only guy in this range with the potential to finish in the top 3. 
4.1     Cam Newton
4.2    Andrew Luck
4.3    Jeremy Maclin
4.4    Greg Olsen
4.5    Travis Kelce
4.6    Delanie Walker
4.7     Latavius Murray
4.8    Golden Tate
4.9    Eric Decker
4.10   Carlos Hyde
4.11    Coby Fleener
4.12   Dion Lewis

My Pick: Latavius Murray. I get it; Latavius Murray is like a girl you’ve dated for a little too long. Last season when you took him it all felt new and exciting, now when you pick him up it feels like there’s something missing, like you may have just made a terrible mistake. Plus, there’s this new girl in class named DeAndre Washington and she’s really cute and could be the one. Maybe I’m taking this analogy a little too far. All of this is true, but I think the hate on Latavius has gone too far. He’s a true three down back on a young dynamic offense that only looks to be improving. Plus, Jack Del Rio came out this week and said that he hopes to get Latavius even more touches than he got last season when he finished as the number 11 running back in fantasy. You take that and add in the offseason signings the Raiders have made to improve their defense and give themselves one of the best offensive lines in football, and I see little reason Murray won’t finish as at least a top 15 running back. While I don’t think he has top 5 upside, getting him a full round later than he was being taken last season is tremendous value.
5.1      Russell Wilson
5.2     Donte Moncrief
5.3     Aaron Rodgers
5.4     Doug Baldwin
5.5     Kelvin Benjamin
5.6     John Brown
5.7     Matt Forte
5.8     Larry Fitzgerald
5.9     DeMarco Murray
5.10    Michael Floyd
5.11    Jordan Matthews
5.12    Duke Johnson
My Pick: John Brown. One of the biggest questions as we enter the 2016 fantasy football season is: which Arizona wide receiver do you want to own? All three of them are going in the same area, so you essentially have to pick your favorite and hope for the best. I love Larry Fitzgerald, but he slowed down the second half after an outstanding start which skews his overall numbers. Michael Floyd was the main beneficiary of this as he had an outstanding second half, but injuries have plagued his career. So, give me John Brown who was pretty consistent throughout last season and has garnered some favorable comparisons to Antonio Brown. I think John Brown is the perfect flex play, a guy who should give you good production most weeks and has the ability to catch two long bombs and win you the week.

6.1     Gary Barnidge
6.2    Tyler Eifert
6.3     Drew Brees
6.4     Emmanuel Sanders
6.5     Danny Woodhead
6.6     Matt Jones
6.7     Jonathan Stewart
6.8     Ben Roethlisberger
6.9     Carson Palmer
6.10    Frank Gore
6.11     Melvin Gordon
6.12    Arian Foster

My Pick: Jonathan Stewart. Getting J-Stew in the sixth round is an absolute steal. The biggest knock on Stewart is that he isn’t involved in the passing game and loses some red zone touches to Cam Newton. While I understand those concerns, Stewart doesn’t carry a large price tag this season, and he finished last year as the number 16 overall running back despite missing the last three weeks of the season. 

7.1     Antonio Gates
7.2    Tom Brady
7.3    Ladarius Green
7.4    Julius Thomas
7.5     Zach Ertz
7.6     Jeremy Hill
7.7     Blake Bortles
7.8     Eli Manning
7.9     Phillip Rivers
7.10    Martellus Bennett
7.11     DeVante Parker
7.12    DeAngelo Williams

My Pick: Jeremy Hill. As a guy who fell in love with Hill last year, and was very disappointed in the return on my investment, I kind of had to hold my nose and take him here. If this was a full PPR league, or if I needed one of them to start for me, I probably would have taken Gio Bernard here. Since I’m just looking for an RB4, I’ll take Hill who still finished as an RB2 last season, and hope that he returns to his 2014 form.

8.1     Josh Gordon
8.2    D. Green-Beckham
8.3    Ryan Matthews
8.4    Giovani Bernard
8.5    Jeremy Langford
8.6    Ameer Abdullah
8.7    Tyler Lockett
8.8    Jay Ajayi
8.9    Chris Ivory
8.10   Charles Sims
8.11    Sterling Shepard
8.12    Theo Riddick

My Pick: Tyler Lockett. There’s been a lot of talk this offseason about Seattle transitioning from a Marshawn Lynch led offense to a Russell Wilson led offense. I believe this to be true as they demonstrated their ability to let Russell air it out in the second half of last season. While Doug Baldwin was the main beneficiary of this last offseason, most of that was in the form of touchdowns and I expect that touchdown rate to regress to the mean this season. Lockett showed himself to be a dynamic playmaker in space last season, so if you want a piece of the Seattle passing game, take Lockett at his seventh or eighth round price tag over Baldwin in the fourth or fifth.

9.1     Rashad Jennings
9.2    Michael Crabtree
9.3    T.J. Yeldon
9.4     Marvin Jones
9.5    Justin Forsett
9.6    Allen Hurns
9.7    Tevin Coleman
9.8    Isaiah Crowell
9.9    Bilal Powell
9.10   DeAndre Washington
9.11    Karlos Williams
9.12   Derrick Henry

My Pick: Allen Hurns. In 2015, Hurns finished as a WR2 in every format. While I think his touchdowns will reduce, and he might not be as consistent in 2015, he is a great bye week fill in and depth piece for your team. If I can get Hurns as my WR4-5, ill take that all day with a smile on my face.

10.1     Corey Coleman
10.2     Stefon Diggs
10.3     DeSean Jackson
10.4     Kevin White
10.5     Willie Snead
10.6     Torrey Smith
10.7     Dwayne Allen
10.8     Jimmy Graham
10.9     Darren Sproles
10.10    Shane Vereen
10.11     Kenneth Dixon
10.12    Jordan Howard

My Pick: Dwayne Allen. You may have noticed throughout this mock that a lot of tight ends were going early. When some people see a run of players at a position, they may feel inclined to grab one of those players. Personally I prefer to go contrarian, especially when it comes to quarterback and tight end. After the top 6 or 7 tight ends, there are about 8 guys that I would be happy to have on my team. Looking at the position in round 10, I would have been ok with Allen, Witten or Ebron and I didn’t think any of those three would make it to my pick the next round. Of those three, give me Allen who doesn’t have Fleener to compete for targets and is somehow going later than he did in 2015. The entire Colt’s passing game is undervalued this year and grabbing Allen in the tenth is a good way to have a piece of that offense.

11.1      Zach Miller
11.2     Tavon Austin
11.3     Jason Witten
11.4     Eric Ebron
11.5     Markus Wheaton
11.6     LeGarrette Blount
11.7     C.J. Prosise
11.8     Arizona D/ST
11.9     Jerick McKinnon
11.10    Charles Clay
11.11     Javorius Allen
11.12    A.Seferian-Jenkins

My Pick: LeGarrette Blount. I know, I know, Patriots running back; Bill Belichick is a hateful human being that hates fantasy football. Dion Lewis is clearly the running back you want in this offense, if any. I like Blount this year as a late round pick. From weeks 2 through 14 Blount only received less than double digit carries 3 times and is the goal line back in one of the best offenses in the league. I also believe the Patriots will lean on the running game the first four weeks while Brady is gone, making Blount a good potential sell high candidate early in the season.

12.1     Kenyan Drake
12.2    Breshard Perriman
12.3    C.J. Spiller
12.4    Denver D/ST
12.5    Devontae Booker
12.6    Lequon Treadwell
12.7    Devin Funchess
12.8     Seattle D/ST
12.9     Kamar Aiken
12.10    Travis Benjamin
12.11     Jared Cook
12.12    Steve Smith

My Pick: Devin Funchess. Last season Carolina finished the year as the number 6 offense in DVOA with the number 9 passing attack, and Cam Newton had the best passing season of his career. There have been reports coming out of camp that Kelvin Benjamin looks out of shape and there could be a 1A/1B situation with him and Funchess. So in the double digit rounds give me Funchess who is a big body red zone threat and has the ability to make a huge jump in 2016.

13.1      Shaun Draughn
13.2     Josh Ferguson
13.3     James Starks
13.4     Spencer Ware
13.5     Charcandrick West
13.6     Matthew Stafford
13.7      Derek Carr
13.8      Jordan Cameron
13.9     Clive Walford
13.10    Vincent Jackson
13.11     Alfred Morris
13.12    Darren McFadden

My Pick: Matt Stafford. Some of you may have been reading this wondering when I was going to take a quarterback. While I have a lot of the quarterbacks taken higher in this drafted ranked higher than Stafford, I generally wont even look at quarterback until the eleventh round. There are around eighteen quarterbacks that I would be ok with having as my starter entering the season. So, I suggest in 12 team or fewer leagues to be one of the last guys to take a quarterback and pad your depth at other positions. I took Stafford, who was the number six quarterback in fantasy weeks 9-17 after Jim Bob Cooter took over offensive play calling. If he continues the stride he made, I’ll have taken a QB1 in the thirteenth round, and if he doesn’t there will be enough options on the waiver wire to be able to stream the position based on matchups.

14.1         Houston D/ST
14.2        Carolina D/ST
14.3        Minnesota D/ST
14.4        Tony Romo
14.5        Kirk Cousins
14.6        Kansas City D/ST
14.7       Los Angeles D/ST
14.8        Andy Dalton
14.9        Buffalo D/ST
14.10       New York Jets D/ST
14.11        Oakland D/ST
14.12       New England D/ST

My Pick: Los Angeles Rams D/ST. You don’t want to be the guy that takes the Cardinals or the Broncos in round eleven. Let someone else make that mistake. As far as fantasy defenses, I like Los Angeles as a team that can make a leap; I mean Jeff Fischer has to get to 8-8 somehow.

15.1         Stephen Gostkowski
15.2        Steven Hauschka
15.3        Justin Tucker
15.4        Mason Crosby
15.5        Chandler Catanzaro
15.6        Brandon McManus
15.7        Dan Bailey
15.8        Adam Vinatieri
15.9        Graham Gano
15.10       Blair Walsh
15.11        Cairo Santos
15.12       Dan Carpenter

My Pick: Brandon McManus. Need a kicker? He’s a kicker.

POS         Players

QB             Matthew Stafford
RB             LeSean McCoy
RB             Latavius Murray
WR            A.J. Green
WR            Brandon Marshall
TE              Dwayne Allen
FLX           John Brown
D/ST          Los Angeles
K                Brandon McManus
BN(RB)     Jonathan Stewart
BN(RB)     Jeremy Hill
BN(WR)    Tyler Lockett
BN(WR)    Allen Hurns
BN(RB)     LeGarrette Blount
BN(WR)    Devin Funchess

Final Thoughts: I like this team a lot. I know some advocates may push forward strategies like zero running back, while I believe specific strategies are helpful in the correct format, I prefer to take the balanced, best player available approach. I think this team has good depth at running back and wide receiver and waiting on quarterback and tight end is what allowed me to have that depth. Overall, in a twelve man league, I think this team gives me a good foundation to build upon, and would be a playoff team as long as I didn’t mismanage and screw it up during the season, which no matter how well you draft is always a possibility.