Mock Draft Prep: Back-to-Backs

By: Rob Schwarz (@ChiRuxinDFS)

Hopefully you enjoyed the first part of this series. If you missed it, you can find the article by clicking here. In the first part of my series, I did a mock draft focusing on the Zero-RB strategy. This time, I will be going running backs early. I will not call it Zero-WR strategy and you will see why soon.

As I stated in the first article, the fun part about using the FantasyPros Draft Simulator, is that you can finish a mock draft within a few minutes. The simulator makes picks based on different factors. ADP, pre-draft rankings from various sites and expert rankings are all variables you can choose from when setting up your draft.

Just like the first draft, I will be slotted in the sixth spot. I will use all of the variables allowed and I will be drafting based on PPR settings. The roster will be identical too. The difference here will be my approach. Since I am going up against a simulator and not actual people, the draft should go very similar to the first one. The difference here will be me, and that is a great way to test out different strategies.

The first draft, I received a D+ grade. The grade reminded me of high school - a time when I saw similar test scores. A time that brought back memories of one of my awkward phases in my life. A time when I was overweight, not good looking and struggled to find a date (at least not a girl who you’d rank higher than a five). The good news, I succeeded (for the most part) after high school, I thinned out and married a beautiful woman.

Why does this matter? Well, like I said in the first article, I know I can take that first team that did not score well and turn it into a contender. Remember, draft grades from sites are not a tell-all of your team. They just give you a grade based on their particular rankings. If you want a higher grade, draft the guy they suggest. That will not win you a championship.

What will win you a championship is hard work during the offseason and throughout the season. Making sound draft decisions, watching the waiver wire and turning chicken shit into chicken salad via trades is how a real team makes it to the top.  

Consider this your offseason training and let us dive into the next draft strategy, shall we?

The same five guys that went off the board in the first mock draft went off the board again here. This is good. As I stated, now we can get a sense of how different strategies may affect our outcome. They went in different order, but it was the same five guys (Bell, DJ, Zeke, AB and Julio).

The simulator wants me to take Odell Beckham Jr. I am not taking a receiver here though, because I am going with a running back first in this strategy. I am calling it “back-to-backs” because the Zero-RB strategy was widely used last year and I am going back to the running back here instead. My plan is also going back-to-back running backs in the first two rounds. This does not necessarily mean I am taking another one in the third. We will see how things play out.

My top options here are LeSean McCoy, Melvin Gordon and Devonta Freeman. McCoy is my highest rated back (that is left on the board) and he is my choice here.

Wow. I am surprised how many backs went off the board. Melvin Gordon, Devonta Freeman and Jordan Howard rounded out the last three picks of the first round. Jay Ajayai, Todd Gurley and DeMarco Murray all went within the first four picks of the second round.

With all of those backs off the board, it makes me want to go back to the wide receiver position. DeAndre Hopkins, Dez Bryant and Amari Cooper are the top guys to choose from here. To keep with my draft strategy (remember to be flexible during your actual draft) I will look at a running back here instead.

The top guys in my rankings are Isaiah Crowell, Lamar Miller and Leonard Fournette. Fournette might have the most upside and I am drawn towards him here, but if I stick with my rankings I will take Crowell. He is currently my RB11.

Alright, here is why I will not call this the Zero-WR strategy. To hold true to that statement, I would have to not take a wide receiver here. Well here is the thing. I could go running back again and draft a guy like Christian McCaffrey or Carlos Hyde. I just do not find that the value is there at 3.06. I guess I could never be a true Zero-WR guy. That is probably because I have always been closer to a Zero-RB guy.

The other option to keep with Zero-WR is to take a quarterback or a tight end. Rob Gronkowski is off the board and Travis Kelce is the top tight end left. I am not even considering that route here. I could take Aaron Rodgers here though. That would keep with the strategy and I do think he is worth a third round pick. The problem is, I prefer to wait on quarterbacks.

If I do not take Rodgers, that leaves me with Keenan Allen, Alshon Jeffery, Allen Robinson and Sammy Watkins to choose from at receiver. Personally, I would pass on the quarterback and go Keenan Allen. However, to make this more similar to Zero-WR I will go with Rodgers here.

Rodgers was still the only quarterback to be taken. What is cool about the simulator though is that you can revert your pick. Just for the experiment of this, I am going to revert the pick and take Keenan Allen. Let us see if Rodgers falls to the fourth round.

By reverting and taking Keenan Allen instead at 3.06, Rodgers instantly went off the board at 3.07. I will now revert back and continue the first path we started, but it is interesting to see what would have happened.

To recap my team, I have Rodgers at quarterback, LeSean McCoy and Isaiah Crowell at running back and no tight ends or wide receivers. I can go Travis Kelce here and lock up the tight end spot, or I can take my first wide receiver. The top wide receiver left is Golden Tate. I do like Tate for PPR formats and I think it will be between him and Kelce. Kelce I have ranked 30th and Tate I have at 40th overall. That said, I’m going to veer off from my rankings and take Tate here. I have a feeling Greg Olsen will be there the next round (or I can wait at the tight end position). Other receivers I considered were Terrelle Pryor and Stefon Diggs.

Greg Olsen did not fall to me here. He went at 5.03 and Tyler Eifert went at 5.05. I am a big fan of both of these guys. Olsen is my man crush from when he was drafted by the Bears. Eifert was my guy coming out of Notre Dame since I am somewhat of an Irish fan.

With those two guys off the board, the best tight end left is Jimmy Graham. I like Graham more for best ball leagues. He had some monster weeks last season, but I do not trust him enough. I think I’ll snag my second wide receiver. Terrelle Pryor is now off the board, but Stefon Diggs is still available. I’m choosing him over guys like Julian Edelman, Emmanuel Sanders and Tyreek Hill.

I now have my two starting running backs, my two starting wide receivers and my starting quarterback. The next pick will either fill my flex spot or my tight end spot depending on the route I choose. Jimmy Graham, Delanie Walker and Kyle Rudolph all came off the board. Zach Ertz is the top tight end left on the FantasyPros board. I will leave him there and take a chance later on some lower guys I think could crack into the top 10.

The top running backs available are Ty Montgomery, Ameer Abdullah (who I do not trust) and Danny Woodhead. Woodhead is intriguing to me here as I think he could be a solid PPR running back again in Baltimore. If I flip over to the wide receivers I am looking at Jamison Crowder (who I am high on), Donte Moncrief (who I do not like that much) and Pierre Garcon (who could be a monster based on opportunity in San Francisco). I am going to grab Ty Montgomery because I have him highest in my rankings (currently 43rd overall).

Wow, Crowder fell and so did Pierre Garcon. Right now I have Crowder ranked higher and he is my seventh pick. However, as we get closer to the start of the season, I can see Garcon climbing my rankings. The other two receivers I am considering (and hoping at least one falls) are Willie Snead and Martavis Bryant.  

Oh, Zach Ertz was still available, but I am once again passing on the tight end position.

More tight ends went off the board and I think I will have to finally draft one here. The two receivers I wanted fell, but I’m concerned Jack Doyle will not make it through to the ninth round. With the simulator, remember, you can find out by using the revert pick feature. However, in a real draft you do not have that luxury.

I am going to grab my boy Willie Snead here. I am high on both him and Bryant, but I have more faith in Snead playing a full season (and not getting suspended). All this could change come August though.


Looking at my team now, I can still draft Jack Doyle (probably the smarter move), or I can look at another receiver or running back. I like the idea of Duke Johnson as a standalone option in PPR. Not to mention he is like a handcuff to my Isaiah Crowell pick. Matt Forte stands out to me, but he could be cut any minute the way the Jets are operating things right now. I also like James White and Jonathan Stewart.

As far as the pass catchers go, I think I see myself grabbing Martavis Bryant or Rishard Matthews. Since I held off on the receiver position, I need to look at adding more depth in hopes a few hit big. Bryant is a guy I can see being a low-end WR1 in 2017. Matthews did it for me last year and I do like him. He is probably going to be my keeper in FLAFFL. I just think Bryant has more upside and he is who I’m snagging here. It is risky not taking a tight end, but I still have hope in a couple guys if Jack Doyle goes off the board.

Jack Doyle did not fall and either did Eric Ebron. Both went off the board between my ninth and 10th round pick. Coby Fleener is available and I think he could have a bounce back year. I also like Julius Thomas in Miami. With two (actually three because I will not draft a kicker again) bench spots left, I have to consider a second quarterback soon. I also need to consider James White here. I think White ends up being the back to own in New England this year.

I decided to take the risk and go with White here.

Coby Fleener fell and it seems I took the right risk. This was an easy choice for me since I did not have a tight end yet. To give perspective, the other options were another quarterback, Jordan Matthews, Kenny Britt, or Jonathan Williams (we all know LeSean McCoy has injury concerns). Again, I went with Fleener here though and it was an easy decision for me.

I know I have Rodgers, but Marcus Mariota and Kirk Cousins are still on the board. I currently have Cousins as my seventh overall quarterback. I am finding it hard not adding him here despite having arguably the best quarterback in the league.

Since I waited on tight end, I could double down here and go with Julius Thomas. I like both him and Fleener to have decent years, but there is definitely risk involved with both. The same wide receivers are still available and Jonathan Williams is too. I am going to snag Cousins though in hopes he does as well as I think he will, and I will have a strong trade piece later. Even if I cannot move him, it stops other teams from having him, and if Rodgers were to get hurt this team would be done for.

This is almost always the round I take my defense. My options are the Giants (who had a hell of a fantasy season last year), the Panthers and the Ravens. I like the Rams defense, but their offense has proved to be so bad it ends up hurting the defense from a fantasy perspective. I’m going to grab the Ravens simply because I think they are consistent.

We are here again, and once again the simulator wants me to draft a kicker. I am not going to do it. However, I am going to test out the draft grade analysis by taking my pick, then reverting the pick and taking a kicker to see if it improves my letter grade.

I am not big on handcuffs, but with LeSean McCoy I do get nervous. The only other back that stands out to me for actual value is Chris Thompson, but I think I’d rather hold onto Jonathan Williams (McCoy’s handcuff) for now. My other option is another receiver.

Tyrell Williams and Kenny Stills stand out the most to me. I also like the upside of guys like John Ross and Zay Jones (even with the Maclin signing). I am locking up the Buffalo backfield despite my hatred of doing so.

Draft Grade: B-

Well, I did better in the eyes of FantasyPros. I agree with their grade here, but I still disagree with the first grade I received. When I switched out Williams for a kicker (I went with Mason Crosby), my grade went up to a solid B. I’d rather own the positional player.

Just for shoots and giggles, I decided to see if taking the top wide receiver made a difference (remember this is just for fun and the draft grade means little - do not sweat it). The grade was two points higher than the original grade, but still one point less than having a kicker.

Here is how my final roster looked and I am pleased with the outcome for the most part.

Remember, this is part two of a three-part series. On top of that, I might add a fourth piece where I compare all three teams. We shall see. I do not want to get too ahead of myself here. If I do not slow down, I might hurt myself!

Rob Ruxin is a writer and contributor to FLAFFL House. You can find him on twitter @chiruxinDFS and on the Fantasy Life App @chiruxin