It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No, it’s not Christmas. It’s time for mock drafts. So many fantasy owners don’t do their due diligence. Too many have never been in a mock draft room, but there is usually a direct correlation between mock drafters and fantasy playoff teams. Just saying.
Mock drafts are so important because they can get you the high pressure drafting atmosphere without all the pressure. But you have to treat it like it’s the real thing, because that’s the way your mind will be able to adjust when it IS the real thing.
I spend the better part of two weeks mock drafting every single night before my first real draft even arrives. In that way I get in a solid 20 or so mock drafts, meaning I get to “draft” from pretty much every position in the snake draft format. That’s incredibly important because it gives me the chance to draft with a different player as my team base.
For my first mock draft of this fantasy season I joined a 12-team non-PPR league, and when I entered the draft room I found that I was smack dab in the middle — in the 6th spot. Here are my rules for drafting in the middle of the pack…
- Grab the best available player. This means don’t get cute and go for Gronkowski. It means don’t second guess yourself. Think about who is the absolute best player still sitting there, and take him.
- Don’t get hung up on whether or not it’s an RB or a WR. You’ll draft early enough in the second round to either get a great RB or WR there to complement whoever you chose first.
- Leave the QBs where they belong. Not yet in your lineup.
- Be sure you pay attention directly after your pick, because you’ll need to switch from making a decision to making sure you are still present in the draft. You’d be amazed at how quickly picks can be made, and you’ll have to adjust accordingly to be ready for round 2.
Team 1: David Johnson, RB (ARZ)
Team 2: Le’Veon Bell, RB (PIT)
Team 3: Ezekiel Elliott, RB (DAL)
Team 4: Antonio Brown, WR (PIT)
Team 5: Odell Beckham, Jr., WR (NYG)
ME: JULIO JONES, WR (ATL)
Team 7: Mike Evans, WR (TB)
Team 8: LeSean McCoy, RB (BUF)
Team 9: Devonta Freeman, RB (ATL)
Team 10: A.J. Green, WR (CIN)
Team 11: Jordy Nelson, WR (GB)
Team 12: Dez Bryant, WR (DAL)
Of course I wanted one of the elite RBs in this mock draft (in any real draft), but to me the only three worth the high pick were the ones who went 1-2-3 here, and in pretty much any order. But, of course, going sixth, I figured they would be long gone, and I would be staring at a WR instead. The top receiver on my list was Brown, but I got lucky that Team 5 took Beckham instead of my number two WR in Jones. So I scooped up Julio and counted myself lucky.
Then it was on to figuring out whether I would add an RB1 or a WR2 in the next round.
Team 12: DeMarco Murray, RB (TEN)
Team 11: Jordan Howard, RB (CHI)
Team 10: Melvin Gordon, RB (LAC) — Am I the only one who thinks “Clippers” here?
Team 9: Rob Gronkowski, TE (NE) — I think this is a reach in this spot
Team 8: Jay Ajayi, RB (MIA)
Team 7: T.Y. Hilton, WR (IND)
ME: MICHAEL THOMAS, WR (NO)
Team 5: Amari Cooper, WR (OAK)
Team 4: Lamar Miller, RB (HOU)
Team 3: Todd Gurley, RB (LAR)
Team 2: Doug Baldwin, WR (SEA)
Team 1: Marshawn Lynch, RB (OAK)
Honestly, any RB I could have picked up in that spot would have been a reach, and you know how I feel about reaching just because I needed a particular position player. Instead, I went with what I felt was the sure bet in Thomas, who I predict will have a spectacular breakout year. I could have gone either Cooper or Hopkins in that spot, but I felt Hopkins would be available in the 3rd round if I really wanted him, and Thomas has the more experienced QB. That gave me two quality starting WRs that I should only have to take out during their bye weeks if I’m lucky. I still had to address my RB situation, but I was confident it would sort itself out.
Team 1: Terrelle Pryor
Team 2: Leonard Fournette, RB (JAC)
Team 3: Aaron Rodgers, QB (GB) — If I were going QB early, he is the only one I would pick
Team 4: Alshon Jeffery, WR (PHI)
Team 5: Isaiah Crowell, RB (CLE)
ME: DEMARYIUS THOMAS, WR (DEN)
Team 7: DeAndre Hopkins, WR (HOU)
Team 8: Brandin Cooks, WR (NE)
Team 9: Tom Brady, QB (NE)
Team 10: Jarvis Landry, WR (MIA)
Team 11: Christian McCaffrey, RB (CAR)
Team 12: Carlos Hyde, RB (SF)
I could have realistically taken Hopkins here, but his disappointing 2016 campaign reminded me that he hasn’t been consistent enough, not as consistent as Thomas has been, despite having several different QBs the past couple of years. Why not go RB here? Because I told you to choose the best available player, and RB wasn’t it in this spot. That of course forced me to pick an RB in the 4th round, which is exactly how I wanted it.
Team 12: Travis Kelce, TE (KC)
Team 11: Greg Olsen, TE (CAR)
Team 10: Spencer Ware, RB (KC)
Team 9: Sammy Watkins, WR (BUF)
Team 8: Davante Adams, WR (GB)
Team 7: Jordan Reed, TE (WAS)
ME: MARK INGRAM, RB (NO)
Team 5: Joe Mixon, RB (CIN)
Team 4: Keenan Allen, WR (LAC)
Team 3: Golden Tate, WR (DET)
Team 2: Allen Robinson, WR (JAC)
Team 1: Julian Edelman, WR (NE)
I was glad I waited so long to draft a RB1 because Ingram is just the kind of guy I wanted on my team. He’s tough as nails, he scores touchdowns, he can catch the ball, and he’s on a high scoring offense. The rest of the draft after him was really just a chess game, moving players in and out of draft position, until I had a full lineup. One of the big decisions I had left to make was when to draft a QB, and the other huge one was who would be my RB2.
ROUND FIVE: Dalvin Cook, RB (MIN)
ROUND SIX: Andrew Luck, QB (IND) — I knew I would need insurance for him though
ROUND SEVEN: Kelvin Benjamin, WR (CAR)
ROUND EIGHT: Derek Carr, QB (OAK) — The aforementioned insurance
ROUND NINE: Giovani Bernard, RB (CIN)
ROUND TEN: Darren Sproles, RB (PHI)
ROUND ELEVEN: Jamaal Charles, RB (DEN)
ROUND TWELVE: C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE (HOU)
ROUND THIRTEEN: Jacquizz Rodgers, RB (TB)
ROUND FOURTEEN: Caleb Sturgis, K (PHI)
ROUND FIFTEEN: Jaguars D/ST
ROUND SIXTEEN: Torrey Smith, WR (PHI)
Here is my final lineup as selected from the sixth pick in the draft:
QB: DEREK CARR
RB1: MARK INGRAM
RB2: DALVIN COOK
WR1: JULIO JONES
WR2: MICHAEL THOMAS
TE: C.J. FIEDOROWICZ
FLEX: DEMARYIUS THOMAS
K: CALEB STURGIS
Notice how my bench is overwhelmingly full of RBs. That’s because odds are one of them will become a RB1 during the season, and could be a solid source of points. That’s how I hit on Jordan Howard last year. All it takes is one. It wasn’t easy for me to go zero RBs in the first three rounds, but I like the value I got when I finally decided to go that way. Coming soon: the RB early mock draft.