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2017 fantasy football mock draft No. 1: RBs rise


Few puzzle pieces remain unsettled in the picture of the NFL offseason now that the NFL Draft has concluded. Which is why we thought this would be a perfect time to conduct our first staff fantasy football mock of the 2017 season. Sure, players like LeGarrette Blount could shift up the landscape a bit, but with rookies wearing the colors of their new teams and most major free agents signed, we thought this would provide a great glimpse into how we're viewing various players for fantasy this fall.

The standard scoring, 10-team, 15-round mock draft consisted of our best analysts and writers from NFL Fantasy LIVE and Teams did not need to draft a full roster, so several teams went without a kicker, defense, or even -- in a total hipster move -- a quarterback. I provide some brief thoughts about most rounds below. And to answer your questions: yes, we get paid for this. No, you can't have our jobs, and yes, we know about Player X but value differently than you in fantasy. Also, it's May, calm down. Go outside, it's finally nice out.

Now, with that out of the way, let's get to it.

Draft order

(randomized 30 minutes before start)

1. Matt Franciscovich (@MattFranchise) - NFL Fantasy Associate Writer/Editor
2. Cynthia Frelund (@cfrelund) - NFL Fantasy LIVE analytics expert
3. Alex Gelhar (@AlexGelhar)- NFL Fantasy Writer/Editor
4. Elliot Harrison (@HarrisonNFL) - NFL Fantasy LIVE analyst
5. Marcas Grant (@MarcasG)- NFL Fantasy Editor
6. Adam Rank (@adamrank)- NFL Fantasy LIVE analyst
7. Michael Fabiano (@Michael_Fabiano)- NFL Senior Fantasy Analyst
8. James Koh (@JamesDKoh) - NFL Fantasy LIVE host
9. Matt Harmon (@MattHarmon_BYB)- NFL Fantasy Associate Writer/Editor
10. Matt "Money" Smith (@MattMoneySmith)- NFL Fantasy LIVE host


1. David Johnson, Cardinals (RB1) - Franchise
2. Le'Veon Bell, Steelers (RB2) - Frelund
3. Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys (RB3) - Gelhar
4. Antonio Brown, Steelers (WR1) - Harrison
5. Mike Evans, Buccaneers (WR2) - Grant
6. Odell Beckham Jr., Giants (WR3) - Rank
7. Julio Jones, Falcons (WR4) - Fabiano
8. A.J. Green, Bengals (WR5) - Koh
9. DeMarco Murray, Titans (RB4) - Harmon
10. LeSean McCoy, Bills (RB5) - Money

There were no surprises in Round 1. Rank told me before the draft that he wanted Mike Evans at No. 6, and I figured he'd have no problem landing him. Then Marcas swoops in and snipes Rank in the first round, causing him some unexpected first-round tilting. Ah, the joys of fantasy drafts. I'd missed those.

Favorite pick: A.J. Green, eighth overall
Biggest surprise: DeMarco Murray, ninth overall (only because it's Harmon taking an RB in Round 1)


11. Jordy Nelson, Packers (WR6) - Money
12. Michael Thomas, Saints (WR7) - Harmon
13. Melvin Gordon, Chargers (RB6) - Koh
14. Jordan Howard, Bears (RB7) - Fabiano
15. Dez Bryant, Cowboys (WR8) - Rank
16. Devonta Freeman, Falcons (RB8) - Grant
17. Todd Gurley, Rams (RB9) - Harrison
18. Jay Ajayi, Dolphins (RB10) - Gelhar
19. DeAndre Hopkins, Texans (WR9) - Frelund
20. T.Y. Hilton, Colts (WR10) - Franchise

I'm a Packers fan, but WR6 feels high for Jordy Nelson. His scoring potential is evident seeing as he'll continue catching passes from Aaron Rodgers, but it's worth wondering if he slows down another step in his age 32 season. Optimism remains high around DeAndre Hopkins with Brock Osweiler out of the picture. But are Tom Savage and/or Deshaun Watson really better options? I'd like to think so, but as we've learned plenty of times before the grass isn't always greener under the feet of a new, untested quarterback.

Favorite pick: Devonta Freeman, 16th overall
Biggest surprise: Jordy Nelson, 11th overall


21. Leonard Fournette, Jaguars (RB11) - Franchise
22. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots (TE1) - Frelund
23. Allen Robinson, Jaguars (WR11) - Gelhar
24. Amari Cooper, Raiders (WR12) - Harrison
25. Spencer Ware, Chiefs (RB12) - Grant
26. Brandin Cooks, Patriots (WR13) - Rank
27. Carlos Hyde, 49ers (RB13) - Fabiano
28. Alshon Jeffery, Eagles (WR14) - Koh
29. Doug Baldwin, Seahawks (WR15) - Harmon
30. Keenan Allen, Chargers (WR16) - Money

We didn't have to wait long to see our first rookie drafted. The Jaguars seem to be very high on Leonard Fournette and clearly invested heavily in him in the NFL draft, which I'm sure helped justify taking him with the 21st overall pick for Franchise. It's May, but things certainly get murky quickly here. I think Harmon and Money got great value with Baldwin and Allen falling to them at the end of the round. I almost took both of those players at 23, but settled on an Allen Robinson bounce-back instead (I hope). I like the idea of Brandin Cooks in New England (Bill Belichick has long coveted Cooks), but grabbing him as the 13th WR off the board feels a bit too rich for my blood given how many high-quality pass-catchers reside in that offense (like that big guy Cynthia took at 22).

Favorite pick: Keenan Allen, 30th overall
Biggest surprise: Brandin Cooks, 26th overall


31. Aaron Rodgers, Packers (QB1) - Money
32. Terrelle Pryor, Redskins (WR17) - Harmon
33. Marshawn Lynch, Raiders (RB14) - Koh
34. Demaryius Thomas, Broncos (WR18) - Fabiano
35. Christian McCaffrey, Panthers (RB15) - Rank
36. Michael Crabtree, Raiders (WR19) - Grant
37. Lamar Miller, Texans (RB16) - Harrison
38. Sammy Watkins, Bills (WR20) - Gelhar
39. C.J. Anderson, Broncos (RB17) - Frelund
40. Joe Mixon, Bengals (RB18) - Franchise

Michael Crabtree going 12 picks and seven wide receivers after Amari Cooper is something that will puzzle me all offseason. Crabtree is used more frequently in the red zone and has out-scored Cooper in each of the last two years. I understand chasing Cooper's upside, but I think the gap needs to be closer than that. For what it's worth, I have them as the WR12 and WR13 in my top 100, with Crabtree ranked higher. I was thrilled Sammy Watkins fell to me. He carries plenty of injury risk but is playing for a new contract now that the Bills didn't pick up his fifth-year option and will once again be running alongside Tyrod Taylor and LeSean McCoy. That trio has had success when on the field together. Several backs with high ceilings but heavy question marks hanging around them went in Round 4 as well. The range of outcomes for Marshawn Lynch, Lamar Miller, and C.J. Anderson feel as wide as the Grand Canyon.

Favorite pick: Terrelle Pryor, 32nd overall
Biggest surprise: Joe Mixon, 40th overall


41. Jarvis Landry, Dolphins (WR21) - Franchise
42. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals (WR22) - Frelund
43. Isaiah Crowell, Browns (RB19) - Gelhar
44. Tom Brady, Patriots (QB2) - Harrison
45. Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos (WR23) - Grant
46. Mark Ingram, Saints (RB20) - Rank
47. Eddie Lacy, Seahawks (RB21) - Fabiano
48. Ty Montgomery, Packers (RB22) - Koh
49. Ameer Abdullah, Lions (RB23) - Harmon
50. Dalvin Cook, Vikings (RB24) - Money

Lots of picks to like in this round. I'm probably too high on Isaiah Crowell right now, which meant I jumped at the chance to take him in Round 5. I like the improvements Cleveland made to its offensive line, and offense in general. Crowell could fall into a 1,000-yard, eight-plus touchdown season. If Mark Ingram and Eddie Lacy lead their respective committees, Rank and Fabiano found great value here. Ditto for Ty Montgomery and Ameer Abdullah, a duo I'd rather hitch my fantasy wagon to given their youth, explosion, and upside. Frelund clearly believes old man Larry Fitzgerald has one more great fantasy campaign to offer us. I wouldn't be surprised if he racks up the stats, but the fifth feels too early for me to invest in soon-to-be 34-year old slot receiver (he spent nearly 70 percent of his 2016 snaps in the slot or tight to the linemen).

Favorite pick: Ty Montgomery, 48th overall
Biggest surprise: Larry Fitzgerald, 42nd overall


51. Greg Olsen, Panthers (TE2) - Money
52. Tyreek Hill, Chiefs (WR24) - Harmon
53. Donte Moncrief, Colts (WR25) - Koh
54. Davante Adams, Packers (WR26) - Fabiano
55. Travis Kelce, Chiefs (TE3) - Rank
56. Andrew Luck, Colts (QB3) - Grant
57. Delanie Walker, Titans (TE4) - Harrison
58. DeSean Jackson, Buccaneers (WR27) - Gelhar
59. Golden Tate, Lions (WR28) - Frelund
60. Martavis Bryant, Steelers (WR29) - Franchise

I was hoping to get Andrew Luck here, but Marcas beat me to it. It's been years since Luck was fully healthy, which is why I like his chances of a return to "elite" fantasy status this year. I settled on DeSean Jackson, whom I really like this year in Tampa Bay, and I had my fingers crossed Martavis Bryant would slip to me in the next round. This is a reminder to know the players you're drafting with. Had I taken an extra second to think I would have realized there wasn't a snowball's chance in Hell that Bryant fell past noted Steelers homer Matt Franciscovich ... twice. Live and learn. That's why we mock.

Favorite pick: Travis Kelce, 55th overall
Biggest surprise: Delanie Walker, 57th overall


61. Tevin Coleman, Falcons (RB25) - Franchise
62. Zay Jones, Bills (WR30) - Frelund
63. Jordan Reed, Redskins (TE5) - Gelhar
64. Rob Kelley, Redskins (RB26) - Harrison
65. Corey Davis, Titans (WR31) - Grant
66. Cameron Meredith, Bears (WR32) - Rank
67. Jimmy Graham, Seahawks (TE6) - Fabiano
68. Samaje Perine, Redskins (RB27) - Koh
69. Paul Perkins, Giants (RB28) - Harmon
70. Julian Edelman, Patriots (WR33) - Money

Lots to talk about in this round, but let's focus on Harmon drafting Paul Perkins. Last season, Harmon frequently decried the over-hyping of players like Perkins and Dixon in fantasy circles. He justified the pick this way on Twitter post-mock:

If Perkins holds onto the "lead" role, he could certainly surprise. But forgive me if I have trust issues with the Giants backfield after all these years.

Favorite pick: Jordan Reed, 63rd overall (*pats self on back*)
Biggest surprise: Zay Jones, 62nd overall (I like Jones in Buffalo, but this felt high)


71. Danny Woodhead, Ravens (RB29) - Money
72. Stefon Diggs, Vikings (WR34) - Harmon
73. Corey Coleman, Browns (WR35) - Koh
74. Drew Brees, Saints (QB4) - Fabiano
75. Jamaal Williams, Packers (RB30) - Rank
76. Kareem Hunt, Chiefs (RB31) - Grant
77. Mike Williams, Chargers (WR36) - Harrison
78. Adrian Peterson, Saints (RB32) - Gelhar
79. Pierre Garcon, 49ers (WR37) - Frelund
80. Cam Newton, Panthers (QB5) - Franchise

Pierre Garcon at WR37 feels like highway robbery for Cynthia. He's not going to be a week-winning, sexy pick, but Garcon should dominate the targets in Kyle Shanahan's offense. I took a stab at Peterson here simply on the off chance that he recaptures 2015 form. What I saw in 2016 was worrisome, but that was a small sample size behind a terrible offensive line.

Favorite pick: DANNY WOODHEAD, OBVIOUSLY, 71st overall
Biggest surprise: Jamaal Williams, 75th overall


81. Bilal Powell, Jets (RB32) - Franchise
82. Derrick Henry, Titans (RB33) - Frelund
83. Mike Wallace, Ravens (WR38) - Gelhar
84. Jamison Crowder, Redskins (WR39) - Harrison
85. Rishard Matthews, Titans (WR40) - Grant
86. Jeremy McNichols, Buccaneers (RB34) - Rank
87. Eric Decker, Jets (WR41) - Fabiano
88. Martellus Bennett, Packers (TE7) - Koh
89. Frank Gore, Colts (RB35) - Harmon
90. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers (RB36) - Money

Talk about wide receiver value. I got a No. 1 wide receiver with the 83rd overall pick, Elliot got a potential target monster in Jamison Crowder with the next pick, then Marcas nabbed one of my favorite sleepers in Rishard Matthews. Oh, and let's not forget Fabiano scored Eric Decker at 87. Once we know more about Decker's health status and whether or not he'll be on the Jets in Week 1, he'll probably climb higher in subsequent mocks. Also love the Derrick Henry and Martellus Bennett picks here.

Favorite pick: Jamison Crowder, 84th overall
Biggest surprise: Bilal Powell, 81st overall (only because he went before Matt Forte, though I would have done the same, to be honest)


91. Brandon Marshall, Giants (WR42) - Money
92. Hunter Henry, Chargers (TE8) - Harmon
93. Willie Snead, Saints (WR43) - Koh
94. Jeremy Hill, Bengals (RB37) - Fabiano
95. DeVante Parker, Dolphins (WR44) - Rank
96. John Brown, Cardinals (WR45) - Grant
97. Tyler Eifert, Bengals (TE9) - Harrison
98. Terrance West, Ravens (RB38) - Gelhar
99. Darren Sproles, Eagles (RB39) - Frelund
100. Randall Cobb, Packers (WR46) - Franchise

Tyler Eifert. John Brown. Randall Cobb. Three names I never thought I'd see as low as Round 10. But here we are.

Favorite pick: Willie Snead, 93rd overall
Biggest surprise: Darren Sproles,99th overall


101. O.J. Howard, Buccaneers (TE10) - Franchise
102. Adam Thielen, Vikings (WR47) - Frelund
103. Marvin Jones, Lions (WR48) - Gelhar
104. Doug Martin, Buccaneers (RB40) - Harrison
105. Mike Gillislee, Patriots (RB41) - Grant
106. Will Fuller, Texans (WR49) - Rank
107. Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers (WR50) - Fabiano
108. Rex Burkhead, Patriots (RB42) - Koh
109. Jordan Matthews, Eagles (WR51) - Harmon
110. Breshad Perriman, Ravens (WR52) - Money

The Patriots backs finally start flying off the board. Marcas follows the money and takes Gillislee, while Koh follows the grit and selects Burkhead. A lot of bounce-back hopefuls appear in this round as well, with Marvin Jones, Doug Martin, Kelvin Benjamin and Jordan Matthews hearing their names called. Whoever returns to past form from that group will give his owner plenty of value.

Favorite pick: Adam Thielen, 102nd overall
Biggest surprise: O.J. Howard, 101st overall


111. Theo Riddick, Lions (RB43) - Money
112. C.J. Prosise, Seahawks (RB44) - Harmon
113. Matt Forte, Jets (RB45) - Koh
114. Latavius Murray, Vikings (RB46) - Fabiano
115. Kenneth Dixon, Ravens (RB47) - Rank
116. Duke Johnson, Browns (RB48) - Grant
117. Sterling Shepard, Giants (WR53) - Harrison
118. Russell Wilson, Seahawks (QB6) - Gelhar
119. Tyler Lockett, Seahawks (WR54) - Frelund
120. James White, Patriots (RB49) - Franchise

From here on out, I'll just give my favorite/biggest surprises. But before that, while this is an "expert" draft, I was surprised Russell Wilson fell all the way to me here. He was rarely healthy last season, and the offense continues to shift more and more onto his right arm. He'll also enter the season with a healthy Doug Baldwin, Paul Richardson, Jimmy Graham, and maybe Tyler Lockett too. He could rack up fantasy points starting in Week 1 against Green Bay.

Favorite pick: Matt Forte, 113th overall
Biggest surprise: Kenneth Dixon, 115th overall


121. Josh Doctson, Redskins (WR55) - Franchise
122. Matt Ryan, Falcons (QB7) - Frelund
123. Jack Doyle, Colts (TE11) - Gelhar
124. Marcus Mariota, Titans (QB8) - Harrison
125. Ryan Mathews, Eagles (RB50) - Grant
126. Jameis Winston, Buccaneers (QB9) - Rank
127. Jeremy Maclin, Chiefs (WR56) - Fabiano
128. D'Onta Foreman, Texans (RB51) - Koh
129. Tyrell Williams, Chargers (WR57) - Harmon
130. Joe Williams, 49ers (RB52) - Money

Favorite pick: Ryan Mathews, 125th overall
Biggest surprise: Joe Williams, 130th overall (To be clear, I LOVE Williams. Just surprised he went this early, if at all, but Money knows his college players)


131. Marlon Mack, Colts (RB53) - Money
132. Jonathan Williams, Bills (RB54) - Harmon
133. Dak Prescott, Cowboys (QB10) - Koh
134. Dion Lewis, Patriots (RB55) - Fabiano
135. Alvin Kamara, Saints (RB56) - Rank
136. Gerald Everett, Rams (TE12) - Grant
137. Chiefs D/ST (DEF1) - Harrison
138. Kenny Britt, Browns (WR58) - Gelhar
139. Robert Woods, Rams (WR59) - Frelund
140. Ted Ginn Jr., Saints (WR60) - Franchise

Favorite pick: Robert Woods, 139th overall
Biggest surprise: Dion Lewis, 134th overall


141. Wendell Smallwood, Eagles (RB57) - Franchise
142. Quincy Enunwa, Jets (WR61) - Frelund
143. Kenny Stills, Dolphins (WR62) - Gelhar
144. Jacquizz Rodgers, Buccaneers (RB58) - Harrison
145. John Ross, Bengals (WR63) - Grant
146. Jamaal Charles, Broncos (RB59) - Rank
147. J.J. Nelson, Cardinals (WR64) - Fabiano
148. Kevin White, Bears (WR65) - Koh
149. Kamar Aiken, Colts (WR66) - Harmon
150. LeGarrette Blount, free agent (RB60) - Money

Favorite pick: Kamar Aiken, 149th overall
Biggest surprise: Kenny Stills, 143rd overall (how did this guy get his job? Jeez!)

Hope you all enjoyed reading our first mock draft. Tell us how wrong we all are in the comments below or on Twitter. Until next time.

-- Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexGelhar or "Like" his page on Facebook.