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 NFL.com. 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

  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

ROUND 1

  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)

ROUND 2

  1. Jordy Nelson, Packers (WR6) - Money
  2. Michael Thomas, Saints (WR7) - Harmon
  3. Melvin Gordon, Chargers (RB6) - Koh
  4. Jordan Howard, Bears (RB7) - Fabiano
  5. Dez Bryant, Cowboys (WR8) - Rank
  6. Devonta Freeman, Falcons (RB8) - Grant
  7. Todd Gurley, Rams (RB9) - Harrison
  8. Jay Ajayi, Dolphins (RB10) - Gelhar
  9. DeAndre Hopkins, Texans (WR9) - Frelund
  10. 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

ROUND 3

  1. Leonard Fournette, Jaguars (RB11) - Franchise
  2. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots (TE1) - Frelund
  3. Allen Robinson, Jaguars (WR11) - Gelhar
  4. Amari Cooper, Raiders (WR12) - Harrison
  5. Spencer Ware, Chiefs (RB12) - Grant
  6. Brandin Cooks, Patriots (WR13) - Rank
  7. Carlos Hyde, 49ers (RB13) - Fabiano
  8. Alshon Jeffery, Eagles (WR14) - Koh
  9. Doug Baldwin, Seahawks (WR15) - Harmon
  10. 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

ROUND 4

  1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers (QB1) - Money
  2. Terrelle Pryor, Redskins (WR17) - Harmon
  3. Marshawn Lynch, Raiders (RB14) - Koh
  4. Demaryius Thomas, Broncos (WR18) - Fabiano
  5. Christian McCaffrey, Panthers (RB15) - Rank
  6. Michael Crabtree, Raiders (WR19) - Grant
  7. Lamar Miller, Texans (RB16) - Harrison
  8. Sammy Watkins, Bills (WR20) - Gelhar
  9. C.J. Anderson, Broncos (RB17) - Frelund
  10. 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

ROUND 5

  1. Jarvis Landry, Dolphins (WR21) - Franchise
  2. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals (WR22) - Frelund
  3. Isaiah Crowell, Browns (RB19) - Gelhar
  4. Tom Brady, Patriots (QB2) - Harrison
  5. Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos (WR23) - Grant
  6. Mark Ingram, Saints (RB20) - Rank
  7. Eddie Lacy, Seahawks (RB21) - Fabiano
  8. Ty Montgomery, Packers (RB22) - Koh
  9. Ameer Abdullah, Lions (RB23) - Harmon
  10. 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

ROUND 6

  1. Greg Olsen, Panthers (TE2) - Money
  2. Tyreek Hill, Chiefs (WR24) - Harmon
  3. Donte Moncrief, Colts (WR25) - Koh
  4. Davante Adams, Packers (WR26) - Fabiano
  5. Travis Kelce, Chiefs (TE3) - Rank
  6. Andrew Luck, Colts (QB3) - Grant
  7. Delanie Walker, Titans (TE4) - Harrison
  8. DeSean Jackson, Buccaneers (WR27) - Gelhar
  9. Golden Tate, Lions (WR28) - Frelund
  10. 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

ROUND 7

  1. Tevin Coleman, Falcons (RB25) - Franchise
  2. Zay Jones, Bills (WR30) - Frelund
  3. Jordan Reed, Redskins (TE5) - Gelhar
  4. Rob Kelley, Redskins (RB26) - Harrison
  5. Corey Davis, Titans (WR31) - Grant
  6. Cameron Meredith, Bears (WR32) - Rank
  7. Jimmy Graham, Seahawks (TE6) - Fabiano
  8. Samaje Perine, Redskins (RB27) - Koh
  9. Paul Perkins, Giants (RB28) - Harmon
  10. 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)

ROUND 8

  1. Danny Woodhead, Ravens (RB29) - Money
  2. Stefon Diggs, Vikings (WR34) - Harmon
  3. Corey Coleman, Browns (WR35) - Koh
  4. Drew Brees, Saints (QB4) - Fabiano
  5. Jamaal Williams, Packers (RB30) - Rank
  6. Kareem Hunt, Chiefs (RB31) - Grant
  7. Mike Williams, Chargers (WR36) - Harrison
  8. Adrian Peterson, Saints (RB32) - Gelhar
  9. Pierre Garcon, 49ers (WR37) - Frelund
  10. 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

ROUND 9

  1. Bilal Powell, Jets (RB32) - Franchise
  2. Derrick Henry, Titans (RB33) - Frelund
  3. Mike Wallace, Ravens (WR38) - Gelhar
  4. Jamison Crowder, Redskins (WR39) - Harrison
  5. Rishard Matthews, Titans (WR40) - Grant
  6. Jeremy McNichols, Buccaneers (RB34) - Rank
  7. Eric Decker, Jets (WR41) - Fabiano
  8. Martellus Bennett, Packers (TE7) - Koh
  9. Frank Gore, Colts (RB35) - Harmon
  10. 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)

ROUND 10

  1. Brandon Marshall, Giants (WR42) - Money
  2. Hunter Henry, Chargers (TE8) - Harmon
  3. Willie Snead, Saints (WR43) - Koh
  4. Jeremy Hill, Bengals (RB37) - Fabiano
  5. DeVante Parker, Dolphins (WR44) - Rank
  6. John Brown, Cardinals (WR45) - Grant
  7. Tyler Eifert, Bengals (TE9) - Harrison
  8. Terrance West, Ravens (RB38) - Gelhar
  9. Darren Sproles, Eagles (RB39) - Frelund
  10. 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

ROUND 11

  1. O.J. Howard, Buccaneers (TE10) - Franchise
  2. Adam Thielen, Vikings (WR47) - Frelund
  3. Marvin Jones, Lions (WR48) - Gelhar
  4. Doug Martin, Buccaneers (RB40) - Harrison
  5. Mike Gillislee, Patriots (RB41) - Grant
  6. Will Fuller, Texans (WR49) - Rank
  7. Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers (WR50) - Fabiano
  8. Rex Burkhead, Patriots (RB42) - Koh
  9. Jordan Matthews, Eagles (WR51) - Harmon
  10. 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

ROUND 12

  1. Theo Riddick, Lions (RB43) - Money
  2. C.J. Prosise, Seahawks (RB44) - Harmon
  3. Matt Forte, Jets (RB45) - Koh
  4. Latavius Murray, Vikings (RB46) - Fabiano
  5. Kenneth Dixon, Ravens (RB47) - Rank
  6. Duke Johnson, Browns (RB48) - Grant
  7. Sterling Shepard, Giants (WR53) - Harrison
  8. Russell Wilson, Seahawks (QB6) - Gelhar
  9. Tyler Lockett, Seahawks (WR54) - Frelund
  10. 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

ROUND 13

  1. Josh Doctson, Redskins (WR55) - Franchise
  2. Matt Ryan, Falcons (QB7) - Frelund
  3. Jack Doyle, Colts (TE11) - Gelhar
  4. Marcus Mariota, Titans (QB8) - Harrison
  5. Ryan Mathews, Eagles (RB50) - Grant
  6. Jameis Winston, Buccaneers (QB9) - Rank
  7. Jeremy Maclin, Chiefs (WR56) - Fabiano
  8. D'Onta Foreman, Texans (RB51) - Koh
  9. Tyrell Williams, Chargers (WR57) - Harmon
  10. 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)

ROUND 14

  1. Marlon Mack, Colts (RB53) - Money
  2. Jonathan Williams, Bills (RB54) - Harmon
  3. Dak Prescott, Cowboys (QB10) - Koh
  4. Dion Lewis, Patriots (RB55) - Fabiano
  5. Alvin Kamara, Saints (RB56) - Rank
  6. Gerald Everett, Rams (TE12) - Grant
  7. Chiefs D/ST (DEF1) - Harrison
  8. Kenny Britt, Browns (WR58) - Gelhar
  9. Robert Woods, Rams (WR59) - Frelund
  10. Ted Ginn Jr., Saints (WR60) - Franchise

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

ROUND 15

  1. Wendell Smallwood, Eagles (RB57) - Franchise
  2. Quincy Enunwa, Jets (WR61) - Frelund
  3. Kenny Stills, Dolphins (WR62) - Gelhar
  4. Jacquizz Rodgers, Buccaneers (RB58) - Harrison
  5. John Ross, Bengals (WR63) - Grant
  6. Jamaal Charles, Broncos (RB59) - Rank
  7. J.J. Nelson, Cardinals (WR64) - Fabiano
  8. Kevin White, Bears (WR65) - Koh
  9. Kamar Aiken, Colts (WR66) - Harmon
  10. 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.

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