The mock draft madness continues!
NFL Fantasy Football held its first PPR mock draft (12 teams) of the offseason on June 27, and it started like most drafts these days do ... with a ton of running backs and wide receivers. Out of the first 30 picks, 29 were backs or wideouts (Rob Gronkowski was the lone alternative choice), and all but four of the first 56 selections were from the two most important positions in fantasy land. The first quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, wasn't selected until Round 6. That brings me to another trend that you're going to see in most standard-scoring fantasy drafts ... quarterback values continue to sink due to high supply and low demand.
While quarterbacks score the most points in the world of fantasy football, the position is so deep that even some of the best signal-callers were picked late or not at all. In fact, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Andy Dalton, Carson Palmer and Blake Bortles were all left to the waiver wire! If this trend continues, we could see more and more leagues require two starting signal-callers in their weekly lineups.
Anyway, here's the team I drafted, and what I was thinking at each selection along the way. The draft was 15 rounds and based on the NFL's standard scoring system (plus PPR), and none of the teams were required to draft a kicker or a defense (so I didn't). That doesn't change the mock results much, as neither of those positions is worth more than a late-round (13-15) selection. To me, it makes a mock draft even more valuable in that there are more skill position players picked. At the end of the day, that's what we're looking for with these mocks ... where certain players (not a kicker or a defense) were chosen.
Round 1, Pick 12 - Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons: Freeman has finished sixth and first among running backs in PPR leagues in each of the last two seasons, and there are no signs of him slowing down in what should remain a prolific Atlanta offense. Despite the presence of Tevin Coleman, the FSU product has also seen more touches (619) than any other running back in the league in that time.
Round 2, Pick 13 - Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers: Nelson has scored a combined 27 touchdowns over his last two full seasons, and he's averaged 1,363 yards since 2013 (he missed 2015). While some out there are concerned about the fact that he's 32, I don't expect a serious decline in his offensive production. Why, you might ask? Two words: Aaron Rodgers. Nelson is a surefire second rounder.
Round 3, Pick 36 - Bilal Powell, RB, New York Jets: Anyone who follows me knows that I love Powell (especially in PPR leagues). He was targeted four or fewer times in 10 of his 16 games last season, and he still finished with 58 catches. Imagine what he can do now that he's projected to be a top offensive option for a Jets team with minimal firepower? Powell is a player who is on the rise in 2017.
Round 4, Pick 37 - Jarvis Landry, WR, Miami Dolphins: Landry ranks ninth in targets (297) and fourth in receptions (204) among wide receivers over the last two seasons, so it's no surprise to see him come off the board in the top 40. Also entering a contract year, there's a lot to like about the 24-year-old wide receiver. Imagine if he can just get his touchdown totals up, even by two or four?
Round 5, Pick 60 - Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals: Fitzgerald might be a little long in the tooth (he'll be 34 in August), but he remains in tremendous shape and the top option in the pass attack for Arizona. Over the last three seasons, Antonio Brown (242) and Julio Jones (219) are the lone wideouts in the league who have recorded more receptions than the future Hall of Famer (216).
Round 6, Pick 61 - Frank Gore, RB, Indianapolis Colts: You might not know it, but Freeman is the lone running back in the league with more touches than Gore (595) over the last two seasons. Not bad for the "old man," right? The Miami (FL) product is projected to remain the top running back in Indianapolis heading into this season, making him a fine flex starter in both standard and PPR formats.
Round 7, Pick 84 - Jimmy Graham, TE, Seattle Seahawks: Graham made a massive comeback last season, ranking seventh in targets (95), ninth in receptions (65) and third in yards (923) among tight ends. He also finished with an impressive 14.2 yards-per-catch average. While he's not on the same level as Rob Gronkowski, Graham does fit in well in that second tier of fantasy tight ends for 2017.
Round 8, Pick 85 - Corey Davis, WR, Tennessee Titans: I'm not blind to the fact that Davis will be hard pressed to make a major impact as a rookie after the addition of Eric Decker. However, it isn't out of the realm of possibility that he'll catch 60 balls and finish in the top 40 among PPR wide receivers. As the No. 4 wideout on this roster, I don't mind rolling the dice on Davis in Round 8.
Round 9, Pick 108 - Eddie Lacy, RB, Seattle Seahawks: You might see Lacy coming off the board in Round 9 in a 12-team league and think, "wow this is a steal!" Maybe, but this is where I think he belongs in a PPR league. I'm not a believer in Lacy as a featured back with Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise in the mix, but I don't mind him as a No. 4 running back. Don't reach for him based on name alone.
Round 10, Pick 109 - Jordan Matthews, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: Matthews has gone from a potential sleeper to a late-round flier in about a year's time. That's due in large part to the fact that the Eagles added both Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith to their pass attack in the offseason. Regardless of his decreased statistical ceiling, Matthews is still worth a late flier at this point in drafts.
Round 11, Pick 132 - Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans: The additions of Decker and Davis to an offense with incumbents like DeMarco Murray, Rishard Matthews and Delanie Walker gives Mariota a nice list of options in the pass attack. Barring any setbacks in his return from a broken leg, it wouldn't shock me at all to see Mariota finish in the top five in fantasy points among quarterbacks.
Round 12, Pick 133 - Josh Doctson, WR, Washington Redskins: Much of Doctson's fantasy appeal was drained when the Redskins added Terrelle Pryor in the offseason. Still, the TCU product should emerge into the third wideout on the depth chart behind Pryor and Jamison Crowder and is well worth a late-round flier in drafts. Remember, this kid was a first-round draft pick (No. 22) just a year ago.
Round 13, Pick 156 - Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington Redskins: Cousins has finished in the top eight in fantasy points among quarterbacks in each of the last two seasons, yet he's being picked as a No. 2 in a lot of drafts. On this team, he would be a matchup-based starter and more if Mariota fails to meet expectations in Tennessee. This is another example of why you should wait on a quarterback.
Round 14, Pick 157 - Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals: I decided to pass on drafting a kicker or defense for the purposes of this mock draft, so I took a flier on Bernard. While there have been a few reports that he could miss the start of the regular season in his return from ACL reconstruction, I still see Bernard as a worthwhile late flier in PPR formats. He's the RB5 on this roster.
Round 15, Pick 180 - Jason Witten, TE, Dallas Cowboys: Graham is the clear-cut No. 1 tight end on this particular fantasy roster, so Witten will fall into a replacement-level role. While the veteran's best fantasy seasons are in the rearview mirror, he still ranked eighth in targets (95) and sixth in receptions (69) at his position in 2016. Witten is worth a late-round flier in most formats.