Well, it's that time again ... let's get mocked!
Most of the big-name free agents have signed and the 2018 NFL Draft is over, so we now have a clearer picture of what NFL rosters are going to look like heading into camps. This mock, unlike past versions, will show just how much value the running back position has gained over the last three years. In fact, I would expect a lot of fantasy owners to use their first two picks on runners. For those considering that strategy, four teams (2, 3, 4, 8) went back-to-back backs in the first two rounds of this draft. On the flip side, just one team (10) went back-to-back wide receivers.
Fantasy fans will also find that five different rookies made the top 50, and all of them are running backs. #runningbackrevival
You'll also notice a glaring omission. Not a single quarterback was picked in the first 50 selections. Why? Well, as good as Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady have been and Deshaun Watson could be next season, there is a massive supply (13 quarterbacks had 249-plus fantasy points last season) and a small demand (10 teams, 10 starters) at the position. Look at the 2018 average draft positions (ADP) of Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, Alex Smith, Carson Wentz, Kirk Cousins, Matthew Stafford and Philip Rivers. All were top-10 signal-callers, and most of them were drafted late or not at all.
So, unless you're in a super flex league, a league that requires two starting quarterbacks or your scoring system values the position at a high level, well, there's no real reason to focus on one in the first five rounds. What's more, I wouldn't be surprised to see lots of owners draft one quarterback. That will leave lots of options on the waiver wire for Week 1.
This mock draft is based on a 10-team league with a PPR scoring system that rewards four points for touchdown passes and six points for all other touchdowns.
1. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers: I can make an argument for at least five different players to be the No. 1 overall pick, but I'm going with Bell. He was a top-10 PPR running back 12 times and ranked in the top 20 in more than 50 percent of his starts last season. The potential for another camp holdout is a cause for concern, so Bell could move down a spot or two in future mocks.
2. Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams: Gurley went bananas last season, finishing as a top-10 PPR runner in 12 of his 15 games. Furthermore, he averaged 25.5 points per game and scored 20-plus points 10 times including seven games with more than 25 points. While I do expect there to be at least some regression after what was a career campaign, Gurley won't fall past the second overall pick.
3. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys: Am I sometimes a Cowboys homer? Yup. But how can you pass on Zeke as a top-three pick? In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if he leads the position in fantasy points next season. Elliott missed six games due to a suspension in 2017, but he averaged the third-most PPR points (20.3 PPG) among backs who played at least seven games (Gurley and Bell).
4. David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals: Johnson scored over 400 PPR points in 2016 and was the consensus top pick this past season, but an injured wrist sidelined him for most of the 2017 campaign. He'll be back at 100 percent for the start of camp, however, and he'll be fresh after missing significant time. New coach Steve Wilks is going to run Johnson a ton too, so expect him to produce in the stat sheets.
5. Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: The best wide receiver in fantasy football, Brown led his position with 1,533 yards and six top-five finishes in 14 games. He also scored 25-plus PPR points in half of his games and led all receivers in points-per-game average (22.2). I can see A.B. being the top overall pick in countless PPR drafts, but this running back truther has him at No. 5.
6. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints: As a rookie, Kamara thrived once the Saints traded Adrian Peterson. In fact, he had a six-week stretch where he ranked no worse than ninth among PPR backs including five top-4 finishes and three No. 1 finishes. With Mark Ingram being suspended for the first four games of 2018, Kamara could end up being a top-three overall selection in PPR formats.
7. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants: A few years ago, many fantasy fans were worried about drafting Zeke in Round 1 simply because he was a rookie. That was then, this is now ... and no one should have any concern with Barkley as a top-10 pick. A three-down runner at the next level, I'm projecting the Penn State product to make a major impact in 2018. Don't fear the hype ... believe it.
8. Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs: Hunt was a fantasy machine as a rookie, posting seven top-10 PPR finishes while also ranking as a top-20 runner 10 different times. He was able to reach these heights despite a five-game stretch where he ranked no higher than 24th at the position. While Spencer Ware (knee) could be back in the mix, Hunt isn't about to lose his featured role in K.C.
9. Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars: A superstar rookie back, Fournette scored 10 total touchdowns and averaged 17.7 PPR points in 13 games. While he finished as a top-five runner just twice, he also ranked in the top 15 in PPR points 10 times. Fournette will continue to shine as the centerpiece of the Jaguars offense, so expect to hear his name called in the first round of drafts.
10. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans: Hopkins, a massive disappointment for owners in 2016, exploded for 96 receptions, 1,378 yards, 13 touchdowns and the second-most PPR fantasy points among wide receivers last season. In seven games with Deshaun Watson under center, Nuk ranked in the top five at his position three times (43 percent) and in the top 10 four times (57 percent). Giddy up.
11. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants: Beckham Jr. was playing at a high level before suffering a gruesome leg injury last season, as he scored 20-plus PPR points in two of his four games. Barring a setback in his return to the gridiron, OBJ figures to be a top-12 overall pick and won't last past the top 15 in most formats. Let's just hope he stays out of trouble off of the gridiron.
12. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons: A first-round pick last season, Jones has fallen into the second round of these 2018 mock drafts. While his final numbers looked good, the veteran ranked outside of the top 20 PPR wideouts in 11 of his 16 games, and 20 percent of his total fantasy points came in just one game. He's just too inconsistent to be considered a first-round selection at this point in time.
13. Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers: Gordon proved that his sophomore campaign was no fluke, as he scored 12 touchdowns and ranked fifth in PPR points among running backs this past season. He also tied for fourth in top-5 finishes (5), and just five other runners averaged more PPR points. Flash also scored 20-plus points five times, including four different games with 25-plus points.
14. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints: Thomas wasn't much of a touchdown scorer last season, but he did finish third in receptions (104) and sixth in receiving yards (1,245) among wideouts. He was very reliable in his final 11 contests too, as Thomas ranked in the top-20 eight times (72.7 percent) including five top-12 finishes and a pair of top-four ranks in the fantasy postseason.
15. Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers: The 2017 NFL Comeback Player of the Year, Allen returned from a torn ACL to produce career bests in catches (102) and receiving yards (1,393) last season. He also finished third behind Brown and Hopkins among wideouts in PPR leagues, making him a massive asset. In what will remain a potent offense, Allen will be a top-20 overall choice in PPR drafts.
16. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings: Cook, who missed all but four games as a rookie due to an injured knee, had two top-10 performances in three full contests. Vikings general manager Rick Spielman believes Cook will be fine for the start of training camp, so look for him to reclaim a featured role. With Jerick McKinnon no longer on the roster, I like Cook as a surefire top-20 selection.
17. LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills: McCoy had another successful season in the stat sheets, as he ranked seventh among PPR running backs with six top-10 finishes. He also had four games where he ranked fifth or better. Based on the high number of talented, young players at his position and the fact that McCoy will turn 30 this summer, I'm projecting him as a second-round pick in PPR formats.
18. Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons: Freeman ranked 13th among backs in PPR scoring this past season, which is his worst finish since 2014. He was still a reliable option for owners though, as he finished with double-digit points 12 times and was a top-20 performer in seven of his 14 games. Still just 25 years old, the veteran will be a high-end No. 2 fantasy runner in 10-team PPR leagues.
19. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers: McCaffrey ran for just 435 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie, but his 80 catches, 651 yards and five scores as a receiver made him a top-10 fantasy back in PPR leagues. He did lose a bit of his luster when the Panthers added C.J. Anderson, but the Stanford product should still see more than his share of chances as a pass catcher and remains a top-20 PPR pick.
20. A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals: Green is another in a long line of unreliable fantasy wideouts from a season ago. While he did have four top-10 finishes and seven top-20 finishes among receivers, most of his success came in the first half of the season. In fact, Green ranked 35th or worse at his position in four of his final seven games and was better than 17th once during that time.
21. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers: Adams was extremely inconsistent in his first eight games, but he finished with four top-12 PPR finishes including two top-10 ranks in his final five full games before being injured in Week 15. I can see him being picked in the second round after the release of Jordy Nelson, but Adams is locked and loaded as no worse than a third-round PPR selection regardless.
22. Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings: While Blue Swede came to our minds when we heard his name, Thielen was making sweet fantasy music for owners last season. He finished eighth in PPR scoring despite scoring just four times, and now he'll have Kirk Cousins throwing him the football. You like that? Thielen should lead the Vikings in targets in what will be a fun offense to watch.
23. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Buccaneers were a fantasy disappointment as a team last season, and Evans was the main perpetrator. A top-10 wide receiver in four of his first six games, the talented veteran went on to rank better than 23rd in PPR points at his position in just two of his final nine games. He's Florida's version of Julio Jones ... talented, but unreliable and frustrating at times.
24. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals: Fitzgerald might be getting up there in age, but that hasn't curbed his level of production. In fact, the future Hall of Famer was second in receptions behind Jarvis Landry last season. While Sam Bradford might not be the sexiest name at quarterback, he's an upgrade over Blaine Gabbert, right? I'm betting on another nice season from Fitzgerald.
25. Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots: Gronkowski looks like he'll be back for this ninth NFL season, so he'll also be back as a top-25 PPR overall pick in fantasy land. In fact, I have the big man as the first tight end off the board (big shocker). Last season, the New England touchdown machine recorded nine top-10 finishes and had eight top-5 finishes at the tight end position.
26. Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs: Hill ranked in the top-20 nine times last season, including four different games in the top 10. He was also a star down the stretch, putting up three top-11 finishes over his final four games of the fantasy season. I wouldn't expect his value to change much with Patrick Mahomes under center, so look for Hill to be a top-35 selection next season.
27. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs: An argument can be made that Kelce, not Gronkowski, should be the first tight end pick in 2018 drafts. After all, he has been the highest-scoring player at the position for two straight seasons. He also finished no worse than 13th in all but three games, and he failed to post top-20 totals just once. You have to like that high level of production.
28. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts: I have Hilton ranked in the top 30 based on the assumption that Andrew Luck (shoulder) will be back under center for the Colts in Week 1. In that scenario, Hilton could be a steal in some drafts. A potential target hog with Donte Moncrief now in Jacksonville, I can see the talented veteran hitting the 80-catch mark with relative ease ... and lots of "Luck."
29. Jerick McKinnon, RB, San Francisco 49ers: The biggest mover after the free-agency frenzy, McKinnon is now a legitimate top-30 pick in PPR leagues. New coach Kyle Shanahan, who has had a top-8 PPR runner in three straight seasons, will use McKinnon much like he did Freeman in Atlanta. McKinnon, a solid pass-catcher, should haul in 50-plus receptions and receive oodles of touches in 2018.
30. Kenyan Drake, RB, Miami Dolphins: Drake's overall fantasy value took a bit of a hit when the Dolphins signed Frank Gore and drafted Kalen Ballage, but those adds were more about depth behind the Alabama product. In fact, I still see him as the leader of the Miami backfield in terms of touches and potential fantasy production in 2018. He's well worth a top-40 pick across the board.
32. Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks: Baldwin made his fantasy owners angry with some inconsistent stat lines a season ago, but he still finished 13th in PPR scoring among wideouts.