Draft fever is spreading throughout the NFL Media offices. And the only cure, was to hold a mock draft. Even though the final rosters and depth charts are far from set, we saw fit to have a little fun and conduct a post-free agency fantasy football mock draft. We allowed drafters to select incoming rookies, so you'll see several of the top prospects from the 2015 NFL Draft listed below. Even though their fantasy stock could rise or fall depending on where they land in the NFL, it's still a good barometer to see how we're feeling about certain guys based on raw talent.
The standard scoring league consisted of NFL Fantasy LIVE member, producers and writers, as indicated below. Each team needed to assemble a starting lineup of one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one flex (RB/WR), one tight end, one kicker and one defense/special teams unit. Marcas Grant and I provided a little commentray and analysis in between each round, and Michael Fabiano went pick-by-pick on his draft strategy which you can read HERE.
Editor's Note: This mock draft was conducted prior to Le'Veon Bell's three-game suspension being announced by the league.
1. Dylan Milner, NFL Fantasy LIVE senior producer
2. Heather Pink, NFL Fantasy LIVE producer
3. Alex Wilk, NFL Fantasy LIVE producer
4. Michael Fabiano, NFL Media Senior Fantasy analyst
5. Matt Franciscovich, NFL Fantasy writer/editor
6. Adam Rank, NFL Fantasy LIVE member
7. Alex Gelhar, NFL Fantasy writer/editor
8. Hytham Kilani, NFL Fantasy LIVE producer
9. Marcas Grant, NFL Fantasy editor
10. James Koh, NFL Fantasy LIVE host
Marcas Grant: So...where to begin? Am I the only one surprised that Marshawn Lynch fell all the way to sixth?
Alex Gelhar: I feel like I should have been surprised, but actually wasn't. Shady's move to Buffalo should mean good things, and everyone taken ahead of Lynch is either younger or has suffered way less punishment in recent years. More surprising to me was DeMarco Murray still getting an invite to Round 1.
M.G.: That's fair. Normally I wouldn't consider Antonio Brown at No. 9 a steal, but I'd take Brown over Dez Bryant (who I really like) every day of the week. And twice on Sundays.
A.G.: "Twice on Sundays" sounds like a great name for an indie rock band.
A.G.: I have a question: What did Calvin Johnson do to the members of this draft to fall to the fifth wide receiver (and sixth pass-catcher) drafted?
M.G.: Apparently you CAN lose your job to injury in fantasy land. But Emmanuel Sanders in the bottom of the second round was an even bigger eye-opener.
A.G.: Absolutely. Does Pink know something we don't? I'd take any of the four wide receivers selected in the third round over Sanders, but then again I am a guy who willingly watches "Nashville" on a weekly basis.
M.G.: The Sanders pick is even more glaring when you see Jordy Nelson at the top of the third round. Then again, I shouldn't be surprised that a Bears fan passed on a Packers receiver.
A.G.: Fan blood runs thicker than fantasy blood, some people say (probably). As someone who waited on running backs, I kind of like the options available in the third round, although I doubt Foster will fall that far come August.
M.G.: That definitely feels like a big oversight on our part. In other news ... to definitely toot my own horn, I was feeling pretty good about myself after the first three rounds.
A.G.: Marcas Grant: Self-proclaimed fantasy horn-tooter.
A.G.: Moving into the fourth round, we saw a healthy mix of old faithfuls and new fads. Who made the best move of the round in your opinion?
M.G.: It was either James Koh going with Frank Gore at the top of the round. Or Heather Pink with Tre Mason later on -- especially if Mason doesn't get Zac Stacy'd this season.
A.G.: No fantasy owner wants their player to get "Zac Stacy'd" -- some would say it's a fate worse than death. Personally, I liked Fabiano grabbing Nuk Hopkins, one of my favorite sleepers from last season. His combo of Randall Cobb and Hopkins could easily net him 2,400 yards and 20 touchdowns.
M.G.: Moving to the fifth round, Fabs gets even better when he backed up Cobb and Hopkins with DeSean Jackson. That's not a bad flex option at all. Especially because so many of the other picks in this round felt speculative.
A.G.: Bringing back my naming rounds trend from last time, I'm going to dub Round 5 the "Wonderball," as I wonder wonder what's in store for these picks. I didn't feel good about taking Dre Johnson as my No. 1 WR, for instance.
M.G.: You mean, the same way I feel about having Andre Ellington as my No. 1 running back? Yeah ... I get it.
A.G.: Round 6 offered some interesting pairs: two aging but effective QBs, two rookie RBs and two talented TEs. Which pair makes the most sense at this point in the draft?
M.G.: It feels a little early for the rookies. I'd rather take a chance on someone with an actual track record. Similarly, if you're waiting on QBs, you could sit this round out and still get value. I guess that leaves the tight ends by default.
A.G.:Travis Kelce frustrates me, because I really think he's in line for a breakout, but know I'm going to have to reach too high to get him. Any players you feel similarly about?
M.G.: If Todd Gurley ends up being drafted by the Cowboys, I feel like he'll be that guy. Then again, I kinda thought that about Franchise taking Martavis Bryant in the seventh round. Sure, he's a big play threat, but the Steelers found 2,764 ways to get Antonio Brown the ball last year and I don't see that changing much.
M.G.: Looking at the rest of Round 7, who is the biggest risk-reward option -- Keenan Allen, Charles Johnson or Julius Thomas?
A.G.: It feels wrong, but I have to say Keenan Allen. His fall from grace last year was terrifying. And with the arrival of Steve Johnson in town I fear for Allen's targets.
M.G.: I want to believe in him, but after he burned me last season I'm still squeamish. It was like watching a horror movie in weekly installments.
A.G.: Except you couldn't leave the theater and they charged your credit card every time, too.
A.G.: Everything appears to be normal in Round 8 except OH MY GOD WHO DRAFTED JAMEIS WINSTON?!?
M.G.: While we weren't looking, Alex Wilk was possessed by the ghost of Jimbo Fisher. But it diverted attention away from my admittedly questionable Larry Fitzgerald selection. Still ... Jameis?
A.G.: I think this round featured a lot of owners firing from the hip. Jameis, Larry, Torrey ... Shoelace? I say we move on.
M.G.: Bill Belichick voice On to Round 9. I will say that Wilk redeemed himself with the Dwayne Allen pick. Or is that my fantasy man crush talking? Anything else stand out here?
A.G.: No, Allen is a fantasy catch, for sure. I also liked the Victor Cruz and C.J. Spiller picks. Cruz had a serious injury, but could come back strong in that revitalized offense with OBJ getting all the attention. And isn't Spiller essentially a bigger, younger version of Darren Sproles for Drew Brees? I love his potential as an RB3 or 4.
M.G.: Agreed. And the good news is that we won't have any illusions of Spiller being a workhorse back in New Orleans. Run until he pukes my a--!
A.G.: Aside from one or two picks (cough Sankey cough), I love what we did in Round 10. Lots of high-upside picks, which is what I think you have to target at this point.
M.G.: To Kilani's credit, he agonized over the Sankey pick. There were some quality selections in this round. The Jerick McKinnon pick could be HUUGE if the Vikings move Adrian Peterson.
A.G.: To be fair, any one selecting Sankey is going to agonize over it. That being said ... guy could still have a big year and surprise us all (or me at least).
M.G.: Moving ahead to Round 11, I really like Rank's Jaelen Strong pick. I think he could have Brandin Cooks-like potential in the right offense. Does Kilani know something we don't about Doug Martin?
A.G.: Perhaps. Or perhaps he's just stock-piling all the top candidates for Comeback Player of the Year in the late rounds and hoping one hits big. I know my Bailey pick raised eyebrows, but from Week 12 on I'd say he was the best receiver on the team. Consider me the conductor of the Bailey hype train.
A.G.: I guess I'm pulling double duty on my hype trains, because I'm getting in early on Mike Davis here in Round 12. He's one of my favorite incoming rookies we've scouted in our "Prospect a Day" series. Who would be yours (and was he selected in this mock)?
M.G.: Mine is probably Jaelen Strong, who went one round earlier. But can we take a moment to note that with Andre Williams going in Round 12, all three Giants running backs have come off the board?
A.G.: Yeah ... about that. Someone's going to end up sorely disappointed, or on the outside looking in like Kay at the end of "The Godfather."
M.G.: closes the door on Round 12
M.G.: First off ... there's Wallace! At the top of the 13th round. But which name drew bigger groans -- Dwayne Bowe or Montee Ball?
A.G.: It had to be Ball. Bowe was more of a collective, sad sigh, whereas Ball elicited the type of groans an uncle gets when he tells terrible jokes at a family reunion. No one wants to be subjected to that.
M.G.: "A man walks into a fantasy draft ... he had a Montee Ball!"
A.G.: Surprisingly, there were four picks I really liked in Round 14: Davante Adams, Kyle Rudolph, Brian Quick and Doug Baldwin. Who won the late-round "I took my defense too early" sweepstakes by nabbing one of these guys?
M.G.: I'm really happy with my Adams pick in that round. Being a receiver for Aaron Rodgers continues to be one of the best NFL gigs around.
A.G.: Truth. Is there a cushier job in the NFL than catching passes from Aaron Rodgers right now?