Fantasy Football Mock Draft 1.0: Tight Ends are King

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 14: Alvin Kamara #41 of the New Orleans Saints carries the ball in the second quarter of the NFC Divisional Playoff game against the Minnesota Viking on January 14, 2018 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 14: Alvin Kamara #41 of the New Orleans Saints carries the ball in the second quarter of the NFC Divisional Playoff game against the Minnesota Viking on January 14, 2018 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) /

I did a 12-team, half PPR mock draft from the 8th draft position. I documented my picks, strategy, and thoughts in each round.

It’s still two months before most people will do their fantastic football drafts, but it’s never too early to start mocking. Getting a sense of what players will go where is crucial before starting the real draft. Identifying busts and sleepers, trying out different strategies, and picking from different spots are all essential parts of the fantasy preseason. For this article, I went through a mock draft and analyzed each pick. Hopefully, my logic in working through a draft will help you work through your big boards during mocks and the real draft.

Round 1: Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

Last year’s fantasy darling, Kamara is a first round lock this year, especially in any league that rewards catches. Kamara showed at the end of last year that he can take on a bigger role. He will have the chance to lock up the Saints’ backfield for good while Mark Ingram is suspended the first four games. Even if his efficiency drops, Kamara will still make the most of his workload, which should include a healthy dose of targets. Other studs like Kareem Hunt, Melvin Gordon, and Odell Beckham, Jr., were available, but Kamara has the highest upside.

Round 2: Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

Now that Allen is finally healthy, he can finally demonstrate that he’s a PPR machine. Allen is among the most reliable wide receivers in all of fantasy as he should see another 150+ targets this year. The Chargers offense is also primed to explode with last year’s draft picks fully healthy as well. Other great wide receivers like AJ Green and Davante Adams were available, but Allen benefits the most from the half PPR format. I also prefer to start with a RB-WR combo, although grabbing two elite RBs to start is not a bad way to go. Solid PPR running backs like LeSean McCoy and Christian McCaffrey were still available as well.

Round 3: Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs

Like Allen, Kelce is an absolute stud in PPR formats. He’s been the center of the Chiefs offense for several years now, and nothing should change next year. If anything, Mahomes’ more aggressive passing could bump Kelce’s yardage totals, giving him surplus value at the TE position. This year, it seems particularly important to grab an elite tight end given the uncertainty in the middle to lower tiers. Also, with players like Derrick Henry, Stefon Diggs, and Aaron Rodgers available, Kelce seemed like the best option. Now, I don’t have to worry about a run on tight ends later in the draft.

Round 4: Allen Robinson, WR, Chicago Bears

With a RB, WR, and TE on the roster, I wanted to take the best player available in round 4. At running back, I didn’t love players like Kenyan Drake, so I went wide receiver. Robinson’s upside is perfect to pair with a reliable weapon like Keenan Allen. Two years ago, Robinson was the WR4 in fantasy, so the upside is clear. Robinson will also have a bigger target share in Chicago compared to other players like Amari Cooper who was still on the board.

Round 5: Dion Lewis, RB, Tennessee Titans

One of the more surprising stats from this year’s offseason? Dion Lewis was the highest paid free agent running back this year. Clearly, the Titans like him and plan to utilize him complementary to Derrick Henry. That usage should be ideal for half PPR. While talented WRs like Brandin Cooks and Marvin Jones were available, I didn’t feel like the talent drop-off was close yet. Also, drafting a quarterback this high is simply bad value, even if guys like Tom Brady were available. Taking Lewis rounded out my starting running backs.

Round 6: Chris Hogan, WR, New England Patriots

Hogan, to me, was where the tier break was at wide receiver, so I felt fortunate to get him before worse players started going. He also allowed me to round out my starting wide receivers. Hogan, before getting injured, was the WR7 in fantasy. Without Edelman around for 4 weeks, he should reestablish himself in the offense. I far preferred Hogan to players like Michael Crabtree, Marlon Mack, or even Carson Wentz.

Round 7: Ronald Jones II, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

With my RBs, WRs, and TEs filled, I needed to get a solid flex. In half PPR, I could go either WR or RB for the flex, but the receivers available here – Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb – were pretty bad. Ronald Jones, a second-round pick, has top 24 upsides, especially in half PPR. Reports so far indicate that Jones will be the primary ball carrier in Tampa Bay. If that’s the case, Jones will outperform his 7th round price.

Round 8: Isaiah Crowell, RB, New York Jets

While this pick is very bland, it gives me a reliable backup at running back. Crowell will be the starter in New York and should see double-digit touches a game. The talent pool at receiver is also considerably deeper than at running back, so stocking up on RBs early is important.

Round 9: Robby Anderson, WR, New York Jets

In hindsight, it was a mistake to take two New York Jets. However, Anderson is a great flier to take in round 9 with high upside. When Anderson had enough targets, he produced like a WR1. He has the potential to replicate that this year.

Round 10: Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants

I was not excited to take my fifth receiver here, but Shepard’s value was too good to pass up. In the Giants’ offense, Shepard could be the second option. If he hits his ceiling, Shepard could be in the 80-90 catch range, making him an absolute steal.

Round 11: Latavius Murray, RB, Minnesota Vikings

I missed out on some of my favorite running back sleepers in Giovani Bernard and Nyheim Hines here. However, getting Murray here wasn’t a bad consolation. While he has minimal standalone value, Dalvin Cook is extremely injury-prone. If he goes down, Murray can be a RB2.

Round 12: Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I finally took my starting quarterback, which I like to do late. Getting Winston in the 12th round versus, say, Carson Wentz in the 6th round is a big advantage for me. Winston should finish as a top ten quarterback and only 20-30 points behind Wentz. To get that in the 12th is amazing value. Winston is by far my favorite late-round quarterback to get, although Patrick Mahomes and Marcus Mariota are intriguing, too.

Round 13: Kenneth Dixon, RB, Baltimore Ravens

At this point, I like to take a massive flier on one last running back. Clearly, Kenneth Dixon is not in any position to get a big workload right now. However, if Alex Collins falls out of favor, Dixon could be next in line. In all likelihood, I would cut Dixon in the first couple of weeks for a waiver wire stud, but I may as well shoot for upside at this point.

QB: Jameis Winston
RB: Alvin Kamara, Dion Lewis, Ronald Jones II, Isaiah Crowell, Latavius Murray, Kenneth Dixon
WR: Keenan Allen, Allen Robinson, Chris Hogan, Robby Anderson, Sterling Shepard
TE: Travis Kelce
K: Chris Boswell
DEF: Carolina Panthers

Next: Andy Dalton vs. Carson Palmer

Let me know what you think of this team, or what you would have done differently! I’m very interested to get some second opinions on these players before the draft season.