Fantasy Mock Draft 2.0: Handcuff Your Running Backs

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 31: Jamaal Williams #30 of the Green Bay Packers runs for yardage against Jamal Agnew #39 of the Detroit Lions, Jeremiah Ledbetter #98 and Jarrad Davis #40 of the Detroit Lions during the first quarter at Ford Field on December 31, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 31: Jamaal Williams #30 of the Green Bay Packers runs for yardage against Jamal Agnew #39 of the Detroit Lions, Jeremiah Ledbetter #98 and Jarrad Davis #40 of the Detroit Lions during the first quarter at Ford Field on December 31, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

I did a 10 team, half PPR fantasy draft from the second overall pick. I’ll take you through each pick, explaining my strategy and final decision.

Earlier this summer, I did a fantasy mock draft for a 12-team league. Though I like 12-team leagues the best, it’s important to play around with different league sizes. The strategy does change ever so slightly when you get into smaller leagues, so getting a feel for the differences is huge. I’m going to run through my selections pick by pick again, explaining my strategy for every round.

Round 1: Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams

The first pick was Le’Veon Bell. With the second overall pick, picking Gurley is a slam dunk. Last year’s RB1, Gurley is primed to have another big fantasy year. A true three-down back, Gurley should easily see over 300 touches and 1,500 yards. As the primary option in the red zone, he’s also a safe bet for double digit touchdowns. Other elite backs like Ezekiel Elliot and David Johnson are reasonable selections, but Gurley has proven upside with a guaranteed workload.

Round 2: AJ Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

Green was another easy pick for me. It’s not an imperative, but starting fantasy drafts with one RB and one WR is a great way to build a balanced team. In any PPR format, Green has added value because of his ridiculous target share in the Bengals’ offense. Green, along with Davante Adams and Keenan Allen, is at the end of the “elite” receiver tier. With Adams and Allen off the board, though, Green was the obvious pick. Other top end running backs were still available, like Joe Mixon, Jordan Howard, and Jerick McKinnon, but I really wanted a wide receiver.

Round 3: Jerick McKinnon, RB, San Francisco 49ers

Round 3 is where the tough decisions really start in a draft. Howard and Mixon went on the turn, so I was left to pick from McKinnon, Christian McCaffrey, and Mike Evans. Because running back is a shallower position than receiver, I wanted to go ahead and fill my backfield. McKinnon is not a sure bet by any means, but he has crazy upside in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. He’s a dynamic open field threat who can really execute in the passing game. If the 49ers give him the bulk of the carries, McKinnon should thrive. They didn’t pay him $36 million for nothing.

Round 4: Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles

I mentioned this in my first mock, but I think it’s really important to get safe production at tight end this year. Even if you have to pay up to get a top three guy like Ertz, it’s worth it. After Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce already came off the board, I was lucky Ertz fell into my lap. Carson Wentz and Ertz have a strong rapport, and no Eagles player should take away extra targets from Ertz this year. I could have taken a second WR in Stefon Diggs or Larry Fitzgerald, but I wanted to secure my TE production.

Round 5: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals

In a 3 receiver PPR league, it’s essential for me to get 2 receivers in the first five rouns. Diggs went the pick before me, and I would’ve loved him at my WR2 spot. However, I can’t complain about getting Fitzgerald, who’s a clear top 15 guy in any PPR format. Last season, he hauled in 107 catches playing with ancient Carson Palmer. Now, Fitzgerald gets to play with the hyper-accurate Sam Bradford, and should continue to thrive out of the slot.

Round 6: Marvin Jones, WR, Detroit Lions

This pick was a bigger gamble, especially in PPR, but I feel good having Jones as my WR3 on this team. I needed somebody dynamic to round out my starting lineup. Starting him next to Green and Fitzgerald – two reliable contributors – gives me a bit of upside in my lineup. Jones is unlikely to haul in more than 65-70 catches, but his yards per catch make up for that. In the Detroit offense, Jones has 1,000+ yards and double digit touchdown potential. Other available receivers included Corey Davis and Michael Crabtree.

Round 7: Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks

In 12-team leagues, I said to wait on quarterback, and I still believe that. In an 8 or 10-team league, though, it’s important to have studs at every position. I also already have my starters at RB, WR, and TE, so I’m not wasting a potentially valuable selection by grabbing a top-tier guy in Wilson. Wilson should be a top five quarterback in fantasy again this year, and his rushing gives him such a safe floor week to week. Getting him after volatile players like Deshaun Watson and Carson Wentz makes this pick feel like a steal.

Round 8: Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots

Edelman is a perfect guy to flex in any PPR format, and his suspension is only making him a better steal. Though he will be out 4 games to start the year, he’ll produce WR2 or better numbers for the rest of the year. Whenever he’s healthy and playing, he’s a lock for that kind of production. With three other receivers on the roster already, I feel pretty confident I can withstand 4 games of zero from Edelman.

Rounds 9 and 10: Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery, RBs, Green Bay Packers

I decided to pair up the Packers running backs not named Aaron Jones on my bench. With Jones suspended 2 games, Williams and Montgomery have the first crack at the starting job. The situation is muddy right now, but after a couple weeks go by, hopefully it clears up. By grabbing both Williams and Montgomery, I have a really strong chance at landing the Green Bay starting running back – a valuable player to have in fantasy.

QB: Russell Wilson
RB: Todd Gurley, Jerick McKinnon, Jamaal Williams, Ty Montgomery, Duke Johnson, Matt Breida
WR: AJ Green, Larry Fitzgerald, Marvin Jones, Julian Edelman, DJ Moore
TE: Zach Ertz
K: Harrison Butker
DST: New Orleans Saints

To wrap up, I took Duke Johnson in the 11th round to give me some bench stability. As a 70+ catch guy each of the last two years, I feel good about his floor. I snagged rookie receiver DJ Moore in the 12th round as an upside play. If he’s the number one for Carolina, he could produce like a WR2. I selected New Orleans in the 13th round to get a solid defense because I knew I could get Matt Breida in the 14th round. Breida is the handcuff to get for McKinnon, so I feel safe knowing I should have the starting 49ers running back.

Overall, I really like this team. I have great top end talent at each position, and my depth is really strong. By handcuffing my running backs, I know I’ll likely end up with several starters and a couple backups who I can cut a few weeks into the season. There’s no position I feel like I have a weakness in. I would be totally fine going into a 10-team fantasy league with this unit.