By Rob Staton
One of the things I like to do during training camp is study up on fantasy football and try a few ‘mock drafts’. It’s not the conventional subject matter (namely NCAA scouting and the Seahawks/NFL draft) but we need something to pass the time until the big kick off. I took part in my first mock draft today and wanted to share it with you including some thoughts. Feel free to offer your own opinions on what I (or any of the other participants) did or alternatively put down any ‘sleepers’ or tips you might have in the comments section. We’ll dip into fantasy football over the next couple of weeks until things really build up towards the new college and NFL seasons. It’s just for fun but let me know what you think.
1. Andre Johnson (Hou – WR)
2. Larry Fitzgerald (Ari – WR)
The first thing that struck me in doing some minimal research ahead of this mock was how weak the receiver position is this year. Previously you could secure the BPA running back and get a good receiver in round two or three. There’s much greater depth at running back this year so I decided to really target the wide outs early and see how it played out later on. I ended up selecting Andre Johnson in round one ahead of running backs like Michael Turner, Rashard Mendenhall and Ryan Mathews. In round two, I found both Larry Fitzgerald and Randy Moss more appealing than Shonn Greene and Ryan Grant.
Taking Johnson and Fitzgerald gave me a great WR1&2 combo, but without one of the top running backs. I decided the best things to do would be to select ‘in bulk’ running backs later on and play matchups.
Rounds 3 & 4
3. Jamaal Charles (KC – RB)
4. Steve Smith (Car – WR)
The plan worked to an extent when Jamaal Charles (RB, Kansas City) was still available in round three. He should be a first or second round pick as a dual threat, first choice runner with the Chiefs. It goes to show what kind of depth there is at running back this year and the lack of pressure to grab one first up. I would have been satisfied taking Charles in round one and now I have (arguably) the top two wide receives on my roster.
The fourth pick was difficult to judge. I was targeting Cedric Benson (RB, Cincinnati) to be my RB2 but he left the board just before my pick. I considered drafting a quarterback with both Tony Romo and Tom Brady available, but felt confident I could find a points scorer much later on at the QB position. Knowing the lack of depth at receiver, I opted for Carolina’s receiver Steve Smith. He’s still a capable points scorer even in a run-first offense breaking in a new quarterback and worth a roll of the dice in round four. My receiver set was complete with Johnson, Fitzgerald and Smith – but I needed running backs.
Rounds 5 – 8
5. Jahvid Best (Det – RB)
6. Jonathan Stewart (Car – RB)
7. Brandon Jacobs (NYG – RB)
8. Joseph Addai (Ind – RB)
I took four RB’s in rounds 5-8 whilst the rest of the league prematurely added a defense (Jets in round seven? Packers in the eighth?). I never take a defense until the last two rounds and instead prefer to play match-ups. Kansas City, Oakland – even Seattle – can win you a game if the opposition’s offense is particularly poor. I change my defense several times in a season.
Jahvid Best, Jonathan Stewart, Brandon Jacobs and Joseph Addai all carry health risks. All four will share carries with another talented running back. However, they’ll all start in week one health permitting. Jamaal Charles will start most weeks if he’s healthy as my RB1, finding a good match-up from this quartet will suffice for RB2 unless one in particular breaks out. I returned to the position in rounds ten and thirteen to grab Ahmad Bradshaw (RB, NYG) and Donald Brown (RB, Indianapolis) as handcuffs for Jacobs and Addai. Chosing one starter from six each week will take some work, but could pay dividends considering my strong trio of wide-outs.
9. Matt Ryan (Atl – QB)
I’m hesitant to jump too early for a quarterback. Not sure why – Peyton Manning won me a league two years ago and Drew Brees won many last season. There’s always serviceable starters late on though which can’t be said at receiver this year. I targeted Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan in round nine with Flacco the preference. He left the board just before my pick so I settled on Ryan. He won’t provide the mega points like Brees, Manning or Rogers, but he’ll get his fair share and may enjoy a break out season in year three on a developing team.
Rounds 10 – 15
10. Ahmad Bradshaw (NYG – RB)
11. Zach Miller (Oak – TE)
12. Devin Hester (Chi – WR)
13. Donald Brown (Ind – RB)
14. David Akers (Phi – K)
15. Dallas (Dal – DEF)
The other starting position I needed to fill was tight end. Again – there’s often some good options later on (Shiancoe, Carlson, Miller, Cooley). The best available when I picked was Zach Miller. He’s good for putting up yards in Oakland but hasn’t scored enough TD’s in the red zone. This should change with a much improved quarterback situation and he’s a potential steal as a round eleven starter.
I completed the roster with a backup wide out (Devin Hester in round twelve – who may enjoy a productive year in a Mike Martz pass-friendly offense) and a kicker (David Akers, Philadelphia) and defense (Dallas) with my last two picks.
Receivers will be at a premium this year so it’s worth exploring the idea of taking the good ones early. In PPR leagues especially, options may be thin later on. I made WR1-3 a priority here and came away with three of the best. Picking multiple running backs to compensate gives you work but could be worth it in the end – especially if you can get one bona fide starter like Jamaal Charles.
The complete roster:
QB – Matt Ryan
WR’s – Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Smith & Devin Hester
RB’s– Jamaal Charles, Jahvid Best, Jonathan Stewart, Brandon Jacobs, Joseph Addai, Ahmad Bradshaw & Donald Brown
TE – Zach Miller
K – David Akers
DEF – Dallas