Fantasy football mock drafts: Strategies in a small league

Brandon Marianne Lee recaps a PFF Fantasy 10-team standard mock draft, looking for strategies specific to small fields like that.

| 1 week ago
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Fantasy football mock drafts: Strategies in a small league

More people, more players, more depth. That’s how many fantasy analysts and players say the game should be played. But honestly, a 10-team league offers a whole new set of strategies to keep in mind while constructing your roster.

Every team in a 10-team league is stacked with talent. Every team has two chances at guys ranked within the 20 best players. The wait time between your picks is much shorter.

We put together 10 analysts and they showed you how it’s done. Here is a shallow draft with a lot of strategy in the mix.

Round 1

1.01 Le’Veon Bell, PIT Brandon Marianne Lee
1.02 David Johnson, ARI Walton Spurlin
1.03 Ezekiel Elliott, DAL Joey Cartolano
1.04 Odell Beckham, NYG Jeff Ratcliffe
1.05 Antonio Brown, PIT Scott Barrett
1.06 Julio Jones, ATL Tyler Loechner
1.07 Mike Evans, TB Mike Castiglione
1.08 Melvin Gordon, LAC Pat Thorman
1.09 LeSean McCoy, BUF Daniel Kelley
1.10 Jay Ajayi, MIA George Kritikos

The first seven players in most mock drafts have been the exact same. The eighth pick and beyond is usually indicative of the format, and in this case, these are standard league choices. The round ended with three running backs, two of which finished outside of the top-15 in receptions at the position. Since no one in this league would get a point for reception, these are strong picks and something a fantasy player should emulate if they are playing in similar settings.

Rounds 2-3

2.01 Devonta Freeman, ATL George Kritikos
2.02 A.J. Green, CIN Daniel Kelley
2.03 Jordy Nelson, GB Pat Thorman
2.04 Jordan Howard, CHI Mike Castiglione
2.05 Amari Cooper, OAK Tyler Loechner
2.06 T.Y. Hilton, IND Scott Barrett
2.07 Michael Thomas, NO Jeff Ratcliffe
2.08 DeAndre Hopkins, HOU Joey Cartolano
2.09 Dez Bryant, DAL Walton Spurlin
2.10 Rob Gronkowski, NE Brandon Marianne Lee
3.01 Doug Baldwin, SEA Brandon Marianne Lee
3.02 Allen Robinson, JAC Walton Spurlin
3.03 Todd Gurley, LAR Joey Cartolano
3.04 Brandin Cooks, NE Jeff Ratcliffe
3.05 DeMarco Murray, TEN Scott Barrett
3.06 Christian McCaffrey, CAR Tyler Loechner
3.07 Alshon Jeffery Mike Castiglione
3.08 Travis Kelce, KC Pat Thorman
3.09 Sammy Watkins, BUF Daniel Kelley
3.10 Leonard Rournette, JAC George Kritikos

Rob Gronkowski dropped to 2.10, which will certainly be a value if he can play in most of the games this season. Reports out of camp are favorable, but there seems to be trepidation regarding Gronkowski as an early pick. Take note and take advantage Christian McCaffrey is the only player in the second and third rounds with an ADP that goes up and down depending on off-season news. Considering McCaffrey was held out of OTAs due to Stanford’s finals schedule and Cam Newton still isn’t practicing, many will wait to see how the playbook and chemistry develops during preseason. However, Tyler Loechner is ready to pull that trigger early, right now.

Rounds 4-5

4.01 Demaryius Thomas, DEN George Kritikos
4.02 Terrelle Pryor, WAS Daniel Kelley
4.03 Lamar Miller, HOU Pat Thorman
4.04 Jordan Reed, WAS Mike Castiglione
4.05 Aaron Rodgers, GB Tyler Loechner
4.06 Marshawn Lynch, OAK Scott Barrett
4.07 Isaiah Crowell, CLE Jeff Ratcliffe
4.08 Keenan Allen, LAC Joey Cartolano
4.09 Tyreek Hill, KC Walton Spurlin
4.10 Jarvis Landry, MIA Brandon Marianne Lee
5.01 Davante Adams, GB Brandon Marianne Lee
5.02 Ameer Abdullah, DET Walton Spurlin
5.03 Joe Mixon, CIN Joey Cartolano
5.04 Carlos Hyde, SF Jeff Ratcliffe
5.05 Tom Brady, NE Scott Barrett
5.06 Derrick Henry, TEN Tyler Loechner
5.07 Andrew Luck, IND Mike Castiglione
5.08 Drew Brees, NO Pat Thorman
5.09 C.J. Anderson, DEN Daniel Kelley
5.10 Greg Olsen, CAR George Kritikos

It’s surprising that four quarterbacks went off the board in the fourth and fifth rounds considering the depth at the position and in a 10-team league. George Kritikos waited until the 11th round and landed Ben Roethlisberger. Jeff Ratcliffe waited until the 12th and landed Derek Carr and then took Kirk Cousins the following round. Pairing up two late-round quarterbacks and playing the matchup is a very strong strategy in a league of this size. Although, there are others that believe you need a strong performance at the quarterback position every single week if you want to compete when every roster is stacked. Those players are the ones who went with Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Andrew Luck, and Drew Brees early.

Rounds 6-8

6.01 Michael Crabtree, OAK George Kritikos
6.02 Willie Snead, NO Daniel Kelley
6.03 Martavis Bryant, PIT Pat Thorman
6.04 Eddie Lacy, SEA Mike Castiglione
6.05 Tevin Coleman, ATL Tyler Loechner
6.06 Dalvin Cook, MIN Scott Barrett
6.07 Golden Tate, DET Jeff Ratcliffe
6.08 Stefon Diggs, MIN Joey Cartolano
6.09 Jimmy Graham, SEA Walton Spurlin
6.10 Ty Montgomery, GB Brandon Marianne Lee
7.01 Bilal Powell, NYJ Brandon Marianne Lee
7.02 Adrian Peterson, NO Walton Spurlin
7.03 Tyler Eifert, CIN Joey Cartolano
7.04 Julian Edelman, NE Jeff Ratcliffe
7.05 Emmanuel Sanders, DEN Scott Barrett
7.06 Donte Moncrief, IND Tyler Loechner
7.07 Paul Perkins, NYG Mike Castiglione
7.08 Brandon Marshall, NYG Pat Thorman
7.09 Mike Gillislee, NE Daniel Kelley
7.10 Jamison Crowder, WAS George Kritikos
8.01 Spencer Ware, KC George Kritikos
8.02 Russell Wilson, SEA Daniel Kelley
8.03 Mark Ingram, NO Pat Thorman
8.04 Corey Coleman, CLE Mike Castiglione
8.05 Kelvin Benjamin, CAR Tyler Loechner
8.06 DeSean Jackson, TB Scott Barrett
8.07 Doug Martin, TB Jeff Ratcliffe
8.08 Matt Ryan, ATL Joey Cartolano
8.09 Cam Newton, CAR Walton Spurlin
8.10 Jameis Winston, TB Brandon Marianne Lee

One of the most successful strategies that you can employ in this kind of format is to take PPR wide receivers late in standard settings. Golden Tate and Julian Edelman are PPR superstars, but they still finished last season as top-25 fantasy wideouts in standard settings. Both players will be integral parts of their offense going into the 2017 season, so their placement in this draft indicates an opportunity for value. Only two tight ends came off the board in these three rounds. If you want an elite tight end, you’ll need to go for it early, but after the first tier, the tight ends go off the boards slowly. You can wait at that position in this format.

Rounds 9-11

9.01 Corey Davis, TEN Brandon Marianne Lee
9.02 Larry Fitzgerald, ARI Walton Spurlin
9.03 Hunter Henry, LAC Joey Cartolano
9.04 DeVante Parker, MIA Jeff Ratcliffe
9.05 Pierre Garcon, SF Scott Barrett
9.06 Randall Cobb, GB Tyler Loechner
9.07 Kenneth Dixon, BAL Mike Castiglione
9.08 Mike Wallace, BAL Pat Thorman
9.09 Breshad Perriman, BAL Daniel Kelley
9.10 Cameron Meredith, CHI George Kritikos
10.01 Frank Gore, IND George Kritikos
10.02 Zach Ertz, PHI Daniel Kelley
10.03 LeGarrette Blount, PHI Pat Thorman
10.04 John Brown, ARI Mike Castiglione
10.05 Delanie Walker, TEN Tyler Loechner
10.06 Kyle Rudolph, MIN Scott Barrett
10.07 Kareem Hunt, KC Jeff Ratcliffe
10.08 Mike Williams, LAC Joey Cartolano
10.09 Thomas Rawls, SEA Walton Spurlin
10.10 Rishard Matthews, TEN Brandon Marianne Lee
11.01 Danny Woodhead, BAL Brandon Marianne Lee
11.02 Martellue Bennett, GB Walton Spurlin
11.03 Samaje Perine, WAS Joey Cartolano
11.04 Eric Ebron, DET Jeff Ratcliffe
11.05 Eric Decker, TEN Scott Barrett
11.06 O.J. Howard, TB Tyler Loechner
11.07 Josh Doctson, WAS Mike Castiglione
11.08 Jack Doyle, IND Pat Thorman
11.09 Rob Kelley, WAS Daniel Kelley
11.10 Ben Roethlisberger, PIT George Kritikos

And now we hit the point in the draft where everyone decides if they want to go with the steady-but-low-ceiling players like Frank Gore, or a complete unknown fantasy option like O.J. Howard. Perhaps you decide to bank on a bounceback from John Brown. Or maybe you believe rookie Kareem Hunt will overtake Spencer Ware and become the bell-cow back in Kansas City. These three rounds are random, no matter the format. Some of my favorite picks is Pierre Garcon, reportedly the No. 1 wide receiver in San Francisco. He put up 1,000-plus yards last season and back in 2013, the last time he played under Kyle Shanahan. Another standout is LeGarrette Blount at 10.03. Pat Thorman thinks Blount will be the main back in a Doug Pederson offense, so getting him in the double-digit rounds is an incredibly value. Danny Woodhead is known as a PPR running back who led the league in receptions in two seasons, but he’s also the main back during the first four games of the season due to Kenneth Dixon’s suspension.

Rounds 12-14

12.01 Kenny Britt, CLE George Kritikos
12.02 Adam Thielen, MIN Daniel Kelley
12.03 Jeremy Maclin, BAL Pat Thorman
12.04 C.J. Prosise, SEA Mike Castiglione
12.05 Latavius Murray, MIN Tyler Loechner
12.06 Matt Forte, NYJ Scott Barrett
12.07 Derek Carr, OAK Jeff Ratcliffe
12.08 Joe Williams, SF Joey Cartolano
12.09 Dak Prescott, DAL Walton Spurlin
12.10 Coby Fleener, NO Brandon Marianne Lee
13.01 Cooper Kupp, LAR Brandon Marianne Lee
13.02 Marvin Jones, DET Walton Spurlin
13.03 Marcus Mariota, TEN Joey Cartolano
13.04 Kirk Cousins, WAS Jeff Ratcliffe
13.05 Theo Riddick, DET Scott Barrett
13.06 Rex Burkhead, WAS Tyler Loechner
13.07 David Njoku, CLE Mike Castiglione
13.08 Jonathan Stewart, CAR Pat Thorman
13.09 Cameron Brate, TB Daniel Kelley
13.10 Kevin White, CHI George Kritikos
14.01 Alvin Kamara, NO George Kritikos
14.02 Jonathan Williams, BUF Daniel Kelley
14.03 Tyrell Williams, LAC Pat Thorman
14.04 Marlon Mack, IND Mike Castiglione
14.05 Will Fuller, HOU Tyler Loechner
14.06 Julius Thomas, MIA Scott Barrett
14.07 Evan Engram, NYG Jeff Ratcliffe
14.08 Devin Funchess, CAR Joey Cartolano
14.09 John Ross, CIN Walton Spurlin
14.10 Denver Broncos Brandon Marianne Lee

There is some debate as to whether Kenny Britt or Corey Coleman will be the No. 1 wide receiver in Cleveland, but no matter how you slice it, Britt in the 12th round sticks out. Another sleeper, Cooper Kupp, could end up the No. 1 wide receiver on the Los Angeles Rams. When you’re drafting in the 12th to 14th round, try to target players you believe will take over the lead role at their position on their offense. An ADP surprise, but still a very interesting choice that sticks to this strategy was when Tyler Loechner took Rex Burkhead at 13.06. The New England backfield is a very vulnerable situation, so taking a chance late on any of the players vying for the lead back role is an interesting move that could pay dividends.

Rounds 15-16

15.01 Tyrod Taylor, BUF Brandon Marianne Lee
15.02 Seattle Seahawks Walton Spurlin
15.03 Justin Tucker, BAL Joey Cartolano
15.04 Stephen Gostkowski, NE Jeff Ratcliffe
15.05 Philip Rivers, LAC Scott Barrett
15.06 New England Patriots Tyler Loechner
15.07 Arizona Cardinals Mike Castiglione
15.08 Dan Bailey, DAL Pat Thorman
15.09 Houston Texans Daniel Kelley
15.10 Kansas City Chiefs George Kritikos
16.01 Matt Bryant, ATL George Kritikos
16.02 Matt Prater, DET Daniel Kelley
16.03 New York Giants Pat Thorman
16.04 Roberto Aguayo, TB Mike Castiglione
16.05 Chris Boswell, PIT Tyler Loechner
16.06 Jordan Matthews, PHI Scott Barrett
16.07 Minnesota Vikings Jeff Ratcliffe
16.08 Carolina Panthers Joey Cartolano
16.09 Brandon McManus, DEN Walton Spurlin
16.10 Steven Hauschka, BUF Brandon Marianne Lee

Interestingly, three of the 10 players in this mock drafted a kicker before their defense. At first glance, that seemed like a non-strategy, but it may be a smart move. Once you get to the last two rounds, you know that no one is going to take two defenses if they haven’t done so already. That means only 10 defenses will go off the board in total. If you’re going to stream defenses, wait. The kicker situation is similar, in that only 10 will get drafted, but you don’t want to bother with streaming kickers. Get one you can stick with throughout the season, and don’t think about it again.

Brandon Marianne Lee is a PFF Fantasy contributor, a SiriusXM host, co-founder of Her Fantasy Football and was a finalist for FSWA's Newcomer of the Year in 2014.