Mock Draft 3.0
NFL training camps open in two weeks, and it’s never too early to train for your upcoming fantasy football draft. The PFF Fantasy staff gathered for the our third mock draft this offseason, a non-PPR mock, to help you get in some early draft prep. As the draft progressed, there were three main strategy concepts that became evident.
Backs are a Premium
Running backs fly off the board in expert drafts every year. But in 2013 the trend is even more pronounced, especially in standard-scoring leagues. In the NFL, the position has been devalued for a variety of reasons, which has created a shortage of high-volume, high-scoring runners for fantasy football.
In this draft, over half the owners went running back in the first two rounds and 10-of-12 owners had two backs by the end of the third. Your draft most likely won’t be that running back heavy, but based off of 2013 projections, you’ll be ahead of your leaguemates if you make securing running backs a top priority early.
Wait for your Signal Caller
In the NFL, franchise quarterbacks come in waves. It was just last year that some experts were advising selecting a quarterback in the first round.
This year is different. Waiting on quarterback in 2013 is, as Mike Clay put it, “a no-brainer.” The maturity of second-year players Russell Wilson, Robert Griffin III, and Andrew Luck, plus the longevity of veterans Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning, along with breakout seasons from Colin Kaepernick and Matt Ryan have created the deepest quarterback pool of recent memory.
Aaron Rodgers was the first quarterback off the board … at the end of Round 4. Eli Manning, projected 13th, was the final starter selected in the 12th round. In your draft, let others reach for quarterbacks early, while you load up on more valuable positions.
Pass Catchers a Plenty
Taking Jimmy Graham does give an owner a big advantage at the tight end position every week. Ross Miles snapped him up early in the second round. But he wasn’t the only value at the position. Mike Clay was able to land Rob Gronkowski in the fourth, while Jason Witten (Jeff Ratcliffe) and Tony Gonzalez (Brian Bulmer) lasted until the seventh round. Other owners were able to secure two startable tight ends late, which should keep them competitive enough at the position.
The receiver position is deep yet again this season. There’s value up and down the board. As you can see from the season projections, there isn’t a whole lot of separation. This is a result of a pass-happy NFL. There are simply more receiving stats to go around. Keep this in mind as you prepare for your draft.
Owners start one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, a flex, one kicker, and a team defense, with six bench spots.
First Round (Pick – Owner)
1.01 Adrian Peterson MIN RB – Alex Miglio
1.02 Doug Martin TB RB – Bryan Fontaine
1.03 Arian Foster HOU RB – Nate Jahnke
1.04 Trent Richardson CLE RB – Kevin Greenstein
1.05 Jamaal Charles KC RB – Jeff Ratcliffe
1.06 C.J. Spiller BUF RB – Nate Hodges
1.07 Ray Rice BAL RB – Scott Spratt
1.08 LeSean McCoy PHI RB – Mike Clay
1.09 Marshawn Lynch SEA RB – Brian Bulmer
1.10 Alfred Morris WAS RB – Pat Thorman
1.11 Calvin Johnson DET WR – Ross Miles
1.12 Matt Forte CHI RB – Shawn Siegele
Running backs and Calvin Johnson. In a non-PPR standard scoring league, you just have to draft backs early. Jimmy Graham is the only other non-running back that could be considered.
2.01 Steven Jackson ATL RB – Shawn Siegele
2.02 Jimmy Graham NOS TE – Ross Miles
2.03 Chris Johnson TEN RB – Pat Thorman
2.04 Brandon Marshall CHI WR – Brian Bulmer
2.05 Maurice Jones-Drew JAC RB – Mike Clay
2.06 A.J. Green CIN WR – Scott Spratt
2.07 Dez Bryant DAL WR – Nate Hodges
2.08 Stevan Ridley NE RB- Jeff Ratcliffe
2.09 DeMarco Murray DAL RB – Kevin Greenstein
2.10 David Wilson NYG RB – Nate Jahnke
2.11 Lamar Miller MIA RB – Bryan Fontaine
2.12 Julio Jones ATL WR – Alex Miglio
Ross Miles doubles up on the top player at both wide receiver and tight end by pairing up Jimmy Graham with Calvin Johnson from Round 1. This leaves his roster painfully thin at running back. Seven owners went with the stud running back strategy, selecting a running back in both the first and second round. These owners had no problem fielding a competitive wide receiving corps.
3.01 Darren McFadden OAK RB
3.02 Demaryius Thomas DEN WR
3.03 Frank Gore SF RB
3.04 Rashard Mendenhall ARI RB
3.05 Larry Fitzgerald ARI WR
3.06 Reggie Bush DET RB
3.07 Le’Veon Bell PIT RB
3.08 Chris Ivory NYJ RB
3.09 Roddy White ATL WR
3.10 Randall Cobb GB WR
3.11 Montee Ball DEN RB
3.12 Andre Johnson HOU WR
The third round saw three of the seven RB-RB owners select their third back. Here you can see how the rosters ended up for Mike Clay, Kevin Greenstein, and Nate Jahnke. Seven owners total finished the third with two backs and a receiver. Brian Bulmer decided to draft receivers in both the second and third rounds to go with running back Marshawn Lynch. He’ll need Brandon Marshall and Roddy White to have big years.
4.01 Jordy Nelson GB WR
4.02 Ryan Matthews SD RB
4.03 Darren Sproles NO RB
4.04 Giovani Bernard CIN RB
4.05 Rob Gronkowski NEP TE
4.06 Victor Cruz NYG WR
4.07 Jonathan Stewart CAR RB
4.08 Vincent Jackson TB WR
4.09 Percy Harvin SEA WR
4.10 Reggie Wayne IND WR
4.11 Aaron Rodgers GB QB
4.12 Marques Colston NO WR
The fourth round finally provided some more variation. More wide receivers came off the board along with Gronkowski as the second tight end. Bryan Fontaine finally pulled the trigger on the first quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. I (Nate Hodges) really wanted to be strong at running back, but taking Jonathan Stewart over Vincent Jackson proved to be a costly blunder. I could have easily snagged a third back a round later. Here’s how my “boom-or-bust” team turned out.
5.01 Drew Brees NO QB
5.02 Ahmad Bradshaw IND RB
5.03 Mike Wallace MIA WR
5.04 Cam Newton CAR QB
5.05 Eddie Lacy GB RB
5.06 Antonio Brown PIT WR
5.07 Dwayne Bowe KC WR
5.08 Hakeem Nicks NYG WR
5.09 Shane Vereen NE RB
5.10 Torrey Smith BAL WR
5.11 Pierre Garcon WAS WR
5.12 Eric Decker DEN WR
The fifth began with Alex Miglio selecting Drew Brees just two picks after Rodgers. However, it didn’t create a quarterback run. Cam Newton, drafted by Kevin Greenstein, was the only other quarterback selected in the round. After going RB-RB-RB-Gronk, Mike Clay took his first wideout (Hakeem Nicks), in the fifth.
6.01 Tom Brady NE QB
6.02 Greg Jennings MIN WR
6.03 Danny Amendola NE WR
6.04 Matthew Stafford DET QB
6.05 James Jones GB WR
6.06 Wes Welker DEN WR
6.07 Jeremy Maclin PHI WR
6.08 Peyton Manning DEN QB
6.09 Josh Gordon CLE WR
6.10 Matt Ryan ATL QB
6.11 Steve Smith CAR WR
6.12 Tavon Austin STL WR
Four quarterbacks and eight wide receivers. The running back pool is now bone dry.
7.01 Andre Brown NYG RB
7.02 Mike Williams TB WR
7.03 Russell Wilson SEA QB
7.04 Miles Austin DAL WR
7.05 Jason Witten DAL TE
7.06 Cecil Shorts JAC WR
7.07 Robert Griffin III WAS QB
7.08 Colin Kaepernick SF QB
7.09 Tony Gonzalez ATL TE
7.10 T.Y. Hilton IND WR
7.11 Andrew Luck IND QB
7.12 Stevie Johnson BUF WR
Jeff Ratcliffe followed up his Round 6 pick Peyton Manning with another former Tennessee Vol, tight end Jason Witten. It had been over three rounds since the last tight end came off the board. Ratcliffe finished the draft with one of the most balanced rosters. Nate Jahnke took his second quarterback before two owners had their first, reminding us all to expect something unexpected in every draft.
8.01 Lance Moore NO WR
8.02 Mark Ingram NO RB
8.03 Dennis Pitta BAL TE
8.04 Kenny Britt TEN WR
8.05 Justin Blackmon JAC WR
8.06 Bernard Pierce BAL RB
8.07 Bryce Brown PHI RB
8.08 Anquan Boldin SF WR
8.09 Greg Olsen CAR TE
8.10 Michael Floyd ARI WR
8.11 Vernon Davis SF TE
8.12 DeSean Jackson PHI WR
Scott Spratt was able to pair Bernard Pierce with Ray Rice. It was only Spratt’s third back, but he did add Daryl Richardson and Ryan Williams in two of the next three rounds, sandwiched around tight end value Jermichael Finley. Pat Thorman was also able to pick up solid tight end value with Dennis Pitta.
Shawn Siegele’s strategy to take running backs early and late worked out quite well as he netted Fred Jackson and Pierre Thomas in Rounds 9 and 10 to go along with Matt Forte (1st) and Steven Jackson (2nd). It was common practice in the later rounds to select players with high ceilings, especially running backs.
Finally, notice there were no team defenses drafted before Round 14. Team defenses and kickers belong here, at the end.