This early in the process, the farther you go into a mock draft,
the less certain things become. I guess that technically applies
at any time, but it's more pronounced when it's as early as March.
Today, I will take you through my top 24 picks as I would make them.
While much will change in the coming months, the top 24 should remain
mostly intact, even if the players themselves move around.
After the NFL Draft, I will do two-round mock based on consensus
Alvin Kamara's top three finish in PPR
leagues last season will make him a first round pick in 2018.
1.1 - RB Le’Veon
Bell, PIT: My top four picks will all be running backs.
Bell has been elite the longest and is on the best offense. When
forced to choose between the big four, I’m going with Bell.
1.2 - RB Todd
Gurley, LAR: Although the Rams had a better offense
than the Steelers last year and Gurley had a better year than
Bell, Gurley falls to No.2 for me. The overall offensive situation
gives Gurley the nod over my picks at No.3 and No.4.
1.3 - RB David
Johnson, ARI: Lest we be reminded that his 2016 was
way better than any fantasy player in 2017, including quarterbacks.
If the Cardinals can get a real player under center and improve
the offensive line, I might vault DJ back to No.1 overall.
1.4 - RB Ezekiel
Elliott, DAL: He is a slight notch below the other
members of the big four. The Cowboys treat him as a three-down
workhorse and he’s the primary goal line back, but Elliott is
nowhere near the pass catcher that Bell, Gurley and Johnson are.
But we’re nitpicking here as based on total points, Zeke actually
finished as an RB1 (RB12) despite sitting out six games last season.
1.5 - WR Antonio
Brown, PIT: You can literally take him anywhere and
it’s a great pick. The best wide receiver since Jerry Rice and
the best fantasy wide receiver for four straight seasons. Once
the big four RBs are gone, you take the surest thing. And if you
want to take him ahead of one of the RBs, go for it.
1.6 – WR DeAndre
Hopkins, HOU: DHop proved last season that he can make
it work with anyone not named Brock Osweiler. Hopkins has hands
made of glue and ballerina like feet. He was a clear step above
everyone not named Antonio Brown in 2017.
1.7 – RB Saquon Barkley, N/A: Once
the NFL Draft is complete, this is about where I expect Barkley
to go. Every year, there’s a rookie running back that performs
at a high level and everyone expects that player to be Barkley
this season. He will be drafted to start right away so all he
needs is to land in a decent situation. It’s hard for me to envision
him failing. Worst case scenario, he’s Melvin Gordon. Best case
scenario, he’s Melvin Gordon with actual talent: generational
talent (did you see what he did at the combine?): you do the math.
1.8 – WR Odell
Beckham Jr., NYG: This man is unstoppable. Barring
another freak injury, I expect him to usurp Hopkins and take his
rightful spot as the second best wide receiver in the NFL. The
Giants offense will only improve without Ben McAdoo.
1.9 - RB Alvin
Kamara, NO: His efficiency is unsustainable, but I
expect a substantial increase in volume in year two for Kamara.
I have no concerns about the talent or the offense, so as long
as the workload is there, I am confident in this pick.
1.10 - WR Michael
Thomas, NO: Now that we’re closer to the turn, I can
start drafting based on what I know will happen. I still want
that elite RB, but I love Thomas’ high floor and high ceiling
and know I can get the same caliber RB in Round 2 if I want.
1.11 – RB Kareem
Hunt, KC: When push comes to shove, I want the elite
RB to anchor my team. I’m fine if my RB2 is a rotating circus
as long as my RB1 is solid. Hunt would be a little higher if not
for the return of Spencer Ware, who is going to be slightly annoying,
but not fatal for Hunt owners in 2018.
1.12 – RB Leonard
Fournette, JAX: I initially had Fournette at No.7,
but then the Jaguars extended Blake Bortles. Clearly, this team
has no intention of winning anytime soon. Look for the Jaguars
to go the way of the 2016 Raiders and fall back to the pack with
the league’s worst starting quarterback.
2.1 - RB Melvin
Gordon, LAC: Every player listed above is more talented
than Gordon and every player I list below will be more talented
than Gordon. However, few of these players have Gordon’s situation
and opportunity, which I am done doubting.
2.2 - WR Tyreek
Hill, KC: Last year Hill scratched more of the surface
of his upside, but he’s yet to fully unlock it. Even if Pat Mahomes
struggles his first year starting, he’s going to sling it deep
enough to keep Hill fed. If Mahomes exceeds expectations, Hill
has overall WR1 upside.
2.3 – WR Davante
Adams, GB: Back when Jordy Nelson wasn’t finished,
this is about where he went. Adams is obviously quite a different
player than Nelson, but he is the new Nelson for fantasy purposes.
2.4 – WR A.J.
Green, CIN: The second round is going to be loaded
with WRs and although Green is coming off an inefficient year,
he’s too talented to be held down. His track record is enough
for me to buy in once again.
2.5 – TE Rob
Gronkowski, NE: The single most decisive advantage
you can have in fantasy is Gronk. He’s always been a top two TE…as
long as he’s playing football. Assuming Gronk doesn’t retire,
I’ll gladly take 10 games of Gronk + a replacement than anyone
2.6 – RB Mark
Ingram, NO: This separation between Ingram and Kamara
is about right. Ingram simply shouldn’t be as good as he is. He
doesn’t really do anything well, but yet, somehow, he always produces.
Ingram should see more goal line carries than Kamara and the Saints
apparently can support two RB1s.
2.7 – RB Carlos
Hyde, SF: I don’t know where Hyde will end up, but
as long as it’s somewhere that he can play three downs and catch
passes, he’ll be very much worth this pick. If I knew I could
go WR mid-first-round and end up with Hyde, I would gladly do
2.8 – WR Mike
Evans, TB: Evans did in 2017 what I thought he would
do in 2016 when I was down on him. I got it wrong twice. In the
later portion of the second round, I’ll gamble on a bounce back
because even if I’m wrong, Evans shouldn’t derail my season.
2.9 – WR Julio
Jones, ATL: I don’t think Jones is the best player
available and I do think he is a lot closer to being done than
people think (but not yet). However, Jones is the pick here because
I know I can leverage him in a trade if needed. I also know that
realistically, both Jones and Evans are long gone in real drafts.
As a reminder, Julio averaged 13.2 PPR points per game over the
15 games where he didn’t drop 53.8 on Tampa. Without the explosion,
he was the WR20 last season.
2.10 – RB Devonta
Freeman, ATL: The Falcons believe in him far more than
the better player (Tevin Coleman) and it’s not like Freeman is
bad at football. The whole team should experience positive regression
after what happened last year.
2.11 – RB Christian
McCaffrey, CAR: His usage is going to increase this
season. He very well may catch 100 passes. I surmise I might vault
him ahead of Ingram and Hyde over the coming months.
2.12 – RB Derrick
Henry, TEN: Did you see him against the Chiefs in the
playoffs? DeMarco Murray is gone. It’s Henry’s backfield now and
with positive regression coming for Marcus Mariota, the Titans
should be a better offense with more scoring opportunities.