This is my fourth year reviewing the July PPR Mock. With every
year of experience playing this game that we love, I learn more.
I learn new things; new concepts; new ideas. I learn some things
I didn’t even know were there to learn. But one thing that’s
remained constant over the years is the value and purpose of mock
drafts. I wrote the following two paragraphs back in 2015 as an
intro, but I doubt anyone will remember that. So here they are
again to get your mind focused on the information to come.
I once had a friend ask me what the point of a mock draft is.
Much of the excitement and enjoyment of a draft is eyeing that
player you want and actually being able to draft and root for
him all season. A mock is not real. You don’t actually own
any of those players. And it’s not like your actual drafts
will mimic your mock drafts. This attitude made me realize that
many people do not understand the underlying purpose of mocks
– to educate you.
This article is going to discuss one mock conducted in July, roughly
six weeks before the heart of draft season. A lot is going to
change between now and then. Player perception will change. Player
value will change. ADPs will rise and fall. Players will get injured.
Your actual draft will look much different than this mock that
I am about to discuss. So what’s the point of discussing
it at all? When reviewing this particular mock and reading this
article, remember to focus on the concepts; focus on the why,
not the what, or the who. Let’s get to it.
1. I noticed the continued return
of RBs to prominence.
Like most years, there is a decided advantage in acquiring an
elite RB early. Last year, there were more RBs (13) than WRs (11)
taken in the first two rounds. This year, the RB count went up
to 15 and WRs were down to 9. We are now three years removed from
the great WR boom of 2015 and it is mostly forgotten. Even more
telling than the 14-10 RB-WR ratio is the first round itself.
We saw 9 RBs drafted in the first round, including seven of the
first eight picks. While this presumably should create value at
WR, the unfortunate reality is that it doesn’t. That’s
Blurred lines: There’s a host of
wide receivers in rounds 2 and 3 that have similar value.
2. The lines between the WR tiers are
Antonio Brown is still the undisputed best wide receiver in football,
followed by DeAndre Hopkins and Odell Beckham Jr. in whichever
order you prefer. After those three went in the first round, the
next WR drafted was Julio Jones. Hawkeye took Julio at 2.02, presumably
to secure a decisive edge at the position. With the separation
between wide receivers continuing to shrink, I simply donít
think thatís the case. Adam Thielen went 3.09 and I donít
think there is much of a difference between the two. We have 11
WRs separated by 19 picks with very little distinction between
them. It is a frustrating exercise, but one that rears its ugly
head often throughout 2018 drafts. You will frequently find yourself
in a situation where you have to select from a large group of
players you value relatively equally, putting you in a situation
where you are either reaching multiple rounds for a player or
in a position where you want a bunch of players, but can only
3. I noticed the third round RB cliff
is as steep as I can ever remember.
For the purposes of this analysis, we will remove LeSean McCoy
from the discussion for obvious reasons. I am still referring
to the cliff as being in the third round even though it actually
occurred in the second round here. I believe there are 15 RBs
(excluding McCoy) that I would be confident starting every week.
All 15 of them went in the first two rounds, the last of which
was Jordan Howard at 2.11 (right after Joe Mixon and Jerick McKinnon).
After Howard - Kenyan Drake went at 3.06, followed by Derrius Guice at 4.02, Alex Collins at 4.06, and Jay Ajayi at 4.08. Player
opinions vary, but I think itís fair to say there is a precipitous
drop off from Mixon/McKinnon/Howard to Guice/Collins/Ajayi. I
would never write off a strategy because you can win with just
about any approach, but this is not the year to go Zero RB. The
edge you can acquire by grabbing two early WR just isnít
there, while the RB disadvantage youíll experience is stark.
The truth is I really wish I could pick more than three times
in the first three rounds because the options are less than ideal
beginning in Round 4.
4. I noticed that the fourth round
WR cliff is steep as well.
There were some very curious picks in the draft that I will address
later, but in the interest of fairness, Iíll remove most
of my personal bias from analyzing the WR cliff. After Josh Gordon
at 4.10, the WR talent takes a nosedive. Yes, I am including Alshon Jeffery after back-to-back finishes outside the top 20 in PPR
leagues, coming off his worst season in terms of catch rate, receptions,
and yards per game since his rookie year. Oh, and he also had
offseason rotator cuff surgery. The draft quickly went from the
likes of Brandin Cooks, Allen Robinson, and Gordon to JuJu Smith-Schuster,
Jordy Nelson, Jarvis Landry, and Pierre Garcon. I just talked
about it last section, but it bears mentioning again because it
is so important this year. After the third/fourth rounds, you
may find yourself struggling to differentiate between a player
you should take in the fifth round and the players you want in
the sixth and seventh rounds. Do not be afraid to take your guy.
5. I noticed the members of this mock
waited on the tight end position.
Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce went back to back at 3.04 and
3.05, which seems to be a trend for the savvy owners that participate
in this mock every year (last year, Gronk didnít go until
3.07). While Gronk is still the best TE in football, his inability
to play 16 games combined with the continued devaluation of the
position in fantasy has made selecting a TE in the first two rounds
something seldom desired by fantasy owners. Ultimately, it is
far more important to secure RBs and WRs early than any position
with a single starter.
6. I noticed that rookie hysteria
is back in full force.
There were 14 rookies selected in this mock with eight of them
coming in the single digit rounds, all of which were RBs. Out
of all the single digit round RBs selected not named Saquon Barkley,
I would be surprised if more than one or two provided a positive
return on investment. I understand the desire for the rookies
given the veterans going around the same spots are largely uninspiring
or have significant concerns, so a fantasy owner would rather
chase the upside of an unknown. However, while I donít like
where any of the rookie RBs were taken outside of Barkley, it
is not like there were some incredible veterans passed over. I
would certainly have taken Dion Lewis before Sony Michel or Royce Freeman, Rex Burkhead before Ronald Jones, and literally every
other RB taken in this draft before Kerryon Johnson, but those
veterans arenít exactly superstars.
7. I noticed that Frozenbeernuts might
actually be me.
8. I noticed that Hawkeye and Iceman
were the only teams to exit the first three rounds without a running
I donít think it worked. Both teams are relying on rookies
to pan out, especially Hawkeye after going back-to-back-to-back
rookie RBs in rounds four through six. The problem lies in the
WR edge. The trio of Odell Beckham, Julio Jones, and Stefon Diggs
looks really nice. But take a team like Robb, who has T.Y. Hilton,
Josh Gordon, Alshon Jeffery, and Devin Funchess at WR. Itís
clearly worse than Hawkeyeís WR corps, but is it that much
worse? I donít think so. Hawkeye is starting some combination
of Derrius Guice, Royce Freeman, and Sony Michel at RB. Robb will
be starting David Johnson and Joe Mixon. I think you will be hard
pressed to find a draft where you like the WR-heavy team more
than the RB-heavy team. Iím not saying to go RB-RB at all
costs, but you should try and come out of the first two rounds
with at least one running back.
9. I noticed the Patriots had the
most players drafted (9), while the Cowboys, a team formerly littered
with fantasy goodness, had the fewest players drafted (3).
There were more Jets drafted than Cowboys! Tom Brady is an all-time
great and while we know for certain that he, Gronk, Hogan, and
Gostkowski will have value, there really are no guarantees beyond
that. Sony Michel is a rookie that could fumble his way to the
bench. Rex Burkhead wasnít healthy last year and could end
up too far behind Michel to have much value. James White is a
pure pass catcher, which is something both Michel and Burkhead
can do as well. It is highly unlikely that Julian Edelman and
Jordan Matthews both have value. However, all of them have plausible
upside, so I understand why they were all selected.
As for the Cowboys, Ezekiel Elliott is an elite option and both
Allen Hurns and Dak Prescott should be drafted in all leagues,
but thatís really it. Michael Gallup could emerge as having
some fantasy value later in the season, but this team is mostly
devoid of talent.
10. I noticed the draft position of
four particular players...
Watson - The Football Guru burnt his fifth round pick
on a quarterback. Not just any QB, though. He spent it on a second-year
QB with less than half a season on his resume and made him the
second QB off the board. Are you really that confident that Watson
is almost three rounds better than Drew
Brees? Or five rounds better than Andrew
Luck and Philip
Rivers? Watson was not a good QB last season Ė he was just
great in fantasy. I have a hard time using an early pick on any
QB, let alone one due for some massive regression that wasnít
real life good to begin with.
Nelson - Ray Lewisí Limo Driver took Nelson at 5.08,
which was easily the worst pick in any mock draft Iíve seen this
season. Nelson is done. He is 33 years old. His speed and agility
have been completed sapped by his torn ACL. He had a big 2016
because of his incredible rapport with Aaron
Rodgers, but, as we saw last year, thereís nothing left for
him to do in the NFL. This will be his final season and he will
go out with a whimper. He is nothing more than a late-round flier
and to select him in the fifth round is asinine.
Meredith - The Football Guru may have blundered with
the Watson pick, but he made up for it with Meredith in the 10th
round. I like to use JuJu Smith-Schuster as a comparison. JuJu
went in the fifth round but is he really five rounds better than
Meredith? Both players are on very good offenses with two massive
talents in front of them: LeíVeon Bell - Antonio Brown, Michael
Thomas - Alvin
Kamara. But after that, JuJu has to contend with Vance McDonald
Washington for targets. Meredith just has to beat out 33 year
Ginn Jr. Give me Meredith at his price all day.
Williams - Remember how good he was when Keenan
Allen was injured in 2016? I know Allen is healthy, but Ray
Lewisí Limo Driver selected Williams in the 15th round. Thereís
zero risk there and Williams is the number two option for the
Chargers behind Allen. Without Hunter
Henry, unless you think Melvin
Gordon is going be the second option in the passing game,
the door is open for Williams to have a bounce back season. At
this price, all he has to do is be a WR4 to provide a tremendous
return on investment. Williams has standalone WR3 upside and legitimate
WR1 upside if Allen were to get hurt again. He is going way too
late. The fact that Mike
Williams went ahead of Tyrell Williams is absurd.
On a final note, remember that every mock is different. Take a
look at the June mock compared
to this one and youíll see how very different they are. You can
and should try different strategies and approaches. See what works
and what does not. See what you like and what youíd like to avoid.
Even if you disagree with everything Iíve written, you can still
learn from it. I hope reading this article helps you as much as
writing it helped me.