The past few years FF Toolbox has organized a monthly mock draft
series, pitting various fantasy football websites to draft against
one another for the purpose of showcasing player analysis, draft
strategy, and trending of picks from the early summer to near the
start of the NFL season.
Once again I was asked to participate on behalf of FFToday, and
we recently kicked off the first in the 2012 series with our June
mock. The league format is 12 team, standard performance scoring
plus 1 point per reception. Lineups start 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1
TE, 1 K, 1 DEF and 1 Flex RB/WR.
The leagues are played out in a best-ball format to see who displayed
the best drafting skill, although there is some discrepancy between
whether owners approach the draft with best-ball in mind, or if
they choose to draft as if it were a typical head-to-head fantasy
league. I tend to lean toward the latter.
Regardless, the draft results should be a good gauge of how picks
might fall in similar drafts and provide some interesting insight
to how you might approach your draft.
I was tagged with the fourth pick in the draft for this mock,
resulting in a big decision in the very first round that impacted
many of the later picks to form the core of my team.
You can review the entire
draft report and join the ongoing
discussion in our forums about the mock. I benefited from some
great discussion and opinions from our forum members during the
draft. Here are the first baker's dozen of picks with comments on
RB Ryan Mathews, SD
The benefit of a mock draft is to buck your instincts and try
different things. In a real draft, I would absolutely go with
that Decepticon fellow (a.k.a. Megatron, a.k.a. Calvin Johnson)
as the first WR off the board at this pick in a PPR league.* Given
that we have pretty high projections for one Ryan Mathews at FFToday
(ranked behind only Arian Foster and Ray Rice), and mostly because
I want to see how starting with an RB plays out in the subsequent
rounds, Mathews is the pick. Go Chargers! And just when I was
coming around to unsubscribing from their fan club, they pulled
me back in.
* Or would I? After seeing the way this
draft played out, which I'm pretty happy with overall, I may have
overcome my automatic instinct to take Johnson at fourth overall.
I think I now prefer the Mathews scenario.
There's nothing wrong with Lynch as your
RB Marshawn Lynch, SEA
Here is something I haven't done in a while: double up at RB
to start a draft. If Tom Brady were available here he would be
tempting, but I'd probably still pass on him, and the WRs are
fairly interchangeable at this point. Lynch looks like the last
of the expected workhorse RBs who... uh... find the end zone once
in a while (sorry Steven Jackson). Not much flash to the Seahawks,
but I do like their commitment to the run. Lynch tore it up the
second half of last season. Skittles power!
WR A.J. Green, CIN
It's unfortunate that Greg Jennings got nabbed, because I think
he was the easy choice among the WR options when I looked ahead
to this pick. I'm not a true believer in Victor Cruz. He's the
highest projected WR on the FFToday board (per Mike Krueger's
projections), but only by a point over Marques Colston. A.J. Green
is conservatively projected 30 points behind those guys, but I
do agree with the consensus from our FFToday Forums crew that
he is the pick here. He won't make it back to us if we wait, and
he is a rare talent. Guess we need to cross two sets of fingers
to ward off the sophomore slump for him and Andy Dalton, who is
key to Green's production.
WR Percy Harvin, MIN
Way back during our third-round pick, we already had our fourth-round
target in mind—Percy Harvin. With about six picks to go,
I pre-drafted just Harvin, Colston, and Steve Smith. Smith went
quickly, then Colston, and then nervousness set in waiting to
see if Harvin made it to us, and thankfully he did. Once Minnesota
figured out how to properly use this guy last year, he had a huge
second half, including scoring a touchdown in five of six straight
games, a pair of 10-reception games, plus a pair of 8-reception
games. Let's not forget the rushing. He rushed 51 times last year,
and 32 times in the second half of the season. At five yards a
pop, that adds approximately 250 yards to his total plus a touchdown
or two. We've got Harvin projected comfortably inside the top
10 WRs, which is huge return for a fourth-round pick.
TE Antonio Gates, SD
From a pure numbers standpoint, Antonio Gates is not the ideal
value pick here. He is part of a pretty crowded group of similarly
projected TEs like Jason
Hernandez and Jermichael
Finley, among others. However, no player at any position was
really standing out for us at this point—the most significant
being wide receiver Antonio
Brown. I'm expecting a big bounce-back year from this former
stud. He's another year away from the foot problems that slowed
him the last two seasons, and the departure of Vincent
Jackson and Mike
Tolbert should persuade Philip
Rivers to use his primary security blanket even more than
he otherwise would. I'll be happier letting Brown go to someone
else and settling for a lower-ranked WR, than I would letting
Gates pass me by.
WR Reggie Wayne, IND
Wayne makes a great, late-drafted WR3, the 30th WR off the board
in this draft. He's got a rookie quarterback, but one that couldn't
be more highly touted as a passer coming into the league. Targets
should be plentiful for Wayne. Even with modest touchdown expectations,
he is going to make up a lot of points on receptions. There were
some extremely good WR options in the last half dozen off the
board, such as Steve
Smith and Eric
QB Peyton Manning, DEN
Manning was the 10th QB off the board. I'll take a shot on him
at that point. Matt Ryan—the only available QB projected
higher by FFToday than Peyton—was still on the board, but
I'm lukewarm on Ryan in respect to his talent. He's got a pair
of great receivers, but a new offense and his prior two seasons
of improved fantasy stats came on a ton of pass attempts, which
I'm not sure is sustainable with their new offensive coordinator.
Peyton has health issues— maybe. We won't truly know until
he hits the field again and we see him play. The Broncos have
the faith though, and I'll show the same faith in this once-in-a-generation
RB Peyton Hillis, KC
It took some convincing from FFToday Forums member "stonewall"
to get me to draft Hillis, as he really wasn't on my radar, but
I am now connecting the dots on the choice as a solid upside pick.
Hillis moves to the Chiefs off a clearly bad year with the Browns.
He has something to prove to redeem himself. The Chiefs' Jamaal
Charles is rehabbing from a serious knee injury, suffered
early in the 2011 season, and he is not built for a ton of carries
even at full health. Hillis has a nice opportunity to show his
2010 numbers weren't a flash-in-the-pan performance.
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey
While I want to draft a backup QB earlier than I perhaps normally
would, I feel we can wait until the next pair of picks for that.
There are a few half-decent choices for our first backup WR, but
DHB gets the nod because of his steady improvement from year two
to year three of his NFL career, in hopes it continues this season.
Palmer on board, there is less uncertainty about the Raiders'
young receivers developing than we are typically used to with
RB Toby Gerhart, MIN
I was planning to take Ronnie Hillman but he was nabbed from
us with the pick right before ours. Gerhart's value relies entirely
on how much opportunity he gets this season, which ties directly
to Adrian Peterson's rehab and return from a torn ACL. Gerhart
performed admirably last season in Peterson's absence. If there
are any bumps in the road to Peterson's comeback, this tenth-round
pick could end up looking like a bargain. If AP returns quickly
with no issues, this pick could be a waste.
QB Carson Palmer, OAK
Palmer stepped in last year mid-season with a brand new team
and, frankly speaking, performed a lot better than I expected
from him. With a proper offseason, more rapport with his teammates,
and the development of his young receivers, Palmer is a decent
bet for starter-quality fantasy numbers. The somewhat risky Peyton
Manning pick provided incentive to take a QB earlier than I might
WR Randall Cobb, GB
Once again we got sniped on our targeted pick in an even round;
this time twice, as I was targeting Laurent Robinson first, but
would have settled for the first defense off the board, the San
Francisco 49ers, second. Both were taken in consecutive picks
right before ours. If I was a conspiracy theorist (okay, no "if"
about it, I am), I'd say the other drafters are onto me discussing
the picks in our forums.
Anyway, Cobb is a young, flashy, high-risk but high-upside pick
that makes for a decent (not great, just decent) flier at this
point, particularly thanks to the potent offense he plays in.
More than likely, it will be a year or two before we see a worthwhile
fantasy return from Cobb, but when you're picking receivers late
in a typical league, go for young with upside over older and consistently
average. If the pick doesn't pan out, then you can always toss
the player back on waivers and try again.
TE Dustin Keller, NYJ
Keller is projected for a career year at FFToday, resulting in
a TE6 ranking, which would really be something considering his
ADP (currently undrafted) in the first 200 picks, courtesy of
Fantasy Football Calculator. One can certainly see the main reason
for being bullish on Keller though. The Jets cast off Plaxico
Burress and replaced him with a rookie, and Santonio Holmes
has never been a big reception guy. LaDainian Tomlinson is gone,
and Shonn Greene is considered just an average pass catcher out
of the backfield. Where do all the receptions go? Keller has to
see more targets, and this after coming off a pretty good 65-815-5
line from 2011.