Season-long fantasy baseball is at the halfway point, the NBA and NHL seasons and incoming player drafts are over, and NFL training camps are just around the corner. No wonder there are already fantasy football drafts taking place almost every day.
A big part of preparation for many fantasy footballers is mock drafting, which is a quick and easy way to learn both this year’s player pool and how other drafters rank players. I think mock drafts are worthwhile for just those purposes early. But, later in the summer, the only mock drafting that should carry any stock is drafting exactly the same number of rounds with the same roster and lineup limits as the events you will be playing, and with live bodies (not someone who has an hour on their computer at lunch and then gets up and leaves or goes on autodraft).
Last week, I was invited to participate in the Fantasy Football Toolbox Expert Mock Draft which would be drafted with the exact same rules as the Fantasy Football World Championship (FFWC) which is part of Scout.com’s fantasy division. (Note: the FF Toolbox has free rankings and cheat sheets that are very good.)
The draft would be an 18-round affair where each team starts 11 players each week as follows: QB/RB/RB/WR/WR/WR/TE/Flex/Flex/K/DST with full PPR scoring in place.
Here is how my draft went along with the comments we were all required to contribute to the article about this draft.
1.06 A.J. Green, WR, CIN – Maybe a bit early for Green, but he is a stud who often produces monster games and has a great relationship with his veteran quarterback. Just two years ago, he was a top five PPR WR, and if I do the math, my team scores more points with Green and a running back at 2.07 than if I take Todd Gurley or Adrian Peterson first and a WR in the second round.
2.07 Jamaal Charles, RB, KC – Charles, despite the occasional injuries, is exactly the right back for a team that can get to the playoffs and put up big points. I will try and land Charcandrick West in later rounds to cover the injury weeks (but hope they don’t happen).
3.06 Demaryius Thomas, WR, DEN – Thomas did not have a great year in 2015 for many reasons, but he has admitted that and is set to prove his place this season among the top wideouts in the game. That said, I might have taken Eddie Lacy here had he lasted one more pick.
4.07 Larry Fitzgerald, WR, ARI – Fitz rebounded last year and I think he will have another excellent season with Carson Palmer and Bruce Arians getting him the ball. The other choices at this pick were either running backs who won’t put up as many points as Fitzgerald or reaching for a QB or TE.
5.06 Jeremy Langford, RB, CHI – The choice here was a starting running back over my first tight end and I chose Langford over Latavius Murray. Jordan Reed and Greg Olsen were also available, but I felt neither would repeat last year’s success, and if not available next round, there would still be other very good TEs left on the board.
6.07 Ryan Mathews, RB, PHI – Just missed on Olsen here, but if Ryan Mathews can stay healthy, I think he will be a solid RB2. Or, for my team, a play in a Flex spot most weeks.
7.06 Delanie Walker, TE, TEN – I really like Walker and I think he will continue to be a top target for Marcus Mariota. Must admit though I was hoping either Travis Kelce or Coby Fleener was still there for me to take.
8.07 Stefon Diggs, WR, MIN – Diggs was excellent once he made it into the Vikings starting lineup last year and I fully expect him to take another step up the WR ranks this year. Teddy Bridgewater will look for him downfield often.
9.06 Vincent Jackson, WR, TB – I was hoping Torrey Smith would be here but missed by just two picks. Jackson, however, will be a major target for the improved second year throws of Jameis Winston.
10.07 Rishard Matthews, WR, TEN – Matthews has great skills and just needs a full-time opportunity to be a good WR3. I think his new team will give him that chance and he will prosper with the Titans.
11.06 Darren Sproles, RB, PHI – Sproles is not only a good PPR running back but does give me some Ryan Mathews insurance. And, a few return touchdowns when he is in my lineup will be a bonus.
12.07 Philip Rivers, QB, SD – Undervalued each year, Rivers always puts up his yards and touchdowns. Face it: The Chargers have to throw to win or stay in most games and it is nice to have Keenan Allen and even an older Antonio Gates to grab a lot of those Rivers throws.
13.06 DeAngelo Williams, RB, PIT – I was surprised that DWill fell this far, especially past the LeVeon Bell owner. Even with Bell healthy, Williams will get enough carries to be useful in a pinch or great run game matchup.
14.07 Charcandrick West, RB, KC – Thankfully, I landed West here to handcuff Charles. West was very good last year for the Chiefs and will be again if needed by them (or me).
15.06 DeAndre Smelter, WR, SF – Everyone has to take some shots on players who might play up and this was mine. Smelter was drafted in the 4th round last year by the 49ers but was coming off a knee injury and was inactive all year. However, the 6’2”, 226 lb. receiver out of Georgia Tech has big play ability and a solid chance to end up as a starter opposite Torrey Smith.
16.07 Arizona Cardinals DST – I think the Cardinals will be an improved DST for FF purposes. Adding Chandler Jones to sack opposing quarterbacks is the first and most important reason; second would be the addition of Tyvon Branch in the secondary. A full season of play for Tyrann Mathieu would certainly help as well.
17.06 Chris Boswell, K, PIT - Boswell may have inherited the job due to the failure of others, but he did a good job and a full season with the Steelers offense will put him in the top five kickers this season. By the way, you don’t have to wait until your last pick to take a better kicker, especially in an 18-round format, as there will always be some other players worth grabbing.
18.07 Chris Thompson, RB, WAS – Thompson is a great pass catcher out of the backfield and should be right behind Matt Jones on the Washington depth chart. He has ability, and should get more playing time if Jones falters again this year.