Fantasy Football Mock Draft (12-Team PPR)
Have you ever used the FantasyPros Draft Simulator? It is very similar to doing a live mock draft except that you are drafting against our computer simulated opponents which uses a selection of expert cheat sheets and average draft position sources. Our simulator allows you to complete hundreds of mock drafts while experimenting with different strategies.
We have built an opponent pick algorithm that mirrors how drafters make decisions by factoring in player rankings, team needs, and position scarcity to determine the most likely selection. It is never too early to begin preparing for the upcoming season, and this article will provide you a line of sight of what your fantasy team could look like by leveraging our Draft Simulator.
This draft configuration will be a 12-team PPR or points per reception format. Players who catch more passes than others at their position are of higher value. Running backs who can catch passes are the most critical players in PPR.
Since 2000 the top overall PPR scorer has been an RB 10 times. Quarterbacks finished as the top overall scorer five times while wide receivers have finished twice. The top five PPR RBs last season averaged 68.2 catches.
At wide receiver, target volume is very important. The top five WRs averaged 163.6 targets and 104 catches last season.
It is also essential to land an upper tier tight end. The top five TEs averaged 112.6 targets and 72.8 catches. Targeting players with high statistical floors are crucial in PPR.
Round 1: Todd Gurley (RB – LAR)
It would have been difficult not to select Gurley in the first round. He had a positive rushing and receiving fantasy points over expectation last season, finishing as the RB1 in PPR formats.
Gurley averaged 18.6 rushing attempts, 87 rushing yards, and 0.9 rushing touchdowns per game. He averaged 4.6 yards per carry and was very active as a receiver out of the backfield. Gurley averaged 5.8 targets, 4.3 receptions, and 52.5 receiving yards per game.
He played 77 percent of the Rams offensive snaps. Gurley touched the football or was targeted on 46 percent of them. At only 23 years old, he remains an elite fantasy RB1 heading into the 2018 season.
Round 2: Devonta Freeman (RB – ATL)
The Falcons offense took a step back last season after losing offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to the 49ers. The offense averaged 357.8 total yards in 2017 after averaging 416.4 in 2016. It was difficult to pass on Freeman in the second round after a down season in which he played on a sprained MCL and PCL.
Freeman has a positive rushing and receiving fantasy points over expectation over the last 45 games averaging 18.2 fantasy points per game in PPR formats during that time frame. He is still in his physical prime at 26 years old and has the potential to finish as a top-eight fantasy RB.
Round 3: Christian McCaffrey (RB – CAR)
McCaffrey was not very useful as a runner last season, finishing the season with negative rushing fantasy points over expectation. He did finish with positive receiving fantasy points over expectation averaging five receptions and 40.7 receiving yards per game in 2017 finishing as the RB10 in PPR. The only RBs with more receptions than McCaffrey last season were Le’Veon Bell and Alvin Kamara.
New Panthers offensive coordinator, Norv Turner, said that the team would “keep finding ways” to involve McCaffrey in the offense this season. I anticipate the Panthers will draft an RB to replace Jonathan Stewart who handled the early down and short yardage carries. McCaffrey finds himself in an excellent position to meet or exceed his statistical production from last season.
Round 4: Demaryius Thomas (WR – DEN)
Did you know that Thomas is coming off of his first season under 1,000 receiving yards since 2011? He has averaged 9.4 targets, 5.7 receptions, 78.9 receiving yards, and 16.7 fantasy points per game over the last 106 games. The Broncos have exercised Thomas’ $4 million option bonus which bumps up his total compensation in 2018 to $12.5 million.
The addition of Case Keenum in free agency finally provides the team the stability at QB they have been looking for since having Peyton Manning under center. Thomas has averaged 153.6 targets and 92.6 receptions per season since 2015. He consistently sees elite volume, but the addition of Keenum places him in a great position to bounce-back with WR1 fantasy production in 2018.
Round 5: Evan Engram (TE – NYG)
Engram finished as the TE5 averaging 11.6 fantasy points per game in PPR. He averaged 7.7 targets, 4.3 receptions, 48.1 receiving yards, and 0.4 touchdowns per game. Engram was very productive in a horrible Giants offense that ranked 23rd in total yards per game with 314.2.
One would expect the return of Odell Beckham to cut into the 20 percent target share Engam had from Week 6 on last season. New Giants head coach Pat Shurmur and offensive coordinator Mike Shula have a detailed history of heavily targeting tight ends. From 2013 to 2016, Panthers tight end Greg Olsen averaged 7.1 targets per game with Shula as the coordinator. Engram will see his fair of targets in 2018, and this factored into my decision to select him as my TE1.
Round 6: Michael Crabtree (WR – BAL)
Crabtree heads into 2018 as the Ravens’ No. 1 receiver in their run-heavy offensive scheme. The team averaged 28.8 rushing attempts (7th) and 116 rushing yards (10th) per game last season. Crabtree has averaged 8.7 targets, 5.2 receptions, 56.5 receiving yards, and 0.6 touchdowns per game since 2015.
Only DeAndre Hopkins, Odell Beckham, and Doug Baldwin have scored more TDs than Crabtree’s 25 since the beginning of 2015. He had the second-fewest receiving yards in his career (618) and the second worst average yards per catch (10.7) last season while playing through numerous injuries. Crabtree has double-digit touchdown potential, and I view him as an excellent WR2 in PPR formats.
Round 7: Jamison Crowder (WR – WAS)
Crowder broke out in 2016, but disappointed fantasy players in 2017 finishing with 66 receptions for 789 receiving yards and three touchdowns. He still has positive receiving fantasy points over expectation over the last 31 games. A high percentage of Crowder’s 2017 production came from a four-game stretch in which he accumulated 27 receptions, 412 receiving yards, and a touchdown.
I still view him as one of the top up and coming slot receivers in the NFL. The Redskins’ new quarterback, Alex Smith, has averaged 7.03 adjusted yards per attempt since 2014 where 85.6 percent of them have had a depth of target of 15 yards or less. Crowder could emerge as the team’s top receiving option in 2018 and is an upside fantasy WR3 in PPR.
Round 8: Nelson Agholor (WR – PHI)
Agholor led the Eagles wide receivers in receptions (62) and yards after the catch (301). He set a career-high in receiving yards (768) and touchdowns (eight) while thriving in the slot.
Agholor should continue to be the team’s third receiving option behind Alshon Jeffery and Zach Ertz in 2018. The Eagles offense averaged 247.1 passing yards per game which ranked eighth in the NFL. Agholor is firmly on the WR3 radar in PPR.
Round 9: Matt Ryan (QB – ATL)
Ryan finished as the QB15 last season under new Falcons’ offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. He has averaged 37 pass attempts, 296.4 passing yards, 1.8 passing touchdowns, and 0.77 interceptions per game from 2014 to 2016. Ryan is criminally undervalued given the offensive weapons he has at his disposal.
The addition of new Falcons’ quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp and running backs coach Bernie Parmalee will help this offense dramatically behind the scenes in 2018. I drafted Ryan too early in purposes of this mock draft believing a run of QBs was about to take place given my draft position. He is still on the QB1 radar given his statistical body of work.
Round 10: James White (RB – NE)
I selected White as my RB4. The re-signing of Rex Burkhead hinders his fantasy value in 2018. It is often difficult to project which Patriots running back will see the most touches. White has averaged 4.8 targets per game since entering the league in 2014.
He and Burkhead should handle most of the receiving work out of the backfield and act as a change of pace back. Patriots free agent addition Jeremy Hill will handle the early down and short yardage carries. He has only averaged 1.5 targets and 1.2 receptions per game since 2014.
Round 11: DeSean Jackson (WR – TB)
Jackson’s averaged seven targets, 3.9 receptions, 67.8 receiving yards, and 0.4 touchdowns per game during his NFL career. His 17.5 career average yards per reception suggest a boom or bust nature which is not optimal for PPR formats. Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston and head coach Dirk Koetter have publicly said positive things about Jackson this offseason. He is an excellent bounce-back candidate and will provide upside as my WR5 in this mock.
Round 12: Jaguars D/ST
I am not a big fan of taking a DST this early in a mock draft, but given the makeup of my team and options available the Jaguars were difficult to pass up. The unit allowed the third-fewest yards per game (301.6), third-fewest points per game (17.7), and tied the Steelers and Vikings for third-fewest first downs per game (17.2).
Plus, the Jaguars defense has most of their key players returning this season. They also have numerous picks in the NFL Draft to fill any additional potential defensive gaps. This unit will be in a great position to repeat their dominance from last season.
Round 13: Austin Seferian-Jenkins (TE – JAC)
The Jaguars will benefit from the New York Jets choosing not to resign Seferian-Jenkins. He has gotten his life and professional career back on track after overcoming alcohol problems. Seferian-Jenkins finished last season with a career-high 50 receptions for 357 receiving yards and three touchdowns. He had a three-game stretch where he averaged 5.6 receptions, 32 receiving yards, and a touchdown per game.
Seferian-Jenkins is a great fit in the Jaguars offense as a blocker and receiving outlet for quarterback Blake Bortles. He provides the team with another receiving option to move the chains, to leverage in the red zone, and at only 25 years of age possesses considerable upside. This is an excellent example of the type of player you should target as a TE2.
Round 14: Donte Moncrief (WR – JAC)
The Jaguars committed more to Moncrief and Marqise Lee than it would have cost to franchise Robinson. He is coming off back-to-back subpar seasons after a promising 2015 season and will be fighting for targets in Jacksonville. The Jaguars led the league in rushing attempts per game with 33.1 and rushing yards per game with 141.2.
Moncrief is only 24 years old, but needs some dominoes to fall to be fantasy relevant in Jacksonville. Despite that, he is still worth investing in at this stage of the fantasy draft as my WR6.
Round 15: Matt Breida (RB – SF)
The 49ers signing of Jerick McKinnon in free agency does not lessen my optimism for Breida this season. Matt Barrows of the Sacremento Bee reported last month that he should remain involved in the 49ers RB rotation and even referenced the Falcons 2016 backfield of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. These RBs combined for 2,482 total offensive yards in 49ers head coach Shanahan’s scheme. I anticipate Breida would fill the role of Coleman to McKinnon’s Freeman in 2018.
The beauty of fantasy football is that there are multiple ways to build a winning team. The interface and features of the Draft Wizard are the same for our Draft Assistant which is a tool that you can use during a live draft. You will be able to optimize your picks with our expert advice during your football draft.
What was your favorite pick? What was your least favorite pick? Please leave a comment below or better yet reach out to me on Twitter @EricNMoody. Until next time!