Fantasy Football Expert PPR Mock Draft (July 2018)
Each and every offseason, we who write about football for a living go through an odd schedule. It includes staying up later than we’d like (especially when I had an infant last year) to watch film on rookies, look for countless trends, quantify new ways to project offenses, update depth charts, and do thousands of drafts.
Some will tell you that it’s dumb to do mock drafts in February through June, but for us, it’s a way to gauge where the public is, and which players are shifting as the months go on. This typically carries into the heavy-draft season that takes place in August. That way, we’re able to let you know which players you should expect to slide up draft boards, as well as which players you should expect to come cheaper on draft day.
Because I’m not alone in this process, I invited some of the top names in the industry to help me do a mock draft for you. I’ll be going through and finding which players are far off the beaten ADP path, as these are the players who you should see the biggest shift in over the next few months, because the guys who took part in this draft will be advising their following to go that way in upcoming drafts. Keep in mind that this was a PPR format that starts 1QB, 2RB, 3WR, 1TE, 2W/R/T. That’s right, no defenses or kickers (though Andy drafted one for good luck).
Here’s a list of the analysts who took part in the mock draft, as well as a link to where you can find them:
Scott Barrett – Pro Football Focus
Jason Moore – Fantasy Footballers
Andy Behrens – Yahoo
Bobby Sylvester – FantasyPros
Mike Tagliere – FantasyPros
Bob Harris – Football Diehards
Eliot Crist – 4for4
Jake Ciely – RotoExperts
Pat Thorman – Pro Football Focus
Rich Hribar – Rotoworld
Justin Boone – The Score
Jamey Eisenberg – CBS Sports
|Boone||11||Odell Beckham Jr.||10||-1|
You wouldn’t expect a massive difference in draft position over the first few rounds, but there were definitely a few standouts that you should know. It’s clear that Behrens is in love with Derrius Guice, selecting him in the second-round, 16 picks before he was expected to come off the board. Knowing he had a pick after just five more players came off the board, he likely would’ve been safe waiting on him. Still, he was tied for the biggest difference of draft slot/ADP in the top 50 players selected. The other two players selected drastically before they were expected to go were Rashaad Penny and Alex Collins. It’s clear that running backs were coming off the board fast and furious, forcing Ciely and Boone to reach just a bit, especially when they knew Eisenberg (who had the two picks at the next turn) had yet to draft a single running back.
There were just two players selected five or more spots after their current ADP, and those players were Rob Gronkowski and Tyreek Hill. While taking a tight end in the top two rounds has lost some of its luster, I’d jump all over Gronkowski in the third-round like Behrens did. As for Hill, this is a theme in industry mocks, where he’s falling much further than some think he should. For the crowd who says that Pat Mahomes is an upgrade over Alex Smith, know that Smith was the best deep-ball passer in the league last year, by both yardage and passer rating. Each and every one of Hill’s last 13 touchdowns have come from at least 30 yards out. Regression is coming.
1.05 Antonio Brown – Not much to say here. In a full PPR format, he shouldn’t fall outside the top-five.
2.08 A.J. Green – I’m almost always walking away with a running back after two rounds, but deciding between Green, who is always a WR1 when healthy and someone like Jerick McKinnon and Joe Mixon, I played it safe.
3.05 Jordan Howard – I considered myself lucky to land Howard here, though it does hurt in a PPR format. Still, I needed stability at the position after going WR-heavy, and Howard will provide a very solid floor in any format.
This is where it’s make-or-break time and often where fantasy teams start to show their weaknesses if they ignore positions for too long of a period. I’ve talked about it for a long time, and it’s that you need to adapt to the draft that is taking place in front of you. While you may have a plan coming in that you want to snag one running back early and then load-up on wide receivers, you need to veer off that plan if the running backs start flying off the board. Eisenberg went another turn without selecting a running back and was forced to reach 21 spots from ADP on both Kerryon Johnson and Marlon Mack, who are his two starting running backs. He wasn’t the only one that reached on running backs, though, as Harris reached for Royce Freeman 29 spots before his current draft position, and Moore reached 25 spots for Rex Burkhead. It just goes to show that running backs were coming at a premium, something the analysts recognized. So, while I do expect each of Johnson, Mack, Freeman, and Burkhead to rise in price, I don’t expect them to go as high as they did in this draft.
Even though running backs were going fast and furious, Harris somewhat regrets his pick of Jay Ajayi in the fourth-round. He said, “It’s not that I dislike Ajayi, I’m just concerned drafting a running back likely to be mired in a full-blown committee as my RB2. Even with LeGarrette Blount out of the picture, it seems likely the former Dolphin will still be involved in a timeshare with the talented Corey Clements breathing down his neck. In addition, the Eagles re-signed veteran scatback Darren Sproles and added former Redskin and Colt Matt Jones. Heading into training camp, HC Doug Pederson went as far as saying he envisions Ajayi and Jones forming a 1-2 running back attack similar to what Blount and Ajayi did during the second half of the Super Bowl season. Even if it doesn’t play out that way, the entire committee thing is a concern to me.”
Meanwhile, there were a few running backs who fell further than expected, which is where Thorman decided to take the plunge on Derrick Henry in the fifth-round, which is likely worth the risk. His current price as the 39th pick in PPR drafts is far too rich, as evidenced by the many analysts who passed on him in this draft. Due to the recent Frank Gore hype, I was able to snag Kenyan Drake 13 spots later than his current draft position, which worked well for me considering I went WR-heavy to start the draft. I recently wrote-up a Drake profile that made me feel a bit better about his projection and what to expect (read it here). I’ve you’ve ever looked at an industry mock draft, you likely know that quarterbacks always fall, so to see Rodgers go 21 spots after his ADP is no surprise. I do believe that Rodgers was a phenomenal value there, but Ciely said this about Behrens’ selection: “My least favorite pick of the draft was Aaron Rodgers – and it’s not even that Rodgers was a poor value… in fact, fifth round is a great value for him. My issue is that Andy already took Rob Gronkowski, which made his WR3 rookie D.J. Moore, and his flex spots two of C.J. Anderson, Nick Chubb, or Nelson Agholor. You can go QB or TE early if the value is right, but you can’t do both.”
4.08 Demaryius Thomas – Full disclosure, I’d owned almost zero Thomas before this draft, but once again, I was deciding between the safety of someone who will finish as a WR2 and someone like Kenyan Drake who has some question marks.
5.05 Kenyan Drake – Talked about this pick above, just see his profile.
6.08 DeVante Parker – Being surrounded by a bunch of sharks, I couldn’t wait to pull the trigger on Parker. I lost some of the value I’d get had I drafted him in the seventh, but these guys know his floor is a WR3.
As expected, the further we get into the draft, the larger the varying in opinions. It was a continuing battle for Eisenberg to snag running backs, as he was forced to reach 64 spots for Matt Breida and 46 spots for Devontae Booker, two of the largest discrepancies in the draft. Meanwhile, you saw Behrens trying to make up for his lack of wide receivers by drafting rookie D.J. Moore at 75 overall, which is much earlier than his 127 overall ADP. If there’s something to be learned from this, it’s that if you avoid a position in the draft for as long as Eisenberg or Behrens did, you’re going to need to reach in the mid-rounds to get guys to fill those holes. This works if you have guys you know are being undervalued, but in this group, value was always going to be tough to find. Knowing who you are drafting with is a large part of your success.
The other players who went much higher than they do in public drafts were Tyler Lockett, who Moore selected 48 spots higher than his current price, while Thorman snagged two late-round industry gems in Kenny Stills and Rishard Matthews. He removed some of their value by taking them so early, but being near the turn (like he was), you sometimes have to reach to ensure you get your guys.
Some of the players who dropped much further than the public would expect included Deshaun Watson, who was taken 47 spots later than his current price, though we already knew quarterbacks are devalued here. Sylvester said that his pick of Wilson in the eight was his favorite value in the draft, “At some point, you have to say that late-round quarterback has gone too far.” The non-quarterback players who dropped further than anticipated in this area of the draft included Jimmy Graham, who Boone snagged 29 spots after his current ADP. Evan Engram was another tight end who fell to Crist 21 spots after his current price, so maybe something to take from this is that analysts are either paying up for Gronkowski, Kelce, Ertz, or simply waiting until they can get one at a value. One of my favorite value picks from this range was Eisenberg, who snagged Tarik Cohen at 85 overall, which was a value, especially in a PPR format. Considering he started with three wide receivers and a tight end, he actually selected seven running backs in a row from rounds 5-11.
7.05 Tevin Coleman – Another player who I own very little of to this point, but knowing that my wide receivers are stacked, I needed to start taking some shots on high-upside running backs and he was a major value as the 34th running back off the board.
8.08 Trey Burton – The tight end position started to dry up and I’ve been on record saying that you don’t want to wind up drafting a non-top-10 tight end. Burton and Jordan Reed were my last two options.
9.05 Sterling Shepard – One of my favorite mid-to-late-round guys this year, as Pat Shurmur’s offense does wonders for the slot-role, which is where Shepard plays, almost exclusively.
10.08 Kirk Cousins – I sound like a broken record, but here’s another player I don’t find myself drafting all that often. With the way my team has been built, I was simply looking for safety at the quarterback position, which is why I went Cousins over Ben Roethlisberger.
This is the area of the draft where you’ll typically see analysts planting their flags on certain players, which is the reason you’ll see large discrepancies in ADP versus draft position. It’s apparent that Behrens thinks Keke Coutee wins the starting slot job for the Texans, as he almost always goes undrafted. While I do believe Coutee wins the job, it’s unlikely the Texans can produce three fantasy relevant wide receivers. Hribar went a route that not many people do in selecting Cole Beasley, but he’s someone who may wind up with more targets/production than most anticipate. He doesn’t come with upside to finish as a top-30 wide receiver, but this league does have two flex positions.
Some other notable players that the analysts reached for included Donte Moncrief, who Harris said this about, “When healthy, Moncrief has a skill set similar to Allen Robinson‘s, is expected to line up as the starter opposite Marqise Lee with Keelan Cole as the third receiver. While the “when healthy” thing is a concern, drafting any team’s potential WR1 this late is a win in my book.”
There weren’t as many values late in the draft outside of quarterbacks and tight ends, who continued to fall further than expected. In fact, Cameron Brate was not drafted. That’s the player I’m most shocked wasn’t drafted, especially when you consider that Barrett selected three tight ends, and 21 were selected in the entirety of the draft. Below is a screenshot of all the teams in a grid format. Make sure to reach out to your favorite analyst and let them know which team you like best!
11.05 Marqise Lee – Most don’t realize that even though he missed two games, Lee ranks 27th in targets among wide receivers. Keep in mind that Allen Robinson was there for one of those years, too.
12.08 Doug Martin – Taking a running back who can win the starting job and play behind a top-three offensive line? Yes, please.
13.05 T.J. Yeldon – I continued taking my favorite backup running backs who would be shot up into RB1 status should the starter go down.
14.08 Elijah McGuire – Knowing that I’m pretty thin at running back, I think there’s a non-zero percent chance that McGuire leads this team in touches.
15.05 James Washington – One of my favorite guys to take at the end of drafts. Such an underrated player.
There weren’t as many values late in the draft outside of quarterbacks and tight ends, who continued to fall further than expected. In fact, Cameron Brate was not drafted. That’s the player I’m most shocked wasn’t drafted, especially when you consider that Barrett selected three tight ends, and 21 were selected in the entirety of the draft. Below is a screenshot of all the teams in a grid format. Make sure to reach out to your favorite analyst and let them know which team you like best.