Early PPR Mock Draft (2019 Fantasy Football)
The 2018 fantasy football season is over, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to look ahead to 2019. Practice makes perfect after all, and a mock draft is the best way to stay on top of trends in rankings and ADP. It’s also the best way to familiarize yourself with different draft strategies and experiment with taking certain players in certain spots. Completing many mock drafts allows a fantasy owner to analyze what works best, and getting started now will give any owner a leg up on the competition.
Our DraftWizard is the perfect tool to fire up a 2019 mock draft. Users can import their league information or simply customize the draft based on scoring system, number of teams, snake or auction draft, and number of positions. The best part? It’s completely free! Check it out here.
As an early exercise, I completed a PPR mock draft using the sixth pick. I selected that pick because it may be the hardest spot. The first five picks, according to the early Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR), are pretty airtight, featuring (in any order): Todd Gurley, Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliot, Christian McCaffrey, and Alvin Kamara. After that, it gets tricky. Who goes next? The best WR on the board? Another high-tier RB1? I wanted to find out how I fared using that difficult draft position, so here are the results from my early mock draft.
This is a 12-team league, PPR scoring, 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 RB/WR/TE Flex, 1 K, 1 DST, 15 rounds. Rookies were not included.
Round 1: DeAndre Hopkins (WR – HOU)
I could’ve taken Melvin Gordon or Davante Adams here, but Hopkins seemed like the best choice, especially over Adams in a PPR format and because I like to go WR early. He has been a PPR monster over the last five seasons, averaging 95 receptions on 161 targets and 1,327 yards and nine TDs in that span. His last two seasons have been even more impressive with a 105-1,475-12 average line. Even with a healthy Keke Coutee back to steal some production, Hop is Deshaun Watson‘s clear favorite choice, and he has the fewest question marks of any top WR heading into 2019.
Round 2: Le’Veon Bell (RB – FA)
Grabbing Bell in the second round seems like an enormous steal. His overall ECR has him as the 14th-ranked player, but his talent level is that of a top-three stud. Bell turned the NFL and fantasy world upside down last year, choosing to hold out rather than sign another franchise tag with the Steelers. The free agent will take his talents elsewhere, where he’ll be well-rested and still have one or two years of elite production left. Possible landing spots for him are the Colts or Jets, and he would be the centerpiece of either offense. No matter where he signs, Bell should end up far exceeding his ECR. His ECR and ADP will surely creep up closer to most drafts. Bell has averaged a ridiculous 129 scrimmage yards per game in his career, and his per-16 game stats are 2,063 total yards and 11 TDs.
Round 3: Patrick Mahomes (QB – KC)
OK, OK. So you’re not supposed to take a QB early. That’s fantasy drafting 101, and I’ve employed that method for as long as I can remember. But it’s not often you run into a QB who tosses 50 TDs in his first full season of game action. Mahomes, the reigning league MVP, won’t likely repeat his 2018 production, but he returns with a year of experience under his belt and one of the NFL’s best supporting featuring Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and Travis Kelce. This is probably the latest I’ll be able to draft Mahomes, as his ADP will likely rise into the second round by August. It’s highly unlikely I draft a QB this soon in any of my real 2019 drafts, but this was an interesting exercise for me to see what kind of roster I could put together after taking one this early. This sort of experimentation is a valuable component of completing mocks.
Round 4: Kerryon Johnson (RB – DET)
The Wayward Son flashed his explosive abilities last season after Detroit finally took the training wheels off and let him run free. He got off to a slow start in his rookie year, inexplicably sharing time with LeGarrette Blount. Once anointed the starter, Johnson showed why he’ll be worth a fourth-round pick in fantasy drafts. He totaled 641 rushing yards on 5.4 yards per attempt and racked up 32 receptions for 213 yards. His 3.2 receptions per game would have been good for over 50 had he played a full 16 games. Johnson is a strong and efficient runner with some major pass-catching skills. Detroit will finally move off of Blount in 2019, and if the coaching staff is wise, they’ll employ Johnson as a three-down back and keep Theo Riddick on the bench.
Round 5: Devonta Freeman (RB – ATL)
Season-ending foot and groin injuries forced him to miss 14 games in 2018, but Freeman should be 100 percent heading into 2019. I highlighted Freeman as a bust in the offseason last year, but I think he bounces back in a big way. From 2015 – 2017, he averaged 1,452 scrimmage yards, nearly 12 total TDs, and 54 receptions. Once a PPR monster, he’s available in the fifth round. The talent is still there, and he’s only entering his sixth season. Tevin Coleman is not a lock to resign with the Falcons, and Ito Smith poses no threat to steal touches. It will be Freeman’s backfield in Atlanta this season, so I was happy to grab a player with such tremendous upside so late.
Round 6: Chris Godwin (WR – TB)
Godwin proved himself as a strong, albeit raw, starting NFL receiver last season. Without DeSean Jackson in the fold, Godwin should be able to grow into a solid complementary receiver to Mike Evans in 2019. He racked up a 59-842-7 line in his sophomore season on 95 targets. D-Jax leaves 74 targets on the table, and Godwin should absorb a solid chunk of those.
Round 7: James White (RB – NE)
White dominated targets and catches for the Patriots throughout most of 2018, finishing with a career-high 87 receptions. He’s had at least 40 receptions in four straight seasons and at least 56 in three straight. His work in the passing game may trail off a little bit next season if Rex Burkhead stays healthy, but he should still be in line for at least 40 receptions. White has a lot of upside but presents a risk-reward pick with the aforementioned Burkhead and the emergence of Sony Michel. Still, I have Bell and Johnson as solid anchors to my RB corps, allowing me to swing for the fences with Freeman and White.
Round 8: Christian Kirk (WR – ARI)
Larry Fitzgerald is returning to the Cardinals this season in what will likely be his final season. Arizona’s new coach, Kliff Kingsbury, should give the offense a much-needed shot in the arm, and the team is sure to focus the passing game more on its young up-and-comer. I believe Kirk will be in for his fair share of targets and receptions in a new-look offense in the desert.
Round 9: Keke Coutee (WR – HOU)
I mentioned Hopkins earlier in the article as Houston’s clear number-one option, but Coutee is the clear number two on a team with only two notable targets. The Texans have no TE production to speak of, and the RBs are not adept pass-catchers out of the backfield. In three starts, including the playoffs, Coutee averaged 7.3 receptions per game. A tandem of Coutee and Hopkins should be a lucrative duo in a PPR league.
Round 10: Evan Engram (TE – NYG)
An athletic TE with a ton of upside in the 10th round? I’ll definitely take that. After the first two or three guys come off the board (Kelce, Zach Ertz, George Kittle), it makes sense to wait until later in the draft to pick up a TE. The drop off from those players to the next tier is cavernous, and Engram was the best option left on the board. I could have selected Greg Olsen or Delanie Walker, but both are coming off of injuries and showing signs of age. Engram showed what he could do in his rookie season, but injuries hampered his production in 2018. Fully healthy, he’ll be my starting TE.
Round 11: Austin Ekeler (RB – LAC)
Even with Gordon on the field last year, Ekeler had some solid standalone value as a weekly flex option in PPR and non-PPR formats. His season could have been much bigger if not for injuries. I like Ekeler as a high-upside flex play. I debated taking D’Onta Foreman here, but Bill O’Brien hasn’t indicated he’ll give Foreman any more work, and Houston’s O-line is awful ahead of the draft and free agency.
Round 12: Lamar Jackson (QB – BAL)
Jackson will be focused on polishing his passing in the offseason, and Baltimore is also likely to add some more offensive weapons around him. I believe in taking two QBs, and Jackson presents the highest upside of those remaining. I actually took him over Philip Rivers, Tom Brady, and Carson Wentz mainly due to his rushing abilities, which will add a lot of production in four-point per passing TD leagues. Brady’s decline in regular-season play and Wentz’s injury history drove my decision here. Jackson will likely only be a bye-week filler for my team, but he’s good for insurance or trade bait down the line.
Round 13: Kalen Ballage (RB – MIA)
Ballage stood out coming into the draft. At 6’2″ and 228 pounds, he’s a big back who’s dangerously quick, running a 4.4 40 at last year’s combine. He seriously impressed over the last couple weeks of his rookie season in Miami, especially when hanging 123 yards on the Vikings in Week 15. Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake were highly inconsistent and underwhelming last season, and I’m hopeful the coaching staff gets Ballage involved as the primary back in Miami.
Rounds 14 & 15: Cleveland Browns D/ST and Ka’imi Fairbairn (K – HOU)
The Browns D/ST wasn’t the highest ranked here, but they are a home run option. The unit led the NFL in takeaways for much of 2018 and should only get better in 2019. The kicker position is difficult to project and unimportant, so I just went chalk and grabbed Fairbairn as my final pick. Kicker and D/ST should always be the final two picks in fantasy drafts.
How did I do? I ended up with a Grade of B+ (89), so not too shabby. Here are the full results. I chose to go RB heavy here with six backs and just four WRs. Historically, RBs are far more scarce, and starting WRs can emerge throughout the season or even on the post-draft waiver wire. I tried to make my team foundationally stable with Hopkins, Bell, and Mahomes while taking a chance on some boom-or-bust options in the backfield.
This was my first mock for the 2019 season, so free agency, the draft, training camp, and injuries will shake up this board tremendously as we approach the NFL season. Overall, I’m satisfied with the results, but I see some areas that need improvement and will continue to work on my strategy for the next six months.
What do you think? Did I make the right picks, or was this draft completely off the mark? Feel free to let me know on Twitter @ZaktheMonster.