Dynasty Start-Up Mock Draft (2019 Fantasy Football)
With draft season already underway, it is a good idea to start participating in mock drafts. While live mock drafts full of other managers is fun, FantasyPros’ Draft Simulator offers a lightning-speed experience. In the digital age of instant gratification, having a tool that allows one to mock draft in minutes, as opposed to the better part of an hour or longer, is an invaluable learning opportunity. Let’s take a look at a recent dynasty start-up mock draft I performed, and discuss not only the draft picks but my strategy.
There are two strategies I typically employ when it comes to dynasty start-ups. One is the punt, which is when I draft without regard for competing in the first season. Dynasty leagues are meant to be multi-year propositions. As such, aggressively targeting projected long-term studs is more attractive than rostering multiple players who may be on their last legs as a starter or valuable fantasy contributor. This strategy often results with me selecting multiple running backs in the first three to four rounds.
Another strategy I employ, and the one I utilized for this particular mock, is the best-player-available approach. The impetus with this plan is to immediately field a contender. This strategy is similar to the balanced approach one would take in a re-draft, where landing stud starters is the goal.
Outside of Superflex leagues, I often lean running back with my first pick. This does not mean I will reach, but one of my top six backs is commonly available even at the end of the first round. It is helpful to always keep your personal rankings open in another tab or printed out in hard copy.
The main feature I use is the Cheat Sheet Creator. This tool lets you create a custom cheat sheet. Within the tool, the custom cheat sheet tab allows me to identify which analysts’ rankings I wish to include. Once saved, I select the custom sheet instead of overall ECR before I launch the Draft Simulator (or Draft Assistant for live drafts). The Draft Assistant tool then suggests players based on this custom cheat sheet. As you will see later, it also changes the grade you may receive by the Draft Wizard’s analysis tool.
Since mock drafting is both informative and enjoyable, I mocked several times from different draft positions. The Draft Simulator allowed me to participate in several mock drafts in a fraction of the time one live mock draft would take. As one may imagine, the best-player-available strategy results in the best draft grade. As such, I will share one of the mocks in which I utilized this approach.
1.05 – Alvin Kamara (RB – NO)
With the first pick on the draft, I selected Alvin Kamara. He is in the top four of my personal rankings, so I was thrilled to land him fifth overall. Kamara should see an increased workload with Mark Ingram out of town. Latavius Murray has spot-starter ability but has never been close to the talent that Ingram is.
2.08 – Le’Veon Bell (RB – NYJ)
This pick came down to either Le’Veon Bell or Nick Chubb. I love Chubb, but Bell is still the better fantasy option, and that is before factoring in the suspended Kareem Hunt also joining the Cleveland Browns. Bell is one of the few true workhorses left in the NFL. As such, he is a great value this late in the second round.
3.05 – T.Y. Hilton (WR – IND)
With the third pick, I opined that this may be my last chance to land a potential WR1. There were three names I considered: T.Y. Hilton, Tyreek Hill, and Brandin Cooks. I opted against Hill because his off-field issues make him too risky as my WR1. I like Cooks more than Hilton talent-wise, but Hilton should see more targets and a larger target share as well. Hilton finally has some help and should be able to find some consistency with the emergence of Marlon Mack and Eric Ebron coupled with the offseason additions of Devin Funchess and rookie Parris Campbell.
4.08 – Josh Jacobs (RB – OAK)
Since I went WR at third overall and Hill and Cooks were now off of the board, I took a look at my running back rankings to see who was the best player available. My rankings suggested David Montgomery, but Josh Jacobs got the nod based on my custom cheat sheet. While Montgomery has a better long-term outlook, Jacobs will be the more valuable short-term back. He has RB1-level upside and looks to have a high-end RB2 floor. He has the tools, skills, and opportunity to be a workhorse for the Raiders.
5.05 – Mike Williams (WR – LAC)
With my fifth round pick, I responded to a run on wide receivers. D.J. Moore, Calvin Ridley, and Corey Davis all went off of the board after my last pick. With my main three targets gone, I debated between Montgomery, Mike Williams, and N’Keal Harry. With it only being the fifth round, I knew Montgomery would likely last at least one more round. I gambled that this would also be the case for Harry. Williams has a ton of talent, and he may finally get the opportunity to realize his top-15 upside.
6.08 – O.J. Howard (TE – TB)
I was amazed to see O.J. Howard still on the board at this point of the draft. He is arguably a top-three tight end based on talent, and it is only a matter of time until he becomes a snap-share hog. I considered Montgomery here, but with Harry off the board, getting the last surefire dynasty stud at tight end seemed too good to pass up. Howard led all the position in yards per reception, yards per target, fantasy points per pass route, and fantasy points per target last season. He was second in average target distance and 12th in yards per route run. Fifth in fantasy points per game despite sharing snaps with Cameron Brate, Howard is an elite tight end in the making.
7.05 – Aaron Rodgers (QB – GB)
Continuing to pass on Montgomery came back to bite me. However, that did not mean I was going to reach for another running back. With none of the remaining rushers having long-term security, and the wide receiver position being as deep as it’s been in years, I chose to roll with Aaron Rodgers. In the seventh round, he felt like an absolute steal. Despite his age versus some of the other remaining options, his ceiling remains other-worldly. Adding Rodgers ensures that I will field an annual contender. He should have a major bounce-back season with a new head coach, rookie tight end Jace Sternberger, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown expected to make a sophomore leap.
8.08 – Julian Edelman (WR – NE)
Campbell was my target here, but it was not to be. He was selected with the pick right before my eighth-round choice. On the lookout for another high-upside receiving option, I considered Marquise Brown. While there was a chance he would last until my ninth-round pick, Edelman is assured to be a WR2 for at last the next two to three seasons.
9.05 – Mark Ingram (RB – BAL)
With Brown going off the board before this pick, I decided to secure another starting running back. Justice Hill limits his upside, but Ingram is a great value in the ninth round. With LeSean McCoy rumored to be a release candidate, Ingram was the last guaranteed starter on the board. He should be one of the few running backs in the league to eclipse 250 touches over each of the next couple of years.
10.08 – James White (RB – NE)
This is the value portion of the draft. Having already secured my starting quarterback and tight end, I was able to maintain focus on adding the best player available. My team is clearly ready to contend, and as such, I targeted short-term returns over long-term upside. James White fits the bill. His long-term future is murky, but he has a very fantasy-friendly role for at least the next two years. He will be inconsistent, especially with Damien Harris added to the backfield, but he remains far and away the best receiving option in the Patriots’ running back room.
11.05 – Devin Funchess (WR – IND)
Let me preface this by saying I am not a Funchess fan at all. I am not even a believer that he will have a larger role than Campbell in 2019. However, he landed with the perfect quarterback to take his game to the next level. He offers size across from Hilton, and if we have learned anything about Andrew Luck, it is that he likes big-bodied targets. Funchess has sneaky WR2 potential and seemed like a great value at this point of the draft in spite of uncertainty in regards to his long-term future.
12.08 – DeSean Jackson (WR – PHI)
The goal with this pick was to keep strengthening the wide receiver position. Jackson figures to be the epitome of a boom-or-bust option in 2019, but he proved last year that he still has plenty left in the tank. He is already building a notable rapport with Carson Wentz and is a rock-solid value who was likely only available due to his age.
13.05 – Drew Brees (QB – NO)
I decided the 13th round is too late to let any of my opponents get Drew Brees. This is purely a luxury pick with Rodgers already on my team, but there was no way I could pass up someone who has number-one-overall fantasy upside at this stage of the draft. Blocking opponents is not a strategy to seek out, but if the opportunity presents itself, do not hesitate. Brees gives me an outrageously elite duo at QB, and theoretically one would not miss a beat if the other goes down with an injury.
14.08 – Larry Fitzgerald (WR – ARI)
Fitzgerald is a great pick at this point of the draft. He offers zero dynasty upside but can threaten WR1 numbers this season in an explosive offense led by Kyler Murray. The 35-year-old was only available here due to his annual retirement risk, but I am perfectly willing to lose him if it means winning a title this year.
15.05 – Kalen Ballage (RB – MIA)
I was thrilled to see Kalen Ballage on the board. While Miami’s lead-back role is an open competition between Myles Gaskin and Ballage, Ballage has already shown flashes at the highest level. Gaskin is a threat, but Ballage should be drafted first in dynasty and is a solid value here. He presents little to no risk in the 15th round and could become a force in what is now looking like at least a semi-competent offense. Ballage has RB2 upside if he manages to secure lead-back duties.
16.08 – Alexander Mattison (RB – MIN)
This pick came down to Alexander Mattison and Benny Snell. I like Snell quite a bit more but am perfectly aware that the consensus is higher on Mattison, leaving Snell as the more likely candidate to still be on the board in Round 17. Mattison appears primed for a considerable role out of the Vikings’ backfield. While Dalvin Cook will see a heavier workload in 2019 than he did in 2018, the rookie can still push for 150 touches if the Vikings remain committed to establishing the run. He also has spot-starter ability and will be an immediate RB2 if Cook goes down with another injury.
17.05 – Adam Humphries (WR – TEN)
18.08 – Delanie Walker (TE – TEN)
Both of these picks were all about value. Neither player is someone I would target, or even accept in a trade, but they both present intriguing upside. Walker is a favorite of Marcus Mariota and will remain a TE1 candidate in the Titans’ offense as long as he remains healthy. Humphries, on the other hand, is coming off of a breakout season and could help Mariota finally make a leap. The arrival of rookie receiver A.J. Brown stymies his ceiling, but he could still see a volume role. Both of these players could see major value spikes if Mariota finally puts it all together. The same can be said if he fails and the Titans trade up for one of the prized quarterbacks scheduled to enter the 2020 NFL Draft.