PPR Mock Draft: Early Pick (2019 Fantasy Football)
There is finally some consensus about what to do at the top of 2019 fantasy football drafts. With some running backs catching more passes than wide receivers, the argument regarding which position to target has quieted. Running backs accounted for four of the top-20 reception leaders in 2018, and five made the top 25. However, after the first pick, which direction to take in the following rounds remains up in the air.
To Strategy or Not to Strategy
There is now genuine discourse regarding whether fantasy players should go into drafts with a predetermined strategy at all. Of course, it is easy to list off your first-round targets, but should managers commit to certain positions before the draft even starts? Should manager Owen take four running backs with his first four picks even if he does not like the ones left in the fourth round? Should manager Lisa wait on a QB even if Patrick Mahomes slips to the fourth? A fluid strategy or draft approach is recommended. The best-player-available approach can help you build a winner, even if it means following your rankings and drafting Travis Kelce fifth overall in a non-TE premium league and as high as second overall in a TE premium. Here are how the first seven picks played out in mock drafts from the first four overall draft slots.
Although I try to practice Wu wei (inaction) when it comes to draft strategy, I do lean running back due to positional scarcity. In my first mock, 15 running backs and only six receivers were taken by the time my second-round pick rolled around. As a result, the wide receivers available screamed value, and as much as I wanted to solidify the running back position, I could not turn down a Mike Evans and Keenan Allen combo. Things evened out by my fourth-round pick, with 22 receivers and 19 running backs taken. Even more noteworthy, however, is that the running backs I would have taken at the Rounds 2-3 turn were still available with my next two picks. By the five-six turn, seven tight ends and quarterbacks each were off of the board. The count for running backs and wide receivers was 24 and 32, respectively.
At second overall, I was presented with a conundrum. Ezekiel Elliott was off of the board, and I had to decide between three running backs I have projected pretty evenly. I opted to go with Alvin Kamara due to the departure of value-siphoning Mark Ingram. Latavius Murray will still get touches, but he will likely not be featured as prominently as Ingram. George Kittle was staring me in the face for my second pick, so I quickly selected him. He plays a premium position and should find easier coverages with some weapons now in place around him. He has earned a featured role in San Francisco’s offense and should pay dividends, even as a second-round selection.
With my third pick, I went with Evans. He should be in for a monster year in Bruce Arians’ offense. With only one running back rostered, I took David Montgomery in the fourth round. Then I went with Tyler Lockett since no other backs were worth taking in the fifth. While my sixth-round choice, Corey Davis, should still be treated as Tennessee’s number one by opposing defenses, they are now going to have to also respect A.J. Brown, Adam Humphries, and a healthy Delanie Walker. I wanted a third running back with my seventh pick, and Tevin Coleman was the highest-rated available one on my board.
At third overall, I had to decide between Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley. Barkley seemed too good to pass up. Both backs face regression concerns, so I went for talent. At the two-three turn, I went with the same Evans-Allen pairing I landed in the first mock. The running backs left at this point were mostly the same as the ones available in the first mock. The strategy here was to hope that one or both of Josh Jacobs and Montgomery remained available at my fourth and fifth picks. With Montgomery off the board, I took Oakland’s rookie. I made the possible error of taking Jacobs over Kerryon Johnson due to where he was ranked on my cheat sheet. Johnson has the higher ADP, making Jacobs a better gamble to stay on the board for my fifth-round pick. I instead used the next selection on Derrius Guice. He may be a bit of a reach based on ADP, but I have him ranked higher than Johnson.
With my sixth pick, I had to decide between running backs and wide receivers. I already had three rushers rostered, so I prioritized netting my third and fourth receivers based on the players left on the board. N’Keal Harry was my highest-ranked player available, but I rationalized that I could take Will Fuller with my sixth pick and scoop Harry a few picks later. I was correct.
The fourth pick seems like a sweet spot of sorts, as you do not have to decide between the top-four running backs. Then in the second round, you have a chance at a player you may not have access to with one of the first three picks. That theory held true in this mock, in which Todd Gurley was available with my second-round pick. With Evans and Allen already off of the board, Stefon Diggs was my highest-ranked receiver left with my third pick. I then opted for the last elite tight end left in O.J. Howard before taking Alshon Jeffery over players I have ranked higher. I deemed a high-floor WR2 more important than upside. With my sixth and seventh picks, I chose Fuller and Harry to round out my wide receiver corps.
As my mock drafts seem to have proven, I have no positional preference outside of the first round. There are targets I am willing to reach for to ensure I don’t miss out, but the best-player-available approach appears to have prevailed. Putting on positional blinders can prevent you from taking advantage of great values. Taking what your draft gives you is a key step to building a contender.