Expert Fantasy Football Mock Draft Review: 12-Team PPR
The results from expert mock drafts don’t always mirror the typical fantasy football drafting experiences of everyday people, but that’s okay. Even at the most casual levels, no two drafts are ever the same. So when 12 experts get together to match wits in a mock, it’s best to avoid nitpicking the parts of the draft that aren’t applicable to you. Set aside the “not in my league” mentality and find something you can use.
I hope to help you do just that in this article. First, I’ll lay out some general trends from the draft, looking at how the room of analysts operated as whole relative to ADP. Then I’ll go through the draft round by round to see which specific players rose or fell compared to what we might expect.
Back in June, I recapped a different analyst mock draft, and the same settings were used for this second installment. The new crop of experts is listed below and they were drafting for PPR scoring with rosters composed of 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 R/W/T Flex and 8 bench spots (no kickers or team defenses).
Be sure to give each analyst a follow on Twitter!
|1||Rich Hribar||Sharp Football|
|6||Mike Wright||The Fantasy Footballers|
|7||Sigmund Bloom||Football Guys|
|10||Robert Waziak||The Fantasy Footballers|
|11||Chris Raybon||Fantasy Labs|
Full disclosure, this was a slow draft that took place between June 3rd and June 20. Apologies for the belated recap, but prepping for my somewhat sudden move across the country threw a monkey wrench into my writing schedule. Even with a handful of out-of-place picks when considering more recent news (Melvin Gordon - Current ADP 14.8, Tyreek Hill - Current ADP 16.6, A.J. Green - Current ADP 37.4, etc.), I didn’t want to waste the sharp strategies on display from these 12 experts. Here are the complete draft results.
Overall Expert Trends
Running backs still dominate the first half of Round 1. Even with PPR scoring pumping up the value of wide receiver, this mock’s early-pick drafters couldn’t be deterred from chasing bellcow running backs with receiving chops, the most scarce assets in the fantasy game.
Round 3 is a wide receiver frenzy. Eight of the round’s 12 picks were spent on that position, and it makes sense considering the PPR scoring and the caliber of wideouts available after the first two rounds were stuffed with rushers. That shift in positional focus helps illustrate exactly which lead running backs these analysts don’t quite trust this season (i.e., all of the potential workhorse guys drafted in Round 4 and beyond).
Zero RB is dead...or is it? Every drafter had at least one running back through Round 4, and nine of 12 drafters had two or more. With that said, the Zero RB strategy has always been built in part on being contrarian, so if more leagues play out like this mock, 2019 could be the perfect time to take a post-hype shot on a receiver-dominant draft start.
Unsurprisingly, quarterbacks were severely discounted. All of the signal-callers drafted went well after their ADPs, and most went at least two rounds later. I’ll note in the round-by-round recap the few quarterbacks who were drafted closest to market value, but because this wasn’t a 2QB or Superflex mock, there just wasn’t enough demand to justify taking any at cost.
Tight end draft strategy is a mixed bag. Two drafters were willing to pay up for elite options, but most other drafters waited for their tight ends of choice to fall below ADP. Within that bargain-shopping group of 10, half sat back until the latter half of the draft before selecting their first tight ends.
|1||(1 - RB1) Elliott, E||(2 - RB2) Barkley, S||(3 - RB3) Kamara, A||(4 - RB4) McCaffrey, C||(5 - WR1) Hopkins, D||(6 - RB5) Gordon, M||(7 - TE1) Kelce, T||(8 - RB6) Conner, J||(9 - WR2) Adams, D||(10 - WR3) Beckham, O||(11 - RB7) Johnson, D||(12 - WR4) Thomas, M|
|2||(12 - WR8) Brown, A||(11 - RB14) Gurley, T||(10 - WR7) Evans, M||(9 - RB13) Jones, A||(8 - RB12) Cook, D||(7 - RB11) Williams, D||(6 - RB10) Chubb, N||(5 - TE2) Kittle, G||(4 - RB9) Mixon, J||(3 - WR6) Jones, J||(2 - RB8) Bell, L||(1 - WR5) Smith-Schuster, J|
Positions Drafted: 0 QBs, 14 RBs, 8 WRs, 2 TEs
Positionally speaking, the first round was fairly boilerplate. Melvin Gordon would slide if this draft was happening today, and I imagine that Mike Wright would have felt fine backfilling his running back need with another bellcow like David Johnson, who rarely goes as low as 11th overall after all the hype the Arizona Cardinals have received this offseason. Chris Raybon found himself a steal with DJ in that spot.
The second round was a lot less typical than the first. More running backs than usual entered the mix, as Damien Williams and Aaron Jones both jumped up from lower ADPs to go in Round 2. What those players have in common are lead-back roles alongside transcendent quarterbacks. Mike Wright and Davis Mattek must believe that if you’re going to reach for a running back, it’s best to go after the guys in the best offensive situations.
|3||(1 - RB15) Fournette, L||(2 - WR9) Diggs, S||(3 - WR10) Hilton, T||(4 - WR11) Cooper, A||(5 - WR12) Allen, K||(6 - WR13) Thielen, A||(7 - WR14) Green, A||(8 - WR15) Edelman, J||(9 - RB16) Mack, M||(10 - TE3) Ertz, Z||(11 - WR16) Watkins, S||(12 - RB17) Henry, D|
|4||(12 - WR23) Kupp, C||(11 - WR22) Moore, D||(10 - RB22) Ingram, M||(9 - WR21) Golladay, K||(8 - WR20) Godwin, C||(7 - RB21) Drake, K||(6 - WR19) Lockett, T||(5 - RB20) Jacobs, J||(4 - WR18) Woods, R||(3 - RB19) Johnson, K||(2 - WR17) Cooks, B||(1 - RB18) Freeman, D|
Positions Drafted: 0 QBs, 8 RBs, 15 WRs, 1 TE
It’s kind of fitting that this third-round receiver bonanza was bookended by a pair of reception-deficient running backs, Leonard Fournette and Derrick Henry. And Marlon Mack, the only other rusher to go in Round 3, isn’t much of a receiver either, with only 1.5 catches per game on his resume two seasons into his career. I’m focusing on the bugs though. In Fournette and Henry, respectively, Rich Hribar and Mike Beers see the features of big rush attempts projections and the corresponding touchdown upside. Compared to Fournette and Henry, Mack might not manage as large a share of his team’s touches, but like Damien Williams and Aaron Jones above, Mack is tied to a top-notch quarterback and offense, so his touches could very well be more efficient.
Sammy Watkins at the end of the third is more evidence of this draft being dated, but it’s pretty easy to imagine Tyreek Hill filling that spot if Chris had known Hill would be playing the full season. Hill would probably have been drafted even sooner than Chris’ pick, which means one of the earlier third-round receivers would have fallen to him at 3.11. The big question is how far Watkins would have dropped. Looking at current ADP and where he lands in John Paulsen’s updated rankings indicates a draft price in or around the seventh round. A similar shift in value has also happened for A.J. Green, who will miss some regular season time after recent ankle surgery. Green and his teammate Tyler Boyd should flip in rankings and ADP along the same lines as Hill and Watkins.
Zach Ertz went one pick prior to Watkins. As the draft was playing out, his precipitous fall was reminiscent of lauded collegiate player slipping in the NFL draft. But Ertz isn’t Hakeem Butler, and Robert Waziak eventually put an end to the tight end’s precipitous fall, earning a nice value at 12 spots below ADP.
One of the biggest leaps above ADP in this range was Sigmund Bloom’s pick of Tyler Lockett, but I’m on board with Sig’s logic. Lockett is the only proven pass-catching commodity in the Seattle offense. And while the Seahawks figure to curb Lockett’s comparative target volume with a run-heavy scheme, those somewhat limited targets are still coming from one of the league’s best passers in Russell Wilson.
|5||(1 - RB23) Michel, S||(2 - WR24) Ridley, C||(3 - WR25) Williams, M||(4 - QB1) Mahomes, P||(5 - RB24) Lindsay, P||(6 - RB25) Montgomery, D||(7 - WR26) Robinson, A||(8 - RB26) White, J||(9 - RB27) Carson, C||(10 - RB28) Cohen, T||(11 - RB29) Miller, L||(12 - TE4) Howard, O|
|6||(12 - RB33) Guice, D||(11 - RB32) Henderson, D||(10 - RB31) Sanders, M||(9 - WR32) Fuller, W||(8 - RB30) Murray, L||(7 - WR31) Anderson, R||(6 - WR30) Davis, C||(5 - WR29) Boyd, T||(4 - WR28) Jeffery, A||(3 - WR27) Hill, T||(2 - TE6) Henry, H||(1 - TE5) Engram, E|
|7||(1 - TE7) Cook, J||(2 - TE8) Njoku, D||(3 - WR33) Landry, J||(4 - RB34) Jones, R||(5 - WR34) Washington, J||(6 - WR35) Pettis, D||(7 - WR36) Coutee, K||(8 - WR37) Kirk, C||(9 - QB2) Rodgers, A||(10 - RB35) Coleman, T||(11 - WR38) Shepard, S||(12 - QB3) Luck, A|
|8||(12 - WR44) Tate, G||(11 - WR43) Harry, N||(10 - WR42) Jones, M||(9 - RB39) Freeman, R||(8 - WR41) Samuel, C||(7 - QB5) Watson, D||(6 - RB38) Harris, D||(5 - WR40) Fitzgerald, L||(4 - RB37) Penny, R||(3 - RB36) McKinnon, J||(2 - QB4) Mayfield, B||(1 - WR39) Sutton, C|
Positions Drafted: 5 QBs, 17 RBs, 21 WRs, 5 TE
The best non-quarterback values in these rounds were Mike Beers’ back-to-back tight end picks of O.J. Howard and Evan Engram. Double-tapping a onesie position like this isn’t common, but can make sense if both players are values. Mike can start Howard and Engram simultaneously using his flex spot if he so desires, and both tight ends should figure prominently in their respective offenses. Meanwhile, by taking both, he’s generating more leverage for himself at tight end against the field and giving himself trade chips to play with in-season.
Because quarterbacks and tight ends were devalued by the room, most running back and wide receiver picks in this portion of the draft come across as reaches compared to overall ADP. In this context, however, we have to shift our estimations of what value really is. In the land of the skunk, the man with half a nose is king, and in the uncharted land of running back scarcity, running back hoarders hope to become fantasy football royalty. So despite almost all the running backs in this range facing timeshares, many drafters still felt the need to reach after half the league spent two-thirds of their first three picks on rushers.
Graham Barfield might have overpaid for Miles Sanders, but he needed some insurance against Mark Ingram as his RB2, so the potential reward of a feature back in Philadelphia’s high-powered offense was worth the risk. A more direct insurance pick was made by Sammy Reid when he paired Darrell Henderson in the sixth to his second-round pick of Todd Gurley. I’m not big on handcuffing, but locking up the Rams’ rushing tandem as your RB2 behind Saquon Barkley as your RB1 is tough to argue against. This range of picks featured a couple other handcuff situations, as well. Mike Tagliere grabbed Seattle’s tandem of Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny, and Waz paired two-thirds of San Francisco’s committee with Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon.
Another approach to handcuff rushers is trying to snipe them from your opponents, especially from backfields in strong offenses. That’s precisely what Jennifer Eakins did when she cut off Latavius Murray from Graham and his first-round share of Alvin Kamara. Murray was a bit of a reach compared to ADP, but I doubt Jen’s intention was to stifle Graham, though. Kamara’s running mate was simply one of the last running backs available with a well-defined role that should include some amount of goal-line work. Mark Ingram rode that role to 815 total yards and 7 total touchdowns in 12 games last season, good for 11.9 fantasy points per game.
Sigmund also stole a handcuff in a productive offense, Damien Harris. ADP says Harris should have gone three or four rounds later, but Sig only had Nick Chubb on his running back depth chart at that point. What I like about Harris is how soon he could realize his upside of becoming New England’s primary rusher (largely because of Sony Michel’s health). After going heavy on receivers in the early rounds, Sigmund needed a running back he could hope to start in Week 1 and one who could have staying power beyond that. In the eighth round of this mock, Harris was his best bet.
The biggest reach of these rounds wasn’t Harris, though. It was Jen’s pick of James Washington, which was 50 spots ahead of ADP. I like taking the chance on Washington after Antonio Brown vacated so many targets in Pittsburgh, but Jen probably could have waited on him and picked someone else in the seventh.
The biggest value here was Deshaun Watson to Mike Wright as the QB5 at pick 91, which is 38 spots later than his ADP. Mike should feel good about getting such a nice value on the potential QB1 overall. On the other side of the coin, Watson sliding behind Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, and Baker Mayfield in this mock could indicate that this group of analysts is more worried about Houston’s offensive line than public.
|9||(1 - WR45) Valdes-Scantling, M||(2 - TE9) Ebron, E||(3 - TE10) McDonald, V||(4 - WR46) Hardman, M||(5 - RB40) Samuels, J||(6 - WR47) Allison, G||(7 - WR48) Jackson, D||(8 - WR49) Westbrook, D||(9 - WR50) Miller, A||(10 - QB6) Murray, K||(11 - RB41) Howard, J||(12 - RB42) McCoy, L|
|10||(12 - RB46) Hill, J||(11 - QB7) Ryan, M||(10 - TE12) Herndon, C||(9 - TE11) Hooper, A||(8 - WR55) Sanders, E||(7 - WR54) Moncrief, D||(6 - RB45) Hyde, C||(5 - RB44) Ekeler, A||(4 - WR53) Funchess, D||(3 - WR52) Campbell, P||(2 - WR51) Hamilton, D||(1 - RB43) Smith, I|
|11||(1 - WR56) Stills, K||(2 - QB8) Newton, C||(3 - QB9) Wilson, R||(4 - RB47) Hines, N||(5 - TE13) Walker, D||(6 - RB48) Foreman, D||(7 - WR57) Metcalf, D||(8 - QB10) Winston, J||(9 - RB49) Johnson, D||(10 - WR58) Williams, T||(11 - WR59) Isabella, A||(12 - RB50) Breida, M|
|12||(12 - QB11) Wentz, C||(11 - WR63) Brown, J||(10 - RB54) Ballage, K||(9 - RB53) Snell, B||(8 - WR62) Enunwa, Q||(7 - TE16) Reed, J||(6 - TE15) Goedert, D||(5 - RB52) Lewis, D||(4 - TE14) Burton, T||(3 - WR61) Gallup, M||(2 - RB51) Barber, P||(1 - WR60) Smith, T|
|13||(1 - WR64) Crowder, J||(2 - RB55) Thompson, C||(3 - WR65) Robinson, D||(4 - WR66) Parker, D||(5 - TE17) Doyle, J||(6 - TE18) Andrews, M||(7 - WR67) Ross, J||(8 - RB56) Peterson, A||(9 - WR68) Brown, M||(10 - WR69) Jones, Z||(11 - WR70) Johnson, D||(12 - RB57) Singletary, D|
|14||(12 - WR74) Quinn, T||(11 - RB61) Thompson, D||(10 - RB60) Mattison, A||(9 - WR73) Foster, R||(8 - QB14) Rivers, P||(7 - WR72) Ginn Jr., T||(6 - WR71) Gordon, J||(5 - QB13) Goff, J||(4 - TE19) Graham, J||(3 - RB59) Hunt, K||(2 - RB58) Davis, M||(1 - QB12) Brees, D|
|15||(1 - RB62) Richard, J||(2 - WR75) Goodwin, M||(3 - WR76) Samuel, D||(4 - WR77) Chark, D||(5 - WR78) Sanu, M||(6 - WR79) Wilson, A||(7 - RB63) Williams, J||(8 - TE20) Olsen, G||(9 - RB64) Burkhead, R||(10 - WR80) Doctson, J||(11 - RB65) Edmonds, C||(12 - WR81) Brown, A|
|16||(12 - WR87) Dorsett, P||(11 - WR86) Amendola, D||(10 - RB67) Armstead, R||(9 - TE22) Jarwin, B||(8 - RB66) McGuire, E||(7 - QB16) Prescott, D||(6 - QB15) Jackson, L||(5 - WR85) Conley, C||(4 - WR84) Agholor, N||(3 - TE21) Rudolph, K||(2 - WR83) Callaway, A||(1 - WR82) Moore, D|
Positions Drafted: 11 QBs, 28 RBs, 43 WRs, 14 TE
Looking at the numbers of each position drafted in these final rounds clearly illustrates how quickly running backs dried up. It’s a bit of a chicken vs. egg situation, though. Did these analysts draft RBs aggressively because they knew how many viable dart throws would be available late at wide receiver? Or were the drafters forced to turn to other positions because RBs got picked so clean early? Depending on which expert you ask, I think both can be true.
The takeaway for me is to keep a plan in mind for running backs as you’re drafting. It’s okay to wait longer at the position than others, but when the running back tiers you’re targeting begin to come into range, you must be willing to spend up for the rushers you want most from those tiers.
Anyway, I’ve gone deeper on running back than any other position in this recap, so for this final section, let’s rapid-fire through a handful of the biggest values and reaches from the back half of the mock at wide receiver:
Dede Westbook: The presumed WR1 in Jacksonville in the ninth round, John landed ADP’s WR41 as the WR49 in this draft.
DK Metcalf: Sigmund probably didn’t want to handcuff wideouts from the Seahawks’, but when any of Russell Wilson’s targets slide from WR47 in ADP to WR57, it’s okay to lose a page or two from the gameplan and sort things out later.
Mohamed Sanu: One universal thing between pros and joes alike in fantasy is their disdain for drafting aging veterans. Sanu sliding below his ADP makes sense, though. With Calvin Ridley and Austin Hooper ascending (in theory, at least), Sanu could soon be forced out of the pecking order in Atlanta.
DaeSean Hamilton: Chris took him 59 spots ahead of ADP, and I’ll admit I don’t get it. The Denver offense is not one I want to invest in, especially above the going rate of ADP.
TreQuan Smith & Ted Ginn Jr.: These analysts still believe enough in the Saints to go for the team’s weapons earlier than consensus in drafts. But something is amiss. Either the weapons are being overvalued, or Drew Brees was grossly discounted in this draft as the QB12.
Andy Isabella: Hype for Kliff Kingsbury’s offense in Arizona is reaching a fever pitch. As potent as they could be, however, I doubt Isabella will see consistent enough usage to be fantasy-viable as a rookie.
Thanks for reading.