Expert Mock Draft Breakdown: 12-Team PPR
I’ve already written up a couple different analyst mock drafts over the offseason, but every new day of training camp and preseason games shakes the fantasy football snowglobe. The blizzard of beat reports on coach speak and injuries can be blinding, so I enlisted 11 other experts last week to mock draft from the eye of the storm. This article will note a handful of big-picture trends from the draft then compare the specific results to ADP to identify which players are higher or lower in the eyes of the analysts.
This mock draft used the same setup as my previous writeups: 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). Here are the experts who participated in the exercise, listed in draft pick order:
|1||Pat Daugherty (@RotoPat)||Rotoworld|
|2||Rudy Gamble (@rudygamble)||Razzball|
|3||TJ Hernandez (@TJHernandez)||4for4|
|4||Jacob Rickrode (@ClutchFantasy)||Rotoviz|
|5||John Paulsen (@4for4_john)||4for4|
|6||Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL)||ESPN|
|7||Vlad Sedler (@RotoGut)||EliteFantasy|
|8||Bob Harris (@footballdiehard)||Football Diehards|
|9||Brandon Gdula (@gdula13)||numberFire|
|10||Greg Smith (@gregsauce)||4for4|
|11||Danny Kelly (@DannyBKelly)||The Ringer|
|12||Ryan McDowell (@RyanMc23)||Dynasty League Football|
Be sure to give each analyst a follow on Twitter!
The draft took place between August 13th and 19th, so some of the picks might seem a little wonky. Cam Newton might not make sense as the QB6 after injuring his foot/ankle on Thursday, for example. The biggest news to break during the draft was Josh Gordon’s reinstatement, and it didn’t take long after the announcement for Pat Daugherty to add Gordon to his squad at the 10th/11th-round turn. Click here for the complete draft results.
Overall Expert Trends
- Early-pick drafters continue to hammer running backs in the top half of the first round, while the late first and early second-round picks are dominated by elite wide receivers. Meanwhile, like clockwork, the top two tight ends went a little deeper in the second round.
- Rudy Gamble noted that no team came out of the first 5 rounds with fewer than two running back (a trend that also showed up in our August mock draft). More than ever, it feels like “Best Player Available” has become the preferred strategy for most analysts, while all-in structural draft plans like Zero RB have fallen out of fashion. And if the positional hierarchy of RB-over-WR remains the baseline, there is probably a buying opportunity on contrarian draft strategies.
- Rudy also noticed how the draft room had little interest in handcuffing their stud running backs. He pointed out that the Ezekiel Elliott owner could have drafted Tony Pollard as late as the 13th round, but opted to make other picks. This scattershot approach of pulling players from various offenses instead of protecting early-round investments shows a strong preference toward overall upside. Rather than play it safe with the Dallas backfield fully ‘cuffed, Mike Clay threw darts at Nyheim Hines, Peyton Barber, and Carlos Hyde, hoping to hit on two starting running backs instead of just one with Elliott plus Pollard.
- Pass-catchers dominated Rounds 4 through 7. Two-thirds of the picks in that range were spent on wideouts and tight ends. And of the 13 rushers selected there, seven figure to lead their respective backfields in receptions according to our PPR projections.
- Of the 19 quarterbacks drafted (which feels like four too many in a one-quarterback league), only Kyler Murray went before his ADP (by a mere five picks). Jameis Winston was the only other passer to near his ADP as an eight-pick value. The larger trend of devaluing quarterbacks is nothing new, but the isolated trend of sharp analysts paying market price for Murray and Winston suggests those two signal-callers are undervalued by the consensus.
- One more interesting observation from Mr. Gamble: “The draft felt increasingly untethered from ADP as it went on, a good reminder that no matter how recent the ADP data is, you need to realize you are likely not alone on your identified bargains vs ADP. In this draft, I went aggressively after Dede Westbrook in early seventh feeling there was no way he’d make it back to me in the eighth.” On that note, let’s dig into some of the other notable bargains and reaches from this draft.
|1||(1 - RB1) Barkley, S||(2 - RB2) McCaffrey, C||(3 - RB3) Kamara, A||(4 - RB4) Johnson, D||(5 - WR1) Hopkins, D||(6 - RB5) Elliott, E||(7 - RB6) Conner, J||(8 - RB7) Bell, L||(9 - WR2) Adams, D||(10 - RB8) Chubb, N||(11 - WR3) Beckham, O||(12 - WR4) Jones, J|
|2||(12 - WR9) Brown, A||(11 - RB13) Fournette, L||(10 - WR8) Evans, M||(9 - RB12) Gordon, M||(8 - TE2) Kittle, G||(7 - RB11) Gurley, T||(6 - TE1) Kelce, T||(5 - RB10) Cook, D||(4 - RB9) Mixon, J||(3 - WR7) Thomas, M||(2 - WR6) Smith-Schuster, J||(1 - WR5) Hill, T|
Positions Drafted: 0 QBs, 13 RBs, 9 WRs, 2 TEs
The biggest early overpays according to ADP were James Conner to Vlad Sedler at 1.07 and Nick Chubb to yours truly at 1.09. Conner has been a Round 1 mainstay this draft season, but he usually goes closer to the turn. Chubb’s draft stock has climbed all the way up from late in the second round. Many aren’t as high on him as me, but considering Kareem Hunt’s eight-game ban and Duke Johnson’s departure to Houston, it’s reasonable to consider Chubb as high as fourth overall.
Even if Chubb was a reach, I like to think I made up for it with Michael Thomas at 2.03, five spots lower than his ADP. The next-best wide receiver value in this range was Julio Jones to Ryan McDowell at the turn. Considering how tightly the top-tier of wideouts is clustered, I rarely see Jones rise higher than WR3 or WR4, which surprises me because he is certainly live to finish as the overall WR1. Fade the “can’t catch touchdowns” noise with Jones and buy the Falcons’ bolstered offense slated for a fantasy season schedule with 13 of 15 games in domes.
|3||(1 - RB14) Jones, A||(2 - WR10) Allen, K||(3 - WR11) Cooper, A||(4 - RB15) Johnson, K||(5 - RB16) Williams, D||(6 - WR12) Thielen, A||(7 - RB17) Mack, M||(8 - WR13) Hilton, T||(9 - RB18) Jacobs, J||(10 - TE3) Ertz, Z||(11 - WR14) Cooks, B||(12 - RB19) Freeman, D|
|4||(12 - WR22) Anderson, R||(11 - WR21) Godwin, C||(10 - RB23) White, J||(9 - WR20) Moore, D||(8 - RB22) Carson, C||(7 - WR19) Golladay, K||(6 - WR18) Lockett, T||(5 - RB21) Henry, D||(4 - WR17) Woods, R||(3 - WR16) Edelman, J||(2 - RB20) Ingram, M||(1 - WR15) Diggs, S|
Positions Drafted: 0 QBs, 10 RBs, 13 WRs, 1 TE
Pat paid a premium for Aaron Jones to open the third round, but I can get behind it considering the other running backs who were available in that spot. Damien Williams is losing luster with talk of a timeshare in Kansas City, and Marlon Mack’s situation is tenuous considering Andrew Luck’s injury concerns. Meanwhile, Kerryon Johnson and Josh Jacobs could be mired in offenses that just aren’t very good. Because Pat wouldn’t be drafting again for 23 picks, there was no shame in him reaching for Jones, the lead back in an Aaron Rodgers-led offense with very few question marks.
Speaking of Andrew Luck’s injury concerns, T.Y. Hilton’s drop to Bob Harris five spots below his ADP isn’t too surprising. I remain optimistic about Luck’s outlook, though. Recall how he was also eased into action last year, so maybe this is the new normal for Indianapolis. As long as the Colts don’t start too slow, Hilton should ultimately be a nice value for Bob. UPDATE: Welp. Andrew Luck has retired, and the entire Indianapolis offense is now shrouded in uncertainty. Backup Jacoby Brissett is a serviceable quarterback, but there's no way he can maintain the production fantasy drafters were expecting from Hilton and the Colts' other receivers. Mack should drop down draft boards as well, but at least we can tell ourselves a story that he'll see more carries in a Brissett-led offense with a more balance run-pass split. We won't know until the season starts, though, so buyer beware with Indy's offense.
As much as it pains me to draft tight ends early, I couldn’t help but consider Zach Ertz when he dropped to 3.10. Philadelphia’s top target rarely falls that far, so I used this mock as an experiment to learn how I would like a roster that actually scored an elite tight end as a value. Considering my eventual running back group in hindsight, my guy says I should have passed on Ertz for a rusher like Devonta Freeman, Mark Ingram, Derrick Henry, or Chris Carson, but I might be underrating the advantage of having such a PPR monster at tight end.
Two of the biggest reaches in these rounds were D.J. Moore to Jacob Rickrode (16 picks ahead of ADP) and James White to TJ Hernandez (11 picks ahead of ADP). Jacob had to pay up for a receiver after beginning his draft with three straight rushers, so Moore must have been his best wideout available. TJ simply promoted White to where he belonged based on the league’s PPR scoring. White was drafted as the RB23, which is exactly where he falls in our PPR rankings, while the average ADP I’m using for this analysis is an average of many sources, some of which are not PPR. Drafting sites with PPR and 0.5-PPR scoring as their standards have White going between picks 48 and 54 on average, so TJ’s decision to select him at 46th overall isn’t too outlandish.
|5||(1 - WR23) Pettis, D||(2 - WR24) Boyd, T||(3 - WR25) Robinson, A||(4 - WR26) Landry, J||(5 - QB1) Mahomes, P||(6 - WR27) Kupp, C||(7 - WR28) Williams, M||(8 - WR29) Ridley, C||(9 - RB24) Montgomery, D||(10 - WR30) Kirk, C||(11 - RB25) Michel, S||(12 - RB26) Sanders, M|
|6||(12 - WR34) Fuller, W||(11 - RB30) Miller, L||(10 - RB29) Murray, L||(9 - TE6) Henry, H||(8 - WR33) Davis, C||(7 - WR32) Jeffery, A||(6 - TE5) Engram, E||(5 - QB2) Watson, D||(4 - TE4) Howard, O||(3 - RB28) Coleman, T||(2 - WR31) Green, A||(1 - RB27 )Lindsay, P|
|7||(1 - TE7) McDonald, V||(2 - WR35) Westbrook, D||(3 - RB31) Ekeler, A||(4 - WR36) Watkins, S||(5 - WR37) Samuel, C||(6 - TE8) Cook, J||(7 - WR38) Jones, M||(8 - WR39) Fitzgerald, L||(9 - WR40 )Shepard, S||(10 - WR41) Valdes-Scantling, M||(11 - RB32) Cohen, T||(12 - QB3) Mayfield, B|
|8||(12 - RB37) Ballage, K||(11 - QB5) Murray, K||(10 - WR45) Allison, G||(9 - QB4) Rodgers, A||(8 - WR44) Coutee, K||(7 - RB36) Drake, K||(6 - RB35) Penny, R||(5 - WR43) Brown, J||(4 - WR42) Sutton, C||(3 - RB3) Henderson, D||(2 - RB33) Guice, D||(1 - TE9) Njoku, D|
Positions Drafted: 5 QBs, 14 RBs, 23 WRs, 6 TE
Depending on how you look at it, Rounds 5 through 8 are either where the running back and wide receiver values really start to fall off, or it’s where the fear of missing out on quarterbacks and tight ends reaches a fever pitch. My adherence to receivers and rushers through these rounds shows you where I stand, but not really, because I already had Ertz rostered. If I had taken a running back over Ertz as discussed above, I would have been legitimately tempted by O.J. Howard, Evan Engram, and Hunter Henry at 6.03. I ended up taking Coleman seven picks ahead of his ADP in that spot, but I was ecstatic to land him. With only one running back rostered to that point, snagging the assumed lead back in Kyle Shanahan’s offense helped me rationalize my receiver-heavy draft start.
Howard, Engram, and Henry all went at least 14 picks lower than their ADPs, but they were drafted in rapid succession. This is a clear indication that what analysts really want from their tight ends are bargains. All the owners who passed on Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Zach Ertz were playing musical chairs with the next tier of tight ends. Once Brandon Gdula stopped the music with O.J. Howard, Vlad and Jacob rushed the open tier-two seats.
The other most prominent trend in these rounds was the inflation in value of young wide receivers. Again, this bias from us drafters is tied in part to the fact that our ADP data includes some non-PPR sources, but it’s also indicative of the direction of the NFL. The collective bargaining agreement has made football a young man’s game, so it should come as no surprise that swanky sophomores and juniors like Dante Pettis, Christian Kirk, Corey Davis, Dede Westbrook, Curtis Samuel, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Courtland Sutton, and Keke Coutee are all on the rise.
|9||(1 - WR46) Jackson, D||(2 - TE10) Andrews, M||(3 - RB38) Breida, M||(4 - RB39) Johnson, D||(5 - RB40) Freeman, R||(6 - RB41) Hines, N||(7 - WR47) Sanders, E||(8 - RB42) Howard, J||(9 - WR48) Miller, A||(10 - WR49) Harry, N||(11 - WR50) Moncrief, D||(12 - RB43) Singletary, D|
|10||(12 - QB8) Luck, A||(11 - RB47) Lewis, D||(10 - TE12) Hooper, A||(9 - WR53) Crowder, J||(8 - RB46) McCoy, L||(7 - QB7) Ryan, M||(6 - WR52) Washington, J||(5 - TE11) Reed, J||(4 - WR51) Gallup, M||(3 - RB45) Samuels, J||(2 - QB6 )Newton, C||(1 - RB44) Hill, J|
|11||(1 - WR54) Gordon, J||(2 - WR55) Funchess, D||(3 - WR56) Moore, D||(4 - WR57) Smith, T||(5 - WR58) Tate, G||(6 - RB48) Barber, P||(7 - RB49) Jones, R||(8 - TE13) Ebron, E||(9 - RB50) Smith, I||(10 - WR59) Williams, T||(11 - WR60) Metcalf, D||(12 - WR61) Campbell, P|
|12||(12 - RB57) Hilliard, D||(11 - WR62) Quinn, T||(10 - QB11) Wentz, C||(9 - RB56) Mattison, A||(8 - RB55) Peterson, A||(7 - RB54) Hyde, C||(6 - QB10) Wilson, R||(5 - RB53) Thompson, D||(4 - QB9) Winston, J||(3 - RB52) Jackson, J||(2 - TE14) Walker, D||(1 - RB51) Harris, D|
|13||(1 - WR63) Isabella, A||(2 - RB58) Pollard, T||(3 - WR64) Jones, Z||(4 - WR65) Sanu, M||(5 - RB59) Anderson, C||(6 - WR66) Stills, K||(7 - WR67) Samuel, D||(8 - WR68) Ginn Jr., T||(9 - RB60) Hunt, K||(10 - QB12) Jackson, L||(11 - TE15) Hockenson, T||(12 - WR69) Hamilton, D|
|14||(12 - RB65) Richard, J||(11 - QB15) Goff, J||(10 - RB64) Brown, M||(9 - TE17) Graham, J||(8 - WR71) Hardman, M||(7 - WR70) Brown, M||(6 - RB63) Montgomery, T||(5 - QB14) Brees, D||(4 - RB62) Bernard, G||(3 - RB61) Thompson, C||(2 - QB13) Prescott, D||(1 - TE16) Goedert, D|
|15||(1 - TE18) Burton, T||(2 - TE19) Olsen, G||(3 - WR72) Higgins, R||(4 - WR73) Parker, D||(5 - WR74) Goodwin, M||(6 - QB16) Roethlisberger, B||(7 - WR75) Boykin, M||(8 - WR76) Humphries, A||(9 - WR77) Beasley, C||(10 - TE20) Doyle, J||(11 - RB66) Edmonds, C||(12 - WR78) Arcega-Whiteside, J|
|16||(12 - QB19) Garoppolo, J||(11 - RB68) Williams, J||(10 - TE21) Waller, D||(9 - QB18) Rivers, P||(8 - WR84) Chark, D||(7 - WR83) Meyers, J||(6 - QB17) Cousins, K||(5 - RB67) McKinnon, J||(4 - WR82) Williams, P||(3 - WR81) Enunwa, Q||(2 - WR80) Wilson, A||(1 - WR79) Hurd, J|
Positions Drafted: 14 QBs, 31 RBs, 39 WRs, 12 TE
The final rounds of any draft are the dart-throw range. Many of these players won’t be rostered season’s end, so it’s okay to roll the dice on longshots a little more liberally. Rather than consider any of these picks “reaches,” it’s better to view them as players of particular interest to the analysts who drafted them. Let’s quickly run through some of the more intriguing selections in that vein:
- Justice Hill at 10.10 (109 overall, ADP: 201) - Ryan McDowell was intrigued enough by Hill to take the rookie running back ahead of known-commodity handcuffs like Jaylen Samuels and Dion Lewis. While there might be some dynasty-driven bias baked into this pick from Ryan, Hill’s athleticism combined with a foreseeable path to dynamic use in a run-first offense could make him worth this cost.
- David Moore at 11.03 (123 overall, ADP: Undrafted) - Tyler Lockett can’t be the only player to catch passes from Russell Wilson, and D.K. Metcalf just had knee surgery, so why not Moore? UPDATE: Why not is Moore suffering a serious shoulder injury on Thursday. This opens up opportunity in the Seattle passing attack for veteran Jaron Brown and rookie Gary Jennings.
- Ito Smith at 11.09 (129 overall, ADP: 209) - I was surprised to see Smith so low in ADP, but it makes some amount of sense considering the reports that he’s battling Brian Hill and Qadree Ollison for backup duties in Atlanta. Even if Devonta Freeman goes down, my concern with all the reserves behind him is a true split backfield without a clear leader. Still, Brandon was probably right to take a stab on Smith over the others based on Smith’s experience gained in the offense last year.
- Trey Quinn at 12.11 (143 overall, ADP: Undrafted) - Washington is radioactive in fantasy circles, but it’s crazy to assume all their receivers will be worthless. We shouldn’t expect Jay Gruden’s offense to overperform expectations like it did early in the Kirk Cousins era (because it turns out Cousins is actually pretty good), but the combination of Case Keenum and Dwayne Haskins should generate fantasy production for a couple of Washington’s wideouts. In a PPR format like this, banking on the low-aDOT slot guy in Quinn is the way to go.
- Dontrell Hilliard at 12.12 (144 overall, ADP: Undrafted) - If my pick of Chubb at 1.10 doesn’t work out, it could be because Hilliard usurped too much change-of-pace work in the Browns’ new-look offense.
- Andy Isabella at 13.01 (145 overall, ADP: Undrafted) - I can’t fault anyone for chasing a piece of Kliff Kingsbury’s passing game, and Pat got the cheapest one. Well, almost, he got the cheapest Arizona wide receiver (more on this below). Isabella isn’t a sure thing, especially with KeeSean Johnson garnering buzz and Michael Crabtree signing with the Cardinals, but as a dice roll in the 13th round? Sure, why not.
- Ty Montgomery at 14.06 (162 overall, ADP: Undrafted) - This pick by Vlad doesn’t really do it for me because good players don’t typically change teams as often as Montgomery has over the past couple seasons. Nevertheless, he’s earning praise in Jets camp, and thanks to his previous experience playing wide receiver, Montgomery should be able to carve out playing time in spite of LeVeon Bell’s presence.
- Malcolm Brown at 14.10 (166 overall, ADP Undrafted) - As the person who drafted Darrell Henderson in the eighth round, I’m obliged to appreciate TJ’s much later pick of the other Rams rusher who stands to benefit if Todd Gurley’s knee problems flare up.
- Miles Boykin at 15.07 (175 overall, ADP: Undrafted) - Tune in to this week’s wideout-centric episodes of The Most Accurate Podcast to hear both me and Matt Harmon stump for Boykin. I feel even better about touting Baltimore’s measurables monster knowing that Vlad is also on board.
- Chase Edmonds at 15.11 (179 overall, ADP: Undrafted) - It was Danny Kelly (not Pat) who scored the cheapest weapon from Arizona’s arsenal. We learned last year that Edmonds isn’t David Johnson, but he’s still a fine handcuff, and like Johnson, Edmonds should prosper more this season if only because of an improved offensive scheme in the desert.
On the other hand, plenty of late-round players can be had at a discount. Maybe it’s a bad sign that our room of experts generally devalued these players, but even the sharpest touts are wrong a lot of the time. Among non-quarterbacks, here are a few of the best late-round bargains from this mock draft strictly according to ADP:
- Eric Ebron at 11.08 (128 overall, ADP: 72) - Ebron is the poster child for regression this season, and the draft room unsurprisingly avoided him. But Bob waited a very long time to draft his tight ends, so getting a big discount off market price on Ebron had to feel good. While we shouldn't anticipate another 20% touchdown rate (13 scores on 66 catches in 2018), Ebron undeniably found chemistry with Luck last season while proving himself a better downfield threat than Indy’s tight end target hog Jack Doyle. UPDATE: As noted by Rudy on this week's episode of The Most Accurate Podcast, Ebron will probably suffer the most in fantasy from Andrew Luck's retirement because Ebron's value was so strongly tied to touchdowns. What was a reduced cost for Ebron in this mock is now likely an overpay.
- Kareem Hunt at 13.09 (153 overall, ADP: 117) - Stashing suspended players isn’t my style, but Brandon was willing to take that sort of chance on Hunt in the 13th round. If Chubb shows out early in the year like I expect him to, Hunt will have a tough time cracking Cleveland’s rushing rotation.
- Trey Burton at 15.01 (169 overall, ADP: 128) - It’s worth noting that most of the non-quarterback values in this range were tight ends. That speaks to analysts’ general devaluation of the position in later rounds, but I think there’s more to the story with Burton, namely his health concerns. In his second year under Matt Nagy, there’s post-hype potential for Burton, but he was injured in last year’s postseason and isn’t expected to play in this year’s preseason. Maybe Chicago’s caution with Burton will have him ready for Week 1, but plan on a slow start as a baseline.
- Greg Olsen at 15.02 (170 overall, ADP 148) - Another name-brand tight end with dwindling cache among fantasy degenerates? I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise. Considering the fresh injury to Olsen’s quarterback and the potentially redundant presence of Ian Thomas, Rudy might wish he could have this pick back. Whatever, though, 15th-round picks exist to be cut from our rosters.
- Jerick McKinnon at 16.05 (185 overall, ADP: 151) - The news around McKinnon is universally troubling, but maybe all the reports are wrong and he’ll be the true beneficiary of the Shanahan offense that has me excited about Tevin Coleman (and Matt Breida).
I hope this recap gives you insight into how fantasy analysts approach a 12-team PPR league and helps prepare you for your upcoming drafts. Thanks for reading.