Expert Fantasy Football Mock Draft Recap: NFL.com 14-Team PPR
I’ve been doing fantasy football drafts since March thanks to MFL10s, but best-ball is a unique animal. Until Wednesday, July 19, I’d yet to participate in a traditional redraft league. I got the chance to knock the rust off in a 14-team PPR mock draft hosted by NFL.com that included 10 of the site's experts, three guest analysts, and myself. The mock was a 15-round draft starting 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 Flex, 1 TE, 1 kicker, and 1 DEF, though we weren't required to fill the kicker or DEF slot.
The draft order was as follows:
|Draft Pick||Analyst||Site Affiliation|
Be sure to click on each analyst's name and give them a follow on Twitter!
In a 12-team PPR league that starts three WRs and a Flex, I almost always slant toward a Zero-RB strategy, but with 14 experts, two starting WRs, and my draft slot at the turn, my plan was to not have a plan and adjust on the fly. The following will highlight my thought process at each turn.
Round 1, Pick 14 - Michael Thomas, WR Saints
Round 2 Pick 1 - Jordy Nelson, WR Packers
The back end of the first round is easily my least favorite starting position in 2017; in a 14-teamer it’s downright brutal. Devonta Freeman ends my personal second tier of RBs, so going with two WRs was an easy choice -- it was just a matter of which ones. I have reservations about Thomas' market share numbers and Jordy as a negative touchdown regression candidate, but pairing the clear number-one WRs on arguably the two best passing offenses in the league is a fine start.
Round 3, Pick 14 - Alshon Jeffery, WR Eagles
Round 4, Pick 1 - Stefon Diggs, WR Vikings
I didn’t plan to start WR-heavy, but I’m just a man -- a very weak man -- with an affinity for wide receivers. Even in a seemingly crowded receiving corps, Alshon Jeffery has the potential to flirt with a 25% target share on a team that was one of the pass-heaviest in the league in 2016, and has made a concerted effort to shore up the weapons around Carson Wentz this offseason.
The Diggs pick got me plenty of remarks in the chat that are NSFW, as he’s an industry favorite and for good reason. In his first two seasons, the Vikings’ receiver has produced at a trajectory that puts him on par with some of the best pass catchers in the game. In a PPR league, I’m hoping to start as many top-20 WRs as possible, and this pairing gives me the opportunity to do just that.
Round 5, Pick 14 - Mark Ingram, RB Saints
Round 6, Pick 1 - C.J. Anderson, RB Broncos
This tier of running backs is probably one of the more polarizing groups so far in 2017, but is still one I love. Because of Theo Riddick's PPR prowess, I was upset to see Milner snipe him from me, but Ingram and Anderson offer the floor I’m looking for in this part of the draft after a WR-heavy start. Ingram doesn’t need to be a bell cow to offer fantasy value, while new Broncos OC Mike McCoy has a history of propping up the fantasy worth of his running backs.
Round 7, Pick 14 - Tyrell Williams, WR Chargers
Round 8, Pick 1 - DeVante Parker, WR Dolphins
Even before the news that rookie Mike Williams might need season-ending back surgery, Tyrell Williams was a player that I was high on. He was already a positive touchdown regression candidate and is now seemingly locked into the WR2 role opposite Keenan Allen, who is a coin flip at best to stay healthy.
I’m probably one of the few people in the world that is still optimistic about DeVante Parker. Adam Gase wants to feature a big-bodied X receiver in the passing game, and it usually takes a year or two for a coach to fully realize his vision for an offense (Kyle Shanahan in Atlanta, anyone?). Though Parker has much less fanfare than Diggs, he is actually on a career arc that puts him on a list with some rather impressive names.
Round 9, Pick 14 - Zach Ertz, TE Eagle
Round 10, Pick 1 - DeAndre Washington, RB Raiders
By this point in the draft, TE was drying up quickly, so taking John Paulsen’s PPR TE9 as the TE14 was a snap call. Even with the added pass catchers in Philadelphia, Ertz can maintain the 18% target share that he’s seen the last two seasons.
DeAndre Washington is a new Rushing Expectation favorite, and a player that I’m buying more than any other in fantasy. He has standalone value on a team that used a committee as much as any offense in the league last season, and boasts arguably the best offensive line in the league. Behind Marshawn Lynch, who is on the wrong side of 30 and has played just seven games in the last two seasons, Washington could find himself with an increased role earlier rather than later.
In a 14-team league, the dart-throw portion of the draft starts a couple rounds earlier than usual. On a RB-thin roster, Jacquizz Rodgers will be worthy of starting while Doug Martin serves his three-game suspension, and Thomas Rawls could prove to be a free square if he somehow jostles the RB1 workload from Eddie Lacy in Seattle.
At the 9/10 turn, I checked rosters and saw that Harmon was the only owner besides me without a quarterback. I assumed that most industry folks would pass on a backup QB, but you know what they say about assuming. Unfortunately, my favorite late-round QB, Andy Dalton, didn’t slip past Harmon, but getting Stafford as the QB17 at a position that I almost always end up streaming is fine by me.
This early in the season, I never take a kicker or DEF if the rules don’t require it, opting instead for some possible home runs that I have no problem dropping as Week 1 approaches.
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