Expert Fantasy Football Mock Draft Recap: 12-Team PPR

Expert Fantasy Football Mock Draft Recap: 12-Team PPR

By TJ Hernandez (Director of DFS), last update Sep 10, 2018

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TJ is a former full-time poker player who has been playing fantasy football for more than a decade. After online poker was outlawed, TJ ended his poker career and dedicated himself to fantasy football. His background in poker statistics and analytics translates to success in both daily and season-long fantasy football.

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I’ve been drafting fantasy football teams for months already thanks to best-ball leagues, but redraft requires a slightly different muscle. To start warming up for this year’s heavy lifting, I joined a 12-team PPR mock draft hosted by our friends at FantasyPros that included 11 industry gurus and myself. This mock was a 16-round draft starting 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, and 1 Flex with no kickers or team defense. 

The draft order was as follows:

Mock Draft Order
Draft Pick Analyst Site Affiliation
1 Pat Fitzmaurice The Football Girl
2 Jeff Haseley Football Guys
3 Matt Schauf Draft Sharks
4 Anthony Amico Fantasy Insiders
5 TJ Hernandez 4for4
6 Jody Smith FantasyPros
7 Josh Hornsby RotoGrinders
8 Scott Fish Fanball
9 Matt Kelley PlayerProfiler
10 Bob Harris Football Diehards
11 Jeff Ratcliffe Pro Football Focus
12 Eliot Crist 4for4

Be sure to click on each analyst's name and give them a follow on Twitter!

One trend I’ve noticed in best-ball leagues this year is that running backs are flying off the board compared to years past. According to post-NFL Draft MFL10 ADP, 15 running backs are going in the first two rounds of 12-team leagues and the RB24 is usually off the board around the round 4/5 turn. This puts some pressure on drafters to get a quality starting back in the first couple of rounds, but it also means that some of the most consistent receivers in the league are available way later than usual, which can benefit owners at the back-end of the first round, especially in a league that requires three starting receivers like this one. With those points in mind, the following will highlight my thought process throughout the draft.

1.05 (5) - Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys
2.08 (20) - Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks

Mock Draft Rounds 1–2
RD Pat Fitzmaurice Jeff Haseley Matt Schauf Anthony Amico TJ Hernandez Jody Smith Josh Hornsby Scott Fish Matt Kelley Bob Harris Jeff Ratcliffe Eliot Crist
1 (1 - RB1) Gurley, T (2 - RB2) Johnson, D (3 - RB3) Bell, L (4 - WR1) Brown, A (5 - RB4) Elliott, E (6 - WR2) Hopkins, D (7 - RB5) Barkley, S (8 - WR3) Beckham, O (9 - RB6) Kamara, A (10 - RB7) Hunt, K (11 - WR4) Jones, J (12 - WR5) Thomas, M
2 (12 - RB13) McCoy, L (11 - RB12) Freeman, D (10 - TE1) Gronkowski, R (9 - WR10) Evans, M (8 - WR9) Baldwin, D (7 - RB11) McCaffrey, C (6 - WR8) Green, A (5 - RB10) Gordon, M (4 - WR7) Allen, K (3 - WR6) Adams, D (2 - RB9) Cook, D (1 - RB8) Fournette, L

My personal draft board has the big four running backs (Todd Gurley, LeVeon Bell, David Johnson, Ezekiel Elliott) at the top with Antonio Brown as my 1.05. While I generally prefer the safety of wide receivers in this league format, grabbing one of the few established workhorse running backs frees me up to take advantage of the wide receiver values that are sure to be available this year. Elliott was the only player besides Bell to see at least two-thirds of his teams’ backfield touches in every game he played in last year and his workload should hold up in 2018.

After offering their running backs a league-low 380 total touches, Seattle drafted running back Rashaad Penny to boost their rushing attack, but that gives me little pause about anchoring my receiving corps with Doug Baldwin. A poor offensive line and a deteriorating defense means the Seahawks may be forced to throw nearly as often as last year. The departure of Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson suggests that Baldwin will see a huge bump in target volume and could be one of the most consistent weekly options at his position. Taken eight spots above his ADP, Baldwin was the biggest reach of the first two rounds, but I’m that confident in his production this year. 

3.05 (29) - Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs
4.08 (44) - Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos

Mock Draft Rounds 3–4
RD Pat Fitzmaurice Jeff Haseley Matt Schauf Anthony Amico TJ Hernandez Jody Smith Josh Hornsby Scott Fish Matt Kelley Bob Harris Jeff Ratcliffe Eliot Crist
3 (1 - WR11) Robinson, A (2 - WR12) Thielen, A (3 - RB14) Mixon, J (4 - RB15) McKinnon, J (5 - TE2) Kelce, T (6 - RB16) Howard, J (7 - TE3) Ertz, Z (8 - WR13) Smith-Schuster, J (9 - WR14) Hilton, T (10 - RB17) Guice, D (11 - RB18) Penny, R (12 - WR15) Hill, T
4 (12 - WR23) Tate, G (11 - WR22) Jeffery, A (10 - WR21) Crabtree, M (9 - WR20) Gordon, J (8 - WR19) Thomas, D (7 - RB21) Michel, S (6 - WR18) Fitzgerald, L (5 - TE4) Engram, E (4 - WR17) Cooper, A (3 - RB20) Collins, A (2 - WR16) Diggs, S (1 - RB19) Drake, K

I’m usually a proponent of waiting to draft tight ends but Travis Kelce is arguably the safest player in this range with Anthony Amico sniping Jerick McKinnon from me. Kelce tied for the league lead in target share among tight ends last season and he should battle for that title again, even with Sammy Watkins in town. Like Kelce, Demaryius Thomas has been one of the most consistent players at his position in terms of target share and when both he and Emmanuel Sanders are healthy, they form one of the most concentrated passing offenses in the league. Thomas is the only receiver who saw at least 140 targets last season currently going outside of the top 30—the knock is his upside, but Case Keenum is an antidote for the quarterback pandemic that’s plagued Denver in recent years.

5.05 (53) - Dion Lewis, RB, Titans
6.08 (68) - Chris Thompson, RB, Redskins

Mock Draft Rounds 5–6
RD Pat Fitzmaurice Jeff Haseley Matt Schauf Anthony Amico TJ Hernandez Jody Smith Josh Hornsby Scott Fish Matt Kelley Bob Harris Jeff Ratcliffe Eliot Crist
5 (1 - WR24) Edelman, J (2 - WR25) Watkins, S (3 - WR26) Jones, M (4 - RB22) Miller, L (5 - RB23) Lewis, D (6 - WR27) Cooks, B (7 - QB1) Rodgers, A (8 - RB24) Ajayi, J (9 - RB25) Freeman, R (10 - WR28) Landry, J (11 - WR29) Davis, C (12 - RB26) Jones, R
6 (12 - TE5) Olsen, G (11 - RB30) Henry, D (10 - RB29) Jones, A (9 - WR36) Cobb, R (8 - RB28) Thompson, C (7 - WR35) Funchess, D (6 - WR34) Sanders, E (5 - WR33) Kupp, C (4 - RB27) Ingram, M (3 - WR32) Garcon, P (2 - WR31) Parker, D (1 - WR30) Woods, R

Given the choice, I prefer to fill my WR3 slot as quickly as possible in this format but there’s little available in terms of reliable volume at this point in most drafts. Landing two fantastic pass-catching backs is a fine consolation. Tennessee has been freed from the shackles of Mike Mularkey’s exotic smashmouth offense and Dion Lewis will work under offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur, who increased Todd Gurley’s target volume by 50 percent over the previous year in their lone season together. 

After 10 weeks last season, Chris Thompson ranked fourth among running backs with 17.1 percent of the targets in Washington. Over the last fives seasons, 19 running backs have accounted for at least 15 percent of their team’s targets over an entire season. Just two of those players failed to finish as the overall PPR RB18 or better—eight backs in that span have seen a target share of at least 17 percent and none finished outside the top 10. Jay Gruden stated almost immediately after the draft that Thompson is expected to maintain his role as the primary pass-catching back, even with Derrius Guice now in Washington. 

7.05 (77) - Jamison Crowder, WR, Redskins
8.08 (92) - Rex Burkhead, RB, Patriots

Mock Draft Rounds 7–8
RD Pat Fitzmaurice Jeff Haseley Matt Schauf Anthony Amico TJ Hernandez Jody Smith Josh Hornsby Scott Fish Matt Kelley Bob Harris Jeff Ratcliffe Eliot Crist
7 (1 - WR37) Fuller, W (2 - TE6) Graham, J (3 - RB31) Williams, J (4 - RB32) Cohen, T (5 - WR38) Crowder, J (6 - WR39) Agholor, N (7 - WR40) Matthews, R (8 - RB33) Coleman, T (9 - RB34) Mack, M (10 - RB35) Johnson, K (11 - RB36) Johnson, D (12 - QB2) Watson, D
8 (12 - QB5) Brady, T (11 - QB4) Wentz, C (10 - WR45) Anderson, R (9 - WR44) Stills, K (8 - RB39) Burkhead, R (7 - WR43) Shepard, S (6 - RB38) Anderson, C (5 - WR42) Moore, D (4 - RB37) Lynch, M (3 - TE7) Rudolph, K (2 - QB3) Wilson, R (1 - WR41) Goodwin, M

Taken 10 picks ahead of his ADP, Jamison Crowder was my biggest reach of the single-digit rounds, but Crowder is the front-runner to lead Washington in targets with question marks surrounding all of the other primary pass-catchers. Rex Burkhead is a 4for4 favorite, as John Paulsen has the New England back ranked as the PPR RB16 versus an ADP of RB36. This may seem especially bullish until we consider how productive the Patriots backfields have been in recent years—even if we project New England for their three-year low of 456 total PPR running back points, Burkhead would need to account for just a third of that production to push for RB2 numbers.

9.05 (101) Chris Hogan, WR, Patriots
10.08 (116) DeSean Jackson, WR, Buccaneers

Mock Draft Rounds 9–10
RD Pat Fitzmaurice Jeff Haseley Matt Schauf Anthony Amico TJ Hernandez Jody Smith Josh Hornsby Scott Fish Matt Kelley Bob Harris Jeff Ratcliffe Eliot Crist
9 (1 - RB40) Crowell, I (2 - TE8) Reed, J (3 - WR46) Doctson, J (4 - WR47) Nelson, J (5 - WR48) Hogan, C (6 - TE9) Walker, D (7 - RB41) Chubb, N (8 - RB42) Clement, C (9 - WR49) Benjamin, K (10 - WR50) Hurns, A (11 - QB6) Newton, C (12 - TE10) Njoku, D
10 (12 - WR53) Golladay, K (11 - RB46) Hyde, C (10 - RB45) Bernard, G (9 - RB44) Riddick, T (8 - WR52) Jackson, D (7 - QB8) Brees, D (6 - RB43) Hines, N (5 - TE13) Kittle, G (4 - WR51) Bryant, D (3 - QB7) Cousins, K (2 - TE12) Eifert, T (1 - TE11) Burton, T

This pick took place before Julian Edelman’s suspension, making it one of the better steals of the draft. Unless New England signs another receiver, Chris Hogan will be the Patriots' No. 1 WR for the first month of the season. A hot start could mean an increased role in this offense even after Edelman’s return. DeSean Jackson had the least efficient season of his career in his first year in Tampa Bay, but no quarterback has thrown deep (15+ yards in the air) at a higher rate than Jameis Winston since he entered the league. In an offense that likes to push the ball down the field, Jackson may have some boom weeks left in him for owners who can pinpoint when to play him.

Rounds 11–16

Mock Draft Rounds 11–16
RD Pat Fitzmaurice Jeff Haseley Matt Schauf Anthony Amico TJ Hernandez Jody Smith Josh Hornsby Scott Fish Matt Kelley Bob Harris Jeff Ratcliffe Eliot Crist
11 (1 - WR54) Meredith, C (2 - WR55) Ridley, C (3 - WR56) Williams, M (4 - RB47) White, J (5 - WR57) Lockett, T (6 - RB48) Foreman, D (7 - WR58) Lee, M (8 - WR59) Gallup, M (9 - TE14) Howard, O (10 - RB49) Montgomery, T (11 - TE15) Doyle, J (12 - WR60) Miller, A
12 (12 - TE16) Clay, C (11 - WR68) Matthews, J (10 - WR67) Ross, J (9 - QB10) Mahomes, P (8 - WR66) Williams, T (7 - RB50) Dixon, K (6 - WR65) Richardson, P (5 - QB9) Garoppolo, J (4 - WR64) Kirk, C (3 - WR63) Bryant, M (2 - WR62) Moncrief, D (1 - WR61) Godwin, C
13 (1 - RB51) Murray, L (2 - RB52) Booker, D (3 - QB11) Winston, J (4 - TE17) Ebron, E (5 - RB53) Ware, S (6 - TE18) Brate, C (7 - TE19) McDonald, V (8 - RB54) Gore, F (9 - RB55) Wilkins, J (10 - TE20) Hooper, A (11 - RB56) Blount, L (12 - QB12) Goff, J
14 (12 - WR74) Ginn Jr., T (11 - WR73) Cole, K (10 - RB59) Sproles, D (9 - TE21) Gesicki, M (8 - QB14) Mariota, M (7 - WR72) Washington, J (6 - WR71) Wallace, M (5 - WR70) Pettis, D (4 - RB58) Barber, P (3 - QB13) Stafford, M (2 - WR69) Jones, Z (1 - RB57) Breida, M
15 (1 - RB60) Powell, B (2 - WR75) Allison, G (3 - QB15) Luck, A (4 - QB16) Roethlisberger, B (5 - RB61) Martin, D (6 - WR76) Coleman, C (7 - RB62) Ballage, K (8 - WR77) Marshall, B (9 - RB63) Williams, J (10 - WR78) Enunwa, Q (11 - WR79) Sanu, M (12 - RB64) Carson, C
16 (12 - WR86) Wilson, A (11 - QB20) Foles, N (10 - WR85) Gabriel, T (9 - WR84) Sutton, C (8 - WR83) Butler, B (7 - RB65) Austin, T (6 - WR82) Taylor, T (5 - QB19) Prescott, D (4 - QB18) Ryan, M (3 - WR81) Amendola, D (2 - QB17) Rivers, P (1 - WR80) Westbrook, D

As is often the case in expert leagues, the most obvious trend in this draft was how long quarterbacks lasted. Every quarterback except one was taken after their post-NFL Draft ADP with 16 of the 20 QBs drafted lasting a full round beyond their ADP; seven fell at least three full rounds. With a new coaching staff in town, Marcus Mariota figures to get more opportunity than he’s ever had as a passer, and the addition of Dion Lewis plus a healthy Corey Davis give Mariota the best pass-catching corps of his career.

With the potential to start up to four wide receivers, loading up on upside players is a must at the position, which is why I leaned toward a 6RB/8WR build. With Hunter Henry out for the season, Tyrell Williams has massive touchdown potential. Rookie receivers rarely offer much production so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Brice Butler push Christian Kirk for WR2 targets on a team that could be forced to throw at a high rate. 

Check out the full draft board here.


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