Expert Fantasy Football Mock Draft Recap: 12-Team Half-PPR
As soon as the NFL Draft was completed, I reached out to some of the biggest names in fantasy to organize the first industry mock draft of the season. The setup was a 12-team half-PPR league with 16 rounds. The roster requirements were 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, and 1 Flex with no kickers or team defense.
The draft order was as follows:
|Draft Pick||Analyst||Site Affiliation|
|12||Chris Raybon||@ChrisRaybon||Action Network|
Be sure to click on each participant's handle and give them a follow!
Even in expert drafts, general trends will often mirror ADP. For example, the top six players going off the board are fairly static across all drafts, while trends such as Zero RB or Zero WR seem to be losing popularity—nine of 12 teams here drafted at least two running backs by the end of the fourth round and every roster had two backs by the end of the sixth. Analysts are more willing to wait on quarterbacks and tight ends than the average drafter so paying attention to positional ADP rather than overall ADP is often more useful in industry mock drafts.
Probably the biggest takeaways from these mock drafts are noting which players go well above or well below ADP, but especially the latter. It only takes one drafter for a player to go early but there has to be a consensus for a player to fall. With that in mind, here is a look at the players taken highest and lowest relative to their positional ADP.
Note: This draft began on May 1 and ADP reflects data from May 1–May 14.
|1||(1 - RB1) McCaffrey, C||(2 - RB2) Barkley, S||(3 - RB3) Elliott, E||(4 - RB4) Cook, D||(5 - WR1) Thomas, M||(6 - RB5) Kamara, A||(7 - RB6) Henry, D||(8 - WR2) Adams, D||(9 - WR3) Jones, J||(10 - WR4) Hopkins, D||(11 - WR5) Hill, T||(12 - RB7) Jones, A|
|2||(12 - WR9) Evans, M||(11 - WR8) Cooper, A||(10 - TE2) Kittle, G||(9 - WR7) Moore, D||(8 - TE1) Kelce, T||(7 - RB13) Jacobs, J||(6 - RB12) Ekeler, A||(5 - RB11) Sanders, M||(4 - RB10) Drake, K||(3 - RB9) Chubb, N||(2 - RB8) Mixon, J||(1 - WR6) Godwin, C|
RB Josh Jacobs, Raiders (ADP RB10; Drafted RB13)
The biggest knock on Josh Jacobs is his lack of usage in the passing game—46 running backs saw more targets last year and the Raiders re-signed Jalen Richard while adding WR/RB hybrid Lynn Bowden in the Draft. In a half-PPR league, those concerns are somewhat mitigated and this point of the draft marks a hard tier break before the next available running back.
WR Amari Cooper, Cowboys (ADP WR11; Drafted WR8)
One of the biggest debates through August will be how to value the Cowboys receiving corps after adding rookie CeeDee Lamb to the mix. The knee jerk reaction on draft day was that there are now too many mouths to feed in Dallas but closer inspection suggests otherwise. Only two teams will come into the season with more vacated targets and Mike McCarthy typically favors throwing out of three-wide-receiver sets. With Michael Gallup already catching Amari Cooper in the volume department last year, though, this offense will have to go nuclear or there will have to be an injury for Cooper to pay off this price tag. Initial 4for4 projections value Amari as the WR14 in half-PPR leagues.
RB Kenyan Drake, Cardinals (ADP RB13; Drafted RB10)
There are few players that the 4for4 staff is higher on than Kenyan Drake, so it wasn’t a surprise to see Jennifer Eakins land her guy in the second round rather than take the risk of making it back to her in the third. Arizona shipped David Johnson to Houston in March and didn’t address the position until the final round of the NFL Draft, indicating that they are comfortable with Drake as their workhorse. Even before Drake’s late-season 2019 explosion, the Cardinals’ backfield was producing spectacular fantasy numbers—this offense is made for running back value.
|3||(1 - WR10) Golladay, K||(2 - WR11) Smith-Schuster, J||(3 - WR12) Ridley, C||(4 - RB14) Carson, C||(5 - RB15) Edwards-Helaire, C||(6 - WR13) Beckham, O||(7 - WR14) Kupp, C||(8 - WR15) Robinson, A||(9 - RB16) Taylor, J||(10 - RB17) Swift, D||(11 - WR16) Brown, A||(12 - RB18) Bell, L|
|4||(12 - RB22) Johnson, D||(11 - TE4) Ertz, Z||(10 - RB21) Gurley, T||(9 - TE3) Andrews, M||(8 - QB2) Mahomes, P||(7 - WR20) Woods, R||(6 - WR19) Parker, D||(5 - QB1) Jackson, L||(4 - WR18) Thielen, A||(3 - RB20) Fournette, L||(2 - RB19) Gordon, M||(1 - WR17) Allen, K|
RB Leonard Fournette, Jaguars (ADP RB15; Drafted RB20)
Trade rumors, talk of a more pass-heavy offense, and the team declining a contract option is an equation that should equal trouble for last year’s RB9 but Jacksonville insists that 25-year-old Leonard Fournette will be a “big part of their offense in 2020”. Only two players accounted for a higher percentage of team touches than Fournette in 2019 and even if that number dips some in 2020, he could make up for it in the touchdown column. The Jaguars back scored just three times on 341 touches, or every 114 touches—the league average for running backs last season was a touchdown on every 31 touches. The potential upside that is present if Fournette maintains his role in the offense makes it worth the risk when he tumbles this far.
RB Todd Gurley, Falcons (ADP RB17; Drafted RB21)
The concerns about Todd Gurley’s health are obvious at this point but the argument that he can’t handle a large workload may be a bit overblown—his 68.5% share of backfield touches ranked 10th among all running backs in 2019. Gurley will walk away from a role that offered him 16.9 touches per game last season into a situation that gave Devonta Freeman 17.4 touches per game, a fairly lateral move for the new Falcons back. While Gurley’s RB14 finish last year was inflated by a touchdown rate that was well above average, Atlanta’s offense is good enough that he will at least have the opportunity to approach his scoring numbers from 2019. 4for4 is even higher than the public, giving Gurley the RB14 ranking in initial projections.
RB Chris Carson, Seahawks (ADP RB20; Drafted RB14)
Seattle was a dark horse to spend a first-round pick on a running back but they didn’t address the position until the fourth round of the Draft. Recent reports suggest that Rashaad Penny could start the season on the PUP list. Those factors add up to Chris Carson likely having a locked-in role in one of the most run-heavy offenses in the league. In games without Penny last season, Carson posted high-end RB1 numbers and while this is a reach relative to ADP, Carson’s upside is a solid RB1, leaving room for him to outperform this price tag.
RB D’Andre Swift, Lions (ADP RB22; Drafted RB17)
Detroit’s backfield combined for the sixth-fewest fantasy points last season, but the Lions deserve a bit of a mulligan for 2019 with Matthew Stafford missing half of the season. A healthy Stafford should increase the overall efficiency of this offense, in turn, leading to more running back upside. Additionally, Stafford traditionally likes to target his running backs at a high rate. The latter point favors D’Andre Swift, who offers much more as a receiver out of the backfield than Kerryon Johnson. Even if this starts as a 1A/1B situation, Swift should be able to separate himself from Johnson via the passing game.
WR Calvin Ridley, Falcons (ADP WR17; Drafted WR12)
This was one of my favorite and most intriguing picks of the draft. With that, I asked 4for4's Justin Edwards his thoughts on Ridley.
"After finishing 2019 with the highest pass percentage in football (68.5%, 64.3% in neutral game script), the Atlanta Falcons' defense is sure to force the ball into Matt Ryan's hands again. On pace for 1,000+ yards and nearly double-digit scores in his sophomore year before injury, Calvin Ridley looks to absorb even more usage with both Austin Hooper and Mohamed Sanu moving up north."
No team has more vacated targets than the Falcons this season and Ridley has a chance to make a leap into elite territory.
|5||(1 - WR21) Samuel, D||(2 - WR22) Lockett, T||(3 - WR23) Hilton, T||(4 - RB23) Singletary, D||(5 - WR24) McLaurin, T||(6 - WR25) Metcalf, D||(7 - WR26) Sutton, C||(8 - WR27) Chark, D||(9 - WR28) Diggs, S||(10 - WR29) Gallup, M||(11 - RB24) Montgomery, D||(12 - WR30) Fuller, W|
|6||(12 - QB4) Prescott, D||(11 - RB29) Howard, J||(10 - QB3) Wilson, R||(9 - WR35) Slayton, D||(8 - RB28) Conner, J||(7 - WR34) Cooks, B||(6 - RB27) Ingram, M||(5 - RB26) Vaughn, K||(4 - WR33) Boyd, T||(3 - WR32) Jeudy, J||(2 - RB25) Mostert, R||(1 - WR31) Landry, J|
|7||(1 - TE5) Waller, D||(2 - RB30) Akers, C||(3 - WR36) Green, A||(4 - WR37) Brown, M||(5 - WR38) Edelman, J||(6 - RB31) Williams, D||(7 - QB5) Murray, K||(8 - RB32) Hunt, K||(9 - RB33) Breida, M||(10 - QB6) Watson, D||(11 - QB7) Allen, J||(12 - RB34) White, J|
|8||(12 - RB38) Henderson, D||(11 - TE8) Engram, E||(10 - WR42) Brown, J||(9 - WR41) Hardman, M||(8 - RB37) Jones, R||(7 - WR40) Kirk, C||(6 - TE7) Higbee, T||(5 - RB36) Dobbins, J||(4 - QB8) Ryan, M||(3 - TE6) Henry, H||(2 - WR39) Jones, M||(1 - RB35) Michel, S|
RB J.K. Dobbins, Ravens (ADP RB 26; Drafted RB36)
Of the entire crop of rookie backs expected to be viable fantasy options in 2020, initial 4for4 projections came out lowest on J.K. Dobbins relative to ADP—the segment of the industry in this mock was in lockstep with that projection. Baltimore has one of the most explosive offenses in the league but they will likely experience at least some touchdown regression and Lamar Jackson’s presence handicaps his backfield’s upside. Even though the Ravens had the highest rushing rate in neutral game script last season, they ranked 16th in touches offered to their running backs. Dobbins should usurp Mark Ingram as the starter eventually, but there’s a chance that doesn’t happen until 2021.
WR Courtland Sutton, Broncos (ADP WR18; Drafted WR26)
The public is apparently less concerned about Courtland Sutton having to compete with Jerry Jeudy for targets than fantasy analysts are. Jennifer Eakins sees this shaking out as a 1A/1B situation and Sutton barely cracked the top 20 at his position last season with little competition. Of course, that doesn’t account for the quarterback carousel that he had to deal with and the possibility of a much-improved offense in 2020, but the risk is clear with arguably the best receiver in this year’s draft class on the other side of the field.
RB Jordan Howard, Dolphins (ADP RB41; Drafted RB29)
RB Matt Breida, Dolphins (ADP RB43; Drafted RB33)
This is probably the most interesting takeaway from this mock draft—the fantasy industry figures to be much more bullish on the Dolphins backfield than the public this year. In other words, this duo could present tremendous value in your average league. 4for4 isn’t as high on the Dolphins backfield as the group in this draft but still has Jordan Howard and Matt Breida ranked higher than their ADP. Miami figures to be better than last year when they were tanking for draft capital and their backfield can only get better after combining for the fewest fantasy points of any backfield since the 2016 Rams. New offensive coordinator, Chan Gailey, has typically been a running back-friendly play-caller and Miami should have an improved offensive line this season.
|9||(1 - RB39) Guice, D||(2 - WR43) Crowder, J||(3 - RB40) Lindsay, P||(4 - WR44) Shepard, S||(5 - WR45) Johnson, D||(6 - RB41) Johnson, K||(7 - WR46) Perriman, B||(8 - WR47) Sanders, E||(9 - RB42) Murray, L||(10 - WR48) Jefferson, J||(11 - WR49) Miller, A||(12 - TE9) Cook, J|
|10||(12 - WR56) Jeffery, A||(11 - QB10) Jones, D||(10 - WR55) Anderson, R||(9 - RB45) Mack, M||(8 - WR54) Williams, P||(7 - QB9) Wentz, C||(6 - RB44) Scott, B||(5 - WR53) Lamb, C||(4 - WR52) Pittman, M||(3 - RB43) Mattison, A||(2 - WR51) Ruggs, H||(1 - WR50) Tate, G|
|11||(1 - TE10) Gronkowski, R||(2 - RB46) Johnson, D||(3 - RB47) Thompson, C||(4 - WR57) Harry, N||(5 - WR58) Williams, M||(6 - RB48) Cohen, T||(7 - WR59) Renfrow, H||(8 - TE11) Gesicki, M||(9 - TE12) Hurst, H||(10 - WR60) Reynolds, J||(11 - QB11) Mayfield, B||(12 - RB49) Coleman, T|
|12||(12 - RB53) Gibson, A||(11 - RB52) Edmonds, C||(10 - WR65) Reagor, J||(9 - WR64) Lazard, A||(8 - WR63) Jackson, D||(7 - TE15) Hockenson, T||(6 - RB51) Moss, Z||(5 - WR62) Fitzgerald, L||(4 - RB50) Evans, D||(3 - TE14) Fant, N||(2 - TE13) Hooper, A||(1 - WR61) Watkins, S|
|13||(1 - WR66) Campbell, P||(2 - RB54) Pollard, T||(3 - WR67) Aiyuk, B||(4 - RB55) Kelley, J||(5 - QB12) Brady, T||(6 - WR68) Samuel, C||(7 - RB56) Jackson, J||(8 - WR69) Cobb, R||(9 - WR70) Mims, D||(10 - WR71) Westbrook, D||(11 - RB57) Armstead, R||(12 - TE16) Goedert, D|
|14||(12 - WR75) Higgins, T||(11 - QB15) Goff, J||(10 - QB14) Rodgers, A||(9 - WR74) Sims, S||(8 - RB61) Brown, M||(7 - RB60) Williams, J||(6 - RB59) Hines, N||(5 - RB58) Penny, R||(4 - TE17) Jarwin, B||(3 - WR73) Washington, J||(2 - WR72) Davis, C||(1 - QB13) Brees, D|
|15||(1 - QB16) Roethlisberger, B||(2 - WR76) Stills, K||(3 - RB62) Bowden, L||(4 - QB17) Stafford, M||(5 - WR77) Brown, A||(6 - WR78) Shenault, L||(7 - QB18) Burrow, J||(8 - WR79) Ross, J||(9 - WR80) Beasley, C||(10 - RB63) Bonnafon, R||(11 - TE18) Olsen, G||(12 - WR81) Hamler, K|
|16||(12 - WR84) Williams, T||(11 - RB67) Peterson, A||(10 - TE23) Thomas, I||(9 - TE22) Doyle, J||(8 - TE21) Everett, G||(7 - TE20) Smith, J||(6 - RB66) Dillon, A||(5 - TE19) Sternberger, J||(4 - RB65) Lewis, D||(3 - RB64) McFarland, A||(2 - WR83) Claypool, C||(1 - WR82) Jefferson, V|
RB Marlon Mack, Colts (ADP RB31; Drafted RB45)
Surprisingly, Marlon Mack’s ADP didn’t completely freefall after the Colts spent a second-round pick on Jonathan Taylor, at least not yet. After producing the fourth-most rushing yards by running backs last season, Indianapolis is a team that could potentially support two fantasy-relevant backs, especially with the addition of Philip Rivers. Not only will Rivers raise the floor of the entire offense but he has typically run offenses with multiple useful backs. Even though this was a value relative to Mack’s ADP, 4for4 is even lower, ranking him as the RB58.
WR CeeDee Lamb, Cowboys (ADP WR43; Drafted WR53)
As mentioned earlier with Amari Cooper, the general consensus is probably that there aren’t enough targets to go around in Dallas but John Paulsen like CeeDee Lamb to make an immediate impact, putting him in starter territory in 3WR leagues, ranked as the WR36—if that’s how things shake out, this pick is a steal. Even if Lamb does finish relatively high in end-of-year rankings, the concern for him and the entire receiving corps is how they accrue those points—they could be a very boom/bust unit on an individual level.
The “reaches” in the later rounds were players drafted far outside of starter territory.
See the entire draft board here.