FANTASY FOOTBALL: 7 keen observations after executing three simultaneous mock drafts (No. 4 slot)

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In 2019, Titans wideout A.J. Brown enjoyed a great capper to his rookie season, cracking the 100-yard mark four times and scoring five TDs in the final six weeks.

On Friday afternoon, I put myself through another fun, but stressful period of draft chaos, executing three mock drafts at the same time (12 teams/PPR scoring) — while holding the No. 4 pick in each drill.

POSITIONAL RANKINGS

QB-STARTER RANKINGS
TOP 60 PPR TAILBACKS
TOP 75 PPR WIDE RECEIVERS
TOP 35 PPR TIGHT ENDS
TOP 160 PPR PLAYMAKERS

THE ANNUAL PPR SPECTACULAR

PART I
PART II

MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS

PRESSURE PACKED: Results of three simultaneous mocks (No. 8 slot)
FANTASY: 4 ways to invoke the risky ‘Bye Week’ draft strategy
FANTASY: How to fake your way through an uncomfortably early draft
DEEP DIVE: Fun Facts-style breakdown of the 2020 schedule
TWO OF EVERYTHING: Cool results from our ‘Noah’s Ark’ mock draft
FREE MONEY: Our second crack at NFL ‘Survivor Pool’ picks for 2020
READY, SET, GO: The NFL’s 30 most anticipated matchups of the season
MOCK DRAFT SIMULATION: # 11 slot
MOCK DRAFT SIMULATION: #4 slot

Adding to the cool absurdity of this intense exercise, we then stepped up the degree of difficulty with the following limitations:

a) I wouldn’t be allowed to peruse my updated cheat sheet during the draft … not that there’s much time for it anyway.

b) I wasn’t permitted to ‘queue’ up any players in advance. The reasoning: Amid this brain-rattling torrent of being on the clock multiple times inside 30 seconds … Pressure makes diamonds.

Here are the results from the three simultaneous mocks. For the first-timers attempting this crazy exercise at home, expect an avalanche of under-the-gun choices and permutations after Round 2, with only 45 seconds between each selection:

TEAM A

ROUND 1 — RB Dalvin Cook, Vikings
ROUND 2 — WR DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals
ROUND 3 — WR Kenny Golladay, Lions
ROUND 4 — WR A.J. Brown, Titans
ROUND 5 — RB David Montgomery, Bears
ROUND 6 — QB Kyler Murray, Cardinals
ROUND 7 — WR Will Fuller, Texans
ROUND 8 — RB Phillip Lindsay, Broncos
ROUND 9 — TE Rob Gronkowski, Buccaneers
ROUND 10 — TE Jared Cook, Saints
ROUND 11 — D/ST Pittsburgh Steelers
ROUND 12 — RB Adrian Peterson, Washington Football Team
ROUND 13 — QB Ryan Tannehill, Titans
ROUND 14 — RB Alexander Mattison, Vikings
ROUND 15 — PK Wil Lutz, Saints
ROUND 16 — RB Darrynton Evans, Titans

TEAM B

ROUND 1 — RB Dalvin Cook, Vikings
ROUND 2 — TE Travis Kelce, Chiefs
ROUND 3 — QB Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs
ROUND 4 — RB Melvin Gordon, Broncos
ROUND 5 — WR DJ Chark Jr., Jaguars
ROUND 6 — RB Raheem Mostert, 49ers
ROUND 7 — WR Stefon Diggs, Bills
ROUND 8 — WR Christian Kirk, Cardinals
ROUND 9 — WR Jerry Jeudy, Broncos
ROUND 10 — D/ST Pittsburgh Steelers
ROUND 11 — WR Breshad Perriman, Jets
ROUND 12 — RB Adrian Peterson, Washington Football Team
ROUND 13 — TE Dallas Goedert, Eagles
ROUND 14 — PK Harrison Butker, Chiefs
ROUND 15 — QB Drew Lock, Broncos
ROUND 16 — RB Sony Michel, Patriots

TEAM C

ROUND 1 — WR Michael Thomas, Saints
ROUND 2 — WR Chris Godwin, Buccaneers
ROUND 3 — RB Leonard Fournette, Jaguars
ROUND 4 — RB Le’Veon Bell, Jets
ROUND 5 — RB Melvin Gordon, Broncos
ROUND 6 — RB Raheem Mostert, 49ers
ROUND 7 — WR Stefon Diggs, Bills
ROUND 8 — TE Tyler Higbee, Rams
ROUND 9 — QB Matthew Stafford, Lions
ROUND 10 — WR Christian Kirk, Cardinals
ROUND 11 — QB Jared Goff, Rams
ROUND 12 — WR Breshad Perriman, Jets
ROUND 13 — D/ST Pittsburgh Steelers
ROUND 14 — TE Mike Gesicki, Dolphins
ROUND 15 — PK Harrison Butker, Chiefs
ROUND 16 — RB Ryquell Armstead, Jaguars

BREAKDOWN

OBSERVATION #1
Panthers tailback Christian McCaffrey (2,392 total yards, 19 TDs last year) served as the across-the-board choice at No. 1 overall, which shouldn’t surprise anyone.

In 2019, McCaffrey established a new single-season record for tailbacks (116 catches) and notched 14 different outings of 130 total yards and/or one touchdown.

OBSERVATION #2
In case you’re wondering … Saquon Barkley and Alvin Kamara were the only other top-3 assets selected in the three drafts (mixed orders).

Here’s the mild downside of the above occurrence:

BARKLEY
The Giants’ early gauntlet of foes (citing 2019 defensive stats) include:

STEELERS — 3rd in rushing touchdowns allowed … 3rd in overall TDs surrendered to tailbacks

BEARS — 9th in receiving yards yielded to tailbacks … 9th in receiving TDs given up to the same position

49ERS — 4th in rushing touchdowns allowed … 3rd in overall TDs surrendered … 8th in rushing yards yielded

COWBOYS — 10th in rushing yards surrendered

EAGLES — 4th in rushing yards allowed

BUCS — 1st in rushing yards surrendered … 7th in rushing TDs yielded … 3rd in receiving TDs allowed to tailbacks

KAMARA
The University of Tennessee product incurred a seismic dip in touchdown production last year, plunging from 18 scores in 2018 (with Mark Ingram sharing time in the backfield) to merely six TDs in 2019.

What’s more, without Ingram’s presence last season, Kamara only cleared the elite-level threshold of 100 total yards and/or one touchdown seven times (14 games).

OBSERVATION #3
In a live-bullets draft, Dalvin Cook would have been my redoubtable choice at No. 4.

However, in the spirit of mixing things up, I opted for Michael Thomas in the third mock.

I have the Florida State product at No. 2 overall (ahead of Barkley and Kamara) … but others might have Cook barely holding down the fort in Round 1.

The primary knock here: Cook has yet to play a full season in the pros, with last year’s output of 14 games serving as the career high.

From my perspective, there are minimal worries about Cook’s longevity or sustainability:

****For his first 13 games in 2019, Cook reached the elite-level threshold of 110 total yards and/or one touchdown 13 times; and against NFC North foes, the Vikings star owned stellar averages of 121 total yards and 1.3 TDs.

****Citing the NFL’s eight worst rushing defenses from last year, in terms of touchdowns allowed, the Vikings will encounter six of the unique opponents in 2020 (nine games total) — including two meetings apiece with the Packers, Bears and Lions.

OBSERVATION #4
At first glance, Team C bears the look of a best-case-scenario draft:

****Thomas and Chris Godwin rate 1-2 in my PPR rankings, and the wideouts were available at 4th and 21st overall, respectively. Not bad!

****For Phase II, we successfully landed four premium tailbacks in the ensuing four rounds, with Leonard Fournette (1,674 total yards, 3 TDs last year), Le’Veon Bell, Melvin Gordon and Raheem Mostert all ranking in my top 15 with PPR backs.

Regarding Mostert …

Citing his final nine games (including the playoffs), Mostert accounted for 13 total touchdowns … without toting more than 20 carries in a single outing.

And during that prolific span, Mostert held sublime averages of 95.4 total yards and 1.4 TDs.

****For Weeks 13-17 last year, the Rams’ Tyler Higbee attracted eight-plus targets five times (four outings of double-digit targets), caught seven-plus balls five times, surpassed 100 yards receiving four times … and scored two touchdowns during this otherworldly span.

Simply put, Higbee had the best finishing kick of ANY pass-catcher last season.

****Before succumbing to a year-ending injury last fall, Matthew Stafford was on pace for 4,998 yards passing and 38 touchdowns.

Can Stafford produce another year of monster numbers?

a) Unlike previous years, the Lions are blessed with high-upside playmakers at the tailback (D’Andre Swift, Kerryon Johnson), receiver and tight end slots.

b) The schedule-makers have apparently been very kind, since Detroit draws the vulnerable pass defenses from the AFC South (Texans, Colts, Jaguars) and NFC South (Bucs, Falcons, Saints).

c) Stafford posted the third-highest average of points among quarterbacks last year (25.9 per game).

OBSERVATION #5
With PPR drafts, I have a long-standing rule of selecting a cumulative total of six wideouts/running backs in the first seven rounds.

The lone exception, as demonstrated here with Team B: There’s a viable chance at securing the services of an elite quarterback (Patrick Mahomes) and tight end (Travis Kelce).

Of his last 31 regular-season outings, Kelce (three-year average: 94 catches, 136 targets, 1,221 yards, 7.7 TDs) notched six or more targets a staggering 29 times; and one of the so-called ‘clunkers’ yielded five catches, five targets and 95 receiving yards.

OBSERVATION #6
Titans receiver A.J. Brown has the plum assignment of WR3 with Team A; but for most PPR outfits, the expectations of greatness, among the wideout corps, would be substantially higher.

Which brings us to this …

Does Brown (52 catches, 84 targets, 1,051 yards, 8 TDs last year) warrant WR1 status in 12-team PPR leagues?

It’s certainly a legitimate question for a guy who cobbled together just one outing of double-digit targets and two games of six-plus catches last year (rookie campaign).

But here’s where things look rosy: For his final six regular-season outings in Year 1, Brown cracked the 100-yard mark four times and recorded five touchdowns.

What’s more, the Ole Miss product enjoyed an all-world catch-to-target rate of 86 percent during this stretch.

OBSERVATION #7
I like the overall composition of Team A … but wouldn’t necessarily recommend the above path for building the roster.

For example …

****There’s never a good time to draft tight ends (Rob Gronkowski, Jared Cook) in back-to-back rounds. It reeks of week-to-week uncertainty with starting lineups, even though Gronk and Cook are both top-12 PPR options at their position.

****Selecting Adrian Peterson in Round 12 was an uncomfortably high priority, citing two factors:

a) With Derrius Guice no longer part of Washington’s future (off-field problems), Peterson stands as the prohibitive favorite, among the club’s stable of unproven backups, to corral 15-20 carries every Sunday.

b) It’s great to have Phillip Lindsay on the roster; but with Team A, he might be nothing more than a reasonably expensive bench asset (thanks to the presence of Melvin Gordon).

This spells trouble for my Flex spot just about every week. Ugh.

c) I gleefully grabbed the Steelers (fantasy’s No. 1 defense last year) for all three mock drafts. That’s the good news!

On the down side, there were wild swings with the three selections — Rounds 10, 11 and 13.

Need to tighten up this valuation before Labor Day Week.



About The Managing Editor

Jay Clemons remains the only sports writer on the planet to capture Cynposis Media’s national award for Sports Blog Of The Year (beating out NBA.com, MLB.com, PGATour.com, The Players’ Tribune in 2015), along with the Fantasy Sports Writers Association’s pre-eminent award for Best Writer (2008). Through the years, Mr. Clemons has been a key figure with numerous blue-chip sports/media brands, namely the Detroit Lions, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report and the NBC/Universal family. With Sports Illustrated (2006-11), Clemons served a triple role with SI.com‘s heralded football coverage—editing Peter King’s famed ‘Monday Morning Quarterback’ column, penning award-winning pieces for NFL and then writing/narrating scripted videos within the NFL and baseball realms. In 2013, Clemons’ first year with the company, FOX Sports South enjoyed a monumental increase of approximately 34 million Web hits in a 12-month cycle—merely posting 11 million hits the previous year. 

Then, over a two-month span in 2014, FOX Sports South amassed 19.5 million Web hits—a 60-day record for any FOX affiliate. And in 2015, Clemons claimed the aforementioned Cynopsis Media award on FOX Sports’ behalf, the company’s only national writing award during that period. Clemons, a graduate of Michigan State University  and Wayne State University, has been an on-camera Web-TV host for Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report and FOX Sports. In 2015, he also became the first-ever sports journalism professor at Kennesaw State University in suburban Atlanta.

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