The preseason is in full force and Fantasy Football drafts are happening all around us. It’s hard to know sometimes exactly how a draft is going to play out until you are in the midst of it. It’s good to have a strategy, but it’s just as important to be flexible in that strategy.
Below is a 10 team mock draft. This is my best guess at how the first 10 rounds of a standard fantasy football draft will go.
1.01) Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers.
Antonio Brown was the number one wide receiver in all of fantasy football in 2015. For three straight seasons, the Steelers’ wide-out has averaged 125 receptions for 1,677 yards and 10 touchdowns. Those are his averages!!!
He has a tremendous floor, but has a 2,000 yard upside. With tight end being a question mark, and Martavis Bryant out for the season, Brown will easily reach the 193 targets he saw a year ago and may top 200.
Three years ago, you would never dream of taking a wide receiver number one overall. The NFL has changed and so has fantasy football. Adapt and enjoy the returns.
1.02) Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons.
Julio Jones has a legit shot to dethrone Brown from the top of the Wide Receiver perch.
Atlanta has zero receiving threat outside of Jones. In 2015, the Falcons’ star saw 203 targets and caught 136 passes for 1,871 yards and 13 touchdowns. They added Mohammed Sanu to the wide receiver mix, but that isn’t going to take away Matt Ryan’s love for Julio Jones. While many are taking Odell Beckham Jr. 2nd overall, Julio Jones — to me — is the number two guy.
1.03) Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings.
They say that age is just a number. For Adrian Peterson, that is actually the case.
Many running backs begin to see a decline in production after they turn 27 years old. In his age 27 season, Peterson led the league with 2,097 yards, averaging 6 yards per carry (YPC). In his age 28 season, he played 14 games and had 1,266 yards rushing.
He was suspended for all but 1 game of his age 29 season.
At age 30, he came back and led the league in rushing again, with 1,485 yards. Adrian Peterson doesn’t show any signs of declining.
1.04) Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys
In the three seasons prior to 2015, he averaged 91 receptions, 1,311 yards, and 13.667 touchdowns per season.
Bryant never caught less than 88 passes in those seasons. He is consistent and his targets will be similar to the 2012-2014 seasons.
1.05) Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants
Yes, he has flashy catches… in losses.
Yes, he gets into fights with Josh Norman and is a dangerous human on the football field.
The dude has talent.
Odell Beckham Jr. is one of the best handful of receivers in the league. In just his first two years in the league: 90+ Catches, 1,300+ yards, and 12+ touchdowns. That’s incredible.
Now enters Sterling Shepard. This can have an effect on Beckham’s numbers in one of two ways. 1) It could either take targets away as Beckham is double-teamed and QB Eli Manning looks to Shepard. Or, 2) it could keep defenses honest since Shepard isn’t your typical rookie receiver.
1.06) Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams
I’ve gone back and forth on Todd Gurley, David Johnson, and Ezekiel Elliott. I’ve decided that Gurley is the next running back off the board because of what he was able to accomplish in limited action last year, after returning from an ACL injury.
In 13 games, he put up 1,300 total yards and 10 touchdowns. In 13 games!
Yes, there is nothing around him offensively. But there wasn’t anything around him last year either. They are going to run the ball and there is no one on the roster to take substantial carries away from him, aside from a couple a game to Tavon Austin.
1.07) David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals
The hype surrounding David Johnson is connected to a three-week stretch where he accumulated 472 total yards. I’ve been high on Johnson for a couple of reasons, like that three-game stretch and the talk of a big time workload. I’ve since downgraded him below Johnson because after that three-game stretch, he did very little.
In the last four games — including two playoffs — he played, Johnson had 159 yards on 50 carries (3.18 YPC). He does a lot in the passing game, but to me hasn’t shown enough to go ahead of Gurley.
1.08) DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans
Last season, at age 23, Hopkins had an awesome season. Despite catching passes from four different quarterbacks (Brandon Weeden included), Hopkins caught 111 passes for 1,521 yards and 11 touchdowns. It doesn’t matter who is throwing the ball.
Hopkins is going to get targeted and he’s going to put up numbers. This year, Houston is going to have a few more receiving targets to lean on, but that isn’t going to change Hopkins too much.
1.09) Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
Ezekiel Elliott was the top running back selected in the 2016 NFL draft. He runs with speed and power, pass protects, and has good hands. There isn’t anything the number four overall pick can’t do.
Running behind the best offensive line in the world, with a great quarterback, and great receiving options, Elliott is poised for a big season. Dallas didn’t draft him to be in a committee, so don’t worry about him getting touches. He will — at a minimum — get 20 touches a game.
He may not get the over-400 that DeMarco Murray got, but if he gets close to 300, he will have top-10 fantasy numbers.
1.10) AJ Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Five years in the league, five 1,000 yard seasons, and five Pro Bowls.
Andy Dalton loves to throw to him. At the back-end of the first round, or the front end of the second, AJ Green is a great pick up. He plays through injury and puts up numbers.
2.01) Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Don’t let the three-game suspension scare you away from drafting a top-5 talent at the end of the first, or beginning of the second. Yes you miss out on three games, but you will enjoy the other 13 that he plays for you. Just try to get DeAngelo Williams later on.
2.02) Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
Many people have him in the top 10, and he is definitely worthy of that. In standard leagues, he finished 15th out of non-quarterbacks in scoring, ahead of David Johnson, Calvin Johnson, and Latavius Murray.
Rob Gronkowski was nearly a point per game better than Jordan Reed. Many pundits will place him in the top ten, but I like other players that I could have there.
2.03) Allen Robinson, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
In his second year in the league, Robinson had an awesome breakout season in 2015. 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns in a prolific offense. Many believe that Robinson is going to regress this year. If he does, that’s ok; he’s still going to put up solid second round numbers.
He is an elite wide receiver who is Blake Bortles’ favorite target. Continued success is expected here.
2.04) Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Yes, he’s coming off another season ending injury. Yes, he’s injury prone. It’s important to consider all of that, but don’t forget his career 5.5 yards per carry or his dual purpose usage in Kansas City. Andy Reid loves to give the ball to his backs a lot. Don’t be afraid of Charles here in the second round.
2.05) Lamar Miller, RB, Houston Texans
Don’t ask me what the Miami Dolphins were doing with Lamar Miller’s usage. He has a career 4.6 YPC, yet they only gave him 200 carries one season. He’s been durable, not missing a game since his rookie season in 2012.
Despite his under-usage in Miami, Miller finished as the number six running back in fantasy football last season. He has a legit chance to finish as the number one running back with his move to Houston.
2.06) Brandon Marshall, WR, New York Jets
There have only been two seasons where Brandon Marshall did not reach 1,000 yards receiving: his rookie season, where he started only one game, and in 2013 where he missed three games. He’s dependable, durable, and quarterback-proof.
Marshall’s produced with four different teams, and 13 different quarterbacks, and he’s only had two un-Marshall like seasons.
2.07) Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers
Jordy Nelson has had a full year to recover from his ACL injury. He is the favorite target of quarterback Aaron Rodgers, played two full seasons prior to the ACL, and produced WR 1 numbers. Excellent second WR if you are using the Zero RB approach.
2.08) Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints
The lead-back in the New Orleans backfield is going to have an excellent time playing football. Head Coach Sean Payton loves to get his backs active in the passing game as well as the running game.
2015 was the first time that Ingram received a full complement of starting running back touches, and he produced handsomely until he was slowed by injury late in the year.
2.09) Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons
Devonta Freeman came out of nowhere last year against the Cowboys and put up huge numbers in a six-game stretch that catapulted his fantasy stock to Apple-like heights.
From week three against Dallas to week eight, Freeman totaled 913 yards from scrimmage and nine TDs. He slowed dramatically after that, but still finished with RB1 numbers.
He needs to start strong to hold off 2015 draft pick and week 1 starter, Tevin Coleman.
2.10) Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Doug Martin had a bounce back year after poor 2013 and 2014 campaigns. He’s locked in as the starting running back heading into his age 27 season. He has tremendous value on a team that wants to run the ball, but be aware of the age 27 cliff.
3.01) Alshon Jeffrey, WR, Chicago Bears
Were it not for his injury history (a lot of foot and ankle stuff), we’d be talking about Jeffrey in the top half of round two. When he is healthy, he is a Jay Cutler favorite, and will put up big stat lines.
3.02) Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The former Texas A&M product hit the ground running in his first two years in the league. He’s developed a nice rapport with Jameis Winston and uses his size and jumping ability to do damage all over the field.
3.03) Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders
Typically, rookie wide receivers don’t make much of an impact their first season in the NFL. Cooper did. Starting 15 out of 16 games, he immediately developed into a favorite target of Derek Carr, posting 72 receptions, 1,070 yards, and six touchdowns. The Raiders are a team to watch in 2016.
3.04) LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills
Several years ago, LeSean McCoy would have been a surefire top-ten pick. With injuries, age, and usage catching up to him, he’s fallen out of favor a bit. The former Eagle is still a dynamic back with dual purpose ability.
3.05) C.J. Anderson, RB, Denver Broncos
C.J. Anderson has traditionally been a slow starter, but finishes seasons strong. If you draft him, don’t get rid of him if he starts slow. He will be useful come Fantasy playoff time.
3.06) Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers
Supposedly back in shape and ready for the 2016 season, the former Alabama product is heading into a contract year.
I like his chances to finish the season in the running back top-10.
3.07) Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego Chargers
Before the injury last season, Keenan Allen was a top-5 wide receiver in both standard and PPR (points per reception) leagues. He is primed for another big season entering his third in the NFL. You are most likely going to see him go at the end beginning of the third round.
3.08) Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
My top Quarterback in fantasy, Aaron Rodgers is getting Jordy Nelson back and Randall Cobb will be able to return to the secondary receiver role that he thrives in. I expect Rodgers to pace the quarterback field in 2016.
3.09) Brandin Cooks, WR, New Orleans Saints
Brandin Cooks is the top target in a pass-happy New Orleans offense. Cooks will benefit from plenty of targets. In Mock drafts, I’m starting to see him go in the late second round.
3.10) Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo Bills
Size, speed, hands, and jumping ability. The only thing that has slowed Sammy Watkins down has been injuries. As your WR2/3 at this point in the draft, Watkins could be a steal.
4.01) Thomas Rawls, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Taking over for an accomplished running back like Marshawn Lynch is no easy task. In seven starts and 13 games in 2015, Thomas Rawls averaged 5.6 yards per carry.
4.02) Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
2015’s top quarterback, Cam Newton can get it done through the air and on the ground. Expect him to continue to evolve as a passer.
4.03) Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton’s top target from the 2014 season returns from a preseason ACL injury. Many expect Kelvin Benjamin to take a back seat in the offense, but he is going to pick up where he he left off.
4.04) T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts
T.Y. Hilton has had three straight 1,000 yard seasons, averaging at least 16 yards per catch the last two and receiving at least 130 targets per season the last three.
4.05) Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos
For four seasons in a row, Demaryius Thomas has put up at least 1,300 yards receiving. As much negative publicity as the Broncos’ offense got last year, he still shined with 105 catches. Thomas — this late — would be a tremendous pickup for your team. The QB situation for Denver is what drops Thomas to the fourth round.
4.06) Latavius Murray, RB, Oakland Raiders
Started 16 games in his sophomore year and produced a nice fantasy line. Just over 300 touches (catches + carries) for nearly 1,300 total yards. He was a little light in the touchdown department. He’s a dual threat.
4.07) Matt Forte, RB, New York Jets
Last year, the New York Jets provided nice fantasy value for two running backs in the running and passing game. Matt Forte, who has been the best dual-threat running back of his time in the NFL, is going to a place where they know how to get the runner the ball.
4.08) Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins
The unanimous second tight end off the board had a wonderful season last year, posting 87 catches for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns. If you aren’t liking any of the RBs or WRs at this point in the draft, getting one of the top-three tight ends could pay dividends.
4.09) Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers
Injuries have kept Carlos Hyde from truly breaking out. The former Buckeye has produced well when healthy, but hasn’t put together a full season. Expect heavy usage in Chip Kelly’s offense.
4.10) Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers
The number two receiver in Green Bay had a down year last year as he was asked to be the number one. Jordy Nelson returns to take the focus of opposing defenses. Expect a bounce back season from Randall Cobb.
5.01) DeMarco Murray, RB, Tennessee Titans
Two seasons removed from over 400 touches and leading the league in rushing, now on his third team in three seasons, DeMarco Murray needs a bounce back season.
5.02) Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks
Tremendous second half of the season totaling 14 touchdowns. May not reach his 2015 totals, but 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns should be easily attainable.
5.03) Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Before last season, Andrew Luck was being considered the top fantasy quarterback in the league. Injuries cut his 2015 short and now he’s poised for a bounce-back campaign. Needs to be more efficient with the ball.
5.04) Jarvis Landry, WR, Miami Dolphins
Jarvis Landry was a target-machine in Miami last year, and is a favorite for PPR players going into 2016. Many people are expecting a breakout for DeVante Parker, but Landry is the player I am interested in.
5.05) Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers
The last of the top-tier tight ends and easily a top target for Cam Newton. With Kelvin Benjamin back and the emergence of Devin Funchess, there is a lot to like about the Carolina passing game. Greg Olsen may be fighting for targets.
5.06) Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
When Marshawn Lynch went out with an injury, the Seahawks offense began to lean on the passing game. Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin immediately began to produce. Wilson can contribute to your fantasy team through the air and on the ground.
5.07) Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees is still Drew Brees. If he’s your number one quarterback, you will get a lot of great games out of him.
5.08) Jeremy Hill, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
Fumbles and the effectiveness of Giovanni Bernard have limited Jeremy Hill to an extent. Last year, he was inefficient with a 3.6 YPC. Needs to do better if he wants to keep his hold on the early down work.
5.09) Eric Decker, WR, New York Jets
Eric Decker is the number two guy in a passing attack with four quality targets. Decker finished with over 1,000 yards and compiled 12 touchdowns in 2015. The TDs may not repeat themselves, but the yardage will. The Jets want to throw the ball.
5.10) Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots
When healthy, Julian Edelman is a target-machine in the Patriots’ offense. His problem has been staying healthy as a small slot player.
6.01) Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers
6.02) Golden Tate, WR, Detroit Lions
6.03) Jeremy Langford, RB, Chicago Bears
6.04) Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals
6.05) Jeremy Maclin, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
6.06) Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
6.07) Melvin Gordon, RB, San Diego Chargers
6.08) Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Denver Broncos
6.09) Ryan Mathews, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
6.10) Michael Floyd, WR, Arizona Cardinals
7.01) Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
7.02) Allen Hurns, WR, Jacksonville Jaguar
7.03) Delanie Walker, TE, Tennessee Titans
7.04) Donte Moncrief, WR, Indianapolis Colts
7.05) Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
7.06) Coby Fleener, TE, New Orleans Saints
7.07) Duke Johnson, RB, Cleveland Browns
7.08) Jordan Matthews, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
7.09) Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals
7.10) John Brown, WR, Arizona Cardinals
8.01) Kevin White, WR, Chicago Bears
8.02) Arian Foster, RB, Miami Dolphins
8.03) Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals
8.04) DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins
8.05) Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
8.06) Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks
8.07) Chris Ivory, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
8.08) Frank Gore, RB, Indianapolis Colts
8.09) Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
8.10) Ameer Abdullah, RB, Detroit Lions
9.01) DeSean Jackson, WR, Washington Redskins
9.02) Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys
9.03) Marvin Jones, WR, Detroit Lions
9.04) Rashad Jennings, RB, New York Giants
9.05) Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants
9.06) Michael Crabtree, WR, Oakland Raiders
9.07) Matt Jones, RB, Washington Redskins
9.08) Julius Thomas, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars
9.09) Danny Woodhead, RB, San Diego Chargers
9.10) Gary Barnridge, TE, Cleveland Browns
10.01) Justin Forsett, RB, Baltimore Ravens
10.02) Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns
10.03) Jay Ajayi, RB, Miami Dolphins
10.04) T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
10.05) Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings
10.06) DeAngelo Williams, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
10.07) Corey Coleman, WR, Cleveland Browns
10.08) Denver Broncos, Defense/Special Teams
10.09) James White, RB, New England Patriots
10.10) Phillip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers