It's mock draft season around the NFL. Draftniks all around are putting out their first round mocks and writers are trying to project what their team will do at their given draft position. With the NFL Combine just around the corner, let's see what things look like now. I know a lot will change between now and summer, but it is mock draft season after all, so here's my first 2017 five-round fantasy football mock draft.
We're going with 12 teams for this five-round fantasy football mock draft, and I'm the manager for all 12 teams. I didn't just rank the players, I wanted to construct teams. So if I went RB-RB in the first two rounds, odds are I went with a WR in the third. Or if I drafted WR-WR-WR in the first three, I likely went with a RB in the fourth.
Let me know you think @john9williams on Twitter or in the comments below the article.
Round 1 Fantasy Football Mock Draft
1.01 Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys (RB1)
1.02 Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers (RB2)
1.03 David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals (RB3)
1.04 Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (WR1)
1.05 Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants (WR2)
1.06 Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons (WR3)
1.07 Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (WR4)
1.08 A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals, (WR5)
1.09 LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills (RB4)
1.10 Melvin Gordon, RB, San Diego Chargers (RB5)
1.11 Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys (WR6)
1.12 Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons (RB6)
Round 1 Mock Draft Notes
- Arguing about the top back heading into 2017 fantasy football drafts is like arguing about the best Rocky movie -- unless you say Rocky V or Rocky Balboa, they are all worthy of being viewed as the best. Thus is the case with Ezekiel Elliott, Le'Veon Bell, and David Johnson.
I can see an argument made for each of the top three backs going 1.01, but at the moment I'm leaning toward Ezekiel Elliott. He is the only running back that carried the ball more than 300 times in 2016 and has an opportunity to see his passing game targets increase.
I'm not sure the other two can maintain their ridiculously high touch rates from 2016…
- Until Antonio Brown has a bad season (which may be never), he stays the WR1. Odell Beckham Jr. is closing in on him, but it’s Brown for me.
- LeSean McCoy may be leaving Buffalo (as was alluded to in a tweet he sent the other day), and even if he does, he will still be a very effective back, wherever he goes.
- A lot will be made of Melvin Gordon’s 3.9 yards-per-carry, but don’t ignore the fact that he touched the ball more than 20 times a game before going out with an injury and averaged a touchdown a game.
- Mike Evans led the league in targets and was tied for second in touchdowns. He may not lead the league in targets again, but his touchdown numbers aren’t going anywhere. He’s the man in that passing game and Jameis Winston is only going to get better.
- Over Devonta Freeman’s last two seasons he’s averaged more than 100 yards-per-game and 11 touchdowns per season. He’s a very underrated running back with that resume; don’t let Tevin Coleman scare you away from RB1 production.
Round 2 Fantasy Football Mock Draft
2.01 Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears (RB7)
2.02 Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers (WR7)
2.03 TY Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts (WR8)
2.04 DeMarco Murray, RB, Tennessee Titans (RB8)
2.05 Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams (RB9)
2.06 Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints (WR9)
2.07 DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans (WR10)
2.08 Allen Robinson, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (WR11)
2.09 Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders (WR12)
2.10 Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers (RB10)
2.11 Lamar Miller, RB, Houston Texans (RB11)
2.12 Jay Ajayi, RB, Miami Dolphins (RB12)
Round 2 Mock Draft Notes
- Jordan Howard produced top-10 RB numbers in a very bad offense, dare I say as bad as the Los Angeles Rams. The Chicago Bears have a really good offensive line; you can read more about Howard here.
- Jordy Nelson led all wide receivers in standard scoring in 2016, if you can draft him in the second round, you should feel quite satisfied with that.
- I think we can say with confidence that DeMarco Murray likes running in one-cut power running schemes.
- Michael Thomas has a much higher cost than Brandin Cooks in 2017 redrafts, but with a full offseason program, we should see his production increase.
- I’m not completely out on DeAndre Hopkins or Allen Robinson in 2017. With a marginal improvement in quarterback play, these two will be back knocking on the elite wide receiver door.
- In the second round, there isn’t a safer pick to me than TY Hilton; 4 straight seasons with 1,000 yards. He only missed one game in the last three seasons, and led the league in 2016. He’s really good.
- I’ve not been a big believer in Carlos Hyde, but if what Kyle Shanahan did with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman is any indication, we might be on the verge of the Hyde breakout.
- Conversely, I’m not sold on Jay Ajayi yet. I need to see a lot more consistency from him.
Round 3 Fantasy Football Mock Draft
3.01 Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks (WR13)
3.02 Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego Chargers (WR14)
3.03 Brandin Cooks, WR, New Orleans Saints (WR 15)
3.04 Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots (TE1)
3.05 C.J. Anderson, RB, Denver Broncos (RB13)
3.06 Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo Bills (WR16)
3.07 Alshon Jeffrey, WR, Chicago Bears (WR17)
3.08 Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers (WR18)
3.09 Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos (WR19)
3.10 Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs (TE2)
3.11 Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots (WR20)
3.12 Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins (TE3)
Round 3 Mock Draft Notes
- Doug Baldwin is a really good receiver to get at the top of the third round. He always plays and is capable of putting up WR1 numbers throughout a season. In a more pass-heavy offense, we’d be looking at him in a similar light to TY Hilton.
- Brandin Cooks' value in the third round might make him a more interesting draft target than Michael Thomas in the second round.
- Rob Gronkowski’s value won’t be at the back end of the first round this year, and for me anything more than a third round pick for him is too rich.
- Keenan Allen and Alshon Jeffrey have a ton of value based on what they can do when they are on the field, the problem is keeping them on the field. They are both players capable of finishing as WR1s if they play a full 16 games.
- Travis Kelce and Jordan Reed at the back half of the third round have a lot more intrigue to me than some of the WRs or RBs available.
Round 4 Fantasy Football Mock Draft
4.01 Jarvis Landry, WR, Miami Dolphins (WR21)
4.02 Spencer Ware, RB, Kansas City Chiefs (RB14)
4.03 Michael Crabtree, WR, Oakland Raiders (WR22)
4.04 Stefon Diggs. WR, Minnesota Vikings (WR23)
4.05 Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Denver Broncos (WR24)
4.06 Rob Kelley, RB, Washington Redskins (RB15)
4.07 Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers (RB16)
4.08 Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers (QB1)
4.09 Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals (WR25)
4.10 Donte Moncrief, WR, Indianapolis Colts (WR26)
4.11 Golden Tate, WR, Detroit Lions (WR27)
4.12 Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers (TE4)
Round 4 Mock Draft Notes
- Jarvis Landry is a PPR machine, but even in standard formats, he is a really good player. He's a really good player in the fourth, and with better touchdown numbers, he’d be drafted a couple of rounds higher.
- Spencer Ware is going to be a curious case all off-season. There is no telling what Kansas City does at the running back position, but if they don't do anything, I get the feeling he's the next man to carry the load for Kansas City. Jamaal Charles being released helps Ware's case.
- Michael Crabtree outscored Amari Cooper in total points and in points-per-game in 2016, he may be the more valuable pick up in the fourth round.
- Rob Kelley is a back that could see his value fall tremendously based on what Washington does in the draft.
- Keep me away from Eddie Lacy. I’ve had my heart broken way too much by the big man.
- Aaron Rodgers is my first quarterback off the board because Green Bay isn’t and won’t be shy about letting their best player throw the ball a ton.
- Until Larry Fitzgerald stops producing 100-catch seasons, I’m gonna keep drafting him in the first five rounds.
- What are we to make of Donte Moncrief? He catches a ton of touchdowns, but there isn’t a lot else to love about him. If he can improve in other areas of the field, he would be a pretty solid pickup in the fourth round.
Round 5 Fantasy Football Mock Draft
5.01 Brandon Marshall, WR, New York Jets (WR28)
5.02 Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (QB2)
5.03 Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts (QB3)
5.04 LeGarrette Blount, RB, New England Patriots (RB17)
5.05 Thomas Rawls, RB, Seattle Seahawks (RB18)
5.06 Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots (QB4)
5.07 Latavius Murray, RB, Oakland Raiders (RB18)
5.08 Jeremy Hill, RB, Cinncinati Bengals (RB19)
5.09 Terrelle Pryor, WR, Cleveland Browns (WR29)
5.10 Tevin Coleman, RB, Atlanta Falcons (RB20)
5.11 Isaiah Crowell, RB, Cleveland Browns (RB21)
5.12 Eric Decker, WR, New York Jets (WR30)
Round 5 Mock Draft Notes
- I’m seeing a lot of places and people who have Eric Decker ranked in front of Brandon Marshall. I’m not holding 2016 against any New York Jets wide receiver, and therefore still see Marshall as the one to own here.
- The running backs here get awfully iffy, as each has some question marks for sure. Of the bunch, I like Thomas Rawls the best, though there is a possibility that C.J. Prosise takes some of his touches.
- Isaiah Crowell if back in Cleveland (he’s a restricted free agent) will be productive once again running behind a very underrated offensive line.
Is Dak Prescott a Player to Avoid in Fantasy Football in 2018?
For the Dallas Cowboys, the plan is to stick with Dak Prescott to hopefully turn him into a successful long-term franchise quarterback. Going into his third year in the league, this could be a season that defines his future on America's Team.
However, after the entire team struggled in 2017 while trying to overcome several key absences (including Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith), Prescott's level of play has been questioned by plenty around the league. Fans, analysts and writers everywhere aren't as sure as they were in 2016 about the quarterback's future.
And now, according to NFL.com, Fantasy Football players should beware of drafting Dak Prescott once their "friendly" (we all know they're anything but friendly) seasons begin.
Earlier this week, NFL.com Fantasy Editor Marcas Grant published an article telling us ten players to avoid for the 2018 Fantasy Football season. Perhaps it may come as a surprise to some that Dak Prescott is in there among names like Ty Montgomery and Jack Doyle. You can read his full article here.
To be honest, I see his point here.
It's more than fair to say that it's not going to be an easy year for Dak. He's got to prove a lot in a year that could have a juicy extension at the end of it. After going through a sort of an expected sophomore slump, Prescott's third year in the NFL should be his best one yet.
There's a big but, though. Dez Bryant and Jason Witten are long gone, leaving Dak Prescott with a promising yet unproven set of pass catchers.
Will a dominant running game led by five great offensive linemen and Ezekiel Elliott be enough to help Dak and the rest of the offense? Probably. but how much will Prescott be able to accomplish?
Through a painful 9-7 season in which the Cowboys never seemed to be able to find a steady pace, #4's stats took a hit. Here are his numbers from his two years in the pros:
- 2016: 311 completions, 67.8% completion percentage, 3,667 yards, 23 TDs and 4 INTs.
- 2017: 308 completions, 62.9% completion percentage, 3,324 yards, 22 TDs and 13 INTs.
- He also ran for six touchdowns in each of his two seasons.
Per FantasyData.com, his fantasy points dropped from 286.88 in 2016 to 260.66 in 2017.
Despite his numbers dropping, Dak certainly took huge strides as a passer. From taking command of the offense as a captain to making throws he wouldn't make as a rookie, Prescott was able to demonstrate improvements during a rough sophomore slump.
Even with Dez gone, the receivers the front office brought in throughout the offseason are expected to be Dak-friendly. If the receiving corps actually make his strengths shine, the Cowboys' offense will take a huge step in 2018.
Maybe, as Jason Witten mentioned on Adam Schefter's Podcast, Dez is as good as anyone going up for the football. But that's not what will make Dak shine. This revamped WR room might be just what he needs, though.
At the end of the day, even though I truly believe he'll have a good career in the NFL and that he's the future of the Dallas Cowboys, I doubt he should be marked as an early target in the Fantasy Football world.
As of right now, from a Fantasy Football perspective, I would barely rank him as a Top 15 quarterback for many reasons.
First of all, the Cowboys' game will revolve around Ezekiel Elliott. Secondly, it doesn't matter how much faith we put into these pass catchers, they haven't proved anything yet.
Dak is not a bad player at all. But taking Prescott in the middle or even late rounds of a Fantasy Draft might be the safest way to go right now.
Lastly, I leave you with some "Fantasy Nuggets" from fellow Inside The Star writer and Fantasy Football Guru John Williams:
- Dak failed to score 10 standard format fantasy points only four times last season. He scored 15+ points nine times and 20+ six times in 2017.
- In 2017 - even with a down second half - he finished as the 13th best QB in points per game and as the tenth best in total QB scoring.
- In 2016, he was in the top 10 in both categories mentioned in the previous bullet point.
- His ability to run and score touchdowns on the ground easily make him one of the best 12 QB options for fantasy football.
Fantasy Football Implications of Ezekiel Elliott’s Suspension
Ezekiel Elliott has been suspended by the NFL for 6 games for violating the league's Personal Conduct Policy. This will leave a void in the backfield for the Dallas Cowboys and on many fantasy football rosters around the world. As it is with the real league, it's a next man up philosophy in the world of fantasy football as well.
At the moment, that next man up is Darren McFadden.
Just two years ago, with Dallas still clinging to playoff hopes in the wake of Tony Romo's injury, McFadden rushed for more than 1,000 yards. He finished fifth in the NFL that season despite not seeing more than 10 carries a game until week six. From week 6 until the end of the season, McFadden had 7 games with more than 90 yards rushing.
McFadden's touchdown total from that season leaves a lot to be desired, but let's not forget the quarterbacking chaos that went on that season. Between Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel, and Kellen Moore, defenses weren't worried about being beat in the passing game.
Frankly, it's a miracle that McFadden rushed for 1,000 yards.
Over 11 games from weeks 6-17, McFadden averaged 21.45 touches per game and 108.27 total yards per game. At that pace, stretched over a 16 game season, McFadden would have totaled 1,732 yards, which would have led all running backs in total yards that season.
If you still have to draft, I would take a chance on McFadden around the 7th or 8th round in 10 or 12 team drafts.
As for Alfred Morris, he will get some touches as much as the Dallas Cowboys will look to run the ball. That being said the second half of 2016 showed who the coaches preferred as the backup.
The last time Morris ran for more than 1,000 yards was in 2014. In 2015, if you'll remember, he lost his job to Matt Jones who has since lost his job to UDFA Rob Kelley, who is starting but is being threatened by 2017 draft pick Samaje Perine.
When Morris played last year he was pretty ineffective averaging a career-low 3.5 yards per carry.
With McFadden's injury history, you can take a shot on Alfred Morris late in your fantasy drafts around the second to last or the last round.
How Should You Value Ezekiel Elliott in Upcoming Fantasy Drafts?
That's a difficult question to answer, because a lot will depend on your league settings. My simple answer is, if you can get any discount on Ezekiel Elliott from his average draft position of 3.0, then you're getting a good value for at least the second half of the season.
Just a week ago I wrote to not allow this absence to sway you too much. I stand by that.
Fantasy football is about getting as much value as you can with each draft pick. Elliott is a top 5 value in any setting, even if he has to sit out. I think you can comprise a roster good enough to get into the playoffs, then you'll want Elliott for a playoff run.
Just like the Dallas Cowboys, all you need to do is tread water while he's out. If you can make it through the suspension at or around .500, you will still be in good position to win your fantasy football league.
When Elliott comes back, he will be the starter.
Even if they make him earn it, it won't take long. He's just better than McFadden and Morris. If your league lets Elliott somehow slip outside of the first round, snatch him up and make sure you draft McFadden. You'll thank me for it later.
While many will look at this situation as a detriment to Dak Prescott and may feel deterred from drafting him as the 9th quarterback in your league, I actually see it the opposite. While Dak was very efficient in Dallas' run-first offense, he showed throughout the 2016 season that he could be leaned upon in a shootout or to bring the team back from a large deficit.
In fact, Dak might have played his best game of the season during the playoff loss to Green Bay when the team got down 21-3. Forced to pass, Prescott completed 63% of his passes for 302 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in nearly leading the team back to victory.
With a full offseason in the Dallas offense and a really good compliment of receivers led by Dez Bryant, I fully anticipate Dak to have an excellent sophomore campaign.
Dallas may lean more on the pass during Elliott's absence, which will make Dak more valuable to me. Remember fantasy football is about acquiring stats and with Elliott out, Dak will have a great chance at putting up even bigger numbers. Especially if the run game is ineffective.
Fantasy Football: Draft Ezekiel Elliott Early, Don’t Be Swayed
Plenty of fantasy football drafts have come and gone, but many still remain as training camp is in full swing. The question has come up in the fantasy football Twitter community; what do you do with Ezekiel Elliott amidst rumors of a suspension? And the short answer is nothing.
Investigations into whether or not Ezekiel Elliott has violated any of the NFL's policies have persisted. Supposedly, those investigations have come to a close. The personal conduct policy, the domestic violence policy, and the substance abuse policy seem to all be in play as the league decides on the appropriate punishment for the Dallas Cowboys' star running back.
You could go the safe route and drop Ezekiel Elliott down your draft boards or you could take a chance at having one of the top scorers in fantasy football on your roster.
Say a suspension does come down. At worst, a drug suspension would be four games.
The domestic violence issue seems to be circumstantial evidence that even the Columbus Police and District Attorney declined to pursue. The NFL's personal conduct policy could apply, but that seems to be more of a threat than anything. So the question is, if Elliott is out for four games, does he lose his value somehow. I'd say no.
We don't have to go back very far to see a similar star running back with a similar suspension. In 2016, Le'Veon Bell was suspended for the first three games of the season and many people slid him down their draft boards. In some mocks, I saw him going outside of the first round.
Sure he missed the first three games of the season, but he finished as fantasy football's No. 3 running back and was there when you needed him most. Playoff time.
Bell only had three games where he failed to score less than 15 standard fantasy points during his 12 game season (didn't play in the season finale). The point being, anyone who drafted Le'Veon Bell in the first round or the top of the second was quite happy with the results.
If Ezekiel Elliott misses time, it will be at the beginning of the season, but like Bell, he will be around at the end of the season when you're trying to put away a championship win.
If you're drafting at the top of the first round, don't let Ezekiel Elliott's consistency and scoring ability get by you because of a threat of suspension. He'll be available to you when you need him most.
The first few weeks of the season are tough matchups for Elliott anyway.
Dallas will face the New York Giants, Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, and Los Angeles Rams in the first four weeks--all teams with tough defenses. Though Elliott is a guaranteed starter for those four weeks, it's likely you're lowering expectations for him against some of the top run defenses in the NFL.
For me in 2017, the reward of having Ezekiel Elliott on my roster far outweighs the risk of any potential suspension. Draft Zeke and reap the benefits.
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