Draft Strategies From Each Pick
PPR Mock Draft
In a live mock draft with a 30-second clock, Gridiron Experts staff writers Chris Nalls (pick 2), Derek Wiley (pick 5), and John Ferguson (pick 8) were invited to join an industry fantasy football mock draft and then blog about their thoughts and strategies from their picking position. You can read each writer’s draft breakdown, by clicking on the draft spot number link above.
Mock drafting is an absolute must when preparing for your fantasy football season every year. I had an excellent opportunity to partake in a mock with a few industry guys, including some of the contributors here at Gridiron Experts recently. Here is how it went for me picking from the 8th spot.
Depending on how your league is set up, you may or may not know exactly which spot you are picking from. If you are in leagues where you won’t know your draft spot, it’s more important to practice mock drafts from various spots throughout the draft so that you can develop a strategy from early, middle and late draft spots. For this particular draft, I drew the 8th overall pick. Personally, I prefer picks either towards the beginning or towards the end so that you don’t have too big of a gap in between each pick. The 8 spot isn’t too bad, as it’s close enough to the end to where you can have a pretty good chance of players falling to you with a small gap in between two picks.
A big part of developing your draft strategy is being very familiar with your league’s scoring settings. The two most crucial scoring settings to know are passing touchdowns being either 4 or 6 points each and of course, if the league is standard scoring, half-point per reception or full point per reception. For this league, we went with full PPR and 4 points per passing touchdown.
Outside of the scoring settings, it’s also important to know what your starting roster consists of. In this league, we start three wide receivers per week, and our Flex spot can be WR, RB or TE. Let’s get to the draft!
With my first pick I took Odell Beckham Jr. 8th overall. This one is pretty much a no-brainer, unless you want to focus on going RB heavy in the first rounds and wait on WR. OBJ has just as good of a shot at finishing the season as the overall WR1 as Antonio Brown and DeAndre Hopkins. At 2.05 I decided to go for a balanced offense and grabbed Leonard Fournette as my RB1. I love Fournette at this spot, I think he’s a dark horse to lead the league in rushing yards this season as the centerpiece of the Jaguars offense.
With the 8th pick in the third round, I took a leap of faith and selected LeSean McCoy as my RB2. There is still some concern that McCoy could be facing a suspension due to his off the field issues. If McCoy plays all season, however, he is a steal at the end of the third round as a true feature back that will see all the usage he can handle in the passing game as well. I followed this pick up with selecting tight end Zach Ertz at 4.05. Ertz finished as the TE3 last season despite only playing in 14 games and is a good bet to finish inside the top-3 again this year. I usually prefer balanced teams in fantasy as opposed to leaning RB or WR heavy or waiting on a TE or QB. It’s always my goal to have a potential top-5 option at each skill position.
Around the fifth round is generally when I start thinking about a QB, but knowing that these guys were all going to wait on addressing the position, I decided to add to my RB depth and selected Dion Lewis. While Derrick Henry will definitely be a threat for work in the Titans backfield, Lewis is the favorite for passing down work and could offer RB2 value in PPR leagues this season.
Since I grabbed OBJ as my WR1, I felt comfortable waiting until now to add Michael Crabtree as my WR2 with pick 6.05. Crabtree is stepping in as the Ravens WR1 this year in a do-or-die season for Joe Flacco. I have been grabbing Crabtree a ton in mock drafts this season as my WR2 around this ADP. I think another season similar to what we saw from Crabtree in 2016 when he put up 1,003 yards and 8 TD’s and finished as the WR12 in PPR leagues is on tap for this year.
I was planning on rounding out my WR group at this point, but when Drew Brees fell to me at pick 7.08, I couldn’t resist. With the quick turn around I also knew I would have a decent chance of selecting Jordy Nelson as my WR3, which I did. Brees may not have had the prolific statistical season that we were used to last year, but he still finished as a top-10 QB and could jump back into that top-6 range that he has usually finished in this year. Jordy Nelson has a lot of questions surrounding how he will handle life without Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball. I think Jordy has a bounce-back season with the Raiders and fills the void left by Michael Crabtree. Nelson has a legitimate shot at double-digit touchdowns this season in my mind.
In rounds 9-10 I am focused on shoring up my depth at running back and tight end by selecting James White and George Kittle. With Sony Michel banged up and missing significant preseason action and the Patriots without Julian Edelman for the first few weeks, we could see a lot of James White early. I’m targeting White in a lot of leagues this season but am expecting to sell high on him if he has a hot start, as he will likely be an inconsistent contributor dependent on game flow for the majority of the season. Kittle is a popular breakout candidate and favorite target of Jimmy Garoppolo early in camp. This draft took place before Kittle injured his shoulder. I’m not sure I would have selected him this high having known that, but the injury isn’t severe and the team still expects him to be ready for Week 1 so I still feel pretty good about it.
My last skill position player I selected was Cameron Meredith in the 12th round. Meredith managed to record 888 receiving yards and 4 TD’s for the Bears in 2016 with Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley throwing him the ball. Drew Brees is a noticeable upgrade for Meredith here, and since joining the Saints, the team cut ties with both Willie Snead and Brandon Coleman. Meredith could find a solid role here and have some big weeks.
My final roster shakes down to:
- QB: Drew Brees
- WR: Odell Beckham Jr.
- WR: Michael Crabtree
- WR: Jordy Nelson
- RB: Leonard Fournette
- RB: LeSean McCoy
- TE: Zach Ertz
- Flex: Dion Lewis
- Bench: James White, Cameron Meredith, George Kittle
Typically you have a bigger bench and there would be more depth like a backup QB and more WR’s and RB’s. Looking at just my starting roster though, I would be pretty happy to have this team. There is definitely some risk involved with Crabtree and Nelson busting on new teams and with age catching up to them a little. There is also the potential of them both putting up WR1 numbers though, so I am fine with that. I think this team is stacked at each position and could easily be a league winner.
Thanks for Reading
John Ferguson is an avid fantasy football fanatic with 10+ years of experience in competitive leagues and DFS. Ferguson specializes in draft strategies, trade negotiations (Buy Low/Sell High), DFS value picks, and sports betting amongst other parts of football analysis. He follows the Oakland Athletics closely as a diehard fan and enjoys spending quality time with his beautiful wife and three children. A native of Monterey, California, Ferguson now calls Quintana Roo, Mexico home.