Gridiron Experts Staff Mock Draft
The Gridiron Experts team got together to conduct an offseason fantasy football mock draft to pass the time throughout this extremely dull offseason/pandemic. We cut the fat on this draft, with no kickers or defenses. The scoring format is PPR, and the starting lineup included: QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 FLEX
Following the mock draft, we set up a spreadsheet with some Q&A to get feedback from the owners of each team. All of the Mock Draft owners are regular offseason Best Ball junkies, dynasty players, and Mock Draft addicts. The information provided should give you some valuable insight into drafting strategies and roster-building for your leagues in 2020.
- Derek Wiley @dwiley1223
- Ben Cigler @Cigs247
- Anthony Cervino @therealNFLguru
- Doug Moore @DMooreNFL
- Mike Rigz @MikeRigz
- Matt Hicks @TheFF_Educator
- Seth Keller @fftheathomedad
- Mark Leipold @LeipoldNFL
- Zach Greubel @ZachGreubel
- John Ferguson @FantasyFerguson
- Brad Castronovo @Bkc78
- Brandon Hamer @DoubleHFantasy1
For Mobile View: https://sleeper.app/draft/nfl/582756922361421824
Staff Thoughts & Insight
Question 1: What Was Your Strategy For This draft? & How Do You Feel About The Results?
Derek Wiley (Pick 1) – I had originally planned on drafting receiver heavy after Christian McCaffrey. Fortunately for me, the draft board fell in a way that I am extremely happy with. Aaron Jones and George Kittle are early to mid 2nd round picks in my opinion and to get them where I did feels like a steal. After my first 3 picks I knew it was time to get my receivers. Being able to round out my starting lineup with 3 studs and the upside of Hollywood Brown is something I feel really good about. Ultimately, I am happy with how my team turned out. I feel good about my depth and great about the top tier players I was able to get.
Brad Castronovo (Pick 11)- There’s a lot of possible outcomes when you have a late pick in the first round of 2020 drafts. While some might opt to make sure that they get two RBs in their first two rounds due to positional scarcity, I chose to go with who I thought was the best available player when I picked at #11. When I saw Tyreek Hill sitting there, I couldn’t resist taking Patrick Mahomes’ favorite speedster. I was comfortable doing so because I planned to take a running back when the snake came back to me. After the #12 pick snagged Kenyan Drake and Miles Sanders back-to-back, I was excited to have the choice between Nick Chubb and Josh Jacobs — two players I have ranked quite high. As the draft went on, I went with the best available players. While some of my co-drafters opted to gobble up running backs in rounds 3-5, I opted to wait and grabbed Allen Robinson, Zach Ertz, and TY Hilton. Then, in Rounds 6-12, I grabbed 4 RBs with high upside (White, Mattison, Murray, and Kerryon Johnson) to ensure my RB2 slot would still be sufficient.
Mike Rigz (Pick 5) – The 5th overall pick is probably my least favorite spot to draft from this year. After dozens of BestBall Drafts and Mock Drafts, I’ve learned you’re better off taking a running back here than going Michael Thomas. There are a ton of great WR’s this year that you can grab late, and trends have shown a higher number of running backs going in the first three rounds opposed to previous seasons. I like Joe Mixon, I feel by the end of the summer his ADP will be in the 5th to 7th overall range. So I’m ok with reaching for my guy. Not everyone is on board just yet, but I think the more you research him, the more appealing Mixon becomes. Drafting Lamar Jackson in the 3rd round is out of character for me, but I was happy with my first two picks. Actually, I like how this entire team came together. I think Carson and Conner are underrated players this season. Both could outperform their ADP, and as for my WR’s, I could easily get through a season with the talent I was able to snag late.
Doug Moore (Pick 4) – Going in, I wanted to make sure I got a top-end running back when picking at the fourth slot. I knew that it was either going to be Kamara or Elliott for me. So I ended up with Kamara as EE went third overall. From there, I was having with a high-end RB1 and wanted to make sure my wide receiver group had a lot of depth to work with (unless somehow a player like Miles Sanders, Kenyan Drake, or Nick Chubb made it back to me). It’s easier to fill in FLEX spots with wide receivers from what I’ve seen, so I approached it with needing at least three wide receivers needing to start. Seeing Kenny Golladay, the number nine wide receiver in PPR from a season ago (with most of the year catching passes from below replacement-level quarterbacks) available in the second, I had to jump all over that. And then being able to grab another young wide receiver with his own QB problems in 2019 (Juju), these are two players I feel are in for top-12 seasons with their quarterback situations taken care of. After that, the opportunities for my WR3 and WR4 to be Keenan Allen & Courtland Sutton was too good to pass up. While I don’t like grabbing quarterbacks early, I think there is a clear tier break between the top four or five and the rest. Being able to grab Deshaun Watson in the sixth round was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up with there being a quarterback run. Even without Hopkins, I still think Watson’s rushing ability with an improved offensive line gives him a very high ceiling. From there, it was mostly best player available. I grabbed an undervalued Guice as my RB2 and then Hooper as my TE1. Cleveland just gave Hooper the biggest contract ever for a tight end, so clearly they were going to force him into their plans. And despite the injury concerns, I was very happy to come away with Deebo Samuel in the eighth round as my WR5.
John Ferguson (Pick 10)- My strategy with a late first-round pick in drafts has been the same the last two seasons. With all the elite, sure-fire options gone early at RB, I hammer wide receivers early and often in drafts, usually filling my three WR starting spots within the first four rounds. In this draft, that equated to me getting DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones, and Odell Beckham Jr. as my big own big three. Each of these guys has overall WR1 potential and the trio immediately gives you an edge over the rest of the league at the position. Getting Stefon Diggs in the sixth round as well as your WR4 gives you the opportunity to fade the WR position for pretty much the entire back half of the draft where you can search for upside value plays at RB and wait on both QB and TE. For this strategy to hit, I am banking on Le’Veon Bell as my RB1 and Mark Ingram as my RB2. Both backs are obviously at the tail-end of their careers but could still both offer back-end RB1 potential in my opinion.
Seth Keller (Pick 6) – I went into this draft knowing how much I hate the middle of the draft! I was prepared to see 6 RBs fly off the board and I would shock everyone by picking Davante Adams over Michael Thomas. However, Thomas went right before me so I had to decide stick with Adams, who I believe will the WR1 in 2020, or do I grab Cook. I went Adams and from there knew I had to leave the first five rounds with at least three RBs. There is a massive cliff at the RB position this year and I wanted to make sure I was on the cliff not in the ravine. I’m not super excited about my trio of Gurley, Taylor, and Singletary but think that they provide a very safe floor if things go as I project. In the later rounds, I picked up Moss in order to shore up the Bills backfield. At this point, I wanted to follow Bruce Lee’s advice – “be water” – and flow with the rest of the draft trying to pick up guys with maximum ceilings for a reasonable price. Unfortunately, this would only happen at the WR position but did provide me a bunch of guys that have the possibility to bounce back from injury or breakout in 2020. In the first few weeks of the season, I will be looking to vulture the waiver wire or take advantage of a league mate that is lacking in the WR room – Hello, Mat Hicks! Wilson in the seventh is a little early for me to take a QB. But Wilson has finished as the QB1 and QB3 in two of the last three years, so as the sixth QB of the board, I’ll take the risk. I may have over punted the TE position but I am not expecting 2020 Gronk to be what he was in the past. Hopefully, Howard figures it out this year with Gronk as a mentor, if not I will swimming in the TE stream each week and I’m ok with that.
Ben Cigler (Pick 2)- My strategy was based on where I was picking. Having to wait almost two dozen picks every other selection I knew that I would have to hit on the first 3 picks. For the rest of the draft, I would need to get value for my team at each pick. Not so much value at the draft spot but the value that makes my team better. This sometimes requires reaching for a guy before his ADP comes up to help construct my roster into a balanced competitive team. I feel like I was able to hit the first picks with Barkley, Mahomes, and Fournette and those three solidified my backfield. Then I had to focus on wide receivers and tight ends and with NFL offenses passing more, that means more starting wide receivers so I felt I could wait on them. Plus the drop off in running backs is more dramatic than the decline in quality wide receivers.
Zach Greubel (Pick 9)- My first two picks governed my strategy in this draft. Derrick Henry and Josh Jacobs aren’t necessarily the running backs you’re targeting in a PPR format, but I liked where I was able to select them here (1.9 and 2.4, respectively). Once I landed those guys, I knew I wanted to hammer the wide receiver position over the next few rounds, then work my way down to running back depth, tight end and quarterback. When Kelce and Kittle were gone, I knew I’d be waiting on tight end for a while, and I almost always wait on a quarterback. I was happy to nab Gesicki and Blake Jarwin later on. Brees and Goff are more than serviceable quarterback options who I believe can both finish in QB1 territory. I was pleased with how my strategy worked out for the most part; there are always players you wish would have made it back to you, but I believe this team would compete for a title.
Mark Leipold (Pick 8)- We say this every year but wide receivers is deep this year, and running back is… not deep. I like to leave every draft this season with at least two running backs in my first three picks, and I most frequently double-tap running back in round one and two, as the wideouts in round three through five or so present a ton of upside and nice value. In this draft, I was not expecting Dalvin Cook to fall to me, as I expect him to be suited up for week one, but he was there, so I was glad to take him. I would generally be scooping up Joe Mixon in the 1.08 slot, but he went earlier. With Josh Jacobs gone at 2.05, I debated Austin Ekeler, but couldn’t pass up Chris Godwin, and then I was able to hit David Johnson and Melvin Gordon, giving me three locked in workhorse backs with three-down skillsets. I took Darren Waller at what I thought was a really nice value, and then targeted wideouts who have well-defined target shares and roles such as Marvin Jones, Golden Tate, and Mohamed Sanu, mixing in some upside picks.
Brandon Hamer (Pick 12)- At the 12 spot, I wanted to lock up the two best running backs available, and that was Kenyan Drake and Miles Sanders. Both of these backs have Top 10 upside and I am elated to start my draft with them. My plan thereafter is to hope two stud Wide Receivers make it to me, which they did in DJ Moore and Robert Woods. Woods is one of my favorite picks this year as I think he can finish all the way into the Top 8 in PPR leagues with Cooks gone. I then wanted to solidify a third starting running back and Akers should be the guy in LAR. Where i went against my usual plan is Kyler Murray in the 6th. I usually wait on QB’s but for the sake of the article, I experimented. I almost went Terry McLaurin but waited and took advantage of how deep WR is and grabbed what should be the leading receiver for each of their teams in Crowder, Ruggs, and Reagor. Harry can take a big leap as well and is a great lottery ticket as my WR6. I waited on Tight End and couldn’t be happier. This year is the first in a while where waiting on TE could be beneficial as it is the deepest in recent memory. Having a tandem of Fant and Smith is perfect. I usually end my draft with pure lottery ticket guys. I would rather pick a guy who can turn into a weekly starter for me rather than a low-end flex who will never see my starting lineup. I did exactly that by handcuffing two injury-prone backs in Leonard Fournette and Todd Gurley. Something happens to one of them, I have a starting RB on my team.
Question: 2 Which Owner Had the Best First Three Rounds?
John Ferguson – I think that there were some really great starts in this draft but I am partial to what Mark Leipold “aka Doctor Lark” did with his first three. Getting Dalvin Cook just outside the top-five RBs should have no problem returning value as an RB1 as long as he stays healthy. Getting Chris Godwin who finished as the overall WR2 last season is another solid grab in the second round. What seals the deal for me on this three-round cluster is getting David Johnson as your RB2. I’m a firm believer that Johnson is in for a rebound this season. He still looked spry last season prior to getting injured. In 2018 he still performed as a top-10 back in fantasy. Now he’s moved to an offense that has squat for a featured wideout and just saw Carlos Hyde run for over 1,000 yards.
Derek Wiley – Of course, I like my first 3 rounds the most, but if I am picking another team, I really like what Mike did. I am a big believer in Joe Mixon, and I am on Lamar Jackson as the QB1 again this season. I really considered going Kittle and Jackson at the 2/3 turn but couldn’t pass on Jones. Mike Evans sandwiched in between those two picks is a nice piece as well. Overall, it’s hard to find any weaknesses in these first 3 picks.
Brad Castronovo – Aside from my own draft, I really like what Derek did with his first three picks. When you pick #1 overall, you get to lock up Christian McCaffrey or Saquon Barkley. Then, you have to endure a very long wait until you get to take your 2nd and 3rd picks. With that said, I think Derek has a lot to be excited about, having snagged a consensus Top 2 TE in George Kittle and a stud RB like Aaron Jones who has immense TD upside.
Seth Keller – This is a toss-up between Brad and Zach because they are each grabbing two high caliber guys in one position and a safe play in the other. Zach took Derrick Henry and Josh Jacobs to ensure a solid RB core and snagged the super safe Adam Thielen who should bounce back from his 2019 injury. Brad did the inverse and took two WRs (Tyreek Hill and Allen Robinson) and snagged Chubb to lead his RBs. Zach gets the win here because taking the two RBs set him up for more flexibility in the draft. As you can see with Brad, his RB2 is James White.
Mike Rigz – I like Ben’s first three picks a lot (team 2). Barkley and Fournette gave him the luxury to be able to wait quite a while before having to target the running back position again while drafting the best QB in the league
Brandon Hamer – I am going to have to go with Mike’s team, I love what he did grabbing three premier players at their respective positions in Mixon, Evans, and Lamar. That’s a solid base to build around in any format. My runner ups would probably be Derek and myself. It’s hard to hate any team with Christian McCaffrey on it and he followed up with Aaron Jones who is getting seriously slept on and George Kittle who could finish as the TE1 this year with the Deebo injury.
Zach Greubel – I could go one of several ways here, but I’ll say, John. Starting with DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones and Odell Beckham Jr. are prodigious. Despite Beckham’s recent disappointments, all three receivers carry WR1 ceilings. His running backs may leave something to be desired, but this question was only about the first three rounds, right?
Mark Leipold – FantasyFerguson executed a beautiful quasi-zero-RB start, triple-tapping three elite wideouts in the first three rounds, without having to suffer terribly as a result. Getting Le’Veon Bell was huge, as he should be locked into another year of ~20 touches per game. Ingram has upside if he can hold off JK Dobbins, but I also like the safety of Jordan Howard. As gross as he is, his role is well-defined, and if Miami’s offense is revamped at all for 2020, Howard could see a fair amount of goal-line looks. I’m not generally a zero-RB advocate, but if you do go that route, Hopkins, Jones, and Beckham is a really enticing start.
Ben Cigler – I like to see getting “set it and forget it” players in the first couple rounds. You’ve nailed it if you can leave those players in your starting lineup all season regardless of matchups and get the same production all year long. A couple of owners did this but the one I like the most because it gives them quality starting production at more than one position is Brad Castronovo. He grabbed a top 5 running back in Chubb and took two top 12 wide receivers in Hill and Robinson.
Question 3: Who was your Favorite Value Pick and Why?
Mike Rigz – I try not to focus on ADP too much, I’m fine with reaching on players if I like them or if my team is in need of a certain position. However, I was surprised Julian Edelman fell to me the way he did in the 7th round. I think that was a great value pick for my team after ignoring the WR position for four rounds.
Zach Greubel – If we’re talking about later rounds it was likely Steve Sims Jr., but I’ll say McLaurin was my favorite value pick. I loved where I was able to draft him in this mock at WR27 in the sixth round. It seems he’s one of the better bargain wide receivers right now in all of fantasy football. I am of the opinion he can attain at least high-end WR2 status in his second professional football campaign. It is paradoxical, though, because I drafted three Redskins pass-catchers – all of whom I like this year – but I do not like Dwayne Haskins. Maybe I should start liking the sophomore signal-caller.
Ben Cigler – I liked Devin Funchess at the end of the 14th round (14.11). He might’ve benefitted the most by the Packers not drafting a wide receiver. The wide receiver depth chart is written in pencil after Davante Adams because they need someone who can provide a steady set of hands to capitalize on the weak side of the defensive formation. Funchess is a big target who Aaron Rodgers can look for to pick up chunks of yards on shorter routes and for contested catches in the end zone. His only real competition is Allen Lazard who flashed last year but wasn’t consistent enough to get his number called more often. If he can gain Rodger’s confidence, he might have the highest potential to reward anyone who drafts him late as a low-risk, high-reward lottery ticket.
Mark Leipold – I may be biased here, but I’ll keep banging the drum for the rest of the offseason that Marvin Jones is the most undervalued player in fantasy football. In 2019, Kenny Golladay out-targeted Jones by a margin of 7.2 to 7.1 targets per game, with Jones seeing 26% of the red zone targets to Golladay’s 25%. Golladay was the primary deep ball threat of the two, but in a passing game with consolidated targets — a young tight end, no high-end satellite back, and no consistent third wideout, Jones and Golladay should both feast this season. Don’t forget, Matthew Stafford was playing at a pace of essentially 5,000 passing yards and 38 touchdowns in 2019 since he missed time. Stafford is still a gunslinger and can absolutely support both receivers as strong fantasy assets, yet Jones is being drafted outside the top 100 players, while Golladay is going inside the top three rounds in FFPC leagues and went late-second in this draft. Even though I “reached” for Jones by ADP, he’s still an immense value.
Derek Wiley – My favorite value pick of this draft was Tyler Boyd. I drafted him at 6.12 and I think he could be a WR1 this season. The ADP for Sleeper has Boyd right around this area and Fantasy Football Calculator shows his ADP in the 8th round. Technically he isn’t a value since I drafted him before his ADP, but I like Boyd so much I think he is an option in the 4th-6th rounds. AJ Green is a shell of his former self and I think he could end up being traded midseason. Tee Higgins is a good receiver but is a rookie and I am not willing to bank on a rookie being the WR1 on the Bengals. Boyd plays in the slot and will have designed plays for him as well as being a strong check down option. I will be smashing the draft button on Boyd in the 5th/6th round every chance I get.
Brandon Hamer – If you follow me at all, you will know how much I have been pounding the drum for Russell Gage. He went as the WR81 in this mock draft…that is absurd for what he is going to do this year. In the nine games without Mohamed Sanu, Gage averaged 7.3 targets a game, bringing his estimated 16 game target total to 117, which obviously won’t happen. But 80-90 should be expected because Sanu did that every year in Atlanta. Even if he does slightly worse than Sanu, he can still finish as a Top 40 Wide Receiver in the pass-happy Atlanta offense, and with a WR81 price here, that’s an insane value.
John Ferguson –I think all six of my last picks carry a ton of value, to be honest. That starts with getting rookie Brandon Aiyuk in the 11th round. With the Deebo Samuel injury, Aiyuk is a player that will probably see a multiple-round jump in ADP between July and August. He has a legitimate shot to operate as the WR1 for the 49ers to begin the season and is a player the team moved up to get in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. With roster construction being considered, I think the top value for my team overall though would be Eric Ebron. I love the potential he brings now as a member of the Steelers. This team should return to being one of the most pass-heavy offenses in the league with a healthy Ben Roethlisberger. At tight end, you need TDs, and Ebron could easily lead all TEs in TDs this season just as he did in 2018. Even though it feels like Ebron has been in the league forever, he’s still just 27-years-old. Getting a potential TE1 all the way in the 12th round is a steal and the reason why you should wait on the position outside of Kelce, Kittle, and maybe Andrews.
Brad Castronovo – I liked the value I got by picking Tyler Higbee at Pick 9.11. Higbee has an ADP 79.7 on Sleeper, and I was able to grab him at pick #107. That’s 27 picks later than his usual ADP. After a semi-breakout season in 2019, I think Higbee will continue building on his success and further assert himself as a TE1 in 2020. Higbee earned the trust of Jared Goff last season, and now with Brandin Cooks leaving the team, there are even more targets to go around in this pass-heavy offense. While I did also draft Zach Ertz, I see Higbee as a fantastic 2nd tight end for my team and a player that can certainly see some time at the FLEX spot.
Seth Keller – I can’t believe what a value Alshon Jeffrey is this year in drafts. I know he is 30. I know he has struggled with injury. I know that the Eagles drafted a shiny new toy, Jalen Reagor. But Jeffrey is the de facto WR1 on an Eagles team was top-12 in Passing Yards, Attempts, and Touchdowns. In two of his last three years, Jeffrey has been the WR20 and WR26. Those are amazing numbers for a WR taken in the 15th round! Now his health will, of course, be a question mark. But I will gladly pay almost nothing for the potential of a WR2/3.
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