Fantasy football mock draft before dress rehearsal week

It’s dress rehearsal week for NFL teams so we should get a better look at the talent available for upcoming fantasy drafts. Before a majority of those games kicked off, I decided to take another look at where players are going in a mock draft. With a better idea of players average draft positions (ADP), I think I assembled a high value team. There were a couple of missteps along the way, though.

You can see my first mock draft here and my second one here. Here’s what I ended up with this time around, drafting in a 12-team standard league.

  • Round (overall pick)–Player, pos., team
  • 1st (8)–DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans
  • 2nd (17)–Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs
  • 3rd (32)–Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers
  • 4th (41)–Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders
  • 5th (56)–Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Broncos
  • 6th (65)–Drew Brees, QB, Saints
  • 7th (80)–Allen Hurns, WR, Jaguars
  • 8th (89)–Chris Ivory, RB, Jaguars
  • 9th (104)–Michael Thomas, WR, Saints
  • 10th (113)–Julius Thomas, TE, Jaguars
  • 11th (128)–DeAndre Washington, RB, Raiders
  • 12th (137)–Panthers Defense/special teams
  • 13th (152)–Derek Carr, QB, Raiders
  • 14th (161)–Tyler Boyd, WR, Bengals
  • 15th (176)–Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys
  • 16th (185)–Chris Boswell, K, Steelers

My first four picks went as well as could be expected. I took DeAndre Hopkins with the eighth pick and he’s going one spot higher in most drafts. Ezekiel Elliott was taken seventh, allowing me to snag Hopkins.

Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) keeps his balance after a catch against the New Orleans Saints in the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Houston, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) keeps his balance after a catch against the New Orleans Saints in the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Houston, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

Jamaal Charles was available at No. 17 because someone picking 16th reached for Doug Martin, even though he’s normally taken around the 25th spot.

Taking Keenan Allen with the 32nd pick was very nice since that’s about 10 spots lower than his ADP. Brandin Cooks, Sammy Watkins, Demaryius Thomas, Alshon Jeffery and Amari Cooper went ahead of him.

Latavius Murray was my fourth pick, taken six spots after his ADP. He’s expected to do it all for Oakland so I felt comfortable having taken two good WR1s and a proven RB1.

My biggest mistake came in selecting Emmanuel Sanders nearly 20 spots before his ADP. A minute goes by fast so make sure you have the appropriate amount of windows open while drafting online. I missed out on Andrew Luck, Michael Floyd, Frank Gore and Ben Roethlisberger.

Drew Brees and Allen Hurns made me feel better in the next two rounds. Brees was available six spots after his ADP while Hurns was available 20 spots after his. Hurns also started a run of Jaguars for me. Before you judge, let me explain.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Allen Hurns (88) makes a catch for a 24-yard touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Jacksonville, Fla., Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Allen Hurns (88) makes a catch for a 24-yard touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Jacksonville, Fla., Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Chris Ivory was too good to pass up in the eighth round as he was available 25 (!) spots lower than his ADP. He’s been going as high as the third round. I took Julius Thomas in the 10th round because the tight end pool was getting pretty shallow.

Sandwiched between Ivory and Thomas was rookie Michael Thomas, who is on my sleepers list. I may have reached a bit, but he’s gone as high as the sixth round in some drafts. If he pans out as a WR2, I’ve got the QB-WR link with Brees.

DeAndre Washington serves two purposes as the 128th pick. He’s a handcuff for Murray but could carve out a role for himself as a third-down option.

 

De Andre Washington #33 of the Oakland Raiders runs with the ball during the first half against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on August 12, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
De Andre Washington #33 of the Oakland Raiders runs with the ball during the first half against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on August 12, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

With the Panthers defense slipping to 137th, I decided to fill a starting spot with a top-four defense.

After taking Derek Carr at the 152nd spot, a whopping 48 spots lower than his ADP, I took another shot at a sleeper, selecting Tyler Boyd. He’s gone as high as the sixth round, but don’t take him before the 11th. His ADP is early in the 12th.

With my final pick, disregarding the kicker, I decided to go with a steadying influence in Jason Witten. If Thomas turns out to be a bust, I’ll have insurance.

Other notes and trends:

  • DeMarco Murray is clearly on the rise. He went 90th overall in my first mock but leaped to the 37th pick in this one.
  • Jamaal Charles is nearly falling to the middle of the second round. Don’t be afraid to take him late in the first.
  • Alshon Jeffery continues to hold onto second-round status, but injury concerns could cause him to slip to the third.
  • Don’t take Carlos Hyde in the third round or earlier. Either Murray is a better option.
  • The top three Cardinals receivers all went within eight spots of each other, in the late fifth and early sixth rounds.
  • Tyrod Taylor is a sleeper, but someone drafted him in early in the seventh round when he likely would have been available in the 10th.

Fantasy football position rankings

Here’s a look at my position rankings for the upcoming fantasy football season. For quarterbacks I’ve listed two deep for a 12-team league. I’ve listed three deep on running backs for a 12-team league and four deep for wide receivers. I’ve also listed the top 12 tight ends and defense/special teams.

Quarterbacks

1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers–I’m expecting Rodgers to put up better numbers with the return of Jordy Nelson.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers launches a pass during the final seconds of the fourth quarter of the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 16, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Arizona Cardinals beat the Green Bay Packers 26-20 in overtime. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers launches a pass during the final seconds of the fourth quarter of the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 16, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Arizona Cardinals beat the Green Bay Packers 26-20 in overtime. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

2. Cam Newton, Panthers
3. Russell Wilson, Seahawks
4. Andrew Luck, Colts
5. Drew Brees, Saints
6. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
7. Carson Palmer, Cardinals
8. Blake Bortles, Jaguars
9. Eli Manning, Giants
10. Tom Brady, Patriots
11. Philip Rivers, Chargers
12. Derek Carr, Raiders
13. Tony Romo, Cowboys
14. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jets
15. Tyrod Taylor, Bills
16. Kirk Cousins, Redskins
17. Jameis Winston, Buccaneers
18. Matthew Stafford, Lions
19. Andy Dalton, Bengals
20. Marcus Mariota, Titans
21. Matt Ryan, Falcons
22. Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins
23. Alex Smith, Chiefs
24. Jay Cutler, Bears

Running backs

1. David Johnson, Cardinals–I’m higher on him than most fantasy experts. He can do it all and I expect him to produce better than Todd Gurley, who is a one-man show in Los Angeles, and Adrian Peterson, who is over 30 years old now.

David Johnson #31 of the Arizona Cardinals runs the ball in for a touchdown in the second quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on December 20, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
David Johnson #31 of the Arizona Cardinals runs the ball in for a touchdown in the second quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on December 20, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

2. Todd Gurley, Rams
3. Adrian Peterson, Vikings
4. Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys
5. Lamar Miller, Texans
6. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
7. Le’Veon Bell, Steelers
8. Mark Ingram, Saints
9. Devonta Freeman, Falcons
10. Doug Martin, Buccaneers
11. Eddie Lacy, Packers
12. LeSean McCoy, Bills
13. Latavius Murray, Raiders
14. C.J. Anderson, Broncos
15. Thomas Rawls, Seahawks
16. Carlos Hyde, 49ers
17. Matt Forte, Jets
18. DeMarco Murray, Titans
19. Jeremy Hill, Bengals
20. Dion Lewis, Patriots
21. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers
22. Ryan Mathews, Eagles
23. Matt Jones, Redskins
24. Frank Gore, Colts
25. Gio Bernard, Bengals
26. Melvin Gordon, Chargers
27. Jeremy Langford, Bears
28. Duke Johnson, Browns
29. Ameer Abdullah, Lions
30. Arian Foster, Dolphins
31. Rashad Jennings, Giants
32. Danny Woodhead, Chargers
33. Chris Ivory, Jaguars
34. T.J. Yeldon, Jaguars
35. DeAngelo Williams, Steelers
36. Charles Sims, Buccaneers

Wide receivers

1. Antonio Brown, Steelers–Brown might prove to be even more productive with Martavis Bryant suspended for the whole season. The Steelers could lean on Brown all season long.

Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburg Steelers runs with the ball against the Cincinnati Benglas at Paul Brown Stadium on January 9, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburg Steelers runs with the ball against the Cincinnati Benglas at Paul Brown Stadium on January 9, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

2. Odell Beckham Jr., Giants
3. Julio Jones, Falcons
4. DeAndre Hopkins, Texans
5. A.J. Green, Bengals
6. Dez Bryant, Cowboys
7. Allen Robinson, Jaguars
8. Jordy Nelson, Packers
9. Brandon Marshall, Jets
10. Mike Evans, Buccaneers
11. Alshon Jeffery, Bears
12. Keenan Allen, Chargers
13. Brandin Cooks, Saints
14. Amari Cooper, Raiders
15. Sammy Watkins, Bills
16. T.Y. Hilton, Colts
17. Demaryius Thomas, Broncos
18. Jeremy Maclin, Chiefs
19. Randall Cobb, Packers
20. Eric Decker, Jets
21. Julian Edelman, Patriots
22. Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers
23. Golden Tate, Lions
24. Michael Floyd, Cardinals
25. Jarvis Landry, Dolphins
26. Donte Moncrief, Colts
27. Doug Baldwin, Seahawks
28. John Brown, Cardinals
29. Jordan Matthews, Eagles
30. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
31. Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos
32. Allen Hurns, Jaguars
33. Tyler Lockett, Seahawks
34. Devante Parker, Dolphins
35. DeSean Jackson, Redskins
36. Michael Crabtree, Raiders
37. Marvin Jones, Lions
38. Sterling Shepard, Giants
39. Josh Gordon, Browns
40. Kevin White, Bears
41. Corey Coleman, Browns
42. Willie Snead, Saints
43. Stefon Diggs, Vikings
44. Torrey Smith, 49ers
45. Tavon Austin, Rams
46. Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers
47. Travis Benjamin, Chargers
48. Laquon Treadwell, Vikings

Tight ends

1. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots–There’s not much to say about Gronk that hasn’t been said. It’ll be interesting to see how he adjusts to a different quarterback in the first four weeks. He’s still at the top of his position.

Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots watches during pre game drills before a preseason game against the New Orleans Saints at Gillette Stadium on August 11, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots watches during pre game drills before a preseason game against the New Orleans Saints at Gillette Stadium on August 11, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

2. Jordan Reed, Redskins
3. Greg Olsen, Panthers
4. Travis Kelce, Chiefs
5. Delanie Walker, Titans
6. Coby Fleener, Saints
7. Tyler Eifert, Bengals
8. Gary Barnidge, Browns
9. Julius Thomas, Jaguars
10. Zach Ertz, Eagles
11. Antonio Gates, Chargers
12. Ladarius Green, Steelers

Def/ST

1. Broncos
2. Seahawks
3. Cardinals
4. Panthers
5. Texans
6. Vikings
7. Rams
8. Chiefs
9. Patriots
10. Bengals
11. Jets
12. Bills

Fantasy football top 100 overall players

There’s not much time left before millions of football fans are huddled in a room with a few of their friends (and enemies) drafting the 2016 edition of their fantasy football team. No matter what kind of league you’re in, a just-for-fun league or a serious money league, you’ll need a cheat sheet. Here’s what we’re offering up at the Statesman. So without further ado, here are the top 100 fantasy football players in standard leagues for 2016.

Top 100 overall

1. Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers
2. David Johnson, RB, Cardinals
3. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Giants

4. Todd Gurley, RB, Rams–You may be surprised to see he’s not the first running back on this list. The offense of Los Angeles just can’t be trusted at this point. What saves Gurley from dropping further for me is the fact that his defense should keep the Rams in games, thus not abandoning the running game.

Running back Todd Gurley #30 of the St. Louis Rams rushes against free safety Earl Thomas #29 of the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on December 27, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. The Rams defeated the Seahawks 23-17. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Running back Todd Gurley #30 of the St. Louis Rams rushes against free safety Earl Thomas #29 of the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on December 27, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. The Rams defeated the Seahawks 23-17. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

5. Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings
6. Julio Jones, WR, Falcons
7. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans
8. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys
9. A.J. Green, WR, Bengals
10. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots
11. Lamar Miller, RB, Texans
12. Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys
13. Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs
14. Allen Robinson, WR, Jaguars
15. Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers
16. Brandon Marshall, WR, Jets

17. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers–Missing the first four games of the season drops him to the middle of the second round. If you take him here, don’t try to take DeAngelo Williams until the seventh round at the earliest.

Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs the ball during the 2nd half of the game against the Arizona Cardinals at Heinz Field on October 18, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Le’Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs the ball during the 2nd half of the game against the Arizona Cardinals at Heinz Field on October 18, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

18. Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers
19. Mark Ingram, RB, Saints
20. Devonta Freeman, RB, Falcons
21. Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers
22. Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears

23. Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers–He looked pretty good in his first preseason game. He’s lost some weight and is a good candidate to rebound from a so-so year. A healthy passing game helps him out as well.

Running back Eddie Lacy #27 of the Green Bay Packers runs the ball for 61-yards in the second half against the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 16, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Running back Eddie Lacy #27 of the Green Bay Packers runs the ball for 61-yards in the second half against the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 16, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

24. Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers
25. LeSean McCoy, RB, Bills
26. Brandin Cooks, WR, Saints
27. Amari Cooper, WR, Raiders
28. Sammy Watkins, WR, Bills
29. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts
30. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos
31. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
32. Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
33. Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders

34. Jeremy Maclin, WR, Chiefs–He doesn’t have an elite quarterback, but he had at least five catches in nine games last season. His consistency could be useful if you have a higher upside player as his counterpart.

Jeremy Maclin #19 of the Kansas City Chiefs bobbles the ball at Arrowhead Stadium during the third quarter of the game agains the Cleveland Browns on December 27, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jeremy Maclin #19 of the Kansas City Chiefs bobbles the ball at Arrowhead Stadium during the third quarter of the game agains the Cleveland Browns on December 27, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

35. C.J. Anderson, RB, Broncos
36. Randall Cobb, WR, Packers
37. Thomas Rawls, RB, Seahawks
38. Carlos Hyde, RB, 49ers
39. Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks
40. Jordan Reed, TE, Redskins
41. Matt Forte, RB, Jets
42. Andrew Luck, QB, Colts
43. Eric Decker, WR, Jets
44. Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers

45. DeMarco Murray, RB, Titans–I have him a little higher than most, but you might be able to get away with picking him in the sixth or seventh round. He’s the no. 1 back in Tennessee, despite the presence of rookie Derrick Henry.

Darrell Stuckey #25 of the San Diego Chargers pursues DeMarco Murray #29 of the Tennessee Titans during the first half at Nissan Stadium on August 13, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Darrell Stuckey #25 of the San Diego Chargers pursues DeMarco Murray #29 of the Tennessee Titans during the first half at Nissan Stadium on August 13, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

46. Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals
47. Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots
48. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Panthers
49. Golden Tate, WR, Lions
50. Michael Floyd, WR, Cardinals
51. Jarvis Landry, WR, Dolphins
52. Drew Brees, QB, Saints
53. Dion Lewis, RB, Patriots

54. Donte Moncrief, WR, Colts–If you can snag this receiver as your WR3, you should be excited about his potential. He’ll likely be the second receiving option behind Hilton and he’s entering his third year playing with Luck.

Donte Moncrief #10 of the Indianapolis Colts catches a touchdown pass during the game against the New England Patriots at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 18, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Donte Moncrief #10 of the Indianapolis Colts catches a touchdown pass during the game against the New England Patriots at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 18, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

55. Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers
56. Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks
57. John Brown, WR, Cardinals
58. Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers
59. Matt Jones, RB, Redskins
60. Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles
61. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals
62. Frank Gore, RB, Colts
63. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers
64. Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs
65. Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Broncos

66. Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals–Age and health are the biggest concerns for Palmer, but all the weapons available to him could make him a quality pick this late in the draft.

Carson Palmer #3 of the Arizona Cardinals warms up prior to a pre-season game against the Oakland Raiders at University of Phoenix Stadium on August 12, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Carson Palmer #3 of the Arizona Cardinals warms up prior to a pre-season game against the Oakland Raiders at University of Phoenix Stadium on August 12, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

67. Gio Bernard, RB, Bengals
68. Allen Hurns, WR, Jaguars
69. Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers
70. Delanie Walker, TE, Titans
71. Jeremy Langford, RB, Bears
72. Tyler Lockett, WR, Seahawks

73. Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars–Did you know Bortles ended last season as a top-5 fantasy quarterback? Well, if he could clean up his turnovers he could do it again. He has great talent and wide receiver and tight end.

Quarterback Blake Bortles #5 of the Jacksonville Jaguars attempts a pass against the New York Jets during the first quarter of an NFL preseason game at MetLife Stadium on August 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Jets defeated the Jaguars 17-13. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Quarterback Blake Bortles #5 of the Jacksonville Jaguars attempts a pass against the New York Jets during the first quarter of an NFL preseason game at MetLife Stadium on August 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Jets defeated the Jaguars 17-13. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

74. Devante Parker, WR, Dolphins
75. DeSean Jackson, WR, Redskins
76. Duke Johnson, RB, Browns
77. Ameer Abdullah, RB, Lions
78. Coby Fleener, TE, Saints
79. Arian Foster, RB, Dolphins
80. Eli Manning, QB, Giants
81. Rashad Jennings, RB, Giants
82. Michael Crabtree, WR, Raiders
83. Danny Woodhead, RB, Chargers

84. Marvin Jones, WR, Lions–Calvin Johnson isn’t suiting up for the Lions anymore and I don’t think Golden Tate will be able to fill that role alone. Jones played with A.J. Green last season but still managed to catch at least five passes in seven games.

85. Chris Ivory, RB, Jaguars
86. Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
87. Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals
88. Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers
89. T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jaguars
90. Gary Barnidge, TE, Browns
91. Sterling Shepard, WR, Giants
92. Josh Gordon, WR, Browns
93. DeAngelo Williams, RB, Steelers
94. Kevin White, WR, Bears
95. Julius Thomas, TE, Jaguars
96. Zach Ertz, TE, Eagles
97. Corey Coleman, WR, Browns
98. Willie Snead, WR, Saints
99. Charles Sims, RB, Buccaneers

100. Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers–At 45 years old, Gates is still nearly a top-10 tight end. He had 630 yards and five touchdowns last season, despite missing five games overall. (Just kidding, he’s actually 36.)

More fantasy football mock draft notes and trends

With NFL training camps in full swing, I decided to take another stab at a mock draft to help prepare for the upcoming fantasy football season. This time I entered a standard league, 12-team draft on ESPN’s website. Last time out, I drafted in a 10-team standard league on NFL.com. Here’s a look at the team I selected this time around.

  • Round (overall pick) Player, Pos., Team
  • 1st (4) Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings
  • 2nd (21) Brandon Marshall, WR, Jets
  • 3rd (28) Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders
  • 4th (45) Jeremy Maclin, WR, Chiefs
  • 5th (52) Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals
  • 6th (69) Drew Brees, QB, Saints
  • 7th (76) Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles
  • 8th (93) Ladarius Green, TE, Steelers
  • 9th (100) Willie Snead, WR, Saints
  • 10th (117) Tevin Coleman, RB, Falcons
  • 11th (124) Markus Wheaton, WR, Steelers
  • 12th (141) Texans defense
  • 13th (148) Derek Carr, QB, Raiders
  • 14th (165) Jerick McKinnon, RB, Vikings
  • 15th (172) Matt Prater, K, Lions
  • 16th (189) Jordan Cameron, TE, Dolphins

With 12 teams in this mock league I decided to make sure I went with running backs in two of my first three picks. Interesting to note is that before I selected Adrian Peterson with the fourth pick, three receivers were already off the board (Antonio Brown, Julio Jones and Odell Beckham Jr., in that order). Also of note, the next three running backs selected were Todd Gurley (5th), Ezekiel Elliott (6th) and David Johnson (8th). Dez Bryant went 7th overall, which is a bit high in my estimation, since he went ahead of DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green and Jamaal Charles.

Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings carries the ball in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks during the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at TCFBank Stadium on January 10, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings carries the ball in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks during the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at TCFBank Stadium on January 10, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

It was a little surprising that the suspended Le’Veon Bell, who’s set to miss the first four games of the season, managed to sneak into the first round at no. 12 overall. That seems a little high for a player that will miss a quarter of the season. I’d look for him early in the second round of a 12-team league. He can put you over the top, but not if you’re using your first pick on him.

My WR1 is Brandon Marshall, and I see no reason he’d  drop off, especially now that he has Ryan Fitzpatrick back behind the center. Fitzpatrick knows how to get the ball to his big receivers and Marshall going at 21 overall went right about where he probably should. I selected Jeremy Maclin as my WR2 and if he’s targeted 124 times, like he was last season, he could prove to be a solid pick at 45th overall.

Jeremy Maclin #19 of the Kansas City Chiefs bobbles the ball at Arrowhead Stadium during the third quarter of the game agains the Cleveland Browns on December 27, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jeremy Maclin #19 of the Kansas City Chiefs bobbles the ball at Arrowhead Stadium during the third quarter of the game agains the Cleveland Browns on December 27, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

I was able to grab an aging Drew Brees with the 69th overall pick, so I have to hope he stays healthy and that his young receivers come along. Derek Carr, who I picked in the 13th round, is my backup and we’ll see if he makes a big jump with weapons like Amari Cooper and Latavius Murray. Murray, who I selected in the 3rd round is expected to be a do-everything back for the Raiders if he doesn’t let rookie DeAndre Washington take away touches.

That leaves me with Jeremy Hill and Jordan Matthews as my flex options. I feel good about both, hoping Hill has a bounce-back season, though he did score 11 rushing touchdowns last year. Matthews has scored eight touchdowns in each of his first two seasons and looks to go over 1,000 yards for the first time. If he’s around in the seventh, you’d be lucky.

Jeremy Hill #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals carries the ball during the fourth quarter of the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati defeated Baltimore 24-16. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
Jeremy Hill #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals carries the ball during the fourth quarter of the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati defeated Baltimore 24-16. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)

Ladarius Green, the tight end who I selected at 93 overall, should excite some owners as he joins a prolific Steelers offense.

Other notes from this mock draft:

  • Seven wide receivers were selected in the first round, including Allen Robinson.
  • Jamaal Charles was taken in the second round, he should go higher.
  • Jordy Nelson went 14th overall and I’d be nervous about that if I made that selection early in the second. I’m in the minority.
  • Lamar Miller, who the Texans will let loose on the field, went 16th. Wouldn’t be surprised if he goes higher in most drafts.
  • There are options at RB in the third round, with Eddie Lacy, Matt Forte, Murray and Carlos Hyde all going in that round.
  • T.Y. Hilton, who went 39th overall, might be undervalued if Andrew Luck returns to previous form.
  • The Cardinals defense was the first to go at 89, followed by the Broncos at 95 and the Seahawks at 113.

It’s time to start mock drafting

It used to be a good idea, but now it’s pretty essential to go through a few mock drafts in order to prepare yourself for an upcoming fantasy football season. I took part in one this week and learned a couple of things. First off, here’s the team I selected in a standard league mock draft on NFL.com.

mymockteam

mymockteam2

Drafting from the tenth and final spot of the round posed an interesting challenge. The first mistake I made was not taking a running back with my first two picks in the snake order. Though there’s some depth at the position on this team, there’s no clear RB2. Some might argue that Carlos Hyde isn’t even an RB1 at this point, but if he’s healthy I think he will be. Questions are swirling around DeMarco Murray, T.J. Yeldon, Thomas Rawls and Dion Lewis, however.

The wide receiver spot looks pretty good with A.J. Green and Amari Cooper taking the WR1 and WR2 spots, with either Donte Moncrief or new Lions receiver Marvin Jones taking a flex spot.

Tight end is probably the most solid position, but with Rob Gronkowski going without Tom Brady for four games Coby Fleener could get a couple starts if he has an instant connection with Drew Brees.

Speaking of quarterbacks, Ben Roethlisberger is a solid starter with Antonio Brown as his main weapon and let’s hope he doesn’t have to miss any time with an aging Tony Romo as his backup.

A few other things I learned from the mock draft:

  • David Johnson is likely a top-5 pick. The person with the first pick in my mock draft took him, but he should probably go no lower than sixth.
  • Le’Veon Bell probably won’t be the first, or maybe even second, running back selected. My draft had Johnson and Todd Gurley go ahead of him.
  • Ezekiel Elliott is no-doubt a first round pick. He went eighth in this mock draft, but I’ve seen him go higher.
  • Don’t be surprised if the first round is half running backs, half wide receivers. Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr., DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green went in the first round of this mock.
  • Lamar Miller is right in the late first round, early second round territory. Don’t feel like you’re being too risky taking the new Texan in the first.
  • If DeMarco Murray has a bounce back year, someone will be happy having taken him in the sixth or later.

NFL free agency and fantasy impact

In our last edition we talked about how Osweiler would possibly fare as the new first-string quarterback of the Denver Broncos. We didn’t expect another team out there to give him $72 million over four years for just seven pro starts and 11 career touchdown passes. He’s gotten himself into a pretty good position with the Houston Texans. Here’s a look at how we think he and other high profile free agents will fare with their new teams this upcoming season. Who do you think will have the biggest impact with a new team? Let us know in the poll at the bottom.

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 03: Lamar Miller #26 of the Miami Dolphins in action during the first half of the game against the New England Patriots at Sun Life Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL – JANUARY 03: Lamar Miller #26 of the Miami Dolphins in action during the first half of the game against the New England Patriots at Sun Life Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Brock Osweiler, QB and Lamar Miller, RB, Texans—Osweiler should be very happy right about now. Though he had already benefited from working with two good wide receivers in Denver, DeAndre Hopkins is about to leap into the top tier of receivers in the league, if he hasn’t already. Hopkins is the kind of player that will catch anything in his vicinity. He’s a great red zone target and already has over 3,500 yards receiving and 19 touchdowns in his three-year career. His and Osweiler’s play will be helped by the presence of Miller in the backfield. Where the Dolphins refused to give Miller the touches he deserved, the Texans will be more than willing to give their newly acquired running back the rock. He’s only carried the ball 200 times in a season once in his career. We’d bet he does that twice in his career before this season is done.

Robert Griffin III, QB, Browns—With Johnny Football out of town it looks like the Browns are betting on yet another quarterback from the state of Texas. Even before Johnny Manziel, out of Kerrville, scrambled his way onto the scene, Colt McCoy of Tuscola had a good amount of starts with Cleveland. Now, the Browns are taking their chances with the mobile, although somewhat frail, quarterback out of Copperas Cove. Health is the number one concern if you plan on taking a shot with Griffin, but he could end up paying dividends if you get him for cheap and he finds his way back to his rookie form. How the Browns offensive line will be a big factor in how well he performs.

CHICAGO, IL- JANUARY 03: Matt Forte #22 of the Chicago Bears warms up before the game against the Detroit Lions on January 3, 2016 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL- JANUARY 03: Matt Forte #22 of the Chicago Bears warms up before the game against the Detroit Lions on January 3, 2016 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

Matt Forte, RB, Jets—Possibly the most underrated prize in free agency, much like he’s the most underrated player at his position, Forte may end up being the beneficiary of a strong passing game with Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall playing on the outside in New York. If Ryan Fitzpatrick re-signs with the Jets, we’re looking at a pretty potent offense with all facets very likely performing well. If a new quarterback is added to the mix then it may take a while for all cylinders to get clicking. Make no mistake, though, Forte will be a getting a lot of touches. In the same Chan Gailey offense, Chris Ivory rushed for over 1,000 yards and had 30 receptions.

Chris Ivory, RB, Jaguars—Speaking of Ivory, he’s now with the Jaguars and will most likely share some time with second-year running back T.J. Yeldon. Yeldon’s 740 yards in his rookie season means he’ll stay in the mix, but it’s not a good situation for either running back. If forced to pick one to likely have more success, we’d go with Yeldon in terms of best overall on the season. If we’re talking Week 1 starter, we might have to go with Ivory.

Alfred Morris, RB, Cowboys—At first glance this looks like he could be a nice power back to run behind a good Cowboys offensive line. He only had two 100-yard rushing games last season, one to start the year and one to end it. We do think he’ll end up being the better of the two backs in Dallas, but if Darren McFadden stays healthy like he did this past season, then neither back will be a top-20 running back. One factor in his potential success is if the Cowboys can afford to go with a run-first game plan like they did two seasons ago when DeMarco Murray racked up a ton of yards. If Morris can somehow take over as the go-to back and the Cowboys protect Tony Romo by running more, then Morris could find some real value. That’s a lot of ifs, however.

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 03: Alfred Morris #46 of the Washington Redskins runs the ball against Brandon Carr #39 of the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX – JANUARY 03: Alfred Morris #46 of the Washington Redskins runs the ball against Brandon Carr #39 of the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Marvin Jones, WR, Lions—With Alshon Jeffery remaining in Chicago, the wide receiver free agent market ended up being pretty dull this season. Marvin Jones does look to have some upside as he joins Detroit, however. Calvin Johnson has called it a career so the Lions needed to add someone to help out Golden Tate on the other side of the field. Jones just finished his fourth year in the league after missing all of 2014. He had a career-high in yardage with 816 yards to go along with four touchdowns. He had 10 TD receptions in his second season. Look to him as a dark horse late-round possibility to help in the flex spot.

Rishard Matthews, WR, Titans—He had 662 yards receiving to go with four touchdowns last year with the Dolphins and he could very well end up a top target for Marcus Mariota in Tennessee. Dorial Green-Beckham and Kendall Wright are healthy competition for the fifth-year receiver. Don’t be surprised if he ends up taking the Lion’s share of targets. With DeMarco Murray in the backfield, things should open up downfield as defenses key on the run.

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 11: Wide receiver Rishard Matthews #18 of the Miami Dolphins runs for a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers November 11, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Tampa won 22 - 19. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL – NOVEMBER 11: Wide receiver Rishard Matthews #18 of the Miami Dolphins runs for a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers November 11, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Tampa won 22 – 19. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Travis Benjamin, WR, Chargers—Benjamin’s fourth season was far and away his best in the league. He had 68 receptions for 966 yards and five scores with bad Browns quarterback play. With Philip Rivers at the helm in San Diego, Benjamin could prove to be a nice flex player if he can make it onto the field. There are a good amount of wideouts in San Diego.

Ladarius Green, TE, Steelers—He played behind Antonio Gates and posted career highs last season with San Diego. With Heath Miller out of the picture due to retirement, Green could turn into a solid breakout tight end with the Steelers potent offense. He’ll have Ben Roethlisberger throwing passes while Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown take up a lot of defensive attention. He couldn’t have ended up in a better spot.

GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 18: Ladarius Green #89 of the San Diego Chargers catches a 19 yard pass against Clay Matthews #52 of the Green Bay Packers, resulting in a touchdown in the third quarter at Lambeau Field on October 18, 2015 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI – OCTOBER 18: Ladarius Green #89 of the San Diego Chargers catches a 19 yard pass against Clay Matthews #52 of the Green Bay Packers, resulting in a touchdown in the third quarter at Lambeau Field on October 18, 2015 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Coby Fleener, TE, Saints—No longer stuck in an offense that utilizes a lot of two tight end sets, Fleener can really shine with an offense led by Drew Brees. With Ben Watson out of town, Fleener can very likely reproduce Watson’s numbers from last season. Watson had 74 catches for 825 yards and six touchdowns. Fleener will no longer have to fight for targets with Dwayne Allen in Indianapolis.

Ben Watson, TE, Ravens—Watson’s outlook isn’t as nice as Fleener’s. He’s a Raven now and with Maxx Williams and Crockett Gillmore in town, there won’t be enough targets to go around.

Jared Cook, TE, Packers—Cook will need fight with Richard Rodgers for touches, but we think he has more talent than Rodgers. And with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback Cook could be late steal at the position.

Notables still up for grabs

Running backs: Reggie Bush, LeGarrette Blount, Ronnie Hillman, Arian Foster, Joique Bell, Pierre Thomas, Stevan Ridley; Wide receivers: Kamar Aiken, Roddy White, Percy Harvin, Anquan Boldin, Andre Caldwell, Andre Johnson, James Jones

Brock Osweiler: New Sheriff in Town?

With Peyton Manning making it official on Monday that he’s finished playing football, it’s time to talk about Brock Osweiler and his possible fantasy value as the Broncos’ new starting quarterback.

Osweiler just finished his fourth year in the NFL, but he hadn’t had much playing time until Manning got benched for the last half of the season. Before the 2015 season, Osweiler had thrown just 30 passes, completing 17 of them for 159 yards. When Manning was playing ineffectively the Broncos gave Osweiler a shot and he completed 170 passes for 1,967 yards and ten touchdowns. He completed 61.8% of his passes and threw six interceptions and lost two fumbles.

Osweiler performed pretty well for seven games before Manning took his starting job back in the season finale on a comeback win over the Chargers. Manning continued to start during the playoffs and the rest is history.

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 3: Quarterback Brock Osweiler #17 of the Denver Broncos passes against the San Diego Chargers during the first half of a game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 3, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO – JANUARY 3: Quarterback Brock Osweiler #17 of the Denver Broncos passes against the San Diego Chargers during the first half of a game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 3, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

We think Osweiler’s prospects are pretty good, given that he played pretty well in relief and has had four seasons playing behind a Hall of Fame quarterback. Also, Demaryius Thomas, the Broncos’ top receiver, was having an uncharacteristic second half of the season with drops and lower than expected production.

We’re not going to attempt to defend Osweiler’s new contract of $45 million over three years, but the last time we saw a naturally talented quarterback sit behind a Hall of Famer for a few years we ended up with Aaron Rodgers. Not comparing the two, obviously, just pointing out a similar situation where the outcome was a positive one.

Osweiler will have a good receiving corps to work with, if Thomas gets back to feeling like himself and Emmanuel Sanders keeps trending in the right direction. After the top two wideouts, the Broncos have some maneuvering to do. Andre Caldwell and Jordan Norwood are both free agents but if they are lost there are plenty of options to go after.

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 3: Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas #88 of the Denver Broncos runs clear of the San Diego Chargers defense for a 72-yard first quarter touchdown reception during a game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 3, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO – JANUARY 3: Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas #88 of the Denver Broncos runs clear of the San Diego Chargers defense for a 72-yard first quarter touchdown reception during a game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 3, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

An interesting addition to the Broncos’ receiving corps could be Travis Benjamin, who could play well in the slot if he comes over from Cleveland. Other options on the free agent market are Marvin Jones, Rueben Randle and Anquan Boldin. Suffice to say, the Broncos will likely have three, possibly more, solid options in the passing game to help with Osweiler’s production.

Don’t go crazy with drafting him in early rounds, but if you want to go strong with running backs and wide receivers early, Osweiler could end up being a solid quarterback in mid to late rounds.

Road to the Draft: NFL Combine Forces

With the NFL Combine winding down we thought it’d be a good time to have a look at some of the top performers at the annual showcase of talent eligible for the NFL draft. Some of these players will make immediate impact on your fantasy team while others still have a ways to go. Today we’ll look at the running backs and quarterbacks who impressed at the combine and you can check back here tomorrow when we look at wide receivers and tight ends.

Running backs

Keith Marshall was a highly touted recruit when he showed up at Georgia. He impressed early as a freshman, rushing for 759 yards and eight touchdowns. A torn ACL the next season led him to play in just eight games over two years. He only rushed for 350 yards in relief as a senior, but his showing at the combine could boast him up some draft boards. He posted the top 40-yard dash time among running backs and had the most bench press reps among non-fullback running backs with 25. He isn’t the known commodity that Ezekiel Elliott and Derrick Henry are, but his performance at the combine has turned some heads.

Georgia running back Keith Marshall runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Friday, Feb. 26, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Georgia running back Keith Marshall runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Friday, Feb. 26, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Tyler Ervin was the second-fastest running back at the combine, clocking a 4.41 40-yard dash time. He also had the second-best broad jump and vertical jump. He lacks size and doesn’t look like an every down back, but he’s not afraid to run between the tackles. He has potential as a kick returner and could contribute as a versatile player on a team that uses multiple backs.

Kenyan Drake, the second fiddle to Derrick Henry at Alabama, ran a 4.45 40 and performed well in both the broad jump and the 20-yard shuttle drill. He broke a couple of bones during his college career but out of the shadow of his Heisman trophy winning teammate he has the opportunity to be a versatile back in the NFL. He had 29 receptions as a senior and rushed for 408 yards. His 95-yard return for a touchdown in the national championship proved he puts the “all” in “all-purpose.” If he finds a role in a good offense, he could turn into quite the sleeper pick.

Alabama running back Kenyan Drake catches a pass as he runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine, Friday, Feb. 26, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)
Alabama running back Kenyan Drake catches a pass as he runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine, Friday, Feb. 26, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

Daniel Lasco is a name we may, or may not, become familiar with in terms of fantasy football. The product out of Cal ran a 4.46 40-yard dash and then had the best vertical and broad jumps. He was second in the 60-yard shuttle drill. His best season was two years ago when he rushed for 1,115 yards and 12 touchdowns to go along with 33 receptions for 356 yards. He injured his hip and ankle as a senior and failed to reproduce the numbers he had in 2014. He doesn’t seem to be an instinctual runner and that could keep him from having a fantasy impact.

Quarterback

Dak Prescott ran a 4.79 and also performed well in the vertical and broad jumps. He really helped himself in passing drills and could possibly emerge as the top quarterback option after Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, both of whom performed as well as expected.