By: Sam Lane (@FFStompy)
As we enter the busiest part of the redraft season, fantasy owners are trying to gain an upper hand by participating in mock drafts and reading about “expert” mock drafts. A group of these so-called “experts” and I have joined up in an effort to bring you a pick by pick analysis for a 12-team PPR mock draft. We will release our analyses round-by-round over the coming days and weeks. Personally, this post will be updated with each new round release. You will also be able to follow the picks through the provided links. With the introductions out of the way, I present to you the 2018 Fantasy Football Industry Mockstravaganza!
Round 1, Pick 3
I drew the third overall pick. With the second pick, Brian D’Erario (@BrianDFF) chose Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson. You can view his analysis here. With the third pick, I chose Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott.
I wish Johnson had fallen to me as I believe he finishes as the RB1 for 2018 in PPR. However, I can not really complain about getting one of the consensus top-4 running backs here. In his rookie season, Elliott led the NFL in rushing, averaging over 108 yards per game and scoring 15 touchdowns. Despite losing six games in 2017 due to suspension, Elliott nearly eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark. In his career, Elliot has averaged nearly 105 yards rushing per game on 4.6 yards per carry. He has also scored 25 total touchdowns.
One of the most impressive things about Elliot’s elite numbers is that he hasn’t had near the impact in the passing game as the Pittsburgh Steelers Le’Veon Bell, Los Angeles Rams Todd Gurley, or Johnson. In his career to date, Elliot has only been targeted 77 times, catching 58 balls for 632 yards and three touchdowns. That may change in 2018, however. With the release of wide receiver Dez Bryant and retirement of tight end Jason Witten, the Cowboys have a lot of questions in the passing game. The rumor out of Cowboys training camp is that they want to expand Elliott’s role in the passing game. Combined with the possibility of 300+ carries, Elliot has a legitimate chance of finishing the season as fantasy football’s overall RB1. With the fourth pick in the first round of the 2018 Fantasy Football Industry Mockstravaganza, Jeff DiMatteo (@NFL_DiMatteo) chooses…
Round 2, Pick 10
With the ninth pick in the second round of the 2018 Fantasy Football Industry Mockstravaganza, Jeff DiMatteo (@NFL_DiMatteo) chose Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon. Find his analysis here. With the 10th pick in the second round, I chose New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.
I have been coming around more and more on drafting a tight end this early. In fact, I plan on trying to grab Gronk in the second in all of my seasonal drafts. This is because I believe Gronk is a league winner. In every season besides his rookie season where he played 14 or more games, Gronk has produced over 1,000 yards and 8 or more touchdowns. In his rookie season, he “only” put up 546 yards and 10 touchdowns. Gronk has never produced less than 540 yards in any given season, even in the two seasons that he played eight or fewer games. In the seasons he has played 14 games or more, he has finished first or second in tight end scoring in fantasy (except for his rookie season, when he finished 11th).
Gronk may be entering the best situation in his career targets-wise. Wide receiver Julian Edelman is suspended for the first four games of the regular season for violating the league’s performance-enhancing substances policy. The Patriots have also been cutting all of the wide receivers this offseason, three in total, as well as losing another to retirement. This leaves only wide receiver Chris Hogan as any real threat to steal a significant amount of targets from Gronk. The Gronk-Brady connection has been the most prolific in the league in their seven seasons together. This shouldn’t change this season with a lack of pass-catching options. The only question is Gronk’s health, which will always be a concern.
I have taken two players that can possibly finish number one at their respective positions in Zeke and Gronk. I feel great about the start to this mock draft. Up next is Brian D’Erario (@BrianDFF), who chooses…
Round 3, Pick 3
With the second pick in the third round, Brian D’Erario (@BrianDFF) chose Arizona Cardinals wide receiver, Larry Fitzgerald. You can view his analysis here. With the third pick in the third round, I chose Seattle Seahawks wide receiver, Doug Baldwin.
Many owners would be wary of this pick after the news that Baldwin would sit out the entire preseason with a knee injury. However, days later, head coach Pete Carrol was confident that Baldwin would be ready for week 1. A couple of weeks later, Baldwin resumed running. Finally, Baldwin was able to return to practice last week. While he may be only at “80 to 85 percent” and dealing with the injury the rest of the season, I am not concerned.
Baldwin did not break out until his fifth season in 2015. Since then, he has been one of the top receivers in the league, finishing as WR16 or higher in points per game in the last three seasons. All while ranking 21st, 27th, and 42nd in targets per game. Baldwin has been extremely efficient the last three seasons. The Seahawks gave approximately 200 vacated targets from last season, including 31 red zone targets. Baldwin’s competitions for targets is sparse. There is the underwhelming to date wide receivers Tyler Lockett and Jaron, a 34-year old wide receiver in Brandon Marshall, and a bunch of young pass catchers with little experience. Not to mention that the Seahawks defense is not the “Legion of Boom” anymore. Likely, the Seahawks will be playing from behind more often and throwing a lot more.
Despite his injury, Baldwin could see a significant uptick in targets. He could very well lead the league. If Baldwin can keep his efficiency with the large bump in targets, he could end up as a top-five wide receiver in fantasy football. I am happy he is my Baldwin as my team’s WR1 and my team as a whole thus far. With the fourth pick in the third round of the 2018 Fantasy Football Industry Mockstravaganza, Jeff DiMatteo (@NFL_DiMatteo) chooses…
Round 4, Pick 10
With the ninth pick in the fourth round of the 2018 Fantasy Football Industry Mockstravaganza, Jeff DiMatteo (@NFL_DiMatteo) chose Detroit Lions wide receiver, Marvin Jones. Find his analysis here. With the 10th pick in the fourth round, I chose Houston Texans running back, Lamar Miller.
Miller might be one of the most boring names in fantasy football. No one will associate Miller with being a top-end running back. But, Miller is deceiving. In each of the last four seasons, Miller has surpassed 1,200 yards from scrimmage and scored six or more touchdowns. This has equated to fantasy finishes of RB9, RB5, RB19, and RB16. Miller is the perfect RB2.
Miller looked like he was being overtaken by rookie running back D’Onta Foreman in 2017. Foreman, unfortunately, tore his Achilles tendon in week 11 on a touchdown run, ending his season. Running backs do not recover from Achilles tears to their pre-injury production. Foreman was also placed on the physically unable to perfrom (PUP) list to start the season. This means he will be out at least the first six weeks. With only Alfred Blue taking away touches, Miller looks to be the bell-cow for the Texans for the time being.
Quarterback Deshaun Watson had a huge impact on Miller’s production last season. Using RotoViz’s game splits app, we can quantify how much of an impact. With Watson, Miller produced nearly five more PPR points per game, with increased production in rushing and receiving across the board. Projects out to a 16 game season, Miller would have finished as the RB8 in 2017. With Watson returning from an ACL tear and hopefully healthy for a full season, Miller could end up finishing as a fantasy RB1. Miller is a great RB2 for my team.
Round 5, Pick 3
With the second pick in the third round, Brian D’Erario (@BrianDFF) chose New England Patriots running back, Rex Burkhead. You can view his analysis here. With the third pick in the fifth round, I chose Cleveland Browns wide receiver, Josh Gordon.
Admittedly my wide receivers are a bit risky but have HUGE upside. Gordon has demonstrated his upside with over 1,600 yards and 9 touchdowns in 14 games in 2013. However, that was four seasons ago. There-in-lies the risk with Gordon. He missed more than half of the 2014 season and the entire 2015 and 2016 seasons for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Gordon was reinstated for the last five games of the 2017 season, receiving 335 yards in five games. He put a scare into fantasy football players when he left Browns training camp, seemingly to avoid the anxiety of HBO’s Hard Knocks. Gordon has since rejoined the Browns and is preparing to play week 1. Though he will not start week 1, the Browns cannot afford to not have one of their best players not on the field.