This is the third mock draft in a series of four organized by
FF Toolbox. You can read how the first two shook out, here
We are using flex lineups, starting 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 TE, 1
RB/WR/TE, 1 K, and 1 DEF. The scoring is standard performance plus
one point per reception, for all positions. There are 12 teams.
This draft started on Monday July 25th, just prior to the
start of free agency, so it definitely had a wild west feel to
it with news breaking rapidly and hopes that my picks landed on
the right side of fluctuating player value. I've added some follow-up
notes to my player commentary where appropriate.
For some time now I've felt there are two kinds of fantasy owners
in terms of how they draft their team. One group of drafters are
talent evaluators, putting a lot of emphasis on ranking players
and opining Player X is better than Player Y who is better than
Player Z for reasons A, B and C. Just look at his burst, pad level,
hands, mechanics and all that scout-speak. Talent evaluators are
very passionate about their player rankings.
The second group is what I like to call the value drafters. Value
drafters don't put as much emphasis on evaluating each player's
pure skill and working up black and white rankings, but they can
sure spot a bargain when they see one. The rankings are more fluid,
with players of roughly equal skill level and roughly equal opportunity
expected to produce roughly equal results grouped together.
The best fantasy players are going to wear both hats –
talent evaluator and value drafter. If we consider both skill
sets on a spectrum, most of us are going to naturally lean more
one way then the other.
I'm in the value drafter camp. I watch football and look for
that wow factor from players, to disseminate the next potential
elite level players from the average Joes. My better skill, however,
is weighing a player's upside and downside, understanding I'm
not overpaying with my available draft pick and adding the most
positive value to my team.
All that said, (I know, I know, get to the picks already MacGregor),
I admitted on Tony
Ricciardi's podcast that I was "screwing around"
a little in this mock draft. I thought before the draft started,
you know, why not take a QB really early and see what happens?
I waited until the third round, but still, I wouldn't normally
I also drafted a handful of players I wouldn't normally give
much if any consideration for. Rounds two through six fell victim
to this, short of the Philip Rivers pick in the third. Why? I
don't know. Like I said, I was screwing around a bit.
This team still looks pretty decent to me. The WR position is
weak after Hakeem Nicks and Anquan Boldin and that is a concern.
The news of the Bears adding Roy Williams came after the drafting
of Johnny Knox, so that hasn't helped. All in all, this isn't
shaped like a team I would normally draft, so you can take it
one of two ways.
- If you like the team, try to make yourself a better value
drafter, learning to give consideration to some players you
wouldn't normally draft.
- If you don't like the team, then take from this a lesson to
not, "screw around" when drafting.
Either way, I hope you enjoy the read.
- WR Hakeem Nicks, NYG
A bit of a toss-up here between Hakeem Nicks and RB Maurice Jones-Drew.
In fact, Mike Krueger and I were near simultaneously emailing
the first pick in for Team FF Today with Mike Krueger saying MJD
and me with Nicks. My choice made it in by a hair. With recent
news about MJD's knee recovery not being as rosy as I'd like to
hear, I'll go with Nicks who has tremendous potential entering
his third season. My big debate with him is whether to put him
at the bottom of Tier 1 or top of Tier 2 amongst WRs.
- RB Matt Forte, CHI
Forte is not the most talented guy in the world, but he gets
the most out of what he brings to the table. He is an excellent
pass catcher and couldn't be in a better system for that, adding
50-500-3 on the receiving side to his 1,000-6 on the ground last
season. Forte is an unheralded but solid and safe option, especially
in PPR leagues.
If you're going to take a QB early, Rivers
is a good gamble.
- QB Philip Rivers, SD
I was very tempted to take a QB in the 1st or 2nd round and make
this my "let's take a QB early and see what happens"
mock. Well, I couldn't bring myself to do it, but I'll grab Rivers
here and see what it costs me at RB or WR down the line.
Note that I bypassed on both Drew
Brees and Peyton
Manning to take Rivers. I could take either Rivers or Tom
Brady and be equally happy. I'm a little edgy about the negatives
associated with Brees (Marques Colston's knee, logged a ton of
passes) and Manning (neck, logged a ton of passes). Maybe the
concerns aren't big enough to separate these four by a full tier,
but if I'm taking QB and have some options, I'm going to utilize
my preferences. Ideally, you can let four or five QBs go off the
board and then nab Rivers or Brady.
- RB Jahvid Best, DET
There are some really good RB choices at this spot Best,
Ahmad Bradshaw, Shonn Greene and Felix Jones but if I
pass all of them for another position, I dont expect any
to make it back to me. I'll grab Best based on upside and hope
the Lions' offensive potential we've been talking about for a
few years now finally finds its stride in 2011.
[Follow-up: News of Mikel
Leshoure's torn Achilles' tendon happened well after this
pick, and in fact, soon after the entire mock draft finished.
On the surface this is a plus for Best with less competition,
but he's still going to need someone to handle a decent portion
of the carries. Only if the Lions can keep Best fresh and healthy
can we expect to get the most out of him fantasy-wise, not unlike
Jamaal Charles last season coming off the bench behind Thomas
- WR Anquan Boldin, BAL
This one should play out one of two ways. One, Boldin earns heavy
targets and receptions because he is the only reliable receiver
on the roster, or two, he gets extra attention from defenders
because the other receivers are no threat, and Boldin struggles
as a result. I'm going to take a stab at the former. I'd like
to see Boldin's receptions back over 80 in his second year working
with Joe Flacco, and now a thin receiving corps behind him. The
Ravens released Derrick Mason and Todd Heap, so Flacco and Boldin
need to be on the same page early and often or this offense could
go south quickly.
- WR Johnny Knox, CHI
It seems like the Devin Hester as a WR experiment is at an end,
or at least, has hit its ceiling. There are rumblings about Earl
Bennett having a bigger role in the offense, yet he remains the
WR3 on the Bears' depth chart. The team brought in Roy Williams,
a signing that happened after this draft pick, but the one player
who just keeps chugging along as a reliable option for Jay Cutler
is Johnny Knox. Knox had modest reception totals through his first
two seasons 45 and 51 but nearly topped 1,000
yards last season with 5 TD. Entering just his third season, and
perhaps with the help of Williams stretching the field opposite
him, Knox seems to be in a good position to elevate his fantasy
[Follow-up: This commentary was written soon after the pick was
made in July. There has since been news out of Bears camp that
Hester will start with Knox and Williams competing for the other
starting spot, with Williams the favorite. Bennett is locked in
as the slot receiver. The Knox pick looks terrible at this point
if that news is accurate.]
- RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, NE
I still need a starting TE but would rather bolster depth at
RB and WR with some decent, yet dwindling, choices at each position.
Green-Ellis had a good season last year, yet is understandably
going to be overlooked based on how the Pats use their RBs. He
should continue to get the bulk of the carries in this high-powered
offense, and for that he makes a nice add as a third RB.
- WR Danny Amendola, STL
I don't entirely agree with the high projections for Amendola
courtesy of FF Today's Mike Krueger, but he sticks out like a
sore thumb on my Cheatsheet
Compiler & Draft Buddy so I'm compelled to take him just
in case. He is expected to be a high-catch receiver, ideal for
a PPR format league. This pick occurred prior to the Mike
Sims-Walker signing by the Rams.
- TE Rob Gronkowski, NE
I actually prefer Aaron Hernandez athletically and as a long-term
fantasy option at the TE position, but I can't disrespect what
Gronkowski accomplished last year. The guy was more of a complete
package at TE, and the Pats used that to their advantage getting
him on the field a lot more. Most importantly, Tom Brady loved
him in the red zone to the tune of 10 TDs. I didn't divulge this
at the time, but my plan is to draft both Gronk and Hernandez
since this is a Draft Masters format and I don't have to choose
which to start each week. Gronk should be the first TE off the
board between the two, so I'll start with him.
- TE Aaron Hernandez, NE
This strategy nabbing both Gronkowski and Hernandez might have
been more difficult to pull off if I didn't have a draft pick
close to the turn. I expect the combined production of the Pats'
TE duo to outperform the cost of a late ninth and early tenth
round pick. Hernandez will probably be more inconsistent between
the two, but could be in line for some of the bigger games overall
given his more natural receiving skills and athletic ability.
Hopefully he's worked on becoming a better all around player so
it isn't so obvious to opposing defenses the team is passing when
he is on the field.
- QB Mark Sanchez, NYJ
With Philip Rivers in tow, I could afford to wait a little longer
on my second QB, but I'm still pretty happy to get Sanchez as
the 23rd QB off the board. Here is a guy with zero job security
issues, on a top contending (although admittedly rushing and defensive
focused) team, entering his third season with pretty decent receiving
options. I'm not that thrilled with the Plaxico Burress addition
over Braylon Edwards, news that broke after this selection, but
I still think Sanchez outscores at least a half dozen of the QBs
drafted in front of him.
[Follow-up: The team since added Derrick Mason to replace Jerricho
Cotchery, a plus for Sanchez.]
- RB Rashad Jennings, JAC
With concerns about Maurice Jones-Drew's knee, Jennings is one
of my key later round draft targets this year. Even if MJD turns
out to be healthy, Jennings can still be a decent contributor
in this league format. He had some solid games last season late
in the year, even on limited carries and catches. I expect the
Jaguars to be one of the better running teams in the league as
they invested heavily in the offensive line in recent years.
- DEF Green Bay Packers
I never do this, but this mock has seen me do a few things I
rarely or never do, so let's keep that theme rolling with the
first defense off the board. I can see the argument for taking
a top defense. I can see the argument for waiting and waiting.
The Packers have an impressive young corps of players, offensive
and defensive, which should help them continue to earn strong
fantasy points in their quest for back-to-back championships.
- WR Eric Decker, DEN
This pick sponsored by Matt Waldman's Rookie
Scouting Portfolio blog. A long shot, sure, but I'm going
for a young upside pick here and Decker fits the bill.
- RB Marion Barber, CHI
I had Tony Moeaki and then Montario Hardesty pre-drafted. They
slid a while and then got scooped just before this turn. I'm not
in love with this pick but I'll take the insurance on Forte.
[Follow-up: No matter how much you buy in to Decker as a viable
WR5 option, this team is weak at WR right now. I didn't really
want to draft Barber but the pick made some sense to handcuff
Forte and the WR options were not good from here on. This isn't
surprising for a PPR league, so consider it a reminder to invest
in WR early.]
- RB Javon Ringer, TEN
- K Garrett Hartley, NO
- K Alex Henery, PHI
- TE Jacob Tamme, IND
- DEF St. Louis Rams