Hello and welcome back to another season of fantasy football. There
is no doubt this fantasy season is the season of uncertainty, as
we sit and wait for a resolution between the NFL owners and players,
not knowing if we are going to have a full, regularly scheduled
NFL season—or a delayed, or a partial, or a delayed-partial
season. We can't even rule out the possibility of no season at all
yet, although I still think that is an extremely remote possibility.
In fact, the latest lockout—damn, I didn't want to use the
"L" word—and labor strife news is positive, with
the owners and players meeting regularly to work out their differences.
It is only June, which still gives the NFL a good amount of time
to work out their business so they can get back to business.
For our part...well, we love fantasy football and can't imagine
a year without it. We will continue to go about our business in
anticipation of a fantasy season. And one of those things we do
over and over leading up to the start of our "real" fantasy
drafts is mock draft. That is exactly what I am here to share with
you: my first mock draft of the year.
Once again, I was invited to participate in the FF Toolbox Mock
Draft Series, and we're starting in May this year. Wait...May? I
don't have Mike Krueger's projections. I don't have the Cheatsheet
Compiler & Draft Buddy finished. This should be interesting.
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.
I drew the fourth pick, and Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster, and Jamaal
Charles are off the board before I’m even on the clock. Following
is the player commentary I wrote through the draft so you can get
an idea of what I was thinking with respect to each pick. To view
the entire draft results, check the draft
report and team
It doesn't look like I can fall too far off the rails here no matter
which way I go. There are a couple of RBs I really like (Johnson,
Rice), and also a couple of WRs (Andre
White) I could justify taking at this spot. I'll pull the trigger
on Chris Johnson. I have some concerns about the QB situation and
the new coaching regime in Tennessee, but when in doubt, take the
player with the most talent. And CJ tips the scales in pure talent
at the RB position.
Mike Wallace averaged 21.0 yds per catch
Mike Wallace posted nice increases over his rookie numbers from
2009 and showed in his first year as a starter that he can be
more than a long-ball threat. He may not post gaudy WR numbers,
but I think he has a higher floor than most after the top-tier
guys are off the board. I'm not excited about doubling up at RB
to start this draft, which is fine because the available options
don't excite me either. I am keen on a couple of the available
QBs, but I'll wait and see who falls to me next round.
There are still three exceptional QBs available, so I'm glad I
waited last round. But none of these guys should make it back
around in the fourth, so I'll tag Brees as my preferred choice.
He's logged a lot of pass attempts on his arm and shoulder, but
I love the combination of how Brees spreads the ball around—not
relying on just one or two players—and the aggressive play-calling
by his coach.
Last season Johnson had a stretch of five straight games where
he found the end zone (Weeks 3 through 8) but then scored in only
two other games in the second half of the season (plus his big
drop versus PIT in OT). On the plus side, he gets a lot of targets,
and I have faith in Chan Gailey’s ability to make the offense
churn out fantasy points. I'm hopeful for more consistency and
perhaps even an uptick from Johnson, who was learning on the job
last year with only 12 catches and 112 yards on his NFL resumé
heading into 2010.
I'm tempted to go TE with this pick since Jermichael Finley made
it back to me, but I feel the TE position is deeper this year
than in the past. It’s one thing to pull the trigger on
a reliable Antonio Gates (or Vernon Davis, who was just selected)
with an early pick, and it’s another thing to use it on
an injury risk like Finley. Meanwhile, we are closing in on a
large group of running backs I don't want very much to do with,
so I’ll grab Felix, who racks up yards and catches—though
he needs to find the end zone more. With Marion Barber most likely
out of the picture, and with rookies in a tough spot to keep up,
Jones should get a good opportunity to improve his fantasy output.
I definitely had my doubts, as did many, that former-Lion, former-Titan,
and former-Raider Mike Williams could take two years away from
football and not only revive his career but make a solid impact.
He did just that thanks to college coach Pete Carroll giving him
a chance and Williams showing an incredibly renewed work ethic.
Reports indicate that Williams is continuing to work hard this
offseason. He'll never be a burner, but he is a big body who will
command plenty of targets and be difficult to defend near the
goal line. Even with a questionable QB situation, I like his chances
to outperform this draft spot.
I did say earlier that rookies are in a tough spot to get up to
speed this year because of the missed coaching time, but I'll
make an exception in adding talented WR A.J. Green. I thought
about him last round, but as my third receiver, I was leery. As
my fourth receiver, he’s worth a shot here. Running a report
of the top rookie WR performances since 2000 over at Pro Football
Reference gave me some comfort that he can be a valuable contributor,
although Green's QB is worse than average among that group.
I've felt for a couple of years that Ryan Grant is a somewhat
average RB who simply found himself in a great situation and made
the most of his opportunity. If the Packers could find a decent
enough replacement—as Brandon Jackson never was—they
would replace Grant. This looks like the year to really put my
theory to the test. Starks did next to nothing last season, spending
most of his time on the PUP, until he carried the load through
the playoffs with excellent results. This could be a shared role,
or the better back could win the starting job and a large majority
of the carries. Starks is as good a bet as Grant to do that.
With most every team having filled out their starters at QB, RB,
and WR, plus a backup or two, it is time to grab my starting TE
before heading into the long turn. I could afford to wait at TE
the prior round because two of the three teams between that pick
and this one already owned Antonio Gates and Vernon Davis. The
Huddle didn't address TE, which left my top choice, Jimmy Graham,
available for me. This may seem early for Graham (just the sixth
TE off the board among a deeper pool of talent at the position
than we've had in years), but why not go for a player who was
barely used in the first half of his rookie season yet finished
with 31 receptions for 356 yards and 5 TDs, including 4 TDs in
the final three games? Why not go for a player who has one of
the league's best quarterbacks throwing to him? Why not go for
a player the Saints felt so good about that they released Jeremy
Shockey? There is some risk here due to lack of a proven track
record, but I'll swing for the fences in hopes that Graham breaks
out and lives up to (and possibly goes beyond) the expectation
of this draft spot.
The probability that the Packers don't re-sign James "Stone
Hands" Jones are pretty decent. Say, 50-50. The chances Donald
Driver, now age 36, drops off like he did last year, or worse,
are pretty good. The odds are against rookie Randall Cobb making
an immediate impact as a receiver in the complex West Coast system.
Admittedly, Jermichael Finley is back, but add it all up and Jordy
Nelson has a nice opportunity for a breakout season. I'm trying
not to be too influenced by Nelson's impressive playoff games,
but I’m hoping they gave a glimpse of what he is capable
of on a more consistent basis.
Someone is going to get a steal on a QB in this round or later,
but picking the one or maybe two who are going to far exceed our
expectations is not something I want to gamble on at this point.
I'll take Mr. Job Security, who had over 500 pass attempts last
year and even had some pretty decent multi-TD games as the Jets
opened up the playbook a little more for him. Will his passing
options be reduced? Perhaps. But I'm comfortable that a 3,500-18
effort is his floor as he enters his third year. Not very exciting,
maybe, but considerably less risky, too.
There isn't much left at RB, but I need a fourth, and my options
aren't going to get any better the longer I wait. I'll add Scott,
who has been decent in limited carries through his two years in
the league. More importantly, the depth chart he’s a part
of is shallow. Cedric Benson is a free agent but is expected to
be re-signed. The Bengals could give Scott even more opportunity
than in the past if they roll with a rookie quarterback.
I thought about Aaron Hernandez with my last pick, but when I
saw him, Jermaine Gresham, and Tony Moeaki all available at the
time, I decided to wait... and hoped it wouldn't be Gresham coming
back since I don't need any more Bengals. I was impressed with
how Moeaki made a decent impact as a rookie last season. The Chiefs
still don't have exceptional receiving alternatives beyond Dwayne
Bowe, so it isn't inconceivable
that Moeaki earns an uptick in his targets and output.
I’m playing a hunch on Benn. He got his feet wet last year
in the shadow of rookie phenom Mike Williams, and my hunch is
that he is ready to make an impact this season while opposing
defenses pay a lot more attention to Williams. The big knock on
Benn is that he suffered an ACL tear in Week 16 last year. News
of his recovery is very positive, but some of that is coming from
his agent, so you have to take it with a grain of salt. Like I
said, it’s a hunch, and I don't think you would want to
take Benn any earlier than this until we see him back on the field
doing normal drills.
To close out the draft I could have certainly used another RB,
but they would have all been shots in the dark at that point.
I rolled the dice and stuck with the four I drafted. I couldn't
resist adding more of a name player in Sims-Walker this late.
Sure, he had a disappointing season overall last year, and he
is a free agent and not at all expected to be back with the Jaguars.
However, looking at his game log I saw good to great performances
when they fed him just five or more targets. Between some missed
games, three single-target games, and a two-target game to open
the season, he wasn’t able to produce consistently. It will be
interesting to see what NFL team he lands on, but we may be looking
at a halfway decent, undervalued WR who costs next to nothing
to acquire right now.
I should add a caveat about those three defenses I chose. I didn't
mention this at the top, but this is a Draft Masters (best ball)
format league. With the long timeline between mocking in May and
starting the uncertain season, it might as well be called the
Battle of Attrition Challenge. But if you find yourself in any
best ball leagues, taking a third defense can be a good way to
maximize your points at the position because defenses are so random
in their scoring from week to week.
I played the bulk of the draft with more of a straight-up re-draft
mindset—not giving much weight to the best ball aspect—to
provide a better mock draft for you, the reader. But I tacked
on the third defense so I could still try to win this thing. In
a normal re-draft, I wouldn't draft three defenses. I probably
wouldn't draft two kickers, either.
Okay, that about wraps it up. Get out there and do a mock draft.
It’s great practice for your real draft, and it sure beats
reading about the business side of sports day in and day out.