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On Wednesday, August 27, 2014, Howard Bender and I ran a 12-team PPR fantasy football mock draft live on the Fantasy Alarm podcast. I had the 12th pick in the first round which meant I had the wrap-around. Because this was a mock draft, I decided to try out a different strategy and see where it would take me. That is one of the biggest reasons why I advocate for people to do mock drafts before the real drafts. Doing mock drafts affords you the opportunity to take risks, try out different theories, and get a better gauge on what the trends are. If you make the same selections in all of your mock drafts, then what are you really learning or benefiting from them?
With this particular draft, I set out a goal to not take a wide receiver with either of my first two picks. In a PPR league, that is a risky strategy. But I wanted to see how things played out if I waited until the 3rd round to take a receiver. Sure enough, I did just that and was quite pleased with the choices that were still available. Would that happen in a real draft? It is hard to say, but at least I now know it is plausible. So with my first two picks, I selected Montee Ball and Jimmy Graham. I have never had Graham on any fantasy team of mine, real or mock. I decided to see what kind of roster I could build getting the best tight end in football along with an up and coming star in Ball.
After bypassing receivers in the 1st and 2nd rounds, I anxiously waited to see what my choices would be in the 3-4 wraparound. Sure enough, Victor Cruz and Roddy White were still available so I went with them. Pierre Garcon was also available, but I simply preferred Cruz and White. I think Roddy White will have a big year after a disappointing and injury-marred 2013 season. As for Cruz, he is Eli Manning’s primary target and will receive a majority of his passes. He could easily reach 100 receptions in the Giants’ new West Coast offense.
Here is my roster in order of what round the players were drafted:
1. Montee Ball (RB-DEN)
2. Jimmy Graham (TE-NO)
3. Victor Cruz (WR-NYG)
4. Roddy White (WR-ATL)
5. Emmanuel Sanders (WR-DEN)
6. Brandin Cooks (WR-NO)
7. Darren Sproles (RB-PHI)
8. Mark Ingram (RB-NO)
9. Andy Dalton (QB-CIN)
10. Hakeem Nicks (WR-IND)
11. Knile Davis (RB-KC)
12. Andre Williams (RB-NYG)
13. Adam Vinatieri (K-IND)
14. Carolina (DST)
15. Travis Kelce (TE-KC)
Instead of taking my second running back in the 5th or 6th rounds, I opted to augment my receiving core by taking Emmanuel Sanders and Brandin Cooks. These are two players I am very high on this year and have taken in quite a few drafts already. Sanders will have a breakout season irrespective of whether Wes Welker is able to play. He is essentially replacing Eric Decker and will benefit by learning from Peyton Manning. We all saw how Manning elevated Demaryius Thomas’s game, and I think he will have a similar impact on Sanders. As for Cooks, I know it is a risky proposition to expect much from a rookie wide receiver. But I love what I am hearing from Drew Brees about Cooks who has earned his trust and could be the Saints number two receiver to start the season if Kenny Stills’ quad injury is still affecting him.
I waited until the 7th and 8th rounds to take more running backs. I got sniped on Knowshon Moreno (likely by a league member who was listening to me divulge my strategy on the podcast). With Moreno gone, I opted for Darren Sproles and Mark Ingram. Sproles could be an x-factor in Chip Kelly’s high octane offense and is great in PPR leagues. Ingram is a guy who has looked great in the preseason and could finally start producing like the top draft pick he was a few years ago. The Saints have a crowded backfield so I am counting on Ingram separating himself from the pack and emerging as their true number one tailback.
As usual, I waited until the 9th round to take my quarterback. I was disappointed Matt Ryan was gone a couple rounds earlier, but I am perfectly fine with having Andy Dalton at this point in the draft. He has been a great regular season quarterback and should approach another season of 4,000 yards with close to 30 touchdowns. Getting that kind of production in the 9th round sounds a lot better than maybe getting slightly more from Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees five or six rounds earlier.
I am very satisfied with my bench and backups including handcuffs Knile Davis and Andre Williams. Plus, I landed Travis Kelce with my final pick which I would consider a steal. I chose not to take a backup quarterback because there will be someone available on the waiver wire when Dalton is on his bye week.
Lessons learned: there are a few things to take away from this particular draft and the strategy I employed. With the 12th pick in a PPR league, I learned that you can bypass a wide receiver with your first two picks and still end up with solid receivers in the 3rd and 4th round. I also learned that you can wait until the 9th round and land a solid quarterback who will put up numbers not so drastically different than the first tier of quarterbacks (excluding Peyton Manning). Finally, I learned that drafting Jimmy Graham with one of my first picks in the wrap-around is a breath of fresh air not having to worry about filling the tight end position in the middle rounds.