1st-Round (12-team) Mock Fantasy Draft and Strategy Discussion…(8/7/19)
OK, I’m going to go through a Mock Draft 1st-round in this piece. The twist is…I’m going to be making every pick. I’m going to start at #1, make my pick…and then be me as if that pick/player is gone and now I have to pick, and so on. If I didn’t explain that clearly, you’ll get the gist in a moment.
I’m not just making the picks and commenting on the players…I’m also going through why I didn’t make a pick and what I’m thinking ahead when I do or don’t pick particular players. So, it’s one round…but we’re going to examine other things down the road with this.
Redraft (not Best Ball)
PPR (but what you’ll takeaway from this will help with half and non-PPR too, I believe)
4pts per pass TD
No bonus scoring
(2) RB, (2) WR, (1) TE and (1) Flex (and 1 QB).
One note upfront…I’m not necessarily taking the players exactly according to what my computer valuations are. For various reasons, which you’ll see in a moment…but my main reason – the top 5-15 guys are separated by fractions of a point in value in bunches. You don’t have to be a slave to it. Our rankings are a guideline, a way to see what ‘value’ players are out there to build a plan off of by identifying great options rounds 2-10+ and building out from there on the rounds/players in-between.
For me, the 1st-round is about the easiest round to deal with. Everyone is going to get a good player they can be happy with (before the season starts). Mostly, I’m looking to take a player I love/think can lead their position in FF scoring…and avoid the trouble players at all costs because there are plenty of options.
With that, let’s get started.
1.01) RB Saquon Barkley, NY Giants
Absolutely not my favorite player in the draft. Truth be told, I’d rather have McCaffrey-Kamara-D. Johnson among the big name RBs. So, why draft Barkley?
I draft Barkley, I can trade him before the season starts for things I want. Barkley is EVERYONE’S favorite player. Every draft expert likely has Barkley #1. Everyone is sold on him as the best RB in football. When I select Barkley, I have a very tradable player that I can go and correct issues from my draft or just turn Barkley into two great players in return, capitalizing on the masses’ love for him.
Worst case, if you really would rather have McCaffrey (let’s say), you can likely swap Barkley for McCaffrey straight up before Week 1. You likely cannot do the opposite. For that reason, Barkley has #1 value…even though he’s not necessarily my #1 ranked player output for this format (or any format).
If you’re not comfortable trading, or it’s Best Ball, etc., and if I wanted to take the BEST RB available (not to deal away quickly)…I’d say Barkley might be my 4th-choice/pick or later.
1.02) RB David Johnson, Arizona
You could go McCaffery here. You could go Kamara. You could go David Johnson. I wouldn’t fight you on any of them at 1.02…or 1.01.
Also, notice I just names three RBs for this spot. No mention of a WR or TE or QB. Why that is…
a) I’m not taking a QB 1st-round (unless superflex). I know I’ll be taking Mahomes-Mayfield-Murray ahead, so no need to rush it.
b) There’s some logic for what Travis Kelce brings to the table in PPR, but tight ends don’t have the general value to the masses that they should. Whereas RBs make people drool.
c) If I don’t get a WR in the 1st-round…there are a ton of options I like ahead. So many value WR1.5s to load up on – like Allen Robinson, Robert Woods, Tyler Lockett, Curtis Samuel. Way more WR value in the middle rounds than the drying up of the RBs (because everyone chases them so hard).
d) I feel great about any of the top four RBs, so I can land one and not have to worry about RB for a while. In my mind, I like to leave a draft with one powerhouse RB and then I know I’ll be able to maneuver and improvise all season for my 2nd and 3rd and 4th RBs.
If this were half or non-PPR…I’d take David Johnson here no doubt.
I take D.J. here because I believe in the Arizona offense running a ton of plays (elevated opportunities) and that PLUS Johnson’s super-talent and the work he gives in the passing game – this could be an MVP year for DJ.
1.03) RB Christian McCaffrey, Carolina
Why McCaffrey over Kamara? I like the game logs from 2018 for CMC more than Kamara – Kamara had a huge game early in the season, like crazy numbers…then he was really good aside from that. A lot of TDs but not as many catches and touches, as you would have thought, outside that one game.
I also believe Latavius Murray is the better Mark Ingram, and people thinking Kamara is now the solo lead-RB shows their lack of understanding of what the Saints do and what Murray is.
However, if you feel it on Kamara…let’s ride!
1.04) Alvin Kamara, New Orleans
I’m good with Kamara here, but I might want to take my #5 pick here so much… In PPR with the big three gone, it raises Kamara’s value/need.
One extra note here – you will not see Ezekiel Elliott in this top RB discussion until he returns to Dallas. I believe there is legit concern to believe he’ll miss part or all of 2019. I can’t have that.
If Elliott were available, I would not consider him with my top four. Maybe around pick 5-6-7-8, if he were back, and if he fell in the draft – and then I do it just to trade him. But I might be inclined to just pass on Elliott altogether because I think Elliott is trouble waiting to happen, off the field, and being highly paid isn’t going to help that.
1.05) WR Tyreek Hill, Kansas City
Now, I’m done with the big four running backs I feel are way above the rest. I know RBs are the sirens call to all fantasy players I’m working against, so if I can get a tippy-top RB I’ll take it. But now we’ve hit the part of the draft where I’d be fine with Leonard Fournette as my first taken RB in PPR. Or Derrick Henry in non-PPR. I can get those guys rounds 2-3.
So, do I take the top WR…or go for Travis Kelce?
Kelce provides some huge spreads of scoring per game away from the top 12 TEs.
The difference between the #1 and #7 WR in scoring per game last year (Weeks 1-16, no Week 17 considered) was 2.2 PPG.
The difference between the #1 and #7 tight end in scoring per game last year was 9.2 PPG.
That’s a lot of PPG edge at one position.
…and Tyreek Hill wasn’t even a #1 scorer at WR PPR last season (he was #6).
So, I choose Kelce! Actually, I don’t. I might take him here, but I might not. Depends on one factor… When do you think he’s going in this draft? I see him go as high as #8-12, but sometimes not until #16-20…because fantasy experts have brainwashed people on not taking tight ends highly. Making mantras of positions with blanket statements and rules on when to take a positional option is possibly the dumbest way to strategize for fantasy ever.
I don’t care about ‘history’. When has there been Patrick Mahomes-to-Travis Kelce before? And I’d argue people have under-drafted tight ends forever in fantasy – Gates, Gronk, Graham in their hey days were worth way more.
I take a top WR around this level of a draft, and not Kelce IF I believe I can have a shot at Kelce 2nd-round. Tyreek will be gone by the 2nd-round almost always. Hopkins will be gone for sure in the top 10. Kelce, I might roll dice and win that he’s there in the 2nd-round.
You want to take Kelce here, I won’t blame you. Especially if you play TEs get 1.5 pts per reception.
To me, there’s seven players that stand alone in fantasy redraft 2019: McCaffrey, DJ, Kamara, Barkley (because of value to THEM), Hill, Hopkins, Kelce. Odell Beckham should make it #8. After about pick #14-16, all of them are gone almost always…except Kelce. If I want TWO of my HOLY eight, I can only do it if Kelce is the 2nd piece.
Therefore, because I believe Hill can lead all WRs in scoring with distance…he’s that kind of talent – then I take Hill over Hopkins, plus I just love Tyreek. I want to play FF with Tyreek, like I have the last three seasons. So, I’ll pay the +6-8 slots overpay here because he won’t be there in round two from here. If you love working with Hopkins more, then by all means. I won’t criticize you.
1.06) WR DeAndre Hopkins, Houston
As we debated above…
If you want to go Hopkins in the #5 spot, feel free. I like what Patrick Mahomes can do for a WR more than Deshaun Watson, but Hopkins is arguably the best pure WR in the game and has succeeded with the worst of QBs.
You may have wondered – why no Davante Adams talk with the Hill-Hopkins (Kelce) debate? I’m a fan, but I hate the way the schedule falls the first 4 weeks for Adams. And, we have some unknown with the new Green Bay staff. I’m punting on Adams and I’ll look to acquire, if possible, maybe at a bargain, in Weeks 3-4.
Why not Kelce here? Every pick that goes by is another chance close to getting Kelce in the 2nd-round. Long shot you’d get him at #18 though, but possible depending upon league.
*Now, I’m at a crossroads*
Those first six players are the ones I really feel great about, even if I’m delusional. The rest of the first round is me looking at players I have some worries on, even if I have a lot of love for them. A lot of the players I want from here are not first-round ADPs.
I arrive to pick #7 looking at Odell Beckham or pulling the Travis Kelce trigger.
1.07) TE Travis Kelce, Kansas City
I’m just going to go ahead, and not get cute, and take the top TE…taking the player who might provide the biggest scoring spread over the norm at his position. I’m likely not taking Patrick Mahomes in this draft (because Mayfield-Murray are better bargains), so I get in on Mahomes’s offensive output by proxy here with Kelce.
I could argue Kelce’s value as the #1 overall pick, in PPR (not half or non-PPR). I could try to get George Kittle coming up or settle on my other TE love Evan Engram…and I do often, because from pick #5 on (#6-12) I’m getting Tyreek Hill in the 1st-round. Kelce is then gone a lot 2nd-round, and I have to go to tight end plan B.
If your TE scoring is TEs get 1.5 pts per reception – even more Kelce has a claim for the #1 most powerful non-QB in fantasy.
Kelce’s value dips with each change in the scoring downward…to half-point and then further in non-PPR. This is a ‘PPR thing’.
I’ve just gone through my ‘HOLY SEVEN’ 1st-round players for 2019. When I plan my draft – I’m walking out with one of these seven players or I’m going to feel like I didn’t ‘win’ or ‘keep up’ with half the league my 1st-round pick.
1.08) WR Odell Beckham, Cleveland
Why OBJ and not Michael Thomas, Julio, or Adams? I addressed Adams prior. Julio always makes me nervous; I don’t know why – the older he gets and his foot issues too often. Plus, his normally lack of a TD production always scares me. Something about him, in general, rattles me. But he very much warrants consideration here. I respect Michael Thomas, but I don’t love playing FF with Thomas. I just don’t get excited/don’t get the joy with him on my team that I do with Tyreek, etc. And that’s a real thing…when I have other viable options. I mean, I’m a profiteer…I’ll start the devil if he has a good matchup. But with options, I tend to shy away from Thomas as highly as others like him.
I go OBJ here for two reasons: (1) When healthy, he’s arguably the best WR talent in the game. (2) He’s working with Baker Mayfield, and if Baker is going to top Mahomes’s output (or die trying), then you want ‘his guy’.
If I knew OBJ was not ‘mentally unstable’ at given points of any season – I could argue him as the #1 WR for fantasy 2019. So, he is the definite #8 on my HOLY SEVEN list.
*You may have wondered…why no Le’Veon Bell talk in the first eight picks?*
I fear the Jets’ stink being put on him. And I fear ‘been paid’ and his numbers/effort trickles down in combination with a terrible Jets franchise/team. He’s on the ‘possible’ top 12 list, but not as high on it as his ADP suggests. But he’s going to be considered from here on in.
1.09) WR Michael Thomas, New Orleans
I consider Julio Jones in a coin flip here. I considered Le’Veon Bell as a possible draft-to-trade. I even reconsidered Davante Adams. I went with Thomas because I trust the Saints’ offense more and he’s younger/less injury-prone than Julio (in my mind, due to age/history).
I’m not thrilled with this pick because I am not a Thomas-lover, but it’s a logical pick. I can always trade him if need be.
1.10) WR Julio Jones, Atlanta
People love Julio, so he always has trade value…I can keep and use or make a deal.
Other players I’m considering this late, guys not usually in the top 12 picked, because I’m not in-love with my 1.09 on…
Nick Chubb, but I fear he’s great for a half and then Kareem Hunt just splits/spoils things.
Todd Gurley, but I don’t know if he’s really ‘right’…or how much they will throttle him back.
Antonio Brown, but I don’t know where his head is at and I don’t like WRs switching teams in their 1st year with the new group. This foot thing may be a giant problem for him to be ‘right’.
1.11) RB Le’Veon Bell, NY Jets
I hate to do it, but I have to do it. If not him…who? Maybe a reach for Joe Mixon…but I can get him with my next pick/#14.
Really, I’m making this pick to trade him pure and simple. The WRs left to choose from…I like guys in the next 2-8 rounds just as well.
If I make to 1.11 and Tyreek, Kelce, and OBJ are gone…I am crying big-time.
1.12) WR Davante Adams, Green Bay
I don’t want to, but I had to. I can hope his first four weeks aren’t as bad as I project…or I can trade him.
Others who I wrote down to consider, but didn’t at 1.12 here…
James Conner – I fear his top 12 status is going to fall fast when people see Jaylen Samuels this preseason. Didn’t consider for two seconds.
JuJu Smith Schuster – actually, I thought about it…but I’m not 100% sure he is going to be ‘AB’ without AB taking coverage among other things. I know he’ll be good/fine, but so will Mike Evans or T.Y. Hilton, who I’d be more/just as happy with.
Dalvin Cook – I would just to trade him. I think he’ll have a nice PPR season…if he can stay healthy, but I’d rather roll the dice on Damien Williams than Cook.
Well, that’s it. A 1st-round mock to give some direction or to ease your mind on how to play the 1st-round.
What to do in the 2nd-round? We’ll get there. I got some multi-round/full mock events to share coming up…using different scoring formats.