Fantasy Football 2015: Mock Draft Strategy, Cheatsheet Info for Preseason Prep

Fantasy Football
August 20, 2015

As NFL teams begin to ramp up their preparations with the regular season on the horizon, draft season is beginning to heat up in the world of fantasy football. While the pros play exhibition games to get ready, fantasy owners can use mock drafts.

It’s always easy to pinpoint which participants are prepared for the draft and which ones are looking at a set of rankings for the first time on draft day. Going through the mock process is a crucial part of getting acclimated with this season’s outlook.

With that in mind, let’s check out some popular cheatsheet alternatives fantasy owners can utilize as part of their prep. That’s followed by some tips for how to maximize the effectiveness of mock drafts.

Cheatsheet Options

ESPN CBS Sports Fox Sports NFL.com
Yahoo Sports Fantasy Pros Scout FF Today

Strategy Tips for Mock Drafts

Vary Approach and Pick Location

Every fantasy owner possesses an ideal scenario for how the draft will play out. Whether it starts with going first overall to grab a running back or dropping lower in the order to grab a player from another position like Aaron Rodgers or Antonio Brown, everyone has “Plan A.”

Very rarely do things go smoothly, though. That’s why being flexible is vital to success. The more mock drafts you do, the more comfortable you become with any possible twists the draft may throw your way, and usually there’s a bunch.

Doing at least one mock from each draft position, and preferably more if possible, is going to provide invaluable experience. Not so much for the first round, but more in terms of what type of players are available once the draft circles back around in Round 2 and beyond.

Also, make sure to change your approach to see how to potentially increase the value of certain picks. The results of a mock don’t mean anything, just like the NFL preseason, so it’s a testing ground; whatever doesn’t work can get tossed out. But don’t leave any stones unturned.

Take Note of Important Trends

When doing a mock draft, don’t simply pay attention to what players you take. That only paints an extremely limited picture of how the draft played out. Since most people target the same group of players in each draft, it can cause them to miss key information.

Being able to get a feel for when certain things are going to happen is a major advantage. A couple of key points in every draft this year will be when quarterbacks start flying off the board and when the tight ends not named Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham, who will go early, begin to be taken.

Of course, the edge comes into play because at the real draft fantasy owners can then beat the rush and start the run rather than get caught at the back end of it. Des Bieler of the Washington Post noted one trend he’s seen play out in the outlet’s 10-team mock draft.

“Selecting a wide receiver early is a perfectly reasonable draft strategy, but it does appear that there’s something of a bottomless well at this position,” Bieler wrote. “Here’s a short list of guys who weren’t even drafted (in no particular order): Steve Smith, Anquan Boldin, Marques Colston, Kenny Stills, Doug Baldwin and Brian Quick.”

If you feel comfortable with the wideouts still available in the latter rounds, you can then load up at other positions in the early going. Discovering those types of details and how they match your draft strategy shouldn’t be overlooked.

Stay For Entire Draft

One curious decision that occurs in nearly every mock draft is people leaving the room after the first round. There’s really not much to learn at that stage because everything is pretty straightforward, so it makes little sense to only stay that long, as Matthew Berry of ESPN noted.

“Oh, and if you join a mock draft, don’t leave until it’s over. The people that join a mock draft and then leave early are among the worst people in fantasy football,” Berry wrote. “If you don’t have time, don’t do it. But if you join, stick it out.”

You’ll probably never land in a mock draft where all 10 or 12 participants stay for the entire mock. That said, the more that stay, the more realistic the results become compared to when it’s mostly autodrafted in the second half of the draft.

Staying for the entire draft is particularly essential when it comes to sleepers. In the Internet era, most fantasy owners are reading the same information, so the hype train can really take off for certain players who you may think are flying under the radar.

Getting a feel for when those players come off the board can help decide whether they still represent good value or if you should search for other late picks. After all, while the foundation for a championship is set in the early rounds, hitting on some sleepers usually puts a team over the top.

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Fantasy Football 2015: Players Who Get the Biggest Boost in PPR Leagues

Fantasy Football
August 20, 2015

There are purists who believe that playing in points-per-reception leagues rewards a player for the simple act of catching the football regardless of the yardage.

Then, there are people like me who believe that fantasy football should be a lot of fun and more points means more fun.

I’m not here to have that argument. Instead, I’ll focus on the players who get a significant boost from the PPR format, as I’ll demonstrate with a look at roles and a comparison of average draft positions between PPR leagues and non-PPR leagues.

With so many teams using a version of the West Coast offense, getting the ball out quick and accurately is a necessity, which is why we’ve seen a rise in pass-catching specialists out of the backfield, like Danny Woodhead in San Diego, and a bigger need for sure-handed slot receivers, like Eddie Royal in Chicago. As a result, more players have fantasy value, especially in PPR formats.

Before we begin, I’ll note that players who are likely to be drafted in the first four rounds regardless of the format won’t be included in this list because the PPR boost doesn’t significantly change their value. Instead, the focus will be on players you’d be more willing to draft because of their increased role in the passing game.

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Cam Newton, Devin Funchess’ Fantasy Outlook After Kelvin Benjamins ACL Injury

Fantasy Football
August 19, 2015

The Carolina Panthers’ worst fears have been realized. After going down with a non-contact knee injury at Wednesday morning’s practice, wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin has been diagnosed with a torn ACL, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Benjamin confirmed that he would miss the season via a Facebook post late Wednesday afternoon.

Not only does the diagnosis deal a major blow to Carolina’s depth on the outside, but it undeniably hurts quarterback Cam Newton’s fantasy stock.

For a team that was already thin at receiver, the Panthers are now left without a big, physical weapon on the outside who could torment defenses, as NFL.com’s Chris Wesseling observed:

Sans Benjamin, Newton will have few viable downfield threats to work with.

Last season, the former Florida State stud accounted for eight of the team’s 14 receptions of at least 20 yards downfield, per ESPN Stats & Info. Benjamin was also Newton’s go-to threat in the red zone, where he could be relied on to outjump opposing corners and haul in back-shoulder throws and post-up fades.

Now Newton will have rookie receiver Devin Funchess, tight end Greg Olsen and the platoon of Jerricho Cotchery, Philly Brown and Ted Ginn Jr. to work with in a wideout rotation.

And as RotoExperts’ Jennifer Millman pointed out, Funchess is the guy primed for a stock surge with Benjamin sidelined:

The 2015 first-round pick certainly looks the part of a primary weapon at 6’5″ and 230 pounds, but he’ll need to display steady hands and a consistent ability to separate from coverage downfield.

Since Funchess is by far the most physically imposing wideout the Panthers have left, he should shoot up draft boards before the regular season gets underway. At present, he’s being drafted as the 68th receiver off the board, per FantasyPros.com.

That number should at the very least shoot into the mid-to-high 30s, where players such as Torrey Smith, Brandon LaFell and Larry Fitzgerald are being selected.

As for Newton, he’s currently being drafted ninth overall among quarterbacks, per FantasyPros. Without Benjamin, that’s a bit rich.

Although rushing numbers will provide solace for owners who draft Newton, his passing numbers could be pretty volatile on a week-to-week basis. With quarterbacks like Eli Manning, Matthew Stafford, Ryan Tannehill and Philip Rivers, who have more polished receiving corps, being drafted behind Newton, his stock should tumble in the coming weeks as owners look to dodge uncertainty under center.

Read more Fantasy Football news on NerdyFootball.com

Daily Fantasy Football 2015: Predicting Top 10 DraftKings TE Projections

Fantasy Football
August 19, 2015

Injuries, suspensions and new locations are the biggest factors for predicting the top 10 DraftKings tight end projections. Greg Olsen ($5,300), Jimmy Graham ($5,600) and Rob Gronkowski (n/a) headline a top-heavy list of reliable daily fantasy contributors at tight end in 2015.

Tight end as a whole can be a frustratingly inconsistent position to predict since most players’ values depend strongly on scoring touchdowns. This reality is reflected in DraftKings’ player prices in which the top Week 1 tight end—Graham—sits thousands of dollars below the top prospects at the other big four positions: quarterback Aaron Rodgers ($8,600), running back Jamaal Charles ($7,900) and wide receiver Julio Jones ($9,300).

The following list outlines what to expect from the top 10 daily fantasy tight ends over the course of the 2015 season.

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Fantasy Football 2015: Breaking Down Updated Mock Draft and Mobile Cheat Sheet

Fantasy Football
August 19, 2015

Guys and gals, the only way to be truly prepared for a fantasy draft is by actually going through drafts. You should be going onto sites that allow you to do mock drafts against strangers and running them all the time, just to give you a general idea of how people react in drafts.

But getting inside the head of another fantasy player can help, too. So below, I’ve provided my 10-round mock draft for a 10-team league, along with a full walkthrough of how I would approach the draft.

The Mock Draft

The Mock Draft Walkthrough

So, what I want to do here is take you through how I would approach my draft assuming the picks played out in the general order I’ve laid them out in the top 100. We’ll assume this is a 10-man league and I have the No. 5 overall pick, which means I’ll also have the Nos. 16, 25, 36, 45, 56, 65, 76, 85 and 96 overall picks.

At No. 5, based on my board above, I’m going with DeMarco Murray by a hair over Le’Veon Bell, who is suspended for the first two games of the season. This is a tough one, because I know Murray is an injury risk after carrying the ball an incredible 436 times last year. I also know the Philadelphia Eagles have Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles in the backfield, so the touches will be spread around.

Head coach Chip Kelly said as much in an interview with Peter King of MMQB.com.

“Our plan all along was to get another running back with him,” Kelly noted, discussing the team’s decision to sign him this offseason. “I wanted to have two running backs, and that’s why we got Ryan [Mathews]. I don’t think you can have a guy carry it 370 to 400 times per season and be successful. We’re going to run it a lot—we always do—but we’ll have more than one guy doing it.”

So, no, Murray won’t get 400 carries this season. He might not get 350. Heck, last year’s feature back in Philly, LeSean McCoy, ran the ball 312 times. And he still managed to gain 1,319 yards. And his shake-and-bake, home run-hitting style was never a perfect fit for Kelly’s read-option attack, which works better with a downhill, one-cut runner like Murray.

Plus, McCoy was running behind an offensive line decimated with injuries. And he still rushed for 1,319 yards. See what I’m getting at here? Murray is a better fit for this offense and should have a healthier line in front of him. Even if he gets 100 less carries, which he likely will, he should be a top-five fantasy back.

And I’d rather have him for the first two weeks of the season than wait until Week 3 to roll out Bell.

OK, so we have our stud running back. At No. 16, the top player on the board is C.J. Anderson. Now I have a tough decision to make. Do I draft him, per my board, or take a player like Odell Beckham Jr., Julio Jones or A.J. Green?

Looking at the players who should be available in Round 3, I feel safer taking Anderson. He’s a huge risk, given we’ve only seen a partial season of production from him and he could always get stuck in a timeshare, but if he plays like he did last year he’ll be a top-10 producer.

On the other hand, I hate drafting players early in the draft who don’t have a proven track record. So, do I follow my board and take solace in the fact that I can get great value at wideout and quarterback in the later rounds, or do I go with a safer player at wide receiver?

In this case, I’m going with Anderson. His upside is so high and I know I can get studs at wide receiver in the next few rounds. Knowing that I’m set at running back with Murray and Anderson is a relief, especially given how unpredictable the position was last year.

At 25, the only real decision I have to make, given how my board is set up, is selecting between Alshon Jeffery and Randall Cobb. I could reach a few picks for Russell Wilson, but I know I can get value at quarterback later on. I can’t really go wrong here regardless.

I’m taking Jeffery, per my board. He really broke out last year and he’ll be Chicago’s top threat in the passing game this season. But honestly, between Jeffery and Cobb you can basically flip a coin.

At 36, I’m again sticking with my board, as Kelvin Benjamin is waiting for me. I could think about taking Ben Roethlisberger here, but I like the depth at quarterback and I’m willing to wait. The bigger temptation will be selecting Greg Olsen here, as I think there is a pretty big drop off at tight end after the top three options. But the chance of getting a value like Benjamin in the fourth round is too hard to pass up.

In Round 5 at pick No. 45, I would be hoping Olsen was still available, but that won’t be the case based on my board. This is where I’m really thinking about pouncing on a good quarterback or tight end if they fall to me. And I would be really, really bummed if Cam Newton went a pick before I was selecting.

So, do I stick with my board and go with Justin Forsett, who I sort of doubt will replicate his huge 2014? Or do I reach a bit for Matt Ryan even though I know I can wait a bit and maybe get Drew Brees, Matt Stafford or Tony Romo?

Because I have some doubts about Anderson, I’m going to pick Forsett here. My thinking will be that if Anderson is a bust, at least I have a solid option in Forsett I can throw into the mix. And if Forsett isn’t as great as he was in 2014, who cares? I used a fifth-round pick on him to be my RB3, so I’m not expecting him to be anything more than Anderson insurance and a reliable flex option. A fifth-round pick might seem a steep price to pay for that, but I’m confident in the quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends still on the board to go that route.

At No. 56, I’m really hoping to nab a quarterback or tight end. And, boy, do I have options. Do I go with Martellus Bennett, Travis Kelce, Julius Thomas or Drew Brees?

Decisions, decisions…

At this point, I can sense a run on tight ends coming, so I’ll stick with my board and nab Bennett. I like Kelce‘s upside, but I worry that Kansas City remains a Jamaal Charles-centric offense. And I certainly worry that Thomas will take a huge fantasy hit without Peyton Manning as his quarterback.

Bennett, meanwhile, has a rapport with Jay Cutler and is an excellent option in the red zone. He’s my guy here.

At No. 65, the board tells me to take a wide receiver. And if I could predict the future, I would, knowing that on my board I can wait on Matt Stafford for another round. But in a real draft, where I have unpredictable opponents, I’m not waiting another round to get a quarterback. I’m taking Stafford here, knowing that I’ll need to later grab a very solid QB2, but also that I’ve just gotten a quarterback in the seventh round that has top-five potential.

If it’s a reach, so be it. I have a lot of peace of mind knowing I have my starters in place.

At No. 76, I want the best player on the board, hopefully at wideout. I have a feeling Nelson Agholor is going to have a big rookie season in Philadelphia, playing the Jeremy Maclin role in this offense, so I’m rolling the dice on him.

At No. 85, I’m going with the best player on the board, though I’m not ready to take a QB2 just yet, so I’ll go wideout once again and take Michael Floyd, who I know might miss some time in the regular season but gives me four wideouts I feel very good about. Right now, I feel like I’m stacked to cover my flex position each week and to also survive the bye weeks.

That leaves picks No. 96. And would you look at that? I can handcuff Murray with Mathews. That’s a pretty easy decision right there.

Below, you can see some of the players I might look to fill my team out with after the first 10 rounds.

The Solid Middle-Round Values

  • Quarterback: Sam Bradford, Philadelphia Eagles; Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
  • Running Back: Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders; Joseph Randle, Dallas Cowboys
  • Wide Receiver: Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles; Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints; Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins
  • Tight End: Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts; Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans

The Sleepers

  • Quarterback: Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans
  • Running Back: Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns
  • Wide Receiver: Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Tight End: Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals

The Conclusion

I hope this look into my draft mentality helps you come draft day. As always, may the fantasy points be with you!

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