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2017 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Ideal Scenarios, Selections for 12-Team League

Fantasy Football
September 2, 2017

Fantasy football can seem quite a bit like teams trying to draft quarterbacks these days.

A casual observer can see the league has a serious quarterback problem. The college game’s trickle-down effect is apparent as offenses become streamlined and pro coaches have to adapt, but most of the problems seem like paralysis by overanalysis.

Fantasy owners can fall into the same trap. Call this the golden age of fantasy information. Owners have free access to droves of spreadsheets, data, advanced metrics and more, a seemingly endless information flow making the job of drafting a quality roster more difficult, not easier.

Let’s simplify the process below, keeping in mind the details come in via a Yahoo standard 12-team league.

             

Mock Draft

              

The first thing sure to jump off the page for owners is the lack of a quarterback.

But this isn’t the NFL—it is a game based on the NFL. About five quarterbacks will flirt with or surpass the 300-point mark each year, as they did a year ago. But owners can replicate the same production on a week-to-week basis by putting in the legwork at the easiest position to project.

Let’s look at a brief, somewhat weird example. Philip Rivers of the Los Angeles Chargers is a recognizable name. He put up a quality season a year ago by throwing for 4,386 yards and 33 touchdowns against 21 interceptions, rightfully earning him an average draft position (ADP) of (9.07), per Fantasy Football Calculator.

But let’s take a look at another quarterback from a year ago who slotted in the top 10 for the second season in a row. He threw for 3,905 yards with 23 touchdowns against 16 interceptions, and by way of rushing for almost 400 yards and three scores, he ranked well above Rivers. ADP wise, though, he doesn’t make the same list, one plotting 15 rounds of numbers.

That quarterback’s name? Blake Bortles.

The point is owners can find production rather easily. And if following a no-quarterback strategy to begin with, owners become less reliant on the position for production because the skill players put up so many big numbers.

Those big numbers come from running backs and wideouts. The former is a feast-or-famine position these days. Nerdy Football’s Gary Davenport summed it up perfectly: “Owners would be wise to grab a ball-carrier with one of their first two picks, though. By the end of the third round, the remaining running backs look like the three-dollar towels at a Black Friday sale.”

Indeed, David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell are it when it comes to reliable workhorses who reach huge touch totals because of their skills on the ground and through the air. Traditional workhorse backs aren’t reliable thanks to health and how the league continues to split up carries among committees, something fantasy owners can’t replicate, placing an even bigger emphasis on versatile workhorses who can still make the opportunities-equal-production rule ring true.

Look at the ADP chart: Six of the first 12 picks are running backs. By the end of the first round, the last back off the board is Jay Ajayi, whereas the last wideout is Jordy Nelson. Notice the disparity?

At the start of the third round? Marshawn Lynch, Isaiah Crowell and Christian McCaffrey are the best backs available: a back who took a year off, a back for the Cleveland Browns and a rookie back. 

Conversely, the best wideouts available in the third round are notables like T.Y. Hilton, Terrelle Pryor and  DeAndre Hopkins.

That means high-quality wideouts outnumber running backs by a huge margin. It is simply where the game is at, and owners have to adjust. When more than 40 wideouts are getting 100 or more targets like they did last year, owners can afford to wait.

Chris Raybon of 4for4 put it best when describing the bottom-up approach’s increasing prevalence in fantasy football today (via Sports Illustrated):

Your largest middle-round value tier is WR12–WR30. On average, those wideouts go from rounds three through six. Let’s also say you don’t like the RB value at the turn in rounds three and four, and five and six. Since you know you can draft up to four receivers in those four spots, you decide to go RB-RB with your first two picks.

The ideal scenario for any owner in a 12-team league is getting running back out of the way early and focus on target hogs at wideout later. Many other factors come into play when looking at wideouts, but we are keeping it simple as opposed to overwhelming with endless numbers, remember?

Don’t forget about tight end, either. Get a Rob Gronkowski or a Tyler Eifert if you are willing to gamble on injury risks or otherwise sort by targets in the middle rounds and choose one, hopefully pairing a quarterback with his real-life tight end in the process. But it’s easily fantasy’s most unpredictable position, so like bye weeks, don’t fret over it too much.

Unlike NFL teams searching for a quarterback, fantasy boils down to a simple numbers game. Walking into a draft with the sheer basics like this down will put owners at an advantage, especially if the rest of the owners in a draft keep tripping over the endless droves of information while on the clock.

           

All scoring info, points-against info and ownership stats courtesy of Yahoo standard leagues. ADP courtesy of Fantasy Football Calculator.

Read more Fantasy Football news on NerdyFootball.com

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Philip Rivers

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Blake Bortles

Fantasy Draft Prep Kit

Fantasy Football 2017: 1st-Round Mock Draft, Team Names and Sleepers

Fantasy Football
August 31, 2017

Few things are more important than team names and sleepers in fantasy football.  

That’s maybe a bit of hyperbole considering the importance of initial drafts, the waiver wire and actually playing productive lineups on a weekly basis.  

But fantasy owners get the idea: It is almost impossible to win anything in fantasy without hitting on a few sleepers. And winning with a terrible team name might as well be losing. Losing with a great name at least softens the blow. 

Below, let’s put together a digestible guide for owners based on a 12-team league in Yahoo standard leagues, hitting on the important angles ahead of drafts.

             

Mock Draft

        

Team Names to Consider

Hot Lockett

A quality fantasy draft snack and a breakout fantasy player balled into one name?  

That’s a winner, folks.

This deals with Seattle Seahawks wideout Tyler Lockett, of course, the 2015 third-round pick used as a returner in all facets, a rusher and a wideout. He’s climbing up the depth chart and has seven total receiving touchdowns over two years, perhaps a sign he’s ready to make the owner naming a team after him look like a genius. 

           

13 Reasons Ajayi

Popular show and a should-be-more-popular player?

Winner again.

Jay Ajayi broke onto the scene with the Miami Dolphins last year to the tune of 1,272 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on a 4.9 yard-per-carry average. He isn’t going to catch the ball often, but he’s a workhorse on a playoff hopeful sure to see touches.

          

Kizer Wide Shut

Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback, not to mention starting quarterback, DeShone Kizer is all the rage right now. 

It was only a matter of time before Kizer started popping up in team names. A name like this has plenty of opportunities for creative usage. Even better, the second-round pick seized a starting pro gig quickly and might have what it takes to lead a Cleveland turnaround. 

If that happens, this name is just the beginning. 

            

Make America Gronk Again

A phrase everyone knows infused with Rob Gronkowski is something everyone can get behind. 

For fantasy owners, getting Gronkowski on the field even more would be great. He hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2011 and missed half of last year. Funnily enough, few tight ends have still scored as many fantasy points as him in that span. 

            

Sleepers to Know 

Corey Coleman, WR, Cleveland Browns

Remember the note about Kizer above?

Corey Coleman might be the biggest name to capitalize on the improved play under center after a dud of a rookie year. 

Owners didn’t put a lot of stock into Coleman as a rookie to begin with, both because of his status and locale. He had all of 413 yards and three touchdowns over just 10 games, though the flashes of a big-play wideout were there. 

To say Coleman and Kizer already have a strong connection would be an understatement: 

For those keeping track: Coleman has a better quarterback situation this year, is fully healthy and the Browns are missing names from a year ago like Terrell Pryor and Gary Barnidge

Coleman sitting on an average draft position (ADP) of 10.01 is something owners should look to exploit. 

          

Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions

On paper, Detroit Lions rookie wideout Kenny Golladay doesn’t necessarily have a starting gig locked up. 

Then again, he hauled in two touchdowns in his preseason debut with the team and worked with the first team in training camp back in mid-August, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press

If Golladay can break through, he joins a spread-it-around attack orchestrated by Matthew Stafford, which essentially guarantees production. And with Golden Tate in the slot and Marvin Jones on the outside, unassuming defenses might let Golladay post big numbers right away. 

We’re not talking world-beating numbers here for a rookie, but we are saying Golladay can blow past his 12.06 ADP, a slotting close to other random names like Ted Ginn Jr. and Cooper Kupp.

            

Tevin Coleman, RB, Atlanta Falcons 

In terms of household-name status, Tevin Coleman falls behind Devonta Freeman in the Atlanta Falcons backfield. 

Makes sense as Coleman mostly functions as a change of pace, though he’s one heck of a role player in that regard considering he totaled 11 touchdowns a year ago thanks to his versatility. 

The Falcons don’t figure to change much when it comes to the roles of the committee members, though where this gets interesting is based on ADP. 

Long story short, Coleman sits with an ADP of 7.03, surrounded by unreliable names like Paul Perkins, Derrick Henry and Darren McFadden. Of those names, Coleman sits in the best offense and will see the most opportunities to score more touchdowns thanks to his versatile skill set. 

For owners willing to risk waiting a bit on running back or looking to overload, Coleman is a big sleeper to target.

           

All scoring info, points-against info and ownership stats courtesy of Yahoo standard leagues. ADP courtesy of Fantasy Football Calculator.

Read more Fantasy Football news on NerdyFootball.com

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Tevin Coleman

Corey Coleman

Kenny Golladay

ACL tear confirmed for Edelman

Fantasy Football, NFL News
August 26, 2017

InjuryWill miss entire 2017 season

New England’s worst fears have been realized. Julian Edelman is done for the season.

An MRI on Saturday revealed that Edelman indeed suffered an ACL tear in his right knee during Friday’s preseason win over the Lions, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported. The Patriots’ Super Bowl hero will miss the entire 2017 campaign. (NFL.com)

Nerdy Football Analysis: As we expected, Edelman will the season. It’s a big blow to the Patriots and for fantasy owners who’ve already drafted the Patriots slot receiver. In his absence, expect Danny Amendola and Chris Hogan to see an increased workload. Hogan is likely the biggest beneficiary and should reps both in the slot and outside.

Mike Gillislee gets in full practice on Tuesday

Fantasy Football, NFL News
August 22, 2017

InjuryHamstring injury

RB Mike Gillislee says he was a full participant in practice today. Has been limited the last two weeks with hamstring. (Mike Reiss on Twitter)

Nerdy Football Analysis: Gillislle has been bothered by a hamstring injury leaving fantasy owners to wonder about his role in the crowded Patriots backfield. It’s difficult to peg Gillislle, Rex Burkhead, James White or any back in this offense as sure thing, making all dart throws in the middle to late rounds of your draft.

2017 NFL Predictions: Fantasy Studs and Duds at Every Position

Fantasy Football
August 14, 2017

In mid-August, the hardest part of fantasy football mock drafts for owners isn’t necessarily how or when to take players.  

It might be whether an owner should select a player at all.

It’s common knowledge to load up on big-name running backs and wideouts. Most likely understand quarterback is an eye-of-the-beholder ordeal too.

Whether a player is worth a pick outright is something of a roll of the dice, though. Each year, some guys will retain stud status without a problem, but the entire list starts to look like a minefield thanks to potential duds who fall off for various reasons, whether it’s age, schematic changes or otherwise.  

Here’s a look at a potential stud and dud for 2017 at each of the key spots. 

              

QB

Stud: Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints 

It isn’t time for fantasy owners to shy away from New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees just yet. 

Brees might be 38, but the offense and weapons around him ensure he won’t have a sudden dud-like performance in 2017. He’s thrown north of 4,000 yards every year dating back to 2005 and in that span hasn’t missed more than a game during a regular season.

The best part might be Brees’ average draft position (ADP), which has him coming off the board at 4.06. He’s the perfect target for owners who want to bridge the gap between ignoring the position for a few rounds and still grabbing an elite signal-caller to plug and play every week. 

           

Dud: Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor quietly finished as a top-10 scorer at his position a year ago. 

The team has since added notable rookie wideout Zay Jones, reliable target Anquan Boldin and traded for Jordan Matthews. But the Bills also traded away Sammy Watkins. 

On one hand, Taylor didn’t have Watkins on the field often. On the other, he’s relying on a rookie and a 36-year-old wideout to act as his main targets who can keep defenses honest. It’s a risky play for owners, especially when rising names like Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz keep popping up by the year. 

          

RB

Stud: David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals

David Johnson isn’t anything close to a one-hit wonder. 

The Arizona Cardinals decided to finally unleash the Northern Iowa product in 2016 and took owners along for the ride. He led all backs in scoring, with 327.8 points, as the lone one to break the 300-point barrier on the back of 1,239 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns as a rusher and another 879 and four as a receiver. 

Given the aging offense in Arizona and the desire to contend before quarterback Carson Palmer departs, it only makes sense Johnson will keep seeing 300-plus touches and produce in similar fashion. 

           

Dud: DeMarco Murray, Tennessee Titans

DeMarco Murray finished as one of 2016’s bigger surprises, posting 240.8 points in workhorse fashion to land fifth in scoring among running backs. 

The problem, though, is the team added Derrick Henry in the second round of the 2016 draft and fed him 110 attempts to Murray’s 293. 

Murray wound up scoring nine times while rushing for 4.4 yards per carry, but he’s 29, and it’s not hard to see why the coaching staff might look to keep him fresh by evening out the workload. As the Titans keep adding weapons like rookie Corey Davis to the passing game, it’s hard to see Murray getting another career-high 67 targets, either.

             

WR

Stud: Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks

It’s entirely too easy to sleep on Seattle Seahawks wideout Doug Baldwin. 

Baldwin is an iron man of wideouts, having missed just two games since 2012. He happens to be a target monster too, receiving north of 100 targets in each of his past two seasons. 

A year ago, Baldwin turned the attention into a top-10 wideout season above names such as Julian Edelman and Dez Bryant while regressing from 14 to seven touchdowns (expected, but still). He’s not going to climb higher, but Seattle hasn’t added much in the way of players who will steal his targets, and he’s one of the most reliable names on the player list, last year inhaling 94 of those 126 targets.

          

Dud: Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins

Not all target hogs are equal.

Miami Dolphins wideout Jarvis Landry received 131 a year ago, catching 94 of them and being unable to register a top-15 performance at the position by the end of the season.

Landry is a monster in points-per-reception (PPR) formats, but he has averaged all of 10.6 yards per catch during his career and has scored only four touchdowns in each of his past two seasons. 

It gets worse: Landry flirted with dud status before taking into account DeVante Parker is breathing down his neck and swapping out signal-caller Ryan Tannehill for Jay Cutler

           

TE

Stud: Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings

Most owners might have left the Minnesota Vikings for dead once Sam Bradford assumed the starting role under center, yet the biggest winner of the ordeal was tight end Kyle Rudolph. 

Line-of-scrimmage usage or not, Rudolph wound up leading the team in targets at 132, getting him to 840 yards and seven touchdowns, good for a top-three performance at the position. 

It doesn’t seem like much will change in Minnesota this year, even if the Vikings hope for a bigger output from young weapons such as Laquon Treadwell. Bradford remains under center and won’t forget the rapport he has with his tight end, who happens to have an ADP of 9.02.

          

Dud: Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Cameron Brate catapulted himself into household-name status a year ago by exploding for a top-six season at tight end.

That didn’t stop the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from selecting O.J. Howard at No. 19 in the 2017 draft. 

Brate’s usage won’t necessarily go the way of the dinosaur thanks to the presence of a rookie tight end, but it’s important to keep in mind the offense also added wide receiver DeSean Jackson to the mix, making it unlikely he slots in the top 10 again.

          

All scoring info, points-against info and ownership stats courtesy of Yahoo standard leagues. Average draft position (ADP) courtesy of Fantasy Football Calculator.

Read more Fantasy Football news on NerdyFootball.com

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Drew Brees

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Tyrod Taylor

DeMarco Murray