Although the allure of daily fantasy leagues continues to grow, there’s something more enjoyable about playing the role of general manager and following your team’s success or failure over the course of an entire season.
Your team’s chances aren’t based solely on how well you drafted, but it’s a lot harder to win, especially in the first couple weeks of the year, when you whiffed on one or more of your first few picks.
Below, you’ll find a mock draft for the first two rounds and a few bits of advice before you approach your draft.
Two-Round Mock Draft
Target Adrian Peterson Instead of Le’Veon Bell with Top Pick
Rarely would you feel good about hitching your wagons to a player who essentially missed all of the previous season. Adrian Peterson got one game under his belt before the child abuse allegations arose and he lost the rest of his 2014 campaign.
In most cases, you’d worry rust could be a major issue. For Peterson, his nearly year-long absence from the field should only make him fresher for 2015. And he’ll carry a major chip on his shoulder.
The Minnesota Vikings added Mike Wallace, and Teddy Bridgewater will likely be asked to do more in his second season. Nerdy Football’s Chris Simms also argued Minnesota should ease Peterson back into game action early in the year:
Still, there’s no question the Vikings offense will rely heavily on Peterson. He’ll get his fair share of carries, and ESPN.com’s Matthew Berry believes Peterson will have a big role in the passing game as well:
In Norv Turner’s offense, he will catch balls, lots and lots of balls. (Heh heh, I said Norv). Turner has always thrown to his running backs; just last season, Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon (Asiata and McKinnon!) caught 71 balls between them. Obviously, Peterson will be on the field close to the amount of time those two were in 2014, and if you look at Peterson’s career, he has had two seasons in which he caught at least 40 balls.
If you own the top pick in your draft, go with Peterson.
You may be tempted to select Le’Veon Bell, who sits first in ESPN.com’s average draft position, instead.
“A lot of people talk about the season I had last year,” Bell said Thursday, per ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler. “They call it a breakout season, but I don’t look at it like that. I look at it as me just getting started. I still feel like I can do a lot of things better. Last year wasn’t even close to me being my best.”
Despite that proclamation, what should concern you with Bell is durability. It’s not so much an indictment of Bell as it is a risk assessment in today’s NFL.
The 23-year-old carried the ball 290 times and caught 83 passes in 2014. Can he repeat that kind of production in 2015? Or will the Pittsburgh Steelers’ coaching staff even allow him to touch the ball that many times?
Plus, in Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant, the Steelers have two emerging wide receivers who could steal some of Bell’s thunder. Not to mention the All-Pro running back will be absent for the first two games of the regular season.
Bell is obviously a surefire first-rounder and shouldn’t fall out of the top-five picks. But you’d be smarter to look at a few running backs ahead of him if you are picking near the top of the first round.
Don’t Reach for a Quarterback if You Miss out on Andrew Luck, Aaron Rodgers
Last year, Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck were the top two quarterbacks on NFL.com, and the rest of the field was some distance behind. Here’s a look at the 12 highest-scoring QBs in 2014:
The difference between Rodgers and the No. 12 QB—Philip Rivers—was 88.5 points, which averaged out to a little over 5.5 points a game.
That’s not an insignificant amount, but consider the difference between DeMarco Murray—the No. 1 RB in 2014—and the No. 12 RB LeSean McCoy was 122.7 points. And keep in mind standard leagues call for at least two starting running backs.
The gulf between the Nos. 1 and 12 fantasy wideouts was only 75.4 points last year, but the gap widens to 116.7 points when you increase the spectrum to the top 24 wideouts, which is again important since you’ll need to start at least 2 WRs in standard leagues.
That’s why you can afford to wait a bit on a quarterback. Luck and Rodgers are the only QBs worth taking in the first two rounds, and beyond that, you should wait until at least the fourth round before going after your starter.
By that time, consistent producers like Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Newton, Tony Romo and Tom Brady should still be available.
Even if there’s a run at the position in the second or third rounds for whatever reason, you’re better off getting value at running back and wide receiver and drafting one of the lesser-ballyhooed signal-callers like Rivers, Eli Manning, Ryan Tannehill or Matthew Stafford.
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