The time for fantasy football drafting is coming to a close.
At this point, most everyone is already familiar with the big names and when they’re expected to fly off the board. It doesn’t matter whether it’s your first league or your 30th; you know the elite players, and you know their draft range by now.
It’s the mid-tier players, those key middle-round selections, who can ultimately define your fantasy football season. Every championship team needs its quality role players—the Steve Kerrs and Boris Diaws who dutifully ride alongside the Michael Jordans and Timmy Duncans.
Whiff on picks five through seven and there’s a good chance your team is spending an embarrassing season stuck in a dark, gloomy fantasy football cellar.
Here, we’ll be taking a look at the results from a 12-team point-per-reception draft, with an explicit focus on Rounds 5 through 7.
Following that, I’ll highlight some key players and quirky team names to be used heading into the season.
Mock Draft: Rounds 5-7
Davante Adams (Round: 5, Pick: 3)
Players don’t want to “win” starting spots by default; they want to earn them. But, in a game as inherently dangerous and violent as football, that seldom is the case.
Unfortunately, the Green Bay Packers know that all too well.
First, it was No. 1 wide receiver Jordy Nelson going down with a season-ending torn ACL in Green Bay’s second preseason game.
Then, it was newly promoted No. 1 wide receiver Randall Cobb landing hard on his shoulder in the Packers’ third preseason contest. Cobb left, never to return, with both the Packers star wide receiver and the team itself fearing a broken collarbone.
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy stated he does not believe the injury to be of the season-ending variety, but the severity of the injury and how long it could sideline Cobb for is still unknown, per ESPN’s Rob Demovsky.
Enter second-year wide receiver Davante Adams.
If news breaks that Cobb will be out of action for several weeks, Adams could rise much higher than the early fifth round.
A second-round selection out of Fresno State last season, the 6’1″, 215-pound Adams had an erratic rookie season filled with fluctuating returns.
He played in all 16 regular-season games but recorded less than three receptions in 12 of the 16.
His total line in the other four games: 24 receptions for 323 yards—an average of 80.75 yards per game.
But his best performance of the season (7 REC, 117 YDS, 1 TD) came in a game against the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Divisional Playoff.
However, his preseason performances have been less than stellar, especially considering the opportunity now laying directly at his feet.
His wide receiver rating (50.3) is seventh among nine Packers wide receiver this preseason, per Pro Football Focus.
It’s difficult to get too worked up over these numbers, especially considering what Adams proved capable of last year, but one also must remember the inconsistency which plagued him.
With Nelson done for the year, Adams is first in line to be Aaron Rodgers’ No. 2 target, and if Cobb should find himself unable to go for a few weeks, Adams will likely become the Packers’ new No. 1.
Adams might not have the skill of a Cobb or Nelson, but Rodgers knows how to make his wide receivers look good. In a PPR league, don’t hesitate to snag Adams in the mid-fourth or early fifth round, but if Cobb’s news comes back worse than expected, Adams could rise as high as the third round.
Martavis Bryant (Round: 5, Pick: 10)
Last Thursday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter broke the news that Bryant is facing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
It’s a critical hit for the Steelers, who were relying on Bryant to come into his own opposite Antonio Brown in his second season with the team.
Though he—well, pretty much everyone—was overshadowed by Brown’s Herculean receiving efforts, Bryant quietly turned in a strong season despite playing in just 10 games.
Bryant had an impressive rookie campaign in 2014, ranking No. 7 in the league in WR rating at 125.8 (QB rating when targeted). He also ranked No. 6 in yards per route run average at 2.75 — better than Brown, Randall Cobb, and Jordy Nelson. A favorite deep target of Roethlisberger, 41.7 percent of Bryant’s targets were of the deep variety. He caught all seven of his catchable deep balls, with four going for TDs.
Bryant was far from perfect—his 13.33 percent drop rate was among the worst in the league, per Pro Football Focus.
Still, the 6’4″, 211-pound rookie showed ephemeral glimpses of the type of player he could one day become, which is why this suspension is so disappointing.
Bryant has been not only Pittsburgh’s most dynamic receiving threat this preseason—understandably, Brown has played sparingly—but he’s looked like one of the most talented pass-catchers in the entire league.
Bryant leads the Steelers with 205 receiving yards and two touchdowns on seven receptions. The man in line to take his spot as Pittsburgh’s No. 2 wide receiver, Markus Wheaton, has four receptions for 62 yards and one touchdown, per Steelers.com.
Bryant has the second-highest wide receiver rating (the rating quarterbacks have when throwing to a particular wide receiver) in the entire NFL this preseason, with his 146.8 trailing only Kansas City’s Fred Williams, per Pro Football Focus.
It’s just preseason, but Bryant looks far more polished in his route running, and his hands look much more reliable.
I’d still suggest taking Bryant in this range, despite the looming suspension. Pittsburgh is poised to once again possess one of the better offenses in the league, and when Bryant returns, Wheaton will have to cede his No. 2 spot back.
Don’t let the suspension scare you off too much.
If you can snag Wheaton several rounds down the road as a potential Bryant fill-in, that would be ideal, but there are plenty of other wide receivers in this range you can take as a placeholder in Bryant’s absence.
Devin Funchess (Round 7: Pick 4)
This is somewhat of a theme now: A season-ending injury to a crucial player forces a young and talented, but unproven, receiver to step into an unexpected role.
For the second year in a row, Cam Newton will be relying on a rookie as his No. 1 target in the passing game.
Kelvin Benjamin, coming off an excellent rookie season that saw him haul in 73 receptions for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns, tore his ACL during training camp, ending his second year before it ever truly began.
Benjamin’s crushing injury leaves Carolina with a projected receiving corps of Jerricho Cotchery, Ted Ginn, Devin Funchess, Corey Brown and Brenton Bersin, according to The Charlotte Observer‘s Joseph Person.
Look at that name and ask yourself: Who can emerge from the depths of mediocrity to become Newton’s go-to guy?
Cotchery and Ginn have had their chances, Corey Brown has struggled catching the ball, and Bersin was a practice-squad player for two years before injuries forced Carolina to promote him last season.
Carolina selected Funchess with the No. 41 overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft; the Panthers didn’t invest in the former Michigan Wolverine to let him wallow behind the likes of Cotchery, Ginn and Bersin.
Funchess is similar in build to Benjamin. His 6’4″, 232-pound frame is a nightmare for smaller cornerbacks, and though he only ran a 4.70 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, he recorded dashes of 4.47 and 4.53 at his pro day, per NFL.com.
His 38.5-inch vertical means he’s adept at going up and getting the ball, which is something Newton and Benjamin heavily relied on last season.
While Funchess and Benjamin have similar measurables, Fantasy Pros’ Mike Castiglione warns against expecting too much from the rookie:
All things considered, expect the Panthers to spread the ball around this season as opposed to peppering their second-rounder with No. 1 WR-type volume. That being said, he is sure to be moved around the formation to leverage mismatches in opportune down and distances; namely, the red zone. Funchess’s wingspan should also help with Newton’s occasional accuracy woes. But without much proven talent out wide, the Panthers are also not a particularly tough offense to game plan against, especially if Rivera holds true to his claim that the Panthers won’t be dialing up more read-option plays.
The Panthers offense isn’t going to move the chains like a Pittsburgh or Green Bay, but Funchess looks like he could develop into a reliable end-zone target on a team with none aside from tight end Greg Olsen.
The ability to snag a potential No. 1 wide receiver around the seventh or eight rounds could be a huge boost to any fantasy team, especially one that decides to go running back-heavy in the early rounds.
Don’t expect Benjamin, but Benjamin-lite. At this price, that’s a solid deal.
Team Name Ideas
Obviously, there are less savory team names one could go with, but I decided to keep it PG-rated here.
Have any other team suggestions? Feel free to share them in the comments section!
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