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Fantasy Football 2015: Mock Draft Analysis and Selection Strategy

Fantasy Football
September 2, 2015

Position battles have been won or lost. Veterans have been cut. Trades have been made. Young players have turned heads. A few surprising veterans or players returning from injury have done the same.

With just one round of preseason games remaining, we have a pretty good idea of what teams will look like heading into the year and what roles players will have on those teams.

And that means you should be going into your fantasy football draft confident, prepared and well-versed. Your list of sleepers should be compiled. You should know average draft order of players and where the real values lie. And you should have plenty of mock drafts under your belt.

In case you don’t have the latter covered, however, let’s take a look at my mock draft and how I would approach the draft from a specific selection slot.

In this mock draft walkthrough, I’ll take you through how I would approach having the No. 4 overall pick, meaning I’ll also be selecting No. 17, No. 24, No. 37, No. 44, No. 57, No. 64, No. 77, No. 84 and No. 97 overall.

But before we get to my walkthrough, let’s take a look at fantasy draft advice from Nerdy Football’s Matt Camp.

At No. 4, you’re lucky enough to be in a position to take one of the top running backs on the board, so go with whomever you trust the most here. On my board, Jamaal Charles will be available, making him a pretty easy selection.

And yes, I know that many people would probably select Le’Veon Bell, as I have him lower than most mocks. But again, drafting a player who I know will be missing two games of the season simply makes no sense to me with a top-five pick. Anything can happen in two weeks. I want to make sure I can start the best possible team every week, so I’m taking Charles over Bell.

Because I have at least one elite running back, I have a lot more flexibility at No. 17. The way the board falls makes it a pretty easy selection, as I’m simply deciding between Julio Jones and A.J. Green. Each player presents a unique case for being selected.

Jones will simply win you a few weeks on his own given how explosive he can be. Last year, he had three weeks with 24 or more fantasy points in ESPN standard leagues, something only Antonio Brown, Demaryius Thomas, Jordy Nelson and Odell Beckham Jr. also accomplished. Add in the fact that he scored eight or more fantasy points 10 times, and he’s a safe bet to help your team every week.

But he’s not quite as consistent as Green, who despite being plagued by injuries last year, missing three games entirely and significant time in another three, still scored 10 or more fantasy points in eight games.

So this comes down to preference. Jones probably has the higher overall upside and will absolutely explode in certain weeks. Green will give you the more consistent trickle of points, though his weekly ceiling is a bit lower. I like Jones’ upside here, so I’m going with him, but I don’t think you can go wrong either way.

Generally in the third round I’d be looking to add another running back given the depth at quarterback and wideout, but I can’t pass on the value of taking Randall Cobb at No. 24. Cobb is going to be Aaron Rodgers‘ top option this season and could be a top-five receiver in fantasy circles when all is said and done. There simply isn’t a running back who will give you the same bang for your buck at that draft slot.

At No. 37 I have an interesting choice. I can address running back with Andre Ellington, I can nab a quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger or I can go after a tight end with Greg Olsen, who should see even more targets this season with Kelvin Benjamin done for the year.

Ellington is a boom-or-bust pick given his explosive ability, but also because of his injury issues last year and the likelihood that Arizona will be unable to rely on him as the sole feature back.

But he will be the starter. And he remains a key figure in Arizona’s offense, as general manager Steve Keim told Kyle Odegard of AZCardinals.com:

From an organizational standpoint, we’re counting on the guy. It’s unbelievable to still go back and when I look at the games where he played and the games he didn’t play and the difference he makes, how dynamic he is with the ball in his hands. I’d put him up there with a lot of the other play-makers in the league. I think the guy’s special as a ball-carrier and as a receiver. But the million dollar question is, can he stay healthy?

Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians would still like to see Ellington get 20 touches a game, noting, “He feels faster than he’s ever been. He’s stronger than he’s been. And like he said, it’s nice to play with two feet.”

Is he worth the risk in the fourth round, however?

Well, I would take him over Big Ben. You can get much better value at quarterback later in the draft. And I think you can get better value at tight end later in the draft too. But look at the running backs available after Ellington:

  • Justin Forsett: I don’t trust him to repeat his performance from 2014. He’ll have a good season, but I’d be shocked if he replicated those numbers. Last year was an outlier.
  • Jonathan Stewart: If I’m trusting a running back with injury issues, I’d rather have one with far more upside like Ellington.
  • Giovani Bernard: He’s Cincy’s No. 2 option in the running game. Jeremy Hill is a stud.
  • Todd Gurley and T.J. Yeldon: Unknown commodities, one with injury questions and one on a questionable offense.

Some folks may believe Ellington is a big reach here, but looking down the board at the other available running backs, I think nabbing him at No. 37 is the wise decision.

But I’m doubling down on running back if Ellington is my guy. At No. 44, with quite a few decent options on the board, I’m still going to select Stewart. At least now I feel I’ve addressed that position and can really look for value at the other positions as I continue through my draft.

And would you look at that, in this draft, Drew Brees is waiting for me at No. 57. By waiting a bit on a quarterback, I got an excellent option while nabbing two elite wideouts, an elite running back, a high-upside running back and even some depth at the position. I’m feeling pretty good about the makeup of this team at this point.

And at No. 64, I can select another wideout to give myself some really excellent flex options throughout the year. I think Amari Cooper is going to have an excellent rookie season, and he isn’t a huge risk to be taking with a seventh-round pick, so I’ll scoop him up here.

At No. 77, it’s time to address tight end. I’ve missed a run of tight ends for sure, but I’ll be pretty happy selecting Jordan Cameron. His injury concerns mean I’ll more than likely draft another tight end in the next few rounds, but I love the upside he offers.

At No. 84, I’m looking for the top value on the board. That would be Roddy White, but I don’t really want to double dip on Falcons receivers, so I’ll take Anquan Boldin instead, rounding out a really solid group of wideouts.

At No. 97 I add another rookie, Ameer Abdullah, who will at best split reps with Joique Bell this year. However, he is an injury away from being an explosive starting option. At RB4, I could do far worse.

And that concludes what I feel is a strong opening 10 rounds. From there, I’ll be adding another quarterback and worrying about my defense and kicker with the final two picks. This draft had a reach or two, some people might argue, and I have definite injury concerns with certain players, but the value I got with these picks was pretty darn solid. This draft is the classic example of taking what the board gives you and remembering the positions where you can get value from later in the draft.

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