I love mock drafts.
The ability to experiment with how you build your team is unparalleled with a mock. I have always been of the belief you take running backs early and often and always wait for your quarterback. But this year is different. The temptation to stray from my long time philosophy is stronger than ever, but it’s not for a quarterback or wide receiver, it’s for a…tight end!?!
Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham have catapulted themselves to heights I never thought possible for a tight end – the first 14 picks of fantasy drafts. Graham has a current ADP of 1.11 and Gronk is currently sitting at 2.02 (#14 overall) in 12 team leagues. I have always been on the Antonio Gates bandwagon, heck, for a few years I was driving the dang thing, but I never took him before round three. Are these guys really worth it? With tight ends in general becoming more and more explosive, do they really deserve to be going this high? Well, If you haven’t checked out fellow DLF writer TheFFGhost’s article about the rise of the tight end, click here – it’s been one of the most dynamic and well received articles in DLF history.
This is where mock drafts come into play.
What does a team not built around running backs end up looking like? Does it pay off overall or are you actually at a disadvantage ignoring them early? I decided that if I was picking between seven and ten, I would build a team around one of these tight ends. With ESPN and MyFantasyLeague.com running around-the-clock sit and go mock drafts, now is easier than ever. For this I used the best league management site on the web, MyFantasyLeague.com. So I sent out an open invite to my followers on Twitter and we mocked. Here is the link.
The format was a 16 round, 10 team dynasty, 1 point PPR mock with four point passing touchdowns. The starting lineup requirements are 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, and 1 TE, no flex. For the sake of mocking, we did not draft kickers or defenses. I picked seventh overall.
Aaron Rodgers going first overall was a little surprising to me, but overall the top five players were pretty much the same as usual, just in a slightly different order. Let me just say that in a draft that would have actually been played out, I would not have passed on Calvin Johnson for any tight end at 1.07. I also had two running back targets for pick 2.04 – Trent Richardson and Darren McFadden, but they went with the first two picks in round two.
I don’t think my team is bad. I have youth mixed with veterans. I took advatage of some injured veterans and holdouts who fell further than they should have like Hakeem Nicks and Maurice Jones-Drew. I fully expect their ADP to rise the closer we get to opening day. I’m hoping everything with Jones-Drew’s contract gets settled sooner, rather than later. It makes me nervous when running backs miss the entire off-season workouts. It usually leads to some sort of injury related to poor training and/or conditioning.
My strategy for my wide receivers was to gather a lot of talent and hope one or two break out – I like the way this position turned out. With Percy Harvin and Nicks on my team, I felt I could take guys on the cusp of breaking out. I absolutely love Denarius Moore in Oakland with Carson Palmer this year. I think Kendall Wright will end the season leading all rookies in receiving yards as Wright and Jake Locker should be a match made in heaven. Locker’s style is not all that different than Robert Griffin III’s and I think Wright will know when to break his route off and get deep. He should be explosive from day one! Randall Cobb was another guy I was happy to get at 12.04. There are certain offenses in the NFL that you want as many pieces as possible on your fantasy team and Green Bay will be one of those teams for the next decade. Starting THIS year, Cobb should see a ton of slot snaps and immediately eat into the playing time of an over-the-hill Donald Driver and a less than effective James Jones. Alshon Jeffery was my last wide receiver and it came down to him or Santana Moss, who ended up going undrafted. Youth prevailed. I actually really like his situation and potential in Chicago with Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte - that division should be a lot of fun for the next 5-7 years.
At the running back position I sort of stuck to the same philosophy as my wide recievers. Get a guy I can trust (Jones-Drew), a young guy I love (Doug Martin), and then grab guys I think will have the big piece of a committee attack and look for value. Usually veteran players slip in dynasty drafts simply because the short shelf life and the desire to land a super stud running back at the beginning of his career.
I believe Jonathan Stewart slipping to 7.07 is ridiculous. In a PPR league, he’s still a mid-level RB2 with the potential to be a bona fide RB1 uber-stud!
Toby Gerhart at 10.04 was another great value pick in my opinion. For the first half of the season, Gerhart should be a rock solid RB2 while Adrian Peterson gets back to 100%, but if Peterson has a setback, I have a low end RB1.
How many starting running backs on one of the league’s most explosive offenses are available in round 11? James Starks was, so I took him. He won’t get 20 carries a game, but I think the Packers will run enough to keep defenses honest. That’s all I need in round 11.
My final running back was Pierre Thomas in round 15. Thomas is so under appreciated in fantasy football that nobody even bothered to give him a decent nickname. PT Cruiser? Really? Who wants to be called an under powered turd box driven by old people? Thomas is a little bit of Darren Sproles and a lot of Mark Ingram all wrapped into one very complete package. Thomas is the perfect RB3/RB4 to have on your team to fill in on bye weeks. I am happy to have him in round 15.
At quarterback and tight end I have myself covered both now and in the future with Eli Manning/Andrew Luck and Jimmy Graham/Robert Housler. Housler is one of my favorite DEEP sleepers at TE and if I miss out on Greg Olsen and Kyle Rudolph as my TE2, Housler has been my guy. Not to mention that with him being my last pick in the draft, I have no problem cutting him for a breakout talent that might pop up.
So in conclusion, is my team perfect? Nope. Could I realistically compete for a championship in year one? Probably, health and contracts permitting. If I had $100 on this league would I have taken one of the super stud tight ends in round one? Highly doubtful. I would still rather take two running backs in the first two rounds and grab a guy like Jason Witten in round seven or Fred Davis in round eight. I think you are still getting better return on your investment in that scenario. Maybe you agree, maybe you don’t. The good thing is there is a comment section right below this article and I would love to hear your thoughts.
Would you take Gronk or Graham in round one? Why or why not?
Follow me on Twitter @OlingerIDPGuru.
Eric is on Twitter @OlingerIDP.