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By this point in August, you’ve probably read a number of mock drafts and done a few practice drafts yourself as you prep for fantasy football. You’re immersed in the land of mock drafts. ‘Tis the season.
But for the following mock draft, I did things slightly differently. Using my top-50 rankings, I put together a five-round mock draft from all 10 starting slots in a 10-team, non-PPR league. While I didn’t stick exclusively to the rankings—I didn’t want to give a team two quarterbacks, for example—I mostly used a “best player available” philosophy for these teams.
Below, you’ll find the results of that mock in a neat and tidy package. Note that the number next to the player’s name represents my overall value for the player, not the draft slot they were selected in. I’ll also give my thoughts on each team. Let’s dive in.
1. Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams
20. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
21. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings
40. Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
43. Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns
This ended up being a team with a ton of potential upside.
Evans is one of the most talented wide receivers in the league and could easily finish as a top-three receiver. Had Cook not been injured last season, he might have been a first-round pick this year. Keep in mind that he rushed for 354 yards and two touchdowns in four games last year, which projects to 1,416 yards and eight touchdowns over a full season.
And then there’s Gordon, who has elite potential but remains a mystery away from the Browns.
I really like the shape of this team. Gurley and Wilson are safe options at their positions, Evans and Cook seem like safe bets to at least be solid contributors and Gordon is worth the gamble in the fifth round. It’s a fine start to a draft.
With this squad, you can probably just continue to pick the best player available as the draft continues, especially considering that the elite tight ends aren’t available. Unless this team can get a guy like Evan Engram at tight end before the run on that position begins, I’d probably wait.
2. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
19. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts
22. Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons
38. Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings
41. Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
It’s a solid start for this squad. Bell and Newton are safe and productive options at their respective positions. Freeman is a steady RB2. Diggs just got an upgrade at quarterback in Kirk Cousins. And Hilton should have a major bounce-back year as Andrew Luck returns.
I don’t love this group as much as Team 1, but there is a strong foundation in place here. Like Team 1, this team can continue to seek out the top players or values on their board.
Charles Krupa/Associated Press
3. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
17. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints
23. Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
34. Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks
48. Kenyan Drake, RB, Miami Dolphins
I really like the first four picks here. Elliott is as safe as they come at running back, while the wide receiver pairing of Michael Thomas and Doug Baldwin finished eighth and 13th, respectively, in non-PPR leagues last year. This team should get solid production from those two.
Finally, a healthy Gronkowski provides incredible value at tight end, where at his best he puts numbers that would be elite for wideouts, let alone tight ends.
That leaves Drake as this team’s question mark. He looked good after Jay Ajayi was traded to Philadelphia last season, but Frank Gore’s presence looms. Drake should still be the starter, but personally, I’d rather have a better RB2 in place by this point.
If I picked this team, I would add at least two more running backs in my next three or four picks. And I’d probably wait on quarterback, where there’s a ton of depth to be had well down the board.
4. David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals
16. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers
24. Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders
39. Jay Ajayi, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
42. Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans
There’s lots of potential in this group. Johnson was fantasy’s MVP in 2016, so his return to injury should be accompanied by another huge season.
Adams having a full season of Aaron Rodgers should bolster his value. And Watson was fantasy’s best player while he was healthy last year, making him a contender as a top-three quarterback and nice value in the fifth round.
Cooper and Ajayi are slightly riskier, though not to the point that they aren’t the right values for these picks. The hope for fantasy owners will be that Cooper shines as the clear top option in Oakland’s passing game, while Ajayi’s value doesn’t get diluted in a committee situation in Philadelphia that will include Wendell Smallwood, Corey Clement and Darren Sproles.
For this team, then, I’d be focused on adding wideout and running back depth before even worrying about tight end.
5. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
15. A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
25. Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings
37. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
44. Alshon Jeffery, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
From a philosophical standpoint, this is how I’ll likely approach my draft this year. While my hope will be that the board falls in a way that allows me to grab two solid running backs in the first three rounds, I’m not going to reach on players, either.
I love Barkley. He’s the ultimate weapon at running back and an easy selection at No. 5. From there, Green has always been a steady option in fantasy, while Thielen has now posted consecutive seasons with 950 or more receiving yards.
Henry has major breakthrough potential, even with Dion Lewis in town, and if Jeffery is your third receiver, you are in business.
For this team, I’m now trying to grab the best values available at quarterback, running back and tight end in the next four rounds. There’s no need to even consider a WR4 until Round 10.
Jeffrey T. Barnes/Associated Press
6. Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
18. Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears
26. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals
36. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers
45. Jarvis Landry, WR, Cleveland Browns
This team would be a killer in PPR, but even in non-PPR leagues, I like this group. Brown, Fitzgerald and Landry are safe and productive options. Howard isn’t sexy, but he’s super reliable at running back.
McCaffrey’s a nice RB2 who should see a slight uptick in his carries this year (though he brings enough value in the passing game to mitigate his limited workload in the run game).
For this team, I definitely want to round out my running back depth, but again, this squad has the luxury of focusing on best values available at quarterback and tight as well in the next few rounds.
7. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints
14. Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
27. Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
35. Jerick McKinnon, RB, San Francisco 49ers
46. Allen Robinson, WR, Chicago Bears
Teams 5, 6 and 7 are going to really battle over quarterbacks and tight ends and likely determine where those runs begin, huh?
There’s a decent squad here. Kamara is a do-it-all weapon who could be justified as a top-five pick. Allen is an elite fantasy option when healthy. Hill may see some of his targets taken by Sammy Watkins—and much of his success will be reliant on the play of second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes—but he’s an all-around weapon who should remain a major playmaker in Kansas City.
McKinnon looks like the feature back in San Francisco, so he’s a good RB2. And while Robinson’s 2015 season (1,400 receiving yards, 14 touchdowns) may be an outlier, it’s worth remembering that he’s flashed major production in the past.
A healthy Robinson has solid upside, especially if Mitchell Trubisky takes a step forward in his sophomore campaign.
8. Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
11. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
28. LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills
33. Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles
47. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos
Coming away with Fournette and Jones in the first two rounds is about as good as you could hope for from the No. 8 position.
McCoy remains a solid RB2 when he’s on the field (obviously his legal situation is something to keep an eye on), while Ertz remains a great option at tight end. And Thomas should bounce back with a legitimate quarterback in Case Keenum now under center.
For this squad, I’d be more focused on adding depth at running back and wideout than jumping on a quarterback right away.
Mike Roemer/Associated Press
9. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans
13. Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
29. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
32. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
49. Alex Collins, RB, Baltimore Ravens
This is an interesting group. From a value perspective, the top four picks make sense and give this fantasy team a top option at the four major positions. But from a philosophical perspective, I’m not sure I’d spring for both a tight end and quarterback in the first five rounds.
If you take this approach, you’d better be ready to basically focus exclusively on wide receiver and running back for the next five to six rounds. This method will be useful if you feel confident you have some strong sleepers in your back pocket at either position.
That’s the issue with this sort of approach—yes, all four of those players are good, but it means you had better find excellent value at running back and wide receiver later. It’s important to make sure you have safe options like the first four players taken here.
10. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants
12. Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Rams
30. Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
31. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
50. Chris Hogan, WR, New England Patriots
There’s some boom-or-bust potential here, with Brady and Hogan being on the same team, but Brady is about as safe as they come and Hogan should be the team’s top option out wide this year.
Beckham and Gordon are sound picks in the first two rounds, guaranteeing steady production. And Mixon should be the main back in Cincinnati this year, giving him a high ceiling and a pretty reliable floor as either an RB2 or flex.
For this team I’m hitting wideout and running back hard in the upcoming rounds, keeping an eye out for the tight end run to see if I can nab an Engram, Greg Olsen or Jimmy Graham. But waiting a bit later and grabbing a boom-or-bust play like Trey Burton, Jordan Reed or David Njoku would make sense as well.