Fantasy football mock draft series: May takeaways

Fantasy football mock draft series: May takeaways

Fantasy football draft strategy tips and advice

Fantasy football mock draft series: May takeaways


It is mid-May, and fantasy football drafts are gaining steam. A recently hosted industry mock is the source for this recap. Out of respect for the hosts of this draft, no reference will be made to its identity so the content remains fresh on their end, nor will the entire draft results be published here.

The blurbs about my team below were provided to the draft host and will appear in a magazine as part of a larger evaluation of the draft. Before getting into my individual picks (we didn’t select kickers or defensive teams), here are a few generalized observations from a 12-team, PPR draft.

  • In last year’s iteration, every Round 1 pick was a running back, minus a lone receiver (Tyreek Hill) chosen at No. 11 overall. This time out, we saw seven running backs and five receivers, including Cooper Kupp going at No. 2.
  • Five RBs came off the board in Round 2 in 2021’s draft, which mostly consisted of receivers. This year, a half-dozen backs, two tight ends, and a quartet of receivers made up the second stanza.
  • The first QB came off the board in late Round 4 (Patrick Mahomes) last year, and Josh Allen was taken with the last pick of Round 5 this time around. Mahomes went second with the final selection of Round 6, followed by Justin Herbert in early Round 7. Five more went in the next 30 choices.
  • In the first 100 picks of last year’s draft, 9 QBs, 37 RBs, 44 WRs and 10 TEs were taken. In this May’s version, we watched 6 QBs, 39 RBs, 45 WRs and 10 tight ends — no drastic changes. It’s nice to see more owners waiting on quarterbacks, though.
  • Drafting in the top eight is a great situation this year. You’re bound to come away with a legit No. 1 running back. There’s enough depth at the position to either go with a pair in the opening two rounds or alternate between RB and WR in the first four rounds while still coming away with a strong nucleus.
  • This theme also was on full display in 2021 drafts. Taking consecutive receivers to close out Round 1 wasn’t the ideal strategy, but the plan was to test it out. The position is so ridiculously deep that gamers can hold off, making the preferred strategy is to come out of the first three rounds with a single receiver.
  • Quarterback remains quite deep, too, with a viable starter being available into the 12th round. Tight end remains a little top-heavy, just like last year. Following the consensus top-six TEs — all of whom went in the first five rounds — the position gets really dicey. If you’re not comfortable playing the matchups, make sure to secure one of Mark Andrews, Travis Kelce, Kyle Pitts, George Kittle, Darren Waller or Dalton Schultz.

Here’s a snapshot of the first 10 rounds broken down by number of positional picks:

1st: 7 RBs, 5 WRs
2nd: 6 RBs, 4 WRs, 2 TEs
3rd: 8 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 TE
4th: 4 RBs, 6 WRs, 2 TEs
5th: 1 QB, 1 RBs, 9 WRs, 1 TE
6th: 1 QB, 3 RBs, 8 WRs
7th: 3 QBs, 4 RBs, 3 WRs, 2 TEs
8th: 4 RBs, 6 WRs, 2 TEs
9th: 3 QBs, 6 RBs, 3 WRs
10th: 3 RBs, 7 WRs, 2 TEs

My team

We were asked to write 35 words per pick to give a little insight as to our draft thoughts:

1:12) WR Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills: In PPR, his sheer volume alone makes up for the lack of scoring prowess. The Bills actually could lean on him even more this year if Gabriel Davis and Jamison Crowder don’t step up as much as expected.

2:01) WR Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers: I’m not overly worried about the standoff, but Samuel’s aerial exploits may suffer with Trey Lance starting. Samuel also isn’t likely to rush nearly as much as a year ago. Talent usually wins out, however.

3:12) RB J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens: A WR-WR start was a mistake at No. 12. I should have drafted Leonard Fournette, Javonte Williams or D’Andre Swift instead of Deebo. Dobbins was injured early enough to be healthy, but he’s not an RB1.

4:01) RB Damien Harris, New England Patriots: Choosing an early-down running back with heavy TD dependence isn’t how this was drawn up in PPR. Breece Hall was a consideration, but Harris is a safer RB2 candidate, and that’s what I needed here.

5:12) QB Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills: Allen’s high ceiling can carry my weak RBs, and I love the Diggs stack. I usually wait on QBs; after seeing all of the value buys, I won’t give in to the temptation again.

6:01) WR Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers: His all-or-nothing nature is not ideal, but Williams’ role in such a reliable, pass-friendly system makes for a rock-solid WR3 to help offset my shaky RBs. A WR14 finish again? No, but WR25-30 is fine.

7:12) RB Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks: This is what happens when waiting to draft running backs … you start stockpiling risk-reward types at the most volatile position. Penny’s late surge last year was as real as his injury history and backfield competition.

8:01) WR DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals: After waiting too long to draft my first running back (insert Deebo joke here), Hopkins presented an interesting flex gamble. Yes, he’ll miss six games, but Nuk’s volume will be a nice addition upon his return.

9:12) RB Tyler Allgeier, Atlanta Falcons: Another RB without a receiving role, Allgeier enters a decent situation for a TD-heavy role. Cordarrelle Patterson’s age-30 breakout won’t be repeated, although both QB options will steal TD opportunities from the rookie.

10:01) RB Michael Carter, New York Jets: Breece Hall should steal the show, but if he struggles or gets injured, Carter’s versatility will be a welcomed addition to lineups. This sort of high-upside depth is what to look for after a WR-WR start.

11:12) WR DeVante Parker, New England Patriots: Why not? He’s far from a true WR1, but Parker has a reasonable shot to lead this mediocre passing attack in fantasy production. Parker’s biggest enemy, as usual, will be his own body failing him.

12:01) TE Austin Hooper, Tennessee Titans: Hooper didn’t just forget how to catch once he signed with Cleveland, a team that totally misused his skills. A lack of weaponry for Ryan Tannehill — in a TE-friendly system — piques my interest.

13:12) RB Khalil Herbert, Chicago Bears: OC Luke Getsy comes from Green Bay and was no stranger to incorporating a 2-to-1 committee approach in which the RB2 gets enough volume to matter. Herbert did his part last year, so this is a worthy gamble.

14:01) WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, Cleveland Browns: In Year 2, he took a significant step forward while catching passes from a battered Baker Mayfield. Deshaun Watson is a tremendous upgrade, and Amari Cooper helps draw defensive attention. DPJ is a steal this late.

Bonus draft recap!

As part of the magazine mock draft participation agreement, we also took part in a non-PPR version. Here’s my team review for that one:

1:08) RB Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals: I’m a little leery about his durability after such a large workload, but the other options for a legit RB1 weren’t much safer. Mixon is a sound bet for 12 touchdowns after scoring 16 total times in 2021.

2:05) RB James Conner, Arizona Cardinals: A touchdown machine in 2021, Conner has the backfield to himself. Durability is a concern, though, but he’s a rock-solid RB2 as long as he’s healthy. No DeAndre Hopkins for six games helps, too.

3:08) WR Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: One of the safest WR1 options in a non-PPR league, Evans will thrive again with Tom Brady back. Chris Godwin (knee) won’t be 100 percent early on, which bodes well for greater involvement on Evans’ behalf.

4:05) WR Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers: A top-10 receiver in PPR, Allen was a solid buy in Round 4 even in standard scoring. Yardage still counts, and he has been good for at least six scores in the last five seasons.

5:08) RB Damien Harris, New England Patriots: Seeing Harris available in Round 5 was surprising after he scored 15 times in ’21. He offers nothing as a receiver, and there will be a cap on his carry count, but a dozen TDs are within reach.

6:05) TE Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys: I probably should have waited a round or two and taken Brandin Cooks and Gabriel Davis instead. Schultz will be fine; he might even be better than last year, but him topping 8 TDs is the hope.

7:08) WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kansas City Chiefs: Gabriel Davis was the debate here. I gambled on Smith-Schuster threatening 10 touchdown grabs. The only WR in KC with a track record, playing out of the slot is a win in the red zone.

8:05) WR Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints: Effectively two lost years have the one-time No. 1 fantasy WR sliding into the 8th round, albeit in non-PPR. If Jameis Winston is allowed to sling it and Thomas is healthy, there’s WR1 potential again.

9:08) QB Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams: Quarterbacks went earlier than usual, due to the scoring format, but I held firm and avoided the temptation. Stafford is a top-five passer with room for more if he cuts down on the turnovers.

10:05) RB Tyler Allgeier, Atlanta Falcons: No more Mike Davis means Allgeier will have a crack at early-down work. I see Cordarrelle Patterson moving into more of a third-down role. The rookie could score eight-plus times with a few breaks.

11:08) WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, Cleveland Browns: A massive upgrade at quarterback means the third-year receiver has no excuses for not turning in his best season to date — and that’s coming off a team-leading 597 yards from Baker Mayfield.

12:05) RB Hassan Haskins, Tennessee Titans: Perhaps I should have chosen Keaontay Ingram as a handcuff to James Conner. I love Haskins’ chances if Derrick Henry breaks down again. Alexander Mattison and Khalil Herbert also were considered.

13:08) WR Rondale Moore, Arizona Cardinals: The touchdowns probably won’t be there, but Nuk missing six games, A.J. Green being ancient, and Zach Ertz also getting long in the tooth should create opportunities for Moore’s big-play nature to shine through.

14:05) WR Corey Davis, New York Jets: Meh. Maybe the weapons around him will alleviate the pressure and Davis can approach his 2020 line (65-984-5) … wishful thinking for my final skill pick, I suppose. At a minimum, he’s a weekly flex consideration.


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