Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (90 catches, 1,327 yards, 18 total TDs) had 10 games of 78 yards receiving or more last year, including six triple-digit efforts for the regular season and playoffs.
For the year-round thrill ride that is fantasy football, here's a dry run of draft expectations when holding the No. 2 slot in 12-team leagues (standard scoring), working exclusively off MockDraftCentral.com's current Average Draft Position (ADP) rankings.
As you'll see down the list, the early run on second-tier tailbacks temporarily threw me for a loop. My indecision was compounded by the fact that I couldn't pass on the Round 2 and 3 values of one amazing quarterback and one record-setting tight end.
Round 1, Pick 2 overall: Motive—Best overall player
1st option: RB LeSean McCoy, Eagles
2nd option: QB Aaron Rodgers, Packers
3rd option: WR Calvin Johnson, Lions
Round 2, Pick 23 overall: Motive—Best player available
1st option: QB Matthew Stafford, Lions
2nd option: TE Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
3rd option: RB Fred Jackson, Bills
Round 3, Pick 26 overall: Motive—Best player available
1st option: TE Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
2nd option: RB Fred Jackson, Bills
3rd option: RB Steven Jackson, Rams
Round 4, Pick 47 overall: Motive—Best wide receiver
1st option: WR Mike Wallace, Steelers
2nd option: WR Jordy Nelson, Packers
3rd option: WR Steve Smith, Panthers
Round 5, Pick 50 overall: Motive—Best tailback available
1st option: RB Roy Helu, Redskins
2nd option: RB Jahvid Best, Lions
3rd option: RB Stevan Ridley, Patriots
Round 6, Pick 71 overall: Motive—Best tailback or receiver available
1st option: RB Stevan Ridley, Patriots
2nd option: WR Steve Johnson, Bills
3rd option: WR Reggie Wayne, Colts
Round 7, Pick 74 overall: Motive—Best receiver available
1st option: WR Reggie Wayne, Colts
2nd option: WR Pierre Garcon, Redskins
3rd option: WR Malcom Floyd, Chargers
Round 8, Pick 95 overall: Motive—Best wide receiver available
1st option: WR Nate Washington, Titans
2nd option: WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders
3rd option: WR Sidney Rice, Seahawks
Round 9, Pick 98 overall: Motive—Best tailback or receiver available
1st option: RB Daniel Thomas, Dolphins
2nd option: WR Greg Little, Browns
3rd option: RB Ryan Williams, Cardinals
Round 10, Pick 119 overall: Motive—Best player available, preferably wideout
1st option: WR Laurent Robinson, Jaguars
2nd option: WR Titus Young, Lions
3rd option: WR Mike Williams, Buccaneers
Round 11, Pick 122: Motive—Best tailback available
1st option: RB Mikel Leshoure, Lions
2nd option: RB Evan Royster, Redskins
3rd option: RB Tim Hightower, Redskins
Round 12, Pick 143: Motive—Best defense available
1st option: D/ST Green Bay Packers
2nd option: D/ST Chicago Bears
3rd option: D/ST Pittsburgh Steelers
Round 13, Pick 146: Motive—Best quarterback available
1st option: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills
2nd option: QB Mark Sanchez, Jets
3rd option: QB Andy Dalton, Bengals
Round 14, Pick 167: Motive—Best kicker available
1st option: PK Mike Nugent, Bengals
2nd option: PK Matt Prater, Broncos
3rd option: PK Nate Kaeding, Chargers
Round 15, Pick 170: Motive—Best upside tight end available
1st option: TE Kyle Rudolph, Vikings
2nd option: TE Ed Dickson, Ravens
3rd option: TE Lance Kendricks, Rams
Round 16, Pick 191: Motive—Best wide receiver available
1st option: WR Jerome Simpson, Vikings
2nd option: WR Donald Jones, Bills
3rd option: WR Danario Alexander, Rams
LeSean McCoy is not likely to replicate his 20 total touchdowns (17 rushing) from last year, but he is a great candidate to eclipse 1,624 total yards—which included 11 games of 100-plus total yards. In fact, I'll be shocked if "Shady" comes in under the 1,725-yard threshold, a testament to his expanding role in the Eagles offense. Of course, there were springtime reports that head coach Andy Reid wanted to restrict McCoy's touches, a supposed random act of kindness, even though Arian Foster (331 touches), Ray Rice (367) and Maurice Jones-Drew (386) crushed McCoy (321) in that category last season.
- For most standard-scoring drafts, I adhere to the 4-2-1 method, meaning I'll target four running backs, two receivers and one high-end quarterback or tight end in the first seven selections. In some cases, I'll even balance the workload for tailbacks and wideouts. But for this particular mock, I absolutely couldn't pass on the pre-draft values of Matthew Stafford (No. 23 overall) and Rob Gronkowski (No. 26). In fact, I had to do a double-take after seeing Gronk slide so far. Could it be that his bout of TV celebrity has diminished some of his fantasy viability for the upcoming season? Do prospective owners not see him as hungry to repeat last year's amazing numbers (90 catches, 1,327 yards, 18 total TDs)?
- It's important to remember that Roy Helu squeezed 1,039 total yards and three touchdowns out of only 200 touches (5.02 yards per touch). With 50-60 more touches—an ultra-conservative estimate for a high-end back—that's 1,300 easy yards. I am supremely confident that Helu can take a big leap forward this season, but I'm also aware of Evan Royster's development in the Redskins offense (along with Tim Hightower's underrated spot on the depth chart). For Helu to gain the ultimate respect in his second campaign, he must be a force around the goal line. Let's just hope the extra touches entail a bump in red-zone chances. Targets: 1,363 total yards and eight touchdowns.
- There is an upside to picking an elite tight end and quarterback in the first three picks. For Rounds 4-11, I only considered receivers and tailbacks, knowing the eventual backups at tight end and quarterback would only log one start all year (assuming full health for Gronkowski and Stafford).
- It would have been a crime to pass on Mike Wallace...and his absurd ADP of 52.
- Speaking of absurd pre-draft values, how is it possible that Wes Welker (1,569 yards receiving last year) could slide to No. 46 overall...or humbly sit as the 13th wide receiver taken? I know different GMs have ulterior motives in mock drafts, but it's still ridiculous to see an elite wide receiver treated like an eminently replaceable asset.
- I would have loved to play this league out during the season, having landed McCoy, Stafford, Gronk, Wallace, Helu, Ridley, Reggie Wayne and Nate Washington in the first eight selections. It's a damn shame to acknowledge this one as a simple simulation.
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.