For fantasy football owners, the return of mock drafts seemingly out of nowhere is a good problem to have.
It's akin to a team exiting the first week of the preseason with a better-than-expected performance, making cut days harder than anticipated—the end result is a better team.
It's easy to get caught off guard with how quickly mock drafts sneak up during August. As such, we've worked through a mock draft for a standard 12-team league below, outlined some strategies at few key spots and even thrown in some funny team names to consider.
|1.05||Odell Beckham Jr.|
Strategy at quarterback tends to fall into one of two camps: wait or don't.
Seems simple, right? Some might argue nabbing a quarterback during the first three rounds or so guarantees a solid starter. Others will point out a late-round quarterback and streaming the position each week is the best way to get value while not missing out on production elsewhere.
Both approaches can work because quarterback is so easy to project on a weekly basis, at least compared to other positions. Duds and outbursts will provide exceptions, but generally, even novice owners can find value.
The above mock blends the two approaches, leaving where quarterbacks come off the board in the hands of owners. Keep in mind, though, only five quarterbacks posted north of the 300-yard mark last year and that only Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers went past 350.
Expanding on that, 18 signal-callers landed at 250 or more points, giving owners plenty of clearance to find solid starters in 12-team leagues. And remember, projections are more important than names—guys like Blake Bortles, Dak Prescott and Tyrod Taylor landed above 250. Eli Manning, Joe Flacco and Carson Palmer did not.
Quarterback strategy comes down to how a board falls and whether an owner is comfortable sacrificing potential production elsewhere for predictable numbers from under center.
The ever-evolving nature of running back makes it almost impossible to predict on a year-to-year basis, let alone by the week—and one of the biggest reasons so many advise waiting on quarterback and gobbling up as many backs as possible.
Before last season, few would have predicted rookies Jordan Howard and Ezekiel Elliott, respectively of the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys, would each finish among the top 10 scorers at the positon. Monster performances from guys like Jay Ajayi weren't easy to project, either. Nor were the disappearances of guys like Doug Martin and Eddie Lacy.
That means it's critical to load up on backs early and often. The Arizona Cardinals' David Johnson was the only back to hit north of 300 points a year ago, though Pittsburgh Steelers star Le'Veon Bell probably would have as well if he'd played the entire season. Every-down backs like those, who can produce on the ground and through the air, should always be a priority compared to a bruiser who gets spelled in passing situations.
At the very least, last year was a reassurance owners shouldn't shy away from rookies. Leonard Fournette should see quality run with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Christian McCaffrey should excel next to Cam Newton with the Carolina Panthers. Dalvin Cook looks like a workhorse for the Minnesota Vikings, and Joe Mixon has the talent to climb the Cincinnati Bengals' depth chart fast—and that's just addressing the first two rounds.
The best owners can do is load up and hope to hit on a few waiver-wire gems later. Gone are the days one grabbed an Adrian Peterson or Jamaal Charles and didn't have to think about a roster spot anymore. The skill set of the player, the offensive line in front of him, the offense around him, names on the depth chart behind him, career workload stretching back to college and other factors convolute the process much more than they do at somewhere such as wideout.
Funniest Team Names
San Francisco 4th & 9ers
Hit 'em where it hurts.
The San Francisco 49ers self-destructed a few years back and have been struggling to get back on track since. For fans of other NFC West teams or 49ers haters in general, this is a creative way to throw some shade at the team.
Owners have to hope the name doesn't backfire and reflect an inability to tally big yard totals. But any owner should be able to laugh at themselves by now.
A Zeke Outlook
On paper, this name gives a nod to Elliott, who posted 293 points a year ago and averaged 19.6 per game while doing little in the way of contributing through the air (he only saw 40 targets).
Owners could debate all day whether Elliott will be able to pull off such a workhorse feat again. But whether owners draft him or not, this name signals to the opposite confidence before kickoffs even occur.
Drake's New Favorite Team
Here's a way to signal to an opponent they're about to get steamrolled.
Drake is infamous for riding with any and all championship teams, strolling the sidelines or showing up in locker rooms after games. The man is a fan of sports, which is hard to hate, but he's never seen around, say, a .500 squad.
Nail the draft, name a team this and perfect the waiver wire and weekly matchups, and it looks like the perfect fantasy football recipe—and Drake might even show up to the championship party.