Fantasy Football 2015: 4-Round Mock Draft and Strategy

Jared Johnson@@jaredtjohnson21Featured ColumnistAugust 28, 2015

Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy (27) carries the ball on a play during an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)
Brian Blanco/Associated Press

Are you still feeling a bit panicked about what you might do early in your fantasy football draft? You've come to the right place, so keep calm and read on.

The beginning of the draft is a very important time during which you'll form the core of your squad, so you'll definitely need a good attack plan. To help you out, we'll be simulating a four-round, 10-team mock draft for a standard-scoring league.

After seeing the results of the mock, we'll look at three key strategic tips for early in the draft and highlight how some of the teams in the mock applied said tips.

Four-Round Mock Draft

Round 1PlayerByePositionTeam
1Adrian Peterson5RBMinnesota Vikings
2Eddie Lacy7RBGreen Bay Packers
3Le'Veon Bell11RBPittsburgh Steelers
4Jamaal Charles9RBKansas City Chiefs
5Marshawn Lynch9RBSeattle Seahawks
6Antonio Brown11WRPittsburgh Steelers
7Rob Gronkowski4TENew England Patriots
8C.J. Anderson7RBDenver Broncos
9Matt Forte7RBChicago Bears
10Dez Bryant6WRDallas Cowboys
Round 2PlayerByePositionTeam
1Demaryius Thomas7WRDenver Broncos
2DeMarco Murray8RBPhiladelphia Eagles
3Andrew Luck10QBIndianapolis Colts
4Julio Jones10WRAtlanta Falcons
5Aaron Rodgers7QBGreen Bay Packers
6LeSean McCoy8RBBuffalo Bills
7Odell Beckham Jr.11WRNew York Giants
8Randall Cobb8WRGreen Bay Packers
9A.J. Green7WRCincinnati Bengals
10Calvin Johnson9WRDetroit Lions
Round 3PlayerPositionTeam
1Jeremy Hill7RBCincinnati Bengals
2Lamar Miller5RBMiami Dolphins
3Alfred Morris8RBWashington Redskins
4Alshon Jeffery7WRChicago Bears
5T.Y. Hilton10WRIndianapolis Colts
6Mike Evans6WRTampa Bay Buccaneers
7Justin Forsett9RBBaltimore Ravens
8Carlos Hyde10RBSan Francisco 49ers
9DeAndre Hopkins9WRHouston Texans
10Russell Wilson9QBSeattle Seahawks
Round 4PlayerPos.Team
1Brandin Cooks11WRNew Orleans Saints
2Peyton Manning7QBDenver Broncos
3Emmanuel Sanders7WRDenver Broncos
4Frank Gore10RBIndianapolis Colts
5Jimmy Graham9TESeattle Seahawks
6Ben Roethlisberger11QBPittsburgh Steelers
7Mark Ingram11RBNew Orleans Saints
8Andre Johnson10WRIndianapolis Colts
9Greg Olsen5TECarolina Panthers
10DeSean Jackson8WRWashington Redskins
N/A

Mock Draft Results

The below table shows each team's top four picks, with bye weeks in parentheses.

RoundTeam 1Team 2
1RB Adrian Peterson (5)RB Eddie Lacy (7)
2WR Calvin Johnson (9)WR A.J. Green (7)
3RB Jeremy Hill (7)RB Lamar Miller (5)
4WR DeSean Jackson (8)TE Greg Olsen (5)
RoundTeam 3Team 4
1RB Le'Veon Bell (11)RB Jamaal Charles (9)
2WR Randall Cobb (8)WR Odell Beckham Jr. (11)
3RB Alfred Morris (8)WR Alshon Jeffery (7)
4WR Andre Johnson (10)RB Mark Ingram (11)
RoundTeam 5Team 6
1RB Marshawn Lynch (9)WR Antonio Brown (11)
2RB LeSean McCoy (8)QB Aaron Rodgers (7)
3WR T.Y. Hilton (10)WR Mike Evans (6)
4QB Ben Roethlisberger (11)TE Jimmy Graham (9)
RoundTeam 7Team 8
1TE Rob Gronkowski (4)RB C.J. Anderson (7)
2WR Odell Beckham Jr. (7)QB Andrew Luck (10)
3RB Justin Forsett (9)RB Carlos Hyde (10)
4RB Frank Gore (10)WR Emmanuel Sanders (7)
RoundTeam 9Team 10
1RB Matt Forte (7)WR Dez Bryant (6)
2RB DeMarco Murray (8)WR Demaryius Thomas (7)
3WR DeAndre Hopkins (9)QB Russell Wilson (9)
4QB Peyton Manning (7)WR Brandin Cooks (11)
N/A

Early-Round Tips

Have your tiers ready

Just because someone is the top player at his position remaining on your draft board, that doesn't mean he's a viable selection.

Rob Gronkowski will be selected rounds ahead of other top tight ends.
Rob Gronkowski will be selected rounds ahead of other top tight ends.Bill Feig/Associated Press/Associated Press

For example, Rob Gronkowski is the No. 1 fantasy tight end, and he's widely seen as a first-round pick as well. Team 7 used its top selection on him in this mock. So when Team 8 gets on the clock for its first-rounder, the consensus No. 2 tight end (Jimmy Graham) should get consideration. Right?

Wrong. Gronk is in the top tier of tight ends by himself. His statistical dominance relative to his positional peers makes him an extremely valuable commodity.

While other positions aren't that extreme, you'll need to decide where the drop-offs are. In the above mock, Teams 6 and 7 decided the top tier of running backs ended after Marshawn Lynch and selected players at other positions.

Andrew Luck should definitely be No. 1 or No. 2 in your quarterback rankings.
Andrew Luck should definitely be No. 1 or No. 2 in your quarterback rankings.Sam Riche/Associated Press/Associated Press/Associated Press

At quarterback, the top tier contains Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers. Jordy Nelson's torn ACL gives Luck a slight leg up, but Rodgers is too good and has too many weapons to crater statistically. After those two, there was a 14-pick quarterback drought in this mock to reflect the drop-off from Tier 1 to Tier 2.

The concept of tiers should be prominent throughout your draft, especially early on as you form the core of your team. Make sure you have positional groupings ready before you select your squad.

Pay attention to bye weeks, but don't freak out over them

The strategy of making sure all your starters (or at least your key starters) have different bye weeks can be effective. It minimizes the tinkering you'll have to do from week to week and, ideally, keeps your team performing at a consistent level throughout the fantasy season.

However, if that mindset is causing you to draft inferior players just for the sake of non-overlapping bye weeks, you should ditch it.

Ultimate FF Strategy conducted an extensive analysis based on 2014 fantasy data, which concluded that the amount of bye-week overlap within a team had little to no effect on the squad's success.

It's less work for you as a fantasy owner to make sure Adrian Peterson and your No. 2 running back don't have the same bye week.
It's less work for you as a fantasy owner to make sure Adrian Peterson and your No. 2 running back don't have the same bye week.Jim Mone/Associated Press

You'll notice that five of the 10 teams in the mock had bye weeks overlap between at least two of their top four picks, but none of the overlap was between players of the same position, which is a superior alternative to a strict no-overlapping-of-bye-weeks policy. The teams with some overlap will probably be lean on the weeks when their top stars are off, but the payoff of better production throughout the rest of the year isn't a bad consolation.

Of course, if you're crafty on the waiver wire or trade market, you can make any bye-week situation work.

Don't be afraid to wait on a running back

If the rest of your team is topnotch, you can succeed with a T.J. Yeldon type as your RB1.
If the rest of your team is topnotch, you can succeed with a T.J. Yeldon type as your RB1.Gary McCullough/Associated Press/Associated Press

Running back is consistently the position fantasy owners rush to draft in the first round because of the premium on elite halfback production.

And yet the controversial "no running back" fantasy strategy has gained steam in recent years.

This strategy obviously doesn't involve drafting zero running backs, because there are two starting running back slots to fill on a standard fantasy roster. But it does mean waiting longer than is customary before picking one up. It's born of the idea that bell-cow running backs are becoming extinct, and there are only a few you can trust for big production.

Two teams tried the strategy in the above mock: Teams 6 and 10. With their spots in the back half of the first round, neither squad felt there was any remaining running back who was dependable enough to carry a team. Instead, both ended up with four great players.

Antonio Brown and Aaron Rodgers can headline your fantasy team, but only if you give up on a good running back.
Antonio Brown and Aaron Rodgers can headline your fantasy team, but only if you give up on a good running back.Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

Team 6 got Antonio Brown, the top fantasy wideout, and Aaron Rodgers, who might be the top fantasy quarterback. Mike Evans is a second-year stud receiver playing with a rookie quarterback, but that quarterback is Jameis Winston. Its fourth-round pick was Jimmy Graham, an accomplished tight end who should be Russell Wilson's favorite red-zone target.

Team 10 will slay any other team's wide receiver production, led by Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas, undoubtedly two of the league's top five wideouts. Second-year pass-catcher Brandin Cooks will also add plenty of punch as Drew Brees' No. 1 target, and Russell Wilson will be a nice dual-threat quarterback to use in all matchups.

Both of those squads can grab two of the many serviceable, high-upside running backs remaining in Rounds 5 through 8.

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