Fantasy Football 2016: Early Mock Draft and Rankings Before Training Camps

Michelle Bruton@@michelle_nflFeatured ColumnistJuly 21, 2016

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver, Antonio Brown runs with the ball during NFL football minicamp in Pittsburgh, Wednesday, June 15, 2016 . (AP Photo/John Heller)
John Heller/Associated Press

We're nearing the end of July, and you know what that means. Soon, a barrage of emails will fill your inbox (or, if you're a fantasy football league commissioner, you'll begin blowing up everyone else's inboxes) urging you to get ready for your upcoming fantasy draft. 

Fantasy team building really gets underway in earnest in August, but it's never too early to begin creating your rankings lists and playing around with mock drafts to ensure that you're prepared for whichever scenarios present themselves in your draft room.

The following pre-training camps rankings and mock draft should help you begin to consider how to best build your team.  

These rankings and mock draft assume a 10-team standard league.  

      

Top QBs

2016 Top Fantasy QBs
Position RankingOverall RankingPlayerTeamBye
135Cam NewtonCAR7
249Aaron RodgersGB4
350Russell WilsonSEA5
461Andrew LuckIND10
568Drew BreesNO5
669Ben RoethlisbergerPIT8
778Carson PalmerARI9
879Tom BradyNE9
988Eli ManningNYG8
1089Blake BortlesJAC5
1190Philip RiversSD11
12131Tyrod TaylorBUF10
13132Tony RomoDAL7
14133Kirk CousinsWAS9
15134Derek CarrOAK10
16169Marcus MariotaTEN13
17170Matthew StaffordDET10
18171Andy DaltonCIN9
19193Jameis WinstonTB6
20194Ryan TannehillMIA8
ESPN.com

It's no surprise that Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton leads the list of the top passers to target for your league in 2016. 

Sure, Newton may have ended his season on a sour note with a loss in Super Bowl 50 to the Denver Broncos, especially given his questionable fumble late in the game. 

That fumble, a memorable low point in Newton's year, was one of four that the quarterback had on the season. But fantasy owners are willing to be somewhat forgiving, considering that Newton's 373 total points in 2015-16 was nearly 40 more than the next-best quarterback, Tom Brady. 

Speaking of Brady, look for him to fall down draft boards given that currently, his four-game suspension is set to remain in place to start the year. However, he could be an excellent steal if he's still available after Round 7.

      

Top RBs

2016 Top Fantasy RBs
Position RankingOverall RankingPlayerTeamBye
13Adrian PetersonMIN6
25Le'Veon BellPIT8
36Todd GurleyLA8
48Ezekiel ElliottDAL7
59David JohnsonARI9
611Devonta FreemanATL11
714Doug MartinTB6
816Lamar MillerHOU9
918Mark IngramNO5
1020Thomas RawlsSEA5
1122Eddie LacyGB4
1225Jamaal CharlesKC5
1327LeSean McCoyBUF10
1432Jonathan StewartCAR7
1533Carlos HydeSF8
1634Matt ForteNYJ11
1740C.J. AndersonDEN11
1841Dion LewisNE9
1955Jeremy HillCIN9
2056Latavius MurrayOAK10
ESPN.com

The recent trend in fantasy has been favoring wide receivers over running backs as the first skill-position players taken off the board, which is natural given the progression toward aerial attack offenses.

Indeed, in 2016, the top two players atop the overall rankings are wide receivers and not running backs.

However, while wide receivers are deep, the running backs drop off somewhat precipitously after Round 2—and certainly after Round 3.  

Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

If you have a top-five pick in your fantasy draft, it might be worth passing up a player such as wide receiver Antonio Brown or Odell Beckham Jr. to grab Adrian Peterson early.

You could grab a WR1 such as Allen Robinson, A.J. Green or Jordy Nelson early in Round 2, but if you pass up a rusher in Round 1, then you'll be looking at starting guys such as Doug Martin or Lamar Miller as your No. 1.

       

Top WRs

2016 Top Fantasy WRs
Position RankingOverall RankingPlayerTeamBye
11Antonio BrownPIT8
22Odell Beckham Jr.NYG8
34Julio JonesATL11
47DeAndre HopkinsHOU9
510Dez BryantDAL7
613Allen RobinsonJAC5
715A.J. GreenCIN9
817Jordy NelsonGB4
919Brandon MarshallNYJ11
1021Alshon JefferyCHI9
1123Mike EvansTB6
1224Sammy WatkinsBUF10
1326Brandin CooksNO5
1429Amari CooperOAK10
1530Demaryius ThomasDEN11
1631Keenan AllenSD11
1736T.Y. HiltonIND10
1837Kelvin BenjaminCAR7
1938Julian EdelmanNE9
2039Doug BaldwinSEA5
ESPN.com

Speaking of wide receivers, it's without a doubt the deepest position group in this year's fantasy draft.

While landing Brown with the first overall draft pick will set your team up for some serious points (the wideout scored 243 fantasy points in 2015—the most of any wide receiver), you could still land players such as Randall Cobb and Emmanuel Sanders in Round 5. 

There are also players who could be deep steals and change the makeup of your squad, such as the Chicago Bears' Kevin White.

Currently ranked at No. 84 overall and 38th among wide receives, a good training camp showing after missing his entire rookie season due to injury could cause White to shoot up draft boards. Philadelphia's Nelson Agholor (122 overall) is another wideout worth filling up a bench position with. 

          

Top TEs

2016 Top Fantasy TEs
Position RankingOverall RankingPlayerTeamBye
112Rob GronkowskiNE9
228Jordan ReedWAS9
348Greg OlsenCAR7
460Delanie WalkerTEN13
591Travis KelceKC5
692Coby FleenerNO5
793Tyler EifertCIN9
8109Gary BarnidgeCLE13
9110Ladarius GreenPIT8
1011Zach ErtzPHI4
ESPN.com

There is only one tight end worth considering early in the draft, and that's, of course, New England Patriots' Rob Gronkowski.

Even then, with Brady potentially out for the first four games of the season, Gronkowski could have a slow start to his year, especially compared to 2015, when he scored 176 points overall. 

Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

After Gronk comes off the board, expect there to be a run on tight ends in the third or fourth rounds.

However, if you want to target other needs with your early- to mid-round picks, you should be perfectly fine if you "settle" for someone like Tyler Eifert in Round 10. 

        

Top DST

2016 Top Fantasy DST
Unit RankingOverall RankingUnitBye
1141SEA5
2142CAR7
3143CIN9
4144HOU9
5145KC5
6146DEN11
7147ARI9
8149NYJ11
9150GB4
10151OAK10
ESPN.com

We don't even reach the defense/special teams units and the kickers in the sample mock draft below, which tells you everything you need to know about targeting these positions before Round 10 if you're in a 10-team league.

Don't do it.

Even the best D/ST isn't going to blow your roster wide open. In 2015, the Denver Broncos defense and special teams scored 182 points, 20 more points than the next-best unit, the Kansas City Chiefs.  

But after that, the next five units were all clustered within 20 points of one another. And the worst part about drafting these units is that it's a total crapshoot; the best unit can change depending on the weather, stadium and opponent. Kickoffs are impossible to predict, and one injury to a key player can undo even the stoutest defense. 

The best thing to do is take a defense with your second-to-last pick and plan to surf the waiver wire throughout the year to take advantage of the best matchups. 

         

Top Ks

2016 Top Fantasy K
Position RankingOverall RankingPlayerTeamBye
1148Stephen GostkowskiNE9
2152Steven HauschkaSEA5
3153Dan BaileyDAL7
4154Justin TuckerBAL8
5155Adam VinatieriIND10
6156Mason CrosbyGB4
7157Josh BrownNYG8
8158Graham GanoCAR7
9159Blair WalshMIN6
10160Chandler CatanzaroARI9
ESPN.com

There's always one fantasy owner who targets Stephen Gostkowski in Round 6 or 7.

Laugh at that owner; don't be that owner.

Consider this: The top 10 fantasy kickers in 2015 only had a point differential of 33 points from the highest (168) to the lowest (135).

Select a career kicker who has been consistent with your final pick and be done with it.  

           

Mock Draft

Fantasy Football Mock Draft
PickPositionPlayerTeam
1WRAntonio BrownPIT
2WROdell Beckham Jr.NYG
3RBAdrian PetersonMIN
4WRJulio JonesATL
5RBLe'Veon BellPIT
6RBTodd GurleyLA
7WRDeAndre HopkinsHOU
8RBEzekiel ElliottDAL
9RBDavid JohnsonARI
10WRDez BryantDAL
Round 2
11RBDevonta FreemanATL
12TERob GronkowskiNE
13WRAllen RobinsonJAC
14RBDoug MartinTB
15WRA.J. GreenCIN
16RBLamar MillerHOU
17WRJordy NelsonGB
18RBMark IngramNO
19WRBrandon MarshallNYJ
20RBThomas RawlsSEA
Round 3
21WRAlshon JefferyCHI
22RBEddie LacyGB
23WRMike EvansTB
24WRSammy WatkinsBUF
25RBJamaal CharlesKC
26WRBrandin CooksNO
27RBLeSean McCoyBUF
28TEJordan ReedWAS
29WRAmari CooperOAK
30WRDemaryius ThomasDEN
Round 4
31WRKeenan AllenSD
32RBJonathan StewartCAR
33RBCarlos HydeSF
34RBMatt ForteNYJ
35QBCam NewtonCAR
36WRT.Y. HiltonIND
37WRKelvin BenjaminCAR
38WRJulian EdelmanNE
39WRDoug BaldwinSEA
40RBC.J. AndersonDEN
Round 5
41RBDion LewisNE
42WRJarvis LandryMIA
43WRJeremy MaclinKC
44WRRandall CobbGB
45WREric DeckerNYJ
46WRGolden TateDET
47WREmmanuel SandersDEN
48TEGreg OlsenCAR
49QBAaron RodgersGB
50QBRussell WilsonSEA
Round 6
51WRMichael FloydARI
52WRDeVante ParkerMIA
53WRLarry FitzgeraldARI
54WRDonte MoncriefIND
55RBJeremy HillCIN
56RBLatavius MurrayOAK
57RBRyan MathewsPHI
58RBJeremy LangfordCHI
59RBDeMarco MurrayTEN
60TEDelanie WalkerTEN
Round 7
61QBAndrew LuckIND
62RBMatt JonesWAS
63RBJustin ForsettBAL
64RBT.J. YeldonJAC
65RBMelvin GordonSD
66RBDuke Johnson Jr.CLE
67RBDanny WoodheadSD
68QBDrew BreesNO
69QBBen RoethlisbergerPIT
70WRJohn BrownARI
Round 8
71WRJordan MatthewsPHI
72WRDeSean JacksonWAS
73RBFrank GoreIND
74RBRashad JenningsNYG
75RBGiovani BernardCIN
76RBAmeer AbdullahDET
77RBChris IvoryJAC
78QBCarson PalmerARI
79QBTom BradyNE
80WRAllen HurnsJAC
Round 9
81WRMichael CrabtreeOAK
82WRTyler LockettSEA
83WRMarvin JonesDET
84WRKevin WhiteCHI
85WRStefon DiggsMIN
86WRCorey ColemanCLE
87WRSterling ShepardNYG
88QBEli ManningNYG
89QBBlake BortlesJAC
90QBPhilip RiversSD
Round 10
91TETravis KelceKC
92TECoby FleenerNO
93TETyler EifertCIN
94RBJay AjayiMIA
95RBDerrick HenryTEN
96WRTorrey SmithSF
97WRWillie SneadNO
98WRDorial Green-BeckhamTEN
99WRLaquon TreadwellMIN
100WRVincent JacksonTB
Michelle Bruton's mock draft via ESPN rankings

    

All rankings via ESPN and current as of Tuesday, July 19. Fantasy stats via ESPN.

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