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Fantasy Football 2017: 3-Round Mock Draft and Suggestions for Team Names

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistSeptember 3, 2017

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 1: Jay Ajayi #23 of the Miami Dolphins is introduced prior to the start of the game against the New England Patriots on January 1, 2017 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. The Patriots defeated the Dolphins 35-14. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

The NFL preseason is over and rosters have been trimmed down to the 53-player limit, which means the coast is clear for fantasy drafts to take place with Week 1 starting Thursday. 

But before you finalize spreadsheets and lock in on a strategy, it's time for some last-minute prep. 

Below, you'll find a three-round mock draft for a standard 12-team league that selects in a snake format, which means the team that selects at pick 1.12 (Round 1, 12th pick) below also selects at 2.1 (Round 2, first pick) and so on. 

In addition to the rundown of the draft's first 36 picks, you'll find in-depth analysis regarding one hot-button player selected in each round. 

         

Round 1

Jan 8, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi (23) carries the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second quarter in the AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 30-12. Mandatory Credit: Ch
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
  • 1.1: David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals
  • 1.2: Le'Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
  • 1.3: Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
  • 1.4: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants
  • 1.5: Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
  • 1.6: Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
  • 1.7: LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills
  • 1.8: Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 
  • 1.9: A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
  • 1.10: Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons
  • 1.11: Jay Ajayi, RB, Miami Dolphins
  • 1.12: Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears

The first eight or nine picks here are self-explanatory. And while there may be variance on a league-by-league basis in that range, it won't be particularly significant. 

Where things can differ is the back end of Round 1, where owners are pressed to either swing for the fences on running backs who don't have particularly lengthy track records of success (Jay Ajayi and Jordan Howard) or play it safer select surer things at wide receiver (Jordy Nelson, A.J. Green, etc.). 

The natural inclination here is to mitigate risk. In the early rounds, you want to hit home runs to provide your team with a stable foundation. 

And while drafting a back like Ajayi―who erupted for 1,272 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground after totaling 187 rushing yards and a score as a rookiemay run counter to that line of thinking, it would be foolish to pass on the Miami Dolphin. 

For one thing, Ajayi just turned 24 years old and only scratched the surface of his potential last season. 

Furthermore, his running style proved not only electric in the open field but tough at the line of scrimmage and second level. 

According to Pro Football Focus' Scott Barrett, Ajayi led all qualified running backs last season in yards per attempt after contact (3.46) and missed tackles forced per attempt (22.9 percent). 

There's sure to be some natural skepticism since a serious portion of Ajayi's production in 2016 came in three games in which he ran for at least 200 yards, but with a firm grasp on the lead role and the trust of Miami's coaching staff, he could eclipse last year's top-flight effort. 

        

Round 2

HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 19: Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots takes the field to warm up before playing the Houston Texans in a preseason game at NRG Stadium on August 19, 2017 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images
  • 2.1: Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers
  • 2.2: Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints
  • 2.3: DeMarco Murray, RB, Tennessee Titans
  • 2.4: Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
  • 2.5: Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams
  • 2.6: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
  • 2.7: Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys
  • 2.8: Brandin Cooks, WR, New England Patriots
  • 2.9: Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
  • 2.10: T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts
  • 2.11: Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks
  • 2.12: Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders

If there's one pick that sticks out in Round 2, it's New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski at No. 16 overall.

In years past, it would have been easy to scan past that selection and not bat an eye. But after Gronkowski was shut down last November to undergo back surgery, it's hard to ignore. 

Sure, players like Dez Bryant and Brandin Cooks, Gronkowski's new teammate, offer higher floors. That much is indisputable. 

But savvy drafters looking for tantalizing upside should jump all over Gronkowski―even if it means splurging with safer selections on the board. When he's healthy, Gronkowski is an established difference-maker―plain and simple. 

In the five games in which he received at least three targets last season, Gronkowski posted yardage totals of 109, 162, 93, 109 and 56. During that stretch, Gronkowski also registered three touchdowns. 

By the time his truncated season came to an end, he had rattled off 21.6 yards per catch—the most robust mark of his seven-year career. 

It would be audacious to project Gronkowski to replicate that figure over the course of a 16-game season. But with a career yard-per-catch average of 15.0, it's not hard to see him flirting with a gaudy final tally close to 20. 

Then there's this: Dating back to his debut in 2010, Gronkowski has posted double-digit touchdowns so long as he's appeared in at least 11 games. 

Factor in the absence of Julian Edelman due to a season-ending ACL tear and Tom Brady should funnel even more targets Gronkowski's way in 2017 as he attempts to make up for lost time. 

         

Round 3

Jul 28, 2017; Richmond, VA, USA; Washington Redskins wide receiver Terrelle Pryor (11) runs with the ball during drills on day two of Redskins training camp at Bon Secours Washington Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
  • 3.1: Lamar Miller, RB Houston Texans
  • 3.2: Isaiah Crowell, RB, Cleveland Browns
  • 3.3: Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
  • 3.4: Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
  • 3.5: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans
  • 3.6: Terrelle Pryor, WR, Washington Redskins
  • 3.7: Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings
  • 3.8: Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos
  • 3.9: Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers
  • 3.10: Ty Montgomery, RB, Green Bay Packers
  • 3.11: Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
  • 3.12: Allen Robinson, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

From Keenan Allen to DeAndre Hopkins and Allen Robinson, there are sure to be plenty of polarizing receivers on the board in Round 3. 

But one player who seems to be receiving almost universal acclaim in advance of Week 1 is Washington Redskins receiver Terrelle Pryor, who's entering just his second full season at the position following a breakout 2016 campaign with the Cleveland Browns. 

"I think had he made this decision sooner in his career, I think he'd be further along," head coach Jay Gruden told reporters, per Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio. "But being that he just made it not too long ago, he's where he is. I mean, he's still one of the top guys in the league and he just started playing. He's a physical freak."

That's a scary thought, especially since Pryor will be catching passes from Kirk Cousins after the Browns oscillated between Robert Griffin III, Cody Kessler and Josh McCown under center. 

However, Pryor may not be for everyone.

As is the case with Gronkowski, the Ohio State product may appeal more to owners chasing upside rather than safe floors. Those who associated with the latter are more likely to target Hopkins or perhaps Allen, assuming they're convinced he can stay healthy after appearing in nine games combined the past two seasons.

It will likely take Pryor and Cousins a few games to get on the same page, but once they do the statistical rewards could be quite large. 

          

Team Names

No title-caliber fantasy team is complete without an attention-grabbing name, so we're here to provide a few helpful suggestions with the start of the regular season on Thursday, when the Patriots host the Chiefs. 

  • The Big Gronkowski
  • Zero Degrees Kelvin
  • Wentz Upon a Time
  • Turn Down For Watt
  • Dak to the Future
  • Dalvin and the Chipmunks
  • Almost Jameis
  • Golden Tate Warriors