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Fantasy Football 2019: Breaking Down Mock Draft and Cheatsheet

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistAugust 3, 2019

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (22) warms up before an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)
Bill Feig/Associated Press

It's the first week of August. Have you started your fantasy football mock draft process yet?

If not, you're already behind the game. But that's OK because you're at least heading in the right direction by reading this.

We're entering the heart of cramming season, so let's get to it.

Below we'll lay out the first round of a 12-team PPR league mock using average draft positions from FantasyFootballCalculator.com. Then, we'll analyze those picks while providing some cheat-sheet tips to help best prepare you for your fantasy drafts.

                 

First-Round PPR Mock Draft

1. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants (exact ADP: 1.9)

2. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers (2.2)

3. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints (2.7)

4. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys (4.1)

5. David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals (5.6)

6. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans (6.0)

7. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers (7.4)

8. Le'Veon Bell, RB, New York Jets (7.9)

9. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons (9.8)

10. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints (9.8)

11. James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers (11.4)

12. Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs (12.4)

                 

Breaking Down the Mock and Cheat-Sheet Tips

If you want an elite running back, you can only hope to land an early selection. Featured backs who add value with their legs and their hands do not last long in this format.

And they shouldn't. Saquon Barkley and Christian McCaffrey were the top two pass-catching backs last season and finished second and third, respectively, in PPR scoring, per FantasyPros.com. If you can find someone who can give you roughly 100 receptions and close to 250 rushing attempts, you might ride that bell cow back to a league title.

But, obviously, there aren't many to go around, which is why you should expect an early run on the elites and riskier options as soon as the second round. (To be honest, Le'Veon Bell isn't even all that safe after sitting out last season and now joining an underwhelming Jets offense quarterbacked by a sophomore passer.)

From a receiving standpoint, opportunity volume is more important than home-run potential, but ideally you find someone capable of providing both.

Again, though, there aren't a lot of studs, which is how the likes of DeAndre Hopkins, Davante Adams, Julio Jones and Michael Thomas could all sneak into the top five of any draft. All four cleared 1,300 receiving yards and scored at least eight touchdowns last season.

Chances are, any first-round investment you make will provide a major return, assuming they stay healthy. But if you're going to reach for any position, running back is probably your best bet.

There aren't as many difference-makers in the backfield as there are at wideout. Twenty players had at least 1,000 receiving yards last season. Not even half as many rushed for four digits (nine). Nine different players had at least 10 receiving touchdowns compared to only six who scored 10-plus times on the ground.

Waiting on a wideout will leave you more reliable options than scrambling for a running back beyond the opening rounds.

If current ADPs hold, the third round could net you players like Adam Thielen, T.Y. Hilton or Stefon Diggs at wideout. All three were 1,000-yard receivers and each found the end zone at least six times.

Third-round running backs, meanwhile, include Kerryon Johnson, Leonard Fournette and rookie Josh Jacobs. Johnson had four total touchdowns last season, Fournette was among the least efficient rushers (3.3 yards per carry) and Jacobs wasn't even the featured back at Alabama.

Draft position might dictate your decision, but no one anchors a fantasy roster better than a top-shelf running back.

Positional scarcity could also lead you to grab a tight end among your first three selections. Provided it's the right one—namely, Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz or George Kittle—you can put your roster in great shape by addressing that spot early.

At the other end of the spectrum, you should wait on quarterbacks as long as your draft room allows. Fourteen of last season's top-30 scorers were quarterbacks. As long as you address the position before the middle tier is gone, you can compete at that spot on a weekly basis.