2019 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Updated 4-Round Selections and Strategy

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistAugust 27, 2019

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley warms up before a preseason NFL football game against the New York Jets Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Michael Owens)
Michael Owens/Associated Press

The 2019 NFL season hasn't even started yet, and already the fantasy football world has been flipped on its head.

Andrew Luck is retired. Lamar Miller is lost for the season. Doug Baldwin isn't coming back. Rob Gronkowski probably isn't either—but then again, it's Gronk, so who knows.

The point is the football world is humming along, and now that the typically revelatory Week 3 of the preseason has passed, fantasy owners have their clearest 2019 outlook to date.

So, what better time to run through an updated four-round mock draft? We have used the FantasyPros simulator to put together a mock 10-team, point-per-reception league. After laying out the selections, we'll examine three interesting draft strategies.

                     

4-Round Mock Draft

Round 1

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1. Team 1: Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

2. Team 2: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

3. Team 3: Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

4. Team 4: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

5. Team 5: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans

6. Team 6: Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers

7. Team 7: David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals

8. Team 8: Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons

9. Team 9: Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns

10. Team 10: Le'Veon Bell, RB, New York Jets

                

Round 2

11. Team 10: Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams

12. Team 9: James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

13. Team 8: Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

14. Team 7: JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

15. Team 6: Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints

16. Team 5: Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs

17. Team 4: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Cleveland Browns

18. Team 3: Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings

19. Team 2: Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

20. Team 1: Antonio Brown, WR, Oakland Raiders

                   

Round 3

21. Team 1: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs

22. Team 2: Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

23. Team 3: Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

24. Team 4: Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

25. Team 5: Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers

26. Team 6: Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings

27. Team 7: Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings

28. Team 8: George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers

29. Team 9: Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks

30. Team 10: TY Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts

               

Round 4

31. Team 10: Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles

32. Team 9: Amari Cooper, WR, Dallas Cowboys

33. Team 8: Kerryon Johnson, RB, Detroit Lions

34. Team 7: Damien Williams, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

35. Team 6: Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons

36. Team 5: Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots

37. Team 4: Brandin Cooks, WR, Los Angeles Rams

38. Team 3: Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans

39. Team 2: Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Rams

40. Team 1: Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts

Bold indicates author's draft pick

                  

Team Strategies

Team 1: Set the QB Market

Every draft will have a different sweet spot where the first quarterback—Patrick Mahomes—comes off the board. It's up to every interested owner to decipher where that should be.

Here, Team 1 landed the rocket-armed passer at the third-round turn, after already locking up the highest-rated player (Saquon Barkley) and a consistent PPR star (Antonio Brown). Add Marlon Mack, who had 10 touchdowns in 12 games last season and could see a higher volume without Luck, and this team has a strong foundation at the skill positions.

That's a critical cushion, because there's no telling what Mahomes has in store for a follow-up. Can he be as good (or somehow better) than last season, when he passed for 5,097 yards and 50 touchdowns? If not, can he be that much better than his quarterbacking peers to justify an early draft investment at a deep position? Not everyone is convinced.

"Perhaps Mahomes really is this great, but more often than not—a lot more often—a monster statistical season gets followed by merely great numbers, because defenses adjust and luck alters," ESPN's Eric Karabell wrote. "ESPN Fantasy projects Mahomes to throw for 4,716 yards and 34 touchdowns."

Ultimately, Mahomes' value lies wherever you set it, but if you want in early, shoot for a draft run like this. If Barkley, Brown and Mack are special, there isn't quite as much of a need for Mahomes to go bananas.

                 

Team 6: Wait for Running Back

Because there are only so many relatively safe options at running back these days, the position gets hit early and often at the top of the draft board. Even in this PPR league, seven teams went running back in the opening round. By the 25th pick, nine teams had at least one ball-carrier and four had a pair of them.

But Team 6 was content to wait out the market and didn't invest in a back until the 35th pick, snatching up Atlanta's Devonta Freeman. The selection comes with intriguing upside (he's had two seasons with 1,500-plus scrimmage yards and double-digit scores), but there's also undeniable risk. He only rushed 14 times over two games last season before multiple injuries put him on the shelf.

The benefit of this strategy is rostering three different receivers with WR1 potential. Davante Adams is the preferred target of Aaron Rodgers. Michael Thomas is the first and second choice on most of Drew Brees' dropbacks. Adam Thielen had a record-setting streak of 100-yard outings last season. On paper, this as good as any receiving core assembled.

Still, Team 6 had to gamble on upside at running back while rounding out the roster. It took three additional backs during the draft: David Montgomery (fifth round), Rashaad Penny (11th) and Kalen Ballage (13th). Montgomery could prove a great find, but this position group is problematically thin.

                 

Team 8: Building Balance

If the draft board breaks right, I'm always a fan of filling three positions over the first three rounds. It's not something I'd advise reaching for to accomplish, but it feels good making three picks and feeling like all three could lead their positions in fantasy production.

A healthy Julio Jones is a dominant force, even if his touchdown column has a frustrating tendency to fluctuate. But given his volume and ability—he's paced the league in receiving yards in two of the past four seasons—he's a 1,500-plus-yard threat every year. If he can put together his first double-digit scoring season since 2012, he could run laps around his peers.

Joe Mixon is a workhorse back in a league that's running short of them, and he's an explosive one at that. Last season was his first in a featured role, and all he did was total the NFL's fourth-most rushing yards—while playing 14 games and starting 13. There's a nonzero chance he's the best fantasy back in football.

Last season, George Kittle set the all-time single-season mark for most receiving yards by a tight end. He was mostly catching passes from Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard. Now, Jimmy Garoppolo is back under center and has more weapons around him. But Kittle is the most proven of the bunch, and he should remain the focal point.

Kerryon Johnson has the receiving and rushing ability to shine in a lead role. He only played 10 games last season (and started just seven) and still totaled 854 scrimmage yards and four scores. That was enough to get him on the radar, and his position sealed the deal. I banked on finding quality receivers later and did in the form of Tyler Boyd (fifth round), Alshon Jeffery (sixth) and Larry Fitzgerald (ninth).