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2017 Fantasy Football Draft Kit

Mock Draft: Drafting A Running Back First

running back first
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We have already had a few mock draft write-ups this preseason. I already did one focusing on a PPR draft from the toughest draft slots. For this mock draft, I wanted to focus on taking a running back first.

My soon-to-be unveiled Single-RB Theory will have a major factor in taking a running back early. With the resurgence last season of the ultra-elite running back, this appears to be the best route to drafting in a snake format.

With that said, I would still not reach for a back just to take one. As we saw last year, the Fantasy Football landscape is a pendulum with regards to strategy. In 2015, all of the top running backs busted and the receivers were dominant. This led to the most wide-out heavy early rounds ever last season … only to see a large portion of them get injured or bust.

I think this season will be more in the middle as far as the top players from positions. With that said, the drop-off after the top couple of tiers of running backs is drastic in terms of reliability.

So for this mock draft, I am going to use the Fantasy Pros mock draft wizard, arguably the best Fantasy Tool on the internet. I am using a 0.5PPR, 12-team, 1QB/2RB/2WR/1FLEX/1TE/1DST/1K set-up. I am going with two different pick slots to show different groups of guys available, and the ADP is as of August 8th.

Mock Draft: Drafting A Running Back First

Second Overall Pick

1.02: LeVeon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Other Options: Ezekiel Elliott, Antonio Brown

Fun fact that everyone is seemingly ignoring this year: David Johnson averaged 23.23 points per game in half-point PPR scoring and Bell averaged 23.32. Bell had more rushing yards (almost 30 more per game!) and more receptions per game. The only way Johnson was better was scoring touchdowns. As we know, scoring has more variances than yards/catches. Bell is a phenomenal second pick.

2.11: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans

Other Options: Todd Gurley, Leonard Fournette, Demaryius Thomas

With a stud back leading my backfield, I wanted to snag a couple of second-tier receivers to fortify that position. Hopkins has the most upside of any receiver going outside the Top 12 right now. If Deshaun Watson starts with a strong relationship with Hopkins, then this is an awesome value.

3.02: Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams

Other Options: Demaryius Thomas, Aaron Rodgers, Allen Robinson

I have not seen Gurley slip this far in the majority of mock drafts I have done, but the value is too good to pass up. This is where flexibility matters. I did not want to take another back this early in the mock draft, but you must take what the board gives you.

4.11: Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers

Other Options: Jordan Reed, Carlos Hyde, Tom Brady

I have been saying all pre-season that getting a top tight end is a priority. With my backfield set and no clear top-value receiver up, this is a great time to pull the trigger on Olsen. He’s got at least 77 catches and 1,000 yards in each of the past three seasons, and I think he gets a touchdown bump back up this year.

5.02: Michael Crabtree, WR, Oakland Raiders

Other Options: Tom Brady, Jarvis Landry, Spencer Ware

I would have gone Landry here until the past couple of days. The combination of losing Ryan Tannehill and the battery charges are not something I want to buy into right now. Crabtree has at least 85 catches, 922 yards and eight touchdowns both years he has been in Oakland.

6.11: Martavis Bryant, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

Other Options: Kirk Cousins, Eddie Lacy, Willie Snead


With two likely WR2s, I like taking a shot on a high-risk/high-reward player like Bryant. He has 14 touchdowns in just 21 career games. He received 92 targets in just 11 games last year, which extrapolates to about 134 over a full season. If he is not suspended to start the year, there is a ton of potential here.

7.02: Bilal Powell, RB, New York Jets

Other Options: Willie Snead, Marcus Mariota, Donte Moncrief

As tempting as Snead is as one of my wide receiver breakouts this year, I need to go with Powell. Now that Quincy Enunwa is out for the year (killing one of my best wide receiver sleeper picks!) the Jets will have to utilize their backs even more.

8.11: Pierre Garcon, WR, San Francisco 49ers

Other Options: Kelvin Benjamin, C.J. Prosise, Cam Newton

I’ve talked at length about Garcon as a breakout and top value. His best season was with Kyle Shanahan running the offense and there is no competition for targets. He is a huge volume play.

9.02: Matt Forte, RB, New York Jets

Other Options: DeSean Jackson, Cam Newton, Ben Roethlisberger

As I said with Powell, the Jets will use their running backs. With no solid receivers and no clear-cut good quarterback, I foresee a large amount of carries and screens going to both of these guys. Their running back platoon status has increased greatly.

10.11: Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers

Other Options: Ben Roethlisberger, Tyrell Williams, Derrick Henry

Once again, this is why you wait on your quarterback. Ron Rivera can tell Cam not to run all he wants but it is ingrained in him to take off. I’m getting a solid Top 10 option in Round 10. I’m not worried about his shoulder either, yet.

 

12th Overall Pick

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1.12: Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

Other Options: Jay Ajayi, Jordy Nelson, Jordan Howard

Ajayi worries me, especially with Tannehill’s injury. Howard is tempting, but I consider him and Gordon about equal so I will go with the guy with better-expected quarterback play. Gordon has no competition for touches out of the Chargers’ backfield and they are not afraid to run him into the ground (295 touches last year).

2.01: Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers

Other options: Jordan Howard, Jay Ajayi, T.Y. Hilton

This is one of the few times when the best value is not exactly the best pick. Jordan Howard is a better value than Nelson, but using the Draft Wizard you can see that the best receiver available at your next pick would be Keenan Allen. If Allen is your WR1, then you are probably going to have some problems. I like the backs much better at the next turn, so I will get my top receiver here.

3.12: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

Other Options: Keenan Allen, Aaron Rodgers, Travis Kelce

It was REALLY tempting to go with Rodgers, but quarterback is just too deep. McCaffrey will catch 50-plus passes and is a lock for 10 points per game in any sort of PPR league. He is the rare rookie with a high floor.

4.01: Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs

Other Options: Aaron Rodgers, Keenan Allen, Carlos Hyde

Once again, I am going to try and get an elite tight end. Drafting at the turn means I need to pull the trigger here because there is usually a tight end run in Rounds 4 and 5. Kelce will get the most targets on the Chiefs this year and is arguably the safest tight end option.

5.12: Jamison Crowder, WR, Washington Redskins

Other Options: Tyreek Hill, Russell Wilson, Jimmy Graham

Tyreek Hill is one of my wide receiver busts. It’s too soon to take a quarterback and I already have a tight end. Crowder is in a good spot in Washington with hundreds of targets up for grabs. His touchdown rate will probably drop, but his overall production should see an increase.

6.01: Danny Woodhead, RB, Baltimore Ravens

Other Options: Tyreek Hill, Russell Wilson, Jimmy Graham

I still do not see why Woodhead is available so late in PPR drafts. It is not just the Draft Wizard either. In Yahoo and ESPN mock draft rooms, he is readily available into Round 6. I will take him and his 75 catches all day.

7.12: Willie Snead, WR, New Orleans Saints

Other Options: Mike Gillislee, Marcus Mariota, Tevin Coleman

This is a good spot and great value for Snead. You are getting a guy that averaged about 10 points per game in this format who is now looking at a much larger role and target-share in the most prolific passing offense in the league. Oh, and he is technically on your bench. #value

8.01: Tevin Coleman, RB, Atlanta Falcons

Other Options: Mike Gillislee, Marcus Mariota, Donte Moncrief

Coleman finished as a Top 20 running back no matter the scoring last season. While his touchdown rate is unsustainable, he will still get enough touches to produce in the Flex-territory. Most importantly, any injury to Devonta Freeman and Coleman becomes an elite Fantasy producer.

9.12: Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Other Options: Marcus Mariota, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin


Rodgers keeps getting overlooked in drafts. Think about this: Rodgers will be starting the first three weeks of the season. He will likely be at least an RB3, inching into RB2-territory. That is nearly 25% of the Fantasy regular season that you are getting a back worthy of starting yet you can get him in the double-digit rounds. Also, any injury to Doug Martin and Rodgers becomes even more valuable.

10.01: Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans

Other Options: DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Derrick Henry

Once again, wait on your quarterback. Honestly, I could wait even longer and pull Philip Rivers or Tyrod Taylor. Marcus Mariota does provide more upside than either of them, so I will go with him here.


Final Roster (Second Overall Pick)

QB: Cam Newton

RB: LeVeon Bell

RB: Todd Gurley

WR: DeAndre Hopkins

WR: Michael Crabtree

FLEX: Bilal Powell

TE: Greg Olsen 

Bench

RB: Matt Forte

WR: Martavis Bryant

WR: Pierre Garcon

 

Final Roster (Second Overall Pick)

QB: Marcus Mariota

RB: Melvin Gordon

RB: Christian McCaffrey

WR: Jordy Nelson

WR: Jamison Crowder

FLEX: Danny Woodhead

TE: Travis Kelce 

Bench

RB: Tevin Coleman

RB: Jacquizz Rodgers

WR: Willie Snead

 

 

That’s it for this mock draft exercise. I stopped it at Round 10 because I think my stance is known on late-round fliers like Adam Thielen, Kevin White, Cooper Kupp, Jamaal Charles, Darren Sproles, Zach Zenner, etc.

I hope that this mock draft really shows you a route for developing a strong roster after taking a running back first. For another mock draft, check out our recent standard mock draft!

 

2017 Fantasy Football Draft Kit
Positional Rankings | Sleepers | Busts | Player Analysis | Strategy | Preseason Analysis | Mock Drafts | Tools

 

If you are looking for a place to conduct a mock draft or need assistance with drafting in general, check out the Fantasy Pros Draft Wizard. This is a terrific tool that will help you dominate your league, along with So-Called Fantasy Experts, of course.

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Michael Tomlin
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Michael Tomlin

Michael Tomlin is an ESPY-nominated, former college football player who stays associated with the game through Fantasy Sports. He has been writing his personal blog, Dirkland.blogspot.com, for three years and it focuses on Fantasy Sports, as well as handicapping. He was born and raised in the DFW Metroplex, and he follows all of the Dallas teams, along with Texas Tech athletics and Manchester City F.C.
Michael Tomlin
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