With the NFL season quickly approaching, fantasy football will begin to — or already has begun to — take over many fans’ lives. One of the most crucial parts of every fantasy football owner’s pre-draft preparation is the completion of mock drafts.
In order to help with your rigorous draft planning and research, we here at Rant Sports have begun conducting mock drafts with a full analysis of each team’s selections.
With the seventh overall pick in a standard 10-team league, here are my results and thoughts. You can also find a complete review of the entire mock draft here.
Round 1 (7): RB Ray Rice – Having completed many mock drafts before this one, I had a feeling Rice would fall to me at pick No. 7. With the hype surrounding his backup, Bernard Pierce, many have begun to downgrade Rice. However, I’m just not buying into it. Yes, Pierce is a talented runner, but Rice is still the Baltimore Ravens‘ top offensive weapon. And with the departure of Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta’s season-ending hip injury, I believe the Ravens will rely heavily on Rice both on the ground and through the air. At pick No. 7, Rice provided my team with both upside and safety, making him the obvious choice.
Round 2 (14): RB Stevan Ridley – In all honesty, Ridley was not the running back I was targeting in the second round. However, with both Matt Forte and Alfred Morris flying off the board at picks No. 12 and 13, respectively, Ridley was my next-best option. All things considered, Ridley is still a very solid RB2. His 290 rushing attempts a season ago were the sixth most in the NFL, and with almost all of the New England Patriots‘ top offensive playmakers from last year missing, I’d expect Ridley’s carries to only increase in 2013. Surprisingly, Bill Belichick’s offense has also gone to the ground inside the opponent’s 10-yard-line more than any other team in the past three seasons, which should give Ridley ample opportunities to score double-digit touchdowns for the second straight year. With his role in the Patriots’ offense continuing to grow, Ridley was definitely worthy of my second-round selection.
Round 3 (27): QB Peyton Manning – Although I would have loved to pick yet another running back in the third round, the remaining RBs were too big of a risk at pick No. 27. So, instead, I took the last elite fantasy quarterback left: Manning. After spending a season away from the game due to neck surgery and trading his horseshoe for a Bronco, Manning didn’t miss a beat in his return last season. Throwing a touchdown in every week, including 12 weeks where he threw two or more, No. 18 was the model of consistency. I’m not against waiting on a QB this year, however, if the top RBs are gone, and Manning, Brees or Rodgers are still around in the third round, don’t hesitate to pull the trigger.
Round 4 (34): WR Wes Welker- After taking Manning in the third, there was no way I was passing on his newest weapon, Wes Welker, in the fourth round. As fantasy owners, we all know the horrible feeling of playing against a deadly QB/WR duo, which is exactly why I loved Welker at pick No. 34. Every time he and Manning hook up for six — which should be quite a bit this year — my fantasy team will take a giant leap toward victory. Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker should attract attention from opposing pass defenders on the outside, leading to Welker seeing plenty of targets in the middle of the field. If the aging Brandon Stokley was able to haul in five touchdowns playing the slot for Denver last season, Welker could easily double that for a monster fantasy year.
Round 5 (47): RB Chris Ivory – As the draft entered round five, I knew I needed to add another running back who, week in, week out, would produce double-digit fantasy points for my team. Now a starter and a member of the New York Jets, Ivory was that RB. His early hamstring problems in camp most likely allowed him to drop all the way to pick No. 47, but in my opinion, the Jets are just being careful with their lead runner, like most teams this time of the year. Although Ivory hasn’t played more than six games in each of the last two years, the 25-year-old bruiser has shown flashes of being a Marshawn Lynch-type of back. With the recent lack of productivity from New York’s passing game and the consistent question “Mark” at QB, Ivory should get every opportunity to prove himself in 2013.
Round 6 (54): WR Reggie Wayne – At age 34, Wayne is still one of the most productive wideouts in the NFL. Finishing fifth in receptions a season ago, the veteran receiver wasted no time building a bond with rookie play caller Andrew Luck. In round six, I was perfectly happy taking Wayne as my WR2.
Round 7 (67): WR Antonio Brown – Last year, I was very high on Brown. However, after a slow start and an ankle injury, my optimism quickly turned to frustration. To his credit, Brown did finished the season on a positive note, scoring a touchdown in each of the last four games. And with Mike Wallace headed to Miami, the Pittsburgh Steelers will turn to Brown as their new No. 1 wideout. Although the speedy receiver burned me in 2012, his upside this year was too hard to pass up in round seven.
Round 8 (74): RB Rashard Mendenhall – Now a member of the Arizona Cardinals, Mendenhall will look to lead a rushing attack that finished last in the NFL in 2012. After missing time last year due to offseason knee surgery, Mendenhall was never able to find his form and spent most of his time on the sidelines. I believe the change of scenery will due Mendenhall some good, and if the Cardinals decide to give him the rock 20 plus times a game, he could be a mid-round steal.
Round 9 (87): WR Miles Austin – Although he’s not Tony Romo’s No. 1 option, Austin should still see over 100 targets in 2013. Austin is the beneficiary of an offense that isn’t afraid to throw the ball (third in the NFL in passing attempts last year) and as long as he stays on the field, he should put up respectable fantasy numbers again this season. Based on byes and matchups, Austin could be a key fill-in on my team this year.
Round 10 (94): WR Kenny Britt – With the draft entering the later rounds, it was time to start taking a few flyers and sleepers. After dealing with knee problems each of the last two years, Britt finally seems healthy and ready to take over as the Tennessee Titans’ clear No. 1 receiver. Not only do I believe Britt has the talent and ability to lead Tennessee in receiving, I think he has a chance at being a top-10 fantasy wideout in 2013. Although his injury risk is high, the overall upside of Britt was worth a 10th-round pick in my eyes.
Round 11 (107): RB Ronnie Hillman – Despite all the hype surrounding rookie running back Montee Ball, Hillman remains the No. 1 running back on Denver’s depth cart. Hillman committed himself to the weight room this offseason, and it seems as if the added muscle has paid off so far in camp. If he’s able to keep his starting spot and lead the Broncos in rushing attempts this season, Hillman could be my biggest steal of the draft at pick No. 107.
Round 12 (114): RB Daryl Richardson – Similar to Hillman, Richardson is currently atop the St. Louis Rams’ depth cart, yet the Rams’ other backs seem to be valued higher by most fantasy owners. My thought is: whenever you can add a starting running back in the NFL to your bench in round 12, it’s a no-brainer. And if Richardson is able to prove he belongs as the Rams’ starting RB, he could be a fantasy star in 2013.
Round 13 (127): TE Owen Daniels – Although I decided to not wait on a QB this year, I did make the decision to wait as long as I could on a tight end. Aside from Jimmy Graham, I wouldn’t take ANY tight end before round 13, and here’s why: I was able to land Daniels in round 13, compared to guys like Tong Gonzalez, Vernon Davis and Jason Witten, who all went in the fifth round. So, although I waited all the way until round 13, my TE actually outscored Davis last year, and he scored just 15 points less than Witten and 35 points less than Gonzalez. The difference in waiting eight rounds for a tight end in my draft was just a little over an average of two points per week. Meaning, all things considered, Daniels was a much better value in round 13 than Gonzalez was in round five. Unless Graham falls to you late in round two or early in round three, there’s no reason to reach for a TE until the later rounds.
Round 14 (134): WR Andre Roberts – Having to play next to Larry Fitzgerald would usually hurt your fantasy value. However, believe it or not, Roberts actually outscored Fitzgerald last year in fantasy. With teams consistently double- and even triple-teaming Fitzgerald, Roberts is able to enjoy single coverage all over the field. Spending most of his time in the slot this season, Roberts could surprise people with another decent fantasy year.
Round 15 (147): D/ST Baltimore Ravens- One of the golden rules of drafting in a snake-style fantasy football draft is to wait until the 15th round to select a D/ST. Not surprisingly, however, many owners decided round 15 was too long to wait on a defense, and the Seattle Seahawks‘ D/ST went as early as the eighth round. As I loaded up on solid bench players, I was perfectly happy sitting back and waiting to take the Ravens’ D/ST in Round 15. In almost all of my leagues I’ll switch my D/ST each week depending on matchups, and this draft was no different.
Round 16 (154): K Matt Bryant- Of the kickers remaining, Bryant was the only one who had a productive 2012 and has the luxury of playing in a dome. When it comes to round 16, if you aren’t picking your kicker, you’re doing it wrong.
Overall, I was happy but not thrilled with my team. The more fantasy mocks and drafts I do, the more I realize the importance of getting three running backs in each of the first three rounds. Taking a QB in the first three rounds is not needed when guys like Romo and Russell Wilson are still on the board in rounds eight through 10. Other than missing on a RB in round three, my draft was strong. I added stability in the early to mid rounds, while drafting upside in the later rounds. Like any mock draft, I came away with more experience and knowledge for future drafts — which, in the end, is always the goal.