This past weekend, we held the Rant Sports 2013 Fantasy Football Mock Draft 2.0. I handled the ninth pick in the 10-team draft.
Round 1 (9) – Calvin Johnson: Picking ninth actually made this decision easy. The next four RBs available were all pretty interchangeable, but there is only one Megatron in the game. Last season, he set the NFL record in receiving yards, so, while yards are likely to go down this year, he was tackled on the one yard line six times, so expect touchdowns to go up. There is no debate he is the top WR and the only one worthy of going in the first round.
Round 2 (12) – Matt Forte: With nine of the first 10 picks being running backs, I decided to pass on the chance to pick the top QB to go with the top WR, and took Forte. Forte will never be the best RB in fantasy, he is just too touchdown dependent. Also, while missing five games combined over the past two years, he was questionable seemingly every week, making owning him a rollercoaster ride. That said, when he is in the game, he is a threat to single-handedly win you a week.
Round 3 (29) – Tom Brady: Loss of targets is a concern for Brady, which is why he can fall to the end of the third round. No Aaron Hernandez, no Wes Welker, no Brandon Lloyd and a banged up Rob Gronkowski may look like too much to overcome, but Brady has been a top QB with David Patten as a top target, Brady will be an elite fantasy QB again this year.
Round 4 (32) – Darren McFadden: While I cringed slightly while making this pick, as he is just too injury prone, he also felt like a steal with the other RBs available. He comes immediately after Lamar Miller, and in front of a WR run, which didn’t bother me given I already had Megatron, and Darren Sproles was the next RB taken. McFadden is a top-tier RB when healthy, but due to his always present injury risk, added to Forte already on my team, I knew I would have to stack the deck with RBs.
Round 5 (49) – Jason Witten: There seems to be an obvious second tier at TE after Jimmy Graham (and Gronk depending on how you feel about his health) with a big drop to tier three. The fifth round included a run on every second-tier guy on my board, and I want my team to have one of them, so Witten was an easy selection.
Round 6 (52) – Tavon Austin: Rookie WRs often take a year or two to catch up to the NFL game, but that won’t be the case for Austin. He has unfair quicks, will line up in the slot on most downs where he is a threat to take a screen pass 80 yards. He will also get some play out of the backfield simply as a matchup nightmare. This is likely a reach at pick 52, but I doubted he would last until my next pick at 69, and with his upside potential, you will likely have to go ahead of the experts rankings as there will be someone in just about every draft willing to reach for him, and in this draft it was me.
Round 7 (69) – Shane Vereen: Vereen has shown flashes of brilliance, but has never secured the starting job due to Stevan Ridley’s performance and back-to-back training camps of hamstring issues. Vereen is quick with good hands and underrated strength. He has been working in the slot in training camp and it seems the New England Patriots are looking to get the ball in his hands much more often this season. He could be a real threat in the flex spot.
Round 8 (72) – Jonathan Franklin: The Green Bay Packers picked Eddie Lacy in the second round of this year’s NFL draft, and then Franklin in round four, proving they want to become more balanced with the running game. While many had Lacy pegged as the best RB in this year’s draft, he feels much more like Mark Ingram than Trent Richardson (the last two Alabama running backs selected high in the draft). Franklin was a beast at UCLA and, due to Lacy’s size, could very well be the Packers’ featured back. I believe Franklin will be the top RB in Green Bay this season.
Round 9 (89) – T.Y. Hilton: Hilton was second behind just Percy Harvin in the NFL last season in yards-after-catch. He could emerge as Andrew Luck’s top target, and with his speed, he will make some big plays. There is concern that Hilton is too reliant on big plays, and the Indianapolis Colts have added another big-play guy in Darius Heyward-Bey, but Hilton is only expected to get better as he matures in the league.
Round 10 (92) – Ryan Williams: I feel like a broken record after this pick. This is a guy who is excellent when healthy, but health is a real concern. Williams becomes my fifth lottery ticket RB in 10 picks, but if I manage to hit on three of five, I feel I have a great chance to win the league. Time will tell if he can make it through an entire season, but if he does, I deem this pick a value.
Round 11 (109) – Joe Flacco: Too often in mock drafts you see guys select the best pick for their team on paper, this is not one of those picks. I almost never grab a second QB when I have a starter the caliber of Brady, but, as mentioned in my last pick, I have a bunch of lottery ticket RBs, and, if Flacco gets off to a hot start, a trade for a reliable but not flashy second RB to a team with a struggling or injured QB should be pretty doable.
Round 12 (112) – Kendall Wright: Who knows if Jake Locker will ever emerge as a quality NFL starter, but if he does, Wright will be a real weapon. He and Kenny Britt are as good a one-two receiving combo nobody cares about. Wrights value rests on Locker’s shoulders, but at this point in the draft, the upside was worth the pick.
Round 13 (129) – Brandon Pettigrew: If I had missed out on one of my tier two TEs, I would have grabbed Pettigrew two rounds before this. He is the second-best receiving option for the Detroit Lions and can provide value during Witten’s bye week or tough matchups.
Round 14 (132) – Michael Floyd: I have no real faith in Carson Palmer, but Floyd is the first legit weapon at receiver opposite Larry Fitzgerald since Anquan Boldin. More so than that, the other options there were Jared Cook (who I like a bit more than Pettigrew this year, but shared a bye week with Witten), Shonn Greene, Aaron Dobson and the likes. I would have gone Dobson, but I am not sold on his training camp performance.
Round 15 (149) – New England Patriots: I am a 100 percent believer in streaming defense. There just isn’t a big enough consistency among the top defenses from year to year. Yes, the San Francisco 49ers will likely be really good this year, but the difference between them and my streaming of D probably isn’t the difference between Pettigrew or Cook and a Dustin Keller type. For this pick, I just pulled up the week one schedule and saw the Patriots will be playing the Buffalo Bills, good enough for me.
Round 16 (152) – Blair Walsh: Time for the least informational part of this draft breakdown. Last round, time for a kicker, my cursor happened to be on Walsh… Good enough for me. Kicker should be your last pick, and if you spend more than three seconds debating which one to pick, you have spent three seconds too long.
So my lineup became:
QB: Tom Brady
RB: Matt Forte
RB: Darren McFadden
WR: Calvin Johnson
WR: Tavon Austin
TE: Jason Witten
FLEX: Shane Vereen
K: Blair Walsh
QB: Joe Flacco
RB: Jonathan Franklin, Ryan Williams
WR: T.Y Hilton, Kendall Wright, Michael Floyd
TE: Brandon Pettigrew
If I could make one change, I would throw back one of those last three WR for another RB, but as I mentioned before, I believe Flacco will become a reliable RB via trade for me.