Before you know it, it will be fantasy football draft time. Leading up to the season, I will conduct several mock drafts. During the drafts, I will pick in all 12 positions, with all sorts of scenarios.
As a rule, I prefer to draft three starting running backs within the first four rounds. It is a tried-and-true strategy which has done well for me for 20-plus years. The mock drafts will all assume 12 teams are in the league (unless otherwise noted) with the following breakdown: quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, tight end, a flex (running back, wide receiver or tight end), kicker, team defense and six bench spots. So it is a 16-round snake draft.
Here is scenario No. 4.
I have the fourth overall pick. I am playing in a PPR format, which means you get a point for every reception.
Here is my roster:
Round 1, Pick 4: Wide receiver Julio Jones (Atlanta Falcons)
Round 2, Pick 9: Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (Houston Texans)
Round 3, Pick 4: Running back Leonard Fournette (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Round 4, Pick 9: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers)
Round 5, Pick 4: Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (Denver Broncos)
Round 6, Pick 9: Running back Danny Woodhead (Baltimore Ravens)
Round 7, Pick 4: Running back Mike Gillislee (New England Patriots)
Round 8, Pick 9: Running back Frank Gore (Indianapolis Colts)
Round 9, Pick 4: Running back Paul Perkins (New York Giants)
Round 10, Pick 9: Wide receiver Corey Coleman (Cleveland Browns)
Round 11, Pick 4: Wide receiver Quincy Enunwa (New York Jets)
Round 12, Pick 9: Quarterback Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Round 13, Pick 4: Tight end Cameron Brate (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Round 14, Pick 9: Houston Texans defense
Round 15, Pick 4: Kicker Justin Tucker (Baltimore Ravens)
Round 16, Pick 9: Quarterback Blake Bortles (Jacksonville Jaguars)
So in this mock I passed on Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott with the fourth pick and went the safer route and selected Jones. Am I scared away by a possible suspension? Somewhat, but in a PPR setting it is sometimes tough to pass on the four-or-so elite wide receivers after Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson and Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell are off the board, so I tried something new. Isn't that what mock drafts are for, to find out what works and what doesn't?
When it was time to pick in Round 2, I did not love the running back choices. I could have selected Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, but as much as I like him, Carolina could have a weird offense this season. Will Cam Newton dump the ball off to McCaffrey or will he just run it? So I went wide receiver again and took the talented Hopkins. In the third round, I had to take a running back, as I was starting to break out in a cold sweat, and I took what should be a 20-to-25-touch player this year in Fournette.
If Rodgers is available in the fourth round, you take him, no matter what. So I did.
I then loaded up on upside running backs with Woodhead, Gillislee, Gore and Perkins, and I feel good about it.
In the late rounds I took wide receivers from bad teams. Why? If teams are behind they will throw more and garbage time is winning time in fantasy football.
With my last pick I threw a dart at Bortles. Usually, I would never draft three quarterbacks but if Bortles can be the quarterback from 2015, I then have a terrific trade chip. If he is the quarterback from 2016, I can play the waiver wire and drop him quick.