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's a tried-and-true strategy that has done me well for 20-plus years. The mock drafts will all assume 12 teams are in the league (unless otherwise noted) with the following roster breakdown: a quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, a flex position (running back, wide receiver or tight end), as well as a kicker, team defense and six bench spots. It's a 16-round snake draft.
Here is my roster:
Round 1, Pick 2: Running back Todd Gurley (Los Angeles Rams)
Round 2, Pick 11: Running back Jerick McKinnon (San Francisco 49ers)
Round 3, Pick 2: Running back Devonta Freeman (Atlanta Falcons)
Round 4, Pick 11: Wide receiver Allen Robinson (Chicago Bears)
Round 5, Pick 2: Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Round 6, Pick 11: Wide receiver Pierre Garcon (San Francisco 49ers)
Round 7, Pick 2: Wide receiver Randall Cobb (Green Bay Packers)
Round 8, Pick 11: Running back Lamar Miller (Houston Texans)
Round 9, Pick 2: Wide receiver Will Fuller (Houston Texans)
Round 10, Pick 11: Running back Marlon Mack (Indianapolis Colts)
Round 11, Pick 2: Tight end George Kittle (San Francisco 49ers)
Round 12, Pick 11: Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (San Francisco 49ers)
Round 13, Pick 2: Quarterback Jared Goff (Los Angeles Rams)
Round 14, Pick 11: Los Angeles Rams team defense/special teams
Round 15, Pick 2: Kicker Stephen Gostkowski (New England Patriots)
Round 16, Pick 11: Wide receiver Anthony Miller (Chicago Bears)
Very similar to my last mock, having the second pick assures you of drafting one of the top four running backs. The first player selected in this scenario was Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, so Gurley was an easy choice. McKinnon and Freeman fell to me again during the second and third rounds, so I got the exact start I love with three top-15 running backs with my first three picks.
Once you draft running backs early and often, you must grab wide receiver depth during the next three-to-five rounds. I love the receivers who fell to me during the fourth-to-seventh rounds, especially Garcon and Cobb during the sixth and seventh rounds, respectively. Robinson and Smith-Schuster should both be solid players in 2018, but both carry risk. Robinson is coming back from a torn ACL and Smith-Schuster, while explosive, is still the third option in Pittsburgh behind receiver Antonio Brown and Bell.
Once again, I waited on drafting a tight end and quarterback. By taking Kittle during the 11th round, I got a tight end who offers upside in what could be a dynamic 49ers' offense. If this works, I get a steal in Round 11. If the second-year tight end doesn't progress like I expect, then I'll play the waiver wire game at tight end this season.
Similarly, I waited and waited to draft my first quarterback. It's always important to know what other owners are doing at the draft so you don't miss out on the quarterback targets you have. Garoppolo and Goff are two young quarterbacks in high powered offenses that have top-10 fantasy potential in 2018. Drafting them in the 12th and 13th rounds is a super way to make sure you're deep at running back and receiver.
As is my new way of drafting kickers and defenses, I usually grab one of each in the 14th and 15th rounds. Then, I try and grab a high upside player -- in this case, rookie receiver Anthony Miller -- in the 16th round. Miller could be a high volume pass catcher and is great protection in case Robinson, his teammate, struggles returning from injury.
Overall, again I'd be very happy with this team going into the 2018 fantasy football season, as it has depth and youth.