The Sporting News Fantasy Source experts held their fourth mock draft of the 2012 preseason today. This one was a 10-team PPR league, with the standard starting lineup of 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 K and 1 D/ST.
As usual, I was "randomly" assigned a position in the back half of the order, but at least I'm creeping up a bit. I had the 6th overall pick this time. Here's what I did with it:
Pick 1.6: Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers. The Big 3 RBs went first, followed by Megatron and Aaron Rodgers. It was Mathews or Brees for me, so I went with the presumed workhorse of the San Diego offense, knowing that a reasonable proxy for Brees would be available on the swing back.
Pick 2.5: Matt Stafford, QB, Lions. I'm just not taking chances with arguably the most important position on my team. Stafford was the best ace available, after A-Rod, Brees and Brady were snatched up.
Pick 3.6: Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints. It was time to go WR, but Graham was just too tantalizing to let slide by. Gronk was taken with the 1st pick of the 3rd round.
Pick 4.5: Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers. It's easy to forget that he didn't cement his hold on the WR2 role in Green Bay until mid-November, yet he finished 2011 among the Top 5 WRs in all of fantasy football -- even in PPR formats. I (heart) Jordy.
Pick 5.6: Frank Gore, RB, 49ers. In previous mock drafts, I had either forgotten about or narrowly missed claiming Gore in the 5th/6th round. I just don't understand why he is suddenly so under-valued, after all those years as an (over-valued) first-rounder. He's still on the right side of 30, and remains the workhorse in the up-and-coming San Fran offensive attack.
Pick 6.5: Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys. According to most outsider rankings, Smilin' Miles should be drafted before Jordy. I don't see it that way, and obviously neither did my counterparts. In the middle of Round 6, he represents excellent value.
Pick 7.6: Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens. The sky's the limit for this playmaking receiver. I was getting genuinely nervous as I awaited my pick, just knowing someone was going to scoop him up before me. Love his upside, and now I love my starting lineup.
Pick 8.5: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Bengals. I took him in last week's mock, and am warming to him more and more as the regular season approaches. See no reason the Law Firm can't be a very solid performer in Cincinnati's improving offense.
Pick 9.6: Denarius Moore, WR, Raiders. He comes with some risk (e.g., he's a Raider) but plenty of upside. If he and Carson Palmer establish a nice rapport, Moore can be a fantasy force. No way I'd touch DHB, his presumed fellow starter.
Pick 10.5: Mark Ingram, RB, Saints. Another guy that just keeps slipping well beyond where he should. As much as I like Darren Sproles, I just can't see him replicating his monster 2011 campaign. Ingram, if he can stay healthy, will carry a big load in New Orleans, including near the goal-line.
Pick 11.6: Randy Moss, WR, 49ers. What the hell...
Pick 12.5: Ryan Williams, RB, Cardinals. Still expect him to be the most productive RB in Arizona, for whatever that's worth. We all know Beanie can't hold up for 16 games.
Pick 13.6: Nate Washington, WR, Titans. Admittedly, this pick doesn't inspire a lot of excitement. But Washington will be Tennessee's lead WR until Kenny Britt(le) gets his head out of his a$$, which could be quite a while.
Pick 14.5: Packers defense/special teams. The top unit on my draft board, they represent huge value this late in the draft.
Pick 15.6: Alex Green, RB, Packers. I've been able to grab Green as late as the 17th round, but word is getting out that he's the real deal. Don't be surprised if he supplants James Starks as the starter by October. That said, Green Bay isn't going to become a run-oriented team any time soon, so his ceiling isn't real high.
Pick 16.5: Stephen Gostkowski, K, Patriots. It's kicker or backup QB time, and I knew Flacco would be there in the final round. New England's sharp-shooter is #2 on my board.
Pick 17.6: Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens. I'm still surprised to see how far Flacco has fallen out of fantasy favor. Love him as my one-week sub for Brady.
There you have it. I believe we have one more mock to go (next Wed.), then on to the real deal.
About the author
Ladd Biro was named 2010 "Football Writer of the Year" by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. Ladd's nationally syndicated columns have appeared in more than 20 publications -- including the Dallas Morning News, San Francisco Chronicle, Philadelphia Inquirer, Chicago Sun-Times and Sporting News magazine -- since 2003. During the NFL season, he can be heard nationwide on Sporting News Radio as host of the weekly "Fantasy Files" program, dispensing his unique blend of wit and wisdom. Since 2009, all his written fantasy content can be found on the Fantasy Fools blog.