Greetings, Fools! Believe it or not, we held the mock draft for Sporting News' annual fantasy football draft guide on Monday night. How crazy is that? The 2013 NFL season must not be far off!
Of course, it's way too early to take any mock draft seriously; and my preparation was limited to printing off a set of third-party rankings and using those as a guide. So I'm not exactly at the top of my game and you can bet that my opinions will evolve over the coming months.
For now, here's what I came out with in a 12-team standard re-draft league (starting 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 DEF). I had the 5th overall pick.
Round 1: Drew Brees, QB, Saints. Yup, I took him over Rodgers. Did you realize Brees has been the top-ranked QB in fantasy football for two consecutive years? As a Rodgers owner last year, the memory of his late-season slump (4 TD passes total between Weeks 11 and 14) is still fresh on my mind. FYI, AP, Foster, Doug Martin and Rice went in the first four picks.
Round 2: Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars. I was disappointed that MJD was the best RB left on the board by the time my pick came up again. As expected, the elite QBs were gone by now, so I feel vindicated in taking a passer with my first pick. But I am not crazy about hitching my wagon to a diminutive rusher coming off a serious foot injury and playing for a team that rarely scores. My other choices were Matt Forte and Steven Jackson. Maybe shoulda gone with Forte.
Round 3: Roddy White, WR, Falcons. Amazingly, both Brandon Marshall and AJ nearly fell to me here. Roddy may not be the strongest WR1 any longer, but he'll do in a pinch.
Round 4: Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants. Great value in the 4th round, especially given the dearth of RBs still standing.
Round 5: Darren Sproles, RB, Saints. As it turns out, only Reggie Bush and David Wilson were taken in between my 4th and 5th picks. I was hoping Bush would slide, as I think he's in a great situation in Detroit. Sproles was about the last of the solid fantasy backs left on the table. (Vick Ballard was the next one taken, in the 6th round, if that tells you anything.)
Round 6: Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys. Gronk and Graham gone in the 3rd. Hernandez left with the first pick in the 6th. I took Witten as the next-most reliable TE in the land, though I considered holding out for the ageless Gonzo.
Round 7: Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers. If J-Stew finally seizes the workhorse role and leaves DeAngelo in the dust, this will be a genius pick. Yeah, that's probably not gonna happen.
Round 8: T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts. I haven't gone through all the analysis yet, but don't be surprised if Hilton is one of my sleeper picks this year. He had a great rookie season and should continue to soar in his second year with Luck.
Round 9: Kenny Britt, WR, Titans. Somebody had to do it.
Round 10: Fred Jackson, RB, Bills. F-Jax showed he still has wheels and the ability to be a great fantasy contributor last season. If/when Spiller goes down this year, Freddy will be a strong proxy.
Round 11: Brian Hartline, WR, Dolphins. Could find his groove as second-fiddle to Mike Wallace.
Round 12: Josh Freeman, QB, Bucs. My draft hinges on Brees staying healthy and stellar. I'd better not need Freeman more than once.
Round 13: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans. Really excited about this pick. By the time August rolls around, there's no way the first-round rookie will still be available this late. Houston has been looking for a complementary receiver to pair with AJ for years. Hopkins has a chance to be special.
Round 15: Willis McGahee, RB, Broncos. Not sure I believe he won't be a key cog in Denver's backfield. Not sure I believe he will be, either.
Round 16: Stephen Gostkowski, K, Patriots. This group knows better than to draft a kicker earlier than this round. I was the first to jump and the rest followed quickly.
Round 17: Michael Turner, RB, F/A. What the heck? He could land in a very favorable spot by the time August rolls around.
So there you have it. Admittedly, this isn't a roster I'd bank on. But no worries; it's only a mock. There's plenty of time to get it right...
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.