I recently simulated a one-man mock draft with no expectations or intentions of ever publishing it. You see, nobody would mock with me. I was like Tom Brady walking around looking for someone to give me a high five. But then something happened …
A one-man mock might seem a little ridiculous, like a waste of time, maybe even manic. But I ended up learning a lot about my drafting strategies and my preferences for the upcoming season. For that reason, I’ve decided to post the experiment and invite you down the rabbit hole.
As for how it unfolded: the first few rounds were just “best player available” based on my top 100 rankings. Then as the draft progressed, I started taking players based on need. I tried to pick like each team was my only squad. After the results below, I’ve summarized my favorite teams and strategic takeaways from the experience.
I always recommend mock drafting (with other people). I enjoyed this exercise though. Hopefully you’ll also learn a thing or two from my self-centered experiment.
Since all the teams are mine, I needed a way to easily discuss their strengths and weaknesses. I’ve decided to use a Reservoir Dogs approach and name the teams with colors. Without further ado, here is the outcome …
Note: click table for a larger view
In case you didn’t notice, I’ve omitted a 15th round assuming it will be all kickers … because kickers. Deal with it.
I really like the Red team. Best receiver in the game, great quarterback, and pretty good elsewhere. Mike Evans could be considered a weak link at WR3, but he could become a legit red zone target for Tampa. I don’t mind the RB2-by-committee with Gore and Gerhart. Reed could be a great TE if he stays on the field. Overall, a solid team.
As his name crept up on the list of players available, I found myself repeatedly passing on David Wilson. That neck injury is serious business – even if he is cleared to play later this month. As a result, I’m higher than most on Rashad Jennings.
The Grey team is good, and could have been great. I love the first few pics. Bebe and Antonio are a great 1-2 punch at receiver. I love the running back situation: Ball is a good RB1, if Tate doesn’t work out there’s his handcuff West, and then MJD locks up the bench. I really like RG3 too! The only thing I would have done differently is grab a TE in the 5th or 6th round. Greg Olsen (who else is Cam throwing to?) would have made the Grey team tough to beat.
At the end of the draft, I’d rather take a Hail Mary on a receiver like Andrew Hawkins than pick an injury risk like Jeremy Maclin or a guy with minimal upside like Mike Williams.
The same goes for running backs. In this case, rookie RBs Freeman and Hyde are the Hail Mary picks I’d prefer; the injury risk is Ahmad Bradshaw; and the guys with minimal upside are Lamar Miller and Jonathan Stewart.
I also like the Pink team. Taking Jimmy Graham in the first round didn’t harm the team as much as you might think. Stacy and Spiller make a pretty compelling backfield, and Rivers could be in for a career year (he managed a nice resurgence last season despite a slew of receiver injuries). I don’t think of Vincent Jackson or Torrey Smith as a WR1, but I could live with them. I like the Pink team’s bench too.
As I’m writing this, Josh Gordon is under arrest for another DUI. Doh! The slim chance he had of playing this year just went up in a puff of smoke. Pun intended. But seriously, I hope this kid gets his life back on track. You’re steering clear of Gordon unless it’s late in a dynasty draft. Marvin Jones is inching higher up my rankings, so let’s pretend I drafted him instead.
I’m amused and pleased by Brandin Cooks and Tavon Austin (the player to whom Cooks is often compared) ending up on the same team. Two wide receivers with loads of upside at a cheap price.
The Orange team could either be dominant or terrible. A lot of upside, but oh so many health-related question marks. Julio Jones, Newton, Gronkowski and Garcon have all had injuries in recent history. I wouldn’t gamble that much if it were my one and only team.
Make sure 2 of your first 5 picks are running backs.
It looks like RB depth dries up in the 5th round, so don’t wait too long. The Magenta team, and especially the Cyan team, are painfully weak at the RB position. I love that they have top shelf players at QB and WR, but in retrospect they should have taken RBs in rounds 3 and 4. (While you’re at it, make sure to get 3 RBs with your first 7 picks)
If you don’t get a top shelf quarterback, consider a QBBC.
Outside of the top few quarterbacks, the position is very deep. I don’t see a huge difference between QB5 and QB15. So stock up on other positions that will dry up quickly (like running back). The Dark Green, Black and Blue teams are all good examples of how competitive your starting lineup can be if you go quarterback-by-committee. By the way, it’s hard to believe that Tom Brady is now committee-grade (subpar wide receivers tend to have that effect on a quarterback).
Don’t wait too long on tight end.
In my opinion there are only 8 dependable tight ends, meaning this is not a good year to go TEBC. I said it before in my auction draft guide, but you have to really be on your toes in a snake draft. If you’re not paying attention, or if you’re picking at the turn, you could easily get stuck on the wrong end of a TE run. In my one-man mock, the tight ends dried up in the 6th round. It’s better to be safe than sorry and take a TE a little early. Otherwise, you’ll end up like the Purple team or Grey team.
First round quarterback?
Even though Manning is coming off an incredible season, I don’t see a huge gap between him and the other top QBs. If you want to prioritize quarterback, that’s fine, but wait until after pick 15 (obviously this doesn’t apply to 2-QB leagues). In the second round you can grab Brees, Rodgers or Stafford after landing a first round stud like Calvin Johnson or Marshawn Lynch capable of carrying your team. For the Magenta team, I think the cost of taking Peyton in the first round was just too great.
The best draft position.
Last but not least: if your league provides any control over which pick you have, or if you can trade your pick with a league mate, I really like picks 5 and 6 right in the middle. First, you can pick either Calvin Johnson or a great RB1, then in the second you get either a top shelf QB or an excellent RB/WR. What this boils down to is tiers. I think the first tier ends at pick 7, and the second tier ends around pick 20-22. Picking 5th or 6th would give you a decent stab at both of these tiers.
Regardless of where you pick, good luck and remember to choose wisely.
Note: For more in depth analysis on each skill position, bookmark http://www.gamedayr.com/fantasy/ and check back in the coming weeks for position primers.