Confessions From The First Round

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By Harold Studer

If you’re like most fantasy owners, you’ve been doing mock drafts now for awhile. I’ve done my fair share and the same players seem to be showing up in generally the same order. So given our normal set of suspects, I’ve broke down my thoughts on each of them and where they were taken in my latest 10 team standard mock draft.

Antonio Brown – 1.01- ADP 1.3

He is number one for a reason. With the focus of the NFL and fantasy shifting to passing, the top WRs move to the beginning of the draft. I like Brown’s chances of finishing as a top WR because of his consistency. He is definitely the safest pick of the top pass catchers, even if Big Ben gets hurt, he still provides more upside than his peers if the same situation were to occur.

Odell Beckham Jr. – 1.02 – ADP 2.66

I feel OBJ has more upside than Brown. Eli and the Giants have little to no run game, McAdoo is now the head coach, and there are very few talented pass defenses on the Giants 2016 schedule. I’m looking for OBJ to push the 2000-yard mark and finish as the number 1 fantasy option this year.

Julio Jones – 1.03 – ADP 3.9

I love Julio and his potential. He has been producing for years in Atlanta with little to no supporting cast. I think the additions the Falcons have made on offense recently are okay, and may allow Ryan to spread the ball around a little more; I don’t think that is enough to drop Julio from the list of top pass catchers. It is however enough to drop him behind Brown and OBJ. I also expect the Falcons defense to not be as terrible as it has been the last few years, possibly shifting some offensive focus to the run game.

Todd Gurley – 1.04 – ADP 4.49

A second year back with just over half a season of stats and gameplay to base my opinion on. Such a small sample size alone makes me worry about this draft price. Further more, I consider him the only offensive weapon the Rams have worth a defensive coordinators time, and that may lead to an overwhelming number of loaded boxes up front for Gurley to deal with. Also, when playing from behind, how long can the Rams stick to the ground game? I don’t expect them to be winning or be ahead in many games, and they also play in the NFC West with Arizona and Seattle. Enough said.

Le’Veon Bell – 1.05 – ADP 6.18

Undoubtedly one of the most talented RBs available to draft in fantasy. This has been shown by the production he has had when on the field. The question is, can he stay on the field? I don’t like to consider past injury history, when focusing on future possibilities, so I expect a full 16 games from Bell. The big three in Pittsburgh is what makes their offense a high power attack, so I expect top tier production and would consider Bell the RB to take off the board first.

Adrian Peterson – 1.06 – ADP 7.01

The most consistent fantasy RB in history! Can we all agree on that? At pick 6, whoever in you league is sitting in this spot can almost guarantee themselves the safest RB pick on the board. Most fantasy owners either love AP or hate him, but he is the primary back and offensive weapon in an offense that revolves around him and has for years. He produces and again and again, that won’t stop this year.

Ezekiel Elliot – 1.07 – ADP 8.62

I understand the hype and optimism that fantasy owners on the Elliot train are gravitating to. I personally won’t own any stocks in Elliot this year, unless it’s a dynasty league, because the draft price is way too high for a RB that’s never taken a snap in the NFL. Also, it seems like fans in general are all assuming that Elliot will automatically be the Cowboys starter, who still have veteran guys like McFadden and newly signed Alfred Morris on the roster. Is it crazy to think Jerry Jones is more interested in winning than having his rookie RB start? I don’t expect Elliot to be the only back, it’ll be a committee, at least initially, also hampering Elliot’s stock.

David Johnson – 1.08 – ADP 6.6

You can see the difference in his draft spot and his ADP. Similar to Gurley, Johnson is a second year back with a small sample size. What differentiates the two is the offense that Johnson finds himself in. Arizona is arguably one of the top five offenses in the NFL. There is a ton of volume for all of the specialty positions but also a ton of mouths to feed in this offense. I would slightly value Johnson higher than Gurley due to offensive productivity and his ability to be involved in the run and pass game. That being said, Gurley and Johnson are both in the first round based on the optimism surrounding their talent compared to RBs falling into the second round.

Rob Gronkowski – 1.09 – ADP 10.03

So, Gronk is that exception to the rule of drafting TEs late. He is obviously in his own tier and could arguably be considered a WR given his stats and production. If you are targeting WRs early in your draft but are in the back of the first round, Gronk provides you the opportunity to fill a slot in your roster and focus on high upside guys in the second and third round. I don’t fully agree with him coming off the board prior to the three WRs that follow, but I can see grabbing him now knowing he probably won’t be there after the turn. If Brady is out the first four games of the season, expect slightly lower numbers early on, but the push for the playoffs should pay dividends.

AJ Green – 1.10 – ADP 10.75

AJ Green seems to have a top fantasy WR forever, hasn’t he? He obviously isn’t going anywhere, jumping into the end of the first round. Only the fourth WR off the board, I would consider Green, Bryant, and Hopkins as the second tier of WR to the top three at the beginning of the draft. Green seemed to be moving up ahead of these other two WRs because of the recent news about Eifert, and the loss of Hue Jackson which figures to decentralize the prominence the RBs have had in the offense the past couple years. Once again, like with Arizona, Cincinnati is an offense with a lot of talent, but Green is by far the number one.

Next four picks: Dez Bryant, Deandre Hopkins, Lamar Miller, Devonta Freeman

With all the talk about “Zero RB” strategies this year, the first round was still split 50/50, ground pounders to pass catchers. Based on this you should have a good idea of who is available and where they are falling around in the first round.