The goal of this exercise was to achieve a grade of ‘A’ or higher on the FantasyPros Mock Draft Simulator. This is a PPR league with 10 teams and a standard roster structure (1QB, 2RB, 2WR, 1TE, 1FLEX, 1D/ST, 1K) selected from fourth place overall.
The goal is to come up with a strategy to get a high grade when drawing with similar settings. Ideally, you’ll have a balanced roster afterwards (2QBs, 5RBs, 5WRs, 2TEs, 1D/ST, 1K).
However, each design is different and contextual. For example, I usually load up RBs in the early rounds, but sometimes all the RBs you love are gone and Ja’Marr Chase is staring you in the face. Results may vary.
1.04 Christian McCaffrey (RB – CAR)
As much as I said to myself, “Never again,” I had to. If you like fantasy points, you should think twice about discarding Christian McCaffrey as the fourth RB. With Jonathan Taylor, Austin Ekeler and Derrick Henry all gone, it was an easy decision for me to make. I could imagine going for Cooper Kupp if you wanted to be a WR, or maybe Najee Harris, Dalvin Cook or Joe Mixon if you really can’t trust McCaffrey.
As someone who draws an RB nine times out of ten in the first round, it was difficult to overtake a player whose weekly floor with no TD is 20 PPR points. Fingers crossed that he stays healthy.
2.07 James Conner (RB – ARI)
Ideally, I imagined landing a WR1 here. However, Chase and Davante Adams went into back-to-back picks just ahead of me. So why not secure another potential RB1 before it’s too late?
Unlike usable WRs, usable RBs do not grow on trees. That, plus the fact that the RB position is the most injury-prone, is why I tend to charge it early in most drafts. James Conner posted 18 TDs in 2021 and Chase Edmonds is now in Miami. He could prove to be this year’s steal in the second round. I should consider myself lucky that he hadn’t left yet.
3.04 Travis Kelce (TE – KC)
It’s child’s play. I know we don’t have a WR at this point, but the fact that Travis Kelce is available in the third round borders on a miracle. By his standards, perhaps last season was disappointing.
However, having Kelce as your TE means there’s about a week a year (his farewell week) when you’re wondering, “Who do I play at TE?”. Linking TE to a player who has finished no less than second in points since 2016 (five consecutive first places) is priceless.
Speaking from experience, Kelce offers your fantasy team a luxury (and guaranteed production) that few other players can match. It could also be a particularly productive season after trading Tyreek Hill. In all likelihood, Kelce is Mahomes’ #1 target this season.
4.07 Diontae Johnson (WR – PIT)
I admit that I picked Diontae Johnson (the senior remaining WR) to improve my draft grade. I didn’t do it because I thought he would be the best choice here. If anything, I think he’s in for serious regression. Not that “Big Ben” was particularly prolific last season, but he always had a habit of making sure his top target was fed.
The Steelers’ QB situation is far from ideal (Mitch Trubisky, rookie Kenny Pickett, Mason Rudolph). None of the above names inspire Johnson with much confidence in consistent production throughout the season. I chose Johnson as my WR1 because that’s how the DraftWizard app sees him (ADP WR12). I don’t see it as a low end WR1 or even a high end WR2 in 2022. Sometimes you have to trick the system. But hey, this is showbiz, baby.
5.04 Amari Cooper (WR – CLE)
Now that’s interesting. Amari Cooper has traditionally been a fantasy roller coaster throughout his career. It can deliver massive production one week and completely disappear the next. However, the benefits are undeniable (24 career games with 20+ PPR points, nine with 30+).
He now joins Deshaun Watson in Cleveland where he will immediately be the undisputed WR1. Watson’s WR1 has never averaged less than 17.5 PPR points per game. Unless he stays healthy, Cooper could prove to be a massive steal in round five.
6.07 Josh Jacobs (RB – LV)
Remember how I mentioned loading RBs? Well, here we are again. Sure, the Raiders added a new weapon in the passing game, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll give up the run game. So not sure why Josh Jacobs (RB12 in 2021, 15.1 PPG) is still available in Round 6 – in a contract year, no less. I like to include a productive RB2 with RB1 on top as my Flex/RB3.
7.04 Brandin Cooks (WR – HOU)
It’s not a sexy pick, but Brandin Cooks currently serves as Davis Mills’ WR1. In 2021, Cooks averaged 9.5 goals per game with Mills and finished his career with 90 receptions. I’m also not afraid to say Mills is underrated. As his number one goal, Cooks finished as a WR20 in 2021 with a 14.5 PPG average.
Because he’s into the Texans, nobody’s going to praise you for that choice. But believe it or not, it’s relatively safe. Cooks has delivered a 1,000-yard campaign in six of his eight NFL seasons despite playing for a carousel of QBs and teams. Cooks won’t disappoint as a WR3 and could even deliver WR1 numbers (17.9 points or more in 8/16 games in 2021) if the matchup is right.
8.07 Joe Burrow (QB – CIN)
I’ve now secured three RBs, three WRs and an Elite TE. This is the first time I’m considering my options at QB in draft. If the selection wasn’t optimal, I would forego QB and go to the next best available.
However, Joe Burrow was available. The trajectory of Burrow’s career/production is evident. He doesn’t offer much in the rushing department, but he has a loaded receiving corps and the tools to capitalize. He finished 2021 (his second year as a pro) as a QB8, and if you ask me he didn’t even play to his full potential. The sky is the limit for “Joey B.”
9.04 Kareem Hunt (RB – CLE)
If you learn one thing from my outline strategy, I hope you never run out of viable RBs. Kareem Hunt has proved his imagination numerous times despite his timeshare situation with Nick Chubb. He has finished 14 of his last 24 games with double-digit PPR points.
Hunt is one Chubb injury away from being a borderline RB1. Considering Chubb has missed seven games in the past two years, that scenario is far from impossible. After struggling with injuries last season, it’s understandable that Hunt is still here. However, I can’t pass on that kind of benefit from my RB4.
10.07 Christian Kirk (WR – JAX)
My WR core looked thin so I did something I’m not proud of. Once again, I picked the top-ranked receiver, although I’m not particularly optimistic about them this season. Christian Kirk will be in a Jaguars team that should often find itself in a must-pass situation.
They paid for it as if they were going to use it as their WR1, so why not? His only competitors for goals are Marvin Jones Jr. and Zay Jones. Kirk is a player who posted double-digit PPR points in 11/17 games last season and quickly established himself as an alpha here. I’ll take my chances with him as my WR4.
11.04 Michael Gallup (WR – DAL)
It’s time to boost my WR depth before darts are all that’s left. As someone in need of WR at this point, Michael Gallup is an easy pick. The existence of CeeDee Lamb and injury woes have hampered Gallup’s production for the past two seasons.
He won’t jump off the page on draft day. However, as mentioned above, Cooper is now in Cleveland. He leaves behind 104 targets. Gallup will leave most of that to Lamb, but will undoubtedly benefit. The last time Gallup was Dak Prescott’s undisputed WR2, he finished for more than 1,100 yards and six TDs. Not bad for a WR5.
12.07 JD Mckissic (RB – WAS)
I’m just filling in any imbalances in the list at this point. I have 5 WRs so I’ll round out the RB position with a decent PPR threat in JD McKissic. He doesn’t always get the love he deserves, but McKissic has been quite productive over the past two seasons (five or more goals in 16 of his last 27 games, 16.5+ PPR points in 10/27). Sure, there are volume issues with commanders bringing in new RBs, but I’m not risking much in lap 12. McKissic helps me build my depth in the most volatile position in fantasy football and last but not least is a decent negotiating tool.
13.04 Mike Gesicki (TE – MIA)
TE2 probably isn’t necessary as Kelce is locked away until further notice. However, this game is unpredictable. You can never be too sure. Gesicki has shown WR-like advantages in the past and I think he’s a talented player. He has 50+ catches in three consecutive seasons and has rushed for 700+ yards in his last two seasons. I doubt you would find a better player to take your chances with during Kelce’s Bye. Also, the balanced depth of the simulator earns you brownie points.
14.07 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (D/ST)
Here I drove D/ST to get a lap ahead of the simulator. In all likelihood, someone will grab the best available defense long before then, so I wouldn’t blame you for pulling the trigger before round 14. However, if you wait that long, you can gain depth at more important skill positions. The Buccaneers D/ST is a good choice here. Other acceptable substitutes would be the Colts, Patriots, Bills, etc.
15.04 Justin Tucker (K - BAL)
If your league still uses kickers, I wouldn’t take one until this round at the earliest. Since I’m one lap ahead of the simulator, I can choose my throw. Of course, Justin Tucker is always a good bet for at least 30 accurate FGs and the kick power to give you some 50+ yarders along the way.
07/16 Tom Brady (QB – TB)
Last but not least, QB2. This is usually considered unnecessary by most. You only have one spot for a QB in a standard lineup, and you designed your QB1 for it early on. So I’m waiting until the last round to pick a second QB. It is merely a precautionary depth selection.
Landing someone like Tom Brady here is a blessing because either your QB1 isn’t working as expected and you have the GOAT in your pocket, or both players are producing and you have a valuable trade piece. Brady is unlikely to fall that far in an actual draft, but you get the point.
Some other players going into the QB11-18 series (via FantasyPro’s ECR): Matthew Stafford (QB11), Deshaun Watson (QB12), Aaron Rodgers (QB13), Derek Carr (QB15), etc.
Draft grade: A (96/100)
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