Running backs dominated the first round of our staff mock draft, as the level of top-tier players at the position is deep. It’s a bit surprising, though, to see Odell Beckham Jr. slip to the No. 10 spot, but again that’s just a testament to the strength of RB this season. Drafting tenth in a serpentine draft can yield you two elite wide receivers with your first two picks. If you miss out on Julio Jones you can still grab Davante Adams or Michael Thomas to pair with OBJ.
If you passed on a RB in the first round this is basically your last shot at an elite player, as the position talent fades after the second round. Out of Christian McCaffrey, Melvin Gordon and Dalvin Cook, I give a slight edge to Gordon. I’m not down on McCafrey or Cook, but consider Gordon to have the most upside out of the three. Mike Evans is your first Buc off the board at No. 18 overall, the eighth WR taken.
Tight ends made a grand entrance with Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce being scooped up. I would pass on those guys this early in the draft, but would target them if they slipped to the next round. Tyreek Hill is too boom or bust for my taste, so using the 22nd overall pick on him seems like a recipe for poor return on investment. Devonta Freeman and LeSean McCoy – especially Freeman – are value picks at the end of the round. I would take either over Joe Mixon or Jordan Howard. Howard’s receiving chops are weak and Tarik Cohen will see most of that action, and Mixon is mired in an underwhelming offense, though I do think he’ll be more productive than last season.
I loved taking McKinnon with the first pick of Round 4, as he slid a bit from his current average draft position of 27. But news of his leg injury and that he will miss the rest of the preseason puts a bit of a damper on McKinnon’s outlook, as it will hinder him learning a new system. His ADP will probably slip even further and that’s good because I still think he’ll be a PPR beast. I seized the opportunity to get Aaron Rodgers well below his ADP of 25. That’s good value; but remember, there is plenty of QB talent in the later rounds that will provide similar scoring to Rodgers. Alex Collins has a legitimate chance to provide RB2 or better numbers and is a steal at the bottom of the round.
Beware the running backs going in this round. I’m passing on Derrick Henry because I believe in Dion Lewis and the Titans are paying him handsomely. Henry will be a two-down back and probably see most of the goal line work, but he’s virtually nonexistent in the passing game. Jay Ajayi will not be used as a workhorse in Philly even if his knees hold up. He’ll share touches in a stacked backfield with Corey Clement and the ageless Darren Sproles. I’m going after the Bucs’ Ronald Jones II (who was taken at the top of Round 6) instead, because of his upside.
There are simply not many sexy picks left at RB, and I’m out on Kenyon Drake. If you went WR heavy to start the draft, focus here on Rex Burkhead’s upside in a potent offense or Lamar Miller’s volume. I also like Jarvis Landry’s potential in Cleveland’s revamped offense, though Josh Gordon figures to be a big factor if he can stay on the field. Gordon came off the board here in Round 4 with the 39th pick, well above his current ADP of 53. That’s the true meaning of a risk/reward pick.
If you haven’t taken a QB or TE it’s time to start shopping but not time to reach. I’m good taking Brees here but feel that you can wait on Jimmy G and Andrew Luck until later rounds. Chris Hogan is an absolute steal in Round 7, as he is someone who put up WR1 numbers when healthy last season. Oh, and did I mention he catches passes from Tom Brady?
Focus on ROI and value to fill out your bench spots. Guys I love in the mid- to late-rounds:
- Chris Thompson
- Marshawn Lynch
- Marvin Jones
- Trey Burton
- Robby Anderson
- Josh Doctson (read more about my sleeper special here)
- Nick Chubb
Dig for fantasy football gold or take your D/ST and kicker. If you waited on QB, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the talent left with Big Ben, Phillip Rivers and breakout candidate Patrick Mahomes being taken. I love Cameron Meredith as a late pick: he has legitimate upside as a compliment to Michael Thomas in a Brees-led offense.
Five Scrum Sports staffers each fielding two teams made up the staff mock draft:
- Trevor Grout, Editor-in-Chief
- Brooks Roland, Tampa Bay Lightning Writer
- Kris Dunn, Tampa Bay Rays Writer
- Eric Evans, Tampa Bay Rays Writer
- Matt Stevens, Fantasy Football Writer
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