News & Analysis

Fantasy football mock drafts: A rookie mock before the draft

Sep 23, 2017; Iowa City, IA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions running back Saquon Barkley (26) avoids the tackle of Iowa Hawkeyes linebacker Josey Jewell (43) during the third quarter at Kinnick Stadium. Penn State won 21-19. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Everything in the NFL is about to change. But before we get to next week’s draft, our team at PFF took one last chance to evaluate the rookie fantasy football landscape with a mock draft.

Of course, this mock shouldn’t be taken as an indication of what we expect rookie drafts to look like next month. Things are going to shift dramatically once these players find their ultimate landing spots. However, this mock does provide excellent insight into how these players are valued on even turf. As such, it’s an excellent resource that can help you build your rookie draft boards.

The mock assumes PPR scoring with no positional limitations. We did not use a snake format, so the drafters had the same pick in each round of the draft. Also, there were no trades allowed. Keep in mind that trading in rookie drafts is a great strategy, which we’ll discuss elsewhere.

Round 1

Round Drafter Pick
1.01 Dan Clasgens Barkley, Saquon FA RB
1.02 Walton Spurlin Guice, Derrius FA RB
1.03 Curtis Patrick Chubb, Nick FA RB
1.04 Jeff Ratcliffe Michel, Sony FA RB
1.05 Michael Moore Jones, Ronald FA RB
1.06 Scott Barrett Penny, Rashaad FA RB
1.07 Tyler Buecher Moore, D.J. FA WR
1.08 Mike Castiglione Washington, James FA WR
1.09 Scott Spratt Sutton, Courtland FA WR
1.10 Daniel Kelley Freeman, Royce FA RB
1.11 Dan Schneier Jackson, Lamar FA QB
1.12 Tyler Loechner Ridley, Calvin FA WR

Running backs dominated the early portion of this draft, which speaks to depth of talent in this year’s class. Saquon Barkley is going to go first overall in 99.99999 percent of rookie drafts regardless of where he lands, and Derrius Guice is a near lock to go second overall. However, from there things get interesting. Nick Chubb comes off the board third. As a two-down back, his value is heavily dependent on landing spot. The same isn’t necessarily true for his Georgia teammate Sony Michel, who offers more versatility, especially in the passing game. Ronald Jones hasn’t had the best pre-draft process, but his upside is hard to deny. Rashaad Penny is the most likely candidate to be this year’s Kareem Hunt.

It was bit surprising to see D.J. Moore, James Washington, and Courtland Sutton come off the board before Calvin Ridley. Perhaps one of them, maybe two, but all of them is pushing it. Ridley is the most polished player in the bunch and is an absolute steal at pick 12. Be careful of the hype surrounding Moore. There’s certainly a lot to like about him, but buzz on social media seems to have slightly inflated his fantasy stock. He’s more of a late-first-round option at this point.

Lamar Jackson also makes an appearance in the first round. This is undoubtedly a polarizing pick, but Jackson’s dual-threat ability bodes well for fantasy success if he lands in the right spot. Also, keep in mind that of the four skill positions, quarterback has by far the longest shelf life in dynasty leagues.

Round 2

Round Drafter Pick
2.01 Dan Clasgens Johnson, Kerryon FA RB
2.02 Walton Spurlin Darnold, Sam FA QB
2.03 Curtis Patrick Kirk, Christian FA WR
2.04 Jeff Ratcliffe Gallup, Michael FA WR
2.05 Michael Moore St. Brown, Equanimeous FA WR
2.06 Scott Barrett Goedert, Dallas FA TE
2.07 Tyler Buecher Kelly, John FA RB
2.08 Mike Castiglione Mayfield, Baker FA QB
2.09 Scott Spratt Ballage, Kalen FA RB
2.10 Daniel Kelley Chark, D.J. FA WR
2.11 Dan Schneier Walton, Mark FA RB
2.12 Tyler Loechner Andrews, Mark FA TE

The running back talent has thinned out with seven coming off the board in the first round plus Kerryon Johnson at the top of the round. After that, we’re left with intriguing prospects John Kelly and Mark Walton. Both players have appeal, but it’s tough to envision either as true three-down backs based on their size profiles.

Two more signal-callers come off the board with Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield getting scooped up. Darnold has the potential to offer a similar fantasy profile to Matthew Stafford if he reaches his ceiling. Mayfield is polarizing, but his fantasy comps to a poor man’s Drew Brees make him more than worthy of a second-round pick.

We also get our first two tight end picks in Dallas Goedert and Mark Andrews. The top four tight ends in this year’s class really stand out from the rest with Goedert topping the list. But Andrews isn’t far behind, offering wide receiver skills in a tight end’s body.

The four wide receivers selected offer a broad range of skills. Christian Kirk is very athletic, but his overall fantasy value could be limited out of the slot. Michael Gallup is an all-around receiver who is one of the best bets for fantasy success outside of the first four wideouts in this year’s class. Equanimeous St. Brown offers an impressive height/weight/speed combination, but he’s still somewhat raw as a prospect. D.J. Chark is one of the fastest receivers in this year’s class, though questions linger as to whether he’s more than just a one-trick pony.

Rounds 3-4

Round Pick Round Pick
3.01 Miller, Anthony FA WR 4.01 Ateman, Marcell FA WR
3.02 Cain, Deon FA WR 4.02 Tate, Auden FA WR
3.03 Rosen, Josh FA QB 4.03 Callaway, Antonio FA WR
3.04 Gesicki, Mike FA TE 4.04 Allen, Josh FA QB
3.05 Hines, Nyheim FA RB 4.05 Smith, Tre'Quan FA WR
3.06 Coutee, Keke FA WR 4.06 Wilson, Cedrick FA WR
3.07 Jackson, Justin FA RB 4.07 Pettis, Dante FA WR
3.08 Hurst, Hayden FA TE 4.08 Wadley, Akrum FA RB
3.09 Adams, Josh FA RB 4.09 Scott, Jaleel FA WR
3.10 Rudolph, Mason FA QB 4.10 Moore, J'Mon FA WR
3.11 Hamilton, DaeSean FA WR 4.11 Samuels, Jaylen FA RB
3.12 Scarbrough, Bo FA RB 4.12 Lasley, Jordan FA WR

Oftentimes in rookie drafts it’s very difficult to find future fantasy standouts at running back and receiver beyond the first two rounds. So it may be a good idea to attack quarterback and tight end in this range of the draft.

In looking at the wide receivers and running backs in this portion of the draft, you’ll notice specific player types. There are slot receivers: Anthony Miller, Keke Coutee, DaeSean Hamilton, and Dante Pettis. There are big-bodied receivers: Marcell Ateman, Auden Tate, Jaleel Scott, and J’Mon Moore. And there are big-play receivers: Antonio Callaway and Tre’Quan Smith. The limited profiles of these receivers will make it tough for any of them to produce consistent fantasy numbers.

The two remaining top-tier tight ends come off the board in Mike Gesicki and Hayden Hurst. Gesicki is an athletic freak, and Hurst can flat-out ball as a receiver. The only knock on Hurst from a dynasty standpoint is his age. Still, both figure to be in the long-term TE1 conversation.

Josh Rosen and Mason Rudolph also come off the board in the third round. Rosen is certainly the more appealing fantasy option of the two, but Rudolph showed in college that he is capable of putting up big numbers. However, it was big surprise to see Josh Allen slip to the fourth. Sure, Allen could end up being a total bust, but he could also end up as a fantasy option. Getting a potential future fantasy starter in the fourth round is tremendous value.

Rounds 5-6

Round Pick Round Pick
5.01 Cobbs, Simmie FA WR 6.01 Falk, Luke FA QB
5.02 Fumagalli, Troy FA TE 6.02 Berrios, Braxton FA WR
5.03 James, Richie FA WR 6.03 Lauletta, Kyle FA QB
5.04 Edmonds, Chase FA RB 6.04 Scott, Boston FA RB
5.05 Quinn, Trey FA WR 6.05 Richard, Demario FA RB
5.06 Wims, Javon FA WR 6.06 Breneman, Adam FA TE
5.07 Lazard, Allen FA WR 6.07 Fountain, Daurice FA WR
5.08 Burnett, Deontay FA WR 6.08 Robertson, Korey FA WR
5.09 Williams, Darrel FA RB 6.09 Weah, Jester FA WR
5.10 Thomas, Ian FA TE 6.10 Wieneke, Jake FA WR
5.11 Lindsay, Phillip FA RB 6.11 Conklin, Tyler FA TE
5.12 Thomas, Roc FA RB 6.12 White, Mike FA QB

Pick a flier, any flier. It’s really tough to find future fantasy starters at this point of the draft, so your best bet is to draft for upside. Players like Chase Edmonds, Trey Quinn, Roc Thomas, Adam Breneman, Jake Wieneke, and Tyler Conklin all stand out as high-ceiling players from this bunch.

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