News & Analysis

Fantasy football mock drafts: Adjusting strategy for a standard league

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 11: Lamar Miller #26 of the Houston Texans runs with the ball during the fourth quarter of the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 11, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Continuing our mock draft series, the PFF Fantasy staff recently wrapped up a 12-team standard draft. Compared to scoring formats that award one point per reception, standard leagues call for some adjustments in terms of how we approach our draft boards and overall strategy.

For example, in standard leagues last season, all six of the top positional scorers and 11 of the top 13 were running backs. In PPR, only the top three and seven of the top 13 were running backs. Does that mean we should de-emphasize wide receivers and pass-catching backs in standard drafts? Well, yes, but only to a degree.

Below are some notable names and how their fantasy value was impacted by scoring system in 2017, along with how our fantasy projection tool foresees their value for 2018 among RBs, WRs, and TEs.

Leonard Fournette 10 21 5 12
Jordan Howard 11 32 20 38
Ezekiel Elliott 12 31 1 4
Tyreek Hill 15 15 44 34
Dion Lewis 16 39 55 51
Devonta Freeman 19 36 12 17
Lamar Miller 20 41 43 44
Larry Fitzgerald 26 12 60 33
Christian McCaffrey 28 19 35 21
Jarvis Landry 29 11 84 61

There were 15 RBs who eclipsed 50 catches in 2017, and you’ll find most of those names on the list of top-scoring fantasy backs in both standard and PPR formats. Volume is volume, hence why guys like Leonard Fournette (10th) and Jordan Howard (13th) still remained in the RB1 mix even in PPR. Others, such as third-down backs like Tarik Cohen, Theo Riddick, and James White, failed to crack the top-24 RBs in PPR despite ranking among the reception leaders.

Getting back to our mock draft, here is how the first two rounds played out:

1.01 Bell, Le'Veon PIT RB Tyler Buecher 2.01 Fournette, Leonard JAC RB Scott Barrett
1.02 Gurley, Todd LAR RB Mike Castiglione 2.02 Jones, Julio ATL WR Dan Schneier
1.03 Johnson, David ARI RB Walton Spurlin 2.03 Thomas, Michael NOS WR Scott Spratt
1.04 Elliott, Ezekiel DAL RB Nathan Jahnke 2.04 Freeman, Devonta ATL RB Dan Clasgens
1.05 Brown, Antonio PIT WR Daniel Kelley 2.05 Allen, Keenan LAC WR Michael Moore
1.06 Barkley, Saquon NYG RB Tyler Loechner 2.06 Green, A.J. CIN WR Jeff Ratcliffe
1.07 Kamara, Alvin NOS RB Jeff Ratcliffe 2.07 Mixon, Joe CIN RB Tyler Loechner
1.08 Hunt, Kareem KCC RB Michael Moore 2.08 Howard, Jordan CHI RB Daniel Kelley
1.09 Cook, Dalvin MIN RB Dan Clasgens 2.09 Gronkowski, Rob NEP TE Nathan Jahnke
1.10 Gordon, Melvin LAC RB Scott Spratt 2.10 Henry, Derrick TEN RB Walton Spurlin
1.11 Beckham, Odell NYG WR Dan Schneier 2.11 Adams, Davante GBP WR Mike Castiglione
1.12 Hopkins, DeAndre HOU WR Scott Barrett 2.12 McKinnon, Jerick SFO RB Tyler Buecher

For the most part, the draft was divided into two camps in terms of running back strategy.

RB early

PICK OVR Tyler Buecher PICK OVR Tyler Loechner
1.01 1 Bell, Le'Veon PIT RB 1.06 6 Barkley, Saquon NYG RB
2.12 24 McKinnon, Jerick SFO RB 2.07 19 Mixon, Joe CIN RB
3.01 25 Guice, Derrius WAS RB 3.06 30 McCaffrey, Christian CAR RB
4.12 48 Fitzgerald, Larry ARI WR 4.07 43 Cooper, Amari OAK WR
5.01 49 Smith-Schuster, JuJu PIT WR 5.06 54 Cooks, Brandin LAR WR
6.12 72 Hogan, Chris NEP WR 6.07 67 Rudolph, Kyle MIN TE
7.01 73 Crabtree, Michael BAL WR 7.06 78 Wentz, Carson PHI QB

Tyler Buecher and Tyler Loechner both came out of the gate with running backs in each of the first three rounds. As you can see, Buecher made it a point to follow suit with a run on receivers, whereas Loechner took to filling out his starting lineup. Somewhat curiously, the Scotts (Scott Spratt and Scott Barrett) were the only other owners to come away with three RBs by Round 4.

RB late

Exactly half of the first 48 picks off the board were running backs. With RBs getting scooped up early and often, some drafters chose to zag and look for value elsewhere. Namely, Dan Schneier loaded up on WRs with his first three picks (Odell Beckham Jr., Julio Jones, Stefon Diggs) and then took Aaron Rodgers in the fourth round before finally selecting a running back, Lamar Miller, in the fifth. Schneier wound up taking five straight RBs in Rounds 7-11.

Jeff Ratcliffe and Nathan Jahnke both landed a running back in Round 1, and then went several rounds until scooping up another RB. Jahnke would supplement Ezekiel Elliott with Jay Ajayi (Round 5) and Duke Johnson (Round 8), while Ratcliffe paired Alvin Kamara with Tevin Coleman (Round 6) and Jamaal Williams (Round 7). A bit of risk, for sure, but also plenty of potential reward given the strength of the rest of their respective rosters.

As for yours truly, I landed Todd Gurley with the second overall pick and later stockpiled four RBs in Rounds 4-11, matching Spratt with the most RB selections in that range. I took Sony Michel and Ronald Jones near the Round 4-5 turn, and was happy to get Carlos Hyde (ADP 6.05) in Round 9, after both Nick Chubb and Duke Johnson were already taken.

Here is the full draft board.

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