News & Analysis

Fantasy football mock drafts: Recapping a playoff league

Dec 17, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (9) drops back to pass against the New York Giants during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

A month ago, a group of PFF Fantasy staff writers got together and did a playoff league mock draft. In this type of league, instead of simply drafting the better player, you need to factor in their schedule and how many games you think they can play so you keep accumulating points. It’s a unique twist on your regular-season fantasy league and can keep the playoffs even more interesting than they are (or were).

Below is a recap of our mock draft with what ended up being the best and worst picks from each round. And just like the regular season, what ended up happening was much different than what we originally thought. Hopefully with a look back on our process we can figure out what strategies work in this unique format.

Round 1

Daniel Kelley: Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
Scott Spratt: Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Michael Moore: Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams
Jeff Ratcliffe: Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints
Tyler Buecher: Dion Lewis, RB, New England Patriots
Scott Barrett: Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots

What went right: Drafting any Patriots player. Half the teams correctly predicted the Patriots to go deep in the playoffs, and they played three games, including the Super Bowl when the offense racked up 600 yards of offense. Daniel proved to be the most prescient taking Tom Brady first overall, as Brady ended up leading all players with 80 fantasy points. Jeff also was wise to take Alvin Kamara in what will be a theme for Jeff of picking Saints players. Even Le’Veon Bell, who played only one game, managed to rack up 32 standard scoring fantasy points and ended up being Scott Spratt’s top-scoring player — though, as we’ll see, that could be more due to the other players picked on Scott’s team.

What went wrong: The only real dud of the first round was by yours truly. I thought taking Todd Gurley was a safe choice as he was coming off a huge regular season, had a home game, and was poised to make a run in the wide-open NFC. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be as Gurley and the Rams got spanked by the Falcons. Gurley scored only 13 fantasy points and was, by far, the lowest-scoring first-round pick.

Round 2

Scott B.: Brandin Cooks, WR, New England Patriots
Tyler: Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Jeff: Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints
Michael: Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Scott S.: Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Daniel: Latavius Murray, RB, Minnesota Vikings

What went right: Jeff took another Saint, grabbing Michael Thomas and praying the Saints made it at least out of the Wild Card round. They did and got to play two (almost three) games while Thomas scored a little over 40 fantasy points, the best total for any second-rounder. Tyler also had a good pick in Antonio Brown even if it was for only a game, with Brown scoring 28.7 fantasy points.

What went wrong: An even bigger surprise in the Wild Card round than the Rams losing in may have been the Chiefs being upset by the Titans. The defeat took down two Round 2 picks in Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt, each scoring just 12 points. Brandin Cooks was also a disappointment, concussion aside, as he totaled a little under 18 fantasy points before the big game. He scored the fewest points of any drafted Patriots player, including kicker Stephen Gostkowski.

Round 3

Daniel: JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Scott S.: Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
Michael: Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings
Jeff: Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
Tyler: Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Scott B.: Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings

What went right: If you drafted a stud in the third round, you were more rightfully rewarded. Jeff continued loading up on Saints with Drew Brees and while he only played two games, he made them count and finished with the fourth-most fantasy points for a quarterback. The same could be said for receiver Julio Jones and Stefon Diggs, who also played just two games but scored over 30 fantasy points apiece.

What went wrong: While drafting receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Adam Thielen certainly made sense after both turned in top-20 fantasy performances, they both turned in duds in the playoffs. Thielen had just 14 fantasy points over his two games while Smith-Schuster had the fewest catches he’d had since Week 7 with three. And surely Scott Spratt thought Alex Smith would be around for more than one game but alas, Smith played his last game in the Wild Card round.

Round 4

Scott B.: Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints
Tyler: Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
Jeff: Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Michael: Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles
Scott S.: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers
Daniel: Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons

What went right: Jeff picked right again with Leonard Fournette, who ended up leading all running backs with 56 fantasy points. Scott Spratt drafted the first of four straight Panthers in Christian McCaffrey, who managed to score a little over 20 points in the Panthers' one playoff game.

What went wrong: Perhaps there was no bigger disappointment in this entire draft than Mark Ingram. After finishing as a top-six fantasy running back on the season, Ingram managed to score seven fantasy points — and that was over two games! Initially thought of as great value, the Ingram pick significantly contributed to Scott Barrett’s team finishing just fifth.

Round 5

Daniel: Chris Hogan, WR, New England Patriots
Scott S.: Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers
Michael: Alshon Jeffery, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
Jeff: Jay Ajayi, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
Tyler: Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams
Scott B.: Robert Woods, WR, Los Angeles Rams

What went right: Daniel picked up a Patriots receiver to pair with quarterback Tom Brady and it paid off as Hogan scored over 30 points in his three games. And it was surely a disappointment for Scott Spratt who had Greg Olsen score 20 points on Wild Card weekend, but never got to see him play a second game.

What went wrong: No Rams performed particularly well but it was especially true with quarterback Jared Goff. He scored only 14 points which surely wasn’t Tyler was thinking when he took him as his first quarterback. And even though Eagles running back Jay Ajayi was able to play in three games, he averaged under than nine points per game.

Round 6

Scott B.: Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Tyler: Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
Jeff: Ted Ginn, WR, New Orleans Saints
Michael: Case Keenum, QB, Minnesota Vikings
Scott S.: Devin Funchess, WR, Carolina Panthers
Daniel: James White, RB, New England Patriots

What went right: Round 6 proved to be the highest-scoring round, as five of the six players scored 28 points or more throughout the playoffs. All five of those played at least two games and ranged from quarterbacks (Keenum, Roethlisberger) to running backs (White, Henry) to receivers (Ginn).

What went wrong: Literally the only player that didn’t provide a good return in this round was Panthers receiver Devin Funchess and his 9.9 points. It was Scott Spratt’s third Panthers player drafted in the first six rounds. Their elimination on Wild Card weekend was a big factor in his team’s last-place finish.

Rounds 7-8

Daniel: Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings
Scott S.: Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
Michael: Los Angeles Rams DST
Jeff: Danny Amendola, WR, New England Patriots
Tyler: Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Scott B.: Jerick McKinnon, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Scott B.: Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
Tyler: Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams
Jeff: Josh Hill, TE, New Orleans Saints
Michael: Sammy Watkins, WR, Los Angeles Rams
Scott S.: Minnesota Vikings DST
Daniel: New England Patriots DST

What went right: The middle of the draft also offered some great value — including another Patriot in Danny Amendola, who scored the most points of any receiver, third-most of any player. There was also Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles, who surprised many by leading the Jaguars to the AFC Championship game while scoring almost 48 fantasy points across three games, good for third among quarterbacks.

What went wrong: It was a risk to take the Rams defense as early as I did and it did not pay off. Not only did the Rams play just one game but, after finishing as the third-highest-scoring fantasy defense, scored just three points in that one game. Sammy Watkins was less of a risk but had the same result with just under three points in the Rams’ lone game.

Rounds 9-10

Daniel: Stephen Gostkowski, K, New England Patriots
Scott S.: Jacksonville Jaguars DST
Michael: Pittsburgh Steelers DST
Jeff: New Orleans Saints DST
Tyler: Rex Burkhead, RB, New England Patriots
Scott B.: LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills
Scott B.: Kansas City Chiefs DST
Tyler: Philadelphia Eagles DST
Jeff: Wil Lutz, K, New Orleans Saints
Michael: Nick Foles, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
Scott S.: Harrison Butker, K, Kansas City Chiefs
Daniel: Tyrod Taylor, QB, Buffalo Bills

What went right: Not only was Nick Foles a value pick in the 10th round but he ended up scoring the second-most fantasy points of any player, in addition to being named Super Bowl MVP. There was also LeSean McCoy, not often drafted at the same time as Nick Foles, who turned in a respectable 15 fantasy points. Daniel stuck to his Patriots stack and made Stephen Gostkowski the first kicker off the board. It paid off as Gostkowski scored 21 fantasy points.

What went wrong: The only other quarterback drafted this late besides Foles was Tyrod Taylor. Unlike Foles though, he only played one game and scored a little over seven fantasy points. A majority of the defenses were taken in these rounds with half scoring eight points or less including the only pick that didn’t score any points, the Steelers defense.

Rounds 11-12

Daniel: Mohamed Sanu, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Scott S.: Chris Boswell, K, Pittsburgh Steelers
Michael: Kai Forbath, K, Minnesota Vikings
Jeff: Josh Lambo, K, Jacksonville Jaguars
Tyler: Matt Bryant, K, Atlanta Falcons
Scott B.: Sam Ficken, K, Los Angeles Rams
Scott B.: Delanie Walker, TE, Tennessee Titans
Tyler: Vance McDonald, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers
Jeff: Atlanta Falcons DST
Michael: Jake Elliott, K, Philadelphia Eagles
Scott S.: Keelan Cole, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Daniel: Buffalo Bills DST

What went right: Jacksonville’s Josh Lambo and Philadelphia’s Jake Elliott proved that you can wait until the very end to pick up a kicker and still rack up points. Of course, it helped that they both played in three games on their to scoring over 25 fantasy points. But even the position players did well for being drafted at the very end as Mohamed Sanu, Delanie Walker, and Vance McDonald each turned over 15 fantasy points.

What went wrong: It’s hard to be disappointed with any players picked this late. If you weren’t lucky enough to hit on one of the dart throws above, you’re not missing much.

Final standings

Jeff: 367.40
Michael: 288.92
Tyler: 285.62
Daniel: 278.00
Scott B.: 253.28
Scott S.: 189.72

What went right: Jeff was right on every pick in the first seven rounds as no player of his scored fewer than 26 points. He accomplished it by first stacking the Saints — taking Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, Drew Brees, Ted Ginn, Josh Hill, Wil Lutz, and the Saints defense — which contributed to having his entire team, all 12 players, available in the Divisional Round. No other team had more than 10 players going in any one round.

What went wrong: While stacking undoubtedly helped Jeff win this mock, stacking completely sunk Scott Spratt’s team. He took four Panthers, which derailed his chances after their loss in the Wild Card round. Another aspect was only taking three players that had byes. Personally, I like to diversify between players who will be playing on Wild Card weekend and those who aren’t, but Scott went for it, starting nine players in the first round but just five in the Divisional Round, three in the Conference Championships and none in the Super Bowl.

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