Training camps are underway, so now we really have something to get excited about. Universal optimism for NFL fan bases is probably never higher than it is this week, before preseason injuries and regular-season losses can put a damper on things.
Before turning the calendar to August, our ESPN Fantasy staff got together for our latest mock, a 10-team, non-PPR setup featuring the following participants (in order of draft position): Jim McCormick, Eric Karabell, Damian Dabrowski, Kyle Soppe, Mike Clay, Keith Lipscomb, Mike Triplett, Tristan H. Cockcroft, KC Joyner and Field Yates.
While the first round was expectedly running back-heavy, the biggest surprise of Round 1 came when a tight end came off the board before a wide receiver did. Cockcroft selected Travis Kelce eighth overall, which was seven spots earlier than the Chiefs star went in each of our first two mocks, both of which were PPR setups.
“I didn’t feel great about Todd Gurley at that spot — I was really hoping either David Johnson or Melvin Gordon would slide,” Cockcroft said, “but knowing this group, I was confident Gurley would make it back to my pick at 13 — which he did — anyway.”
Cockcroft went on to explain his thoughts on having a later draft slot in this mock.
“The problem with a back-end pick in a non-PPR draft is that you’re not going to get any of the premium running backs,” he said, “meaning you’ll need to maximize every other lineup spot you can, which also explains the Deshaun Watson pick later [third QB selected]. We project Kelce for roughly 40 points more than any other tight end in the format. That’s huge.”
The first wideout (DeAndre Hopkins) didn’t go until the final pick of the first round, and quarterbacks lasted a long time, like always in our staff mocks. Two of our drafters (Clay and Karabell) even waited until the final round to select one. Clay said that he “drafted his kicker and defense before QB on principle” after seeing how many quality signal-callers were still available late.
That’s the state of the position right now, and especially in a 10-team league, it’s why many use the middle rounds to load up on backs and receivers instead of taking QBs and tight ends (once the top three are gone).
Here are the round-by-round results: