Editor's intro: FFToolbox and ScoutFantasy are hosting the one of world's largest free fantasy football contests: The Mock Draft World Championship. It is free to join and has a Grand Prize of $5,000 or The Ultimate Fantasy Football Experience (check the previous link for more info and other prize details). Not only is it free to join, you can enter an unlimited number of entries. The way it works is simple: You pick your draft slot then you draft a 20-man roster in a mock draft. There is no in-season management, no waivers and no trades. Your team is your team. Based on which players score the most points within your roster, those are your weekly starters and your roster is set automatically. The entry that scores the most points over the season wins. There are prizes from first place all the way to 75th place. The simulator is fast and just by doing more mocks, you will learn more information on where players will be drafted and that much better prepared for your own leagues! Again, it is free to join and you can submit an unlimited amount of teams for unlimited numbers of chances to win the $5,000 Grand Prize. If you also participate in the 10th Annual Rotobowl, you become eligible for the MEGA-PRIZE of $500,000! Get started now at MOCKDRAFTNOW.COM!
I recently decided to try my hand at the Mock Draft World Championship. Here's the team I drafted, along with a bit of rationale for each pick.
Before we begin, keep in mind that the simulator allows you to decide where you want to pick. After playing around with it for a bit, I opted to draft last in the 12th spot. I love having back-to-back picks in serpentine drafts. I think having bookended picks lends a big strategic advantage when trying to plan draft moves versus your opponents.
Here's the draft board from Rounds 1 to 10:
Click here to enlarge
Round 1, Pick 12 (12th overall): Cowboys WR Dez Bryant
I couldn't believe Dez fell to me at number 12. I think he's a candidate to be the highest-scoring wide receiver this year. Yes, over Calvin Johnson. He's 26 years old, he has elite physical tools, he's an incredibly tough after-the-catch runner, he plays with a proven quarterback, he's in a contract year, and his team chases games constantly, meaning he gets plenty of opportunities from the kickoff to the final whistle. Absolutely tickled to get him at the end of Round 1.
Round 2, Pick 1 (13th overall): Bengals WR A.J. Green
I debated a while whether to take Green or one of the remaining running backs with this pick. In the end I opted for Green because I believe he's a Tier 1 player at his position, which I couldn't say for DeMarco Murray, Giovani Bernard, Montee Ball or any of the other backs that were still available. And given the format, which favors big games over week-to-week consistency, Green brings more to the table than any Tier 2 running back.
Round 3, Pick 12 (36th overall): Falcons WR Roddy White
Probably my biggest reach of the draft. Retrospectively, this would've been a good place to take Zac Stacy or Alfred Morris. That's the great thing about this contest though. If I really wanted to, I could run the simulator again and draft either player just to cover my bases. But I like White. He posted his worst numbers since 2006 last year, and his draft stock is down accordingly. But with counterpart Falcons WR Julio Jones seemingly healthy and ready to return to the lineup, I expect this veteran receiver will return to his old ways in 2014. Jones takes the lion's share of defensive attention when he's on the field, and White reaps the benefits.
Round 4, Pick 1 (37th overall): Cardinals WR Michael Floyd
Still no running backs on my roster. But I had the same logic here that I did for Green – Floyd has higher upside than any of the remaining RBs. Generally in drafts, I try to take the best player available, disregarding positional "need." Floyd is FFToolbox's Breakout Player for 2014, and with good reason. He had a 1,000-yard season in '13, he lines up opposite another elite threat in Larry Fitzgerald, and he's heading into his third season, in which WRs often reach their full potential. I paid a price for this with my RBs, but I now have four receivers in my starting lineup that are very capable of achieving WR1 status.
Round 5, Pick 12 (60th overall): Lions RB Joique Bell
Oh yeah, that price I mentioned for taking all those WRs, this is where I paid. Obviously Bell is pretty far from an ideal RB1 candidate. I'd much rather have Stacy or Morris here. But I also believe that Bell isn't getting a fair shake in drafts this year. Did you know that he had 1,197 yards from scrimmage last season? Big-name Reggie Bush gets the attention in Detroit. But Bell has very quietly developed into a big part of the Lions offense. And Bush, while still explosive, is in the declining stage of his career. The Lions showed last year that they're going to be very conservative with the former USC star. Bell, conversely, is fresh – he has just 248 NFL carries on his legs. And he's a tremendous value, given where you can get him in drafts this year (ADP 75th overall).
Round 6, Pick 1 (61st overall): Giants RB Rashad Jennings
Part two of me trying to cover my butt after over-drafting WRs. Jennings is probably going to be part of a committee – but so are the rest of the RBs who were still available at this point. Jennings showed good stuff last year in Oakland, despite the Raiders miserable offensive line and passing attack. Once he got the go-ahead in the second half of the year, Jennings averaged 13 fantasy points per game – and that includes a Jets game missed due to injury, and a Week 17 Broncos game in which he carried the ball just four times. If David Wilson is really and truly back, Jennings will have some competition, even if it's unproven. But he should also get the goal-line work in New York, which grants him a decently high floor.
Round 7, Pick 12 (84th overall): Colts WR Reggie Wayne
Again with the best-available-player thing here. The hate has gone way too far on Wayne. Yes, he's old. Yes, he suffered a serious knee injury last year. But this isn't the 1980s anymore, when an ACL tear was a career-ender. Reports about Wayne's progress in rehab were glowing, and he's been 100-percent cleared for camp. Anyway, his game is based more on intelligence than raw physicality, especially in recent years. He's playing in a good offense with the game's best young quarterback, with whom he's demonstrated tremendous rapport. Wayne's going to have plenty of fantasy utility this year, and he's an absolute, hands-down steal at his current draft position of 40th WR.
Round 8, Pick 1 (85th overall): 49ers RB Carlos Hyde
In a dynasty league, this would have been a stellar pick. Hyde got rave reviews leading up to the draft, and rightfully so. He's a complete player, excelling in pass-protection and receiving. And he has the size (6-feet, 230 pounds) to withstand the NFL game. Unfortunately he's going to have a lot of work to do to see the field. Frank Gore is still a presence in this offense, as is Kendall Hunter, and there's the impending return of Marcus Lattimore to be contended with as well. Rookie RBs are often successful in the NFL, and I believe Hyde could be one of them. But he'll need to get in the lineup before that can happen.
Round 9, Pick 12 (108th overall): Ravens RB Bernard Pierce
The Ravens offense took a huge step backward in 2013, and Pierce was a part of that. He saw his YPC average drop from 4.9 in '12 to a miserable 2.9 in '13. The Ravens hope their new blocking scheme will help improve those numbers. And when he returns from suspension, Ray Rice will be the top guy in Baltimore. But this could be the year we see the changing of the guard. Though he's still relatively young, Rice has a lot of mileage on his legs. He's averaged 331 touches per year over the last five seasons, and in 2013 the wheels fell off. If Rice is truly as washed up as he looked last year, Pierce should have plenty of opportunities to become the top rusher in Baltimore.
Round 10, Pick 1 (109th overall): Patriots QB Tom Brady
Four years ago, nobody would've ever thought there would come a time where you could draft Brady in the 10th round. Alas, that time is here. Things went very, very badly for Tom Terrific last year, at least for his standards. He finished 13th among QBs in fantasy points, behind guys like Ben Roethlisberger and Andy Dalton. But I can't bring myself to believe that this is the new normal for Brady and the Pats passing attack. He's been too good for too long. And the return of big TE Rob Gronkowski will provide a boost to the quality of his receiving options. I think Brady will easily get back to top ten fantasy QB status in 2014.
Here's the draft board from Rounds 11 to 20:
Click here to enlarge
Round 11, Pick 12 (132nd overall): Bengals QB Andy Dalton
Dalton finished fifth among quarterbacks in fantasy points last year. That isn't a typo. Fifth, you guys. He couldn't have finished the season in a worse fashion for his fantasy value perception, though. He had seven turnovers in two games, three of them in the Bengals wildcard playoff matchup versus San Diego. But the Bengals offense has weapons, and they throw it deep, and put up numbers, and at 16th among QBs, Dalton is a good get.
Round 12, Pick 1 (133rd overall): Colts TE Dwayne Allen
I decided to wait on TE in this draft, because I figured I could get Allen late. I've been doing that in a lot of mocks this year, actually. If I'm not able to get Jimmy Graham in the second round, I'm going to wait. Gronkowski has too much risk attached to him, and Julius Thomas is somewhat unproven relative to where he's being taken. Allen is great value as a 12th rounder. He missed his sophomore season with an injury, but he has soft hands and has the size to bring in red zone targets. He's one of my favorite sleeper candidates for 2014.
Round 13, Pick 12 (156th overall): Buccaneers RB Charles Sims
The new Lovie Smith regime in Tampa Bay took Sims in the third round of the 2014 draft, and I believe they plan to use him. After Doug Martin's pedestrian numbers last year, it's clear that there's room in the Tampa offense for another ball carrier. Unless Martin gets hurt, Sims probably won't be much more than a flex option, but he has big-play ability, and the speed to take it to the house. There could be a few weeks when he scores highly enough to make the starting lineup.
Round 14, Pick 1 (157th overall): Broncos WR Cody Latimer
A physically gifted receiver in a Peyton Manning-led offense? Yes please. Latimer is 6-foot-2 and can jump, making him an ideal red-zone threat. Unfortunately, the Broncos have too many good options for him to make much of an impact this year. He'll fight for playing time behind Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Emmanuel Sanders and J. Thomas, and likely will spend his first year learning the Broncos scheme from the sidelines. Mostly I picked him because I wanted to highlight a fellow Indiana University grad here. Draft him in your dynasty league, but don't expect too much this year.
Round 15, Pick 12 (180th overall): Packers RB James Starks
Starks' fantasy value is entirely dependent on Eddie Lacy's health. Sam Gash, the Packers running backs coach, has said recently that the Packers have no concerns about overusing Lacy, meaning that the backs behind him in the rotation may be left out in the cold when it comes to carries. But if Lacy goes down, Starks is the likeliest candidate for the fill-in, and that does have value, especially this late in the draft.
Round 16, Pick 1 (181st overall): 49ers RB Marcus Lattimore
Here, I figured I'd double down on my theory that this is Gore's break-down year. I already took Hyde, who I believe has tremendous potential. Lattimore is a little bit harder to assess, because it's impossible to say if he'll move like he did in college. If he does, he'll be a fantastic NFL running back. I was swinging for the fences here, and sometimes that ends up working out.
Round 17, Pick 12 (204th overall): Colts RB Vick Ballard
Ballard gets short shrift in fantasy drafts, relative to his role for the Colts. Ahead of him on the depth chart are Trent Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw. Richardson was terrible last season, and Bradshaw's foot-bones are made of glass. So it's not hard to imagine a scenario where Ballard becomes the first, best option in the Colts rushing attack. (This mock draft occurred before Ballard's recent injury.)
Round 18, Pick 1 (205th overall): Steelers WR Martavis Bryant
If you went to a lab and genetically engineered the perfect NFL wide-receiver body, Bryant would walk out. He's 6-foot-4, he jumps 39 inches vertically, and he runs a 4.42 40. It's just. So. Perfect. Unfortunately, Bryant also comes with the dreaded "maturity issues" that have sidelined recent top receiving prospects like Justin Blackmon and Josh Gordon. So if you're thinking about taking him in your dynasty league, be aware of that.
Round 19, Pick 12 (228th overall): Eagles K Alex Henery
He plays for the Eagles, and I think they'll score a lot. There weren't any good dome-kickers left available. That's pretty much it.
Round 20, Pick 1 (229th overall): Jets D/ST
The Jets' division is pretty bad. Unfortunately, so is their defense. I'm guessing they'll be a middle-of-the-pack unit this year.