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It may be early, but with the NFL Draft now in the rearview mirror, it’s time for some fantasy football drafting. We recently held a 10-team, 0.5 PPR mock to get things started. As you’ll see, running backs went fast, which was different than in recent years. The 2018 fantasy football season is officially underway.
Pick 21: Jerick McKinnon, SF, RB12 – An athletic freak with a bananas SPARQ score, McKinnon got RB1 money from San Fransisco. He’s a perfect fit for Kyle Shannahan’s scheme and figures to ball for FF enthusiasts. (Liz Loza 2)
Pick 22: Zach Ertz, Phi, TE1 – Sure, the presumptive TE1 is Gronk, but after a slew of injuries and subsequent surgeries, I’m anticipating a changing of the guard. Ertz’s breakout came later than many had hoped, but he managed 14.5 fantasy points per game in 2017 and figures to build on his breakout season with Carson Wentz on track to start Week 1. (Loza 1)
Pick 23: Devonta Freeman, Atl, RB13 – He’s averaged 1,452 yards from scrimmage and 11.7 touchdowns over the past three seasons and will be in a similar role in 2018, when he should enter the season fully recovered from an MCL sprain suffered late in 2017. (Dalton Del Don 2)
Pick 24: Rob Gronkowski, NE, TE2 He hasn’t played 16 games in a season since 2011, but that’s why Gronk is available here and not gone in the first round, because he’s still the class of the tight end position. He talked retirement during the offseason, but Gronkowski is still just 28 years old and surely has a couple more big seasons in him. – (Del Don 1)
Pick 25: Adam Thielen, Min, WR10 – After the QB upgrade in Minnesota, don’t even try to tell me Thielen is gonna take a step back. Expect another 90-1200 season, assuming good health. (Andy Behrens 2)
Pick 26: Doug Baldwin, Sea, WR11 – Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson have both relocated, which could lead to an uptick in targets for one of our game’s most reliable wide receivers. I had to snag Baldwin before Scott picked again. (Behrens 1)
Pick 27: Josh Gordon, Cle, WR12 – His comeback story still has chapters to add. With significantly upgraded surroundings, he’s bound to recapture some of the magic from 2013 after showing flashes over a five-game stretch last season. (Brad Evans 2)
Pick 28: Tyreek Hill, KC, WR13 – KC’s blur shouldn’t be hurt by Patrick Mahomes or Sammy Watkins. He’s one of the league’s best against press coverage and exhibits ultra-versatility. His 11.3 yards per target ranked No. 2 among WRs in 2017. (Evans 1)
Pick 29: LeSean McCoy, Buf, RB14 – Some will see the age-30 season coming and get worried, and I understand. But consider McCoy’s standard RB finish in the last eight years: 8th, 2nd, 22nd, 2nd, 12th, 17th, 3rd, 7th. Even on a strangely-built Buffalo offense, he has a tantalizing upside. And we all know he can catch the ball. (Scott Pianowski 2)
Pick 30: Jordan Howard, Chi, RB15 – He gets dinged in our half-PPR format, because Howard doesn’t have any hands whatsoever. Do not trust him to hold the toddler or the pizza delivery. But Howard is a foundational player on an ascending offense, and what he loses on third down he’ll partially get back with cheap goal-line scores. Chicago will not be a fun team to play against in 2018. (Pianow 1)
Pick 31: Amari Cooper, Oak, WR14 – A pick made with trepidation, because I want to fade everything in the Jon Gruden reboot experience. And Cooper was a maddening player last year. Nonetheless, he was WR12 just two years back, and he’s entering an age-24 season. Give him a healthy Derek Carr all year and he’ll be playable, with a whiff of upside. (Pianow 1)
Pick 32: Stefon Diggs, Min, WR15 – Last year during the season opener, I asked Twitter “how do we know Thielen isn’t better than Diggs?” and most everyone laughed at me. Now, Thielen is the guy going first in drafts. I like both players and will happily own both, but I have to feel Diggs at least has a 50-50 chance of being this team’s best receiver. OC wizard Pat Shurmur will be missed, but Kirk Cousins, welcome aboard. (Pianow 2)
Pick 33: Larry Fitzgerald, Ari, WR16 – He’s long in the tooth, but the future HOFer will again be an offensive centerpiece likely attracting a target share north of 25 percent. Another 100-catch season is very doable even if Josh Rosen, the most accurate intermediate thrower in college football last year, takes over. (Evans 1)
Pick 34: Kenyan Drake, Mia, RB16 – Strongly debated Christian McCaffery here, but I’m worried Carolina may yet add C.J. Anderson or another power RB. Drake, meanwhile, ranked No. 1 in YAC/att last year and is line for 15-17 touches per game. Recall he was RB7 over the final nine games of 2017. (Evans 2)
Pick 35: Christian McCaffery, Car, RB17 – I nearly took him in Round 3, so it’s a surprise to find CMC still on the board here. He led all RBs in targets last season (113), as a rookie. Expect a serious value leap in 2018. (Behrens 1)
Pick 36: Derrius Guice, Was, RB18 – It can be argued that Guice’s fall in this mock was more shocking than his draft night slide. He’s going to be an early-down monster for Washington. (Behrens 2)
Pick 37: Derrick Henry, Ten, RB19 – Dion Lewis will get touches, but he’s injury prone and best used situationally, and it’s hard to understand why Henry’s fantasy stock isn’t higher after the departure of DeMarco Murray. Henry is going to see a significantly bigger workload in 2018, and I’ll bet he’s going to cost a much higher pick in August. (Del Don 1)
Pick 38: Joe Mixon, Cin, RB20 – It remains unclear if Mixon is any good, but he’s looking at a much bigger opportunity in year two, and I’ll continue to load up on backs at this stage of the draft. (Del Don 2)
Pick 39: Travis Kelce, KC, TE3 – Patrick Mahomes and Sammy Watkins certainly change the complexion of the Chiefs’ offense, but Andy Reid features his tight ends. Kelce should continue to get fed. After all, there were only 15 WRs who averaged more fantasy points per game than the TE in 2016 and 2017. (Loza 1)
Pick 40: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pit, WR17 – A top-twenty-five fantasy producer his rookie year, Smith-Schuster proved to be a versatile and efficient (11.6 YPT) player. He’s cemented his place as the Steelers’ No. 2 WR. Turns out sharing the field with Antonio Brown is a pretty good (and productive) gig. (Loza 2)