By: Andy Wheeler

One of the great things about mock drafts for fantasy football is the absolute shock of some of the picks people make. It’s just practice. Some people may not be taking it seriously and some people are jerks and put it on auto draft after the first 5 rounds (defeating the actual purpose of the mock draft in my opinion.)

Now some of that shock comes from the “OH I didn’t even think about THAT guy” pick and you immediately move that player up on your draft board. Some of the shock comes from just not thinking a guy is worth a pick that high. However the kind of shock you are looking for, is the “I can’t believe HE fell this far down the draft.” Those are the picks that can win you a championships, if you make the right one.

So far I’ve done 3 mock auction drafts and 3 mock snake drafts. This is because I wanted equal balance in my preparation for my 2 leagues, one an auction and one a snake. These are some of my observations. Most of this will center on first round strategies and the top available players.


This position is super deep this year. It feels like it is every year, but this year seems different. Brady, Brees and Aaron Rodgers are the only 3 that seem to be going in every first round, which isn’t some big mystery I’ve unveiled. However I’ve also seen Cam Newton and Matthew Stafford go in the first round in a few drafts, which also makes sense.

Stafford’s value is totally dependant on Calvin Johnson, so tread carefully when taking him that high. I’m not saying don’t draft him and I won’t even go to the whole “injury prone” stance with him. However, if Johnson goes down, Stafford is at best middle of the pack in terms of production. If you can somehow draft them both and they stay healthy, you’ll have a great year.

In standard scoring last season, 5 quarterbacks cracked the 300 point barrier. In order, they were Rodgers (385), Brees (380), Brady (352), Newton (352) and Stafford (333). Now, think about this question for a second. Who were the top 5 scorers in all of fantasy last season? That’s right, the answer is Rodgers, Brees, Brady, Newton and Stafford.

So what does that mean? There are 2 schools of thought. First: “I have to get one of the top quarterbacks available in the first round or I’m toast!” The second, but not as clear a choice, “I can wait on Quarterback”.

We’ll get to the other positions in a moment, but when we do you’ll see…running back is super thin beyond the elites and wide receiver is super deep. So, if you don’t get one of the top 3 running backs (McCoy, Foster and Rice) or the top wide receiver (Calvin Johnson) with your first round pick, you should be looking quarterback.

However, if you are able to grab one of the 4 guys I mentioned in the paragraph above, have no fear! Michael Vick is going in the 3rd to 4th round, which I think is too late for the potential involved. Eli and Peyton Manning, Tony Romo and Phillip Rivers are also in the same range. Matt Ryan and Jay Cutler are going in the 6th or 7th round in most drafts. I’ve seen Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Schaub, Andy Dalton and Josh Freeman (whom I love this year) go as late as 7th to 10th rounds and beyond.

So if you feel comfortable waiting for one of the “other” quarterbacks that could be your plan of attack. Just think of the Top 5 elite quarterbacks last season, 3 of them were no doubt about it first round picks (Brees, Brady and Rodgers). The other 2 were taken way down the list. Stafford had an average draft position last season of 78 and Newton 155. That meant Newton went UNDRAFTED in some leagues. So if you can get a crack at one of the RB’s or Calvin Johnson early, I’d advise that, but don’t feel badly if you have to take an elite QB to start.

My sleepers/guys that could surprise:

Josh Freeman, Carson Palmer, Tim Tebow, Alex Smith

Running Back:

Question marks, injury risks, rookies and has-beens are plentiful. Elite options are simply so thin that once you are out of the Top 3 of Rice, McCoy and Foster, it’s a total crap shoot.

In a Fantasy world where Marshawn Lynch is going late in the first round, I honestly just don’t know what to think anymore.

There are a ton of guys that I think could end up having bounce back years or great years despite all the red flags. In terms of sure-fire options in the first 2 rounds, there are those 3 guys and ONLY those 3.

MJD has a contract dispute and has to slow down at some point. Is Forte healthy? Michael Turner is a solid option, but is more of a 2nd back on a fantasy roster this season, in my opinion. Marshawn Lynch could be for real , but do you want him to be the first player you choose in a draft? I’d feel sick to my stomach if he was my first guy off the board.

Adrian Peterson will be rising up draft boards now that he’s off the PUP list, but do you trust the knee? It’s so bad at running back this year that Ryan Matthews broken collarbone only dropped him from late 1st round – early 2nd round pick to 3rd or 4th round in most people’s mock drafts.

So what do you do? If you don’t get one of the Top 3 guys go in a different direction. The direction you choose, QB, WR, or TE, will be the direction the guys that pick running back in the first round will have to go in rounds 2 and 3. All of the guys beyond Foster, McCoy and Rice aren’t worth first round picks…so don’t force it. Guys like Forte, McFadden, Chris Johnson, Steven Jackson, Demarco Murray and Jamaal Charles should all be available to you in rounds 2 and 3 or beyond. But trust your gut. If you think a guy is going to be a monster, then take him if he’s available to you.

My sleepers/guys that could surprise:

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Beanie Wells, Isaac Redman, Doug Martin and Peyton Hillis

Wide Receiver:

This is simple, unless you get Calvin Johnson, there is very little reason to take a wide receiver before your 3rd or 4th pick. It just doesn’t make sense. Now, if you were to draft Brady in the first round and want to pair him with Welker, that’s one thing. However, every year people take WR’s early and they end up disappointed. Just ask people who drafted Miles Austin, Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne and DeSean Jackson last season.

Jordy Nelson finished 2nd in points in standard leagues among WR’s. Victor Cruz was 4th. Both those guys were probably undrafted in your league. I know they were in mine. Don’t be that guy! Make good picks, but you can wait until your top 2 RB slots are filled and you have a quarterback. But that’s just my opinion.

My sleepers/guys that could surprise:

Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Denarius Moore, Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Jacoby Ford

Tight End:

Every year somebody takes a tight end too early. This year there’s actual justification for 2 names. Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham are absolutely, justifiable top 2 round picks. But as I’ve said before, it just won’t be me… that is unless you draft Brady of Brees. Starting the first round with either guy is not something I would do.

After the top 2 elite guys, I really can’t see looking to draft a tight end again until the 4th or 5th round. There are plenty of decent options, but this is a position that always produces 2 or 3 guys that come out of no where. I’d rather get somebody cheap, like a Brandon Pettigrew or Dustin Keller, then draft an Antonio Gates high. I will never own Gates again, by the way, burned one time too many.

My sleepers/guys that could surprise:

Dwayne Allen, Aaron Hernandez, Jared Cook, Jacob Tamme, Brent Celek.

More to come as my drafts approach

Follow me on twitter @TheAndyWheeler