Mock drafts: Fantasy’s version of training camp

Had your fill of the World Cup? Don’t care who will be signing LeBron’s obscene paychecks? Me, neither.

So while others waste their time on those trivial matters, I’m focused on a matter of more serious import: fantasy football. In particular, mock drafts.

Have you tried NFL.com’s new mock draft application yet? Great stuff. I’m already getting a good feel for how my fantasy drafts will go later this summer. I participated in two mocks last week. In recent years, I’ve been fixated on taking pass-happy QBs like Drew Brees and Peyton Manning with a late first-round pick. So in these mocks, I wanted to see how it would turn out if I aimed to get two RBs and a WR with my first three picks and then see how long I could go before grabbing a QB.

When I had the top overall pick, I took Adrian Peterson. After the next 18 slots were filled, I landed Jets RB Shonn Greene at the end of round 2 and Lions WR Calvin Johnson to start Round 3. I considered this a steal, since I am confident that Johnson will have a monster season, yet he was the fourth WR taken in this draft. At the end of Round 4, I took Panthers WR Steve Smith, then caved and took Eli Manning to start Round 5. Had I waited at that point, the best I could have done at the end of Round 6 was Matt Ryan. I think I made the right move.

In the other mock, in which I had the last pick, I ended up with QB Matt Schaub at the top of Round 4. Seems like Schaub has routinely gone in third round of most mocks, so that’s a good spot.

Other random observations:

» I was shocked and dismayed in the second mock to see five kickers taken in Round 9. That’s just wrong. Four of the five were taken ahead of Cowboys RB Felix Jones. I don’t care how many great RBs you got in the first eight rounds; you don’t take a kicker in Round 9 with a guy like Felix Jones on the board.

» I got the Chicago Bears defense in the 13th round of both mocks. Now, if you can wait until the 13th round to get a defense that will feature the likes of Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher — not to mention Devin Hester on special teams — is it really worth taking some other defense as high as the eighth round (which five teams did in one of the mocks)? No.

» Unless you’re in a PPR league, I don’t recommend investing much in one of the top two or three tight ends. I drafted a pair of TEs in each of the two mocks I did. In the first, I got Dustin Keller in Round 9 and Chris Cooley in Round 14; in the next, I got Tony Gonzalez in Round 7 and Visanthe Shiancoe in Round 12. In a real draft, I might only take one TE. Of those four picks, I’d consider it a steal if you could guarantee me Shiancoe in the 12th round.

» There are always a few spots where, after the pick is made, you think to yourself, “Damn, that was a good pick! How did I miss that one?” Examples from the mocks: Texans rookie RB Ben Tate in the middle of Round 10; Kevin Kolb in the middle of Round 11; Ricky Williams at the end of Round 12; Dez Bryant at the top of Round 14; Roy Williams late in Round 15.

Hoping these mocks have better prepared me for the real deal. If you haven’t tried out the mocks yet, what are you waiting for?

Dive in!

– Craig Ellenport

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