Last season, I waited until I was drafting my last fantasy football team of the season to release a blog post about which players I liked/disliked heading into the season. Don't want to give away my hand, you know? Well, since my last draft is with people from work and no one from that league reads this, I'll go a little ahead of schedule and tell everyone who I've been a fan of in this mock draft season. Until last week I hadn't done more than a couple mock drafts, which stands in stark contrast to the 30+ hours I spent preparing for fantasy season last year. And after all that, THIS is the list of picks I came up with:
Pierre Garcon (injured, but otherwise solid)
Donald Brown (yeah, he finished below the lesser-known Andre and Bryce)
Ryan Williams (uh, 13 total points)
Steven Jackson (finished 16th, which was decent, but not enough to claim it)
Michael Vick (still got injured, but didn't have the per-game output)
Darren McFadden (yeah, even his per-game average would have put him outside the top 20. Blech)
Ryan Fitzpatrick (finished 20th at his position, not so much)
Percy Harvin (this beautiful man managed to hurt himself just as I traded for him -- sigh)
Eric Decker (now, we'll see why this was only a half-successful prediction, but still, 7th at WR)
Peyton Hillis (uh, 30 total points)
Mikel Leshoure (missed two games and still ended up top-20? That's a win.)
Greg Olsen (didn't own him on any teams, but finished a very solid 6th)
Rob Gronkowski (wow. Missed 5 games and still ended up second at the position.)
Marshawn Lynch (maybe even worse, he finished 4th at the position)
Andre Johnson (a former flame, a monster second half got him all the way up to 7th)
Trent Richardson (man, this is a rough list -- finished 11th at RB while missing a game)
Wes Welker (yeesh, are we done yet? 12th at WR.)
Demaryius Thomas (yeah, guess not. 5th.)
Jermichael Finley (FINALLY! Thank you, JMF, for finishing 17th at tight end.)
Since apparently it's not a good idea to tell people which players I don't want to draft, let's stay a little positive. I've done 16 mock drafts in preparation for my Frameshmania 8-team draft (2 at each draft position), and recorded all of the players that I took at least four times. Let's take a look at the tape:
Peyton Manning (5 times) -- I value the top 12 or so RB's and 5 WR's over Brees and Rodgers in most circumstances, but if Manning falls and I've been able to grab at least one top player at each of those positions, I'm good with that.
David Wilson (7 times) -- I don't even think of myself as a Wilson lover, but that range in the draft lacks interesting WR options, so the top-15 upside of Wilson is intriguing.
Reggie Bush (5 times) -- Speedy pass-catching running back in an offense that throws all the time? Injury risk on the turf 8+ games a year, but a pretty high floor if he stays healthy.
Lesean McCoy (5 times) -- I absolutely love him as a player, the fact that I didn't take him more often is about my concern that Chip Kelly rotates his backs to keep them fresh in his frenetic offense.
Jamaal Charles (4 times) -- His frame makes him an injury concern and he's too touchdown-poor to feel great drafting him in the top 3, but the Andy Reid offense is a very intriguing for his skills.
Matt Forte (4 times) -- Was a guy I really liked last year, but got hurt and didn't live up to it. Still a very big part of the offense and has a high floor compared to a lot of the guys going after him, so I'll take him as an RB2 and let you guys fight over the riskier plays.
Chris Ivory (4 times) -- OK, this is one of those risky plays, but I've always liked his tough running style and big-play ability, and now he gets the shot to get the lion's share of the work on an offense that isn't going to pass much. Obviously, injury / Jets-ness could ruin it.
Fred Jackson (4 times) -- Once you get around the 100th pick, the running backs are really sad-looking. So why not take a guy with top-10 upside behind a slight and injury-prone-in-college Spiller?
Lamar Miller (4 times) -- Like Wilson, I don't actually like Miller this year, but it must just be that the pickin's are so slim at WR at that point in the draft that I just take a lottery ticket in Miller and go for receivers later.
Stevan Ridley (4 times) -- With the way the Patriots run the ball (and the way they've continued to do so in the preseason), I think Ridley is an excellent option as a second back instead of going for a back-end-of-the-top-10 receiver.
Steve Smith (8 times) -- Like a few of the receivers on this list, Smith is a common pick at a point in the draft where the running backs have dried up but there are still some intriguing receivers on the board. I go with Smith because of his security in the offensive scheme.
Miles Austin (7 times) -- Massively underrated in my estimation, there will be a lot of attention going towards Dez Bryant, and as long as he stays healthy, Austin should benefit.
Torrey Smith (6 times) -- This might be a little bit of a post-hype sleeper thing, but maybe everyone else in the Ravens passing game getting hurt will help Smith be more consistent.
TY Hilton (5 times) -- I have to say, I'm not as high on Hilton as I was two weeks ago after hearing about the dramatic change of offensive scheme between Bruce Arians and Pep Hamilton (mostly in the way of running the ball 15% more), but he's still got explosive upside with an improving QB.
Greg Jennings (5 times) -- He can't be THAT useless, right?
Mike Wallace (5 times) -- I'll only take him if he lasts outside the top 20 receivers (and ideally not as a starter), but at that point I'm willing to take a chance on his athleticism and a sophomore surge from Ryan Tannehill.
Reggie Wayne (5 times) -- The offensive scheme should affect Hilton more than Wayne, however, because the Hamilton offense will use more 2-tight-end sets and potentially keep Hilton off the field while Wayne is still out there to grab 90+ balls.
Danny Amendola (4 times) -- Whatever I thought of Wes Welker last year, Amendola is younger and faster, so his upside is pretty high for a guy going where he is.
Antonio Brown (4 times) -- A guy I liked last year, Brown now has less competition and another year in the Todd Haley system.
Larry Fitzgerald (4 times) -- Sure, he completely disappeared last season, but even below-average Carson Palmer is lightyears better than the slop he dealt with last year. Has to be at the back end of the top 10 receivers though.
Andre Johnson (4 times) -- I guess I'm back on the wagon, just in time for him to get hurt again. He proved that he doesn't need a lot of TDs or a pass-heavy offense to be relevant, and maybe DeAndre Hopkins cuts back on the double-teams.
Jordy Nelson (4 times) -- A guy who would have been drafted near the top 10 going outside the top 20 because of an injury that isn't likely to hold him out of the regular season? Sign me up.
Jermichael Finley (7 times) -- Yes, yes, I know. Betting on the one guy who made me look good last year by betting against him? Well, there's a lot of preseason hype for him, there's less competition in the offense, and he's at least got the offense and athleticism to break away from the herd of tight ends from 7-15.
Kyle Rudolph (4 times) -- I know, he had terrible games almost half the time last year, but he has to be more consistent this year without Percy Harvin getting 15 looks a game, right? And frankly, I'm not taking him unless it's pretty late in the draft.
QB -- Matthew Stafford, Tony Romo, Eli Manning
RB -- Maurice Jones-Drew, Ryan Mathews, Daryl Richardson
WR -- Dwayne Bowe (I have a problem), Pierre Garcon, Kenny Stills (obviously much later)
TE --Jordan Cameron, Brandon Pettigrew, Ed Dickson