Fantasy Fox: Reviewing the FOX Sports mock draft -- #10 slot
Jay Clemons tackles his first publication mock draft of the summer, rolling with the punches in the FOXSports.com mock draft (No. 10 slot). The two stated goals for this particular exercise: Focus on tailback/receiver balance with the first eight picks ... and hope that QB Andy Dalton freefalls into Rounds 9, 10 or even 11.
Rams tailback Zac Stacy (left -- 1,114 total yards, 8 TDs last year), QB Andy Dalton (middle -- 4,293 yards passing, 35 total TDs) and Demaryius Thomas (right -- two-year averages: 93 catches, 1,432 yards, 12 TDs) are all top-10 fantasy assets, position-wise, for the preseason.
Scott Kane/Pat Lovell/Chris Humphreys / USA TODAY Sports
By Jay Clemons
Here's a dry run of draft expectations when holding the No. 10 slot in 12-team leagues (standard scoring).
For our guide, we'll specifically work off the FOX Sports mock draft from last week (15 rounds).
My secondary motivation: Focusing on landing four running backs and four wideouts in the first eight rounds -- since I ended up taking Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green and Brandon Marshall in the first three rounds of last year's real FOXSports.com draft.
For what it's worth, the first nine picks in the mock draft were: LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson, Matt Forte, Eddie Lacy, Marshawn Lynch, Jimmy Graham and Peyton Manning.
Round 1, Pick 10 overall: Motive -- Best overall player
BREAKDOWN: In a live draft, I would have almost certainly opted for Doug Martin. But with my next selection just five picks away, it's fun to gauge Martin's market -- in lieu of his disappointing, injury-halted campaign from last year (522 total yards, one TD).
Plus, being the eternal optimist, I always want to believe Martin (1,926 total yards, 12 TDs in 2012) will be a primary fixture in Lovie Smith's run-first offense in Tampa, or whomever's calling plays for the Buccaneers.
Also, with Peyton Manning already off the board, I won't have a chance to double-dip my yards/touchdowns with an elite-level quarterback and his No. 1 wideout.
That aside, Thomas (two-year averages: 93 catches, 1,432 yards, 12 TDs) is the pre-eminent playmaker on the NFL's best passing offense (by a long shot). He's also my No. 2 receiver, behind Calvin Johnson.
BREAKDOWN: The notion of pairing Thomas with A.J. Green is enticing, for those who believe in handcuffing running backs in the latter rounds.
How's this for elite-level consistency: A.J. Green (98 catches, 1,426 yards, 11 TDs) tallied 100 yards receiving in five straight games last season (Weeks 6-10). And for 2012-13, Green never endured more than two games without registering double-digit fantasy points (standard-scoring leagues).
Sticking with my pre-draft plan of balancing the tailbacks and receivers, though, I happily opted for Stacy, who amassed the lion's share of his rookie numbers (1,114 total yards, eight TDs) from an eight-game stretch.
The only tangible worry: Stacy could incur a similar "sophomore slump" to that of Doug Martin, particularly if Rams rookie Tre Mason quickly evolves into a home-run threat on every carry.
Round 3, Pick 34 overall: Motive -- Best overall player
BREAKDOWN: In a Points Per Reception draft, Cobb (100-catch candidate) and Welker (eight TDs in his first six games last year) would have been easy picks over Reggie Bush.
But the Lions tailback holds more Round 3 value in standard leagues:
In first 12 games last year, Bush crossed the 'star' threshold of 90 total yards and/or one TD nine times; and for 2014, he's a strong bet to replicate last season's tallies with catches (54), targets (80) and receiving yards (506), while playing a prodigious part in Joe Lombardi's offense.
BREAKDOWN: Of his final six games last year, Steven Jackson (turns 31 in July) crossed the threshold of 90 total yards and/or one touchdown five times.
That's sufficient motivation to ride Jackson, my No. 22 tailback, at the tail end of Round 5, knowing that two stud quarterbacks (Stafford, Robert Griffin III) and one superstar-in-waiting receiver can be had just five picks from now.
Round 6, Pick 63 overall: Motive -- Best receiver or quarterback
1st option: WR T.Y. Hilton, Colts 2nd option: QB Matthew Stafford, Lions 3rd option: QB Robert Griffin III, Redskins
BREAKDOWN: Just because Hilton went loco in Week 17 and two playoff games -- afterthe fantasy season had ended -- doesn't mean his spurt never happened. And yet, you get the sense that Hilton will plunge into Rounds 6 or 7 in numerous August drafts.
His dominance during that three-game span: 28 catches, 39 targets, 482 yards and two TDs. Plus, of the three outings in which Hilton found the end zone last year ... he tallied multiple touchdowns each time.
Round 7, Pick 82 overall: Motive -- Best overall player
1st option: WR Kendall Wright, Titans 2nd option: QB Robert Griffin III, Redskins 3rd option: RB Lamar Miller, Dolphins
BREAKDOWN: If I wasn't so focused on getting Dalton for this particular simulation, I would have grabbed Griffin here. He's my No. 5-rated quarterback and a healthy lock for career numbers in Jay Gruden's new offensive system.
That aside, Wright (94 catches, 1,079, two TDs last year) should be an excellent value pick for Rounds 7-8, especially if he maintains the targets pace of his final 10 games last season -- at 9.3 per game.
Round 8, Pick 87 overall: Motive -- Best tailback or quarterback
1st option: RB Ray Rice, Ravens 2nd option: RB Lamar Miller, Dolphins 3rd option: QB Tom Brady, Patriots
BREAKDOWN: It's hard to imagine Rice getting more than a four-game suspension for that offseason discretion in Vegas with his girlfriend/now wife. No formal charges were doled out from the incident, and the Ravens star had a relatively spotless track record prior to 2014.
Of course, we're also cognizant of Rice's disappointing 2013 campaign (981 total yards, four TDs) -- during his age-26 season. It's too early to write him off as a demolishe property, though.
Rice still has plenty of time to recapture the form of 2009-12, when he produced two seasons of 2,000 total yards and two years of double-digit touchdowns.
During that prodigious period, Rice had sterling per-game averages of 117 total yards and 0.61 toudchdowns.
Round 9, Pick 106 overall: Motive -- Best wide receiver or quarterback
On the flip side, Boldin (85 catches, 1,179 yards, seven TDs) collected seven-plus targets 12 times last season, including the playoffs.
As for the quarterbacks ... it's absurd that Dalton and Philip Rivers (4,478 yards passing, 32 TDs last year) are still on the board.
Round 10, Pick 111 overall: Motive -- Best quarterback
1st option: QB Andy Dalton, Bengals 2nd option: QB Philip Rivers, Chargers 3rd option: RB DeAngelo Williams, Panthers
BREAKDOWN: Here's the difference between fantasy and real-life football: It's irrelevant that Dalton is 0 for 3 in NFL playoff games.
It's also moo that Cincy's ownership has yet to commit to Dalton long term, in terms of a new contract.
Now, if you want to sell me on the notion of Jay Gruden (Dalton's offensive coordinator last year) being more progressive -- and aggressive -- than new Bengals OC Hue Jackson in the passing game ... there's some validity to that.
But it's not like Cincinnati will evolve into a run-first, run-second offense overnight ... especially with A.J. Green (two-year averages: 97.5 catches/1,388 yards, 11 TDs) killing the opposition downfield.
And check this out: For their third seasons in the NFL, Dalton (2013) and Peyton Manning (2000 with the Colts) posted virtually identical numbers -- including their five regular-season outings of zero or one touchdown.
Round 11, Pick 130 overall: Motive -- Best tailback or backup QB
1st option: QB Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers 2nd option: QB Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins 3rd option: RB Tre Mason, Rams
BREAKDOWN: Dalton praise aside, it never hurts to draft QBs back-to-back during the latter rounds, and Roethlisberger is coming off the second-highest passing tally (4,261 yards) and most total touchdowns (29) of his Hall of Fame-worthy career.
Tre Mason, the Auburn tailback who shredded the vaunted Florida State defense in the BCS title game in January (237 total yards, two TDs), would have been an ideal handcuff to Zac Stacy (Round 2 pick).
Round 12, Pick 135 overall: Motive -- Best defense or tight end