There are some fantasy managers who don’t like picking in the middle of a round. They feel like you can’t control what happens in the draft, and you just have to let players fall in your lap. I don’t understand why that’s a bad thing.
For this roster at No. 7 overall in our 12-team PPR, pick-by-pick series, I was thrilled with how my team was built. I landed running backs (Najee Harris, Travis Etienne, AJ Dillon and Nyheim Hines) and receivers (Keenan Allen, DJ Moore, Darnell Mooney, DeVonta Smith and Christian Kirk) who I love, while waiting on tight end (Zach Ertz) and quarterback (Matthew Stafford).
I never felt like I had to reach for a player, and I had plenty of options when it was my turn to draft. I would love to play this league out just to see how this team would compete.
But alas, this is just a mock draft, albeit an important one for you. This is our 12-part, pick-by-pick series where me, Adam Aizer, Heath Cummings, Dave Richard, Dan Schneier and Chris Towers all took part in a six-person mock draft. We each built two of the 12 teams in this 15-round draft to show you a different strategy from each spot.
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This is an outline that you can follow if you pick from No. 7 overall in your league. The key is to study the strategy and not necessarily the players to see if this works for you.
As a reference point for this league, all touchdowns are worth six points, and we award one point for every 10 yards rushing and receiving and one point for every 25 yards passing. We also award one point for every reception. We feature a starting lineup of QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, TE and FLEX (RB/WR/TE).
Here’s my team from No. 7 jumpsuit:
1.7: Najee Harris, RB, Steelers
2.6: Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers
3.7: DJ Moore, WR, Panthers
4.6: Travis Etienne, RB, Jaguars
5.7: Darnell Mooney, WR, Bears
6.6: AJ Dillon, RB, Packers
7.7: DeVonta Smith, WR, Eagles
8.6: Christian Kirk, WR, Jaguars
9.7: Zach Ertz, TE, Cardinals
10.6: Nyheim Hines, RB, Colts
11.7: Matthew Stafford, QB, Rams
12.6: Khalil Herbert, RB, Bears
7/13: Jakobi Meyers, WR, Patriots
14.6: Justin Fields, QB, Bears
15.7: JD McKissic, RB, Commanders
I would have preferred it if Justin Jefferson fell to No. 7 overall, but Harris is a nice consolation prize. The only question would be if Harris is better than Joe Mixon or Dalvin Cook, but I expect Harris to have more catches, which is why I have him ranked the highest of that trio.
Taking Allen in Round 2 was easy, as was going with Moore in Round 3. Both have top-five potential in PPR, and I prefer to lean on receivers early, especially if I start my team with a running back in Round 1.
Etienne was one of my favorite picks in Round 4, and he’s a tremendous breakout candidate this season, even with James Robinson returning earlier than expected from last year’s Achilles’ injury. I hope Etienne falls in your drafts because other Fantasy managers are concerned about his role in tandem with Robinson. I expect Etienne to be a star, and he’s worth drafting early in Round 4 — if not late in Round 3.
It felt like stealing with my next seven picks in Mooney, Dillon, Smith, Kirk, Ertz, Hines and Stafford. I would draft Mooney as a No. 2 receivers, but he’s my no. 3 receivers on this roster. Dillon is an excellent flex option, but I could also use Smith or Kirk in that role. I also love Hines this year given his expected role in the passing game.
As usual, waiting on a tight end and quarterback paid off to get Ertz in Round 9 and Stafford in Round 11, and hopefully Stafford’s elbow injury isn’t a concern. If it is, I took Fields in Round 14, and he could be exceptional given his dual-threat ability as a rusher.
Herbert is a lottery ticket running back as the backup to David Montgomery, and I love the value of McKissic in Round 15. Like Hines, his role in the passing game in Washington could make him a potential flex option for this team. And I liked the value for Meyers in Round 14, especially since he’s my No. 6 receivers on this roster.
Favorite pick: Nyheim Hines
The Colts have made it clear they are going to significantly involve Hines in the passing game, and he could be second on the team in receptions behind Michael Pittman. In 2020, with Philip Rivers under center, Hines had 63 catches for 482 yards and four touchdowns on 76 targets, and he combined for 862 total yards and seven touchdowns. I could see Hines finishing in the top 10 for receptions among running backs with Matt Ryan as the new quarterback in Indianapolis, and Hines has flex appeal on this team.
Pick I might regret: Najee Harris
Harris was amazing as a rookie last year when he finished as the No. 3 running backs in PPR and led all running backs with 74 catches. Hopefully, he continues to be just as involved in the passing game without Ben Roethlisberger — Harris tied Austin Ekeler for the most targets at running back (94) — and can improve as a rusher (he averaged 3.9 yards per carry on 307 attempts ). The reason he’s in this category is solely because it wouldn’t shock me if Mixon or Cook is better because they should be in better offenses. I love all three, and I hope Harris is a star again.
Player who could make or break my team: Travis Etienne
I don’t fear Etienne letting me down, which could clearly happen if he struggles to produce, and Robinson is the featured back for the Jaguars. I expect Etienne to at worst be the passing-downs back in Jacksonville and at best perform like Alvin Kamara or D’Andre Swift. He has the potential to catch 70-plus passes and total 1,500 yards, with a healthy amount of touchdowns. If that happens then this team could be special. He’s one of the players you should go out of your way to target this season, and I have no problem drafting him late in Round 3 and definitely in Round 4.