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Anatomy of a Draft - RotoBaller Expert Mock Recap

With the NFL Draft behind us and rookie drafts underway, the writers at RotoBaller felt the time was right to put together our first mock draft of the season. Yes, it may be quite early, but you can never be too prepared when it comes to the world of fantasy football. With tidbits of player news starting to circulate on a daily basis, it's good to know what the mindset is on player values and how it will affect your draft prep.

Just like practice makes perfect in any sport, mock drafts are a form of practice that helps you develop a strategy for upcoming drafts. Giving you a bit of foresight on where players are being selected is helpful. You can then develop a gameplan on how you will attack your draft once you learn just where your draft position lies. The smart fantasy owner tends to do as many mocks as possible during the summer to ready themselves for crunch time.

As for our mock draft, industry drafts tend to go down a different path than what you'll see in home leagues. The vast majority of experts like to wait on the quarterback position, flooding the early rounds with more positional players coming off the board. So use this mock as a barometer of what you could see in your drafts. But as always, be ready to adjust accordingly at a moments notice. You never know what the other owners in your draft room may be thinking. Let's take a look at how things shook out in our first mock draft of the year. To check out the full draft board on Sleeper (download the app!), click on the image below or right here.


Way Too Early Expert Mock Results (Half-PPR)


First-Round Observations

The early portions of this round fell into typical form with the big four coming off the board (Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott, and Alvin Kamara). These will be the names you should get accustomed to seeing early in the draft as they present the highest value at the top of the board. The biggest question mark of the round is the pick of Todd Gurley at five. With so many red flags surrounding him and his injury, he will be a player that we will see fall dramatically moving forward.

The remainder of the round shows a trend that you must be ready for in drafts throughout the summer. That is the influx of running backs selected (nine of 12 picks being RB). Many owners will look to guarantee that they have a surefire RB1 coming out of the round due to the lack of many bell-cow backs. DeAndre Hopkins and Davante Adams are locked in the first round but don't be shocked to see another WR or two filters in at the end.

My Take: Depending on your format, it's imperative to grab one of the upper-echelon backs in this round. But pay attention to your tiers. If the better player on your board is a receiver, go with it and don't second guess yourself.


Early Rounds (2nd-5th)

During these rounds, you can see that there is still a bit of value to be had. Because of the run on RB, you get to take advantage of selecting receivers in the second round that are potential first rounders. This round, in this draft as well as others, should be dominated by the receivers. The remaining WR1s on the board will be coming off the board sprinkled in with the top TE (Travis Kelce) on everyone's board.

Over the next few rounds is when the "best player available" takes hold. Player values in these rounds are all across the board. Guys that I was able to take in these rounds (Keenan Allen, Cooper Kupp, Derrius Guice), I may be higher on than others in the room but at that point in the draft, they made the most sense on my roster. Question marks that I saw in this draft were the selections of Aaron Jones and Chris Carson ahead of Josh Jacobs and Kerryon Johnson. The latter I believe present a higher ceiling in 2019 and should be viewed that way in drafts this summer.

My Take: Don't lock yourself into a certain strategy, but I feel it is important to come away with your core group of RBs and WRs in these first five rounds of drafts. It helps build the nucleus of your team as you focus on the depth of your roster throughout the rest of the draft, giving you flexibility.


Middle Rounds (6th-12th)

This is where drafts are won or lost each and every year. As you can see in this mock draft, the RB position gets awfully thin very quickly. You see a nice mix of young players with high upside (David Montgomery and Miles Sanders) with veterans competing for time in the backfield. If done right by grabbing solid RBs earlier, you are afforded the ability to take a risk or two on players in these rounds -- guys that aren't sexy names but could prove to be valuable starts weekly (Peyton Barber and Jamaal Williams).

The odd thing is that the depth at receiver is still evident in these rounds. The seventh and eighth rounds are littered with potential high upside players (Robby Anderson, Dante Pettis, Corey Davis, and N'Keal Harry). These receivers are great pieces to have this late in the draft, especially if you attacked the RB position early and often. While you also see the old reliables in this group as well (Larry Fitzgerald, Golden Tate, and Emmanuel Sanders).

My Take: This is the stage of the draft in which your homework really pays off. Grabbing those low-risk high-reward players and steering clear on land mines helps you build the solid depth you'll need to compete for a title. Also, if you play your cards right, this is where you will find the starting QB that you will rely on on a weekly basis as well.


Final Rounds (13th-16th)

The final rounds never necessarily make or break your season, but stumbling upon a gem in these rounds can take you a long way (e.g. Patrick Mahomes last season). You'll see in our mock that the RBs are extremely thin at this point. Players that are sharing time or have no guarantee of a certain workload are mixed in these rounds. You can always luck out and select a player that falls into heavy usage due to injuries, but in a draft, you should not be making picks based on that mindset.

You see the same scenario among receivers during these rounds. A lot of players coming off the board that will be inconsistent during most of the season with their target share. As you see in our mock, backup QBs and TEs are quite popular here. Depending on your starter at each position, I suggest taking a shot on the potential at those positions as you complete your drafts.

My Take: Completing the draft always feels like a task at the end as you're already contemplating just how well your roster stacks up to others. But never lose sight of where you are at what your needs are. I will always preach to select your defense and kicker in the final two rounds. Only taking one at each position, giving you the flexibility to load your bench down with positional players that have a better chance to break out. These special teams positions should only be played on a matchup basis each and every week.

More Fantasy Football Analysis

Check out all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.