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We continue with our early mock draft series into rounds three and four.  If you missed the first couple of articles, you can read round one here and round two here.  There are still top end players on the board and players are starting to get a feel for how their teams are starting to shape up.

This article will look a bit different than the last ones, as we’ll be looking at picks in regard to burgeoning dynasty teams rather than the players in a vacuum.

Here’s the action for these two rounds.

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Early 2018 Mock Dynasty Draft: Rounds 3-4

Picks 3.01 and 4.12, Steve Halupka

Current team: Odell Beckham Jr., Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffrey, and Carlos Hyde

Steve had a great two/three turn when he picked Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey (CMC). Kamara finished as the RB3 while CMC finished as RB10. Considering that both players were rookies as well, it looks like Steve may have the best starting running back lineup in the league. As most leagues have switched to PPR it’s important to remember that both running backs gain an enormous boost from receptions. The Panthers are nearly guaranteed to lose all-pro guard, Andrew Norwell in free-agency this year. This means that Cam Newton will face more pressure in 2018, which will inevitably lead to more dump off passes to McCaffrey. We don’t exactly know where Carlos Hyde will end up in 2018, but he is one of two free agent running backs that will likely become the lead back wherever he lands. Hyde has averaged over four yards per carry during his career and has shown an acumen for catching the ball after his 2017 outing where he caught 59 passes. Hyde strikes me as a best player available play but may leave Steve short at wide receiver in the upcoming rounds. Through round four, Steve’s team is one of the best.

Picks 3.02 and 4.11, Charlie Kleinheksel

Current team: David Johnson, Rob Gronkowski, Jarvis Landry, Golden Tate

Charlie recognized the need for starting wide receivers in rounds three and four. With news that Jarvis Landry is signing his franchise tag with the expectation of being traded to a team that will value him as their top wide out, we see that his value is at its highest in PPR. Landry and Tate aren’t the sexiest picks at this stage (especially considering Alshon Jeffrey was available in the third and Demaryius Thomas is still on the board going into the fifth round), but they’ll achieve what Charlie needs them to. Landry has caught 400 balls in his first four years and hasn’t caught under 94 balls in a year since he was a rookie. Golden Tate follows the same slot role as he hasn’t had a season with fewer than 90 receptions since 2013. The Lions are known to run through the air with short passes to Tate in the middle of the field, this offensive design is fantasy gold in PPR. Gronk has claimed he is coming back for the 2018 season, and David Johnson avoided damaging wear and tear on his body by sitting out in 2017. Charlie has the workings of a functional team through four rounds, although functional nearly never wins championships.  Charlie will need to target high upside players in the later rounds if he wants to have a chance to catch up with the others.

Picks 3.03, and 4.10, Addison Hayes

Current team: DeAndre Hopkins, Tyreek Hill, Alshon Jeffrey, Zach Ertz

Addison figured out early that he wanted a strong and young receiving corps to carry him to victory in PPR formats.  Starting with Hopkins, Hill, and Jeffrey makes it so there’s no need to focus on receiver until much later in the draft. The controversial pick in my opinion is going after Ertz. Ertz was the third ranked tight end this year in PPR and looks to have the brightest future of any tight end in the league. Ertz was Wentz’s main target in 2017 and nothing looks to change. The danger of this strategy is that it leaves his team dangerously thin at running back. There are numerous ways to plan out a dynasty draft, but he very well may be opting to trade players after the draft to fill in holes at running back. For the rest of the draft, Addison will neglect the running back position. This is not something that I would suggest as there are no guarantees that an opponent won’t make you overpay to acquire starting level talent at a position you are starved at. This team has a strong core, but without a complete team this squad is likely to struggle.

Picks 3.04 and 4.09, Pierre Camus

Current team: Todd Gurley, A.J. Green, Saquon Barkley, Juju Smith-Schuster

Pierre benefits from the drafting system not showing Barkley in the first few hundred options (thus you can be assured Saquon will be picked before this in future iterations), but regardless of that fact, on paper this team looks fantastic at the moment. Pierre’s team has immense balance by taking an aging top-end receiver along with the top running back in 2017 and the year’s top rookie receiver as well. If comparisons to LT ring true, Camus’ team could be the team to beat after the first four rounds. Receiver depth is available when running backs become sparse, so I like this strategy. Once Martavis Bryant moves on from the Steelers, Smith-Schuster will take on an even more prominent role. Considering that both Brown and Ben are aging quickly, Schuster stands to be the face of the franchise once they leave. This nearly guarantees production for a number of years to come.

Picks 3.05 and 4.08, Aaron Schillinger

Current team: Le’veon Bell, Amari Cooper, Jay Ajayi, Doug Baldwin

Aaron’s team is balanced through round four with playmakers at each level. Ajayi was substantially better with the Eagles than with the Dolphins in 2017, where he increased his per-carry average to 5.8, from 3.4 in Miami. If Ajayi can keep up this level of production, he will likely continue to be a RB1 until his knee gives out in a few years due to his degenerative knee disorder. Doug Baldwin will continue to be Russell Wilson’s reliable weapon on the outside, as both Richardson and Graham are more than likely leaving Seattle in the off-season. Although I’m not much of a fan of Cooper, with Gruden’s comments pointing to Cooper as the focal point of Oakland’s offense, there’s a lot to be excited about with this team. Aaron just needs to hope that his plausible upside players will continue to perform and that Bell doesn’t succumb to the lag that comes with so many carries.

Picks 3.06 and 4.09, Martin Konstantinov

Current team: Antonio Brown, Leonard Fournette, LeSean McCoy, Russell Wilson

Martin looks to be opting for the “win-now mode” of drafting. He is hoping to get the most out of aging players and rebuild after winning a possible championship. This is not the worst way to go about drafting a dynasty team, but it is risky. If either Brown (age 30 season in 2018) or McCoy (age 30 season in 2018) fail to produce as their names suggest they should, Martin could be looking at a bottom-three finish this year. We have to remember that without Big Ben, Brown does not produce the same way, and if Roethlisberger retires after 2018, there’s no guarantee that Brown will continue to be the reliable WR1 that he has been since 2012. Fournette and Wilson are great pieces to build around, but this team will need to reload much sooner than a lot of other teams will. Martin also took a quarterback not named Aaron Rodgers too early for my taste. The comparative production at the quarterback position can be achieved by drafting a quarterback later. By taking Wilson in the fourth, Martin passed on players like Doug Baldwin, Smith-Schuster and Dez Bryant, who all could have had an out-sized comparative impact on his team. Without great rookie drafts Martin is staring down an exit from chances in the playoffs sooner rather than later.

Picks 3.07 and 4.09, Kyle Richardson

Current team: Ezekiel Elliott, Dalvin Cook, T.Y. Hilton, Derrick Henry.

Mr. Richardson is speaking my language in this draft. Every player selected thus far suits a need on his team and is in a perfect position to be the center-piece of an NFL team for no less than the next three years. This is what we want in early dynasty league drafts, high upside players that are nearly guaranteed to get ample opportunities, not just in targets or carries, but in touchdowns as well. Every running back will be the goal line back and T.Y has a strangle-hold on the deep ball opportunities that Luck will be sending his way. If Kyle wanted better balance in his team, he could have taken Smith-Schuster instead of Henry in the fourth, but with this selection he takes one of the last remaining bell-cow backs and ensures that he has depth if Cook doesn’t come back from his injury well, or if Elliot does something illegal again. Balance of risk and reward is crucial in start-up drafts and Kyle does that well through the first four rounds.

Picks 3.08 and 4.05, Adam Hall

Current team: Julio Jones, Davante Adams, Joe Mixon, Josh Gordon

Everyone has their pet players that they believe in and my first four picks reflect that tendency. What I am lacking in depth, I make up for in potential upside at the receiver position. I know that I can target high upside rookies, or PPR backs like Duke Johnson or Ty Montgomery in the later rounds, thus I wanted to knock out my three wide outs as soon as possible. The Bengals’ offensive coordinator recently claimed that Mixon will be their bell-cow back in 2018 and in my opinion Mixon is a spitting image of Le’veon Bell, just five years younger. Mixon caught 88% of the passes thrown his way and averaged nearly 10 yards per catch as well. Mixon grew throughout the year and starting in week nine, until the end of the year, Mixon averaged over 4.2 yards per carry as well. I also believe in Josh Gordon, you can refer to my article I wrote a couple of months ago for more information there. If Gordon doesn’t get busted for another weed charge, I think that I have one of the best two receiving corps in the league. This team through four rounds is in the top half but doesn’t quite have the track record to ensure a playoff berth.

Picks 3.09 and 4.04, Wai Sallas

Current team: Kareem Hunt, Devonta Freeman, Stefon Diggs, Corey Davis

After round four, Wai’s team looks young and balanced. Just like I talked about earlier, a great dynasty team is one that invests heavily in players that are highly valued by their teams. Freeman signed a large contract and continued to thrive, Hunt was one of the most utilized players in the league last year, Diggs had nearly 100 targets in 2017, and Corey Davis is the number-two all time leader in receptions in college football history. Davis was taken fifth overall in the 2017 draft and has one of the brighter potential futures in the NFL. Taking Davis in the fourth nullifies a bit of the risk of taking someone that has yet to produce at the highest level in the NFL. If Davis becomes a WR1, then this will be a great pick, and if he busts, it will hurt, but it will not devastate his team. Furthermore, Adam Thelien is entering his age 30 season in 2018, which leaves Diggs just a year or two away from being a legitimate top target on of the best offenses in the league. If things go his way, Wai will be in the playoffs for years to come.

Picks 3.10 and 4.03, Nathan Powell

Current team: Mike Evans, Brandin Cooks, Sammy Watkins, Allen Robinson

Nathan Powell stands with some of the best receivers in the league after four rounds. His WR and FLEX spots are taken care of at this point, but nearly all of the top end running backs are taken by this point. A known Zero-RB enthusiast, these early choices will force Nathan to reach for backs later in the draft or be in a position to where he’ll have to rely on free-agency or trades to bring him any startable value at the running back position. There are very few teams in this league that have the quality wide outs that Nathan has, but that doesn’t mean that he’s likely to succeed if he can’t furnish a weekly contending team. For what it's worth, the FantasyPros Analyzer had this team ranked last.

Picks 3.11 and 4.02, Matt Wispe

Current team: Michael Thomas, Keenan Allen, Adam Thielen, Travis Kelce

It seems that by the fourth round, drafters are much more comfortable going with the best player available, rather than reaching for what they deem to be a sub-value running back. That is respectable, especially considering that there is such an enormous drop-off in production at the tight end position after the top three players (202.4 vs. 174.5 points).  Due to positional scarcity, I don’t blame Matt for locking up his tight end position for the next five years in the fourth round. Kelce is as reliable as it gets at the tight end position. When everyone else is scrambling to get value at that unavoidable spot, Matt will be guaranteed nearly 12 points every week. As other players will have to deal with, he has no running backs through four rounds, but he doesn’t have the depth at WR to be able to trade easily without hits to his cornerstone players. He will have to play catch-up for the rest of the draft, but that is easy when we’re only four rounds in.

Picks 3.12 and 4.01, Mark Wemken

Current team: Melvin Gordon, Jordan Howard, Aaron Rodgers, Lamar Miller

I’m not personally an enormous fan of this team considering that Mark could have taken Kamara and Barkley instead of his first two backs and he could have taken Henry instead of Miller in the fourth round. The outlook for Miller isn’t phenomenal going into 2018. The Texans don’t seem to be overjoyed with his performance and when Foreman was on the field in 2017, he was pushing for more playing time. Mark will need to pick up WR depth as the draft goes on, but he won’t have to worry about the QB position for the next five years as he has the best in the fantasy business under center. As much as I like the potential upside with Howard and Gordon, Howard will be hamstrung by his passing downs going to Cohen. While Gordon will be limited by his snaps going to other running backs on the Chargers, and his micro-fracture surgery in his knee putting a cap on the longevity of his career.

 

Early-Round Progress Report

Best running backs

Best receiving corps

Best overall team

 

More 2018 Dynasty League Strategy