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Way Too Early Fantasy Football Mock Re-Draft Analysis - Rounds 1-2

So ... how about that Super Bowl, huh? It seems fitting that, after a postseason filled mostly with one-sided snoozers, the football gods would treat us to arguably the most improbable comeback in the history of professional sports.

Rather than spend more time trying to figure out what exactly happened the night of Feb. 5 in Houston, let's look forward to the 2017 season. The start of free agency is still about a month away, and the NFL draft is another month or so after that, but here at RotoBaller, we never stop thinking about fantasy football.

Twelve of RotoBaller's finest contributors gathered for a way-too-early PPR mock draft. Over the next week, we'll break it down round-by-round, starting with the first two in this article.


Round 1

There wasn't much surprise with the first three picks. A legitimate case can be made for Johnson, Elliott or Bell as the No. 1 overall pick, and all three are consensus top-five picks heading into the 2017 season. In dynasty leagues, the nod should probably go to Elliott, who will only be 22 years old at the start of next season, compared to Johnson and Bell, who will both be 25. In redraft leagues, it's hard to gone wrong with any of three. It basically comes down to personal preference.

After the three studs at running back, there was a lengthy run of wide receivers. This makes sense, particularly in PPR leagues. Eight consecutive wideouts were chosen with the fourth through 11th picks, led by Brown, Jones and Beckham. Like with the top three running backs, there were no surprises with the top three receivers off the board. They are all spectacular, in their prime, and wildly productive.

The next group included Evans, Green, Nelson, Robinson and Bryant. Evans is coming off a season that included career highs in receptions and yards, and a career-high-tying 12 touchdowns. Green, Nelson and Bryant are all solid WR1 that, when healthy, are safe plug-and-play options every week. The biggest wild card here is Robinson, who turned in a bitterly disappointing season in 2016. More on him later. I closed out the first round by taking McCoy, an aging but still-productive running back, on the front end of the wraparound.


Round 2

While the first round was heavy on wide receivers, the second round was a bit more balanced. Six running backs were selected in Round Two, led by my pick of Freeman on the back end of the wraparound. Freeman scores touchdowns, gets plenty of targets, and remains heavily involved in one of the NFL's most explosive offenses. Sign me up.

After Freeman, Jeffery, Rodgers and Ajayi came off the board. Rodgers is as safe as quarterbacks come, though the 15th overall still feels a bit early for him. Ajayi needs to find more consistency in 2017, but has the skill set to be a solid RB1. Hilton and Gordon were next off the board, and should both remain productive as focal points in their respective offenses.

Howard, Miller and Murray, followed by Hopkins, Adams and Watkins closed out the second round. Howard was a breakout star as a rookie and will be popular in 2017. Miller and Murray changed teams in 2016, and though both had 1,000-yard seasons, Murray was consistently more productive. Hopkins, like Robinson burned many fantasy owners in 2016. Adams had a much-anticipated breakout season, finishing tied for second in the league with 12 touchdowns. Watkins again struggled to stay healthy.


Best Picks

A. J. Green (WR, CIN) #8 overall

It's pretty hard to find a steal in the first round of a fantasy football draft. Everyone knows, scouts and debates the star players, but it's still possible to find guys in the second half of the first round who perform like top-five picks.

Before he injured his hamstring in Week 11, Green was on pace for 106 receptions, 1,542 yards and six touchdowns. In case you're wondering, that reception total would have placed him second only behind Larry Fitzgerald (107), while the yardage total would have led the NFL. If Green can resume that kind of pace in 2017, he'll be wonderful value at No. 8 overall.

T.Y. Hilton (WR, IND) #17 overall

Hilton led the NFL with a career-high 1,448 yards last season, but he also topped 90 receptions for the first time in a career. That's a major plus for his PPR appeal.

The speedy Hilton should remain the top weapon for Andrew Luck, and that alone carries significant fantasy upside. To get Hilton in the middle of the second round -- as the 10th wide receiver, no less -- represents solid value.

DeMarco Murray (RB, TEN) #21 overall

After one disastrous season in Philadelphia, Murray was rejuvenated in Tennessee, finishing with 1,287 rushing yards, 53 receptions and 12 total touchdowns. True, Murray will be 29 at the start of the 2017 season, and former Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry is waiting in the wings.

But Murray showed he's a perfect fit for Tennessee's offense, with his involvement in the passing game being particularly encouraging. Murray should remain productive for at least another season, making him a solid pick at No. 21.


Biggest Reaches

Allen Robinson (WR, JAC) #10 overall

Oh, boy. The 10th overall pick on a player who finished with 883 yards and six touchdowns? That certainly qualifies as a reach.

I actually like Robinson more than most. He's supremely talented. The only problem is that his quarterback is, well, marginally talented. If Blake Bortles can rebound from a dreadful 2016 season, perhaps Robinson can push closer to his 1,400-yard, 14-touchdown breakout 2015 season. If not, this pick hurts.

Alshon Jeffery (WR, CHI) #14 overall

Jeffery has produced in the past, but more recently, he's shown an inability to stay healthy. That's a concern, particularly for a player who, despite consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in 2013 and 2014, has never topped 89 receptions in a single season.

Jeffery's days in Chicago are likely over, so his landing spot in free agency will be crucial to his fantasy value. Jeffery has upside, but I'm not crazy about taking him with the 14th overall pick.

Sammy Watkins (WR, BUF) #24 overall

There's just too much uncertainty here. Can Watkins ever play a full season again? Who will his quarterback be? No one is denying Watkins' talent, but the track record is not good.

Watkins has missed 11 games over the past two seasons, and has yet to top 65 receptions in a season since being drafted in 2014. There are more reliable options for PPR leagues than the former Clemson star.



Let's take a look at some random facts about the first two rounds, shall we? First, the 24 players selected came from 16 different NFL teams. Of those 16 teams, seven had at least two players chosen -- Green Bay (three), Dallas, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago and Houston. Of the 24 players selected, 12 were from AFC teams, and 12 were from NFC teams. Thirteen wide receivers were chosen, along with 10 running backs and one quarterback.

So, what did we learn from a mock draft conducted about seven months before the beginning of the 2017 season? In truth, not much -- free agency and the NFL draft will undoubtedly impact the stock of many players in this mock draft. But it's still a helpful -- and fun, of course -- exercise to undertake. Be sure to follow along with the rest of our round-by-round analysis throughout the week.


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