Drafting From the 4th Spot in a 12-Team PPR League
Today we will jump in and review a recent draft I completed from the 4th position against 10 other managers and 2 computers. Last week, my colleague Joe went over his strategy drafting from the 12th spot in a PPR league . Compare his strategy with how my draft went and you will see how the selection of players you have at each end of the draft differs greatly. You will also notice how the average draft position (ADP) is changing every week with training camp news and preseason highlights.
If you don’t get your slot until right before your draft, I highly recommend completing mock drafts now so you can see where players are being drafted compared to last year and watch how their ADP changes over the next month. With camp well underway, injuries will undoubtedly start popping up which will have a huge effect on some players’ ADP.
For the purposes of the mock draft, I based my picks off of the following league starter requirements: 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 Flex, and 1 TE. Kicker and defense will not be discussed as they should be the last two picks of your draft. Let's take a look at how this draft went and go over my selections.
Round One (Pick 1.04): Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
With a (mostly) full room of human players drafting, you never truly know how it will turn out. At number 2 overall Najee Harris was selected which had me selecting PPR monster Austin Ekeler with the 4th pick. He’s unlikely to repeat the 20 total touchdowns he scored but Herbert likes to target him a ton. He’s not a bell cow running back but with his 60+ receptions, he’s a lock to give you sets a very safe floor in a full-PPR league.
Round Two (Pick 2.09): Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
Everything I see from training camp reports is that Barkley looks to be 100% healthy. He’s trucking over defenders in practice and should be heavily utilized in a new offensive scheme under Brian Daboll. Barkley is one of those players you could wonder at year’s end how he fell so far in the draft. There’s a bit of unknown and re-injury risk as he hasn’t played a full season in quite some time, however, Barkley’s skill set is unique and only a small handful of players have the abilities he does. His combination of running and pass-catching ability makes him a great pick near the back of the 2nd round.
Round Three (Pick 3.04): Mark Andrews, TE, Baltimore Ravens
I usually don’t go early on tight end but the value with Mark Andrews was too good to pass up. The good thing about early TE is that you don’t have to worry about the position for the rest of the draft or throughout the season (outside of the bye week). Marquise Brown left for Arizona and the target share could increase even more for Andrews this season if Rashod Bateman doesn’t take a step forward. Lamar has a chip on his shoulder this season and he’s going to target his right-hand man Mark Andrews a ton. Last year he finished the year as the TE 1 and I expect that to happen once again.
Round Four (Pick 4.09): Jaylen Waddle, WR, Miami Dolphins
After selecting RB-RB-TE, taking an early-round QB was out of the question and I needed a WR. In the fourth round, there are still a ton of great options and I selected Jaylen Waddle who should see another 100-plus catches easily this year. I think Tyreek Hill will only help his short-to-intermediate routes underneath and is a great talent who sets a very safe floor for your team, especially in PPR leagues.
Round 5 (Pick 5.04): Brandin Cooks, WR, Houston Texans
No matter the QB, Brandin Cooks is a consistently good producer for fantasy football when he’s healthy. Last year marked back-to-back seasons with over 1,000 yards and exactly 6 touchdowns and it’s like no one even cares. He’s a “boring” pick on a terrible team, but he’s a great pick for fantasy football. He has caught 81 and 90 balls over the past two years and Davis Mills is actually half-decent. As a receiver on a bad football team, there’s never the chance he’s taken out of the game since they are always in catch-up mode. He’s not going to finish the week as a top-3 receiver, but he’s extremely consistent and won’t kill your team.
Round 6 (Pick 6.09): Allen Robinson, WR, Los Angeles Rams
As I’ve done in other mock drafts, I will select Allen Robinson almost every time in the 6th round. Everyone is worried about last season, however, he’s now on the best team of his career and has the best QB throwing to him of his career. Robinson should clear 1,000 yards easily if he remains healthy. We saw what Odell Beckham Jr. was able to do in half a season with the Rams and Robinson will be a vital piece of the offense if they want to repeat as Super Bowl champions.
Round 7 (Pick 7.04): Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, New England Patriots
After selecting three straight wide receivers, I needed depth at running back. I selected Rhamondre Stevenson in the 7th who keeps getting positive reviews out of camp and is set to take over the “James White role.” Stevenson is the better pure runner in New England and he’s a great pass-catcher too. The Patriots now see themselves near the bottom of their division and aren’t going to be running out games like they used to. Damien Harris had an outlier year and I expect Stevenson to establish himself by mid-season as the RB 1.
Round 8 (Pick 8.09): James Cook, RB, Buffalo Bills
Stevenson was a good start for some depth but if Barkley gets re-injured, I needed some more backup players that could see an increased role throughout the season. James Cook is an excellent option in the 8th as he’s a pass-catching back that could earn more of a trusted role as the season goes on. As of now he’s not a required starter and gets an extra boost in PPR leagues where he thrives. It also helps he’s on one of the best offenses in the league who will score a ton of points.
Round 9 (Pick 9.04): Trey Lance, QB, San Francisco 49ers
After missing out on the chance to draft Jalen Hurts in the 6th and Russell Wilson in the 8th, I wasted no more time and selected Trey Lance who should have a great season with the 49ers. With Jimmy G out, he’s their guy and is in a similar situation that Jalen Hurts was in last year. He’s a player that can run but who we haven’t seen much of. Admittedly Lance probably has a lot more talent around him (and a more offensive-minded coach) than Hurts had last year, and he finished as a top QB after being drafted late. I expect Lance’s running ability to set that floor with him and with the weapons he has at his disposal, he could go full nuclear and finish as a top-3 quarterback in fantasy football.
Round 10 (Pick 10.09): Kadarius Toney, WR, New York Giants
Kadarius Toney is a very interesting late-round pick as the stats tell us he is a special player. Last year his target rate on routes ran was 28.9% which was good for the 7th-highest of the year. When he’s on the field, Daniel Jones has been targeting him. He’s a twitchy player who is a dangerous player with the ball in his hands. In the 10th round, he’s going to be extremely serviceable as a flex player at the worst.
Round 11 (Pick 11.04): Romeo Doubs, WR, Green Bay Packers
After picking a lot of “safer” wide receiver picks in the early rounds, I decided to go for a boom-or-bust type of player. I had some sharp drafters picking around me and figured Romeo Doubs would not make it back to me. I like Doubs as a late-round dart throw to land the WR 1 or 2 job in Green Bay. It also doesn’t hurt that the back-to-back MVP in Aaron Rodgers is the guy throwing him the ball. If he works out, fantastic. If he doesn’t gain Rodgers’ trust and has a stable log of production throughout the year, he can be easily dropped.
Round 12 (Pick 12.09): Brian Robinson Jr., RB, Washington Commanders
Antonio Gibson is one more fumble away from losing his job altogether. During the first preseason game of the year, Gibson fumbled and lost his job with the starters for the night. He was then brought back in (as some sort of punishment one would think) to play with the backups. Rookie Brian Robinson Jr. took his place as the starter and looked really good! He was a standout running back in college and could easily grab a meaningful role for the team if they decide to move on from Gibson at any point in the season. He’s a stash for November if you have the bench space.
Round 13 (Pick 13.04): George Pickens, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
George Pickens rounds out my last position player and is the 4th rookie on my team. Generally, I don’t love loading up on a ton of rookies but most of them are later picks and I won’t be relying on them in the early stages of the season. There are a lot of great wide receivers on the Steelers, but we don’t know at this point who is going to be the most heavily targeted player. Last year with Roethlisberger it was Diontae Johnson, but if Pickens can continue to develop, it wouldn’t be a total surprise if he passed Chase Claypool as the number 2 near the end of the season. He’s going to continue to rise up draft boards with every preseason game he plays in. Get him now if you can in the later rounds!
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