I've only started looking at football again recently, as it's been a busy offseason thus far with four funerals, two weddings, four graduations, and about ten birthdays sprinkled in for good measure. So I'm still getting up to speed with all the offseason player/coach movement and such, but to my eye, there are tons of value picks out there to be had this early in the summer. Of course I prefer auction drafts, but I hopped into a 10-team Yahoo snake mock draft last night just to get my feet wet. Even though my draft strategy is not yet set in stone as Axe Elf gospel, I'll still throw this inaugural team out there for discussion and education purposes. I guess Yahoo is going to a PPR scoring format with 2RB/2WR/1Flex lineups instead of their traditional standard scoring 2RB/3WR leagues, so I drafted under those assumptions. There were no computer drafters.
QB: Deshaun Watson (10) 5.4, Matt Ryan (8) 14.7
Pretty much game over right there; whoever gets Deshaun Watson this year wins. The guy averaged 31.3 fantasy ppg in October last year (before he got hurt), while the league's top QB, Russell Wilson, averaged 21.7 fantasy ppg on the season. I know last year I was saying that "QB is the new D" and it didn't matter what QB you get--and that's still largely true, but there is no other player in the league who averages 10 more points per game than his nearest competitor. And even if Watson gets hurt again, Matt Ryan is a starter-quality backup. So get Watson if you can, and if you can't, you might as well wait until late like last year.
RB: Ezekiel Elliott (8) 1.4, Joe Mixon (9) 4.7, Ronald Jones II (5) 9.4, Nick Chubb (11) 12.7
Since Dallas lost Jason Witten and cut Dez Bryant, I have Zeke as the #1 RB this season. He was #3 to Gurley and Bell on a ppg basis last season, and I can't imagine that Dallas will have much else to offer on offense this season other than 30 Zeke touches per game (he averaged 26.8 touches per game in 10 games last year, including his pathetic 9-carry game in Week 2), so I was happy to get him at #4 overall. He seems durable enough to carry that kind of a load for at least one season. The rest of my RBs are a little more speculative, but if Mixon can absorb Jeremy Hill's production he's good for at least 1100 yards. Jones should be the lead RB in Tampa Bay, and Chubb should be the rushing TD vulture for the Browns, if not more. All my RBs would be more suited to a standard scoring league than a PPR league, but at least there are no bye week problems.
WR: Davante Adams (7) 2.7, Mike Evans (5) 3.4, Marvin Jones, Jr. (6) 7.4, Julian Edelman (11) 8.7, Will Fuller V (10) 10.7, Corey Davis (8) 11.4
There was so much value at WR in the middle to late rounds that I just couldn't stop picking them, even though I'm only required to start two. With the PPR scoring, I'm ok with having my greatest depth at the WR position. My only problem would largely be one of which studs to bench in any given week, and that's not a bad problem to have. Davante Adams has been a top 10 WR the last two years running--and that's been with Jordy Nelson, and both with and without Aaron Rodgers. He's about as safe of a bet as any to remain near the very top of a very volatile position--and again I felt lucky to snag him in the late second round. Mike Evans isn't a huge target of mine in general, but he's been a top 20ish PPR WR every one of his four years as a pro and was #17 even in an "off" year last year, so he should be a solid WR2 with any kind of a bounceback year. I don't know how another couple of top 15 PPR WRs fell to the 7th and 8th rounds, but I was very happy to snap them up too. Pro Football Focus has Marvin Jones rated as the #2 "go" route receiver in the league (just behind Tyreek Hill), but I guess people have simply forgotten about Edelman's PPR connection with Brady after his injury absence. Will Fuller shared that magical October with Deshaun Watson last year, averaging over 100 yards and 1.75 TDs in those four games. This year, they can double dip again for my team. Corey Davis figures to be the leading receiver and red zone target (among the WRs, anyway) for Tennessee, and it's always nice to have an NFL team's WR1 as your WR6 (and zero bye week conflicts).
TE: Hunter Henry (8) 6.7, Benjamin Watson (6) 15.4
Henry was already the #8 TE on a ppg basis last year--and that was with Antonio Gates still vulturing some 80 fantasy points of his own. If Henry absorbs Gates' production, he becomes the #3 TE of 2017, behind only Gronk and Kelce. Watson had a successful year in 2015 as the Saints' top TE after Jimmy Graham left for Seattle; in fact, he was the #7 PPR TE that season. I'm curious to see how much Brees missed him after two years of Fleener.
I wouldn't draft a K in a real draft until August, so I won't do it in a mock draft, either.
DST: Baltimore Ravens (10) 13.4
I wasn't really planning to draft a D either, but by the time the 13th pick rolled around, I was already loaded at QB and WR, there weren't any worthy RBs left on the board, and a top 10 Defense from the last two years (2nd overall to JAX last year) was staring me in the face, so I clicked on them.
Overall, I would say it's a promising team that might have needed some luck at RB (or some trade/waiver work) to be a Championship contender, but with good health it should have at least been a playoff team.
Overall Grade: A-