We hear you. We know that many of you play in leagues with 12 teams and even 14 and beyond. In a 12-team draft, we see 192 selections versus the 160 in a standard setup, revealing some new names for us to consider. The majority of ESPN fantasy football leagues compete in 10-team formats and our mocks often reflect that reality, but it is undoubtedly useful for our fantasy football crew to delve a bit deeper, as we do in this edition.
Joining me from the fantasy team in the draft we have James Quintong, Keith Lipscomb, Pierre Becquey, Tim Kavanagh, Tom Carpenter, Scott Clark, Field Yates, KC Joyner, Christopher Harris, Eric Karabell and Matthew Berry.
It's arguably appropriate to see Peterson and McCoy atop standard drafts this summer, given that they sit respectively atop the leaderboard in standard fantasy points among running backs since 2011.
Is the 10th pick actually the spot where things get interesting? We'll generally see the six-pack of top tailbacks along with Calvin Johnson, Jimmy Graham and Peyton Manning off the board within the top 10, leaving us to argue how best to navigate the final few first-round slots in a 12-team format.
During the sequential course of our summer mock series, DeMarco Murray has gone 21st overall (10-team standard), 13th (10-team PPR) and now 12th. If this is indeed positive momentum for Murray's stock, it's likely well-founded; he was tied for eighth last season in standard fantasy scoring at the position, thanks to an elite .70 fantasy points per touch (FP/T). To put his per-touch effectiveness in some context, the results of some other top producers like Marshawn Lynch (.66 FP/T), Eddie Lacy (.62) and Peterson (.63) compare favorably with what Murray was able to accomplish. It must be concerns over durability that would hold an investor back from Murray, because it shouldn't be based on his potential for maximizing production.
Reading the Twitter leaves all offseason -- in addition to conducting daily mock drafts -- has led me to understand the market is generally quite hesitant to buy into Zac Stacy as a premier commodity. The thinking seems to be some combination of the arrival of talented rookie Tre Mason and a pronounced fear that Stacy is purely volume-dependent. This intertwined blend of doubt will likely see Stacy's stock suffer into the late summer, but Karabell isn't buying the fade: "I'm not sure why people are scared of Stacy. He has the skills and build of a running back to build around. I thought I chose him in the right spot. Most rookie running backs -- like Mason -- fail initially, so while Stacy might not be a star in three years, for these purposes he doesn't need to be."
KC "The Football Scientist" Joyner is bullish on Andre "The Desert Dynamo" Ellington: "I have a metric called good blocking productivity (GBP). It combines good blocking rate (GBR: the measure of how often a team gives its ball carriers good blocking) with good blocking yards per attempt (GBYPA: how productive ball carriers are on good blocking plays). Getting to or over the 4.0 mark in GBP is really difficult and last year only two backs reached that level: McCoy (4.2) and Ellington (4.2). When a run game is that effective, a back can be RB1 at a relatively low carry volume (say, 225-250 carries). The Cardinals want Ellington to reach that level and more, and that gives him high-end RB1 upside."
We turn to Joyner again for his take on his selection in the fourth, as he's up on DeSean Jackson as he heads down I-95: "Jackson finished sixth among WRs in vertical yards per attempt (YPA on passes thrown 11 or more yards downfield) and had eight vertical touchdowns (tied for second). Outside of last year, Robert Griffin III has a tremendous history in VYPA (his 16.4 VYPA in 2012 ranked second). Jay Gruden won't hesitate to call downfield passes (only two QBs had more stretch vertical throws than Andy Dalton last year) and that combination will lead to a ton of long passes in Jackson's direction. He may have more vertical upside than any WR in the draft not nicknamed Megatron."
Investors are still trying to figure out if they like the player or the potential workload when it comes to Bishop Sankey. Yates confirms that for him, "it's definitely more about the role. Sankey has the clear path to a starting job and enough talent to be a flex play pretty much right away. It reminds me of Le'Veon Bell last year (minus the injury issue): I didn't love the talent to start, but I did love the role. Hopefully Sankey has a similar ascension."
Joyner joins us again to explain his take on Michael Floyd's upside in the deep game: "Floyd did not quite overtake Fitzgerald last year, but he caught up to him and is getting ready to pass him. Last year, Floyd saw more vertical targets than "Fitz" (69 for Floyd, 67 for Fitz) and a much higher VYPA (11.4 for Floyd, 9.5 for Fitz). That is a very important element in any offense but doubly so in the Bruce Arians system, as he had Carson Palmer throw more vertical passes than anyone else in 2013 (that's right, even more than Peyton Manning: Palmer 227, Manning 213)."
Harris was asked if the Browns' thin receiving corps influenced his interest in Jordan Cameron: "I took Cameron there because he was the highest player left on my board. I don't think it's necessarily smart business to use the logic, 'Oh, they don't have many established receivers, that means the tight end is going to be great!' To some extent, that's crutch thinking -- the Chiefs, Rams and Bills were awful at wide receiver last year, but that didn't make their tight ends useful. This comes down to liking the player. He's big, runs and jumps well, and is fluid out of breaks. I hate Cameron's QB situation, but he should still produce well."
After taking a stream of veteran backs in four straight rounds, Berry was asked if he thought the market was a bit too low on some of these former superstar backs: "I'm higher on Jackson than most, but it's less about those particular running backs and more about how my draft went. I didn't like any of the backs available for where I was picking at the time, so I went with the best QB in the game and two of the best 10 receivers. So it was more about getting as many backs as I could that I'll be able to mix and match. Gore's not great, but there will be some weeks where you want to start him. I like Steven Jackson a lot more than most and if Baltimore can start running well under Gary Kubiak, I have whoever the starter is going to be there. The market is correct for those running backs, but maybe a little low on Jackson, who finished strong."
Josh Gordon scored four fewer standard fantasy points than the sum of all New York Jets wideouts last season, so that's not very impressive. The inherent and reasonable doubts for the Jets' passing offense seem to be priced-in to Eric Decker's draft stock already, so there might also be some built-in profit potential here if he can find a live arm to jell with. Everyone feasted working with Peyton Manning during the past two years, but should we wholly dismiss a wideout with the sixth-most fantasy points at the position in that span?
Becquey was ready to pounce if Clark or I had passed on a quarterback any further past the 10th: "If Scott doesn't take his QB right there I might have taken QBs back-to-back to create some demand. Something I'm toying with in 12-team leagues. If the bench pool sucks, use bench spots as trade bait."
In several rookie dynasty drafts I've done this spring, there were some sharps taking Carlos Hyde over the likes of Sankey and Mason. Many talent evaluators I spoke with this offseason deemed Hyde the most compelling backfield talent in this year's crop.
Is Tavon Austin a value proposition now that he's available so late in most drafts? Or will he still be somewhat of a prop in the St. Louis Rams' offense? No, really, please let me know.
Not that we need more confirmation of the depth at quarterback, but Andy Dalton and Philip Rivers were fifth and sixth in fantasy point production last season. Even when you think you can't, you really can wait on quarterback.
Denver is built to build leads on offense and beat on a shallow AFC with a dramatically revamped pass rush and secondary. I rarely take a D/ST before the penultimate round, but admittedly covet this retooled group in both the team sense and in individual defensive player (IDP) terms.