Welcome to part three of my fantasy football mock draft series! It's all under the umbrella of why you should mock draft often. The TL;DR version is that I'm doing a series of mock drafts in which I practice different draft strategies to better understand the draft board before I get into an actual fantasy draft. I'll share my biggest takeaways from the mocks I take part in and share some of my draft preferences, with the hope of giving you something to consider when you go through the exercise yourself.
In case you missed it, the first mock trial focused on drafting a WR with a top-five pick.
Today's strategy: Drafting one of the top three QBs
I'm drafting based on my rankings, so your teams may look totally different based on how you value certain players. This is not an exercise in me telling you which players to draft, but rather how an early-QB draft strategy played out for me.
I did six PPR drafts: three 10-team leagues and three 12-team leagues.
Draft slots: In the 10-team leagues, I drafted third, sixth and ninth, and in the 12-team leagues I drafted fourth, eighth and 12th.
Each position on your roster is going to be impacted by a different draft strategy, so how did taking a top-three QB impact my teams? After looking back at my mock rosters, I've included a few notes below about each key position, followed by a larger breakdown of my favorite team from this exercise at the end of the column.
I always drafted Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen or Jalen Hurts at QB: This was a pretty easy plan to execute. Grabbing one of the first three guys isn't hard if you're targeting them with a second- or third-round pick. However, the limitations of this exercise really hit you when drafting from the end of the first round. In the 12-team league where I had the 12th pick, I basically had to take Mahomes with the 13th pick because I knew Allen and Hurts wouldn't make it to my next pick at the end of the third round (36th overall). I definitely liked this exercise a LOT more when drafting with a top-five pick.
None of these three QBs ever fell to the fourth round
The latest a team was able to draft a top-three QB across all of my mock drafts was with the 29th pick (Hurts in Round 3, Pick 9).
QBs went faster in the 12-team mock drafts, which makes sense given the extra teams -- and that made the pick feel more "worth it" than in a 10-team league.
Aaron Jones was my lowest-ranked RB1, drafted in the fourth round (he's 13th in my RB ranks). Big mistake waiting that long.
Pollard was my also highest-ranked RB2, as I was able to get him late in the third round once (he's RB8 for me). I had taken Saquon Barkley in the first round of this draft and by the time the pick came back to me in Round 2, all of the WR1s were off the board. I should've gone WR with my first-round pick instead of Saquon -- lesson learned.
James Cook was the lowest-ranked RB2 on any of my teams (RB31 -- yikes!). This was a result of drafting a tight end too early (in addition to taking the early QB). That became evident as my queue was slowly decimated during a big RB run. You have a long wait between picks when you're at the turn of a 12-team draft.
My best RB3 was Alvin Kamara, whom I selected in the eighth round.
My most-drafted WR1 was Tyreek Hill (three times)
My best WR2 was DeVonta Smith (Round 3, Pick 8). I started this draft WR-QB-WR and it hurt me -- resulting in the aforementioned Aaron Jones as my RB1. Another lesson learned.
My flex spot was always filled by a WR, and that WR was primarily Diontae Johnson (four times). This became a situation where I started to identify the trend of Johnson lasting until I needed my WR3/flex.
It felt impossible to draft a tight end early while also drafting a top-three QB. The value just never lined up. I was hoping to have a Kelce-Mahomes stack, but the board never fell for me.
My highest-ranked tight end was Darren Waller (my TE4) and this is the bad decision I mentioned earlier. Not the drafting of Waller, but the value of the pick. With the final pick of the fifth round (60th overall), I took Waller while having a stack of running backs in my queue. But over the next two rounds I watched as Rachaad White, James Conner, David Montgomery, Cam Akers, Kamara, D'Andre Swift, Isiah Pacheco and Javonte Williams came off the draft board, leaving me with James Cook as my RB2. I mucked that one up. Lots of lessons to be taken away from this set of mock trials.
My favorite team from this exercise
(drafting from No. 6 slot in 10-team league)
This draft stood out above this rest in this early-QB exercise. Hurts falling to the sixth pick of the third round helped -- I didn't really care for any of my Mahomes teams because I had to use an early-second-round pick on him -- but in this mock exercise, I drafted a guy who's in that same tier as but with a round-and-a-half discount.
Henry has become one of my most-drafted running backs in these exercises due to my early-WR builds, and that's totally fine with me! Mattison offers me a really nice complement to Henry, and I think the consensus ranking is still too low on Mattison, so I'm thrilled with this pairing. I didn't plan on having an RB3 as talented as Kamara, but when he fell to the eighth round, I couldn't pass up the value. I think this is a stellar RB trio to pair with Hurts.
I went WR in the first round of every draft but one and I never felt an ounce of regret when doing so. Hill has overall WR1 potential and pairing him with Allen (my WR16) and Cooper (my WR18) gives me a great trio of set-it-and-forget-it WRs to start the season. Kirk (my WR32) gives me another solid starter for bye weeks or in case of injury.
Because I have such solid starters, I was able to focus on high-upside guys at the end of the draft in Davis, Skyy Moore and Williams. If one of these guys hits, I'll have an option for my starting lineup or potential trade bait to help make my team better. I love everything about this WR build because I'm targeting upside at the end of the draft.
Lastly, Freiermuth is a totally fine option at tight end this year, especially if you're drafting your QB early. He's not going to cost you a lot (ninth round in this case) and he was fifth among TEs in targets last season. We'll always take volume at the TE position.
In summary ...
Targeting a top-three QB meant using a second- or third-round pick. Mahomes never made it past the second round, while Allen and Hurts never made it through the third.
Going WR in the first round set me up for the best success based on my draft slot. WR-RB-QB-WR in the first four rounds is where it's at, so far.
Knowing I had great WRs up top allowed me to draft for upside in the later rounds, giving me the chance for more flexibility later in the season if one of them hits.
I'm constantly in the Pollard/Henry tier of running backs as my RB1 and I'm very OK with that.