Fantasy Football Strategy: Roster Construction-Based Rankings – Mock Draft
Some of the most popular episodes of the Fantasy Footballers Podcast are the Mock Draft shows. Listening to Andy, Mike, and Jason talk through their draft plan and the strategies they use to achieve the best team possible is always a fan favorite.
For this article, I’m going to use my “Roster Construction-Based Rankings” draft board to complete the mock draft. I showcased each position (RB, WR, QB, and Draft Boards), but it may still be a foreign concept to many readers just how impactful this process is on your draft. It’s a similar concept to Tier-Based Drafting, and you can get complete player rankings with Tiers inside the 2019 Ultimate Draft Kit. This article is going to follow along for ten rounds of a Mock Draft, from the 8th selection in the 1st Round. The settings for this mock were: 12 Teams, PPR scoring, 1QB, 2RB, 3WR, 1TE, 1 FLEX. (K and D/ST were included, but none were – thankfully! – drafted in the first ten rounds)
For the sake of this draft, I have used the “Balanced” draft board laid out in “The Full Picture” edition of this series. This balanced strategy looks to acquire an even mix of RBs and WRs in the early rounds, with a goal of rostering two top 20 RBs and two top 20 WRs in the first four rounds to anchor the team’s roster build. Additionally, I’ve chosen to draft top 10 players at the QB and TE positions. I have added some color for additional visual impact, along with bolder lines at tier-breaks within the rankings. Player ADP is found inside the parenthesis. The draft board was build using the Ballers Consensus Rankings as of mid-June, so remember that many things will change between now and draft day. The point of the article is to visualize the process and how it helped build the roster, not to focus on the specific players drafted.
My balanced draft board starts with nine RBs I would feel comfortable drafting to fill my first required RB position and ten WRs to fill the first WR position on my roster. As expected, the first seven picks were RB-Heavy, with only Davante Adams representing the WRs in the first seven picks. In the visual below, you can see that I have just two remaining RBs for my RB1 position and nine WRs for my WR1, so the choice is very clear that I should be selecting an RB at this spot. Le’Veon Bell is my choice at the 1.08, with plenty of WR1 options still available to me eight picks later at 2.05.
The eight picks between mine include a surprise selection of Travis Kelce at 1.11. While that is a little higher than ADP, it was expected that Kelce would be drafted in the early 2nd Round. The two other players ranked as RB1s were drafted, along with four WRs, making it clear that Bell was the correct choice. Without the visual, some owners may have been tempted to take the top-ranked WR but would have then likely been forced to roster an RB2 player in their RB1 position. At the 2.05 spot, I have my choice of five of my WR1s, or 12 players I rank as an RB2 for my team. The choice of my 4th ranked WR, JuJu Smith-Schuster, is clearly the best option here as there is little chance any of these WR1s will last the 14 selections until my 3.08 pick.
The early selection of Travis Kelce set-off a mini-run on TEs, with Zach Ertz and George Kittle being drafted back-to-back in the second round (2.06-2.07). Six WRs, including three from my WR2 list, were selected with five of my RB2s and our first QB, Patrick Mahomes. Round 3 is likely early for some drafts, but it is not completely uncommon for the first QB to be selected in the first 3-4 rounds. With those players off the board, I’m faced with seven RBs in my RB2 rankings. Surprisingly, due to the drafting of two TEs and the QB, one WR is still available from my WR1 list, Julian Edelman. Pretty easy choice to make, with confidence that at least one of those seven RBs will make it back to my next choice eight selections later.
And I was correct; just three RBs were selected compared to five WRs. Looking at my options, I have five RB2 candidates or the last remaining WR2 on my list, Tyler Boyd. At this point, with two WR1s rostered to fill my top two WR roster requirements, I feel the best option is to select one of the remaining RB2s, as they will not likely last the 14 selection until my next pick. Kerryon Johnson, welcome to the team!
Two more QBs are now off the board with Deshaun Watson (4.06) and Aaron Rodgers (4.08) being drafted. A somewhat unexpected WR run occurred as ten WRs were drafted compared to two RBs. Similar to round three, a player I expected to be drafted has fallen. I’m left with the decision between four WR3s or my last remaining RB2, Tarik Cohen. Considering that I can plug the prolific PPR RB into my Flex Position, I’m going forgo my WR3 in favor of this “value” draft selection.
Another QB and TE came off the board, along with five more WRs and one RB. At this points it’s pretty clear that the trend of this draft is probably going to be common in most 2019 drafts; RBs early, WRs in the middle rounds. For my roster construction rankings, I show one WR3 and seven RB3s, so adding my 3rd WR and the last of my WR3s available will take precedence over a 4th RB, who would be starting the season as a bench player. Dante Pettis fills out my top six starting positions (2RBs, 3WRs, and Flex).
The draft board can change a lot when you have a long time between draft selections. In this draft, it’s 14 picks from even rounds to odd rounds. WRs continue to fly off the board, seeing eight drafted, along with another mini-TE run (3) and another QB. When my 7.08 selection comes on the clock, I still have 5 RB3s (my RB4) available compared to just one WR left in my Flex Rankings. For this exercise, I did not mix RBs and WRs in my Flex Rankings, choosing to only show WRs due to the PPR setting of the draft and considering them my WR4 rankings. With that, I’m going to select that last remaining WR, Geronimo Allison, with the anticipation that at least one of the five RBs will make it back to me.
It was a safe assumption that one of the RBs would make it back to me at 8.05. Three RBs, three QBs, and a TE were drafted, leaving me with what currently projects to be a starting RB for his team as my 4th RB. Lamar Miller is the choice here to follow rankings. However, this is the time of a draft you can start to deviate. With three RBs already rostered, some owners may have felt inclined to select Miles Sanders for the upside in their 4th RB.
At the onset of this Mock Draft, I set a plan to acquire a balanced approach between RB and WR, while still seeking a top 10 player at QB and TE. With the 9.08 selection on the clock, I’m faced with eight RBs that would be my RB5, or seven WRs that would be my WR5. To this point, ten of twelve teams have selected their QB, and there are still two top 12 QBs available. The four teams selecting between my 9th and 10th round picks all have their QBs drafted, and it’s highly unlikely that those owners will begin selecting backup QBs, so I’ll turn my attention to TE. Here is where it’s extremely important to have a visual on the draft board. I know the teams between my picks have each rostered a QB, but only two have rostered TEs. With my 6th ranked TE still available, and the last player in his tier, it’s time to select Vance McDonald.
As expected, no one drafted a QB, which allows me to select my 8th ranked QB ahead of the only other owner without a QB on his roster. Many owners, myself included, would likely still have forgone the QB in favor of more depth at RB and WR. However, I still have multiple players available, all of which have ADPs that suggest I can land multiple coveted players in the upcoming rounds. Securing a player who was the #2 Fantasy QB from Week 12 on in 2018 was a luxury pick at this point of the draft, with the confidence that if he fails to live up to his rookie season production, I can easily find a replacement QB on the waiver wire.
Final Draft Board:
Overall, I’m pleased with this draft. I was able to lock in multiple players I ranked at their roster-specific positions, while still drafting two players that were higher ranked to fill lower-ranked positions. My selections of Julian Edelman as my WR2 and Tarik Cohen as my Flex should give me a slight advantage over my league mates. Forgoing the QB and TE until Rounds 9 and 10 allowed me to build quality depth in my first bench position at both RB and WR. In Rounds 11-14, I would plan to draft two more RBs and two more WRs, each of which would be drafted based on their potential ceiling, ignoring their floor and forgoing players with limited upside. The final two picks in rounds 15 and 16 would be a D/ST and PK.