What sleepers should you snatch in your draft? And what big-name running back could ruin your season? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy Football cheat sheets from the model that called Alvin Kamara's huge breakout last season.
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Editor's note: Our latest non-PPR pick-by-pick series was done in June and is a three-man draft with Heath Cummings, Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard, with each one selecting four teams in this 12-team mock. The goal of this series is to show you positions to draft in these spots as much as the players selected, so take that into account when viewing each team.
With Mark Ingram suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, there's a chance Alvin Kamara's Average Draft Position could get out of control. Thankfully, that didn't happen here.
In our latest non-PPR pick-by-pick series, Kamara went No. 10 overall. It's the ideal spot for him as the seventh running back off the board behind Todd Gurley, Le'Veon Bell, Ezekiel Elliott, David Johnson, Kareem Hunt and Leonard Fournette, and three receivers were also drafted ahead of him with Antonio Brown, DeAndre Hopkins and Odell Beckham.
Last year, Kamara was the No. 4 Fantasy running back in non-PPR leagues, but he had one of the most efficient seasons in NFL history. He had 120 carries for 728 yards (6.1 yards per carry) and eight touchdowns, along with 81 catches for 826 yards (10.2 yards per catch) and five touchdowns.
His 81 receptions were the third-most all time by a rookie running back, and Kamara joined Gale Sayers (1965) as the only rookies in NFL history to have at least five rushing touchdowns (eight), five receiving touchdowns (five) and a kickoff-return touchdown. And Kamara (1,554) and Ingram (1,540) became the first running back teammates in NFL history to each record at least 1,500 scrimmage yards in the same season.
The thing for Kamara now is to build off his amazing rookie season with a bigger workload, even if his yards per carry, yards per catch and touchdown production almost certainly decline. He never had 20 touches in a game last season, but he still managed double digits in Fantasy points in a non-PPR league 10 times.
My hope is Kamara gets close to 250 total touches, which is just an increase of about three touches per game. He would still be a candidate for 1,500 total yards, and hopefully he can score at least 10 touchdowns again. I'm more than fine with drafting Kamara in this spot.
Here is my team from No. 10 overall:
- 1.10 Alvin Kamara, RB, Saints
- 2.3 Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers
- 3.10 Joe Mixon, RB, Bengals
- 4.3 Allen Robinson, WR, Bears
- 5.10 Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots
- 6.3 Kerryon Johnson, RB, Lions
- 7.10 Cooper Kupp, WR, Rams
- 8.3 Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
- 9.10 Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals
- 10.3 Jordan Reed, TE, Redskins
- 11.10 Peyton Barber, RB, Buccaneers
- 12.3 Anthony Miller, WR, Bears
- 13.10 Texans DST
- 14.3 Harrison Butker, K, Chiefs
The nice thing about picking toward the back end of the first round is the ability to get two potential first-round picks. And that happened here with Allen in Round 2 after starting this team with Kamara.
Last year, Allen was the No. 3 Fantasy receiver in non-PPR leagues, and he could be even better this season with Hunter Henry (ACL) out. You should try to mirror this start if possible with one standout running back and receiver.
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I took a risk with Mixon in Round 3, but it was calculated. Alex Collins and Kenyan Drake were drafted with the two picks prior to my selection, and I didn't want to draft Derrius Guice or Rashaad Penny in this spot.
As for the receivers, I was confident that one of Josh Gordon, Amari Cooper, Allen Robinson or Stefon Diggs would come back to me in Round 4, and I was right with Robinson. It always makes sense to read the draft board, especially when picking near the beginning or end of a round, to see what could come back to you on the swing picks.
With my starting running backs and receivers locked in, I had plenty of options at my disposal starting in Round 5. Filling quarterback or tight end was a possibility, but I opted instead to add depth at the other spots.
I took another risk with Edelman in Round 5 given his four-game suspension, but from Week 5 on, I expect him to be a potential starter, either at receiver or flex. And Kupp in Round 7 gives me coverage until Edelman is active.
As for Round 6, I drafted another rookie running back I like in Johnson, who should be the No. 1 option in Detroit's backfield. I'd prefer to draft Johnson in Round 7 or later, but I'm excited for his upside, especially behind what could be a great offensive line for the Lions.
Newton was amazing value in Round 8, and I consider him a top-five quarterback this year behind only Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Tom Brady and Deshaun Watson. And I settled for Reed at tight end in Round 10, but if he's healthy and can play close to 13 games, he'd be among the biggest steals in this draft given his upside.
One regret I have with this team is not selecting a second tight end because of Reed's injury history, but I like my backup running backs (Bernard and Barber) and receiver (Miller). All three have flex appeal for this team, with Bernard as a handcuff for Mixon, and Miller is like a handcuff for Robinson, who is coming off last year's torn ACL.
Favorite pick: Kerryon Johnson
Drafting a young Lions running back isn't for everyone after the struggles of guys like Ameer Abdullah, Jahvid Best and Mikel Leshoure over the past 10 years, but I'm a believer in Johnson this season behind this revamped offensive line. The addition of rookie guard Frank Ragnow to go with Taylor Decker, T.J. Lang and Rick Wagner should help the Lions improve their ground game, and I'm not overly concerned about LeGarrette Blount and Theo Riddick taking Johnson off the field for huge stretches.
I'm excited about drafting Johnson in this range as a potential flex option.
Pick I might regret: Cooper Kupp
Kupp could be considered a steal in Round 7 since I expect him to be the No. 2 receiver for the Rams behind Robert Woods and ahead of Brandin Cooks. But it might have been better to draft a tight end in this spot instead of what will eventually become my fourth receiver once Edelman is active. Right after I drafted Kupp, Kyle Rudolph and Trey Burton came off the board, and I should have drafted Burton. I'm expecting a huge year for him in Chicago, and I might have been able to get Kupp back in Round 8.
Player who could make or break my team: Joe Mixon
Mixon is a polarizing Fantasy option because of his perceived struggles as a hyped rookie last year, but he wasn't as bad as you might think. Once the Bengals got Jeremy Hill out of the way, things started to improve for Mixon, who averaged 9.1 Fantasy points in a non-PPR league over nine games from Week 3 through Week 12.
If Mixon builds off that performance this year, and the Bengals have an upgraded offensive line with the addition of left tackle Cordy Glenn in a trade from Buffalo and rookie center Billy Price, this Fantasy team could be special. But if Mixon has a sophomore slump, my running back corps behind Kamara could be in trouble.