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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.
You might think picking last in the first round is the crummiest thing since being forced to eat your Aunt Edna's liver-and-mushroom casserole. But, for this year, it's great -- way better than any horribly thought-out, made-up dish that no one has ever tried to make or eat. Plus who names their kid Edna?
Fantasy owners slotted to pick late in Round 1 can choose their own adventure of how to build a team. You can draft two running backs or two receivers or one of each if you'd like. All of these options are open, something smart Fantasy owners who pick earlier can't do (but those guys can draft stud running backs).
I went into this draft figuring I was a lock for two receivers. But things happened, and I wound up doing the exact opposite. As you read through how I navigated this roster, think to yourself if you would have done what I did. Also, don't think about liver-and-mushroom casserole.
Here is my team from No. 12 overall:
- 1.12 Saquon Barkley, RB, Giants
- 2.1 Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers
- 3.12 Amari Cooper, WR, Raiders
- 4.1 Josh Gordon, WR, Browns
- 5.12 Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
- 6.1 Michael Crabtree, WR, Ravens
- 7.12 Trey Burton, TE, Bears
- 8.1 Carlos Hyde, RB, Browns
- 9.12 Ty Montgomery, RB, Packers
- 10.1 Dez Bryant, WR
- 11.12 Rams DST
- 12.1 David Njoku, TE, Browns
- 13.12 Austin Ekeler, RB, Chargers
- 14.1 Jake Elliott, K, Eagles
As I was saying, I came into the draft expecting to pair up Julio Jones and A.J. Green. I couldn't do it -- partially because Jones was taken one pick in front of me and our league rules don't allow us to pick players who are already taken.
When Saquon Barkley and Melvin Gordon fall into your lap like a couple of those cartoony bags of money, you can't pass them up. I could have ignored Gordon for Green or Michael Thomas, but I really love the idea of building a team around two high-volume, high-touchdown running backs, both of whom are young.
So much for plans.
Taking two running backs with back-to-back picks definitely put pressure on me to fill receivers with my choices at 36th and 37th overall. To that end, I couldn't have asked for a better result. Amari Cooper and Josh Gordon figure to be third-round picks in most drafts, but to get both after taking two workhorses sets my team up for some potential monster weeks. I was extremely happy with this beginning.
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How could I top it? How about by adding the league's best quarterback of all-time?! Tom Brady is expected to be a Round 5 pick in drafts, but getting him with the last pick (60th overall) of Round 5 still seemed like a steal. Frankly I love the idea of pairing him with the other guys I took.
Once I got Brady, I spent my sixth-rounder on the best available player on my board, Michael Crabtree. Here's hoping he can start the year as my flex -- I know the receivers that will be on the board when I'm up again at the end of Round 7 will be ugly, so I'm building depth at the position now.
Sure enough, the end of Round 7 brought little in the way of receivers. It also brought little in the way of running backs, but it definitely left a high-upside tight end for the taking. That would be Trey Burton, who I expect to play like a receiver but get credit like a tight end.
The remainder of my picks were focused on creating running back depth and taking a chance or two on some players with upside (Dez Bryant, David Njoku).
But this team was made within the first five rounds. You might come to Draft Day with a specific plan for picking 12th, but be flexible to change and you'll be rewarded.
Favorite pick: Tom Brady
I didn't really feel like I was stealing Brady from the rest of my league, but I did feel like I gave my team a major edge by taking him. Yeah, he's over 40. Yeah, he's due to break down eventually. And yeah, the Patriots could be a little more run-centric this year. But Brady's track record is so strong, and he hasn't shown signs of slowing down so soon. Feels good to count on him.
Pick I might regret: Josh Gordon
Is he going to become the gamebreaker we've been waiting a long time for, or is he gonna do something stupid and sit on the sidelines? The Browns brought in Todd Haley to call plays, upgraded at quarterback and added talent to the rest of their offense. It's an environment Gordon should thrive in. Whether or not he actually does will be determined on Sundays.
Player who could make or break my team: Amari Cooper
The track record of No. 1 receivers in Jon Gruden's offense is sterling. By all rights, Cooper is healthy and should be in position to have a fantastic year. But he's been a disappointment for much of his career and is considered untouchable by many Fantasy folks. Here's hoping he produces enough to help my squad shine.