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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.
I'm becoming quite fond of selecting receivers early in drafts this summer, but sometimes your draft position makes the choice for you.
That's certainly true if you get a pick in the top three of a non-PPR draft. Whether you're selecting Todd Gurley, Le'Veon Bell or Ezekiel Elliott, it's just too hard to turn down the volume and touchdown appeal for a wide receiver. Oddly this also puts you in position to draft a running back with one of your next two picks as well.
The way most drafts have gone this offseason, there is a glut of elite receivers available at the one-two turn, but that dries up before you get to the start of the third round. That happened in this draft as well with nine receivers and two tight ends being drafted from pick 11 through 25. I wouldn't say that makes the third-round pick an easy one in terms of which running back you take but it absolutely means you should be looking at a second running back.
I chose LeSean McCoy who, as I'll discuss below, is not a player without risk. In fact, you may be able to pass on McCoy even at this stage of the draft. But when I see one of the few workhorse backs still in the league available in the third round, I just can't. Starting with Bell and McCoy should give you 600-plus touches from your running backs, and means you need to attack wide receiver upside in the middle of the draft.
Here's how I went about it from No. 2 overall:
- 1.2 Le'Veon Bell, RB, PIT
- 2.11 T.Y. Hilton, WR, IND
- 3.2 LeSean McCoy, RB, BUF
- 4.11 Brandin Cooks, WR, LAR
- 5.2 Mark Ingram, RB, NO
- 6.11 DeVante Parker, WR, MIA
- 7.2 Deshaun Watson, QB, HOU
- 8.11 Kenny Stills, WR, MIA
- 9.2 Marquise Goodwin, WR, SF
- 10.11 Devin Funchess, WR, CAR
- 11.2 Charles Clay, TE, BUF
- 12.11 Hayden Hurst, TE, BAL
- 13.2 Eagles DST
- 14.11 Kai Forbath, K, MIN
As you can see, I took receivers with six of my next eight picks. And I definitely got upside. Brandin Cooks finds himself in the middle of another high-octane offense (hopefully with more volume than Sammy Watkins saw last year). DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills have enormous opportunity with Jarvis Landry gone, and Devin Funchess is still the No. 1 receiver in Carolina. But it's the non-receiver picks that may draw the most interest.
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I'm not generally one to take a quarterback as early as the seventh round, but Deshaun Watson's upside was too intoxicating for me to pass up. Watson was as big a difference-maker as any player in Fantasy when he was on the field in 2017, racking up nearly 2,000 total yards and 21 touchdowns in just six and a half games. His 16-game pace is too absurd to print and not a realistic expectation either. But Watson absolutely has the upside to be the best quarterback in Fantasy this season.
I took my third (and last) running back in the fifth round. Shockingly, Dave Richard didn't berate me. I fully expect Mark Ingram will be a top-20 running back the moment he's activated, and bye weeks won't be a concern before then. In retrospect, it would have been more prudent to use my ninth- or 10th-round pick on a fourth running back. But after Week 4, I fully expect to have the most dynamic running back trio in this draft. I can survive one injury, just not two.
Favorite pick: Marquise Goodwin
With Jimmy Garoppolo under center, Marquise Goodwin averaged 77 yards per game and was clearly the No. 1 target. The return of Pierre Garcon could put a dent in Goodwin's enormous target share, but Garcon has to be healthy and effective for that to be an issue. The most likely outcome is that Goodwin is a No. 3 receiver in non-PPR, but he absolutely has top-20 upside. Landing No. 2 receiver upside in the ninth round helps make up for the weakness at the top of my receiving corps.
Pick I might regret: LeSean McCoy
As I'm sure you've heard, LeSean McCoy will turn 30 before the season starts. And that's not a great number for running backs. That's the only concern I have about this pick; increased injury risk. Concerns about his quarterback or the team's level of play are probably overblown because McCoy hasn't exactly played with an All Star cast over the past three years and he has consistently been a No. 1 running back. But if he goes down before Ingram returns, I'll be in a world of hurt.
Player who could make or break my team: T.Y. Hilton
To be fair, I should have said Andrew Luck. Or more specifically, Andrew Luck's shoulder. Because if Luck is 100 percent, I have little doubt we'll be looking at T.Y. Hilton as one of the better draft day values. He was the No. 5 receiver in Fantasy in 2016 and his production that year would have made him No. 4 in 2017. Hilton is a surefire No. 1 receiver if Luck plays. If not, Hilton is a receiver with too much weekly upside to sit, and way too many dud weeks to be a regular starter on a good team.