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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.
This experience was a good reminder that you don't ever truly know how a draft is going to go no matter how well you know those you're drafting with. I was shocked (and obviously pleased) to have Antonio Brown fall into my lap with the fifth overall pick. I didn't decide at that point that I needed to draft running backs with my next two picks, but that's the way it worked out. And that was when I realized that this team was likely to be one of the more balanced I built this draft season.
The nice thing about landing the best receiver in football and a pair of top-15 backs with your first three picks is you don't necessarily feel an obligation to do anything in particular with your next few picks. It gives you the freedom to take a quarterback or tight end earlier than I normally do, but you may also scoop up value at either position depending on how the draft falls. It's liberating to not feel like you need something as you move through the draft. For that reason I'd say this combination at the start of a non-PPR draft may be the easiest to stomach.
Here's my team from No. 5 overall:
- 1.5 Antonio Brown, WR, PIT
- 2.8 Devonta Freeman, RB, ATL
- 3.5 Jordan Howard, RB, CHI
- 4.8 Marvin Jones, WR, DET
- 5.5 Marlon Mack, RB, IND
- 6.8 Jimmy Graham, TE, GB
- 7.5 Tevin Coleman, RB, ATL
- 8.8 Rishard Matthews, WR, TEN
- 9.5 Drew Brees, QB, NO
- 10.8 Kenny Golladay, WR, DET
- 11.5 Jaguars DST
- 12.8 DeMarco Murray, RB, FA
- 13.5 Doug Martin, RB, OAK
- 14.8 Matt Prater, K, DET
Where this draft really got interesting was in the fifth round. It also may be where I made my first mistake. I'll talk more about Marlon Mack and the risks he presents below, but the biggest issue was that I should have taken Lamar Miller.
Miller is a player I've moved in my rankings numerous times already this summer, but he's trending upwards now that it looks like a real possibility that D'Onta Foreman won't be on the active roster Week 1.
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I got back on track in Round 6 with the Jimmy Graham pick. Taking Graham over Greg Olsen wasn't easy, and I wouldn't do it in PPR, but he has double-digit touchdown potential with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. Tevin Coleman is a nice security blanket in the seventh round, but he's also a fine flex even if Devonta Freeman stays healthy. Same goes for Kenny Golladay in Round 10; he could be an absolute star if something were to happen to my No. 2 receiver, Marvin Jones.
A round before the Golladay pick you see the reason to wait on quarterback. There is little argument that Drew Brees is one of the best quarterbacks of our generation, but a change in offensive game plan made him a frustrating player to own in Fantasy in 2017. I expect Mark Ingram's suspension leads to a few more passes in the first four games of the season and a Brees bounceback. Even if he doesn't fall this far in your draft, there are more than 20 quarterbacks that I'm fine with as a starter this year, so you don't need to panic.
Favorite pick: Jordan Howard
Howard has finished as a top 14 running back each of the past two seasons, and I expect the Bears offense will be better than ever in 2018 under Matt Nagy. Yes, that could mean a slight decrease in volume for Howard, and I'm less optimistic about him in PPR, but I don't see Tarik Cohen cutting into Howard's work in the running game or the red zone. Howard should top 1,300 yards this year with eight scores, which will make him a borderline No. 1 running back for the third year in a row. Sign me up for that production in the third round any time.
Pick I might regret: Marlon Mack
Mack is either going to be a huge value in 2018 drafts or be this year's Paul Perkins. The opportunity in Indianapolis is undeniable and if Andrew Luck is healthy teams won't be able to stack the box against the Colts. Unfortunately, taking him in the fifth round eliminates the value portion of this proposition. As I mentioned above, I immediately wished I'd taken Miller, but there are no takebacks in Fantasy Football. As my No. 3 running back, Mack doesn't present a lot of risk unless Howard gets hurt. However, there's a decent chance I'm looking back at this pick as the worst I made.
Player who could make or break my team: Marvin Jones
There is almost certainly some regression coming for Marvin Jones in 2018. How much regression may just determine the fate of this team.
Jones' nine touchdowns in 2017 were more than he caught in 2015 and 2016 combined despite the fact he didn't see a significant increase in targets. If Jones' regression means he scores six or seven times this year but he still tops 1,000 yards, this is going to be a difficult squad to beat. If he falls back to the 850-yard range and below five touchdowns, I'll be looking for a different No. 2 receiver.