Fantasy Football Midseason Mock Draft: Running backs dominating at the midway point of season
Chris Godwin and Cooper Kupp went off the board in the early second round of this CBS Fantasy rest of season mock draft, that includes a top 100 for how to value players as Fantasy trade deadlines loom.
We're at the midway point of the Fantasy regular season, and quite a bit has changed. Back in August, DeAndre Hopkins and Davante Adams were the no-doubt-about-it top two wide receivers off the board; Joe Mixon and Todd Gurley were borderline first-round picks; JuJu Smith-Schuster, Odell Beckham and Tyreek Hill were set for arguably their best seasons yet; Antonio Brown was even on a roster!
So we decided to do a quick mini mock draft this week, redrafting the top-100 players with the Fantasy Football Today team and friends to sort it all out. We started this draft during Sunday Night Football, and it continued into Monday. With big news around the Fantasy world in the days since, there are a few important situations to update.
- Kerryon Johnson was placed on IR, and would obviously not be drafted now, while backup Ty Johnson would likely have jumped into the top-100. Chris Towers broke down .
- Emmanuel Sanders was traded to San Francisco, meaning Courtland Sutton may gave gone even higher than his fourth-round landing spot, while Sanders may have also moved up. Dave Richard .
- Mohamed Sanu was sent to New England, and the implications for Austin Hooper and Calvin Ridley are obvious, while Sanu could also thrive in his new digs. Chris gave us .
While this mock doesn't reflect the value changes in those big moves, it does give us an idea of how to value every other player in the top 100. Dalvin Cook joins the elite tier. Leonard Fournette was a potential steal at No. 9. Brandin Cooks is now a late-sixth rounder!
This was an eight-round draft assuming the following: PPR scoring, start 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex, 1 DST. Our drafters were as follows.
- Will Brinson, Senior NFL Writer
- Ben Schragger, Podcast Producer
- Meron Berkson, CBS Sports HQ Producer
- Adam Aizer, Podcast Host
- Jen Ryan, Sportsline Contributor
- Ben Gretch, Fantasy Editor
- Dave Richard, Senior Fantasy Writer
- Heath Cummings, Senior Fantasy Writer
- Jamey Eisenberg, Senior Fantasy Writer
- Chris Towers, Senior Editor, Fantasy
- George Maselli, Fantasy Editor
- Jack Capotorto, CBS Sports HQ Producer
|1||Christian McCaffrey, RB1||Will Brinson|
|2||Saquon Barkley, RB2||Ben Schragger|
|3||Dalvin Cook, RB3||Meron Berkson|
|4||Ezekiel Elliott, RB4||Adam Aizer|
|5||Alvin Kamara, RB5||Jen Ryan|
|6||Le'Veon Bell, RB6||Ben Gretch|
|7||Nick Chubb, RB7||Dave Richard|
|8||Michael Thomas, WR1||Heath Cummings|
|9||Leonard Fournette, RB8||Jamey Eisenberg|
|10||David Johnson, RB9||Chris Towers|
|11||DeAndre Hopkins, WR2||George Maselli|
|12||James Conner, RB10||Jack Capotorto|
Ten of the first 12 picks were running backs and Heath Cummings, one of two who went wide receiver, acknowledged the trend, saying "It's amazing how much more certain RB feels than WR now. But there's nothing more certain than Michael Thomas being a No. 1 WR."
There certainly appears to be a gap in RB value at this point in the season, where we have a pretty good indication of the players who will get large workloads and team situations that are worth targeting, more so than we had in the preseason. But the flip side of that is there are plenty of uncertain RB situations, adding more value to the elite few at the top.
Dave Richard sees a longer-term trend, noting "No surprise at all that the round was dominated by running backs. Consider this a preview of 2020 drafts." If the majority of these names stay healthy enough to play 16 games, it's hard to argue with that assessment, especially as the elite wide receivers as a cohort are down.
Jamey Eisenberg took Leonard Fournette at No. 9, and feels good about the pick. "Taking Leonard Fournette at No. 9 overall was easy. He's been exceptional so far this season, and the only thing lacking is touchdowns. Those will come, and Fournette will continue to dominate."
Similarly, Chris Towers was comfortable with David Johnson at No. 10, even on the heels of a big Chase Edmonds game. "Coming off Chase Edmonds' big breakout, I'm sure there are some who are wary of Johnson. I think the most likely outcome is Johnson's role doesn't change much. There are plenty of touches to go around, and Johnson's ability to split out wide makes him enormously valuable in this high-volume offense."
I agree both hold strong value, and I considered each where I picked at No. 6, along with Nick Chubb and the elite receivers. But after the top five went as expected, I chose Le'Veon Bell due to a huge snap share and a cake upcoming schedule. There's a debate to be had about that pick, but what's hard to debate is Bell's potential going forward is far superior to what he's done to date.
|13||Julio Jones, WR3||Jack Capotorto|
|14||Chris Godwin, WR4||George Maselli|
|15||Chris Carson, RB11||Chris Towers|
|16||Cooper Kupp, WR5||Jamey Eisenberg|
|17||Tyreek Hill, WR6||Heath Cummings|
|18||Amari Cooper, WR7||Dave Richard|
|19||Mike Evans, WR8||Ben Gretch|
|20||Josh Jacobs, RB12||Jen Ryan|
|21||Aaron Jones, RB13||Adam Aizer|
|22||Davante Adams, WR9||Meron Berkson|
|23||Keenan Allen, WR10||Ben Schragger|
|24||Odell Beckham, WR11||Will Brinson|
While Round 1 featured mostly running backs, Round 2 was dominated by the top-end wide receivers, with nine coming off the board to make it 13 running backs and 11 wide receivers in the first 24 picks.
Jamey went with Cooper Kupp ahead of Tyreek Hill, among others, and certainly Kupp's production to date is difficult to argue with. Jamey acknowledged some concern but feels confident in Kupp, saying "I hope the best of Cooper Kupp isn't behind him, but I still expect him to be a standout Fantasy receiver and the No. 1 target for Jared Goff the rest of the season. The Rams offense should actually start playing better from Week 8 on."
Meron Berkson's pick of a rehabbing Davante Adams in the late second round looks like solid value relative to a healthy Adams, but health is obviously key. He likes the upside of Adams, noting: "Took a risk with Adams, but if he can just get on the field it can be the steal of the draft with how good Rodgers is looking."
Will Brinson closed the round with Odell Beckham, perhaps a surprise given how the Browns have looked. But he sees potential for a turnaround, with one team on the schedule looking particularly enticing: "Browns get the Bengals twice and no one is talking about it."
Of the backs that went, Chris noted Chris Carson was a solid early second round option. "Carson was worth consideration as early as the Le'Veon Bell pick, so I'm thrilled to get him 15th overall. There's no shortage of work available, and Rashaad Penny isn't coming to take any of it. This is Carson's job."
Adam Aizer is a little concerned about the Packers timeshare, but it's hard to argue with Aaron Jones' potential. "We are mostly done with bell-cow running backs, so I'll take Aaron Jones who may not have as many touches as we'd like, but he is the lead back on a great offense and has plenty of touchdown opportunities."
|25||Marlon Mack, RB14||Will Brinson|
|26||Todd Gurley, RB15||Ben Schragger|
|27||Travis Kelce, TE1||Meron Berkson|
|28||Julian Edelman, WR12||Adam Aizer|
|29||Stefon Diggs, WR13||Jen Ryan|
|30||George Kittle, TE2||Ben Gretch|
|31||Adam Thielen, WR14||Dave Richard|
|32||Tyler Lockett, WR15||Heath Cummings|
|33||T.Y. Hilton, WR16||Jamey Eisenberg|
|34||JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR17||Chris Towers|
|35||Mark Ingram, RB16||George Maselli|
|36||Kerryon Johnson, RB17||Jack Capotorto|
Chiefs players fell a bit with Patrick Mahomes out for multiple weeks, and Travis Kelce finally went in Round 3 to Meron. I took George Kittle later in the round, largely because I feel there's a pretty big gap between the top end of the position and the waiver wire options.
After these first two tight ends, six more came off the board in the next two rounds, then just one more across our final three rounds to make nine total in our eight-round draft. Jack Capotorto felt the tight end run was a little extreme, saying "TE going way too early in my opinion based off their production this season."
I'm not sure I disagree too much with Jack's assessment, although across my teams I find myself in much better spots where I have one of the top eight or so options at the position. But it was difficult to bypass wide receivers like Tyler Lockett and T.Y. Hilton where I took Kittle, and Jamey was better off for it: "I was pleasantly surprised to see T.Y. Hilton still available in Round 3. He's been fantastic with Jacoby Brissett, and he should continue to soak up targets and production. He's a No. 1 receiver for the rest of the year."
Chris grabbed JuJu Smith-Schuster in the late third, an interesting landing spot for a guy many were taking in the first round in August. There's an argument it was still too high, but Chris notes JuJu's situation is likely to improve as the season goes along. "Situation has changed, obviously, but JuJu is still getting plenty of work, and you have to imagine things will get better. His two worst games came with a third-stringer and then in a game where they leaned heavily on the wildcat offense. A breakout is coming."
Jack noted he was unsure of Kerryon Johnson's injury status, and that pick would obviously be different in light of recent events with Johnson hitting IR.
|37||John Brown, WR18||Jack Capotorto|
|38||Austin Ekeler, RB18||George Maselli|
|39||Evan Engram, TE3||Chris Towers|
|40||Kenny Golladay, WR19||Jamey Eisenberg|
|41||Darren Waller, TE4||Heath Cummings|
|42||Derrick Henry, RB19||Dave Richard|
|43||Tyler Boyd, WR20||Ben Gretch|
|44||D.J. Chark, WR21||Jen Ryan|
|45||Courtland Sutton, WR22||Adam Aizer|
|46||Phillip Lindsay, RB20||Meron Berkson|
|47||Austin Hooper, TE5||Ben Schragger|
|48||Robert Woods, WR23||Will Brinson|
Just three more running backs came off the board in the fourth, making 10 total across Rounds 2-4 after the 10 in the first round. That both reinforces the value of the backs we know we can trust at the top of the position and indicates there's a gap at the position as we move along.
The wide receivers in this range are a mix of reliable volume and upside. Adam's pick of Courtland Sutton stands out, especially since it came before the Emmanuel Sanders trade. "Sutton is on pace for 82 catches, nearly 1,300 yards and 7 touchdown catches. I don't expect him to be quite that good, but the breakout is legit." Sutton's value could have only risen after the trade.
Three more tight ends came off the board in Round 4, and Heath noted: "It's not that hard to make an argument for Darren Waller as the No.1 tight end in PPR rest of season, especially since he's already had his bye."
Chris is happy to have Evan Engram. "Engram hasn't been quite what I hoped he would be, but he's still on pace for a ton of targets, and you have to hope Daniel Jones improves with experience. Engram still has as much upside as anyone at the position."
There's a clear top tier or two at the position, but where they all fit in relative to each other is up for debate. Ben Schragger liked Austin Hooper later in the round, and his stock certainly gets a boost after the Tuesday Mohamed Sanu trade.
|49||Hunter Henry, TE6||Will Brinson|
|50||Devonta Freeman, RB21||Ben Schragger|
|51||D.J. Moore, WR24||Meron Berkson|
|52||Zach Ertz, TE7||Adam Aizer|
|53||Sony Michel, RB22||Jen Ryan|
|54||Allen Robinson, WR25||Ben Gretch|
|55||Mark Andrews, TE8||Dave Richard|
|56||Lamar Jackson, QB1||Heath Cummings|
|57||Tevin Coleman, RB23||Jamey Eisenberg|
|58||Melvin Gordon, RB24||Chris Towers|
|59||Deshaun Watson, QB2||George Maselli|
|60||Calvin Ridley, WR26||Jack Capotorto|
We close out the early tight end picks with Hunter Henry, who Will noted "has looked great since his return." Adam gets a potential steal with Zach Ertz as TE7, and then Dave notes he "took the last best available tight end in Mark Andrews." He also "wonder(s) if tight ends will be this popular next summer." It's an interesting thought with a few breakout options at the position, but several other teams appearing to completely ignore the position.
Calvin Ridley was drafted before the Sanu trade was announced, and I have to agree with Jack's note that it "now looks like a great pick with Sanu shipped off to NE."
Heath kicked off the quarterback selections Lamar Jackson, noting he's the current QB1 without much receiving help, and "with Mahomes hurt he's my clear No.1 quarterback rest of season." Deshaun Watson also went in Round 5 to George Maselli, who took Austin Ekeler back in the early part of Round 4, well before Melvin Gordon went here in late Round 5. I loved the pick, and agree Ekeler is the preferred Chargers' back.
Tevin Coleman seemed to slip a bit, and Jamey thinks his best days are ahead. "Coleman is a quality No. 2 running back in any format. His best production is in front of him after missing time earlier this year with an ankle injury. He could be a star to close the season."
I took Allen Robinson in this round, continuing my trend of targeting pass-catching options I think are locked into strong roles but maybe have quarterback issues and whose lack of production relative to their roles might not just be "bad luck" as much as bad situations. I think all of Mike Evans, George Kittle, Tyler Boyd and Allen Robinson were good value in this type of draft, but they all might be light on upside.
|61||Joe Mixon, RB25||Jack Capotorto|
|62||David Montgomery, RB26||George Maselli|
|63||Alshon Jeffery, WR27||Chris Towers|
|64||James White, RB27||Jamey Eisenberg|
|65||Royce Freeman, RB28||Heath Cummings|
|66||Russell Wilson, QB3||Dave Richard|
|67||Michael Gallup, WR28||Ben Gretch|
|68||Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR29||Jen Ryan|
|69||LeSean McCoy, RB29||Adam Aizer|
|70||Brandin Cooks, WR30||Meron Berkson|
|71||Terry McLaurin, WR31||Ben Schragger|
|72||Curtis Samuel, WR32||Will Brinson|
Dave was considering McLaurin, noting: "Close call between Wilson and McLaurin," but that he "appropriately took the All-Pro quarterback over the rookie receiver." I, too, was looking at McLaurin, and I think his Week 7 was a weather-related outlier. I went with Gallup over both McLaurin and Cooks, and it was close. I do really like Gallup's upside in what's become a vertical passing game in Dallas. Ben Schragger smartly grabbed McLaurin later in the round.
As for Mixon, Jack noted he's "Waiting, wishing for Joe Mixon to turn his season around." It feels like good value relative to preseason expectations, and yet the Bengals have limited Mixon's ability to accumulate high-value touches — and even low-value touches — to such a degree that it would be hard to argue Mixon deserved to go much higher. Jack noted: "Round 6 is a good spot," and he's probably right given there has to still be upside here if things can improve.
|73||Chase Edmonds, RB30||Will Brinson|
|74||Marquise Brown, WR33||Ben Schragger|
|75||Jamaal Williams, RB31||Meron Berkson|
|76||A.J. Green, WR34||Adam Aizer|
|77||Greg Olsen, TE9||Jen Ryan|
|78||Miles Sanders, RB32||Ben Gretch|
|79||Ronald Jones, RB33||Dave Richard|
|80||Jordan Howard, RB34||Heath Cummings|
|81||Devin Singletary, RB35||Jamey Eisenberg|
|82||Patrick Mahomes, QB4||Chris Towers|
|83||Emmanuel Sanders, WR35||George Maselli|
|84||Aaron Rodgers, QB5||Jack Capotorto|
A big reason we went deeper into this exercise is it's really interesting to see where some of these names fall. Will wondered, "Was Chase Edmonds a reach here? Or is he a budding star with league-winning potential who is going to split carries the rest of the season worst case with an injury prone running back who is dealing with a bad back?"
Adam thought it was "time to gamble on a potential top-10 wide receiver. Green could still contribute in seven games for Fantasy managers if he returns after the Week 9 bye, and he could be a league-winner in those seven games."
Emmanuel Sanders landed later in the round, and it's possible he would have went higher after the trade to San Francisco.
I had an interesting choice at 78th, knowing I wanted to grab another back. I debated Miles Sanders, Ronald Jones and Devin Singletary, and went with Sanders due to a valuable receiving role that Jones just hasn't gotten the chance to build. Dave Richard messaged me he "couldn't believe" I didn't take Jones given I've been all over him since the offseason, and I kind of can't believe it either.
Dave scooped up Jones right after me, saying "I think this is the first time I've drafted Jones in any league since July of 2018. I had to get some RB depth, and there's a shot he's the Bucs best running back over the rest of the season."
Meanwhile, Jamey grabbed Singletary, who in hindsight I might actually value a bit over Sanders, and said he "wanted a player with upside in this spot, and Devin Singletary was the perfect running back to select. He's healthy now after missing time with a hamstring injury, and he should take on more work from Frank Gore moving forward. He could be a star to close the season, especially if Gore misses time."
Chris stopped Patrick Mahomes' fall, and if Mahomes only misses three games, there's still plenty of time for him to be a difference-maker, especially in the Fantasy playoffs.
|85||Josh Gordon, WR36||Jack Capotorto|
|86||Golden Tate, WR37||George Maselli|
|87||Christian Kirk, WR38||Chris Towers|
|88||D.K. Metcalf, WR39||Jamey Eisenberg|
|89||Matt Breida, RB36||Heath Cummings|
|90||Jamison Crowder, WR40||Dave Richard|
|91||Jarvis Landry, WR41||Ben Gretch|
|92||Larry Fitzgerald, WR42||Jen Ryan|
|93||Robby Anderson, WR43||Adam Aizer|
|94||Kyler Murray, QB6||Meron Berkson|
|95||Marvin Jones, WR45||Ben Schragger|
|96||New England Patriots, DST1||Will Brinson|
Where the Patriots DST landed was a big question, and Will Brinson took them here at the end of Round 8. Heath had this to say about the pick: "I'd like to mock Will for taking the Patriots in the 8th round but they've been ridiculous. The one thing I'll say is it might not feel great in the first round of the playoffs when they face Patrick Mahomes."
Will defended the pick with incredulity the Pats DST didn't go earlier, seemingly unaware he picked multiple times in the interim. "I was actually surprised the Patriots defense wasn't already gone. They should have been taken in like the fifth round. Seriously."
It's a fun debate, and I'm of the mind that as we're only looking at future points, the Patriots were still a reach here.
Two Jets receivers went to Dave and Adam. Adam also cited the favorable schedule, noting he expects Robby Anderson "to be a reliable No. 3."
Jamey went high-upside with D.K. Metcalf, saying "D.K. Metcalf might have been a reach here, but I'm hopeful he'll start to benefit with Will Dissly (Achilles) out. He's the type of No. 4 receiver you want since if things work out well for him then he's a potential flex play. Otherwise, he's someone you can drop if he fails. It's high reward and little risk with Metcalf."
I really liked the Christian Kirk pick by Chris, and probably would have taken him in Round 7 if I hadn't already taken four wide receivers. Kirk's been close to returning for several weeks and should retain plenty of upside in a Cardinals' offense that is hurting for his return as they have gotten little help from their other wide receiver options.
We went a few more picks before calling the draft, but the next few picks included Dede Westbrook, Dak Prescott, Matt Ryan, Mohamed Sanu, Damien Williams, Mike Williams, Tarik Cohen and Latavius Murray.
As we wrapped up, there were still several solid values available. Let us know who we forgot by tweeting @FFToday about our glaring omissions or worst picks. Or go make some trade offers in your leagues, because if we overlooked them, they might be a strong buy low candidate.
So who should you sit and start in Week 8? And which surprising quarterback could lead you to victory? Visit SportsLine now to get rankings for every single position, and see which shocking QB comes out of nowhere to crack the top 10, all from the model that out-performed experts big time last season.
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