Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Making sacrifices in a 14-team league
In our latest non-PPR mock draft, Jamey Eisenberg breaks down the challenge of trying to fill your starting lineup with standout players at each position in a 14-team league.
I play in a lot of different Fantasy leagues. From IDP to superflex to multiple dynasty leagues, I usually cover most formats, with a variety of league sizes.
I even play in a 26-man league. That one is tough.
It's those larger leagues that generally pose the biggest challenge, and we're talking anything more than 12 teams. That's when you have to stretch to find talented players, even for your starting lineup.
Now, I love this challenge. I enjoy taking late-round fliers on No. 3 running backs and No. 4 receivers on NFL teams. These are the super-deep sleepers that you hope have the chance to play, let alone succeed, and it's satisfying when you're right.
If you're wrong, these are easy guys to cut when you have to make moves on the waiver wire. But most of the time you aren't drafting these players in 12-team leagues, and it's only done out of necessity in larger formats.
Our CBS Sports staff recently took part in a 14-team non-PPR mock draft, and it's the first mock draft we've done with more than 12 teams. It was a challenge to build a starting lineup, and some teams don't have what would be considered standout talent in certain spots.
For example, Dave Richard has great players at quarterback (Matt Ryan), receiver (DeAndre Hopkins, Calvin Ridley and Cooper Kupp), tight end (George Kittle) and one running back (Aaron Jones). But his No. 2 running back as of now is Ito Smith, who is the second option in Atlanta behind Devonta Freeman. That's not ideal to have Smith in a starting spot, but it's a sacrifice Dave had to make for the quality options he has at those other positions.
Heath Cummings, on the other hand, has standout running backs in Christian McCaffrey, Leonard Fournette and Phillip Lindsay. He's also covered at quarterback (Ben Roethlisberger and Lamar Jackson) and tight end (Evan Engram), but receiver could be his downfall. His top guys are Chris Godwin and Geronimo Allison, and while I love those two this season, I don't want to rely on starting both.
You can go down the line with most of the teams in this draft and find at least one flaw in their potential starting lineups. Adam Aizer's flex is Ronald Jones. Andrew Baumhor's tight end is T.J. Hockenson. Ben Gretch's starting receivers are Christian Kirk and D.J. Moore. And so on.
I like all of these players, and every one of them might emerge as a starting Fantasy option this season. But again, the hope is you're drafting these guys as key reserves and not starters.
That's just not feasible in a 14-team league or larger. You just have to hope you find enough talent -- whether on Draft Day or off the waiver wire -- that your team can be successful throughout the season.
My approach for this mock draft was to sacrifice quarterback and potentially tight end and wait for those positions with late-round picks. I wanted as much talent as possible at running back and receiver, and accomplished that goal.
Picking at No. 3 overall, I started my team with Alvin Kamara, A.J. Green, Amari Cooper, Miles Sanders, Tevin Coleman and Will Fuller with my first six picks. Kamara, Green and Cooper were easy choices, but I struggled with the Sanders and Coleman selections.
One of my favorite players this year, Engram, was available in Round 4 and 5, but I passed on him for the depth at running back. I ended up with Austin Hooper in Round 11, and we'll see if I made the right choice.
I had another tough call in Round 7, and was looking at running back again here. My choices were LeSean McCoy, Ito Smith and Carlos Hyde, and I went with McCoy because, if healthy, he should get the most touches of this trio. I do like Smith in his role with the Falcons, and I wouldn't be shocked if Hyde is the best running back for the Chiefs.
But in a larger league, I went the safe route with my No. 4 running back and took McCoy. Part of my thought process was Sanders is a rookie in a likely timeshare with the Eagles, and Coleman should be in a committee with the 49ers, so I might need McCoy's guaranteed workload.
Coleman's situation looks better with Matt Breida (torn pectoral) hurt, and Jerick McKinnon still not all the way back from last year's torn ACL. We did this draft prior to the news of Breida's injury, which is why I drafted him in Round 8. He's expected to be fine for training camp, and Breida could emerge as the handcuff to Coleman.
Some of the gambles I took on players who I love with late-round picks included Justice Hill in Round 9, DaeSean Hamilton in Round 10 and Deebo Samuel in Round 13. Hill should be a solid complement to Mark Ingram in Baltimore's run-heavy offense, and Hamilton (Denver) and Samuel (San Francisco) could emerge as the best receivers in their offenses.
I was also able to wait on quarterback and still get someone I like a lot in Jimmy Garoppolo in Round 12. He's expected to be fine coming back from last year's torn ACL, and he has the potential to be a No. 1 Fantasy quarterback in all leagues this season.
In this league, all touchdowns are worth six points, and we award one point for every 10 yards rushing and receiving and one point for every 25 yards passing. We feature a starting lineup of QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, TE, FLEX (RB/WR/TE), K and DST. There also are six reserve spots for a 15-round draft.
Our draft order is as follows:
- Ben Gretch, Fantasy Editor
- Jack Capotorto, CBS Sports HQ Producer
- Jamey Eisenberg, Senior Fantasy Writer
- Heath Cummings, Senior Fantasy Writer
- Will Brinson, NFL Writer
- Dave Richard, Senior Fantasy Writer
- Meron Berkson, CBS Sports HQ Producer
- Adam Aizer, Podcast Host
- Chris Towers, Senior Editor, Fantasy
- Jeremy Bache, Fantasy Sales Coordinator
- George Maselli, Fantasy Editor
- Chris Hassel, CBS Sports HQ Host
- R.J. White, NFL Editor
- Andrew Baumhor, CBS Sports HQ Producer
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