Fantasy football can be hard. Unless, of course, you make it simple. My strategy is just that: simple. I note the value in the deepest position (quarterback), note the lack of depth in probably the most valuable position (running back) and wait as long as it makes sense for a tight end, kicker and defense. Wide receiver, depending on if you’re rostering 2,3 and/or have a Flex spot (and if your league is PPR or not) finds itself figured out somewhere in the middle.

But the foundation of my strategy is value + reaction. You can’t pass up insane value when it stares you in the face and you can’t draft the same way twice. That’s why mocking your specific draft is key and assessing appropriate value (from your own perspective) for each player is just as important. Naturally, my interpretation of value may differ from yours, as could my idea of depth and balance. However, in the end, a deep, balanced team is what you should be after. I aim to show that you can get just that from any of the 12 spots you could find yourself in if you’re in a standard, 12-team league.

Not every league is the same, but for the purposes of this exercise, let’s assume the league is standard with 1QB, 2RB, 2WR, 1Flex, 1K and 1DEF (6 bench spots). If you want to change the Flex for a third WR, that works, too. With that, the journey begins. Oh, and this is quick and painless if you use the sweet Draft Simulator from

Team 1 (1st overall)

QB: Matthew Stafford (9)

RB: Jamaal Charles (1), T.J. Yeldon (4)

WR: Alshon Jeffery (2), Mike Evans (3)

TE: Jordan Cameron (7)

Flex: Todd Gurley (5)

K: Mason Crosby (15)

DEF: Miami Dolphins (14)

Bench: Jay Cutler (12), David Cobb (10), Knile Davis (11), Jeremy Maclin (6), Michael Floyd (8), Percy Harvin (13)

Draft Analyzer Grades: #1 Overall, #2 Starters, #3 Bench


Harvin is a total shot in the dark in round 13, low risk, high reward. Yeldon is a slight risk as my RB2 since he plays for the Jags but I have more than enough insurance in fellow stud rookie rusher Gurley and another high upside rookie in Cobb. Davis a great RB5 and my handcuff to my #1 pick, Charles. Stafford has twice finished as a top-7 QB and he carries upside so I don’t mind grabbing my QB1 in round nine. Cutler is a competent backup and potential QB1 just three rounds later. Cameron is an injury risk at tight end but he also has insane upside with Miami. I reached by a round but I’m okay with that. Miami is a rising defense that I’m fine with but I’d rather have a better option and Crosby is one of the best fantasy kickers around.

Team 2 (2nd)

QB: Philip Rivers (10)

RB: Adrian Peterson (1), Justin Forsett (2)

WR: Mike Evans (3), DeSean Jackson (4)

TE: Julius Thomas (7)

Flex: Todd Gurley (5)

K: Mason Crosby (15)

DEF: Baltimore Ravens (14)

Bench: Robert Griffin III (13), Cameron Artis-Payne (11), Doug Martin (8), Martavis Bryant (6), Mike Wallace (9), Pierre Garcon (12)

Draft Analyzer Grades: #3 Overall, #5 Starters, #4 Bench


I’m actually warming up to Forsett quite a bit. He turned into a stud last year and now Marc Trestman is in town. That bodes well. Pairing him with Peterson feels great and Gurley again is a fine Flex. And if Gurley is a risk I have some depth in Artis-Payne (who is one classic Jonathan Stewart injury away from being a boss) and Doug Martin. Martin is a risk but he’s the starter and I still like his talent. Mike Evans is a stud and D-Jax is a guy who has top-10 upside. He’s a fine WR2 and having the explosive Bryant and Wallace on the bench is a nice safety net. Garcon is a throw-in who I think could bounce back. I love Rivers as my QB1 in round 10 but don’t love RG3 at all. He still has upside, which is why I took him, but hopefully I’d use him just during Rivers’ bye. Baltimore is the defense I’m targeting this year and Crosby ends the draft with a nice note.

Team 3 (3rd)

QB: Matthew Stafford (8)

RB: Le’Veon Bell (1), Justin Forsett (3)

WR: A.J. Green (2), Andre Johnson (5)

TE: Jason Witten (11)

Flex: Andre Ellington (4)

K: Mason Crosby (15)

DEF: New York Jets (14)

Bench: Jay Cutler (12), Lorenzo Taliaferro (13), Ameer Abullah (7), Martavis Bryant (6), Michael Floyd (9), Nelson Agholor (10)

Draft Analyzer Grades: #1 Overall, #1 Starters, #1 Bench


I don’t love that Bell has a three-game ban to begin the year but he’s a beast and if he falls to you at the three spot you probably have to take him. Again, I am liking Forsett so as my ultimate RB2 I’m winning there, while Ellington is potentially a terrific Flex. Even if he’s not, Abdullah could work his way into a big role and Taliaferro isn’t a bad pickup as Forsett’s top handcuff. Green is going to be a stud WR1 again now that he’s healthy and Andre Johnson should be a very strong WR2 with Andrew Luck throwing him darts. Witten is not my tight end of choice but Dallas could be forced to pass more in 2015 and finding him in round 11 is a bargain. Bryant, Floyd and Agholor are potential trade bait down the road as all three give me killer wide receiver depth and carry monster upside. The Jets are stacked on defense and could be a top-five unit this year, while Crosby continues to fall in my lap.

Team 4 (4th)

QB: Matthew Stafford (9)

RB: Le’Veon Bell (1), Latavius Murray (4)

WR: A.J. Green (2), Martavis Bryant (6)

TE: Jimmy Graham (3)

Flex: Giovani Bernard (5)

K: Cody Parkey (15)

DEF: Miami Dolphins (14)

Bench: Colin Kaepernick (11), Cameron Artis-Payne (12), Shane Vereen (8), Matt Jones (13), Jeremy Maclin (7), Steve Smith (10)

Draft Analyzer Grades: 5th Overall, 7th Starters, 6th Bench


I’m a fan of this squad, as there really isn’t a weak spot from top to bottom. Bell is out the first three games and Murray is an injury risk, but I have Gio waiting in the Flex and three more talented running backs that are one injury from being mega steals. Bryant is a high upside reach for my WR2, but if he for some reason craters I have steady veterans in Maclin/Smith to fill in. Some people won’t be high on Stafford (it’s clear the Draft Analyzer isn’t), but I like him plenty as my QB1 in round nine and I’m the kind of guy that goes and gets a high upside backup passer not too long after getting my starter. Some call me crazy, but it sure pisses other fantasy owners off who colored me set at quarterback. I really don’t like going tight end early this year (or any year), but anytime The Gronk slips out of round one or Graham lasts two round three, I’m considering biting. I did so in this mock and it worked out beautifully. The DA didn’t grade me exactly how I’d like but it’s still a playoff team by the numbers, so I’ll take it.

Team 5 (5th)

QB: Eli Manning (11)

RB: Marshawn Lynch (1), Jonathan Stewart (4)

WR: Calvin Johnson (2), Andre Johnson (5)

TE: Jimmy Graham (3)

Flex: Martavis Bryant (6)

K: Cody Parkey (15)

DEF: Baltimore Ravens (14)

Bench: Carson Palmer (13), Doug Martin (7), Tre Mason (8), Jerick McKinnon (12), Roddy White (9), Steve Smith (10)

Draft Analyzer Grades: 3rd Overall, 9th Starters, 1st Bench


I wouldn’t pay much mind to my Starters grade here, as Bryant/Johnson can be switched around or taken out for Mason or Martin, depending on who is excelling. Other than that, I don’t find much to hate about the first team unit. A healthy J-Stew is a stud RB2 with RB1 upside, Bryant is easily a strong Flex play and I love AJ as a solid WR2 in Indy’s potent passing attack. I shook things up a bit by waiting the longest I have yet in these mocks on quarterback, and I still like the Eli/Carson duo just fine. They’re not my preferred gunslingers for 2015, but they should be solid enough by the numbers. A couple olds like Roddy and Steve as my bench receivers is pretty nice, even though I probably will never use them. Starting off the draft with Beast Mode, Megatron and Graham is kind of filthy and I couldn’t pass it up.

Team 6 (6th)

QB: Ryan Tannehill (8)

RB: Arian Foster (1), C.J. Spiller (5)

WR: Calvin Johnson (2), DeAndre Hopkins (3)

TE: Kyle Rudolph (13)

Flex: Brandin Cooks (4)

K: Cody Parkey (15)

DEF: Baltimore Ravens (14)

Bench: Colin Kaepernick (11), Giovani Bernard (6), Rashad Jennings (7), David Johnson (10), Cameron Artis-Payne (12), Nelson Agholor (9)

Draft Analyzer Grades: 3rd Overall, 12th Starters, 1st Bench


You have a ton of options at the six spot this year, but I still like running back the most. Why? Because Calvin Johnson is my #1 WR for this year and he’s not being drafted like it. To me, that makes him a fantastic value and a potential round two pick. Naturally, he does fall to me in round two and of course I pick him up. I’m not going on the name game here, either, as a less than healthy Johnson was still a top-15 fantasy receiver a year ago. Reverse it, and at best you’re looking at an Antonio Brown/Justin Forsett combo. I wouldn’t hate that, but Foster/Megatron is winning that battle in my opinion. I could get Jimmy Graham again in round three (and I’m starting to love his value there), but I wanted to move forward and show how to build a winner without using Graham there. Instead, I rolled with Hopkins, who was great in 2014 and is Houston’s #1 guy. I’ve been stacking running backs lately, so I opted to get my favorite receivers right away this time instead, as Cooks is a total fiend who should see a monster role in 2015. Agholor was tacked on as a high upside rookie WR so I stopped at four wide receivers. Spillier is a high risk/high reward guy but I love his upside in New Orleans’ system. In case he’s a bust, I do have Gio, Jennings and rookies Johnson/Artis-Payne on my bench to round out stellar RB depth. Tannehill keeps getting better, has loads of weapons and is in a great system, so he’s a fine QB1 with some upside, but like usual, I don’t mind plucking Kap off of boards later as my backup.

I was surprised to see such a poor Starters grade, as I really like Tannehill, Foster, Megatron, DeAndre, Cooks and Baltimore in a starting unit. Spiller and Rudolph may bog it down a bit, but I’m saved by stellar depth on the bench, regardless.

Team 7 (7th)

QB: Matt Ryan (7)

RB: C.J. Anderson (1), Melvin Gordon (3)

WR: Julio Jones (2), Brandin Cooks (4)

TE: Austin Seferian-Jenkins (13)

Flex: Giovani Bernard (6)

K: Blair Walsh (15)

DEF: Denver Broncos (14)

Bench: Jay Cutler (11), Doug Martin (8), David Cobb (9), Andre Johnson (5), Anquan Boldin (10), Pierre Garcon (12)

Draft Analyzer Grades: 4th Overall, 9th Starters, 1st Bench


I’ve done the past couple of mocks flying by the seat of my pants a bit and going against how I’d draft in some spots, but I’m reverting back to my strategy starting at the seventh spot. Again, I get graded low on starters despite having a solid group, but my depth makes up for it in my overall rating. I find nothing wrong with Matt Ryan. Even in would-be down years, this guy gets you well over 4,000 yards and 26-30 touchdowns. He’s as stable as it gets and he could even get you a little more than usual in 2015. Cutler as his backup is perfect, provided Cutler doesn’t get benched by new coach John Fox. At running back, I’m not overly enamored with Anderson simply because the Broncos have two other capable running backs, but in a Gary Kubiak system (plus what he did n 2014), there is a ton to like. He should be a strong RB1 and I love the rookie Gordon as a RB2. I’m OK at RB either way, as Gio is a fine Flex, The Muscle Hamster has some upside and David Cobb may not have to try too hard to unseat the shaky Bishop Sankey. ASJ is a risk at tight end but this roster will stream the position if need be, while Julio/Cooks is a great receiver duo and a three-pack of veterans gives me excellent receiver depth, as well.

Team 8 (8th)

QB: Ryan Tannehill (10)

RB: Arian Foster (1), Jeremy Hill (2)

WR: Brandin Cooks (3), Andre Johnson (4)

TE: Zach Ertz (7)

Flex: C.J. Spiller (5)

K: Matt Prater (15)

DEF: Baltimore Ravens (14)

Bench: Carson Palmer (13), Doug Martin (8), Tre Mason (9), Cameron Artis-Payne (12), Vincent Jackson (6), Charles Johnson (11)

Draft Analyzer Grades: 4th Overall, 7th Starters, 3rd Bench


For this mock I bypassed an elite WR in round two to make sure I had a strong duo of potential top-10 backs. I think you can go either way, just as long as you think your targets can get you a nice starting duo at each spot. This route still got me two strong starting wide receives and two solid backup WRs. To be honest, V-Jax could easily be my WR1 but is a very nice WR2 (even better bench guy) and Cooks (who I’m high on) could live up to the WR1 billing. I want to wait on TE as long as it feels right this year, but this mock had Ertz fall a bit and I love his upside so I took the plunge in round seven. Spiller is a great Flex option, but if he doesn’t work out I like that someone out of my three bench RBs will pay off. Tannehill really isn’t my QB1 of choice but he’s gotten better each year and I like the value in round 10.

Team 9 (9th)

QB: Philip Rivers (10)

RB: C.J. Anderson (1), LeSean McCoy (2)

WR: Brandin Cooks (3), Brandon Marshall (5)

TE: Zach Ertz (8)

Flex: Jonathan Stewart (4)

K: Blair Walsh (15)

DEF: Baltimore Ravens (14)

Bench: Jay Cutler (13), Doug Martin (7), Jay Ajayi (11), Vincent Jackson (6), Steve Smith (9), Terrance Williams (12)

Draft Analyzer Grades: 5th Overall, 10th Starters, 4th Bench


Round two gave me another crack at Megatron and I love him there this year, but I couldn’t pass on the upside of Anderson and Shady. That’s a nasty two-back offense there if all goes well. It seemed to from there, as I may not have a sure fire WR1, but I might have five WR2s on my roster. Ertz is a good value with high upside at TE, and Stewart is a fine Flex with Martin behind him in case he gets hurt.

Team 10 (10th)

QB: Matthew Stafford (9)

RB: C.J. Anderson (1), Lamar Miller (3)

WR: Julio Jones (2), Brandon Marshall (5)

TE: Zach Ertz (8)

Flex: Latavius Murray (4)

K: Shaun Suisham (15)

DEF: Carolina Panthers (13)

Bench: Colin Kaepernick (11), Chris Ivory (7), Jerick McKinnon (12), Matt Jones (13), Amari Cooper (6), Nelson Agholor (10)

Draft Analyzer Grades: 2nd Overall, 5th Starters, 3rd Bench


I obviously like the value of Stafford this year, so if you’re with me on him being a high upside pick that late, you should feel good about this squad. Most of these guys speak for themselves, but I know my RB bench guys aren’t amazing. I actually do like Ivory’s upside quite a bit, but it shouldn’t matter with Murray ahead of him in the Flex. Lamar Miller is my least favorite RB2, but he was good in 2014 and little suggests he can’t be again. Kap is a great QB2, although I had to snag him “early” to get him. I reached for Cooper but I don’t care. I have to have him and/or Agholor this year. Ertz continues to be a good value, and this time I get him in round eight.

Team 11 (11th)

QB: Matthew Stafford (9)

RB: C.J. Anderson (1), Jonathan Stewart (3)

WR: Odell Beckham Jr. (2), Jeremy Maclin (7)

TE: Josh Hill (13)

Flex: Latavius Murray (4)

K: Matt Prater (15)

DEF: Carolina Panthers (14)

Bench: Jay Cutler (12), C.J. Spiller (5), Giovani Bernard (6), Tre Mason (8), Nelson Agholor (10), Anquan Boldin (11)

Draft Analyzer Grades: 1st Overall, 7th Starters, 1st Bench


When ODB falls to me in round two, I don’t ask questions, I just take him. That’s one of the biggest things in fantasy football. Depth and balance are huge, but when value is staring you in the face (specifically elite value), you have to take notice. Once I got that steal I stocked up on some sick RB depth and waited on my second receiver. Things worked out, as I got a guy I think will be a fine WR2 in Maclin and solid depth behind him on my bench. My lone question mark in the starting lineup may be Josh Hill, but he has upside with Graham gone. I’ll stream the position if he doesn’t light it up early.

Team 12 (12th)

QB: Matthew Stafford (9)

RB: Arian Foster (1), Carlos Hyde (3)

WR: Demaryius Thomas (2), Martavis Bryant (5)

TE: Dwayne Allen (12)

Flex: Lamar Miller (4)

K: Matt Prater (15)

DEF: Baltimore Ravens (14)

Bench: Robert Griffin III (13), Tevin Coleman (6), Duke Johnson (10), Cameron Artis-Payne (11), Mike Wallace (7), Allen Robinson (8)

Draft Analyzer Grades: 1st Overall, 7th Starters, 2nd Bench


Hyde has the potential to be a monster if healthy and the Niners don’t over-use Reggie Bush. I like him as a RB2 but I snagged Miller right after him to be my Flex or step up in the RB2 spot as needed. I grabbed three quality rookie rushers after that and think at least one could be a home run. Bryant is a potential stud WR2 but if he doesn’t work out, I got value in Wallace and Robinson later in the draft. Allen is a solid starting tight end, albeit not elite. Again, waiting on tight end, you’ll either want to snag this year’s Travis Kelce or just stream the position.

Overall Summary

The main thing we learned from this is that regardless of your spot in 12-team leagues, you can build a deep, balanced and hypothetically competitive squad by the numbers. I felt some of these teams were better than they were graded, while I’m sure some readers will feel some were worse. All of that depends on your own perception of certain players, as well as player/positional value. For instance, if you hate Stafford for whatever reason, you probably wish you never read this article. Of course, you need to keep in kind that I’m not necessarily suggesting Stafford is going to be on Aaron Rodgers’ level. But he could be and I only am taking him in rounds 8-10 usually. The same goes for Tannehill, Eli Manning and Philip Rivers, all of which I like in that draft range.

The other huge thing is that it’s not that big of a deal (in my opinion) if you don’t get the elite of the elite wide receivers. Wide receiver is the second deepest position (after QB) and you can win with a bunch of WR2 guys. Rookie wide receivers took the league by storm in 2014 and there are quite a few who could do just that in 2015. Beyond that, player movement has opened the door to several WR2 options to have a shot at WR1 upside. That being said, I don’t mind going RB and WR to start a draft, but if you love running backs like I do, RB/RB is totally fine.

Tight end is top-heavy and there isn’t much of a reason to reach before about round seven on average. If you do, Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz and Jordan Cameron are probably your best bets. That being said, I know Jimmy Graham has moved, but I like him in the third or fourth round if you can get him there. Vernon Davis and Antonio Gates are late-round gems, depending on how far they fall.

That does it for our look at standard 12-team leagues. Keep an eye out for more mock draft breakdowns and if you have a special request for a mock breakdown, feel free to send it my way.

About The Author Kevin Roberts

Breaking Football's lead fantasy football expert. Top 40 finisher in FantasyPros accuracy challenge in 2012 and 2013. Your huckleberry.