The 2017 fantasy football season is officially upon us, as June is here and in less than two full months actual NFL games will be hitting the gridiron. It’ll just be preseason action, but that naturally gives way to another exciting NFL season and just as importantly – your fantasy football draft. It’s always good to prepare for the season and your draft, and the best way to do that remains mocking your draft from your exact spot in your league’s draft order.
This offers us a fantastic reminder of the preparation we need to put in over the next few months (ideally your draft is in late August), but we also get to plug (and use) the awesome Draft Wizard thanks to FantasyPros.com. The best too (arguably) is their Mock Draft Simulator, which allows us to input any league type and gauge how our draft could unfold using updated ADP (Average Draft Position). You can sign up for a package per month here.
Our first fantasy football mock draft will operate out of the 12 spot in standard 12-team fantasy football leagues. Generally you’re here because you won the league a year ago, and to that we say congrats and “sorry, bruh”. It’s a catch-22 situation, to be sure, but you absolutely can still win your draft from the 12th pick and repeat if you make the right moves and prepare the right way.
We know not everyone’s perspective of value and draft strategy will align with ours, but all we can do is assess each mock draft from a specific spot and see how a solid team formulates in our vision. Feel free to comment as to whether or not you agree, but at the very worst hopefully this gives you some insight on how you can effectively build a team from each draft position.
The ball rolls out with the 12th pick in standard fantasy football leagues, so let’s get to it:
Note: For those of you that are not familiar with my fantasy football advice, my draft strategy is fairly similar every year. I value running backs and wide receivers above all else, don’t draft kickers or defenses until the final two rounds, pick my spots with tight ends and devalue a very deep quarterback pool. Always be sure to adjust based on league rosters and scoring, but we’ll keep it rather general just to give a rough idea of the fantasy draft landscape. Rosters settings are as such; 1QB, 2RB, 3WR, 1TE, 1FLEX (WR/RB), 1K, 1DEF and 6 bench players.
12-Round Fantasy Mock Draft
Round 1 (Pick 12) – Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears
There is some hesitancy with Howard, simply due to the fact that he plays for a bad Bears team and will have some combination of Mike Glennon and Mitchell Trubisky under center in 2017. That could work directly against him, but Chicago was bad and had quarterback woes last year, yet this guy poured in over 1,300 rushing yards and 7 total touchdowns as a rookie. Howard is locked into a monster role and the Bears know they need to feed him the ball to simply remain competitive. There is some risk here, but with the last pick of round one, I’m not really feeling too much heat.
Round 2 (Pick 13) – Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers
I like to go with any combination of reliability and upside when I can find it and I think Jordy just barely edges out Dez Bryant (who I also have my eye on in this spot). Bryant has dealt with a ton of nagging injuries and Jordy’s quarterback situation feels a bit more stable. Nelson managed to pile on a ridiculous 97-1,257-14 line in his first full season back from a torn ACL. He’s 32 years old, but he still has the size and speed to hurt defenses down the field and he remains Aaron Rodgers’ top target. That’s all good enough for me.
Round 3 (Pick 36) – Allen Robinson, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
There are a lot of routes to take here, but I think Robinson is too talented to stay grounded in the regression season we saw in 2016. Robinson was not reliable for fantasy owners a season ago due to shaky quarterback play, yet he still produced a passable 73-883-6 line. He’s too big and explosive to stay at that level and I think with Blake Bortles even improving mildly we can expect something in between what we saw out of him last year and his breakout 2015 campaign. That should work just fine as a WR2.
Round 4 (Pick 37) – Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos
DT wasn’t the same fantasy producer in 2016 and that obviously had a lot to do with a drop off in play under center. I still think he has the size and athleticism to be a terror, though, especially if the Broncos can get a little more out of Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch. He should make for a stellar WR3 either way and could rotate with Jordy and Robinson as my true WR1, depending on how the season unfolds.
This fourth pick is a crucial point in fantasy drafts for people picking out of the 12 spot, as you’re going to be forced to reach for a running back, pull the trigger at quarterback/tight end early or stack another quality wide receiver. The latter feels like the right play, as it’s still too early to reach for a quarterback, there are still plenty of tight ends to grab later and the running back pool isn’t tempting enough. I think if I wait I can still get one of the guys that I’m currently just lukewarm on.
Round 5 (Pick 60) – Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
That’s exactly what happened in this mock, as I was looking at some rookie rushers like Christian McCaffrey and Joe Mixon, as well as some veterans with uncertain roles. Mixon is the rookie back (outside of Leonard Fournette) I’d really want, as the Bengals seem to be souring on Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard is coming off of a serious injury. Mixon is a dynamic and explosive back and even as a rookie could end up paying off in a big way. I don’t mind considering him as my RB2 going into 2017, but I will still hope to add several capable backs behind him to ensure I’m not going all in on a rookie with a troubling past.
Round 6 (Pick 61) – Ty Montgomery, WR, Green Bay Packers
I’m not completely sold on Montgomery, but now that I have my top three starting wide receivers, I can go chase a third running back that can either leap frog Mixon as my RB2 or possibly factor into my starting lineup as my main Flex play. Montgomery could easily be a bust as a converted wide receiver and I’ll surely want to nab Jamaal Williams as a handcuff if the price is right, but he also boasts plenty of upside.
Montgomery was certainly productive as a restricted rusher in Green Bay’s offense, as he impressively averaged 5.9 yards per carry and scored three times on just 77 carries. He was also a big threat as a receiver out of the backfield due to his understandably soft hands ad a 44-348-0 line as a receiver isn’t something we can ignore. It’s impossible to know for sure how big of a role Montgomery will have next year, but his versatility is fantastic and he was actually a very good inside runner. If he can find a way to get better, he could be looking at a huge role in one of the best offenses in the NFL. Color this a massive steal if everything works out.
Round 7 (Pick 84) – Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
Newton endured quite the fall in 2016, as he’s usually a threat to be a top-5 fantasy quarterback. That wasn’t the case in 2016, as he dealt with injuries and the Panthers in general couldn’t overcome an inevitable Super Bowl hangover. Newton should be healthier in 2017, though, and he still has the size, arm and athleticism to be an absolute terror of a dual threat passer. Carolina also took measures to enhance his supporting cast, too, so Newton should have the weapons to get back in contention for a top-10 or possibly even top-5 fantasy season.
I’m not drafting Newton to threaten as fantasy’s top scoring quarterback, but he does offer that upside and we’re getting him at a pretty sharp discount at round 7 or later. With quarterbacks flying off the board, this is as good a spot as any to confide in one as my weekly starter and if it ends up being a healthy Cam Newton, I’ll be pretty pleased.
Round 8 (Pick 85) – Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles
Just like we can wait several rounds for a quality starting quarterback, we don’t have to reach for a tight end, either. We might not be getting Rob Gronkowski, but if we gauge it right, we can land someone like Ertz in round 8. Ertz hasn’t always been the most consistent performer, but he turned in the 8th best fantasy season at the tight end position last year and he’s only getting better. Blessed physically and sitting in Philly with a huge role, there’s little reason to raise our nose at Ertz as our TE1.
Round 9 (Pick 108) – Samaje Perine, RB, Washington Redskins
At this point in the draft we want to start rolling some dice as we inflate our depth and aim high for some bench guys that could potentially save our seasons if things go sideways. I’ve set myself up for some issues in this mock specifically at running back, but by adding the right backups, it should negate the risk. Perine is far from a lock to be a huge contributor in year one, but he’s a talented rusher and the Redskins have been trying to distance themselves from Matt Jones.
Rob Kelley could also keep Perine from locking down a huge role, but it’s possible we’re inflating his value after one massive outing against a bad Packers defense. Needless to say, it’s not at all crazy to imagine the door opening up for Perine to handle the rock quite a bit in 2017. If that happens, he’s gold coming off of our bench.
Round 10 (Pick 109) – Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
The depth keeps coming and Henry might have even more upside than Perine in 2017. DeMarco Murray does remain the clear every down back in Tennessee, but he’s slowly exiting his prime and has gotten dinged up in the past. Should he succumb to injury or prove to be ineffective, the Titans may not waste much time to pass the torch to the talented and bruising Henry. He’s still just a bench add at this point, but he could end up being a huge pickup should things with Murray go wrong.
Round 11 (Pick 132) – Marvin Jones, WR, Detroit Lions
After stocking up at running back we can shift back to wide receiver for a second, where a big play threat like Marvin Jones suddenly looks rather attractive as a high upside WR4. Jones burst onto the scene with the Bengals as a touchdown scorer and got out from under A.J. Green’s shadow when he signed with the Lions last year. He as inconsistent in his first year as a full-time starter, but he still racked up over 900 yards on just 55 catches.
Jones is set up for possibly an even better 2017 campaign across from Golden Tate and his past playing history suggests a boost from his four scores a year ago is in order. Considering he was fantasy football’s 38th best wide receiver despite not crushing paydirt, there is some serious upside to be tapped into here. Even if he doesn’t get there, he’s a fine try as a bench receiver and should be able to rotate in as a quality WR2 or WR3 when needed.
Round 12 (Pick 133) – Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
I’m perfectly fine with rolling with one star fantasy passer and think Cam Newton can be that guy, but there’s no reason to bypass value when Big Ben is ripe for the plucking in round 12. Some might even argue Roethlisberger will be the better fantasy starter in 2017, and it’s hard to argue against it with deep threat Martavis Bryant returning to a stacked offense.
Big Ben has been pondering retirement and is a yearly injury risk, but he still seeks the big play and has the weapons to carry you in any given week. Big Ben finished as fantasy’s 18th best scorer at the quarterback position a season ago, which wouldn’t necessarily make him a stable QB1, but still makes him a heck of a backup option.
Round 13 (Pick 156) – Will Fuller, WR, Houston Texans
This team has four wide receivers already but it’s always good to add a fifth (or sixth). Few offer as much upside as the speedy Will Fuller at this point in drafts, and while we can’t know yet what his quarterback situation will say about his production, he boasts loads of talent and upside. Odds are Deshaun Watson can’t be a whole lot worse than Brock Osweiler, and if he’s a good amount better, Fuller could be looking at quite the second year leap. I’m not demanding too much out of my WR5, but I do want a talented player with a good role and plenty of upside. Fuller has all I’m asking for in spades.
Round 14 (Pick 157) – Coby Fleener, TE, New Orleans Saints
I’m fine with Zach Ertz as an every week starting tight end, but I’m not a big believer in flat out fading a solid second tight end option just for the sake of committing to one guy. If that second option is staring you in the face and it has the stability and upside of Fleener (and you have the bench room), I don’t see any reason to ignore it. Fleener was modest in his first season with the Saints, but this is a high octane offense that could send a guy with his size and athleticism to the top of the rankings.
To think Fleener never fully clicked in New Orleans and still finished as fantasy football’s 12th best right end a year ago is pretty crazy. That makes him a backup worth rostering and it’s not even crazy to imagine him being a better starter than Ertz before it’s all said and done.
Round 15 (Pick 181) – Baltimore Ravens Team Defense
I tend to use the final two rounds on my defense and kicker and I’ll attack a solid (and likely improving) Ravens unit here in round 15. You could reach for a would-be better unit earlier, but defenses change from year to year and I don’t see the upside in doing that. Baltimore continues to have good coaching, is stingy in points allowed and knows how to force turnovers (1st in INT last year). The one thing they need to do is get after the quarterback more and they made moves to help them do that. Even if they’re not a leader in sacks, I still like them as a solid, balanced unit we can rely on most weeks.
Round 16 (Pick 182) – Stephen Gostkowski, K, New England Patriots
I doubt an elite fantasy kicker will always fall to you in round 12, but if you own the 12th pick and start the final round off, there’s a good chance they will. There are plenty of solid kickers to consider even if someone like Gostkowski doesn’t fall into your lap, but why get cute when it happens? New England’s kicker was actually only 11th in fantasy points amongst kickers in 2016, but the yearly #1 kicker candidate could slide a bit due to the down year. Either way, he makes for a strong option as your weekly kicker.
Final Roster Breakdown
QB: Cam Newton (7)
RB: Jordan Howard (1), Joe Mixon (5)
WR: Jordy Nelson (2), Allen Robinson (3), Demaryius Thomas (4)
TE: Zach Ertz (8)
FLEX: Ty Montgomery (6)
K: Stephen Gostkowski (16)
DEF: Baltimore Ravens (15)
Bench: Samaje Perine (9), Derrick Henry (10), Marvin Jones (11), Ben Roethlisberger (12), Will Fuller (13), Coby Fleener (14)
I can’t say I’m enamored with the running backs at a high level. Howard is a risky buy as a RB1 and the guys behind him are no lock to make up for him regressing, should that happen. That being said, I did load up at the position with four guys who could easily vie for key roles and a fifth that would be a potential monster in the event of an injury ahead of him. Some will scratch their heads about Cam Newton, but he’s long proven himself to be a fantasy stud and I expect a bounce back year. I’m loaded at wide receiver, have two viable tight ends I can rotate on a weekly basis and also have solid options at kicker and defense.
This is a very strong and balanced roster coming out of the 12th pick and the Draft Analyzer built into the Draft Wizard gives this draft a solid B+ score and out of the 12 teams mocked in this draft, it grades out as the 3rd best, overall. That puts this squad in line for a playoff spot, and that’s really all you can ask for.
Hopefully this shed some light on some draft dilemmas you’ve had or helped you decide what move to make in various spots for your draft.