It’s the season of love (or hate depending on your relationship status I guess, but whatever). And what do fantasy footballers love more than drafting Carson Wentz in Round 15 or trading for Alvin Kamara? That’s right … mock drafts! Alright, I get that it’s February and things are going to change a lot between now and when you draft your teams in the summer. But even still, mocks are fun. Just like listening to Jason Kelce’s Super Bowl speech.
So, here’s my first crack at what a 2018 draft might look like right now. Once you’re doing reading through this mock, you’ll notice three things.
First, running backs are back. That’s right, the position is younger and stronger than it’s been in awhile. It’s only going to get better after the 2018 NFL Draft. My fantasy man crush on Saquon Barkley has gotten a tad creepy, I admit it. Second, wide receiver values are falling (and for good reason). More and more wideouts in the top 10-15 have proven to be inconsistent, and you can fill the position later because it’s very deep. Heck, five of the top-25 PPR wideouts from a season ago didn’t even make the top 50 overall picks. Finally, you will notice the continued diminishment of the quarterback position. Sorry folks, but I don’t see more than one who is worth a pick in the first five rounds.
This mock draft is based on a 10-team league with a PPR scoring system that rewards four points for touchdown passes and six points for all other touchdowns.
1. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers*: I can make an argument for at least five different players to be the No. 1 overall pick, but I’m going with Bell, for now. He was a top-10 weekly PPR running back 12 times and ranked in the top 20 in more than 50 percent of his starts. And unless the New York Jets offer him $100 million (joke), I would be surprised if he didn’t remain in Pittsburgh for 2018.
2. Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams: Gurley went bananas last season, as he was a top-10 PPR runner in 12 of his 15 games. Furthermore, he averaged 25.5 points a game and scored 20-plus points 10 times, including seven games with more than 25 points. While I do expect there to be at least some regression after what was a career campaign, Gurley won’t fall past the second selection in most drafts.
3. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys: Am I sometimes a Cowboys homer? Yup. But how can you pass on Zeke as a top-three pick? In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he leads the position in fantasy points next season. Elliott missed six games due to a suspension in 2017, but he averaged the third-most PPR points (20.3 PPG)among running backs who played at least seven games, trailing only Gurley and Bell.
4. David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals: Johnson scored over 400 PPR points in 2016 and was the consensus top pick this past season, but an injured wrist sidelined him for most of the 2017 campaign. He’ll be back at 100 percent for the start of camps, however. While the Cardinals quarterback situation is a concern at this point, I believe in D.J.
5. Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: The best wide receiver in fantasy football, Brown led his position with 1,533 yards and six top-five finishes in 14 games. He also scored 25-plus PPR points in half of his games and led all PPR receivers in points-per-game average (22.2). I can see A.B. being the top overall selection in countless PPR drafts, but he’s no worse than a top-five choice.
6. Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs: Hunt was a fantasy machine as a rookie, as he had seven top-10 weekly PPR finishes and was a top-20 runner 10 different times. He was able to reach these heights despite a five-game stretch where he ranked no higher than 24th at the position. While Spencer Ware should be back in the mix next season, Hunt isn’t about to lose his featured role in Kansas City.
7. Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars: A superstar rookie back, Fournette scored 10 total touchdowns and averaged 17.7 PPR points in 13 games. While he finished as a top-five runner just twice, he also ranked in the top 15 in PPR points 10 times. Fournette will continue to shine as the centerpiece of the Jags offense, so expect to hear his name called in the first round of drafts.
8. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints: Kamara failed to finish better than 18th in PPR points among running back in four of his first five games as a rookie, but he thrived after the Saints traded Adrian Peterson. In fact, he had a six-week stretch where he ranked no worse than ninth among PPR backs including five top-4 finishes and three No. 1 finishes. Kamara is the real deal, my friends.
9. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans: Hopkins, a massive disappointment for fantasy footballers in 2016, came back to explode for 96 catches, 1,378 yards, 13 touchdowns and the second-most PPR fantasy points among wide receivers. In his seven games with Deshaun Watson under center, Nuk ranked in the top five at his position three times (43 percent) and in the top-10 four times (57 percent).
10. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants: Beckham Jr. was playing at a high level before suffering a gruesome ankle injury last season, as he scored 20-plus PPR points in two of his four games. Barring a setback in his return to the gridiron, OBJ figures to be a top-10 overall pick and won’t last past the top 15 in most formats. He’ll also be motivated to produce for a big future contract.
11. Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers: Gordon proved that his sophomore campaign was no fluke, as he scored 12 total touchdowns and ranked fifth in PPR points among running backs this past season. He also tied for fourth in top-5 finishes (5), and just five other running backs averaged more PPR points. Gordon also scored 20-plus points five times including four games with 25-plus points.
12. LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills: McCoy had another successful season in the stat sheets, as he ranked seventh among PPR running backs with six top-10 finishes. He also had four games where he ranked fifth or better. Based on the high number of talented, young players at his position and the fact that McCoy will turn 30 this summer, I’m projecting him as a second-round pick in PPR formats.
13. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints: Thomas wasn’t much of a touchdown scorer last season, but he did finish third in receptions (104) and sixth in receiving yards (1,245) among wideouts. He was very reliable in his final 11 contests too, as Thomas ranked in the top 20 eight times (72.7 percent) including five top-12 finishes and a pair of top-four ranks during the fantasy postseason.
14. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons: A first-round pick last season, Jones has fallen into the second round of this initial mock draft. While his final numbers looked good, the veteran ranked outside of the top 20 PPR wideouts in 11 of his 16 weeks, and 20 percent of his total fantasy points came in just one game. He’s just too inconsistent to be a first-round selection at this point in time.
15. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Buccaneers were a fantasy disappointment as a team last season, and Evans was the main perpetrator. A top-10 wide receiver in four of his first six games, the talented veteran failed to rank better than 23rd in PPR points at his position in seven of his final nine games. He’s Florida’s version of Jones … talented, but unreliable at times.
16. Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons: Freeman ranked 13th among backs in PPR scoring this past season, which is his worst finish since 2015. He was still a reliable option, however, as he finished with double-digit points 12 times and was a top-20 performer in seven of his 14 games. Still just 25 years old, the Florida State product will be a high-end No. 2 fantasy runner in 10-team leagues.
17. A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals: Green is another in a long line of unreliable fantasy wideouts from a season ago. While he did have four top-10 finishes and seven top-20 finishes among receivers, most of his success came in the first half of the season. In fact, Green ranked 35th or worse at his position in four of his final seven games and was better than 17th just once during that time.
18. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings: Cook, who missed all but four games as a rookie due to an injured knee, had two top-10 performances in three full contests. Vikings general manager Rick Spielman believes Cook will be fine for the start of training camp, so look for him to re-claim a featured role. With Jerick McKinnon scheduled to be a free agent, Cook could go even higher in future mocks.
19. Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints: Ingram ranked 20th or worse among running backs in PPR leagues in each of his first five games, but he went on to rank in the top 10 in seven of his next eight. He also ranked in the top-five in five of his 16 games, which ranked tied for fourth-most at the position. A first-round talent, Ingram figures to be a nice second-round bargain in 2018 drafts.
20, Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers: McCaffrey ran for just 435 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie, but his 80 catches, 651 yards and five scores as a receiver out of the backfield made him a top-10 fantasy runner in PPR leagues. What’s more, just seven backs had more games with 10-plus PPR points. That sort of trend figures to continue under new offensive coordinator Norv Turner.
21. Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers: The 2017 NFL Comeback Player of the Year, Allen returned from a torn ACL to produce career bests in catches (102) and receiving yards (1,393) last season. The veteran also finished third behind Brown and Hopkins among wideouts in PPR leagues, making him a valuable asset. In what should remain a potent offense, Allen will be a top-30 lock in drafts.
22. Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots: I’ll assume Gronkowski will not retire (as he mentioned post-Super Bowl), but will instead return for his ninth NFL season. In that scenario, he’s going to be locked and loaded as the first tight end to come off the board in most drafts. Last season, Gronkowski recorded nine top-10 finishes and had eight top-five finishes at the tight end position.
23. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers: Adams was very inconsistent in his first eight games, but he finished with four top-12 PPR finishes including two top-10 ranks in his final five full games before being injured in Week 15. What the Packers decide to do with Jordy Nelson, who will be 33 at the start of next season, will impact whether Adams moves up or down in future mock drafts.
24. Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears: Howard saw a decline in his rushing yards compared to his rookie season, but he did find the end zone nine times and ranked as a top-15 runner in PPR formats. While he figures to lose work on passing downs to Tarik Cohen, Howard should still produce RB2 numbers under the guidance of new head coach Matt Nagy. He’ll be a popular pick in the third round.
25. Jarvis Landry, WR, Miami Dolphins*: Landry didn’t put up enormous stat lines most of last season, but he did score double-digit PPR points in 14 of his 16 games. What’s more, he led all wideouts with a combined six finishes between wide receiver No. 6-10. A pending free agent, Landry’s 2018 value remains in a state of flux though he shouldn’t fall too far (if at all) if he leaves Miami.
26. Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers*: Hyde’s first campaign under coach Kyle Shanahan was a successful one, as he finished with a career-high 59 receptions and ranked eighth among running backs in PPR points. He’s scheduled to become a free agent this offseason, but Hyde has proven that he can be a valuable asset when allowed a chance to shine. He should be no worse than a No. 2 running back.
27. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans: Henry will likely be one of the most hyped players in fantasy football next season, as he looked like a true workhorse for the Titans during their postseason run. Of course, much depends on what the team does with veteran DeMarco Murray in the coming months. If Henry is crowned “the guy” heading into 2018, he’s going to move up in future mock drafts.
28. Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings: While thoughts of Blue Swede came to our minds when we heard his name, Thielen finished eighth in PPR scoring last season despite scoring just four times. While he ranked better than 40th once in his final four games of the fantasy season, he was a top-20 wideout in seven of his first 11 contests (63.6 percent). Thielen is hooked as a top-30 choice.
29. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs: An argument can be made that Kelce, and not Gronkowski, should be the first tight end pick in 2018 drafts. After all, he has been the highest-scoring player at the position for two straight seasons, He also finished no worse than 13th in all but three games, and he failed to post top-20 totals just once. You have to like that level of production.
30. Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs: Hill ranked in the top-20 nine times last season, including four different games in the top-10. He was also a star down the stretch, putting up three top-11 finishes over his final four games of the fantasy season. I wouldn’t expect his value to change much with Patrick Mahomes under center, so look for Hill to be a top-30 or 40 pick next season.
31. Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals: Mixon wasn’t overly impressive during his rookie season, but he does figure to open the 2018 campaign atop the
Bengals backfield depth chart.
32. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals: Fitzgerald had another solid season in 2017, but retirement is an option for the 34-year old. That’s a storyline to watch this offseason.
33. Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles: Ertz was one of the most productive and reliable tight ends in
fantasy football last season, which is the reason he’s now a viable top-40 pick.
34. Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks: Baldwin made his fantasy owners angry with some inconsistent stat lines a season ago, but he still finished 13th in PPR scoring among wideouts.
35. Brandin Cooks, WR, New England Patriots: Cooks saw declines almost across the board in his first season with the
Patriots, finishing as a top-20 PPR wide receiver just six times.
36. Kenyan Drake, RB, Miami Dolphins: Unless the
Dolphins add a major backfield piece during the offseason, Drake figures to be in the RB2 conversation based on his 2017 numbers.
37. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts: Hilton could get things going in the stat sheets without
Andrew Luck, and his status will determine a lot when it comes to Hilton’s value.
38. Alshon Jeffery, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: Jeffery, 28, should continue to make big plays for an
Eagles offense that’s coming off a brilliant performance during the
39. Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns: Gordon’s value is tough to gauge since he’s played so little in recent seasons, but his ceiling could push him into the top 40 in PPR drafts.
40. Golden Tate, WR, Detroit Lions: Tate put up 92 receptions this past season, making it four straight years that he’s posted 90 or more catches. He’s a sure-fire No. 2 in PPR leagues.
41. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos: Whether or not the
Broncos upgrade at quarterback (
Kirk Cousins?) will go a long way in determining if Thomas’ draft stock goes up or down.
42. Allen Robinson, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars*: Robinson is projected to remain with the
Jaguars as their No. 1 wideout, and he’s expected to be 100 percent back from a torn ACL.
43. Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys: Once an elite fantasy wideout, Bryant finished with just one top-10 PPR finish and failed to produce a single game with 20-plus PPR points in 2017.
44. Evan Engram, TE, New York Giants: A rookie standout in fantasy land, Engram ranked as a top-10 tight end eight times and was also a top-5 finisher in six of his 15 contests.
45. Duke Johnson, RB, Cleveland Browns: A talented PPR back, Johnson’s value is in question with
Isaiah Crowell slated to be a free agent. The
Browns could draft a top back, too.
46. Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings: Diggs has the skills to be a top-notch fantasy wideout, but he’s been prone to injuries and has fallen behind Thielen on the depth chart.
47. Lamar Miller, RB, Houston Texans: Miller is still just 26 years old, but you have to wonder how much work he’ll lose to
D’Onta Foreman once he comes back from an Achilles tear.
48. Dion Lewis, RB, New England Patriots*: Lewis was a fantasy star down the stretch in 2017, but the
Patriots typically don’t pay big money for running backs. He could be on the move.
49. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers: The first quarterback off the board in this mock, Rodgers will remain a valuable asset at what is a deep position for fantasy purposes.
50. Devin Funchess, WR, Carolina Panthers: Funchess ranked in the top 30 among wideouts in six of eight games after the
Kelvin Benjamin trade, but will Carolina add an impact wideout?
* – denotes a scheduled free agent in 2018
Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com and NFL Network and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to @Michael_Fabiano or send a question via Facebook!