I've been doing a lot of mock drafts lately and I figured I would write about how they have gone. Below you will see some guys who have ended up on my fantasy team most of the time, and guys who have never (or very rarely) ended up on my team. Obviously, the guys who always seem to end up on my team will be my sleepers (guys who I believe will perform better than their current ADP and I would draft higher), and the guys who I never or almost never take will be my potential busts (guys who I do not believe will perform at the level they are being drafted).
I'll end up writing more about guys that I never end up with than guys I end up with. This doesn't mean I hate everyone except for a few select guys. I just want to get the word out that there is risk involved with players, even players that are highly valued in the eyes of some. Just to be clear, I'm not going to write about obvious guys who never end up on my team, like Mark Sanchez, Blaine Gabbert, and Aaron Hernandez, but guys who I feel are being over-drafted. You'll see.
Guys who always seem to end up on my team:
Russell Wilson - QB - Seattle: This is one guy that has an ADP that really surprises me. I mean, he was the second best fantasy QB down the stretch last year after Seattle switched to the read option. He's going in the 6th or 7th round in most drafts, even though he is the quarterback for a very talented offense. Yes, this offense is more of a balanced attack with a good run game, but people have been drafting Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick much earlier than Wilson. Wilson is also going after Robert Griffin III, which is something that really surprises me. RGIII doesn't look the same this year during pre-game workouts and practice, and likely won't provide the same value he did as a runner last year. If I'm choosing between these two guys in my draft, I'm taking Wilson, who is the safer pick. I like to minimize risk early, and I think taking a guy like Wilson does that. He is currently going in the 6th round, but I would take him in the late 4th or early 5th.
Matt Forte - RB - Chicago: I think this is a year where you need to pick a stud RB early, and in my opinion, the first 12 picks of the draft should be running backs. I have Forte 11th in my rankings right now, meaning you should be grabbing him in the first round (or second if you have a ten team league). The Bears' new offense will feature Forte, and while the offensive line hasn't completely been fixed, I still think Forte will provide very good production every week. Look for Forte to put up big numbers this year, especially catching the football. Forte is currently going in the middle to end of the second round, but I'm grabbing him in the late first or early second if I can.
Wes Welker - WR - Denver: A lot of people are obviously afraid that Welker will not work well in the new offense in Denver, that he won't get as many looks as he did in New England, and that there are too many other weapons on the Broncos. I agree that these are all possibilities, but it's not a risky pick at all. I have seen Welker fall to the fourth round in many drafts, and even as far as the fifth round in a couple. Last year, Peyton Manning completed over 70% of his passes to the slot receiver, and Welker's most effective position is in the slot. Remember, Reggie Wayne used to line up in the slot in Indianapolis, as did Dallas Clark. Manning has always looked to his slot receivers quite frequently, and right now, there is not better slot receiver than Wes Welker. I think he will still get around 100 catches and 1,200 yards. The only question mark is the TDs, but scores are very hard to predict. He'll still probably score at least 5 TDs, and if you can grab him in the late 3rd or early 4th round, it's a safe pick.
Reggie Wayne - WR - Indianapolis: Wayne fell quite far in drafts last year, and those that grabbed the veteran receiver looked like geniuses. He's not falling as far this year, as he's being taken by the 5th round, but I still think he is a very safe pick as a #2 WR. He and Andrew Luck have developed a very good chemistry and will still draw the most looks in an offense that throws a ton. Look for him to put up 80 catches for 1,100 yards and 7+ scores this year. He can be drafted as a WR #2 or 3 with WR #1 upside. I think the most attractive thing about him, though, is that his floor is so high, like Welker's. I would take Wayne in the 4th round.
Zach Sudfeld - TE - New England: Let's face it, the Patriots offense is going to look very different this year, but I think one thing will remain the same. Tom Brady still loves his tight ends (not an attempt at humor). The guy known as "Baby Gronk" has been impressive so far in practice and in pre-season action, and if there is any tight end that can put up Gronk-like numbers, it's probably someone who is built like Gronk. I'm not taking a tight end until the end of the draft, which is good because Sudfeld has gone undrafted in many drafts. With the possibility of Gronk missing the Pats' first six games, I don't mind grabbing "Baby Gronk" in the 12th or 13th round.
Other sleepers (based on current ADP): Steve Smith (WR - Carolina), Hakeem Nicks (WR - New York Giants), Ahmad Bradshaw (RB - Indianapolis), DeAngelo Williams (RB - Carolina), Miles Austin (WR - Dallas), Emmanuel Sanders (WR - Pittsburgh), Jordan Cameron (TE - Cleveland), LaMichael James (RB - San Francisco), Jordy Nelson (WR - Green Bay)
Guys who never end up on my team (or almost never):
Peyton Manning - QB - Denver: Now before you jump all over me by saying "Hey, how can Peyton Manning suck if you think Welker is going to be good?" Let me clarify that. I don't think Manning is going to suck. I just think he's being drafted too high, as he is coming off one of the best years of his career. He's currently going in the middle of the second round in many drafts, and I just think that with so much depth at the QB position this year, you can afford to pass on a QB that early in the draft. I probably wouldn't even take him in the beginning of the 3rd round, unless someone paid me to take him. I believe the only guys who you can make a case for going in the mid to late second round are Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. Peyton Manning is neither of them End of story. I want to wait on QB, but I still like Manning, so grab him in the late 3rd or early 4th if he's still there.
David Wilson - RB - New York Giants: This goes on my "almost never" list, as I grabbed him in one mock before I had the chance to watch him play. He's currently going in the late 3rd, early 4th round, and I think that's too high for him. I see the running back situation in New York as more of a time-share then I would like for a third round pick. I don't think it will be a true split carry backfield, but with Andre Brown as the likely third round and goal line back, I think Wilson is just too risky for me that early. I'd still take him in the 5th round, as he is an explosive runner.
Eddie Lacy - RB - Green Bay: This is another "almost never", although I haven't taken him as a starting running back in any of my drafts. Don't get me wrong, Lacy is a tremendous talent, and will eventually be the starter in Green Bay. But he isn't now, and the Packers still have one of the worst offensive lines in the league. Add that to the fact that the Packers like to throw a ton (as they should), and you have a clear bust. Lacy is currently going as early as round 5 in some drafts, and I just think people are paying for his production in college. He could put up double digit scores this year if he takes the starting gig early enough, but I don't see him getting the touches necessary to be a good starting fantasy RB. I'd grab him as my 4th or 5th running back, but no earlier. I want to grab as many guys who currently have starting jobs before I take a gamble on non-starters. EDIT: Of course, DeJuan Harris goes on the IR on the 27th and Lacy is the likely pick for the starting job. Move him up to a 3rd or 4th running back, but no higher. I still don't trust that O-line.
AJ Green - WR - Cincinnati: AJ Green is a tremendous receiver who has excelled ever since the first time he stepped on the field in the NFL. He is still Andy Dalton's favorite target and corners still can't seem to figure him out. Oh wait, I'm supposed to be writing bad things about him. Green is currently going in the beginning of the second round. That's just too early for me. I think the Bengals have added more weapons on offense, especially with the addition of Giovanni Bernard, the rookie running back who is an explosive runner. Green will still likely put up big numbers and is a solid WR #1, but I want to wait until the third round to grab a receiver not named Calvin Johnson.
Mike Wallace - WR - Miami: 1,257, 1,193, 836. Those are Wallace's numbers over the past 3 seasons. He's headed in the wrong direction, and not just in receiving yards. I understand he wanted to get paid (and to take his talents to South Beach), but Ryan Tannehill is a huge downgrade from Big Ben. He is the #1 receiver in Miami, but Brian Hartline is a decent second option for the second year QB. Wallace is a very streaky player and could put up big numbers a couple of weeks, but he doesn't have the consistency I'd like to see out of a fourth or fifth round pick. I'd still take him in the 6th or 7th round as my 3rd WR, but definitely not as my second.
Kyle Rudolph - TE - Minnesota: Rudolph is a physical beast who should be featured in Minnesota's offense, but he isn't. This is because the Vikings have Christian Ponder as a QB. Ponder isn't a bad QB, but he's more of a game-manager who relies more upon throwing to one receiver rather than looking at all of his receivers on a given play. While Rudolph has the potential to catch ten touchdown passes, he also has the potential to not catch any passes. In the 7th or 8th round, I would much rather grab a potential breakout running back or wide receiver than a feast or famine tight end like Rudolph. I'm not touching this guy with a ten foot pole this year.
Other potential busts (based on current ADP): Jimmy Graham (TE - New Orleans), Darren Sproles (RB - New Orleans), Vernon Davis (TE - San Francisco), Ryan Mathews (RB - San Diego), Le'Veon Bell (RB - Pittsburgh), Anquan Boldin (WR - San Francisco), Greg Jennings (WR - Minnesota), Joe Flacco (QB - Baltimore)