Mock Draft Strategies (12-Team PPR)

In doing this mock draft exercise I have drafted 3 strategy-specific teams from 3 different draft spots. From 3 different draft positions I drafted each Team 1 using the “Zero-RB” strategy, Team 2 using the “Zero-WR” strategy, and Team 3 using what I called the “Free” strategy. I only included the first 10 rounds of each draft to keep the focus somewhat on the strategy of how each draft started, and not as much focus on the depth of each roster. I chose the 3rd, 6th, and 12th draft spots with the thinking that 6th is right in the middle, 12th is right at the end (back-to-back picks), and 3rd is a very early pick but has some volatility compared to 1st (Christian McCaffrey is drafted 1st in every draft).

  • “Zero-RB”: I started each Team 1 “Zero-RB” Team by using my first 4 selections at any position other than RB. I chose to go 4 selections deep (without RB) so when comparing the 3 teams you can clearly evaluate and choose which strategy you think worked out best.
  • Pros: You can build an elite WR group (WR1, WR2, WR3/Flex) while also having the chance to draft what I consider a Top-2 TE (Kelce or Kittle) or a Top-2 QB (Mahomes or Jackson). You can still take shots at RBs in round 5 or later who have major upside.
  • Cons: You risk missing out on the top “bell-cow” RBs, who typically will be flying off the board quicker than other positions. You have to be smart in choosing your RBs and look later for backs with either high floors or high ceilings.
  • “Zero-WR”: I started each Team 2 “Zero-WR” Team by using my first 4 selections at any position other than WR. I chose to go 4 selections deep (without WR) so when comparing the 3 teams you can clearly evaluate and choose which strategy you think worked out best. In addition, WR is typically a deeper group than RB, so you can stock up on valuable RBs and fill in the holes at WR in round 5 or later.
  • Pros: You can build a solid RB group (RB1, RB2, RB3/Flex) in what is typically a scarce position, so you aren’t grinding to find RBs that have starting potential later on. In this strategy you’ll see I also added a Top-2 TE or Top-2 QB as well to give myself the chance of having top end talent at multiple spots on my roster.
  • Cons: You risk investing in an RB just because he plays the RB position and fills a void, rather than choosing a player that may be the best overall player available on your board. You can find WRs in round 5 or later but in reviewing some of these mock drafts they might not be WRs you feel comfortable with.
  • “Free”: I started each Team 3 “Free” Team by using my judgement and choosing the player on the board I was most comfortable with at each spot. I didn’t set any positional guidelines or mental exercises, I just reviewed my board and picked based on who was available and who I thought fit the existing roster best.
  • Pros: You can build your own team, a team that is probably filled with more players you feel good about. You aren’t using any sort of positional guideline for how to build your roster, you’re just filling it out as you go.
  • Cons: As easy as it sounds to just pick whoever you want at each spot, position scarcity is real and there could be run of players picked at WR or RB you weren’t expecting. If you aren’t prepared with some sort of plan, you may find yourself scrambling to fill holes on your roster at values you don’t think are worth it for that player.
Now that we got that out of the way, here are the drafts:
  • 3 Draft Spots
  • 3 Draft Strategies
  • 9 Mock Drafts
  • 12-Team PPR
  • Mock Draft Site: ESPN

Draft Spot: 3rd Overall

RD.Team 1 (Zero-RB)Team 2 (Zero-WR)Team 3 (Free)
1Michael Thomas
WR (NO)
Ezekiel Elliott
RB (DAL)
Ezekiel Elliott
RB (DAL)
2Kenny Golladay
WR (DET)
C. Edwards-Helaire
RB (KC)
Travis Kelce
TE (KC)
3D.J. Moore
WR (CAR)
George Kittle
TE (SF)
Lamar Jackson
QB (BAL)
4Zach Ertz
TE (PHI)
James Conner
RB (PIT)
Cooper Kupp
WR (LAR)
5James Conner
RB (PIT)
D.J. Chark
WR (JAX)
James Conner
RB (PIT)
6Jonathan Taylor
RB (IND)
Tyler Boyd
WR (CIN)
Tyler Boyd
WR (CIN)
7Russell Wilson
QB (SEA)
Kerryon Johnson
RB (DET)
Marquise Brown
WR (BAL)
8Sony Michel
RB (NE)
Brandin Cooks
WR (HOU)
Sony Michel
RB (NE)
9Zack Moss
RB (BUF)
Josh Allen
QB (BUF)
Dionte Johnson
WR (PIT)
10Nyheim Hines
RB (IND)
Emmanuel Sanders
WR (NO)
Damien Williams
RB (KC)
  • Analysis: From the 3rd pick, the results were somewhat surprising. Team 2 “Zero-WR” actually came out the weakest in my opinion. Zeke was a strong/safe start, but in Round 2 RBs like Miles Sanders, Josh Jacobs, and Aaron Jones were all off the board, leaving Clyde Edwards- Helaire with what I determined the most upside. I combated the uncertainty of Clyde with James Conner and Kerryon Johnson in Rounds 5 & 7 but I didn’t feel great about it. The Team 3 “Free” draft seemed to fall right in my lap, I also started with Zeke, but followed it up with Travis Kelce & Lamar Jackson in Rounds 2 & 3. Starting my draft off with Zeke, Kelce, and Jackson gives me the chance to have the top player at three different positions, something I couldn’t turn down. In addition, I was able to somehow get Cooper Kupp, James Conner, and Tyler Boyd in Rounds 4, 5, and 6. Kupp, Conner, and Boyd are three players that I am much higher on than the consensus (running back tiers / wide receiver tiers) so in those rounds I will picking them every single time. Team 1 “Zero-RB” also came together very strong, Michael Thomas, Kenny Golladay, and D.J. Moore are all Top-10 WRs, Zach Ertz is an elite TE, and James Conner & Jonathan Taylor both have RB1 upside. Russell Wilson in Round 7 was also a steal considering the QBs who went after him. I really liked how the “Zero-RB” strategy worked out from the 3rd pick but the whole strategy falls apart if Michael Thomas isn’t on the board. Overall I’d say Team 3’s draft worked out best, elite upside at RB, TE, QB, and WR.

Draft Spot: 6th Overall

RD.Team 1 (Zero-RB) Team 2 (Zero-WR)Team 3 (Free)
1DeAndre Hopkins
WR (ARI)
Alvin Kamara
RB (NO)
Davante Adams
WR (GB)
2Chris Godwin
WR (TB)
Josh Jacobs
RB (LV)
Miles Sanders
RB (PHI)
3George Kittle
TE (SF)
Zach Ertz
TE (PHI)
Patrick Mahomes
QB (KC)
4Cooper Kupp
WR (LAR)
James Conner
RB (PIT)
James Conner
RB (PIT)
5Kareem Hunt
RB (CLE)
Stefon Diggs
WR (BUF)
Mark Andrews
TE (BAL)
6D. Montgomery
RB (CHI)
Tyler Boyd
WR (CIN)
Tyler Boyd
WR (CIN)
7James White
RB (NE)
Josh Allen
QB (BUF)
James White
RB (NE)
8Sony Michel
RB (NE)
Marquise Brown
WR (BAL)
Rob Gronkowski
TE (TB)
9Dionte Johnson
WR (PIT)
Latavius Murray
RB (NO)
Christian Kirk
WR (ARI)
10 Carson Wentz
QB (PHI)
Curtis Samuel
WR (CAR)
Damien Williams
RB (KC)
  • Analysis: It is tough to pick a favorite out of this group, so I’ll explain the pros and cons of each team and choose at the end. Team 1 “Zero-RB” has two of my favorite WRs this year in DeAndre Hopkins and Chris Godwin, just check my wide receiver rankings (WR3 & WR6) and George Kittle & Cooper Kupp in the 3rd & 4th is about as safe as it gets. After starting with 3 Top-8 WRs and an elite TE things get a little tricky. The RBs in Rounds 5 & 6 are risky, Montgomery could get volume right away so he’s at least a high floor RB at the start of the season. Kareem Hunt is in a timeshare with Nick Chubb but should maintain a safe floor based on passing volume. Neither are safe so I also locked up both Patriots running backs (James White & Sony Michel) as insurance at the RB spot. Team 2 “Zero-WR” is also a strong group, going Alvin Kamara, Josh Jacobs, Zach Ertz, and James Conner is a solid start. I think all three of those RBs have RB1 potential, and Ertz is clearly a solid TE pick. At WR Stefon Diggs & Tyler Boyd are both players I really like but you’ll be needing WR1 & WR2 production week-to-week and it isn’t a given with those two. So in Round 8 I complimented my WR group with Marquise Brown who I think could be a major breakout this season, and work his way into a starter quickly. Team 3 “Free” is a very fun team and has high upside all over the place. Davante Adams is a lock for a ton of targets and a solid WR1 worth the fist round pick. Miles Sanders (round 2) and James Conner again (round 4) both have RB1 upside. Then you mix in Patrick Mahomes, Mark Andrews, and Tyler Boyd at QB, TE, and Flex to fill out the starting lineup. Team 3 has very high upside and in my opinion no real glaring weaknesses in the starting lineup. If I had to pick one I’d take Team 3.

Draft Spot: 12th Overall

RD.Team 1 (Zero-RB)Team 2 (Zero-WR)Team 3 (Free)
1Tyreek Hill
WR (KC)
Nick Chubb
RB (CLE)
Tyreek Hill
WR (KC)
2Julio Jones
WR (ATL)
Joe Mixon
RB (CIN)
Joe Mixon
RB (CIN)
3Cooper Kupp
WR (LAR)
Lamar Jackson
QB (BAL)
George Kittle
TE (SF)
4Zach Ertz
TE (PHI)
Le’veon Bell
RB (NYJ)
Keenan Allen
WR (LAC)
5Kareem Hunt
RB (CLE)
Stefon Diggs
WR (BUF)
Deshaun Watson
QB (HOU)
6Jonathan Taylor
RB (IND)
Terry McLaurin
WR (WSH)
D. Montgomery
RB (CHI)
7Josh Allen
QB (BUF)
Hunter Henry
TE (LAC)
James White
RB (NE)
8Jordan Howard
RB (MIA)
Brandin Cooks
WR (HOU)
Marquise Brown
WR (BAL)
9Latavius Murray
RB (NO)
Sony Michel
RB (NE)
Damien Williams
RB (KC)
10Zack Moss
RB (BUF)
Marvin Jones
WR (DET)
Emmanuel Sanders
WR (NO)
  • Analysis: We’ve made it the 12th pick, which oddly enough might’ve been my favorite spot to draft from. I think at 12th overall the “Zero-RB” & “Zero-WR” strategies really make an impact because you don’t have to guess if a player will be there in the following round. You can double up on talent and stack position groups without anxiously waiting. I think at 12th pick my weakest team was the Team 3 “Free” draft because instead of doubling down at a position group at the 1-2 turn and 5-6 turn, I went a few different directions. Starting with Team 1, I think it has massive upside. Tyreek Hill, Julio Jones, and Cooper Kupp all have Top-5 potential at WR (they’ve all previously done it) and adding Zach Ertz to that trio is dangerous. Clearly it is a “Zero-RB” team so there is a drop off at RB. But I like Kareem Hunt’s floor because he will be involved right away and I’m also a believer in Jonathan Taylor taking the Colts backfield early on. Taylor might not be as useful right away so I complimented him with Jordan Howard in Round 8 and Lataivus Murray & Zack Moss in Rounds 9-10. Team 2 “Zero-WR” also looks really good on paper, Nick Chubb and Joe Mixon are ranked as my RB6 & RB8 overall, and adding Le’veon Bell as the RB3 makes me feel safe in terms of volume for all three backs. In addition to the running backs, Lamar Jackson in round 3 speaks for itself and Stefon Diggs & Terry McLaurin at the 5-6 turn pulls this team together. I believe Diggs and McLaurin have a good chance to outperform their draft stock this season, so I feel comfortable acquiring the two of them where I did. Team 3 still has some very strong spots, we’ve talked about Tyreek, Mixon, and Kittle above already so Team 3 is off to a strong start. Keenan Allen & Deshaun Watson are also solid picks in Rounds 4 & 5. There isn’t anything not to like about Team 3, I just don’t think any position group is truly elite and David Montgomery/James White at RB2 isn’t a sure thing. Picking my favorite is tough, but ill take the mix of stability/upside and choose Team 2.

  • Extra Point: All three draft strategies can be used in multiple different ways. These drafts above were just examples of a couple ways to go into drafts. The point was to illuminate the differences and impacts attacking or avoiding certain position groups can have on the outcome of your draft. In doing these 9 mock drafts with different strategies at each pick (3rd, 6th, and 12th) I think I noticed that drafting at the 12th pick was the best time to implement the “Zero-RB” or “Zero-WR” strategies. Each of these teams came out with different strengths and different weakness, which will vary based on personal preference. Regardless of strategy even from taking a look at the different drafts side by side, you can really start to see the dips and drops off in position groups. So evaluate where you feel comfortable taking your players and maybe one of these strategies will fit.

Leave a Reply