The Mock Draft Army concluded it’s run for the 2019 fantasy football season on Wednesday.  I’d like to thank all the participants this year who made it a great tool to help us get ready for our drafts.  There were a few regulars who marched with us several times a week including Iceeethru, Just a Flesh Wound, Kangasman, Double Doinks, Jedi, Gatos Locos and others.  Also thank you to those who were standby’s and answered the call when there were no-shows (BOO to them by the way, especially when there was no response or extenuating circumstances).  Thanks also go out to the staff from Fantasy Alarm who helped me out in my first year as General, especially Dan Malin, Jon Impemba, Ivar Anderson, Matt Selz and Joe Gallina.  Guest appearances by John Laub of Footballdiehards and Billy Heyen of The Sporting News and their great columns and live tweets were very welcome.

Of course I can’t forget the guy who started it all, Howard Bender. The man is tireless in his work and I thank him for helping me out and joining in despite his busy schedule.  I hope I carried the torch well and led the Army to victory this year.  It’s worked for me...three home drafts so far and ranked first in all of them by the websites that hosted the drafts. 

As we enter the busiest draft weekend of the season, let’s see what we garnered from the Mock Draft Army this week and over the entire preseason.  We had three drafts this week and some trends continued, especially with the continuation of Ezekiel Elliott being drafted in the top four.  With the news last night that Jerry Jones expects Zeke to miss at least a few games, does this change your draft approach?  I had the opportunity to take him with the second pick in a standard scoring league and passed.  My approach, and what I’ve been saying all preseason, is that I’d rather take someone I know who is going to play than take the chance on him or Gordon.  With the added information that he might miss a few, this becomes automatic in my opinion. 

Another storyline throughout the preseason is the positioning of the tight ends. Travis Kelce continues to be taken in the early second round and is followed by Kittle and Ertz by the end of the third in most mocks.  Kelce’s ADP of 15 is slightly higher than his overall at 13 but the overall is skewed by the data from the FFPC (TE = 1.5 PPR) where Kelce’s ADP is 6.9.  Early on we noticed that teams who drafted one of these three TE’s were usually one of the top projected teams, but this week it did not hold true as the projections were all over the place.  My opinion is if you take one of these high end TE’s, it should be in place of a wide receiver and not a running back.  The depth is not there to ignore the RB position very long in most drafts especially 12 and 14 teamers. 

One player who has an ADP of 16, but this week was taken 5th, 9th and 10th, has been gaining the confidence of the Army.  There is a chance he can end up as a top five running back this season and outperform the likes of Le’Veon Bell, David Johnson and holdout Zeke Elliott.  Consider taking Nick Chubb in the mid-to-late first round and grab a wide receiver to him complement in the second.  He has moved up to 5th in the Fantasy Alarm rankings as well (all FA products are on sale this weekend!).  If he falls to you at the end of the first round consider it a gift.

Due to Lamar Miller ’s injury Duke Johnson has skyrocketed up draft boards.  I understand the tendency to grab him, but he’s never proven to be a three-down running back.  The Texans may add someone over the weekend so keep an eye out for any news.  His ADP this week was 60 in the Army.  He was taken ahead of Austin Ekeler and Derrius Guice in some but appears to have fallen into the proper range considering the circumstances.  Monitor the situation and adjust accordingly.

The duo of Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida get an uptick with the news that Jerrick McKinnon may need surgery and go on IR.  Both have already seen a rise of their ADP’s by a round or two in August and I expect them to go even earlier in your upcoming drafts.  I see Breida as a great RB4/5 with upside.  If you can get him around his ADP of 126, he’s worth your consideration. 

I’m not big on drafting the likes of Justice Hill, Darwin Thompson, etc.  Preseason hype does not equal regular season success.  We’ve seen this last year with Freeman, Penny, and Jones.  I’d rather take someone with a role that has been defined.  In the year’s final mock, Hill went in the same round as Breida, Dion Lewis , and Barber.  It depends on your preference and there is upside in Hill, but I’d go with one of those three in the 10th round.  If they are there a little later, which is unlikely, that’s where I’m more comfortable taking them.

How much should you invest in rookie wide receivers?  Based upon recent history...very little.  There are few who contribute right out of the gate and there is no one in this year’s class that has me overly excited.  The one who does intrigue me is DK Metcalf. Why? Did you see the picture of him standing next to Tyler Lockett ?  He’s huge!  I can’t imagine the Seahawks not taking advantage of his size in the red zone.  His surgery was minor and he should return by the end of September.  A late-round flyer in deep leagues is worth a shot or leave him to waivers and snag him in a few weeks when he’s ready to return.  N’Keal Harry has not impressed. Preston Williams? Really? Mecole Hardman has been rising due to the prolific offense he belongs to but how many targets is he going to get with Kelce, Hill, and Watkins on the team? 

There has been little love given to the rookie tight ends either. TJ Hockenson and Noah Fant were both first round picks. Their ADP’s are TE 16 and 20 respectively.  They could surprise, but like wideouts, they struggle in year one.  Having them as your second TE can provide some upside if they happen to break out.  I’d take Hockenson if I had the choice of either.  Chris Herndon is my choice for a late backup TE as long if your starting TE has a bye in week six or later. 

Continuing to move up in the wide receiver world is Dede Westbrook .  He was taken twice in the seventh round this week even though his ADP is 108.  If you’re looking for a WR3/4 consider him starting in the seventh round.  The way the Cardinals offense has struggled he’s clearly ahead of Larry Fitzgerald who has a similar ADP.  Others in his range are Sammy Watkins , Cortland Sutton and Marvin Jones .  With Nick Foles at quarterback, I see Westbrook easily surpassing the three touchdowns he’s projected for. 

Someone else that is gaining interest, especially with his play in the final preseason game is Josh Gordon .  On Wednesday’s Fantasy Alarm show the GM, Jim Bowden, wrote a love letter to Josh chronicling his troubled past.  The list of Gordon’s transgressions took about two minutes to read and you should think long and hard about drafting him.  The allure is there.  His name conjures up images of 1,000 yard seasons and 10 touchdowns.  How many has he actually had?  One. One season of 1,000 yards and he has never had ten touchdowns.  In the MDA he went in rounds seven, eight, and nine this week.  He’s a boom or bust pick and my guess is he’ll be more bust than boom and end up an average WR who you’ll have to overpay for this week.  Of course that’s assuming he doesn’t add on to the list that Jim was reading from.

Once again it’s been a pleasure and an honor to carry on the work of Howard.  The Mock Draft Army has been a useful tool in my preparation for drafts and I hope it was for you too whether you took part or by reading these reviews.  On Thursday, look out for the week one edition of my coverage on surviving your Eliminator pools.  Check out the primer that’s already available which gives some general guidelines as to how to approach them each week.  I’m always available on twitter to answer your questions @gasdoc_spit.