Ezekiel Elliott, who won’t need his helmet until Week 8, still went with a fairly high pick. (Gus Ruelas/AP)

With draft season fully underway, it’s always helpful to see how prominent members of the fantasy community approach the process, especially when vying directly with each other. Recently, five Post staffers — myself, Neil Greenberg, Scott Allen, Mike Hume and Jeff Dooley — tested our mettle against seven much brighter minds in a mock-draft exercise, with the results dissected below.

We are very grateful to Stephania Bell and Matt Bowen of ESPN, Christopher Harris of Harris Football, Brandon Marianne Lee of Her Fantasy Football, Shawn Siegele of Rotoviz, Raymond Summerlin of Rotoworld and Matt Waldman of Footballguys for lending us their expertise.

The setup was a PPR format, with this starting lineup: 1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 flex (RB/WR/TE), 1 D/ST, 1 K. So how did we all fare? Time to find out!

1. Raymond Summerlin (Twitter: @RMSummerlin)

1 David Johnson, Ari RB
24 DeAndre Hopkins, Hou WR
25 Ezekiel Elliott, Dal RB
48 Golden Tate, Det WR
49 Jamison Crowder, Wsh WR
72 Tevin Coleman, Atl RB
73 Jeremy Maclin, Bal WR
96 Zach Ertz, Phi TE
97 Jacquizz Rodgers, TB RB
120 Mike Wallace, Bal WR
121 Marcus Mariota, Ten QB
144 Jonathan Williams, Buf RB
145 Devin Funchess, Car WR
168 Tyler Lockett, Sea WR
169 Seahawks D/ST
192 Wil Lutz, NO K

His favorite pick: “Obviously David Johnson, but for the sake of actual discussion I will say Jamison Crowder in the fifth. I see Crowder as a real threat to lead the league in catches this season, and getting him well after even PPR mainstays like Jarvis Landry and Larry Fitzgerald is great value. In fact, in PPR leagues I would rather take Crowder than teammate Terrelle Pryor, who went in the third round.”

His least favorite: “Mike Wallace in the 10th round. I have nothing against Wallace per se, but I had already drafted Jeremy Maclin in the seventh round. Considering how their offseason has gone and their serious questions along the offensive line, investing that heavily in the Ravens’ passing attack does not make much sense. Picking Wallace there also stopped me from taking Jamaal Williams, who went four picks later.”

Analysis

Wondering how early Elliott should go? Well, Summerlin got him at the Round 2/3 turn, ahead of RBs such

Drafting Ezekiel Elliott (left) leaves you with another question: How far to reach for his handcuff, Darren McFadden (right)? (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

as Leonard Fournette, Isaiah Crowell and Marshawn Lynch. Apart from the obvious risk involved in spending a premium pick on a player not scheduled to take the field until Week 8, the draft revealed another problem, when Hume snared Elliott’s handcuff, Darren McFadden, before Summerlin’s turns came up again at the end of the eighth round. This will be an issue for anyone who takes Zeke — how far are you willing to reach for McFadden? Summerlin would have had to take him at the 6/7 turn, making for an expensive investment, indeed, in the Cowboys’ backfield.

Summerlin then reached a bit for Rodgers, who is likely to start the first three weeks in Doug Martin’s absence, and who could, at least in theory, keep that job with a strong showing. A few picks later, he grabbed one of my favorite late-round targets in Williams, who may quickly prove to be more than just a talented handcuff to LeSean McCoy, but I would have liked to see him take another stab at RB with one of his final two (nondefense/kicker) picks, rather than go with both Funchess and Lockett. With Hopkins, Tate, Crowder, Maclin and Wallace, Summerlin assembled a pretty solid-looking group of WRs (the latter two depending, of course, on Joe Flacco’s return to health) and Maclin, in particular, came at a high price, considering that Summerlin could have spared himself some agita by going with McFadden there.

Commentary

Hume: “Absolutely loved the Ezekiel Elliott pick by Raymond Summerlin with the Round 2/3 swing pick. He comes away from this draft with two running backs who most would have ranked in the top three at the position before Elliott’s suspension, which is some serious firepower from Week 8 on. And he backfilled nicely, after some super savvy owner snapped up Darren McFadden, by grabbing Jacquizz Rodgers, who should give him three weeks as a starter in a strong Buccaneers offense while Doug Martin sits out his suspension. This is precisely how owners should handle picking Elliott, if some suave and sophisticated owner picks up McFadden before you.”

2. Stephania Bell (@Stephania_ESPN)

2 Le’Veon Bell, Pit RB
23 Keenan Allen, LAC WR
26 Leonard Fournette, Jax RB
47 Bilal Powell, NYJ RB
50 Kelvin Benjamin, Car WR
71 Donte Moncrief, Ind WR
74 Delanie Walker, Ten TE
95 Andrew Luck*, Ind QB
98 C.J. Prosise, Sea RB
119 Sterling Shepard, NYG WR
122 Anquan Boldin, Buf WR
143 Dak Prescott, Dal QB
146 James Conner, Pit RB
167 Cameron Brate, TB TE
170 Chiefs D/ST
191 Adam Vinatieri, Ind K

Her favorite pick: “One of my favorites is getting Andrew Luck at the very end of the eighth round. I understand the concern; we don’t know if he’ll be playing in Week 1 or not. But I like the idea of a healthier Luck than we’ve seen in over a year and the value (key for me, as I wouldn’t have made this choice a round or two earlier) is excellent. Easy enough to fill in with a solid QB until Luck is ready, given the depth at the position (and I was able to get Prescott in the 12th).”

Her least favorite: “Boldin in the 11th … because he retired over the weekend. Look, as much as I love Boldin as an NFL player, I would redo that pick anyway for fantasy purposes. Probably seek out a rookie with some upside instead. Should have grabbed Kenny Golladay, for example.”

Analysis

Assuming Bell signs his contract offer and returns to the Steelers before Week 1, the No. 2 spot is arguably the best place to be in drafts, as you can simply take whoever doesn’t go at the top between him and David Johnson, getting a fantasy monster either way. Given Bell’s status as ESPN’s resident expert on injuries, it’s notable that she hardly shied away from two players widely perceived as very risky, Allen and Luck. In fact, she more or less doubled down on her confidence in Luck by taking Moncrief a little ahead of his ADP (as aggregated by Fantasy Pros).

It made sense for Bell to take a second QB in Prescott, but it made less overt sense for her to then also take a second TE in Brate, thus limiting the bench spots she could fill with high-upside RBs and WRs. Given Le’Veon Bell’s injury history, Conner could be valuable insurance, but the Pittsburgh rookie has been plagued by his own injuries and has yet to lock down the backup job. Stephania ran into some post-draft bad luck when Boldin, who appeared to have a good shot at leading the Bills in TD catches this season, decided to retire. If we were playing this league out, she could find some interesting replacements on the waiver wire, but the unexpected setback puts pressure on her primary WR group of Allen, Benjamin and Moncrief, with Shepard in reserve, to stay healthy and productive.

Commentary

Greenberg: “No one knows when Luck will return to the lineup, and even if he is healthy, he faces one of the toughest schedules in the league, with games against Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens in Weeks 15 and 16, typically the time when fantasy leagues have their playoffs.”

3. Scott Allen (@ScottSAllen)

Dolphins WR DeVante Parker should thrive with Jay Cutler at QB. (Wilfredo Lee/AP)

3 Antonio Brown, Pit WR
22 Todd Gurley, LAR RB
27 Rob Gronkowski, NE TE
46 Aaron Rodgers, GB QB
51 Emmanuel Sanders, Den WR
70 C.J. Anderson, Den RB
75 Paul Perkins, NYG RB
94 DeVante Parker, Mia WR
99 Adam Thielen, Min WR
118 Corey Coleman, Cle WR
123 Chris Thompson, Wsh RB
142 Giovani Bernard, Cin RB
147 Kevin White, Chi WR
166 Charles Sims, TB RB
171 Justin Tucker, Bal K
190 Jaguars D/ST

His favorite pick: “DeVante Parker. I think he’ll thrive with Jay Cutler. Happy to have him as my third receiver in a draft where I took a TE and a QB in the first four rounds.”

His least favorite: “Chris Thompson. I panicked after a couple of guys I was targeting — Sterling Shepard and Mike Wallace — were taken right before my pick. I should’ve grabbed Shane Vereen as Paul Perkins’s handcuff. He was gone before I picked again.”

Analysis

With Elliott’s suspension, the No. 3 pick has become pretty much a no-brainer, especially in PPR. When it came time to make some tougher decisions, Allen became the first to draft a TE, with Gronk, and then, with Rodgers, also became the first to draft a QB. Each player has the capacity to single-handedly win weeks for him, but the end result of taking both in his first four picks was that Allen walked away with a shaky-looking RB crew, one anchored by Gurley and sorely needing either Anderson or Perkins to display some consistency. Allen showed good awareness of the format by spending later RB picks on pass-catching specialists, so if that duo falters, he does have a decent shot at staying afloat at his RB2 spot.

I like Allen’s WRs a lot, with Coleman and White solid bets to break out. He was the only one to draft a K before the final round, generally a no-no, but I don’t have a major problem with reaching for Tucker, whose proficiency at hitting 50-yarders could swing a week or two in leagues that award extra points for long makes.

Commentary

Siegele: “Rather than single out a specific selection, I would note that the Round 4 picks illustrate the difficulty of that stanza for drafters of all skill levels and in all formats. Value flattens out very quickly after the third, and almost everyone selected in Round 4 could be moved to Round 7 without any of the picks standing out. The RBs in this round don’t have the [type of job security] you want to see this early, and the WRs have target share profiles that can be easily replaced by later picks.”

Vikings running back Dalvin Cook could be a steal in the fourth round. (Kirby Lee/USA Today)

4. Brandon Marianne Lee (@BrandonHerFFB)

4 Odell Beckham Jr., NYG WR
21 Demaryius Thomas, Den WR
28 Isaiah Crowell, Cle RB
45 Dalvin Cook, Min RB
52 Danny Woodhead, Bal RB
69 Cameron Meredith, Chi WR
76 Jimmy Graham, Sea TE
93 Kenny Britt, Cle WR
100 Kirk Cousins, Wsh QB
117 Rishard Matthews, Ten WR
124 Jamaal Williams, GB RB
141 Kenny Golladay, Det WR
148 Cooper Kupp, LAR WR
165 Coby Fleener, NO TE
172 Patriots D/ST
189 Brandon McManus, Den K

Her favorite pick: “Dalvin Cook. I see a lot of sleeper wide receivers at the end of the draft (Cooper Kupp, Kenny Golladay, etc.) but I don’t see a lot of value at RB, so getting a potential bell cow back like Cook in the fourth round felt like good value.”

Her least favorite: “Kirk Cousins. In most leagues, Cousins in the ninth would be a miracle. I am very high on Cousins this year, but in an industry draft so everyone waits a really long time to get their QB. Cam Newton went in the 11th round. Dak Prescott in the 12th round. Yikes.”

Analysis

With Lee bringing up the topic, no better time to point out that QBs almost always go very late in expert drafts (assuming a 1-QB starting lineup), all the more so because participants are aware of that fact and are all the more emboldened to wait as long as possible on that position. In other words, don’t expect these results in your friends’ leagues, but do consider taking a tip from our guests by viewing patience as a virtue when it comes to drafting QBs. In that context, Lee is correct that getting Cousins about 20 spots later than his ADP wasn’t the great value it might otherwise appear to be. In fact, she made the Redskins’ signal-caller the fifth QB chosen, ahead of the likes of Russell Wilson and Matt Ryan.

I love Lee’s value-rific selection of Graham, whom I have ranked well above Delanie Walker (drafted two spots earlier) and who set off a mini-run at TE, with Kyle Rudolph and Tyler Eifert going directly afterward. She clearly has a lot of confidence in Trevor Siemian to get the ball early and often to Thomas, not to mention in various Bears and Browns QBs to do the same for Meredith and Britt. As she mentioned, Golladay and Kupp look like nice late-round shots to take, but I would have gone with at least one more RB than her total of four, probably at the expense of Fleener.

Commentary

Summerlin: “My favorite of the other picks was Jamaal Williams in the 11th round. While I am not selling Ty Montgomery completely, it does look like the rookie is trending toward a substantial role even if Montgomery is able to stay on the field. If he cannot, that would mean even more work for Williams in what should be a great offense. He and Thomas Rawls are the exact type of bets people should be making in the double-digit rounds.”

Waldman: “I’m a huge fan of Kupp’s game. The Rams rookie has the short-area quickness and acceleration of Allen Robinson and a knowledge of routes, releases, and adjustments that belie his years. I coveted Kupp in the 13th round because even with the Sammy Watkins trade, I expect Kupp to lead this team in receptions and challenge for the title of most productive rookie receiver this year. Well done, Team Lee.”

5. Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41)

Was Saints wide receiver Ted Ginn a steal in the 10th round? (Jonathan Bachman/AP)

5 Julio Jones, Atl WR
20 Brandin Cooks, NE WR
29 Marshawn Lynch, Oak RB
44 Davante Adams, GB WR
53 Joe Mixon, Cin RB
68 Brandon Marshall, NYG WR
77 Kyle Rudolph, Min TE
92 Kareem Hunt, KC RB
101 Derrick Henry, Ten RB
116 Ted Ginn Jr., NO WR
125 Jameis Winston, TB QB
140 Shane Vereen, NYG RB
149 Kenny Stills, Mia WR
164 Curtis Samuel, Car WR
173 Texans D/ST
188 Matt Prater, Det K

His favorite pick: “Loved the value I got with Saints WR Ted Ginn in the 10th round. Deep ball ability. The inside seam in the Saints offense. And production after the catch. I bet Ginn can still drop a 4.3 on the stopwatch today. He hasn’t shown any sign of losing his top end speed on tape and I like his fit in Sean Payton’s offense. With Brandin Cooks now in New England, there are a ton of targets/receptions to replace in New Orleans. And Ginn is currently listed as a starter on the depth chart. That pick allowed me to put together of depth chart of Julio Jones, Cooks, Davante Adams, Brandon Marshall and Ginn at the WR position. Now, I have the opportunity to play matchups and mix personnel in that Flex spot.”

His least favorite: “I grabbed Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph in the 7th round — and that was a little too early for me to look at the position. With tight ends such as Martellus Bennett and Jack Doyle still on the board (two guys I think will outplay their current ADP), I should have passed on Rudolph. Yes, Rudolph will be a productive player in the Vikings’ West Coast route tree. However, as I look back on it, with Mark Ingram still sitting there, I should have jumped at the chance to take the Saints RB. Had plenty of time to come back to the tight end position. That was a miss on my part.”

Analysis

If Bowen thinks he got great value with Ginn, it’s fair to wonder how high he has the Saints WR ranked, given that he took the player at pick No. 116, while Ginn’s ADP is 148. (Give Bowen credit for consistency, at least, as he selected Ginn at pick No. 117 in an ESPN PPR mock draft earlier this month.) In any event, Ginn is hardly the key to Bowen’s success at WR, as he took four in the first six rounds.

At RB, Bowen will need a few situations to work out in his favor, including Lynch overcoming age, rust and a possible lack of usage in the passing game, while Mixon, Hunt and Henry could have playing-time issues, at least in the early going. I did like the, ahem, value with Mixon, and Vereen could pay big PPR dividends in an unsettled Giants backfield. Bowen may be regretting his selection of Rudolph, but the TE could provide some much-needed reliability on what looks like an otherwise high-variance roster.

Commentary

Dooley: “I’d have taken [Lynch] over three backs that went before him: Ezekiel Elliott, Leonard Fournette and Isaiah Crowell.”

Bell: “If he didn’t take Hunt, that’s who I would have grabbed there, then Luck in the 9th. Hunt is talented and could end up the starter in KC.”

6. Mike Hume (@MikeHumePost)

Behind a strong offensive line, Bears RB Jordan Howard should have a big season. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

6 A.J. Green, Cin WR
19 Jordan Howard, Chi RB
30 Alshon Jeffery, Phi WR
43 Carlos Hyde, SF RB
54 Spencer Ware, KC RB
67 Theo Riddick, Det RB
78 Tyler Eifert, Cin TE
91 Darren McFadden, Dal RB
102 John Brown, Ari WR
115 Thomas Rawls, Sea RB
126 Cam Newton, Car QB
139 Austin Hooper, Atl TE
150 Jamaal Charles, Den RB
163 Devontae Booker*, Den RB
174 Cardinals D/ST
187 Sebastian Janikowski, Oak K

His favorite pick: “Jordan Howard in Round 2. I like A.J. Green, but he really starts the tier of the nonautomatic picks in Round 1. Nos. 6-7 is going to be a tough draft spot this season. I was really worried I wouldn’t be able to get a Tier 2 RB (a tier I believe is occupied by LeSean McCoy, Devonta Freeman, Melvin Gordon, Howard and Jay Ajayi), but I lucked out. Howard will work behind a strong Chicago line and should be the focal point of that offense, regardless of who the QB is on Week 1.”

His least favorite: “Spencer Ware in Round 5. I think Spencer Ware is a good value here, but I passed on Tom Brady and I think he’s a GREAT value in this round. Brady and Rodgers are on a clear top tier for me, even ahead of Drew Brees, and I think it most drafts he’ll be long gone by Pick 54. But we experts do have an anti-QB bias it seems. Ware will be fine as my regular flex play, but it cost me a sure thing at quarterback that I backfilled with a bit of a question mark in Cam Newton, even if the Panthers have a friendly fantasy schedule and I did get great value on him in Round 11.”

Analysis

I like the sheer talent Hume amassed in his first four picks, and, as mentioned earlier, he dealt Summerlin quite a blow by snaring McFadden in the eighth. Interestingly, by taking Elliott’s handcuff, Hume passed over a highly regarded backup who could have been of great use to him, the Ware owner, as Hunt was drafted with the very next pick. Can’t wait to see how that plays out! (Um, if we were playing out this league.)

Sure, Hume may have reached for Hooper, in terms of taking him instead of a couple of TEs with higher ADPs, but it’s okay to start singling out unproven guys you really like in the double-digit rounds, and his selection of the oft-injured Eifert meant that grabbing a second TE was a prudent choice. If the oft-injured Brown and Rawls can stay healthy, then Hume’s bench will look pretty good, but as things stand now, it’s marked by, well, question marks. Given that Brown is Hume’s only backup WR, he may have been wiser to spend both of his final two (non-D/K) picks at that spot, rather than focusing on the murkiest elements of the Broncos’ murky RB situation.

Commentary

Greenberg: “Hume’s selection of Darren McFadden in the eighth round could be the best pick of the draft. If Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension is upheld, Hume got a No. 1 RB in McFadden for at least six weeks in a round where other owners had to take their chances with Robert Kelley and Kareem Hunt.”

Waldman: “I hoped Hooper might come back to me in the 13th round at the 151st pick, so I took a flier on the talented Dion Lewis because I’m betting against the party line that believes it’s accurately reading tea leaves of the Patriots. However, Hume selected Hooper at 139, a pick after my selection of Lewis. Hooper lacks the athletic skills that make fantasy owners salivate over the likes of Eric Ebron and Ladarius Green, but he’s quick enough, fluid, great at the catch point and tight coverage, and he’s a focused, intelligent worker. Matt Ryan only supported one fantasy starter among receivers/tight ends last year, despite having a great year. Expect Hooper to be the leading reason that Julio Jones experiences a small decline in production.”

7. Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman)

Is the Packers’ Jordy Nelson too long in the tooth to be a No. 1 pick? (Morry Gash/AP)

7 Jordy Nelson, GB WR
18 DeMarco Murray, Ten RB
31 Terrelle Pryor Sr., Wsh WR
42 Tyreek Hill, KC WR
55 Tom Brady, NE QB
66 Ameer Abdullah, Det RB
79 Adrian Peterson, NO RB
90 Hunter Henry, LAC TE
103 Corey Davis, Ten WR
114 Matt Ryan, Atl QB
127 Samaje Perine, Wsh RB
138 Dion Lewis, NE RB
151 Broncos D/ST
162 Paul Richardson, Sea WR
175 Evan Engram, NYG TE
186 Cairo Santos, KC K

His favorite pick: “Paul Richardson in the 14th round. This is a shallow league compared to many of my leagues so there will be a lot of quality players on the waiver wire for at least four weeks. At this point of a draft, many fantasy writers characterize these late picks as ‘darts.’ As someone who evaluates rookie talent for a living, I see it as an opportunity to get in early on talent that I’ve known well for years. Richardson flashed his magnificent talent last year, especially during the playoffs when he showed off coordination at the catch point that few receivers in the NFL possess. Richardson is difficult to contain at the line of scrimmage. He’ll be no worse than the third receiver in Seattle’s rotation, but he has a great opportunity to hold off Tyler Lockett as the No. 2 in base offensive sets.”

His least favorite: “Corey Davis in the ninth round was a situation where I ‘settled’ for a talent that I like, but I had my eye on Derrick Henry. I don’t fall on a particular side in the great RB handcuff debate. If there’s a potential league-changing talent backing up a quality starter with a strong supporting cast, I’m willing to take that player a little earlier. Henry behind Tennessee’s excellent run-blocking unit qualifies as that type of player. With DeMarco Murray as my pick at 18th overall, I hoped I could land Henry, but Matt Bowen realized that this wasn’t a devy [developmental] league, and couldn’t take Iowa’s Akrum Wadley so he settled for Henry two picks before I had a chance to nab him. I’m not concerned about Davis’ hamstring, but I would have much preferred Henry based on the makeup of my squad.”

Analysis

This team features an interesting mix of players who could reasonably be described as long in the tooth (although not short on talent) in Nelson, Murray, Brady and Peterson, and others who are decidedly inexperienced (Pryor, Hill, Henry, Davis, Perine, Engram). Waldman is strong at WR and QB, but RB could be a problem, particularly in PPR, as Peterson has never been much of a pass-catcher while Abdullah has largely ceded that role to Theo Riddick. Beyond them, Perine is widely expected to overtake Rob Kelley at some point this season, but he’ll need to vastly improve his pass-blocking and ball-security first, and it could be impossible to predict when Dion Lewis’s start-worthy performances will take place.

That said, Lewis looked great two years ago before suffering a major knee injury, and he made for a nicely inexpensive investment in the Patriots’ lucrative RB touches. Waldman made a bigger roll of the dice on Henry, drafting him ahead of his ADP (and Zach Ertz, for that matter), thus putting himself in the position of hoping that another old guy, Antonio Gates, doesn’t get in the way of the young TE’s progress. Another arguable reach came in the 13th round, when Waldman became the first to draft a defense, gambling that the Broncos could buck the odds and finish in the top two for a third straight season.

Commentary

Bowen: “Tyreek Hill in the fourth round (No. 42 overall) [is] a lot earlier than I expected Hill to come off the board. Look, I love Hill’s game. And he is an dynamic talent. 4.2 speed with lateral quickness and big play ability. But it is a stretch to think Hill can replicate those monster TD numbers from last season (12 total TDs). And even with more reps as a WR this season, the fantasy limitations of QB Alex Smith will impact the total production for Hill. For me, Hill is a solid player in the Flex spot. But based on his draft position, he is being viewed as a WR2 here.”

Harris: “If Davis had still been there, I probably would’ve taken him instead of Wilson. It seems like I’ve gotten Davis in nearly every mock draft I’ve done … not that I feel sure that he’ll produce, but if he does, I think he’ll be at a much higher level than his draft position indicates. His ceiling is significantly higher than the players being drafted around him.”

Dez Bryant of the Cowboys was a good second-round choice. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

 

8.

8. Jeff Dooley (@JeffDooley_)

8 Mike Evans, TB WR
17 Dez Bryant, Dal WR
32 Lamar Miller, Hou RB
41 Ty Montgomery, GB RB
56 Julian Edelman, NE WR
65 Frank Gore, Ind RB
80 Mike Gillislee, NE RB
89 Robert Kelley, Wsh RB
104 Eric Decker, Ten WR
113 Jack Doyle, Ind TE
128 Derek Carr, Oak QB
137 Zay Jones, Buf WR
152 Cole Beasley, Dal WR
161 Philip Rivers, LAC QB
176 Giants D/ST
185 Mason Crosby, GB K

His favorite pick: “I thought Dez Bryant in the mid-second round was a good value. With him and Mike Evans, I feel like I have two WR1s. Zay Jones has the kind of upside I’m looking for in a pick as late as the 12th round.”

His least favorite: “I felt like I was forced into taking Lamar Miller in the third round. I would have much preferred any of the five guys who went ahead of him: Rob Gronkowski, Isaiah Crowell, Marshawn Lynch, Alshon Jeffery and Terrelle Pryor.”

Analysis

Dooley was the last to draft a TE, showing plenty of belief in Doyle, who emerged from obscurity last season and is poised to be the main cog in the Colts’ two-TE attack. In that vein, Dooley will no doubt be heartened by Bell’s faith in Luck’s early-season availability. In PPR, it’s always nice to start off with two stud WRs, and my colleague did just that before opting to address RB with one of the fantasy world’s most polarizing commodities. Miller has a disconcertingly wide range of reasonable outcomes for such a high pick, but then again, the exact same thing can be said of the next three players to go off the board (Allen Robinson, Jordan Reed and Jarvis Landry).

Reflecting his own concerns with Miller, Dooley focused on RB in four of the next five rounds, ending up with a group that lacks top-end promise but should give him palatable weekly options. I would have — stop me if you’ve heard this before — liked to have seen him take another swing at RB in the late rounds, such as where he opted for a second QB. For instance, having drafted Gore, why not throw a dart at an excitingly athletic rookie backup, Marlon Mack, or even the Colts’ admittedly boring No. 2 back, Robert Turbin? Elsewhere, the Jones pick looked smart even before Boldin bolstered the rookie’s value with his retirement.

Commentary

Allen: “Not an extraordinary value, but after going WR-WR, Miller is a heck of an RB1 to grab in the third round.”

9. Christopher Harris (@HarrisFootball)

Chargers running back Melvin Gordon is usually gone by the 10th pick. (Mark J. Terrill/AP)

9 LeSean McCoy, Buf RB
16 Melvin Gordon, LAC RB
33 Allen Robinson, Jax WR
40 Larry Fitzgerald, Ari WR
57 Drew Brees, NO QB
64 Willie Snead, NO WR
81 Mark Ingram, NO RB
88 Martellus Bennett, GB TE
105 Russell Wilson, Sea QB
112 Jordan Matthews, Buf WR
129 Jeremy Hill, Cin RB
136 John Ross, Cin WR
153 Joe Williams, SF RB
160 Latavius Murray, Min RB
177 Vikings D/ST
184 Dan Bailey, Dal K

His favorite pick: “Melvin Gordon in second round, 16th overall. Even in a PPR league, it’s pretty shocking to see Melly Gordon there in the middle of the second round. On average, he goes 10th in PPR leagues. I’d be foolish to call him bulletproof, because no RB is, but here he went behind Ajayi, which is unusual. Wide receiver is awfully deep, so being able to load up on two of the five best backs on my board felt right.”

His least favorite: “Russell Wilson in ninth round, 102nd overall. I’m all for waiting on quarterback, but this is ridiculous. I’d already grabbed Drew Brees, but when Wilson fell into he second half of the draft, I couldn’t ignore him any longer. When you pick with wiseguys, you know everybody will wait on QB. But at some point, the value is too much. Wilson is trade bait and/or injury insurance. But of course, I don’t like doing that! Playing price police!”

Analysis

As the guy who took Ajayi ahead of Gordon, I’m certainly not the highest on the Chargers back, but even I have to salute Harris for being able to snare him at No. 16. Add in his oh-so-easy call of McCoy in the first, and Harris wins the Value City award for early-round coups. Unfortunately, he may have fumbled that advantage by going on to draft Robinson, Fitzgerald and Snead each about a round too soon.

But then, boom! Harris was back to Value City, propping his feet up in a cushy recliner after stealing Ingram with the 81st pick. The Saints are going to have plenty of carries to split between Ingram and Peterson, just as they’re going to have plenty of short passes to split between Ingram and Alvin Kamara. Sense the common denominator there? The only downside for Harris is that a major injury to Brees would damage his team in multiple areas, but then again, he has good depth in all those areas, including a ridiculously overqualified backup QB in Wilson. Harris, though, may have left the draft ruing his decision to take Ross in the 12th round, rather than McCoy’s handcuff, Jonathan Williams (he wound up with a lesser “J. Williams,” Joe of the 49ers, in the next round).

10. Shawn Siegele (@FF_Contrarian)

Redskins tight end Jordan Reed’s health is always a concern. (Steve Helber/AP)

10 Michael Thomas, NO WR
15 T.Y. Hilton, Ind WR
34 Jordan Reed, Wsh TE
39 Travis Kelce, KC TE
58 Sammy Watkins, LAR WR
63 Pierre Garcon, SF WR
82 Duke Johnson Jr., Cle RB
87 Tyrell Williams, LAC WR
106 Matt Forte, NYJ RB
111 James White, NE RB
130 Matthew Stafford, Det QB
135 Alvin Kamara, NO RB
154 Rex Burkhead, NE RB
159 DeAndre Washington, Oak RB
178 Bengals D/ST
183 Stephen Gostkowski, NE K

His favorite pick: “Sammy Watkins at 5.10. He’s still a risk/reward selection with a questionable injury situation, a poor QB, and a new offense to process, but the move to the Rams could be a blessing by midseason. Sean McVay will be more aggressive and work harder to scheme opportunities for the potential star.”

His least favorite: “Duke Johnson at 7.10. Mark Ingram lasted within a single selection (7.09) and would have been a much better value, at least superficially. I’d prefer my first RB pick in a Zero RB approach to have more upside, although the hidden potential is one of the reasons I selected him here.”

Analysis

I would have expected nothing less from the man who revolutionized draft strategy with his landmark 2013 article on Zero RB. Siegele waited by far the longest to draft an RB, and his selections at that position were straight out of the handbook: backs with strong passing-game roles who have plausible paths to much bigger workloads. His plan to come away with an unassailably strong receiving corps was bolstered with fantastic values in Watkins and Garcon, not to mention a smart-set favorite in Williams. I would point out, though, that the Zero RB strategy works best in the 3-WR formats in which Siegele commonly competes, as opposed to our 2-WR setup, leaving him here with a possible overabundance of riches.

Speaking of which, and as other drafters mentioned (see below), Siegele’s approach of taking two high-priced TEs certainly raised eyebrows. I thought this could be another instance of following a draft strategy best suited to other league formats (in this case, the popular “MFL10s” at myfantasyleague.com), but also thought that if one were determined to trot out an elite TE every week, then a pricey insurance policy for Reed would clearly be in order. My most useful thought was that I should just go ahead and ask Siegele himself about it, and here is his explanation:

“TE is a position where you can separate yourself from the rest of the league, especially in a format like 2-RB, 2-WR, 1-TE, 1-Flex where there aren’t many starters. In this case, the second TE has flex potential, so you solidify your TE scoring, protect against injury, create flexibility at the Flex, and thin the player pool for your competitors at what is already a shallow position. I especially like it this season when you consider how weak Round 4 happens to be at RB and WR. (If Round 4 were stronger, then the Double Elite TE approach would lower your ceiling too much.)”

Commentary

Lee: “Kyle Shanahan loves his No. 1 wide out, and he will use Garcon heartily. Garcon put up more than 1,000 yards last season and also in 2013 with Shanahan as an offensive coordinator.”

Bowen: “Good value for a guy that will be a PPR machine in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Short-to-intermediate route tree, the toughness to work the middle of the field and the consistency we should expect from a veteran wideout. Garcon isn’t going to rack up TDs, but in a PPR format, he is a solid WR2 all year long.

Bell: “This is really hard for me because I could question each and every one of my own picks, much less anyone else’s. But since I have to do this exercise, I guess I wonder why Team Siegele took back-to-back tight ends in Reed and Kelce. I get the concern about Reed’s ability to stay healthy but seems like a lot of capital up front to spend on tight ends. Why not just draft an RB with the third pick (he could have had Christian McCaffrey(!) or Dalvin Cook, for instance), then go to Kelce? Despite him being a fellow ‘Cane, not sure how I’d feel about Duke Johnson as my RB1.”

Harris: “The non-Gronk tight ends — even in a PPR, there’s no reason to reach for them. (And in an experts’ mock draft, even less so.) It’s a deep position with a lot of potential upside players, and tons of waiver replacements if you whiff. While Kelce, Reed and Olsen are pretty safe if they’re healthy, I’m not sure any of them has the intense upside that warrants a third or fourth, especially when I can get 80 percent of them in the 10th.”

11. Neil Greenberg (@ngreenberg)

Jarvis Landry will be the Dolphins’ No. 1 wide receiver. (Wilfredo Lee/AP)

11 Amari Cooper, Oak WR
14 Doug Baldwin, Sea WR
35 Jarvis Landry, Mia WR
38 Greg Olsen, Car TE
59 LeGarrette Blount, Phi RB
62 Doug Martin, TB RB
83 Eddie Lacy, Sea RB
86 Marvin Jones, Det WR
107 Randall Cobb, GB WR
110 Jonathan Stewart, Car RB
131 Tyrod Taylor, Buf QB
134 D’Onta Foreman, Hou RB
155 Alfred Morris, Dal RB
158 Dwayne Allen, NE TE
179 Steelers D/ST
182 Chris Boswell, Pit K

His favorite pick: “I stuck to a Zero RB strategy, making sure I got top receivers and a tight end before turning my attention to running back. My best pick might be Jarvis Landry in the third round. His ADP (5.04) suggests I took him early but he is a No. 1 receiver for the Miami Dolphins with the second-highest yards per route run from the slot in 2016 (2.33).”

His least favorite: “Doug Martin in the sixth round. His ADP makes him a fair value there, but his injury history on a bad team could leave him with few opportunities to make an impact.”

Analysis

Neil was a bit less dogged in his Zero RB approach than Siegele, drafting just enough WRs to fill out his starting and flex spots, then grabbing a TE before turning his attention to RBs. However, his choices were no less head-scratching, as he took Cooper, Baldwin and Landry well ahead of their ADPs. Of course, the first two would not have been available a round later than where they went, and in any case, Greenberg is commendably averse to following the crowds in his fantasy assessments, which are based in his statistical analyses. The lesson here, folks, is to make your own draft lists and then take players in the order that makes most sense to you, without concern for how it may appear to others. After all, when do NFL seasons ever play out the way we think they will?

That said, even if Greenberg is delighted with the way his draft began, he might want to have the Blount pick back, based on reports that the burly RB is struggling with his new team, the Eagles. Or maybe Blount was a questionable choice to lead this RB corps simply based on his presumed noninvolvement in the passing game, leaving him dependent for PPR success on the kind of end zone consistency he’s highly unlikely to replicate away from New England. Oddly, Greenberg seemed to make a deficiency in receiving a criterion for all of his RBs, although Martin could provide great value once he returns in Week 4. Okay, maybe I’m just bitter because he sniped the Steelers D/ST, who have my favorite early-season schedule, one pick before I was ready to pounce. At QB, Taylor appears to be on shaky ground in Buffalo, but there would be several waiver options, if needed.

Commentary

Hume: “Neil is really rolling the dice with his first two picks. I think Amari Cooper is a fine receiver, but he’s not a first-rounder to me, nor is he even head and shoulders better than his teammate, Michael Crabtree, who was selected in Round 4. Compounding the issue is the Round 2 selection of Doug Baldwin, another fine receiver who gets me as excited as watching ‘Golden Girls’ reruns. I like Betty White, but there are better things to do with my time. And there were better players to be drafted with these picks, including strong RBs in Freeman, Ajayi, Howard and Gordon, though I know Neil is no Gordon fan due to his insightful Draft Score metric.”

Dooley: “Neil taking Amari Cooper 11th overall was a little early, for me. I like him early in the second, but Devonta Freeman, Jay Ajayi, Melvin Gordon and Bryant were all there for the taking.”

Summerlin: “Most of my least favorite picks were players sniped just before I got on the clock, but just on the pick’s merits I have to say Jarvis Landry in the third. He certainly has been a PPR monster in the past and could do it again, but his opportunities down the stretch last season and the way the Dolphins have treated him this offseason suggest he will at best have an inconsistent role. His big games late last season did come in losses, however, and the Dolphins’ win total could fall significantly both because of natural regression and the situation at quarterback. It is not inconceivable Landry remains a great PPR asset, but there are other players I am more interested in betting on in that area.”

Allen: “Neil knows that he can’t carry over any of Blount’s 18 TDs from last year, right?”

12. Des Bieler (@DesBieler)

Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant is a downfield threat. (Don Wright/AP)

12 Devonta Freeman, Atl RB
13 Jay Ajayi, Mia RB
36 Christian McCaffrey, Car RB
37 Michael Crabtree, Oak WR
60 Stefon Diggs, Min WR
61 Martavis Bryant, Pit WR
84 Terrance West, Bal RB
85 DeSean Jackson, TB WR
108 Eric Ebron, Det TE
109 Darren Sproles, Phi RB
132 Ben Roethlisberger, Pit QB
133 Robby Anderson, NYJ WR
156 T.J. Yeldon, Jax RB
157 Nelson Agholor, Phi WR
180 Panthers D/ST
181 Matt Bryant, Atl K

My favorite pick: Martavis Bryant promises to be a fun own, all the more so since I don’t have to rely on him to fill out my starting lineup. This is a 6-4, 220-pound specimen who has both scoring prowess (14 TDs in 21 career games) and is a major downfield threat (17.3 yards per reception). All I need is for Bryant to stay on the field, especially given that my QB would benefit greatly from the same thing.

My least favorite: Darren Sproles. I was debating between him and Jonathan Stewart, and Neil helped me see the error of my ways by selecting the latter with the very next pick. Having taken McCaffrey earlier in the draft, Stewart presented a double value to me, so although I like Sproles a lot in PPR, that would have been the better way to go.

Analysis

What’s there to say? This draft is pure perfection. Fine, not really, but I do take it as a personal point of pride that, even amid all these fantasy experts, I managed to be the last to draft a QB, and I came away with my seventh-ranked player at that position (did I mention that it would really help if Bryant could stay on the field?).

A more actionable takeaway for readers is to take what the draft gives them in the early rounds. I would have been fine pursuing some kind of Zero RB approach, if the top players left on my board at the 12th, 13th and 36th picks were all WRs (or two WRs and a TE). As it turned out, I had RBs atop my list at those points, so I happily went heavy at that position, confident that I could remain competitive elsewhere. It helps that there is a seemingly bottomless well of WR2 candidates in PPR, so even if my squad lacks an elite performer there, I’ll take my chances on outscoring foes at RB and drawing something close to even at WR. One regret could be spending my last non-D/K pick on Agholor, who could be good in PPR, in favor of a high-upside TE to pair with Ebron.

Commentary

Siegele: “Diggs will occasionally go in Round 3 of expert drafts, and I had him well above Watkins. I bypassed him at 5.10, in part because I was interested to see how far he would fall.”

Lee: “McCaffrey is an incredibly talented and versatile back, but he landed in the worst possible spot for fantasy production. Can the Panthers go from last in the league for running back targets to the top so McCaffrey can be fantasy relevant? I don’t know about that.”

Read more about fantasy football:

 The most underrated and overrated fantasy quarterbacks

Five team-crippling fantasy football draft mistakes owners will make in 2017

The most underrated and overrated fantasy wide receivers