We’ve nearly reached the month of August, and in less than a week the Hall of Fame game will be played. That can mean only one thing for fantasy football fanatics, draft season is in full swing. Soon preparation and practice will give way (hopefully) to the completion of a successful draft.
For many fantasy owners, the use of mock drafts is a valuable tool when getting ready to select their teams. However, finding a mock can be easier said than done for those who play in IDP leagues. Mock drafts that include individual defensive players aren’t especially easy to come by.
However, just because you can’t participate in one doesn’t mean you can’t do the next best thing, examine ones that have occurred in an effort to spot draft-day trends and potential value picks.
That’s what we’re going to do here, with a look at a recent IDP mock I conducted. It’s a fairly straight-forward PPR league. Start one QB, two RB, three WR, one TE and one flex. Six points for all touchdowns. Standard 10/25 split between rushing/receiving yards and passing yards.
The starting defensive lineup consists of two DL, two LB, two DB and one “flex”. Defensive scoring is 1.5 points per tackle and 4 points per big play (a fairly common roster setup and tackle-heavy scoring system). It’s also worth pointing out that it was a very short bench (22 roster spots), so with the exception of a spare DL or LB here and there the reserve slots were spent on offensive sleepers and depth, just as they should be in most standard IDP leagues.
In IDP leagues with a short bench such as this one, the smart play on defense is to let the waiver wire serve as your de facto reserves, especially where defensive backs are concerned.
The kicker position was omitted here, but the rule with those is simple – last round. No exceptions. Ever.
Now that we’ve got the scoring and lineup requirements ironed out, let’s take a team-by-team look at how things played out, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
This is an IDP article after all. You don’t need me to tell you Todd Gurley is good.
Team 1: Gurley Men
|1.01||Todd Gurley - RB, LAR||12.12||Vince Williams - ILB, PIT|
|2.12||Joe Mixon - RB, CIN||13.01||Kirk Cousins - QB, MIN|
|3.01||Tyreek Hill - WR, KCC||14.12||Preston Brown - ILB, CIN|
|4.12||Zach Ertz - TE, PHI||15.01||Budda Baker - S, ARZ|
|5.01||Golden Tate - WR, DET||16.12||Chris Ivory - RB, BUF|
|6.12||Julian Edelman - WR, NEP||17.01||Derek Carr - QB, OAK|
|7.01||Mark Ingram - RB, NOS||18.12||Danny Trevathan - ILB, CHI|
|8.12||Rex Burkhead - RB, NEP||19.01||Robert Quinn - DE, MIA|
|9.01||JJ Watt - DE, HOU||20.12||Ben Watson - TE, NOS|
|10.12||Sterling Shepard - WR, NTG||21.01||Tyler Lockett - WR, SEA|
|11.01||Reshad Jones - S, MIA||22.12||Dan Bailey - PK, DAL|
Just as he's been in most drafts in 2018, Gurley was the first pick overall here. This team has a solid core of offensive talent, especially if Julian Edelman hits the ground running when he returns from suspension. But on the defensive side of the ball it's a different story. Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt might be an elite producer up front, and Miami Dolphins strong safety Reshad Jones likely will be on the back end. By waiting to draft a linebacker until Round 12, this squad risked having a hole at the most important position in IDP.
IDP Bust Alert: It hurts my heart to list Watt as a potential IDP bust, and if he's 100 percent the three-time DPOY may well lead all defensive linemen in fantasy points. But after losing most of the last two seasons to knee and back injuries there's no denying that Watt's the definition of risk/reward.
Team 2: For Whom the Bell Toils
|1.02||Le'Veon Bell - RB, PIT||12.11||Jarrad Davis - ILB, DET|
|2.11||Aaron Rodgers - QB, GBP||13.02||Danielle Hunter - DE, MIN|
|3.02||Stefon Diggs - WR, MIN||14.11||Bilal Powell - RB, NYJ|
|4.11||Jay Ajayi - RB, PHI||15.02||Kenny Golladay - WR, DET|
|5.02||Alshon Jeffery - WR, PHI||16.11||Micah Hyde - S, BUF|
|6.11||Royce Freeman - RB, DEN||17.02||Myles Garrett - DE, CLE|
|7.02||Cooper Kupp - WR, LAR||18.11||Brandon Marshall - ILB, DEN|
|8.11||Roquan Smith - ILB, CHI||19.02||Karl Joseph - S, OAK|
|9.02||Delanie Walker - TE, TEN||20.11||Vontaze Burfict - OLB, CIN|
|10.11||Chris Hogan - WR, NEP||21.02||Eric Ebron - TE, IND|
|11.02||Carlos Hyde - RB, CLE||22.11||Matt Prater - PK, DET|
To be brutally honest, I'm not crazy about either of this team's top two picks. Of this year's elite running backs, Bell is the biggest risk to disappoint thanks to his workload the past two years and another holdout. And Round 2 is just too early to draft a quarterback in fantasy football, even one as good as Aaron Rodgers. This team took a patient yet risky approach to the defensive side of the ball, taking just one IDP in the draft's first half before loading up on young upside options. However, if those youngsters play to their potential in 2018, it could be a formidable bunch.
The Burfict Conundrum: When Vontaze Burfict is on the field, he's capable of posting top-five fantasy numbers. But he's also a dumb suspension waiting to happen; he'll spend the first four games of 2018 in his room thinking about what he's done. Don't overpay for a player who will miss a quarter of the season.
Team 3: Bosa's Boys
|1.03||Ezekiel Elliott - RB, DAL||12.10||Nyheim Hines - RB, IND|
|2.10||Mike Evans - WR, TBB||13.03||Keanu Neal - S, ATL|
|3.03||Jerick McKinnon - RB, SFO||14.10||Kiko Alonso - OLB, MIA|
|4.10||Josh Gordon - WR, CLE||15.03||Dez Bryant - WR, FA|
|5.03||Lamar Miller - RB, HOU||16.10||Benardrick McKinney - ILB, HOU|
|6.10||Jamison Crowder - WR, WAS||17.03||Ezekiel Ansah - DE, DET|
|7.03||Joey Bosa - DE, LAC||18.10||Alex Smith - QB, WAS|
|8.10||Devin Funchess - WR, CAR||19.03||Cameron Brate - TE, TBB|
|9.03||Ben Roethlisberger - QB, PIT||20.10||Josh Jones - S, GBP|
|10.10||Eric Kendricks - ILB, MIN||21.03||Malcolm Smith - OLB, SFO|
|11.03||Trey Burton - TE, PHI||22.10||Adam Vinatieri - PK, IND|
This team is anchored on each side of the ball by a former Ohio State standout, tailback Ezekiel Elliott on offense and defensive end Joey Bosa on defense. The top six picks are a who's who of early risk/reward plays, although to be fair Josh Gordon was selected before his recent sabbatical from the Cleveland Browns was announced. Given that two IDPs were chosen over the first 10 picks the defensive roster is rather underwhelming, outside Bosa and Atlanta Falcons safety Keanu Neal a lot of the defensive picks are high-floor, low-ceiling options.
IDP Sleeper Alert: After losing the entire 2017 season to injury, Malcolm Smith is essentially an afterthought in many IDP drafts this summer. However, Smith is healthy, should start in San Francisco and was quietly a top 30 fantasy option back in 2016. The year before that with the Oakland Raiders, Smith cracked the top-10.
Team 4: Johnson and Kelce, Attorneys at Law
|1.04||David Johnson - RB, ARZ||12.09||Aaron Donald - DE, LAR|
|2.09||Travis Kelce - TE, KCC||13.04||Devontae Booker - RB, DEN|
|3.04||Jordan Howard - RB, CHI||14.09||Joe Schobert - ILB, CLE|
|4.09||Larry Fitzgerald - WR, ARZ||15.04||Martavis Bryant - WR, OAK|
|5.04||Juju Smith-Schuster - WR, PIT||16.09||Carlos Dunlap - DE, CIN|
|6.09||Cam Newton - QB, CAR||17.04||Peyton Barber - RB, TBB|
|7.04||Ronald Jones - RB, TBB||18.09||Jordan Hicks - ILB, PHI|
|8.09||Robert Woods - WR, LAR||19.04||Dak Prescott - QB, DAL|
|9.04||Landon Collins - S, NYG||20.09||Jaquiski Tartt - S, SFO|
|10.09||Robby Anderson - WR, NYJ||21.04||Tahir Whitehead - OLB, OAK|
|11.04||Christian Kirksey - OLB, CLE||22.09||Robbie Gould - PK, SFO|
This squad has a chance to be really good. The first eight picks set a nice baseline for the offense, and the Ronald Jones/Peyton Barber double-dip could become a relatively cheap source of production at running back. However, as big a fan as I am of New York Giants safety Landon Collins, I'm not a fan of drafting a defensive back that early. There are just too many quality options available later in drafts to justify the hole it can create at linebacker or on the defensive line. It's the IDP equivalent of drafting a quarterback early.
Browns LB Mess: In 2017, both Christian Kirksey and Joe Schobert were top-10 fantasy linebackers in most scoring systems. But the arrival of Mychal Kendricks in free agency has muddied the waters big-time. At the very least someone who played in subpackages may not this year. At worst, Schobert or Kirksey could lose their spot in the starting lineup altogether.
Team 5: What Can Brown Do for You?
|1.05||Antonio Brown - WR, PIT||12.08||Jason Pierre-Paul - DE, TBB|
|2.08||Christian McCaffrey - RB, CAR||13.05||Allen Hurns - WR, DAL|
|3.05||LeSean McCoy - RB, BUF||14.08||Wesley Woodyard - ILB, TEN|
|4.08||Jarvis Landry - WR, CLE||15.05||Kevin Byard - S, TEN|
|5.05||Tom Brady - QB, NEP||16.08||Kalen Ballage - RB, MIA|
|6.08||Corey Davis - WR, TEN||17.05||Trey Flowers - DE, NEP|
|7.05||Evan Engram - TE, NYG||18.08||Darron Lee - ILB, NYJ|
|8.08||Jamaal Williams - RB, GBP||19.05||Jamal Adams - S, NYJ|
|9.05||Alec Ogletree - ILB, NYG||20.08||Greg Zuerlein - PK, LAR|
|10.08||Kerryon Johnson - RB, DET||21.05||Muhammad Wilkerson - DE, GBP|
|11.05||Mike Williams - WR, LAC||22.08||Vance McDonald - TE, PIT|
In all fairness, I neither like nor dislike this team. There are plenty of picks to like, including Antonio Brown's robotic ability to score fantasy points dropping all the way to No. 5 and anchoring a wideout corps that's heavy on upside. Despite making just one defensive pick in the first 11 rounds, this owner assembled a competitive defensive lineup at all three positions. But while this team's in good shape just about everywhere, it's not in really great shape anywhere. If the controversy surrounding LeSean McCoy intensifies, this squad could be in all kinds of trouble at running back.
Undervalued: Despite a career-high 124 total tackles and five sacks last year leading to a top-10 IDP finish in many formats, Wesley Woodyard is flying under the radar in many drafts this summer. That includes this one, where Woodyard was taken outside the top 20 linebackers and after rookie batterymate Rashaan Evans. That shouldn't be the case in most drafts.
Team 6: And a Rookie Shall Lead Them
|1.06||Saquon Barkley - RB, NYG||12.07||Chandler Jones - DE, ARZ|
|2.07||Devonta Freeman - RB, ATL||13.06||Theo Riddick - RB, DET|
|3.06||Rob Gronkowski - TE, NEP||14.07||DJ Moore - WR, CAR|
|4.07||Demaryius Thomas - WR, DEN||15.06||Harrison Smith - S, MIN|
|5.06||Marvin Jones - WR, DET||16.07||Marcus Mariota - QB, TEN|
|6.07||Carson Wentz - QB, PHI||17.06||Brandon Graham - DE, PHI|
|7.06||Emmanuel Sanders - WR, DEN||18.07||Jordan Wilkins - RB, IND|
|8.07||Marlon Mack - RB, IND||19.06||KJ Wright - OLB, SEA|
|9.06||Blake Martinez - ILB, GBP||20.07||Derwin James - S, LAC|
|10.07||Tremaine Edmunds - ILB, BUF||21.06||Matt Bryant - PK, ATL|
|11.06||Kelvin Benjamin - WR, BUF||22.07||Mason Foster - ILB, WAS|
There likely wasn't a team in this draft whose first seven picks I liked more in this draft. That says something given that it came from the six hole and included a quarterback who is coming off a torn ACL. I might actually like the defensive lineup even more. Whether it's the defensive line (Jones/Graham), the linebackers (Martinez/Edmunds/Wright) or the secondary (Smith/James), this owner was able to build a defensive lineup as good as any in this league and do so for a reasonable price.
IDP Stud Alert: Chandler Jones led the NFL with 17 sacks last season, but since he did it as an outside linebacker it was something of a non-story in most IDP formats. However, under new head coach Steve Wilks the Redbirds are making the move back to a four-man front in 2018, and that means defensive lineman eligibility for Jones this season.
Team 7: Receivers and More Receivers
|1.07||DeAndre Hopkins - WR, HOU||12.06||D'Onta Foreman - RB, HOU|
|2.06||Davante Adams - WR, GBP||13.07||Tyler Eifert - TE, CIN|
|3.07||Doug Baldwin - WR, SEA||14.06||Demario Davis - ILB, NOS|
|4.06||Alex Collins - RB, BAL||15.07||Jack Doyle - TE, IND|
|5.07||Bobby Wagner - ILB, SEA||16.06||Doug Martin - RB, OAK|
|6.06||Tevin Coleman - RB, ATL||17.07||Kenny Stills - WR, MIA|
|7.07||Drew Brees - QB, NOS||18.06||Frank Clark - DE, SEA|
|8.06||Isaiah Crowell - RB, NYJ||19.07||Hasean Clinton-Dix - S, GBP|
|9.07||Zach Brown - ILB, WAS||20.06||Anthony Hitchens - ILB, KCC|
|10.06||Calais Campbell - DE, JAX||21.07||Adrian Amos - S, CHI|
|11.07||Nelson Agholor - WR, PHI||22.06||Jake Elliott - PK, PHI|
This team was prepared to go the "Zero RB" route, but the owner explained afterward that the run on running backs early was so much more intense than they anticipated that they abandoned the plan in Round 4 and didn't take another wideout until Kenny Stills in Round 17. Depending on how things play out as the season wears on, that will either serve as a testimonial to being flexible on draft day or serve as a cautionary tale about abandoning your draft strategy too early.
IDP Sleeper Alert: There was plenty of criticism of the $9 million a year given to Anthony Hitchens in free agency by the Kansas City Chiefs, with good reason, Hitchens has never posted even 90 tackles in a season. However, the reality is that someone is going to have to make tackles in 2018 for a Chiefs defense that looks, well, bad. He's going to have opportunities galore to produce.
Team 8: Kamara – Whoa Whoa Whoa Whoa
|1.08||Alvin Kamara - RB, NOS||12.05||Jordan Reed - TE, WAS|
|2.05||Keenan Allen - WR, LAC||13.08||Philip Rivers - QB, LAC|
|3.08||Deshaun Watson - QB, HOU||14.05||Everson Griffen - DE, MIN|
|4.05||Brandin Cooks - WR, LAR||15.08||Corey Clement - RB, PHI|
|5.08||Derrius Guice - RB, WAS||16.05||OJ Howard - TE, TBB|
|6.05||Luke Kuechly - ILB, CAR||17.08||Jordan Poyer - S, BUF|
|7.08||Tarik Cohen - RB, CHI||18.05||Akiem Hicks - DE, CHI|
|8.05||Randall Cobb - WR, GBP||19.08||Cameron Meredith - WR, NOS|
|9.08||Jordy Nelson - WR, OAK||20.05||Leighton Vander Esch - ILB, DAL|
|10.05||Ty Montgomery - RB, GBP||21.08||Tony Jefferson - S, BAL|
|11.08||Mark Barron - ILB, LAR||22.05||Harrison Butker - PK, KCC|
If you like shooting for the moon in fantasy football, Team 8 is probably right up your alley. This club's first half-dozen picks all have question marks, whether it's Alvin Kamara's limited track record or the durability of quarterback Deshaun Watson and wide receiver Keenan Allen. That uncertainty extended to the IDP picks. Kuechly has upside galore, but an ever-lengthening injury history. However, this team got great value on the defensive line with Everson Griffen (14th round) and Akiem Hicks (18th round). That's a solid duo at a more than reasonable price.
IDP Pro Tip: This team dodged a bullet. In 12-team leagues like this with two starters on the defensive line, there aren't as many dependable options as there are every-week starting slots. Unless you're prepared to be aggressive up front or luck out like Team 8, the defensive line can easily become a problem area for your fantasy team.
Team 9: You Down With OCB?
|1.09||Odell Beckham - WR, NYG||12.04||Calvin Ridley - WR, ATL|
|2.04||Leonard Fournette - RB, JAX||13.09||Deone Bucannon - OLB, ARZ|
|3.09||TY Hilton - WR, IND||14.04||Chris Carson - RB, SEA|
|4.04||Rashaad Penny - RB, SEA||15.09||Christian Kirk - WR, ARZ|
|5.09||Khalil Mack - DE, OAK||16.04||Patrick Mahomes - QB, KCC|
|6.04||Marshawn Lynch - RB, OAK||17.09||Sean Davis - S, PIT|
|7.09||Pierre Garcon - WR, SFO||18.04||Austin Seferian-Jenkins - TE, NYJ|
|8.04||Kwon Alexander - ILB, TBB||19.09||Yannick Ngakoue - DE, JAX|
|9.09||Matthew Stafford - QB, DET||20.04||Avery Williamson - ILB, NYJ|
|10.04||Kyle Rudolph - TE, MIN||21.09||Tyrann Mathieu - S, HOU|
|11.09||Aaron Jones - RB, GBP||22.04||Chris Boswell - PK, PIT|
Had Team 9 not managed to back him up with Chris Carson later on, the selection of rookie running back Rashaad Penny of the Seahawks in Round 4 could have been a season-killer with Carson running with the ones early in camp. The IDP selections are a bit less controversial, but that doesn't mean they weren't aggressive in adding IDP talent. This team took the first defensive lineman off the board in Khalil Mack (and second IDP overall) and drafted a pair of defensive players in the first eight rounds.
IDP Pro Tip: It's not necessary to be this aggressive on defense to field a competitive IDP lineup. If you're unsure when to start taking IDPs, let your league-mates set the pace. Yes, it means no Khalil Mack or Bobby Wagner for you. But you won't have to worry about reaching for those players two rounds too early either.
Team 10: On the Hunt for Green
|1.10||Kareem Hunt - RB, KCC||12.03||Demarcus Lawrence - DE, DAL|
|2.03||AJ Green - WR, CIN||13.10||Rashaan Evans - ILB, TEN|
|3.10||Kenyan Drake - RB, MIA||14.03||Jared Goff - QB, LAR|
|4.03||Adam Thielen - WR, MIN||15.10||Josh Doctson - WR, WAS|
|5.10||Sammy Watkins - WR, KCC||16.03||CJ Anderson - RB, CAR|
|6.03||Dion Lewis - RB, TEN||17.10||Cameron Heyward - DE, PIT|
|7.10||CJ Mosley - ILB, BAL||18.03||George Kittle - TE, SFO|
|8.03||Jimmy Graham - TE, GBP||19.10||Denzel Perryman - ILB, LAC|
|9.10||Will Fuller - WR, HOU||20.03||Morgan Burnett - S, PIT|
|10.03||Jimmy Garoppolo - QB, SFO||21.10||Barry Church - S, JAX|
|11.10||James White - RB, NEP||22.03||Wil Lutz - PK, NOS|
The front half of Team 10's draft is excellent. The offensive foundation is excellent, especially if sixth-round tailback Dion Lewis and 10th-round quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo play to their potential. Baltimore's CJ Mosley (7th round) is as good a cornerstone as you can ask for at linebacker. But behind Mosley potential problems await. Tennessee's Rashaad Evans' next NFL tackle will be his first one, Also, while Denzel Perryman of the Chargers has shown the ability to produce when healthy in the past, "when healthy" is a notable caveat with him.
IDP Sleeper Alert: After eight seasons with the Green Bay Packers (including three of over 100 total tackles), Morgan Burnett joined the Steelers in free agency. If Burnett assumes an every-down role at strong safety as I suspect he will, the 29-year-old will be the defensive back to own in the Steel City.
Team 11: What's Cook-ing?
|1.11||Dalvin Cook - RB, MIN||12.02||Marqise Lee - WR, JAX|
|2.02||Michael Thomas - WR, NOS||13.11||Latavius Murray - RB, MIN|
|3.11||Allen Robinson - WR, CHI||14.02||Andrew Luck - QB, IND|
|4.02||Derrick Henry - RB, TEN||15.11||Giovani Bernard - RB, CIN|
|5.11||Chris Thompson - RB, WAS||16.02||Michael Gallup - WR, DAL|
|6.02||Michael Crabtree - WR, BAL||17.11||David Njoku - TE, CLE|
|7.11||Deion Jones - ILB, ATL||18.02||Damon Harrison - DT, NYG|
|8.02||Telvin Smith - OLB, JAX||19.11||Ricky Seals-Jones - TE, ARZ|
|9.11||Sean Lee - OLB, DAL||20.02||Stephen Gostkowski - PK, NEP|
|10.02||Matt Ryan - QB, ATL||21.11||Vonn Bell - S, NOS|
|11.11||Cameron Jordan - DE, NOS||22.02||Antoine Bethea - S, ARZ|
This is – in my opinion – the team to beat in this league. Unfortunately, I also had nothing to do with drafting it. Dalvin Cook has top-five upside at the RB spot, as does Mike Thomas at wideout. The manager even waited until the 10th round to draft a quarterback in Matt Ryan. But what really gets my blood pumping is the three straight linebackers that Team 11 selected in the first half. That isn't the foundation for a daunting defense. It's a meat-grinder.
IDP Pro Tip: This team played it smart it the secondary, eschewing the position altogether until the end of Round 21. The elite options are tempting, but there are always a fistful of surprise stars at that position every season, a la Kevin Byard of the Titans and Jordan Poyer of the Titans in 2017. Wait, that patience is likely to be rewarded.
Team 12: Mr. Jones and Me
|1.12||Melvin Gordon - RB, LAC||12.01||Myles Jack - ILB, JAX|
|2.01||Julio Jones - WR, ATL||13.12||Melvin Ingram - DE, LAC|
|3.12||Russell Wilson - QB, SEA||14.01||Rishard Matthews - WR, TEN|
|4.01||Amari Cooper - WR, OAK||15.12||LeGarrette Blount - RB, DET|
|5.12||Sony Michel - RB, NEP||16.01||Jamie Collins - OLB, CLE|
|6.01||Greg Olsen - TE, CAR||17.12||Justin Tucker - PK, BAL|
|7.12||Duke Johnson - RB, CLE||18.01||Leonard Williams - DE, NYJ|
|8.01||DeVante Parker - WR, MIA||19.12||Eric Berry - S, KCC|
|9.12||Lavonte David - OLB, TBB||20.01||Charles Clay - TE, BUF|
|10.01||Nick Chubb - RB, CLE||21.12||Bradley McDougald - S, SEA|
|11.12||Marquise Goodwin - WR, SFO||22.01||Cory Littleton - ILB, LAR|
The first two picks Team 12 made were great, it's awfully hard to criticize the selections of Melvin Gordon and Julio Jones. However, after that things went downhill PDQ, especially on the defensive side of the ball. There are questions at linebacker, Leonard Williams has yet to have a big year at defensive end for the New York Jets and the safeties are far from sure things. It's not necessarily that this is a bad team, but in order for it to contend for a playoff spot a few dominoes are going to have to fall in the right order.
IDP Sleeper Alert: To their credit, Team 12 did land a couple of my favorite late IDP values in 2018. Seattle safety Bradley McDougald has shown the ability to produce in the past and will have ample opportunities to do so again given all the personnel losses in the Pacific Northwest. Cory Littleton worked as the defensive signal-caller for the Rams in OTAs and appears headed for a three-down role this season.