Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated PressMost fantasy drafts have been delayed as long as possible to accommodate what is most certainly a nebulous offseason, but big days are on the horizon. Come draft day, the first two rounds will set the stage for roster construction and season performance.The purpose here is to run through a mock draft for a 12-team, points-per-reception league and analyze the strategy behind the picks made. This helps exemplify how the first two rounds play out and dissects how to approach a certain draft position, which, in this scenario, was randomly selected to be No. 8.Every draft is different and the most effective way to prepare for that uncertainty is to practice with mocks. While a tool like FantasyPros’ Mock Draft Simulator is nice for weighing draft strategies against expert rankings, it inherently lacks the randomness of human decision-making. For our purposes, the tool used is Yahoo Fantasy’s live mock draft, which enables you to draft against real people in real time.Of course, every single draft is different, so this exercise is ultimately imperfect, but with a random selection and the randomness of drafting against other people, this should at least give a sense of how the early rounds of a draft can play out.Two-Round Mock DraftRound 1Team 1: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina PanthersTeam 2: Saquon Barkley, RB, New York GiantsTeam 3: Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans SaintsTeam 4: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas CowboysTeam 5: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City ChiefsTeam 6: Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee TitansTeam 7: Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans SaintsTeam 8: Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota VikingsTeam 9: Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati BengalsTeam 10: Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay PackersTeam 11: Kenyan Drake, RB, Arizona CardinalsTeam 12: Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City ChiefsRound 2Team 12: George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ersTeam 11: Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland BrownsTeam 10: Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia EaglesTeam 9: Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City ChiefsTeam 8: Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta FalconsTeam 7: Josh Jacobs, RB, Oakland RaidersTeam 6: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Arizona CardinalsTeam 5: Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay PackersTeam 4: Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay BuccaneersTeam 3: Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles ChargersTeam 2: James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh SteelersTeam 1: Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit LionsStrategy BreakdownThis season, the first three selections are the easy ones, as you can’t go wrong with any of the top backs. Selecting at No. 8 in PPR presents a conundrum, though, as Davante Adams is the clear second-best wide receiver available in fantasy drafts. Still, top backs pave the road to championships, and someone gambling on Derrick Henry allows Dalvin Cook to drop to us.Unlike Henry, who needs positive game script to dominate, Cook is a traditional, three-down back who excels in every facet of the game. There’s an injury concern, but it’s vastly outweighed by his upside (although that may encourage an Alexander Mattison selection late in the draft). Adams is tremendous and should get a ton of volume, but he was still outscored in PPR fantasy points on a per-game basis by nine running backs last season—despite averaging 10.6 targets.Additionally, while running backs swiftly thin out, there is great receiving upside in the middle (e.g. Terry McLaurin, Odell Beckham Jr.) and late (e.g. Henry Ruggs III, Christian Kirk) rounds. Those later sleepers make this second selection, four picks into the second round, particularly difficult as well.Brynn Anderson/Associated PressIn a standard or even a half-point-per-reception league, Josh Jacobs would have been the easiest selection ever. But, with Cook rostered, top-five receiving talents like Julio Jones and DeAndre Hopkins are incredibly tempting. In this case, despite expecting Jacobs’ volume to increase in his sophomore season, Jones is simply too dominant a player to ignore.He is bound to have more volume than Hopkins, whose offense has more mouths to feed, and he provides a receiving cornerstone that permits flexibility for the rest of the draft. With these two locked in at fantasy’s pivotal positions, we can then follow value for the following rounds instead of having two excellent backs and being forced into going receiver-heavy for our next selections.
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