Adam Wagner – Fantasy Sports Analyst: The Wagner Wire
Its time for Round 2 of the fantasy football draft. Remember to draft according to the settings of the league that you’re participating in. Kevin Epstein and I discussed scarcity on my last show and how it relates to fantasy football. Please don’t become a victim of taking a QB in the 1st or 2nd Rds. If your league is a 2-QB league, then perhaps a QB in the 1st or 2nd Rd is warranted, but you will have your shot at Rivers in late rounds. Get the premium running backs and wide receiver while they are still on the draft board.
This mock draft was constructed using a format of (1) QB (2) RB (3) WR (1) TE (1) Def/ST (1) K and (6) bench players. It is a Point Per Reception (PPR) setting, awarding 1 point per reception. With the help of our friends over at Fantasy Pros, we were able to customize the AI to draft as experts. Please take this into consideration when drooling over this piece.
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#13. Michael Thomas: WR – New Orleans Saints
With the offseason departure of Bradin Cooks, Michael Thomas has become Drew Brees’ solidified primary target. Brees targeted Thomas 121 times and connected on 92 of them. In his rookie campaign, Thomas gained 1,137 in receiving yards and caught 9 touchdowns. At 6’3″, he provides a big target for Brees in the Red Zone. With Willie Snead as a deep threat on the other side of the field, and the advent of Adrian Peterson, opposing defenses will have to play the Saints honest. There will be no slump for Thomas in his 2nd season. Look for Thomas to catch over 100 receptions and at least 10 touchdowns in 2017.
#14. Devonta Freeman: RB – Atlanta Falcons
Part of the best 1-2 punch in the NFL, Freeman is a great pick towards the early 2nd round. Freeman does share reps with Tevin Coleman, but he was still able to put up some impressive numbers last year. He gained 1,079 yd off 227 attempts. He was able to reach pay dirt 11 times last year. What I like the most about Freeman is his threat in the passing game. This dynamic player was also targeted 65 times by Matt Ryan. Freeman caught 54 balls for a total of 462 yards, and 2 catches were for touchdowns. Keep in mind that you may want to try to draft Tevin Coleman in the 4th so that you can handcuff this Atlanta backfield. Freeman is a dynamic back, and a RB1 in most PPR leagues. You will not get another chance at him if you pass him up.
#15. Jay Ajayi: RB – Miami Dolphins
Possibly the NFL’s version of the British Bulldog, Ajayi runs with tremendous power and has explosive speed to attack the corners. Jay Ajayi is one of the players that saved my season last year, and allowed me to reclaim my throne as champion. I stole Ajayi in the 12th round last and will have him as a 10th round keeper in one of my leagues this year. Oh my! This load of a running back from London gained 1,272 yards last year while toting the rock 260 times. He crossed the goal line 8 times last season and poised to pick up where he left off. Tannehill will keep defenses honest with Landry and Parker. Don’t expect eight in the box to stop this guy; Miami has too many weapons.
#16. DeMarco Murray: RB – Tennessee Titans
Murray had a decent year last season and was the workhorse for the Titans. He had 293 carries last season, which makes me reluctant to pull the trigger here, but he is a tough player, and he is still hungry. The former league-leading rusher gained 1,287 last season and scored 9 touchdowns on the grown. Murray also did some damage catching passes. He was targeted 67 times and caught 53 receptions for 377 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Murray may lose some touches because of teammate Derrick Henry, but Murray is still the primary running back in Tennessee. I don’t believe superior running backs fall from grace in the span of two years, without showing any trends of slowing down. I look for Murray to continue with the success he had last season. With Mariota gaining more experience each year and becoming a dual threat, Murray gets more room to run. The Titans have 5 tough games in 2017. They play the Raiders, Seattle, Texans (x2) and the Cardinals. This is advantageous for Murray and the Titans, as they one of the easiest schedules is 2017. I think Murray is a guaranteed 1,000 yards and 10 total touchdowns in 2017.
#17. T.Y. Hilton: WR – Indianapolis Colts
T.Y.! This dude just gets open. With the absence of Moncrief for most of the season, Hilton was still able to scorch opposing defenses as they tried to double/bracket Hilton. That doesn’t seem to work. Hilton was targeted 155 times from Luck, catching 91 for 1,448 and 6 touchdowns. The number of targets may be depleted in 2017 with a healthy wide receiver corps, but Hilton should produce impressive numbers. The Colts arguably have the easiest schedule in 2017. I look for Luck and Hilton to expose these terrible defenses that the Colts play against in 2017. I’m convinced that T.Y. will be giving his signature hand and arm signals at least 10 times this year. Hilton could possibly be the 2nd rd steal in 2017.
#18. Amari Cooper: WR – Oakland Raiders
This was probably one of my toughest decisions of this round. I wanted to take Amari higher, but could not do so. Its not because he’s not worthy. Its because the Raiders are just simply loaded, and unlike Big Ben and the Steelers, Carr distributes the ball to his receivers more equally. Crabtree actually received 145 targets, which is more than Cooper’s 132. Cooper is still the primary Red Zone target. The advent of Marshawn Lynch could regress those numbers, so thats why Cooper falls to the middle of the 2nd round for me. As mentioned, he had 132 targets, and caught 83 receptions for 1,153. His 5 touchdowns are alarmingly low, but his size is superior to most defensive backs in the league. With a healthy Derrick Carr, its very possible that Cooper could have 100 receptions for 1,200+ yards and 8 touchdowns.
#19. Lamar Miller: RB – Houston Texans
Lamar Miller is one of my favorite running backs to watch. He has tremendous explosion through the hole, makes that one-cut back across the grain, and gone! When defenders hit Miller, he makes them pay. Miller and the Texan’s O-line were the reason for their offensive success that the Texans did manage last year. They had zero help from Osweiler last season. The Texans were 7th in the NFL last season for rushing yardage per game, averaging 116 yards. Miller toted the rock 268 for 1,073 yards. He only found pay dirt 5 times. I feel Miller will have the same type of season this year as he had in 2016. If the aerial attack of the Texans is more efficient this season, you can expect Miller be the beneficiary of opposing defenses not stacking 8 men on him.
#20. Doug Baldwin: WR – Seattle Seahawks
Wilson’s favorite target and arguably one of the toughest wide receivers in the NFL, Doug Baldwin is almost a steal as TWW’s 20th overall pick in 2017. Baldwin’s numbers last season and upcoming schedule still project him as a WR1. Wilson targeted Baldwin 125 times and Baldwin hauled in 94 of those bad boys for 1,128 yards and 7 touchdowns. It may not seem like a sexy pick, and thats why I believe that you can steal Baldwin at 20. I consider Baldwin a grinder. He may not be that flashy receiver, but he’s always ballin’.
#21. Dez Bryant: WR – Dallas Cowboys
Make no mistake about it, Dez is a freak. One of the most physical and explosive receivers in the NFL. However, he is a part of an elite offense that thrives off of a ground attack, which will restrict Dez to having a superior year for fantasy owners who have stock in him. He was targeted 96 time and only caught 50 receptions. I believe his reception percentage will increase significantly this season with Prescott having a better connection with his lethal receiver. Dez still gained 796 receiving yards, and was still a red zone threat with 8 touchdowns. Dallas has a tougher schedule this year and will have to adapt to defenses stacking up to stop Zeke. Look for Bryant to capitalize on not being the feature weapon for the Cowboys. 88 is a WR1 in my rankings for standard formats. He’s a safe pick at 21.
#22. DeAndre Hopkins: WR – Houston Texans
Lets just try to omit the 2016 campaign for Nuk. Yes, he was targeted 151 times, and caught 78 balls for 954 yards, but only scored 4 times. I call this the “Osweiler Effect”. Nuk suffered last year from horrendous quarterback play. It was awful! Brock was only averaging 5.8 yards per completion. Hopkins is a deep threat as well as an explosive weapon that should be utilized over the middle. Defenses keyed on Nuk and his numbers dropped off drastically. I drafted Nuk in the 1st round last year, and some how salvaged a 3rd place victory in that league. I think Watson will be an upgrade at the QB position and it will put Nuk in more advantageous situations. Look for Nuk to tally up more than just 4 touchdowns this year. Hopkins is a stud, but without an experienced quarterback, I’m still reluctant to draft him too high. He’s worthy of a late 2nd round selection.
23. Todd Gurley: RB – Los Angeles Rams
Here is another 2015 fantasy stud that ended up being a 2016 fantasy dud. After Gurley’s impressive rookie season, his numbers took a huge hit in 2016, leaving fantasy owners of his stock in absolute disgust. Gurley toted the rock 278 times for 885 yards, and scored 6 touchdowns. His 3.1 yards per carry can easily be attributed to Goff’s awful play at quarterback. Of course opposing defenses would stack 8 in the box; L.A. can’t throw the ball. Keep this in mind during your draft. Yes, Gurley is a RB1, but his lack of talent around him causes me to place him towards the end of round 2. I can’t take him any sooner after how bad the Rams struggled offensively last season.
24. Leonard Fournette: RB – Jacksonville Jaguars
Its always a gamble when you take a rookie as a fantasy pick in the first and second round. I took Zeke in at 10th overall last year, but the Cowboys had the best o-line, stars were aligned, I literally was urinating excellence when I woke up each day like Ricky Bobby. This is a little more risky, because Jacksonville is no where near the caliber offensive powerhouse that Dallas is, but they do have deadly weapons. Allen Robinson is one of the leagues young and talented receivers. If Borttles can right the ship, the addition of Fournette would make the Jaguars highly explosive. Fournette had impressive numbers at LSU, and played in the SEC. We all know the SEC’s stigma and the talent that it produces to the NFL. I believe Fournette is one of the rookie running backs that are physically ready for the NFL. Jaguars.com reports that he looks great and is adapting well to OTAs. Last season at LSU Fournette rushed for 843 yards on 129 carries, crossing the goal line 8 times. It may be a risk, but the potential ROI is there for Fournette to be worthy of a late 2nd round or early 3rd round selection.
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