It’s time for another fantasy football mock draft, but this time, with a twist. We at The Fantasy Takeaway have brought together an all-star cast of writers and podcasters from all walks of the fantasy football industry to bring you analysis that can help you win your leagues. 

This is a 12-Team PPR Snake Draft with full pick-by-pick analysis through the first five rounds. I drew the twelfth pick. As luck would have it, I drew the 11th pick. Snipe city for one @HumanStatSheet! I can't wait!

Check out the Draft Board for Analysis on all the Other Picks! 

Murphy's Picks & Analysis for the 2018 Fantasy Football Industry Mockstravaganza

Previous Pick: 1.10 – Odell Beckham Jr. – WR – New York Giants

Round 1, Pick 11 – Kareem Hunt – RB – Kansas City Chiefs 

Kareem Hunt

When I saw Kareem Hunt had fallen to me at pick 11 in this fantasy football mock draft, I wasn’t able to hit the draft button fast enough. The second-year Chiefs running back seemed to be a bust candidate to most after a standout rookie season. He had quietly led the NFL in rushing yards, eventually finishing fourth in PPR scoring despite going nine games without a touchdown; all this came with Alex Smith leading the offense. I’ve never before called Smith elite, but the need to lean on the run game wasn’t as present last year as it may be this season. Patrick Mahomes may have a talented arm, but rookie quarterbacks tend to excel with a strong run game.

The prospect of a sophomore slump is a persistent worry. During crises of narrative such as these, I like to look to the numbers to give me some peace of mind. Since 1960, only six running backs have led the NFL in rushing yards during their rookie season. You’ve probably heard of a few of these names: Ezekiel Elliott, Earl Campbell, Abner Haynes, Eric Dickerson, Edgerrin James, and Jim Brown. Only two of these failed to meet or exceed their yardage total in their second year; Elliott who only played ten games in his sophomore season due to suspension, and Haynes who played for the Dallas Texans and is listed only for the sake of comprehensiveness. All things considered, the historical trends look great for Kareem Hunt.

Furthermore, Hunt’s workload shows no signs of significantly slowing. Andy Reid has a great history coaching running backs, averaging 423 attempts per year for the position in his tenure in Kansas City. Under him, Hunt walked away with a 67% share of those carries in 2017. Reid also can claim a 13.18 RB1 target share, and his history includes an average finish of 12.78 for his lead back in PPR scoring. Three finishes in the running back 30 range (due to injuries) have brought down this average. In addition, Reid can boast of six top-five finishes and nine top-ten finishes for his starter as a head coach or offensive coordinator. Those are impressive totals.

Finding him at the 11th pick in the first round of a fantasy football mock draft, I felt that Kareem Hunt was a steal. He finds himself running into a seemingly perfect storm of system fit and athletic ability. Kareem Hunt could easily finish as a contender for the top running back in fantasy when all is said and done. I’ll gladly spend my first round pick to find out.

Next Pick: 1.12 – Joe Pollock – @HumanStatSheet

Previous Pick: 2.01 – Davante Adams – WR – Green Bay Packers

Round 2, Pick 2 – Michael Thomas – WR – New Orleans Saints

I’ve started to enjoy picking later in the draft order. I tend to find the choices easier to make when they’re grouped together. Picking at the turn has then been ideal for my strategy thus far. The only major downside is that you’ll have to wait longer between picks. With that in mind, I found no more secure pick than Michael Thomas. The third-year receiver with one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history targeting him has massive upside. That phrase ‘massive upside’ may be used too often to describe picks in the first few rounds. We expect them to have tremendous upside, so let’s shift focus here to talk about how safe a pick Thomas is for your fantasy team.

When you’re getting targets from Drew Brees, “opportunity” is a word you become accustomed to. In fantasy football, every target matters, and Michael Thomas, who broke the Saints single-season reception record in 2017, makes the most of his chances. Ironically, this happened during an outlier season for the Sean Payton passing attack–which had the lowest number of passing attempts (536)–since 2010. During the first two years, he has had at least 40 yards receiving in 30 of 31 of games played. For reference, Julio Jones has failed to meet or exceed the 40-yard mark in six games during that same span. This consistency has led Thomas to career averages of 77 yards a game and a 70% catch rate. Thomas isn’t the kind of receiver who explodes for half the season and ranks highly at the end of the year. In 2017 using PPR scoring he only had two games without double-digit points (Detroit & Minnesota), and two games with fewer than five receptions (Detroit & Atlanta).

It's hard to find any faults with Michael Thomas, but they are there. He did have a touchdown regression in 2017 despite a rise in receptions and yards. I would caution everyone to remember that touchdowns are the hardest thing in fantasy to predict. The targets, receptions, and skills are already there so the touchdowns should follow. Thomas as my second round pick will allow me enough confidence in my primary wide receiver to take potential risks later in the draft. Now we start the long wait. See you in twenty picks.

Next Pick: 2.03 – Marc Szymanski – @FFA_Marc

Previous Pick: 3.10 – Marc Szymanski – @FFA_Marc

Round 3, Pick 11 – Kenyan Drake – RB – Miami Dolphins

One of the most intriguing names in fantasy football mock drafts this offseason has been Kenyan Drake. I’m among those who have high expectations for Drake in 2018, but not all share my optimism. Critics of Drake point to the offseason acquisitions of Frank Gore and Kalen Ballage as massive red flags for the leading rusher over the last five games of 2018. While both may find use in the Gase led offense, there's no reason to believe Drake can’t be a borderline RB1 this season.

First of all, let's put his best foot forward. Kenyan Drake is elusive. To set our baseline, the league average 3.66 yards after close. If his stats for the last five games were expanded over a sixteen game season Drake’s 4.55 yards would rank third behind Kareem Hunt and Alvin Kamara. Over the last ten games of 2018, he averaged 5.0 yards per carry. Kenyan Drake enters 2018 with praise from head coach Adam Gase as well who stated he believes Drake will break out this season. He arguably is the best fit for Gase’s offense among all the backs on the roster.

In 2017 Kenyan Drake averaged 37% of the running back touches and 8% of the overall target share. On average the primary back in an Adam Gase offense gets 48% of the carries and 8.92% of the target share.  Drake is well on his way to those numbers. Gore will be a great mentor and change of pace back, but at 35 years old and averaging 3.7 yards per carry he shouldn’t be a focal point in Miami. I think the feel-good story of Gore’s return to Miami is expanding Gore’s role in the eyes of the fantasy community. Drake is well worth the risk in the third round especially with the trend of running backs being taken so early this season.

Next Pick: 3.12 – Joe Pollock – @HumanStatSheet

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