Last Friday, I revealed the first round results from our way, way too early fantasy football mock draft. The 12 of us, which includes numberFire contributors and staffers, did six rounds worth of fantasy football drafting, all under the assumption that players selected would be sticking with the same teams they played with in 2013.
The first round wasn’t all that surprising, to be honest. We saw LeSean McCoy go first overall, and the non-running backs drafted were fairly obvious: Calvin Johnson, Josh Gordon, Demaryius Thomas Jimmy Graham and Peyton Manning.
Round 2, however, got a little interesting.
Second Round Results
|2.01||Nik Bonaddio||Doug Martin, RB|
|2.02||Brian McGlade||Dez Bryant, WR|
|2.03||Joe Redemann||A.J. Green, WR|
|2.04||Mark Berenbaum||Reggie Bush, RB|
|2.05||Jim Sannes||DeMarco Murray, RB|
|2.06||Chris Raybon||Zac Stacy, RB|
|2.07||Daniel Lindsey||Antonio Brown, WR|
|2.08||JJ Zachariason||Brandon Marshall, WR|
|2.09||Ryan O'Conner||Jordy Nelson, WR|
|2.10||Brandon Gdula||Julio Jones, WR|
|2.11||Keith Goldner||Drew Brees, QB|
|2.12||Leo Howell||Alshon Jeffrey, WR|
After picking up Peyton Manning in Round 1, our fearless leader selected Doug Martin with the first pick in the second round. The Muscle Hamster posted a poor -12.64 Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) over his six-game stretch in 2013, and had he not been hurt and kept up the pace, he would have ended the year as one of the least-efficient runners in the league.
However, Martin faced three top-five rush defenses according to our metrics in his five full games of action, and was with Josh Freeman for the majority of that time. There’s a reason he was a top fantasy draft selection in 2013, and Nik was eager to note that Martin's injury wasn't knee-related, which is a good thing - he should be fine in 2014.
numberFire’s iOS Engineer took another wideout in the second round, as Brian selected Dez Bryant just a few picks after choosing Demaryius Thomas. Though taking a wide receiver in the first two rounds can be risky, Brian said that he’s not fortunate with his evaluation of early-round running backs, and thought Dez was a safer bet than someone like Zac Stacy, DeMarco Murray and Reggie Bush.
The wide receivers kept falling, as Joe Redemann followed up the Dez selection with A.J. Green. Though Green is a little handcuffed by his quarterback, he still gets it done in fantasy, and finished 2013 with more weekly PPR top-24 finishes than everyone outside of Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown (we’ll get to him in a second). Green is now paired up with Jimmy Graham for Joe, putting him in a similar running back-less situation as Brian.
Mark Berenbaum took Reggie Bush next, which is certainly a risky selection considering Bush’s durability. He’s played a full season just twice in his eight-year career, though he does have a lot of upside in the Lions’ offense. Mark took Adrian Peterson in Round 1, giving him a duo of veteran runners. We all know it can work out, but will 2014 be the year that both of these guys break down?
DeMarco Murray left the board to Jim Sannes with the next pick, and I think this was my favorite choice of the second round. Murray’s ability to stay on the field is always in question, but injury proneness is just as much a fake thing as it is a real one. And when you factor in what Murray actually did on the field this year, you’d probably want him even more.
In PPR leagues last year, Murray, despite missing a couple of games, finished with the fourth-most top-24 running back performances in the NFL, just one behind Matt Forte and LeSean McCoy. And though a lot of those weren’t elite performances (just five in the top 12), Murray showed us all that he can be one of the most consistent backs in the NFL. He’s basically giving you Le’Veon Bell’s production a whole round later. It was a great pick by Sannes.
Chris Raybon continued the shift to second-round running backs with his selection of Zac Stacy. It’s the second sophomore back selected by Raybon, as he went with the Steelers' Le’Veon Bell in Round 1. Stacy should get a whole lot of opportunity in the young Rams offense in 2014, but one thing to remember with him is that he’ll face off against the Seahawks, 49ers and Cardinals – some tough rush defenses – in six total games next year.
The next pick was a slight curveball, as Daniel Lindsey selected Antonio Brown. I mentioned it briefly earlier, but Brown finished with more weekly top-24 PPR performances than anyone in the league this past season. He was the third-best receiver in 2013 in terms of total fantasy points scored, and was the sixth wideout selected in this draft. Seems like a good pick, right?
I’m a little hesitant to go all-in on Brown in fantasy – and trust me, I’ve been a massive Antonio Brown backer – for a few reasons. First, he’s short, making him less of a red zone threat. Second, the Steelers were really limited at receiver this past season, which includes tight end Heath Miller. Third, the team ranked ninth in pass-to-run ratio, the highest ranking the team has seen under Mike Tomlin. I’d expect less volume to Brown in 2014 and regression in the touchdown department, making me feel a little skeptical about him in the second round, especially with such studs on the board.
With the next pick, I went with Brandon Marshall. In hindsight, I should’ve gone with Julio Jones, but I’m still fine with B-Marsh in Round 2. Though Alshon Jeffery is there to take looks away, Marshall will still be able to play a huge role in Trestman’s offense in 2014. He has 23 touchdowns during his first two years in Chicago, and hasn’t caught fewer than 1,000 yards since his rookie year in 2006. Consistency, my friends. Consistency.
The wide receiver run continued with the next selection, as Ryan O’Conner selected Jordy Nelson. Perhaps an early time to choose Jordy, but it was a pick that actually makes sense when you look at upside. As I wrote in December, Jordy was on pace to catch about 15 touchdowns last year before Aaron Rodgers went down. He’s realistically a top-five wideout with Rodgers in the lineup.
I probably would have gone with a more traditional receiver here, but I can understand the allure to get Rodgers’ favorite target.
Brandon Gdula then selected Julio Jones with the third-to-last pick in the second round. In short, it was one of the best picks – I think – in the second, as Julio was on a tear prior to his season-ending injury. The Falcons defense is so miserable that you know the team will be one of the top ones in pass-to-run ratio next year too, just as they were in 2013. You can’t go wrong with a player who can really compete to be in that Calvin Johnson and Josh Gordon tier, especially when you consider Roddy White’s aging body.
The second signal-caller dropped off the board to Keith Goldner at 2.11, and it’s tough to really blame Keith for the pick. Brees hasn’t had fewer than 115 Passing Net Expected Points since 2007, which is typically a top-five quarterback score. In fantasy, you know you’re going to be getting a top-notch passer, too. The main reason folks will be turned off is because the quarterback position has gotten so deep, but Brees is as safe as they come.
Lastly, Leo Howell finished up the second round with Alshon Jeffery. The beastly Bear was actually better than Brandon Marshall in Target NEP (number of points added on all targets) last year, while B-Marsh took the cake in Reception NEP (points added on catches only). Trestman’s offense will allow for both receivers to be relevant again in 2014, and you could argue that Alshon should be selected before Marshall given his raw talent and upside.