Way Too Early Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Round 3 Results and Analysis

Aaron Rodgers was selected in Round 3, but to an unlikely team.

Last week, a portion of the numberFire team got together and did a six round, 0.5 PPR fantasy football mock draft. On Friday, I walked through and analyzed the first round. Yesterday, I did the same exercise for the second. And today, the plan is to talk about and analyze – you guessed it – the third round.

Keep in mind, the assumption entering this draft was that all players would be playing for the same team in 2014. However, because we’re only human, I’m sure some of the drafters’ opinions were skewed a bit when it came to upcoming free agents. Remember that as you move forward with this article and the rest that will be coming this week.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at how Round 3 went down.

Round 3 Results

Pick NumberOwnerSelection
3.01Leo HowellVincent Jackson, WR
3.02Keith GoldnerRandall Cobb, WR
3.03Brandon GdulaMontee Ball, RB
3.04Ryan O'ConnerRyan Mathews, RB
3.05JJ ZachariasonGiovani Bernard, RB
3.06Daniel LindseyKeenan Allen, WR
3.07Chris RaybonJulius Thomas, TE
3.08Jim SannesKnowshon Moreno, RB
3.09Mark BerenbaumPierre Garcon, WR
3.10Joe RedemannAlfred Morris, RB
3.11Brian McGladeArian Foster, RB
3.12Nik BonaddioAaron Rodgers, QB

After selecting LeSean McCoy and Alshon Jeffery, Mr. Howell went with Tampa Bay’s Vincent Jackson. V-Jax was an interesting pick given the wide receivers left on the board, and seemed like a slight reach. However, during his first two years in Tampa Bay, he’s been a solid fantasy asset.

Jackson finished 2013 with the 10th-best Reception Net Expected Points (NEP) total (click here to learn about Net Expected Points), which is great from a fantasy football perspective. Reception NEP looks at how many real points (expected points) a player adds for his team throughout the season on receptions only, and that’s all we really care about as fantasy owners.

However, a massive knock on Jackson is the fact that his Reception NEP was so high due to the volume he saw. In fact, when you factor in all targets that went his way last year and looked at Target NEP (number of points added on all targets), Jackson ranked 55th among all wide receivers. In other words, if Jackson wasn’t catching the ball, it was borderline disastrous for the Bucs.

You’ll get that with poor quarterback play, to be fair. But in order to really sustain value at the second-round turn, quarterback Mike Glennon will need to become more efficient with his throws to V-Jax, all while sustaining the volume numbers. That may be tough to do, as Jackson was the sixth-most targeted receiver in the game last year.

Another wideout dropped off the board with the second pick in the third round, as numberFire’s Chief Analyst selected Randall Cobb. It was the third Packer to be selected (Lacy in Round 1, Nelson in Round 2), but a smart choice by our mathematic mastermind. If you recall, Cobb was on fire during the first two games of the 2013 season, totaling 16 receptions for 236 yards and two scores. He slowed down a bit over his next three games before getting hurt, ending his regular season.

But at a highly volatile position, Cobb should provide a decent floor each week. And he’s always ready to score a big one. Keith made a solid choice to get his first wide receiver here, though he left himself with a risk in his RB2 spot entering Round 4.

With the next pick, Brandon Gdula selected Denver running back Montee Ball. This is an example of what I talked about in the intro, as the assumption should be that running back Knowshon Moreno is still a Bronco.

However, as Brandon noted, he doesn’t see Denver’s offense intact next year, and Ball should be able to produce like Knowshon if he progresses even a bit. After all, as shown by Daniel Lindsey yesterday, Ball posted nearly 16 Rushing Net Expected Points from Week 10 through the end of the season. That type of production is equivalent to a top-five back. Ball certainly showed progression this season as a rookie.

Ryan O’Conner took the always-controversial Ryan Mathews with the next pick, and because O’Conner went with Calvin Johnson and Jordy Nelson during the first two rounds, Mathews is, indeed, his RB1.

Mathews has generally been an underrated running back, and I mentioned this before the season started back in August. We’re afraid of him because of his injury proneness (whatever that is), but I think, after seeing what Mathews is truly capable of in a now high-powered offense, the mindset has changed.

With Danny Woodhead to complement him, Mathews should be in good shape to have another borderline RB1 season.

I selected Giovani Bernard after Mathews, the second 2013 rookie back to join my team (I picked Eddie Lacy in the first). It appears that, with Jay Gruden out of the picture, new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson may lean on Bernard a little more than the team did during his (Bernard’s) first year. That’s exciting, because that could mean more of this

Bernard finished his rookie season with a Total NEP that ranked 15th among all NFL running backs. Moreover, if you only peep at backs with significant rushing volume (150 or more carries), Bernard was a top-10 running back when you add his Rushing and Receiving NEP scores together. He can do it all, which is why I wanted him on my team.

Another 2013 rookie dropped off the board right after I selected Bernard, as Daniel Lindsey snagged San Diego’s Keenan Allen. I’ve looked at how unbelievable Allen’s rookie campaign was (here) already, but in short, let me give it to you like this: Keenan Allen was one of the best rookie wide receivers we’ve seen in recent history. After a questionable Round 2 pick in Antonio Brown, I love Lindsey’s Keenan Allen selection.

The second tight end left the board in Round 3, as Julius Thomas was drafted by Chris Raybon. Raybon had already selected Le’Veon Bell and Zac Stacy, and after three rounds, his team now sits wide receiver-less. Even still, getting one of Peyton Manning’s favorite red zone targets is always a smart move.

Thomas ranked fourth in the league among tight ends in Reception NEP in 2013, and second in Target NEP. Though his touchdown production may dip in 2014, we should fully expect Thomas to keep up his pace, as long as he’s healthy.

After Thomas came Knowshon Moreno, the third Bronco to be selected in the third round. I already talked about this a bit with Montee Ball, but remember, the assumption is that Knowshon Moreno is a Bronco next year, though this is unlikely to be the case.

Moreno was a top five runner in every imaginable way according to our metrics this past year, but in the case of this draft, would be competing with Montee Ball for playing time in 2014. It’s kind of a dumb point to discuss because it’s probably not going to happen, so let’s move on and say that whoever is starting in Denver will more than likely be a second- or third-round fantasy selection in 2014.

Pierre Garcon went next to Mark Berenbaum. It’ll be interesting to see how the new regime in Washington treats Garcon, who was the highest-targeted receiver in 2013. As a result, Garcon finished with a Reception NEP of 109.62, the 13th-best mark in the league.

We’ll more than likely see a decline in targets next season, but a healthy Robert Griffin III should be able to make Garcon a little more efficient than his 0.60 Reception NEP per target average in 2013. That mark was the second-worst score among the top-25 receivers in Reception Net Expected Points last year. In other words, Garcon only ranked high in Reception NEP because he was seeing so much volume.

Joe Redemann followed up Mark’s Garcon selection with another Washington Redskin, Alfred Morris. Morris was a late-ish first rounder a season ago, but finished the year with the 15th-most fantasy points. That being said, he was still a pretty consistent fantasy back, finishing with nine RB1 or RB2 weekly performances.

Morris saw fewer touches in his sophomore year, all while running with less efficiency. When you combine those two pieces, you see why he went from being a top-5 back to a top-15 one from 2012 to 2013. Even still, he was the 16th running back off the board, which is solid value for a player who is just a season removed from being one of the best in our pretend game.

Another controversial back was drafted just after Morris, as Brian McGlade selected Arian Foster. The Texans runner is Brian’s RB1, which is clearly a risk, but one that could (hypothetically - it’s not like we’re playing this league through) pan out in the end.

It’s not as though Foster was useless when healthy last year. He still had five top-24 weekly performances in eight games, though he only scored two touchdowns, 15 fewer than his previous season. Was it just an unlucky year for Houston’s star? It may have been, and we’ll find out with backup runner Ben Tate likely leaving the team this offseason.

The final pick of the third round went to numberFire CEO Nik Bonaddio, as he selected his second quarterback in this one-quarterback league mock. An eyebrow raiser for sure, Nik mentioned that he selected Aaron Rodgers to trade him away, selecting best player available. With the position being so deep, it would be interesting to see what type of transaction Nik would be able to throw down for his clear-cut top-three fantasy quarterback.