Way Too Early Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Round 5 Results and Analysis

With so many running backs off the board, did team owners shift their focus to other positions?

Through four rounds of this far too early fantasy football mock draft, we've seen 23 running backs, 19 wide receivers, two tight ends and four quarterbacks drafted.

As you’ll see, some of the folks who opted to go for non-running back positions early on in the draft found themselves with bottom-of-the-barrel options in Round 5. In a football world where runners are getting less opportunity, the elite ones are becoming more and more valuable in fantasy football (Oh, that’s convenient, I have a series of articles going on about this right now). Drafters are seeing that effect in this one.

Did the running back run keep up into Round 5, or did owners start to shift towards the tight end and quarterback positions?

Round 5 Results

Pick NumberOwnerSelection
5.01Leo HowellMaurice Jones-Drew, RB
5.02Keith GoldnerSteven Jackson, RB
5.03Brandon GdulaBen Tate, RB
5.04Ryan O'ConnerDonald Brown, RB
5.05JJ ZachariasonLarry Fitzgerald, WR
5.06Daniel LindseyJulian Edelman, WR
5.07Chris RaybonT.Y.Hilton, WR
5.08Jim SannesRob Gronkowski, TE
5.09Mark BerenbaumTorrey Smtih, WR
5.10Joe RedemannMichael Floyd, WR
5.11Brian McGladeTrent Richardson, RB
5.12Nik BonaddioVernon Davis, TE

Note: Scoring is 0.5 PPR, standard lineups.

The round started with Leo Howell’s Maurice Jones-Drew selection, which added to his Frank Gore pick at the end of the fourth. I’m not sure if Leo’s aware, but this isn’t 2009.

Joking aside, Jones-Drew finds himself as a free agent this offseason, and he may not be in a Jags uniform in 2014. However, the assumption with this mock draft is that everyone is still playing for the same team, so MJD is a Jag in this instance.

Was it a good pick? Well, I will say that the veteran back was better than a lot of people think last year, coming in with as many top-24 weekly finishes (PPR leagues, excluding Week 17) as Adrian Peterson and Alfred Morris. But Jones-Drew lacked a high ceiling in 2013, as he finished with just three top-12 games, as many as the struggling Ray Rice.

If we’re assuming he’s in Jacksonville, then we’re assuming he’ll get volume. And if he gets volume, I suppose this is an unsexy value pick from Howell. He could’ve done worse.

numberFire Chief Analyst took Steven Jackson with the next selection, making me believe that this draft was indeed happening four years ago. The three picks made prior to this one: Chris Johnson, Frank Gore, Maurice Jones-Drew.

While many will look at those selections and gag a bit, realistically, all are potential value picks since we’re assuming these guys are playing for the same team.

Jackson was mediocre in 2013, playing in 12 games and rushing for just 543 yards and three scores. And in terms of Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP), Jackson wasn’t all that great, losing more points for the Falcons with each tote than all but six 150-plus attempt runners last year (35 of them).

Though he’s more of a plodder nowadays, Jackson, like Jones-Drew above, would see touches in this hypothetical football world in 2014. And because of that, you can’t fault Keith for wanting a 200-plus attempt back, when healthy, in Round 5.

Brandon Gdula switched the aging backs run up with a younger one, selecting Ben Tate of the Houston Texans next. Again, like the Bronco running backs mentioned in previous articles, the situation with Ben Tate probably subconsciously skews our perception of him in a draft like this, as he’ll more than likely be out of Houston in 2014. We’ll move on from this one and analyze Tate on the site when a move finally does happen.

After Tate went Donald Brown, an interesting pick as the 27th running back off the board (27 running backs already!). Ryan O’Conner, the owner who selected Donny B, mentioned that the Colts runner had the best per rush NEP score of any running back in the league last season with 100 or more touches. And he’s right. Every time Brown touched the rock, the Colts were effectively gaining 0.14 points, more than what the Eagles were adding with LeSean McCoy.

Now, that doesn’t mean Brown is better than McCoy (at all, actually) – he didn’t see the same type of volume, and would certainly regress if he did see the action McCoy saw. However, because Brown was so much better than teammate Trent Richardson this past season (Richardson lost 0.14 points for the Colts with each touch), there’s reason to believe that he can be a decent high-end flex play in 2014.

After Brown left the board, I went ahead and selected Larry Fitzgerald as my WR2. This adds to my boring draft (just wait until you see my Round 6 selection, it’s just as uninteresting), but I’ll be honest – I have no idea how Larry Fitzgerald fell to being the 20th wide receiver selected.

Sure, he’s getting up there an age. And yes, there are some youngsters in Arizona that may see more opportunity in 2014. But Fitz still ranked 21st in Reception NEP in 2013, and finished the season strong, capturing a top-20 PPR wide receiver performance in Weeks 11, 12, 13 and 14. If he drops this far in real drafts next year, he’ll probably find himself on a lot of my teams as a WR2 or WR3, depending on how many running backs I select early on.

Julian Edelman was selected by Daniel Lindsey next, which was another nice choice at wide receiver this late in the draft. Edelman was a PPR stud (and this is a 0.5 PPR league) in 2013, and could continue to be Tom Brady’s favorite go-to in 2014, especially if Rob Gronkowski misses the front half of the season.

Because he’s typically catching shorter passes, Edelman doesn’t rank sensationally high within our NEP metrics. But that also means he’s going to rely heavily on volume. That’ll make the New England wideout a slight risk next year. And don’t forget about Danny Am…nevermind.

I loved Chris Raybon’s T.Y. Hilton pick next, as Hilton was graded, according to this draft, as a low-end WR2. How? Why? T.Y. finished 2013 as the 18th-best fantasy wideout from a year-long points scored perspective, far higher than this current draft slot. And if you assume a natural progression in his game, you’d see this as a nice value pick, too.

It’ll be interesting to see the difference in ADP between Hilton and wide receiver Reggie Wayne next year. Wayne’s coming off an ACL tear, and he's old enough to be my dad (probably not). This could be the year we see Hilton officially take over as “the guy” in Indy.

After Hilton came the always fantasy football controversial Rob Gronkowski. Jim Sannes adds Gronk to a team with two wide receivers and two running backs, so I’m not as against the pick as I’d usually be. We all know that Gronkowski can be a top fantasy option at tight end, and one that will give you a streaming-free life at the position.

Health is obviously the major concern. Will he start the season? Will he play in, I don’t know, eight games? Even if he comes back, will he be as effective? Those are the types of things we have no answers to when we’re drafting in February.

Mark Berenbaum had a nice selection with Torrey Smith next, especially when you consider the potential development in the Ravens offense next season. Gary Kubiak, the now offensive coordinator in Baltimore, has been underrated as an offensive coordinator from a passing perspective (most seem to love Kubiak for only his zone blocking ways), which could help both Joe Flacco and Torrey Smith in 2014. Though the offensive line is weak and there aren’t many other weapons in the offense outside of Smith, he should continue to grow.

If he can combine the touchdown production that he saw during his first two seasons with the volume and yardage production he saw in 2013, Smith could be in line for a high-end WR2 campaign. Sure, that’s a big if.

Joe Redemann took Michael Floyd with the next selection, just five picks after I selected his teammate, Larry Fitzgerald. Floyd had an incredibly underrated season in 2013, and actually finished with more Reception Net Expected Points than Larry Fitzgerald did. The problem with Floyd was that, when he didn’t catch the ball, Arizona didn’t benefit nearly as much, as his Target NEP score was about 15 points lower than Fitz’s.

He’ll have a lot of upside entering the 2014 season though, and if you can get him as a WR3 in a redraft league like this, you’ll be in fine shape.

Brian McGlade selected the notorious Trent Richardson at 5.11, and there’s not much to say outside of “bleh”. It’s not that Brian received bad value for T-Rich, as he was an RB3 according to this draft, but if you go with one of the worst runners in the NFL last year, you better hope you have the assets to back him up if and when he collapses. Another year in Indy, as Brian mentioned, could solve some issues though.

To finish off the fifth round, CEO Nik Bonaddio took Vernon Davis, the third tight end off the board. Nik continues to draft by best player available as opposed to position scarcity, as he’s now selected two passers (one that would be traded) and a tight end with his first five picks.

Davis was a great pick though – little do people realize, but he was the best tight end in fantasy for much of the second half of the 2013 season. Davis finished as a top-12 option during Weeks 11, 12, 13 and 15, and Weeks 13 and 15 saw him as the fourth- and second-best PPR tight end respectively. It was a great value for Bonaddio.