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Man vs. Machine: The Middle of Round 1 Belongs to DeAndre Hopkins

In this series, RotoViz writers will be using the Draft Dashboard, the flagship tool of the FFDRAFTPREP Package, to practice approaching 2018 drafts. Twelve authors will be participating and each will be mock-drafting, from a different starting position, using the tool. The aim of this series is to outline the strategies employed by our writers, the information they are using to inform their decisions, and to obtain an understanding of how draft slot plays a role in the development of their approaches. At the end of each mock, the author will compare their team to those drafted by the computer and self-assess whether or not they “won” the draft.

In this installment I’ll be taking on the Draft Dashboard from draft slot No. 7 in a 12-team draft. This is a typical PPR league with 2-RB, 3-WR, 1-Flex settings. For a fuller explanation of the league requirements and Dashboard settings, check out Dave Caban’s introduction where he fights off the machines from 1.10.


The seventh spot is a bit tricky because Antonio Brown and the star running backs should be off the board. With my first pick, I’ll look to grab DeAndre Hopkins. The good news from the seventh spot is that middle drafters don’t have to anticipate 20 picks into the future. When drafting from the center, I tend to look for value as players are overlooked by other teams.

I’ll plan to wait on QB, DST, and K, and load up on value at the skill positions. If I want to grab some sleepers, I’ll have to reach for them after the 10th round to make sure I save roster space for QB, DST, and K.

Early-Round Recap

I started off the mock with a press of crtl-n (a shortcut to mock five picks at once) and in an instant Todd Gurley, Brown, David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell, Ezekiel Elliott, and Odell Beckham are off the board. Alvin Kamara and DeAndre Hopkins are my two best choices here. I love Kamara, especially with Mark Ingram suspended, but Hopkins led 21-19 in 2017 PPG, hinting at different ceilings. Nuk had an incredible 35 percent of team targets and continued to produce when Deshaun Watson was injured. I was upset not to get Brown, but at least I don’t have to worry about the Madden Curse.

Coming back in the second round, all three Tier 1 tight ends are still available. I wasn’t impressed with the best available at RB or WR (Devonta Freeman and Davante Adams) so I took the plunge with Rob Gronkowski.

In Round 3, both Vikings wide receivers had come off the board, leaving T.Y. Hilton as my pick. It looks like Andrew Luck is back. If he holds up for another couple of weeks, Hilton’s ADP will scream back into the second round where it belongs.

In the fourth, I needed to grab a running back. Lamar Miller and Kenyan Drake are both available, but all of the RBs in this tier are about equal for me. I decided to go with Ronald Jones, a flashy rookie with a solid college production and a clear path to RB1 volume. I then took Tevin Coleman in the fifth round as the last Tier 3 RB. Coleman has a solid PPR floor, should be more involved in the offense this year, and has huge upside if Freeman gets hurt again.

Middle Rounds

In the sixth round I had a tough choice between Royce Freeman, the likely starter in Denver, Dion Lewis, the man tasked with filling DeMarco Murray’s role in Tennessee, or Tarik Cohen, the human joystick who could go ham with Mitchell Trubiski in Chicago. Ultimately I chose Freeman and hoped that one more of this tier would fall to me next round.

Sadly, Lewis and Cohen were taken, but WR value options presented themselves. I chose Marquise Goodwin over Will Fuller and Robby Anderson. Goodwin is generating a lot of hype at training camp and was a tremendous dynasty value this offseason as a likely focal point of Kyle Shanahan’s offense.

The Dashboard is telling me two Tier 2 TEs remain available – Greg Olsen and Delanie Walker. I’m temped to grab the value, but since I have Gronk, I want to get the WR position shored up with Robby Anderson in Round 8.

Now that I’m set at WR, I move back to the ball carriers. Even this late in the ninth round, Marshawn Lynch is still available. He’s not the most exciting choice but offers insurance against my rookies. In the 10th there are still nine Tier 3 QBs available, so I grabbed Trey Burton over Jordan Reed for my backup TE.1

Late Picks

As we head into the final stretch of the draft, I still need a kicker, DST, and quarterback, leaving only three more picks to grab some sleepers. I selected Anthony MillerLatavius Murray, and Tre’Quan Smith.2 I finished by grabbing Alex Smith. After completely punting QB, I still got a third tier QB at the very end of the draft. There is simply no reason to draft a quarterback early in shallow leagues like this. I took Greg Zuerlein as my kicker. (I saw him kick a 70-yarder in camp this week and love that he has a Week-12 bye, so I won’t have to lose waiver priority on another kicker. I took the Chiefs defense for a similar reason.)


The fourth round was the toughest. In the early rounds, you get who falls to you and in the later rounds you grab the guys you like, but there are so many options in the Round 3-5 range that ultimately decide your roster. Ronald Jones is a tricky pick at that level, but rookie RBs are the perfect picks in this range.


This might be the first time I have ever drafted Gronkowski. I’m not able to get him in most leagues because I love those second round WR values. But in this draft, with Keenan Allen and Julio Jones off the board, the clear WR value had dried up. The Draft Dashboard does a great job of helping you to visualize the tiers. That makes it easier to see why taking an elite TE was a good value at that pick. Overall, it freed me to to get both Jones and Coleman because I already had a tight end.


Results Draft Board JMATSON MVM Mock

I was pleased with my team. I’m happy with Smith as my QB, and there are still options like Andy Dalton, Jameis Winston, and Blake Bortles on the waiver wire. I have arguably the top WR, TE, and K. If Luck plays, then my duo of Hilton and Hopkins will be nearly unstoppable. I also have a lot of upside depth. This team shouldn’t have to rely on free agency early, so I can save my FAAB budget for when it really counts.


Team 4 – I’m surprised at some of the computer teams. I have mocked using ADP many times. but the Draft Dashboard is very advanced. (For example, I was sure that I could nab Brieda.) I like Team Four’s WR trio of A.J. Green, Adam Thielen, and Sammy Watkins, while also starting Le’Veon Bell and Jay Ajayi as one of the top RB duos.


I was impressed with the machine here. Teams 3, 4 and 12 are all strong contenders in this format. I love my team – especially my depth and sleepers – but I have to admit that Team Four bested me in this one. This team may lack depth, but I imagine its free agent selections would give it the advantage by the end of the season. Sorry to let mankind down.

Winner: The Machine

  1. I’ll be starting Gronk mostly, but I am hoping that Burton has some upside in Matt Nagy’s offense.  (back)
  2. I was disappointed that one of the machines selected Matt Breida well ahead of ADP, but that will definitely happen to you in real drafts as well.  (back)

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