NFL training camps begin in July and just like the players on the field, preparation is the key to any successful season.

The same can be said for fantasy football. Whether you have the first overall pick or the last of the first round, it is crucial to have an idea of ​​who will be available in each round.

I’ll be doing mock drafts all summer long, providing scenarios and feedback for each position, starting with pick number 1. The goal of this spot is to prepare you for the unexpected.

The trial versions assume that there are 12 teams in the league with the following roster construction: quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, tight end, a flex (running back, wide receiver or tight end), defense, kicker and seven bench stains. It’s a 16-round snake draw in a half-point-per-reception (half-PPR) league. At some point we will combine drafts of 10 and 16 teams, as well as a Superflex and non-PPR (standard) draft.

If you read my draft guide, you know I’m not a fan of drafting kickers and defense when they don’t have to. I would rather add a few running backs who can act as starters if injured. However, for the sake of this exercise, I will complete each concept this way. Don’t forget that you shouldn’t draft until you’ve made your last two choices either!

Most importantly, be creative with your sample designs. Don’t take the same players on every appearance. Your favorite sleeper is probably someone else’s too.

The draft is just the beginning of the season. If you’re drafting early, use the waiver wire to your advantage if serious injuries occur. If you’re a fantasy nerd like me, turn on notifications from your favorite NFL insider for the latest news around the league. But in draft you build the foundation of your roster, and the goal is to have as deep a roster as possible.

Let’s get started with the first mock version of the 2024 season.

Here’s my schedule:

Round 1, Pick 1: Christian McCaffrey, RB, San Francisco 49ers

Round 2, choice 12: Chris Olave, WR, New Orleans Saints

Round 3, choice 1: Isiah Pacheco, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

Round 4, pick 12: DeVonta Smith, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

Round 5, Choose 1: Zay Flowers, WR, Baltimore Ravens

Round 6, choice 12: George Pickens, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

Round 7, Choose 1: Christian Kirk, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

Round 8, pick 12: Kyle Pitts, TE, Atlanta Falcons

Round 9, choice 1: Chase Brown, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

Round 10, pick 12: Ty Chandler, RB, Minnesota Vikings

Round 11, choice 1: Mike Williams, WR, New York Jets

Round 12, Pick 12: Jared Goff, QB, Detroit Lions

Round 13, choice 1: Jayden Daniels, QB, Washington Commanders

Round 14, pick 12: Alexander Mattison, RB, Las Vegas Raiders

Round 15, choice 1: New Orleans Saints D/ST

Round 16, pick 12: Jake Elliott, K, Philadelphia Eagles

Observations:

There’s only one player who should go No. 1 overall, and that’s the touchdown machine: Christian McCaffrey. He’s at the top of my draft board after finishing with more than 100 fantasy points than last season’s No. 2 running back, Raheem Mostert. McCaffrey is a cheat code at the running back position as long as he stays healthy.

The disadvantage of choosing first is that you have to wait 23 choices before you can make your next selection. The great thing about picking first (or last) is the ability to make back-to-back picks to lay the foundation of your selection. I was ecstatic when I saw Chris Olave go to me with my second pick. According to FantasyPros, Olave is currently ranked WR12 and 20th overall. I have the third-year Saints receiver as my WR8 and the 13th player overall after back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and little competition for targets.

The 14th player in my rankings is Isiah Pacheco. I also considered Derrick Henry at this spot, but I think Pacheco is poised to have a monster season now that Jerick McKinnon is no longer with the Chiefs. I’m a big fan of the Ravens’ pick-up, but Pacheco is going to get more work as a pass catcher than Henry.

Receiver options were plentiful with my fifth and sixth picks, so I went with the two best available on my draft board in DeVonta Smith and Zay Flowers. Smith finished with over 1,000 yards and exactly seven touchdowns each of the last two seasons, even with AJ Brown on the Eagles’ roster. Flowers is the best wide receiver for an explosive Ravens offense. I expect a huge increase in production for Flowers in his second season.

Two players who previously competed for the two picks managed to beat me in rounds 6 and 7. George Pickens and Christian Kirk are the No. 1 receivers for their respective teams, and I have them all in the top 20 wide receivers.

This is the stage of the design where I start to consider making a tight end. I believe Kyle Pitts is at a big discount from his current rankings. He has been a thorn in the side of fantasy managers for the past two seasons as a high draft pick without the big rewards, but with a new offense and Kirk Cousins ​​now at quarterback, Pitts can finally live up to the hype.

The next three choices all add depth to my roster. Chase Brown and Ty Chandler are both backups to injury-prone running backs. Brown also thinks he will get the bulk of the passing work for the Bengals. Mike Williams has posted big fantasy numbers when healthy, so getting him this late in the draft feels like a steal.

One strategy I’m leaning toward this year is doubling down on the quarterback in the late rounds, and I decided to use consecutive picks at the position after last year’s massacre at QB. I have Jared Goff significantly higher in my rankings than most in the fantasy community as QB9, compared to QB13 at FantasyPros and an incredible QB21 in ESPN’s rankings. Jayden Daniels is the top pick who could develop into a top five player if he fulfills his potential.

This is a really fun team, but it lacks the running back depth that I usually crave in the later rounds. Having Christian McCaffrey anchor the position alleviates some concerns, but an injury to CMC or Pacheco could leave me struggling at running back. The depth at receiver is great, so making some wideouts for a running back is a possibility.

Another reason I’m not too concerned is that there are diamonds in the rough, like Kyren Williams from a year ago. The first part of any successful season is the draft, but getting a player like Williams onto waivers is just as important. It’s much easier to find running backs than elite receivers.

What do you think of this schedule? Let’s discuss on Twitter @JoeSerp.

You can create your own sample design in seconds by clicking here.