Fantasy football mock draft trials: Taking Travis Kelce in first round

Fantasy football mock draft trials: Taking Travis Kelce in first round
Video where to draft travis kelce

Editor’s note: These drafts took place before Jerry Jeudy suffered a hamstring injury in practice. We now know it will be a multiweek injury, potentially causing him to miss the start of the season, so his draft stock will slide a little as a result.

Welcome to Part 4 of my fantasy football mock draft series. It’s all under the umbrella of why you should mock draft often. The TL/DR version is that I’m doing a series of mock drafts in which I practice different draft strategies to better understand the draft board before I get into an actual fantasy draft. I’ll share my biggest takeaways from the mocks I take part in, as well as some of my draft preferences, with the hope of giving you something to consider when you go through the exercise yourself.

In case you missed them, here are the first three mock trials I detailed:

  • Drafting a WR with a top-five pick

  • Taking a top-tier QB early

  • Hero-RB strategy

Play the No. 1 fantasy game

We’re back with another year of ESPN Fantasy Football, and it’s not too late to get started. Create a league with friends and family now, draft before the start of the Thursday night game and your league’s scoring will start fresh this week. Sign Up Now >>

Today’s strategy: Draft Travis Kelce in the first round

Kelce in the first?!

This is a new one, at least for me, but we’re finally giving Kelce the love he deserves for being the greatest fantasy TE in the game. Last season, he scored over 100 fantasy points more than the No. 2 scoring tight end, T.J. Hockenson. More than 100 fantasy points! He’s like a cheat code at the position, and given the QB he plays with we’re all expecting big things again this season. Kelce’s current ADP is 5.6, which means he’s being drafted fifth overall. That made this exercise more difficult. I had to throw away more mock drafts than I kept, because he didn’t fall to the end of the round. Ever. I had one draft where I was able to grab him eighth, but I think that’s the exception this year, not the rule. Grabbing him as your starting TE gives you such a big advantage over the rest of your leaguemates, but it also means you need to prepare a little differently for the draft … which is where I come in.

There was only one rule I had for this exercise: Always take Travis Kelce with my first-round pick.

I’m drafting based on my rankings, so your teams may look totally different based on how you value certain players. This is not an exercise in me telling you which players to draft, but rather how a Kelce-centric draft strategy played out for me.

  Travis Kelce tearfully recalls what he said to brother Jason Kelce after Super Bowl win

The logistics

  • I did six PPR drafts: three 10-team leagues and three 12-team leagues.

  • Draft slots: In the 10-team leagues, I drafted second, fifth and eighth, and in the 12-team leagues I drafted first, fourth and fifth.

Each position on your roster is going to be impacted by a different draft strategy, so how did drafting Kelce in the first round impact my teams? After looking back at my mock rosters, I’ve included a few notes below about each key position, followed by a larger breakdown of my favorite team from this exercise at the end of the column.


The middle rounds are where it’s at: I never drafted a tier-one QB (Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen or Jalen Hurts), but I almost always drafted someone from my second tier, which I’ve kinda fallen in love with. It’s not that hard to leave a draft with a top-eight QB, which for me includes: Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow, Justin Fields, Justin Herbert and Trevor Lawrence. There was one exception in this exercise where I did NOT get someone from my second tier: A 12-team league where I got brutally unlucky in a QB run right before me, decimating my queue of Herbert, Lawrence and Deshaun Watson. I had to settle for Tua Tagovailoa in that league. It happens to all of us.

  • The earliest I took a QB was Fields at pick 60.

  • The latest I took a QB was Tua at pick 101.

  • QBs went faster in the 12-team mocks, which makes sense given the extra teams – and that made the pick feel more “worth it” than in a 10-team league.

Running back

Pigskin Win Totals

Fantasy football mock draft trials: Taking Travis Kelce in first round

Take your shot at picking win totals for all 32 teams for a chance to win up to $10,000! Make Your Picks

  • This approach allowed me the same “hero-RB” build that I like using this year, which was nice to learn.

  • Tony Pollard was my clear RB1 of choice, as I grabbed him in the second round of all three 12-team drafts and twice in the third round of the 10-team drafts.

  • Derrick Henry was my highest-ranked RB I was able to secure, when he fell to me at pick 16.

  • In five of the six mocks I did not draft a second running back until the sixth round. As has been the case all summer, there’s great value in the low-end RB2 range of drafts.

  • In the one mock I drafted a second RB early, I started my draft like this: Kelce, Henry, Pollard, Keenan Allen (WR1).

  • The other five RB2s I drafted were the same player: Rachaad White.

  • Obviously, White and Pollard were my most-drafted RBs. Their ADPs fell almost perfectly for this kind of build.

  • My highest-ranked RB3 was Javonte Williams, whom I selected in the ninth round in one draft.

  What Does Travis Kelce Smell Like?

Wide receiver

  • I left each draft with a different WR1. Not on purpose, that’s just how the draft fell based on my draft slots.

  • My WR1s were a little less stellar overall, but let’s not forget I basically have a WR at the TE position. It’s OK to have a slight step down in the WR category.

  • My WR1s ranged from Amon-Ra St. Brown (my WR7) to Keenan Allen (WR16).

  • My flex spot was always filled by a WR. The range of WRs I grabbed to play in the flex were: Amari Cooper (WR17), Diontae Johnson (WR20) and Jerry Jeudy (now my WR30, but higher prior to his injury).

  • The most common WRs I selected in the mid-to-late rounds were: Skyy Moore, Zay Flowers, Jakobi Meyers and Nico Collins (all ranked between WR37 and 54 for me).

Tight end

  • I always drafted Travis Kelce.

  • Kelce was my best value.

  • Kelce was my biggest reach.

  • I always drafted Travis Kelce.

  • Seriously though, he almost never made it past sixth overall (which is why I had to throw away most of my mocks in which I didn’t have an early pick). If you want to use this strategy, you likely need to draft in the first half of the round.

  • Overall, I found this to be a much more rewarding build than I thought it would be. It wasn’t hard to leave a draft with a team that I liked, knowing that I never had to wonder “is now the time to attack the TE position?”

My favorite team from this exercise (drafting from No. 6 slot in 10-team league)


QB: Trevor Lawrence (7th round)RB: Tony Pollard (3rd)RB: Rachaad White (6th)WR: Garrett Wilson (2nd)WR: DK Metcalf (4th)TE: Travis Kelce (1st)Flex: Amari Cooper (5th)


WR Mike Williams (8th) WR Diontae Johnson (9th) RB Rashaad Penny (10th) RB Zach Charbonnett (11th) WR Skyy Moore (12th) WR Jalin Hyatt (13th)

Overall, I really liked how this team turned out. RB is weaker than I’d like, but with my WR options and the waiver wire, I think this could be a legit contender. At QB, I was really excited that I could grab Lawrence in the seventh. I’ve said this all draft season, he’s a great value in these middle rounds given the potential third-year leap he could make.

Pollard is my RB6, so I’m loving the value I’m getting on him in the late-second and early-third round. And if you’ve been reading this series from the start, first off, thank you. It means the world that you care what I think. And second, I’m all-in on Mike Clay’s new best friend, Rachaad White. Grabbing him as my RB2 is as consistent as it gets with my hero-RB builds. With the backfield all to himself and his ability to catch passes, I’m almost always banking on him being my other starting running back. The rest of the running back room has some question marks, though I do like the upside that both Penny and Charbonnet possess if the situation arises.

  Travis Kelce and Ex-Girlfriend Kayla Nicole’s Relationship Timeline: The Way They Were

Editor’s Picks

  • Fantasy football mock draft trials: Taking Travis Kelce in first round

    2023 Fantasy Football Draft Guide: Rankings, cheat sheets and analysis

  • Fantasy football mock draft trials: Taking Travis Kelce in first round

    Mock draft trials: Employing a hero-RB strategy

  • Fantasy football mock draft trials: Taking Travis Kelce in first round

    Mock draft trials: Taking an top-tier QB early

I couldn’t believe Wilson fell to me in the second round. To start Kelce-Wilson-Pollard felt like a dream scenario. The tough part was waiting two whole rounds to find out who my WR2 and flex would be, and again, I was pleasantly surprised to see Metcalf and Cooper on the board, two guys I’m very happy leaving drafts with. And if that wasn’t good enough, getting Williams and Johnson as my top two bench WRs felt like cheating. I know, I’m higher than some of the rest on Johnson, but I think I’ve snagged a pretty serious group of pass-catchers here … oh, and Moore and Hyatt provide some late-round upside.

Lastly, drafting Kelce with the second overall pick did not feel very fun. It felt like I was drafting a 33-year old TE at his expected value, rather than him being an ACTUAL value. With that being said, never having to worry about tight end for the rest of the draft made me feel like a kid in a candy store. I was able to grab the best players on the board without having to weigh their potential value against a mid-round tight end. It was great!

In summary …

  • I’ve really enjoyed grabbing a QB in the early-to-middle rounds (fourth through seventh), given the value that’s available there.

  • Using a hero/anchor-RB build showed me there are definitely RB2s available in Rounds 7 through 9 of fantasy drafts – even if I start my draft with Travis Kelce. Just stay patient and let the draft come to you.

  • My WRs are nasty. Getting Wilson (top-five upside), Metcalf, Cooper, Williams (the ceiling play), Johnson (the floor play), Moore and Hyatt felt like stealing. I love this group. And when I think about the fact I’m adding Kelce to that crew, I love it even more!