The NFL preseason is now underway and with it comes an abundance of research and time spent planning one's fantasy football draft. While some folks go into these things with little to no strategy and are able to simply wing it, I'd say most do at least a little bit of prep work leading up to their drafts.
Each year we like to look at the Big Ten as a conference and put together our own mock draft. This season is no different and we've again got a number of Buckeyes going in the first round of our 10-team mock.
1. Jonathan Taylor • Running Back • Junior • Wisconsin
I'm not sure if you've heard, but Wisconsin really likes to run the football and Jonathan Taylor is one of the best in the country at doing just that. When you combine Taylor's skill set with inexperience at quarterback, you have the recipe for yet another absurd season in Madison. He's rushed for over 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns in his career thus far and could contend for the Heisman as a junior.
2. J.K. Dobbins • Running Back • Junior • Ohio State
Running back depth is a concern for Ohio State, but the bell cow certainly is not. While it's true that J.K. Dobbins took a step back as a sophomore in 2018, the addition of Justin Fields is only going to help out the Buckeye backfield. He's rushed for just shy of 2,500 yards and 17 touchdowns in two seasons. Unlike Taylor, Dobbins is also a threat as a pass-catcher. He's hauled in 48 passes for 398 yards and three scores in his career.
3. Rondale Moore • Wide Receiver • Sophomore • Purdue
Purdue's Rondale Moore honestly might be the most exciting player in the country. He's been putting on a show ever since last season's debut when he amassed 313 all-purpose yards and a pair of scores against Northwestern. Moore is obviously a threat as a pass-catcher but also puts in work out of the backfield and on special teams. He totaled nearly 1,500 yards and 14 scores as a true freshman. He also led the country in receptions with 114. Let's not even talk about what he did to Ohio State last October.
4. Adrian Martinez • Quarterback • Sophomore • Nebraska
It was a rough start last year for Scott Frost, but Nebraska bounced back during the second half of the season. Adrian Martinez is already one of the top quarterbacks in the conference and he's expected to make a big leap in year two of Frost's system. Last year he broke Nebraska's freshman passing record and it took less than seven games to do so. Martinez is a true dual-threat who threw for over 2,600 yards and 17 touchdowns while adding another 600 and eight scores with his legs.
5. Ricky Slade • Running Back • Sophomore • Penn State
Penn State didn't need a whole lot from Ricky Slade as a freshman in 2018, but with Miles Sanders now suiting up for the Eagles, he's expected to be the guy in Happy Valley. The Nittany Lions have a strong history at the position, and while Slade doesn't have the size of a Sanders or Saquon Barkley, it's fair to have high expectations for the sophomore. He rushed for 257 yards and six touchdowns while spelling Sanders last year.
6. Justin Fields • Quarterback • Sophomore • Ohio State
Ohio State's quarterback situation is one of the top storylines in the conference. Ryan Day hasn't named a starter yet, but there's not a whole lot of intrigue around Columbus. No one is going to put up Dwayne Haskins-like passing numbers, but Fields' ability as a runner brings an entirely new element to Ohio State's offense. It's his passing game that we're all going to be watching closely, but the weapons are certainly in place.
7. Shea Patterson • Quarterback • Senior • Michigan
Another one of the conference's top storylines will be Michigan's new-look offense under Josh Gattis. We've watched Jim Harbaugh's archaic system bore the masses over the last several years as talented players like Donovan Peoples-Jones really haven't been able to flourish. Now, with Gattis implementing a new scheme, Shea Patterson and the Wolverine passing game have the tools in place to provide a spark in 2019.
8. Tyler Johnson • Wide Receiver • Senior • Minnesota
We don't spend a whole lot of time talking about the Golden Gophers, but senior wideout Tyler Johnson quietly heads into the season as one of the country's top receivers. As a junior in 2018, he hauled in 78 passes in 13 games and went for 1,169 yards and 12 touchdowns. Johnson was second in the conference – behind only Rondale Moore – in receiving yards. Quarterback Zack Annexstad's foot injury could complicate things a bit, however.
9. Anthony McFarland • Running Back • Sophomore • Maryland
Much like with Rondale Moore, looking back at Anthony McFarland's performance against Ohio State is bound to cause some uneasy feelings. He ran for 1,034 yards and four touchdowns as a redshirt freshman. 298 yards and two of those touchdowns came in the Nov. 17 matchup against the Buckeyes. The season certainly wasn't without its struggles, though. He rushed for just 17 yards on eight carries against Michigan State. In the finale against Penn State, he managed just 12 yards on six attempts.
10. Nate Stanley • Quarterback • Senior • Iowa
Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley has thrown for 26 touchdowns in each of the past two seasons. In 2018, however, he upped his completion percentage from 55 to 60 percent and threw for about 400 more yards. The Hawkeyes return their top wideouts in Brandon Smith and Ihmir Smith-Marsette, but losing both T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant are clearly big blows to the short and intermediate passing game. Stanley should be one of the conference's best as a senior.
If you're one of those people prepping for your NFL fantasy fix, then it's worth noting that two former Buckeyes currently have first-round average draft positions. Ezekiel Elliott is No. 4 despite his holdout and Michael Thomas is in the No. 9 slot after becoming the NFL's richest wideout.
Patrick Mahomes is the league's most talented signal-caller and he's not going until the second or third round in most drafts. Always remember to wait on your quarterbacks, folks.