Jones and I are bringing you a recap of a draft we did recently. I wish I could tell you that this league is composed of championship level competition but I cannot. There are some savvy people, but a few that are clueless and a couple auto drafters to boot. This should provide a template, however, for what to do in a re-draft where you are at the end of the first round.
I had the 11th pick and Jones had the 12th. Being in that spot is fine with me but we kept taking each other’s picks. I really do not like being stuck next to a cagey individual but luckily for me there was enough reaching to leave value on most picks.
Format: 12 teams, Standard Scoring + PPR
Positions: QB, WR x3, RB x2, TE, W/R, K, Defense
Beginning Phase- Make Solid Decisions
My goal in the first few rounds is to get optimum value. In a 12 team where there are 3 WR slots you should really be getting at least one in the first two rounds. Jones and I logged on 30 minutes early to see our draft position, which was a double edged sword. My least favorite spot to draft from this year is 1-3 and being at the end is fine with me but I knew Jones was sandwiched by my picks throughout the draft and I would lose out on a lot of players I wanted.
Round 1: LeSean McCoy
I really never thought he would fall to me. My plan was to grab the best WR on the board (probably Fitz) and no matter what Jones did, I would still end up with either Roddy White or Calvin Johnson. What ended up happening was some reaching for QBs in front of me. At 11th overall, McCoy is tremendous value.
Round 2: Calvin Johnson
Jones does what he is supposed to and takes Fitz and White so I am left with Calvin Johnson. Typically you have to think a lot in the first couple rounds. For me, these were no brainers.
Round 3: Antonio Gates
There were a couple other players on the board I liked- Dez Bryant, Mike Williams, but I could not pass up Gates with the second to last pick in the 3rd round. One of the dudes actually made a comment later on about how he is no better than the other good Tight Ends and therefore overvalued. I disagree completely. I believe Antonio Gates is a tier unto himself this season. That does not guarantee he will be the top TE overall, but he has everything you are looking for. The other elite TEs are either aging, coming off injury, on bad offenses, or do not have guaranteed roles.
Round 4: Dez Bryant
Jones took Jahvid Best for upside and Steven Jackson for value. Regardless of what he did I was looking at WR with Bryant or Mike Williams. Thanks to some reaching that happened earlier, we were both able to get value. I was ecstatic to wind up with Bryant early in the 4th. It is not the steal of the century but I really love his upside this season.
Round 5: Matt Schaub
Quarterback was still vacant for me and there is a big drop off in talent after the Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Schaub tier. Ryan was already off the board and I knew Jones would take a QB. If there was a position player I loved on the board, I would have taken him. Since there was not, I opted to get my pick of the litter at QB. I went with Schaub over Roethlisberger because I think he is more likely to have a huge year. All three QBs that I mentioned above are fairly interchangeable though.
Round 6: Kenny Britt
I really wanted to solidify WR because it starts to get scarce after Britt. I was between Britt, Collie, and Sidney Rice. There were no tempting stud RBs on the board. Collie’s role does not include enough TD opportunities for my liking and Sidney Rice has talent but is in a terrible situation in Seattle. Kenny Britt obviously has his own issues but he has produced in the past despite trouble and his upside is the most attractive.
Round 7: Mark Ingram
There were three players I was considering here- Ingram, Addai, and Tolbert. With Addai you’re probably getting around 10 points per week in PPR and I think he is underappreciated. Tolbert should have a big role in San Diego because Ryan Mathews just is not delivering on the hype. Ingram scares me because New Orleans spreads the ball around a lot. Even so, it looks like he will be the number one back and get most of the goal line carries. I was planning on taking a lot more RBs so I felt good about taking a gamble here.
Round 8: Ryan Williams
Speaking of risky rookie RBs…. Same justification as with Ingram. If one of these two players pans out, my team would be dynamite. Sims-Walker, Beanie Wells, Lynch, and Stewart were all on the board but Williams is clearly the most talented. Using 7th and 8th round picks on risky players is not always advised, but I felt like I had a solid enough foundation to build a more combustible roster.
Round 9: Rashad Jennings
This pick was a nail biter for me. There were three players on the board I wanted to pick and I knew that Jones would probably take the other two before my next pick. I had to decide between Jennings, Starks, and A.J. Green. Taking rookies in the previous two rounds made me shy away from taking Green, plus there were receivers later I wanted to draft. Starks was solid in the playoffs and Ryan Grants age + injury make him a candidate to be replaced. I like Jennings the most because he got some opportunities last year and was productive, is young, and has MJD ahead of him coming off multiple seasons of heavy workload and injury in 2010.
Round 10: Davone Bess
I would have been much more excited about Starks or Green but of course Jones snagged both of them. Three reasons prompted me to reach a little for Bess here. 1) Small bonus for return yards 2) PPR- he had 79 catches last season 3) With 3 WR in 12 team, I really needed a 4th who was reliable. James Jones, Emmanuel Sanders, and Braylon Edwards were all on the board but that is a big pile of question marks.
Round 11: Jacoby Ford
If there is a pick I regret, it might be this one. Jason Snelling was on the board and I think he could be a big breakout player if Turner’s wear and tear finally gets to him. Ford had almost 1,300 return yards last year and is the #1 in Oakland so for this league I felt he was the best fit. If I had to do it again, I might take Snelling but I do not think this was an atrocious pick by any means.
Round 12: Thomas Jones
This is an ironic and somewhat hypocritical pick on my part but I still like it. My philosophy is to always draft youth and upside and Jones has neither. In all the mock drafts I have done, I never took Mark Ingram and Thomas Jones. Both were there at solid value and fit my team well. Jones could make a nice flex/bye week starter. If he shows his age for once in his career I can cut bait without a lot of guilt since I got him in the 12th.
Round 13: Jacoby Jones
He was a Sleeper last season and did not deliver. This late in the draft, I will take a flier on him. Sleeper RBs I had targeted like Helu, Ronnie Brown, and Delone Carter were gone. If a player emerges, I will not hesitate to use my #2 waiver priority and replace him.
Round 14: Montario Hardesty
He got hurt in 2010 and is not completely healthy now. Add to that Brandon Jackson is ahead of him on the depth chart and Hardesty is anything but a sure thing. At the end of the draft, I am a firm believer in hitting home runs. If I strike out 3 times out of 4 the math is still worth it.
Round 15: Shane Vereen
There were very few Sleeper RBs on the board at this point. Green-Ellis looks vulnerable so I figured in that offense Vereen is a worthy choice. Garret Hartley was on the board and I probably should have taken him but you do not win or lose championships based on your kicker
Round 16: Jones snagged Hartley, as I figured he would so I went with Henery from the Eagles. That offense should be pretty high powered and I might wind up playing matchups with my kickers anyway.
QB: Matt Schaub
WR: Calvin Johnson
WR: Dez Bryant
WR: Kenny Britt
RB: LeSean McCoy
RB: Mark Ingram
TE: Antonio Gates
W/R: Thomas Jones
K: Alex Henery
I will not go out on a ledge and declare myself Championship bound quite yet. There are clearly three top tier teams in this league and I believe I am one of them. For how bad some of the other owners are, I did not end up with crazy value. Even so, my team has tremendous balance and the potential to be strong at every position, which rarely happens.
You will notice that I did not take a Defense and there are two reasons for that. First, I am going to play matchups anyway so I did not really care who I have now. Second, this draft was very early with lots of preseason to go. Taking an additional RB is a total long shot, but what if it works out? To win, you have to think outside the box and take chances. I have been wrong and a fool many times before and I am willing to be one again just for the upside.
Draft Strategy-not knowing where we were drafting until 30 minutes prior was tough but having done about 97 mock drafts this summer I felt good about my chances. Having the 12th pick was fine with me but as Drew alluded to before, having him pick before me meant that we were going to compete for a lot of the same guys. In my previous mock drafts where I drafted in the 11th or 12th position I had almost always found my way to Lesean McCoy and I absolutely knew this wasn’t going to happen this time, especially if he made it to Drew. Therefore, I pretty much resigned myself to taking two big name receivers. Drafting a quarterback in the first two rounds is not really part of my draft strategy this year, obviously barring some ridiculous value. Since I had two picks in a row, I will divide my analysis into pairs.
Rounds 1 (pick 12) and 2 (pick 13): With McCoy off the board and my rational fear of McFadden (I’m weary of one year wonders and I actually believe the loss of Tom Cable will negatively affect the run game), I took Fitz and Roddy White. It’s a lock that Fitz will have a better year this year even if Kolb is average and the fact that this is a .5 ppr league means, in my eyes, that White is the best receiver to own. In general, the first round was pretty straightforward with a few exceptions. Chris Johnson slipped to pick #9, obviously due to the precarious situation with his contract, and Rodgers and Vick were drafted ahead of value which is no shock.
Rounds 3 (pick 36) and 4 (pick 37): Typically here I’m targeting guys like Gates, Wallace, Bryant, and Mike Williams but knowing I had two studs at receiver, I really wanted to shore up my running back situation, and as I said before, I’m waiting on QB’s and Romo was the only star left. The board at this point was kind of strange. Drew, as expected, drafted Gates and I was looking at a board that included S-Jax, Jahvid Best, Legarrette Blount, Dez Bryant, Mike Williams (TB) and Finley. I think Dez will have a breakout year but I wanted to go RB’s. I went with S-Jax and Best over Blount which I’m pretty comfortable with. Blount looks fat and out of shape, he has little PPR value, and he is inconsistent in his YPC and yardage totals. In short, I believe he is overvalued. We all know what S-Jax is capable of and though his YPC was at an all time low last year (3.8), he is really the focal point of an emerging offense and he should catch enough passes to provide consistent value. Obviously Best will get all he can handle in Detroit and he should be a PPR stud. I do realize, however that Jackson and Best carry concerns. S-Jax can’t do it forever and Best has his own injury baggage. At this point I know that I will have to build depth at RB as the draft continues.
Rounds 5 (pick 60) and 6 (pick 61): The draft up to this point was a reach fest at QB so it got me thinking that I needed to grab one of the few elite left (Ryan, Roeth, or Schaub). If not, I felt that I would be forced to pick Freeman or Eli way too early and essentially forfeit value which I am rarely willing to do. Guys I’m typically targeting at this point include Witten, Santonio Holmes, Ryan Grant and Felix Jones but all were taken at this point. I also like Britt and Addai for 6th round value. Britt’s a criminal but expect big things from him this year. Ryan and Schaub were gone by the time it got to me but Roethlisberger was there so I felt good snagging him up. He finished 7th in fantasy ppg last year among QB’s and with the emergence of Emmanuel Sanders there is no sign of that offense slowing down. After that it was a no brainer to take Dallas Clark. To get him in the sixth round is ridiculous and even though the TE position is extremely deep this year, I see Clark being top 2 when it’s all said and done. All camp reports suggest that his wrist is fine and there is no reason to believe that Peyton will miss time.
Rounds 7 (pick 84) and 8 (pick 85): With my roster pretty well rounded out at every position I was really hoping to get some value at running back. Fortunately I got what I was looking for in Addai and Tolbert. Addai is anything but a flashy pick (he hasn’t had a run over 25 yards since 2008), but the fact that Peyton restructured his contract to keep him means that he is firmly cemented in the starting role. Donald Brown poses no real threat with his ineptitude as a blocker and everything I have seen and read about concerning Delone Carter suggests that he is not NFL feature back material. The Colts view him as a reliever and he recently dropped back behind Brown on the depth chart. Tolbert is clearly the back to own in San Diego. I wouldn’t touch Mathews with Drew’s mouse and Tolbert is quite obviously the red zone focus. These were the best two picks in the draft for me. I got safety nets for S-Jax and Best and two great flex options to boot.
Rounds 9 (pick 108) and 10 (pick 109): at this point it was getting pretty thin at receiver and I was really hoping that either Roy Williams or Mike Thomas would fall to me but they both went earlier in the 9th round. It is here that I made my first mistake of the draft. I took a chance on A.J. Green which I am fine with at this point. His upside is through the roof and his athleticism was obvious in his first preseason game. Green, however, is a project that will take some time to develop and he is not someone I would feel comfortable putting into that third WR spot week one. I really should have taken Devone Bess in the tenth who is a great PPR sleeper. He had 76 receptions in 2009 and 79 in 2010. He also managed to find the end zone five times last year. He won’t set the world on fire, but he should be a stable WR 3/Flex player in PPR formats. Instead of Bess I chose Starks, which could be worse and he is probably the most coveted back up RB behind Rashad Jennings and arguably Jason Snelling.
Rounds 11 (pick 132) and 12 (pick 133): I was still searching for stability at receiver and these two picks really cemented my team as one of the elite. I picked up Snelling who speaks for himself and Lance Moore in the 12th. Moore is clearly the #2 Saints’ receiver in fantasy land and he will provide consistency in PPR formats. He was also Drew Brees’s favorite redzone target last year getting more targets and TD’s in the red zone than Colston or Meachem. This pick more than made up for the Bess flop earlier.
Rounds 13 (pick 156) and 14 (pick 157): I have a mix of regret and pride reflecting on these two picks. My draft strategy has always been to stockpile late round RB depth but my uncertainty at WR influenced my strategy. Looking back on it, I wish I snagged a guy like Demarco Murray instead of two WR’s but I grabbed a couple of WR sleepers who could come up big. Nabbing Breaston at this point is a cagey move considering his relationship with Todd Haley. I also like a guy like Burleson who flies under the radar but he was gone at this point. I really think Lee Evans could be my best value pick as he will assume #2 duties in the Ravens offense that desperately needs a deep threat. With Todd Heap gone, I really see Evans as the primary red zone target. Boldin obviously has more value, but despite his beastitude, he is really just a physical route runner.
Rounds 15 (pick 180) and 16 (pick 181): As you can see, I really don’t put any stake in kickers or defense. I prefer to play matchups. Some of you are uncomfortable with this which is fine. I did snag Garrett Hartley here however, and despite the obvious appeal as the Saints kicker, the Saints also have the most favorable weather schedule in the league with really zero chance of playing in unfavorable conditions. Their toughest test will be Tennessee in the middle of December. Hey, It might be cold…I guess. Detroit D is what it is. Hopefully Fairley gets healthy, blah blah blah who cares, I’ll drop them and play matchups anyway.
Recap: I couldn’t really be happier with what transpired. I’m strong at WR and RB while still managing to own an elite TE and a top 10 QB with top 5 potential. We’ll see how it all shakes out. As noted earlier, this is the least competitive league out of the four that Drew and I are in. There are some idiots but about half the guys are pretty savvy. That’s probably fairly realistic for what the average person experiences. Hope this helps. Please feel free to scrutinize, comment or question. Good luck on draft day.