On Saturday I participated in my fantasy football league’s draft, which also happened to be the first live draft I’ve ever been a part of, the rest being done online. This is the third year of a 10-team league I created with some high school friends, and there’s extra bragging rights up for grabs this year as it will be our final season before we all head off to college, although we still have plans to continue the league into the future. Since I wrote a piece a couple weeks ago on fantasy football draft strategy, which can be found here: http://toplevelsports.blogspot.com/2015/07/fantasy-football-draft-strategy.html, I thought it would be interesting to evaluate my draft and see if my player selections reflected the tips I gave in the article.
First of all, I should give some background on the specifics of the league. As I said earlier, the league has 10 teams. We play .5 PPR, so every catch earns half a point. The rest of the scoring is Yahoo standard, since that is the site we use for the league. As for rosters, we like having flexibility, which is why we start two running backs, two wide receivers, and two flex spots (RB/WR/TE), along with one quarterback, tight end, kicker, and defense, for a total of 10 starting positions, with a six-man bench.
I drafted sixth in the first round (we use a snake draft so that means 15th in the 2nd round and so on), and was initially planning to draft Matt Forte if the first five picks were the top running backs (AP/Lacy/Charles/Bell/Lynch). However, Antonio Brown was draft fourth, leaving Beast Mode himself Marshawn Lynch available at six, and despite how much I like Forte and his added value in .5PPR versus no PPR, I couldn’t pass up on such a consistently incredible back.
In my draft strategy, I say that choosing a running back in the first round is almost a must, especially for teams drafting in the front half of the first round, in which snagging a top-5 back is crucial. Luckily for me, I was able to get one of those guys at six, getting my draft off to a solid start. Now in terms of second round strategy I advocated choosing a running back only if there was good value in the pick, and otherwise going wide receiver. If someone like LeSean McCoy or DeMarco Murray was still available at 15, I would’ve chosen them in a heartbeat. However, they were off the board and with the next running backs chosen being Jeremy Hill and Justin Forsett, I felt like choosing them would be reaching, at least for Forsett (I’m not a huge fan of Hill), so I went wide receiver.
Who did I get as my team’s first wide receiver? Megatron, Calvin Johnson. I thought this was another strong pick taking Johnson as the sixth receiver off the board, although I did strongly consider choosing Rob Gronkowski instead, who ended up being the next pick in the draft. I feel like this year both Stafford and Johnson will have strong bounce-back seasons after struggling somewhat in 2014.
In the third round, I knew I had to go running back again, simply because of a player I love who was still available, and basically right at his ADP. That’s Alfred Morris, a player who I see as underrated and someone who can definitely finish the year as a top-10 back in the league, with over 1,000 yards in each of his three seasons in the league. I ended up passing on Randall Cobb, a guy who I’ve owned each of the last three years to do so, but I still love the pick. I ended up going with my third running back in the fourth round. This was not by design, but as I wrote, being aware of value picks is always important, and I believe I found one with Saints back Mark Ingram at pick #35 overall. It’s not the most interesting pick in the world, but it’s a great flex play for me with Ingram coming off his best career season and potential injury concerns with backup C.J. Spiller.
Going into round five, the draft had gone relatively according to plan, and with the exception of Ingram, I chose players who before the draft I had marked as strong targets for their respective rounds. In the overall draft, things had also been going relatively according to plan. Only two quarterbacks (Luck and Rodgers) had been taken, and Gronk and Graham were the only tight ends off the board. The rest of the picks were split roughly even between RBs and WRs, meaning I was a little behind in the receiving department, something I changed with my next two picks.
Despite injury troubles which are now all but cleared up, I chose one of last year’s breakout rookies, Sammy Watkins, with pick 46. I feel he might be slightly underrated due to his team’s poor quarterback situation, but I’m confident in him as the team’s #1, and as a guy who will get nearly every red zone target. Then in round six I once again went with a second-year receiver from the AFC East, choosing one of the players I wanted more than anyone else, Dolphins #1 Jarvis Landry. Along with his friendship with fellow LSU alum Odell Beckham Jr., I’m high on Landry because the Dolphins’ two main receivers (Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline) both left the team in the offseason, and because Landry is currently slated to keep his job as the team’s primary kick and punt returner, for which he’ll get one point per 25 yards. Despite reaching a little compared to his ADP, I knew I had picked a winner when I got a couple groans from other guys wanting him as their next selection.
In round seven I went with LeGarrette Blount, who once he finishes his one-game suspension, will prove to be a strong flex option and be the fourth man in what I view as a very strong running back group which I add one more man to later.
Picks eight and nine were spent filling in my gaps at quarterback and tight end, since up to that point I had only gone with running backs and wide receivers. In the eight I took my man Eli Manning as the ninth quarterback off the board. I knew going into the draft I wanting to wait on QB to get Eli, since even though I’m a Giants fan I really expect him to have a great year. With the quarterback rush happening in the couple rounds before, I accepted the round as a good spot to get the guy I wanted. Then in round nine I took old reliable, Jason Witten, someone I didn’t think would remain on the board, but ended up being the eighth tight end chosen (we really waited on TEs), despite me viewing him as a top-5 caliber guy.
With starters already chosen, rounds 10-14 became my opportunity to pick up some guys who I think have the capability to really make an impact and surprise some people. This group starts with Cardinals wideout John Brown (yes, another second year guy and we aren’t done with them yet), who made some really great catches near the tail end of 2014 and though he starts the year as the #3 receiver on the team, could easily in my mind finish the year as the #1 if he plays to his potential, and Larry Fitzgerald continues to decline.
In round 11 I took a flyer on Devonta Freeman, who is currently fighting with Tevin Coleman for the starting RB role in Atlanta, despite being currently sidelined with an injury. It’s came as a surprise that he was still around as a potential starter, but my league was collectively scared of the Falcons running situation, as Coleman wasn’t even taken until the ninth round himself.
In round 12 I took my fourth second-year wideout, this time being Packers #3 guy Davante Adams, who Aaron Rodgers has publicly stated will receive more looks this year after impressing in training camp. Then in the 13th I went back to my Giants, taking Reuben Randle, hoping he’ll be the beneficiary of all the OBJ double and triple teams. Then in round 14 I went for a backup quarterback, taking the guy I see as having the greatest breakout potential of the players remaining, Teddy Bridgewater.
I closed out the draft by taking the Miami defense with the newly added Donkey Kong Suh, and Connor Barth as kicker for mainly name reasons but also because he kicks for the Broncos, and that’s never a bad thing.
Overall, I’m really pleased with how I drafted and feel like if a couple guys breakout, I could be a serious title contender in this league, and a playoff team at the very least. I followed the rules I set out for myself, having no more than two players from one team, three players with the same bye week, no rookies, and finishing off with one defense and one kicker. Now I’m just excited for the season to begin.
QB- Eli Manning, Teddy Bridgewater
RB- Marshawn Lynch, Alfred Morris, Mark Ingram, LeGarrette Blount, Devonta Freeman
WR- Calvin Johnson, Sammy Watkins, Jarvis Landry, John Brown, Davante Adams, Reuben Randle
TE- Jason Witten
K- Connor Barth
DEF- Miami Dolphins