This past Sunday, I had my first of three drafts. This one was for the Brookhaven Fantasy Football League (The BFFL) which is run by our own fantasy expert Nomi the Greek, and has all of the members of The Thread and even my fiancé as participants, even though Sperry is on his one year sabbatical. Being that this was the first draft that contained three of our own fantasy experts that brought you MVPs, busts, breakouts and rookies to keep an eye on, I thought I would recap my draft strategy and round by round performance to help guide you for your drafts.
I had the third pick in the draft. My whole goal was to put together a team that can compete for the title by going against the traditional way of thought that you need to grab one of the Big Three running backs with the first three picks. I think that I did that, however, as anyone who has played fantasy for a long time will tell you, what looks good on paper usually changes about 45 seconds into that first magical Sunday. But that’s why we play, right? Well, that and an excuse to sit at a bar for eight hours every Sunday shoving wings and beer down our throats.
Round One: The picks were, in order: Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy, CALVIN JOHNSON, Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson, Jimmy Graham, Matt Forte, Marshawn Lynch, Eddie Lacy, Demaryius Thomas, Julio Jones and Aaron Rodgers.
I wasn’t surprised at all by who went in Round One, however, the order in which they went was a bit surprising. I thought Brandon Marshall would go in Round One before Julio Jones coming off his injury, but you need to remember, this draft is a bunch of Atlanta Falcons fans. I’m surprised Saucy T didn’t grab Matt Ryan on the comeback!
MY PICK (THIRD): Megatron. Leading up to the draft, I was rather ho hum, I will take whichever of the Big Three running backs landed on me. I was relieved that I didn’t need to make a pick. But then the morning of the draft I asked myself: Self? Do you want the third best running back, or do you want the best wide receiver in the universe? The answer became very clear. Take a look at Megatron’s three year average: 1712 yards, 11 touchdowns and 101 receptions. Not including any bonus systems for long touchdowns or 100 yard games, in a Point Per Reception scoring league, that means Calvin Johnson has averaged 338 points per season over the last three years. That’s ridiculous. I don’t care if they added Golden Tate, I don’t care if Reggie Bush and Joique Bell are receiving threats out of the backfield, and I could care less about the prospects of Eric Ebron stealing red zone targets. It goes Jerry Rice, then Calvin Johnson, end of conversation. If Megatron comes close to his 2012 season this year, we may see a wide receiver go number one sooner than any fantasy nerd imagined.
I saw a few surprises in this round. I am a Texan fan through and through, but I think Foster and Andre may have gone a bit too high. I saw them more as a third or fourth round target. They are two aging, injury-riddled players. Then you throw on top of it that they are learning a new offensive system under a new quarterback and head coach, and it may take a few weeks for them to start putting up the points most are used to from them. Based on where Peyton Manning and Rodgers went, I think Drew Brees was a steal for John Smith. Has there been a more consistent QB in NFL history? There have been eight 5,000 yard passing performances in NFL history and four of them belong to Brees including the last three in a row.
MY PICK (22nd): Montee Ball. This was my dream target and he somehow fell to me. I thought for sure Jon Blalock was going to grab him as a Denver Broncos fan, but he went with Manning’s favorite red zone target instead. Although Orange Julius may be a reach in round two, I get his thought process because he wouldn’t have been there much longer. And it gives me the running back I want. Manning does what he needs to do to get in the end zone, and if that means passing for 99 yards every drive to the one yard line and handing it off to his RB, he’ll do it. I think Ball is poised for a huge season.
Rounds three, four and five:
MY ROUND THREE PICK (27th): Matthew Stafford. I jumped maybe a round early on Stafford, but with the Big Three QBs off the board, I didn’t think he would have been around when I was up 18 picks later. And he wouldn’t have been, as Shane Goode, who grabbed Andrew Luck five picks later said he would have grabbed Stafford first. I have one of the best offensive monsters in football in Megatron and I wanted the hand that feeds him. In his three full seasons in the NFL, Stafford has never thrown for less than 4,500 yards and that is insane. Does his desire to win come into question? Maybe. Does his maturation, or lack thereof, worry some people? I could see that. But that’s for the Detroit Lions to worry about, I just need him to do what he has always done sine his days as a Georgia Bulldog and that’s sling the ball, preferably to Megatron.
MY ROUND FOUR PICK (46th): Pierre Garcon. If you think having DeSean Jackson scares me about Garcon’s 2014 production, you’re nuts. The biggest concern with Garcon is himself. He was targeted an inconceivable 182 times last season and was only able to haul in 113 receptions and five touchdowns. But that was under the terrible Shanahan regime and an unhealthy Robert Griffin III. Garcon may not catch 113 balls again, but I can easily see a boost in his other numbers.
MY ROUND FIVE PICK (51st): Shane Vereen. Didn’t love this pick, but I wanted to lock up my second back with slim pickings left. I wanted nothing to do with Ray Rice after what he did to me last season and I felt it was too early to gamble on Bishop Sankey, who I like, but still has Shonn Greene and Dexter McCluster to battle with for touches. Vereen is in a Belicheck backfield, which means you never know what can happen, but he has supreme receiving skills and has never played a full season. Maybe this is the year he puts it altogether. If not, I am in a bit of a pickle.
The Rest of the Draft:
I really liked snagging Kendall Wright in the sixth round. Sure, he is a number one receiver who only had two touchdowns, but he’s still a number one. Hopefully, this is the year Locker stays on the field and puts it together as he has looked sharp in the preseason. I did not like taking Frank Gore, but he has some value in the seventh round. The way I see it is that I get to start him week one against the Dallas Cowboys Swiss cheese defense and then he can ride the pine. At 31 and a long list of dinks and mileage, he may not make it past week two! I misplayed the tight end position. My goal was to snag Kyle Rudolph who I thought would slip to me in Round 10, but the reigning champ, The Englishman, snagged him up in round nine. Any tight end in a Norv Turner offense is a great pick. So I called an audible and gambled on Ladarius Green. He is a monster of a specimen, but does have to contend with Antonio Gates in front of him. I hope the aging TE great misses a few games or plays limited snaps to keep him fresh throughout the year. Riley Cooper was a steal in the eighth round as the Eagles offense is a nice blend of passing and rushing, and with the amount of plays they see, he is sure to be a solid bye week replacement. My wild cards are two rookie receivers with very questionable quarterback play. Mike Evans in Tampa with Josh McCown and Marqise Lee with Chad Henne in Jacksonville could be breakouts or busts. Obviously I am hoping for the breakout. Garrett Graham is a safe play at TE, and being the homer that I am, I need a Texan.
So my opening day line-up pans out like this:
K: Sebastian Janikowski
Def: Arizona Cardinals
Did I succeed in building a playoff contender by passing on AP and Forte? I think I did. I have a few high risk, high reward guys, but overall, I drafted a team built on consistency. Most of my starters are of the what you see is what you get variety, and I like knowing that I have a team that can put up 100 points week in and week out. But, I will let you decide. Was my strategy right or wrong? Feel free to sound off below!
Well, with The Nitro League and Old School Football League drafts just a few short days away, be on the look out for 5 Bold Predictions for the 2014 Fantasy Football Season. Until then, happy drafting!