Last night I took part in the third of three leagues I signed up for in the Footballguys Players Championship (FPC) hosted by the Fantasy Football Players Championship (FFPC). I know, confusingly similar acronyms, but on the plus side, there is a $300,000 grand prize in the overall championship. Not that I expect to win the top prize among 7,500 teams, but I do expect to win at least one of these three leagues that awards $1,500 for first place. Two of three would be dandy.
In the previous two drafts, I had the 12th pick and the 2nd pick. This time the 5th pick, which is pretty good in my humble opinion. Here are some of my takes from the draft. Note for Draft Buddy customers, you can download each of the completed Draft Buddy files I used in these drafts so you can review the entire draft.
Let me start by saying that even though we have Adrian Peterson as the top RB on our board, I already got him in the draft where I had the second overall pick, so I felt perhaps I would diversify with this league. Leaving AP outside my Top 5 for this draft, I made a short list of Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, Eddie Lacy, Jamaal Charles and Rob Gronkowski for my first pick.
It turned out Julio Jones went 1.04 (I like it) leaving me Charles and Gronk to choose from. While many experts love Gronk in the first round, I’m not as much in that camp. I think it is doable. I think in this league in particular with 1.5 points-per-reception (PPR) for TE compared to 1 PPR for RB and WR, it makes sense mathematically, but I just don’t love taking a player first round in a spot where I only have to fill one starter.
Many experts are very much in support of the Upside Down drafting, or later called Zero-RB drafting methodology, forgoing RB in the first, even early rounds, for stud wide receivers instead and stockpiling middle round RB later. The first I read about it is from buddy Matt Waldman (2011), giving credit where credit is due. However, without getting into a lot of detail today, I disagree with that approach. I’ve always found a more balanced approach is best, RB-WR or WR-RB to open things up and leave you best set up to take advantage of players that unexpectedly fall in the draft, no matter what position they are.
First pick, I took Jamaal Charles.
When the second pick came around to me, DeMarco Murray – maybe Lamar Miller – were the only two RB remaining I really loved enough before seeing a big gap between them and the next group at RB. At WR, the current tier of Alshon Jeffery, Mike Evans, DeAndre Hopkins and even Brandin Cooks was deeper. If I took a WR, Miller might make it back to me. If I took Murray, one of those WR – or Jimmy Graham – was much more likely to make it back to me. So, I took Murray.
Third round, one pick away and a bit surprisingly, Graham and Jeffery were both available, thanks in part to Joseph Randle going 3.01. The team in the 4 spot took Graham, leaving me Jeffery.
After three rounds I’ve got two star running backs, and Alshon Jeffery. I’m happy with that. Lets keep in mind it is a PPR league and I really do want a strong WR corps, so I think given my early picks I have less need to stockpile middle round RB and more emphasis at wideout. Also, keeping in mind TE do earn 1.5 PPR so need to constantly assess where a good one can be had, preferably at good draft value. Two are already off the board, and likely more before the draft gets back to me in the 4th round.
From here, maybe I’ll make some quicker bullet points by round. You can see how my roster took shape in the image above, and again, Draft Buddy users can download my completed Draft Buddy from last night’s draft.
Rounds 1 and 2
- Nothing too out of the ordinary Round 1. Owners in the 4th, 11th and 12th spots all started WR-WR. Interesting that Randall Cobb (2.02) didn’t really get downgraded at all for his shoulder injury. Surprise pick: Brandin Cooks (2.09) but even more surprising: Mark Ingram (2.03). I’ve never seen Ingram go that high. In that owner’s shoes I would have risked he would get back to me in the 3rd, but I don’t have a problem with it, as he may very well could have missed out on him by waiting.
- Joseph Randle (3.01) seems quite high given very recent news item about full-blown RBBC in Dallas, and Darren McFadden looked better than Randle in the last preseason game.
- Not surprisingly, Greg Olsen, Travis Kelce (who I really like, but maybe not in this league since I already have Charles) and Martellus Bennett all went this round after Graham went.
- First QB taken, Andrew Luck at 3.07. Still too early for me with all of the non-QB starter spots to fill.
Rounds 4 and 5
- These rounds make me happy I went RB-RB to start. While there are certainly going to be some RB that pan out, you are still picking through many, “geez, I don’t know” options. Melvin Gordon (4.09) – maybe he hits, maybe he doesn’t. Todd Gurley (5.03) – seems really optimistic for this year. C.J. Spiller (5.11) – already sidelined, think very early bullish forecasts on Spiller are still causing him to get drafted high for my taste.
- I took Davante Adams 4.08. Great offense, great QB, their best not injured WR right now. Definitely prefer to run with a less proven Adams in his situation than injured Emmanuel Sanders (4.04) or injured likely out Week 1, and doesn’t find the end zone much anyway, Julian Edelman (4.12).
- My 5th round pick was a tough one. Jarvis Landry – high receptions but limited big plays and strong supporting cast to share with, good offense and QB – vs. Sammy Watkins – super talent, bad offense and QB. I said to my wife Sarah, “Bills WR?” to which she turned up her nose, and I knew she would do that so a bit of a leading question. It was more likely Watkins might make it back to me in the 6th round, so I took Landry, who I seem to like more than most.
Rounds 6 and 7
- I was thinking Watkins obviously. Or Charles Johnson as a potential breakout candidate. I was thinking Arian Foster as I loved my start and at this point if he comes back in the Week 4-6 range, could be a huge boom to the bottom line. None made it to my 6.08 pick. Johnson actually went late-5th. Watkins was close, at 6.05.
- In the meanwhile, Jason Witten and Kyle Rudolph both went, driving down the available good tight ends, and only one of the first four teams drafting after me had a TE at this point, so I added Delanie Walker (6.08).
- Only QB I mentioned so far is Andrew Luck, but Aaron Rodgers also went in the 3rd, Ben Roethlisberger in the 6th, then Matt Ryan (7.01) and Drew Brees (7.04). Ultimately, this turned out to be one of the oddest order of QB I’ve seen drafted this year. Five QB are gone but Russell Wilson and Peyton Manning are still available? I would not normally take a QB this early but since no players were really standing out for me as must-haves, and Wilson looks like exceptional value, I tag Wilson.
- Although Martavis Bryant getting drafted two spots later I may have strongly considered had I thought of him. He was down my cheatsheet given the most recent projection update.
- More proof I’m glad I went RB early as Giovani Bernard and Danny Woodhead are getting drafted. I’d rather set my team apart at this stage with a Walker, Wilson, or regularly contributing WR, than be scraping together points from low-use RB who can be very good in short spurts but be tough to rely on them over the course of the season.
Rounds 8, 9 and 10
- QB curiosity continued. Peyton went at 8.12, but Sam Bradford (9.03) and Teddy Bridgewater (9.07) went within spitting distance of him. Cam Newton still hasn’t been drafted and ultimately went QB16 at the top of the 14th round. Pretty baffling. Since I had Wilson I was determined to not spend very much at all on a second QB, but some great values there. All the more reason to not spend a 3rd round pick on Luck or Rodgers.
- Still some good WR picks in here – Steve Smith, Roddy White (although getting a bit skeptical of him) – and RB picks are sketchy. LeGarrette Blount, who I’ve drafted numerous times already this year, could be good but could also be extremely frustrating to try to figure out what weeks to start him (after his suspension).
- Given importance of the position and limited options with true upside, took Julius Thomas. He seems below the radar now since we haven’t heard much about him lately, but Jaguars offense seems to be clicking and JT appears in line to return Week 1.
- At this point, I still only have 2 RB, so time to add some depth. DeMarco’s backup Ryan Mathews went 8.09 immediately after I took Thomas, so hitting on a starter at this point will be tough. Darren McFadden is available, every Cleveland RB is available. What if Arian Foster isn’t back as optimistically as recent news reports? What if he comes back and gets hurt again? I do think Alfred Blue is the clear guy to own over Jonathan Grimes and Chris Polk, so I tag Blue who should start first part of the season and gives me time to work the waiver wire for other RB options to emerge.
I guess I will cut it off there for the commentary. While not an optimal high stakes, win the big overall prize strategy, I did handcuff Jamaal drafting Knile Davis in the 11th round. I feel good about the team, I might as well take out a little insurance on my top RB.
As usual, got sniped by a pick or two on a few guys, but its always going to feel that way. What I’ve learned is you can’t have every player you want, there are only so many roster spots available. I think I got some underrated, quality upside depth at decent value, and this team has a good shot to compete for the league championship, and maybe more!