I’ve done 5 mock drafts this summer; today I did my sixth. And it was my best team I’ve drafted yet. This was a 10-team ESPN league with standard scoring and 2 RBs, 2 WRs, and 1 flex. The league is titled “Detroit Lions All The Way.” Oh heck yeah.
So far in my 5 mocks I’ve had the following draft positions: 1, 12, 5, 6, and 8.
I’ve taken Chris Johnson, Andre Johnson, Ray Rice, and Michael Turner twice.
Finally, I got the ideal draft position. Second.
Which means I took Adrian Peterson, even in the face of all this Favre-mania. I suspect that until Favre announces that he’ll definitely play this season, Chris Johnson will have a stranglehold on the first overall pick. Which makes sense.
So I took AP 2nd, and then watched curiously to see what would happen.
The first round went like this: 7 RBs, 2 WRs and 1 QB.
The second round – only 3 RBs taken, along with 2 QBs and 5 WRs.
It’s bizarre, but it makes perfect sense. In my opinion, and in most people's opinion, there is really not much difference between a running back with an ADP of 13 and an ADP of 24. RBBC has changed everything. The second round has become a round of receivers.
With the 19th pick I took Roddy White; then at 22 I took Miles Austin. Two dynamite picks. Through 3 rounds, I have the best team.
There was still a ton of talent on the board when it came back around to me at the end of the 4th. The top 6 QBs – Brees, Rodgers, Manning, Brady, Schaub, Rivers – were all gone, but they left me with Tony Romo – a guy I’m starting to rank ahead of Rivers and Brady and Brees. No quarterback has as many weapons as Romo. Period. So I took him 39th. I now have the Romo to Austin hookup, which I love.
Two picks later I took the best RB available in Matt Forte. He might not score a lot of TDs, but in Martz’s offense he should rack up yardage. With Charles, McCoy and Moreno going in the third round, there weren’t a lot of RB options for me. I contemplated Ronnie Brown, Pierre Thomas, Felix Jones and Joe Addai, but picked Forte. Would have picked Felix but I already have him in 3 leagues.
As I watch the predictable tight end run begin and the desperate grab for startable QBs (Eli, Favre, even Henne went in the 5th), I know I’ll be taking an RB and a WR with my next two picks. Once Gates and Clark are gone, I’m sitting on tight end for at least two rounds, and I don’t feel strongly about starting Forte every week. Too early for a defense. So I need a RB...
My next two picks – Felix Jones (59) and Dwayne Bowe (62).
I’m a little bit nervous about having 3 Cowboys (especially during their bye week) and a little nervous about having Felix in four leagues. But that just shows how much faith I have in the Cowboys’ offense this season and in Felix being the starting RB.
I don’t love Dwayne Bowe, but in the seventh round he’s a steal. KC has retooled their offense a little bit (the additions of Thomas Jones and Dexter McCulster), and Bowe has tremendous talent. If he stays healthy and free from suspension, he should provide AT LEAST 700 yards and 6 TDs. He has sneaky upside.
The tight end run went crazy in round 7 (4 in a row) and the first three defenses were picked (Jets, Eagles, Packers) as well as plenty of receivers. In the 16 picks I waited, only 3 running backs went – Justin Forsett, Reggie Bush, and Marion Barber. That’s it for the 7th and 8th round. There are still at least 10 draftable running backs on the board and it’s pick #79.
I needed to grab a tight end (I learned my lesson a few mocks ago when I got stuck with Ben Watson) so I took Owen Daniels. I don’t completely trust a guy coming off an ACL tear who is a potential holdout, but better than waiting and having no tight end at all. Three picks later I took a little WR depth with Pierre Garcon. He's also potential trade bait if he starts the season hot.
The 9th and 10th round were full of sleepers. Only 2 tight ends went and only 1 defense. But high-upside sleepers – Kolb, Spiller, Dez, Harvin, Cutler, McFadden, Nicks, Hardesty, Knox and Maclin – all went flying off the board. This just goes to show that drafters follow the lead. When the tight end run starts, everyone takes a tight end. When the DSTs start going, same thing. And when the RB/WR sleepers start flying, they all start flying.
This is why I have one basic rule about fantasy football drafting – and this is it:
When they zig, you zag.
Don’t follow the other guys blindly. Because here's a secret - they don't know what they're doing! They just pretend they do. So stick to your own strategy and realize that you're probably smarter than all the other guys. Unless I'm in your league.
So that’s my rule. But that doesn’t mean I always follow it. Sometimes the flow of the draft makes sense. Such as this one. So when I came back up at pick 99, I wanted to grab a couple sleepers before they were all gone.
At pick 99, Ben Tate. At 102, Robert Meachem.
I probably wouldn’t take Meachem in a league I care about, but he’s one of those guys who gets overlooked but could easily be the #2 receiver on the NFL’s best offense. If Brees stays healthy and again, I don’t think he will, Meachem will be a good pick in the 11th round. Ben Tate is a high-risk, high-reward guy. Probably more risk than potential reward, but worth a try.
The next two rounds were what I call the ‘lazy rounds.” Everyone pretty much picks the next guys on the list. Defenses went, a few WRs and RBs, a few late QBs. Nothing special. No “wow” picks. No ballsy picks. Just 16 straight “play-it-safe” picks.
When I came back around, I assessed my team to see what needs I have.
My roster looked like this:
Romo at QB
Daniels at TE
My analysis: I don’t need any more WRs and I don’t really need a RB. At least not right now – I can wait another 20 picks and still get someone decent. What I do need is a defense, and probably a backup QB.
I took the Steelers defense (who I now own in 4 of my 6 leagues) and Matt Ryan, who will serve as either a great backup QB or great trade bait. The fact that Matt Ryan was on the board in the 13th round is perplexing.
At this point I shut my computer off and let it auto-pick the last three – I got TE Visanthe Shiancoe (worthless if Favre retires), WR Derrick Mason, and Denver’s kicker. I’ll likely drop Denver’s kicker before week 1 despite the favorable week 1 matchup (Jags), because I don’t foresee Denver scoring points against anybody.
I’ll hold on to Mason and Shiancoe for now, but they’re both very droppable.
Looking at the free agents, the one thing I notice is that there are no marquee running backs. The top options would be Tashard Choice, Steve Slaton or Mike Bell. (Choice would actually be a smart handcuff for me with Felix)
But at receiver, there are literally dozens of draftable players. Manningham, Collie, Jacoby , Avery, Floyd, Hester, Massaquoi, Cribbs, Hess, Walter, James Jones, Jenkins, Aromashadu, Edelman, Chambers, Nate Washington, Earl Bennett ….
Many of these guys have the potential to lead their team in receiving. Aromashadu could easily have 1,000 yards. The fact that none of them were drafted means two things:
1) The wide receiver position is absurdely deep this year,
2) There will be plenty of desirable free agent receivers, so why bother drafting a guy like Floyd in the 15th round when you can pick up 10 Floyds in free agency.
This leads me to believe that the final picks of the draft (not counting kickers) are best spent on RBs and backup QBs. In the past, I prefer not to have backup QBs and usually go with 5 RBs, 6 WRs, 1 TE and 1 QB. This year, I think I’ll do 2 QB, 6 RB, 4 WR and 1 TE.
But then again, you want plenty of depth at receiver because of the shutdown corners - Revis and Asomugha – two black holes who you virtually can’t start ANY receiver against and expect anything. If your receivers play against those guys 2 or 3 times, you’ll want to be aware of that, and know what weeks those games are so you can plan accordingly.
Example: If you’ve got Brandon Marshall, that means two matchups with Revis and one with Asomugha. Weeks 3, 12 and 14 you’ll need a contingency plan. Since 12 and 14 are so far away, I’d ignore those until later, but when drafting (or picking up a free agent), try to look at the week 3 matchup. You could pick up Manningham (who plays the Titans) or Berrian (against Detroit) or maybe even Malcolm Kelly (against the Rams). All of those are better options than hoping that Marshall can do anything against Revis.
So while receiver is the position you LEAST need to stockpile depth on draft day, it’s also the position where you want to pay the most attention to matchups. A great RB is startable against the Ravens. A great QB is a fine play against the Jets – remember how badly Peyton torched them? But a great WR against an elite CB usually gets shut down. So plan accordingly.
Fortunately for me, my two receivers – Austin and White – play a combined zero games against those two fiends. Instead, I’ll enjoy feasts against Detroit, St. Louis, and Tampa twice.
My overall team is the best I’ve mock drafted yet in my opinion, largely because of Adrian Peterson. I'm a little weak at running back, but Forte and Felix should be a servicable platoon with AP a constant cog in the lineup. My receivers and QB are excellent, and I love the Steelers defense. I think this is a championship winning team.