Fantasy Football Draft Recap
Fantasy football players everywhere are likely advocating for later draft dates this past weekend, with the news of season-ending injuries to a couple major players. Of course, not all drafts will be delayed until September 9th, and regardless of how late your draft is, it makes sense to plan ahead.
In this article, I'll provide remarks on the first eight rounds of my league's recent draft. Of course, no two leagues are exactly the same, and everyone is going to have different perspectives on specific players, but hopefully the results will give you some useful insights on player value and draft strategy. For each round I'll go over my own pick, and at least one good pick and one questionable pick.
Team 1-Adrian Peterson
Team 2-Eddie Lacy
Team 3-Le'Veon Bell
Team 4-Marshawn Lynch
Team 5-Jamaal Charles
Team 6-Antonio Brown
Regan's Team-C.J. Anderson
Team 8-Calvin Johnson
Team 9-DeMarco Murray
Team 10-Matt Forte
My Pick: C.J. Anderson—Injuries put Anderson in the starting role last season, and he exploded to the tune of 648 yards and 8 touchdowns in the final six games. This season the Broncos are committed to the run game and running backs in new coach Gary Kubiak's offenses have historically put out major numbers, with players like Steve Slaton, Arian Foster, and Justin Forsett providing bell-cow production. The only question mark with Anderson is how firm a grip he has on the starting role given he pretty much came out of nowhere last season, but in fantasy that problem is easily alleviated by drafting his handcuff in Ronnie Hillman, which I did later.
Good Pick: Le'Veon Bell—Despite his suspension, Le'Veon Bell could easily go number one overall. He has the fewest real question marks among the top running backs—no injury questions, young, and the unquestionable bell cow—so you can be sure you're getting the best fantasy running back for the fourteen games he's active.
Questionable Pick: Calvin Johnson—No matter how much you like Megatron, first round is a reach, considering his ESPN ADP is 18. There have also been a growing number of reports that injuries have taken their toll on Johnson, so he's much more of a risk than people realize.
Team 10-Dez Bryant
Team 9-Demaryius Thomas
Team 8-Rob Gronkowski
Regan's Team-Jeremy Hill
Team 6-Odell Beckham Jr.
Team 5-Julio Jones
Team 4-A.J. Green
Team 3-Randall Cobb
Team 2-LeSean McCoy
Team 1-Andrew Luck
Good Pick: LeSean McCoy—Injury concerns coupled with a run on receivers in round two caused McCoy to fall to pick 19. McCoy has been a top ten RB the past two seasons and reports are that he'll likely play week one, so this could be the steal of the draft. He'll also be the focal point of Buffalo's offense, and he's proven he can handle a bell-cow workload, with 270+ carries three of the last four seasons.
Questionable Pick: Honestly, most of this round comes down to draft strategy, so it's hard to call any one pick out as questionable. Do you go RB-RB, RB-WR, or if you drafted a WR round one do you play it risky and avoid RB again? My philosophy on this is simple—the wide receiver, tight end, and quarterback positions tend to be much deeper than running back, so I prefer to load up on the more scarce position early.
That said, fantasy is ultimately a question of value, so if you think the overall benefit you get from drafting a non-RB earlier will make up for your inevitable weakness, it may well be worth it. That's what Team 1 did in drafting Andrew Luck at pick 20, which could pay off if Luck has another 2014-caliber season.& nbsp;
Team 1-T.Y. Hilton
Team 2-Aaron Rodgers
Team 3-Alshon Jeffery
Team 4-DeAndre Hopkins
Team 5-Justin Forsett
Team 6-Russell Wilson
Regan's Team-Mike Evans
Team 8-Lamar Miller
Team 9-Alfred Morris
Team 10-Peyton Manning
My Pick: Mike Evans—After going RB the first two rounds, I was looking to get a top-tier WR, so I was incredibly happy when Mike Evans fell to me at pick 27. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Evans' rookie numbers is that his quarterback was a combination of Mike Glennon and Josh McCown. No matter how you spin it, Jameis Winston will be at least as good as that tandem in 2015, and the fact is Evans has the physical tools to compete for the number one overall wide receiver ranking.
Good Pick: Alfred Morris—There's nothing flashy about Alfred Morris, but not every pick needs to have a ton of upside. Morris can be counted on for 1000+ yards and 8+ touchdowns just about every season—that's the kind of reliable production fantasy owners can build a roster around.
Questionable Pick: Russell Wilson-He's being drafted based in part on his 113 fantasy points on rushing plays alone last season, but that kind of success for a QB is likely unsustainable. For reference, quarterbacks not named Michael Vick have scored triple-digit rushing fantasy points in a season only five times since 2001, and Wilson himself combined for 117 in that category over his first two seasons. Do the math and the result is Wilson should see some significant regression in 2015.
Team 10-Melvin Gordon
Team 9-Jimmy Graham
Team 8-Mark Ingram
Regan's Team-Frank Gore
Team 6-Latavius Murray
Team 5-Drew Brees
Team 4-Tony Romo
Team 3-Emmanuel Sanders
Team 2-Jonathan Stewart
Team 1-Brandin Cooks
My Pick: Frank Gore—To be clear, entering his age 32 season Gore doesn't come without risk. That said, he has a ton of scoring upside in the vaunted Colts offense, so if his body holds up he could easily be a top 15 running back with upside.
Good Pick: Brandin Cooks—This is great value at the end of the fourth round. Cooks is the guy in New Orleans now that Jimmy Graham is gone, and even though the Saints project to run the ball more this season, Cooks is still an electric receiver whose playmaking potential will ensure him plenty of looks from Drew Brees. He'll be a target monster and his speed makes him a vertical threat, which gives him the unique combination of both a high floor and high ceiling.
Questionable Pick: Tony Romo—Ummm....what? Romo's ESPN ADP is 70—regardless of Team 4's expectations, Romo would've been available at least two rounds later.
***(In the interest of brevity, I'm going to cover rounds 5-8 two at a time.)***
Round 5 Round 6
Team 1-Arian Foster Team 10-Sammy Watkins
Team 2-Joseph Randle Team 9-Golden Tate
Team 3-Joique Bell Team 8-Cam Newton
Team 4-Chris Ivory Regan's Team-Mike Wallace
Team 5-Jordan Matthews Team 6-Martavis Bryant
Team 6-Andre Johnson Team 5-Carlos Hyde
Regan's Team-Ben Roethlisberger Team 4-Davante Adams
Team 8-Amari Cooper&nb sp; Team 3-Giovani Bernard
Team 9-Andre Ellington Team 2-Todd Gurley
Team 10-Keenan Allen Team 1-T.J. Yeldon
My Picks: Ben Roethlisberger—Roethlisberger arguably has the most weapons at his disposal of any quarterback this season, and with the Steelers returning the same core cast from last season, I expect Roethlisberger to improve upon his fifth overall QB ranking from 2014.
Mike Wallace—Wallace was a top twenty wide receiver last year in Miami and he could easily improve upon those numbers in Minnesota. In particular, Wallace's strength when he thrived most in Pittsburg was the deep ball, and Ryan Tannehill—30th in vertical YPA among qualified QBs—stunted his production in that regard. Teddy Bridgewater ranked fourth in that metric last season, which bodes well for Wallace's fantasy ceiling.
Good Picks: Carlos Hyde—Hyde in the sixth round definitely shouldn't have happened. San Francisco's offense doesn't project greatly this season, but he's still the likely bell cow there, which is valuable. If I still needed a starting running back I would have taken him before any of the running backs selected in round 5.
Questionable Picks: Arian Foster—This pick is simply too risky for my tastes. There is still no definitive timeline on Foster's return (late September has been called the best-case scenario) and more importantly there is no guarantee he doesn't just get re-injured immediately upon return. There's no way I'm drafting Foster in the first ten rounds until there is some clarity on his rehab timeline.
Joique Bell—Bell's knee injury gave Ameer Abdullah the perfect opportunity to showcase his lead-back potential. Abdullah, who has lit up the preseason thus far, simply looks too likely to take Bells' starting role, even if Bell comes back for week one (which is far from guaranteed at this point).
Round 7 Round 8
Team 1-Ameer Abdullah Team 10-Jason Witten
Team 2-C.J. Spiller Team 9-Matt Ryan
Team 3-Greg Olsen Team 8-Brandon Marshall
Team 4-Martellus Bennett Regan's Team-Jarvis Landry
Team 5-Travis Kelce Team 6-Dwayne Allen
Team 6-DeSean Jackson Team 5-Nelson Agholor
Regan's Team-Jeremy Maclin Team 4-Ryan Mathews
Team 8-Rashad Jennings Team 3-LeGarrette Blount
Team 9-Allen Robinson Team 2-Isaiah Crowell
Team 10-Julian Edelman Team 1-Cody Latimer
My Picks: Jeremy Maclin—Drafting Maclin as my WR3 felt great. He was a top ten wide receiver last year with the talent to be at least a top twenty wide receiver this year in Kansas City. Everyone is weary of Alex Smith's receivers given their ridiculous streak without a touchdown last season, but a large part of that was due to the fact that the Chiefs had very little talent at the wide receiver position in general. Andy Reid, who previously worked with Maclin in Philadelphia, understands how talente d the twenty-seven year old receiver is and, make no mistake about it, will manufacture a ton of touches for Maclin in 2015.
Jarvis Landry—Recognizing that I went heavy on running back early and thus had a bigger weakness at wide receiver, Jarvis Landry was sort of an insurance pick for my wide receiver depth. Working primarily out of the slot, Landry is now the number one target for Ryan Tannehill with Wallace in Minnesota, which bodes extremely well for Landry's fantasy floor, considering his 75% catch rate was the highest among wide receivers last season. Landry could easily manage 75+ receptions this season, which, if he sees a few more red zone targets than usual, could equate to steady WR2 value.
Good Picks: CJ Spiller—I'm a big fan of Spiller this year, who never really got a fair chance in Buffalo due to injuries and poor offensive line play, in addition to the existence of Fred Jackson. Spiller is still not the clear-cut number one back in New Orleans, but his role as the passing down back in a Drew Brees offense is a much better fit. When he's in space Spiller is easily one of the most explosive players in the NFL and I trust Sean Peyton's ability to manufacture plays that give Spiller open field to work with.
Nelson Agholor—The main reason I'm a big fan of Jordan Matthews this season is because he is (presumably) the lead receiver in Chip Kelly's offense. That said, a lot of scouts think Matthews is better suited for the slot position, in which case Agholor could be the one that really benefits from the X receiving role in Philadelphia. If Agholor emerges as the primary downfield threat for Kelly's offense, he's easily WR2 material with upside.
Questionable Picks: Rashad Jennings—There's not a lot to like about Jennings' situation this year. As of right now he is technically the Giants' lead back, but both Andre Williams and Shane Vereen figure to be relevant this season. That bodes especially poorly for Jennings, whose significant injury history could open the door for either Williams or Vereen to seize the job entirely.
Cody Latimer—It's extremely rare that an offense can make three receivers fantasy relevant, and the Broncos, though they have done it in the past, are not going to be one of those offenses this season. In an effort to take pressure off Peyton Manning in 2015, Denver will feature a two two-tight end set with Owen Daniels and Virgil Green, so there just isn't room for Latimer to get enough snaps, let alone targets, to be worth drafting this early.
That wraps up this recap. While drafting strategy may change as the season iches closer, hopefully this gives some perspective on who's going where and how to approach draft day. Good luck to all with their own drafts and seasons.