By Rob Schwarz, Jr. (@ChiRuxinDFS)
Anyone catch that NBA draft? I mean, come on! FLAFFL House Podcast (Available on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/flaffl-house-podcast/id1084230452 )Host Steve and Tom Thibodeau are happy as clams today. Meanwhile, I’m crying because my Bulls have proven to be horrible at running an organization once again!
Thank goodness for football season! That is right! We are only two months away from being in the thick of the preseason. This means we are close to fantasy football draft season too. In fact, some of us are already drafting dynasty startups and best ball teams.
As I have already stated in my first two mock draft prep articles, one website I like to use to get ready for the upcoming season is FantasyPros. FantasyPros has a mock draft simulator. What is nice about the simulator is that it doesn’t involve other people, and you can finish a mock in the matter of minutes. This is the third, and final, mock draft prep article. If you missed the first two, I went with a Zero-RB strategy and what I call a Back-to-Backs strategy.
I am keeping all of the same variables as I did in the first two drafts. However, this time I am going to let the draft work for me. What do I mean by this? Well the title explains it all. Drafts are fluid. You will see similar players go in similar spots, but no draft is the same. You need to be able to adapt and stay calm. If you go in with one strategy, but the draft takes a different shape, you need to be able to zig as others zag. You never want to be the one chasing throughout the entire draft.
I would say this strategy is most similar to best player available. However, I do not like that phrase. When you talk to other analysts, everyone has a differing opinion on where players should be ranked. Just look at the top three running backs. Most have them going as the top three players off their board, but I am in the minority with having LeVeon Bell over David Johnson. Who is to say, with undeniable certainty, the player they chose was indeed the “best” player available?
Instead, I like to draft based on whom I think presents the most value. When I play daily fantasy sports I always look to see who is going to hit the value I need to succeed. I use the same approach when drafting for season-long leagues. I expect the guy I take in the first round to be able to score a certain amount of fantasy points. The same goes for guys in the fourth, fifth, 10th and 12th rounds.
Just as I did in the first two drafts all of the variables will remain the same. As a reminder, it will be a 12-team draft and I will be picking out of the sixth spot. The roster is going to consist of the following: 1 QB; 2 RB; 2 WR; 1 TE; 1 Flex; 1 K 1 D/ST and 5 Bench spots. The scoring will be points-per-reception (PPR).
The top three running backs went off the board first and then Antonio Brown and Julio Jones. That leaves me with Odell Beckham Jr. as the highest rated option here. My other option is to go running back. LeSean McCoy and Melvin Gordon stand out to me as my two best options at that position.
I could also grab the best quarterback in the game, but I wait on quarterbacks and will stick with OBJ.
McCoy went off the board at 1.07. Devonta Freeman and Melvin Gordon were the other backs to go in the first round. As for receivers, Mike Evans, A.J. Green and Jordy Nelson rounded out the rest of the first selections.
I was hoping Jordan Howard fell to me here but I knew it would be a long shot. I have him as my seventh highest running back on the board. As a Bears fan, I would love a legit guy to cheer for on my team. However, do not get caught up in drafting players from your team. Unless it is justified you can find yourself like my dad every year. He takes three or four Bears guys and hardly ever competes.
FantasyPros has Amari Cooper as my top option here. Aaron Rodgers is still there, but I wouldn’t take him before Round Four in this scoring format. DeAndre Hopkins, Rob Gronkowski and Todd Gurley finish off the suggested players. With not many three-down backs left to choose from, I am going to skip on Cooper (who I am high on) and go with Gurley to help round out my team.
DeMaryius Thomas was the guy I was hoping for here but just like Howard he did not make it. Thomas went off the board at 2.12. I think he is being heavily overlooked. Keenan Allen, Isaiah Crowell and Travis Kelce are the top three guys FantasyPros is suggesting based on the rankings I selected. Aaron Rodgers is also still available here.
I know I said I was only going to take Rodgers if he fell to the fourth but I think his value is too great to miss out on here. Outside of 2015, he is the best fantasy quarterback to own for quite some time now. If you do not believe me check out Mike Tagliere’s most recent article.
Right now I have arguably the best fantasy quarterback in the game, a top-three wide receiver and a top-five running back (maybe asking too much as I have him as my RB10) if he returns to his 2015 form. I like how my team is shaping up. The two highest ranked tight ends are off the board which leaves Jordan Reed and Greg Olsen (I prefer Olsen).
If I do not go tight end with this pick I am looking at Mark Ingram, Ty Montgomery or Spencer Ware at the running back spot. Wide receivers do not look much better. Sammy Watkins (someone I have never trusted) is the highest ranking receiver on the board. Larry Fitzgerald and Stefon Diggs are after him. When I draft I want the guy who is going to give me the highest value based on where I draft them. I am going to snag Olsen here as I think he can outscore or at least match these other players left on the board. If I knew I was getting Jordan Reed for at least 13 games I would take him over Olsen. I just do not trust him to stay healthy.
The third quarterback (Drew Brees) came off the board at 4.11. Four running backs, four wide receivers and Jordan Reed also went off the board. The FantasyPros simulator is suggesting I take Emmanuel Sanders here. Sanders is not a bad pick and he has been very consistent throughout his career. For now, I will put him on my “maybe” shelf as I look at who else is available.
If I go running back I am likely to take either Danny Woodhead or Spencer Ware. I thought that was going to be a coin-flip for me but when I look at my rankings I have Ware at RB19 and Woodhead at RB24. I know the Chiefs’ backfield is cluttered but I think Ware will be the guy as Charcandrick West and Kareem Hunt battle for the backup touches. Ware is my guy here.
Now that I have my running backs out of the way, I am going to fill in the rest of my starting lineup (unless I see an amazing value here since I still have a flex position to fill).
Jamison Crowder immediately jumps off the board at me. He is likely my choice but Brandon Marshall, Willie Snead and Pierre Garcon are also still on the board. If I look at running back again Eddie Lacy would be the guy I’d consider.
As much as I like Crowder and Snead…I am going to take Eddie Lacy who I have as a slightly better value due to the scarcity of the running back position. Between Lacy, Todd Gurley and Spencer Ware at least two should be worth starting each week.
Nice! Both Crowder and Willie Snead fell to me here in the seventh. I have them ranked as my 67th and 68th overall players. I am going to stick with my rankings and take Crowder here but I can see the argument for each player.
I cannot believe that Pierre Garcon fell to me here. I have him only two spots lower in my rankings than Willie Snead (Martavis Bryant who was already off the board in Round 6 was the guy in between). Garcon should see a decent amount of targets as he teams back up with Kyle Shanahan in the city by the bay.
Garcon had his best year with Shanahan in 2013 with 113 receptions for 1346 yards and five touchdowns. He has broken 1,000 yards only one other time in his career (2016) but as a WR3 I think Garcon makes perfect sense.
As we get deeper into the draft hitting on value is even more important. That said; remember that a draft does not win you a championship. A solid draft along with working the waiver wire and savvy trading is extremely important to making the playoffs and taking home a title.
I have four bench spots (five because I will not draft a kicker this far away from the start of the season). I will not consider a second quarterback now, or maybe at all, with Aaron Rodgers on the roster. FantasyPros is recommending C.J. Prosise and Duke Johnson as my two best options. I only handcuff certain running backs and Eddie Lacy would not be one of them. However, in a PPR format, Prosise holds standalone value.
My other options would be Eric Ebron or Jack Doyle if I want to take a tight end. At receiver my best options are Jeremy Maclin or Devante Parker. I am high on Parker this season but I wonder if he would fall to me in the 10th round. I am not going to risk it though. If you like a player and you think they will outperform their draft position just take them. Now I am not saying take the guy in the first round but if you are high on him likely someone else is high on him too. One or two rounds early is not an issue, especially in deeper leagues.
Prosise did not fall to the 10th round but Duke Johnson did. Everyone is hyped up on Isaiah Crowell (with good reason) but Johnson did not disappear. I like Johnson here especially in PPR scoring. He is also going to be behind a top offensive line and should see plenty of work. If Crowell were to go down with an injury Johnson would be a steal in the 10th!
We are getting into the nitty-gritty here late. At running back the best options are Giovani Bernard, Darren sproles and Dion Lewis – yuck! The wide receiver position still has some solid value though. Corey Coleman, Adam Thielen and Marvin Jones are sitting there still. All three of these guys have some upside and are worth this selection.
However, I am going to be a bit of a homer and take Kevin White here. White has only played four games in two seasons but he was the seventh overall pick in the 2016 draft. Some had him ranked higher than Amari Cooper (I was not one of those people). If White can stay healthy (I know that is a big if) he will immediately push Cameron Meredith (undrafted free agent) for the number one receiver position in Chicago.
Finally time for me to draft a second quarterback. If not for my own use, but maybe for trade bait later. I have Kirk Cousins ranked as my sixth quarterback. If he has a season like I think he will Cousins will make for a solid trade piece later in the season.
My other options would be Coby Fleener as a second tight end or Marvin Jones as a sixth wide receiver. Cousins is the easy answer for me.
I typically take my defense in the second to last or last round. With Arizona being the expert consensus pick I am going to take them. That said, I briefly considered taking the Giants instead. The Giants defense was fantastic for fantasy last season but I am not sure they repeat that in 2017.
Even if the next five best-rated kickers go off the board (because I am not taking one) that leaves me with kickers like Dustin Hopkins, Graham Gano and more when I snag one off waivers before the season starts. I am just pointing this out as proof that I will be fine skipping the kicker position all together in this draft. [Editor’s Note: Always check your rules before you draft. Your league may require you draft at least one player for each starting position]
I am going to draft Darren Sproles instead. He does not excite me but he at least has some upside. Others still available are Ryan Matthews, Sterling Shepard and Josh Doctson.
My draft grade (remember these mean little) was a solid A. I am also projected to have the most points with the third best starters and third best bench. Get ready for my next article as I look at all three teams from my mock draft articles and breakdown which team looks best.