It's August 1st, and that means official fantasy football draft month is upon us. I thought I might take a stab at what the perfect draft might look like and also a swing at the worst draft.
Here's what I'll do: I'll look at the ADP listings over at Fantasy Football Calculator and make a selection from each set of 12. So, I'll select the guy I like the best from #1-#12 and then the one I like the best from #13-#24, and so on. I realize that this may leave me taking #1, #13, #25, etc... but I think that over the course of the draft it will all come out in the wash. I'll also throw in my thoughts about why the guy I picked is the best value.
The assumption with this league is that there are two starting running backs, two at wide receiver, and one each everywhere else including flex. It is also assumed here that flex is RB/WR/TE.
Okay? Here we go:
1st Round - Adrian Peterson. Okay, so he is everyone's #1 overall and I had to take him here. My apologies for the boring pick. You want non-boring? Okay, in that case I'd take
Trent Richardson. He is one of the most talented players in the league and now he's playing in a Norv Turner offense (see: Smith, Emmitt and Tomlinson, Ladainian).
2nd Round - Stevan Ridley. I don't believe that the New England Patriots are going to go away quietly and I also don't believe that Tom Brady has many weapons that won't get hurt. Gronk and Amendola are both overdue already. I believe that this offense will lean on Ridley heavily. I love his 'Prime Profile' (as we teach in "The Program") and I love the opportunity he'll have this year. It's also an exceptional division within which to play.
3rd Round - Randall Cobb. Larry Fitzgerald and Demaryius Thomas are awfully tempting, but Cobb has the best quarterback of the bunch. Also, Thomas now has Welker taking targets and Fitzgerald has Michael Floyd emerging. Cobb has the opposite situation with Greg Jennings gone.
4th Round - Rob Gronkowski. Okay, this is a bit of a departure for me since I generally preach running backs and wide receivers in the first six rounds. But Gronk in the 4th round just gives you too big of an advantage. The dude basically catches one touchdown per week when he's healthy. He does get injured a lot, so a backup will be required when we hit double-digit rounds. I don't mind that so much though because tight ends are usable at Flex in most leagues these days. We'll see who I can snag around the 10th or 11th.
5th Round - Torrey Smith. I do not like this round at all. I was tempted to cheat and take the #61 ranked player - Antonio Brown. However, Smith is a really nice target here. With Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta out of the picture, the pass catcher picture in Baltimore is pretty murky. It's hard to know who will emerge, but we definitely know who the #1 guy will be - Torrey Smith. Joe Flacco is a limited quarterback, but he will look for Smith all the time. All. Of. The. Time. Smith could lead the league in targets.
6th Round - Matthew Stafford. I'm starting to feel the running back pinch here with only two guys in the fold. Also, I want to wait on quarterback this year so in general I won't be taking a QB this high. All of that said, I don't love the running back options in round six (Mendenhall, Vereen, and Bernard) and I think Stafford will have a huge season. The biggest difference-maker in this round will be Stafford. Hands down.
7th Round - Daryl Richardson. I'm betting that he retains the job in St. Louis and I'm betting that a year of experience under his belt and a new coaching staff takes him to the next level.
8th Round - Stevie Johnson. Another ugly round. Tempted to go with Miles Austin here, but I think the floor is just as high with Johnson and possibly a higher ceiling. Also, he's the #1 guy and Austin is a #2 option (or #3 if you count Witten). Johnson probably sees more targets than Austin. This is pretty good value in round eight.
9th Round - Ronnie Hillman. Lots of good value in this round - Josh Gordon, Lance Moore, Jermichael Finley. Hillman is the starter in a great offense and word out of camp is that he looks great and has improved his blocking. He'll see competition from rookie Montee Ball, but I think that Hillman is the man there. If so, this is amazing value in the ninth.
10th Round - Jonathan Franklin. The folks in Green Bay are saying that Franklin is a more complete back than Eddie Lacy and is looking like the starter. That's good enough for me in round ten. He's also my RB5. The strategy here is that I need to hit a home run with one of Franklin, Hillman, or Richardson. Odds are that I will. Of the group I probably have one performer, one breakout, and one bust or semi-bust. I've already got a stud TE, a stud QB, and four very strong WR's so this is a great pick here.
11th Round - Owen Daniels. I'm trying to go with a tight end here as a backup to Gronk and a potential Flex play, but the only one is Owen Daniels. I narrowly missed Brandon Myers, but Daniels could have higher upside anyway. I was tempted to go with Jay Cutler, but I need the TE and there are more QB's to come. TE is drying up. One final note here - I normally would go with just one tight end on a roster and take that guy in the 9th round, but I think Gronkowski in the 4th is a chance to win a few games. There aren't many players at that point in the draft that will straight up win games for you, and Gronk will. The only downside is that he could end up playing half the season so you need a backup. Daniels is more than serviceable, and if the league allows tight ends at Flex than it is actually a really solid pickup in the eleventh round.
12th Round - Carson Palmer. Yeah, I can't believe it either. But listen, he's got a lot of those "green flags" we talk about here at the Brain. Super-stud receiver? Check. Pass-friendly offense? Check. Recent top pick as a WR2? Check. Improved offensive line? Check. Recent success? Check. I may have gotten you with that last one, but did you know that Palmer nearly had a career year just last year for a dreadful Raiders team? Okay, it wasn't nearly as good as 2005 due to the touchdowns, but it was close to anything else he's ever done. He was only 113 passing yards from a career high. He was at his career average for quarterback rating and one ahead of his average for touchdowns. Now, add Larry Fitzgerald and a better o-line. I think he's a pretty solid bet as a QB2, especially when I'll be starting Stafford most every week. Also, in my opinion there is a dropoff after Palmer with guys like Flacco, Freeman, and Rivers. Plus, I didn't like the running backs and wideouts available in this round.
13th Round - Chris Givens. I'm not so sure about Givens, but that's why he's here in the 13th round. There's not much in this round, as you might imagine. I considered LaMichael James, but I need a fourth receiver and Givens has big upside. Tavon Austin will get a lot of attention from defenses which ought to provide openings for Givens to shine.
14th Round - Shonn Greene. Okay, Greene is not a good running back. But he did have a few big games last year and Tennessee paid him decent money for a reason. Is he the goal-line back? What happens with Chris Johnson this year? Not a bad flyer in round 14.
15th Round - Cleveland DST. Yes, you heard me. They added a million pass rushers, they have a defensive line rotation that is deep and huge, plus they have an opportunistic secondary led by Joe Haden. On top of all of that talent, it is coordinated by Ray Horton. Yes, please. This defense will shock some people this year.
16th Round - Sebastian Janikowski. Sea Bass still has the huge leg and the Raiders will pretty much only be kicking long field goals this year. If you are in a league that awards bonus points for long kicks, you might even want to go a round or two early for this guy.
17th Round - Denard Robinson. If he's still there in the last round I love him as a lottery ticket. I messed with ADP a little on the last three picks to make it work with the kicker and DST, but this is pretty realistic. This gives me seven running backs and four wide receivers, but I spent fairly early picks on the top receivers and built a good squad there. I need the depth at running back. Robinson is one of my "plant a flag" guys this year. He has similar size and speed to Chris Johnson and there doesn't appear to be any competition for the backup job to MoJo Drew. Plus, MoJo is getting a little older and has been dealing with injury issues. It's not so crazy to say that Robinson gets a crack at this job and runs with it. So to speak. Plus, the Jags have an improved offensive line and a passing game that is really in the "game manager" mold.
Okay, there it is! Look what we have:
RB1 - Peterson
RB2 - Ridley
WR1 - Cobb
WR2 - Smith
Flex - Johnson or the RB that emerges
QB1 - Stafford
DST - Cleveland (you heard me!)
K - Janikowski
RB3 - Richardson
RB4 - Hillman
RB5 - Franklin
RB6 - Greene
RB7 - Robinson
WR3 - Johnson (starting at flex)
WR4 - Givens
QB2 - Palmer
TE2 - Daniels
It is undeniably light at WR, but deep and strong everywhere else. If Randall Cobb and Torrey Smith are the studs I think they are, this team wins at least ten games in the fantasy regular season and leads the league in points.
Who knows who wins the fantasy championship? Who cares? (I mean besides everyone.) We are going after the points title here.