I just picked up Matthew Berry’s Fantasy Life and thought to myself, “It’s time to give fantasy football advice again”. But is it really that close? Wow. But yes, September 4th is the first week of games. I can’t be more excited. And you should be too. There will be several posts on who to draft going into the season and right now is too early to really know who will be where. In the next few weeks players will jockey for position in starting lineups and coaches will figure out who works best for particular schemes. Rookies will have a chance to show the goods and free agents signees will get assimilated in their new digs. But regardless of who goes where and who doesn’t suffer an ACL tear before the year begins, there’s still an inexact science to correctly drafting a fantasy team.
Some say the draft is the most important part of the year. Others think that you can have a mediocre draft and still survive off of waiver wire pickups and smart flex-plays or lineup tweaking. In reality, if you draft wisely and don’t suffer too many injuries then you are often in a good position. What you can’t be ready for is where you draft as no matter whether it’s a live or virtual draft you always have randomly assigned picks. So we will do this mock draft in with the idea that we are in a 10-team league and drafting from somewhere between the 4 and 7 spots. This is the ideal draft position as it allows the team the chance to make picks without hurrying to make decisions because they only choose a player every 16 picks. Instead they may only wait 8 to 10 picks to select their next player.
Okay, so in recent years as the NFL has moved towards a pass-heavy league it has always been conventional wisdom that drafting RBs with top picks was the way to go. Well gentleman, things don’t really change. Sure, there are less elite backs and even fewer systems that have consistent RB1s. But it’s because of that fact that it’s that much more important to go get an RB1 or more if you can very early. I swear in a draft the other day there were 5 running backs off the board and I already felt like everyone was gone. Some of that has to do with guys with Ray Rice sitting out a couple games and coming back from a horrible season or Doug Martin missing the last ten weeks of the year after his stellar rookie campaign. The other issue is the simple truth that backs don’t last that long career-wise and there’s bound to be some young guys coming into the fold each and every year. It just turns out that there are more this year than in recent years.
Taking a running back could very well be a dangerous pick if all they are good for is running, like Alfred Morris. But what you need to remember is that a guy like Morris is going to get 1000 yards one way or another. Yes, there will be a game or two where he is taken off the field in favor of a guy who can catch the ball out of the backfield. But that’s what fantasy is all about. It’s about knowing who to start and who to sit. It’s also about getting a little lucky in what transpires over the course of a game. Certain teams, like the Steelers or Jaguars, are teams that traditional ride their running backs regardless of who is in the backfield. Every team is going to throw the ball a bit to keep it moving and remain somewhat unpredictable, but drafting 2 running backs in the first 3 picks is the way to go.
In any draft, like in social media, what’s the best idea is typically what’s trending. And by this I mean that if you begin to notice several players taken a given position then it is always important to check out who is still available and really look into making that kind of pick at that time. However, steering away from original draft day plans is how we always get stuck. Know that this league is deep and just because some assholes decide to take to go QB heavy in the first two rounds there are still enough different starting QBs to go around. Quarterbacks are always a tricky decision when drafting, but taking one before the 4th or 5th round isn’t advisable unless it’s of the top 3 (Manning, Rodgers or Brees). I mean, look at who you have after those three guys: Cam Newton, Matthew Stafford, Andrew Luck, the list goes on. In one light these guys are fucking All-Pro level players when at their best, but in another they aren’t terribly consistent just yet and waiting the previously mentioned rounds isn’t a bad deal. And we haven’t even spoken Tom Brady’s name! He’s a guy that is magically still available in most leagues in the 8th round on average! How is a guy that had a season like last year (a remarkably good one) with no proven receivers and a gimp Gronk rated even lower this year? Yes, he’s getting old but not old enough to fall off like this. I personally hate the guy, but if he’s available after the 8th round or later I’m taking him every time.
While receivers may be a bit of a dime a dozen scenario, these guys still tend to make or break a team depending on how many different guys you can string together. While there are great guys out there like Calvin Johnson and AJ Green, don’t go out of your way to draft them if it’s not the smart move. Remember, the preseason rankings are just prognostications based on computer rankings and simulations. No matter how many times those rankings are put together (yes, even when reading this blog), the rankings are just meant to guide you in the right direction. Just because particular players are ranked in the top 20 doesn’t mean that you do or don’t have to take a player until that spot. There’s guys like Percy Harvin and Cordarelle Patterson (the same kind of player past and present Vikings) that are going all over the place. Harvin had one catch and one fantasy point last year! And yet if he’s the player he was supposed to be for the Seahawks before the injury then it’s likely he will have a pretty big comeback. And after the workload Marshawn “BeastMode” Lynch had last year it’s going to be welcomed. Percy Harvin has been taken anywhere from the 3rd round (still way too high) to the 10th round (way too low). Taking Harvin as early as the 4th round may sound ridiculous right now, but he may very well prove to be even more impressive than that position would warrant. Feel confident in being able to take him in the 6th if at all possible. Patterson was a huge presence on special teams last year that underwhelmed as a receiver. If he even slightly improves then it is likely to see a 1000-yard season out of this kid, and that will be enough to get him on good rosters as a WR3 or WR4. Don’t be surprised if he shows out this season and has the value of a WR2.
So if you’re keeping track, this is how the first 10 rounds of drafting as of today should go: Round 1 RB1/Calvin Johnson/other elite WR/Manning/Brees
Round 2 RB1 or 2/one of these other guys if you chose a RB
Round 3 WR1 (Julio Jones, Brandon Marshall, Jordy Nelson, Antonio Brown)
Round 4 WR2 or 3/depending on the number of available RB options then look into another RB/TE1
Round 5 WR2,3,4/Top 4-7 QBs (Matt Ryan could be this high or nowhere near it)
Round 6 TE1 (after the top 4 it slows down, Jason Witten is getting older but there are only maybe 8 productive TEs)/WR (there are still WR1 options like Reggie Wayne, Michael Crabtree, Torrey Smith, etc.)
Round 7 QB1/RB3 (yes, decent ones are still available)/WR2
Round 8 QB1 or 2/RB3/WR4/TE2
Round 9 WR3 or 4/TE2/QB2/maybe DEF1 (though I never taken defenses until the final pick)
Round 10 QB2/WR4/TE2/R4