Well, our first annual CarolinaCatChronicles.com fantasy football draft completed last night, and I thought I'd share with interested readers some of my impressions of what I saw in my own league draft.
First of all, a quick setup: There are four 12-team PPR leagues set up that drafted in parallel last night. Each draft began at 9:00 pm and the league I drafted my personal team in had 11 of 12 GMs show up for the LIVE draft! That's pretty strong, folks, making the pickings a lot more difficult.
In short, the vast majority of the GMs appeared to know exactly what they were doing. While one would question a few picks in ANY given draft, the one or two questions I personally voiced were answered with knowledge, not with some "feel-good," ethereal response.
For example, I wondered why someone chose Washington Redskins RB Alfred Morris in the spot he was selected....I thought for a PPR league, there might be a few slightly more productive choices available.
The answer was "It's a HALF PPR league."
I said "...but he doesn't catch the ball!"
"Yeah. All he does is get yards and TDs." - sarcasm noted.
Hmf. Well, you can't really argue with that too much. Yeah, you could say Jay Gruden's a first-year Head Coach there, RGIII is playing very poorly in the preseason and teams will lock down on the running game to make him throw to win, whatever the case.
Then again, you can just about pick any player and have fairly legitimate fantasy football concerns.
As the rounds unfolded, strangely enough, all the guys I had sliding on my board were the ones sliding in the draft, with very few exceptions.
For instance, Marshawn Lynch was sliding for reasons unknown in many drafts and I was hoping to pick him up in the middle of the 2nd round - I drafted 7th in the 12-team league so I was drafting in the middle of each round - but even at that, I knew Lynch would have been a steal in the mid-second round.
I took TE Jimmy Graham with the 7th pick overall - due to positional scarcity as well as his WR-like production - with the hopes I could get one of the RBs I really wanted in the middle of the second OR a top-tier QB, depending.
Well, Lynch went last in the first round, and interestingly enough, all three top-tier QBs were gone by then.
So much for that idea.
When my 2nd-rd pick rolled up, I had a lot of thinking to do and took Arian Foster. While I'm not so "high" on him, I have researched him. His bad years seem to be the "odd" years, historically, reminding me of Bret Saberhagen - a KC Royals starting pitcher during the 80's and 90's who had close to Cy Young Award-level years....every OTHER year.
Okay, check. Can Arian catch? Yes...check. Injuries? ehh iffy there, but that's where I had found out about his "odd year" curse. This is 2014. Check. The Texans got rid of Ben Tate, going all-in with Foster this season. Check. Okay, I'll take him at 19th overall.
While I wasn't thrilled taking Foster as my RB1, the Texans are unsettled at QB, may be leaning on the run a bit more, and the fantasy spot that tends to go UP in questionable offenses seems to be reception totals of the RB since the QB tends to check down more.
The middle of the 3rd rolls around and I've got my TE and RB spots both set. I don't usually like taking QBs early unless I can get a value like a top-tier QB in the middle of the second round, but none were there. I had one target with upside to look for in the 4th but at the rate QBs were peeling off, I was thinking I would be going with a Phillip Rivers in the 9th or something, so I went with WR Antonio Brown, which elicited a bit of a "bummer" murmur from the fellow drafting right behind me.
As it turned out, we chatted throughout the draft and he and I were of similar very similar minds about a lot of things. 2 of 4 players he complained someone at the bottom of the round took were guys he wanted, but were also ones I would have taken the pick before his. Scary.
The 4th round came up and strangely enough, Tom Brady was still there.
Now, Brady was going about mid-4th in many mocks I've participated in, but in this case I felt he was a bit of a bargain here given the fact that the three top-tier QBs all went in the first and none since.
I gladly took Tom Terrific whether I hate him personally or not. As I said in the draft room, all is fair in love, war, and fantasy football.
I think Brady's numbers will noticeably increase this season. You know all the issues the Panthers' passing game has with new WRs learning the system and Newton's need to get "chemistry" with them? Well, Brady went through all of that LAST season with WRs Thompkins and Dobson plus the New England offense is very much more complex than most. If you toss in the thought of a healthy Rob Gronkowski, Brady could be in the mid-40's in TDs again this season.
The logic also was that, since I already had Jimmy Graham, in taking Brady I'm participating in Gronk's "upside potential" without actually DRAFTING him, who was taken in the 3rd round anyway, while NOT really opening myself up to much downside if he can't stay healthy....all while spending a 4th-round pick instead of a 3rd for Gronk, and on a future first-ballot Hall of Famer.
I liked that idea and pounced on it.
By now, I could tell people knew what they were doing quite well; it was readily apparent. This was going to be tough, and when Cordarrelle Patterson was still there in the 5th, I jumped on him as well.
Patterson's probably not all that much of a "value" where I got him, but he was the WR who was #1 in the NFL over the last four games of last season in fantasy points!
That's huge for multiple reasons. First, I know that WRs often don't hit their stride until their second year in the NFL and sometimes as late as their 4th season. If the "light" hasn't come on by year 4, it's probably not ever going to, but Patterson showed real signs of being explosive and dominant in those final games in Minnesota last year.
I also knew he doesn't come without SOME risk as the Vikings play their home games outdoors this season and next, but I DID do my research on him earlier and knew that in weeks 14-16, the FFL playoff weeks, his schedule is favorable with a home game against the Jets in wk 14, a dome game at the Detroit "the best defense is none but a good offense is great" Lions wk 15 and a road game in nice, warm Miami on Championship week.
He's also a dangerous return-man which adds to his value, and since defenders can't change direction as well on icy surfaces, the weather could actually play into Patterson's hands in that phase. At any rate, I had previously decided not to take him until the 5th round and as things were going, I knew for a FACT some other GM would nab him before I could pick in the 6th.
I won't go into all 15 rounds, but I can assure everyone that it was one of the most competitive drafts I've ever been involved with.
Many, many kudos to the GMs in the "Rucker" league...and if things there are any indication, the other three drafts should have been pretty similar. Someone even grabbed Terrance West, Ben Tate's good-looking backup in Cleveland this year, with a later pick where he was going completely undrafted in many mocks I've been in. I was targeting him late, but he, too, was gone.
Any "value" I got in rounds 6-9 or so was in the RB spot as I nabbed Joique Bell and Bishop Sankey after getting Patterson. RBs get dinged up and with two "flex" positions, I wanted some sleepers with upside. I think Bell is going to be pretty close to Reggie Bush in FP scored in a split backfield and got him several rounds later than Reggie, so that was a nice value.
Bishop Sankey's a rookie and therefore a bit of a gamble, but someone has to tote that rock in Tennessee and Shonn Greene has already shown he's nothing special and some fresh blood could be carrying most of that load this year, so I took him as he slid a bit more than I thought he should have. Indeed, his ADP (average draft position) has held steady around 80th over the last week or so and I picked him up as a value a fair bit little later than that.
With Greene being an uninspiring RB over his career and Dexter McCluster not having good size, and with Sankey being the third-string back on the Titans right now, why would I bother with him?
He's a second-round rookie with no backs going in the first round this year, so I'm thinking the Titans will use him more in the regular season than most people may think. Since I drafted him as a flex starter/backup RB, and having a pretty good group of WRs for those flex spots, I took the flier on him. I think of him as more of a 2nd-string RB because of McCluster's unique pass-catching, non-running running back style.
Dexter's a third-down back, so Sankey's competing with the aforementioned average NFL back in Shonn Greene for first and second-down snaps. If Greene gets injured, Sankey could cash in and possibly displace Greene as the team's top back if he produces and Tennessee's offensive line has been upgraded over the past couple of seasons. I had Sankey as a fantasy RB3 with upside. We'll see.
I try not to load up on any single position while drafting in the early rounds just because you never do know what position is going to have those guys you want but slide more than you think they should, rightly or wrongly.
That's where the "value" half of fantasy drafting comes in. If I'm fairly even across the positions, I don't feel unbalanced drafting a couple of RBs or WRs in those middle rounds if I feel they represent a good value pick, then fill in the remaining blanks on the back-end of the draft.
With what I saw of the apparent knowledge of everyone in my own team's league, I'll have to say that whoever wins the First Annual C-Cubed FFL Championship will certainly deserve it and can wear the signed jersey with pride.
They'll have earned it!
Follow me on Twitter @Ken_Dye