Anyone who has played fantasy football knows that research and projections go hand in hand preparing for the single event that shapes your teams' fortunes: The Fantasy Draft.
Each year, players get peeled off the board according to whatever formula a given fantasy GM thinks is best and/or just tries to do some mock drafts before the real one to get a "feel" for where players might get drafted in their league and plan accordingly.
What nobody can do is get a 100% perfect view of the future. Some high-round pics don't live up to the hype, and some gems get picked up in latter rounds by observant owners. It seems like I always pick up at least one such gem in most leagues myself. This year, my own "gem" was nabbing the Muscle Hamster in the sixth round. Remember the season when Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon broke out and led the NFL in receiving yards? He was a 12th-round pick for me and I won the league championship with his help.
Fantasy leagues may not necessarily be won in the early rounds, but with a big misstep, they can be lost. Therefore, I figured an article taking a look at a draft and second-guessing it pick-by-pick might be in order, so here we go!
With four leagues under the C3FF Superleague banner, I'll just pick one - my own Muhammed league - to use as a "control" of sorts...the idea being that with the exact same draft settings, the value of a given player should be exactly the same from one sub-league to the next. I'll list the player taken and then the player whom I think should have been taken, based on what has happened thus far in Fantasyville. Remember, opponent schedules are highly important in weeks 13-16, when most FFL playoffs take place, and I took that into consideration heavily.
LEGEND: FP = fantasy points; FFL = fantasy football league;
1(1) PICK: Adrian Peterson, RB, Min. Re-draft: Adrian Peterson, RB, Min
Yours Truly, the C3FF Commish, didn't buy into the Le'Veon Bell hype - not with a top overall pick and Bell suspended for two games. I figured that All Day would come back from his "Commissioner's list" status freshly rested. He did and leads all RBs in FP.
1(2) PICK: Le'Veon Bell, RB, Pit. Re-draft: Doug Martin, RB, TB
Once again, Yours Truly actually picked up Martin - but at a bargain-basement price of the 72nd overall pick...last in the 6th round. While Martin is third, not second, in FP, one has to keep in mind the all-important FF playoff schedule. Devonta Freeman is actually 2nd in FP at RB, but plays the Panthers in weeks 14 and 16. I wouldn't want any of my players facing a defense like that even once during the fantasy playoffs and certainly not in week 16, which is many leagues' championship week.
1(3) PICK: Eddie Lacy, RB, GB. Re-draft: DeVonta Freeman, RB, Atl
Won't spend much space here since I mentioned him for the second spot, but Freeman started the season on fire. He had a minimum of 34 FP during a month-long stretch from weeks three to six, and a seven-week consecutive streak of posting at least 19 FP. He's cooled off since, along with his team, but his presence alone probably would have helped greatly in at least four wins, and that's huge. His playoff FP may not be great, but he's a guy who really helped you reach the playoffs in the first place.
1(4) PICK: Jamaal Charles, RB, KC. Re-Draft: Lamar Miller, RB, Mia
4th in FP for the year, Miller has done more damage after a slow start than any other RB that has played the full season. Miller possibly could be the TOP fantasy RB down the stretch, as his schedule the last four weeks is quite favorable for a fantasy playoff run...he goes up against the Chargers and Colts weeks 15 and 16. Charles is too injury-prone going forward for 1st-round consideration, I think, in future drafts.
1(5) PICK: Antonio Brown, WR, Pit. Re-Draft: Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, NYG
While I was skeptical of OBJ's fantasy value before the season due to lingering nagging injuries, he has produced. BOY has he produced! He's #1 in FP by a WR over Brown by about 25 FP and plays in a hilariously weak division. Yes, he faces Josh Norman in a playoff week, but his production during the season has been sky-high and you need to qualify for the playoffs, too! Other than Carolina, his FFL playoff schedule is about average. His and Eli's connection, however, provides for the most dynamic and explosive QB/WR combo...including Big Ben and "Downtown" Antonio Brown.
1(6) PICK: Marshawn Lynch, RB, Sea. Re-Draft: Tom Brady, QB, NE
Since there are no penalty points in FFL for deflated balls, Brady should be the pick here. He leads the NFL in FP scored and showed us last season what he can do with a mediocre group of receivers and had a healthy Gronk to start with. He's also very durable, only missing most of one season due to an ACL tear...when Matt Cassel took over and fooled the NFL into thinking he was anything more than a system QB. Brady's stretch schedule is creampuff until the Jets in week 16, but the Pats just have a way with beating AFC East opponents. Badly. Marshawn Lynch was a guy I looked at as "damaged goods" as far as fantasy football goes and not worthy of a top-round pick due to his age and history of back problems. Brady always seems to get his "bunch" of receivers to produce...mainly Edelman and Amendola. Even LaFell once in a while, but the Panthers have a guy who drops the ball equally as much in Ted Ginn, but at least Ginn has the highest top-end speed recorded by an offensive player in the NFL this season at 22.44 MPH - measured at the end of his 74-yd TD catch last week. DB Robert Alford of the Falcons edged him out early in the season with 22.60 MPH but couldn't cover Ginn.
1(7) PICK: DeMarco Murray, RB, Phi. Re-Draft: Brandon Marshall, WR, NYJ
This one might raise some eyebrows, but looking at his stats and schedule, Marshall has the best combo of production at this point (4th-best WR in FP) and easy playoff schedule from weeks 13-16. Marshall put up 26 FP in week 13 @ the Giants and followed up last week against the Titans with 27. That's GOLD in fantasy playoffs, and he faces Dallas next week and the Pats in week 16, so he'll have faced a lone tough D and 3 easy ones during fantasy playoffs. I personally had Murray on my "do not draft" list due to what NFL history has to show about players who have a massive workload the previous season. They never come close to a repeat performance the following season.
1(8) PICK: C.J. Anderson, RB, Den. Re-Draft: Todd Gurley, RB, STL
Gurley is a classic case of drafting for the entire season in mind. We knew he wouldn't see action the first couple of games, but nobody expected him to quite explode the way he did for about six weeks, either. He had low FP totals against good defenses like Arizona and Cincy recently, but returned with a resounding 30-burger against the Lions last week. His playoff schedule is of average difficulty, with Detroit and TB being bracketed by weeks 13 & 16 of Arizona again (5 FP) and the championship week at Seattle. Gurley would have carried your team in midseason, much like Freeman. C.J. Anderson had a very disappointing 2015 campaign and currently ranks as the 35th best fantasy RB. Ouch.
1(9) PICK: Matt Forte, RB, Chi. Re-Draft: Cam Newton, QB, Car
Forte is currently 12th in FP at his position while Cam is a close second behind the guy who likes flat balls (327.5-314) in Tommie Brady. Newton should put the lid on an MVP season if he finishes like he started, and the schedule is a complete fantasy creampuff one down the stretch. Two games against the defenseless Falcons, New Orleans' vaunted defense, and the Giants' sieve-like team. In fact, a case could be made for Cam OVER Brady because of Cam's true dual-threat freakish athleticism and his ability to attack any point on the field on any given play, along with that soft schedule. He put up a 40-burger against the Saints two weeks ago in the Superdome to get your FFL team off to a nice kick-start in the playoffs and followed that up with 29 FP against Atlanta. He draws Atlanta again in week 16 for the championship game, and Cam's breakout season pairs up incredibly well with that easy stretch during fantasy playoffs.
1(10) PICK: Rob Gronkowski, TE, NE. Re-Draft: Rob Gronkowski, TE, NE
Even hobbled with injuries, Gronkowski has another huge lead in FP among tight ends with 198.5 vs. 166.5 for second place Browns TE Gary Barnidge. Gronk is well-known for dominating games both in stats and in FP and has a favorable month-long playoff stretch with the only decent opponent being the Jets in week 16.
1(11) PICK: LeSean McCoy, RB, Buf. Re-Draft: Antonio Brown, WR, Pit
Some may think Brown here might be a bit low, considering he's #2 in FP among all WRs, but his stretch run for FFL playoffs is pretty difficult but becomes a gift almost with Baltimore's leaky pass defense against WRs in week 16. Brown scored 11.5 FP against Cincy and has to face Denver's defense next week, and two difficult defenses back-to-back in the playoffs could put a cap on his production, as Cincy did last week. Despite a 3-game stretch during midseason where Brown scored no more than 6.5 FP in a contest, he has put up some absolute monster games and never lays goose eggs. Emphasis on the passing game and less on the bell-cow back has changed how FFL drafts go in recent years. Brown's production has probably been slightly aided by Le'Veon Bell's injury, although DeAngelo Williams made sure the offense didn't miss much.
1(12) PICK: Demaryius Thomas, WR, Den. Re-Draft: Chris Ivory, RB, NYJ
Crazy that the offensively-challenged New York Jets would be the team (Deflatriots aside) that has two guys in the top round, isn't it? Well, part of that is because the Amish Rifle has shown some ability to move the team and score while Geno Smith sits his cheap self on the bench, having lost the starting gig in pre-season to a broken jaw over a $600 debt to a teammate. Fitzpatrick made sure he didn't get his job back. What an idiot. In any case, people avoided the NYJ offense in the draft like the plague, and someone has to be putting up numbers for them on that side of the ball, correct? Brandon Marshall in the air, Ivory on the ground. Ivory ranks 6th in the NFL in RB FP (who knew?) and his playoff schedule is obviously the same as Marshall's above.
Round two re-draft coming....stay tuned!
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