This post includes the results of a $25 dollar fantasy football draft I did with CDM Sports over the weekend.
First, a few words about the league.
Draft and Play
I highly recommend their ‘Draft and Play’ format. First place pays $175 and second $50. That’s a 75% payback for a 12-team league, which I don’t consider bad. If you step up to a $50 (silver) league, the payouts are $360/$100 (76.67%). If you are a VERY high roller, there are even $500 and $1,000 leagues available, with 90% of the cash being returned on the $1,000 league, one of which actually filled up over the weekend.
Myself, I like dabbling in the $25/$50 levels. By playing 4-5 of those leagues you get an idea by the later drafts where particular players are being drafted and tend to have things pretty well dialed in. I did two baseball ‘Draft and Plays’ this year; my second team has fared far better than the first.
CDM is also offering an option between the traditional waiver wire (worst to first) transactions or the now trendy FAAB format. Boy do I love those blind FAAB auctions. Oh, those $600 bids (out of a $1,000 budget) for Brandon Jackson (2.5 yards and a cloud of dust) after Ryan Grant goes down Week 1…
It’s always fun always thinking up team names, and sometimes putting as much effort thinking into the names than the players. For this draft I went with Rabbitohs, the name of a flagship franchise in Australia’s National Rugby league (GLORY, BUNNIES!!!). Many of the newer teams in the NRL have borrowed the handles of NFL teams (Cowboys, Titans, Broncos, Raiders – where’s the Al Davis lawsuit from beyond the grave??). Far-flung foreign sports entities are always a good place to look for team names.
One of my rivals in this league takes the trophy for Handle of the Year. His team name is ‘WE’LL DO IT LIVE!’ In case you don’t know, that has to do with Bill O’Reilly’s infamous Harold Beale-like meltdown from years ago, now famous thanks to the magic of YouTube.
Got a nice ‘LOL’ out of that.
Fantasy Football Draft Analysis
As for the draft itself, I was in the dreaded seventh spot.
I say dreaded because two weeks into the preseason six players have separated themselves from the field: Arian Foster; Ray Rice; LeSean McCoy; Aaron Rodgers; Calvin Johnson; Darren McFadden. You’ll see A-Rod, Arian, or Rice first overall in many drafts, while D-Mac is now recommended as high as the number four pick by many. There is a big drop-off now once the seventh pick rolls around.
I’ll take you through pick-by-pick with my reasoning for each selection. To see the entire draft grid results, click here.
ROUND 1 (#7 OVERALL): Chris Johnson TN-RB
As I feared, no one slipped.
Rodgers, LeSean, Arian (pretty good at three), Rice, Cal, D-Mac went 1-6. That left me a choice between Tom Brady and CJ.
Brady is a more consistent pick around number seven, and I almost pulled the trigger there, but my question was whether Brady is head-and-shoulders above a few other QBs that I was hoping would slip to me in Round 2.
I’m not a huge Johnson fan, and don’t like how he’s trended downward the last two years, but I still project him has one of the better backs. He should get as many touches as anyone in the league. For the record, Johnson did have a nice Week 2 of the preseason, scoring twice.
ROUND 2 (#18): Jordy Nelson GB-WR
As I also feared, the QB run occured before my Round 2 pick: Tom Brady #10; Cam Newton #11 (too high); Drew Brees #12; and finally who I was really eying, Matthew Stafford, at #17.
That left me with another quandary. I wanted to go receiver at this point, as I perennially bypass the top receivers early on and am left with sloppy seconds by the time Rounds 4-5 come around. But which one?
I don’t like to draft based on what others might do, but the owner who went Rodgers #1 worried me, since I’ve seen this movie before: Rodgers #1 followed by Jordy Nelson/Greg Jennings at #24/#25. I felt an obligation to break that juggernaut up.
Jordy is a reach according to the rankings I’ve read (which have him in the 30s) but with Greg Jennings concussed, I now believe Nelson will be the #1 target again in Green Bay this year. He scored in every home game last year (now there’s a stat!!). And if I go against the Rodgers team in the playoffs, then hopefully his Aaron gets cancelled out by my Jordy.
I should also note Jimmy Graham went eighth overall, Rob Gronkowski 21st.
ROUND 3: Victor Cruz NYG-WR
Now here’s someone who slipped a little. He was a possibility even in Round 2. I am now pretty happy that I have filled out my two receiver slots with my first three picks.
I was also hoping for Trent Richardson or Adrian Peterson, who went at #27 and #28 respectably, and are good values at that point.
ROUND 4: Frank Gore SF-RB
This is a case of keeping track of breaking news during the draft, as both Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James were getting stretchered off in the 49ers then-ongoing preseason game. Suddenly Gore appeared to have a lot less competition, and he was one of the last go-to backs available. True, there is a lot of tread on those tires, and a Kendall Hunter handcuff is quite possible later.
Doug Martin and Greg Jennings were the two players who went right before this pick.
ROUND 5: Eli Manning NYG-QB
Here is the pick I’m most happy about, and why I’m happy I didn’t reach for a QB early.
As much as I wanted Matthew Stafford and his 5,000+ yards/41 TDs in Round 2, Eli threw for 4,900+ himself, albeit with only 29 TDs. My personal opinion has Eli pushing 30 again while Stafford may regress to 35 or so. More importantly, I now have an Eli/Victor Cruz combo platter. I can’t wait for Opening Night.
ROUND 6: James Stewart CAR-RB
This is a history pick. My postseason fantasy dreams were blown away by Stewart on Sunday Night Football a few years back.
In 2009, Week 15, Stewart got into the game versus the Vikings after DeAngelo Williams got hurt early in that game. Twice that night in the fourth quarter Stewart scored after receivers were stopped at the 1-yard line after long Jake Delhomme passes. On the second TD, which eliminated me, Stewart was stuffed on his first two attempts, only for Delhomme to throw to him on third down. Ever think about looking for the fullback after the featured back is stuffed the first two times??
I flung things over all the man cave that night. With this pick I at least ensure this will not happen again.
It’s an even more crowded backfield in Carolina, but Stewart will work as a flex/RB3.
ROUND 7: Torrey Smith BAL-WR
I was in need here of improving my receiving depth. DeSean Jackson had slipped badly, but he was selected the pick before mine. Torrey Smith is ranked similarly and has upside in his second year in the league. Incidentally, if you are looking at Ben Tate as an Arian Foster handcuff, he went with the next pick – that’s how high you will have to shoot on him.
ROUND 8: Andrew Luck IND-QB
Even though I already have a QB, I had to strike on this now.
Robert Griffin III went in the previous round, and I now feel like Luck will have a better rookie year. I think a year from now we will be talking about drafting Luck in Round 2.
Pierre Garcon was high on my radar at this point and went a few picks before me.
ROUND 9: Cedric Benson GB-RB
There is risk with Cedric, even though he was a 1,000-yard+ rusher last three years.
Cedric has not seen a down yet after being recently signed by the Packers, and some believe he is not the best fit for the team. But James Starks’ stock is dropping considerably, and I don’t see many other RB options right now in GB. Benson should be the starter at least early on.
A Milwaukee newspaper poll asked readers how many yards they believe Cedric will rush for. 40% had him in the 350-700 yard range while 40% had him in the 700-1,000 yard window. 700 yards seems like a reasonable projection.
ROUND 10: Isaiah Pead STL-RB
The pick I am VERY excited about.
I see Stephen Jackson stubbing a toe early, Pead getting a start, then taking the starting job and never looking back. This should be someone else we will be talking about as a first-second round pick in future years.
ROUND 11: Mason Crosby GB-K
As usual, I missed the boat on getting an elite defense. The 49ers went at #73 overall, which I think was a good value. So I decided I needed a top kicker.
Stephen Gostkowski was also available at this point, and I had a tough time choosing between Crosby and Gostkowski. I took Mason here, and Gostkowski actually hung around till late Round 12.
ROUND 12: Doug Baldwin SEA-WR
It was actually Austin Collie I was eying at this point, but he was selected just before me, Doug Baldwin’s talents are around the same.
Incidentally, Collie got concussed the first hit he took on Sunday Night Football the following night, and at this time I now do not recommend drafting him considering the previous concussion history.
ROUND 13: Daniel Thomas MIA-RB
I now consider myself very well stocked at running back, as I feel Thomas will get about 50% of the carries in Miami this year. It’s nice to find someone I feel is a little more than a lottery ticket at this point.
ROUND 14: Randall Cobb GB-WR
This is an exceptional rising talent to last this deep into a 16-round draft, although I now worry about now overdosing on Green Bay players.
My final two picks are now automatically consigned to taking a tight end and a defense. Kendall Hunter went later on in this round (as well as Felix Jones), but feel like I have enough backs in my stable that I don’t need to worry too much about handcuffs.
ROUND 15: Coby Fleener IND-TE
The tight end train left me early in this draft, and now I will be behind the eight ball at that position the rest of the year, scouring the waiver wire.
Even in the middle rounds I considered a sleeper like Jermaine Gresham, but he took a knock on his knee Thursday night and I was worried they might find something more significant when the MRI machines open up on Monday.
In future drafts I will be addressing TE more early on.
Incidentally, mandatory Darren McFadden handcuff Taiwan Jones lasted until this round.
ROUND 16: Seahawks Defense
As I said before, I wasn’t worried too much about who I was going to take as a defense once the Niners were gone. Other options such as the Packers went too early, and the handful of other teams I was interested in went in a run before I considered them.
This left me with the Seahawks, who in one of my previous positional articles I had targeted as a sleeper in the somewhat offensively challenged NFC West. Hopefully I will be able to find another surprise unit on the wire as the season wears on.
Hopefully my depth at RB/WR overcomes my weakness on TE/DEF. I am worried about getting burned alive in those two positions on a weekly basis.
In leagues that utilize the ‘Kentucky Derby format’ for draft selections, the number 7 slot would be about last on my wish list.
It was also interesting to see the strategies of other teams. DO IT LIVE went RBs the first three rounds (Arian/Marshawn Lynch/Trent Richardson) while another team went with three WR’s (Cal/Fitzgerald/Roddy White). Yet another team opened selecting five backs, then a QB, then four WRs.
Also, I tend to ignore bye weeks while drafting. If I draft a team in which everyone has the same bye week, then obviously that’s a week I will lose. I just make sure my team is good enough that the one week I sacrifice doesn’t prove to be the difference in making the playoffs. As it turned out with my particular team, a lot of my players don’t hit the bye until Weeks 10/11, so hopefully I will find some waiver wire plug-and-plays before then.
Which path will prove to be the best? As usual, it will be those late picks and waiver wire acquisitions that prove as valuable as the top picks.
How have your drafts been going? Any interesting stories/decisions?