Alright, folks. Draft season is over. I had my final draft last night, as my money league's drafts took place. This league is filled with very intelligent managers who have been playing Fantasy Football for years. It is the league that gives me the most trouble every year, even if I have a healthy team. I won this league in 2011, mainly by having an incredible draft. I ended up landing Arian Foster (along with Ben Tate as a handcuff), Drew Brees (for his record-breaking 5,476 yard, 46 TD season), Jordy Nelson (15 touchdowns in the 9th round? Yes, please.), Julio Jones (took a gamble on a rookie in a good offense), and Marques Colston (Drew Brees' favorite target at WR).
Last year wasn't bad. I still made the playoffs, but I knew going in I had no chance, due to injuries. I did have Tom Brady, Stevan Ridley, and CJ Spiller, but losing Percy Harvin and Rob Gronkowski due to injury pretty much eliminated my team (which finished 2nd in the league in scoring) from contending for a title.
The strategy I have used is a simple one. I want to put myself in as good of a position as possible to win each week. The question I ask myself is: What's most likely to happen? Could David Wilson become a breakout stud with the lead role in New York? Sure. But I'd rather bet on Chris Johnson or MJD. I'm more likely to choose guys in explosive offenses, and to choose proven players early rather than take risks on rookies. I also want yards and targets over touchdowns. Touchdowns are tough to predict. Just ask Calvin Johnson owners last season.
I selected 7th out of 12 in this league. I think the draft went well, but I ended up betting big on a couple of teams. You'll see.
Round 1 - Ray Rice (RB - BAL) - You all know by now I'm a big believer in this guy. Even though he plays in a tough division, he's the focal point of that offense and I think he'll be more involved in the pass game this season. Think of him as a better version of Matt Forte.
Round 2 - Steven Jackson (RB - ATL) - I had three guys on my board when this pick rolled around, the other two being Stevan Ridley and AJ Green. I immediately eliminated AJ Green when the two running backs survived and made it to the 18th pick. I had Jackson at 12th in my rankings, and Ridley at 14th. Not much separated them in my mind, but Ridley doesn't play on third down, and Belichick has been known to lose faith in his running backs very quickly.
Round 3 - Randall Cobb (WR - GB) - Another tough pick here, but I think the departure of Greg Jennings helps Cobb the most. If the Packers continue to use him like they did last season, in a Percy Harvin type role, Cobb should easily catch 100 passes. Targets are what I'm interested in early, and I'll take the guy that should be Aaron Rodgers' top target.
Round 4 - Tom Brady (QB - NE) - I've waited on QB in most of my drafts, mainly because they have gone fast and furious. They started to in this draft, with Rodgers, Brees, and Manning (DEN), going in the first two rounds. I felt comfortable taking Brady here because he is an elite performer in an offense that averages 70 plays per game. He can probably throw 40 passes per game and rarely throws interceptions. His decision making is among the best all time, and it will minimize my week-to-week risk.
Round 5 - Jordy Nelson (WR - GB) - You don't have to scroll back up to the third round. Yes, I did take two Green Bay receivers. I honestly had Nelson in my top 20 receivers in my rankings, so I'm fine getting him as a second receiver. Yes, there is risk having two guys from the same team in my starting lineup, but there are times last year that I wish I would have drafted Welker along with Gronk. I have no problem betting big on Aaron Rodgers having a great year throwing the football, and having his top 2 targets is a good thing in my mind.
Round 6 - T.Y. Hilton (WR - IND) - I'm all in on him this year. He is a guy with explosive talent, and the Colts need someone to step up outside of Reggie Wayne. I still see this as more of a passing team, and I think Andrew Luck takes a step forward this season. Hilton also has the upside of being a return man, so I see him as a guy comparable to Antonio Brown. I got Hilton a round later than Brown went, and I think Hilton ends up producing numbers close to Reggie Wayne level this year.
Round 7 - Lance Moore (WR - NO) - Marques Colston has had injury concerns, and Moore has always been a solid fantasy option, even if he's not always a reliable fantasy starter. Still, I'll take a guy who will probably put up 1,000 yards and 6 scores. Hey, he did it last year.
Round 8 - Kenbrell Thompkins (WR - NE) - I made this pick because I really wanted a guy who has been a favorite of Brady's during the pre-season. If Thompkins evolves into the deep threat that Randy Moss was (or at least close) or that Brandon Lloyd was supposed to be, it will end up being a good pick. I don't mind taking risks this late, and as a 5th WR, I'm looking for upside instead of safeness.
Round 9 - Chris Givens (WR - STL) - Another guy who is a great deep ball threat, and as my sixth receiver, I'm fine taking a chance that Sam Bradford takes a step forward this season. I think the Rams end up throwing a lot this year, especially without Steven Jackson, so I think Givens has breakout potential.
Round 10 - Chris Ivory (RB - NYJ) - Bilal Powell is currently the #1 RB on the team's official depth chart, but I think Ivory takes over the job early. Like by week 2. Ivory is the better back, and I think the Jets management sees that in week 1.
Round 11 - Vick Ballard (RB - IND) - Ballard is currently first on the team's official depth chart, but I think Bradhsaw is the better back. However, Bradshaw was not available here, as he went 5 rounds earlier. I'm fine taking a guy who could rack up some big yards in week 1 against Oakland, and possibly look into trading him. Or, I could hold on to him in case Bradshaw's injury problems re-surface.
Round 12 - Zach Sudfeld (TE - NE) - I'm either going to look really smart or really dumb this year. I'm willing to bet on Tom Brady throwing to his tight ends, though.
Round 13 - Baltimore (D/ST - BAL) - Give me a defense that will put pressure on the QB and plays in a division without a high-scoring threat. The Ravens have more speed on defense this year, and even with the leadership losses, I still think they are very talented.
Round 14 - Jacquizz Rodgers (RB - ATL) - Simply a handcuff for S-Jax.
Round 15 - Greg Zuerlein (K - STL) - Legatron! Hopefully he can hit a few more 50 yard field goals this year.
So, I ended up betting big on the Patriots and Packers, especially with their passing games. I think I will be able to compete on a weekly basis, and that's really all that matters.
Good luck to all of you in your Fantasy Football league(s) this year!