On August 15th, a portion of the FFToday crew
got together for our staff league draft. This is a real league that
will be played out during the season. Team-by-team results and commentary
from each owner are below.
1 point for every: 10 yards rushing, receiving, 20 yards passing,
reception, sack, FUM Rec, INT Ret
2 points for every: safety, PAT rushed, PAT received, PAT thrown
3 points for every: field goal
4 points for every: touchdown thrown
6 points for every: touchdown rushed, received, fumble returned,
interception returned, kick returned
Strategy for Rounds 1 & 2: Having
the No.1 selection is obviously very good … and bad. The good
is the top choice and the bad is waiting 23 picks before getting
another chance to pull the trigger. It’s a PPR league, so
choosing a 1000-yard rusher, David Johnson, whose stated goal is
also 1000-yards receiving, is perfect for a top pick. Waiting until
No.24 means seeing a lot of talent head elsewhere, but the top pass
receiver on a pass-first team (Seattle) is a good spot and Doug
Baldwin fills the bill, particularly with an extremely favorable
schedule to begin the season.
did you miss out on? Two players I was hoping would fall
a little further, and into my lap, were Amari Cooper and LeGarrette
Blount. Cooper was the eighth wideout off the board, though was
ranked as the 12th-best in our rankings. I settled for Dez Bryant.
Similarly, I was targeting Blount as my No.3 running back, but
he went at No.67 (27th RB), five picks before I had planned to
grab him. Instead, I took a gamble on Jacquizz Rodgers to start
the seventh round, hoping that he’ll play well enough to
keep the starting role even after Doug Martin returns from his
Final thought: As I noted in an
last week, I think Demaryius Thomas is still going too high
in relation to his teammate Emmanuel Sanders (No.32 vs. No.72).
They produced similar statistics in 2016 and should do the same
in 2017, but Thomas’ higher name recognition forced his
owner to choose him four rounds earlier. I love the upside of
Tim Hightower at the end of the 14th round, a player who could
eventually beat out Carlos Hyde (fifth round), for the starting
spot in Kyle Shanahan’s new 49ers offense.
Strategy for Rounds 1 & 2: With the first or second
pick, I'm looking to not whiff and take a star -- and then build
the rest of your team around that player with more risks and reaches.
It’s always easier to plan which positions to target when
you know you’ll have two picks close together, despite the
long delay between those corners. With pick No.2, I had a feeling
I’d be choosing between LeVeon Bell or Antonio Brown, and
I went with Bell, following up with a high-volume, borderline RB1
in Lamar Miller as my second back, and then Aaron Rodgers –
a pick recommended to me by the Draft
Buddy. I'm comfortable mixing and matching WRs based on matchup,
and I like having two solid backs and a stud QB.
What player(s) did you
miss out on? Tyreek Hill was on my radar, but Hutchins
took him four picks before me, so I’m putting some faith
in Julian Edelman and Jarvis Landry (who's a huge question mark
based on contract issues, domestic battery charges and Jay Cutler)
as my first two WRs. Greg Olsen and Jimmy Graham got snagged before
my planned TE pick, but pairing Martellus Bennett with Rodgers
could work out nicely given the Packers’ frequent red zone
appearances and Bennett’s high ceiling and willingness to
focus on the minutiae that Rodgers demands. Krueger scooped up
Tyrell Williams near the end of Round 8, so I opted for Adam Thielen
as my WR4, who’s also an impressive big body and red zone
Final thought: I was surprised
to see Tyler Eifert taken before target monster Jordan Reed and
the steady Greg Olsen, but bold moves like that often pay off.
Kyle Rudolph is also going surprisingly early in drafts, and was
the 70th pick in ours. As far as filling out my team, I wanted
some Dallas pieces who could make up for the anticipated void
of Ezekiel Elliott, so landing Darren McFadden (my RB3) in Round
9 and Cole Beasley (as my WR5) in Round 11 made me happy. The
Cowboys offense is more than just Dak, Dez and Zeke.
Strategy for Rounds 1 & 2: Picking third in a redraft
in 2017 is the easiest draft position because there really is no
decision to make, especially after Ezekiel Elliot’s suspension.
David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell are going one and two, in whatever
order, and Antonio Brown is the obvious third choice. He is one
of the top two or three most consistent fantasy players, regardless
of position, in the past half-dozen years. Selecting a rookie RB
in Joe Mixon in the second round gives me a little pause. He may
not be anointed the starter right away, but I do think he eventually
beats out the rapidly declining Jeremy Hill. If Mixon excels as
a runner the way many think he can, I think he and Antonio Brown
provide a nice foundation for my team.
player(s) did you miss out on? I wanted Duke Johnson as
my RB3 at the end of the sixth round, but he was selected two
picks earlier. I ended up picking TE Kyle Rudolph instead, who
led all TEs in targets last year. So I guess all is not lost.
I also wanted QB Derek Carr at the start of the ninth round, but
he, too, was selected two picks prior. In his place, I grabbed
Matthew Stafford. Stafford’s not a sexy pick, but I think
he can be a quality starter in 12-team formats. My long shot pick—Kenny
Golladay—was also stolen from me, even though I had my chance
in the 13th round. I thought he’d be there one round later.
I took a chance and waited too long.
Final thought: It didn’t occur
to me until after the draft that I had selected four rookies—three
of which are RBs. My De’Angelo Henderson selection was a
complete shot in the dark based on some intel I heard on the radio
over the weekend. We’ll see if it pays off at some point.
I expect good things from two of my other rookies—Mixon
and Kareem Hunt. Over the past 13 seasons, Andy Reid’s RB1
has averaged 19.5 fantasy points per game in PPR leagues, so if
Hunt does what most are predicting he will do and ascends to the
starting spot, he could pay huge dividends. Additionally, it’s
ironic that I ended up with the same two QBs from last year—Stafford
and Eli Manning. I even selected them in opposite order this year.
That wasn’t the plan going in, but it’s strange nonetheless.
Strategy for Rounds 1 & 2: I would
have been doing a happy dance a couple weeks ago knowing I had the
fourth pick in a PPR league. With DJ, Bell, and Zeke likely going
1-2-3, Antonio Brown would be a no-brainer selection at No.4 and
I could focus my pre-draft attention on options in Round 2. Obviously
that’s not the case anymore as Elliott is appealing a six-game
suspension and his value has taken a tumble leaving me (and anyone)
in the 4th slot with a tougher decision to make. With the Bills
apparently focusing on the future, I’m getting a little skiddish
about LeSean McCoy’s prospects for 2017. So, in a PPR league,
I’m going to focus on the WR position with my first pick then
consider Fournette, Gronk or my top WR available in Round 2. As
it turns out, Fournette and Gronk both went a few picks ahead of
my Round 2 selection, so I knew I would be starting the draft WR-WR.
What player(s) did you miss out on?
Amari Cooper was my ideal choice in Round 2 and I really wanted
to pair him the Beckham. Instead I had a decision between Hilton
and Baldwin who have similar values to me. Quite frankly, I have
so many shares of Baldwin in other leagues that I wanted to differentiate
my portfolio a bit, so I chose Hilton. I was targeting Tyreek
Hill in Round 4 but Hutchins nabbed him two spots ahead of me.
Instead, I settled for Sammy Watkins at his depressed Round 4
price tag. Thanks Jared Goff! Hutchins did it to me one more time
in Round 8 where I was eyeing QB Marcus Mariota. The good thing
about the depth of the QB position and so many fantasy owners
employing the late-round QB approach is that you can get Kirk
Cousins, Cam Newton and Philip Rivers in Round 9 or 10. I chose
Final thought: Due to lack of quality
running backs and the value of Sammy Watkins taking a nosedive,
there seems to be a dead spot in drafts beginning in Round 3.
It makes you consider drafting one of the top quarterbacks (Rodgers
or Brady)… they feel safer than drafting a whole host of
No.1 wideouts that come with legitimate question marks like...
DeAndre Hopkins, Allen Robinson and Demaryius Thomas. They just
don’t give you that warm, cozy feeling anymore. And, the
running backs typically going in Round 3 (Ezekiel Elliott, Ty
Montgomery, Isaiah Crowell, Marshawn Lynch) don’t inspire
a lot of confidence either. Watch out for Round 3 in your draft…
it could be the source of a lot of raised eyebrows and immediate
Strategy for Rounds 1 & 2: With the fifth overall pick,
I was guaranteed one of the top three wide receivers or one of the
elite running backs, making my selection of Julio Jones a no-brainer
in a full point PPR league. Assuming that Jones can play a full
16-game slate (An optimistic assumption considering his history),
I am a lock for 100 catches and close to ten touchdowns from my
Ezekiel Elliott was in play for me at pick 2.08, as the upside of
even a half season of Zeke and a replacement level player at the
middle of the second round was almost too enticing to pass up. People
against drafting Zeke in the mid-second or third round need to consider
the fact that the first quarter of the season is filled with tough
games for the Cowboys, with road games against the Broncos and Cardinals,
and two home games against the Giants and Rams. Zeke’s full
value may not have been realized until after the bye, regardless
of the suspension, and getting him at a discount in the second or
early third could be a steal.
The one player on my board who forced me to change my strategy
was Amari Cooper, another 140-target wideout in a great offense
that is a difference maker in PPR leagues. Count me in as a Cooper
2017 truther and someone who thinks this is the year that Cooper
comes into his own. As luck would have it, I was able to have
my cake and eat it too by grabbing Zeke at 3.05 after the turn.
What player(s) did you miss out on?
My strategy to take PPR-friendly wide receivers with four of my
first five picks and a suspended running back put me behind the
eight ball when it came to the running back position. Using my
sixth and seventh round picks on Rob Kelley and Duke Johnson,
gave me a viable traditional running back and a possible PPR stud
in Johnson to help ease the pain of Zeke’s suspension. However,
the opportunity cost filling those two spots caused me to miss
out on Matt Ryan in the seventh, the quarterback I was targeting
to double-dip with Julio Jones. I was able to overcome that loss
by going with Big Ben for home games and Tyrod Taylor, but in
hindsight, I would prefer to have Matty Ice.
Final thought: I was surprised
to see how many people went RB/RB in the first two rounds of a
full PPR draft, considering the fact that they passed on premier
wide receiving options. Also, a couple of owners selected their
second quarterback before the end of the ninth round, which seemed
like a stretch considering the depth of the QB position and the
fact that this is not a Superflex league.
Strategy for Rounds 1 & 2: Ha! I don't have the time,
the organizational chops, or the decisiveness to formulate much
in the way of a pre-draft strategy these days, so it's read and
react all draft long for this guy. That anti-strategy hasn't borne
much fruit in this league yet, but...I'm pretty excited about my
draft haul, nevertheless. If I had any sort of plan for our one-point-per-reception
league, it was to grab guys who can snag passes and rack up YAC.
Mission accomplished. In fact, at some point, I was playfully accused
of "exploiting" our scoring system by drafting RBs who
play more like receivers. Guilty. As. Charged.
player(s) did you miss out on? Oddly, the one guy I really
wanted to grab isn't much of a receiver at all and is, in fact,
about as one-dimensional as they come: Derrick Henry. But, man
do I like that dimension (potential goal-line beast) and especially
in that offense. It came down to him or LeGarrette Blount in the
6th round and I opted for the latter, wanting to add a guaranteed
touchdown-maker at a position that was shockingly scarce at that
point in the draft. Speaking of which....
Final thought: I took some ribbing,
mostly good-natured, for selecting Christian McCaffrey in the
second round. Maybe he's a reach. Maybe he isn't. I can tell you
this, though: I'd have felt more self-conscious about that pick
if the running back options available just four rounds later hadn't
been so dicey. If we're truly entering the era of a position-less
NFL, McCaffrey is what that new multi-dimensional stud looks and
plays like. Get 'em while they're hot because guys like him won't
last as long as you think in most drafts, especially in PPR leagues.
Strategy for Rounds 1 & 2: I came in with the assumption
that I'd be going WR in Round 1, but that changed when LeSean McCoy
fell to me at No.7. I believe RB is as thin as ever this season
and while I have McCoy on a tier below David Johnson and Le'Veon
Bell, he is the top of my second-tier of running backs. I was very
much hoping to land DeMarco Murray, Rob Gronkowski or Michael Thomas
in Round 2, but I had to call an audible when all three of those
players were selected in the five picks before I was back on the
clock. I decided to opt for a player who is perhaps one of the most
polarizing on the board, Jacksonville's Leonard Fournette. I rarely
recommend going this aggressive with a rookie RB, but I believe
Fournette has the physical skills to be an All-Pro player. I've
wavered between he and McCaffrey in my PPR rankings, but I think
Fournette has a clearer path to more significant playing time to
start the season.
What player(s) did you
miss out on? This draft reminded me that completing mock
drafts against average rubes does not always prepare you for what
it's like to be in a draft with other people in the fantasy football
industry. Simply put, the other members of this league were not
going to allow me to wait and draft a potential stud at or below
his ADP. Missing out on Ezekiel Elliott, Brandin Cooks and Dalvin
Cook in Round 3 was brutal for me. Then missing out on Tom Brady
and Marshawn Lynch the following round was enough to almost put
me on tilt. My draft would've been very different if any of those
players had fallen just a couple more spots into my waiting arms
Final thought: Ezekiel Elliott's
fall to the third round (29 overall) could be an absolute steal.
Even if he does end up serving a full six-game suspension, he
plus a replacement-level RB should still produce solid RB1 numbers
overall this season. I also noticed that a good number of the
"PPR running backs" like Danny Woodhead, Duke Johnson
and Bilal Powell went higher than their usual ADP's. This highlights
just how confusing the running back position is this season in
fantasy football – there just aren't many "bell cow"
backs anymore and there are a lot of crammed backfields where
two or more players are fighting for most of the carries while
another player has more of a locked-in role as a pass-catching
back. In those scenarios, particularly in PPR formats, it can
be wise to bank on the more solidified role. I did that with my
selections of Theo Riddick and Chris Thompson later in the draft,
both of whom I expect to exceed 50 receptions this season.
Strategy for Rounds 1 & 2: When I took A.J. Green with
the 8th pick, there was only one other wide receiver available whom
I considered likely to finish in the top 5 at the position: Jordy
Nelson. I would have been equally happy with Nelson, but I was flirting
with the idea of taking Aaron Rodgers if he fell to the 4th (he
went in the 3rd), and I didn't want to be too Packer-dependent.
If any of the five RBs on my 2nd tier (Ajayi, Murray, Freeman, Gordon,
or Howard) had made it back to me in the 2nd, I would have taken
one. Since none fell that far, I was perfectly happy grabbing Gronk
What player(s) did you miss
out on? I used mock drafts to target five players in certain
rounds and expected to land at least 2 of them: Dalvin Cook (3rd),
Pierre Garcon (7th), Jeremy Maclin (8th), Jonathan Stewart (9th),
and Jacquizz Rodgers (10th). I snagged exactly zero. Mike Krueger
beat me to Cook and Garcon; Doug Orth vultured Maclin from me
by one pick in the 8th; I passed on Stewart because my roster
was RB-heavy and WR-light; and Steve Schwarz surprised me (among
others) by nabbing Rodgers in the 7th.
Final thought: I ping ponged between
risk assessments in this draft. For example, after taking the
safety of Demaryius Thomas over the upside of Keenan Allen in
the 3rd, I felt compelled to gamble on Marshawn Lynch in the 4th.
Lynch in the 4th is fine for anyone who already has a solid RB1,
but I didn't--so it was pretty risky. We'll see how it works out.
Strategy for Rounds 1 & 2: My preference is going RB-WR
or WR-RB in drafts, but best player available trumps preference,
especially in the first few rounds. Picking from the No. 9 slot
is not ideal because it takes you out of the range of the elite
tier of running backs and wide receivers, but I had a feeling Devonta
Freeman - my third-ranked running back - would be available given
the threat of Tevin Coleman stealing some touches. From there, the
only question with my second pick was whether or not Michael Thomas
would unexpectedly fall into my lap. If he didn't, it was important
for me to get another bell-cow running back and take advantage of
the great depth of mid-tier receivers.
player(s) did you miss out on? In all honesty, my draft
was defined by how long some of my middle-round players remained
on the board. Fumbleweed selected Larry Fitzgerald - the highest
player remaining on my board - right before my pick in the sixth
round, but I had already decided on Jimmy Graham at that point
because I liked the value remaining at receiver. Sure enough,
I landed my WR19 (Martavis Bryant) and WR26 (Jeremy Maclin) in
the following two rounds.
Final thought: In the interest
of full disclosure, part of the reason Bryant fell in my lap was
due to a slight glitch in the draft software, as he sometimes
goes as high as the third or fourth round. To answer the original
question, I'm becoming increasingly confident Tom Brady will have
a Peyton Manning (circa 2013) kind of season. Picking quarterbacks
in the third or fourth round is not usually sound strategy, but
it can make sense to do so IF a player like Brady is about to
go supernova and you don't see much separation between the talent
available with your current pick (4.04, in my case) and next pick
(5.09). As it turned out, Kelvin Benjamin was the other player
I was eyeing at 4.04, so I feel like I got the best of both worlds.
Strategy for Rounds 1 & 2: These picks weren't difficult
as I felt both were too early to take a QB or TE. That left me with
running backs and wide receivers to choose from and I was 95% sure
going in that I would take one of each. To take two from the same
position would have insured that I was extremely weak at the No.1
spot at the position I chose to ignore. Jordy Nelson is one of the
safest picks in fantasy football and I like coupling him with the
upside of Jordan Howard. Both players scored well down the stretch
last year and if they can carry that momentum into 2017, I like
my chances of having a top-5 player at each of the two primary positions.
What player(s) did you miss out on?
I got greedy and passed on Travis Kelce in Round 3, hoping that
he would make it back to me with the third pick of the fourth round.
He almost did as he was selected one pick ahead of me. Kelce is
in a tier all his own on my cheatsheet as the second best fantasy
TE. I did snag Greg Olsen two rounds later, which I was pleased
about, but I think there's a drop-off between Kelce and Olsen and
I might could have gotten Isaiah Crowell at 4.03 anyway if I had
taken Kelce when I probably should have. Elsewhere, I am a big Tevin
Coleman fan and wish he would have lasted two more picks so I could
grab him in the 7th. I almost picked him a full two rounds earlier.
Final thought: I am always amazed
how far quality QBs tend to fall. I guess everyone prides themselves
on waiting to address the position until the last possible minute.
Matt Ryan and Jameis Winston were two quarterbacks that slid too
far. I generally like players from the NFC South as it's the high-scoring
division in football and when it became apparent that one of those
two would be available to me in the late seventh, I was ecstatic.
It seemed like everyone was falling all over themselves trying to
find good PPR running backs to the point that quarterback was ignored.
Should Jacquizz Rodgers really get picked before Matt Ryan? I say
no. Aside from that, though, this was a very good draft and it's
become a draft that I look forward to each year because of the overall
quality of owners making the picks.
Strategy for Rounds 1 & 2: As soon as I saw my draft
position (11) I knew I wasn’t going to be thrilled with my
first two picks. I see a drop-off after the first eight players
so I had to hope one of those guys fell, but they didn’t.
My ho-hum best player available strategy landed me Melvin Gordon
- not someone I’m thrilled about but the best guy for the
spot in my opinion. At 2.01 I took Michael Thomas, who I am also
not a huge fan of, but in PPR I think his cumulative stats will
be too good to pass up early in Round 2.
player(s) did you miss out on? I missed out on several
players I usually target. Isaiah Crowell was taken one pick before
me at the end of Round 3. I love him as a RB2 with RB1 upside
in an offense that should feature the ground game behind a much
improved offensive line. Unfortunately for me, Cameron Meredith
(7.02) was taken about a round and a half earlier than his ADP
(8.11). I love him this year even at that price. Adam Thielen
(8.11) went at least a round and a half earlier than his ADP (10.06)
as well, and while that may be a little rich, he’s a player
I’m targeting in all my drafts.
Final thought: I was surprised
at the amount of QB’s taken earlier than I thought they
would be, especially with two owners taking two QBs in the first
9 rounds. Next up on the surprise meter was three rookie RB’s
taken in the first two rounds! All three (Fournette, McCaffrey
and Mixon) have their own set of strengths but that seems like
a few picks too early in my opinion. The biggest reach overall
was Jacquizz Rodgers at 7.01, at least two whole rounds earlier
than his ADP (9.04) and ahead of some safer players with similar
upside (Paul Perkins, Derrick Henry, Rob Kelley). The steal of
the draft was probably Martavis Bryant who slid under the radar
due to a technical glitch with our league host. Lesson Learned!
Strategy: I love picking at the turn
because it gives me a chance to double down on a position if I feel
the value at other positions isn’t there and that proved to
be the case in the 2017 Staff League. Coming into a full-point PPR
draft means you better understand the receiver position because
you can lose your league if you fumble in the first few rounds.
With that in mind, I have a pretty good gap between Jordy Nelson
and the next WR tier (T.Y. Hilton and Michael Thomas) as I just
don’t feel they are first rounders. I knew that receivers
would fly off the board and if Jordy didn’t make it to me
I was going to have to go with a zag-zig approach to counter the
receiver run. Keep in mind, especially in PPR formats, that every
team cannot have a strong receiving corps. When picking at the 1-2
turn you really need to adapt your strategy to move into the area
your league mates have left open. I like the group of running backs
after McCoy and before Gurley and took two of them to open my draft.
I love the upside of Ajayi in Adam Gase’s offense. He’s
young enough to handle the workload, has little competition to steal
touches and plays a likeable schedule. In pairing him with DeMarco
Murray, I mitigated the risk of each player and should be able to
get solid production from my starting RBs. If you do go with this
strategy, you should still be able to get a potential WR anchor
from one of the veteran bounce-back candidates like Keenan Allen,
Demaryius Thomas, or Kelvin Benjamin.
player(s) did you miss out on? I really wanted Keenan Allen
and Danny Woodhead. I was able to get Woody to continue to build
a strong running back nucleus instead of adding a potential low-end
WR1. This decision put a hole in my WR lineup but Woody should
be an elite FLEX on my team and it’s easier to find receivers
than running backs. Derrick Henry was a target of mine for my
third pair of picks. But I felt Russell Wilson was a better value
at that point (that schedule is ripe!). Even though Henry is an
important target for anyone selecting DeMarco Murray, he would
have been about a round early. Ultimately, the Commish snagged
him (7.04) and I lost out on one of the best backup running backs.
I missed on a few of my TE targets as well. But that was the result
of taking a gamble on what a healthy Andrew Luck might bring in
terms of trade opportunities this season. A non-elite TE or a
stud QB? This is how I plan to upgrade my WR position mid-season
and the drop-off between say Delanie Walker and Jack Doyle shouldn’t
Final thought: I was surprised
Tevin Coleman slid as far as he did (7.08) after players like
Duke Johnson, (6.08) Jacquizz Rodgers (7.01) and Rob Kelley (7.05).
I really like the upside Coleman brings in the middle of the draft
considering his offense provides more opportunities than most.
Back to Luck, I’m not counting on him to start Week 1, but
when you consider the impact Le’Veon Bell had despite missing
some time last season and how high Zeke Elliott is still being
drafted despite an appealed six-game suspension, Luck should be
on your radar. Like the two running backs just mentioned, he is
typically a top-five performer at his position and it’s
looking like he will back within the first month of the season.
Once healthy, he will either become my starter or be traded for
a player far better than anyone else I could have chosen after
the seventh round. Meanwhile, Donte Moncrief has been serviceable
when healthy and the offense shouldn’t have any trouble
supporting two fantasy wideouts. Touchdown regression is a tag
some have attached to Moncrief in 2017, but where is Luck getting
his 30 touchdowns from when T.Y. Hilton’s career high is
only seven? Hint, it isn’t Phillip Dorsett.