Not all industry drafts are created equal. The FFPC
Pros vs. Joes competition is a special one to be a part of,
in part because it typically attracts some of the best in the business
but also because of what is at stake. Six industry analysts (Pros)
are pitted against six veteran (and usually very successful) FFPC
players (Joes) in a free best-ball competition for the privilege
of gaining a free entry ($1900 value) into the FFPC Main Event the
The only downside is that it is a winner-takes-all format. If
ever there was a time to cite the immortal Ricky Bobby, Pros vs.
Joes is the ultimate "if you ain't first, you're last"
competition. Pros vs. Joes is the brainchild of Fantasy
Mojo's Darren Armani, who I met for the first time at the
King's Classic in 2018 and have competed with ever since. Darren
beat me in the title game in the inaugural event when he "reached"
for Christian McCaffrey. (Yes, there was a time when drafting
CMC at No. 12 was considered a reach. (We both refer to this moment
in time occasionally on Twitter.) I got my title last season,
so all is well between Darren and me now. All kidding aside, I
am very appreciative of Darren for inviting me to participate.
Below is a list of the competitors (players without a site affiliation
next to their name are "Joes"):
1. Jim Coventry - Rotowire
2. JC Gifford
3. Peter Overzet - @ShipChasing
4. Jeffrey Burger
5. Doug Orth - FFToday
6. Keith Douglas/Steve McMahon
7. Huseyin - Fantasy Couch
8. Beth Riches
9. Jared Smola - Draft Sharks
10. Bill and Don Ezzell
11. Jake Ciely - The Athletic
12. Michael Abt
My inspiration for this article is more about taking readers
through my pick-by-pick thought process - seeing as how I am a
high-stakes player - and less about how I think the other drafters
fared or what I would have done in their position.
The FFPC uses tight end premium scoring (1.5 points per reception),
so it is common for the elite tight ends (Travis Kelce, Darren
Waller and George Kittle) to come off the board within the first
15 picks. T.J. Hockenson, Kyle Pitts and Mark Andrews are usually
gone by the middle of the fourth round as well.
My thought process: This draft (July 26) was
the fifth of six PvJ online events, so a little bit of research
uncovered that Christian McCaffrey went at the 1.01 in each of
the first four drafts and Kelce never made it to 1.05. As I alluded
to earlier this week in my AFC
& NFC North Workload Projections, Dalvin Cook is a player
I only want to take at a value this year. Then again, he also
went off the board no later than 1.03 in the first four drafts,
so it was unlikely I was going to find myself in such a scenario.
With that said, I would have taken Cook at 1.05 if McCaffrey,
Elliott, Kelce and Waller had been the first four picks.
The recent news on Michael Thomas has soured me even more on
Alvin Kamara, as I was already a bit down on him following the
retirement of Drew Brees. While Kamara deserves a ton of credit
for turning himself into the fantasy superstar he is, Brees' game
near the end of his career was a perfect match for Kamara's skill
set. Assuming Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill will throw to Kamara
as consistently as Brees did is a mistake. Furthermore, we do
not even know which quarterback will start yet.
The choice: I had roughly 2-3 weeks to ponder
my first-round pick and quickly narrowed the field down to Zeke
and Waller. While I never imagined I would have to choose between
the two, McCaffrey and Elliott were the only two running backs
I was willing to take before Kelce and Waller. I ultimately decided
it was more important to lock up the volume and durability that
Elliott possesses over the weekly matchup advantage Waller provides.
I also reasoned that I would roll with Hockenson, Pitts, or Andrews
with my third-round pick if it made sense to do so.
My thought process: As is typically the case in drafts (this
year and for most of the 20 or so years I've been playing fantasy
football), the pool of bell-cow running backs dries up quickly.
With that said, a good fantasy manager should never draft a position
this early just to fill a starting slot unless he/she believes
that player is worthy of his draft slot. As a result, this is
a spot where I would typically roll with an elite wideout in a
typical high-stakes draft where three receivers must start. However,
we are only required to start two wideouts in this competition,
which lessens the demand to grab one in the second round.
My preferred pick at the spot was Nick Chubb, who slid to 2.10
in two of the four earlier drafts. Aaron Jones was another player
I was hoping would slide back to me, but he only made it back
to this pick once in the four drafts. I honestly expected to choose
between Clyde Edwards-Helaire and maybe Najee Harris and would
have been happy with either selection. Considering the news of
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers putting aside their differences
hit earlier in the day, I was surprised I nearly had the opportunity
to select Davante Adams. As someone who was exceedingly high on
Adams last summer and benefited greatly from it, he would have
likely been my pick if I had the choice between him and Mixon.
In such a scenario, I would have opted for Chris Carson in the
third round, and I had reason to feel confident he would last
The choice: Mixon was higher on this specific Big Board (No.
12) than all of the players listed in the above paragraph except
for Chubb (No. 10). I understand any hesitation regarding Mixon
after getting hurt by him in one high-stakes league last season.
The line is still very much a question mark. Here's the thing:
the Bengals finally appear prepared to give Mixon as much as he
can handle. The dream for most fantasy managers opting for an
RB-RB start is getting a pair likely to handle 300-plus touches
apiece. Elliott and Mixon are two of the most likely backs to
do just that. I'd be less than thrilled if Mixon was my RB1 and
the centerpiece of my fantasy team, but I am more than OK to lock
him up as my second back in an offense that should not see many
stacked boxes and move the ball with relative ease.
My thought process: Before the draft, I KNEW I was going to go
with Carson at this pick. I also knew I wasn't going to pass up
on Robinson if I had the chance to select him. In addition, I
was not going to pass up on Hockenson, Pitts, or Andrews either
if they were available if you recall my thoughts from the first
round. (This is what we call being
in a pickle.) I quickly decided to give up the dream of taking
one of the remaining two second-tier tight ends on the board with
an eye on waiting several rounds and loading up on two or three
upside picks in the double-digit rounds.
The choice: I strongly considered Carson. It ultimately came
down to him and Robinson, but I had a solid plan about how I wanted
the next few rounds to go and selecting Carson would have all
but ruined it. Robinson is just below the elite tier of receivers
but has often played like one over the last two seasons. He also
has the best quarterback situation in his career. The only way
I was going to take a receiver over Carson was if he had 100-catch
and 150-target upside. That is exactly the area Robinson has settled
into over the last two years.
My thought process: Good drafters tend to look two to three rounds
ahead with every pick, especially in the early rounds. When I
selected Elliott with my first pick, I knew I was hoping against
hope that Andrews would be there for me at this spot. (Andrews
did not last this long in any of the first four drafts.) The other
option was Julio Jones, who never made it out of the fourth round
in the earlier drafts. Josh Allen, Dak Prescott, Lamar Jackson
and Kyler Murray were all of interest to me had my queue was depleted
when it was my turn to pick, but I desperately wanted to wait
The choice: Sometimes dreams come true. I would have bet good
money on Andrews not lasting more than one round after Hockenson.
I was also shocked four teams without a tight end twice passed
on a very good tight end in a tight end premium league. The Ravens
have promised to open up the passing game this season. Most seem
to believe this will benefit Rashod Bateman the most, but drafters
seem to forget Lamar Jackson has long preferred to throw inside
the hashes. (Maybe Andrews' skill has something to do with that.)
Until we see otherwise, more volume in the passing game should
mean more volume for Andrews. We already know Andrews is the primary
target in the red zone for Baltimore.
My thought process: After experiencing the sheer exhilaration
of landing Andrews, it was time to hope against hope again that
Jones would last another nine picks. Ja'Marr Chase is a player
that has somehow eluded me to this point in fantasy drafts despite
how strongly I feel about his ability to enjoy a 70-1,000-8 kind
of season. I feel the same way about Tee Higgins. So why Julio?
I get it. He is 32 years old, on a new team and only played nine
games last year. With that said, 70-1,000-8 is kind of a slow
year for Julio when healthy. Remember his knack for coming up
short in the touchdown department? I bet the safety help and occasional
double team does not come nearly as often with A.J. Brown and
Derrick Henry drawing so much attention.
The choice: Sometimes dreams come true, Part Two. It seems as
though most people have focused primarily on how Julio's arrival
in Tennessee affects the upside of Brown. Has anyone seriously
considered that Jones, who remains as physically dominant as any
receiver in the game, may end up being the primary option? Or
at least the 1B to Brown's 1A? It's not a foregone conclusion
each of them has about six spike games apiece and similar production
in the other five. Of course, the risk with Jones is his health,
which had been a relative non-issue since 2016 until last year.
Then again, Brown missed two games last season and is coming off
surgery on both knees this offseason. It's a mistake to pretend
Jones does not have a chance to match Brown statistically this
My thought process: Remember the "solid plan" I spoke
of earlier? There was only one player I wanted at this spot. I
feel confident about landing Sermon at 6.08 considering the earliest
he came off the board in any of the other drafts was 6.11 (three
times). He fell to 7.07 in the other draft. Courtland Sutton,
Aaron Rodgers, Michael Carter and James Robinson would have been
among my top choices had I needed to pivot, but getting my third
back - and an upside one at that - was a priority.
The choice: This was easily the most controversial pick I made
in this draft. At the very least, Raheem Mostert figures to enter
the season as a starter. The problem is Mostert has never handled
more than 137 carries as he enters his age-29 season. Perhaps
Mostert's best fit is as the explosive complement to a bigger
and more physical back. The point is that Sermon is the one back
on the roster built like a lead back and I expect him to take
over that role by midseason or after Mostert gets hurt - whichever
happens first. The 49ers' run schedule is another reason I am
looking to grab Sermon as often as possible. The end of the season
is not nearly as important in this total points competition as
it is in most traditional leagues, but imagine the possibilities
of Sermon handling 15-18 touches per week against Cincinnati,
Atlanta, Tennessee and Houston to close out the fantasy campaign.
My thought process: With Carter and Robinson coming off the board
in the early part of the round, any chance of me taking another
running back faded at this spot. Thus, the decision was adding
another potential stud at receiver or betting on (angry) Aaron
Rodgers for another season. The decision to take Julio Jones weighed
into my decision with this pick as he is reaching the point of
his career where durability should not be assumed. (Should it
ever?) Sutton's health is far from a sure thing, but he will be
nearly a year removed from his ACL tear when this season starts,
so it is less of a concern in my eyes.
Two key factors made my decision easier: 1) quarterback is deep
again in 2021 and 2) six of them were already off the board prior
to this pick. Plus, I was confident that at least one of three
other available quarterbacks capable of going toe-to-toe with
Rodgers would make it back to my next pick.
The choice: Way too much fantasy advice tends to be overly simplistic.
If A, then B. This guy is good, this guy is not. I mention this
in part because apparently someone along the way decided that
if Denver goes with a more conservative Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback,
it means good things for Jerry Jeudy and Sutton will struggle.
Similarly, if the more aggressive Drew Lock gets the nod, then
Sutton will benefit and Jeudy will disappoint. People began to
run with it and I believe it is in part why Sutton continues to
fall into the middle of the seventh round regularly. The assumption
is that Bridgewater is going to win the job. OK, fine. Bridgewater
managed to support three top-25 receivers in Carolina last year.
Denver's receivers should be just fine if he wins the job, so
let me put this clearly: if Sutton stays healthy this year, he
will likely see something approaching the 125 targets he had in
2019. Count on him outperforming this draft spot (WR33).
My thought process: After Rodgers was taken at 7.06, it became
clear that quarterback should be the next choice. Another thing
that became clear after the Sutton selection was that I was going
to get one of the four quarterbacks I liked with my next pick
since only three managers had openings at quarterback on the right
side of the board. A look at the left side of the board revealed
two owners also did not have a signal-caller. Another consideration
I had as it neared my pick was stacking Tannehill with Julio.
I certainly do not go searching for stacks, but there is growing
evidence doing so in best-ball leagues is a good idea.
Raheem Mostert was a strong consideration for all the reasons
I like Sermon. He would have served as a bit of a counterbalance
to the risk I assumed when I took the rookie. However, as much
as locking up the San Francisco backfield appealed to me, Mostert's
durability was the primary reason I decided to pass.
The choice: There is a decent chance we will look back at this
year and wonder how Tannehill was the 10th, 11th, or 12th quarterback
off the board in many drafts. He accounted for 40 touchdowns last
season despite his running back running for more than 2,000 yards.
In addition, A.J. Brown missed two games, Jonnu Smith disappointed
somewhat after a strong start and Corey Davis only scored five
times despite enjoying a career season. The point is that for
as good as the Titans' offense was last season, it didn't max
out. Is it likely Tennessee will throw less after Julio Jones?
Will the offense be less efficient? Will Tannehill be a worse
quarterback now with two elite receivers? The answer to all of
those questions is "unlikely." This offense has the
potential to be a juggernaut and the only thing that concerns
me is the change from Arthur Smith to Todd Downing at offensive
In the interest of time (yours and mine), I'll make some quick
comments about my 10-man bench.
(Feel free to listen to me discuss this pick at the 1:31:30
mark of this link. If you want to hear me discuss more of
my draft, take a listen around the 1:27:00 mark.) With Overzet
likely upset that I took Tannehill from him, he countered by making
sure Mostert would not make it back to me at this pick. My pivot
was obviously Drake. It is a pick that may end up serving me better
than if I had taken Mostert. I feel that way for two reasons:
1) Drake's role to begin the season should be as a high-end back
who should get regular work in the passing game for a team that
could be facing negative game-script situations. Las Vegas also
lacks proven wide receivers, which means Waller and Drake could
feast whenever the Raiders are in comeback mode.
2) Josh Jacobs is a physical running back who has dealt with
injuries in each of his first two seasons. Should Jacobs miss
time in 2021, Drake could be featured in those games.
(Tonyan is another pick I discuss during my interview with the
Pros vs. Joes announcers.) The fantasy industry seems to be down
on Tonyan because he is one of the biggest touchdown regression
candidates in the league. That much I understand. What I don't
understand is how the fantasy industry believes a tight end who
caught 52 of his 59 targets without a drop didn't earn more work.
Matt LaFleur appears to agree.) No one should expect a repeat
of last year's 11 touchdowns, as one look at my Anatomy
of a League Winner - Tight Ends would suggest. What fantasy
managers should expect is more involvement outside of the red
zone. Even if all he does is increase his catch total to 65 -
remember he was barely involved in the offense through two weeks
last year - then a seven- or eight-score season would be enough
to rival last year's fantasy production and make him well worth
I am finding it nearly impossible to get excited about Gage.
Of the 34 receivers who attracted at least 100 targets in 2020,
only A.J. Green (7.0) and Jerry Jeudy (9.7) averaged fewer fantasy
points than Gage's 11. However, smart fantasy owners need to spend
much more time focusing on how and why a player can succeed and
much less time on why he won't. Gage has an opportunity to build
upon last year's 110 targets in an offense where Calvin Ridley
and Kyle Pitts will attract the bulk of attention. Even if he
is consistently beating his man one-on-one in a game, the odds
are strong the defense will live with it. He was one of only 23
receivers to reach the 110-target plateau a year ago and should
be in line to repeat that at the very least in 2021. That is a
good floor for an 11th-round pick and my WR4.
If Gage was a floor pick for me, then Moore was a bit of a ceiling
selection. NFL teams don't draft players like Moore unless they
have a plan on how they are going to use him, and HC Kliff Kingsbury
not hiding his intention to manufacture touches for the second-rounder.
My vision for Moore is as a player who receives one or two handoffs
per game via the jet sweep and perhaps three or four catches on
screens and hitches. He is so ridiculously strong and explosive
for a player of his size that he could make that kind of role
work in the same way Deebo Samuel has in San Francisco. Like Samuel,
my only concern is durability, which was a problem for him at
There is a line of thinking that posits fantasy managers should
look to the cheapest option - in terms of draft capital - when
doubt exists about the identity of the alpha male in a position
group on a strong offensive team and hope for the best. That partially
explains my thinking with this pick, but I am also targeting Bernard
in just about every draft for other reasons. Part of Tampa Bay's
thinking in adding Bernard this offseason was his ability to pass
block. That alone guarantees Bernard will see the field plenty.
The fact Tom Brady has been fond of utilizing similar satellite
backs throughout his career - such as Kevin Faulk and James White
- makes me believe there is 50-catch upside with the former Bengal.
Wentz is not a great bet to return to the form he flashed in
2017 when he was in the running for league MVP. He probably is
not going to have another season like 2020 either. Did he play
well last year? No. Did he have much working in his favor? Not
exactly. Wentz can be too aggressive for his own good at times,
but it's easy to forget this is the same player that threw only
seven interceptions in three straight years prior to last season's
disaster. Like Tannehill, Wentz brings underrated rushing upside
to the table as well.
It makes sense to group these backs because I believe each one
will become the lead back in his offense if the starter goes down.
While I am very confident Saquon Barkley's knee injury will be
a non-issue by October, Booker is a hedge if I am wrong. In the
case of Hawkins, I expect him to split time with Mike Davis at
some point in the second half of the season. My stance on Mack
is similar to my stance on Booker. At this point of the draft,
it was more important to secure high-upside running back depth
in advance of a 17-game season than take another flyer at any
of the other positions.
Shockingly, I was hoping A.J. Green was going to fall here. Eskridge
is not a bad consolation prize, however, as he is somewhat similar
to Rondale Moore after the catch. If the Seahawks have any interest
in scheming touches to Eskridge like the Cardinals do Moore, then
the Western Michigan product will probably deliver a couple of
splash weeks. That is more than can typically be said about an
Doug Orth has written for FF Today since 2006 and been featured
in USA TODAY's Fantasy Football Preview magazine since 2010. He
is also a high-stakes player who often appears as a guest analyst
on a number of national sports radio shows, such as Sirius XM’s
“Fantasy Drive." Doug is also a member of the Fantasy
Sports Writers Association.