The fine folks at Gridiron Experts and myself recently finished the fantasy draft for our yearly staff league. And because I’m quite the nerd, I always find it interesting to read about draft results and the way specific fantasy owners tackled the process. I can only
assume hope there are others out there just like me — in which case the following blabber jabber will be of interest.
To set the scene for the GX 2014 Staff League:
- 12 teams
- Standard scoring
- 16 roster spots
- Weekly starting lineups consisting of – (1) QB, (2) RB, (2) WR, (1) TE, (1) FLEX, (1) PK, (1) DEF
Also a quick note about yours truly — as much as I’d like to think of myself as a versatile fantasy drafter, I’m not willing to wear that badge. Not that I’m saying that as an excuse for my team makeup, but more so to the point that drafting for a non-PPR format for the first time in years reminds you just how different the process is for each game.
But enough with the mushy stuff. Here’s how I fared with the No. 9-overall pick through 16 rounds, with a brief word on each pick.
1.09 – Demaryius Thomas, WR
As one who always seems to draw the late pick in 12- and 14-team league drafts, I’m accustomed to snagging Dez Bryant somewhere in the 9-14 range — and he was in fact available. Some of it may have had to do with divying up my rooting interest (a selfish ploy, I’ll admit), but Demaryius Thomas is certainly no schlub. Not only is Peyton Manning the distributor of all distributors, but Thomas is coming off a 1,430-yard, 14-touchdown season and is likely in store for even more targets this season (142 in ’13) with Eric Decker having taken his talents to the Big Apple.
An ordinary pick and by the book, but exciting nonetheless.
2.04 – Le’Veon Bell, RB
It didn’t take long before feeling the pressure to snag a running back with my second-overall pick. Although Le’Veon Bell may be a little more attractive in PPR formats, those receiving yards still count. Is there slight concern with LeGarrette Blount getting the goal line carries? Eh, maybe. But not enough to scare me away at this point.
The only other position I would consider drafting in this spot is wide receiver. But I always, always, always take into account the cost of a player relative to his position. I weighed the potential drop-off of both running back and wide receiver between my pick here at 2.04 and the next time I’m on the clock (17 picks from now), ultimately preferring what’s to be available at wide receiver as opposed to running back.
UPDATE — 8/21/2014 — According to reports, Le’Veon Bell was stopped on Tuesday afternoon with 20 grams of green in his Chevy Camaro. To make matters worse, Bell was taken to the hospital to have his blood drawn. If tests reveal marijuana in Bell’s system, he could be charged for driving under the influence, at which point he could face the league’s substance abuse policy. The fun part? Backup running back LeGarrette Blount was riding shotgun. Hooray!
3.09 – Jordan Cameron, TE
This is a reach for Jordan Cameron, as his current ADP is somewhere around 5.12, but it was a reach I didn’t mind taking. He’s a top-5 producer at his position, and a guy we’d be talking about as an easy third-rounder if the quarterback situation in Cleveland were different.
Not that anyone requires convincing, but Cameron is also set to play amongst a very mediocre Browns pass-catching unit. With Josh Gordon’s suspension looming, we’re looking at Cameron as the No. 1 receiving and redzone option, with Hamstring Austin and Andrew Hawkins a good distance behind him.
4.04 – Joique Bell, RB
Landing Joique Bell in the fourth is arguably my favorite selection of my entire draft class. At the time, I had options in terms of receiver, but with running back as thin as it is and Bell serving as a large blip on the pre-draft radar, the Lions running back was the easy play.
There were other running backs too, of course. Frank Gore was hanging around, as was rookie Bishop Sankey, PPR-dude Shane Vereen, and Ben Tate — none of which gave me the warm and fuzzies like Bell does.
Fantasy Football Calculator says I drafted Bell about a round too soon based on his 5.06 ADP, but it didn’t feel like a reach at all. There was little chance I’d have my choice from guys like Sankey, Tate, and Ray Rice 17 picks later, and I couldn’t see myself passing on a guy who has a good chance at leading his team in carries this season.
5.09 – DeSean Jackson, WR
Turning my attention back to receiver, DeSean Jackson has the homerun ability that standard-scoring novices such as myself look for in their players. Will DJax duplicate his production from a season ago? Nah. But assuming Robert Griffin III gets the hang of things, Jackson will be a large part of the offense in Washington.
6.04 – Terrance Williams, WR
The trend is becoming noticeable at this point. When I have my sights set on a guy, yet I’m stuck with the early pick in every other round, I tend to reach for said guy because I don’t feel he’ll be there more than a dozen picks later. Terrance Williams falls into that category as well, as his current ADP in standard scoring formats puts him somewhere in the latter part of the seventh-round.
Another trend that begins here is my desire to nab large pass-catchers. DeSean Jackson being the exception, I’m going after guys who provide 1.) a large catch radius, 2.) the ability to generate mismatches, and 3.) redzone target opportunities. With the Cowboys expected to sling the pigskin, and Dez Bryant seeing more than his fair share of double-teams, the 6’2″ Williams fits the criteria.
Here’s to hoping Tony Romo’s spine remains intact.
7.09 – Jordan Reed, TE
He has the potential to be a top-5 player at his position, which, admittedly so, depends on two relatively shaky accords — his durability, and the Redskins’ quarterback play.
I say shaky because Reed has experienced his fair share of bumps since college, while the local media does more than enough to have everyone second guessing RG3 and his development after only two preseason games.
Despite just nine games last season as a rookie, Reed averaged better than six targets per game, hauling in 45 catches for nearly 500 yards and three scores. Now assume better health in 2014, as well as improved quarterback play and see what the production forecast lands you. Quite impressive.
Reed is one of the most athletic tight ends in the NFL, he fits the bill of a large (6’2″) redzone target for his team, the FLEX position allows me to start both he and another tight end together, and I’m fully onboard for his breakout sophomore season.
8.04 – Mike Evans, WR
I thought about going Kelvin Benjamin for volume, then Eric Decker for touchdowns, only to have them both snagged in succession with the two picks before me.
I reached here. But as much as everyone talks about Benjamin being the favorite for top-rookie wideout in 2014 (and for good reason given that expected volume), I can’t help but feel like Mike Evans is being overlooked. He too is a large wideout (6’5″) with insane athleticism, an impressive catch radius, and undoubtedly talented enough to make his own run at Rookie of the Year. Not to mention, Evans is playing alongside a far more threatening receiver in Vincent Jackson with a veteran quarterback in Josh McCown who’s used to throwing footballs at large moving targets.
Who else did I like here in this range? I dunno — Fred Jackson maybe? But is it insane to think Evans is the No. 2 in Tampa Bay and finishes the year with at least 600 yards and a half dozen touchdowns? I don’t think so.
9.09 – Terrance West, RB
You could call this alumni bias and I’d totally take the rap for it, but who out there hasn’t been impressed with rookie Terrance West so far? Or better yet, hasn’t thought about whether or not he could be the lead back in Cleveland?
See? Exactly. Me too. So landing him here in the ninth-round felt great. I needed more backfield help anyway, and I’m an ordinary Ben Tate injury away from seeing West bumped into the starting role.
(Note: <3 Ben Tate)
10.04 – Riley Cooper, WR
Are you tall? Check.
Do you catch footballs? Check.
Are you capable of hauling in touchdowns? Check.
Do you like peanut butter? Check.
Riley Cooper passes the test for this team, he’s in a high-powered Philadelphia offense, and I think he flirts with a double-digit touchdown total in 2014.
…who doesn’t love peanut butter?
11.09 – Kenny Stills, WR
Okay, okay, okay. I know I said Joique Bell was my favorite draft pick of the class, but Kenny Stills isn’t far behind. And when you weigh the cost, well, Stills might have the edge.
As always, there’s plenty of pass-catchers in New Orleans. The good news, however, is that Drew Brees cranks out anywhere between 600 and a million passes a year. Stills put up nice numbers (32/641/5) as a rookie last season and was the Saints’ top deep threat (20.0 YPC). Take away Lance Moore and Darren Sproles, move in Stills and rookie Brandin Cooks, and I like the chances of increased production for Stills in 2014.
Names like Marques Colston, Jimmy the Great, and even Cooks are more prominent in New Orleans right now. But it’s the other, other receiver in Stills presenting the best fantasy value this season.
12.04 – Tyler Eifert, TE
/slowly stands up amongst group of middle-aged men wearing sports jerseys
“Hello. My name is Shae, and I’m a fantasy football tight end hoarder.”
*group in unison* “Hi, Shae.”
I love the FLEX position in starting lineups because I love the option of starting dual tight ends. I’m sure there’s something out there saying you shouldn’t rely on two tight ends and why it’s always best to use a running back or receiver in that spot. Or maybe there’s not. Either way, I thoroughly enjoy doing it.
Although Tyler Eifert is probably more attractive in dynasty league formats, I figured him a steal this late in the draft. I understand new Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson’s track record with tight ends isn’t exactly astonishing, but here’s to hoping he adapts when #blessed with someone as talented as Eifert.
Oh yeah — and another mammoth pass-catcher (6’6″) who should see plenty of redzone action thrown into the mix.
13.09 – Lance Dunbar, RB
I was thoroughly surprised to see Lance Dunbar last this long. I know we all expect the Cowboys to throw a lot, and we all know DeMarco Murray as the bell cow/lead back, but new offensive coordinator Scott Linehan doesn’t shy away from two-headed backfields. In fact, Jason La Canfora of NFL.com even tweeted that Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett saw Murray as the “leader of the committee”.
So yeah — I’ll take the other part of that so-called committee in the thirteenth-round. Expect Dunbar to see plenty of action relative to his dirt cheap cost.
14.04 – Ben Roethlisberger, QB
In addition to collecting tight ends, I also enjoy streaming quarterbacks. I waited until the bitter end to spend a draft pick on one, and had (what I believe to be) a decent selection between Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer, Ryan Tannehill, Andy Dalton, and Joe Flacco (in that order based off personal ranking / preference).
Why Big Ben? Because I think he can be a productive QB1 in Todd Haley’s system, he’s in good shape at the ripe age of 32, and I’m a firm believer in the heavy no-huddle offense we saw the Steelers use so effectively to close out last season (check out this article by Jarrett Bell of USA Today).
15.09 - Justin Tucker, K
Only because the starting lineup requires it. And if I’m going to take a kicker, having Justin Tucker’s boot ain’t too shabby.
Also, it was Justin Tucker who buried a 61-yard field goal with 38 seconds left to play against the Detroit Lions in Week 15 last year that nudged my opponent past me for my dynasty league championship. And that was after he had put away a 29-, 24-, 32-, 49-, and 53-yarder in the 59 minutes prior.
Hell hath no fury like a fantasy owner scorned.
16.04 – Eagles DEF
The only position I stream more often than quarterbacks is defenses. From week-to-week, the team changes based on what the waiver wire has to offer, some Vegas lines (shout out to the very talented C.D. Carter), and your typical gut feel.
The Eagles open the season hosting the Jacksonville Jaguars (who I actually root for quite often) and should be heavy favorites in that game — a plus in the world of streaming.
If anyone is interested, my close second streamer in Week 1 is Chicago (who hosts Buffalo) followed by Kansas City (who hosts Tennessee), and wrapped up with the New York Jets (who host Oakland).
A Few Other Notes that Don’t Mean Much, If Anything At All
- Average height of pass-catchers (WR + TE): 6’2″ (mission accomplished)
- I graduated from Towson University. Terrance West is one of the best to ever play at Towson. Yes, that plays a role in trying to roster him in every one of my leagues this year.
- When I say I like Joique Bell and Kenny Stills this season, I mean I really like Joique Bell and Kenny Stills this season. And you should too at their current bargain bin price. Buying low and selling high is the name of the game.
- Another benefit to drafting Big Ben is that his bye week doesn’t come until Week 12. The downside with Big Ben, however, is that he’ll face some pretty tough defenses through the first three quarters of the season (CLE, BAL, CAR, TB, JAX, CLE, HOU, IND, BAL, NYJ, TEN).
- Le’Veon Bell and his apparent love for the reefer could really screw me.
- I’m crossing my fingers on Eifert. Not because I gave up a lot to draft him (hardly anything, really), but I feel like he can be a dominant tight end in this league given the targets. Hue Jackson may like to run the ball more than he passes it, but not every coordinator is some stubborn jerk face who’s stuck in his ways and doesn’t recognize great talent when he has it, thus refusing to install plays/looks/concepts that cater to said talent. I believe in you, Hue.
- My team name is the “Jolly Jay Grudens”.