On July 28, the Post held its annual fantasy football draft for a 10-owner league following standard scoring rules. Rosters were comprised of one starting quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end, one flex player, a defense and kicker, as well as seven bench spots. Some members of the draft knew exactly what they were doing, executing a carefully calculated draft strategy. Others … not so much.
To better offer insights into your own league, the Post picked apart its own draft, with fantasy football writer Des Bieler offering up the following tips and tidbits to lead you to fantasy glory.
Full breakdowns and grades for each roster, including self-analysis by each owner — and some snarky commentary by their peers — can be found below. But you can start by savoring these key observations.
Pick 1: Pimp My Bandwagon, Scott Allen | Grade B
Pick 2: Gene Therapy, Gene Wang | Grade B
Pick 3: Linden Lions, David Malitz | Grade A
Pick 4: The Undeflated, Mike Hume | Grade C+
Pick 5: Bloggers Can Be Choosers, Des Bieler | Grade A-
Pick 6: The Hulks, Kelyn Soong | Grade C+
Pick 7: LeSean and the Gurley Men, Keith McMillan | Grade B-
Pick 8: Johnny Idiot Face, Neil Greenberg | Grade B
Pick 9: The Kneeling Shulers, Clinton Yates | Grade D
Pick 10: Conditional Fifth, Adam Kilgore | Grade B
Any kind of cheat sheet is better than nothing
Clinton Yates, playing the role of fantasy noob to perfection, appeared to be winging his picks, with predictably inauspicious results. The remarkable thing is that he had a laptop in front him, but he seemed to be using it simply to check whether the few guys whose names he remembered were still in the NFL. As it turned out, Kenny Britt is on the Rams, so, sure, let’s take him in the sixth round!
Folks, if nothing else, even just a one-page printout of some random Web site’s top 200 is better than winging it. But allow us to suggest those of (ahem) yours truly and Gene Wang. If you want to dig deeper, we recommend our partner, Fantasy Pros, and their nifty draft companion.
Le’Veon Bell is valued higher than DeMarco Murray
This is interesting because of what happened last season, and what will happen to start this season. Murray was the top fantasy back in 2014, thanks to the fact that he racked up by far the most rushing yards. Of course, that came in Dallas, with the help of that team’s vaunted offensive line.
Now, Murray is in Philadelphia, which is helmed by a terrific offensive mind in Chip Kelly, but also features more competition for carries, in the form of Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles. Speaking of that work, Murray got a whopping 449 touches last season, sixth-most in NFL history, and fear of him breaking down in the wake of that is likely another reason why he fell to the 12th draft spot.
Bell, meanwhile, will begin 2015 with a two-game suspension, which theoretically could have damaged his draft stock, but not too much in this case, considering he went third overall. That’s understandable, given how good he looked last year at age 22, and his role in what should be a high-powered offense. Remember what Josh Gordon – another fan of herbal remedies — did a couple of years ago in 14 games after sitting out the first two.
People aren’t quite sold on Joseph Randle
In theory, the starting running back job in Dallas should be a fantasy goldmine, given the aforementioned offensive line and ability of quarterback Tony Romo to punish defenses that over-commit to run support. Randle is the heir apparent to Murray, but drafters aren’t completely sold on the idea that the former will simply pick up where the latter left off.
Randle, a fifth-round draft pick in 2013 out of Oklahoma State, averaged a whopping 6.7 yards on 51 carries last season, but just 3.0 on 54 carries his rookie season, and opinions are mixed as to his talent level, which almost no one thinks is equal to Murray’s. However, his primary competition for carries, at least in the early stages of training camp, appears to be Darren McFadden, who already has a(nother) hamstring problem and might simply be washed up at this stage of his seven-year career.
At the very least, Randle represented a nice value as the 51st selection in the Post draft; if he’s a bust, no great loss, but he could pan out for a huge gain. However, he won’t be available at that cheap of a price in many drafts, as his ADP is likely to creep up as we go through August. In general, the Cowboys’ RB situation – which also includes Lance Dunbar, Lache Seastrunk and Gus Johnson, and could rope in a veteran free agent (Chris Johnson?) — is one to monitor closely.
It’s okay to draft guys from your favorite team, just understand average draft position
Keith McMillan loves to draft current or recent members of his favorite NFL team, which usually isn’t a recipe for fantasy success. But at least he’s a fan of the Eagles and not, say, the Browns. It’s important to note that fantasy football should be about personal enjoyment, and there’s nothing wrong with picking players just because you want them on your team; what McMillan does well is to fit that mindset into a solid understanding of average draft position (ADP).
He took former Eagles running back LeSean McCoy seventh overall, which is higher than most have him ranked, but it’s a perfectly defensible choice, as the RB should dominate carries in Buffalo. After that, McMillan took WR DeSean Jackson in the fifth round before committing highway robbery by snaring RB Ryan Mathews in the 13th. Of course, our Redskins editor had to have his Eagles defense and kicker, but he was smart enough to wait until the final two rounds before making those picks.
Even in a non-PPR league, RBs aren’t as valuable as they used to be
Yes, bellcows are still the most prized commodity at the county fair, but after the initial flurry – the first seven picks were ball-carriers – the draft tilted heavily toward pass-catchers. By the end of the third round, the score was: RBs 14, WRS/TEs 13. Then, in the fourth round, not a single running back was drafted. Imagine that!
And this isn’t necessarily an indication that after the top couple of tiers, RB depth thins out completely and immediately. Plenty of backs were picked later on, including several who appear set to have sizable roles with their respective teams. It’s more a sign that the NFL has become a passing league, and those on the receiving end are now considered reliable fantasy building blocks.
WR is deeeeeeeeeeep
Selecting a wide receiver early is a perfectly reasonable draft strategy, but it does appear that there’s something of a bottomless well at this position. Here’s a short list of guys who weren’t even drafted (in no particular order):
Golden Tate, Steve Smith, Anquan Boldin, Marques Colston, Kenny Stills, Doug Baldwin and Brian Quick.
Granted, many leagues are deeper than The Post’s, but our exercise provided a good indication of how very deep the pool of WRs really is.
The Browns are a fantasy wasteland
Duke Johnson was the highest pick, at 102. Even the uninspiring Titans had a guy go earlier (Bishop Sankey at 93), and had four position players drafted altogether. The only other Brown drafted was Isaiah Crowell, at 113, but it is worth mentioning that Dwayne Bowe, who figures to be Cleveland’s top WR, is a likely late draft pick in leagues with 12 or more teams (not that that’s cause for excitement).
There’s Gronk, there’s another tier, and then it’s a TE grab-bag
Rob Gronkowski is in a class by himself, both in real life and in fantasy terms as a TE considered head-and-shoulders above the rest. He went in the first round, as expected, and then the next tier, including Jimmy Graham – who went relatively early in the Post draft – Travis Kelce, Greg Olsen and Martellus Bennett, went off the board, all in the order that their ADPs would indicate.
After that, starting in the eighth round, the TEs went in this order: Jason Witten, Zach Ertz, Jordan Cameron, Coby Fleener, Jordan Reed, Owen Daniels, Julius Thomas, Larry Donnell, Delanie Walker, Tyler Eifert and Heath Miller. The point is, they could have gone in just about any order, and no one would have raised an eyebrow. Once you get past that sub-Gronk tier, it becomes hard to differentiate one TE from the next, so drafters may as well wait a few rounds before pulling a name out of the hat.