By: Andy Wheeler
Are you nervous yet? You’ve been waiting for your draft for months. You’ve poured over magazines, websites and every source of information you could for tidbits of information. If you were smart you’ve been watching every single preseason game you had time for. You’ve done mock draft after mock draft trying to figure out who’s going to go where. And here you are…just days away from the best day of the Fantasy Football year. Draft Night.
Some of you just read all that and said “OH MY GOD!!! I HAVEN’T DONE ANY OF THAT!!!” That’s ok. That’s what nerds like me are for. I do all that and then report back to you. I’ve done so many mock drafts I can’t remember. I’ve read everything I can and watched every game I could. I’m ready. So let’s get you ready. Here are my 15 rules/tips for your fantasy draft this year.
For God sakes have fun. All the research and anxiousness aside it’s supposed to be a fun night. You don’t want to make a mistake, but sometimes it happens. Enjoy your time with your friends and try to keep the drinking to a minimum until your last few rounds.
Don’t take a Kicker or Defense until your final 2 picks. Or if you do auctions, no more than a $1 on each. I’ve seen people over pay every year, don’t be that owner. Every dollar in an auction is important and to pay $5 to $10 for a defense you think will be great is a complete waste of money. Let’s say you miss out on all the big defense, who cares? There’s always a breakout defense ranked in the Top 5 on the waiver wire around week 3 or 4 anyway. Don’t waste your picks/money.
This is more for new players or owners in a new league. Know your own scoring. How you draft can be effected by this. For example…if you are in a PPR league it should significantly change which running backs have more value, the same with Receivers. Not all leagues can be drafted for in the same way. Just do a double check on your rules to make sure.
Last year is not this year. Last year David Wilson was not draftable. He was ownable late in the season, but barely. This season he will go in the Top 20 of Running Backs on draft day. Know who moved up the depth chart and who’s waiting in the wings. Incidentally I love Andre Brown this year from the Giants. Wilson is a freak…but Brown will do the heavy lifting around the goal line. He’s a huge vulture candidate this year.
Have a plan. Want mine? Ok. For a snake draft I will be going RB, RB, RB, QB or RB, RB, QB, RB in every draft I have. My first draft the other night I ended up with LeSean McCoy, MJD, RG3 and Reggie Bush in my first 4 picks. I’m not thrilled about taking MJD but I’ll hopefully be ok. In an auction draft be prepared for RB’s to take up about 65 to 75% of your budget. Running Back is so shallow this year with so many uncertainties. I’d much rather be scrambling to find a viable Receiver or Tight End then a Running Back. Pick them early and often.
Don’t over pay for Quarterback. Maybe you are the biggest Aaron Rodgers fan in the world. You have to have him. I can’t stop you. I can only say that the value isn’t there for an early selection of a QB. Maybe you’re scoring really favors QB. Then I can see early picks…but honestly even then I have trouble taking a QB unless it’s one of the Top 3. Those in my opinion are Rodgers, Brees or Peyton Manning.
Quarterbacks are literally the easiest position to fill with guys that can give you as much or more production than the Top 3. There are 32 teams in the NFL. 20 of those teams Quarterbacks threw 20 TD’s or more. 17 of them threw for over 3500 yards. 11 of them threw for over 4000 yards. If you are in a 12 team league as long as you get one of those Top 11 guys (which doesn’t include RG3, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson or Colin Kaepernick) why bother?
I’ll give you an example. Last year I fell a little bit in love with RG3. I had him on a team and he was great for me all year. So I wanted him on at least one team this season. I grabbed him earlier than I should have (3rd Round) but I got him. So I’m obviously aware he has knee issues so it was important for me to get a very good back up capable of starting if I’m dealing with damaged goods at all.
So I took Eli Manning in the 8th Round. 8th! Other QB’s available beyond that pick…Joe Flacco 8th, Ben Roethlisberger 11th, Mike Vick 11th, Matt Schaub 11th, Andy Dalton 12th, and Sam Bradford 12th.
Are those guys Aaron Rodgers? No. But the guy that took Rodgers early will have to really scramble for RB’s. Meanwhile you can get 2 QB’s anywhere after the 4th or 5th round and only take a 10% to 15% hit in production that you’ll more than make up for with your better RB’s and WR’s.
And this goes to auction draft folks…don’t blow your money on 2 players. I tried the “grab the 2 best players you can and then fill out the roster with what’s left” last year. It’s a horrible horrendous plan…much like my team last year. Unless you literally hit a home run with 4 or 5 of your $1 picks…you are in lots of trouble. Just don’t do it!
Do not over pay or over value the Eagles this season. Outside of Philadelphia there is a curiosity with how Chip Kelly’s system will work. Inside of Philadelphia there is excitement. Some parts of the excitement are based simply on the fact that Andy Reid isn’t calling the plays any more. The other excitement is based on what’s presumed will be a prolific offense. Nobody and I mean nobody knows exactly how this is going to work out.
So when I say don’t over pay, what I mean is don’t draft LeSean McCoy 1st overall. He should go anywhere between 4 and 12 depending on your league. Auction drafters I think he maxes out nationally somewhere just north of $60…in Philly around $70.
DeSean Jackson looks great…but it’s preseason. I got him in the 5th round the other night and I feel like I grabbed him a round or 2 early…but 5th to 7th is about where he should go. Nationally and in Philly he should go in the $15 to $20 range if you believe in him.
Michael Vick is a nice pick for you…after the 8th round. Money wise I can’t see more than $10. He can’t stay healthy or I’d be higher on him. There is plenty of upside and he could be a STEAL at the levels I just set for him…but you can’t over pay.
Speaking of not over paying…those 3 are the only Eagles I’d touch before the 12th round…if at all. You can handcuff Polk or Brown to Shady if you want. Johnson and Avant could be useful at some point. However to waste a pick on them or any of the tight ends when, once again, NOBODY knows how this offense will function let alone who will stand out. McCoy, Jackson Vick and that’s it.
Who do you like Andy? Who do you think I should pick? Alright alright I’ll give out some names. Here’s who I like among the Quarterbacks. For those of you that are going to go Top Quarterback I can’t stop you from taking Rodgers, Brees or Manning. Manning could have his best year ever by the way. Have you seen how many receivers he has? (I hate the Denver receivers except for Welker for that very reason. There is only one ball and they have to share it).
I also can’t stop you from taking what should be a somewhat undervalued Tom Brady (Who’s he throwing to? That’s what people that forget he’s Tom Brady will ask). However to me this year the value at Quarterback lies in the mobile guys. I’d much rather come away from a draft with Cam Newton, RG3 or even Russell Wilson than I would any of the top guys you’ll have to over pay for. I’m not sold on Kaepernick just yet either. I like the idea of the running quarterbacks and their added value.
I especially like them since you can get them later (with the exception of Newton) than the Top QB’s. I also think Andy Dalton is a steal for as late as he’s going.
Running Backs are the shallowest position which is not news to anybody that’s done their research. For the most part Adrian Peterson is the cream of the crop and then everybody else falls into this clump of guys that you can draft in no particular order. However, here’s my top 20.
1. Adrian Peterson (no brainer)
2. Jamaal Charles (more talented that any back that Reid has ever had)
3. LeSean McCoy (big things are coming)
4. Trent Richardson (beast)
5. Stevan Ridley (could have monster year)
6. Arian Foster (if he’s healthy he’s #2 on this list…right now I’m not sure)
7. Marshawn Lynch (I still can’t believe he’s real but he is)
8. C.J. Spiller (their coach said they will run him till he throws up, I’m sold)
9. Ray Rice (he’s this low because I think he gets hurt, call it a dumb prediction)
10. Doug Martin (everybody loves him…I want to see it 2 years in a row)
11. Alfred Morris (same thing as Doug Martin)
12. Steven Jackson (I’ve wanted to see him on a good team for years, how much does he have left?)
13. Matt Forte (I’m never right about Forte…so he should probably go higher)
14. Maurice Jones-Drew (If he’s back to himself he’s Top 10, we’ll see)
15. Frank Gore (when will he run out of gas?)
16. Chris Johnson (You could do a lot worse in the late 2nd or early 3rd than Johnson)
17. Reggie Bush (He could be awesome in Detroit. Big upside)
18. Daryl Richardson (lead back going way too low)
19. Darren Sproles (always puts up points)
20. Ahmad Bradshaw (I don’t know why…just a feeling)
Here are the rest of the guys I’ll be looking for:
Andre Brown, David Wilson, Eddie Lacy, Darren McFadden, Ryan Matthews, Lamar Miller, Giovani Bernard, Mikel Leshoure, Le’Veon Bell (hurt now but I still like him), Bernard Pierce, Monte Ball
Wide Receivers are a dime a dozen. Every single year guys go early on people like Calvin Johnson. Now is Johnson worth a first round pick…yes he is. However you better pray that he does what he did last year. As in exactly the same output or better this year because you will then have lesser running backs than everyone else that’s smart enough to draft a RB in the first round. And this year is worse for RB’s than last year.
Here’s my Top 20
1. Calvin Johnson (amazing)
2. A.J. Green (been fantastic the last 2 years)
3. Julio Jones (this is the year he’s better than White)
4. Dez Bryant (he’s a Cowboy, and he’s really good)
5. Roddy White (even with Jones and Gonzalez there he’ll still be great)
6. Wes Welker (different QB same results)
7. Brandon Marshall ( I do not like him and will never draft him)
8. Dwayne Bowe (hey this is my list, not yours, he’s a stud and Reid throws A LOT)
9. Victor Cruz (I hate to watch him dance but he sure seems to do it a lot)
10. Larry Fitzgerald (one of the best out there. But terrible qbs all the time. Palmer’s up next)
11. Reggie Wayne (good old Reggie…steady as always)
12. Vincent Jackson (freaky good when he’s on)
13. Demaryius Thomas (I hate all Denver WR’s except for Welker)
14. DeSean Jackson (call it hometown bias but I think he blows up)
15. Marques Colston (I hate him so much…I just…hate him)
16. James Jones (I believe another big season is there)
17. Antonio Brown (I like him a lot this year with Wallace gone)
18. Mike Wallace (speaking of Wallace…he could be way higher on this list)
19. Steve Smith (Cam has to throw somewhere)
20. Pierre Garcon (If he’s healthy I expect a big year)
Don’t spend a dime on TE. Don’t draft one early, don’t draft one before the 10th round. Why you ask? It’s not worth it. Yes you could get Graham. Great…you just outscored everyone at TE for the year. But does it matter if your QB or RB’s stink? So don’t be that guy.
Here’s my Top 10 TE’s I’d be ok with other than the Top 5.
Here’s the Top 5:
1. Jimmy Graham
2. Rob Gronkowski (no way I take him at all though with the health and crazy issues)
3. Tony Gonzalez
4. Jason Whitten
5. Vernon Davis
Now here’s one of the Top 10 guys I may end up with:
1. Jared Cook (tons of talent)
2. Brandon Pettigrew (tons of catches, just not a lot of TD’s…yet)
3. Jermichael Finley (he’s been good before)
4. Kyle Rudolph (he has good stretches)
5. Owen Daniels (if he’s healthy he won’t hurt you)
6. Jordan Cameron (flavor of the year right here, could be great, could do nothing)
7. Cody Fleener (I love Luck)
8. Brandon Myers (Eli will find him)
9. Zach Sudfeld (Brady has to throw to somebody. He’s the second flavor of the year)
10. Zach Ertz (I think Chip Kelly got the kid for a reason, but he’s barely draftable)
Defenses I like that you can get in the last round:
Be good to your Commissioner. Everybody thinks their problem with the league is the only thing on the Commissioner’s plate. It’s not. He/She has multiple other crying babies just like you to deal with. Use logic and courtesy and for God sakes don’t make He/She chase you for your league fee. It’s a headache for all people running leagues. Just pay up and shut up and have fun.
Don’t listen too much to “experts”. Look there is no way you have spent or will spend as much time preparing for your drafts as I have. Not a chance. Even if you did…just because I sound like I know what I’m talking about or an “expert” out there sounds knowledgeable doesn’t mean they are right. Sometimes I make a great call. Sometimes I make calls so bad I can’t believe they came out of my brain. If your gut tells you that Daryl Richardson is going to have the greatest season of any running back this year, don’t listen to me tell you that he won’t. It’s your team and you have to live with it.
Best of luck!
Follow me on Twitter @TheAndyWheeler