Yesterday, I started a slow draft with some good folks across the fantasy industry. It's sponsored by APEX and is a 12-team PPR league where we start one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, one flex (RB/WR/TE), one defense and one kicker. You can check out the scoring hereabouts.
In most industry drafts, you can expect quarterbacks to go later than say a family or workplace league, but other than that, there aren't going to be too many major differences. Some industry players will come into the draft with a strict plan based on their draft position, while others will grab the players they like more than others as they fill in their roster spots. Then, there will be those that go with best player early, and then that choice will push them into a more confining plan. I have done all three and had success, and some not-so-much success, using each approach. But whatever you do, the most important thing is to do your research so you have the information at your fingertips, or more accurately, your synapse tips.
First off, I hate getting the first pick this season. I've never loved it, but this season it is an especially difficult place to start due to all the top players being so close together in their possible fantasy impact. As you can see with this first round, like many this year, there is no set pattern. I could do another draft with similar fantasy football analysts and this first round would look completely different. And, this is why I'm not following a set plan when going into drafts this season; at least not yet. So much depends on what your league-mates do, and so far, what they do this season is not predictable.
With the first pick, I wanted either Adrian Peterson or Le'Veon Bell. These two have the most fantasy upside and with the No. 1 pick I feel like I'm behind the eight-ball and need to hit a home run over the net to score as many mixed-metaphor points as possible. If I had a pick at No. 11 or No. 12, I could double up on two solid players, both with upside to be the No. 1 fantasy player at their position. With the No. 1 pick, I have one player who has a good chance to finish No. 1 and then another player at pick No. 24 who doesn't. So Peterson it was. He is a high-risk/high-reward pick. His age and year away from the game make him a gamble, but with Norv Turner as the offensive coordinator and a team built to improve, the potential, even for a 30-year-old back, is too high to pass up.
The first pick that feels out of place is Rich Hribar's Julio Jones selection. Firstly, we need to remember this is a full PPR draft with three wide receiver starters and one flex position where a wide receiver could start. So wide receivers will be scarce, especially one with the upside of Jones in this offense. Right now, I have Antonio Brown ahead of Jones in my rankings, but based on consistency more than upside. Jones has a higher possible upside than Brown as a player who should see upward of 180 targets this year. If I had the fourth pick, I would have gone with a running back, but I agree that Jones is primed for a huge year and wouldn't have lasted into the second round with this crowd.
Poor J.J Zachariason; poor, poor J.J. Minutes after he made his pick of Arian Foster, the news of Foster's groin tearing from the bone injury came out. Yes, "groin tearing from the bone." Take your time. Breathe. Ok .... Of course, Zachariason knew Foster's injury risk was there, but of course, so was his upside. This example turned out well for those who preach against drafting players with his kind of injury history, but those same people would have been wrong when skipping on Foster last year. This is what makes fantasy football fun. Without the lows, there would be no highs.
Even in PPR, I do like to grab running backs early, especially this year because I feel like so many of them have potential to be the top fantasy back, which is why I'd love to have had a pick in the Nos. 10-12 range, which would have allowed me to double up with top running backs, like C.D. Carter did with Marshawn Lynch and DeMarco Murray with the 10th and 14th picks. I just have more faith in the top running backs versus the mid-range backs in comparison to the top wide receivers versus the mid-range receivers. Savvy?
My two favorite picks here are C.J. Anderson at No. 12 and Rob Gronkowski at No. 10. Mr. Rumford Johnny received a player who I think has a good shot at being the best running back in the league this season, and Mr. Shawn Siegele has without a doubt the best fantasy tight end now that Jimmy Graham will have to block for Marshawn Lynch rather than run routes all day long. My dream scenario is to have the No. 12 pick and get Gronk and Anderson. Not sure if it will ever happen, but a boy can dream.