Perfect Draft: 10th in a 10-Team ESPN Standard League
For my first perfect draft article, I often pick my favorite slot. The last pick in a snake-style draft is the best spot since there is a steep drop after the first dozen or so players. It’s also an excellent selection when the top picks have questions marks. This year, both situations are in play. The running back position is extremely murky after the top 11 players, and only the top eight receivers seem like can’t-miss options. While Todd Gurley seems like a sure-thing as the top pick, he was wildly disappointing just two seasons ago as the consensus number one, and LeVeon Bell continues to have issues surrounding his contract. As a result, I like the last pick in the draft, allowing me to double-up on the running back position and take advantage of the wide receiver depth this season.
Editor's Note: Click here to see all our Perfect Draft series entries.
In this edition of the Perfect Draft Series, I'll be walking through a perfect draft from the 10th slot in a 10-team ESPN Standard league. Each pick was optimized using projections and value-based rankings from the 4for4 Draft Analyzer tool.
Draft Analyzer Settings
- Roster settings: 1QB, 2RB, 2WR, 1TE, 1 Flex, K, DEF, seven bench spots.
- No QBs before the eighth round: I’ve always been one to wait on the quarterback position, especially in the modern, pass-happy NFL. The position is simply too deep to give up the valuable running backs and receivers available in the early rounds. For this draft, I took advantage of Draft Analyzer’s Draft Plan feature to eliminate quarterbacks from consideration until at least the eighth round.
- No TEs before the fifth round: I typically will wait until much later to go after a tight end, but on the off chance one of the elite players at the position lasts until the fifth round, I want Draft Analyzer to let me know. The top-three tight ends are all worth considering if you don’t like anyone else on the board in the third or fourth round, but I traditionally like to go with other positions that early in the draft.
- No Kicker or Defense until the last two rounds: There’s just no reason to take a defense or a kicker until the last two rounds. Defenses vary heavily year to year, and the difference between the top kickers and the players available on waivers each week is usually so small it isn’t worth investing much in the position during the draft.
While Draft Analyzer is recommending I take a receiver with my first pick, due to the lack of depth at the running back position, I can’t pass on Barkley. He may not last until the 10th pick in all leagues, but I would’ve been happy taking any of the top-11 backs in this spot. Using Draft Analyzer’s Optimal Team function, I’m able to see valuable receivers later in the draft, such as Marvin Jones and Michael Crabtree. I’m less confident in players like Jerick McKinnon, who is listed as my third-round pick if I forgo running back here.
Barkley should step in immediately as a three-down back for the Giants and he should find immediate success thanks to upgrades on the offensive line and a dynamic passing attack. I consider him as safe as a rookie can be, and I’m happy to build my team around him.
Julio Jones is still being recommended to me after going with a running back with my first pick. As I mentioned before, however, I really don’t like the drop-off at the running back position and don’t like my team as much when I opt to wait until the end of the third round to draft one. Additionally, the two elite receivers on the board both have question marks. Jones is coming off a slightly disappointing season and Odell Beckham Jr. is coming off a severe injury.
As a result, I went against Draft Analyzer’s top suggestion to take the next recommended running back. I love the Chargers this year with an upgraded offensive line and coming off a late-season surge that made them look like the best team in the division. Gordon is a three-down threat with limited risk of losing his job. Securing two top running backs to start the draft allows me to focus on value receivers moving forward.
With Draft Analyzer screaming at me to finally take a receiver, I took their advice in the third round and selected Stefon Diggs. With Kirk Cousins in town and an emerging Vikings offense, it’s hard not to like Diggs. Any risk associated with his inconsistency in the past is mitigated by the depth at the position and the players the Optimal Team recommends for later in the draft.
I’m awfully glad I grabbed two running backs to start the draft after seeing who is available on the board in the third round. As Draft Analyzer predicted, the best running back options are Kenyan Drake and McKinnon. Both players have tremendous upside, but I feel much better about anchoring the position earlier and still getting Diggs.
I’m not as high on McKinnon as most are, and because I have two running backs already locked up, I happily take Draft Analyzer’s top recommended receiver. T.Y. Hilton quietly put up low-end WR2 stats last season, despite having Jacoby Brissett at quarterback. With the chances of Andrew Luck returning looking more and more optimistic, Hilton should be in for a rebound year.
I considered JuJu Smith-Schuster as well after showing flashes of elite potential as a rookie but decided on the more reliable Hilton. I notice Draft Analyzer is leaving Zach Ertz off the recommendations list, as instructed, but he was a consideration here as well. Not a single quarterback has been taken at this point in the draft, and there’s no reason to consider one now.
Continue reading to see how the rest of Brandon's roster shakes out and to see which picks he deemed to be the best and worst values of the draft, as well as any final takeaways that may help you on draft day...
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