Perfect Draft: 2nd in a 12-Team Yahoo PPR League
Count yourself lucky should you find yourself with the third pick in drafts this year. Draft trends in 2018 have shifted priority to running backs. The 2017 season featured 11 running backs selected in the first two rounds of PPR drafts according to Fantasy Football Calculator. This amount has increased to 14 in 2018. Regardless of who would be taken after my first-round selection, the 1.03 guaranteed me an elite running back to anchor my team. A pick this early allows the most flexibility as multiple draft strategies can be built off a projected high-end running back. Owners should identify key players in the second round to add to your roster with an eye on value in the later rounds.
Editor's Note: Click here to see all our Perfect Draft series entries.
In this draft, I’ll be going through a perfect draft from the second spot in a 12-team PPR league. Each pick was optimized using projections and value-based rankings from the 4for4 Draft Analyzer tool along with ADP and settings from Yahoo.
Draft Analyzer Settings
- Roster settings: 1QB, 2RB, 3WR, TE, K, DEF, seven bench spots.
- No QBs before the seventh round: The opportunity cost for a QB prior to the seventh round is difficult to manage should that QB bust or be injured. It’s been shown that depth at positions you start more of (i.e. running backs and wide receivers) have a more positive effect on your fantasy outlook.
- No TEs before the fifth round: Again, we look to opportunity cost. The ‘onesie’ positions are important, but their name emphasizes the problem. You only start one. The need for only a single tight end each week should give higher priority to other positions. So, I’ll look for value elsewhere until a suitable option can be found.
- No Defense before the 15th round: This comes down to personal preference. I typically prefer to stream the position in favor of building depth at both wide receiver and running back. Defensive scoring is also volatile from a year-to-year perspective. Defensive personnel might remain consistent, but matchups and overall schedule can make streaming a viable option.
Early first-round picks will secure you one of the elite running backs. Gurley, Johnson, Bell, and Elliott are all worthy of a top-four selection with a case for Antonio Brown depending on your spot. As indicated in the introduction, 2018 trends have shifted towards running backs. At second overall, it’s impossible to think that a player with these projections will be available in the second round. The Zero-RB strategy is certainly viable with the talent pool, but I didn’t want to risk it. Gurley’s projected as the RB1 for 2018, making the chance to draft him impossible to pass up.
Investing in running backs early meant that I’d need to pay close attention to wide receivers in the second round. Projections provided by 4for4 and my own tiers would be a guide with value based draft (VBD) scores of the available talent from the Draft Analyzer as an ancillary metric to consider. If a run at the receiver position were to occur, I could pivot to the available running backs. This is the flexibility that’s provided by an early-round draft pick.
Tyreek Hill with a +41 VBD was a hard sell for me at 23rd overall. I know everyone wants to point to touchdown regression based on his deep receptions and touchdowns in 2017. But, do you remember when he weaved through the entire Dallas defense on a check-down pass? The skill is there, but his market share is sure to be reduced. Baldwin’s, assuming health, should increase. His +67 VBD and +16 differential on projected points speak to his 2018 outlook. I wanted my WR1 to be similarly as strong as my first-round selection. Baldwin was the only receiver available in his tier after Mike Evans was selected. With the scoring format, I’ll take the targets.
After getting Gurley, I wanted to back him up with two receivers. Baldwin was a solid start, but I’d be looking to pair him with another strong selection in the third. The production archetype I was searching for was volume with weekly upside. The other suggestions provided by the Draft Analyzer all fit the profile. I’d have to see who’d be available in two picks to make my final decision.
The Draft Analyzer recommended Larry Fitzgerald with a +67 VBD. His 243 points and being the ninth-ranked receiver for 2018 only rest on top of his 14 years of production. His ADP at 36, when contrasted with my pick at 26th overall, made the selection seem like a reach. He’s scored six, six, and nine touchdowns the previous three years on 161, 150, and 145 targets, respectively. Thielen’s targets should be on par with Fitzgerald’s with a projected uptick in touchdowns on 2017 (4) given the offense’s improved outlook. Admittedly, it’s nitpicking, but I went with Thielen here over Fitzgerald.
Gurley, Baldwin, and Thielen. With an RB1 and two strong receivers, my fourth-round selection could go either way. A running back to pair with Gurley was preferred, but hopefully, another solid receiver would fall to me. More receivers in a PPR format allow you to play the matchups without sacrificing production. Running backs are still important, but the prioritization of receptions gives the receiver position a boost that must be considered.
Starting my draft with Gurley was a huge benefit to my roster. It allowed me to invest early in receiver, which is my preferred method in a PPR format. Tate’s year-to-year volume and targets per game should make him an ideal selection in every draft. The Draft Analyzer recommending him with a +45 VBD was an easy choice. Plus, I was able to select him at cost as his ADP and my pick matched (47).
Now with three receivers and two picks before my fifth round, I looked at the remaining suggestions from the Draft Analyzer. Projections by 4for4 have them listed as Alex Collin, Jay Ajayi, Dion Lewis, and then Lamer Miller. The first three had ADPs relatively close to what my fifth-round pick would be (50), making them preferred selections. Miller, with an ADP of 64, would have been a reach, decreasing the value of the selection. I’d need to adjust to whoever was picked before mine.
Continue reading to see how the rest of Chris' 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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