2013 DraftBook Experts Draft Recap
From time to time, we're asked to participate in mock and real fantasy drafts by run other fantasy football publications. Tuesday night, I took part in the 2013 DraftBook (Magazine) Experts Poll, drafting with FSWA Hall of Famers Emil Kadlec and Bob Harris, along with representatives from Bleacher Report, RTSports, FanDuel and several other sites.
I will go round-by-round and explain my strategy for each pick. Here's a look at the draft grid if you want to open another tab and follow along. It's a 12-team league with standard scoring. We start two RBs and three WRs (no flex).
1.04 - RB Arian Foster, Texans
I would have been happy with any of the top four RBs that went in this draft, but was a bit surprised that Foster fell to me. I'm not worried about his workload or possible breakdown. He turns 27 before the season starts so he's still well in his prime. He's one of the best fantasy RBs and plays in one of the top rush offenses in the league. This was really a no-brainer pick for me.
2.09 - TE Jimmy Graham, Saints
I was hoping Jimmy would be available when I picked in the 2nd round and there he was. I briefly considered Stevan Ridley but elected to get the #1 TE locked up. He's healthy again, and I think he'll have a great year as the Saints' most dangerous weapon in the passing game.
3.04 - RB Stevan Ridley, Patriots
Would you look at that? I love it when the guy I considered drafting in the previous round is still on the board at my next pick. This is a standard league, so Ridley's lack of catches really doesn't hurt him. He's the featured back in a great running game. People are worried about Shane Vereen, but I think Ridley has proven himself and Vereen will simply take over Danny Woodhead's role in the offense.
4.09 - QB Drew Brees, Saints
My plan was to wait until the middle (6th-8th) rounds before drafting a QB, which is a good strategy in leagues with 12 or fewer owners due to the considerable depth at the position, but our Value Based Rankings (VBR) said that Brees was the top player on the board and I simply couldn't pass up his value in the late 4th round. Executive Editor Josh Moore recommended Reggie Wayne here, but when I looked at the remaining WRs, I didn't see much of a drop off in the next 15-20 players.
5.04 - WR Reggie Wayne, Colts
Wayne isn't a fantasy WR1 anymore, but given the rest of my roster at this point, I am happy to have him anchoring my receiving corps. Last season, he proved that he still can play and I think he has another top 20 year in him given the upside of his QB, Andrew Luck.
6.09 - RB Darren Sproles, Saints
What? Sproles is still on the board? I wasn't looking to draft my RB3 in the 6th, but I can't pass up his value, even if it is a standard scoring league. VBR had him as the #38 player overall, and I got him at pick #69. Yes, please.
7.04 - WR Danario Alexander, Chargers
I know people are worried about his knees, but they looked just fine last season when he averaged 4.1-73-.78 (#6 WR numbers) in his final nine games. He and Philip Rivers have nice chemistry and I don't think fantasy WR1 numbers are out of the question if he plays a full season. I normally don't like to take on much risk until the middle rounds, and DAX definitely fits the bill.
8.09 - WR Anquan Boldin, 49ers
I needed another starting WR and was happy when Boldin fell in my lap. In the 10 games from Week 11 through the Super Bowl, Boldin averaged 4.7-75-.70 which project to #6 WR numbers, and that included a goose egg against the Broncos in Week 15. What he lacks in speed he makes up for in savvy and ball skills. He should see a boatload of targets with Michael Crabtree out of the picture. The other player I considered with this pick was Lance Moore, but I like Boldin a bit more and figured Moore had a better chance to slip to my 9th round pick.
9.04 - RB Shane Vereen, Patriots
Doh! I had Lance Moore all queued up and he was taken one pick ahead of me. At this point, I had to choose between drafting a 4th RB or a 4th WR. I wasn't crazy about any of the wideouts at this point -- I like Michael Floyd but thought he might be there in the 10th -- so I drafted Vereen because he's the best kind of handcuff. Not only does he provide RB1-type upside if Ridley goes down, but he is also productive enough to be a spot starter on a weekly basis. He gained at least 38 total yards in six of his last nine games and scored three TDs in that span. Danny Woodhead quietly finished as fantasy football's #25 RB in 2012, so Vereen should post similar numbers if given a similar workload.
10.09 - WR Emmanuel Sanders, Steelers
Sanders could make a leap to 1,000-yard status this year after being promoted to the WR2 spot due to the departure of Mike Wallace. Last season he caught 10 passes for 187 yards during a three-game midseason stretch with Antonio Brown sidelined, so he should provide solid production if he gets real-world WR2 targets. With Wallace gone and Heath Miller iffy to start the season, that seems likely.
11.04 - RB Pierre Thomas, Saints
I didn't really need to draft a 5th RB, but earlier in the day I had written a Sleeper Alert about Thomas and determined that he's an excellent value once the rounds hit double-digits. He has been running ahead of Mark Ingram in minicamp (which may or may not mean anything). At worst, he'll have the same type of fantasy RB3 value as last season and he has plenty of upside if the Saints give him the larger role that he deserves.
12.09 - WR Malcom Floyd, Chargers
I was looking to draft one of my favorite TE sleepers (Jordan Cameron or Rob Housler) here, but Josh kept telling me how pointless it is to draft a TE2 and how much I was hurting at WR, so I went with Floyd, who will provide some insurance for Danario Alexander. I'd rather have Vincent Brown's upside, but he was already taken and Floyd has produced when given starter's snaps. As for the futility of drafting a TE2, that's another article for another time.
13.04 - WR Brandon LaFell, Panthers
If not for injuries that cost LaFell three games, he would have emerged as a marginal fantasy WR3. His per game stats prorate to 54-833-5 which equate to #35 WR numbers. He's entering his fourth season, plays with a good QB and the WR1 on his team (Steve L Smith) isn't getting any younger. The newly acquired Domenik Hixon is a small concern, but LaFell should continue to see real-world WR2 targets in 2013.
14.09 - WR Aaron Dobson, Patriots
Most of the other top rookie receivers were gone, but Dobson has a chance to be the 3rd or 4th option in the Patriots' prolific passing attack if he proves he can pick up the playbook quickly and make plays after the catch.
Overall, I think I had a great draft. I have a terrific RB corps, one of the top QBs and the #1 TE. While my WR1 spot is weak, I think that Alexander's upside will make it a moot point, while Boldin could surprise as an every-week producer at WR3. My WR reserves have considerable upside in the form of Sanders, LaFell and Dobson.
Given all the depth at WR this year, I was able to cobble together an adequate group even though I drafted a TE and a QB in the first four rounds. I could also turn my depth at running back into another starting-caliber WR once my leaguemates start looking to fill their holes at RB.