Perfect Draft: 2nd in a 12-Team ESPN PPR League
Heading into the 2018 season, the first dilemma 1.02 owners face is which high-volume running back to select. Todd Gurley is likely off the board, and LeVeon Bell has an overall RB1 season on his resume as well as back-to-back top-three RB performances. David Johnson has 2,000-total-yards upside as well, and he also has an overall RB1 season to his name. Then there’s Ezekiel Elliott, who may have the highest touch upside of any in the bunch this season, with the Cowboys' utter lack of impressive pass-catching weapons. Zeke was overall RB2 two seasons ago and RB3 in PPR fantasy points per game last 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 second slot in a 12-team ESPN PPR 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, TE, RB/WR/TE, K, DEF, seven bench spots.
- No QBs before the fifth round: I’m not considering drafting a quarterback until at least the fifth round, and that is only if the top signal-callers fall that far. In most drafts this season, I will be waiting until the eighth round or later for a quarterback, as I’m not satisfied with my RB and WR depth when I draft a QB earlier than that.
- No TEs before the third round: The third round is the earliest I would consider a TE, as the top three in the 4for4 rankings (Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz) do have top-200 rankings inside the top 24. If you look at our PPR TE rankings, you will see a significant gap between those three and the rest of the field of TEs this season.
Round 1, Pick 2 - RB LeVeon Bell, Steelers
This is not too complicated. If Todd Gurley doesn’t get picked first, you take him. In most cases, he will, and I’m still taking LeVeon Bell second, despite his preseason holdout. He did this last season, and it didn't matter. He came in before Week 1 and dominated. He’s the only RB in PPR formats who has top-10 fantasy finishes in three of the past four years, and he was top-three at his position those seasons. Don’t overthink this one.
Round 2, Pick 11 - RB Jerick McKinnon, 49ers
I refuse to pass on Jerick McKinnon if available this season. I just do not see any scenario where he busts because he’s not #goodatfootball.
He was hand-picked by Kyle Shanahan, a coach who has given his RBs fantasy glory over and over again, seemingly with names tossed to the fantasy garbage heap in the drafts that year. Even Steve Slaton was awesome under Shanahan. Devonta Freeman was closer to a 10th-round pick than a second-round pick before he broke out in Shanahan's system—Freeman was the overall RB1 that season. Combine that coaching history with McKinnon’s ridiculous athleticism, and I’m salivating having him on the same roster as Bell.
Round 3, Pick 2 - WR Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
Larry Fitzgerald is being drafted a couple of rounds earlier than last year, but we still have him ranked as a top-12 WR in PPR. His ADP is justified. His elite level of targets appears safe with no clear No. 2 WR in Arizona. RB David Johnson will likely be second on the team in receptions.
The elite TEs were tempting here—If we had gone RB-WR to start the draft, I probably would have taken one of them. However, the drop off to the next available WRs if we waited until Round 4 to take our first one was not attractive.
Round 4, Pick 11 - WR Golden Tate, Lions
Golden Tate is a PPR specialist. Tate is not an incredibly efficient receiver, but the Lions present a high-volume passing attack with Matthew Stafford targeting Tate frequently on short-to-intermediate routes. That makes him less useful in standard leagues (WR23) versus PPR (WR14).
It’s also interesting to note taking the QB1 Aaron Rodgers at this point can be justified, according to Draft Analyzer. However, it is against my draft strategy to pull the trigger that early. The drop from Tate to the next receiver, Michael Crabtree, for our WR2 would be going from WR14 to WR22. We now have two top-12 RBs and two top-15 WRs. Money.
Continue reading to see how the rest of Steve'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...