Heading into this draft, subbing in for the great Kevin Payne, I don't want to say I was nervous, but I was definitely feeling the pressure to carry the torch for the site. Other representatives were from reputable locales like The Huddle, KFFL, and the USA Today, and I knew everyone would be on their game.
Sporting the 10th pick, I was sweating it out over what my strategy should be. I have proclaimed many times on this site my steadfast dedication to a RB-first draft approach, but the circumstances didn't seem to fit my standard plan of attack. I had a hunch running backs were going to fly off the board from the get go drafting amongst experts, despite all the talk of quarterbacks ruling the new day. Contributing to this was the fact passing touchdowns are only awarded four points in this league.
So there I was at 2 o'clock this afternoon, bumping the "Rocky Story" soundtrack, working the bag, locked into a mock draft. I ended up taking Tom Brady at 10 and pairing him with Rob Gronkowski in the second round. I felt fortunate to land Ryan Mathews and Ahmad Bradshaw for my backfield, and Percy Harvin and Steve Johnson as my top two wideouts. Despite the drastic divergence from my typical strategy, I felt pretty good about things when the draft room opened and the names started flying.
Then, Brady went off the board at pick no. 9, and I found myself right back where I was comfortable. Even though Drew Brees was still there, I switched gears mid-stream and went with my gut. Deep down I wasn't comfortable going QB this early, especially with 4-point TDs, and I felt the best advantage I could secure drafting in that late of a slot was to capitalize on my second pick and be superior at RB2. So that's what I did. I'm happy with the value I got with each selection, a hindsight change or two hit me tonight, but overall I'm stoked with the results.
This is a 12-team, (1-point) PPR, 4-point passing TD, 6-point all other TDs league
Lineups are QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, WR, TE, K, D, RB/WR/TE Flex
Round 1 - Pick 10
Jamaal Charles - RB - Kansas City Chiefs
I had a hard enough time talking myself into Brady, as I always draft RB in Rd. 1, so while it was tough to pass on Brees, I had my mind made up as soon as the Patriots gunslinger was snatched from my grasp. I strongly considered DeMarco Murray here, but I felt Charles has a higher ceiling in a PPR format, and a stronger track record. When drafting this late in the order I usually buck the trend and go a little risky, venturing for a player with no. 1 overall upside, which I believe the Chiefs back has, or close to it.
Round 2 - Pick 15
Fred Jackson - RB - Buffalo Bills
As I stated in the intro, once I decided to go RB with my first pick (and being at the low end of the initial run), I was set on taking two of them and trying to build a "my two is better than your clear-cut stud" advantage. This might be high for Jackson for some, but I love his all-around skills, his role in Buffalo's passing attack, their offensive line, and he was simply the guy I wanted. It didn't bother me one bit that his ADP is closer to 35 on ESPN.com. I roll to the beat of my own drum. I considered Marshawn Lynch, but a possible suspension scared me off, and Darren Sproles, but I felt I was overpaying for a breakout year if I took him.
Round 3 - Pick 34
Matthew Stafford - QB - Detroit Lions
Shocked, floored, dumbfounded, as I watched Stafford fall all the way to me at the back end of the 3rd round. Obviously the scoring system was responsible for the slippage, but needless to say, I felt a whole lot better about passing on Brees when I was able to secure the last of the top-5 QBs this late. I owned him in two of my three leagues last season and he was ridiculous. More of the same please Mr. Stafford. I toyed with the idea of Doug Martin here for about 0.3 seconds.
Round 4 - Pick 39
Steve Smith - WR - Carolina Panthers
I was begging, praying for Jordy Nelson to be available here, but he went off the board the pick before me. This is one selection, in hindsight, I wish I could change. It was between Smith and Mike Wallace and I was scared off by the holdout. I was extremely high on Wallace a month ago, but the risk just wasn't jiving with the clock ticking down. I'm okay with the pick, I don't think he repeats what he did last year, but the Panthers should be pretty explosive on offense and he's still the main guy there.
Round 5 - Pick 58
DeSean Jackson - WR - Philadelphia Eagles
He isn't quite as valuable in PPR format, but I think he could have a big year. He has a knack for the big play, and with his contract squabblings behind him and a fat bank account hopefully motivating him, I like the upside. Considering I didn't draft a receiver until round 4, my top two guys are pretty dynamic.
Round 6 - Pick 63
Donald Brown - RB - Indianapolis Colts
Brown has the potential to be my Tim Hightower from a year ago, a player who ascends into a feature role for the first time, has solid production in limited action in the past, and whom I have huge expectations for that could be a big disappointment. It also might seem early to make this pick, but when I want a guy, I get him, no concern about ADP unless I think he'd still be there a round later. And in this case I was right, he wouldn't have been. It was the start of a run on mid-tier backs, as ten of them went off the board in the 18 selections before I was back on the clock. I'll be finding out what Brown can do for me this season. Love him as a flex.
Round 7 - Pick 82
Titus Young - WR - Detroit Lions
I will expand upon my feelings about Young in my next article. I like him. Let's move on.
Round 8 - Pick 87
Jermichael Finley - TE - Green Bay Packers
I understand the injury concerns, but when he's on the field and healthy, he's pretty darn good. His disappointing 2011 was comprised of 767 yards, 8 touchdowns, and 14 receptions of 20-plus yards. Showing up to office with Aaron Rodgers is a pretty nice working environment. At only 25 years of age, a career year could be on the horizon. Even another "down" year will give me a top-8 tight end. Love the value here.
Round 9 - Pick 106
Sidney Rice - WR - Seattle Seahawks
This pick could be complete junk. Or, it could be key to my team's success. Missing out on the top 12 receivers by going RB-RB-QB I was put in a position to take some chances on wide outs with high ceilings. Rice qualifies as the talent and physical skills are there, but serious healthy issues have derailed his once-promising career. I realize it's just the preseason, but Russell Wilson looks ridiculous and Matt Flynn might not be too bad either should he wind up under center. The fact Seattle is parading every receiver with a pulse into camp probably isn't the greatest sign, but like I said, it's a risk.
Round 10 - Pick 111
Randy Moss - WR - San Francisco 49ers
Speaking of risk. Haha. I figure if either Moss, Young, or Rice can give me solid WR3 production and Charles is anything close to top-tier, I'm a contender in this league. I don't think he rekindles his old glory. Alex Smith just isn't the guy to make that happen, there are a lot of mouths to feed in the Bay Area, and Moss is 35. But, I don't need that from him at this slot, and I think he's a prideful guy with a reputation to restore and if there's anything left in that tank he'll work like heck to burn it out.
Round 11 - Pick 130
Jonathan Dwyer - RB - Pittsburgh Steelers
I mentioned in my Breakout RBs column how I'm sometimes a year early on guys, and Isaac Redman was a top sleeper for me heading into last year. So, when it looked as though he was a feature back for this season, I was all about targeting him. Then he suffered a groin injury at a horrible time and Dwyer has looked fantastic in his place. I'm not sure he ever gets it back. I heard Dwyer trained with Maurice Jones-Drew and Matt Forte this offseason (they share an agent), who are two qualified professionals to learn from in my opinion. He was excellent at Georgia Tech and while Rashard Mendenhall is off the PUP list and could curtail his value late, it supposedly takes a year to come back from a torn ACL and his occurred in January.
Round 12 - Pick 135
Shane Vereen - RB - New England Patriots
I passed on DeAngelo Williams to be my RB4 in round 8 to get my tight end and tried to make up for it hoping Vereen or Dwyer will pan out. They are in similar situations, with a possibility to be the starting back, but are far from any guaranteed work. Like Dwyer over Redman, I also think Vereen is superior skills-wise to Stevan Ridley. This is going to sound silly, but there was just one measley 5-yard dash into the end zone I saw Vereen make last year and I was convinced he's the back of the future for the Pats. Despite Ridley being the bigger guy, I actually envision Vereen getting the goalline work (and possible a significant amount of touchdowns left behind by BenJarvus Green-Ellis) even if he doesn't claim the outright starter's spot. Ridley's fumbling problems won't help his chances of being entrusted with those crucial, tight-quarters carries.
Round 13 - Pick 154
Owen Daniels - TE - Houston Texans
For those weeks Finley is out. Surprisingly, only 29 years old despite his Costanza-do. Solid backup.
Round 14 - Pick 159
Sam Bradford - QB - St. Louis Rams
He was the 23rd quarterback selected. Um, I know the Rams have been pitiful, but this guy threw for 3,518 yards and 18 touchdowns as a rookie. Considering how late this pick was, I couldn't be happier with my backup QB, and truth be told, should I need to play him for any reason, I don't feel that bad about it.
Round 15 - Pick 178
New York Giants Defense
There are no negative points in this league, and very small totals for points against. So, basically you're just getting rewarded for sacks (tied for 3rd last year with 48), interceptions (tied for 6th with 20), fumbles, safeties, and scores. I'll gladly go to work with the Giants front four.
Round 16 - Pick 183
Josh Gordon - WR - Cleveland Browns
He's probably not going to do much this season, but I can cut bait early if he's not getting snaps or looks. Plenty of upside and not much talent blocking his path in Cleveland.
Round 17 - Pick 202
Dexter McCluster - WR - Kansas City Chiefs
Oddly enough, and to my complete surprise, McCluster is classified as a wide receiver. Regardless of the classification, he is my handcuff to Charles. I'll have to slide another back into the starter role and play McCluster at flex should the need arise, but that's manageable. I felt he was underutilized last season and he still posted 844 yards from scrimmage, 4.5 yards-per-carry, and 46 receptions. He won't be Charles of course, but it helps me sleep a little better.
Round 18 - Pick 207
Robbie Gould - K - Chicago Bears
Whatever. As I tried, in vain, to explain to my fellow co-host of our fantasy radio show (FSDBlog.org) as he clamored on about the importance of getting Mason Crosby or Stephen Gostkowski (no I'm not kidding, and no this isn't representative of the show, haha, just a thing he has) , David Akers wasn't even drafted in most leagues last year and all he did was score more points than any kicker in the history of the NFL. The Bears offense should move the ball, he's a proven vet. That's a wrap.
The draft was a lot of fun, and I want to thank the guys at Rotowire for bestowing this honor upon me. I hope I made you proud. I'm bringing home the trophy!
I know it's tough without knowing exactly who was on the board, but I'm curious to hear your thoughts. Please post comments below and we can banter.
As always, you can also check out my evaluation of the big guys up front on Rotowire's Offensive Line Grid.
Feel free to listen to the Fantasy Sports Digest radio show podcasts I co-host
And follow me on Twitter @FantasyZenMastr
Cheers, and thanks for reading.