As a veteran of fantasy football, I have been in my fair share of drafts, the time when all the players in the league are up for grabs, and the only thing stopping me from making a superior team is the team ahead of me in the draft, and the team ahead of them, and the team ahead of them. In short, it all comes down to what kind of team I want, and what kind of team they want. Hopefully, the type of team I want is different from the one they have set up for, but sometimes it’s the same kind of team. Which is okay because whether or not we have the same game plan the end game is always the same: to win.
Here’s a look inside of my favorite draft this season (I was the number 9 spot in a snaking 12-team draft) and an explanation of my choices and my game plan:
Round 1: Jamaal Charles (KC)
Honestly, I was shocked that Charles was available in this slot. I had him ranked #3 in my pre-draft rankings, behind only Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch. The reason I had him ranked so highly was because of the new coach and quarterback in Kansas City. I think the only reason Charles was injury-prone was that he was mis-used for so long and placed in harm’s way too often. With Reid and Smith in charge of that offense, I knew it would be like Westbook or McCoy during Reid’s tenure in Philly. Using the running back as a pass-catcher and reducing the risk of injury. And Charles fits perfectly into that scheme. He was a steal at #9.
Players drafted ahead of Charles included two quarterbacks — Brees and Rodgers.
Round 2: LeSean McCoy (PHI)
Still available at #16 was the aforementioned Shady McCoy, and the only explanation I can give for him lasting into the second round was the questioning of Chip Kelly’s offense translating to the NFL. But, being an Eagles fan, I knew that McCoy was going to be able to do whatever he wanted or needed to do in that offense. I went into round 2 looking for a solid #2 running back like a Maurice Jones-Drew or a Chris Johnson, and instead I came out of it with the running back I had ranked #4 in my pre-draft rankings. Just for fun, #5 – 7 were Doug Martin, CJ Spiller, and Arian Foster, and just for more fun, all three of them were gone before I picked up either of my running backs.
Players drafted between Charles and McCoy – Trent Richardson, Alfred Morris, and Matt Forte.
Round 3: Wes Welker (DEN)
So, all four of the #1 quarterbacks were gone by round 3 (Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and Tom Brady), and I had the two running backs in the fold who I knew would never sit except for a bye. It was time for a wide receiver. My top five pre-draft wide receivers were all gone by then, so I went with #6, Welker. I knew regardless of how many mouths there were for Manning to feed in Denver that he would find Welker, just as Brady did in that New England offense. I went with Welker and didn’t look back.
Wide receivers drafted ahead of Welker – Calvin Johnson, Damaryius Thomas, Dez Bryant, Roddy White, Larry Fitzgerald, A.J. Green, Andre Johnson, Julio Jones, and Brandon Marshall.
Round 4: Vincent Jackson (TB)
Just like with McCoy, I was completely shocked that Jackson was still on the board when I got around to picking at #40. In fact, I had chosen Welker the round before with the thought that it was an either/or situation, that Jackson would be gone with the very next pick if I didn’t choose him. However, I lucked out and was able to get both receivers.
Players drafted between Welker and Jackson – RGIII, Victor Cruz, Rob Gronkowski, and Reggie Bush.
Round 5: Eric Decker (DEN)
I will readily admit that this pick was a bit of a stretch. I had originally outlined the fifth round as a time to pick up a quality quarterback, but with the top 4 long gone, and Newton, RGIII, and Kaepernick also history, I honestly thought anyone I got in the fifth round would be just as good as anyone I picked up a round later. I decided to put off the quarterback and to trust Peyton Manning once again. If I couldn’t have the man himself I would get as many of his top options as I could. Decker was a relatively easy choice given the choice of wide receivers left at that point.
Wide receivers drafted between Jackson and Decker – Randall Cobb, Mike Wallace, Reggie Wayne, Hakeem Nicks, Torrey Smith.
Round 6: Matthew Stafford (DET)
Of the quarterbacks left I felt safer with Stafford than anyone else, and I had a sneaky feeling he wouldn’t be around come round 7, so I snatched him in the sixth round. He puts up numbers, plain and simple, and having Calvin Johnson to throw to isn’t a bad thing either. I was a little concerned about the interceptions he was likely to throw, but I thought that would be outweighed by the sheer yardage and touchdown throws. I was committed to him for the season, unless he got hurt. Or at least I thought I was at draft time.
Quarterbacks I felt were equivalent to Stafford – Cam Newton, Tony Romo, and Andrew Luck.
Round 7: DeSean Jackson (PHI)
I don’t usually try to get too many players from one team, and I already had McCoy on my team, but as I said before, I had a good feeling about Chip Kelly’s offense and what it could do. By that time I knew Maclin was already out for the season, so who else was there to steal his grabs? Jackson is fast, and a big playmaker when given the chance. I gave him the chance in round 7, even though I already had three solid receivers I had previously drafted.
Round 8: Michael Vick (PHI)
Yes, two Eagles in a row. For shame. I honestly thought long and hard before drafting Vick with this pick, but after looking at my lineup as it was, I realized I had two amazing running backs, four very capable receivers, and a solid quarterback. But after picking McCoy and D. Jackson, I had convinced myself to go all in with Chip Kelly’s offense, and what harm would it do to have the quarterback who was running the system on my team? Plus, I was a little worried about Detroit’s ability to contend. I knew I was waiting for my tight end until at least the next round, and if Vick worked out he could be an upgrade over Stafford. I pulled the trigger, and Vick was on my team.
Round 9: Bryce Brown (PHI)
Three in a row, but this one was a must, considering I believe strongly in backing up your studs. I had McCoy on my team, and I was relying heavily on him, but what happened if he got hurt? Rather than pick up one of the really low-end running backs left by this point, I grabbed a guy I knew would spend an awful lot of time on my bench, just in case.
Round 10: Martellus Bennett (CHI)
I figure Jay Cutler has to throw the ball to someone when he’s not throwing it to Brandon Marshall. Why not the tight end? I also remembered how well the Giants used Bennett last year as a pass-catching tight end instead of the blocker the Cowboys mistook him for earlier in his career. I took a flier on him because I still needed a tight end to fill in my roster, and he was easily the best one left by round 10.
Later on in the draft I also picked up DeAndre Hopkins (HOU), Zach Sudfeld (NE), the Dolphins defense/special teams, and Rob Bironas, the Tennessee kicker. And this team has so far been 4-0 on the season. We’ll see how it pans out in the end.