Fantasy Experts Draft Review

Why I took each player, each round of the Publisher's Challenge League

Monday I posted the round by round results of the Publisher's Challenge League I took part in this past Saturday. The league is sponsored by Fantasy Football Impact and there are 10 sites with a representative expert that were included.
 
The league is set up like a basic free Yahoo league with their basic non-ppr scoring. 15 round draft, start 1 QB, 2 RB's, 3 WR's, 1 TE, 1 K, and 1 D/ST; 6 from any position on the bench. Here are each team and the final rosters they put together. I should note that despite having plenty of advanced warning, four of the experts either weren't there or deliberately chose to use the autodraft function throughout the entire draft. That would explain the amount of defenses and kickers taken in those exact spots in rounds 8 and 9. Autodraft functions are usually constrained to fill out starting requirements at every position before selecting depth. Fantasy Football Impact was aware of this and thusly made a strategically deliberate move by selecting the Chicago Bears defense early in round 7 as he coveted them and understood the autodraft function for teams picking twice before his next selection at the end of round 8 would have taken the Bears defense off the board before then. While I think that is too early for any defense in this type of league, at least he used his knowledge of who was on autodraft and how Yahoo's autodraft function would operate before his next pick. He used his knowledge of that to basically cross figure out 8 of the next 16 picks before it would be his turn again. That's a good application of what I talk about when I have stated smart drafters mentally go through each team and calculate how many players at every position are going to be selected by their next pick so they can see what the scenarios are on the tier rankings.
 
Here's the team I drafted from the 8th spot:
 
Fantasy Football Starters - Russ Bliss
Round
Pick#
Team
Pos
Player
1
8
CLE
RB
Richardson, Trent
2
13
ATL
RB
Jackson, Steven
3
28
GB
WR
Cobb, Randall
4
33
TB
WR
Jackson, Vincent
5
48
NYG
WR
Nicks, Hakeem
6
53
GB
RB
Lacy, Eddie
7
68
NYJ
RB
Ivory, Chris
8
73
TEN
WR
Britt, Kenny
9
88
DAL
QB
Romo, Tony
10
93
STL
TE
Cook, Jared
11
108
CIN
RB
Green-Ellis, BenJarvus
12
113
ARZ
WR
Floyd, Michael
13
128
TB
QB
Freeman, Josh
14
133
GB
DEF
Packers
15
148
STL
K
Zuerlein, Greg
 
I didn't expect Trent Richardson to be there at #8 and while some are still scared of the shin injury that has lingered for the past couple of months, I believe he is certainly no worse off than last year when he had a knee scope the second week of August. Cleveland has just been very smart in how they deal with him as he is fully expected to be another in a long line of bellcow RB's offensive coordinator Norv Turner has had success with in the NFL. Richardson caught 51 passes last season, something else RB's in Turner's system frequently have to do. And only 3 RB's scored more than his 12 total TD's. I saw plenty of toughness from him missing only game despite the knee, plus a couple of broken ribs suffered later in the season. T-Rich is a solid fantasy RB1.
 
In round 2 I would have taken WR Dez Bryant if he had been there but Fantasy Sharks grabbed him right before my pick. That's okay. I'm higher on Steven Jackson's prospects in Atlanta than many. I think S-Jax stands a very good chance of having 1,400 combined yards and score 10+ TD's. I'll bank that from my RB2.
 
I went WR with my next 3 picks. I would have thought about taking Drew Brees but no surprise that he went early in round 3. I was however surprised and happy to see both Randall Cobb and Vincent Jackson available. I knew from studying the ADP's that I could probably pass on Jackson in round 3 and still get him round 4, but that Cobb was a definite risk to be gone before then so Cobb was the pick. I know Jackson's inconsistency can drive owners mad (5 games with 5 fantasy points scored or fewer in 2012; 6 with 15 fantasy points or more in this scoring format), but you take the bust with the boom. I gambled he'd be there in round 4 and he was. I wasn't going to take the chance he'd be there in round 5. I did contemplate Peyton Manning in round 4, but I was sticking to my belief that QB's are as deep this year as they have ever been and that I would get a proven 4,000+ yards, 30 TD guy in a later round. The WR I took in round 5 comes with a ton of potential to be a fantasy WR1, but also substantial risk. Hakeem Nicks can be a dominant WR when he's healthy, but therein lays the risk: he is almost never healthy for long. But I figured he's highly motivated with 2013 being a contract year and he knows that to get a big payday, he'll need to play through some of the injuries that might otherwise make a player sit. A potential top 20 WR was worth the risk as my 3rd starting WR.
 
I wanted to get a quality RB3 in round 6 and saw both Eddie Lacy and Chris Ivory staring at me from my cheat sheets. Both come with their question marks, but I thought Lacy was the best RB coming out of college in April's NFL draft and he couldn't have gone to a better spot than Green Bay. For the past few years the Packers have been an elite passing offense that has struggled to close out games against opponents because they lacked a RB powerful enough to do it with. I like Ivory's potential, but the Jets are a harder offense to trust having a lead and Ivory has caught a total of THREE receptions in 3 seasons. He isn't likely to be much of a receiving factor if the Jets are trailing in games. I gave some thought to getting a jump on the TE run I knew was coming soon, but my study of ADP told me one of my favorite sleepers to emerge as a strong fantasy TE1 was expected to be available for a few more rounds. Really, Lacy was the easy pick.
 
I was surprised that when round 7 came around to my pick that Ivory was still available. There had been a couple of other RB's that had come off the board since my last pick, but no one took Ivory. My intention had been to take Matt Stafford here as I think he will have a great season this year. But with both RG3 and Tony Romo still available and 7 teams having selected QB's I figured I may be able to get away with waiting one more round. I just couldn't deny myself a strong RB4. I rolled the dice and took Ivory.
 
Like Dez Bryant in round 2, the team picking right in front of me took Stafford in round 8. That left two teams who still needed a QB so I knew I could wait one more round. That meant it was time to target either a TE or WR. While there is always a certain level of anxiety leaving one of your favorite sleeper picks on the board, I trusted my ADP study that my TE would still be there in round 10. Meanwhile, another WR like Nicks with huge boom or bust potential was available. Kenny Britt has been an oft-injured knucklehead most of his career, but Britt has managed to stay out of trouble this offseason and regularly stood out in OTA's. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Britt's newfound work ethic and ability to stay out of trouble are probably tied to the fact this is the last year of his original rookie contract. He's motivated and has proven that when healthy in the past, he can be a dominant WR who puts up fantasy WR1/2 numbers. Given concerns about Nicks as my boom or bust WR3, I figured I'd swing for the fences again with Britt as my WR4.
 
Round 9 was the final round for the autodraft teams to fill out their starting rosters, so I knew I had to take a QB here. I had put it off long enough and took Romo since RG3 went earlier in the round. Few players get as little love from fantasy owners than Romo. But in 2012 he passed for over 4,900 yards and 28 TD's. His 19 interceptions tied a career high, but historically he doesn't throw that many picks. Just like in 2011, Romo was much stronger in the second half of the 2012 season throwing 15 of his 28 TD's in the last 6 games while eclipsing 400 passing yards twice in that span. It's no coincidence that Romo's numbers really took off at the same time Dez Bryant started to live up to his elite talent level. With Bryant expected to keep that level of elite play from start to finish in 2013, Romo is being seriously undervalued in 2013 fantasy football drafts. 
 
When it came my turn in round 10 I also figured that I had tempted fate long enough when it came to my TE position. 7 TE's had been selected so far in the draft, and none since the end of round 7. With 3 teams still needing their starting TE's (me one of them) I didn't want to lose out on my sleeper at the position. So I took Jared Cook. There have been nothing but glowing reports about Cook since the Rams signed him in free agency. I can't believe they paid him all that money to foolishly underutilize his immense size and athleticism the way Tennessee had done the last few seasons. Cook has elite skills for the position and the Rams lack proven pass catchers at WR. Cook is a solid fantasy football sleeper to finish among the top 5 fantasy TE's in 2013.
 
That leaves the last 5 rounds to acquire more depth at RB, WR, and QB, along with grabbing my Kicker and Defense.
 
When Steve Johnson and Miles Austin got selected before my pick this round I went after the RB instead. While BenJarvus Green-Ellis is in a time share with rookie Giovani Bernard, there's a chance the rookie could make some mistakes that get him in the doghouse or wear down. BGE managed 1,094 yards and 6 TD's last season in a full time role and it's a decent bet he'll at least dominate goal line situations. BGE was the least "sexy" pick of my draft, and I know I've pegged him as a potential bust previously, but that is based on him being drafted as a fantasy RB3. On my squad he's my RB5. Definitely worth having at that type of value.
 
One of my favorite sleeper WR's in 2013 since Spring has been Vincent Brown. But he went right after my pick in round 11. So when it came to my turn in round 12 I opted for another favorite sleeper of mine at the WR position: Michael Floyd. Floyd is a guy being drafted as a fantasy WR4/5 who could very likely put up consistent WR3 numbers. The presence of Larry Fitzgerald will ensure Floyd isn't the focus of opponents and Bruce Arians offensive system is proven to be QB and WR friendly. Look at what T.Y. Hilton did last year in Indianapolis as the #2 WR there.
 
Even in a smaller 10 team league like this, I like having a high upside backup QB. I know some will only draft one at the position, trusting to a more robust free agent wire for an available bye week or injury replacement, but I like having a guy who could emerge as either a viable starting option, or become potential trade bait if injuries decimate the position. I considered Jay Cutler with this pick in the 13th round, but Josh Freeman has produced better fantasy stats each of the last 2 seasons and isn't learning a new offensive system. Freeman is a young QB entering the prime of his career. He has another year with a great WR in Vincent Jackson, to go along with steady Mike Williams and a rushing attack that features Doug Martin. The pieces are in place for this be Freeman's best season yet. It also doesn't hurt that this is Freeman's contract season. Freeman is one of my favorite targets this year for backup QB on my squads.
 
That left me needing a Defense and a Kicker. The last two rounds as it should be in my opinion in standard scoring systems.
 
Round 14 saw Fantasy Sharks snake me one final time by taking my targeted defense: New England. But I am happy with Green Bay as an alternative. They had a down year in 2012 as a fantasy scoring defense, but from 2006-2011, they were always in the top 10 (half the time in the top 5). I'll give them benefit of the doubt they can get back to where they were as now they stand a good chance of being able to put games away with Eddie Lacy's power running closing out leads instead of going 3 and out and letting opponents have more possessions. 
 
That left the kicker position for round 15. I usually make sure my TE, Defense, and Kicker all have different bye weeks so I only need to drop one player from my roster to cover them, but with longer FG's getting a little extra in this league (4 pts for 40-49 yards; 5 pts for 50+), I wanted to make sure I got someone has proven to be able to make these long FGA's. Greg Zuerlein proved last season to have that leg capable of making the 50 yarders (7 in that yardage range) and didn't miss on any of 7 more tries from 40-49 yards. Since the Rams don't have a bye until week 11, I figured I could survive until then. By that far into the season, it's inevitable the team you drafted and the team you actually have are considerably different.
 
Here are each of the other teams drafted rosters (in order of their draft slot; I picked 8th overall):
 
Fantasy Football Blog - Thomas Harkins
Round
Pick#
Team
Pos
Player
1
1
MIN
RB
Peterson, Adrian
2
20
GB
QB
Rodgers, Aaron
3
21
ATL
WR
Jones, Julio
4
40
DET
RB
Bush, Reggie
5
41
NE
WR
Amendola, Danny
6
60
CAR
WR
Smith, Steve
7
61
NE
TE
Gronkowski, Rob
8
80
DEN
DEF
Broncos
9
81
ATL
K
Bryant, Matt
10
100
SEA
WR
Tate, Golden
11
101
DEN
RB
Hillman, Ronnie
12
120
PIT
QB
Roethlisberger, Ben
13
121
SEA
WR
Rice, Sidney
14
140
SD
TE
Gates, Antonio
15
141
ARZ
DEF
Cardinals
 
 
Fantasy Football Impact - George Barber
Round
Pick#
Team
Pos
Player
1
2
TB
RB
Martin, Doug
2
19
NE
RB
Ridley, Stevan
3
22
ARZ
WR
Fitzgerald, Larry
4
39
BAL
WR
Smith, Torrey
5
42
NE
QB
Brady, Tom
6
59
DAL
TE
Witten, Jason
7
62
CHI
DEF
Bears
8
79
CIN
RB
Bernard, Giovani
9
82
IND
WR
Hilton, T.Y.
10
98
NO
RB
Ingram, Mark
11
102
SF
WR
Boldin, Anquan
12
119
STL
WR
Givens, Chris
13
122
HOU
WR
Hopkins, DeAndre
14
139
NE
WR
Thompkins, Kenbrell
15
142
WAS
K
Forbath, Kai
 
 
Razzball - Sky Seymour
Round
Pick#
Team
Pos
Player
1
3
HOU
RB
Foster, Arian
2
18
JAX
RB
Jones-Drew, Maurice
3
23
NO
QB
Brees, Drew
4
38
WAS
WR
Garcon, Pierre
5
43
IND
WR
Wayne, Reggie
6
58
MIA
WR
Wallace, Mike
7
63
CAR
TE
Olsen, Greg
8
78
HOU
DEF
Texans
9
83
SF
K
Dawson, Phil
10
98
NYG
RB
Brown, Andre
11
103
NYG
QB
Manning, Eli
12
118
GB
TE
Finley, Jermichael
13
123
OAK
WR
Moore, Denarius
14
138
JAX
WR
Blackmon, Justin
15
143
BAL
DEF
Ravens
 
 
Eat Drink and Sleeper Football - Kevin Hanson
Round
Pick#
Team
Pos
Player
1
4
BUF
RB
Spiller, C.J.
2
17
CHI
WR
Marshall, Brandon
3
24
TEN
RB
Johnson, Chris
4
37
NO
WR
Colston, Marques
5
44
OAK
RB
McFadden, Darren
6
57
NO
RB
Sproles, Darren
7
64
NE
RB
Vereen, Shane
8
77
JAX
WR
Shorts, Cecil
9
84
WAS
QB
Griffin III, Robert
10
97
CLE
WR
Gordon, Josh
11
104
BUF
WR
Johnson, Stevie
12
117
CHI
TE
Bennett, Martellus
13
124
CHI
WR
Jeffery, Alshon
14
137
STL
DEF
Rams
15
144
BAL
K
Tucker, Justin
 
 
Rotoexperts - Thomas McFeeley
Round
Pick#
Team
Pos
Player
1
5
KC
RB
Charles, Jamaal
2
16
NO
TE
Graham, Jimmy
3
25
DEN
WR
Thomas, Demaryius
4
36
SF
RB
Gore, Frank
5
45
SF
QB
Kaepernick, Colin
6
56
GB
WR
Nelson, Jordy
7
65
GB
WR
Jones, James
8
76
SF
DEF
49ers
9
85
NE
K
Gostkowski, Stephen
10
96
IND
QB
Luck, Andrew
11
105
DAL
WR
Austin, Miles
12
116
HOU
RB
Tate, Ben
13
125
WAS
TE
Davis, Fred
14
136
IND
WR
Heyward-Bey, Darrius
15
145
PIT
DEF
Steelers
 
 
Gridiron Experts - Mike Rodriguez
Round
Pick#
Team
Pos
Player
1
6
SEA
RB
Lynch, Marshawn
2
15
CHI
RB
Forte, Matt
3
26
NYG
WR
Cruz, Victor
4
35
HOU
WR
Johnson, Andre
5
46
ATL
QB
Ryan, Matt
6
55
SF
TE
Davis, Vernon
7
66
DEN
WR
Welker, Wes
8
75
ARZ
RB
Mendenhall, Rashard
9
86
TB
WR
Williams, Mike
10
95
BAL
RB
Pierce, Bernard
11
106
PIT
WR
Sanders, Emmanuel
12
115
DEN
K
Prater, Matt
13
126
TB
DEF
Buccaneers
14
135
CIN
QB
Dalton, Andy
15
146
ARZ
TE
Housler, Rob
 
 
Fantasy Insights - Dish Adams
Round
Pick#
Team
Pos
Player
1
7
DET
WR
Johnson, Calvin
2
14
CIN
WR
Green, A.J.
3
27
ATL
WR
White, Roddy
4
34
DEN
QB
Manning, Peyton
5
47
DAL
RB
Murray, DeMarco
6
54
ATL
TE
Gonzalez, Tony
7
67
SD
RB
Mathews, Ryan
8
74
IND
RB
Bradshaw, Ahmad
9
87
CAR
RB
Williams, DeAngelo
10
94
STL
RB
Richardson, Daryl
11
107
PHI
QB
Vick, Michael
12
114
CIN
DEF
Bengals
13
127
NYG
WR
Randle, Rueben
14
134
NE
WR
Dobson, Aaron
15
147
NYG
K
Brown, Josh
 
 
Fantasy Sharks - Jim Bukowski
Round
Pick#
Team
Pos
Player
1
9
PHI
RB
McCoy, LeSean
2
12
DAL
WR
Bryant, Dez
3
29
MIA
RB
Miller, Lamar
4
32
PIT
RB
Bell, Le'Veon
5
49
NYG
RB
Wilson, David
6
52
DEN
RB
Ball, Montee
7
69
PHI
WR
Jackson, DeSean
8
72
DET
QB
Stafford, Matthew
9
89
STL
WR
Austin, Tavon
10
92
MIN
WR
Jennings, Greg
11
109
SD
WR
Brown, Vincent
12
112
DET
WR
Broyles, Ryan
13
129
NYG
TE
Myers, Brandon
14
132
NE
DEF
Patriots
15
149
OAK
K
Janikowski, Sebastian
 
 
Gridiron Guru - Matt DiAntonio
Round
Pick#
Team
Pos
Player
1
10
BAL
RB
Rice, Ray
2
11
WAS
RB
Morris, Alfred
3
30
CAR
QB
Newton, Cam
4
31
KC
WR
Bowe, Dwayne
5
50
PIT
WR
Brown, Antonio
6
51
DEN
WR
Decker, Eric
7
70
MIN
TE
Rudolph, Kyle
8
71
SEA
DEF
Seahawks
9
90
MIN
K
Walsh, Blair
10
91
SEA
QB
Wilson, Russell
11
110
HOU
TE
Daniels, Owen
12
111
NO
WR
Moore, Lance
13
130
PHI
RB
Brown, Bryce
14
131
SD
WR
Floyd, Malcom
15
150
NYG
DEF
Giants