Diehards Staff Draft Analysis and Predictions

By Emil Kadlec
Emil Kadlec Click here for: Diehards Draft Video - using scout.com/fantasy commissioner
draft board here

The Football Diehards staff got together for their first league draft since training camps opened. And what a time it was -- a 12 team PPR with 18 man rosters. The following are staff reviews from the draft including a link to the hangout video by myself and Jen Ryan. Each member of the Diehards staff also laid down their predictions for the following:

Predictions
1st round bust
Must have player
Stay away player
Last player taken
Reach worthy player

Here is a list of the staff and the draft order:

1 Chad Stapley
2 Gary Davenport
3 Dave Hunter
4 Mike Beacom
5 Justim Lonero
6 John Laub
7 Emil Kadlec
8 Jen Ryan
9 Brad Kruse
10 Evan Tarracciano
11 Lisa Ann
12 Bob Harris

Bob Harris

Predictions
1st round bust: Devonta Freeman
Must have player: Danny Woodhead
Stay away player: Thomas Rawls
Last player taken: Justin Hardy
Reach worthy player: Jordan Howard

Draft Strategy
My strategy heading into every draft is pretty much the same: I'm looking to remain flexible and target consistent high-end producers early and then focus on value as I move forward -- regardless of position. Reaching for players in these industry drafts is almost a requirement. People tend to draft aggressively and we all realize nobody is going to fall through the cracks. Knowing that going in, I try not to let the emotion that follows getting sniped and losing out on desired players at the last second lead to bad picks. The key to that is always having a short list of fallback options standing by. It can make the difference between making a critical mistake at the worst possible time.


Analysis

Round 4 Eric Decker
In case you haven't been paying attention (and it seems many have not), Decker has 49 touchdown catches in the past five seasons. That total ranks fifth in the NFL since 2011, putting him in the same territory as Rob Gronkowski, Dez Bryant and Calvin Johnson. As FOXSports.com recently noted, however, no one talks about Decker as one of the best receivers in the league. The return of Ryan Fitzpatrick lends considerable confidence in Decker's ability to post the kind of totals (80 catches, 1,027 yards and 12 touchdowns on 132 targets) that left him the 11th-ranked fantasy WR last season.

Round 5 Delanie Walker
Walker led the Titans and all NFL tight ends in receptions in 2015. Along the way, he set franchise records for tight ends in catches and receiving yards, and became just the ninth tight end in NFL history to record 90 catches in a season, joining Tony Gonzalez (five times), Jason Witten (four), Todd Christensen (two) and Dallas Clark, Jimmy Graham, Ben Coates, Martellus Bennett and Rob Gronkowski. With the Titans still without a fully-developed lead wideout, I expect Walker to once again lead the Titans in catches.

Round 6 Josh Gordon
Yes. This is too early to draft Gordon. But with the long turnaround before my next pick, I was pretty sure he'd be gone before I pick again. As NFL.com suggested upon his reinstatement this past week, if Gordon can match his on-field exploits from 2013, when he led the league in receiving, he's the kind of player who can wholly transform an offense. He'll do the same for fantasy rosters. Gordon has the talent and he carries baggage. From a fantasy perspective, the talent outweighs the baggage. In addition, those concerned about the Browns' talent at QB (or lack thereof) should remember that Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden and Brian Hoyer were his triggermen in that breakout 2013 season.

Round 12 Jordan Howard
It's safe to say that a running back nobody expected to propel fantasy teams to championships will do just that this season. Why? Because it happens. Often. Do the names Knowshon Moreno, Zac Stacey, C.J. Anderson and Justin Forsett ring any bells?. It’s become the norm. Could Howard, the kind of physical north/south runner who can wear down defenses (and that John Fox loves), be that guy? It's worth a shot in the 12th round.

Round 15 Mike Wallace
It's easy to make a case suggesting Wallace was a poor fit in Miami and Minnesota. Now, as ESPN.com recently noted, Baltimore will give Wallace an opportunity to do what he does best: Run straight down the field, get behind defenders and wave to his QB that he's open. And he has the right QB in Baltimore. In Joe Flacco's first seven seasons, he threw 108 passes that traveled 40 yards or more in the air. That's 20 more than any other quarterback over that span. Flacco completed 28 of them (only Drew Brees had more). Last season, Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater attempted four such passes. He connected on none of them. Spending a 15th-round pick to see if Wallace can make the most of this opportunity seems like a no-brainer.

Gary Davenport

Award Winner

Predictions
1st round bust: Allen Robinson – WR, JAX
Must have player: Le’Value Bell – RB, PIT
Stay away player: Devonta Freeman – RB, ATL
Last player taken (flyer): Victor Cruz – WR, NYG
Reach worthy player: DeAngelo Williams – RB, PIT (If you land Bell)

Draft Strategy
The best way I can describe my draft strategy is to say that I don’t really have a draft strategy. I think far too many times fantasy owners let themselves become too constrained when drafting. They decide on what they think will be the right course of action, but even if the course of the draft dictates that a change in tactics is wise they keep right on banging that square peg into a round hole. I knew from the two hole that I was going to start with a “Big Three” wideout. After that it was all about going with the flow.

Analysis

Le’Veon Bell – RB, Pittsburgh Steelers (2.11)
There isn’t a pick in my draft I liked more than getting Bell at the back end of Round 2. Yes, his suspension hurts – as does the fact I wasn’t able to get DeAngelo Williams later. But Bell was a top-five fantasy running back in PPR formats last year on a points per game basis in 2015, and pre-suspension he was widely considered this year’s No. 1 RB option. Paired with Julio Jones, I have the recipe for a high-scoring squad if I can survive the first four weeks of the season.

Larry Fitzgerald – WR, Arizona Cardinals (4.11)
It’s not that hard to see why Fitzgerald is falling on draft day. He’s well the wrong side of 30, and Fitzgerald hasn’t posted top-10 fantasy production since all the way back in 2015, when he piled up a career-high 109 catches for over 1,200 yards. If you’re sensing a bit of sarcasm there, congratulations on being so perceptive. Fitz showed zero signs of being “over the hill” last year – I’ll take him all day long as a WR2.

Greg Olsen – TE, Carolina Panthers (5.02)
There hasn’t been a steadier producer at the thight end position the past few years than Olsen, who has averaged over 70 catches for well over 900 yards and six touchdowns a season dating back to 2012. Each of the past two seasons Olsen has hit the 1,000-yard mark, and his 1,104 receiving yards in 2015 (a career best) led the NFC. Olsen isn’t Rob Gronkowski, and he may not have Jordan Reed’s ceiling. But his floor may well be the highest of any TE in the NFL.

Frank Gore – RB, Indianapolis Colts (8.11)
After passing on DeAngelo Williams for Ryan Mathews and seeing that blow up in my face, getting Gore in this spot may just save my bacon until Bell returns from suspension. Yes, Gore’s old. In RB years he’s ancient. And he failed to hit 1,000 yards on the ground in 2015 for the first time in a long time (2010). He was also still a top 20 fantasy back in PPR formats last year, and he remains the Colts unquestioned lead dog. I’ll take it – and his senior discount at Denny’s.

Isaiah Crowell – RB, Cleveland Browns (13.02)
Matt Franciscovich of NFL.com talked up Crowell recently as a late-round value in the backfield. “A victim of an anemic ground game the past two seasons,” he said, “Crowell was still able to manage 13 total touchdowns and 1,582 yards from scrimmage since his debut in 2014. At age 23 and with 32 NFL games under his belt, Crowell has much room for improvement.” Even if he winds up playing second-fiddle to Duke Johnson, he’s more than worth a look in Round 13.

Mike Beacom

Predictions
1st round bust: JAMAAL CHARLES
Must have player: THOMAS RAWLS
Stay away player: MATTHEW STAFFORD
Last player taken (flyer): JARED COOK
Reach worthy player: MELVIN GORDON

Draft Strategy
I don't overspend on rookies and when it comes to quarterbacks, I either am early in or late to arrive. Picking at No. 4 I'm locked into the first round (either Dez or Ezekiel) but after that I like to zig when the crowd is zagging. Success comes from taking advantage of gaps in the talent pool.

Justin Lonero

Predictions
First round bust: Todd Gurley
Must have player: Eric Decker
Stay Away: Carlos Hyde
Last player taken (flyer): Nelson Agholor
Reach worthy player: Larry Fitzgerald

Draft Strategy
Most draft formats I'm drafting pretty similar. I will start off drafting two wide receivers (sometimes three) followed by a running back or two. Quarterback and tight end are always the last pieces of my puzzle permitting Aaron Rodgers or Cam Newton are hanging around in the sixth.

When my draft is done I always have roughly the same amount of running backs as I do wideouts. I always carry two-three quarterbacks and the same for tight end and team defenses. Sometimes I will take a committee approach at tight end, quarterback, and team defense, and play the player or defense that has the more favorable matchup that particular week.

Analysis

A.J. Green -(Round 1)
I have Green ranked in the top-five at wide receiver in 2016. His upside is steady, and he is consistent just about every season. With Mohamed Sanu, and Marvin Jones gone, a seemingly always hurt Tyler Eifert, Green may have his best season in front of him. He has a clear rapport with Andy Dalton and If I were to bet he'll have another 90/1200/10 stat line type of year. He is a first round pick in any format.

Jordy Nelson (Round 2)
Chances are I would have drafted Keenan Allen, Mike Evans, Brandon Marshall, and Alshon Jeffery all in front of Nelson round two. Still, he is a top-12 wideout and that is exactly what I want in round two. Prior to last season Nelson had 43 touchdowns over a four- year span. He may have been the biggest missing piece to the Packers offense in 2015. He is 31, and he does have tendinitis but few wide receivers will provide the ceiling that he will.

Demaryius Thomas-(Round 3)
Over the last four season DT has played in all 16 games, has had 90+ receptions,1300 yards and averaged 10 touchdowns over that span. The ambiguous quarterback situation leaves room for concern and doubt about what his production leaving drafters off of him, but when I can draft him round three, it is a no-brainer.

Giovani Bernard (Round 6)
My wide receiver heavy approach always put's me in a position to draft running back's just like Giovani Bernard. He is a solid RB2 who will provide me a safe floor weekly and may find himself on the field in two-back sets with Jeremy Hill. I have Gio in the same range as Dion Lewis,Duke Johnson, and Matt Forte. Essentially, I stole him round six.

C.J. Anderson (Round 5)
After drafting four straight wideouts Anderson, who some have ranked as a top-12 RB1 fell on my lap. This proves that we can hammer wide receivers early and still be fine at running back. Anderson is as light as ever and will be counted on for 15-20 touches weekly. What more can I ask for round five in a league full of committees?

Lisa Ann

Lisa Ann football diehardsPredictions
1st round bust:
Odell Beckham, shocking right. Sterling Shepard is young, fresh, hungry and not weighted down by his ego. I see a slight decline in the communication already at camp and to me that is the beginning of less consistency on the field.

Must have player:
Seattle Seahawks Tyler Lockett
Lockett showed flashes of brilliance every chance he had last season. He is all the hype and talks with the coaching staff and has a positive and powerful point of focus.

Stay away player
Pittsburgh Steelers Leveon Bell Right now I feel Bell can’t be trusted, we are unsure of his exact recovery and we can see his focus now will be directed to his appear of his suspension. When I see this type of a repeat distraction, I take a step back from the player.

Last player taken (flyer)
RG3 I am not sure who would have any certainty for him, it’s a roll of the dice that could go either way.

Reach worthy player
Cam Newton, I hear the message to wait for a QB in a draft, but as I view the rushing ability a factor that takes him out of the regular QB crowd. Sometimes it is fun to reach and stir things up a bit in the draft.



Analysis

Ezekiel Elliott:
This is my first share at Elliot and I have found myself finding it too hard to resist jumping on the bandwagon. With all the uncertainty surrounding Tony Romo and the stability of the protection available, it looks more and more like the 2014 season where DeMarco Murray pounded that ball on the ground for over 1400 yards. Elliot has all the opportunity and has even more skill. I can’t deny I see big things for this season. With that said, he won’t be in all of my leagues, enough to have the balance, but not enough to fall pray if he ends up, somehow a bust.

Karlos Williams:
Yes, there is the baby weight and yes there is the suspension, BUT he will be coming in week 5 in sunny Southern California to play the Rams. Just in time to give McCoy the break he will need by then. I look at the potential of McCoy having a looming injury mixed with the intensity William will bring to work to earn his redemption over an embarrassing suspension. Looking at the 2015 season in just 11 games he had 93 carries and 7TDs. In 12 games this season, I out him in the 10-15 range for projected TD’s.

Sterling Shepard:
Shepard looks sharp, a similar style to Beckham Jr. I look to all the press off season and the talking from Beckham himself and I do believe he will be more than covered this season leaving space and opportunity for Shepard. I can see some great things happening here and I will have stock in him in a couple leagues. I can see the competition already staring between the two at camp and when I see a rookie this competitive, I want to be a part of that.

Cam Newton:
I reached early for Cam. My reasoning, I don’t think all players fall into all rules of drafting. As I evaluated how many picks I would have to wait till it would come back around to me and the reality was, if I didn’t reach I wouldn’t get Cam. Cam is hybrid QB & RB combo I don’t see his style changing this season. That Super Bowl loss is fresh, that motivation is real. He gets back Kelvin Benjamin another powerful weapon to add to Superman getting that ball in the air.

Mohamad Sanu:
Sanu is worked off season with Matt Ryan. The connection is there and the focus is even greater. Then we get that little morsel of news about Julio Jones “tweeking something.” That’s all I needed to hear to consider there will be more work coming to Sanu in his new home. He has a massive new contract and a lot to prove. I have seen some clips from him in camp and he is looking fresh, excited and ready to just go out there and Ball SO HARD!

Emil Kadlec

Predictions
First round bust: Dez Bryant
Must have player: Donte Moncrief
Stay Away: DeMarco Murray
Last player taken (flyer): Robert Woods
Reach worthy player: Tyler Eifert


Draft Strategy
My strategy is dependent on my draft position. In this draft I have pick 7. We used KDS (Kentucky Derby Style) to pick draft positions and I chose pick 7. What I am hoping for is a quality wideout to fall to me or I can go with one of the young RBs – David Johnson, Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott. Unfortunately the Le'Veon Bell news came out after our draft position process and that will change who falls to me at pick 7.

I also plan to select wide receivers with three of my first four picks.


Analysis

3.07 Sammy Watkins
If you take the last six weeks of the 2015 NFL season and project Sammy Watkins stats into a full 16 weeks, he would’ve been the third rated wide receiver. And if you take the last eight games and do the same he would’ve been a seventh rated wideout. The problem is the question of whether he is going to be ready to play week one given his injury status. I felt comfortable drafting him as the 18th wide receiver taken. Hopefully it will be worth the risk.

6.06 Tyler Eifert
Tyler Eifert missed the last four games of the 2015 NFL season due to an injured foot. Taking the first 12 weeks of the 2015 NFL season, including a bye, Eifert would’ve finished among the top-3 tight ends in 2015. Considering the Bengals loss of Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones, Eifert could even be more valuable and receive more targets in 2016.

9.07 Sammie Coates
This selection was somewhat of a reach given the fact that I was a little bit running back heavy in a PPR league. So I believed I needed to get a potential upside player. Coates’ ADP is 54 and I drafted him as the 48 wide receiver. With Martavis Bryant on a one-year suspension and Markus Wheaton not really showing that he’s an exceptional wide receiver, I am “hoping” Coates can overtake Wheaton and help me at WR3 and the flex position this year.

10.06 Philip Rivers
In the last three years, Rivers finished ranked sixth, ninth and 10th among fantasy quarterbacks. Yes this includes extremely difficult and injury prone 2015 season where Keenan Allen missed half the year. Therefore I believe Rivers is a solid value pick in the 10th round as the 10th QB taken.

13.07 Tyrod Taylor
Tyrod Taylor had a solid year with his first time start as an NFL quarterback finishing 18th among fantasy QBs. If you take his last six 2015 season games and project them into a full 16 games he would’ve finished among the top-5 fantasy QB’s. I believe Taylor is an excellent QB2 and as you can see you can get him very deep into your fantasy draft.

Dave Hunter

Predictions
1st round bust -- Lamar Miller (in PPR)
Must have player -- Jordan Reed
Stay away player -- DeMarco Murray
Last player taken (flyer) - Kenny Stills
Reach worthy player - Amari Cooper

Draft Strategy
It's not a difficult notion to go all-in on a WR draft strategy this season, considering the influx of inconsistency at the RB position over the first couple of rounds. Sure, I'm tempted to stick with my normal pass-catching RB strategy here, but my goal is to build the most consistent roster possible heading into 2016. With the way the league playoff system is set, you won't find me getting willy-nilly and running a haphazard "Studs-and-Duds" draft. I'd love to lock in a superstar WR during the first round (i.e. - DeAndre Hopkins) and then follow that up with another WR I can trust. I'll be drafting RB after that assuming nothing crazy has happened, like Adrian Peterson staring me in the face in Round 2.


Analysis

Jarvis Landry, Round 2
Landry was a very nice consolation prize for me as I was targeting the Raiders Amari Cooper, but I have a sneaky suspicion that I will be better off with Landry living on my roster. With 194 receptions in his first two NFL seasons, Landry’s ability to bring in receptions is huge in a PPR system. I’m hoping for a nice surge in TD production to make this pick really pay off.

Jordan Reed, Round 3
Landing Reed, one of the top pass-catching TE in the game, was a specific goal of mine heading into the draft. I targeted him with the intention of gaining a significant advantage over the rest of the draft field. I won’t be surprised to see Reed reel in 100 catches and rack up over 1,000 yards in 2016.

Jeremy Langford, Round 8
Langford has been a hot topic of late in the fantasy football world, mainly with the negativity surrounding his “overrated” abilities. I’m not completely buying it, and even if Langford is overrated and doesn’t pan out, he’s absolutely worth a Round 8 pick. I like Langford to be a good bye-week fill in when my starters are resting.

Darren Sproles, Round 12
Sproles is my favorite value pick of my team, landing his pass-catching talents out of the backfield for a minimum round value. I know Sproles isn’t the player he once was in New Orleans, but you have to think that he’ll get close to 50 receptions and play an intricate part of the Philadelphia passing game yet again after signing a new contract. I actually see Sproles’ usage bumping up a tick.

Calvin Johnson, Round 17
Yeah, this was likely a wasted pick going after Johnson after retiring from the league, but, still, if you’re going to waste a pick why not waste it on the hedge bet that Megatron miraculously decides to come out of retirement? Yes, it’s very unlikely; however, my club was fairly balanced at the time and I only needed a kicker, so I figured what the heck.

Chad Stapley

Predictions
Must Have Player: Carlos Hyde - RB - San Francisco 49ers
Stay Away Player: CJ Anderson - RB - Denver Broncos
Last Player Taken: Ladarius Green - TE - Pittsburgh Steelers
Reach Worthy Player - Ezekiel Elliott - RB - Dallas Cowboys

Draft Strategy
Stack your roster with Do-It-All RBs who excel not only in the running game but also in the passing game. Teams are going to run the ball no matter what, and having a RB that can also being a compliment to the passing game can lead to scoring oodles of fantasy points. For WRs, players who play in a high paced offense that pass more than they run is who your rosters should be filled with. The TE position is the most changed position on my roster as there are only a few true constant threats at the TE position.


Analysis

Ryan Tannehill – QB – Miami Dolphins
Tannehill is entering his 5th season with the Dolphins, and he finally has a head coach in Adam Gase that should be able to maximize all that the QB has to offer. Tannehill is better on paper than most people give him credit for as he has thrown for over 3,500 yards and for more than 23 TDs in each of the last three seasons. Gase got the best and most out of both Peyton Manning (well past his prime) and Jay Cutler, so the fact that Tannehill is entering his prime should do wonders for his fantasy value.

Carlos Hyde – RB – San Francisco 49ers
Hyde has been somewhat injury prone since being drafted by San Francisco three years ago but when he has played he has flashed brilliance. Hyde is the total package at RB and the 49ers just hired Chip Kelly as head coach so Hyde should get the ball early and often. If Chip can implement his fast paced offense successfully in year one and Hyde can stay injury free he could be on the verge of a top five fantasy RB ranking.

Antonio Brown – WR – Pittsburgh Steelers
Making Brown the #1 overall pick was a no brainer, especially after the year he put together in 2015. Over the past two seasons Brown has a ridiculous 265 receptions for 3,532 yards and 23 TDs. Those type of numbers are stats that most WRs can only hope to achieve over their entire career and Brown did it in two seasons. With Martavis Bryant out for the first part of the season Brown should continue on his tear early in 2016.

Travis Benjamin – WR – San Diego Chargers
Benjamin had a career year in 2015 when it mattered the most, playing with a different mediocre QB several times throughout the season. Awful QB play aside, Benjamin was still able to haul in 68 receptions for 966 yards and five TDs, earning him a nice pay upgrade in San Diego and he gets to play with one of the best QBs playing in Phillip Rivers. Benjamin also is an above average punt returner having scored a TD in three out of his first four seasons on special teams.

Coby Fleener – TE – New Orleans Saints
Fleener has been the starting TE for the Colts for the past three seasons and has performed pretty well given the fact that he had to fight for playing time with Dwayne Allen, the guy the Colts decided to keep instead. Fleener is the far superior offensive talent and playing next to Drew Brees should instantly making him a top five TE in fantasy football. Fleener could be in for a career year if he can develop an early relationship with Brees.

Evan Tarracciano

Predictions
First Round Bust – (Rob Gronkowski – TE, New England Patriots) – I’ve long been known as an owner who would wait until the mid to late rounds to even consider drafting a tight end, given how top-heavy the position is. My philosophy of “if you don’t have the top three players, the remainder is somewhat interchangeable”, coupled with the Tom Brady suspension makes me leery of Gronk’s ADP. He hasn’t started all 16 games since 2011, and while few could argue that he is still the league’s top end-zone threat, one has to wonder how capped his production will be with Jimmy Garoppolo at the helm. To make matters worse, Gronk also missed a portion of OTAs with an undisclosed injury. Do I still think that he will reach a 70-1050-9 line? Sure. But considering he’s being drafted ahead of Dez Bryant and A.J. Green, I’ll take my chances with the receivers instead.

Must have player – (Mike Evans – WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers) – I know what you’re thinking – is this the same Mike Evans that dropped a million passes last season and was widely considered a disappointment? Yes, one and the same. I’ll admit that his precipitous drop off in touchdowns from 12 in his rookie season to three last year was unexpected, to say the least. That aside, he set career-highs in receptions (74), yards (1,206) and YPC (16.3). Evans finished with more yards and receptions than the aforementioned Rob Gronkowski, but he is being drafted 17 spots afterwards. While he’s still not in the same realm as an Antonio Brown or Odell Beckham Jr., he isn’t as far away as you think.

Stay away player – (Any QB prior to round 5) – Unless I’m in a two quarterback league, you won’t find me drafting a signal-caller until at least round 5. Most “experts” fall into this same line of thought, but I’ll be perfectly content waiting on a Blake Bortles or Eli Manning, rather than wasting a pick on Cam Newton. Is because I don’t think that Newton’s numbers from last season are repeatable? Not necessarily, but I’d prefer to stock up on wide receivers and running backs in my earlier rounds, shoring up bench depth if possible.

Last player taken – (Josh Gordon – WR, Cleveland Browns) – With the recent news that Gordon is eligible for reinstatement as of August 1st, I certainly feel that he is worth a flier. Do the Browns absolutely stink? Sure do. Yet that gives all the more reason to take the reach on Gordon, who could see plenty of garbage time production with RGIII at the helm. The remainder of the team’s receivers are rookies, which leads me to believe that he would become RGIII’s favorite target quickly.

Reach worthy player – (Sterling Shepard – WR, New York Giants) – I’m all in on this kid, and have been since he was drafted by the Giants several months ago. While he didn’t carry the same hype as Laquon Treadwell or Will Fuller, Shepard was every bit their equal at Oklahoma. He fits into the Giants system of quick passing perfectly, and is a sneaky-fast, impeccable route runner, similar to his counterpart Victor Cruz. Although reports have surfaced that the team wants to return to a run-first mentality, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the G-men be forced to pass it up and down the field due to their offensive line struggling to producing holes for Rashad Jennings and company. I may be in the minority, but I fully expect Shepard to catch more than 65 passes and break the 1,000 yard mark as a rookie.


My Draft Strategy
No secrets here. A typical “Roto Wizard” team is very strong at the RB and WR positions, followed up by upside plays at QB and TE. I don’t have a set round philosophy where I need to take certain positions in order – I’ll let things fall and grab value where I can. I don’t believe in reaching for rookies (Shepard aside), and will lean on proven veterans to produce consistent points on a weekly basis, rather than flashy players who could have boom-or-bust weeks and cause me to lose. Defenses and kickers are always last considerations.

Brad Kruse

Predictions 1st round bust: Adrian Peterson.
Must have player: Tyler Lockett
Stay away player: Jeremy Langford
Last player taken (flyer): Keith Marshall
Reach worthy player: Sterling Shepard

Draft Strategy.
Going into this draft, my plan is to look for value. Zero RB has heated up this year, so I'm expecting a lot of WRs to fly off the draft board. This probably re-enforces the need to secure WRs early in this format as going opposite too often too early can leave you dangerously thin at WR. But, real value at running back could present itself in the draft. I'll wait to select my QB, K and D/ST until the final rounds. I'll focus my early rounds at finding elite players at WR and TE or RB. My goal is to get to the flex positions quicker than my competition.

Analysis

2.04 Brandon Marshall: This was the first inflection of my draft. I'm looking for a 300 point upside. Le'Veon Bell and Jamaal Charles were serious considerations. In previous years they would be solid 1st round picks. Charles was limited to 5 games played last year. For RBs, ages 26-28 is where they peak and Charles will be 30 in December. Bell is suspended 4 games after missing multiple drug tests. Both were solid options here, but Marshall's last 4 years, he's finished as WR2, WR32, WR6, WR2 breaking 300 points in 3 of those 4 seasons. His probability of a 300 point season seems higher than the RBs.

6.04 Alan Hurns: The RBs were picked off between my 4th and 5th selections. With what's on the board, I'm heavily biased toward stacking 6 WRs now. I wanted two of Brown, Hurns and Gordon. I lost Gordon between my picks leaving Hurns available at WR36. He finished as WR19 (15 ppg) last year (his second season). The previous year, with a rookie QB and only starting 8 games he finished as WR49. As the 36th WR off the board, I loved that risk/reward ratio and cemented that my two flex positions will likely be difference makers.

7.09 DeAngelo Williams: Ideally, a top 6 TE would have been available; I had my eye on Eifert as a fall back if they weren't. Without those options, I turned my attention to piecing together some plays at RB. With the short 18 man rosters and drafting early, players will emerge in the early weeks and I'll focus on locking up a RB from the waiver wire. Assuming the Bell suspension holds, Williams could hold RB1 value the first four weeks and buy me time to figure out the running back slots that I'll need. I'm feeling good about my draft at this point.

8.04 Justin Forsett: Continuing the work of piecing together some RB options, I considered Riddick, Gordon and Langford but ended up choosing Forsett. Not counting the game he got hurt in last year, he averaged a respectable 13+ ppg in 2015. He likely opens the year as the starter, but my plan was to grab Dixon and Buck Allen later – Those handcuffs were in higher demand than I expected, so Forsett will need to hold onto this job for me at least until I find other options.

15.09 Darren McFadden: Ezekiel Elliott's situation is a concern in real life and fantasy football. He risks a six game suspension as a first offense for domestic violence. I didn't want an upside player I'd have to wait on because I know there will be free agents I need to move on in Week 1. McFadden will make that decision easy for me; either Elliott is suspended and McFadden is the lead dog, or he's a roster spot I can free up for valuable week 1 FAAB activity. With neither DeAngelo nor Forsett likely to have their roles late into the season, I'll need that roster spot.

John Laub

Predictions First-round Bust: Jamaal Charles
Must Have Player: Mike Evans
Stay-Away Player: Thomas Rawls
Last Player Taken: Bruce Ellington
Reach Worthy Player: Jameis Winston

Draft Strategy
After nearly three decades of drafting fantasy football teams, I am not ideologically anchored to any one strategy. My draft position and league competitors are an integral component of how my team is composed. However, I am looking to open every draft with the best player on my draft board regardless of position. I prefer later-round quarterbacks; nevertheless, if a top four signal caller—Newton, Rogers, Wilson and Luck—remains available in the sixth round, I will change my thinking and take the stud at the position.


Analysis

David Johnson, Cardinals
While the zero-RB theory is enticing, I could not pass up the upside value of David Johnson with the sixth-pick overall. The Cardinals sophomore stands atop my running back rankings and projects as my fantasy MVP in 2016. Fantasy diehards prize Johnson in a points-per-reception (ppr) league after he snatched 36 passes and averaged over 12 ypc. last year.

Duke Johnson, Browns
In a ppr league, I covet 150 receptions from my top three running backs, and Duke Johnson is the perfect complement to my first-round selection. In early drafts, the Cleveland speedster came off the board in the seventh-to-eighth rounds, but is more expensive closer to kickoff. I reached for Johnson in the fourth round; nevertheless, I did not want to lose out on my preferred pass-catching running back.

Kamar Aiken, Ravens
The wide receiver depth chart in Baltimore may perplex some fantasy owners; however, I am not confounded. At 6’2” and 215 lbs., Kamar Aiken provides quarterback Joe Flacco the best combination of size, speed, hands, health and route running on the roster. The 27-year old nearly surpassed 1,000 yards receiving and scored five touchdowns on 75 catches last year. In 2016, Aiken becomes a weekly fantasy starter.

Tyler Lockett, Seahawks
After Marshawn Lynch was sidelined, the Seahawks passing game took flight. Rookie wide out Tyler Lockett—along with Doug Baldwin— became principal beneficiaries of the change in Seattle’s philosophy. In the final seven contests of the season, the former Kansas State star grabbed 30 passes for 404 yards and five touchdowns. The Seahawks have hinted at a bigger role for Lockett, and his targets will surely increase in 2016.

Winston/Cousins
Waiting on quarterbacks has become the norm among most fantasy football experts, and in this draft, I waited patiently as signal callers were selected during the first ten rounds. I am heavily invested in both Jameis Winston and Kirk Cousins and expect both to rank among the top 12 when the season comes to a conclusion in December. Both young signal callers became weekly starters down the stretch last year and are surrounded by game-breaking athletes on their respective offenses.

Chad Stapley

Predictions
Must Have Player: Carlos Hyde - RB - San Francisco 49ers
Stay Away Player: CJ Anderson - RB - Denver Broncos
Last Player Taken: Ladarius Green - TE - Pittsburgh Steelers
Reach Worthy Player - Ezekiel Elliott - RB - Dallas Cowboys

Draft Strategy
Stack your roster with Do-It-All RBs who excel not only in the running game but also in the passing game. Teams are going to run the ball no matter what, and having a RB that can also being a compliment to the passing game can lead to scoring oodles of fantasy points. For WRs, players who play in a high paced offense that pass more than they run is who your rosters should be filled with. The TE position is the most changed position on my roster as there are only a few true constant threats at the TE position.


Analysis

Ryan Tannehill – QB – Miami Dolphins
Tannehill is entering his 5th season with the Dolphins, and he finally has a head coach in Adam Gase that should be able to maximize all that the QB has to offer. Tannehill is better on paper than most people give him credit for as he has thrown for over 3,500 yards and for more than 23 TDs in each of the last three seasons. Gase got the best and most out of both Peyton Manning (well past his prime) and Jay Cutler, so the fact that Tannehill is entering his prime should do wonders for his fantasy value.

Carlos Hyde – RB – San Francisco 49ers
Hyde has been somewhat injury prone since being drafted by San Francisco three years ago but when he has played he has flashed brilliance. Hyde is the total package at RB and the 49ers just hired Chip Kelly as head coach so Hyde should get the ball early and often. If Chip can implement his fast paced offense successfully in year one and Hyde can stay injury free he could be on the verge of a top five fantasy RB ranking.

Antonio Brown – WR – Pittsburgh Steelers
Making Brown the #1 overall pick was a no brainer, especially after the year he put together in 2015. Over the past two seasons Brown has a ridiculous 265 receptions for 3,532 yards and 23 TDs. Those type of numbers are stats that most WRs can only hope to achieve over their entire career and Brown did it in two seasons. With Martavis Bryant out for the first part of the season Brown should continue on his tear early in 2016.

Travis Benjamin – WR – San Diego Chargers
Benjamin had a career year in 2015 when it mattered the most, playing with a different mediocre QB several times throughout the season. Awful QB play aside, Benjamin was still able to haul in 68 receptions for 966 yards and five TDs, earning him a nice pay upgrade in San Diego and he gets to play with one of the best QBs playing in Phillip Rivers. Benjamin also is an above average punt returner having scored a TD in three out of his first four seasons on special teams.

Coby Fleener – TE – New Orleans Saints
Fleener has been the starting TE for the Colts for the past three seasons and has performed pretty well given the fact that he had to fight for playing time with Dwayne Allen, the guy the Colts decided to keep instead. Fleener is the far superior offensive talent and playing next to Drew Brees should instantly making him a top five TE in fantasy football. Fleener could be in for a career year if he can develop an early relationship with Brees.

Jen Ryan

Predistions
1st round bust – Rob Gronkowski
Must have player – Eric Decker
Stay away player – David Johnson
Last player taken – Robert Woods
Reach worthy player – Russell Wilson

Draft strategy
As a shameless ZeroRB drafter I went into this draft thinking that, because I am drafting against such heavy hitters, I have to be flexible and let the draft come to me. There was value that fell to me that I felt I couldn’t pass up, such as my Jamaal Charles and Mark Ingram picks. I also knew coming into the draft that I would be selecting one quarterback, tight end, and defense and that I would not deviate. These are streamable positions in redraft leagues with waiver wires, and there is simply no reason for me to have a backup of these positions on my bench if I am confident starting the players I selected.

Analysis

Melvin Gordon
I know the joke here is “Meh-lvin Gordon” but his value appears to be at an all-time high. The Chargers invested a high draft pick in him last year and sometimes rookies just need some time to get their feet wet. Gordon, who scored no touchdowns last season, literally has nowhere to go but up. If the Chargers give him the load as I suspect, he will be a steal as the 32nd running back off the board in the eighth round.

Bilal Powell
My logic with Powell is I can pay a premium for Matt Forte or I can get Powell on the cheap who could put up similar numbers. He carved out a role for himself as the two-minute drill back in New York and the good news is, New York runs the two-minute drill a lot. Bringing back Ryan Fitzpatrick only elevates Powell’s stock in my opinion and I was happy to nab him where I did. When the Jets signed Powell to a nearly identical deal as Forte they told me all I needed to know.

Ted Ginn, Jr.
Is there a receiver coming off of a 10 touchdown season who gets less respect than Ginn? Regression is expected but I will not ignore a player who scored a touchdown on over 10% of his targets last year, especially in the 15th round. Local Carolina beats report that Ginn may be used on kick returns this season which just gives him an added bonus in addition to his role as the punt returner.

Jamaal Charles
Charles only appeared in five games in 2015 but prior to that he was a top 10 running back three years in a row. In those three seasons, Charles appeared in 35 games averaging 225 total touches, 1283 all-purpose yards and 12.7 touchdowns per season. When he is healthy, which all signs indicate he is, Charles is a dominant running back, especially in PPR scoring.

DeAndre Hopkins
I felt the need to secure an elite wide receiver with my first pick and I did so with Hopkins. He is match up and quarterback proof. He also dominated his teams target share last year with 16% of the target and he played more snaps than any other receiver in the league. Brock Osweiler figures to be an upgrade at quarterback and Hopkins has the upside to finish as the top receiver in fantasy football.