Diehards Staff Draft Analysis
Click here for: Diehards Draft Video w/ Scout.com/Fantasy Commissioner
Some of us (yes, me) may have been drafting since February at this point but the season really feels like it is gearing up when you participate in your first competitive roster management draft. There is no more competitive league I will be in this year than the Football Diehards staff draft. With nothing on the line but pride and the bragging rights to be the champion among us, this league will be taken very seriously. The draft, like many experts draft, was interesting and exciting. Strategies were deployed, bold picks were made and value was stolen. You can take a look at our Scout.com/Fantasy draft board here. Let’s dive right in and take a look at each team in order of the draft.
Chad StapleyWhen it comes to the first pick in fantasy football drafts, Antonio Brown is essentially the unanimous number one overall pick. You can’t really go wrong when you take the receiver who has finished as the WR1 in fantasy football two years in a row and is highly likely to make a hat trick out of it. When you kick off a draft with Brown you have the flexibility to grab a stud running back with your next pick which is exactly what Chad did when he selected Devonta Freeman as the eight running back off the board. What I consider to be Chad’s money maker in this draft is his Coby Fleener/Drew Brees stack. I am a firm believer in the quarterback/stud receiver stack, and Fleener figures to be one of Brees’ top targets. In 2014 Jimmy Graham saw 132 targets and in 2015 Ben Watson saw 113. Fleener is in for a huge year and Chad will be on both ends of it.
Gary DavenportIt is hard to analyze Gary’s team without talking about Le’Veon Bell. Since the announcement of his possible four-game suspension Bell has fallen from a sometimes number one overall pick and consensus top five pick to a second round selection. There is now recent news that Bell may not face a suspension at all. Regardless if he is suspended or not Gary stole Bell from all of us with the 11th pick in the second round as the seventh back off the board. Bell very well may not only get Gary into the playoffs but he could win this thing for him. Maybe it was bold to take a player who is facing a four-game ban but not nearly as bold as selecting Anquan Boldin in the 11th round. The bold approach is the champion approach. As Emil Kadlec mentioned during our live draft analysis, you either want to come in first or last, not in between.
Dave HunterIt appears Dave drafted with PPR on his mind, and rightfully so. Targets are the foundation of all scoring and especially in PPR you want to chase guys who are target hogs. Dave spent his first four picks on guys who absorb a large portion of their teams’ targets. Look at Dave picks in order and their 2015 stats:
Odell Beckham Jr. – 158 targets, 89% of team snaps played, 15% of team targets on snaps played
Jarvis Landry – 166 targets, 84% of team snaps played, 19% of team targets on snaps played
Jordan Reed – 114 targets, 65% of team snaps played, 16% of team targets on snaps played
Danny Woodhead – 106 targets, 51% of team snaps played, 17% of team targets on snaps played
This is a terrific start in this format. Dave locked up the core of his fantasy team with heavily targeted players which are exactly what you want in PPR scoring.
Mike BeacomMike’s balanced approach to kick off the draft allowed him to take chances later on. He started his draft with Dez Bryant, Amari Cooper, Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls, and DeMarco Murray. Securing two stud receivers and following that up with three stud running backs allows you to continue you draft by selecting the best player available rather than drafting for need. This gave Mike a certain amount of freedom and with that freedom comes advantage. In the middle rounds some are still locking up their core point scorers, but Mike already took care of that. He was able to use those rounds on guys like Markus Wheaton, Derek Henry, and Josh Doctson who all have huge upside.
Justin LoneroJustin made no secret of his strategy both on Twitter and in our chat room during the draft. His approach was simple and logical – this is a passing league where receivers dominate. He wanted receivers and he took them with his first four picks. He has four players who are the WR1 on their respective teams. What is nice about this approach is that Justin will be able to flex a stud receiver each week if he chooses too. He did not completely punt the running back position either. He followed up his four receiver start with C.J. Anderson and Giovani Bernard. In true ZeroRB fashion, he secured pass-catching backs and got a steal with Anderson who figures to dominate his teams’ touches.
John LaubI am actually having a conversation about John’s draft as I am writing this. John took Duke Johnson in the fourth round which may be deemed a “reach” based off Johnson’s current 5.03 ADP. In an expert’s draft and in any draft with savvy players, ADP has to be taken somewhat with a grain of salt. John is high on Johnson and it is unlikely he would have been available to him when the draft snaked back to him. Grabbing Johnson here was what John needed to do to get him on his team, and his team is better because of it.
Emil KadlecI had the distinct pleasure of chatting with Emil about his picks and even sniping him on a few. He drafted players with incredible high ceilings and upside. Emil spoke openly during our live draft analysis about taking risks on guys. If you are reading this, you should know that Emil has been doing this for a while (over 30 years) and probably knows a thing or two about drafting a winning team. Gurley, Evans, Watkins, Lewis, Parker, and Eifert round out Emil’s first picks and compile what I consider to be the all-upside team. Emil said he either wants to come in first or last and a strategy like this brings you much closer to first place than it does last place.
Jen RyanHere is my attempt at analyzing my own team without any bias: while I am proud of the team I drafted, I very much deviated from my own draft strategy. I am a shameless receiver hog in drafts, yet I spent my second and third pick on Jamaal Charles and Mark Ingram. The logic here is I let the draft come to me. Flexibility can be key in these drafts, and I basically did a jumping, toe-touch split when I showed off just how flexible I can be. I considered both Charles and Ingram to slip a bit past where they should have been taken and consider them to be value picks.
Brad KruseThere is something you should know about Brad and that is that Brad is a veteran high stakes player. The sort of drafting I personally do is child’s play compared to Brad’s wheelhouse. I think it is important to mention that he is a high stakes player because no one has more on the line when they are drafting than he does. He is an analytical guy and spends much of his draft clock carefully choosing his players. Study Brad’s team and you can get a peek inside of the mind of someone who invests a lot of money in this game. If Brad likes wide receivers, and he certainly does which is evident by his WRx6 start, then you too should like wide receivers. Brad and I are on the same wavelength in terms of quarterbacks. We both waited until 14th round to take ours. In a league with waivers, late-round quarterbacking is the way to go, in my and Brad’s humble opinion.
Evan TarraccianoEvan’s draft represents a fearless approach to injury players. Adrian Peterson, Alshon Jeffery, Julian Edelman, and Kelvin Benjamin all carry that dreaded “injury prone” reputation. I am going to agree with Evan here when I say “Well, who cares”? These are dominant players at their positions, injuries be damned. If you approach your drafting worrying about injuries then you are doing this wrong. Evan took what I consider to be the player with the most upside coming off of an injury when he took Victor Crus in the 16th round. 74 wide receivers were drafted before Cruz and I can already see Evan patting himself on the back for this pick in the early weeks of the season.
Lisa AnnI paid close attention to what Lisa Ann did in this draft. She is one of, if not the, sharpest female analysts and is very good at this game. Off the bat, Rob Gronkowski in the second round must be considered a steal. He typically goes in the first and what Lisa gets out of Gronk is a player who is without question the top player at his position. After our draft, Justin Lonero commented that Lisa drafted a team loaded with Cowboys. While this made sense in my heart since I am a shameless Cowboys fan, this also made a ton of sense in my brain. If Lisa is expecting to see more of the 2014 Dallas Cowboys than the 2015 Dallas Cowboys then why not stack a potent offense during your draft? This is a high risk/high reward daily fantasy strategy that can certainly translate to redraft leagues as well.
Bob HarrisBob was in an interesting position with the 12th pick. That draft slot is unique in the same way the first pick is. Drafting from the turn requires you to think much farther ahead than anyone else you are drafting with. Particularly with the 12th pick you find yourself having to reach a bit for players like Josh Gordon. Bob wanted to Gordon and would have been taking too much of a risk if he wanted to wait 23 picks in the hopes that Gordon would come back to him. On the flipside of that, Bob was able to stack total dominance at quarterback due to his pick at the turn. On the 7th/8th round stack, Bob drafted Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady. I am not sure this needs much analysis. With two quarterbacks who are more than capable of being top-five at their position, your biggest problem now becomes figuring out which one to play. That a really good problem to have.
I have written in the past about the importance of analyzing experts drafts. Even though I was a participant in this one I paid very close attention to what those around me were doing. There is so much to learn by watching how some of the best of the best do it. It is not every day you get to observe a high stakes veteran, DFS guru, long-time player, rookie expert, volume player or any of the other sort of specialty our staff displays. This draft, as well as the expert drafts published in our magazines this summer, should be crucial pieces of your personal draft kit.