Flex League PPR Draft Recap

By Jen Ryan
Jen Ryan FLEX League Draft Board

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to travel to our nation’s capital to participate in Jake Ceily’s Flex League draft. I could write a separate article about how cool the experience was, especially hanging out for the auction draft to watch how some of the best in the business tackle that format. Both drafts had their fair share of being informative, intense, and hilarious. The PPR draft I participated in was more on the intense side, at least for me. I have completed over 80 drafts and felt well prepared to participate in the Flex League draft. With that said, I could have a million drafts under my belt and I would have still felt the pressure and intensity of being in a draft room with this caliber of industry experts I will be playing against this season.

I’ll break down the draft by round. This is a weekly roster management league with waivers, trades, and of course PPR scoring. We start a 10 player team of one quarterback, 2-4 running backs, 3-5 wide receivers, 1-3 tight ends and one defense.

Round 1
With the sixth overall pick I selected Dez Bryant. I could write for days in defense of Bryant but my logic is simple here: I suspected receivers would be flying off the board and I wanted to secure a stud receiver. The choice here for me was between Bryant, DeAndre Hopkins, and A.J. Green. Jamey Eisenberg selected Green with the fifth pick, so I went with Bryant for his immense touchdown upside. Since entering the league in 2010 Bryant’s touchdown totals have increased each season. No receiver in 2015 was able to duplicate his 16 touchdown finish from 2014. This is what I believe we can expect from a healthy Bryant.

First Round Surprise: Dan Dobish selected Todd Gurley with the second overall pick. There were a few gasps and this pick was discussed in depth but I was not surprised. The first round is where you are investing your biggest piece of draft capital and I feel you need to grab “your guy”, regardless of where you pick from. Besides, Dobish works for VegasInsider.com, so I think he knows what he is doing.
Round 2
My intended strategy was to load up early on receivers and then Lamar Miller was sitting there when my pick was up. At 2.07 I simply could not pass on him there and I feel I got some great value for a guy who I have seen drafted in the late first/early second in more than one draft. He should finally get those bell cow carries that we all know he is capable of. Miller is a dual threat back who is also a weapon in the passing game. He finished as the RB5 in PPR scoring in 2015 and is expected to get more opportunity in Houston.

Second Round Surprise: Eric Young, who is a professional wrestler in the WWE, may have jumped at LeSean McCoy a bit but he did so with good reason. There is no guarantee McCoy would have fell to him in the third round, and give the suspensions the Bills’ backfield is dealing with; McCoy could turn in second round or even first round value.

Round 3
I made it a point to be flexible in this draft and let it come to me but I did have two firm ideas in mind: chase touchdowns and chase targets. I chased touchdowns with my first round pick and with my third round pick I took my first run at targets with Jarvis Landry. Ryan Tannehill has blinders on when it comes to Landry and, based on reports coming out of camp, he is dominating already. Last year, only five receivers saw more targets than Landry’s 166. I am confident he will improve upon his four receiving touchdowns from last season.
Third Round Surprise: Joe Dolan from FantasyGuru.com saw Devonta Freeman fall into his lap at 3.01. I am not sure how eight running backs were selected before Freeman, including a rookie who has yet to take a snap of professional football and a back who is facing a four-game suspension. This was the best pick of the third round in my opinion.

Round 4
After chasing targets with Landry I was back to chasing touchdowns with my Doug Baldwin pick. Baldwin is a tough receiver to peg this season for a few reasons. First, touchdown regression is expected. It is hard to imagine Doug Baldwin goes on the scoring blitz he did during the second half of 2015. If he hits 14 touchdowns again it is likely to come over the course of the entire season. The Seahawks went through an identity transition last season. The offense used to run through Marshawn Lynch but we saw a shift to receivers after he was injured. Baldwin will have to remain as the top receiving option in Seattle for him to be worth his fourth round price tag and Tyler Lockett could push him for that role.

Fourth Round Surprise: Steve Gallo of TheHuddle.com spent an early-fourth on John Brown. The Arizona receiving corps is tough to nail in redraft and daily fantasy but Steve snagged the receiver with the most upside. Michael Floyd went two picks later and Larry Fitzgerald went three picks after that, all in the fourth round.

Round 5
Back to chasing targets, I jumped a round for Duke Johnson. I needed a high upside receiving back to compliment Lamar Miller and I did not want to risk missing out on Johnson in the sixth round. He is a threat to surpass his 74 targets from last season and I would not be surprised if he saw a target total in the range of 90.

Fifth Round Surprise: I jumped a round for Johnson and completely missed the fact that Dion Lewis fell a round. He is typically selected in the fourth round and John Halpin from Fox Sports drafted him right after I selected Johnson. I have Johnson a bit higher than Lewis but Halpin won the round with this pick.

Round 6
I channeled my inner Bob Harris with my sixth round Willie Snead pick. Bob is high on Snead and with good reason. The New Orleans’ passing game is plentiful enough for everyone to have a piece. If I am not interested in paying a premium for Brandin Cooks (hint: I’m not), I am very interested in grabbing Snead in the middle rounds. The biggest thing separating Cooks from Snead last season was touchdowns, where Cooks scored nine to Snead’s three.

Sixth Round Surprise: Sterling Shepard became the first rookie receiver selected in the draft and he went to Holden Kushner of FanDuel.com. I feel Shepard has as much upside as any rookie in this draft class, including that certain running back in Dallas. In fact, I wrote about him as my 2016 Offensive Rookie of the Year pick in our magazines this summer, which you can still subscribe for using the promo code “DIEHARDS”.

Round 7
I am a firm believer in late-round quarterbacking, especially in weekly management leagues, but I made it a point to be flexible in this draft and showed off how flexible I can be by selecting Russell Wilson as the QB4. He pairs nicely with Doug Baldwin but Wilson’s most appealing aspect is his mobility. I would have targeted other mobile quarterbacks such as Jameis Winston or Tyrod Taylor later in the draft but Wilson’s value felt too good here.

Seventh Round Surprise: FNTSY.com’s Pat Mayo drafted DeAngelo Williams with the last pick of this round and will be able to enjoy RB1 production for (likely) at least four weeks. If Wilson was not available and if I did not own Baldwin, Williams would have been my pick in this round.

Round 8
Drafting Melvin Gordon in the eighth round is a no brainer for me in any draft. I was surprised he fell here and feel there is no bigger bounce-back candidate than him. Gordon did not score a single touchdown last season. He will be running behind an abysmal offensive line again in 2016 but I expect the Chargers to feed him and get the production out of Gordon they expected when they spent a first round draft pick on him in 2015.

Eighth Round Surprise: I was surprised when I heard Philip Dorsett drafted in this round until I realized it was Jamey Eisenberg of CBSSports.com who selected him. I had the privilege of sitting next to Jamey during this draft which was a learning experience in itself. He spoke about this pick during the draft to the hosts of Sirius XM Radio and his reasoning of Dorsett being in a potent offensive, giving him tremendous upside, is more than logical.

Round 9
When I drafted Gary Barnidge as the TE8 here I instantly regretted it. This was the only pick in the draft that I would take back if I could. This speaks more to my drafting style than to Barnidge’s value. In a weekly league I prefer to carry one low cost, high upside tight end. I drafted that three rounds later when I selected Zach Miller in the 12th round. I see no reason to have two tight ends on my roster and view it as a streamable position. If he gets off to a hot start he may be ideal trade bait.

Ninth Round Surprise: Drew Brees went to our commissioner Jake Ceily of RotoExperts.com in this round as the QB6. Drew Brees worst fantasy season since 2009 came last year when he finished as the QB6. Jake drafted him at his perceived floor and he has as much upside as any other top quarterback, maybe more, to finish as the QB1 this season.

Round 10
As the rounds start to thin out I was really just looking for value at this point. I felt Vincent Jackson was over looked and I pounced on him in the tenth round as my WR5. We can play up to five receivers each week and I can certainly do worse than flexing Vincent Jackson in games where he has a great matchup. Tampa Bay has a fairly brutal passing schedule but two of their softest matchups come during the fantasy playoffs and Super Bowl where they will be blessed with the New Orleans Saints’ secondary twice in a three week span.

Tenth Round Surprise: Tom Brolley of FantasyGuru.com drafted Carson Palmer here, who finished as the QB5 last season. Palmer’s issues have always been durability but he showed us last year that he has healed perfectly from his 2014 ACL tear. Quarterbacks typically go later in this format and Tom got himself a steal here at the position.

Round 11
Bilal Powell was the best pick of my draft. Steve Gardner of USA Today let me know how much he wanted Powell here and it felt good to rob my new friend Steve. There is a lot to like about Powell. He has solidified a role for himself as the third down pass-catching back in New York. Regardless of the presence of Matt Forte or even Khiry Robinson I feel Powell is the back to own on this team.

Eleventh Round Surprise: Eric Young threw a late-round receiver dart and it landed on Terrance Williams here. Williams has slowly become on the same level as Rueben Randle in fantasy circles. In 2015 it was made evident that Williams is not a WR1. In 2014 we saw that he is a viable WR2, where he scored eight touchdowns on just 37 receptions. If Williams puts up remotely similar production he will be a value pick in the 11th.
Round 12

Zach Miller was the tight end I was targeting the entire draft and I am still kicking myself for the Barnidge pick. There is not much to say here either than I was able to get the Bears second receiving option in the 12th round. In the event that Barnidge and Miller both carry their momentum into this season I may be looking at a quality flex option on bye weeks.

Twelfth Round Surprise: I did not think Jimmy Graham would be selected in this draft and I had to do a double-take to make sure he was taken off the board. Dan Dobish took Graham, which sounds risky until you realize he has Greg Olsen on his team. If Graham is healthy, the joke will be on all of us with that tandem.

Round 13
Still firmly in dart throwing territory, I went with Nelson Agholor as my WR6. Historically, receivers are more likely to take a leap in their sophomore season. This is precisely what I am looking for with Agholor, who has another offseason with Bradford to build chemistry.

Thirteenth Round Surprise: Joe Dolan stole Chris Thompson from me in this round and I will make every attempt to generate a trade for him. There is no running back in Washington with more upside than Thompson for me, especially in PPR scoring. I considered drafting him where I drafted Zach Miller in the 12th round and, looking back, I should have.

Round 14
I am comfortable with my Robert Woods pick here because he is a waiver wire player which means I will have no problem dropping him if I feel I need to. The targets are there for Woods, who has averaged over six targets per game since the Bills drafted him in 2013. If this is Woods breakout year I will not have to worry about fighting for him on the waiver wire.

Fourteenth Round Surprise: This draft took place about two hours after Eric Ebron was carted off the practice field with a perceived knee injury. Pat Mayo was not phased in the least bit by this news and drafted him. A few hours after the draft it was determined that Ebron’s injury was nothing serious, and now Pat has Jordan Reed and Eric Ebron on his roster. Quite the duo.

Round 15
I am an advocate for handcuffing running backs, not my own but someone else’s. I feel when I handcuff my own RB1 I am burning a bench spot if my RB1 remains healthy. By cuffing someone else’s stud, I am ahead of the waiver wire frenzy that would occur if their stud RB succumbed to an injury. That explains my Chris Johnson selection, who may have a role regardless of David Johnson’s health and would be an immediate RB1 if Johnson were to miss any time.

Fifteenth Round Surprise: Speaking of handcuffs, Jake Ceily, who owns Carlos Hyde, selected Shaun Draughn here. I am referring to this pick as a surprise because I was sure he would fall to me a few picks later but he did not so I wound up with Johnson.

Round 16
There is no real reason for analysis here. The last round is reserved for defense which I view as another streamable position. By drafting the Los Angeles Rams, who have a stout defensive front and a Week 8 bye, it is a position I do not even have to think about over the first half of the season.
Sixteenth Round Surprise: By far the most surprising pick here was Tyrod Taylor by Holden Kushner. I am shocked he fell this far and feel this is the type of value pick that could win Holden this thing.

This was the most intense draft I have been a part of this season, and I mean that in a good way. If you consider the competition I will have my work cut out for me this season but a solid season starts with a solid draft and I feel I achieved that. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out and I look forward to updating you on my progress in this league full of industry experts.