Monday, 13 July 2009

The Fantasy Files - Episode #2

Last week I published a fourteen-team Fantasy Mock Draft I recently took part in. Today we'll look at a smaller example for those of you who might be competing in an eight-team league this year. The format is standard PPR and as you will see, there are plenty of bargains to go around in the shorter format.

Round 1
(1) colby_sharpe_31 - Adrian Peterson (Min - RB)
(2) lewissharpe_12 - Michael Turner (Atl - RB)
(3) b_wilson9 - Maurice Jones-Drew (Jac - RB)
(4) Rob - Matt Forte (Chi - RB)
(5) charles f - Steven Jackson (StL - RB)
(6) dominick m - LaDainian Tomlinson (SD - RB)
(7) quietstorm052 - Larry Fitzgerald (Ari - WR)
(8) Nathan P - Brian Westbrook (Phi - RB)

No shocks in round one. Adrian Peterson is likely to be taken first overall in the vast majority of fantasy drafts. Personally, I still feel you're better off picking later in the first round and having the early pick in round two. For example, b_wilson took Jones-Drew and Brandon Jacobs in the first two rounds picking third overall. The guy who picked seventh(quietstorm052) in round one has Larry Fitzgerald and Frank Gore.

My Pick
Matt Forte is a solid option in round one as an all round back. He'll take the vast majority of Chicago's carries in the season whilst also offering an option out of the backfield. Having a QB like Jay Cutler could force teams to respect Chicago's passing game increasing the opportunities for Forte to make plays. I would probably rank Forte second only to Peterson in my overall rankings (which will be published soon).

To read the rest of the article, click here.

Round 2
(1) Nathan P - Andre Johnson (Hou - WR)
(2) quietstorm052 - Frank Gore (SF - RB)
(3) dominick m - DeAngelo Williams (Car - RB)
(4) charles f - Randy Moss (NE - WR)
(5) Rob - Chris Johnson (Ten - RB)
(6) b_wilson9 - Brandon Jacobs (NYG - RB)
(7) lewissharpe_12 - Drew Brees (NO - QB)
(8) colby_sharpe_31 - Steve Slaton (Hou - RB)

Once again a predictable outlook for round two, clearly the participants in this mock draft were taking things relatively seriously. Andre Johnson and Randy Moss are both value picks at receiver in round two if Fitzgerald leaves the board early. I was partly surprised to see Brian Westbrook leave the board before Frank Gore and Chris Johnson. Westbrook was far from convincing last year, he's a year older and the Eagles drafted LeSean McCoy recently. Both Gore and Johnson remain their respective teams' most potent weapon.

My Pick
I think it was quite apt that I took both Forte and Johnson in the first two rounds. Both were fantasy sleepers as rookies and in most cases went in rounds 7-10. This year they should both be first round picks and if you can get either in round two - you've got yourself a bargain.

Round 3
(1) colby_sharpe_31 - Steve Smith (Car - WR)
(2) lewissharpe_12 - Reggie Wayne (Ind - WR)
(3) b_wilson9 - Tom Brady (NE - QB)
(4) Rob - Peyton Manning (Ind - QB)
(5) charles f - Marques Colston (NO - WR)
(6) dominick m - Greg Jennings (GB - WR)
(7) quietstorm052 - Clinton Portis (Was - RB)
(8) Nathan P - Calvin Johnson (Det - WR)

This is where things got interesting. To see guys like Peyton Manning, Clinton Portis and Calvin Johnson fall into the third round emphasised the kind of value you will find in eight team fantasy drafts this year. I was surprised to see Smith, Wayne, Colston and Jennings taken before Calvin Johnson. Yes - they'll likely be starting a rookie QB in Detroit next season. However, Matt Stafford has the kind of arm that will make Johnson a star. Make no mistake, Johnson has the potential to become the NFL's leading receiver. If he registers 1331 yards and 13 TD's in a 0-16 team bringing people out of retirement to play QB, imagine what he could do with someone like Stafford throwing to him?

My Pick
Despite my rave review above for Calvin Johnson, I simply couldn't pass on Peyton Manning here. I was half hoping 'Megatron' would fall to round four, but he just stayed inside the third. The reason why I value Manning so highly in the fantasy world is simply because he starts every week. When other QB's would be sat on the sidelines nursing a knee injury, Manning is out there leading his team. He's the reigning NFL MVP and hasn't missed a game in 11 seasons. Getting him in round three secures the QB position and allows me to concentrate on other positions.

Round 4
(1) Nathan P - Marion Barber (Dal - RB)
(2) quietstorm052 - Anquan Boldin (Ari - WR)
(3) dominick m - Santonio Holmes (Pit - WR)
(4) charles f - Aaron Rodgers (GB - QB)
(5) Rob - Roddy White (Atl - WR)
(6) b_wilson9 - Brandon Marshall (Den - WR)
(7) lewissharpe_12 - Dwayne Bowe (KC - WR)
(8) colby_sharpe_31 - Terrell Owens (Buf - WR)

I was expecting a run on receivers and it happened in rounds 3 & 4. I was hoping Anquan Boldin would fall to me here but he goes three picks earlier. Don't worry about his contract complaints this off season, we've been here before. It looks increasingly likely he'll remain in Arizona and therefore, he'll also remain one of the best fantasy wide outs available. I've noticed Aaron Rodgers is the popular pick once Brees/Brady/Manning leave the board. He's getting more love than Matt Ryan (who I think will have a productive 2009) and Jay Cutler (who lacks weapons).

My Pick
I needed to take a receiver and the choice was pretty clear. Roddy White had a very productive 2008 season (1382 yards, 7 TD's) and should remain Matt Ryan's #1 target despite the excellent signing of Tony Gonzalez. Three receivers left the board after I took White. I like Owens as fourth round value pick here, but he is joining a new team who just lost their starting left tackle. Brandon Marshall is an unpredictable choice for many reasons, but mainly due to the mystery that is Denver's offense behind Kyle Orton. Dwayne Bowe is another unpredictable choice - he'll be Matt Cassell's main (only?) target but don't expect much from Kansas City's offense this year.

Round 5
(1) colby_sharpe_31 - Wes Welker (NE - WR)
(2) lewissharpe_12 - Ryan Grant (GB - RB)
(3) b_wilson9 - Jason Witten (Dal - TE)
(4) Rob - T.J. Houshmandzadeh (Sea - WR)
(5) charles f - Antonio Gates (SD - TE)
(6) dominick m - Tony Gonzalez (Atl - TE)
(7) quietstorm052 - Kurt Warner (Ari - QB)
(8) Nathan P - Tony Romo (Dal - QB)

Again, I was hoping for someone to fall and they just went ahead of my pick. Wes Welker offers tremendous value in round five especially if Tom Brady can regain his form upon returning from a long absence. Plenty of value here - Ryan Grant is a solid backup RB who could even start in certain scenarios. Kurt Warner and Tony Romo are both solid fantasy starters and the three tight ends taken here will all get you plenty of points.

My Pick
Needing to fill out my stable of receivers, I took Houshmandzadeh. I'm finding that I take Housh in a lot of my mocks. This either tells me that a.) I'm over rating a receiver in his 30's who is learning a new playbook or b.) Everyone else is under rating the fact he'll be Seattle's #1 receiver and has a knack of catching 90-100 passes. As I said in the mock I published last week, I've found I rarely select Seahawks players in my fantasy drafts. This year may be different, which is surprising because Seattle are largely fantasy irrelevant - especially at the top end.

Round 6
(1) Nathan P - Chad Ochocinco (Cin - WR)
(2) quietstorm052 - Pittsburgh (Pit - DEF)
(3) dominick m - Braylon Edwards (Cle - WR)
(4) charles f - Anthony Gonzalez (Ind - WR)
(5) Rob - Lee Evans (Buf - WR)
(6) b_wilson9 - Antonio Bryant (TB - WR)
(7) lewissharpe_12 - Baltimore (Bal - DEF)
(8) colby_sharpe_31 - Philip Rivers (SD - QB)

Chad 'Ochocinco' is an interesting fantasy proposition. Clearly, the Chad from three years ago would be an absolute bargain here. Cincinatti's passing game has been heavily damaged the last two years due to Carson Palmer's health. Some could find great value by taking a few Bengals later in the draft on the off chance of finding a steal. Personally, I'd take Philip Rivers ahead of Aaron Rodgers and Tony Romo... and maybe even ahead of Kurt Warner. He had a superb fantasy season in 2008 and unlike some people, I don't expect San Diego's running game will be much improved this year. Playing in the AFC West should help Rivers' numbers.

My Pick
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, right? If I could go back I'd probably select Calvin Johnson in round three and take Philip Rivers here. It's hard to rue a decision to take Peyton Manning, but clearly Rivers & Johnson is superior to Manning and Lee Evans. I felt I still needed receiver help and Evans gave me a solid season in 2008. He'll either lose passes because of T.O. or thrive due to the extra attention afforded to Owens. Buffalo's will likely lean on their passing game early due to Marshawn Lynch's suspension, making Evans a decent fantasy option.

Round 7
(1) colby_sharpe_31 - Kevin Smith (Det - RB)
(2) lewissharpe_12 - Roy Williams (Dal - WR)
(3) b_wilson9 - Vincent Jackson (SD - WR)
(4) Rob - Eddie Royal (Den - WR)
(5) charles f - Joseph Addai (Ind - RB)
(6) dominick m - Ronnie Brown (Mia - RB)
(7) quietstorm052 - Larry Johnson (KC - RB)
(8) Nathan P - Dallas Clark (Ind - TE)

It goes to show how the real life NFL Draft can affect someone's stock. Had the Colts not taken Donald Brown in the first round this year, Joseph Addai would probably be a 1-3 round selection. Instead, you'll often find him swimming around rounds 6-10. I'd stay away from Addai personally, Brown will get more carries and offers better value in the later rounds.

My Pick
Not completely satisfied with my receiving options, I had to take Eddie Royal here. With the WR's I've taken I'll likely be mixing them around each week depending on matchups, there's no guaranteed choice. Royal may suffer having lost Jay Cutler, but Denver would be wise to include this talented young wide out as much as possible.

Round 8
(1) Nathan P - Santana Moss (Was - WR)
(2) quietstorm052 - Donovan McNabb (Phi - QB)
(3) dominick m - Chris Chambers (SD - WR)
(4) charles f - Devin Hester (Chi - WR)
(5) Rob - Knowshon Moreno (Den - RB)
(6) b_wilson9 - New York (NYG - DEF)
(7) lewissharpe_12 - Kellen Winslow (TB - TE)
8) colby_sharpe_31 - Pierre Thomas (NO - RB)

Some discussion points here, starting with Pierre Thomas taken at the end of round eight. He's regarded as New Orleans' best RB option. However, I understand why he might fall this far. Will the Saints abandon their investment in Reggie Bush enough for Thomas to deserve being taken earlier? Will they ride the Drew Brees express again like 2008? He had 625 yards and 9 TD's as a waiver wire sleeper last year, but this still looks about his range for me. Secondly - does anyone know what to expect from Kellen Winslow now he's in Tampa Bay? We still don't really know who will be their starting QB. The Buccs look like a team in transition and I personally think they'll be picking in the top 5 in 2010. However, Winslow could still be a productive pass catching TE - if he wants to be,

My Pick
I'll keep saying this until I'm proven right or wrong - Knowshon Moreno is this year's Matt Forte. He will get the vast majority of the carries in Denver - a team who for years have run the ball well. I see no reason why this won't continue under Josh McDaniels and the rookie head coach may use Moreno in the same way Chicago used Forte to take the strain from Kyle Orton. Just remember this - they took him 13th overall when they had two first round picks in the teens. They wanted this guy bad enough and rest assured he'll be a focal point on their offense. Also, he'll catch his fair share of passes out of the backfield. Top five pick in 2010 fantasy league.

Round 9
(1) colby_sharpe_31 - Bernard Berrian (Min - WR)
(2) lewissharpe_12 - Reggie Bush (NO - RB)
(3) b_wilson9 - Stephen Gostkowski (NE - K)
(4) Rob - Marshawn Lynch (Buf - RB)
(5) charles f - Carson Palmer (Cin - QB)
(6) dominick m - Matt Cassel (KC - QB)
(7) quietstorm052 - Willie Parker (Pit - RB)
(8) Nathan P - Jonathan Stewart (Car - RB)

Here's where the draft got kind of crazy. The user named b_wilson9 owned two RB's taken in rounds 1 & 2 (Brian Westbrook and Brandon Jacobs). However, rather than take a backup (and let's be honest, he'll need one) he's taken a defense (New York) and a kicker (Gostkowski) instead. This is a classic case of someone filling out their roster with starters instead of using the chance to get greater depth. You can always get a good defense later on and if you can't - just use the waiver wire every week. You won't however, find someone like Thomas, Moreno, Bush or Lynch sat on a plate the week they have a friendly matchup.

My Pick
Yes, Marshawn Lynch is suspended for the start of the NFL season. No, he shouldn't last this far in a fantasy draft. Without the suspension, he's a top pick in the first three rounds. To get him this late in the day is ludicrous. I can start two of Chris Johnson, Matt Forte and Knowshon Moreno early on and possibly turn to Lynch down the line. Even if this proves to be a bust, it's worth the gamble in round nine. To take a kicker this late with Lynch on the board is criminal.

Round 10
(1) Nathan P - LenDale White (Ten - RB)
(2) quietstorm052 - DeSean Jackson (Phi - WR)
(3) dominick m - Jerricho Cotchery (NYJ - WR)
(4) charles f - Donald Driver (GB - WR)
(5) Rob - Hines Ward (Pit - WR)
(6) b_wilson9 - Thomas Jones (NYJ - RB)
(7) lewissharpe_12 - Rob Bironas (Ten - K)
(8) colby_sharpe_31 - Owen Daniels (Hou - TE)

The penny drops and b_wilson9 realises he needs some backup at RB. Unfortunately for him, he realises this about five rounds too late and takes Thomas Jones - someone whose future remains unclear. He'd have been much wiser taking Derrick Ward in this situation, but more on him later. DeSean Jackson is nice value this late - his value is about the same as it was in his rookie year.

My Pick
Needing depth at receiver, I had to settle for Hines Ward. At 33 yeard of age, I'm not sure Ward is a reliable fantasy option these days. However, if he's healthy there'll be certain matchups where he warrants a start. This is about the right range for him to leave the board, but be warned if you choose him as an every week starter.

Round 11
(1) colby_sharpe_31 - Tennessee (Ten - DEF)
(2) lewissharpe_12 - Matt Schaub (Hou - QB)
(3) b_wilson9 - Jay Cutler (Chi - QB)
(4) Rob - Derrick Ward (TB - RB)
(5) charles f - Philadelphia (Phi - DEF)
(6) dominick m - New York (NYJ - DEF)
(7) quietstorm052 - Donnie Avery (StL - WR)
(8) Nathan P - Matt Ryan (Atl - QB)

This was a strong round for QB's. Matt Schaub, Matt Ryan and Jay Cutler are all viable starters - so to see this kind of value in round 11 shows that you don't need to break the bank early to take, say, Peyton Manning (doh!).

My Pick
Derrick Ward could be an absolute steal here. He'll be Tampa Bay's starting running back and who knows, he could have a Michael Turner-esque break out season. Perhaps that's a little bit exagerrated, but he'll still get carries and is worth a flier this late.

Round 12
(1) Nathan P - Derrick Mason (Bal - WR)
(2) quietstorm052 - Greg Olsen (Chi - TE)
(3) dominick m - Fred Taylor (NE - RB)
(4) charles f - Fred Jackson (Buf - RB)
(5) Rob - Chris Cooley (Was - TE)
(6) b_wilson9 - Kevin Walter (Hou - WR)
(7) lewissharpe_12 - Torry Holt (Jac - WR)
(8) colby_sharpe_31 - Kris Brown (Hou - K)

I think it's important to stress here that before I entered round 12, I had no TE/K/DEF. I honestly believe there is absolutely no reason what so ever to panic when you get to rounds 8/9 and you notice big holes in your starting line-up. Get solid depth at key positions like RB and WR because that will win you a league. Be patient and pick the right time to complete your roster. Keep an eye on who is available and what other teams have taken. I noticed that all but one other team was missing a starting TE, so waited until that team took one before I made my move. When quietstorm052 took Greg Olsen (who could be a fantasy stud in 2009) I quickly snapped up Chris Cooley - who isn't a bad choice either.

My Pick
Chris Cooley doesn't get taken as early as the Jason Witten/Dallas Clark/Antonio Gates/Tony Gonzalez crew, but he's just as much fantasy relevant. There's no clear sign that second year TE from USC Fred Davis will take on a greater responsibility in Washington making Cooley the obvious starter.

Round 13
(1) colby_sharpe_31 - Laveranues Coles (Cin - WR)
(2) lewissharpe_12 - Lance Moore (NO - WR)
(3) b_wilson9 - Michael Crabtree (SF - WR)
(4) Rob - Ben Roethlisberger (Pit - QB)
(5) charles f - Felix Jones (Dal - RB)
(6) dominick m - Darren Sproles (SD - RB)
(7) quietstorm052 - Steve Breaston (Ari - WR)
(8) Nathan P - Jeremy Shockey (NO - TE)

Laveranues Coles could be a sleeper option if Carson Palmer starts more than a handful of games for the Bengals. Felix Jones could steal a fair few carries from Marrion Barber making him fantasy relevant, whilst Michael Crabtree could surprise a few people and have a great rookie year.

My Pick
It's important to have a backup QB you can trust. Having taken Peyton Manning in round three, I noticed his bye week was in week 6. During picks I took the time to see which QB's had favorable matchups that week and noticed Big Ben and the Steelers were hosting the Cleveland Browns. He might only play one week, but if he wins you a match - it'll be worth it.

Round 14
(1) Nathan P - Jason Elam (Atl - K)
(2) quietstorm052 - Minnesota (Min - DEF)
(3) dominick m - Leon Washington (NYJ - RB)
(4) charles f - Willis McGahee (Bal - RB)
(5) Rob - San Diego (SD - DEF)
(6) b_wilson9 - Zach Miller (Oak - TE)
(7) lewissharpe_12 - John Carlson (Sea - TE)
(8) colby_sharpe_31 - Eli Manning (NYG - QB)

Zach Miller is a bargain tight end close to the end of the draft. Leon Washington should be drafted in most leagues as an occassional starter. I'm not 100% sold on Eli Manning's value this year unless someone like Hakeem Nicks or Steve Smith step up and offer a legitimate #1 target. Otherwise, it'll be more grounding out wins through the running game.

My Pick
Time to fill out the roster with the last two picks. Having waited until late to take a defense, I still manage to get San Diego. This has to be the perfect example as to why you shouldn't take a team's DEF too early. Getting a solid defense is good but getting a defense that welcomes back Shawne Merriman and added Larry English via the draft is a bonus.

Round 15
(1) colby_sharpe_31 - Dustin Keller (NYJ - TE)
(2) lewissharpe_12 - Dallas (Dal - DEF)
(3) b_wilson9 - Chicago (Chi - DEF)
(4) Rob - David Akers (Phi - K)
(5) charles f - Nick Folk (Dal - K)
(6) dominick m - Darren McFadden (Oak - RB)
(7) quietstorm052 - Nate Kaeding (SD - K)
(8) Nathan P - Miami (Mia - DEF)

That's right - Darren McFadden made it to round 15. He shouldn't last this long, but that's what happens when you have teams taking 'backup' kickers. I would have taken him ages ago if I didn't already own a crowded backfield.

My Pick
I took a kicker with my final choice. David Akers is a solid pick up and again shows you don't have to go too early when taking a kicker. Get depth first and have the patience to take a K/DEF later.

My team
QB Peyton Manning
QB Ben Roethlisberger
RB Matt Forte
RB Chris Johnson
RB Knowshon Moreno
RB Marshawn Lynch
RB Derrick Ward
WR Roddy White
WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh
WR Lee Evans
WR Eddie Royal
WR Hines Ward
TE Chris Cooley
K David Akers
DEF San Diego

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