May 25, 2010
Later this week, I’ll break out my annual “Draft Plan” article, albeit it the condensed one and not the one that goes round-by-round and pick-by-pick covering everything possible (that will come out in early August).
But the initial version is pretty expansive, and it’s going to be about 6,000 words. Now that I’ve seen some drafts and the trends, and have a better feel for the 2010 landscape, let me point out here and now what the key to your 2010 draft is: you can’t reach for players.
I’ll get into it in much more detail in the article, but on the heels of a pretty tough 2009 season, I think it behooves fantasy players more than ever to play things conservatively in the early stages of a draft. When I saw conservatively, I don’t mean taking Donald Driver in the 4th round; I mean refusing to reach for a RB like Felix Jones in the 2nd or 3rd round. I like Jones more than most, but the fact is he’s no sure thing, so I’m going to be careful when drafting him. I’m not saying you have to draft a QB early – I’m just saying you should not invest an early pick on a player with some potential issues. Or, to state it another way, I’m saying there’s more of a need this year to eliminate as much doubt with your players as possible in at least the first 4-5 rounds as usual. This is not the year to be overly proactive and reach for players because I think moves like that could be a real killer here in 2010, more than usual. When things get tough in fantasy, and they were last year, I revert to the very basic notion that I want to accumulate as many impact players as I can, regardless of position, and then I’ll go from there.
The other thing I’ve already noticed is that there’s tremendous depth at both RB and WR, which makes reaching even more of a potential dumb move. For example, why reach for Jones in like the 3rd when you can get Ricky Williams in like the 9th round? Realistically, Ricky could easily out-produce Felix, and I’m not sure Felix’s upside is through the roof with Marion Barber and Tashard Choice on the roster. And back to the basic strategy of accumulating as many impact players as possible early; if you do that, thanks to the great depth at RB and WR, you’re a good bet to hit a homerun or two later in your draft if you pick players well. Or, at worst, you know the WW will be huge once again this year because there are so many guys who could potential bust out this year. It’s next to impossible to figure who they will be right now, and it might not be evident until the start of the season, so there will be major WW opportunities this year. A great example of an up-in-the-air situation is the Bear WR corps. I like all three guys here on some level, and I wouldn’t be surprised if one guy really emerged as a fantasy force. For the record, I do like Devin Aromashodu and his size, which could translate into not only a starting job, but go-to status in their passing game. But I also like Johnny Knox a lot, and I think it’s revealing how he was running with the starters in their minicamps this past weekend. I found that very interesting because he showed amazing chemistry with QB Jay Cutler as a rookie last year, and chemistry is what they’ll need to run Mike Martz’ precise, timing-based offense. Someone’s going to really come through here, but I’m not yet sure who it will be. But right now, I kind of like Knox’s under-the-radar presence. I do like Aromashodu, but let’s face it; Knox did more than him last year, yet Knox is the guy people are taking 3-4 rounds after Aromashodu. Just something to think about there.
But again, as I begin to really immerse myself in this year’s draft and overall landscape, I have a good feeling about this somewhat elementary advice I’m giving here and will give all year. I think we’re really good at spotting out emerging young players, so if you load up on quality options who are as close to sure things as possible and then find a diamond in the rough or two, it’s going to be a very good year.