The key to your 2010 draft

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.

Category: Fantasy Football

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21 Responses

  1. Austin says:

    John great stuff as usual. I really like your point about not reaching for guys because of the depth this year. In my prep work I was prepared to target some guys earlier than I should like Jones but I think your right in your opinion. Anyways looking forward to the draft plan article!

  2. JB says:

    John, I dont think Felix’s ADP will be 2nd or 3rd round right now in redraft leagues, but will be in the late 4th, early 5th. Would you take him in then?

  3. John Hansen says:

    Yes, but people do go stray from what ADP says quite often, some may not even know ADP exists, so I do think Jones is a good example. I’d take him in early in the 5th if I was feeling really strong and felt great about my first 4 picks, sure.

  4. Will from Fresno says:

    John, I can’t agree with you more. Last year I dominated my league by taking SURE things. Injuries, holdouts, temper tantrums, committee situations??? I don’t want you. I took Larry Fitz, Reggie Wayne and I was two picks away from Calvin Johnson in the 3rd. I wanted RB’s but I just wasn’t sold on them. After the top 4 RB’s last year, (Peterson, MJD, Forte & SJack) there was some real questions: Slaton’s only produced one year, Gore gets injured every year, Turner is heavy, DeAngelo is in a RBBC, Westbrook’s getting older, Barber in RBBC, Jacobs an injury risk, Portis was arthritic the year before, and I just missed the boat on CJ, there was just too many questions. Being in a PPR league (first time for that), WR just seemed a lot more secure. My first RB was Ryan Grant in the third, Addai later and in the 9th I got Ray Rice (that kinda helped too). Your advice on Sirius with Adam really helped on the WW and this year I’ve got your information preseason to help in the draft. The regression analysis alone is way more than I would get in the typical magazine I get every year. I can’t wait. Oh yeah and the new Fantasy show on Sirius (hopefully we’ll still get commentary from Cosell as well as he is an incredible analyst.
    Sincerely,
    Will from Fresno

  5. Marseille Boyo says:

    I’m in a 14 team PPR league and we use Yahoo. According to Yahoo’s rankings last year, Forte (4) Westbrook (5) Tomlinson (7) Jacobs (11) Portis (13) and Slaton (14) should have all been first round selections. The only one of these that I saw as a sure thing was Forte, but fortunately I didn’t have the opportunity to draft him.

    Thanks to your site’s input, John, I was able to avoid drafting disasters, concentrating on the elite WRs just like Will from Fresno did.

    The irony is that drafting ‘sure things’ often looks like reaching to other managers who only go by pre-draft rankings such as Yahoo’s.

    A key this year, as ever, could be finding those gems available in the mid-rounds (Vincent Jackson, Sidney Rice, Ray Rice) who perform at a much higher level. Do you have any early names for us, John?

  6. MI-5 says:

    Who looked “surer” than Slaton last year? Not many. I ran out and made sure I got P. Thomas in many league to avoid the “Thomas Jones” zone, but TJ would have been better. I’m sure most of would agree we all had a better year in 2008 when we got Guru’s best sleeper ever in Chris Johnson anywhere from the 5th to 9th round!

    Last year was tuff, only one champtionship out of eight leagues, looking for better in 2010 before next year’s lock out.

  7. Baller says:

    John – a request for this year’s article: can you work something in about leagues in which you start 2 RBs, 3 WRs and no flex? I believe the strategy can differ between a league with these settings and a league with flex players. I know you can’t cover all possible rules, but I think enough people play in leagues with these settings that it merits coverage.

    Many thanks.

  8. John Hansen says:

    I can try to address that, but I don’t think I really cater in the article to leagues that definitely do use a flex. It’s more about when do get your #1 RB, #2 WR, etc.

  9. Burton says:

    Not missing on the early picks is so critical.

  10. Andy says:

    John,

    After reading this and thinking of how many early round RB busts there were last year (and every year), I think I am going to pick a no risk QB early (like Brees, Manning or Rodgers) and not draft a back-up QB with the intent of using the round where I would draft a decent back up to get one of those WR or RBs with potential.

    Is this crazy?

  11. John Hansen says:

    I can’t do it. Haven’t done that in like 9 years, and that time it bit me in the ass with Kurt Warner’s injuries. Second round I’m okay with.

  12. Rusty says:

    John,

    I’m in a twelve team keeper league. We can keep two players. My keepers are Chris Johnson and Ray rice. I can trade rice for the 1st pick in the draft. This would allow me to keep Aaron Rodgers and draft Ryan Matthews and I would still have my original first and second round pick.

    I figure Matthews has the potential to be a top 10 back and has keeper value and Rodgers would give me a consistent stud at qb.

    Thoughts?

  13. John Hansen says:

    Rusty, looks good to me. We’re high on Mathews and Rodgers is elite.

  14. Air Stich says:

    John,

    Don’t you think the landscape of fantasy is changing to the point where you can take a QB in the 1st and not fall behind? Things were a whole lot different nine years ago when RBs like Faulk and Edge were carrying teams to championships. Now there are PRECIOUS FEW backs who are “sure things.” Once those top RBs are off the board, I don’t think it’s a mistake to take Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees ahead of the likes of Mendenhall, SJax, Turner, Greene, or maybe even Gore.

    This year’s “Big 4″ looks a whole lot like last year’s “Big 4″ and I’m not sure that LBJ, AD, MJD, and Rice are going to fare much better than AD, Turner, MJD, and Forte did last season. We’ll be lucky if 2 of those backs finish in the top 5.

    I recently came to a similar conclusion to you about the depth of both RBs and WRs this year. I’m not sure that is going to be the case with QBs, however. There are a handful of true studs who have #1 overall potential: Rodgers, Brees, Peyton, Romo, Rivers, Brady, and Schaub. After that it gets a little dicey. Everyones favorite sleeper is Kolb, but only one of the 5 teams who didn’t get a stud will be able to draft him. I’m starting to feel that you have to get one of those top 7 QBs. You’re entire season is going to be screwed when both of your “sleeper QBs” like Cutler, Palmer, Ryan, or Flacco are crapping the bed, while Rodgers and Brees are going for 300 yards and 2 TDs every week.

    I recently did a 12 team mock over at ffc.com where all 7 of the top QBs were gone by the last pick of the 3rd round. I think I’d rather use a first on Rodgers than a 3rd on Schaub. Which would you rather have: Rodgers and Beanie Wells, or Mendy and Schaub?

  15. Gary says:

    I agree with Air Stich… I also feel that Andre Johnson and Reggie Wayne have first round value over some of the RB’s that will be on the board late in the first round.

  16. John Hansen says:

    I just can’t stomach a QB in the first. If you do that, there is a chance you’ll be unable to get at least one stud RB or WR. Yet, if you don’t take a QB in the first, you should be able to get an excellent QB. I think it’s a fair compromise, being willing to take a QB as early as Round Two, and represents well the current landscape.

  17. Burton says:

    Ease up on John. Don’t you guys recognize the progress? I could be wrong, but I don’t recall John seriously considering a QB as early as the 2nd Round before. My memory is John’s history is getting that QB ranked around #7 (but performs like a #5 ranked QB) in the 6th to 8th round.

    I think you have to take a stud player in rounds 1 and 2, preferably a RB and a WR. I do agree though that it is getting harder and harder to predict a stud RB and not a given to pick a stud WR. QB seems like the safest bet.

    With Picks 1 and 2 (maybe, if you’re lucky 3), I never want to not have a stud WR. So, waiting to the 3rd round is really risky for a stud WR in my book. I did it last year and ended up with Colston and then Bowe. That was just ok, not a clear advantage over other teams. That’s what I want… a clear advantage over other teams at two of the three positions (RB, WR, QB), and consistency at the other position.

  18. Stretch says:

    I’m aware that John will release his “Draft Plan” sometime in August. But I feel this year strategy will have alot to do with Draft Position. We all know picks 1 thru 6 will be a RB. As of now, it looks and smell like pick 7 could be the stink hole.

    So that’s the million dollar question. Who should you pick at 7? Everybody has they own opinion. QB(Brees, Manning, Rodgers), WR(A.Johnson or Wayne), or even a RB(Mendenhall or SJax).

    This is why we debate. I’m currently leaning toward D.Brees. But he is on the Cover of Madden this year. And we all saw what to happen T.Polamalu.

  19. Burton says:

    my reply was a little tongue in cheek as they say

    As John would say, at what cost will drafting a QB in round 1 cost you? Let’s sit back and hear the scenarios… what will your roster likely look like after the first four or five picks based on each draft scenario. Test it out for yourself. I’m with you that if you are not digging the RB that falls to you, then pick the top WR of your choice.

  20. John Hansen says:

    I put out a pretty extensive initial version of the draft plan yesterday, but it’s too early to get a feel for where you’re picking. Right now, I’d say top-4 is best, since you’ll get that stud runner and in the leagues we do with other writers, it seems you can get that stud QB late in the second round still. Might not be realistic for other leagues, however.

  21. Big N says:

    Beware with this reaching thing and here is why:

    Last year Guru stated don’t reach for Matt Schaub. I was actually one who argued he should be taken higher. Well if you reached for him you were pretty damn happy, no?

    And beware of ADP! I used it last year and tried to wait on Cedric Benson and lost out big on him when he was grabbed ahead of me. From now on, I’m throwing that ADP out, because some of the guys in my league just destroy it as I’m sure is the case in many leagues .

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