May 21, 2014
I am not sure if it is a function of the two extra weeks afforded to us this year with the draft being pushed back on the calendar, but I feel like I have a better handle on things this year at this early stage. I have a lot of thoughts about drafting this year, and I do believe I’ve been influenced by the myriad statistical analysis articles we’ve posted this year (over 20 separate articles already in 2014).
I’ll obviously get to my thoughts out there as we move forward, but there are two things I’m focusing on more than usual this year, and they are:
The schedule – I’ve never studied it more than I have this year. It’s true that we just don’t know how each defense will perform this year, but do we know anything for certain when handicapping the NFL? Not really. We do know some teams will be particularly strong or weak against the run or the pass, and that’s something to hang your hat on. There is more depth than ever at the skill positions, so I believe an advantage can be gained this year by paying more attention to the schedule and the matchups. There are more options than ever to choose from, and strength of schedule can help us differentiate them.
Last year’s production – What I mean here is I’m very cognizant this year of a) not overpaying for 2013’s production and b) getting value from 2013 underachievers. We have a few articles on the site right now that really put into perspective how difficult it is repeat a big season or an unusually high level of production, so I’m not going to assume a big 2013 performer will do it again. Obviously, I’m not down on Jamaal Charles, but I do expect his numbers to drop this year, etc.
Otherwise, as usual, I’m looking to load up on as many elite talents as I can early, regardless of position, and I’m definitely holding off on drafting a QB – despite Peyton Manning’s huge season last year.
I’ve done a few magazine mock drafts already, but I thought I’d cover one here that I did last night for Lindy’s Fantasy Football magazine. I can’t publish the entire draft, since it’s going to be published in the magazone, but I can roll through my picks here real quick. I was very aggressive in this draft, and I truly believe I have the best team.
This is a 14-team NON-PPR draft, and I had the 2nd pick.
Adrian Peterson – I’m already wary of overpaying for 2013’s numbers, and I’m getting a spec of value for a guy who underwhelmed a little in 2013. So I took Peterson over Jamaal Charles. Keep in mind this is a non-PPR league. Yes, Peterson is aging and his body may start breaking down, but I like how things are shaping up for the Vikings this year, and Peterson is a freak.
Julius Thomas – I LOVE Thomas this year, and I actually think he might out-produce Jimmy Graham. Thomas has 12 TDs in his first year as a starter, and he missed two games. They’ll also miss Eric Decker in the red zone, so if he plays all 16 games don’t be surprised if Thomas gets 15 TDs.
Keenan Allen – Their schedule isn’t a great as it was last year, but Allen’s numbers were fantastic from top to bottom, so I’m sold. He’s the go-to guy in this passing game.
Cordarrelle Patterson – I’m actually not sold that he’s going to break out, but the WR talent was thinning out and Patterson stood out in terms of raw ability. I am also a huge Norv Turner fan. This is also a mock, and I felt like being aggressive.
Trent Richardson – Ray Rice is dead to me this year (more on that later), but I’m willing to take a shot with Richardson if the value is good enough, and this was good enough. He’s still very young, is in a good offense, and has a solid schedule. It’s a leap of faith, but this is also a great example of taking advantage of a down season with a player who obviously has the potential to bounce back. He was awful in 2013, but he does have an excuse changing teams mid-season, and let’s not forget this time last year he was considered a top-10 pick.
Maurice Jones-Drew – The pickings were slim at RB, so I liked this pick as my #3 back. He’s obviously nearing the end, but he’s trimmed down and is playing for his hometown Raiders, who might have their best offense in years this season.
Robert Griffin III – This could be a homerun if he’s healthy, and he’s much healthier right now. Why in the world would anyone take a QB in the first two rounds when a guy like RGIII could easily be a top-5 performer and can be had 4-5 rounds later?
Brandin Cooks – I’m playing to win here, and yes I know we got burned by Tavon Austin last year. But the difference between Brian Schottenheimer and Sean Payton is laughable, especially with a guy like Drew Brees getting Cooks the ball.
Cecil Shorts – Everyone will be focused on the rookie WRs and QB Blake Bortles, but Shorts will be the go-to guy, and for his guy Chad Henne. In a contract year, I really like Shorts as a sneaky pick.
Jordan Matthews – Solid depth option, and this is a non-PPR. One of the main reasons the Eagles took Matthews was because he has size, so I expect him to be a factor in the red zone.
Ahmad Bradshaw – Had to protect my Richardson pick a little, and I took the vet Bradshaw over Vick Ballard, who is coming off a serious knee injury.
Arizona D – I really like this defense as a top-5 unit this year. Their secondary could be the best in football if DB Tyrann Mathieu can return healthy.
Phil Dawson – Phil’s my guy going back to last year, and I liked having one of the final picks of the final round because it makes sense to get a PK with my next-to-last pick, and not my last pick. By doing that, I locked in a potential stud.
Shonn Greene – I could have gone backup QB or TE, but I went with Greene because I think people looking at this magazine in the fall could be amazed that he went this late. I’m not expecting big things, of course, but I believe Greene’s stock will rise as the season draws near. I do NOT think rookie Bishop Sankey is going to be a true bell-cow, and I think Greene will get 10-13 carries a game, plus most of the goal line carries. We’ll see if the coaches agree with me or if they really believe Sankey can be a volume back (we do not).
My starting lineup in this 14-team non-PPR league:
QB: Robert Griffin III
RB: Adrian Peterson
RB: Trent Richardson
WR: Keenan Allen
WR: Cordarrelle Patterson
WR: Cecil Shorts
Flex: Maurice Jones-Drew/Brandin Cooks/Jordan Matthews
TE: Julius Thomas
PK: Phil Dawson
Honestly, this looks like a team that could have been drafted in a 12-team league, so needless to say I love this squad in a 14-teamer.
In a few weeks we’ll start covering full mock/real drafts with analysis.