First and foremost, I want to thank Jake Ciely, @Allinkid, for inviting me to participate in the Flex Leagues this year. Jake and The Fntasy Sports Network put on a hell of a draft with a virtual murderer’s row for a list of participants. The fact that it was a live draft where I would be rubbing elbows and talking fantasy football with so many of the fantasy experts that I converse with on Twitter made it a very unique experience. The hospitality and of course the excellent food and drink from Hibernia Pub were just the icing on the cake.
A few nights before the draft I got the bad news that I would be picking from the eight spot in the standard scoring Flex League. Not only was I picking from the eight spot, but I would be picking next to my buddy Pat Thorman from PFF Fantasy for the millionth time this summer.
The eight spot is the ultimate “What’s your flavor” spot in standard scoring fantasy football leagues. All the sure-fire running backs are off the board and usually Montee Ball is scooped up right in front of the eighth pick. You can go best running back available, best wide receiver available or go with the ultimate tight end weapon in Jimmy Graham.
On the drive in with Jim Day, @FantasyTaz, and Mike Stein, @FantasyJudgment, I was hoping that some of the owners in front of me would be throwing curve-balls and selecting wide receivers or Jimmy Graham so that I would have an easy decision between Eddie Lacy and Montee Ball at the eight spot. Unfortunately the first eight picks were pretty typical for a standard scoring league, except for Michael Salfino going with the best wide receiver on the board at number three overall. Usually that pick doesn’t get made until the middle or late part of the first round in standard leagues so it was an interesting shake it up pick.
Jake Ciely then put the nail in the running back coffin by going with Montee Ball at sixth overall and I had to really think about not going running back in the first round.
My first thought was to go Dez Bryant or Calvin Johnson and then hope to grab Brandon Marshall on the way back and build my team through the Wide Receiver position. Not a bad option, but I like that approach a lot more in PPR or 1/2 Point PPR Leagues and not as much in standard scoring leagues. The other major decision I had, was to go Jimmy Graham in the first and then grab Rob Gronkowski in the second to wipe out the tight end position and get a monster standard flex option for this type of league.
If I had decided to go tight end-tight end to start the draft, I’m sure I would have gotten some face time on the network and probably been the talk of the early part of the draft, but I wanted to approach this draft as if money was on the line. I looked at what running backs would be available to me on the way back in the second round and I didn’t like it. I would have been forced to gamble on an Arian Foster type of back and that’s someone I’m trying to avoid. If I reached a little at running back in the first round I had a very good chance to get one of the top six wide receivers on the way back.
So I gambled on DeMarco Murray and that Dallas Cowboys’ Offensive Line with my first round pick and grabbed Brandon Marshall with my second round pick. The start was nothing to brag about on Twitter, but it was pretty solid and I could try to make up for the slight reach in the first by grabbing talent through out the draft.
The third round was tough because there wasn’t any clear cut value at either the wide receiver position or the running back position. Randall Cobb was tough to pass up, but I decided to gamble on C.J. Spiller in the hopes that he can overcome his rough 2013 and put up solid yardage numbers across the board. His TDs will always be a little disappointing with Fred Jackson getting the bulk of the carries from inside the 20 yard line, but he can score from anywhere on the field when he’s healthy. My hopes of Joique Bell getting back to me were immediately killed when Pat Thorman took him right after I took Spiller in the 3rd.
With Bell gone I decided I was going to go with the best wide receiver available and grabbed Vincent Jackson with my fourth round pick. I really like Jackson in standard scoring leagues and I can live with his up and down output in the fourth round. When it came back to me in the fifth round I had Jordan Cameron sitting on a platter for me to grab, but I instead went with Ben Tate as the last upside starting running back left on the board. Pat immediately scooped up Cameron with then next pick and that pick immediately gave me a case of picker’s remorse. With the news of Josh Gordon‘s season long suspension coming down today, the Cameron pick looks even better for Mr. Thorman.
The sixth round offered up a bunch of PPR stud wide receivers, but I decided to go with the big play potential in Mike Wallace. I’m hoping Ryan Tannehill can improve in the new Dolphins’ Offense and get his big-play weapon involved. If Wallace can once again become a downfield threat he will be worth the sixth round price tag in standard scoring.
When it came back to me in the seventh round I was struggling between taking Terrance Williams and Kyle Rudolph. I have Rudolph rated as my fifth overall tight end in standard scoring and Williams was bunched up with a lot of other upside wide receiver twos. I decided to make my play with Rudolph in the seventh instead of gambling on him getting back to me in the eighth. In retrospect I may have been able to dodge Jake and Paul taking Rudolph and come out of the 7th and 8th with both of my targets, but ending up with DeAndre Hopkins instead of Terrance Williams is not that big of a drop.
The ninth round was where I decided that Cam Newton was actually a value in this scoring system. Newton hasn’t finished outside of the top five in four point passing touchdown leagues since he stepped foot on an NFL field. The run on QBs was going to come and I wanted to grab the guy I want before it starts, especially when there was no one else that stood out to me as a value on the board.
The 10th round is where I finally made a pick that got me some face time on the Fntasy Sports Network. Of course it was because Pat Mayo wanted to figure out who in their right mind would take Mark Ingram in the 10th round of a Fantasy Football Draft. To make a long story short he was the 45th running back taken and I have him just outside my top 30 for STANDARD Scoring running backs. Chris Wesseling put a lot of the reasons why people should give Mark Ingram one more chance into his article here at NFL.com.
The next two picks were just roster fills as I took Greg Jennings and Tyler Eifert in the 11th and the 12th round. Jennings isn’t anything special and I’m not going to delude myself into thinking he was some major bargain as the 52nd wide receiver off the board, but Eifert could be interesting in a standard flex league, especially with touchdown vulture Marvin Jones on the shelf for the first four weeks of the season. The fact that Eifert is still not ready to play in week four of the preseason has me a little concerned.
The 13th round is where the darts usually start getting thrown in all directions, but Colin Kaepernick was just too good to pass up as my QB2 in a four point passing TD League. Kaepernick’s ceiling is in the top six of QBs and his floor is just outside the top twelve so getting him to back up Cam Newton was a nice surprise. With Cam Newton suffering a cracked rib in the preseason this pick may end up being a pretty big one. If someone suffers a major injury at QB I have some ammo to make a trade.
James Jones at wide receiver 66 could be a steal. He had ten targets in the last preseason game and the only reason he’s been sliding down the rankings is because he was behind Andre Holmes and Rod Streater in the first two preseason games. My thoughts were that the Raiders knew what they had when they signed Jones away from Green Bay and wanted to see which receivers were going to be in their plans going forward.
The Rams Defense was my next pick and it allows me to start streaming defenses early in the season with their week four bye. My last pick was spent on Bryce Brown and it was done as insurance for Spiller and because I think he can really excel if he’s give a chance this year. If Fred Jackson gets injured Brown could explode this season.