Friday, August 29, 2014

The ideal draft if you have an early draft slot

The premise of this article is straight-forward enough. If you end up with either the 1st overall, 2nd, 3rd or 4th draft slot (and assuming 12 teams) what strategy should you consider who to target? Based on average draft position data from Fantasy Football Calculator, this combination is possible and a potential combination to put you well on your way to a fantasy football title in 2014. This series scripts out the first eight rounds, with each set including a minimum of 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 TE and a RB/WR/TE flex. For this spot, I am assuming the 4th overall draft position (so the 4th pick in the odd rounds, and the 9th pick in the even rounds as the draft "snakes" back and forth). 

1st ROUND – RB Eddie Lacy, Green Bay: I go back and forth between Adrian Peterson and Eddie Lacy as my top running back for 2014, and would love to start a draft with either here at the top of the draft. Lacy was the #6 running back last year as a rookie and despite playing on a clipped offense without QB Aaron Rodgers. The Packers are loaded with weapons and Lacy will have tons of scoring opportunities.

2nd ROUND – WR Alshon Jeffery, Chicago: After going running back in the first round, landing a Tier 1 fantasy wide receiver in the second is a great start. Alshon Jeffery averaged 16.0 yards per catch last year (on 89 receptions), a full three yards more than teammate Brandon Marshall averaged last year. You could make a strong case for Antonio Brown and Jordy Nelson here also, and one of these three receivers should make it to you. 

3rd ROUND – RB Andre Ellington, Arizona: Strike this recommendation if Randall Cobb has slid into the third round, but assuming that’s not the case there isn’t likely a wide receiver worth selecting over a young, dynamic workhorse running back. Andre Ellington will be a big advantage in PPR scoring (he had 39 receptions in somewhat of a reserve role last year). Ellington played 26 of 29 snaps in the Week 3 pre-season game racking up 75 yards. 

4th ROUND – QB Andrew Luck, Indianapolis: The Colts stubbornly ran the ball too much last year. They won't make the same mistake this year of watching Trent Richardson run into the backs of offensive lineman. Indy will throw a ton more, Andrew Luck adds a lot as a rushing QB and Indy is loaded with weapons (not only with the addition of Hakeem Nicks, but the return of WR Reggie Wayne and TE Dwayne Allen).

5th ROUND – WR Michael Floyd, Arizona: Michael Floyd will significantly build upon his 1,041-yard season from a year ago and he brings big-play ability (Floyd averaged 16 yards per catch last year, 6th best in the league last year for receivers with 50+ receptions). Floyd is a gem of a pick if he's sitting there in the 5th round, and in this scenario you would suddenly find yourself watching Arizona Cardinals’ with your Ellington/Floyd combo. 

6th ROUND – WR Justin Hunter, Tennessee: To win your fantasy league, you cannot go straight chalk down average draft position and we aren’t doing that with this pick.  This is drafting Justin Hunter much higher than his ADP, but likely someone is going to reach and it is not a bad time to do so if you can add Hunter as your #3 WR. In limited playing time last year, Hunter scored 4 TDs on 18 receptions (with a 19.7 yards per catch average) and he has been dominating in camp. 

7th ROUND – TE Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota: The Vikings inked Kyle Rudolph to a new 6-year, $37M deal this off-season and for good reason – he is a Pro Bowl type talent and we have not seen his best days. Rudolph has dropped about 10 pounds and running much faster this year – we saw that in Week 2 of the pre-season with Rudolph collecting a 51-yard touchdown – plus new OC Norv Turner knows how to turn tight ends into NFL (and fantasy) stars. Assuming you are at the 1.04 spot, you may want to flip around the Hunter/Rudolph picks (depending on what other teams have on their roster). 

8th ROUND - WR Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina: Like I said with the Justin Hunter pick, we aren’t making picks to draft along average draft position, we are going and getting talent that will help win a fantasy title. Especially as a fourth wide receiver, Kelvin Benjamin has a ton of upside to gamble on with this pick to close out the 8th round. Benjamin should be very effective in the red zone and quickly become QB Cam Newton’s best friend on Sundays (especially relative to the other receiving options on the team).