Saturday, August 30, 2014

The ideal draft if you have a middle draft slot

The premise of this article is straight-forward enough. If you end up with either the 5th overall, 6th, 7th or 8th 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 8th overall draft position (so the 8th pick in the odd rounds, and the 5th pick in the even rounds as the draft "snakes" back and forth). 

1st ROUND – WR Demaryius Thomas, Denver: Off back-to-back 1400+ yard seasons with Peyton Manning as his quarterback, an anomaly 2,000-yard season for Demaryius Thomas this year is not out of the question. I also like the idea of starting a draft with Jimmy Graham right around this spot.

2nd ROUND - RB Giovani Benard, Cincinnati: Giovani Benard is on a very short list of running backs that will approach 70 receptions, he will get a ton of work (new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson will have the Bengals running significantly more than they did last year) and Benard is a big play waiting to happen.

3rd ROUND - TE Julius Thomas, Denver: In my book there are two high-end stud tight ends in the draft, Jimmy Graham and Julius Thomas (with Graham being on his own tier however). Starting a draft with two Bronco Thomas receivers within the first three rounds will make for some super enjoyable games and consistent elite production.

4th ROUND - WR Michael Crabtree, San Francisco: This pick is more about the general draft strategy that the 4th round (and 5th) is about landing still very solid if not elite wide receivers. There's a handful of receivers I would feel comfortable with here but I will spotlight Michael Crabtree. Look for San Francisco to pass more in 2014 and Crabtree will benefit the most from those additional opportunities. Crabtree and Colin Kaepernick have good chemistry together. In 2012, Crabtree averaged 88 yards per game and scored 7 TDs in ten games with Kaepernick. I also think Percy Harvin is a good option here, and if so my pick in the 7th round might be even more fun.

5th ROUND - WR T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis: The Colts will be much more of a pass-first team in 2014 and that will mean good things for T.Y. Hilton who is Andrew Luck's first read on most passing plays. The two entered the NFL together and will take another leap in their third season together. Hilton is also a big play waiting to happen. To close out 2013, and in the playoffs, Hilton ignited for 17 receptions, 327 yards and 2 TDs in two games.

6th ROUND - WR Julian Edelman, New England: Julian Edelman comes into 2014 with a new contract (he received a 4-year, $17M deal back in March) and for the first time locked in as a starting wide receiver for the Patriots. After just 69 receptions in four seasons, Edelman spiked to 101 last year and should be above the 100-catch mark again. He is very good value for his average draft position.

7th ROUND - QB Russell Wilson, Seattle: I have been higher than probably anyone on Russell Wilson ranking (and by a wide margin) and the insane pre-season performance from Wilson has me feeling even more aggressive. If everyone follows ADP, Wilson should be had even later in the draft. That said, the 7th round is a huge value (Wilson should be going in the 4th or 5th round if you ask me).

8th ROUND - RB Carlos Hyde, San Francisco: Winning fantasy football is sometimes about luck, and I don't wish anything but health and success for Frank Gore, but if Carlos Hyde were to suddenly find himself as the starter in San Francisco, you are talking about a 1st round fantasy pick (and potentially Top 5 RB) value here in the 8th round. Regardless, Hyde is going to be liberally mixed in and you could do worse as a RB2, especially given the rest of this stacked team.