This year marks the fifth time Austin Lee and I have been privileged to participate in the FFPC Pros vs Joes tournament. Like last year, we drafted our squad on July 29th. As we have done in the past, we wrote down some of our thoughts post-draft. We debate different strategies and key players like LeSean McCoy, Trey Burton, Dak Prescott, and more.
The draft has 28 rounds. It's a dual-flex PPR league. Tight ends score 1.5 PPR. There is no in-season management, so our optimal lineup is set automatically after each week.
Here's the final draft board for the entire league. Like last year, we drafted from the eighth position. Click on the image for a larger view.
Accidental Zero RB
Alex: We certainly diverged from drafts of yesteryear. Taking wide receivers in the first three rounds was just the start. A departure from trying to start strong at running back, wouldn't you say?
Austin: Before the draft started, we talked about how much we liked taking running backs early in the draft, but we knew we didn't have a shot at a top-five back from the eighth spot. We thought we might have a chance to get one of the four running backs in our next tier with our 2.05 pick, but they were all selected before we got to pick again.
Alex: It was more a product of circumstance than strategy. Which is fine, I think — roll with the punches. Anecdotally, running backs have made a comeback. A lot of fantasy owners are spamming the position early in drafts, which creates value elsewhere. We wound up with one of the top receiver groups in the league because of that. Side note: drafting eighth seems to be a recurring theme for us.
Austin: Even though running back is our weakest position, I feel good about starting the draft with three receivers. The early-round values at the position were too good to pass up.
LeSean McCoy a Value or a Risk?
Alex: McCoy should be a second-round pick. His off-field issues -- hopefully of the "no truth to them" variety for everyone's sake -- tanked his draft stock. I think he was a steal, particularly because we waited until the fourth round to pick our first back. You were more lukewarm on the pick, though. How does it look on Monday morning?
Austin: The legal system is slow to act, so barring leaked audio/video evidence, it could be a long time before we have a resolution to the accusations aimed at McCoy. These real-life issues are serious, and we don't want to make light of them. But the involved parties have very different stories, so it may take a while to sort out. My hesitance had more to do with the potential fantasy decline of the Bills' running game overall and not liking McCoy's handcuff options. We got Chris Ivory in the fifteenth round as insurance, but Ivory's upside is low and a full workload isn't guaranteed if McCoy were to miss time.
Alex: There is always the threat of the Commissioner's Exempt list, but it's sounding more and more likely that McCoy won't miss any time this season. I'm not big on Buffalo's offense either, but I could see Shady catching 75 balls if he stays healthy.
Austin: Versatile running backs help alleviate some of the concern in a shaky offense. Ivory doesn't have the same versatility, so I'm hoping McCoy plays a full season.
Alex: Indeed. At any rate, this was an example of what you can do if you eschew the running back position early. Every draft is different, but it feels like the fourth and fifth rounds have some compelling options.
Too Little, Too Late at Tight End?
Alex: With so much hype around Trey Burton this offseason, it was kind of shocking to find him available in the sixth as the twelfth tight end off the board.
Austin: I like Burton's upside, and I like grabbing a couple of upside tight ends just outside the top ten at the position. But this feels like a pattern for us. We wait a little at tight end, feel good about the value, but our guys don't pan out. I'm not saying we should jump earlier for a tight end when they're going this early in the draft. But bad deja vu has me thinking we probably picked the wrong tight ends outside the top ten again. We'll see. At the moment, Trey Burton and David Njoku feel like they should be strong picks for us.
Alex: We do have a tendency to pick the wrong "upside" tight ends. Admittedly, Burton isn't a favorite of mine this season, but he and Njoku were values where they were taken in this draft. Luke Willson is a nice sleeper as the starter in Detroit, and we just have to hope Antonio Gates isn't a factor in LA so that Virgil Green emerges. Between them, I think we can cobble together a decent weekly floor, and the upside is enormous.
Waiting at Quarterback is a Game of Chicken
Alex: Before the draft, we joked about how we always tell ourselves to wait at quarterback and inevitably get sucked in earlier than we intended. Well, we failed again. But it's good, we're good.
Austin: I'm fine with our first two quarterback picks. Our mistake was drafting Dak Prescott at 12.05. We should have taken Nick Chubb in the twelfth round to pair with Carlos Hyde and been okay selecting a lesser third quarterback in the thirteenth round.
Alex: I disagree that it was a mistake. We probably drafted the best trio of quarterbacks with Prescott; I’m not sure a Cleveland handcuff was a better choice. I’m not big on Hyde, but I would rather have guaranteed production at quarterback than worry about whether a rookie will see enough playing time to be relevant. But I understand — running back is our weakest position, so the pick looks bad in hindsight.
Kickers and Defenses
Austin: Every year we ask ourselves how many kickers and defenses we should take, and every year we take two of each while we watch most of our opponents take three. After the draft, we discussed this behind the scenes with the Footballguys staff, and most of them take three of each in this format. Alex, do you think we'll switch our strategy next year?
Alex: The FBG veterans sure made a compelling case for taking three kickers and defenses. It makes sense — how much do we think late round darts are going to contribute? Granted, we've had lightning strike for us a couple of times. I think our strategy of taking two kickers in the top 5-10 is still alright, though, albeit a bit risky. Having said that, I already took a third kicker in our staff FPC mock draft because the old heads convinced me.
Austin: I can see the argument for drafting three kickers. Kickers get cut or even injured sometimes. But in late July, there's rarely 25 kickers I'm confident will keep their jobs. Drafting three top-25 kickers feels like a lot of draft capital to spend. But I suppose the volatility of the position adds points in best ball.
I'd love to see the math behind drafting three defenses versus two in best ball. As long as you get two defenses with different bye weeks, you know you'll have at least one every week. We could have drafted the Colts defense with our last pick. They were the only undrafted defense. But my small sample size bias remembers us drafting Thomas Rawls with our last pick a few years ago during his breakout year.
Austin: We already mentioned running back as our weakest position. Are there any other positions you're nervous about? Which players do you think are the keys to our victory and/or upside potential?
Alex: Barring injuries, we are rock solid at receiver and quarterback. Aside from running back, tight end bothers me. Like I mentioned, we have a group with high upside, but there is a lot of unknown there. That's the x-factor position on this roster.
Austin: Yeah, hopefully, the injury bug doesn't bite us. We need LeSean McCoy and Jay Ajayi to have strong years to succeed. If they can average at least RB2 numbers and miss less than three games each, then we have a shot.
Alex: Well this is encouraging...
Dak Prescott on @nflnetwork asked about his go-to receiver: "It's Cole Beasley. ... He can stretch the defense, so it's about moving him around, making the defense respect that he can beat you over the top. Once we open that up, he's hard to cover underneath. That's his game."— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 8, 2018
Austin: Love it! I'm changing our team name to Stone Cole Beasley. Our Cowboys stacks better pay off.