Footballguys Staff Mock Draft 13, 12-team FPC format, Best Ball

On August 20th the Footballguys staff got together for their 13th draft of 2016. A 12 team FPC Scoring, Best Ball draft with 28 rounds. Each participant answers questions about their selections and strategies, plus our Will Grant provides an in-depth unbiased summary of each team's draft. 

On August 20th, twelve members of the Footballguys staff got together for the site's 13th mock draft of 2016. Below is the league scoring format and bylaws. This draft mirrors the setup and format of the Footballguys Players Championship Draft Experts League. 

League Parameters

  • 12 teams
  • 28 roster spots
  • Starting Lineup
    • 1 quarterback
    • 2 running backs
    • 2 wide receivers
    • 1 tight end
    • 2 flex (either a running back, wide receiver, or tight end)
    • 1 team defense

League Scoring

  • Offensive Players
    • 4 points - passing touchdown
    • 6 points - rushing/receiving touchdown
    • 0.05 points - passing yard
    • 0.1 points - rushing/receiving yard
    • 1 point - reception RP, WR
    • 1.5 point - reception TE
  • Team Defense
    • 6 points - touchdown
    • -1 point - interception
    • 2 points - turnover recovered
    • 5 points - safety
    • 1 point - sack
    • 12 points - Offensive points against: 0-0
    • 8 points - Offensive points against: 1-6
    • 5 points - Offensive points against: 7-10
    • 0 point - Offensive points against: 11-99
    • 6 points each - Number of Defensive and Special Teams Touchdowns

THE DRAFT ORDER

The draft order was created randomly. After the first round, the draft continues in a regular serpentine manner. Click here for the Full Draft, pick by pick or view draft results in Grid Format.

1. Steve Buzzard
2. Chad Parsons
3. BJ Vanderwoude
4. Cian Fahey
5. Daniel Simpkins
6. John Mamula
7. Jeff Haseley
8. Matt Bitonti
9. Ari Ingel
10. Chris Feery
11. Alex Miglio
12. Justin Howe

Starting with Steve Buzzard from the 1.01 spot, Will Grant provides an unbiased evaluation of each team's draft performance followed by each owner answering a series of questions about their draft and strategies. 

Steve Buzzard - Slot 1

PICK OVERALL POS PLAYER TEAM
1.01 1 WR Antonio Brown PIT
2.12 24 RB Jamaal Charles KCC
3.01 25 RB Mark Ingram NOS
4.12 48 WR Larry Fitzgerald ARI
5.01 49 WR Tyler Lockett SEA
6.12 72 WR Michael Crabtree OAK
7.01 73 RB Frank Gore IND
8.12 96 RB Rashad Jennings NYG
9.01 97 WR Michael Thomas NOS
10.12 120 QB Philip Rivers SDC
11.01 121 QB Blake Bortles JAC
12.12 144 TE Ladarius Green PIT
13.01 145 RB DeAndre Washington OAK
14.12 168 TE Will Tye NYG
15.01 169 TE Cameron Brate TBB
16.12 192 WR Josh Doctson WAS
17.01 193 WR Anquan Boldin DET
18.12 216 Def Los Angeles Rams RAM
19.01 217 WR Robert Woods BUF
20.12 240 QB Jared Goff RAM
21.01 241 QB Paxton Lynch DEN
22.12 264 RB Tim Hightower NOS
23.01 265 Def Indianapolis Colts IND
24.12 288 Def San Francisco 49ers SFO
25.01 289 TE Jeff Heuerman DEN
26.12 312 Def Dallas Cowboys DAL
27.01 313 PK Matt Prater DET
28.12 336 PK Dustin Hopkins WAS

Overall Strategy:

Secure the top player in the draft this year, and then surround him with top-flight RBs and WRS.

Best Pick: Jamaal Charles RB KC – Pick 2.12. Fantasy owners have started to cool on Charles because it looks like his recovery will really limit how much he will play in this pre-season. So he could start the season a little slower than you’d want from one of your top picks. But if Charles can get back to full strength, he’s going to be one of the best fantasy backs in the league. In a best ball format, a slow ramp-up time isn’t as hard to absorb, and landing Charles at 2.12 was great value.

Worst Pick: Tyler Lockett WR Sea – Pick 5.01. Lockett has some upside, but I don’t know if it’s enough to take him at the top of the 5th round. Kelvin Benjamin could be the #1 WR in Carolina this season and Jordan Matthews should be the top guy in Philly. Both were available here. Aaron Rogers, Thomas Rawls and Coby Fleener would all be guys that I’d take before considering Lockett as my 3rd WR.

Evaluation: The 1.5 PPR for TEs rewards teams that act quickly. The consequence of that is that teams that fade the TE position can be left out in the cold. Buzzard’s TE group is probably the weakest in the league, and it’s probably a function of drafting at the top of round 1. With each turn, you see more and more potential options slip away. Buzzard took it in stride and loaded up at the WR position, but he’s still going to be hurting at the TE position every week. I like the QBBC approach he took, with Goff and Lynch auto-starting if they come in and do well. Bortles and Rivers make a nice QBBC to land at the 10-11 turn. Can the depth at RB and WR hold up the weakness at TE? That will be the key to success for Buzzard’s team.

post-draft questions

1. Who are some players that have sparked your interest in preseason and when should you draft them?

The bad thing about snake drafts is you aren't always able to get the players that spark your interest. Two guys that I am really liking in early rounds, especially for best ball are Jordan Reed and LeVeon Bell. Players that are likely to miss games are almost always improperly valued so I will take the discount given to Bell for his suspension games and to Reed on the assumption that he will miss games to injury. Pick these guys up at a discount and plug in players from your bench if/when they miss games. Come playoff time you will have difference makers on your team. From the players that I drafted I really like getting Deandre Washington who was a steal in this draft.

2. How do you approach drafting quarterbacks in a best ball league?

I wanted to end up with 2 or 3 at most but things went off plan when Russell Wilson and Drew Brees went off the board right before my picks. The important thing to remember when things don't go as planned is to regroup your thoughts and come up with a new plan on the fly. As such I ended up spending more picks on quarterbacks but with a variety of high upside quarterbacks I feel like I should be able to compete with the best teams in the league.

3. In a best ball league, would you rather have consistent, middle of the road players or players who will score big one week and disappear the next? Explain your answer.

To be honest I don't think it matters a lot. Mostly it comes down to value and upside for me. I rarely ever look at how consistent a player is. I rarely see teams that overpay for their starters or with players that have low upsides winning a title so that's why I stick to value and upside and let the weekly ups and downs work themselves out.

Chad Parsons - slot 2

PICK OVERALL POS PLAYER TEAM
1.02 2 WR Odell Beckham NYG
2.11 23 WR Brandin Cooks NOS
3.02 26 WR Sammy Watkins BUF
4.11 47 RB Carlos Hyde SFO
5.02 50 WR Kelvin Benjamin CAR
6.11 71 QB Drew Brees NOS
7.02 74 RB Charles Sims TBB
8.11 95 TE Jason Witten DAL
9.02 98 RB Matt Jones WAS
10.11 119 WR Devin Funchess CAR
11.02 122 WR Terrance Williams DAL
12.11 143 RB James White NEP
13.02 146 WR Sammie Coates PIT
14.11 167 TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins TBB
15.02 170 WR Davante Adams GBP
16.11 191 Def Seattle Seahawks SEA
17.02 194 QB Jay Cutler CHI
18.11 215 Def Minnesota Vikings MIN
19.02 218 PK Steven Hauschka SEA
20.11 239 PK Dan Bailey DAL
21.02 242 TE Jacob Tamme ATL
22.11 263 WR Breshad Perriman BAL
23.02 266 TE Lance Kendricks RAM
24.11 287 PK Sebastian Janikowski OAK
25.02 290 Def New Orleans Saints NOS
26.11 311 RB Jordan Todman IND
27.02 314 QB Brian Hoyer CHI
28.11 335 PK Greg Zuerlein RAM

Overall Strategy:

Pound the WR position right out of the gate, at the cost of the RB position.

Best Pick: Drew Brees QB NO – Pick 6.11. While I’m not crazy about taking Cooks in the 2nd, Parson certainly mitigated it by taking Brees in the 6th. Brees is a top five fantasy QB, and he has a tendency to go off in certain games. In a best ball format, that’s a good thing, and he’s a big value pick getting him at the end of the 6th round. Add in the fact that when he does go off, Cooks will most likely benefit so the QB-WR stack will work. A big value pick that can also help lift a big reach with Cooks.

Worst Pick: Brandin Cooks WR NO – Pick 2.11. Boy this is a bit of a reach. Granted, it was at the end of the second round, and the next WR taken was by Parsons in the 3rd (Sammy Watkins). But Cooks is more of a lower RB2, even in a PPR league and taking him as the 15th WR off the board is a reach. With guys like Demaryius Thomas, and Jarvis Landry still on the board, Cooks could have been left to a later pick.

Evaluation: This team boast one of the best starting WR groups in the league. Landing Odell Beckham with the #2 pick is expected, but the supplementing with Watkins, Cooks and Kelvin Benjamin really round out the mix. Parsons added a solid group of boom-or-bust type WRS like Terrance Williams and Sammie Coates who could have solid weeks based on certain situations, which is great in a best ball format. The biggest concern is at the RB position, with Carlos Hyde being his first RB taken at the end of the 4th, and his second was Charles Sims in the 7th. RBs are not as important in a PPR format, but you still have to start at least two every week and a good pass catcher can really make up for a lack of yards. I don’t see that on this roster. James White looks like a better pick given the news about Dion Lewis, but the RB position is still the weakest portion of this team.

post-draft questions

1. You didn't draft any rookies - What's your take on rookies in best ball leagues? Is there too much uncertainty there? 

The 2016 class is not an overt one in terms of initial opportunity. Every step of the way, the rookies proved too costly compared to other options on the board. Sterling Shepard, Corey Coleman, and Will Fuller were the most intriguing at their respective price points, however, I started with a string of strong receivers and needed more balance in the middle rounds. Of the non-Ezekiel Elliott rookie running backs, I like Devontae Booker as a later season starter in Denver.
 
2. What advice would you give to someone drafting in a best ball FPC draft with 28 rounds? 

Secure a least one solid kicker and defense in the mid-teen rounds. The offensive talent is falling off a cliff by this point and getting a stable foundation at each position is worthwhile.
 
Blend in a steady veteran at positions when waiting to address them. An example from this draft was my selection of Jason Witten at TE14 in Round 8. I did not find the right value until near 100 overall and instead of bailing on the position for late-round flyers, I secured a steady option. Later, I added a blend of an upside option like Austin Seferian-Jenkins and other low-priced Week 1 projected starters in Jacob Tamme and Lance Kendricks. While there is a premium on tight end in the FPC format, you can still roll out a lower-cost committee when selected correctly in the later rounds.
 
Know your bye weeks. Finally, at the lower volume positions on your roster (quarterback, tight end, kicker, defense) where you will have four or fewer options, optimizing bye weeks is vital. Taking a zero in a best ball week can cost you 10 points per pop at season's end. Whenever possible, vary bye weeks to provide the most weeks possible to have multiple options at these low-volume positions in best ball.
 
3. What is the most common mistake people make when drafting in a best ball league?

The biggest mistake I see is not playing the format. In the final rounds, we are looking for a couple of usable weeks out of a pick. There are so many picks wasted in the back-half of drafts which fail to fit the simple premise. If there is not a positional player to fit the upside criteria in terms of situation, opportunity, or overt talent, then at least take an additional kicker or defense as a default.
 

B.J. Vanderwoude - Slot 3

PICK OVERALL POS PLAYER TEAM
1.03 3 WR Julio Jones ATL
2.10 22 WR Mike Evans TBB
3.03 27 TE Jordan Reed WAS
4.10 46 RB Matt Forte NYJ
5.03 51 QB Aaron Rodgers GBP
6.10 70 RB Danny Woodhead SDC
7.03 75 WR Emmanuel Sanders DEN
8.10 94 RB Jonathan Stewart CAR
9.03 99 RB Arian Foster MIA
10.10 118 RB Justin Forsett BAL
11.03 123 RB Darren Sproles PHI
12.10 142 WR Phillip Dorsett IND
13.03 147 RB Jordan Howard CHI
14.10 166 WR Steve Smith BAL
15.03 171 WR Mike Wallace BAL
16.10 190 TE Jace Amaro NYJ
17.03 195 WR Nelson Agholor PHI
18.10 214 QB Sam Bradford PHI
19.03 219 TE Tyler Higbee RAM
20.10 238 QB Blaine Gabbert SFO
21.03 243 WR Victor Cruz NYG
22.10 262 Def Baltimore Ravens BAL
23.03 267 RB Josh Ferguson IND
24.10 286 Def Detroit Lions DET
25.03 291 PK Josh Brown NYG
26.10 310 TE Cole Wick DET
27.03 315 RB Khiry Robinson NYJ
28.10 334 PK Josh Lambo SDC

post-draft questions


1. Let's talk strategy - what is the most important position to have a strength in, for best ball leagues?  Explain your answer.

I think wide receiver is the most important to position to have strength at in best ball formats for several reasons. First off, the top receivers are going to score the most fantasy points at the skill positions, so you want to make sure you have an elite option to anchor your squad, while having at least two secondary options that are capable of going off in any given week.  The second reason is wide receiver is the hardest position to put together by committee without giving up massive points to your opponents each week.  I would consider quarterback an important position to have strength at, but there is so much value at the position in the middle rounds, I would much rather have my strength be at wide receiver knowing I can put together a solid group of quarterbacks that can at the very least, keep me even with my opponents from week to week. 
 
2. How important is bye week management when it comes to drafting in a best ball league?

It is important, but it will not prevent me from drafting the best available player if they share a bye week with another player I have already drafted at the same position, especially at positions like running back and tight end.  There is opportunity to take a third tight end or sixth running back if you feel that you may be too weak during a bye week, but then again, having all of your bye weeks spread out can have the opposite effect and prevent you from putting together your optimal team for 80% of the regular season.  Ideally, you would have your best players at each position have different bye weeks, while your secondary options at each position share a bye week knowing that your studs can carry you through with a big performance. 

3. If you can have a weakness at any position, which one would hurt your team the least? Explain your answer

I think it changes each season depending on the disparity between the top players and the next tier at each position.  This year, I could see running back be a perceived weakness to start the season,not hurt your team very much at all knowing that is the position where there is the biggest turnover with injuries.  I think my team is a perfect example.  You don't go into any draft hoping for Matt Forte as your #1 running back (not at this stage in his career, in a new offensive system at least), and there is no question that running back is my weakest position because I failed to draft a stud in the early rounds.  With that said, I went with a committee approach that has multiple pass catching running backs in Forte, Woodhead, Sproles, Forsett and Foster.  I also have Jonathan Stewart who is capable of having several big games a year, and I handcuffed Forte with Khiry Robinson knowing Robinson is the best candidate to take on goal line duties. I can envision a scenario where Forte has 5-6 catches and a solid yardage total, while Robinson punches in a short touchdown or maybe two.  This wasn't necessarily my strategy going into the draft, but a big part of being successful in best ball is adapting on the fly, and switching gears to take advantage of potential game-scripts where you can not only handcuff an important player on your team, but have that handcuff act as a supplemental player for your team in a pinch.  This was most likely the first time I've ever fielded a team where I drafted more running backs than wide receivers, but lacking an elite option, I decided to take a chance on players whose value exceeded their current draft position.  Going back to the my original thought on injuries, I have enough options where I should be able to withstand an injury or two, and there is also enough upside in guys like Foster, Stewart, Woodhead and Forsett where this original weakness could turn into a relative strength compared to the rest of the teams in our league, especially if other teams are hit with key injuries at the position. 

Cian Fahey - slot 4

PICK OVERALL POS PLAYER TEAM
1.04 4 RB Todd Gurley RAM
2.09 21 RB Devonta Freeman ATL
3.04 28 RB LeSean McCoy BUF
4.09 45 TE Travis Kelce KCC
5.04 52 RB Thomas Rawls SEA
6.09 69 WR Kevin White CHI
7.04 76 RB Ryan Mathews PHI
8.09 93 TE Dwayne Allen IND
9.04 100 TE Martellus Bennett NEP
10.09 117 WR Vincent Jackson TBB
11.04 124 WR Tajae Sharpe TEN
12.09 141 QB Ryan Tannehill MIA
13.04 148 QB Tony Romo DAL
14.09 165 WR Will Fuller HOU
15.04 172 WR Kenny Britt RAM
16.09 189 RB Alfred Morris DAL
17.04 196 WR Kenny Stills MIA
18.09 213 RB C.J. Prosise SEA
19.04 220 WR Jermaine Kearse SEA
20.09 237 WR Charles Johnson MIN
21.04 244 Def New England Patriots NEP
22.09 261 TE Stephen Anderson HOU
23.04 268 PK Chris Boswell PIT
24.09 285 Def San Diego Chargers SDC
25.04 292 TE Luke Willson SEA
26.09 309 TE Crockett Gillmore BAL
27.04 316 QB Dak Prescott DAL
28.09 333 PK Kai Forbath NOS

Overall Strategy:

Go hard after top RBs that catch passes, and stack up on a couple solid TEs to take advantage of the extra half point for receptions.

Best Pick: LeSean McCoy RB Buf – Pick 3.04. McCoy gives Fahey three of the top ten fantasy backs in this format. With the release of Karlos Williams, McCoy looks even better as the feature back in Buffalo this season. Adding him to the Todd Gurley – Devonta Freeman backfield was a great choice.

Worst Pick: Vincent Jackson WR TB – Pick 10.09. By loading up on RB and TE, it was expected that Fahey was going to suffer at WR. I doubt he expected that Vincent Jackson would be his #2 option though.  Jackson’s best days are behind him, and his upside probably keeps his upside in the 4th tier of fantasy WRS. Fahey is going to need Jackson to produce every week though. Not a great place to be.

Evaluation: Fahey has done enough of these drafts this year to have a pretty good feel for how these drafts will flow. So it’s no accident that his second WR wasn’t taken until the10th round in a PPR league. This is going WAY against the grain, especially in a league that requires you to start 3 WR each week. With only 1 flex position, having a deep stable of TE and RBS means a lot of points could remain on the bench each week. Fahey is banking on getting just enough production out of his best ball WRs to supplement the point factory he’s going to have at RB and TE. It’s not a typical strategy, but it could pay off well.
 

post-draft questions

1. Talk a little about some players moving up the draft boards and why people should pay attention to them. 

I'm not sure we're seeing much movement at the top because it was all a bit unpredictable this year compared to other years from the start. Tajae Sharpe is the guy who is making the biggest jump. Sharpe looks set to be the Titans number one receiver this year and although his sample in two preseason games so far has been small, he has looked very impressive. Sharpe isn't a name player like Laquon Treadwell or Dorial Green-Beckham but he should outperform them if he continues on this trajectory.
 
2. Do you think it's better to roster backup running backs that may not see much action unless an injury strikes - or running backs that will produce a little here and there every week?  Which is more important to have in a best ball league?

In best ball leagues I typically like to grab backups who will play if the guy ahead of them is injured. I generally look for the backups to guys I already have. If I get Devonta Freeman in the second round then I look for Tevin Coleman in the 10th or 11th depending on how the draft goes. With that said, this year you'll see a guy like Isaiah Crowell drop so if you go running back early it's possible to wind up with backup running backs who are projected starters. That presumes you're willing to wait on quarterbacks like I am though.

3. How should people handle defenses and kickers in a best ball league? 

You need to draft two defenses if it's a 20 man roster. I would draft two kickers if it goes to 22 or more. Where you take those guys really depends on your evaluation, not only of the defenses but of the late-round running backs and receivers. I tend to like the late-round receivers who have big-play upside which means I can be a little bit more aggressive going after a top ranked defense earlier than my competitors.

daniel simpkins - slot 5

PICK OVERALL POS PLAYER TEAM
1.05 5 WR A.J. Green CIN
2.08 20 WR Jordy Nelson GBP
3.05 29 RB Doug Martin TBB
4.08 44 WR Eric Decker NYJ
5.05 53 RB Dion Lewis NEP
6.08 68 QB Russell Wilson SEA
7.05 77 TE Gary Barnidge CLE
8.08 92 WR Josh Gordon CLE
9.05 101 WR Corey Coleman CLE
10.08 116 WR Travis Benjamin SDC
11.05 125 QB Carson Palmer ARI
12.08 140 RB Devontae Booker DEN
13.05 149 RB Jerick McKinnon MIN
14.08 164 TE Kyle Rudolph MIN
15.05 173 TE Virgil Green DEN
16.08 188 WR Seth Roberts OAK
17.05 197 RB Kenneth Dixon BAL
18.08 212 RB Keith Marshall WAS
19.05 221 RB Jonathan Williams BUF
20.08 236 TE Hunter Henry SDC
21.05 245 Def Cincinnati Bengals CIN
22.08 260 Def Jacksonville Jaguars JAC
23.05 269 RB Tyler Ervin HOU
24.08 284 Def Miami Dolphins MIA
25.05 293 RB Mike Davis SFO
26.08 308 RB Kapri Bibbs DEN
27.05 317 WR Jaron Brown ARI
28.08 332 PK Jason Myers JAC

Overall Strategy:

Load up on WR with your first 10 picks, and then look for value / upside late at RB.

Best Pick: Russell Wilson QB SEA – Pick 6.08. Wilson give a boost to the QB position with his rushing yards and touchdowns. He has a decent shot to finish as a top five fantasy QB this season. Landing him at 6.08 is good value.

Worst Pick: Dion Lewis RB NEP – Pick 5.05. This seems like an easy pick to hammer because some guys missed the note on Lewis needing a second surgery. What makes this an especially tough pick though is that Simpkins didn’t add another RB to his team for another seven rounds. Lewis should be back at some point this season, so this pick isn’t a total loss, but not supplementing it with some additional RBs means at least 1 RB position will hold this team back each week.

Evaluation:  Simpkins took a gamble, looking for a late season push from some of his higher picks. Josh Gordon is suspended, and we’ve already covered Dion Lewis and his second surgery. But Simpkins doubled down on the RB rookies in the later part of the draft, hoping that one of them will catch fire by the end of the season. He also wasn’t afraid to add Corey Coleman and Hunter Henry at the WR and TE positions, giving him one of the most rookie-heavy teams in the league. He also waited too long to take a PK, leaving him with just 1 for the season. I like the WR depth of this team, but I think Simpkins is going to struggle because of his weakness at other positions.

post-draft questions

1. Now that we are a few weeks into the preseason, who are some players that you find yourself targeting more? Share why others should do the same.

Let me preface my target player selections by saying I got virtually none of them in this draft. The rest of the Footballguys were “on point” in this mock, so much so that I feel I may have had my worst Footballguys draft to date! Not only were players I had in the crosshairs commonly coming off the board just ahead of my pick, I underestimated how quickly the viable running back pool would dry up. My corps were thin even before the Dion Lewis surgery news broke the next day. Now I will have to hope for an early injury to an incumbent starter to even have a chance at competing in this league. Well played, fellow Footballguys!

Ted Ginn Jr. is the quintessential best ball receiver going much later than he should. It seems Benjamin returning to the lineup and Funchess’ development is pushing his value down. The fact remains his deep threat role in the offense is still intact. While he’ll deliver some disappointing weeks, you have other players to cover those valleys. When Newton hooks up with him on deep touchdown passes (which has already happened in preseason) every few weeks, he’ll finish among the top scorers. He’s going in the mid-16th in most MFL10’s, but Jeff Haseley swiped him a round early in our draft.

One of my target players that I did manage to snag was Virgil Green. When it comes to the Broncos, I trust Cecil Lammey implicitly. He’s telling us on the Audible podcast that Green is the one making plays in camp. We saw Green featured heavily in the second preseason game, which validates what Cecil is saying. We also know that Kubiak’s system is one that prefers to emphasize a tight end in the passing game. On top of that, the quarterback situation is a mess. Mark Sanchez really isn’t playing well in practices or preseason games. It’s becoming increasingly likely that we’ll see either Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch starting in week one. Inexperienced quarterbacks find that the tight end can become a trusted safety valve when the pass rush pressure is bearing down. They’ll undoubtedly be looking to him often and he has the athleticism and receiving skills to make the linebackers covering him look silly in the way that Thomas did during his breakout year. Remember, it sometimes takes tight ends until later in their career to find their groove, especially when they’ve been blocked on the depth chart for years at a time. In the case of Green, it’s been Julius Thomas and Owen Daniels who have been in the way. I fully expect him to come into his own and matter for fantasy teams this year.

2. Who are some players that you find yourself avoiding?  Share why others should take caution.

Sammie Coates is one best ball receiver I feel is vastly overrated. The suspension of Martavis Bryant opening the door and the steady drum beat of camp positivity pushed his best ball ADP way up to the ninth round. Nothing he has done in preseason to date has given me confidence that his hands and ball tracking ability are developing.

Matt Forte is a player that I just can’t get down with picking in any format at his current price. I feel that Bilal Powell is a superior runner to Forte at this stage in his career. Forte also showed us in Chicago that he’s just not effective at the goal line. I see Powell being the one who is called upon for short-yardage touchdown snaps. Forte has been dealing with a nagging hamstring injury through camp, another strike against the 30-year-old runner.

Thomas Rawls is dead to me at his fifth-round price. Not only do I believe Seattle is going to a committee approach with their running back group, I also really see Christine Michael as the more valuable part of that committee. Make fun of Michael for his prior immaturity all you like -- however rare it may be, people do change. Getting bounced around the league for a year and realizing that he had one last real shot seems to have been the wake-up call he needed. He’s displaying humility in his media interactions and running with urgency in the preseason. He’s making the needed transformation from the entitled heir apparent to Marshawn Lynch to a man who understands the reality that nothing is a given in the NFL. As great as Rawls was filling in for Lynch last year, he’s just not the physical talent that Michael is. Michael's 14th-round best ball ADP is sure to keep moving up, but for now, his price makes a whole lot more sense to me than that of Rawls.

3. What specific strengths are you looking for out of your defense(s) in a best ball league? Is there any strategy involved in picking defenses?

In best ball formats, I tend to gravitate toward adding two or three defenses later that have explosive potential on any given week, but will probably not be a consistent top scorer. Though I don’t feel I did many things right in Draft #13, I do feel like I nailed my defensive selections. Cincinnati could struggle when they face high-octane offenses such as the Steelers, Cowboys, and Patriots; but they should have some dominant performances against teams like the Ravens, Broncos, and Eagles.  The Dolphins are a bit of an underrated unit. Their front three will be one of the league’s best with Mario Williams and Ndamukong Suh at the point of attack. They will only catch the Patriots with Tom Brady once in the season and have particularly juicy matchups against the Titans, Bills, and 49ers. Jacksonville’s defense is much improved on paper and, though I don’t believe they’ll enter the elite ranks any time soon, their boom weeks could be rather large.

John Mamula - slot 6

PICK OVERALL POS PLAYER TEAM
1.06 6 WR DeAndre Hopkins HOU
2.07 19 WR T.Y. Hilton IND
3.06 30 WR Jarvis Landry MIA
4.07 43 TE Greg Olsen CAR
5.06 54 RB DeMarco Murray TEN
6.07 67 RB Melvin Gordon SDC
7.06 78 RB Ameer Abdullah DET
8.07 91 WR Sterling Shepard NYG
9.06 102 RB Chris Ivory JAC
10.07 115 RB Tevin Coleman ATL
11.06 126 QB Eli Manning NYG
12.07 139 WR Tyler Boyd CIN
13.06 150 QB Marcus Mariota TEN
14.07 163 WR Bruce Ellington SFO
15.06 174 TE Vance McDonald SFO
16.07 187 RB Zach Zenner DET
17.06 198 Def Carolina Panthers CAR
18.07 211 QB Brock Osweiler HOU
19.06 222 Def Pittsburgh Steelers PIT
20.07 235 PK Chandler Catanzaro ARI
21.06 246 TE Larry Donnell NYG
22.07 259 WR Justin Hardy ATL
23.06 270 Def Tampa Bay Buccaneers TBB
24.07 283 WR Quinton Patton SFO
25.06 294 PK Dan Carpenter BUF
26.07 307 RB Kenyan Drake MIA
27.06 318 PK Roberto Aguayo TBB
28.07 331 WR Cole Beasley DAL

Overall Strategy:

Pound the WR and RB position right out of the gate. Secure a solid TE early and fade the QB position.

Best Pick: Jarvis Landry WR Mia – Pick 3.06. Big value here in the middle of the third. Landry is easily the best WR on the Dolphins this season, and he could be a top ten fantasy WR in a PPR format. Landing him as his #3 receiver gives John a great group of guys to build his team around.

Worst Pick: DeMarco Murray RB TEN – Pick 5.06. Murray showed that much of his success in Dallas was due to the big offensive line. He flamed out in Philadelphia and now starts on his third team in the last three seasons. Add in the log-jam of potential competition at the RB position, and taking Murray as your top RB pick is a risk.

Evaluation: Mamula faded the QB position, but still landed a decent group with Eli Manning, Marcus Mariota and Brock Osweiler. While Mariota and Osweiler won’t light the world on fire this year, they will start every game and the best ball format takes care of which of these three will do the best in any given week. That left him to focus hard on his WR and RB, and he loaded up at those position with nine of his first ten picks. His RBs are a little weak, but should still play enough to give him a point base each week. This team should be competitive each week.

post-draft questions

1. You have two QB-WR stacks in Eli Manning & Sterling Shepard and Brock Osweiler & DeAndre Hopkins. Is there any benefit to pairing a quarterback and wide receiver in a best ball league?
 
Yes.  In best ball leagues, I think it is an advantage to pair up your QB and WR because when they connect for a touchdown, your team gets double the points. This is also a popular strategy in Daily Fantasy Sports Tournaments. Your team can still win a best ball league without the pairing, but if your pair has a big week or bump in TDs over the course of the season, you will reap the reward! Think if you paired Russell Wilson with Doug Baldwin last season. That's a league-leading 14 touchdowns times 2 because you have Wilson paired with him. Another example is if you had Odell Beckham paired with Eli Manning during Week 8 at New Orleans last season. If so, you were certainly smiling when Manning had 6 TDs with 3 of them going to Beckham!  
 
2. In a best ball league, would you rather have one stud running back and several RB3 level backs or all backs at a level RB2 with no true RB1?  Explain your answer. 

In a best ball league, It is imperative to load up at the WR position early in your draft. I rarely end up with a true RB1 on my best ball teams. I prefer to draft multiple RB2s from rounds 4-10 hoping that 1 or 2 of them hit during the season and develop into a RB1. In this particular best ball draft, between rounds 4-10, I drafted, DeMarco Murray, Melvin Gordon, Ameer Abdullah, Chris Ivory, and Tevin Coleman. All 5 of these RB2s have the potential to finish in the Top 10 or perhaps even in Top 5 at the RB position. They each need a few things to break for them during the season, such as an increased workload or perhaps an injury to a RB on their team.   

3. Who is the one player you are targeting in the middle rounds of drafts this year? Explain why you are high on this player this year. 

I am high on the Giants passing game this season. I have been targeting both Eli Manning and Sterling Shepard in the middle rounds of many of my drafts. The Giants will remain a pass heavy offense under Ben McAdoo this year. The NFC East is wide-open. None of the four teams (Giants, Eagles, Cowboys, Redskins), project to have a solid defense. I think we will see alot of shoot-outs with NFC East teams this season. Manning has the opportunity to finish as Top 5 QB due to sheer volume. Sterling Shepard will make an impact during his rookie season as an every week starter for most fantasy teams as either a WR3 or flex position this season. 
 

jeff haseley - slot 7

PICK OVERALL POS PLAYER TEAM
1.07 7 RB David Johnson ARI
2.06 18 WR Brandon Marshall NYJ
3.07 31 WR Jeremy Maclin KCC
4.06 42 QB Cam Newton CAR
5.07 55 TE Coby Fleener NOS
6.06 66 RB Giovani Bernard CIN
7.07 79 WR DeSean Jackson WAS
8.06 90 RB T.J. Yeldon JAC
9.07 103 RB Theo Riddick DET
10.06 114 TE Zach Miller CHI
11.07 127 WR Laquon Treadwell MIN
12.06 138 QB Jameis Winston TBB
13.07 151 WR Pierre Garcon WAS
14.06 162 RB Chris Thompson WAS
15.07 175 WR Ted Ginn CAR
16.06 186 Def Arizona Cardinals ARI
17.07 199 QB Alex Smith KCC
18.06 210 RB Karlos Williams BUF
19.07 223 Def Green Bay Packers GBP
20.06 234 PK Graham Gano CAR
21.07 247 TE Austin Hooper ATL
22.06 258 WR Malcolm Mitchell NEP
23.07 271 RB C.J. Spiller NOS
24.06 282 PK Cairo Santos KCC
25.07 295 WR Kenny Bell TBB
26.06 306 Def Cleveland Browns CLE
27.07 319 PK Phil Dawson SFO
28.06 330 TE Darren Fells ARI

Overall Strategy:

Balanced attack, looking for value at every position. Secure a top QB and then pound value everywhere.

Best Pick: Coby Fleener TE NO – Pick 5.07. Fleener isn’t going to directly step into Jimmy Graham’s numbers, but he’s going to be a big receiving threat on a team that likes to throw to the TE position. Ben Watson did OK last season, but Fleener has a chance to really turn it up. He could be a top 3 TE in a 1.5 PPR TE bonus league and landing him in the 5th round was big value.

Worst Pick: Jeremy Maclin WR KC – Pick 3.07. Maclin is not a bad pick, especially in a best ball league, but he is a bit of a reach in the middle of the 3rd round. Jarvis Landry went just before this pick and Demaryius Thomas was drafted six picks later. Maclin is really a known quantity. A solid pick with a high floor, but lower ceiling too. In a best ball league, it might have been better to take a guy who has a bigger upside like Randall Cobb or Thomas.

Evaluation: This is a solid team at every position. Jeff used a balanced attack and landed big players at every skills position. Cam Newton is a great QB to have in this format, because his rushing yards and touchdowns make him one of the best. Add Newton to a solid stable of RBs and WRs, and the big value pick of Fleener, and Haseley is going to have one of the best starting groups in the league from week to week.

post-draft questions

1. Which players do you find yourself drafting in multiple leagues this year?

Jeremy Maclin - There may not be a more underrated receiver than Jeremy Maclin. Since he joined the Chiefs, Maclin has been Alex Smith's main target and receiving threat, resulting in back to back seasons with at least 80 catches, 1,000 yards and 8 touchdowns. There is little competition in the Chiefs receiving corps, which bodes well for another stellar season. 

Giovani BernardGiovani Bernard has never finished with less than 150 carries and he averages 49 catches per year. New offensive coordinator Ken Zampese is expected to open up the passing game, which benefits Bernard, especially when you consider the holes the Bengals have with the departure of Mohamed Sanu and the injuries to Tyler Eifert and Tyler Kroft. Even if Bernard doesn't score a lot of touchdowns, he'll still be a candidate to finish in the Top 20. If he can supplant Jeremy Hill as the team's primary rusher, his value will go through the roof.

Chris Thompson - I have been targeting Chris Thompson in the later rounds of drafts, especially PPR leagues. If he can reach 40-50 catches, even with minimal rushing opportunities, he'll easily outperform his draft position and be a decent flex option when my lineup needs him to fill in.  

2. What do you look for when selecting a kicker (or in this case, kickers)? 

There's three things I look for in a kicker, particularly a kicker for a best ball league. 1) He must be a veteran who has been durable in his career. This way my chances are higher that he will not get hurt or replaced in the preseason. The last thing you want from your best ball kicker is to not be kicking anytime during the season. 2) Play for a good, but not great offense. Perhaps a high scoring offense that struggles in the red zone. 3) Play for a team with a strong defense that will get turnovers and give the offense short fields in which to score. - The obvious answer here that fits all categories is Brandon McManus. Bonus category for playing in mile-high air where kicks travel further. Another kicker that I tend to target is Panthers kicker Graham Gano. I expect Carolina to perform well offensively (30 points per game last year led the league) and their defense will give them short fields in which to work with. Gano is also capable of converting from distance. I can see both kickers finishing in the Top 5, if not Top 3 this year. 

3. How important is the quarterback position in best ball leagues?  Explain your answer.

The target is at least two quarterbacks in best ball, if not three. Personally, I like to have three, but it's not necessary. Quarterback is usually your best chance in your lineup to score the most points any given week. You don't want to miss out on weekly point production, which is why having multiple quarterbacks increases your chance at a high score. I don't like the strategy of having two stud quarterbacks, because you sacrifice other positions in the draft to give you point totals that you may not need. You can only use one quarterback's score for the week. A mix of a strong quarterback plus two more capable of hitting a big game any given week is how I like to position myself for best ball leagues. My conbination of Cam Newton, Jameis Winston and Alex Smith gives me a strong threesome (all with different bye weeks) without sacrificing too much in other positions. 

Matt Bitonti - Slot 8

PICK OVERALL POS PLAYER TEAM
1.08 8 WR Allen Robinson JAC
2.05 17 RB Adrian Peterson MIN
3.08 32 TE Delanie Walker TEN
4.05 41 RB Latavius Murray OAK
5.08 56 WR Jordan Matthews PHI
6.05 65 WR Michael Floyd ARI
7.08 80 TE Julius Thomas JAC
8.05 89 WR Markus Wheaton PIT
9.08 104 RB Bilal Powell NYJ
10.05 113 WR Kamar Aiken BAL
11.08 128 QB Derek Carr OAK
12.05 137 WR Mohamed Sanu ATL
13.08 152 RB Paul Perkins NYG
14.05 161 RB Chris Johnson ARI
15.08 176 WR Brandon Coleman NOS
16.05 185 WR Quincy Enunwa NYJ
17.08 200 WR Chris Conley KCC
18.05 209 QB Teddy Bridgewater MIN
19.08 224 Def New York Jets NYJ
20.05 233 PK Justin Tucker BAL
21.08 248 WR Braxton Miller HOU
22.05 257 RB Cameron Artis-Payne CAR
23.08 272 QB Case Keenum RAM
24.05 281 RB Ka\'Deem Carey CHI
25.08 296 Def Tennessee Titans TEN
26.05 305 TE Vernon Davis WAS
27.08 320 PK Nick Folk NYJ
28.05 329 RB Branden Oliver SDC

Overall Strategy:

Fade the QB position, grab two TEs early and grab some big upside WRs.

Best Pick: Michael Floyd WR ARI – Pick 6.05.  Floyd is poised to take over the #1 receiver spot in Arizona this season. Even if he doesn’t finish as the team’s top WR, Floyd is going to have a big season. Even more impressive for Floyd is that he had some big games last season, posting five games with more than 100 yards receiving during the seven games between week 8 and week 16. These are the most critical parts of a fantasy season, and in a best ball format, it makes Floyd a great pick.

Worst Pick: Delanie Walker TE TEN – Pick 3.08. Walker was only the 3rd TE taken in this draft, and he was drafted in the 3rd round while guys like Coby Fleener, Greg Olsen and Travis Kelce were still on the board.  Maybe Bitonti is higher on Walker than most people, but no other tight ends were taken before Matt picked in the 4th round as well. He could have gotten a much better RB or WR with this pick and held out for Walker at least one more round if not more.

Evaluation: Bitonti faded the QB position pretty hard, and he didn’t take his first until the 11th round. Derek Carr and Teddy Bridgewater are serviceable options, but they will never blow up in any given week to surprise someone in a best ball format. The WRs and TEs are very solid pass catchers, and many fantasy owners take a dual TE approach in a 1.5 PPR league. It’s a smart pick and Matt is going to need it with his weakness at QB. The other concern is the RB position, where the picks are more boom-or-bust type picks after the first two. That’s the right approach to have in a best ball format, but it could backfire if one of his top guys goes down. This team is filled with risks, but the solid pass catching group can really carry this team a long way.

post-draft questions

1. Which wide receiver on your team are you super high on this year? Share why others should be targeting this player. 
 
I snagged Allen Robinson of the Jaguars with my 1.08. That's pretty high compared to some drafts. But given the IDP scoring of the league and the sniping nature of the experts with whom I was drafting, it was unlikely he'd make it back to 2.06. A similar situation unfolded with Delanie Walker at 3.08. Is 32nd overall too early for the third tight end? Perhaps. But my strategy was to take whoever I wanted, even if it seemed a round too early. In this league with 1.5 PPR scoring it could make a huge difference. 
 
2. Is it more important to have consistent players week to week in a best ball league or a few big producers mixed in with some boom/bust players? 
 
Consistency is my goal in the best ball league. In this draft tried to focus on veteran players that will actually play through the early and mid rounds. There were late round rookie gambles, such as Paul Perkins in round 13 and Braxton Miller in round 21, but after a certain point the sure vets dry up and a run on upside occurs.  
 
3. Which player on your team are you most concerned about? Talk about why you are concerned. 
 
It's embarassing to admit as a resident of Philadelphia but I was not aware that Jordan Matthews was injured at the time I took him (56th overall, 5.08). Of course, they say he will be back by week 1, and maybe it will turn out to be nothing, but it was a pick I looked him up and felt burnt. I tried to recover from the pick with possible WR2 picks throughout the rest of the draft, but it still feels like it could be a problem. 

Ari Ingel - Slot 9

PICK OVERALL POS PLAYER TEAM
1.09 9 WR Dez Bryant DAL
2.04 16 RB Ezekiel Elliott DAL
3.09 33 WR Randall Cobb GBP
4.04 40 WR Donte Moncrief IND
5.09 57 WR John Brown ARI
6.04 64 WR Marvin Jones DET
7.09 81 RB Jeremy Langford CHI
8.04 88 RB Jay Ajayi MIA
9.09 105 WR Stefon Diggs MIN
10.04 112 RB Isaiah Crowell CLE
11.09 129 QB Matthew Stafford DET
12.04 136 QB Tyrod Taylor BUF
13.09 153 TE Jimmy Graham SEA
14.04 160 TE Clive Walford OAK
15.09 177 WR Chris Hogan NEP
16.04 184 RB Terrance West BAL
17.09 201 Def Kansas City Chiefs KCC
18.04 208 TE Jesse James PIT
19.09 225 RB Wendell Smallwood PHI
20.04 232 WR Dorial Green-Beckham PHI
21.09 249 Def Philadelphia Eagles PHI
22.04 256 Def Oakland Raiders OAK
23.09 273 RB Benny Cunningham RAM
24.04 280 WR Darrius Heyward-Bey PIT
25.09 297 QB Jimmy Garoppolo NEP
26.04 304 QB Colin Kaepernick SFO
27.09 321 TE Troy Niklas ARI
28.04 328 PK Matt Bryant ATL

Overall Strategy:

Pound the WR position right out of the gate, and fade the TE position, despite the TE bonus points for receiving.

Best Pick: Ezekiel Elliot RB Dal – Pick 2.04. Ari landed a potential top five fantasy RB in the second round. That’s huge value, especially in a league that requires you to start at least two every week. Pairing Elliot with Dez Bryant puts a little more faith in the Cowboys than Ari probably wanted, but finding Elliot at 2.04 was too good to pass up.

Worst Pick: Jimmy Graham TE SEA – Pick 13.09. Even mega-Seahawk fan Matt Waldman will admit that Jimmy Graham isn’t even close to the fantasy TE that he was back in his days with the Saints. Graham was lost to the fantasy wasteland when he moved to Seattle, and his upside is very very low. Yet Ari faded the TE position, and took Graham as his first pick, despite the extra bonus points for TE receptions. Ouch.

Evaluation: While Ari found solid value at the RB and WR position early, this team has a couple big holes. For starters, Ari only drafted 1 PK. That guarantees a zero in at least one week, and if Matt Bryant goes down, it’s going to make winning nearly impossible. Ari also faded the TE position, despite the extra half point per reception for tight ends in this league.  Ari’s depth at RB and WR are solid, but it may not be enough for him to be successful in this format.

post-draft questions

1. You drafted four quarterbacks and neither are ranked in the Top 12. Explain how this strategy can pay off. 

I actually have Stafford ranked as my 9th quarterback. He’s on a team with no foundation running back and after Jim Bob Cooter took over as the teams Offensive Coordinator last year, Stafford was the 5th ranked quarterback for Fantasy. I think that trend continues this year. I am also higher on Tyrod Taylor than most and believe his running ability provides him a safe floor. In any event, this is a best ball league, so it is often better to wait on quarterbacks and grab a bunch of mid-tier guys. Usually one of them will have a good week and you can easily compete at that position on a weekly basis that way.  Lastly, some beat writers have started to hint that Kaepernick might end up being the teams starting quarterback this year, if not to start the season, then at some point. Playing under Chip Kelly, he should put up some decent points and makes for a decent 26th round grab. 

2. You have a few backup running backs on your roster. Which one are you most excited about?  Explain.
 
The Rams are not going to be very good this year and they love Benny Cunningham, especially as a receiver out of the backfield. He is a sneaky bet to catch 3 or more passes a game in this offense and would be a solid RB2 or flex if Todd Gurley happened to go down. 

3. What players do you find yourself targeting more now that we have a few weeks of preseason out of the way?

Marvin Jones, Stefan Diggs and Chris Hogan are all guys I’m targeting. All three receivers have been the most impressive receivers in their respective camps so far this pre-season and at their current ADPs, they all make for quality picks. 

Chris Feery - Slot 10

PICK OVERALL POS PLAYER TEAM
1.10 10 RB Lamar Miller HOU
2.03 15 WR Amari Cooper OAK
3.10 34 WR Golden Tate DET
4.03 39 RB C.J. Anderson DEN
5.10 58 WR DeVante Parker MIA
6.03 63 RB Jeremy Hill CIN
7.10 82 QB Ben Roethlisberger PIT
8.03 87 TE Antonio Gates SDC
9.10 106 WR Torrey Smith SFO
10.03 111 RB Derrick Henry TEN
11.10 130 RB Shane Vereen NYG
12.03 135 TE Charles Clay BUF
13.10 154 QB Ryan Fitzpatrick NYJ
14.03 159 TE Ben Watson BAL
15.10 178 WR Terrelle Pryor CLE
16.03 183 QB Kirk Cousins WAS
17.10 202 WR Tyrell Williams SDC
18.03 207 WR Leonte Carroo MIA
19.10 226 RB Reggie Bush BUF
20.03 231 Def Buffalo Bills BUF
21.10 250 RB Kenjon Barner PHI
22.03 255 WR Cody Latimer DEN
23.10 274 PK Brandon McManus DEN
24.03 279 Def Chicago Bears CHI
25.10 298 PK Robbie Gould CHI
26.03 303 WR Marqise Lee JAC
27.10 322 TE Tyler Kroft CIN
28.03 327 WR Jared Abbrederis GBP

Overall Strategy:

Balanced attack at the RB/WR position for the start of the draft. Land a decent QB and don’t worry about having a serviceable TE squad.

Best Pick: C.J. Anderson RB DEN – Pick 4.03. People are a bit scared of Anderson this season because of the questions around the role of rookie Devontae Booker and the big question mark at QB. Anderson should see a lot of action this season, and he’s a top 10 pick in a PPR league. In a best ball format, Anderson is a great pick because even if Booker cuts into Anderson’s carries for a few games, Anderson will still auto-start when he is the main focus. He’s also going to catch a lot of passes out of the backfield, and the Broncos will need to check down or swing out to help take the pressure off of Mark Sanchez.

Worst Pick: Golden Tate WR DET – Pick 3.10. Tate was the 20th WR taken in this draft, and was a bit of a reach with a 3rd round pick. Tate is the presumptive #1 WR in Detroit with Calvin Johnson out of the way, but that doesn’t mean Tate is going to instantly become a top 5 WR. With guys like Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Larry Fitzgerald still on the board, Tate was a bit of a reach in the 3rd round, especially in a 1.5 PPR TE bonus league.

Evaluation: Feery reached a little on his first couple picks, but only the Tate pick really jumps out as a ‘big’ one. This team has plenty of depth at the RB and WR positions, and he has a couple serviceable options at TE with Antonio Gates and Charles Clay. Ben Roethlisberger is a great anchor QB, but Kirk Cousins and Ryan Fitzpatrick could also surprise given the right situation. This is a solid team for a best ball format.

post-draft questions

1. What strategies do you use knowing you won't be able to make any in-season adjustments to your team?

That’s what makes best ball leagues so challenging, but also a big part of what makes them so fun. I’m looking to construct a roster of consistent and reliable performers that can also have the monster game from time to time. That’s easier said than done, and sometimes you have to take some risks to find the monster games. I’ll take some of that risk in the form of rookies that I’m personally high on for the upcoming season. The consistency part presents its own set of challenges, but I tend to rely on players that have been within the same scheme for quite awhile. There are exceptions to that rule as well - i.e. a new workhorse back on a projected run-heavy team, but I generally prefer players that are familiar with their surroundings. In short, I want a strong core roster of two strong backs and two strong receivers. From that point, I’ll let the chips fall where they may and take some risks where appropriate.     

2. If you could dominate any one position in a best ball league, what would it be and why?

Wide Receiver. Quite simply, it’s a great time to be a receiver in the NFL. The rules favor the passing game, and even the most conservative of coaches will take their share of deep strikes during the course of an average game. We need to look no further than the current top players based on ADP to see how that translates into the world of fantasy. Ideally, you’ll walk away with one of the stud receivers in the first round, but you can still walk away with plenty of strength at the position in the event things don’t break your way. By having a clear sense of target volume and the expected productivity of the offense as a whole, I’m able to pinpoint the value in each tier of receivers with a good level of accuracy. If one of the receivers on my wish list is staring me in the face when it’s my turn to pick, there’s a pretty good chance I’m pulling the trigger if my roster composition at that point permits such a move.

3. Would you rather have youth and high potential or experience and high floor on your team for a best ball league?

I lean towards experience and a high floor to form the bulk of my roster, and balance that out with a few high-upside younger players that have a shot at a breakout in the upcoming season. Ideally, I’m walking away with a roster that’s roughly about 80% on the experienced and predictable side, and 20% on the speculative side. A roster that goes too heavy on rookies is a little too boom-bust for my taste, while a roster that completely shuts them out may be missing out on some massive upside for rookies that are in excellent situations to produce right off the bat. The 80/20 mix provides the best of both worlds, and is generally my goal whenever I enter a best ball draft.  

Alex Miglio - Slot 11

PICK OVERALL POS PLAYER TEAM
1.11 11 TE Rob Gronkowski NEP
2.02 14 WR Keenan Allen SDC
3.11 35 RB Eddie Lacy GBP
4.02 38 WR Doug Baldwin SEA
5.11 59 RB Duke Johnson CLE
6.02 62 QB Andrew Luck IND
7.11 83 WR Willie Snead NOS
8.02 86 TE Eric Ebron DET
9.11 107 RB Christine Michael SEA
10.02 110 QB Tom Brady NEP
11.11 131 WR Rishard Matthews TEN
12.02 134 RB Javorius Allen BAL
13.11 155 WR Jaelen Strong HOU
14.02 158 TE Jordan Cameron MIA
15.11 179 QB Matt Ryan ATL
16.02 182 Def Denver Broncos DEN
17.11 203 PK Stephen Gostkowski NEP
18.02 206 RB Andre Ellington ARI
19.11 227 Def Houston Texans HOU
20.02 230 PK Mason Crosby GBP
21.11 251 WR Kendall Wright TEN
22.02 254 RB Darren McFadden DAL
23.11 275 RB Mike Gillislee BUF
24.02 278 TE Richard Rodgers GBP
25.11 299 WR Brandon LaFell CIN
26.02 302 RB Ronnie Hillman DEN
27.11 323 WR J.J. Nelson ARI
28.02 326 PK Andrew Franks MIA

Overall Strategy:

Go big at TE and then balance the RB and WR positions. Load up on ‘less popular’ picks, taking advantage of the best ball format to flush out the value.

Best Pick: Rob Gronkowski TE NE – Pick 1.11. Gronk isn’t a particularly ‘gutsy’ pick at 1.11, and in a 1.5 PPR for TE league, he’s definitely worth the first round pick. But you have to admire taking a TE right out of the gate and building your team around him. Jordan Reed was the second TE taken, and he didn’t go until pick 3.02. Alex was the only guy thinking TE this early and it’s a bold statement to plant your flag on a TE in round 1.

Worst Pick: Eddie Lacy RB GB – Pick 3.11. In fairness to Alex, this is as much a personal choice as anything else. Lacy’s ADP and projections make landing him at 3.11 a value pick in a lot of respects, but I just can’t get excited about him in a PPR format. He’s not a big contributor in the passing game, and if he repeats his 750 yards rushing like he did last year, this is going to look like a wasted pick. With guys like CJ Anderson still on the board, I’d much rather have taken a pass catching back over Lacy as my first RB.

Evaluation: This team is built on bucking the typical trends a little. Taking a TE right out of the gate sets you up to swim against the stream from the start, and Alex just went with it the rest of the way. Keenan Allen was a bit of a reach at 2.02, and then adding Doug Baldwin as his #2 receiver isn’t a ‘typical’ move. It’s safe to say few fantasy owners start the draft thinking ‘I gotta have Eddie Lacy and Duke Johnson as my top two backs!’. Yet if you take the emotional and personal reactions out of it, Alex built a team with value-based picks. That’s exactly the approach you want, especially in a best ball format.

post-draft questions

1. What player on your team is the most vital to your team's success? Explain why you like that player this year.

Rob Gronkowski, easily. Not only is he a first-round pick, but he has to deliver on his promise for most of the season to buoy my team. If he goes down with an injury or disappears with Tom Brady out, it will be rough sailing.

2. What player on your team do you feel you received the most value based on where he was drafted?

I had some technical difficulties when I started the draft--also known as I didn't put it on my calendar and I had to draft from my phone while out with my wife--so I was scrambling at the beginning of the draft. When I finally logged in, I saw that Gronkowski was available at 1.11 and I swiped him. I figured it was a good pick, and that was before I realized this was the FPC format where tight ends get 1.5 PPR. Usually Gronk goes within the first few picks--indeed Austin Lee and I took him at the top of our Pros vs. Joes draft in 2015--so the fact I nabbed him so late in the first was a coup. And I didn't even know it!
 
3. In this league, would you rather target more running backs or wide receivers in the first five rounds. Does it matter what draft position you have?

It really depends on the rest of the league. I'm taking the best values, and that is dictated by how everyone else drafts. In this case, I felt the guys I took were quality at those spots, but if the opportunity to draft three good-to-great receivers early presents itself, I'll take it. There is no reason to eschew a great value early because of positional need--you can make up for it later in the draft. That said, if I had to pick one, it would be receiver--I have become a Zero-RB  convert.

Justin Howe - slot 12

PICK OVERALL POS PLAYER TEAM
1.12 12 RB Le\'Veon Bell PIT
2.01 13 WR Alshon Jeffery CHI
3.12 36 WR Julian Edelman NEP
4.01 37 WR Demaryius Thomas DEN
5.12 60 TE Zach Ertz PHI
6.01 61 TE Tyler Eifert CIN
7.12 84 WR Allen Hurns JAC
8.01 85 RB DeAngelo Williams PIT
9.12 108 WR Tavon Austin RAM
10.01 109 RB LeGarrette Blount NEP
11.12 132 QB Andy Dalton CIN
12.01 133 RB James Starks GBP
13.12 156 TE Jared Cook GBP
14.01 157 RB Spencer Ware KCC
15.12 180 QB Robert Griffin CLE
16.01 181 RB Shaun Draughn SFO
17.12 204 QB Joe Flacco BAL
18.01 205 WR Jamison Crowder WAS
19.12 228 RB Charcandrick West KCC
20.01 229 TE Maxx Williams BAL
21.12 252 Def New York Giants NYG
22.01 253 PK Adam Vinatieri IND
23.12 276 Def Washington Redskins WAS
24.01 277 PK Blair Walsh MIN
25.12 300 TE Josh Hill NOS
26.01 301 Def Atlanta Falcons ATL
27.12 324 WR Danny Amendola NEP
28.01 325 PK Mike Nugent CIN

Overall Strategy:

Load up on WRs and TEs, and fade the QB and RB position. Handcuff Le’Veon Bell with DeAngelo Williams.

Best Pick: DeAngelo Williams RB PIT – Pick 8.01. Going with Bell at the end of round 1 was a risk because Bell is going to miss the first three weeks of the season. But Howe wisely added Williams at the top of the 8th round, taking care of those first three weeks and any other time that Bell might miss due to injury.

Worst Pick: Andy Dalton QB Cin – Pick 11.12. Fading a QB in this format is pretty common, but Howe took it to a new extreme. The best ball format helps you auto-start your best QB when you take a QBBC approach, but you usually like at least 1 QB to be in the top 12. Dalton is projected as the 15th best fantasy QB this season, Joe Flacco is ranked significantly lower. Taking Dalton as your first QB is a huge risk.  

Evaluation: Either by choice or because he was drafting on the turn, Justin hitched his team’s success to his pass-catching receivers. His first pick was Bell who is suspended for the first three games of the season, and eight of his next nine picks were WRs or TEs. I like the back-to-back TE approach at the round 5-6 turn, but Jene Bramel is reporting that Tyler Eifert will probably miss a game or two at the start of the season. In a best ball format, that’s less of a concern, but with the weak stable of RBs and QBs on this team, Justin needs all of his players out on the field. A bold risk, but one that could pay off.

post-draft questions

1. The goal of the Footballguys Players Championship Best Ball league is to have the most points at the end of Week 16. Explain your strategy for creating a championship team.

Receivers, gobs and gobs of them. Simply put, they score more than running backs, and they're far more easily predictable. ; there's not much value in relentlessly pursuing an elite RB2. Consider that last year's RB24 (Jeremy Hill) was outscored by both the WR42 (Anquan Boldin) and TE8 (Ben Watson) in PPR formats. That's why I tend to focus my attention on them in the premium WR/TE rounds (1 through 7 or 8), where there's still starting value to be found. I'd much rather stock the higher and more reliable scoring, and then later cobble together a RB corps from the pile of dirt-cheap, reception-happy guys from the bottom of the draft.

2. Choose two players that you selected later in the draft and explain why you have interest in them this year.

I grabbed two handcuffs I covet in Round 25 and 27. Danny Amendola sees a little weekly run - enough to crank out two WR2 or better starts from the Patriots' bench last year - but his main value comes from serving as fragile Julian Edelman's direct backup. Last year, across five full games in place of Edelman, Amendola saw an average of 9.6 targets and posted 10+ PPR points in four of them. In New Orleans, I'm not as convinced as some that Coby Fleener is stable and efficient enough to match Ben Watson's awesome 2015. I think he sees fewer snaps than Watson did, and that Josh Hill will benefit. The team matched his offer sheet to keep him as its No. 2, and he's been a productive red zone specialist throughout his two seasons. He's scored 7 touchdowns across just 30 catches; I can easily see a few dynamic, TE1-type weeks in 2016. That's the right kind of upside at the end of a best ball draft.

3. Pick two players (not necessarily on your team) that people are forgetting about in drafts this year. Explain why you are high on them this year.

I'm not sure why I keep landing James Starks so late. I got him in Round 12 here, but have seem him fall into the 14th and 15th in others. Starks isn't just a high-upside handcuff for fragile Eddie Lacy - he brings standalone value, too. Lacy played in 15 games last year, but Starks managed seven RB1 or RB2 weeks (and three top-5 finishes). That's not to mention his very real season-long RB1/2 appeal if Lacy, one of the league's less conditioned and more injury-struck backs, misses extended time. The team doesn't carry much RB depth, so Starks stands to inherit pretty much everything Lacy doesn't or can't handle.

I also think it's important to secure the Kansas City backups at RB. Jamaal Charles should be truly terrifying when healthy, but that's never a given, and an injury would leave gobs of opportunity open for Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West. In best ball leagues, I like ending up with both of them, but many drafters are ignoring West. I'm landing him in the 18th and 19th round of deeper drafts, as most assume Ware's short-yardage work brings the better value. But West saw more of a rushing share last year after Charles' injury, and drew nearly all of the targets between the two. Considering West is a SPARQ superstar who ran ahead of Ware last year and destroys Ware in terms of receiving outlook, it's silly to ignore the guy.
 

Thanks to Will Grant for his unbiased summary and evaluation of each team.

 

Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to haseley@footballguys.com