If there was ever a fantasy football version of Monty Python's Black Knight, it was Team MigLeeO from a year ago. Our Pros vs. Joes team was besieged by injuries, seemingly more than any other team I had personally curated at any rate.
Austin Lee and I weren't the only team to get slammed by injuries, but we managed to stay near the top of the league standings for most of the year. It wasn't until the last couple of weeks of the regular fantasy season that we dropped out of second place.
How did we find success after Tony Romo, Kelvin Benjamin, Justin Forsett, Mike Evans, Mark Ingram II, Lance Dunbar, and others missed time or fell entirely by the wayside? Savvy drafting, that's how. Mid- and late-round gems like Doug Baldwin and Thomas Rawls saved our bacon, though they weren't enough in the end.
Hopefully we will have better luck in 2016. We certainly feel that our draft was strong in our third PvJ showing. Here is our squad with our thoughts ensuing.
Austin Lee: Nice intro. What especially hosed us last year was having no starting quarterback a few weeks. Romo + Cutler = zeroes. And, yeah, we could totally do this thing in Slack. How tech savvy of us. :wink:
Alex Miglio: We could almost take screenshots of this conversation and make it super easy. But I’ll settle for copying and pasting.
Now that I’ve thoroughly patted us on the back for not being terrible last season, I expect to have a fully healthy team that tanks in 2016 somehow.
Lee: Well at least we’ll know which of the two of us to blame when it happens.
Miglio: So we drew the eighth draft slot this season. Not great, but not bad. What were your initial thoughts on that?
Lee: I generally like having 2-3 people drafting between my picks on the short turns, so I guess having 4 people wasn’t too bad. But I wish we could have been in an early enough draft spot to get one of our top four players. I was surprised that Gronk slipped to the sixth pick. I had him #2 overall in this format and could have been convinced to take him at 1.1.
Miglio: That worked out well for us last year, so I wouldn’t have complained. I thought it wasn’t a bad draft spot because there has been so much value falling in the first round of drafts this season that I wasn’t too concerned about getting a top receiver. We talked about targeting receivers early, and that worked out great with A.J. Green to start. Green had just 132 targets last season and still finished among the best fantasy football receivers.
Lee: Green was fifth on our board, so we were pleased to get him. But it would have been a tough call if David Johnson and Green were both there for us in the first round. Alex and I discussed RB vs WR with our first pick at great length, and he eventually convinced me that going with Green would be the way to go even if Johnson had fallen to us. It ended up being a good call, as I like the top two RBs we ended up with by waiting. Alex, were you pleased with how those first four rounds played out, or would you have rather had three receivers and one running back?
Miglio: Last season’s carnage was a compelling argument for ZeroRB. It’s harder to pull that off in best ball, but I felt going with receivers early was the way to go. That said, I can’t complain about Mark Ingram II and Doug Martin in the third and fourth rounds. If they can stay healthy most of the year, those two should have huge shares of their respective offenses. I didn’t particularly love the receivers in that range anyway.
One thing we did this year that we hadn’t in the first two was wait at tight end. I think that worked out beautifully for us.
Lee: Yeah, while Martin isn’t a huge pass-catcher, Ingram saw a huge uptick in receptions last year. I have been targeting him in PPR drafts, thinking it’s a new trend instead of a one-year fluke.
We couldn’t agree on a tight end that we both liked in the fourth round, but we both liked Delanie Walker and Gary Barnidge in the fifth. That was a tough call, and we figured we’d only be able to get one of them.
Miglio: Winding up with both was a coup. We felt confident enough at the position that we waited 14 more rounds for our next shot at the position. Jeff Heuermann isn’t the sexiest name, but we figure he will get good run in Denver.
One thing for which we kept having to check ourselves before wrecking ourselves was stacking Saints too heavily.
That was an awkward sentence.
We like Brandin Cooks, Mark Ingram II and Drew Brees as a New Orleans stack, but we also talked about Coby Fleener, Willie Snead IV, and Michael Thomas at various points. We had to pivot away once we realized what was happening.
Lee: And I really like the three Saints we got. Alex likes Fleener a bit more than I do, and the draft price was too high for me on the other Saints’ pass-catchers in an offense that spreads the ball around a lot.
I was psyched that Tyler Lockett fell to the seventh. He went higher in other PvJ drafts. And people are sleeping on Bilal Powell, especially in PPR. He’s my favorite value in the first half of our draft.
Miglio: We seem to have an affinity for taking Seahawks values. Not only was Lockett nice in the seventh, but we managed to steal Christine Michael in the 19th. The hype on him had only just re-started when we drafted. Knowing how fast his hype train goes, I imagine he’s going in the first round by now.
Seriously, though, who knows where that will lead, but the fact he looked so good early in the preseason combined with rumblings he could be the starter gives me hope he will be this year’s Thomas Rawls for us.
Lee: Michael is my favorite pick of this draft. I added him to our queue in the 14th, and we toyed with taking him over Javorious “Buck” Allen at 14.5. We played a game of chicken, trying to weigh Michael’s low ADP against his recent hype, and were fortunate not to get sniped.
Miglio: Buck Allen was another great value. We just nailed the draft 100 percent, right? Just give us the trophy. Though I suppose the DGB trade doesn’t help our 28th-round Josh Huff pick. So 99 percent.
Lee: Good point on Huff. Can’t win 'em all.
Unlike more traditional season-long leagues, positions can dry up quickly in deep best-ball leagues. Before the draft, we agreed to get three quarterbacks and two kickers we felt confident would have the starting job all year barring injury. Previous years, we’ve been stuck with backups in iffy situations. We were the fourth team to take our third quarterback, Brock Osweiler. We got nervous when Jared Goff was the only other 16-game starter left on our list.
Miglio: It was a weird draft from a quarterback standpoint. Not only did they go earlier than anticipated, but there were a couple of huge runs that left the position dry way earlier than expected. We got a little lucky to get Osweiler. Yes, that sentence happened.
Lee: A deep draft can make you think crazy things. :slightly_smiling_face:
The rest of our picks after round 21 were deep sleeper dart throws. Last year’s research helped us scoop up Thomas Rawls in the 28th round. This year, Ronnie Hillman and Zach Zenner don’t have nearly that upside, but either could be one injury away from being their team’s lead running back.
Miglio: I’m not a huge Zenner or Hillman guy, but they were good dart throws in the back of the draft.
So do you think we’re in better shape than we were a year ago? Is that just typical post-draft optimism?
Lee: I think our core team is our best yet. The guys we think will start for us are a great group and we drafted according to our pre-draft plan. I'm not thrilled about our last four skill position players. Our planned starters better come through because I don't think we found any diamonds in the rough at the end of the draft that could surprise by realizing crazy high upside. So that's the only part of our draft I'm bummed about.
Or maybe Zach Zenner is the next Jerome Bettis.
Hopefully he can bus Stevan Ridley out of Detroit. Thanks everyone, we’ll be here all year. Tip your servers.