Last weekend, I had the privilege of participating in the FLEX Standard League, a brainchild of Jake Ciely from the RotoExperts. He’s undertaking the daunting task of putting together the fantasy football equivalent of Tout Wars and LABR, and based on the motley crew he assembled, he’s probably going to pull it off.
My league is non-PPR without the usual kicker position and instead we use a second flex. After all, we are called FLEX (which stands for Fantasy League of Experts). It’s no secret I’m not fond of the X part, but Fantasy League of Industry Analysts just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
My strategy in football is even more conservative than baseball. My philosophy is to draft a team that is safe and competitive and then work the wire in-season to upgrade as many spots as possible. It has served me well in my home leagues but admittedly isn’t so effective in the high-stakes arena, as that’s really a total points contest disguised as a head-to-head format and my style plays best in head-to-head. My goal is to make the playoffs with a team that is better than I drafted.
And that’s what I looked to do in FLEX Standard. As such, there will be a couple of questionable picks but I’m fine with that. I should also note that with an extra flex, I wanted to make sure I had three, if not four running backs I would be willing to start as running backs and not just flex. I am fully aware of the zero-RB fad that is sweeping the nation and actually agree in principle that it can be an effective ploy – but not at the expense of a viable running back on the board. My feeling is I’ll take a wide receiver if I have him ranked above the available running backs; I won’t reach for the running back.
With that as a backdrop, here’s my squad. And no, we aren’t simulating the 2012 season, though I wish we were.
1.04 Adrian Peterson – coming into the draft, I was a little leery of taking Peterson but after talking to a few of the guys playing in the PPR league, I was assuaged. I was also told that in standard, I likely wouldn’t have to worry about it as All-Day would probably go top-three. LeSean McCoy went first, then Jamaal Charles. Demaryius Thomas was next, leaving me with Matt Forte or Peterson. I like Forte a lot and he’s my #1 guy in PPR, but based on the soothing words of some of my brethren along with group-source rankings in a non-PPR league, Peterson was the choice.
2.09 Doug Martin – this is my baseball philosophy bleeding over to football. This time last year, I could have been writing about Martin as the first round pick. Sure, he had a bad season and he’s not as explosive as some other runners, but I want solid and feel Martin will bounce back this season.
3.04 Frank Gore – if you didn’t like the Martin pick, you’ll hate this one. I’m not completely warm and fuzzy about it (especially since I failed to get Carlos Hyde) but with 2 flex spots, I took Gore since there really weren’t any wideouts I liked – or that I didn’t think I could get next. I know there’s talk of a reduced workload and a risk that Gore has carried the ball a ton the past several seasons, but I think when push comes to shove and the defensive-minded 49ers are protecting a lead, they’ll turn to the veteran to close things out.
4.09 Andre Johnson – the industry shies away from older players, perhaps rightfully so, but I suspect Johnson has at least one more good season left in the tank.
5.04 Julian Edelman – yeah, I know, it’s not PPR, but my goal early on is for steady, reliable production and that’s what Edelman will provide. Sometimes I think high-catch receivers are downgraded too much in standard; they still get yards and score touchdowns.
6.09 Vernon Davis – hey look, an upside pick. I was looking to pick off Dennis Pitta later but decided to take a shot at a difference-maker. Health is an issue but Davis could be the lead receiver on the 49ers and is a downfield threat as well.
7.04 Steven Jackson – I needed to get the average age back up there. I see Jackson much like Gore, but to a slightly lesser degree.
8.09 Reggie Wayne – I’m a big T.Y. Hilton fan but feel there’s plenty to go around in Indianapolis. Keep in mind that even though Wayne is my WR3, I’ve got the flex covered, thus this is akin to taking Wayne for my second flex and I doubt anyone would be all that upset about that.
9.04 Andrew Luck – love, love, love this pick. After the big-three, I like Luck next. I’m old school; while I love watching the running quarterbacks, give me a pocket passer every time. The fact he can move a little makes it even better.
10.09 James White – call it a homer pick if you want but after I fill in my active lineup is when I start taking chances. I missed out on Hyde as well as Andre Williams. White’s stock was rising at the time of the draft, so I jumped.
11.04 Robert Woods – my personal rule of thumb is to take a lesser receiver if he has a better quarterback as opposed to a better receiver with a lesser signal caller, but I went against that with the talented Woods. If EJ Manuel can do anything, Woods will likely jump up into my active lineup pretty quickly.
13.04 Carolina Panthers – confession time, I was unprepared for this pick and while I won’t call it a panic pick since I really like the unit, I thought calling out a fifth skills position player that was off the board would be bad form. I forgot this was the quicker comeback pick and the imitable Eric Mack was putting on a show next to me.
14.09 Jacquizz Rodgers – I realize Devonta Freeman is the better handcuff to Jackson in non-PPR, but I missed out on him too (I was told after the draft that many thought the younger backs went early). Rodgers offers some measure of support in case Jackson is hurt to begin the season or gets hurt.
15.04 Kenbrell Thompkins – shoot, may we well get them all and increase the odds of lucking into a WR3/flex.
There ya go – not the sexiest group but I promise I’ll have a better squad in 15 or 16 weeks when the fantasy playoffs begin.