If you’re playing season long fantasy football and you aren’t playing in the National Fantasy Football Championship, then you’re doing it wrong. For 17 years now, Greg Ambrosius and Tom Kessenich have been setting the bar for the high stakes fantasy events and have consistently offered the best customer service in the industry. I couldn’t make it to the Big Apple for the NFFC Primetime this year, so I had to go with a phone hookup. My straight-butter KDS preferences yielded a first overall draft slot and David Johnson as my #1 RB. That’s the beauty of the first overall pick, but it came with a problem attached: a value-trap named DeMarco Murray. Unquestionably the best value on the board, and yet packaged with unquantifiable costs in terms of roster construction. When you’re plopping down four figures on an entry fee, it’s difficult to throw caution to the wind and not handcuff such a profile injury risk. If you take Tennessee’s bell-cow at 2.1, the insurance policy will cost you a player at the 5/6 turn. Draftniks love their shiny new toys, and Derrick Henry is the shiniest of the lot right now. Most NFFC draft crews won’t let the Titans backup last until the 8th round. Keep this heavy freight charge in mind if you want to lock up the Titans or Falcons backfield (Tevin Coleman went in the 6th round, snatched away from Devonta Freeman’s owner by one pick). The result is you end up "chasing" from that point on, always one player behind everyone else.
My first half looked like this:
1.1– David Johnson
2.12 – DeMarco Murray
3.12 – Alshon Jeffery
4.1 – Michael Crabtree
5.12 – Derrick Henry
6.1 – Greg Olsen
7.12 – Cam Newton
8.1 – Paul Perkins
9.12 – Zay Jones
10.1 – Robby Anderson
Some interesting market notes...LeSean McCoy was taken at 2.1. The shock of the draft was Melvin Gordon slipping all the way to 2.6. Kareem Hunt went at 2.11. Martavis Bryant was taken at 3.11. Chris Hogan climbed all the way up to 6.2 while Sammy Watkins fell past him at 6.3. Tyreek Hill is now being drafted in the 4th round.
Positional Breakdown by round
1st round – 9 WR, 3 RB
2nd round – 9 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE
3rd round - 8 WR, 2 RB, 1 TE, 1 QB
4th round – 7 WR, 3 RB, 2 QB
5th round - 5 WR, 5 RB, 2 TE
6th round – 6 RB, 4 WR, 2 TE
Quarterbacks are the most volatile scoring position from year to year, the highest scoring position and the least scarce. I recommend, in general, sticking to just RBs and WRs in the first seven rounds. There are exceptions to the rules (hence Greg Olsen in the 6th), but that’s been my most successful model through the years. Go with running backs and wide receivers early, with the tiebreaker going to RBs. Fade tight ends and quarterbacks until round 8, unless a value slips, weighing also if there is a cold pocket in which you don’t like any of the backs or wideouts.
Some players I am most likely fading for various reasons
1st round – Odell Beckham Jr. (injury prone and I don’t like the offensive line or system), Brandin Cooks (was the 8th best WR last year and he was the 8th WR off the board in this one. New system to learn and we don’t know how he’ll be used. Seems like you’ll make par at best, and some concerning unknowns).
2nd round – Todd Gurley (Jared Goff is still the quarterback in Los Angeles), Amari Cooper (fine but too expensive), Rob Gronkowski (missed 5+ games in three of the last five years, and is frequently hobbled/limited in the games he does play).
3rd round – Terrelle Pryor (had him everywhere last year, too expensive this year in a new system), Christian McCaffrey (timeshare with Jonathan Stewart and Cam Newton always vultures rushing TDs).
4th round – Larry Fitzgerald (has a pattern of starting off hot and then fading in the second half).
5th round – Joe Mixon (offensive line problems), Ty Montgomery (when is the last time owning a Green Bay running back was a joyous experience?), Jordan Reed (injuries).
6th round – C.J. Anderson (limps off the field three times a game, or so it seems), Chris Hogan (upside is there but low percentage play. Too early for a lotto ticket with no floor).
Paul Perkins – This may seem like a contradiction since I ripped on the Giants offense earlier, but cost is the mitigating factor. Perkins is much better than average. He's just in a bad situation in New York, but he does have volume and skill on his side. If I’m wrong about the offensive line not being able to block for him, there’s massive upside here. I don't think we’ll see that upside, but we don’t have to if we take him in the 8th round as our RB3.
Thomas Rawls – I don’t think Eddie Lacy will be able to stay on the field.
Ezekiel Elliott – Certainly not a good pick if the primary focus is the smaller league, but how many of us are trying to win the overall? If that includes you, then Elliott makes a lot of sense as a high risk/high reward player. Last year, I drafted a team with Le’Veon Bell in the second round to pair with Devonta Freeman. That lineup made a lot of noise in the fantasy playoffs. The Cowboys mercurial star has a higher ceiling (since his suspension might not take place this year) and a lower floor (since he might miss six games) than Bell had in 2016.