Monday, October 27, 2014

The Perfect Draft, with 20/20 hindsight

I don’t spend a lot of time regretting decisions I’ve made in life, mostly because there’s nothing I can do about them now. Besides, even the biggest mistakes often work out for the best. At least that’s what my parents always said about me…

Still, I regret targeting Nick Foles ahead of Andrew Luck in my drafts this year. And though Foles hasn’t been a bust by any stretch, I don’t think this mistake is going to end so well for me.

When it comes to fantasy drafting, most of us have regrets, don’t we? Seriously, who thought DeMarco Murray would be a record-breaking beast? And weren’t most so-called experts convinced that Antonio Gates was all washed up?

Indeed, the time has come for our semi-annual exercise in self-flagellation, when we reflect back two short months on what could have been had we made all the right moves during our preseason draft.  Ladies and germs, step right up for The Perfect Draft 2.0: Midseason Review.

Let’s quickly review our parameters. First, we’re in a 10-team non-keeper league using a standard scoring system that starts one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, and one tight end, kicker and team defense. Second, we are drafting from the middle (fifth) position in a snake format, meaning we won’t have a shot at Matt Forte. Third, since all drafts play out differently, we’ll need a little luck along the way. And last, our goal is nothing short of total domination and the abject humiliation of our opponents.

Now, with the fifth pick of the 2014 Perfect Draft, we should have selected…

Round 1: DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys. On pace to break the all-time season rushing record, Murray has also scored at least one TD in all but one game. He’ll seem like a reach at the fifth pick, but not for long.

Round 2: Arian Foster, RB, Texans. I hate passing on Jordy Nelson, but aside from an early-season injury, Foster is looking like the beast we remember from 2010-12.

Round 3: Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers. No defense has been able to hold the game’s most prolific receiver in check yet.

Round 4: Andrew Luck, QB, Colts. Available three rounds later than Peyton Manning, Luck has been a machine. Even his “off” games have been solid.

Round 5: T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts. He didn’t find the end zone until Week 6, but Hilton could be counted upon to deliver consistent production regardless. 

Round 6: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles. Though Foles has disappointed, Maclin has flourished as his new primary weapon.

Round 7: Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Broncos. Much like Hilton, you knew it was only a matter of time before Sanders exploded.

Round 8: Golden Tate, WR, Lions. Detroit has finally found a worthy counterpart to Calvin Johnson. Imagine how well Tate will do once Megatron returns? Prefer to fortify your backfield? Lamar Miller is a solid option here.

Round 9: Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers. He’s proving that his comeback season in 2013 was no fluke. The biggest surprise is that Rivers is soaring mostly without Keenan Allen’s help.

Round 10: Martellus Bennett, TE, Bears. He went through a short slump but was back in the end zone Sunday.

Round 11: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Panthers. The early leader in the Offensive Rookie of the Year competition – though Sammy Watkins is gaining fast – Benjamin came out of the gate strong and hasn’t slowed down since.

Round 12: Mark Ingram, RB, Saints. Though he’s only played in half of the Saints’ games, Ingram is finally living up to his first-round draft status in New Orleans. He gets the nod in this round for the potential he offers down the stretch.

Round 13: Steve Smith, WR, Ravens. Who woulda thought Joe Flacco would be Smith’s Fountain of Youth?

Round 14: Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers. Ladarius who? Like Smith, Gates is laughing at those who thought his best days were behind him.

Round 15: Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Colts. He doesn’t even start for his team, but Bradshaw is an every-week starter in Fantasyland. I can’t recall ever seeing that before.

Round 16: Eagles defense/special teams. Fantasy’s top defense (in most scoring formats) was an afterthought at draft time.

Round 17: Adam Vinatieri, K, Colts. Stephen Gostkowski has been the most prolific kicker thus far, but plenty of excellent alternatives were available several rounds later. Vinatieri hasn’t missed yet, and Dan Bailey would be equally welcome on this roster.

If it makes you feel any better, the final Perfect Draft roster will likely see plenty of turnover.  It always does.


To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here's a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup.

Catch ‘em while you can

Kyle Orton, QB, Bills. He’s heading into a bye week, but it’s hard not to be impressed by what Orton has done since taking the helm in Buffalo. He has brought out the best in Sammy Watkins and is playing some of his best football in years. Orton has several favorable matchups down the stretch for those needing depth at QB.

Bobby Rainey, RB, Buccaneers. I’ve been trumpeting his potential all season, just waiting for the underachieving Doug Martin to get out of his way. Martin has been the subject of recent trade rumors, but Sunday’s ankle injury could squelch them. Either way, Rainey should soon get his opportunity.

Brandon LaFell, WR, Patriots. I had my doubts after his Week 4 outburst, but LaFell has since proven to be one of Tom Brady’s most trusted weapons. After his third stellar performance in five weeks, he won’t be available in most leagues much longer.

Don’t be fooled

Martavis Bryant, WR, Steelers. In just his second game on the active roster, Bryant reeled in two TD receptions, adding to his first career score last week. Impressive, for sure; but Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t toss six TDs in a game very often. Bryant is worth watching, but he probably won’t merit a roster spot this season. Besides, the last thing we should do is reward someone wearing that god-awful uniform.

Donte Moncrief, WR, Colts. Another beneficiary of the Colts-Steelers aerial shootout, Moncrief’s breakout game should likewise be eyed with suspicion. Reggie Wayne was out due to a short-term elbow injury, and Hakeem Nicks is still above the rookie on the WR depth chart. You likely will never start Moncrief, so why pick him up?

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