Monday, January 5, 2015

2014 Perfect Draft: The Final Cut

What if your league-mates gave you a draft-day do-over?

I’ll bet you’d take a “chance” on DeMarco Murray instead of a “safe” pick like LeSean McCoy or, heaven forbid, Adrian Peterson.

Perhaps you’d let Montee Ball slide on by and grab Le’Veon Bell instead?

Maybe pass up Vernon Davis for, say…any…other…tight…end?

Sadly, there are no do-overs in fantasy football. But there sure is plenty of crying. Yes, dear reader, it’s time to grab a tissue as we explore what could have been with my oft-imitated, always-controversial, yet magically delicious Perfect Draft: The Final Cut.

As always, we start with a few key assumptions. 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. Third, since all drafts play out differently, we’ll need a little luck along the way. And finally, our goal is nothing short of Kim Jong-un-style 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. The Fantasy MVP slid to the second round in most leagues due to durability concerns and, well, everybody knew the Cowboys would be terrible. All Murray did was win the rushing title by nearly 500 yards.

Round 2: Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers. Arian Foster was our mid-season pick in this round, but Bell came on strong down the stretch to vie for MVP honors with Murray.

Round 3: Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers. In PPR leagues, Brown ran away from the field. In standard leagues, he still set the gold standard for consistent, stellar production.

Round 4: Andrew Luck, QB, Colts. If we’re smart enough to bench him during the playoffs, Luck will really be on our side.

Round 5: T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts. He didn’t find the end zone until Week 6, but we still want our QB’s favorite receiver.

Round 6: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles. Despite turnover and inconsistency at quarterback, Maclin flourished in his new leading role.

Round 7: Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Broncos. As predicted, Sanders stepped into the vacuum left by Eric Decker and flourished in Denver’s pass-happy offense. Sadly, predictions about Decker’s fate as a Jet were similarly accurate.

Round 8: Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers. He’s no Rob Gronkowski (not even close). But Olsen quietly gets the job done. We’ll pick up a better tight end later.

Round 9: Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks. One of the most underrated players in Fantasyland, Wilson almost always compensates for mediocre passing stats with his rushing prowess.

Round 10: Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers. In the Year of the Rookie WR, young blood is more than welcome on our perfect roster. Once Evans got his feet wet, he was nearly unstoppable.

Round 11: Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals. He won’t start often, if ever, for this team. But we’ll like him better on our bench than in an opponent’s lineup after he seizes the starting job in Cincinnati.

Round 12: Justin Forsett, RB, Ravens. Here’s where we start getting a little silly with our picks. Forsett had never finished among the Top 30 RBs in his previous six seasons, yet he quietly took the reins in Baltimore and became an every-week fantasy starter on his way to a Top 10 finish.

Round 13: Antonio GatesTE, Chargers. Ladarius who? Gates not only returned to elite status but had one of the best seasons of his Hall of Fame career.

Round 14: Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, Giants. Fantasy’s unquestioned Rookie of the Year was arguably the MVP of the second half of the season. Beckham simply dominated down the stretch, leading countless grateful owners to fantasy championships.

Round 15: C.J. Anderson, RB, Broncos. Until he was injured, Ahmad Bradshaw was a gem of a late-round pick. Anderson delivered in the second half of the season.

Round 16: Eagles defense/special teams. Fantasy’s top defense (in most scoring formats) was an afterthought at draft time. But what a weapon they’ll be most weekends.

Round 17: Cody Parkey, K, Eagles. Stephen Gostkowski led the way, but he’d cost us a much earlier pick. Parkey wasn’t even the Eagles’ kicker when most leagues drafted, but he finished his rookie season as the runner-up.

Looks just like your draft, right?

That’s okay; we’ll get ‘em next year! Until then, be sure to check in on the Fantasy Fools blog for offseason developments and all the info you’ll need to make next year’s draft perfect.