It seemed like it took forever to get here, but I finally had my first real draft last night. It's a 10-team PPR league of buddies scattered around the country, and I ended up with the 9th pick (yuck). Here's what I put together:
Pick 1.9: Matt Forte, RB, Bears -- I was hoping CJ Anderson would fall to me here, but 7 RBs were taken, along with Antonio Brown. I seriously considered grabbing Gronk, but just felt that I would probably be hamstrung at RB the rest of the way if I did. The guy picking 10th took Gronk and Julio. His top RB? Lamar Miller. No bueno.
Pick 3.9: Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Broncos -- Wanted Forsett, but he was scooped up at pick 3.4. With all the other premier WRs gone, it was time to invest in the Denver offense.
Pick 4.2: Drew Brees, QB, Saints -- I am a believer in the importance of investing in an elite QB, especially when you can get one this late. Russell Wilson went at 4.1 and Peyton was taken at 4.3. Brees' durability and unparalleled consistently are everything you want in a fantasy QB.
Pick 5.9: Todd Gurley, RB, Rams -- My knees were bouncing as my pick approached and Gurley was sitting at the top of available RBs on the ESPN draft room board. No RB outside the top 4-5 picks has more upside down the stretch, in my humble opinion.
Pick 6.2: Arian Foster, RB, Texans -- The problem with picking at the end of the rounds is that you have to make tradeoffs. There's no way both Foster and Jarvis Landry were going to make it back to me in Round 7. Not with the recent news that Foster could miss just one game. Landry, as expected, went at pick 6.9. I'm loving my team now (Forte probably being my biggest disappointment), but I need a TE.
Pick 7.9: Nelson Agholor, WR, Eagles -- Dammit! Jordan Cameron was snatched up at 7.6. My TE plan has been foiled! I'm reeling, and I'm on the clock. Agholor is not a guy I've been targeting, but visions of Chip Kelly's offense going gangbusters this preseason were dancing in my head. Let's see if this rookie can live up to the hype.
Pick 8.2: Joseph Randle, RB, Cowboys -- Yeah, still reeling... Had Ameer Abdullah in my sights, but lost him on the swing. Strange that with several Dallas-based guys in this league, nobody had taken Randle; yet he was the top-rated guy on ESPN's board for a couple of rounds now. Oh well; here's goes nothing... (NOTE: A prominent Cowboys offensive lineman stopped by our offices today. I asked him who he thought would be the lead RB. He didn't hesitate: Darren McFadden. "He gets an opening, and he's gone." Of course, he added the caveat, "as long as he's healthy." And yes, this is a true story. And no, I'm not saying which OL, because we were talking privately and I don't know if he wants to go public with that statement.)
Pick 9.9: Dwayne Allen, TE, Colts -- Not a bad fallback at TE, though I'd like him a lot more if Coby Fleener wasn't in the picture. (He'd also require a higher pick in that scenario, of course.) I was targeting Michael Floyd here, but he was taken at 9.7.
Pick 10.2: Sam Bradford, QB, Eagles -- Yeah, I guess I'm drinking the Eagles' Kool-Aid. No real risk here, since I've got Brees. But if Bradford stays upright and keeps up the positive momentum from preseason, I'll be glad he's on my bench and not in an opponent's starting lineup.
Pick 11.9: Broncos D/ST -- The Seahawks were taken at 9.1, and the Texans, Rams, Bills and Pats were all scooped up earlier in this round. The run on defenses was officially on. Time to pull the trigger.
Pick 12.2: Owen Daniels, TE, Broncos -- With Peyton as his QB, you never know... Hopefully one of my TEs will come through for me.
Pick 13.9: Alfred Blue, RB, Texans -- If things don't work out with Arian, I've got his handcuff. To my surprise, someone snatched up Charles Sims at 12.7. Much earlier than his ADP would suggest.
Pick 14.2: Markus Wheaton, WR, Steelers -- One of my sleepers. I'll be tempted to flex him in Week 1, but might wait to see just how much Big Ben relies on him in the opener. Interestingly, Martavis Bryant went undrafted. If he's still available after Week 1 or 2, I will grab him.
Pick 15.9: Jonas Gray, RB, Patriots -- Another sleeper with loads of upside. He'll start for the Pats, and for me, in Week 1. If Gray excels in the job, LeGarrette Blount may return to a secondary role.
Pick 16.2: Brandon McManus, K, Broncos -- This may not be the Broncos offense of 2013, but they'll be prolific enough to give their kicker plenty of opportunities.
That's it. Just 16 rounds in this league. As I typically do, I assembled a team that should be solid from the start, but it will really hit its stride come October. If all goes according to plan, I'll have a very good chance to defend my title in this league.