When it comes to fantasy drafting, we all have regrets, right?
Seriously, who thought Devonta Freeman would be a rushing beast? Didn’t we all know that Larry Fitzgerald’s best days were far behind him? Surely all those offseason distractions would cast a pall over Tom Brady’s season…
Yeah, not so much.
That’s right, friends. It’s time 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. Step right up for The Perfect Draft 2.0: Midseason Review.
First, let’s review our parameters. We will draft from the middle (fifth) position 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. Since all drafts play out differently, we’ll need a little luck along the way. And, as always, our goal is nothing short of total domination and the abject humiliation of our opponents.
Now, with the fifth pick of the 2015 Perfect Draft, we should have selected…
Round 1: Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots. Thanks to injuries and/or limited effectiveness, most of the consensus first-round selections have failed to live up to their lofty draft status. Those who “gambled” on Gronk secured the most dominant player at his position. Like opposing safeties, he’s carrying them straight into the end zone.
Round 2: Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, Giants. Julio Jones has set the pace among fantasy wideouts thus far, but he was typically selected at the top of this round. Thanks in large measure to his TD hat trick on Sunday, Beckham has mostly fulfilled his owners’ expectations.
Round 3: Mark Ingram, RB, Saints. Somewhat quietly, and surprisingly, Ingram finished the first half of the season as the No. 2 rusher in Fantasyland. And with Khiry Robinson likely out for the duration, he should see even more goal-line work in the second half.
Round 4: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans. Those of us who picked Drew Brees here weren’t complaining on Sunday. But Hopkins has been a true fourth-round gem, in spite of his team’s spotty quarterback play.
Round 5: Todd Gurley, RB, Rams. Keenan Allen and Julian Edelman were stellar picks in this round, but Gurley has shown how special he is in just four games. If he stays healthy, the rookie could vie for Fantasy MVP status by year’s end.
Round 6: Tom Brady, QB, Patriots. With 22 combined TDs and just one – one! – interception, Brady hasn’t looked this sharp since his record-setting 2007 season. You know, the one in which he tossed 50 TD passes?
Round 7: Allen Robinson, WR, Jaguars. Who would have thought the Jacksonville offense could produce two Top 25 fantasy wideouts? Robinson already has six TD grabs on the season.
Round 8: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals. Fitz dropped to the eighth round because he had clearly lost a step. Apparently he found it.
Round 9: Devonta Freeman, RB, Falcons. That’s right. The No. 1 running back in the land was passed over in round after round, until some lucky soul decided to take a flier on Tevin Coleman’s backup.
Round 10: Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers. Nobody has passed for more than Rivers’ 2,754 yards, though Brady has played one fewer game.
Round 11: Danny Woodhead, RB, Chargers. In PPR scoring formats, Woodhead is a Top 3 running back. With this pick, we now own all three.
Round 12: Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals. Thanks to Gronk, we have little need for another tight end. But let’s keep him off our competitor’s roster.
Round 13: Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals. Just for kicks, we’ll corner the market on the top three fantasy passers, too.
Round 14: Broncos defense/special teams. We could wait another round to take the top D/ST in the land, but why tempt fate?
Round 15: Dion Lewis, RB, Patriots. We may never start Lewis, but we’ll enjoy watching the question marks appear over our opponents’ heads when we draft him.
Round 17: Brandon McManus, K, Broncos. There are several quality choices here, but McManus has been nearly perfect and he makes 50-plus yarders look like extra points.
If it makes you feel any better, the final Perfect Draft roster will likely see plenty of turnover. It always does.
FREE AGENT PICKS AND PANS
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
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Steelers. Williams proved that he could carry the load the last time Le’Veon Bell was out, even scoring three TDs in Week 2. Now he’ll be asked to do it for the rest of the season. If Williams was dropped in your league after Bell’s return, he should be your top waiver-wire priority.
Jeremy Langford, RB, Bears. For those who miss out on Williams, Langford could be a solid consolation prize. Since we don’t yet know the severity of Matt Forte’s knee injury, Langford could be anywhere from a one-week proxy to a season-long replacement.
Kamar Aiken, WR, Ravens. Steve Smith’s apparent career-ending injury means Aiken will be thrust into a leading role in Baltimore. Joe Flacco has to target somebody, so until heralded rookie Brashad Perriman (knee) takes the field, Aiken is the top candidate.
Malcom Floyd, WR, Chargers. San Diego’s receiving corps is banged up, leaving Floyd as one of Rivers’ few healthy options. Though the veteran has struggled with consistency throughout his career, he can be a valuable bye-week or injury fill-in. Especially if Keenan Allen is sidelined due to his persistent muscle spasms.
Don’t be fooled
Brian Hartline, WR, Browns. Hartline had nominal fantasy value on occasion during his first six seasons in Miami, but he was mostly invisible in Cleveland until Sunday’s two-touchdown outburst. This is what we in the biz call “an aberration.”
Andre Holmes, WR, Raiders. Remember that word “aberration?” It applies to Holmes, too.
Jacob Tamme, TE, Falcons. Tamme was the primary beneficiary of Leonard Hankerson’s absence on Sunday, reeling in 10 receptions for 103 yards and a score. But Tamme is now in his eighth NFL season, so we know what he brings to the party. Hint: Not much.