We know, we know — no one cares about other people’s fantasy squads. But what if they’re part of a league including some of the best fantasy prognosticators in the industry? Then would you be interested in a few of what we consider to be the more fascinating draft developments? We hope so, because we’re going to share them anyway.
PFW’s Arthur Arkush (@ArthurArkush) and Eric Edholm (@Eric_Edholm) participated in a Chicago-based “expert league” draft Wednesday night along with some of the leading fantasy voices at Sports Illustrated (@Mbeller and @Fitz_FF), Yahoo! (@andybehrens), Fantasy Pros (@MikeTagliereNFL), Sharp Football Stats (@PyroStag), Pro Football Focus (@RotoHack), Watch Stadium (@TylerJacobsSTAD), Dynasty Trade Calculator (@WazNFL), WLS (@C1McKnight) and The Athletic (@kfishbain).
It’s a 12-team, standard-scoring league with the following roster positions: QB, WR, WR, WR, RB, RB, TE, W/R/T, Q/W/R/T, K and D.
Let’s get to the observations:
With two QB slots, forget waiting on a position many prefer to fill in the middle rounds of standard drafts. Five passers flew off the board in the first 24 picks — Aaron Rodgers (6th), Tom Brady (12th), Drew Brees (13th), Russell Wilson (21) and Marcus Mariota (24th). You won’t find many leagues where an owner double-dips behind center with their first two picks, but that’s exactly what Staggs pulled off when the snake (the draft order, not Staggs) reversed course from Round 1 to Round 2.
There were nine QBs plucked by the end of Round 3 and nineteen gone after Round 6. We were a bit surprised to see Kirk Cousins and Jameis Winston selected as QB6 and QB7 by Beller and Fishbain, respectively, not Matt Ryan and Cam Newton, who fell to Edholm and me.
Two players who had a real shot at pacing their positions in scoring if they were locked in for a full season, Ezekiel Elliott and Andrew Luck were drafted 23rd and 58th, overall. As we already cited, the value of QBs is greatly skewed in this league, but Elliott slid eight slots past his Fantasy Football Calculator ADP of 2.03, with Rob Waziak ending Zeke’s fall. Of course, he did it without knowing whether Harold Henderson will reduce Elliott’s six-game suspension, but if Waz hadn’t, someone else surely would have soon; two of the next four drafters (Beller and Tagliere) passed on backs in the first two rounds before adding their RB1 in Round 3 and Round 4, respectively.
If you’ve read our recent fantasy stuff, you’re well aware of this author’s fascination with the rookie RB class. Selecting 9th overall in a snake draft, I wasn’t in an ideal spot to take a shot at the top three — Dalvin Cook, Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey — off the board 25th, 28th and 31st, respectively. Kareem Hunt was the final pick of the third round, while Joe Mixon was drafted nearly two full two rounds later, 56th overall as RB18. I drafted just one rookie back (Green Bay’s Jamaal Williams at 13.09) and, despite my bullish outlook for the incoming class, was a bit surprised to see Cook go before the likes of Carlos Hyde, Isaiah Crowell and Mark Ingram — though I may be in the minority.
After Rob Gronkowski went 20th overall, the next tight end, Travis Kelce, went 17 picks later (4.01). It didn’t exactly set off a top-tier TE chain reaction, either; Jordan Reed (TE3) and Greg Olsen (TE4) went back to back, but not until 65th and 66th, respectively. Jimmy Graham was selected seven picks later (7.01), with Tyler Eifert five spots thereafter, and then Round 9 represented the lower-tier TE1 run — Kyle Rudolph (9.04), Martellus Bennett (9.06), Delanie Walker (9.08) and Zach Ertz (9.09).
Back to Round 8 for a moment, where, interestingly, some of the bigger fantasy names to switch teams this offseason found their new homes in this league: Pierre Garcon (8.01), Adrian Peterson (8.02), Brandon Marshall (8.04), DeSean Jackson (8.07), Jeremy Maclin (8.09) and Eric Decker (8.10). This likely was a coincidence — or was it? The middle “skill round” of the draft — 17 of the final 24 picks overall were reserved for kickers or defenses — is apparently the spot to pounce on guys embarking on fresh starts.
As far as draft slot surprises in the premium rounds, well, there weren’t a ton, save for the quarterback influx. Waziak drafted LeSean McCoy as RB3 and No. 5 overall, whereas PFW has Melvon Gordon there and OBJ — who fell into Jacobs’ lap one spot later — WR3 and fifth overall). Brandin Cooks, our WR15, was Beller’s pick at 2.10 and WR9 overall. We weren’t able to attend the live draft, so it’s unclear whether that would’ve been the commish’s pick if Julian Edelman hadn’t torn his ACL.
I actually went against my own rankings twice. I pounced on DeMarco Murray at 2.04 (after adding A.J. Green at 1.09) despite two guys I projected above him — Michael Thomas and Rob Gronkowski — being available. Sure enough, Thomas was the pick after mine and Gronk went two spots later, after Dez Bryant and Jay Ajayi, respectively. That pick may or may not have turned out differently if I’d attended the live draft rather than conducted it from my home office, one (small) room away from my busy, chattering two-year-old son.
But I feel good about my other off-script pick — eschewing the reigning MVP, Ryan (3.10) for the one who preceded him, Newton (3.9). After swinging for the higher ceiling instead of the higher floor with my QB1, I reversed course a few rounds later with my WR3, opting for Jarvis Landry (7.09), only to have Edholm scoop up DeVante Parker with the next pick.
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