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Dissecting A Draft
Zealots Grange Masters, Part 2
Part: 1 | 2 | 3

Round 3 - Results

Someone took Culpepper, someone took Holt, someone took Owens, someone took McNabb. Even though Martin was selected at the 2.10, my available RB pool is falling pretty close to the way I want it to, and Chad Johnson is still in the mix as well with 4 picks to go before mine. Marvin Harrison should be taken before me. There he goes after Steven Jackson (unfortunate he didn't slip a little further). Now 2 picks and then me. I really should take a RB but I don't want Brown, and will take Johnson over him, so I pre-select Tatum Bell, LaMont Jordan (after Bell because I'd rather not double dip the Raiders offense) and Chad Johnson.

Tatum Bell is the pick. Both Jordan and Johnson went before this pick, and Chris Brown went right after, then J.J. Arrington and then a mini-WR run. The WR run shows there was a drop-off at RB right about where my pick was. That is what my tiers coupled with ADP data showed, so I think I played it right coming out of the first 3 picks with two very good RB and a top tier WR.

The potential downfall of these picks is the risk inherent in a Julius Jones-Tatum Bell combo. A little too much risk associated with these guys to put them together as they aren't considered Ironmen by any stretch. The upside is great. I try not to let injury history impact me too much if the player is reported as being fully recovered from the injury. Jones and Bell both proved late last year they were fully healthy and on fire, and youth is on their side. I'll take the upside and cross my fingers at this point.

Round 4 and 5 - Results

This is where I made a mistake, maybe. First, I really wanted Darrell Jackson as he was the last in my WR tier and would be awesome to pair with Moss. Mike Krueger has Jackson projected in the top 10 and I completely agree with that projection for a player who has a lot of positive signs to fall inside, perhaps well inside, the top 10 and you can probably draft him outside the top 10 to 12 WR.

With Jackson that would be two no-brainer starters for me every week at a highly unpredictable position. Unfortunately, he went 2 picks in front of me. I probably should have made a trade offer to move up.

But that wasn't the mistake. Since Jackson was the last guy in his WR tier, we're into the next tier which is 12 players deep. Although I could really use a second WR at this point its time to go back to RB. And not only that, but with Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates already gone too, and the NFL projected starting running backs getting close to empty (i.e. last tier of RB before a big drop-off), I'm taking 2 RB here.

I know most fantasy football players like to fill their starters completely first before getting into the backups, but I don't follow that rule when the value and the tiers don't call for it. RB is a high value position in this league. I already have some durability concerns with my top 2 guys. Another position will take a bit of a hit at the starter spots but over the course of the season, when injuries strike and tough matchups pop up, I'll be better prepared to fall back on the 4th RB who has a starter's gig, than I would be just taking 3 starters and then hoping for a later pick to pan out or finding a gem on the waiver wire.

But that wasn't the mistake, taking 2 more RBs in the 4th and 5th rounds. At the 4.09 pick, I was looking at choices DeShaun Foster, Ronnie Brown, Cedric Benson, Duce Staley, Fred Taylor, & Lee Suggs. Note that between my 4th and 5th picks, Larry Johnson was selected and after this group the next RB taken was Thomas Jones at 7.01, so like I said, this was the bottom of the barrel for RB projected to start in the NFL this season.

After much debate I liked DeShaun Foster better than Ronnie Brown as my top choices, and pre-selected the two in that order for the 4.09. If I lost Brown my next selection would be Cedric Benson who should last to my next pick. Thought about it, thought about it... Finally decided that I could probably take Brown here and still get Foster at my next pick, 5 picks later, since people seem pretty low on him.

Then my Internet crapped out. Argh! Couldn't get back in to switch the pre-selects and wouldn't you know in the 20 minutes the Internet was down the prior pick selected (Steve Smith) and I got DeShaun Foster. Ronnie Brown went right after and Cedric Benson went before my next pick. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Still wanted to go RB because the only WR taken, Nate Burelson, was still not even in my top tier at all, so it was still many players deep.

Not nearly as flashy a pick, but went with Duce Staley. Anyone checked his pre-injury numbers last year? Through the first 8 weeks (7 games) Staley had 4, 100 yard games and 2 others over 90 yards. Awesome. He was just not getting the touchdowns (only 1) but the carries and yardage was great.

The mistake was I should have had Brown as my first selection and still gotten Foster with the 5th round pick. I ended up overpaying for Foster and missing out on my next two choices as a result. Of course, it isn't guaranteed it would have worked that way but the probability is that it would have. And then with Benson being my third choice at the time, I really messed that up by not thinking through the moves properly.

In retrospect, given all the risk I've compacted into this team so far, Staley might end up being a better choice if he can consistently produce than having one of the rooks Brown or Benson who need to get acclimated to the NFL, but still mad at myself for the way I played those picks.

Round 6 - Results

Leading up to this pick at 6.11, there is a huge WR run. No surprise since the RB tier got eliminated just after my last picks. 15 WR in all were taken. I really wanted Deion Branch to occupy my #2 WR spot, but the Patriots fan in the bunch snapped him up at 6.09. Also drafted were Michael Vick, Jason Whitten and finally someone grabbed the first defensive player, Ray Lewis at 6.07.

That I was glad to see, because I am more than ready for these guys to start pulling all kinds of D players off the board so I can continue to build my offense. Unfortunately looking at my tiers, with so many WR taken the last round that tier dried up, the top TE tier is deep and there are no RB worth taking at this point, and I don't need to go back to that position again.

My original plan called for waiting on a QB a little longer, but Trent Green is sitting there in a tier all by himself, with a large drop-off before getting into a QB tier that is 7 players deep (was 9, before Bulger and Vick were drafted). Perhaps if I take a QB here I can give some other teams more incentive to turn their attention to QB as well. My pick is Trent Green.

Round 7 - Results

Drafting at 7.06, we did manage to get one more QB and one more defensive player off the board since my 6.11 pick. I would have hoped for more. Now the offensive tiers are still not great. They are either deep, or the players remaining I should be able to get later in the draft. I still need two WR to fill my starter spots and I'm getting slightly nervous about that position.

There is going to be a run on defense before my next pick, or at least, I want there to be so some of these straggling offensive players who should get drafted later are still available for me. Given I want to start 3 LB, and I only have 4 left in my top tier after Lewis, now is a good time to get a solid reliable starter here. LB is in fact my shallowest tier at this point.

Similar to the Trent Green pick, taking the third defensive player overall should put more pressure on the other owners to address the D side of their roster. I take stud LB Keith Bulluck.

Round 8 - Results

Sure enough, half of the next 12 picks are defense, 2 more are QB and a couple TE. My general feeling with this draft is TE is being slightly overvalued, especially given there are no points for receptions. It would have been nice to get either Gonzo or Gates, but they were drafted higher than I would have considered them. Into the next tier, Witten, Crumpler, Shockey, Heap were all drafted ahead of where I felt they added enough to the lineup over guys I can get much later.

This year it seems TE is a talented group with a number of guys primed to "breakout" and be a solid fantasy contributor. With a number of good upside guys, and the pre-existing good to very good players mentioned above, the TE position appears much deeper than it has been in prior years and therefore should not be drafted as high as when Gonzo and Shannon Sharpe truly stood on their own as the cream of the crop a few years ago.

WR is still my main concern since I still only hold Randy Moss at that position. This guy would have ideally been a third WR instead of a second, but as the 32nd WR selected, I still think I am getting decent value for Brandon Stokley.

Here is another aside: Fantasy football players who focus only on the numbers and history will tell you Peyton Manning had a once in a lifetime season last year, and he is a horrible pick this year. The same people will say the same about Brandon Stokley, that a team's third WR has no business catching for 1,000 yards and 10 TD. Their reasoning? Because it has never been done before. Well, here is what I know:

Peyton Manning is 29 years old; he is in his prime. His talent is unquestioned. Manning has the desire, work ethic and attitude to continue to IMPROVE his game. Improve? I'm not saying he is going to go out and throw 49 TD again, or 50 or 60, but from what you know of Manning do you think he is satisfied with his season last year? Do you think he is one to pat himself on the back and say, good job, maybe I'll take this summer off? Not this guy. Not based on what we've seen of him in his career. He knows his job is to score points. He can only control the offensive side of the ball and he figures the best way for him to help his team to win is to score as many points as possible. That is what he works continuously on, and that is what he goes out and does. In terms of supporting cast, Marcus Pollard is gone from a year ago. Overall, not much has changed for Manning so I'm not very quick to discount what he did last year as a once in a lifetime thing.

Now on to Stokley. Manning lobbied for the Colts to sign Stokley. Stokley worked at the Manning Passing Academy. These guys know each other well and seem to have, based on an outsiders educated guess, formed some sort of friendship bond. With the departure of Pollard the Colts should use more 3-wide sets, which gets Stokley on the field more than last season. Will defenses double team Stokley because he was such a threat last year? They can't possibly. That would leave either Marvin Harrison or Reggie Wayne with a prime matchup that Manning will exploit.

The long and short of it is, I feel very comfortable penciling Stokley in as a regular starter in a start 3 WR league.

Round 9 - Results

A real mixed bag of picks since the Stokley pick at 8.07 to my next pick at 9.10. Four WR, 3 QB, a couple RB and 4 defensive players. Lets talk a little bit more about my philosophy to wait on defensive players. I consider Mike Peterson a good pick at the 8.12 as he was the last in my top tier of LB (which was 6 deep). After that, there are about 20 LB projected with points from 130 down to 115. That is a 15 point difference, or less than 1 point per game from the 7th ranked LB to the 26th ranked LB.

Why would I ever consider a LB here? Other teams are because LB is the most valuable defensive position for fantasy purposes - they are the most consistent producers and highest scorers. I don't dispute that. But the value for using a 9th round pick is not there to take a LB right now, or any defensive position, because there are so many available. Not all 20 of these guys are going to get drafted any time soon. Be patient, and wait for the right ones to fall.

With all the top TE taken already, and it nearing 2 full rounds behind his average draft position, I grab a guy whose upside I really like, Dallas Clark.

Do this test first though: There are 4 picks between this and my next pick. Do any of those teams picking after me have a TE? No. Okay, pull the trigger on Clark. If the two teams in those slots had a TE, the odds would be drastically reduced they would take another TE, and I could pass on Clark until the 10th.

Round 10 - Results

I kind of backed myself into a corner with my RB situation. Not that I don't have faith in my projected starters Julius Jones-Tatum Bell-DeShaun Foster, but the "problem" is they all come with relatively highly drafted backups. And you could make an argument Bell and Foster each have two key backups which is even worse.

Given the depth of this league, all key backups will be drafted, so it will be tough to find suitable replacements on waivers if/when needed. I consider it prudent to insure ("handcuff") your starters at key positions if the cost is not too great. At this time, I will try to lock up the Carolina Panthers running game by picking Foster's most likely replacement should he get hurt, rookie Eric Shelton. More…