Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Perfect Fantasy Football Draft

In a perfect world, my fantasy football team would consist of Aaron Rodgers at QB, Arian Foster and Ray Rice at RB, Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald at WR, Jimmy Graham at TE and Lesean McCoy at flex. In this same world, I drive a Lamborghini, live in a mansion and am dating Miss Universe. Seeing as none of those things are going to happen anytime soon (and my girlfriend might kill me when she reads this), I sought out to draft the perfect fantasy team based on Average Draft Position (ADP).

Now, depending on what site used, ADP changes a fair bit. I chose to use ESPN because it's easily available and probably the site that is used the most. However, since ESPN's rankings are really outdated and pretty ridiculous at times keep in mind that these players my not be available at the rounds listed here. In this league, I assumed that I have a pick in the middle of the each round. Here's how my team would look like if everything went according to plan.

A standard fantasy football league drafts the following positions:
QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, TE, Flex, DEF, K, 6 bench spots

See my QB, RB, WR and TE rankings as well for a more detailed look at each player.

Round 1: Tom Brady, QB, NE (ADP: 5, Bye Week: 9)
I have been very vocal of my strategy of taking RBs early in drafts, so it may be a little puzzling to you that I have Brady as my choice in Round 1. However, in the middle of Round 1, if you have the opportunity to take the 2nd best QB, with an offense that will be getting even better this year with the addition of Brandon Lloyd and an improving running game. If I were to take a QB in Round 1, it is almost always my strategy to take RBs in Rounds 2 and 3.

Round 2: Matt Forte, RB, CHI (ADP: 14, Bye Week: 6)
Forte is my 5th ranked RB, so I'm super stoked to be able to draft him in the middle of Round 2. He is a very safe choice as the Bears will run a ton. He is extremely effective rushing the football as well as in the screen game. I'm not worried about the addition of Michael Bush; the Bears have always had a 2nd RB to spell Forte, and Bush will just help keeping Forte fresh.

Round 3: Jamaal Charles, RB, KC (ADP: 24, Bye Week: 9)
Prior to Charles' ACL injury, he was a surefire first rounder. Still only 25 and almost a whole year removed from the surgery, Charles is back to full health and looks great. With Peyton Hillis on board, the Chiefs have a great 1-2 punch and should use them both a ton. Charles has never needed a lot of carries to be successful (he has never had more than 230 carries in a season) so I don't see Hillis' role as a hindrance at all.

Round 4: Fred Jackson, RB, BUF (ADP: 34, Bye Week: 8)
F-Jax was in the midst of a breakout season prior to a broken leg in Week 11. He is a bigger and more durable RB than Spiller and he will regain his feature back role. Spiller will get touches as well, but expect him to be lined up a lot at WR and as a second RB in the backfield with Jackson. At 31 years old, one may expect F-Jax to start wearing down, but remember that he has fewer career carries than Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, Ray Rice and Matt Forte. I'm not worried about a career downturn just yet.

Round 5: Antonio Gates, TE, SD (ADP: 46, Bye Week: 7)
I almost always wait on TE until at least Fred Davis, but with Antonio Gates available in Round 5 and my RBs set I felt I could afford to pull the trigger on Rivers' favorite target. (In a real draft, I would likely reach for Percy Harvin here, but in a perfect world I don't need to do that) Gates when healthy (and all reports have him in the best shape of his NFL career) could easily push Graham and Gronkowski for the top TE in fantasy this year. With Mathews banged up and V-Jax in TB, Rivers will will target Gates often and I expect a huge bounce back year.

Round 6: Percy Harvin, WR, MIN (ADP: 55, Bye Week: 9)
Harvin finished last year as the 8th best WR in fantasy despite only playing limited snaps before the bye week. With Adrian Peterson coming back from an ACL injury, Harvin will get a ton of touches, even lining up in the backfield as well, and will build on last season. A staple on all my teams, Harvin is a top 10 WR you can get in the 6th round, that's some pretty amazing value.

Round 7: Jeremy Maclin, WR, PHI (ADP: 63, Bye Week: 7)
Maclin struggled last year due to an pre-season illness and mid-season injuries. However, it has become clear that he is the preferred target of Michael Vick and is much more reliable WR than Desean Jackson. A minor strained hamstring kept him out of pre-season action, but he's back at practice and should be good to go in Monday's game. The ball will be in his hands a lot this year, and I expect a huge year.

Round 8: Robert Meachem, WR, SD (ADP: 81, Bye Week: 7)
The Chargers' new #1 WR, Meachem has a great shot at a major breakout season. Due to the Saints dearth at WR, he never really had the chance to shine in NO. His upside is tantalizing and with my starting lineup locked up I can afford to pick a risky guy that has the talent to finish the year as a top 10 WR. Note: Doug Martin (ADP of 79) wasn't included here, since I haven't seen any other site in which he has an ADP anywhere close to that spot, often going in the 3rd or 4th round.

Round 9: Peyton Hillis, RB, KC (ADP: 83, Bye Week: 9)
The Chiefs have pledged to run a ton, so I love the pick of Hillis in Round 9 regardless if I had already drafted Charles. Kansas City also has one of the best offensive lines in the league, so Hillis will be valuable enough to start at flex every week if needed.

Round 10: Donald Brown, RB, IND (ADP: 93, Bye Week: 4)
I would usually go a little more upside with this pick, but with Brown staring me in the face, I felt the value was too good to pass up. Brown will be starting for the Colts and getting a ton of touches. Based on my depth at RB, I would prob try to trade Brown (prob with my next pick) for another top 20 RB/WR. But if need be, I'd be more than comfortable playing Brown at flex.

Round 11: Reggie Wayne, WR, IND (ADP: 100, Bye Week: 4)
As my 4th WR, one could do much worse than a guy that had 7 straight 1000 yards receiving season before last year's disappointment with the mess the Colts had throwing him the ball (still had 960 yards receiving). Collie is getting all the hype, and I love him as well, but a much likelier bet to lead the Colts in receiving.

Round 12: Titus Young, WR, DET (ADP: 119, Bye Week: 5)
Young has been tearing up camp, so there is a good chance that by the time, or if you draft on any other site that he will go much earlier than Round 12, but based on his ESPN ADP I put him here. For the record, I would reach on Young as soon as Round 10, and that might not be soon enough to get him in a lot of leagues. Playing opposite Calvin Johnson, Titus will see a ton of one-on-one coverage and I expect him to exploit a lot of defenses.

Round 13: Ryan Williams, RB, ARI (ADP: 157, Bye Week: 10)
ESPN's rankings that haven't been updated in a while, and therefore, there are so many sleepers that I considered at this spot (Austin Collie, Josh Freeman, Jacquizz Rodgers and Rashad Jennings). Likely, in your league, the decision would be a little tougher.
Williams was a huge sleeper for me last year and he is a far superior talent to Beanie Wells, only to see his season cut short in the pre-season due to a serious knee injury. Back to full strength, Williams has looked good in training camp and ran well in Friday night's pre-season game (5 carries for 25 yards and a TD). I expect him to overtake Wells for the starting job before mid-season.

Round 14: New York Jets, DEF (ADP: 5, Bye Week: 9)
There is no reason to reach on a defense when you can get the Jets in Round 14. A perennial top 10 defense, I expect a great year from the Jets. Plus they have a pretty good schedule too. However, I never really keep defenses on my team the whole year, mixing and matching often week-to-week.

Round 15: Garrett Hartley (ADP: 5, Bye Week: 6)
Kickers are kickers, but if Hartley wins the Saints kicker job over Kasay as I expect he will, it's hard not to pick a kicker that kicks in a dome for an offense like the Saints. 

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