Dan Croop

Observations from a 20-Team Draft

Author: Dan Croop

I’m running a 20-team league through Yahoo this year with friends of mine. I feel like they are a decent gauge for the fantasy football community, as their knowledge range varies pretty evenly from addicts like myself and a few others to casual football fans. With that in mind, I decided to go back over the draft from Saturday night and pick out a couple of selections that stood out to me for one reason or another. The league has mostly standard scoring with .5 PPR.

Reaches

Michael Vick – Round 1, pick 13: While it’s obvious that Vick is one of the most explosive players on the field when he’s out there, he’s just not worth taking this high with how great a chance there is for him to miss time this season. Barring a significant change in his playing style that can help keep him healthy, I can’t see taking him this high over guys like Larry Fitzgerald and Matt Forte on the board, as well as safer quarterback options like Eli Manning and Matt Ryan.

Darren Sproles – Round 2, pick 24: I understand the love for Sproles here because he finished last season as the fifth-ranked running back with these league settings, but I don’t expect him to repeat that production. He’s stuck in what is probably the biggest timeshare in the league between himself, Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas, and Chris Ivory. A safer option still available here was Steven Jackson, and guys with higher upside like Jamaal Charles and Ryan Mathews were also still on the board.

Reggie Bush – Round 2, pick 35: Bush put up over 1,000 yards last season for the first time in his career since his rookie season. He hasn’t played an entire season since his rookie year. Since leaving USC for the NFL, he has mostly proven concerns to be true about not being able to handle a full running back workload. Odds are against him playing all 16 games this season, as well as topping 1,000 yards again. Still available here were running backs like Fred Jackson, Trent Richardson, and Doug Martin.

Robert Griffin III – Round 3, pick 59: It seems that this was more of a hype pick than anything else. With comparisons in his game to that of Cam Newton, some seem to think he could put up similar numbers to Newton’s from last season. That won’t happen. Newton broke almost all the rookie quarterback records last season. Griffin’s season would be considered a success if he could even put up 70% of those numbers. Based on value, I don’t think I would have gone quarterback here, but if I had to, I would have rather had Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh’s pass-heavy system this year.

Value Picks

Wes Welker – Round 2, pick 31: The “King of PPR” and the number two receiver last season with these league settings is the seventh receiver taken. I do think his numbers will decrease some from last season, but I still expect him to be a top five wide receiver, especially in this format. This is good value to grab the 16th ranked player overall from last season as pick 31.

Trent Richardson – Round 3, pick 48: The rookie running back who was ranked as high as ninth overall by some fantasy writers dropped to the 48th pick in the draft due to his questionable status to start the season after another knee surgery. However, for someone who shouldn’t miss more than week one (if that) unless another injury occurs, this is a solid pick. He will be the centerpiece of that offense, and if he stays on the field, should be a lock for 1,200 total yards and 8 touchdowns.

Peyton Manning – Round 3, pick 54: With rumors swirling that Manning was still experiencing health issues, especially throwing to his right, he just about quieted those by going 10-12 with 122 yards and 2 touchdowns on Sunday. Should Manning stay on the field all season, he’ll be back in the conversation as a top-5 quarterback like he was every year up until last season. As the 12th quarterback taken in this draft, he’ll almost definitely be worth a lot more than this pick.

Ben Roethlisberger – Round 5, pick 88: Probably the toughest quarterback in the game today, Roethlisberger was the 15th quarterback taken. He provides tremendous value here as a proven veteran capable of putting up top-10 numbers. Head coach Todd Haley has already been quoted several times this offseason in regards to how much Pittsburgh will air it out this season. Roethlisberger should put up over 4,000 yards and almost definitely will surpass his 21 touchdowns from last season.

Late-Round Steals

Brandon LaFell – Round 10, pick 188: Anytime you can get a starter at pick 188, it is probably worth your while. LaFell is mostly unproven, but he will be starting as the number two receiver opposite from Steve Smith this season. With a quarterback who threw for more than 4,000 yards last season, you really have nothing to lose by taking someone like LaFell at this point. He’ll certainly top last season’s numbers of 36 receptions for 613 yards and three touchdowns.

Mikel LeShoure – Round 11, pick 208: LeShoure was a popular sleeper pick in early drafts last season as a rookie before he tore his Achilles tendon in training camp. Now fully recovered and impressing in camp, he returns to a Detroit backfield still lacking any definite direction. He has to serve a two game suspension for marijuana possession to start the season, but he could be in line for a decent workload once he returns.

Nick Foles – Round 16, pick 302: This is the season of the rookie quarterback, so why not throw one more into the mix? Foles has impressed as the backup to the most injury-prone quarterback in the NFL while Mike Kafka has remained sidelined due to injury. If (or better yet, when) Vick suffers an injury early this season, Foles should get the first crack at starting in his absence. And if he can play as well as he has this preseason, he will prove as great value for this late in a fantasy draft.

Andre Roberts – Round 17, pick 331: Similar to the logic for LaFell, it looks as though Roberts will start the season opposite from Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona. Rookie Michael Floyd has had a tough time getting a handle on the playbook, and head coach Ken Whisenhunt feels more comfortable with a veteran like Roberts on the field than a raw rookie like Floyd. Temper expectations because both quarterback options in Arizona have been dreadful, but at the tail end of a fantasy draft, these are the type of guys to target.

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