Last weekend, I hosted four "Fantasy Philanthropist" league drafts with my Twitter followers, with each setup comprising 16 teams and standard-scoring rules.
Here are 13 interesting developments from the drafts, along with my respective rosters for all four leagues.
1. Raiders tailback Darren McFadden was a top-six pick in three of the four Philanthropist drafts, with an average ranking of 7.75.
2. Arian Foster and Ray Rice were the top two picks in all four drafts, with Foster (4,061 yards, 30 TD in 2010-11) going No. 1 three times.
3. Maurice Jones-Drew (contract holdout) had a range of 6 to 23. In fact, for draft No. 4, I halted MJD's tumble into the 20s.
4. Similar to MJD's situation, Steelers wideout Mike Wallace had his draft stock adversely affected by a (fruitless) contract holdout. But the fall wasn't as precipitous as one might think, going 27th, 31st, 45th and 46th overall. Of course, Wallace's value should be incrementally higher in a standard-scoring league, compared to points-per-reception outfits.
5. I'm relieved to report that Jamaal Charles was taken ahead of Adrian Peterson in all four drafts. That comment is not a referendum of Peterson's talents or ability to come back from a gruesome injury. But Charles (torn ACL in mid-September) has had a three-month rehab advantage over Peterson (torn ACL on Christmas Eve). That differential plays a huge role when determining seasonal value. (Peterson should be a top-10 pick in 2013.)
6. I was shocked to see Browns rookie rusher Trent Richardson garner a sensible draft range of 24 to 29. Before his knee scope in early August, Richardson was posting average draft position values in the top 10, which was nothing short of absurd.
7. Indy's Donald Brown had the craziest range of any prominent tailback, from 49th overall (draft No. 4) to 71st overall (draft No. 2).
8. Peyton Manning was taken ahead of Philip Rivers in two leagues, with the reverse holding true in the other two drafts. Peyton's average range was 63.75 (Round 4 in 16-teamers).
9. Speaking of Denver...Broncos receiver Eric Decker's draft range of 65.25 came hours before he lit up the 49ers for two touchdowns in a preseason contest. In PPR leagues, Decker is a top-25 receiver and worthy of top-50 standing. For non-PPRs, his adjusted value should be in the upper 50s.
10. Enigmatic Titans receiver Kenny Britt (torn ACL last September) had a draft range of 94, which could be an absolute heist if the NFL levies only a one- or two-game suspension for Britt's DUI arrest in July (I'm not absolving Britt of his off-field stupidity. Just saying).
11. The Michael Vick/Tony Romo battle netted some interesting results: Vick finished ahead in all four drafts, with an average slot differential of 17! At the time of the drafts, tight end Jason Witten (spleen injury) still hadn't been cleared for physical workouts with Cowboys trainers. But then again, the sight of Vick going down with another rib injury was still fresh in fantasy owners' minds. And yet, Vick (average range: 43.75) was the clear victor here.
12. Green Bay's Cedric Benson had a combined ADP of 75, an impressive value for a guy who had only been with his new team for 10 days. But therein lies the rub of 16-team leagues: Fantasy owners have no choice but to commit to No. 1 backs in their first six selections...or run the risk of starting Jonathan Dwyer, Joe McKnight, Pierre Thomas, Montario Hardesty, Jacquizz Rodgers, Mike Goodson, Taiwan Jones, Isaiah Pead, Shane Vereen or Bernard Scott on a regular basis. As an aside, none of Benson's owners in the four leagues selected Packers rushers Alex Green or James Starks as handcuffs.
13. Jets backup QB Tim Tebow inexplicably had an average draft value of 180.75—which would have been better if he hadn't dropped to the 221st pick in league No. 4. From my view, there's no upside for investing a Round 18 pick on a fantasy asset who completed fewer than 10 passes in four starts last year (deep sigh). Oh well.
Team 1: Cookie Monster On Cr**k
QB—Matthew Stafford, Christian Ponder
RB—Steven Jackson, Ahmad Bradshaw, Shonn Greene, Isaac Redman, Roy Helu
WR—Kenny Britt, Michael Crabtree, James Jones, Donald Jones, T.Y. Hilton
TE—Dustin Keller, Tony Moeaki
Holding the No. 10 pick, I executed a simple plan of taking Matthew Stafford (5,038 yards passing, 41 TDs last year) before targeting four running backs from my top-25 rankings—Steven Jackson, Ahmad Bradshaw, Shonn Greene and Isaac Redman.
In leagues of this size, I'll never be obsessed with having a top-15 receiver on my Week 1 roster. Instead, there was a narrow focus on marketable depth at running back...and landing a top-four quarterback.
Team 2: The Chicken Is Boba Fett
QB—Matthew Stafford, Christian Ponder
RB—Fred Jackson, Darren Sproles, Shonn Greene, Mikel Leshoure, Roy Helu
WR—Torrey Smith, Titus Young, Greg Little, Jerome Simpson, Donald Jones
TE—Brent Celek, Ed Dickson
Holding the No. 11 pick, I made a special point of landing Lions receiver Titus Young (primed for a major breakout) as a direct handcuff to Stafford. The rest of the draft focused on securing value at tailback and receiver...momentarily interrupted by the gift of Brent Celek at Round 10 (150th overall).
That's a perfect example of why fantasy owners shouldn't prioritize Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham in Rounds 1 or 2 of deeper leagues. Patient, prepared owners will yield tremendous value with tight ends in the latter rounds.
Team 3: No More Fake Mustaches
QB—Carson Palmer, Christian Ponder
RB—Chris Johnson, Fred Jackson, Frank Gore, Isaac Redman, Roy Helu
WR—Dwayne Bowe, Kenny Britt, Laurent Robinson, Josh Gordon, Donald Jones
TE—Brent Celek, Jermaine Gresham
It's human nature to get a little restless—or even bored—when executing multiple 16-team drafts in a five-hour span. Holding the No. 8 pick here, I opted to wait as long as humanly possible for a QB1 and focus on snagging five potentially dynamic tailbacks and one top-15 receiver (Dwayne Bowe) in the first six rounds. And of course, I could not resist the allure of Kenny Britt after the 100th pick.
Regarding Christian Ponder, I happily selected him three times in the latter rounds. The Vikings QB could get off to a lightning-fast fantasy start in his team's first five games (Jacksonville, Indianapolis, San Francisco, Detroit, Tennessee).
Team 4: Muppets Go Medieval
QB—Eli Manning, Mark Sanchez
RB—Matt Forte, Maurice Jones-Drew, Shonn Greene, Michael Bush, Isaac Redman
WR—Santonio Holmes, Mike Williams, Laurent Robinson, Josh Morgan, Juron Criner
TE—Brent Celek, Kellen Winslow Jr.
This draft will likely hinge on the success (or failure) of landing Maurice Jones-Drew (the NFL's reigning rushing king) at No. 23 overall—a draft plunge that would have never occurred if MJD had participated in training camp with the Jaguars.
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.
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