On Friday, I completed my favorite event of August, a points-per-reception slow draft with friends from Tennessee, Ohio, California, Illinois and Washington state—none of whom I've met before.
(I joined their hyper-competitive league off a messageboard posting in 2005, and we've been talking smack ever since.)
The parameters were pretty simple—slow snake draft (12-hour time limit for each pick), PPR rules...and we're allowed to trade individual picks, which is crucial to my enjoyment of a process that can sometimes go on for three or four days.
Now for the fun part: When you're in 11 fantasy leagues (like me), it's easy to get restless, or even bored, when making picks in serpentine drafts. After all, I've been mapping out strategies and mock-drafting for two full months at this point. If I don't have a firm handle on who goes in what round—and why—there's no hope for a championship. So, every now and then, it's cool to shake things up.
I can only recommend the following course of action for PPR drafts that comprise 10 or 12 teams: Owning the 10th overall pick, I made a conscious effort to sell off my first two selections...in lieu of stockpiling picks for Rounds 3-7—the golden zone for PPR talent pools.
Trade No. 1
Auctioned off picks in Round 1 (10th overall), Round 2 (15th overall) and Round 12 (135th overall) to Owner B for his choices in Round 3 (33rd overall), Round 4 (40th overall) and Round 5 (57th overall). The advantages for both sides are obvious: Owner B gets a clear shot at owning four players in the first 16 overall picks. And I stack back-to-back picks for Rounds 3, 4 and 5.
But I wasn't done there.
Trade No. 2
Before Round 6 began, and already owning Cam Newton (my No. 5 overall QB), I began to wonder how things might play out if I were to draft Eli Manning (my No. 6 overall QB) with the No. 63 pick...after dealing Newton.
So, I sent an email to every owner, declaring that Newton (and my 14th-round pick) could be had for someone's picks in Rounds 6 and 7. Owner C quickly responded to the offer, handing over the 62nd and 83rd overall selections. For me, this meant having multiple (and back-to-back) picks for Rounds 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7.
All told, I would own 10 selections between the 34th and 87th overall picks...before the majority of owners could grab eight players each.
Here are the results of my high-risk—and hopefully high-reward—PPR draft:
Round 1, Pick 10 overall: WR Roddy White, Falcons (traded to Owner B)
Round 2, Pick 15 overall: QB Drew Brees, Saints (traded to Owner B)
Round 3, Pick 33 overall: QB Cam Newton, Panthers (traded to Owner C)
Round 3, Pick 34 overall: WR Victor Cruz, Giants
Backup Plan: RB Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
Rationale: In 2011, Cruz (1,536 receiving yards) posted 12 games of eight targets or more—including 10 straight from Weeks 8-17. And Giants QB Eli Manning had per-game averages of 36.8 pass attempts last season, a figure that hovered above 40 after Week 4. Unless the Giants have big plans for running back Ahmad Bradshaw and rookie David Wilson (in the neighborhood of 40 combined carries), Cruz will again be a dominant figure in the weekly game plan.
Round 4, Pick 39 overall: RB Steven Jackson, Rams
Backup Plan: RB Fred Jackson, Bills
Round 4, Pick 40 overall: WR Mike Wallace, Steelers
Backup Plan: WR Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs
Rationale: Last season, Wallace (72 catches, 1,193 yards, 8 TDs) had per-game averages of five catches, 96.4 yards and 0.6 touchdowns from Weeks 1-9—on only 7.1 targets per start. And in the first 12 games, he crossed the PPR-elite threshold of six catches, 100 yards and/or one TD nine times.
Round 5, Pick 57 overall: WR Steve Johnson, Bills
Backup Plan: WR Eric Decker, Broncos
Rationale: In 2011, Johnson collected at least five targets in all 16 games and tallied seven or more targets 11 times. He also posted eight games of at least 66 yards receiving, collecting touchdowns in consecutive games three times. Bottom line: Johnson is a healthy lock for 80 catches, 135 targets, 1,090 yards and eight TDs in his prime—with the understanding that he's a solid WR2 or WR3 in fantasy circles.
Round 5, Pick 58 overall: WR Eric Decker, Broncos
Backup Plan: WR Demaryius Thomas, Broncos
Rationale: Despite the Broncos' shaky passing game last year, Decker still collected seven-plus targets five times. And from a PPR-elite perspective, he crossed the threshold of six catches, 90 yards and/or one TD seven times. For 2012, I expect Decker to take a giant leap with Peyton Manning at quarterback. Something in the neighborhood of 82 catches, 118 targets, 1,078 yards and seven touchdowns.
Round 6, Pick 62 overall: RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Bengals
Backup Plan: WR Miles Austin, Cowboys
Round 6, Pick 63 overall: QB Eli Manning, Giants
Backup Plan: WR DeSean Jackson, Eagles
Round 7, Pick 82 overall: RB Isaac Redman, Steelers
Backup Plan: RB C.J. Spiller, Bills
Round 7, Pick 83 overall: TE Fred Davis, Redskins
Backup Plan: RB C.J. Spiller, Bills
Rationale: Davis posted solid stats (59 catches, 796 yards, 3 TDs last year) in just 12 games last season (missed the final four due to suspension). That's a per-outing average of 4.9 catches, 66.3 yards, 0.25 TDs and 7.33 targets. All told, Davis had a 75 percent success rate of reaching the elite PPR threshold of six catches, 75 yards and/or one TD. The 2012 range of expectations: 70 catches, 900 yards and six touchdowns.
Round 8, Pick 87 overall: RB Mikel Leshoure, Lions
Backup Plan: WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders
Round 9, Pick 106 overall: QB Andrew Luck, Colts
Backup Plan: RB Toby Gerhart, Vikings
Round 10, Pick 111 overall: RB Roy Helu, Redskins
Backup Plan: WR Titus Young, Lions
Rationale: Helu squeezed 1,019 total yards and three touchdowns out of only 200 touches (5.1 yards per touch) last season. With 50 to 60 more touches—an ultra-conservative estimate for a high-end back—that's 1,300 easy yards. Regarding his draft status (111th), he'll be a certifiable steal by midseason.
Round 11, Pick 130 overall: TE Coby Fleener, Colts
Backup Plan: TE Kyle Rudolph, Vikings
Round 13, Pick 154 overall: WR Kendall Wright, Titans
Backup Plan: PK Alex Henery, Eagles
Round 15, Pick 178 overall: PK Dan Bailey, Cowboys
Backup Plan: PK Mike Nugent, Bengals
Round 16, Pick 183 overall: D/ST Arizona Cardinals
Backup Plan: D/ST Minnesota Vikings
- The "individual pick value" (IPV) of Trade No. 1 was plus-20 on my end. The IPV for Trade No. 2 was plus-47. As a bonus, I still landed a top-six quarterback (Eli Manning).
- After all the complex trades, I ended up with four players in my overall top 30 for PPR leagues—Cruz, Steven Jackson, Mike Wallace and Manning. Going further, I corralled four top-21 wideouts—Cruz, Wallace, Steve Johnson and Eric Decker.
- In normal PPR drafts, I would be crazy to part with Roddy White and Drew Brees before the season. At the very least, I could have waited a week or two to sell each star to the highest bidder. But in this league, I have a stronger preference for high-end and marketable depth at receiver, tailback and tight end. And if I'm lucky, the production differentials between Cam Newton and Eli Manning will be negligible, at best.
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.