If you guys are like me, your fantasy drafts are going down over the next three weeks. Now is the time to get your head right and prepare yourself for domination.
The NFP Draft Guide is an excellent start. You should be reading the scouting reports, analyzing the rankings and getting familiar with our thoughts and predictions on this year’s draft class. But one of the single most important weapons every owner needs to have in their arsenal is the mock draft. It will give you a solid foundation and understanding of when and where you can select the best players. For those of you who bought the draft guide, you can check out the results of the NFP Experts’ League draft to get an idea of how some of the heavy hitters (and myself) are approaching draft day.
I’m in Florida right now trying to hack up some of the local golf courses in a weak attempt to clear my head before you-know-what hits the fan. Vegas comes after the completion of the draft guide (along with a nasty sunburn and a miserable five-hour flight home). Golf comes before the start of the season.
One of the other things I’ve been doing down here is participating in mock draft after mock draft all over the Internet (I’m all business). Today’s post is the start of a weekly series (and if it gets enough traffic and comments, a twice-weekly series) that will clue you in on what I’ve been seeing on the Internet.
Let’s get started.
Is this the year of the wide receiver?
It sure seems like it. Larry Fitzgerald (6.5 Average Draft Position), Andre Johnson (9.2 ADP) and Randy Moss (9.8 ADP) are all currently projected as first-round picks in 10-team leagues. In addition, there’s some serious balance between the pass catchers and the running backs over the course of the top 30 picks.
I participated in more than 15 mock drafts Thursday (it’s a tough life, I know), and the standard breakdown for the first 30 selections looks like this:
Running Backs: 16
Wide Receivers: 11
Does anyone find it interesting that Andre Johnson is, on average, getting drafted before Randy Moss? What if Matt Schaub goes down?
Here’s another interesting nugget: It appears the shoulder injury that’s expected to keep wideout Steve Smith out of the preseason is NOT affecting his draft status. Owners are targeting him toward the beginning of the third round (22.4 ADP). What’s surprising to me is that while Smith is holding strong, Brandon Marshall is falling farther than I would have expected. I have yet to see B-Marsh drafted before the third round (37.5 ADP), while some fools are actually going after Dwayne Bowe (31.1 ADP) before Denver’s No. 1 target. Amazing.
You want value? You got it.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Nate Washington is quickly turning into one of my favorite picks this season. The guy has great vertical speed, is the No. 1 target on the Titans’ offense and is getting absolutely NO attention.
Highest I saw him drafted (not counting me picking him): middle of the 10th round
Lowest I saw him drafted: 15th round
Here’s another one for ya…
Highest I saw him drafted: middle of the ninth round
Lowest I saw him drafted: undrafted
Note: He’s the No. 2 on a pass-happy offense.
The Highway Robbery Picks
Ryan Grant RB Green Bay Packers
Grant is a full-time No. 1 on an explosive Packers offense. His pass-catching skills aren’t great, but he can get the job done on the ground. With an ADP of 33.8, keep him in mind on draft day.
Owen Daniels TE Houston Texans
I have yet to see Daniels included in the infamous “tight end run.” The guy caught 70 passes for 862 yards last season and finished in the top six among fantasy tight ends.
Speaking of the tight end run…
It almost always starts with Dallas Cowboys stud Jason Witten at the end of the fourth/beginning of the fifth round. Chicago Bears sleeper Greg Olsen is usually the sixth TE off the board some time in the seventh round. If Daniels is falling outside the top seven tight ends in a 10-team league and can be had in the eighth round or later, pounce. Don’t think, pounce.
Peyton Manning is flying below the radar
A first-ballot Hall of Famer in the world of fantasy football, I have yet to see Manning drafted before either Drew Brees or Tom Brady. What’s also interesting is that while owners are willing to (sometimes) invest a first-round pick in one of this year’s top two quarterbacks, nobody is drafting Manning before the third round (26.2 ADP).
When targeting a quarterback on draft day, keep this in mind: On average, 10 quarterbacks are off the board just inside of the first 80 picks.
Jay Cutler and Carson Palmer almost always fall outside of this group. And don’t get me started on Kyle Orton. You need to grab this guy as your QB2 heading into 2009.
Quarterbacks drafted before him: 14
The NFP Specialty: rookie running backs
Those of you who bought and read the NFP Draft Guide last year know our rankings are some of the best around. But our specialty is an ability to break down and analyze rookie running backs.
We were all over Slaton and Johnson last year and had Forte is our sleeper category as well. That being said, let’s take a look at what’s been shaking with some of 2009’s intriguing rookie picks:
Knowshon Moreno Denver Broncos: ADP of 52.5. I’ve seen him drafted as high as the end of the third round.
Beanie Wells Arizona Cardinals: ADP of 68.4. His highest draft spot was the middle of the fifth round.
Donald Brown Indianapolis Colts: ADP of 79.7. No higher than the middle of the sixth round.
Shonn Greene New York Jets: ADP of 124.6. I’ve seen him go as high as the middle of the ninth round and as low as the end of the 14th round.
Chester Taylor Minnesota Vikings: ADP of 111.7. However, I saw him get selected in one draft during the eighth round.
Darren Sproles San Diego Chargers: ADP of 92.4. He went in the sixth round twice.
I want your feedback
I decided to try out a 14-team mock draft to see how things developed when the league gets deep and the talent gets thin. I also wanted to deviate from my normal strategy and try something new. Standard scoring rules apply. Let me know your thoughts on this squad;
Round by Round (7th pick overall)
1. Larry Fitzgerald WR Arizona Cardinals
2. Marques Colston WR New Orleans Saints
3. Ryan Grant RB Green Bay Packers
4. Derrick Ward RB Tampa Bay Buccaneers
5. Lee Evans WR Buffalo Bills
6. Jay Cutler QB Chicago Bears
7. Ahmad Bradshaw RB New York Giants
8. Shonn Greene RB New York Jets
9. Kyle Orton QB Denver Broncos
10. Nate Washington WR Tennessee Titans
11. New England D/ST
12. Zach Miller TE Oakland Raiders
13. T.J. Duckett RB Seattle Seahawks
14. Dallas Cowboys D/ST
15. Jason Elam K Atlanta Falcons
Defense…I love it, I love it, I love it
That’s what one of the coaches at a football camp I attended in high school used to make everyone say. Fortunately, I played offense and didn’t have to join in.
1. Pittsburgh is always the first D/ST off the board. They tend to get drafted between the eighth and ninth rounds, although I saw some clown take them in the sixth.
2. On average, only about four defenses are gone by the end of the 11th round. The culprits? Minnesota, Baltimore and the New York Giants. That means Tennessee, San Diego and New England come at a great price.
Don’t forget about…
Wide receiver Kevin Walter of the Houston Texans. Walter finished in the top 20 among wide receivers in standard scoring fantasy leagues last year, yet he’s got an ADP of 86.9 this year. What gives? I’ve seen him go as high as the sixth round and as low as the 12th round.
Hit me up on Twitter: @Joe Fortenbaugh