FSWA 2014 Fantasy Football Draft Review

On Monday, August 18, 2014, I participated in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (“FSWA”) fantasy football league draft with other terrific writers in the industry.  It is a 12-team PPR league and I was randomly assigned the 7th pick in the draft.  Knowing that the big four running backs (LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson and Matt Forte) would be gone, I was focused on getting one of the following three: Eddie Lacy, Calvin Johnson or Demaryius Thomas.  Sure enough, the way the cookie crumbled was that Thomas ended up in my lap (no, not literally because that would be weird).

Here is a breakdown of all of my picks in the order of which round they were selected:

Demaryius Thomas1. Demaryius Thomas (WR-DEN)

I was truly hoping Demaryius Thomas would fall to me, and he did.  In a PPR league, I actually like Thomas more than Calvin Johnson.  He elevated his game in 2013 to become truly an elite wide receiver, and I expect even more improvement this year.  The loss of Eric Decker will likely lead to an increase in targets for Thomas.  True, Emmanuel Sanders will see a lot of those targets too, but Thomas is Peyton Manning’s favorite receiver.  I am expecting 110 receptions, 1,500 yards, and 12 touchdowns.

2. Marshawn Lynch (RB-SEA)

After landing my stud wide receiver, I wanted to make sure I was at least competent at running back.  Much to my surprise, Marshawn Lynch made it all the way back to me in the 2nd round so I pounced on it.  He is still one of the premier running backs in the league and leads Seattle’s ground game which is still its strength despite the improvement in Russell Wilson’s game as a passer.

3. Alfred Morris (RB-WAS)

This is a pick I would probably change if I could do it over again.  Alfred Morris is a good running back, but he doesn’t catch many passes which is of no help in a PPR league.  With Jay Gruden in charge now, I expect the Redskins (or whatever politically correct name they are going by) to focus more on the passing game especially since DeSean Jackson is there as well.

4. Roddy White (WR-ATL)

As much as I might regret that last pick, I am equally as pleased with landing Roddy White in the 4th round.  He is now fully healthy and has always been one of the most dependable PPR wide receivers in the league.  I do not like Atlanta’s running game at all, so I expect Matt Ryan to be throwing 40 passes a game.  A return to 90 receptions and 10 touchdowns is a perfectly reasonable expectation.

Brandin Cooks5. Brandin Cooks (WR-NO)

This might have been a stretch, but I LOVE Brandin Cooks this year.  Despite being a rookie, he has earned high praise from Drew Brees and looks like he will be a focal point of the Saints high-powered offense.  I didn’t think he would make it back to me if I passed on him here, so I went with my gut instinct and took him as my third wide receiver.  If he busts, at least I have depth at the position.

6. Mike Wallace (WR-MIA)

Speaking of the aforementioned depth at wide receiver, I am taking a chance on Mike Wallace finally getting into rhythm with Ryan Tannehill and living up to his big contract.  Wallace is a big play receiver and could be a difference-maker if he and Tannehill can get on the same page.  Now with a full year together, I think Wallace will finally start earning his money.

7. Jason Witten (TE-DAL)

When I mentioned I would have done things different when I selected Alfred Morris, I probably would have taken Julius Thomas there.  Instead, I waited on my tight end until the 7th round and was quite pleased to land Jason Witten.  He is long in the tooth, but he is still Tony Romo’s most reliable target.  Dallas will be passing a lot this year because their defense is terrible, so I see Witten continuing to take advantage of mismatches against smaller linebackers.

8. Trent Richardson (RB-IND)

Ugh.  I feel unclean making this pick, but he was too hard to pass up here.  Trent Richardson was an absolute bust in 2013, but the fact remains he is the Colts’ starting running back.  I am not expecting much from him as he is my RB3, but in the off chance he remembers how to run the football I could be in for a windfall and have great depth at the position.

Jay Cutler9. Jay Cutler (QB-CHI)

I was dead set on waiting for a quarterback and hoped Matt Ryan would fall to me.  That did not happen, so I went with my Plan B which is Jay Cutler.  There is a lot of risk associated with Cutler because he is frequently injured.  But I love the Bears offense and all of the weapons he has at his disposal.  If he can stay healthy all year, I foresee a season with 4,000 yards and 30 touchdown passes.

10. Knowshon Moreno (RB-MIA)

This was a steal.  There were concerns with Moreno’s health and weight, but he is already back with Miami and will be ready for Week 1.  Even though he will likely share carries with Lamar Miller, that will work itself out because I think Miller is a bust.  Moreno certainly won’t put up numbers like he did with Denver, but he could be very active in Miami’s passing game.

11. Aaron Dobson (WR-NE)

This is a risky pick due to Dobson’s injuries, but as my 5th wide receiver I am willing to take the chance.  Tom Brady needs a dependable, go to wide receiver who can stay healthy (yeah, I’m look at you Danny Amendola).  I don’t think Kenbrell Thompkins is ready to be that guy and Brandon LaFell is more of a third receiver.  I think Dobson has a chance to emerge out of this group as a solid NFL wide receiver and gain the benefit of Tom Brady’s prolific passing.

12. Andy Dalton (QB-CIN)

As much as I have high expectations for Jay Cutler, I am also keenly aware that he could get injured in Week 3 and miss the rest of the season.  That being said, I needed to make sure I had a comparable backup quarterback.  I am not a big Andy Dalton fan and I think the contract extension he received was ridiculous.  But there is no denying the success he has had in the regular season and he put up Top 5 QB numbers in 2013.

13. Travis Kelce (TE-KC)

Much like Brandin Cooks, this is another player I am very high on and took perhaps a little earlier than necessary.  Kelce has had a breakout preseason and could be a star in the making.  But because he has such a small sample size and an injury history, I am fine relying on him as my backup tight end.

14. Kansas City (DST)

With Seattle, Carolina and San Francisco’s defenses off the board, I went with Kansas City hoping for a repeat of their 2013 performance.

15. Stephen Gostkowski (K-NE)

Matt Prater was the first kicker overall taken just one pick before me, so that clinched my decision to take who I think is the best kicker in football.  Stephen Gostkowski has been one of the most consistent kickers in recent memory and provides significant production from the position that is akin to a red-headed stepchild.

16. St. Louis (DST)

For my backup defense, I took the other team in Missouri as well.  I think the Rams will have one of the better defenses in football and have a chance to become something special this year.

17. Jonathan Grimes (RB-HOU)

After the Texans released Andre Brown, speculation has run rampant about who will be Arian Foster’s handcuff.  I think Jonathan Grimes will get the nod over Alfred Blue simply because he has a little more experience.  You know Foster will be hurt at some point this year, so the Texans’ handcuffs are definitely worth a flyer this late in the draft.

18. Marlon Brown (WR-BAL)

At this point I am just looking for wide receiver depth with players that will actually see decent playing time.  Marlon Brown caught some touchdowns in 2013, but I think he can elevate his game learning from newly-acquired Steve Smith.

19. Cole Beasley (WR-DAL)

As I said before, I think Dallas will be passing the ball quite a bit this year because their defense is awful and they will be playing from behind.  Cole Beasley is the Cowboys third wide receiver and he should get some advantageous matchups against opposing defenses who are focused on Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams and Jason Witten.

20. Dan Bailey (K-DAL)

This is my backup kicker.  I don’t think any analysis is warranted, necessary or desired.

Here is a look at my complete team filled out by position:

QB Jay Cutler (CHI)
QB Andy Dalton (CIN)
RB Marshawn Lynch (SEA)
RB Alfred Morris (WAS)
RB Trent Richardson (IND)
RB Knowshon Moreno (MIA)
RB Jonathan Grimes (HOU)
WR Demaryius Thomas (DEN)
WR Roddy White (ATL)
WR Brandin Cooks (NO)
WR Mike Wallace (MIA)
WR Aaron Dobson (NE)
WR Marlon Brown (BAL)
WR Cole Beasley (DAL)
TE Jason Witten (DAL)
TE Travis Kelce (KC)
K Stephen Gostkowski (NE)
K Dan Bailey (DAL)
DST Kansas City
DST St. Louis


Overall I am very happy with the team I drafted.  It is a PPR league so I am thrilled with the quality and depth I have at wide receiver.  I have a stud running back which is important, but I am less than thrilled with my 3rd round pick of Alfred Morris.  I am very pleased with the depth I have at running back as Richardson and Moreno could be Flex options depending on matchups, or at the very least they are trade bait.  Even though I wanted Matt Ryan as my QB, I am perfectly fine with Jay Cutler assuming he can stay healthy.  If not, Andy Dalton can put up similar numbers as well.  I have high expectations for this team and I think it should be a championship contender.

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