Fantasy Football: FSWA Industry Insiders League Draft Recap

On August 21, 2013, I participated in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (“FSWA”) Industry Insiders Fantasy Football Draft hosted on RTSports.com.  There are actually over 10 different FSWA leagues comprised of 12 teams each, so the league I am in is named after ESPN’s Eric Karabell.  I have some stiff competition in this 20-round PPR league with the likes of Howard Bender, Tim Heaney, Will Carroll and Bryan Fontaine.  The randomized draft order left me with the 4th overall pick which honestly didn’t elicit any sort of reaction either way from me.

There was no doubt that running backs would be going in the first three picks.  The only question that remained was which running back should I take or should I deviate from the plan and take Calvin Johnson?  In the end, I went by book and took Bills running back C.J. Spiller after Adrian Peterson, Doug Martin and Jamaal Charles went before me.  I am fine with Spiller who will finally be the featured back in Buffalo and should have ample opportunities to carry the ball, especially if the hapless Kevin Kolb happens to start the season.

In rounds 2 and 3, I did something I haven’t done since I just started learning how to play fantasy football at 7 years old back in the mid-1980’s – I loaded up on wide receivers on the same team.  I took Julio Jones and then Roddy White back-to-back which was reminiscent of when I used to have both Mark Clayton and Mark Duper of the Dolphins, or Ernest Givens and Drew Hill of the old Houston Oilers.  I admit this was a bit risky and unconventional, but I really like Atlanta’s offense this year and the two of them can be dynamic together.

Quarterbacks ended up going sooner than I anticipated, so I begrudgingly took mine in the 4th round.  In other drafts I had been able to wait until the 5th or 6th rounds to get Matthew Stafford, but I couldn’t let him slip past me since I was not enthralled with what my choices would have been after him.  I also like Stafford a lot this season so I am completely fine taking him a little earlier.

Now entering the 5th round, I was focused on getting my second running back and was really hoping Frank Gore would make it to me.  Unfortunately he was drafted two picks before me, so I settled on Lamar Miller.  The hype on Miller has soured a bit lately with all the talk about Daniel Thomas being the 3rd down running back and Miami not officially having a #1 rusher.  At the end of the day, Miller will outplay Thomas and everyone else down there and will be the primary rusher in Miami.  He has a lot of upside for an offense that should be much improved.  I was quite pleased to get a player like this in the middle of the 5th round.

My next couple picks went to bolster my wide receiver core but do not come without inherent risks.  I selected Hakeem Nicks and Jordy Nelson in the 6th and 7th rounds respectively.  While I think this was great value for both players, there is also a tremendous amount of risk associated with them.  Nicks is always banged up and typically misses a couple games per season.  However, he is playing for a contract and will be motivated to prove he can stay on the field to land a similar deal to teammate Victor Cruz.  Nelson was a legitimate 3rd or 4th round pick before having to undergo knee surgery at the beginning of August.  His return is unknown, but it is unlikely he will be able to play during the first couple weeks.  Even if he misses two games, he could provide incredible value being the beneficiary of Aaron Rodgers’ aerial generosity.

These seven players are the crux of my team.  I filled out my starting roster with Jermaine Gresham of the Bengals as my tight end.  I did wait one round too many before drafting a tight end as I had Brandon Myers in my queue when he was snatched away from me.  Gresham regressed a bit last year but he still possesses the talent to be a respectable fantasy tight end.  I continued my trend of drafting a team defense on the earlier side as I took San Francisco in the 12th round.  Seattle’s defense was already off the board, so I went with a team I know will play dominant defense and can get me points in more ways than other defenses or special teams do not.

As we got later in the draft, it became much easier to take risks and chances.  I grabbed Ben Tate in the 10th round which I think could be a steal if Arian Foster’s health continues to be an issue.  Speaking of running back handcuffs, I also drafted Christine Michael in the 14th round and Knile Davis in the 20th round.  However, I must admit that my motivation for drafting Davis was simply that I can proudly say “If peeing you pants is cool, then consider me Knile Davis.”  I love me some Billy Madison.

Continuing the trend of risks, I drafted Riley Cooper in the 17th round.  I want to make it clear that Cooper will have to attend sensitivity classes sponsored by Fantasy Judgment before he can ever make it into my lineup.  I also grabbed Percy Harvin in the 18th round.  Hear me out – he had hip surgery at the beginning of August.  The early reports indicated that things went well and he was ahead of scheduled in his recovery thus far.  Even if he just comes back by Week 12 or 13, he could be a difference-maker for me in terms of the playoffs.  With such a deep bench, he is well worth holding onto just in case he heals faster than a regenerating starfish.

Here is my entire roster in order of the round they were drafted in:

1. C.J. Spiller (RB-BUF)
2. Julio Jones (WR-ATL)
3. Roddy White (WR-ATL)
4. Matthew Stafford (QB-DET)
5. Lamar Miller (RB-MIA)
6. Hakeem Nicks (WR-NYG)
7. Jordy Nelson (WR-GB)
8. Vick Ballard (RB-IND)
9. Jermaine Gresham (TE-CIN)
10. Ben Tate (RB-HOU)
11. Ryan Tannehill (QB-MIA)
12. San Francisco (D/ST)
13. Vincent Brown (WR-SD)
14. Christine Michael (RB-SEA)
15. Stephen Gostkowski (K-NE)
16. Brent Celek (TE-PHI)
17. Riley Cooper (WR-PHI)
18. Percy Harvin (WR-SEA)
19. Washington (D/ST)
20. Knile Davis (RB-KC)

I like the team I drafted even though I went against conventional wisdom by drafting wide receivers in both the 2nd and 3rd rounds, as well as the fact these receivers happens to both play on the same NFL team.  I like Spiller a lot this year, but an area of weakness I have is my second running back.  Lamar Miller could provide great value, but there is no certainty that will happen.  If my wide receivers explode, I can use that depth and try and trade for an upgrade at running back.

Let me know what you think of the team I drafted.  If you want to see the whole draft board or have any comments/questions, please feel free to email me at michael.stein@fantasyjudgment.com, post on Facebook at www.facebook.com/FantasyJudge, or tweet me at @FantasyJudgment.

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