This is part three in a series examining a full-scale mock dynasty league draft hosted by your gracious hosts here at DLF. Part one examining rounds one and two, along with details on the participants and scoring, can be found here. Part two examining rounds three and four can be found here. You can see the whole draft report here and the team rosters here as well.
In this article, I will look at a few teams to see how they did compiling their rosters through the first eight rounds. These rounds are typically where you will get your starters in a standard QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, WR, TE, FLEX format and are the key to forming a dynasty team with a solid foundation that will be able to compete for many years.
Some people tend to draft solely to compete for the title in year one (a mistake I made when I drafted my first dynasty team), focusing too much on “bargains,” i.e older players who fall many rounds past their redraft ADP. Others tend to draft to set their team up for the future without regard to their ability to compete in the first year or two. I submit that neither of these extremes are necessary to win championships now or in the future. There is a happy medium that will allow your team to be competitive in both the short and the long term.
On to the teams…
1.05 Aaron Rodgers, QB GB
2.08 Jamaal Charles, RB KC
3.05 Roddy White, WR ATL
4.08 Marques Colston WR NO
5.05 Antonio Brown, WR PIT
6.08 Steven Jackson, RB STL
7.05 LeGarrette Blount, RB TB
8.08 Michael Bush, RB FA (note: the draft took place before Bush signed with CHI)
In my opinion, @RoadWarrior98 had a rough draft. While Aaron Rodgers is a solid selection at 1.05 and got him off to a great start, it’s pretty much downhill after that. The beginning of this team is pockmarked with injury concerns, age and uncertain team roles. I don’t have a problem with Jamaal Charles at 2.08, especially pre-Hillis signing. The issue I have is that once you take Charles, you have ratcheted up your risk factor and should then adjust accordingly. While I’m all for taking risks and aiming high, you still need to balance out your team with some long-term, high floor players so you don’t bottom out into rebuild mode if your risks don’t pan out.
Following Charles up with Roddy White (age) and Marques Colston (injury) creates too much risk in your first four picks. White will turn 31 during the next season, and his decline should start soon. Colston’s injury history is well documented and while he played well after he returned last year, you just can’t count on him to stay healthy for a full sixteen games, and with those knees, you just never know when he is going to be done for good.
The other big problem with these guys is you are unlikely to ever get fair trade value for them due to the age/injury concerns. You are basically buying them to ride out the rest of their careers. This is, in part, why I have someone like Jeremy Maclin, who went at selection 3.10, ranked higher than White. Maclin is only 23 and plays in a wide open offense. I believe his hamstring issues last year were mostly related to his freak illness issue (now resolved). That, combined with the lockout, adversely impacted his conditioning.
Steven Jackson might have been a good pick at 6.08 for a team who neglected running backs to select solid, young wide receivers earlier and needed a starting running back to compete now. On this roster, however, Jackson didn’t make sense. Similarly, LeGarrette Blount’s role is completely up in the air, especially with Tampa rumored to be targeting a back, perhaps Trent Richardson in the draft. He also has significantly less value in a PPR league. Michael Bush is 29, wore out at the end of last year, and, although many hoped he would end up starting, his free agent status was another question mark for this team.
Overall, giving the benefit of the doubt to Antonio Brown not being a one-year wonder, six of this team’s first eight picks have significant age, injury or role concerns. While one or two players like this would have been an acceptable risk, this team is not set up to compete for the long run, and will require a fair bit of luck to even compete in the short run.
1.12 AJ Green, WR CIN
2.01 Julio Jones, WR ATL
3.12 DeMarco Murray, RB DAL
4.01 Marshawn Lynch, RB SEA
5.12 Eli Manning, QB NYG
6.01 Torrey Smith, WR BAL
7.12 Vincent Brown, WR SD
8.01 Jason Witten, TE DAL
This team is a good contrast to the @RoadWarrior98’s team. He did a nice job balancing his risks with a solid core of young, high floor players. AJ Green and Julio Jones are, to me, solid building blocks at WR1 and WR2. I was one of DeMarco Murray’s biggest detractors last year based on his low yards per carry average in college. Injuries are still somewhat of a concern, but his youth and impressive production, combined with his likely tag as the feature back in Dallas next year ameliorate many of the concerns. Coupling him with Marshawn Lynch at 4.01 provides a decent base of running backs considering the focus on WRs at the 1/2 turn.
It looks like Eli Manning has turned the corner and should be in the top quarter of fantasy quarterbacks for another five years.
Torrey Smith was a good value pick at 6.01. He flashed last year and should be Baltimore’s WR1 in 2012. I believe that many rookies were impacted by the lack of training camp last year, and I expect Smith to make significant strides going into his second season with a full camp finally under his belt.
Vincent Brown went a little early for my liking, but, in all fairness, this draft took place before the Robert Meachem signing. If I’m going to take a risk on a player with a role concern, I’d rather do it with a young, up and coming player rather than a player like Blount who may have already reached his ceiling.
While Jason Witten is 29 and appeared to be on the decline last year, he should still have two to three years of solid production left and as the only real age concern in the first eight rounds and considering he was taken at pick 8.01, it still looks like a solid pick.
1.10 Matthew Stafford, QB DET
2.03 Rob Gronkowski, TE NE
3.10 Jeremy Maclin, WR PHI
4.03 Jordy Nelson, WR GB
5.10 Greg Little, WR CLE
6.03 Jahvid Best, RB DET
7.10 Jermaine Gresham, TE CIN
8.03 Randall Cobb, WR GB
1.08 Drew Brees, QB NO
2.05 Jimmy Graham, TE NO
3.01 Dez Bryant, WR DAL
4.12 Mark Ingram, RB NO
5.08 Demaryius Thomas, WR DEN
6.12 Frank Gore, RB SFO
7.08 Sidney Rice, WR SEA
8.05 Peyton Hillis, RB KC (note: draft took place before Hills signed with KCC)
It’s interesting to compare the teams of the two PFF guys, Bryan and Chad, not just for the obvious reason, but because both started out the draft in an unorthodox fashion — going QB/TE in Rounds one and two. In order to employ this strategy and put together a team that can compete in both the short and long terms, you need to have a solid plan for the next six rounds. With the benefit of hindsight, I think it’s fairly clear that Bryan executed his plan better than Chad.
With only two running backs required for a starting lineup, you are able to play “mix and match” a bit. Considering that Bryan left the first two rounds without a running back or wide receiver, I thought he was still able to round out his starting lineup with a core of young players with tremendous upside, then sprinkle in a few veterans like Frank Gore to provide him with short term stability. Mark Ingram has the talent to be an RB1, but was hampered by the lack of training camp, a toe injury and the Saints 3-headed system. Prior to the injury, he was at least being used as the goal line back. The Demaryius Thomas pick looked good when it was made prior to the Peyton Manning signing. Now, it’s likely to be a two round value.
In comparison, I thought Chad’s first eight rounds were not drafted as a base of a team that is looking to compete now. He ended this crucial period with one running back, Jahvid Best, who has a serious history of concussions and could be one hit away from never playing in the NFL again. Having gone QB/TE in the first two rounds, I thought Jermaine Gresham at 7.10 was a reach that Chad didn’t have the luxury to make. Even assuming you are taking BPAs to generate trade value and fill in your roster after the draft, I don’t see the ability to add running backs that you can count on week-to-week for this team, especially with a still open RB2 slot. In addition, the fact that Randall Cobb may still be one more season away from a real contribution only compounds this problem.
1.09 Hakeem Nicks, WR NYG (note: via trade down from 1.04)
2.09 Rookie Pick 1.01
3.04 Kenny Britt, WR TEN
4.09 Aaron Hernandez, TE NEP
5.04 Tom Brady, QB NE
6.09 Roy Helu, RB WAS
7.04 Denarius Moore, WR OAK
7.09 Brandon Lloyd, WR NE (note: draft took place before Lloyd signed with NE)
8.09 Reggie Bush, RB MIA
I thought I did a decent job drafting a team that has both the potential to win now and later. In retrospect, however, I’m not in love with my Roy Helu pick. With the Shanahanigans he comes with, it was probably a little high for this pick. I was actually going to take Steven Jackson and was surprised for the reasons mentioned above when he went at pick 6.08. I probably should have just taken Frank Gore. Hopefully, I’ll be able to rely on a combination of Helu and Reggie Bush as my RB2 as the season goes on. I was able to grab a lot of youth at core positions as well.
I love my value in Hernandez at 4.09 – he was the ppr TE3 last year in only fourteen games. If you extrapolate his 215.5 ppr points to sixteen games (246.3), he is the TE3 in a tier by himself (Tony Gonzalez at 209.5 and Jason Witten at 203.2 were the only other tight ends to top 200 points). I like that value considering Jimmy Graham went at 2.05 as the TE2.
I couldn’t pass on Tom Brady at 5.04, he still has two or three years of top five quarterback production left. That’s plenty of time to find a replacement in a twelve team league that only starts one quarterback. By trading down from 1.04 to 1.09, I was able to grab Hakeem Nicks (my dynasty WR2) and add an extra seventh, which I used to go high-ceiling youth in Denarius Moore, and then back him up with a high-floor veteran in Brandon Lloyd (who most people correctly guessed would sign with the Patriots).
My projected starting lineup of Brady, Trent Richardson (Rookie 1.01), Helu/Bush, Nicks, Kenny Britt, Lloyd/Moore and Hernandez looks good to compete this year. Even if both Helu and Bush both fail, I still had the rest of the draft to grab more running backs (I ended up with both Fred Jackson and Isaac Redman). In addition, even if Helu ends up as a bust, Nicks, Britt, Hernandez, Richardson and hopefully Moore should provide my team with a solid core that can avoid rebuild mode for years to come.
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