Editor’s Note: This article is submitted by a new Member Corner author, Dan Meylor. We welcome Dan to the Member Corner and look forward to seeing more of his work in the future!
Last fall when you decided to draft that rookie in your dynasty league, did you trust the man who drafted him?
I’m not asking if you trusted yourself. I am asking if you trusted the NFL General Manager that selected the player months earlier in the 2012 NFL draft. I think it’s a valid question as the 2013 off-season starts and the draft nears.
I believe in minimizing risk with rookie draft picks in a dynasty league. In my opinion, the best way to minimize risk is to gather as much information as possible before the draft and make an educated decision based on that information. I have to be honest with you. I don’t have all of the information. I do not attend the combine. I don’t have access to a prospect’s college coaches to find out how good of a teammate he is. Once the player is selected by an NFL franchise, I can’t attend OTA’s throughout the summer and I certainly am not in the weight room or the team meetings to find out how committed players are. Again, I don’t have all of the information.
Right now, every GM and their staffs are spending countless hours gathering all of this information. They have the access, they talk to the coaches and they can sit in on the meetings. I am confident they will have all of the necessary information to make an informed decision when draft day comes. Because they’ve done all the research I can’t, I take General Managers into account when I am creating my draft day cheat sheet.
Now who are the ones that we should trust? And what are some of their strong areas?
Ted Thompson in Green Bay comes to mind first. Thompson is most likely the best GM in the league when it comes to picking wide receivers. The last four wide outs Thompson has drafted in the first three rounds are Randall Cobb (2011 – second round), Jordy Nelson (2008 – second), James Jones (2007 – third) and Greg Jennings (2006 –second). Jennings is expected to move on in free agency this off-season. If and when Thompson pulls the trigger on a receiver between rounds one and three in 2013, we should all take notice.
Over the past couple of years, nobody has drafted as consistently well overall as the Seattle Seahawks. Pete Carroll and John Schneider have made a super combination in the great Northwest – they have invested picks into the offensive line and defense over the past couple of seasons and are improving steadily. The Russell Wilson pick (in the third round) a year ago gives me the confidence to trust Carroll and Schneider as some of the top talent evaluators out there. If the Seahawks decide to add an outside threat to their offense in the 2013 draft, I am confident they will make the right choice and I will definitely consider that player in my fantasy draft.
Jerry Reece of the Giants is also exceptional when it comes to drafting. While he is known for drafting incredible pass rushers, he has also assembled an impressive list of position players. His list includes Ahmad Bradshaw, Hakeem Nicks, Eli Manning and up-and-comer David Wilson. I have trusted Reece on multiple occasions in the past. He and Tom Coughlin know exactly what they want and do an excellent job of targeting that player and getting him in the draft. Coughlin is known for not trusting rookies, so it is important to be patient with players selected by Reece. It usually takes only a year for Reece’s draft picks to gain Coughlin’s trust. If you can make it through that first year, your patience will be well worth it.
Bill Belichick comes to mind as well. The Patriots don’t seem to waste picks in the first four rounds of drafts. In fact, just in the past three years Belichick has given us Shane Vereen (2011 – second round), Stevan Ridley (2011 – third), Rob Gronkowski (2010 – second) and Aaron Hernandez (2010 – fourth). All while mainly concerning themselves with building their defense. Since Scott Pioli left for Kansas City in 2009, the Patriots have been possibly the most consistent team when it comes to selecting fantasy talent. Last year, they didn’t select a position player until the seventh round. Keep a close eye on Belichick during this year’s draft. It looks like it may be time to strike early.
Falcon’s general manager Thomas Dimitroff has a strong history of bringing fantasy players talent through the draft. His first ever selection was Matt Ryan in the 2008 first round. He also made the bold move of trading multiple picks to get Julio Jones in the 2011 draft. He has only made four picks in the first round of NFL drafts. The other two were used on defensive players. The Falcons have the #30 pick in this year’s draft. If Dimitroff selects a tight end or running back, be sure to jot down the name.
If anybody has come close to Ted Thompson as far as drafting wide receivers, it’s Kevin Colbert of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Since getting the job in 2000, Colbert has selected seven wide outs in the first three rounds of drafts. They include Plaxico Burress (2000 – first round), Antwaan Randle El (2002 – second), Santonio Holmes (2006 – first), Mike Wallace (2009 – third) and Emmanuel Sanders (2010 – third). He also found Antonio Brown in the sixth round of the 2012 draft. While the bigger position player need for the Steelers this year might be running back, don’t be surprised if Colbert looks for a receiver in the early rounds. Wallace may leave in free agency and the Steelers may be looking for a compliment to Brown and Sanders.
There are a couple other GMs that are worth mentioning because they are very good at what they do including Ozzie Newsome of the Ravens and Mickey Loomis of the Saints – both of them can be trusted to make selections that can benefit fantasy owners.
I learned the lesson of keeping tabs on NFL GMs in 2001 when I was choosing between two rookie wide receivers that were very closely rated everywhere I looked. I selected the player I thought would have a better opportunity to play early in his career and who many experts thought would be a rising star, Quincy Morgan of the Cleveland Browns. The player I passed on… Reggie Wayne. The knock on Wayne coming out of the University of Miami was his speed. Many experts were concerned that his lack of quickness would cause big problems for him at the next level. I bought into it. It didn’t take long to recognize that I had made a costly mistake.
I remember when I realized how foolish it was to trust Browns director of football operations Dwight Clark over Bill Polian, who had a remarkable history of choosing offensive talent with the Bills, Panthers and Colts. Clark was forced to resign from his position just months after choosing Morgan. In Clark’s four years with the Browns they drafted thirty-two players and never drafted a pro-bowler. I asked myself why I trusted a decision maker with that kind of history. After making that mistake, I vowed to always consider the general manager of a team before selecting a player in my fantasy draft.
I am not trying to tell you that blindly following a general manager that is listed in this column is the way to make your dynasty draft selections. I am simply saying that I think it is something that deserves our attention.
Taking time to consider this has served me well in the past. In 2009 I selected LeSean McCoy over Beanie Wells. Many experts had Wells rated much higher than McCoy at the time. After all, Wells was selected by Arizona 22 picks before the Eagles took McCoy. Brian Westbrook was coming off of a fourteen touchdown season for the Eagles when they took McCoy, so the obvious choice by most would have been the highly touted Wells. But they were closely rated to me and I trusted Andy Reid to select a ball carrier way more than former Cardinals executive Rod Graves. Another example came in 2011 when I chose Randall Cobb over Jonathan Baldwin, Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder and Ryan Williams – all of whom were rated much higher by most experts. I did it because I trust Ted Thompson way more than other GMs.
So when August approaches and you are about to make your dynasty draft selection, remember the player you are about to draft has already been drafted by an NFL GM. Then take a breath and ask yourself if you trust that GM. It may save you from selecting the next Quincy Morgan when you could have had the next Reggie Wayne.
Follow Dan on Twitter - @dmeylor22.