Dynasty League Football


Complete 42 Round IDP Industry Dynasty Mock Draft with Strategic Analysis

There’s a reason why I’m in 14 dynasty leagues right now. I love dynasty start-up drafts. Each year, I go start-up crazy! It’s that feeling that doesn’t dissipate until I join another one. This year at DLF we decided to start an IDP dynasty start-up mock draft.

All I can say is there won’t be a 15th league that I join this year.

This wasn’t any dynasty start-up, though. This draft was comprised of several expert IDP representatives from various fantasy outlets, as well as some great IDP minds on Twitter. The group that allowed me to swim in the adult pool with them included:

– Jene Bramel, Footballguys (@JeneBramel)
– Matt Schauf, Draftsharks (@mscauf63)
– Ross Miles, Pro Football Focus (@PFF_RossMiles)
– Jeff Ratcliffe, Pro Football Focus (@JeffRatcliffe)
– Andy Miley, Fantasy Alarm & Dynasty Blitz (@AndrewMiley)
– Sigmund Bloom, Footballguys (@Sigmund Bloom)
– Brandon Salamat, IDP with Bee (@IDPwithBEE)
– Eric Olinger, IDP Guru (@OlingerIDPGuru)
– Gary Davenport, IDP Manor/Draftsharks (@IDPManor)
– Bruce Kimbrough (@FatKat25)
– Ryan Berger, now with Dynasty League Football (@TheFFGhost)

With the names above, you knew this was going to be a competitive draft. There’s more, though. This isn’t any start-up draft. This is an IDP draft with 42 roster spots and a 12-hour slow timer that took three weeks to complete. Not only that, but the starting requirements are deep. To give you some perspective, here are they are:

1 QB
2 RB
3 WR
1 TE
1 Offensive Flex (RB, WR, TE)
1 PK
1 DT
1 DE
3 LB
2 CB
2 S
1 DL Flex (DT/DE)
1 DL/LB Flex (DT/DE/LB)

As far as the scoring system, the provisions differentiating the league from others are:

– 1 PPR across all positions
– 4 points per passing TD
– 3 points per sack (1.5 per half sack)
– 1 point per assist
– 2 points per tackle

Let’s get into the good stuff, now. I’m going to start by detailing my strategy and then dig into a round-by-round review of all 42 rounds of the draft.

Steve Wyremski’s Pre draft Strategy [written prior to the start of the draft]

Before I started the draft, I thought it would be interesting to jot down a few strategy points to see how closely I’d follow them and for others to see how my strategy morphed as the draft progressed. I drew the seventh pick and went into the draft with the following plan:

1.) Target Jason Pierre-Paul in the sixth round as my first IDP

2.) Aside from Pierre-Paul, wait on all other IDPs as long as possible and avoid the temptation to get caught up in a defensive run to ensure I roster offensive value

3.) Target the tenth round to start drafting IDPs

4.) Don’t be afraid to reach for young defensive players after the tenth round; just get who you want

5.) When drafting IDPs, go for upside and don’t worry about the older players – upside potential is the key to creating a dominant defense

6.) Wait on quarterback, especially given that this is a 12-team league with the exorbitant value currently placed on quarterbacks

7.) Take corners with two of my final picks, but only draft two

8.) Only draft one defensive tackle with one of my final picks

9.) Target as many of the following IDPs as possible: Bruce Carter, Donald Butler, Kelvin Sheppard, Robert Quinn, Quinton Carter, Nate Irving, Jason Worilds, KJ Wright and Aaron Williams

10.) Target Brent Celek, Jared Cook and Fred Davis as a backup tight end in the middle rounds

I think it’s worth explaining why my strategy is to wait until the tenth round to target IDPs. My view is that other than defensive ends, productive IDPs can be found on the wire or at the end of rosters every year. There are always guys who step up and perform based on an opportunity presented (i.e., Navorro Bowman, Jeremy Mincey, Pat Angerer and Sean Lee).

This league’s scoring is focused on tackles, so it’s pretty easy to find capable startable players on a weekly basis. With the plethora of upside potential that will be available later in the draft, as well as numerous serviceable players on the wire in the seasons following the start-up, it’s not worth spending precious early round picks on dime-a-dozen type fantasy players. In particular, linebackers and corners are commodities that are easily replaced. Defensive tackles? Based on the scoring system, they don’t have much of an impact, so waiting on that position is not even a question.

On the flip side, offensive players always hold more value from a trade and lineup differentiation perspective and, thus, hold more overall value. You can always trade a mid-range offensive prospect for a top defensive player in trades following the initial draft. The only sacred position in IDP is the defensive end position and that’s the reason why Pierre-Paul is my only early round target. He finished top 40 overall in this format, is young, and is totally dominant. He’s the only player worth targeting early as a clear long-term difference maker.

It’s not that you can’t be successful with another strategy where you target IDPs early, but I’ve used the “wait on IDP” strategy most frequently and find it to be the most successful. Other strategies often place owners in the middle of the pack, grasping for a playoff spot, or depending on a late pick breakout for success. In the long run, waiting on IDPs has proven to me more fruitful.

Mock Draft Round-by-Round Breakdown

For each round, I’ll detail my pick, my thought process and strategy, as well as what I feel was the best value pick and the biggest surprise.

Round 1

1.01 Ray Rice, RB
1.02 LeSean McCoy, RB
1.03 Arian Foster, RB
1.04 Calvin Johnson, WR
1.05 Aaron Rodgers, QB
1.06 Larry Fitzgerald, WR
1.07 Rob Gronkowski, TE
1.08 Jimmy Graham, TE
1.09 Maurice Jones-Drew, RB
1.10 Matt Forte, RB
1.11 Chris Johnson, RB
1.12 Cam Newton, QB

My pick and perspective: Rob Gronkowski
Many will claim this is early and they already have. I strongly disagree (obviously). After originally targeting Larry Fitzgerald at this pick there was no other difference maker to add as a cornerstone to my team. We’re talking about a wide receiver at the tight end spot at the ripe age of 22. He has the ability to be around for ten years plus. I can’t imagine any of the other guys currently available that offer a comparable package. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that in five years, many of the guys available at this spot are no longer considered top players at their respective positions. Gronkowski will be.

Best value: Calvin Johnson
Quite simply, he’s my top dynasty player.

Biggest Surprise: Maurice Jones-Drew
There’s no way I’d build my squad around a running back that’s 27 years old and coming off three consecutive 300+ touch seasons. I’d prefer to go with a guy like Hakeem Nicks or even AJ Green at this spot. Jones-Drew presents nothing but downside risk this early.

Round 2

2.01 Hakeem Nicks, WR
2.02 Ryan Mathews, RB
2.03 Wes Welker, WR
2.04 Adrian Peterson, RB
2.05 AJ Green, WR
2.06 Julio Jones, WR
2.07 Jamaal Charles, RB
2.08 Darren McFadden, RB
2.09 Matthew Stafford, QB
2.10 Andre Johnson, WR
2.11 Dez Bryant, WR
2.12 Drew Brees, QB

My pick and perspective: Julio Jones
This was an easy pick for me. While Andre Johnson was appealing at this pick, I’m not crazy about him hitting the age of 30 mark. I also expected Julio to go before Wes Welker and Adrian Peterson. In a start-up, I want young cornerstone players and Julio is exactly that. I now have two of those in Gronkowski and Jones.

Best value: AJ Green
Green is currently being drafted in the first round of many start-ups and is viewed as a top five dynasty wide receiver. I don’t happen to agree with that for various reasons, but this is great value given where he’s ranked by most.

Biggest Surprise: Adrian Peterson
He’s 27 years old, coming off knee surgery, and has a ton of wear and tear. At best, you’re looking at two years of top performance before he slows down at 30. Sure, he’s a beast of an athlete and a monster fantasy back when healthy, but there’s short-term risk in 2012 given the surgery and long-term with the impact of the surgery and his age. There’s too many other solid players with less risk available to take Peterson this early.

Round 3

3.01 Marshawn Lynch, RB
3.02 Michael Vick, QB
3.03 Roddy White, WR
3.04 DeMarco Murray, RB
3.05 Vincent Jackson, WR
3.06 Tom Brady, QB
3.07 Rookie 1.01
3.08 Greg Jennings, WR
3.09 Frank Gore, RB
3.10 Mike Wallace, WR
3.11 Eli Manning, QB
3.12 Michael Bush, RB [before signing with Chicago]

My pick and perspective: 1.01 rookie
At this point in the draft, I was concerned that I hadn’t addressed running back yet, but I was thrilled at the quarterbacks coming off the board so early. This left depth at receiver and running back. With this pick, I considered the 1.01 rookie (Trent Richardson would be my pick), Greg Jennings, Percy Harvin, Jeremy Maclin and Kenny Britt. Richardson is in my top five running backs already. He’s the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson. Another receiver would have been nice given the value of Jennings, Harvin, and Britt and the fact that they all have top 5-10 ability, but there was still depth on the board to select a receiver with my next pick.

Best value: 1.01 rookie
This pick should not have been on the board. If this draft occurs subsequent to the NFL draft, Richardson will be selected before the end of the second round and as early as the end of the first round.

Biggest Surprise: Michael Bush
I was very surprised to see Bush selected before Ahmad Bradshaw, Jonathan Stewart, CJ Spiller and Mark Ingram. I know he was productive with Darren McFadden out last year, but he’ll be 28 in June. That’s not exactly the type of guy I want to build my team around and as the foundation to my running back group. I’d much rather take someone like Kendall Hunter or Jacquizz Rodgers many rounds later. They offer much more upside and dynasty value than Bush. Now that he subsequently signed with the Bears, this hurts his value even more and this pick will be a regret if it isn’t already.

Round 4

4.01 Steven Jackson, RB
4.02 Kenny Britt, WR
4.03 Victor Cruz, WR
4.04 Philip Rivers, QB
4.05 Jonathan Stewart, RB
4.06 Percy Harvin, WR
4.07 Darren Sproles, RB
4.08 Brandon Marshall, WR
4.09 Miles Austin, WR
4.10 Ahmad Bradshaw, QB
4.11 Dwayne Bowe, WR
4.12 Jeremy Maclin, WR
4.12 Drew Brees, QB

My pick and perspective: Percy Harvin
I felt the wide receiver run starting and didn’t want to pass on a guy like Harvin, whose offensive snaps are only going to increase. He’s a good bet to be a top ten PPR wide receiver going forward. If you take a look at the last two-thirds of the 2011 season, you’ll see tremendous production. With a year in the league for quarterback Christian Ponder and more snaps coming next season, Harvin still has room to improve. I also considered Brandon Marshall at this pick, but sided with youth.

Best value: Jonathan Stewart
Stewart gets a bad rap, but he’s only 25 and has proven that he’s capable when given the chance. Selecting Stewart is all about going talent over opportunity. Patience is going to be key with him, but it will pay off. DeAngelo Williams is no Taylor Swift. He’s getting up there in age and within the near future, it’s going to be Stewart’s show whether it be in Carolina or elsewhere.

Biggest Surprise: Steven Jackson
The Steven Jackson owner must be going for the crown in 2012 because coupling Michael Bush and Steven Jackson as the foundation to a dynasty running back group is very risky and shortsighted. Jackson will be 29 in July and while he still finished as a top 10 PPR back in 2011, he’ll likely only perform at that level for one more year, at best. I can’t justify Jackson over Bradshaw, Spiller, or Ingram at running back, as well as the various top 20 wide receivers available.

Round 5

5.01 Jordy Nelson, WR
5.02 CJ Spiller, RB
5.03 Aaron Hernandez, TE
5.04 Mark Ingram, RB
5.05 Roy Helu, RB
5.06 Antonio Brown, WR
5.07 Stevie Johnson, WR
5.08 Rookie Pick 1.02
5.09 DeSean Jackson, WR
5.10 Fred Jackson, RB
5.11 Marques Colston, WR
5.12 Trent Cole, DE

My pick and perspective: Stevie Johnson
I really struggled with this pick. I felt that the rookie picks were not being valued as they should be and rookie pick 1.02 was the best value here. However, thinking through the sequence of a rookie draft, this would be Robert Griffin or Andrew Luck. Justin Blackmon would also be an option with the 1.02, but I’d prefer Stevie Johnson as my second wide receiver as opposed to a rookie with question marks. Sure, I needed a quarterback with none on my roster yet, but Johnson ended a wide receiver tier with a significant drop off approaching. He’ll also be a solid second wide receiver in my lineup. I flipped back and forth with the decision but ultimately decided that while the 1.02 rookie pick offered value, Johnson offered the most immediate help to my lineup and would be the safest play with the 1.01 rookie pick already rostered. My hope was that the 1.03 or 1.04 rookie pick made it back to me.

Best value: Aaron Hernandez
This is easily the best pick of the round. Hernandez is only 22 years old and is clearly a focal point of Patriots offense. He’s their second wide receiver who finished as the third best tight end, despite missing two games in 2011. My view is that he should have been selected in the 3rd or 4th round. Great pick.

Biggest Surprise: Fred Jackson
This is an easy one for me. Fred Jackson has Spiller to contend with who really came on in the final weeks of the 2011 season. Not only that, he’s 31 years old. I wouldn’t select him before the 13th or 14th round at the earliest. I can’t fathom trading a top 5 rookie pick for Fred Jackson, either, and that’s what this pick is insinuating being selected before rookie pick 1.03. I understand he was productive in the past, but there’s just too much value on the board at this point to go with Jackson.

Round 6

6.01 Jason Pierre-Paul, DE
6.02 Jermichael Finley, TE
6.03 Vernon Davis, TE
6.04 Jared Allen, DE
6.05 Denarius Moore, WR
6.06 Rookie Pick 1.03
6.07 Terrell Suggs, DE
6.08 Justin Tuck, DE
6.09 Julius Peppers, DE
6.10 Rookie Pick 1.04
6.11 Patrick Willis, LB
6.12 Demaryius Thomas, WR [Before the Peyton Manning signing]

My pick and perspective: Rookie Pick 1.03
Just as I’d hoped, the 1.03 rookie pick fell to me. I was happy to see the defensive players fly off the board and leave the rookie picks behind for me to accumulate. I love the value with this pick. If we were in an established league, there’s no question that I wouldn’t be able to deal the likes of Vernon Davis, Jared Allen, Fred Jackson, and others for the 1.03 rookie pick. This is likely one of Luck or RG3 for me. I’m thrilled. If these rookie picks keep falling, my plan is to keep taking them until I feel I have too many.

Obviously, my initial strategy to get Pierre-Paul in the 6th round was squashed, but I’m okay with that given the value I received with the rookie picks. I did consider going with Suggs given the defensive end run, but I caught myself from getting trapped in the IDP rush and went with the value available.

Best value: Rookie Pick 1.03 / Rookie Pick 1.04
Like I wrote above, these picks should be long gone. In fact, I think we should have 1.05 and 1.06 off the board already too.

Biggest Surprise: Back to back picks of Trent Cole / Jason Pierre-Paul
I love the boldness with these back-to-back picks. As I mentioned earlier, defensive end is a difference making position. This owner cornered the market and will put out two top tier defensive ends on a weekly basis. He also has the opportunity to sell one to a defensive end hungry team down the line. The top 5 rookie picks should have been drafted first, but I like this move.

Round 7

7.01 Desmond Bishop, LB
7.02 Steve Smith, WR
7.03 Tony Romo, QB
7.04 Torrey Smith, WR
7.05 Rookie Pick 1.05
7.06 Beanie Wells, RB
7.07 Rookie Pick 1.06
7.08 Michael Crabtree, WR [Before Manningham and Randy Moss signing]
7.09 D’Qwell Jackson, LB
7.10 Mikel Leshoure, RB [before the recent arrests]
7.11 Calais Campbell, DE
7.12 Reggie Bush, RB

My pick and perspective: Rookie Pick 1.05
As you can see from three of my first seven picks, I strongly believe that the rookie picks were overlooked. This 2012 class is very deep, but despite that, the rookie picks kept sliding. Things started to even out at this point in the seventh round with the first six picks selected, but the value was still there.

Best value: Reggie Bush
He finished as the 16th ranked running back in 2011 in this format and has no competition for carries in 2012 (at least pre-draft). Some will argue that Daniel Thomas is competition, but I’m not sure I agree. He’s nothing more than a backup/spell-back. Coming off of his first thousand yard season, this is tremendous value at pick #84 as the 25th running back taken.

Biggest Surprise: Mikel Leshoure
While this was before his two marijuana related arrests, it’s still too early for Leshoure. Sure, he was highly touted out of Illinois, but he tore his Achilles last year. Not many guys are able to regain form after that injury. Could he return and be productive? Sure, but there’s a lot of risk in this pick in the seventh round with a lot less riskier options and value available. I would have preferred to see the 1.07 rookie pick (which could be David Wilson, Lamar Miller, Michael Floyd, or Doug Martin), Reggie Bush, or Kendall Hunter. At least Hunter is healthy and in line for increased touches with an aging Frank Gore in San Francisco. If those options aren’t appealing, than a top linebacker instead would be a better pick. Heck, I could see Rashard Mendenhall over Leshoure. At least Mendenhall has already done it, is still young, and has been a top running back before.

Round 8

8.01 James Laurinaitis, LB
8.02 Navorro Bowman, LB
8.03 Ben Roethlisberger, QB
8.04 Jason Witten, TE
8.05 Derrick Johnson, LB
8.06 Greg Little, WR
8.07 Colin McCarthy, LB
8.08 Jahvid Best, RB
8.09 Daryl Washington, LB
8.10 Rookie Pick 1.07
8.11 Brandon Pettigrew, TE
8.12 Jabaal Sheard, DE

My pick and perspective: Greg Little
The linebacker floodgates were officially open. This is exactly what I expected. However, being two rounds away from my round 10 target of selecting IDPs, I wondered if I should spring on Colin McCarthy, Daryl Washington, Paul Posluszny, or Sean Weatherspoon. I’d be safe with any of those guys as my first linebacker, but sticking to my philosophy, I decided to pass on defense and stick to offense.

My top offensive guys were Greg Little, Rookie Pick 1.07, or Pierre Garcon. I’m a huge fan of Garcon despite what anyone says about his drop tendencies. He drops passes, but it’s overblown. The only problem is that Garcon hadn’t yet signed with Washington and his destination was undecided – that pushed Garcon out of contention for this pick. In considering Rookie Pick 1.07, my biggest issue was that I already owned three rookie picks. In fact, three of my first seven picks were rookie picks. I didn’t want any more rookie risk and the bust risk that comes with it despite the value.

Greg Little was my choice because he possesses more upside than Garcon and is the top receiver in Cleveland. He finished his rookie season with 700 yards receiving after being out of football a year and from a measurable perspective is built like a prototypical top receiver. The 50% catch percentage is a concern, but Colt McCoy is a bottom end starter and, like I said, Little was out of football for a season prior to his rookie year.

Best value: Brandon Pettigrew
He finished as the sixth best tight end in 2011 on total points and eighth on average points. He’s still only 27 and will have the protection of Calvin Johnson on the outside leaving the underneath open. He’ll also benefit from a top-notch young quarterback in Matthew Stafford. This is a guy who should be a top 5 to 8 tight end for the next five years.

Biggest Surprise: Greg Little
While I’m a big fan of Little, I certainly selected him earlier than his average draft position. I reached to get the player I liked and left behind some decent value like Charles Johnson, Rookie Pick 1.07, and Pierre Garcon. Many will scoff at the fact that I didn’t scoop up another rookie pick. I’d argue that Little was a top 7 rookie pick last year and already has a season of 700 yards receiving. He’s a safer pick. In hindsight, however, given where Titus Young was drafted, I would have been better suited to select a rookie pick and go with Young much later as he offers similar upside and production.

Round 9

9.01 Sean Lee, LB
9.02 Charles Johnson, DE
9.03 Ben Tate, RB
9.04 Rookie Pick 1.08
9.05 Lawrence Timmons, LB
9.06 Demarcus Ware, LB
9.07 Kendall Hunter, RB
9.08 Peyton Hillis, RB
9.09 Sean Weatherspoon, LB
9.10 London Fletcher,LB
9.11 Pierre Garcon, WR [Before signing in Washington]
9.12 Santonio Holmes, WR

My pick and perspective: Kendall Hunter
At this point, I have two of top three rookie picks and three of the top six rookie picks. I was thrilled. I also have Julio Jones, Stevie Johnson, Percy Harvin, Greg Little, and Rob Gronkowski. So, I have my three starting wide receivers who all possess top 15-20 potential, along with Little as a backup who has tremendous upside. I could use another running back, clearly. Michael Turner was an option, but he’s awful in PPR and is on the downside of his career. I decided that upside is where I needed to go. With Frank Gore in his final years, Kendall Hunter was an easy choice. Some will argue that I should have gone with Rookie Pick 1.09, but I already have three top six picks and didn’t want to add more rookie risk. I wanted more “established” guys.

Best value: Lawrence Timmons
Timmons’ 2011 season was ruined by his teammates’ injuries – that caused him to play multiple roles and be moved around the field, which limited his opportunities and killed his fantasy value. Just a year ago, Timmons was the top linebacker. Only 25 years old (26 at the start of the 2012 season), with a season as the top linebacker, and on a team like the Steelers that is focused on defense, this is a low risk pick with stud potential.

Biggest Surprise: London Fletcher
I get that he’s a great fantasy linebacker, but this is a dynasty league. He finished as the second best linebacker in 2011 and a top 30 player in this format, but I wouldn’t draft a 36 year-old player in the 9th round of any dynasty league. I’d prefer a guy like Chad Greenway who is 29 or Paul Posluszny who is 27. Both are coming off of disappointing seasons, but are talented and have top five linebacker potential.

Round 10

10.01 Sidney Rice, WR
10.02 JJ Watt, DE
10.03 Pat Angerer, LB
10.04 Reggie Wayne, WR
10.05 Jerod Mayo, LB
10.06 Fred Davis, TE
10.07 Antonio Gates, TE
10.08 Mike Williams, WR [Tampa]
10.09 Paul Posluszny, LB
10.10 Vincent Brown, WR [Before San Diego’s WR free agency signings]
10.11 Von Miller, LB
10.12 Kyle Rudolph, TE [Before John Carlson signing]

My pick and perspective: Fred Davis
Davis was a target of mine from the beginning. This was also my target round to start drafting IDPs. With how quickly the IDPs fell off the board, there was a ton of offensive talent still available. I decided to play the offense-only strategy a little bit longer. In this round, it was also clear to me that I wasn’t the only one waiting on defense. Jene Bramel hadn’t selected any IDPs yet either, which concerned me. I was hoping to snag Kelvin Sheppard, Donald Butler, Robert Quinn, and many other young upside IDPs, but I got the feeling that this may be his strategy as well and I would soon be competing with him for these guys.

I considered both Paul Posluszny and Chad Greenway here. From a roster and lineup perspective, that’s probably where I should have gone. However, Rookie Pick 1.09 and Fred Davis were too valuable in comparison. Given my explanation on why I’m not accumulating rookie picks, I felt Davis was the play since his average points per game put him around Antonio Brown in 2011. With Davis, I have a comparable performing player five rounds later. Granted, the same upside isn’t there, but he’s a guy that I can comfortably flex on any given week and one who I have ranked in my top five tight ends. He finished sixth in average points per game and that was with Rex Grossman and John Beck at quarterback. Imagine what he’ll do with Robert Griffin.

Best value: Mike Williams [Tampa]
He’s a head case, had a disappointing 2011, and struggled to take his game to the next level. You can sense the Michael Clayton Part II worries. I’m not buying that, though. Tampa Mike has already had a better season in his second year than Clayton had in the five seasons following his rookie year. The Bucs struggled across the board in 2011, especially quarterback Josh Freeman. Williams has the measurables and talent to succeed. This is fantastic value in the 10th round.

Biggest Surprise: Reggie Wayne over Mike Williams
I’d sell Wayne for Tampa Mike in the two leagues I own him in a heartbeat. Despite reaching close to 1,000 yards with trash at quarterback in 2011, Wayne will be 34 this year and will have a rookie quarterback under center. There’s close to zero upside with Wayne unless Andrew Luck has a Cam Newton-like rookie year, which is highly unlikely. If you want to go for it in 2012, I’d prefer Brandon Lloyd. At least you know he’ll produce with Tom Brady in 2012.

Round 11

11.01 Rashard Mendenhall, RB
11.02 Matt Ryan, QB
11.03 Randall Cobb, WR
11.04 Jermaine Gresham, TE
11.05 Jared Cook, TE
11.06 Brandon Lloyd, WR
11.07 Rookie Pick 1.09
11.08 Peyton Manning, QB [Before Denver signing]
11.09 Andy Dalton, QB
11.10 Chad Greenway, LB
11.11 Curtis Lofton, LB
11.12 Eric Berry, S

My pick and perspective: Rookie Pick 1.09
Rookie Pick 1.09 is available in the 11th round? Heck yeah. I’ll take one of Griffin, Luck, Richardson, Doug Martin, David Wilson, Lamar Miller, Michael Floyd, Kendall Wright, or Justin Blackmon this late. It’s a steal. Defense can wait.

Best value: Rashard Mendenhall, RB
He’s only 25 years old in June. The injury is a concern,but he’ll be back mid-season based on current forecasts. This is a classic example of how injuries over discount fantasy value. This is a guy who has two seasons of 1,000 plus yards, will only be 25, and is a free agent next year. There is no risk with this pick. If it’s a bust, it’s only an eleventh rounder.

Biggest Surprise: Jermaine Gresham
Gresham is selected after Kyle Rudolph and right before Jared Cook? I understand the love for Rudolph, but don’t get why the same isn’t there for Gresham. There’s no gushing for Gresham, but he already has two years of decent NFL production, is a starter, and will only be 24 years old in June – that’s more than Rudolph can say. People are too caught up in the next young best thing. Gresham offers tremendous upside and is an integral part of a young Bengals’ offense that is still developing under the direction of a second year quarterback.

Round 12

12.01 Jon Beason, LB
12.02 Ahtyba Rubin, DT
12.03 Stephen Tulloch, LB
12.04 Michael Turner, RB
12.05 DeAngelo Williams, RB
12.06 Kelvin Sheppard, LB
12.07 Jason Babin, DE
12.08 Ndamukong Suh, DT
12.09 Haloti Ngata, DT
12.10 Donald Butler, LB
12.11 Aldon Smith, LB
12.12 Sam Bradford, QB

My pick and perspective: Kelvin Sheppard
Sheppard was one of my main targets as I noted upfront. Here, I was between Donald Butler, Kelvin Sheppard, Brian Cushing, and rookie pick 1.10. The rookie pick offered the most value, but I’m concerned that it’s the twelfth round and I still didn’t have any defensive players on my roster.

I decided to bite the value bullet and start building my defense. Upside is what I want to build my defense with and Sheppard exemplifies that. He’s received praise from the Bills’ coaching staff and is slated to be the starting middle linebacker in Buffalo. He has 100-tackle-ability and the opportunity is there as a three-down linebacker. While many other more established guys like Cushing and Butler were available, Sheppard offered the most upside. Given the lack of stellar defensive ends on the board, my hope was for Donald Butler to fall to my next pick giving me a solid linebacker base of Butler and Sheppard. Jene Bramel had other thoughts.

Best value: Jon Beason
The league’s scoring system favors tacklers, which makes Beason a perfect pick. He’s coming off a torn Achilles, but he’s only 27 years old and will come back and immediately re-join the starting lineup in the middle. He’s a monster of a linebacker and his value is only discounted because he’s coming off of an injury.

Biggest Surprise: Defensive Tackle Run
I know we’re required to start a defensive tackle, but the best defensive tackle in 2011 finished 161st overall in this format. The 12th round is too early to begin taking these guys in this scoring system.

Round 13

13.01 Brian Cushing, LB
13.02 Daniel Thomas, RB
13.03 Mario Williams, LB [Before signing with Buffalo]
13.04 Shonn Greene, RB
13.05 Rookie Pick 1.10
13.06 James Anderson, LB
13.07 Rolando McClain, LB
13.08 Jacquizz Rodgers, RB
13.09 Cliff Avril, DE
13.10 Kam Chancellor, S
13.11 David Hawthorne, LB [Before signing with New Orleans]
13.12 Rookie Pick 1.11

My pick and perspective: Rolando McClain
Donald Butler was scooped up soon after my prior pick, but I wanted to keep building my IDP group. Again, the rookie picks offer solid value, but defense is my focus. McClain will be 24 years old in July and showed improvement in 2011 from his rookie year. The gun situation was stupidity at its best, but he finished 18th overall in average points per game among linebackers in 2011. He’s still developing and is a three down linebacker and, thus, offers the upside I sought.

Best value: Mario Williams
The Williams pick was prior to him signing in Buffalo and thus he was drafted as a linebacker. Per Jene’s comments on the pick, he was betting that Williams would sign with a 4-3 base defense team and be converted back to a defensive end. Well played, Jene. He instantaneously has an elite defensive end drafted in the 13th round.

Biggest Surprise: Shonn Greene before Jacquizz Rodgers
I think Shonn Greene is finished. Or maybe he never started. He’s not a factor in the passing game, is struggling between the tackles, and doesn’t have a full time job with the Jets. Selecting him over Rodgers is surprising. Rodgers is the exact opposite of Greene. He’s on a team where opportunity is going to be presented with Michael Turner aging and he’s a great pass catching back. I was shocked to see Greene come off the board before Rodgers (and even the rookie picks available).

Round 14

14.01 Rookie Pick 1.12
14.02 Danny Amendola, WR
14.03 Leonard Hankerson, WR [Before Garcon signing]
14.04 Lance Moore, WR
14.05 Elivis Dumervil, DE
14.06 Robert Quinn, DE
14.07 Chris Long, DE
14.08 Nate Irving, LB [Before Joe Mays re-signing]
14.09 Perry Riley, LB
14.10 Justin Smith, DE
14.11 Jarius Byrd, S
14.12 Jason McCourty, CB

My pick and perspective: Robert Quinn
Quinn has the talent to be an elite defensive end. With James Hall gone, Quinn slides into the Rams’ starting lineup, so he not only has potential, but I can consider using him in my lineup beginning this season. Other than Quinn, the only other selection I considered was the 2.01 rookie pick and I feel Quinn offers much more upside than that pick despite the deep rookie class.

Best value: Perry Riley
Riley was extremely solid from week 10 forward in 2011 when he took over as a starter in Washington. In 2012, he’ll again start alongside London Fletcher, but Fletcher is approaching retirement. That’ll leave Riley there to assume his role long-term giving him upside, but he still is a capable starter in the short-term as well.

Biggest Surprise: Cornerback coming off the board
Let me ask you this… would you trade Titus Young, Rookie Pick 2.01, or Ryan Williams for a cornerback? Absolutely not. However, one was selected in the 14th round. Cornerbacks are interchangeable pieces in this format that is heavily weighted on tackles. Weekly opportunities are the only thing that matters and that can be found on the wire on a weekly basis. With the exception of a few corners like Antoine Winfield who are fantastic tacklers, situations change too often. I was shocked to see a corner come off the board this early.

Round 15

15.01 Titus Young, WR
15.02 Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR
15.03 Brandon Spikes, LB
15.04 Tyvon Branch, S
15.05 Osi Umenyiora, DE
15.06 Patrick Chung, S
15.07 Bruce Carter, LB
15.08 Carlos Dunlap, DE
15.09 Karlos Dansby, LB
15.10 Chris Clemons, DE
15.11 Isaac Redman, RB
15.12 Charles Tillman, CB

My pick and perspective: Bruce Carter
This was a reach, there’s no question. The thing is… I don’t care. Bruce Carter can be the Navorro Bowman in Dallas next to Sean Lee. He’s a beast who’s still getting up to speed after his college knee injury at North Carolina. He still may be a year away from significant playing time and production, but I’m willing to wait for a guy who has the upside to be a stud linebacker. If you haven’t caught on to my specific strategy yet… with the ability to pluck capable players off the wire on a weekly basis and plug them into my lineup, I’m focusing on drafting players who I feel can be elite players and make my defensive squad a group of dominant beasts (i.e., a dynasty).

Best value: Titus Young
Young quietly put together a season of 48 catches for 600 yards and 6 touchdowns. Over the last 10 weeks of the 2011 season, he averaged 12.5 points per game which was better than Torrey Smith, Mike Wallace, and Pierre Garcon. He’s overshadowed by Megatron in Detroit, and rightfully so, but Young still presents similar potential to Little and Smith who were all drafted well before the 15th round.

Biggest Surprise: Brandon Spikes
In hindsight, I wish I selected Spikes prior to my Carter pick. I didn’t think anyone else had him targeted and thought he’d last until the 16th round. I was clearly wrong. Spikes began to play three downs towards the end of 2011 and into the playoffs and offers great value and upside.

Round 16

16.01 LeGarrette Blount, RB
16.02 Antoine Bethea, S
16.03 Charles Woodson, CB
16.04 Roman Harper, S
16.05 Ray Lewis, LB
16.06 Adrian Clayborn, DE
16.07 Nick Fairley, DT [Before his “incident”]
16.08 James Starks, RB
16.09 Da’Quan Bowers, DE
16.10 Mario Manningham, WR [before signing with San Francisco]
16.11 Ryan Williams, RB
16.12 Mike Tolbert, RB

My pick and perspective: Adrian Clayborn
This was a safety pick selecting a guy with a lower ceiling. Clayborn is a backstop for me should Quinn struggle or not breakout like I expect. He’s also is a solid second defensive end who should be productive for a number of years. My only other consideration here was Da’Quan Bowers, who I considered for his upside. He wasn’t a safe pick like Clayborn given his injury history, so I stayed away.

Best value: Ryan Williams
A first round rookie pick from 2011 in the 16th round? Leshoure and Williams should hold similar value and Williams was selected nine rounds later.

Biggest Surprise: Nick Fairley
I’m still puzzled by the defensive tackle run given how unimportant they are in this format. Not only that, but this is a defensive tackle who will compete with Suh for opportunities.

Round 17

17.01 Eric Weddle, S
17.02 Jon Baldwin, WR
17.03 Shane Vereen, RB
17.04 Rookie Pick 2.01
17.05 Robert Meachem, WR [Before signing with Chargers]
17.06 Clay Matthews, LB
17.07 Matt Schaub, QB
17.08 Robert Mathis, DE
17.09 Malcom Floyd, WR
17.10 Jay Cutler, QB
17.11 Joe Flacco, QB
17.12 LaRon Landry, S [Before signing with Jets]

My pick and perspective: Matt Schaub
I targeted a quarterback with this pick as the end of the 16th round finished with both Jay Cutler and Matt Schaub still available. With the likelihood of selecting Luck or Griffin with my 1.03 rookie pick, I wanted an immediate starter should either of those rookies struggle in their first year. The two years prior to his injury, Schaub hit the 4,000 yard passing mark. A starting quarterback like that this late in the draft was an easy pick. This value as compared to a guy like Eli Manning 14 rounds earlier or Tony Romo 10 rounds earlier is tremendous. I could easily see him having a comparable season to those two. He’s another example of how injuries deflate dynasty value.

Best value: Rookie Pick 2.01
The rookie picks still represented great value as the defensive picks to flew off the board.

Biggest Surprise: Jon Baldwin
I don’t really have an issue with any of the picks in this round on either side that surprised me. If I had to pick one, I’d say Baldwin, but that’s only because he should start in Kansas City in the near future. Steve Breaston won’t be able to hold Baldwin off for the entire 2012 season, despite Baldwin’s mess of a rookie year. He’ll get his shot. Baldwin did have one game last year where he exhibited his potential (week 8).

Round 18

18.01 Quintin Mikell, S
18.02 Devin McCourty, CB
18.03 Morgan Burnett, S
18.04 David Harris, LB
18.05 Emmanuel Sanders, WR
18.06 Rookie Pick 2.02
18.07 Austin Collie, WR
18.08 Jake Locker, QB
18.09 Stevan Ridley, RB
18.10 Rookie Pick 2.03
18.11 TJ Ward, S
18.12 Laurent Robinson, WR

My pick and perspective: Rookie Pick 2.02
There’s nothing more to say on the rookie pick value that I haven’t already said. To get the 14th rookie pick in the 18th round is astonishing. There were upside shots to take like Stevan Ridley, who holds what I’ll call “draft risk”. There’s a possibility that the Patriots take a running back in the draft. In addition, Donald Brown has been a disappointment. I’d rather take the best back available in the rookie draft with a high second round rookie pick.

Best value: Austin Collie
Pierre Garcon is gone and Collie is back starting alongside Wayne. He’s performed well the past few seasons despite the concussion issues and will get the top quarterback in this year’s draft to help his cause. This is the cheapest that Collie will get. He’s only two years removed from averaging 18.8 points per game and he has the ability and opportunity to return to that level. There’s no one else available who offers that package.

Rounds 19 – 21

19.01 Phil Taylor, DT
19.02 Joe Haden, CB
19.03 KJ Wright, LB
19.04 Rey Maualuga, LB
19.05 Pierre Thomas, RB
19.06 Willis McGahee, RB
19.07 Donald Brown, RB
19.08 Josh Freeman, QB
19.09 Geno Atkins, DT
19.10 Jurrell Casey, DT
19.11 Antrel Rolle, S
19.12 Brian Urlacher, LB

20.01 Demata Peko, DT
20.02 Kyle Arrington, CB
20.03 Terrell Thomas, CB
20.04 George Wilson, S
20.05 Rookie Pick 2.04
20.06 Bernard Pollard, S
20.07 Patrick Peterson, CB
20.08 Dustin Keller, TE
20.09 Felix Jones, RB
20.10 Rookie Pick 2.05
20.11 Ryan Kerrigan, LB
20.12 Owen Daniels, TE

21.01 Jeremy Mincey, DE
21.02 Brent Celek, TE
21.03 Christian Ponder, QB
21.04 Matt Flynn, QB
21.05 Mason Foster, LB
21.06 Randy Moss, WR
21.07 DeAndre Levy, LB
21.08 James Harrison, LB
21.09 Deangelo Hall, CB
21.10 Rookie Pick 2.06
21.11 Jacob Tamme, TE [Before signing with Denver]
21.12 Rookie Pick 2.07

My picks and perspective:

Donald Brown
People seem to ignore Brown at this point and have written him off (including me with my last pick). Given how terrible this former first round pick has been, I get it. However, he’s the Colts starting running back right now. With the numerous other needs and the team changing their defensive scheme to a 3-4 base, it’s unlikely that they draft another running back – that’ll give Brown another year to improve and show he’s not a bust. He played reasonably well at times in 2011 when he was given 10 or more carries. In the 19th round, I’ll take a shot and use him as a stopgap for my incoming rookie running backs for 2011.

Bernard Pollard
I need to pull the trigger on a safety and Pollard is the best out there. Other than the rookie picks, there’s mediocre talent available. My targets like Marcus Easley (my top receiver sleeper), Jaiquawn Jarrett, Robert Housler, and others are all still available and will be for some time. My plan is to fill out my defensive spots and add upside offensive players while ignoring what the other owners are doing. At this point in the draft, there’s no such thing as a reach. Everyone is fairly equal in value. I just want to capture the upside. Pollard is 27 and played well after week six last year when he got the start for the remainder of the year – I’ll take that as my first safety.

DeAndre Levy
Should Bruce Carter not pan out in 2012 immediately, Levy offers decent, albeit inconsistent, production out of the weakside linebacker spot in Detroit. The thing I like about Levy is that he showed some improvement in 2011 and is still only 25 years old. He’ll be a fine third or fourth linebacker.

Best value: Brent Celek
He finished as the 11th best tight end in 2011 and 5th best over the last eight weeks of the season behind only Antonio Gates, Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, and Aaron Hernandez. I love this guy as a value pick, especially this late. Heck, I’d be willing to take him five rounds earlier.

Biggest Surprise: Continued focus on defensive tackle and cornerback
Cornerback and defensive back are not worth picks at this point because they aren’t difference makers. It serves a team well to go after upside receivers, running backs, tight ends, defensive ends, and linebackers in these rounds. Even if a corner or defensive tackle breaks out, it’s going to have a minimal long-term impact on your lineup. I was puzzled and still am.

Rounds 22 – 24

22.01 Richard Sherman, CB
22.02 Jordan Shipley, WR
22.03 Rookie Pick 2.08
22.04 Anquan Boldin, WR
22.05 Jacoby Ford, WR
22.06 Derrick Morgan, DE
22.07 Montario Hardesty, RB
22.08 Nick Barnett, LB
22.09 Rookie Pick 2.09
22.10 Marcell Dareus, DE
22.11 Brandon Browner, CB
22.12 Benjarvis Green-Ellis, RB

23.01 Tamba Hali, LB
23.02 Doug Baldwin, WR
23.03 Cameron Wake, LB
23.04 Damian Williams, WR
23.05 Darian Stewart, S
23.06 Yeremiah Bell, S
23.07 Rookie Pick 2.10
23.08 Rookie Pick 2.11
23.09 Mark Sanchez, QB
23.10 Eric Decker, WR
23.11 Daryl Smith, LB
23.12 Rookie Pick 2.12

24.01 Rookie Pick 3.01
24.02 Ryan Grant, RB
24.03 Tony Gonzalez, TE
24.04 Kellen Winslow, TE
24.05 Toby Gerhart, RB
24.06 Andre Roberts, WR
24.07 LaMarr Woodley, LB
24.08 Johnny Knox, WR
24.09 Evan Royster, RB
24.10 Greg Olsen, TE
24.11 Matt Shaughnessy, DE
24.12 Nate Washington, WR

My picks and perspective:

Derrick Morgan
He’s two years removed from an ACL injury, which bodes well for his improvement. The talk from the Titans coaching staff has been positive affirming that Morgan is an important part of their defense. My goal was to continue to add high ceiling defensive ends behind Robert Quinn and Adrian Clayborn. Morgan is someone who could be dominant if he stays healthy and returns to pre-injury form. I’m not ignoring the fact that he’s disappointed and could fizzle quickly, but at this point in the draft a potential bust is not a concern.

Rookie Pick 2.10
The rookie class is deep and these picks still offer great value in the 23rd round. Throughout these last few rounds, I often found myself thinking that I should grab more of these rookie picks. I couldn’t bring myself to do it given the number of picks I already had rostered and the uncertainty that comes with them. I felt that 6 of the first 22 picks was more than enough and commited myself to hold off on the rookie picks from this point forward and fill out my roster with veterans.

Andre Roberts
Roberts quietly put together a 50 catch 580 yard season in 2011. He’s shown improvement in his first two years in the league and didn’t have any help from the Cardinals’ quarterbacks in 2011. The wide receiver spot across from Larry Fitzgerald could be a beautiful fantasy play and Roberts is my vote over Doucet.

Best value: Eric Decker
The pick was made prior to Peyton Manning signing with the Broncos, but it was tremendous in hindsight. Decker works hard, has nice size, and appears to have become a Manning favorite. With Manning running things, Decker could be in for an immediate 1,000+ yard season in 2011. He was very productive with Kyle Orton at quarterback. With Manning, it’s very possible that Decker creeps into the top 10-15 wide receiver range.

Status Update & Team Assessment:
For those keeping track, my team thus far through 24 rounds is (bold italics being my 2012 projected starters; round drafted in the parenthetical):

QB: Matt Schaub (17)
RB: Kendall Hunter (9), Donald Brown (19), [I expect Richardson to be a starter and potentially a second rookie – see ‘Rookie Picks’ below]
WR: Julio Jones (2), Stevie Johnson (5), Percy Harvin (4), Greg Little (8), Andre Roberts (24)
TE: Rob Gronkowski (1), Fred Davis (10)
DE: Robert Quinn (14), Adrian Clayborn (16), Derrick Morgan (22)
LB: Kelvin Sheppard (12), Rolando McClain (13), Bruce Carter (15), DeAndre Levy (21)
S: Bernard Pollard (20)

Rookie Picks: 1.01 (Richardson)(2), 1.03 (Luck or Griffin)(6), 1.06 (Doug Martin, David Wilson, or Lamar Miller)(7), 1.09 (Michael Floyd, Mohammed Sanu, other)(11), 2.02 (18), 2.10 (23)

Overall, I’m happy.

I absolutely love my receivers and tight ends. My linebackers and defensive ends are a little thin and I don’t have a stud at either position, which would have been ideal. Simply put, my defense is not a paper champion and won’t be a preseason favorite to take the league championship. I don’t mind that, though. Like I said earlier, I just want upside on defense and I have that. Come mid-season in 2012, I’d be willing to bet that the defense side of my team will improve in perception. I did fail in my one goal of getting Jason Pierre-Paul, though. I could always trade my 1.03 rookie pick for Pierre-Paul plus, though [tongue-in-cheek].

Looking ahead, I still need to fill my kicker, two cornerbacks, one defensive tackle, another safety, and a linebacker/defensive end flex. I couldn’t care less about my two corners and defensive tackle right now. Those will be some of my final picks along with a kicker.

As far as safety and linebacker go, I need to address that with additional capable bodies who, preferably, have a high ceiling. After this roster assessment, my final plan was to just go with the most upside available through the end while filling out my lineup. I planned on focusing on defense in the next few rounds to fill out that side a little bit more.

Round 25 – 27

25.01 Earl Thomas, S
25.02 Taiwan Jones, RB
25.03 Erin Henderson, LB
25.04 Rookie Pick 3.02
25.05 Rookie Pick 3.03
25.06 Martellus Bennett, TE
25.07 Jaiquawn Jarrett, S
25.08 Lance Briggs, LB
25.09 Rookie Pick 3.09 (commish replaced timer expired)
25.10 Rookie Pick 3.04
25.11 Sione Pouha, DT
25.12 Tim Tebow, QB

26.01 Alex Green, RB
26.02 Koa Misi, LB
26.03 Rookie Pick 3.08 (commish replaced timer expired)
26.04 Israel Idonije, DE
26.05 Rookie Pick 3.05
26.06 Martez Wilson, LB
26.07 BJ Raji, DT
26.08 Rookie Pick 3.06
26.09 Rookie Pick 3.07
26.10 Delone Carter, RB
26.11 Akeem Ayers, LB
26.12 Nate Burleson, WR

27.01 Ladarius Webb, CB
27.02 Cullen Jenkins, DT
27.03 David Gettis, WR
27.04 DJ Williams, LB
27.05 Ray Edwards, DE
27.06 Carson Palmer, QB
27.07 Michael Johnson, DE
27.08 Bernard Scott, RB
27.09 Brandon Jacobs, RB
27.10 Andre Carter, DE
27.11 Tramon Williams, CB
27.12 Julius Thomas, TE

My picks and perspective:

Jaiquawn Jarrett
Jarrett started two games in 2011 (one at strong safety) and struggled. In week 10, he started for an injured Nate Allen and made 7 tackles. In week 17, he started at strong safety and made 4 tackles for an injured Kurt Coleman. Coleman is back in 2012 and it remains to be seen if Jarrett will start. The bottom line is that Jarrett struggled with the playbook and was thinking more than reacting on the field. I attribute that to no offseason as a rookie in 2011 due to the lockout. I’m betting that a full offseason for the 2011 rookie will make him a frontrunner for the starting strong safety spot in 2012. A full offseason of mini camps and OTAs will serve him well.

Martez Wilson
This pick was before David Hawthorne, Curtis Lofton, and Chris Chamberlain signed with the Saints. My hope was he’d play the weak-side after a solid showing in the 2011 playoffs. Now it seems he’ll be relegated to the strong-side which limits his upside. In hindsight, this is a wasted pick where I was burned drafting upside potential.

Michael Johnson
Johnson played well early on in 2011 playing 70% or more snaps. He then disappeared for a few weeks mid-season not recording a tackle in a few games, but he finished the year strong. Many suspect it’s because he wore down. As a result, the Bengals plan to limit his snaps in 2012. He’ll be part of a three-man rotation with Carlos Dunlap and Robert Geathers, but I like the spurts of production he’s put together at different points in his career. He just needs to be consistent. Brian Robison was another consideration at this spot, but I’m betting that Johnson plays consistent and doesn’t wear down going forward. Age was another factor in selecting Johnson over Robison

Best value: Julius Thomas
He’s a physical freak and Peyton Manning’s in town. Reports out of training camp in 2011 were oozing with praise for Thomas. The tight end spot is rather crowded in Denver with Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen around, but Thomas has the most raw ability of the group. Grabbing him this late was great value.

Round 28 – 30

28.01 Lance Kendricks, TE
28.02 Charlie Peprah, S
28.03 Jeremiah Johnson, RB
28.04 Kevin Burnett, LB
28.05 Earl Bennett, WR
28.06 Golden Tate, WR
28.07 Lofa Tatupu, LB
28.08 Josh Morgan, WR
28.09 Dallas Clark, TE
28.10 Jordan Babineaux, S
28.11 Da’Rel Scott, RB
28.12 Greg Salas, WR

29.01 Darnell Dockett, DE
29.02 James Jones, WR
29.03 Rookie Pick 3.10
29.04 Kevin Smith, RB
29.05 William Moore, S
29.06 John Abraham, DE
29.07 Quinton Carter, S
29.08 Dexter McCluster, RB
29.09 Cedric Benson, RB
29.10 Virgil Green, TE
29.11 Greg Hardy, DE
29.12 Rookie Pick 3.11

30.01 Rookie Pick 3.12
30.02 Davone Bess, WR
30.03 Brian Robison, DE
30.04 Richard Marshall, CB
30.05 Arrelious Benn, WR
30.06 Dion Lewis, RB
30.07 Brodney Pool, S
30.08 Cortland Finnegan, CB
30.09 Brandon LaFell, WR
30.10 Rashad Jennings, RB
30.11 Jason Worilds, LB
30.12 Vince Wilfork, DT

My picks and perspective:

Golden Tate
Tate has been a big disappointment after struggling in his first two seasons in the NFL. In week 13 of 2011, he finally produced with 4 catches for 47 yards and a touchdown. The next four weeks and to close out the 2011 season, he was targeted six or more times in each game. With injury issues and the overall lack of production in Seattle, Tate has an opportunity to start. I’ll take that in the 28th round. This is nothing more than a depth pick with upside.

Quinton Carter
Carter was one of my targets since the beginning. After selecting Jarrett a few rounds earlier, I still need some more depth picks should Jarrett not work out as I expect. Carter played well in the playoffs of his rookie year and I expect him to continue that production in 2012 with a full offseason program. He’s one of my favorite safety sleepers for 2012.

Dion Lewis
In adding depth and filling out my roster, Lewis offered the best value. Currently, he’s a LeSean McCoy injury away from being a top 20 running back. Lewis is a clone of McCoy and would be a great option should an injury occur.

Best value: Brandon LaFell
While I’m a David Gettis guy, LaFell is getting a ton of positive press these past few weeks. With an aging Steve Smith and Cam Newton running the show, a potential starting wide receiver who’s young and who could enter a fantasy starting lineup in 2012, LaFell is a great selection in the 30th round.

Round 31 – 33
31.01 Reggie Nelson, S
31.02 Nick Collins, S
31.03 DeMeco Ryans, LB [Same day when Ryans became an Eagle]
31.04 Alterraun Verner, CB
31.05 Rookie Pick 4.01
31.06 Mark Anderson, DE
31.07 Marcus Easley, WR
31.08 Joseph Addai, RB
31.09 Early Doucet, WR
31.10 Kenny Phillips, S
31.11 Jerrel Jernigan, WR
31.12 Colin Kaepernick, QB

32.01 Devery Henderson, WR
32.02 Adrian Arrington, WR
32.03 Kyle Williams, DT
32.04 Desmond Bryant, DT
32.05 Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB
32.06 Robert Housler, TE
32.07 Carlos Rogers, CB
32.08 Zach Miller, TE
32.09 Cameron Jordan, DE
32.10 Alex Smith, QB
32.11 David Nelson, WR
32.12 Chris Ivory, RB

33.01 Steve Smith, WR [STL]
33.02 Dwight Freeney, DE
33.03 Kamerion Wimbley, LB
33.04 Brandon Graham, DE
33.05 Antione Winfield, CB
33.06 Braylon Edwards, WR
33.07 Troy Polamalu, S
33.08 Heath Miller, TE
33.09 Dawan Landry, S
33.10 Rob Ninkovich, LB
33.11 Josh Cribbs, WR
33.12 Dan Connor, LB

My picks and perspective:

Marcus Easley
Easley is my favorite wide receiver sleeper. David Nelson and Donald Jones are average receivers and Stevie Johnson was quoted last offseason supporting Easley as a breakout candidate. Unfortunately, Easley had a heart ailment (non-football injury). That’s now past him and he’s back and focused on football. I expect him to see increased time at the receiver spot opposite Johnson. I didn’t care if I reached here, I just wanted Easley on my team.

Robert Housler
Like Easley, Housler is a favorite of mine. He’s a great pass catching tight end and those guys are all the rage these days. I expect Housler to really show he belongs in 2012 with ancient players ahead of him on the depth chart. There’s no other tight end on the board that offers similar potential.

Troy Polamalu
With Bernard Pollard, Jaiquawn Jarrett, and Quinton Carter as my safety group, there’s some risk at my second safety spot. There’s no one else I was crazy about on the board, so Polamalu made the most sense. He’s more than capable to hold down the starting spot until Jarrett or Carter is ready to go. This wasn’t what I’d planned to do and I normally stay away from older players, but Polamalu made sense.

Best value: Antoine Winfield
He’s old, but he’s the best tackling corner around. If he’s healthy, he’s all but guaranteed to be the top cornerback by a large margin. Of course, Winfield has been hampered with injuries the last few years, but he can make an immediate impact on a lineup and I don’t care about old corners. I treat the cornerback spot like I would in a redraft league and Winfield is a great boom pick.

Round 34 – 36

34.01 Rookie Pick 4.02
34.02 Ed Dickson, TE
34.03 Jerricho Cotchery, WR
34.04 Kyle Vanden Bosch, DE
34.05 Rookie Pick 4.03
34.06 Justin Houston, LB
34.07 Mark Clayton, WR
34.08 Tim Hightower, RB
34.09 Andre Caldwell, WR [After Manning signing]
34.10 Dashon Goldson, S
34.11 Michael Griffin, S
34.12 Connor Barwin, LB

35.01 Jamar Chaney, LB
35.02 Jimmy Smith, CB
35.03 Aaron Wiliams, CB
35.04 Charles Godfrey, S
35.05 Chris Chamberlain, LB
35.06 Antonio Cromartie, CB
35.07 Mike Thomas, WR
35.08 Donte Whitner, S
35.09 Michael Boley, LB
35.10 EJ Henderson, LB
35.11 Knowshon Moreno, RB
35.12 Kevin Kolb, QB

36.01 Brian Orakpo, LB
36.02 Matt Cassel, QB
36.03 Scott Chandler, TE
36.04 Deji Karim, RB
36.05 Rookie Pick 4.04
36.06 Rookie Pick 4.05
36.07 Jason Snelling, RB
36.08 Eddie Royal, WR [After San Diego signing]
36.09 Daniel Manning, S
36.10 Stephen Nicholas, LB
36.11 Rookie Pick 4.06
36.12 John Carlson, TE

My picks and perspective:

Justin Houston
I was between two Kansas City linebackers with this pick – Houston and Jovan Belcher. I normally hate 3-4 outside linebackers, but Houston showed some sack potential the last five weeks of 2011 where he tallied 5.5 sacks. He’ll be more of a matchup guy for me, but he’ll be a perfect fourth linebacker while my young guys mature into the beasts I expect.

Mike Thomas
Man, Blaine Gabbert’s atrocious season in 2011 really killed Thomas’s value. Prior to 2011, Thomas was often seen as a top 30 dynasty wide receiver. Before Gabbert took the starting spot, in three of Thomas’s first four games, Thomas scored more than 10 fantasy points. In 2010, he also hit 800 yards receiving. Unfortunately, in 2011 he struggled with Gabbert as the Jaguars’ top receiver. Now, with Laurent Robinson in the picture, Thomas can go back to playing the slot and second fiddle where he excelled. I expect a much better season out of Thomas in 2012 and believe he can be a solid bye week filler and even a weekly flex play in this format once he becomes consistent again.

Rookie Pick 4.05
I expect to use this to fill out some defense spots come rookie draft time and most likely a linebacker.

Best value: Andre Caldwell
Caldwell signed with the Broncos right before this selection. Caldwell could be a huge beneficiary of Manning’s presence.

Round 37 – 39

37.01 Brandon Carr, CB
37.02 Brooks Reed, LB
37.03 Tony Moeaki, TE
37.04 Jonas Mouton, LB
37.05 Rookie Pick 4.07
37.06 Santana Moss, WR
37.07 Stevenson Sylvester, LB
37.08 Adrian Wilson, S
37.09 Brandon Flowers, CB
37.10 Rookie Pick 4.08
37.11 Cylde Gates, WR
37.12 Jamie Harper, RB

38.01 Rookie Pick 4.09
38.02 Jerome Simpson, WR
38.03 Rookie Pick 4.10
38.04 Frostee Rucker, DE
38.05 Bilal Powell, RB
38.06 Patrick Robinson, CB
38.07 Joe McKnight, RB
38.08 Matt Moore, QB
38.09 Javon Ringer, RB
38.10 Rookie Pick 4.11
38.11 Rookie Pick 4.12
38.12 Pernell McPhee, DE

39.01 Cory Redding, DE
39.02 Tyson Alualu, DT
39.03 Dejon Gomes, S
39.04 Akeem Dent, LB
39.05 Nate Allen, S
39.06 Ryan Mallett, QB
39.07 Linval Joseph, DT
39.08 Danny Woodhead, RB
39.09 Steve Breaston, WR
39.10 David Akers, PK
39.11 Husain Abdullah, S
39.12 Danario Alexander, WR

My picks and perspective:

Stevenson Sylvester
James Farrior is out in Pittsburgh. I expect Sylvester to be the ultimate replacement in the middle alongside Lawrence Timmons. While Larry Foote is slated to get the initial snaps in replacing Farrior, it’s only because Sylvester needs to mature before taking the spot. Now I just have to hope that Pittsburgh doesn’t take an inside linebacker in the upcoming draft, which bears some risk.

Patrick Robinson
I had five picks left and two needed to be cornerbacks, so I figured I might as well start here. I considered Eric Wright, Tracey Porter, and Patrick Robinson. With the Saints high-powered offense, the corners in New Orleans should see a ton of tackling opportunities. Right now, it looks like Robinson will take the starting spot opposite Jabari Greer. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll just throw him on the wire and pick another corner up. I rarely roster more than two since that’s the starting requirement, so it’s likely Robinson will see the wire on his bye week even if he perform well initially.

Linval Joseph
Joseph plays the run well and picked up his game after the bye in 2011. Overall, Joseph finished as the 14th best tackle, but after the week 7 bye, he was the 6th best defensive tackle. That’s worth a shot for a position that contributes 8 points a week at best.

Best value: Akeem Dent
This may change after the draft, but with Lofton signing in New Orleans, Dent looks like he’ll be the starting middle linebacker in Atlanta. Well played. I regreted not taking him instead of Patrick Robinson given Dent’s upside and my need for more at linebacker.

Round 40 – 42

40.01 Gerald McCoy, DT
40.02 Eric Wright, CB
40.03 Chris Culliver, CB
40.04 Rookie Pick 5.02 [before 5.01 because timer expired and pick not made until after 5.01 was selected]
40.05 Darrelle Revis, CB
40.06 Sebastian Janikowski, PK
40.07 Reed Doughty, S
40.08 Kyle Wilson, CB
40.09 Tracey Porter, CB
40.10 Rookie Pick 5.01
40.11 Mason Crosby, PK
40.12 Stephen Gostkowski, PK

41.01 Neil Rackers, PK
41.02 Rookie Pick 5.06 [Ineligible pick made and subsequently replaced]
41.03 Wesley Woodyard, LB
41.04 Jasper Brinkley, LB
41.05 Richard Seymour, DT
41.06 Marcedes Lewis, TE
41.07 Chris Houston, CB
41.08 Jonathan Joseph, CB
41.09 Kerry Rhodes, S
41.10 Dan Bailey, PK
41.11 John Kasay, PK
41.12 Alex Henery, PK

42.01 Rookie Pick 5.03
42.02 Mike Nugent, PK
42.03 Matt Prater, PK
42.04 Rian Lindell, PK
42.05 Tommy Kelly, DT
42.06 Darryl Sharpton, LB
42.07 Rob Bironas, PK
42.08 Matt Bryant, PK
42.09 Billy Cundiff, PK
42.10 Rookie Pick 5.04
42.11 Rookie Pick 5.05
42.12 John Skelton, QB

My picks and perspective:

Sebastian Janikowski
I needed a kicker eventually. Why not go for the guy who can drill 50+ and 60+ yard field goals? He won people games last year.

Chris Houston
I needed another corner and he was the best available. Like Patrick Robinson, Houston is on a team with a dynamic offense, which should lead to tackling opportunities.

Darryl Sharpton
DeMeco Ryans is out in Houston and Sharpton is in. He started a handful of games in his rookie season two years ago and played reasonably well. Why not?

Best value: Jasper Brinkley
Jeff Ratcliffe took Akeem Dent last round and Brinkley in this round. These are perfect selections with both currently slated to take over the middle on their respective teams.

Final Assessment

Here is my final roster (bold italics being my 2012 starting lineup; round drafted in the parenthetical):
QB: Matt Schaub (17)
RB: Kendall Hunter (9), Donald Brown (19), Dion Lewis (30) [I expect Richardson to be a starter and potentially a second rookie – see ‘Rookie Picks’ below]
WR: Julio Jones (2), Stevie Johnson (5), Percy Harvin (4), Greg Little (8), Andre Roberts (24), Golden Tate (28), Marcus Easley (31), Mike Thomas (35)
TE: Rob Gronkowski (1), Fred Davis (10), Robert Housler (32)
K: Sebastian Janikowski (40)
DT: Linval Joseph (39)
DE: Robert Quinn (14), Adrian Clayborn (16), Derrick Morgan (22), Michael Johnson (27)
LB: Kelvin Sheppard (12), Rolando McClain (13), Bruce Carter (15), DeAndre Levy (21), Martez Wilson (26), Justin Houston (34), Stevenson Sylvestor (37), Darryl Sharpton (42)
CB: Patrick Robinson (38), Chris Houston (41)
S: Bernard Pollard (20), Jaiquawn Jarrett (25), Quinton Carter (29), Troy Polamalu (33)

Rookie Picks: 1.01 (Richardson)(2), 1.03 (Luck or Griffin)(6), 1.06 (Doug Martin, David Wilson, or Lamar Miller)(7), 1.09 (Michael Floyd, Mohamed Sanu, other)(11), 2.02 (18), 2.10 (23) , 4.05 (36)

Overall and similar to my mid-draft status check, I’m happy with where my team stacks up. There are very few teams that will match my offensive output (after considering the rookie draft picks). I didn’t get Pierre-Paul like I’d hoped, but I did get a ton of rookie picks at values I didn’t initially expect which should compensate for that miss. Those rookie picks were greatly overlooked early on.

As far as my defense goes, nothing has changed with respect to its quality. Many will see it as a big weakness since it’s not a paper champion. I don’t. The upside is on my roster, there is little differentiation in the positions other than defensive end in this format, and a handful of those lottery tickets will likely hit – they always do. With what I currently have rostered in combination with my rookie picks, my team is going to be a force to contend with as long as my offensive guys stay healthy. I would like to have more solid depth at wide receiver since there’s a big talent gap between Little and the rest on my roster, and my running backs are a little thin, but the rookie draft should help me at both spots.

Taking my team out of the mix, I thought Jene Bramel, Ryan Berger (TheFFGhost), and Jeff Ratcliffe drafted the best of the group (see their teams here). Jene took a similar approach to me and waited on IDPs, while both Ryan and Jeff drafted their IDPs relatively early and targeted top tier defensive players.

For a full link to the draft including comments from each of the participants on a pick-by-pick basis, here is the link.


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Chris Russell
10 years ago

Nice job! Thanks. Soooo helpful.

10 years ago

Any thoughts on some deep deep sleepers? I think of Joe Morgan WR Saints as a deep pull….any more?

Ron Williams
10 years ago

I agree with alot of what you said, but here is my dilemma. I’m in an IDP startup this year where the scoring is VERY IDP heavy. While I like the idea of targeting my first IDP after the first 5 rounds, with guys like JPP, Allen and Suggs ranking at 4th, 6th, and 13 OVERALL respectively, is there a case to be made for reaching for one of these elite DE’s inside that mark? My target is JPP. I’m just not sure if targeting him in the 3rd to 4th round would be a reach.

Ron Williams
Reply to  Ron Williams
10 years ago

In that same draft, I’m sitting at 1.6. I expect that picks 1-5 will play out in the same order as yours. With TE’s getting 1.5ppr, does Gronk or Graham become more appealing than Fitz? I know that when it comes down to it, I’ll probably end up with Fitz as my pick, but should I be weighing out my other options? Sorry… That’ll be my last question for now… 🙂

Ron Williams
Reply to  Steve Wyremski
10 years ago

Thanks, Steve. As of right now I have 1.6 and 2.7 (12 teams). I am targeting Gronk and AJG (chose him over Fitz for personal reasons) with the 1.6, and then was hoping to land Julio with my 2.7. I’m trying to move closer to the turn at the end of the first, but so is everyone else. 🙂 I appreciate the insight though. Thanks!

Reply to  Ron Williams
10 years ago

I am in one IDP league and last year was the first year we included IDP players. The scoring is very low for IDP at .5 pts for every tackle and 2 points for a sack, int, fumble recovery. So even though I may not have many years invested into studying IDP, and the scoring system is much lower, there is one piece of advice that I think you should listen to. When it comes to IDP, they are usually about as unpredictable as they come. I would not spend an early pick one one unless it was tremendous value. There are always guys who come out of nowhere to lead the ranks of IDP.

Ron Williams
Reply to  Steve Wyremski
10 years ago

Here is another question that I ponder…

Sitting at 1.6, I feel like I am one pick outside of the premium picks. I feel like Rodgers, Ray Rice, McCoy, Foster, and Calvin are in a Tier by themselves. For me the second Tier of players is much larger. Do you think that JPP would be a reach in the 1st, given that I could most likely still have significant talent available after that pick?

(For this startup, we separated the startup draft and the rookie draft. We will hold the rookie draft, six rounds, after the 40 round startup. I have the 1.3 in the rookie draft, so I will have two of the Top 4 (Luck, RG3, Richardson, Blackmon) available to me there. I feel like this gives me a little bit more room when drafting those positions.)

Ron Williams
Reply to  Ron Williams
10 years ago

I was actually able to pull a trade that I liked… Gave up 1.06 and 2.07 in the startup for 1.12 and 2.01 in the startup and the 1.09 in the rookie draft. Thinking that I can take two players that I like without reaching and also end up with a quality rookie pick.

Ron Williams
Reply to  Ron Williams
10 years ago

Ended up with Fitz at 1.12 and AJG at 2.1… Not bad, since I was considering him at 1.6. Also let me make a reach in the 3rd round and I grabbed JPP. I know. Don’t shoot me. :-p

10 years ago

I am of the opinion that I should have been included into this mock draft instead of some of the “experts.” Adrian Peterson and MJD on the same team? 2 risky picks if you are considering long term, but it could work out. Dez Bryant in the second round? Percey Harvin, Jeremy Maclin, Greg Jennings, Mike Wallace are all better options IMO. What the heck was the Michael Bush pick at 3.12 followed by Steven Jackson at 4.01? I don’t know if I have seen a worse back to back pick for an expert mock draft. I understand Bush produced big when given the chance but even if this was before he went to the Bears it is still very risky to pick him that high.

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