Every year I engage in an eight team fantasy football draft with friends from high school. I know, eight team leagues aren’t the norm and usually give everyone an awesome team.
However, we’ve been doing it for over 10 years now and believe it or not, you can actually end up with a horrifyingly bad team if you don’t draft well. Or if you don’t show up.
Last year I was lucky enough to make it to the league title game before bowing out to the eventual winner. In an effort to get a leg up on the competition, as well as what figures to be a summer loaded with fantasy football mock drafts and a ridiculous amount of analysis, I thought I’d mock from my new spot in the draft.
I used FantasyPros.com’s awesome Draft Wizard to map it out, using our usual roster of 1QB, 2RB, 2WR, 1TE, 1Flex, 1K and 1DEF/ST. Our league has some minor PPR (0.5) points, so keep that in mind.
From the seventh spot of an eight team snake mock, this is the roster I emerged with:
QB: Aaron Rodgers (4th), Cam Newton (9th)
I normally don’t reach for a quarterback here. In fact, I would have been completely content landing Newton as my QB1 later like I did here in round nine. I’m also a Packers fan and for my first mock of the summer, I couldn’t resists myself.
While I took the plunge here, I do encourage fantasy drafters to hold off on their stud QB until the middle rounds if they can. There is a ton of value at the position this year, just like the year before.
RB: Doug Martin (1st), Arian Foster (2nd), Darren McFadden (11th), Tre Mason (13th)
I don’t care what anyone says. Doug Martin and Arian Foster are beasts. Both are immensely talented and I can get both without spending a top-three pick on either. That excites me.
Run DMC probably won’t stay healthy and Mason is a rookie without a sure role yet, but both also have awesome upside and offer some decent depth. I also shored up my running back depth with my Flex pick below (Gio).
WR: Victor Cruz (6th), DeSean Jackson (7th), Percy Harvin (8th), Eric Decker (12th)
Cruz was a bust last year thanks to injuries but I think he’ll rebound this year. D-Jax is in a new system, but it’s in a good one, while Harvin could be an awesome WR3 (if not a WR2) if he can just stay healthy. Even if he doesn’t, I’m sure Decker will do well enough in New York to help out at that WR3 spot.
TE: Rob Gronkowski (5th), Jordan Reed (10th)
The Gronk might be ready for week one. If he is, I’ve got my stud tight end locked and loaded. If not, Reed can hold down the fort until he gets back. They do both have week 10 byes, but once Gronk is back to full health I can just move Reed or bring someone off the waiver wire to help out for one week.
Flex: Giovani Bernard (3rd)
Elite Flex. Gio could easily operate as an elite RB2 this year but I have him as my third back. This kind of depth makes McFadden and Mason my fourth and fifth options, giving me much better depth at the position than it may have initially appeared.
K: Blair Walsh (15th)
Never draft a kicker until round 15. The change from year to year is way too great to try to correctly predict who will do what. Obviously it’s a little easier to land a high quality kicker with just seven other teams, but even in bigger leagues, you need to wait.
DEF/ST: San Francisco 49ers (14th)
Same with defense, except make it round 14. Unless you have your team roaring to go and you don’t love any other sleepers, then maybe reaching for a FALLING defense is something to consider. You won’t find the Niners in round 14 usually, even in 8 teamers, but you can land a top-10 defense without reaching.
Luckily I get the 49ers here, which is just awesome.
I’m a big preacher of “draft running backs early”, but I do realize that things change per league size. Here in an eight team league, though, I think going three running backs to kick things off is loads of fun and might be a great way to set up your roster. Not only do I love getting elite RB depth, but I think the value at QB, WR and TE is insane.
I stocked up on three awesome backs early, and then proceeded to simply take the best available player from round four, on.
I do confess that the Draft Analyzer did not rate my team very high. However, Jordan Reed, Darren McFadden and Tre Mason were looked at as sketchy picks due to being “reaches”. Doug Martin was also noted as a “slight reach” at 7th overall, but I 100% disagree with that label. The Muscle Hamster is one of my favorite round one value buys going into drafts this year.
I didn’t see them as reaches, though, as Reed gave me a potential stud insurance policy for Gronk, while Run DMC and Mason were high upside depth pieces at running back. On the flip side, I was given credit for four “value picks” in DeSean Jackson, Percy Harvin, Cam Newton and Eric Decker.
That makes sense, since I went for it with Aaron Rodgers early and already had my top three running backs, which allowed me to simply take the guy I liked the most beyond round four for the most part.
While my team wasn’t projected to even finish in the playoffs, I disagree with that projection as much as I can without being too biased. Then again, this is just one draft style/approach. Drafting running backs back to back to open up a draft isn’t for everyone, let alone taking a back with your first three picks.
I think it worked out here for this 8-team league. I have elite players across the board, excellent depth and some serious upside just about everywhere. While this roster certainly has some risk players in terms of injury potential, it also has the makings of a title contender if all goes well. Let me know if I botched it in the comments below.
*Photo Credit – Mike Morbeck