Drafting from the second spot in a fantasy football league isn’t hard. Provided it’s your normal league type, you’re probably going to be taking a stud running back. It’s likely down to Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy or Adrian Peterson. Make it an expert league with 12 teams, though, and the journey from that two spot gets a little more interesting.
To help fantasy owners on their own journey, I’ll take a step back and reflect on a recent expert fantasy football league draft I hosted with some other Breaking Football writers. My usual strategy is based on running back depth, and also focuses on overall depth and balance. I generally wait on defenses and kickers until the final two rounds, and thanks to the depth at quarterback and tight end, I tend to wait on those positions, as well.
That doesn’t mean you can’t draft a good team if you reach for Peyton Manning or Jimmy Graham early. Our own Tim Young went for gold with Manning in the drafting of his team, and his team turned out quite solid. This just happens to be my personal approach and how this particular draft unfolded. Let’s break it down, pick by pick:
There isn’t much analysis needed here. I had a great pick and I used it on a thin position for elite stars. Yes, there are a good amount of mid-level running backs that can be had much later, but only a handful of truly elite ones. If you have a top-five pick, you need to spend it on a running back. Charles is a good start for any draft.
Foster definitely carries some risk after breaking down last year, but prior to crashing into the ground he was actually pretty good still. Now fresher than he was a year ago, Foster could have enough in the tank for one more elite showing. I think he’s a solid RB2 at the very worst, provided he indeed stays healthy. The upside is he’s a RB1 again and my RB lineup is stacked.
With only two starting wide receiver spots in this league and no PPR, it wasn’t crucial to take an early stab at an elite wide receiver. Cobb is still a potential elite WR1, though, but is at the worst a high-end WR2. He’ll get the job done.
Welker’s role could diminish slightly in his final season with the Broncos, but he’ll still be a threat to get 800-900 yards and hopefully 6-7 touchdowns. I’d prefer him to be my WR3 if this league had three wide receiver spots, but Denver’s offense bodes well for anyone involved. He still has WR2 upside in standard formats and is hard to hate as my second receiver option.
Gore is my RB3 and will slide into my starting lineup as my main Flex play most weeks. He’s more valuable in this league than PPR leagues because he’s not hindered by his lack of receptions. He’s still the Niners main early down and goal-line guy, so he offers amazing value here, even at 31 years old.
Luck was fantasy football’s #4 passer in 2013 and that was while his offense held him back. With Reggie Wayne, Dwayne Allen and Ahmad Bradshaw all healthy and Hakeem Nicks added to the mix, a more versatile system should see Luck expand his horizons in 2014. That is music to my ears in round six.
I see Edelman’s value is curbed a bit, and it’s two fold. For one, other players getting healthy around him probably means he won’t be force fed 100+ balls again. He’s also not a big touchdown scorer. I still like his role and think he’s an excellent WR3 in any league. Here he’ll mostly just be my bye week fill-in and I can think about using him in the Flex from time to time.
I waited until I couldn’t anymore on tight end. I really like the depth at this position, as Rudolph is one of the many mid-level tight ends that has legit top-10 and possibly even top-5 potential. Norv Turner brings an extremely tight end-friendly system to Minnesota, and with a nine touchdown season in his past already, I love Rudolph’s upside in 2014. He’s a solid snag before the ninth round.
Talk about value. Brady in the ninth round in a 12-team league (nevermind an expert league) is pretty much unheard of. I trust Andrew Luck completely, but I’m a sucker for stacking two stud passers on the same team. I like outs – what can I say? Brady is an elite bye week fill-in, insurance if Luck bombs or gets hurt and could even be a trade chip.
Round 10.119 – Ahmad Bradshaw
NFL.com’s draft recap suggested Bradshaw was a reach. Maybe, but Trent Richardson is slow and indecisive. If that keeps up, Bradshaw could take over the reigns. He’ll be mixed in either way, so he’s a mild risk in the later rounds. I could do a lot worse with my RB4.
Round 11.122 – Martellus Bennett
I drafted Bennett as insurance for Rudolph, who missed time due to injury last year. I probably should have just spent this pick on a fourth wide receiver though, so I ended up dropping him and picking up Denver rookie receiver, Cody Latimer.
Round 12.143 – Johnny Manziel
This was another shot in the dark that at least for the moment isn’t going to pay off. I still think Manziel could be a real force in fantasy football down the road and at the worst should be a nice trade chip, but for now Brian Hoyer is the starter in Cleveland, rendering this pick a waste.
Round 13.146 – Kansas City Chiefs DEF/ST
I tend to wait on a defense until round 14, but every now and then I’ll reach by one round if a defense I love is still around. The Chiefs were one of the nastiest defenses in the league in the first half of 2013, and a lot of that had to do with their pass rush and good health. Injuries bogged them down in the second half of the year, but a return to full strength should make them a fun fantasy defense to own, yet again.
Round 14.167 – Ronnie Hillman
Montee Ball bombed last year and now he’s taking over for Knowshon Moreno. What if he bombs again or gets hurt? Calling Ronnie Hillman…I know there’s a chance Hillman will only carry moderate Flex value in random weeks, but even if that’s all he gives me he’s still worth a 14th round selection to shore up my RB depth.
Round 15.170 – Blair Walsh
Kickers are meant for the final round. Despite most experts agreeing on this, I got lucky and nabbed one of my favorites in Blair Walsh. With the Vikes getting better on offense, Walsh will be about as active as he’s been as a pro.