At the FSTA conference in New York Monday night, I took part in the FSTA draft, a 14-team PPR league with 1-QB, 2-RB, 3-WR, 1-FLEX, 1-TE, 1-K, 1-D and six bench spots. I had the ninth pick. Here are the results:
1.9 Jay Ajayi – the smart pick in a PPR league that starts three WR and a flex is usually a WR, and that meant A.J. Green, who I have ahead of Mike Evans. But I went Ajayi anyway because his upside is higher. The Dolphins intend to get him as much work as he can handle, and he’s reportedly improving as a receiver this offseason. Moreover, there’s no Theo Riddick-type blocking him on third downs. I got some criticism for this pick, with arguments that Ajayi’s production came in bursts, and he was inconsistent as a fantasy performer. The premise seems to be if Ajayi did most of his damage in a few games in 2016, he’ll likely concentrate his production over a few games this year too. Oddly, none of the people offering that critique showed me a study correlating game-to-game consistency from Year X and Year X+1 among workhorse running backs. And Ajayi having three of the NFL’s four 200-yard rushing outputs last year might actually be a good thing: Here’s a list of players who have had as many 200-yard games as Ajayi:
— Chris Raybon (@ChrisRaybon) June 23, 2017
Not many scrubs in that group.
2.6 Amari Cooper – Cooper is a skilled receiver in his prime with a stable quarterback situation. I considered Brandin Cooks and Doug Baldwin.
3.9 Christian McCaffery – It was Terrelle Pryor, who went one pick earlier, or McCaffery. Honestly, I thought Jonathan Stewart would be out of the league by 2012, but here he is in 2017. I doubt he has much left, and even if he does, McCaffery will get at least 100 carries and 50 catches with upside for more. That Cam Newton hasn’t historically thrown much to his backs doesn’t necessarily mean much as he’s never had a weapon out of the backfield like McCaffery.
4.6 DeVante Parker – I really wanted Carlos Hyde this round, but Ray Flowers took him one pick before me. So I rolled the dice on Parker, the 6-3, 212-pound former 14th overall pick. Parker’s shown flashes over his first two years, but wasn’t in top condition and suffered from nagging injuries. According to his coaches, he’s turned a corner this offseason. Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills are around, but Parker is the singular talent in the group.
5.9 John Brown – Brown was a 1,000-yard, seven-TD WR in 2015, and that was with Michael Floyd siphoning off 89 targets. Floyd is gone, Larry Fitzgerald will be 34 in August, and the team has no TE of which to speak. Moreover, J.J. Nelson weighs only 154 pounds, so he’ll never see a major workload. Brown was a bust last year, but he was hampered by fatigue, and during the offseason, doctors found and removed a cyst on his spine. Since the operation, he’s gotten his energy back and been able to go through his regular offseason routine. Prior to 2016, the Arizona coaching staff compared him to players like Marvin Harrison and T.Y. Hilton.
6.6 Bilal Powell – I made this pick before the news came out that he’d likely backup Matt Forte. Even so, Powell was one of the league’s top PPR backs during the season’s second half, and Forte is 31 and unlikely to carry a huge workload. Powell should catch 45-plus passes again and see his share of carries too.
7.9 Duke Johnson – Another PPR back, capable of catching 60 passes.
8.6 Marcus Mariota – I’d have jumped on Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady in Round 5, but once I missed out, I just wanted one of the solid QBs in the next tier. Mariota in Year 3 fits the bill as the 11th QB off the board.
9.9 Quincy Enunwa – Someone has to catch passes for the Jets.
10.6 Kevin White – The former No. 7 overall pick is 6-3, 216, runs a 4.35 40 and should be given every chance to prove he can be the team’s No. 1 WR.
11.9 Tyler Lockett – Injuries derailed his 2016, but he could be the Seahawks No. 2 WR and primary deep threat.
12.6 Julius Thomas – I needed a TE, and Thomas is one. It’s worth noting he had 24 TDs in 27 games last time he played for Adam Gase.
13.9 Giants Defense – Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon, Landon Collins, a rock-solid corps of CBs, the league’s best run-stuffer in Damon Harrison – and I happen to root for them.
14.6 Ryan Tannehill – I already had Parker, Ajayi and Thomas, so why not go all-in on the Dolphins offense? You can mock Tannehill, but under Gase he had 7.7 YPA last year, better than Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger. And he gets extra points with his legs.
15.9 Matt Prater – 7-of-7 from 50-plus last year.
16.6 Chris Godwin – honestly I was drunk at that point, and the last couple rounds were dragging on forever. I do like his skills, and if anything happens to Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson is unlikely to handle a massive workload.
Team by position:
QB Marcus Mariota
RB Jay Ajayi/Christian McCaffery
WR Amari Cooper/DeVante Parker/John Brown
FLEX Duke Johnson
TE Julius Thomas
K Matt Prater
B: Bilal Powell/Quincy Enunwa/Kevin White/Tyler Lockett/Ryan Tannehill/Chris Godwin