A Reluctant Zero RB Draft

I did the “Beat Jeff Erickson” draft last night, part of the RotoWire Online Championship hosted by the NFFC. For those of you unfamiliar with the format, it’s a 12-team league, but part of an overall contest, with the grand prize winner earning $100,000. Entry fee is $350, and winning your league earns you $1,500. The scoring format is PPR, six points for a passing touchdown, and we start 3 WRs and a flex.

I drew the ninth spot in the draft – apparently I was the 11th to choose a spot, though I kept my preferences at 1-to-12. Even with the NFFC using 3rd Round Reversal (something I think every football snake draft should do), there’s a non-negligible advantage to drafting early with this year’s player pool. In my opinion, there’s a distinct top-8 – seven running backs and Antonio Brown, and then there’s the combo of DeAndre Hopkins and Odell Beckham after that. I really wanted one of those top seven running backs, but knew it was unlikely that I’d get one – especially after Les Dinsmore (Team 8) informed me he would be taking one of those backs or Brown. So instead it became a matter of going with either Hopkins or Beckham with the first pick, and I’ve already gone on record as preferring Hopkins, so Hopkins it is.

Here’s the full draft grid. I’ll break down my picks afterward:



1.9 – DeAndre Hopkins – I won’t belabor the reasons behind this pick – they’re the same as the link above.

2.4 – Davante Adams – Fournette, Gordon and Cook were all taken between my first pick and this one, as expected, and I didn’t want to push up McCaffrey or McKinnon, so it was just a matter of taking whichever wide receiver I preferred. I have a small preference for Adams over Allen, because the latter has to compete for goal line targets with Mike Williams this year.

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3.4 – Demaryius Thomas – I agonized over this pick. The second-tier running backs were already picked over pretty thoroughly. Do I start the next run of backs, or hope that I get Kenyan Drake (ADP of 40 in the OC since August 1, with a range of 26-to-58) makes it back to me in Round 4? If the latter, I preferred Thomas to a handful of other viable WR’s, almost all of whom were sure to go before my next pick (which they did). I went with Thomas, and Drake went immediately afterward at pick 29, much to my chagrin. Nonetheless, I started the draft with three WRs, a scenario Chris Liss and I discussed on the show yesterday morning. Thomas is a big key to this team – if Case Keenum is competent with the Broncos and Thomas’s new health-conscious diet pay off, I think there’s palpable upside.

4.9 – Mark Ingram – This might have been a mistake in the context of my team, that didn’t have any running backs yet, but I like the price in a vacuum. Does anyone doubt that Ingram will still produce? Nonetheless, perhaps I should have gambled that he would come back to me at 5.4, and taken Jay Ajayi or Dion Lewis instead – both were taken before my fifth round pick.

5.4 – Zach Ertz – This was just a matter of taking what was given to me. It was either Ertz or Marvin Jones for me, but knowing that I really liked Marquise Goodwin and had a reasonable shot at getting him, I passed on Jones and took some value with Ertz. I’m not especially high on the rookie RBs (Penny, Ronald Jones II, Freeman, Michel) in this range, either, so despite my need I knowingly passed on them, at least for a fifth round cost. One downside to this pick is that afterward, only two more TE’s were taken in the next three rounds, meaning that the league picked up value with the likes of Rudolph, Walker and Olsen.

6.9 – Marquise Goodwin – Practicing what I’ve been preaching. I love Goodwin this year and love the Niners offense as a whole. I only wish that I paired him with Jimmy G later.

7.4 – Marshawn Lynch – Lynch is a total agnostic pick. I needed a RB that is certain to get playing time – Lynch is that. I don’t view Doug Martin as a big threat, perhaps at my peril, but he should have a good floor of 12-15 touches per game.

8.9 – Marlon Mack – Les (Team #8) again broke my heart, a theme of the night, by snatching Aaron Jones right in front of me. I like Mack’s upside – he has big play ability and caught 21 passes last year. Unfortunately, he hurt his hamstring almost at the same time that I made this pick last night. Aargh. I was really counting on him starting weeks 1-4 for me, and perhaps having a bigger upside. Making matters worse, I missed out on both Nyheim Hines (by two picks, no less) and Jordan Wilkins to back him up. Crossing fingers here that the injury doesn’t drag into the regular season, but hamstring injuries tend to linger with running backs.

9.4 – Devontae Booker – I don’t love Booker, but he’s (currently) first on the depth chart and a better third down option than Royce Freeman. I think I can get away with using him early if Mack can’t go.

10.9 – Philip Rivers – This was a veteran room, so nearly everyone played quarterback-chicken and waited on them. Aaron Rodgers still went in the fourth round, but Russell Wilson fell all the way to 8.7 as the fourth quarterback taken – by the owner who took Brady in the seventh round. The run then started in earnest in the ninth and 10th rounds. I was hoping to get Garoppolo here, but he went at 10.1 as that team doubled up on QBs at that turn. Rivers is fine, though – there’s always a pretty good floor with him.

11.4 – Bilal Powell – Back to pounding the RB position. I think Powell is better than Crowell, and at the very least will be in the game in passing situations.

12.9 – T.J. Yeldon – Meh. A lot of my other targets (LeGarrette Blount was my first choice and I almost took him in the 11th; Latavius Murray; Peyton Barber) went before me here. Maybe I should have taken Wilkins instead, who went two picks later.

13.4 – Chris Godwin – At this point I resolved just to take players that I like, and focus less on need, as I didn’t love the remainder of the RB pool. I’m really excited about Godwin, though there’s a lot of other mouths to feed in Tampa. But I’ll have some time to stash him and hopefully by the time bye weeks come around he’ll be useable.

14.9 – Alex Smith – What if he’s for real, and the Redskins’ WR corps isn’t so bad? I get that everyone is fading him, calling for regression, but I don’t think we can fully ignore what he did last year, either. Plus, he has a different bye week than Rivers, which is why I passed on Matt Ryan and Marcus Mariota earlier to pair with Rivers.

15.4 – Stephen Gostkowski – There’s some separation between the top three kickers and the rest of the pool, and I think that the 15th round is late enough to exploit that. I think I was validated in starting the kicker run here – Tucker and Zuerlein were the next two picks.

16.9 – Tyler Eifert – I’m going in eyes wide open here – this is a pure upside gamble. If Eifert’s back doesn’t hold up, he’s an easy cut at this price.

17.4 – Saints defense – I waited one round too late to grab my defense, as I could have had Houston a round earlier and hoped that Eifert would make it to me the next round. But I like that the Saints added a pass-rusher in the draft to add to a good young core. I ended up not taking a second defense behind them – and as it turns out, nobody took a second defense. So there will be plenty of opportunities to stream early on.

18.9 – Samaje Perine – Just in case Derrius Guice’s MCL injury is serious, I took a flyer on Perine, who still has to beat out Rob Kelley just to be the handcuff (and not a third down option, because Chris Thompson should be back). If it sounds like I’m dragging my own pick, keep in mind it’s the 18th round – everyone here has fleas.

19.4 – Terrelle Pryor – He owes me, big-time.

20.9 – Lamar Jackson – All ceiling – Joe Flacco’s contract won’t change if he doesn’t play, so it’s not hard to envision him starting poorly and the Ravens making a change. The only concern is whether I’ll be able to hold him long enough until he has the job.

By Position

QB – Rivers, Smith, Jackson
RB – Ingram, Lynch, Mack, Booker, Powell, Yeldon, Perine
WR – Hopkins, Adams, D. Thomas, Goodwin, Godwin, Pryor
TE – Ertz, Eifert
K – Gostkowski
DEF – Saints

My obvious weakness is at RB – I should have added one more in volume. The draft position helped dictate the strategy; unless I wanted to get out of line with a pick in the second or third round, the best values were at wide receiver. I’ll have to be aggressive early on the waiver wire – of course, so will everyone else in the league, so that’s no guarantee. But hopefully I won’t be chasing too much at other positions. The less obvious weakness is that there’s no correlation between my quarterbacks and my receivers. I often like to pair at least one QB and WR, but when Garoppolo came off the board, I missed out, and I didn’t grab Keenum later. Still, I like this team, don’t love it. What do you think?