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Sat Apr 20th 2019

Grading My 2018 Start-up Draft

Who I drafted and why I drafted them

Last May I participated in a start-up draft.  It's a new league we started called the Diehard Dozen League because we invited the most active owners in several of my leagues to form this new league for dynasty diehards.  So far it has been a very active league with a lot of chatter on Group Me and a lot of trades. 

I finished the regular season in first place with the best record and as the highest scoring team.  That earned me a bye week in the playoffs, but I lost in my first playoff game to a team that started Robby Anderson and Mike Williams who scored a combined 5 touchdowns that week.  So it goes in the playoffs.  I really like my team and feel great about my future in this league. 

One of the best ways to become better as a dynasty owner is to go back and review your start-up drafts to see what you did right and what you did wrong.  Circumstances, of course, change a lot and players can rise and fall in value pretty quickly.  Even so, if you're honest, you can spot where you won and lost in a draft.  I'll try to be honest about my draft here.  This week I'll write about picks 1-16.  Next week I write about picks 17-32.

First, it helps to know a bit about the league and its scoring system.  It's a twelve team league with $100 FAAB.  It's a one QB league with 6 points per passing touchdown.  It's a 1/2 PPR league with standard scoring for yardage and touchdowns with small bonuses for yardage thresholds.

The draft was in May, so 2018 rookies were mixed into the draft.  I drew the #10 spot in our draft.  I generally go with the best player available overall.  The only strategy that I carried into this draft was a commitment to draft WRs early (since most of the top RBs would be taken by the #10 pick) and get some young rookie RBs and avoid rookie WRs.  I wanted a win-now team with youth at the RB position and did not want to have to wait on developing young WRs.

With all that said, here is an assessment of the first half of my 2018 start-up draft in the Diehard Dozen league.

  • Antonio Brown - 1.10 (pick 10)

As I expected, all of the stud RBs had been taken.  Dalvin Cook and Leonard Fournette were the next two RBs taken and I preferred Antonio Brown to them.  Brown was the third WR off the board behind OBJ and Hopkins.  He ended the season as the #5 ranked WR in this league, so I was pleased with that. 

This offseason I was deeply concerned about Brown’s behavior and future landing spot after demanding a trade.  I traded him for Adam Thielen, who scored 9 fewer points than Brown last year and is 3 years younger.  In the trade, I also received the 1.2 and 2.2 in this year’s rookie draft for my 1.10 and 2.10.

  • Keenan Allen - 2.3 (pick 15)

I really wanted Devante Adams here, but he went the pick before me.  I debated between Julio Jones and Michael Thomas, both went after I picked Allen.  The difference in age kept me away from Julio.  I still feel good about that choice.  Looking back, I wish I would have drafted Thomas, I was uncertain that he could produce more than he already had and was sure that Allen could produce better than he ever had before if he could stay healthy.  He stayed healthy and still was the #12 WR overall at the end of the year.

  • Nick Chubb - 3.10 (pick 34)

Chubb was my #2 ranked rookie in that year’s class behind Sequan.  I kept to my strategy to get 2 proven veteran WRs and a young RB that I was confident in early.  He was my #2 ranked rookie but apparently was not to others in this league.  Rashaad Penny, Darius Guice, and Sony Michel were drafted before Chubb.  Chubb finished the year ahead of them all (#11) even though he didn’t become the starter until the second half of the year.  Cleveland’s offense is on the rise.  I could not be happier about this pick.

  • LeSean McCoy - 4.3 (pick 39)

Here I was trying to mix in an older and safer veteran back.  I knew with Carlos Hyde in front of Chubb it may take some time to earn the starting job, so I wanted a guy that I knew would get 15-20 touches a game.  I was worried about how the Bills offense would function with their rookie QB, Josh Allen.  My worries were confirmed.  Injuries and a bad offense meant McCoy rarely started a game for me last year.  I am more hopeful for the year to come since Josh Allen showed great improvement at the end of the year.  Looking back, I wish I had drafted a TE here.  Engram went right before my pick and Ertz went a few picks later.  I ended up having to wait a while on tight ends and it became a weakness for my team.  TY Hilton was also a guy I considered here and wish I would have pulled the trigger on him.  Andrew Luck’s questionable health was what gave me pause.

  • Kerryon Johnson - 5.10 (pick 58)

Again I stuck to my plan to get rookie RBs.  I had Kerryon ranked higher than most in my rookie rankings.  Ronald Jones was drafted a round earlier than Kerryon, whom I had ranked ahead of Jones.  I worried about Kerryon being injury prone but was willing to take the risk here.  He did miss about half the year due to injury but still finished as the #21 RB.  Detroit made offseason moves (coaches and players) to indicate that they plan to be an even more run-heavy team.  I am thrilled to have Chubb and Johnson (insert joke here) as my #1 and #2 backs this coming year!  I feel like I nailed these picks as I had planned.

  • Carlos Hyde - 6.3 (pick 63)

I’ve always loved Hyde, though here I picked him at this point in the draft to be a handcuff to Chubb.  I was sure that Chubb would eventually win the job, but I figured Hyde would start the season getting more carries.  That’s exactly what happened.  Hyde started a lot of games for me before Chubb beat him out and Hyde was traded to Jacksonville.  He helped me start the season well, averaging about 12 points per game the first 6 weeks of the season. 

Hyde’s offseason free agency landing-spot (Kansas City) was the first among many ideal landing-spots that players on my team ended up this offseason.  I’m thrilled to see him split time with Damien Williams next year, especially because I picked up Damien Williams at the end of last year after Kareem Hunt was kicked off the team, so now I have both Kansas City RBs to pair with Chubb and Johnson.

  • Robert Woods - 7.10 (pick 82)

Here I wanted a super reliable PPR WR.  I nailed it by picking up Robert Woods.  He finished the season as the #11 WR in this league.  So I ended the year with the #5 (Brown), #11 (Woods), and #12 (Allen) WRs.  That’s what made me the highest scoring team in the league.  These WRs were picked before Woods in this round: DJ Moore, Devin Funchess, Larry Fitzgerald, and Will Fuller.  I still have Woods ranked way ahead of all of these guys in my dynasty rankings.

  • Jack Doyle - 8.3 (pick 87)

Nine TEs had been taken at this point.  I had Doyle ranked as my next highest TE and felt like it was time to draft one.  Andrew Luck loves to throw to his TEs, especially in the endzone.  Plus, Indianapolis’s new coach, Frank Reich, loves to throw to TEs.  Who knew that Eric Ebron would step in and become the #4 TE on the year?  I was confident in the pick and my process.  Injuries were Doyle’s downfall last year.  With Ebron’s success, I have moved Doyle down in my rankings this year, but I still believe Luck and Reich will make both Ebron and Doyle great next year.  OJ Howard was the next TE drafted 10 spots later.  I’d much rather have drafted Howard now.

  • Nelson Agholor – 9.10 (pick 106)

I wish I could have this pick back.  I remember being upset that Andrew Luck was drafted two spots before this pick, and he was who I aimed to draft here.  Several rookie WRs were drafted in this round (Christian Kirk and Michael Gallup), but I was committed to avoid rookie WRs, this early at least.  I was debating between Agholor and Sterling Shepherd.  I picked Agholor and Shepherd went right after me.  Agholor finished as the #39 WR while Shepherd was the #37.  Shepherd’s future outlook is a lot brighter now that OBJ has been traded.  I’m hoping Agholor can firm up the slot role in Philadelphia, but they seem committed to using their TEs over the middle more than their WRs, so Agholor’s upside is very limited.

  • Jamaal Williams – 10.3 (pick 111)

I was a firm believer that Williams is better than Aaron Jones, especially given he’s better in pass protection.  Jones is more explosive, but Williams is more consistent.  Jones is injury prone too, so I thought even if Jones wins the job he’ll likely get hurt and Williams can start a few games for me sometime this season.  After another full year of watching these two, I have reversed course and favor Jones above Williams but still, see Williams as a valuable asset.

This offseason I traded Williams to the Jones owner for his 2020 second round pick.  I am very excited about the 2020 draft class and wanted to pick up an extra pick.  The team I traded with is middle to bottom of the pack in my estimation, so it could turn into a great trade.  With my depth at RB (Chubb, Johnson, McCoy, and both KC backs), I felt like this was a good time to sell Williams and I like what I received in return.

  • Jameis Winston – 11.10 (pick 130)

I love this pick, even though Jameis did not help me this year.  At this point, 11 QBs had come off the board.  I felt like it was time to shore up that position for me, as evidenced by my next pick as well.  Jameis fell in the draft because of the three-game suspension he was facing.  I was willing to take that risk.  The ridiculous year of back and forth between he and Fitzpatrick was infuriating, so he rarely started for me.  This year, however, I am even higher on Winston due to the coaching changes.  Bruce Arians will make Winston a better QB.  He’ll be a great guy to stream with the next guy I picked.

  • Phillip Rivers – 12.3 (pick 135)

I love Rivers because he is as consistent as they come.  He is always a top 12 QB year to year.  In this league, he finished as the #10 QB and was an every week starter for my team.  I love that I can pair him with Winston next year and play whoever has the best match-up.  Winston is my up and down QB while Rivers is my steady Eddie. 

  • Marquise Lee – 13.10 (pick 154)

At this point, I was just looking for a team whose #1 WR had not yet been drafted.  I believed that Lee had become the #1 target of Blake Bortles at the end of the 2017 season.  I felt like he was poised to stay on that pace and finally live up to the potential he had when he came into the league.  Unfortunately, he tore his ACL before the season started and moved straight IR on my team.  I still believe in him.  I held him all year and cut a guy in order to moved him up off of IR at the end of the year.  The verdict is still out on this one.  One of my buddies kept snipping me in the draft.  I was ready to draft my first rookie WR in Donte Pettis who I now have as my highest ranked 2018 Rookie WR, but my buddy drafted him right in front of me.

  • Tyler Eifert – 14.3 (pick 159)

I really wanted to draft Dede Westbrook with this pick so that I could have both Jacksonville WRs in case Westbrook became the #1 in Jacksonville over Marquise Lee, but he was taken the pick before me so I was snipped again.  I decided to take a chance on the upside of Eifert in the rare chance that he could remain healthy this year.  It’s seemed like a fair point in the draft to take a risk.  Rookie WRs, rookie QBs, defenses, and even a kicker went in this round so Eifert does not look like the worst choice.  He does look like a poor choice compared to Baker Mayfield who was drafted right after me.  Wish I could have that one back, especially after seeing who I picked next.  Eifert was the highest drafted player dropped from my team.  I dropped him pretty early in the season after his first injury.  I just didn’t have the roster space to waste on an oft-injured guy.  We have 3 IR spots in this league and Marquise Lee and Deon Cain were already on IR. 

  • Alex Smith – 15.10 (pick 178)

Oops!  I would rather have Baker Mayfield in the last round than Smith here.  My logic at the time was to find a steady QB that could help should Winston get into any more trouble or Rivers get hurt.  Smith has been decent wherever he has played, and I really like Jay Gruden as an offensive mind.  I thought he could come in and play about exactly to the level that Kirk Cousins had played in that system.  He didn’t though.  He was worse than Cousins and ended the year with a possible career-ending injury.  I dropped him from my team after the injury and still just hold 2 QBs in this league.

  • Rishard Matthews – 16.3 (pick 183)

I always like the way Matthews produced more than people expected.  He did so in Miami and did so in year one in Tennessee, but not so much in year two.  He was injured a lot and was on a Tennessee offense that had no identity and an injured QB.  This round was full of other WRs guys were taking a stab at like Zay Jones, Quincy Enunwa, Tre’Quan Smith, Desean Jackson, Equanimeous St. Brown, DeaSean Hamilton, and Jordan Matthews.  Currently, I’d rather have all of these guys more than Rishard Mattews, which explains why he is no longer on my team.  I can’t remember when I dropped him but I bet it was early.

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