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Sun Sep 1st 2019

Grading My Final 2019 Rookie Draft

Late Rookie Draft Analysis

Labor Day weekend is one of my two favorite weekends of the year, competing only with my annual family reunion weekend. I gather with my closest friends from college (University of Texas) for our annual rookie draft.  This is year #22 of the Freek League!  These are my closest friends.

We started as a keeper league way before anyone was doing that, but then slowly moved to a complete dynasty league.   This is my only dynasty league that drafts this late in the season because it's our excuse to get face-to-face time with one another and we've always done so on Labor Day Weekend.

I lost in early in both nights poker, so that gives me time to grade and write about my last rookie draft while other Freeks win the five dollars I quickly lost.

Before I share about my rookie draft picks, let me give some insight into my team and what I was thinking heading into the draft.

This is a 10-team, 1-QB league.

My team was solid at QB (Winston/Ryan/Flacco) and TE (Kittle/Rudolph/Herndon/Thomas).  I was also strong at RB (McCaffrey/Kerryon/Conner), plus I had some of their handcuffs in CJ Anderson and Jaylen Samuels.  I lacked depth at WR with just Hopkins and Allen as every-week starters and Westbrook as a hopefull WR3.  We start 3 WRs in this league, so I felt like my goal was to go with WR depth yet stick to my board as much as able.  I changed my board bit a since all of my rookie drafts in May.

Here is how my final rookie draft went down.

1.6 - AJ Brown

  • I finally was able to get my #1 ranked rookie WR.  I hated it when he was drafted by Tennessee because I don't trust Mariota to make him productive.  While on the clock, I even passed on him in one draft in May, choosing my #3 ranked WR (Deebo Samuel) instead.  I consider this a long-range plan.  I hope Tannehill beats our Mariota or that the organization just drafts another QB in the next year or two.  Brown is as safe of a prospect as can be, it's just going to take time to see it.  In this case, I was very willing to wait because I had another pick at 1.08.  I believe Brown will ultimately be better than Corey Davis and become the go-to WR in Tennessee.

1.8 - Deebo Samuel

  • I acquired this pick in the middle of the offseason by trading Derrick Henry.  I couldn't be happier with it now.  At this point in the preseason, Deebo had moved ahead of N'Keal harry in my rankings, so I walked away with my #1 and #2 ranked WRs.  Unlike Brown, I think Deebo will have every opportunity to prove himself right away.  I think by midseason he will be competing with Pettis for the most WR targets.  If he can stay healthy, which has been a problem for him, he will have plenty of opportunities for explosive plays.  We've already seen Shanahan use Deebo on screen passes and end-arounds.  He'll prove himself to be a weapon and Shanahan will have to keep him on the field as a target and a decoy.

2.2 - JJ Arcega-Whiteside

  • I acquired this pick via an aggressive trade.  I had four TEs on this team and prefer to roster just three, especially since I have Kittle.  I had been trying to sell Kyle Rudolph all offseason, especially to the owner who had Kelce but no viable starters as back-ups.  I finally struck a deal with him by offering Rudolph and Golden Tate for this pick.  That's an aggressive trade since I gave two proven guys for one unproven guy.  Here is why I was willing to do it.  Rudolph was a roster-clogger for me.  I could not drop him and could not trade him.  Tate may have become a WR3 for me in this league after he served his suspension, but he's a much older asset and I wanted to get younger.  Plus, in this draft, I had 7 scheduled draft picks.  With each pick, we had to drop a player.  I liked my team and did not think I was willing to drop 7 players, so the two for one trade allowed me to effectively drop 2 guys.  I love JJ's upside as a major red-zone threat and trust the Eagle's scouting department and coaches to know how to use him.  I think he'll do just enough this year to give the Eagles confidence in letting one or more of their veteran WRs at the end of the year so JJ can be an unchallenged starter next year.

2.6 - Damien Harris

  • Harris was my #4 ranked RB after the big three (Jacobs, Sanders, Montgomery).  I was thrilled to have him fall to me hear with the 16th pick.  Sony Michel has looked great this preseason, but I always believe he will get hurt.  Add to that the fact that Michel was among the worst-rated RBs in short-yardage situations.  Harris could become the goalline back in New England, which always turns into fantasy gold.  Harris was my #8 ranked player going into this late draft.  Arcega-Whiteside was #9, but I picked him before Harris knowing that Harris my fall to me since I've been way higher on him than any of the other rankings that the guys in this league may have been viewing.  So by pick #16 in this draft, I had my #4,5,8, and 9 ranked players.  Not bad.  Two trades made it possible.

3.6 - Miles Boykin

  • This was the round where I got sniped.  I was eager to grab Keesean Johnson, who was one of the highest risers on my board from May until today, but my buddy and comanager in my RSO league picked him right before me.  The next two guys on my board were Andy Isabella and Miles Boykin.  The news of Isabella struggling to pick up the offense a bit during the preseason and the fact that the much bigger Boykin is a better red-zone threat led me to choose Boykin here.  He didn't have anything close to the college production as Isabella did, but he was even better than Isabella with his combine numbers.  It remains to be seen if Lamar Jackson can become a more accurate passer, but Boykin has the frame and athleticism to make up for his mistakes.  At least I hope so here in the third round.

3.9 - Terry McLaurin

  • I acquired this pick via trade during the offseason.  I did so using one of my favorite strategies.  After Bell signed with the Jets, I offered the Bell owner Elijah McGuire for this pick so he could have Bell's presumed handcuff.  He took me up on it, and I got to give him a little grief at the draft.  By all accounts, McLaurin has earned a starting WR role in Washington.  I've not seen it in the preseason games, but I'm going to trust the beat reporters and trust that since they cut Doctson they know what they have in McLaurin.  I've come away with McLaurin in several of my rookie drafts this offseason.  I hope he can play like he practices!  

4.6 - Kelvin Harmon

  • I got sniped again in this round.  My aim in round four was to get Preston Williams, but my buddy Ross took him at 4.1.  That means I only have Preston Williams in one of my 7 dynasty teams, which makes me sad.  I had to adjust and take a flyer on Harmon here.  Before the combine, I had Harmon as my #1 ranked rookie WR.  After his bad combine performance, I dropped him a bit.  After getting drafted in the 6th round of the NFL draft I dropped him even further down my board.  Still, I picked him here for two reasons.  First, I trust my evaluation before the combine and NFL draft.  Secondly, I now have three Washington WRs (Quinn, McLaurin, and Harmon) on my team so I can see early on in the season who is worth keeping and who should be dropped. 

4.7 - Qadree Ollison

  • It's always rewarding when someone in your draft is searching for a player they've been reading up on and eager to draft only to find that you already have him on your roster.  That's what happened here and it led to a trade for this pick.  One owner (Steve) was hoping to draft Dare Ogunbowale, but I already picked him up off of waivers a week ago.  I offered to trade him for this pick for a couple of reasons.  First, this is not a PPR league and Ogunbowale looks to be the passing downs back in Tampa Bay.  Secondly, I had Brian Hill on my roster and wanted Qadree Ollison on my team too, especially this late in the draft.  I don't believe Ito Smith is the handcuff to Freeman in Atlanta.  I believe it will be Hill or Ollison.  Smith is going to stay as the change of pace back behind Hill or Ollison if Freeman gets hurt, and if he does I want the back up in Atlanta's high powered offense.

5.6 - Jared Stidham

  • I planned to drop Flacco in this draft already.  After I saw the news that Hoyer was let go in New England it confirmed that Stidham was now Tom Brady's back up and likely the future of the franchise.  Stidham played awesome during the preseason, which is why they've already decided to trust him with this back-up role.  I'm happy to do the same.  He can sit behind Matt Ryan and Jameis Winston on my team.

Overall Assessment

  • I accomplished my overall goal of grabbing as many WRs as possible so that 1-2 could become every week starters alongside Hopkins and Allen.  Getting Brown, Samuel, Arcega-Whiteside, Boykin, McLaurin, and Harmon will allow me to do that for sure.  In my opinion, Damien Harris can be a star in New England.  Jared Stidham and Qadree Ollison will provide help if there are injuries to the starters ahead of them.

My 2019 Freek Team Looks Like This

  • QB: Matt Ryan, Jameis Winston, Jared Stidham
  • RB: Christian McCaffrey, James Conner, Kerryon Johnson, Damien Harris, Jaylen Samuels, CJ Anderson, Brian Hill, Qadree Ollison
  • WR: DeAndre Hopkins, Keenan Allen, Dede Westbrook, Trey Quinn, John Ross, Marquise Lee, Deon Cain, AJ Brown, Deebo Samuel, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Miles Boykin, Terry McLaurin, Kelvin Harmon
  • TE: Geroge Kittle, Chris Herndon, Ian Thomas
  • K: Jake Elliot
  • DST: Jacksonville, LA Chargers

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