So far I have gone over four draft strategies (RB heavy, WR heavy, elite QB, and elite TE) that all have advantages as well as disadvantages in their own right. The last strategy I have decided to cover is the more traditional route that garners a more balanced team than the others. This strategy makes sure you have your starting QB, RB’s, WR’s, and flex in the first 6 picks and then taking the best player available. Out of all the strategies I have covered I am the most in favor of this strategy because I like to make sure I have all my bases covered during a draft. Having the comfort of knowing that all of your starters are covered and then focus on the TE and bench players makes it easier to draft the best available player. So here is how my draft panned out and if I may say so myself it is one of the better mocks I have done. (completed at ESPN.com, all points based off of ESPN standard scoring)
(1.3) Ray Rice: Rice is my highest rated player this fantasy season so to have him come to me 3rd overall was great for me. Coming off of the best year of his career posting 2,068 total yards from scrimmage and 15 total touchdowns, Rice finished 6th overall among all players and 1st among non QB’s with 283 fantasy points. In 2 of the past 3 years Rice has had over 2000 scrimmage yards…the year he missed he “only” posted 1,776. With the leagues best FB paving lanes in front of him I like Rice to again post huge numbers in fantasyland.
(2.18) Greg Jennings: Greg Jennings was on pace to post top 5 fantasy points among WR’s before going down with injury last season. He is the top target for the best QB in the league and this year I feel he will cement his status as one of the elite WR’s in the league. He is playing for a contract and I feel he will show the world what he is worth.
(3.23) Darren McFadden: If DMC can stay healthy he can easily post top 5 fantasy points for runners. The fact that he has never played more than 13 games in a season and is always a injury risk will scare off a lot of people but not me. In 2010 in only 13 games he had 1,663 scrimmage yards and 10 touchdowns. Last season in only 7 games he had 768 scrimmage yards and 5 touchdowns. My point is that when he is on the field he is incredible and I feel that if he only starts 12 games next season is worth the risk. Just remember you MUST handcuff him with whoever looks like second string when your draft.
(4.38) Brandon Marshall: As you know if you have read any of my previous mocks I am in love with Marshall this season. With Jay Cutler as his QB he has averaged 1,237 yards and nearly 8 touchdowns per season as a starter (each with over 100 catches.) This season he easily has top 10 potential.
(5.43) Steve Smith: At this point in the draft it was very difficult not to draft a QB because both Michael Vick and Tony Romo were available. But I rationalized that I could not pass up Smith with this pick because in the 5th round he is great value. Last year Cam Newton brought him back to fantasy stardom as he posted 1,394 yards and 7 touchdowns. Smith might be aging but he is not showing signs of slowing down and should be in line for a fine fantasy season.
(6.58) Demaryius Thomas: I know what you are thinking, “I thought he said this strategy was make sure to have a QB, 2RB’s, 2WR’s, and a flex with the first 6 picks.” The only thing is I knew I could get Rivers 5 picks later because the teams picking after me already had there starting QB. I went Thomas with this pick because he was the best player available by far. With Manning throwing him the ball he can easily outperform this draft spot. Manning has a history of making his top WR look like a superstar and I don’t see that changing.
(7.63) Philip Rivers: I actually have Rivers as my 8th rated QB so the fact that I was able to land him this late is great for me. I like Rivers this season to bounce back after throwing 20 int’s and post great numbers. He has not failed to throw for over 4,000 yards the past 4 seasons and last season was his lowest TD total with 27 in the same span. He will get the picks down this year and will perform just fine.
(8.78) James Starks: I feel that Starks is one of the best fantasy sleepers heading into the season. I define a sleeper as a player who has opportunity to significantly outplay their ADP. Starks is not one of the top backs in the league, but he is the feature back for one of the more elite offenses. With Grant out of the picture I think Starks will easily have 1,000 plus total yards and 5 plus touchdowns.
(9.83) CJ Spiller: Spiller scored 89 points throughout the final 6 games last season after Fred Jackson went down with injury averaging just under 15 points per game. With Jackson back Spiller will not post big time numbers but I think Spiller will get enough touches to draft him at this point. I see the Bills using him out wide and in a variety of ways to get him the ball in space to try and make people miss with his big play ability.
(10.98) Jay Cutler: Jay finally has enough talent at WR to post the kind of numbers many expected after he was traded to Chicago. I think Chicago will be throwing the ball more often than they have in the past and feel that Cutler is the BEST value at QB this season. To get a player around 100 overall that has top 10 potential is rare.
(11.103) Fred Davis: Referring back to my previous statement, it is rare to get a player around 100 overall that has top 10 potential, and I now have got two such players in back to back picks. Davis was on pace to post big time numbers last season before being suspended because of a drug charge. Look for RG3 to lean on his TE and for Davis to be in for great numbers.
(12.118) Cedric Benson: Like I said earlier if you draft Darren McFadden you must draft his handcuff. Benson is not officially a Raider but word is that Oakland has reached out to the veteran back. The past 3 seasons in Cincinati he has posted over 1,000 rushing yards as well as 6 or more touchdowns each season. In the event that DMC goes down yet again to injury Benson will be more than capable of carrying the load.
(13.123) Mike Williams: Williams had horrible case last season of the sophomore slump. With the same amount of receptions the past two seaons (65), Williams numbers went down from 964 yards to 771, and 11 touchdowns to 3. The whole Tampa team appeared to have quit during the season and nobody performed well. This season under new coaching and the addition of WR Vincent Jackson drawing most of the coverage Williams is poised to have a great season. He will see plenty of one on one coverage and if he can make the most of his opportunities can post good numbers.
(14.138) Jets DST: I think the Jets DST will be fine next season. Like I said before I am usually in favor of picking DST’s on the waiver wire. Unless I decide to reach for an elite DST like the Ravens or 49’ers I see myself playing the wire.
(15.143) David Akers: Akers was great last season…can he do it again? I have no idea but decided to find out.
(16.158) Leonard Hankerson: It was the last pick…decided to go for the home run. He is a deep sleeper and if it doesn’t pan out no biggie. That being said I can easily see him emerging as the top WR next season for Washington.
All things considered I feel this was a very successful draft. Rice is solid as they come and if DMC is healthy I have possibly 2 top 5 backs. I have 4 WR’s I feel are all WR1’s who all have potential to score in the top 15. I have Rivers who is a perennial Pro Bowler and a TE who will have a breakout year. Add the fact that I have good bench players and it all adds up to one of the best drafts I have done. So there you have fantasy fans, my last and best mock draft strategy I have covered. If I had to recommend any of the strategies I have covered this would be it. As always comments are encouraged.