Now I will be enjoying drafts on a continuing basis over the next couple of months. Then in September comes the thrill of managing those teams and working my butt off trying to win championships.
I have been in a couple of fantasy football experts’ events already this spring for Fantasy Index Magazine. Last week, my FanEx group that I belong to, began a long running, serpentine PPR draft. This is a best-ball format. After the draft we make no player moves and the league management system (MyFantasyLeague.com) creates our optimum lineup each week. It is scored rotisserie style and the winner is the one on top after Week 17. FanEx is one of the oldest, most prestigious experts’ groups out there, dating back about 25 years. One of my biggest thrills as a writer was when I was elected to membership in this group in 2011.
This is called the FanEx Analysis Draft (FAD). What sets it apart from other drafts is that each member drafting writes an analysis on each of the picks. That tells you, the reader why that player was drafted at that particular time. It gives you an early indication of where some of the top experts in our industry rank the players.
From this, one can review the draft in its entirety when it is done. You are able to see it in the original draft order, or you can sort it by position and develop a pretty solid player ranking from it.
Here is a link to the draft and everyone’s player analyses:
Here is a link to our rosters:
You may want to bookmark these links, not only for building some early player ranking lists, but also to check in and watch the dynamics of the draft as it progresses.
Without further ado, let’s take a look inside the informative first round.
1.01 RB Todd Gurley, LAR
With the first pick in the draft, you cannot afford to be wrong, especially in a "Draftmasters" format. It might even be reasonable to expect Gurley to score a few less TDs and maybe even catch a few less passes in 2018, but even a 10% decline still has him squarely atop most people's draft boards. There are a handful of guys for whom a cogent argument can be made to finish as the top fantasy scorer, but almost all carry some degree of risk aside from Gurley. So, while there is a chance that Gurley might not finish as the #1 scorer, he is far less likely to finish outside the top 5 as compared to other top options; as such, Todd Gurley heads the list here.
1.02 RB Le’Veon Bell, PIT
Well, we were hoping for Gurley here. He is the most sure thing in the top few picks. Bell could very easily outscore Gurley, and we do expect that. But the threat of a holdout looms large, and Bell and the Steelers aren't talking well about each other. There is even a respectable chance that the hold out goes one or two games into the season. All that said—we still like him better than Elliott, Kamara or Brown. It may hurt for a week or two (make sure you pick up Conner if you take Bell), but we expect Bell to be in the top 2-3 players by week 17.
1.03 RB Ezekiel Elliott, DAL
I didn't expect to get last year's stallion that carried everyone to their championships (Todd Gurley) but I was hoping some Cowboys fan would take Zeke instead of Le'Veon Bell and let Bell fall to me, but alas, I was not so fortunate. Zeke is still a stud and a great pick at #3 even on a Cowboys team going nowhere fast, assuming he doesn't punch any women this year.
1.04 RB Alvin Kamara, NO
This is PPR scoring, so pass-catching is important. Kamara, I think, will lead all running backs in receiving production. I expect he'll catch 85-plus balls. As a runner, he won’t be used as extensively as the other running backs selected in the first and second rounds, but when you look at the overall body of work, the production should be there. He averaged 22.5 fantasy points in his final 13 games last year, 3rd-best in the league.
1.05 WR Antonio Brown, PIT
I think 97% of the people would take David Johnson with this pick as most of the time, he is not available here at 1.05. I select Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers. What is at work here though is a league with a 3-WR starting requirement with a possible 4th in the flex position and a 1-point PPR bonus to boot. While I think the next drafter would be nuts to pass on David Johnson next, I'm take the wideout at the top of my list instead, it was a close shave between the two but the positional difference won out for me in the end.
1.06 WR DeAndre Hopkins, HOU
With all due respect to Tony daring me to take RB David Johnson at this pick, I've been called worse than nuts before and will pass. Without panning Johnson too much, the Cardinals are undergoing a lot of changes that don't give me a ton of confidence in the potential success of their workhorse running back. On to DeAndre Hopkins—there are concerns about regression by his sophomore and also small sample size quarterback returning from a major knee injury and an unsustainable target share by Nuk. Between these two top choices however I prefer the situation in Houston and will put my faith in Deshaun Watson (early rehab reports are good), and Hopkins solidly in his prime at 26. I also echo Tony's thoughts about WR versus RB value in this league format.
1.07 RB David Johnson, ARI
David Johnson’s broken wrist was unfortunate, but hey, at least it wasn’t his ACL. To be able to get him this low in the FanEx is a mission accomplished. In 2016, he rushed for 1,239 yards and scored 16 times, while catching 80 passes for another four touchdowns. He will continue to get the rock and there really is no stopping him.
1.08 RB Melvin Gordon, LAC
I couldn't be happier to get a top RB here who has put up back-to-back seasons with an 80% Consistency Rate. Outside of the Big 4, he's certainly my #5 RB in 2018!
1.09 RB Kareem Hunt, KC
The Chiefs offense is going to be dynamic. And it will need to be as the defense has taken several hits in the last few years. A rookie QB will make mistakes and this group will have to make up for it. Hunts second year will be better than his first - he now knows what it is to be in the NFL and his offensive line has remained completely intact
1.10 RB Saquon Barkley, NYG
No one likes it at the draft tables when someone says "I can't believe Player X is still available," but that's the case with Saquon Barkley--he is No. 5 overall on my board. Taking an elite running back to start the draft is where it's at in 2018 in my opinion, and I think Barkley will fit that bill. He will be special starting on day one. Barkley is a true workhorse and is on a team with a lot of talent to move the ball. On that point, and not that Barkley will get 100% of the touches, but even the motley crew of Orleans Darkwa, Wayne Gallman and Shane Vereen combined for 352.2 fantasy points last year (the combined No. 2 fantasy running back on the season, so the fantasy potential is for sure there. In fact, Darkwa, Gallman and Vereen combined for 1,953 yards and 97 receptions last year and Barkley will for sure be getting the bulk of this work. It's also worth noting that Barkley had 54 receptions last year as a junior at Penn State (4.2 per game). Relatively speaking, that's an insane amount for a college back. Excited to start my title defense with Saquon Barkley! #PPRGOLD
1.11 RB Dalvin Cook, MIN
I like Dalvin Cook’s potential to rush for 1200 yards and catch 50 passes this season. In PPR leagues, we call those kind of players “first round picks”.
1.12 WR Odell Beckham, NYG
Imagine my surprise, after getting the #12 slot, to find my #2 WR Odell Beckham still available. After WRs like Brown Beckham and Hopkins are off the board, there is a big drop in scoring WRs. There are about 10 WRs from #4-about#13 that are about even in my mind. Normally, I would take two RBs with the 12th and 13th picks, but with the unexpected availability of Beckham, I need to alter my plans a tad. He is just too good to pass up. He is coming of an injury but drafting this early, you have to use the best information available and all signs are good that his recovery is progressing smoothly.
Well there we have it. The 1st Round is in the books with nine RBs and three WRs selected. This I believe reaffirms my premise that we discussed a few weeks ago, that the Stud RB is back and thriving.
I chose Odell Beckham with the 1.12 pick and then came back with Leonard Fournette as my 2.01 pick. To me, it was unbelievable that they were both available to me with the 12th and 13th picks. I never would have expected that going into the draft. For instance, I would have taken Fournette before either Barkley, or Cook. You have to be ready to switch from Plan A to Plan B, or even Plan C as you draft. No two drafts are ever the same. To me, that is part of the lure of fantasy football.
In case you may have missed it—check out my last article: https://bigguyfantasysports.com/index.php/football/nease-s-insights/my-favorite-kind-of-draft
Now there are only a few weeks left until training camps open. Buckle up for the journey. My colleagues and I at Big Guy Fantasy Sports are intent on helping you become the champion you want to be. With our poignant articles and being the home base for the consistency theory, a sound mathematically-based alternative to ADP, we will be with you for the 2018 season in its entirety. What happens then? That my friends, is easy. We start over and do it all again in 2019!
Good luck! Have fun!