This week marked one of the great moments on the fantasy football calendar, the FFPC Pros vs. Joes contest. Every draft has six pros (fantasy football writers/analysts) and Joes (people who have signed up for the FFPC Main Event), and we battle it out in a best-ball league with an FFPC Main Event entry on the line. I was fortunate enough to be invited by Darren Armani (of FantasyMojo.com) nine years ago and have won my division three times, including last year (article about my main event team to come!), so I focus on this draft as much as any I do. The difficult part of that is this is usually the first draft of the season, a reveal of true ADP range and prevailing feelings about players/situations when our sense of what the hive mind thinks is still fuzzy. Not to mention being in drafts that include Evan Silva, Pat Thorman, Rich Hribar, John Paulsen, Bob Harris, and too many other sharps to list here. The new slim format makes every roster construction suboptimal since we can’t build in the endless depth the old 28-round format created.
- 12 teams, 18 rounds
- 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 2 FLEX count every week
- PPR with 1.5 PPR for tight ends
A Look Back
The best place to start is a look at my 2020 league winner, from the 11-hole:
QB: Russell Wilson (8.2), Aaron Rodgers (14.2), Kirk Cousins (16.2)
RB: Nick Chubb (2.2), David Montgomery (5.11), Duke Johnson Jr (9.11), Kerryon Johnson (10.2), Nyheim Hines (11.11),
WR: Adam Thielen (4.2), Tyler Lockett (6.2), Brandin Cooks (7.11), Robby Anderson (13.11), Corey Davis (15.11), Randall Cobb (17.11), Larry Fitzgerald (18.2)
TE: George Kittle (1.11), Zach Ertz (3.11), Irv Smith (12.2)
Not that impressive, eh? A few things stand out:
- You can shank an early pick (Ertz)
- You can weather absences from top picks (Chubb, Kittle)
- An overachieving running back or two is essential (Hines, Montgomery)
- Don’t fear a minimal wide receiver build (Anderson, Davis)
- Depth is IMPORTANT
Unlike a best ball draft with deeper rosters, with only 18 roster spots, you have to be more aware of how every roster spot is used and building in “firewall” players to keep your season from slipping away if your core players miss time. Every single player I drafted scored in my lineup at least once. Getting good contributions from the second half of your draft is as important, or possibly even more important than avoiding early donkey picks.
Irv Smith might have seemed like a luxury item when I took two tight ends in the first three rounds, but he saved my season when Kittle went down and Ertz fizzled. Nyheim Hines was my last running back pick, but he saved my season when Chubb missed time and Kerryon and Duke Johnson Jr fizzled. Going in, you know that you have to sacrifice upside somewhere, and wide receiver is always the easiest position to stomach that proposition. I focused on high weekly upside picks first (Thielen, Lockett, Cooks) and took advantage of receivers with guaranteed opportunity late (Anderson, Davis).
Looking back, this team feels like it was more lucky than good, so what can we take forward to this year?
- In a tight-end premium format, you should build in a high weekly ceiling at the position with at least one early pick
- Early running backs are less reliable than early wide receivers, but late wide receivers are a lot more likely to bear fruit than late running backs, and you only get so many darts to throw with slim rosters, so you’re going to have to use at least two of your first five picks on running back and have a plan for your bench
- Don’t take a wide receiver until the fourth round
- Stacking your #1 quarterback with a top wide receiver from his team increases weekly upside
This Year's Draft
Here’s how my team turned out from the five-hole:
QB: Tom Brady (8.08), Ryan Fitzpatrick (15.05), Ben Roethlisberger (16.08)
RB: Joe Mixon (2.08), J.K. Dobbins (3.05), Gus Edwards (9.05), J.D. McKissic (12.05), James White (14.05)
WR: Robert Woods (4.08), Chris Godwin (5.05), Robby Anderson (6.08), Tyler Boyd (7.05), Darnell Mooney (10.08), Parris Campbell (13.05), Tyrell Williams (17.05)
TE: Darren Waller (1.05), Blake Jarwin (11.05), Tyler Conklin (18.08)
What Was I Thinking?
Round 1: If Derrick Henry had fallen to 1.05, it might have given me more pause, but choosing Waller over a running back wasn’t difficult. His arrow is pointing up coming out of last year, and he should be everyone’s clear TE2 that will close some of the gap between him and Travis Kelce. I didn’t expect George Kittle to fall to 2.08, or Kyle Pitts to 3.05, or T.J. Hockenson to 4.8, and I wanted to be able to post a top-three score at tight end, feeling much more confident in my ability to find production later at wide receiver than at tight end. I expected to go RB/RB/WR on my next three picks with Waller locked in but would be open to taking a second tight end early if one of those names fell to decrease the number of teams that could hang with my tight end scoring by one while giving me a chance at top flex scoring in the process.
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