Is it just me or does it seem a little weird that I don't know the actually name of my favorite fantasy football league format? The league is an IDP format with "IOP" scoring. The meaning of the acronym "IOP," is a mystery:
Individual Optimized Performance...
It's On, Punk...
I Ostracize Punters...
It's Original P-Funk...
Your guess is as good as mine. What I can tell you about IOP is the scoring rules enhance the value of defensive players. Last year 16 of the top 50 fantasy players in this league were defenders and J.J. Watt was the top player overall.
This is unusual. In 2013, 24 of the top 50 scorers were defenders and they constituted exactly half of the top 24. Robert Quinn and Watt were two of the three players overall.
Here's the scoring:
If you're seeking a league that tests your skill at valuing impact players on both sides of the ball, IOP formats are among the best around. Jene Bramel, Sigmund Bloom and I have long competed in an IOP re-draft showcase so we were excited when our buds at Footballguys expressed interest in a staff dynasty IDP league and they were open to this scoring system.
We're entering year No.3 in this league. Heath Cummings, now of CBS Sports, beat Bloom for the inaugural crown. Last year, Bramel turned a 2-11 team into 7-6 contender. He lost to Bloom in the first round and Bloom ran into an 11-2 buzz saw that is also known as Jeff Haseley's championship squad.
I should know, I'm in Haseley's division. Although I beat Haseley in Week 2, my team went 5-8 for the second consecutive year thanks to Josh Gordon and Greg Hardy's suspensions, Roddy White and Reggie Wayne getting older faster than I anticipated, and Tyvon Branch's health difficulties.
Eight of the 12 teams in this league were no more than 2 games above or below .500. Despite Hasley's dominance, parody is the underlying theme of this league.
It's why profiling this staff league rookie draft serves as good platform of discussion about strategy, team-building, and rookie discussion. It was a nine-round draft, 108 picks, non-serpentine order. Open this link if you want to see the entire draft as it played out.
Round 1 Recap: Format-Driven or Talent-driven?
IOP leagues don't use the term "stud running back" lightly. Although 3 of the top 12 overall players in 2014 were RBs, there were only 4 backs in the top 32: Le'Veon Bell, DeMarco Murray, Matt Forte and Marshawn Lynch. In 2013, there were only 3 backs in the top 32: Jamaal Charles, Forte, and LeSean McCoy--all three were in the top 14.
Despite this league not using the stud label for RBs loosely, 6 of the first 12 picks in this draft were running backs--including the first 2 picks, Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon III. It's a sign that the owners in this league are acting on the perception that the RB talent is rich in this class.
Wide receivers accounted for 6 of the top 32 spots in 2013 and 7 of the top 32 in 2014. The owners selected 5 receivers in the first round, a reflection of where the perceived talent lies.
Three tight ends made the top 32 in 2014, but only Jimmy Graham was in this tier in 2013. It follows form that Maxx Williams, the only consensus blue-chip rookie tight end in this draft, was the only tight end taken in the first round despite a 1.5-PPR advantage for the position.
Is it smart that the league isn't as persuaded by the scoring format when selecting rookies? I think so. Regardless of position distribution, talent is still the primary driver.
Round 2 REcap: When the Talent-IDP angle gets cloudy
If there's a point in this draft where there's a viable argument that some of these teams took offensive players higher than they should and used the excuse of talent over format, the second round is the starting point. Linebackers comprised 10 of the top 32 spots in 2013 and 6 of those spots in 2014 and the amount of top scoring defensive ends are on par with running backs, yet five teams selected backup running backs and receivers.
David Johnson, Javorius Allen, Phillip Dorsett, Jaelen Strong and Jay Ajayi left the board before Leonard Williams, Randy Gregory,or Shane Ray. Veteran IDP owners understand that younger offensive talents often see the field and earn meaningful production earlier than their more talented defensive counterparts. It's still worth noting that Williams and Gregory have the talent to become perennial top-30 talents in this league.
My buddy Jene Bramel isn't as optimistic about Williams in this regard and some of the draftniks I hang with are concerned that Williams' physical talent has already peaked. The longer I study film, the more I value the mental acumen for the game and Williams isn't some undersized, college stud that benefited from his college system and will get over-matched by NFL defenders.
The Jets' rookie is playing the game at a more advanced, diagnostic level than most at his position did as collegians and the way he integrates his physical skills into the context of a game is breathtaking. The Jets are stocked at the line of scrimmage and this draft took place before Sheldon Richardson got suspended. This is the first IDP draft I didn't take Williams in the second round and I'm equally guilty of taking a physical talented reserve on offense over Williams in the third round--not an easy decision.
If I had to do it again, I'd probably take Williams over Smith. As for Johnson, Allen, Dorsett, Strong, and Ajayi, the upside of these guys is enticing enought that I understand the motivation to inflate some of their values even if I don't agree. Williams, Gregory, Vic Beasley Jr, Stephone Anthony, Bud Dupree, and possibly Shane Ray, Hau-oli Kikaha, and Owagambe Odighizuwa are the handful of options with top-30 potential in this league.
Of the positions where you could start at least two in your lineup there were 40 linebackers, 23 wide receivers, 19 safeties, 17 defensive ends, 12 tight ends, 9 running backs and 4 cornerbacks in this system's top 150 last year. Defensive back is a more difficult position to project when it comes to rookies making the transition--and producing as fantasy options so it's understandable why the demand for drafting these options is lower. But linebacker and defensive end are two options where you don't allow good prospects on the draft board too long.
Know your league.
This range began the hunt for handcuffs and raw talents with high upside.
While there are still high upside talents on the board, many owners targeted likely role players that might one day develop in a way where they transcend their role or find their way to a scheme that maximizes their talents and box score potential.
Team 1.01 - Dave Baker/Bob McGaw: The Thing With Two Heads
It's obvious this team believes Todd Gurley has the most upside of the rookies. One could argue that its roster demand has a higher priority at wide receiver. The league allows for no more than two RB starters, but the only true starters at wide receiver on this squad are Calvin Johnson and Allen Robinson. Justin Hunter, Percy Harvin, Marqise Lee, Tavon Austin, and Cordarrelle Patterson all fit in the same pattern of great physical talents that due to maturity, haven't mentally wrapped their minds around playing the game at the professional level.
The RB depth chart includes Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount. Not much there, either. I don't disagree with the pick, especially when Bob and Dave have Tre Mason and they at least have hope of one of these receivers getting their head out of their hindparts. I love the pick for this team, because Gurley and Bell could instantly punch up the value of this offense for the next 3-4 seasons while Calvin Johnson still has legs.
I love the Jameis Winston pick. Sam Bradford and Colin Kaepernick might rebound, but I don't put much stock in "might" unless it's in the context of strength. Geno Smith's potential and Chan Gailey's acumen still makes the third-year prospect worth holding onto, but Winston has a fearless, hyperconfident mindset that these three lack that could set him apart from the crowd. He could also fail miserably.
Winston will probably do both this year. I'm projecting 24 touchdowns and 24 interceptions and above average yardage for a rookie passer. Winston will have no compunction about fitting the ball into tight spaces that few reasonable quarterbacks attempt. With his receivers, I think it's a good thing more than a bad--if you count the fact that he's equally good at breaking the pocket and throwing touch passes to his running backs up the sideline. While I don't see top-three fantasy potential from Winston, the 5-7 range is within reach by year 3-4.
Clive Walford and MyCole Pruitt are nice picks for a premium scoring tigh end format. Walford should help now--and with Eric Ebron and Jermaine Gresham as this unit's only healthy tight ends (Jordan Reed's leg a question mark) heading into the draft--the cupboard has a web-encrusted mug with no logo and a silver and blue "pimp chalice" that might have a hairline crack. Pruitt is a swing for the fences, but he gives the Vikings a chance to evolve into a multiple offense where Pruitt can one day play the Aaron Hernandez role with more modest stats.
The pattern I see with this team is the value they place on athleticism over mental acumen and technique when they take rookie prospects. Karlos has all of the physical tools to become a starting NFL RB, but his vision is a question mark because he's still relatively new to the position. Scouts were hoping for much more from Williams this year and it didn't happen.
Pre-injury, Dante Fowler was more athlete without a position than a clear-cut edge rusher. Again, great potential, but far from game-ready and there are reasonable questions about him ever reaching his upside before he got hurt. Former NFL scout Dan Hatman discuss these topics in more detail with tape on Fowler at the RSP Film Room.
Langford had that Combine speed that draws the eye, but his acceleration and power may never be enough to help him stick in the league as a starter. Hicks and Harold are also considered fine athletes lacking the inner game. Bob and Dave's roster is overflowing with these guys--some that have made the transition and a few too many that haven't:
- Aldon Smith
- Mario Williams
- Kenny Vaccarro,
- Jurrell Casey
- Dion Jordan
- Henry Melton
See what I'm saying about the pattern?
1.02 - Bear Heiser's inheritance
It's Bear's first year in this league and he's taking over an abandoned team. There are bright spots dotting each depth chart on his squad, just not enough of them for the unit to contend last year:
- Lamar Miller
- Arian Foster
- DeSean Jackson
- Charles Clay
- Dontari Poe
- Robert Quinn
- Anthony Barr
- Lavonte David
- Tamba Hali
His draft adds 3-4 potential game-changers that should help him move in the right direction.
Gordon tops the list of rookies capable of an immediate impact. Funchess isn't far behind due to the paucity of talent opposite Kelvin Benjamin on the Panthers' depth chart. Bear still has a 1-2 punch at running back and potential trade bait if Carlos Hyde builds on last year's showing. He'll need it for a quarterback if Andy Dalton doesn't mature further or Johnny Manziel doesn't mature at all.
Rather than taking the plunge at quarterback in this draft, I like his decision to build on a strength so he may possibly trade for a passer down the line. Bear knows his team isn't winning now and his decision-making displays sound patience.
I like Shane Ray as a fourth-round pick. It's good value for a player capable of developing into a productive starter in sack-heavy format. Shelton will be a steady point producer, although doubtful a high-scoring one.
I'm ambivalent about O'Leary. Smart, tough player, but he's an example where the lack of athleticism might prove too much for his transition to a bigger role. Taking him in the eighth round presents no risk, especially when Bear has Clay.
I like the Petty and Dyer picks late in the draft. At worst, Petty could see the field late this year or sometime next while New York figures out what to do post-Geno Smith. I think Smith is good enough to develop into a solid starter, but I also think Petty has the tools to get a shot if Smith falters. I'll note that tools and skill with those tools are vastly different things. Today, I see Petty as a sell-high. We'll see what tomorrow brings.
Dyer has impressed in OTAs and I've long seen the former Auburn back as a player with a template similar to Frank Gore. Nagging injuries are my greatest concern for Dyer. He's not a great talent, but he's good enough to earn a committee role and eventually a lead role if he puts it all together in the right environment. Re-draft owners should be monitoring Dyer this fall if he earns a roster spot in Oakland, because if Murray gets hurt and Trent Richardson remains stuck in his mental-emotional black hole, Dyer will get a shot to spell Roy Helu.
1.03 - My Picks
My team has a strong defense, a great tight end unit, and good quarterback play. I picked from the third spot because there are key spots where it is getting old and suspended: receiver, running back, and defensive end.
- Suspensions: Josh Gordon and Greg Hardy.
- Injuries: Tyvon Branch (again) and Derrick Johnson
- Age: Steven Jackson, Roddy White and Reggie Wayne.
Some may view Kendricks as a luxury pick after I added C.J. Mosley last year to a depth chart with Justin Houston, but I value receivers and linebackers in IDP leagues. Karlos Dansby, Derrick Johnson, and D'Qwell Jackson are capable for older players. Barkevious Mingo and Bruce Irvin haven't worked out yet. I'm more confident in Irvin than Mingo at this point, but Kendricks should approach Moseley and Jackson's potential as a point- scorer and I didn't want to lean too hard on this aging unit.
Josh Gordon may still turn things around next year and I'll remain patient. I also took my shot on big-play options with physical upside, hoping 1-2 can make the transition and supply start-able depth in 2-3 years:
- Devin Smith - More than a one-trick pony that analysts have characterized him to be, he's not yet a receiver capable of playing all three positions, either. Give him a year and he could push for playing time. I concerned that his slow growth at Ohio State might represent a lack of maturity that will detract from Smith's development. It's why I have hindsight pangs about Leonard Williams. If Smith hits, I can compete with one good running back or trade for another.
- Chris Conley - Alex Smith doesn't inspire a ton of fantasy confidence after last year. Let's not forget that was still good enough for Michael Crabtree to post WR3 production for two seasons. There's reason for optimism that a Smith-Conley pairing could also yield WR3 fantasy production sooner than later.
- Rashad Greene Sr - I've questioned Marqise Lee's maturity. He doesn't seem like a bad guy at all. His inconsistency is the issue and it has been maddening in terms of catching the ball in traffic and making good decisions as a ballcarrier. Greene isn't the athlete Lee is, but he's far more consistent and a worker. I'll take the chance in the sixth round to see if Greene can eventually become more than a Harry Douglas-like slot receiver and overtake Lee for a spot on the outside.
- Adrian Coxson - The Packers receiver unit is stocked, so it's likely Coxson will have to find an opportunity elsewhere. Considering his moves from Florida to Maryland to Stony Brook because of his ailing father, I don't think an likely cut from Green Bay will dissuade him. Qadry Ishmael trained Coxson and compares the receiver's physical gifts and budding skills to Terrell Owens. Remember, Green Bay cut Charles Johnson two years ago. With a practice squad capable of holding five rookies, Coxson is worth my patience.
- Tyrell Williams - The popular late-round bet at wide receiver for San Diego is Titus Davis. In every league I share with Bloom, he takes Davis and I take Williams. I know a scout that falls on the Davis side due to the Central Michigan wideout's route skills and hands. Williams is the stud athlete with great stop-start agility and size. I wonder if Philip Rivers will still be in San Diego when or if either of these two players earn paying time. This late, I'll go for athletic upside if the player can can catch the ball. Williams can.
I originally drafted Justin Tuck in an IDP dynasty league. The comparison of Odighizuwa to Tuck is a valid potential for the new Giants DE. John Owning and I broke down this excellent young defensive end who is a fine fit in a 4-3.
It may take the defender that I affectionally call Godzilla to mature into a full-fledged monster, but I'll wait and see when he's a fifth-round pick in this league. Tight end Blake Bell is my low-risk investment in a potential near-term replacement of Vernon Davis in 2016. Bell has made impressive strides at Oklahoma since he transitioned to the position and his pro trajectory as promise.
If he makes good on it, I'll have grown my own Delanie Walker and have more trade bait. It sounds good. We'll see.
1.04 - John Norton: Mr. IDP Goes on the Offensive
Injuries and suspensions cost Norton a shot at a good season last year. Adrian Peterson, Marvin Jones Jr, Vontaze Burfict and Daryl Washington were all potential top-20 players at their respective positions and Peterson, Burfict, and Washington could have easily been top-50 overall talents. In a league with so many 7-6, 8-5, 6-7, and 5-8 squads, those losses hurt--especially when Norton's best tight ends were rookies.
Norton drafted talented players, but there's a definite "need" feel to the picks, which I think happens when your first two desired picks get sniped in the opening rounds.
I was pretty sure Norton was hoping to land Cooper, but I was able to jump above him for the Raider. My suspicions were confirmed with Norton opened conversations about White's availability after I made the selection. White's re-draft ADP could wind up being "silly-high" because John Fox is reticent to use rookie receivers. Talent-wise, White has as much, if not more upside than Cooper, so it's a fine selection in a dynasty league.
Norton's receiver depth chart has the skill to hold its own, but on paper, it's uninspiring. Based on Norton's commentary, it appears he wanted Kendricks in the second round. Maybe my pick of the linebacker did Norton a favor, leading him to choose Breshad Perriman. When you look at his receivers, the closest players to fantasy stud status are Marques Colston and Pierre Garcon. Malcom Floyd, Harry Douglas, Jones and Mohamed Sanu are helpful, but not proven, every-week guys. A healthy Jones can build on his 2013 season and if Perriman or White start strong, Norton will breath easier.
Something tells me Kendricks was his guy here.
Cameron Artis-Payne in the third is a smart pick if seeking potential for instant impact if called upon. The trio of Peterson, Eddie Lacy and Rashad Jennings gives Norton production and depth. If Devonta Freeman outplays Tevin Coleman, Artis-Payne is an afterthought or trade bait to that poor Jonathan Stewart owner.
Jesse James lacks field-stretching athletic flash, but I love how he catches the ball and finds open seams. Big, strong, a promising blocker, and working behind Heath Miller? I like it.
Norton went with a pair of Bengals in Tyler Kroft and Paul Dawson. Kroft isn't a stud athlete, but he's good enought to develop into a productive and reliable fantasy option as early as next year if Tyler Eifert can't stay healthy to inspire confidence.
Several good draft analysts are split on Dawson. The college production and smarts makes him appealing, the athleticism didn't show up in workouts. Some say the tape shows athleticism. Rookie Scouting Portfolio writer Eric Stoner begs to differ:
If you keep up with the Audible IDP podcast, you can get more context from Norton's inside joke with Bramel and Bloom about his late-round selection of Markus Golden. Michael Bennett, picked a round before, has the talent to become a solid producer at DT.
1.05 - Matt Bitonti
Bitonti gave up his fifth round pick for my 2016 first-round pick and Delanie Walker. Based on a post-trade conversation, he probably would have taken T.J. Yeldon or one of the top three receivers if he didn't agree to the deal. Although he didn't land more than one immediate starter, he found athletes that could serve him well 2-3 years from now.
I like David Johnson's physical talent and pass receiving. I also understand why one would be leery of Jay Ajayi's knee. I'm not sure I'd be gung-ho about taking the Cardinals' back over Vick Beasley or Randy Gregory. When looking at Bitonti's roster that has Von Miller, Demarcus Ware, Elvis Dumervil, Connor Barwin, and Demario Davis at OLB and Fletcher Cox and Sheldon Richardson at DE, Bitonti's selection of Johnson at RB dictates need.
It raises the question: Would Bitonti be better off taking another potential stud edge man and trading for a back of his choice? There's no clear answer yet. Johnson is physically more suited to a full-time role for the Cardinals, but Ellington is a wiser back. We'll see if Gregory, Beasley, or Williams might have proven wiser.
Sammie Coates Jr and Ty Montgomery both had issues tracking the ball over their heads on deeper routes as collegiate receivers. Coates' vision might be the culprit and something that can be amended. Both receivers will do their best work in space underneath coverage. If they can improve their ball-tracking, Bitonti will be a rich man at the receiver position. I'm counting on Coates to improve.
Denzel Perryman is a downhill, attacking penetrator and Damarious Randall an opportunistic defensive back that might make a better free safety than a corner.
1.06 - James Brimacombe
Brimacombe inherited a team capable of a playoff run and his picks provide depth and hope for the future. There are a lot of "smart" offensive picks on paper.
Agholor, Mariota, Cobb, Lockett, and Hardy all have starter potential. The first two players have WR1 and QB1 upside and while I know James wanted Cooper, Agholor is a capable talent in a great situation.
Mariota, like most talented college QBs with first-round physical talents, is a 50/50 proposition. I'm not sold on the Oregon star, but it's a fine value. With Aaron Rodgers and Ryan Tannehill as Brimacombe's starters, Mariota adds depth for development.
LeSean McCoy and Jamaal Charles are a fine 1-2 punch, but there's no other starter on the depth chart. David Cobb should fix this problem by year's end. The bigger question is whether Cobb can convince the Titans he's more than a Zac Stacy or Pierre Thomas type of talent.
I have similar thoughts about Justin Hardy after Roddy White moves on. Is he more than a slot player? As much as Seattle likes Tyler Lockett, I find the Seahawks' coaching staff is such an upbeat, sunny group that wouldn't know it rains a lot in the Pacific Northwest. Lockett is tough for his size, but I don't think he transcends it in the way that will ever make him a consistent WR1 or WR2.
The same goes for Stefon Diggs. There's enough talent for the Maryland receiver to become a productive slot man, but how many teams use their slot man to the extent that he produces as a fantasy WR1 or WR2? This is why players like Hardy, Lockett, and Diggs aren't met with the same enthusiasm from fantasy owner across the board.
If they are players you believe have the skills to transcend their size, I'm game--remember, I liked Jeremy Gallon (he couldn't stay healthy)--otherwise, the ceiling is low and I'd prefer upside athletes after the third round.
Vince Mayle might be one of those guys and because the Browns picked him higher than most expected, the opportunity might be there. I disliked the pick by the Browns because I didn't see evidence of football skills or great athleticism. I see a team that got excited about his size and strength.
Mayle is a good example why opportunity often matters more than current level of skill. If Mayle makes the most of his chances, he'll be worth the pick even if there are 20-30 receivers with potential to do it better with the same shot.
It's like actors. Keanu Reeves may have done a good job with the Matrix, but Will Smith turned it down. He said he would have messed up the part, but not sure if that's modesty and class talking more than honesty. Tom Cruise was considered, too. Both actors could have performed that role and no one would have said, if only Keanu Reeves had that part.
1.07 - Jene Bramel: "I'll get my defense off the Waiver Wire..."
Only one defensive pick in this draft for the other Mr. IDP of Footballguys, cornerback Eric Rowe. Six of his nine picks were running backs and the other two receivers. Bramel's team isn't a stud factory on the defensive side, either. Chandler Jones and Cameron Wake are great and the LBs are solid, but not spectacular.
The problem is Bramel's RBs and WRs. Trent Richardson flopped, Frank Gore is old, and my money is on Joseph Randle becoming a one-year wonder or a never-was that had an "almost" moment in the early fall. It makes sense Bramel stocked up on backs.
I love the Yeldon pick. In most drafts, he would have been gone because most normal fantasy owners would have taken the Jaguars back before Ameer Abdullah. Yeldon may not even run for 1,000 yards as a rookie because of his surrounding talent, but I think he has consistent 1,200-yard potential and I'm not including the passing game.
If Ajayi can stay healthy, he's a potential steal. I can see how Yeldon, Ajayi and Davis all become productive, all-purpose backs within 2-3 years. I'd only bet on one of the doing it based on the odds, but these are smart selections at good value--especially Davis. The 49ers rookie might remain stuck behind Carlos Hyde the way Robert Turbin and Christine Michael have languished behind Marshawn Lynch, but to get him after taking Josh Robinson, a smart back with more stamina and balance that speed might a pick we look at with admiration a few years down the road.
Zenner, Brown and Davis are late-round fliers -- Joique Bell/Charles Johnson types. With a five-man practice squad, these are the types of picks I like to see in these rounds.
Kenny Bell is a fave. When Vincent Jackson calls it quits, or the Bucs call it quits with Jackson, Bell has the skills to develop into a reliable big-play WR2. I don't think he beats Louis Murphy for the slot role this year, but he'll earn the shot to compete for it.
1.08 - Maurile Tremblay: The IDP Staff League Chargers of the Coryell era
Maurile made the playoffs on the backs of Peyton Manning, Justin Forsett, a strong receiving corps, and Antonio Gates. His defense is Khalil Mack, Bobby Wagner, James Laurinaitis, and Morgan Burnett. That's about it.
His draft is a love-hate for me, very little in between.
Love: DeVante Parker, Leonard Williams, Bud Dupree, and Malcom Brown. Parker has work to do against press coverage and it could slow his progress longer than some think, leading to a series of peaks and valleys during the first 18-24 games of his career. I still love his athleticism and feel for the ball in the air. If he can get into the route faster and dictate position, he'll be one of the best in the game.
You already heard my thoughts on Williams. Getting him at the end of the third round in this league that awards sacks and big plays on defense is fine value. Brown can become a penetrating monster of a defensive tackle and the Patriots will put him in position to develop.
Bud Dupree isn't technically sound, but he's crazy sudden. If the Steelers can help him get there, watch out.
I hate the quarterback selections. Garrett Grayson ran a pro style system, he has pocket presence, courage, and intelligence. These qualities give him the the makeup of a decent career backup. His accuracy in the middle of the field is scary bad. His arm strength to make the power throws is currently lacking. He can maneuver a pocket, but he'll have to develop great field awareness and anticipation, because he's slow.
Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning, Tremblay's two QBs can be slow because they process fast. I'm not convinced Grayson has that skill. He's one of the most over-hyped quarterbacks in this draft class--even as a backup with starter potential. He'll get pushed through the machine at somepoint and touted as starter--maybe even given a shot.
I'm not buying Grayson as the next Brady. With that said, Sean Mannion looks the part. He doesn't not play the part. Unless that part is chum for edge rushers or a jugs machine for defensive backs. It's not horrible that Tremblay selecting these two in the fifth and eighth round, respectively. I do think he could have found players with more upside that he could figure out fast if he had something or he could dump them.
The "very little in between" is Phillip Dorsett and Jamison Crowder. I think Dorsett is closer to "good" Jacoby Ford than "great" T.Y. Hilton, but with Andrew Luck and this offense it's worth taking a shot.
Crowder often appeared "this close" to making plays that a transcendent mighty-mite like Hilton, Derrick Mason, Antonio Brown, or Steve Smith might make, but rarely made the play. Crowder is good enough to make rosters, but I thought his competition Andre Roberts was a better college player.
1.09 - Aaron Rudnicki: Risk-Reward
I love this draft. It's may flop hard, but I love the intent. Dorial Green-Beckham is the best vertical and red zone talent in this class. He's not Calvin Johnson, but he has the skill to win the ball at that level. He should be a near-dominate receiver by 2017.
Stephone Anthony has rough spots, but the athleticism is excellent and working with Rob Ryan's scheme should be a good fit. He should develop into a tackle machine. These first two players give Aaron prospects with clear top-50 upside in this format.
There are valid questions about Landon Collins as anything more than an in-the-box safety and even then, his decisions aren't as good as the hype preceding him. Can he learn? Sure, and if he does, he could be a tackle compiler that Aaron is seeking.
Matt Jones at the end of the fourth round is good value. I'm an Alfred Morris fan, but the writing is on the wall that Washington would be happy to part ways with the former UDFA if Jones can show he's a fast learner. The size, strength, and burst are all starter material, his decision-making has question marks.
If he doesn't improve his judgment and reads, fans will be scratching their heads as to why a good athlete can't get on the field or shaking their heads when he does. Even so, this is a good spot to select Jones for his upside and potential short-term impact by 2016, if not sooner.
Jene Bramel can't finish a segment on rookie IDPers without mentioning the potential of Henry Anderson. I wasn't a Trent Murphy fan and Anderson drew comparisons, but not as favorable. On the subject of DE's, I loved the Mario Edwards pick in the 7th. I nearly took him there. If he can stay in shape and do the work that draft analysts fear he won't, there's potential for him to develop into one of more productive fantasy 3-4 DEs. It's early, but so far, so good.
Not many cornerbacks get taken in these draft. During the two years of this league's existence, only two cornerbacks have posted top 100 production and a only 26 corners produced within the top-200. Eight of those 26 corners were first or second round picks in the NFL draft. If you're going to do it, a player like Trae Waynes has the credentials where placing a marker on his number in this game of fantasy roulette sounds reasonable, at least if you don't realize this is the nature of the game.
Pick 1.10 - Sigmund Bloom: A Pack of Now And laters
Bloom has a balanced team with productive veterans on each side of the line of scrimmage and they're the few holding back the many unproven depth making up his squad. Take a look for yourself:
- Drew Brees is a fine starter, but the Saint is Bloom's only QB.
- Andre Ellington and DeMarco Murray is his backfield. The black-balled Ray Rice, role player Theo Riddick, and the talented and undiscipline journeyman Lache Seastrunk are the fingers in this leaking dike.
- Alshon Jeffery, Andre Johnson, Greg Jennings, and Terrance Williams are the proven contributors at receiver. Kenny Britt, Stephen Hill, and Cody Latimer are Bloom's hope and a prayer at depth.
- Of course, Bloom doesn't travel in a fantasy league without tight ends. His depth chart in this premium league is stocked with 10 of them. We can start two, which tells you Bloom is hoping to wheel-and-deal his tight end depth of Julius Thomas, Jimmy Graham, Jace Amaro, Tim Wright, Josh Hill, and possibly 3-4 others when their value is at their highest.
The defense is the strength of his team:
- Nkamukong Suh and Aaron Donald comprise a dream of a DT depth chart.
- Muhammad Wilkerson, Jason Pierre-Paul and Corey Liuget is a solid DE trio.
- Ryan Kerrigan, DeAndre Levy, and the promise of Sean Lee, Brandon Graham, Ryan Shazier, and Telvin Smith Sr as a rotatable third and fourth starter make this unit a serviceable with upside.
- Joe Haden is one of those exceptional fantasy corners.
Bloom's team is a compelling lab experiment, because his depth on offense isn't firing into production mode and his reliable starters are aging or have quality talent biting at their heels. It's clear that he has a lot of management ahead to build a more stable foundation.
If you were in denial that Bloom is stockpiling tight ends to shop for talent he wants, look no further than his first-round pick of Maxx Williams. Thank you Bloom, your hoarding ways allowed me to deal Delanie Walker for Amari Cooper. Vic Beasley Jr has a chance to be a special player and a top-50 option in this league. With the fireworks accident putting Jason Pierre-Paul's future productivity in question, Beasley's selection takes a more urgent turn for Bloom's squad.
I'm interested to hear what Bloom thinks of Shaq Thompson. Ryan Riddle and I watched the safety-linebacker hybrid. I think linebacker is the right call and there is some Thomas Davis-like potential for this conversion. Thompson isn't that kind of hitter, but he has a nose for the ballcarrier.
DeAndre Carter, DeAndre Smelter and Tre McBride all have the physical skills and ball-handling ability to develop into starters. They have longer climbs towards an opportunity. With our five-man practice squads, Bloom will have some tougher decisions to make with his WR depth chart if no one notably rises or falls this summer.
Pick 1.11- Mark Wimer: The Bridesmaid's Draft
Wimer reached the championship game on the strength of Marshawn Lynch, Jeremy Hill, T.Y. Hilton, Emmanuel Sanders, and a hot playoff run from a roster that lacks any great IDP options beyond Jonathan Joseph. I think Wimer gets a little thrill when he can play the role of contrarian/outlaw with his team management and his draft is an illustration.
A lot of his picks are polarizing or high-risk/high-reward talents. If Tevin Coleman can prove that his gait as a runner can be effective in the NFL when it has been contributor to his boom-bust, play-to-play production, he has the speed to be a star.
The draftnik community is split on Jaelen Strong. Some don't believe he's dynamic enough of an athlete beyond his rebounding skill. My take is more middle ground, Strong can become a good possession receiver with red zone capability. Think mid-to-late career Keyshawn Johnson.
Thomas Rawls at the end of the third round raises questions, because he probably would have been available a round or two later. At the same time, Wimer stuck to his belief that Rawls' value is more than an over-inflated, "Always Sunny in Seattle" mentality of the Seahawks coaching staff about its rookies.
Rawls has skills worth monitoring. Mike Davis and Matt Jones are arguably equal or greater talents with similar or better environments and they were available at 4.07 and 4.09. There wasn't much else at the position I would have considered over Rawls, so if Wimer was going to take a RB at the end of the third round Rawls isn't as odd of a choice as it may seem.
While I'm a believer in the Packers' selection of Brett Hundley as a long-term project, I think Hundley could have been selected a round or two later. Again, Wimer was willing to pay extra for a long-term developmental option with talent. It stands out, but I'm not judging it negatively because I'd much rather have Hundley's boom-bust stock than Mannion or Grayson's low ceiling.
My buddy Ryan Riddle is a fan of the Saints LB Kikaha, and he can rush the passer. This is a fine pick and potentially a fifth-round steal. I considered him in the early fourth round for my team.
Frank Clark could also a be a steal. I'm a little surprised Wimer took the Seahawk, because if I'm not mistaken, he tends to downgrade players in his rankings when he knows they have off-field issues, questioning their ability to commit to the game and remain disciplined off it. Maybe the late sixth round was enough of a downgrade. I know I was looking at Clark as a potential seventh round pick, so I got sniped in this sense.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu lacked speed for a cornerback before his injury, but he's smart and physical. It's a decent gamble in the late eighth to see if he can transition to free safety. Some bold picks, but when you're at this late of a draft spot you have to go strong to the hole.
1.12 - Jeff hasley - The Champion's Haul
Haseley has a team that should remain a contender for a while because he has young stars stocked throughout his roster:
- J.J. Watt
- Antonio Brown
- K.J. Wright
- Jason McCourty
- DeAndre Hopkins
- Kelvin Benjamin
- Golden Tate
- Julian Edelman
- Cam Newton
Best Opening Rounds: Bob McGaw/Dave Baker's trio of Todd Gurley-Jameis Winston-Clive Walford is strong. It's highly possible he has three top-50 players starting for him by 2017. The same can be said of the Melvin-Gordon-Devin Funchess-Randy Gregory trio for Bear Heiser. I'm biased about my Ameer Abdullah-Amari Cooper-Eric Kendricks opening. It's no coincidence these were the first three spots.
Maurile Tremblay and Aaron Rudnicki are teams with mid-to-late slots and they belong in this conversation. Maurile's combo of Phillip Dorsett-DeVante Parker-Leonard Williams is as talented as any trio drafted. I dislike the Collins selection in the third round for Aaron, but Dorial Green-Beckham might be worth two players if he reaches his potential.
Best Value Pick: Bear's pick of Randy Greogry at 3.02, Maurile's selection of Leonard Williams at 3.05, and my pick of Owamagbe Odighizuwa at 5.03 are good candiates in that order.
Next week: PPR tiers and analysis.