The Sportspicks 2013 Fantasy Draft plan could be the key to winning your league this year.
The NFL season is less than two weeks away and a large percentage of fantasy drafts will take place this coming weekend. The ever-important third preseason game is in the books for all 32 NFL teams and very few starters will see any meaningful snaps in the fourth and final preseason game.
That means we have all of the relevant and key information we need to formulate our 2013 Fantasy Football draft plan. This season the quarterback position and top tier running back position are as deep as we’ve ever seen. The tight end position is the complete opposite due to injuries and a murder indictment.
Let’s start out with two key questions you must answer for yourself before determining the route you are going to take through your draft.
1) How comfortable are you with the running backs going off the boards in the 5th-6th rounds as your #2 RB?
2) How aggressive do you want to be in drafting homerun type guys that are high-risk, high-reward?
I know the answers to those questions for me so here’s my gameplan going in to each fantasy draft this season.
The top tier of running backs is incredibly deep this year. After Adrian Peterson goes #1 overall there’s no real consensus choice for the #2 pick but there’s a deep group of guys here that I’m excited about grabbing any of with my first pick – C.J. Spiller, Doug Martin, LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice, Jamal Charles, Arian Foster, or Trent Richardson are all guys I’m feeling great about as a RB1. I’d even add Matt Forte to that list if you are picking towards the back end of round one because I absolutely love his role in new HC Marc Trestman’s offense.
Here’s where YOUR answer to question #1 above will come in to play. I have several running backs that I would feel good about starting as my #2 RB that are typically drafted in the 5th and 6th rounds. That means I don’t have to go RB-RB with my first two picks and can be aggressive going after one of the top tier WR’s in the 2nd round to pair with the top tier RB I took in round one. Dez Bryant looks like he is going to blow up this year and is in line for a huge season. After Calvin Johnson, the receivers I’m targeting here are: Bryant, Brandon Marshall, A.J. Green, Julio Jones and Demaryius Thomas. I love grabbing one of these stud receivers in the 2nd rather than taking a second RB like Steven Jackson, Chris Johnson or Steven Ridley.
The 3rd round is an interesting spot where you can take your draft a number of different directions. I am an aggressive drafter that is always looking for the “play to win big” guy. This year in the 3rd round that guy for me is TE Rob Gronkowski. After Jimmy Graham there is no other difference maker at the tight end position besides Gronkowski. Gronk’s ADP is down this year due to the uncertainty about when he will return from injury. With that said you’re not drafting to win your league in September. Gronkowski will likely only miss three or four games and when he returns you will have a stud at a very thin position. Gronk will win a lot of leagues for people this season and if you are an aggressive, play to win drafter this is a guy to target in the 3rd. If you aren’t comfortable taking Gronkowski here the guys I would be targeting are Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, and Roddy White. Veteran receivers who have proven to be elite and will continue to get a ton of targets.
Another reason I like taking Gronkowski in the 3rd (or going Jimmy Graham in the second and Fitzgerald/Johnson in the third) is because there are several wide receivers typically available in the 4th that I would feel great about having as my WR2. The three guys I would be targeting here are Danny Amendola, Reggie Wayne, and Pierre Garcon. Amendola and Garcon have higher upsides but come with more risk and Wayne is clearly a safer guy that is close to a lock to get 90 receptions this season if he stays healthy.
Fifth and Sixth Rounds
Now that you have loaded up on a stud RB, stud WR, stud TE and high-upside WR2 it is time to turn back to the running back position. I like waiting on RB2 this year because I feel great about grabbing two running backs in the fifth and sixth rounds that will hopefully ensure I have a second quality starting RB. Guys I am targeting in these rounds are Giovani Bernard, Ryan Mathews, Ahamad Bradshaw, Daryl Richardson, and Shane Vereen. I love Bernard this season and would love to pair Bernard with any of the other four guys listed here as my RB2 and RB3. You just need one of these guys to hit and your team will be lethal because of how stacked you are with elite guys at the other positions.
Wait, we don’t have a quarterback yet? Yes, I will be one of the last teams to take a quarterback in my draft. The QB position is as deep as ever and there are 12 guys that I am perfectly content going in to the season with as my starting quarterback. If you wait it out then you will be looking at Russell Wilson, RG III, or Tony Romo as the last few starting QB’s on the board and who’s to say that any of those guys won’t outscore a guy like Cam Newton or Matthew Stafford this season. Let your league mates take quarterbacks while you are loading your team up at every other position then just take whoever is left out of the consensus top 12 QB’s and you will be golden.
If you’ve followed the draft plan to this point then you will be targeting a wide receiver here in the 8th round. Guys with ADP’s in this neighborhood that I will be going after include: Cle WR Josh Gordon, Jac WR Cecil Shorts, and TB WR Mike Williams. If you drafted early in the preseason then Indy WR TY Hilton was the man to get here but his HUGE preseason has moved him way up draft boards and he’s never available this late. If he is, then sprint to the draft board to grab him because he’s in for a big year.
So that gets you through your first eight picks and essentially fills out your starting lineup. Here’s what you could be looking at when taking this approach to your draft:
QB Russell Wilson/Tony Romo
RB LeSean McCoy
RB Daryl Richardson/Ahmad Bradshaw
WR A.J. Green
WR Danny Amendola
TE Rob Gronkowski
Flex Giovani Bernard
Flex Cecil Shorts
This is a scary lineup that no one will want to face in your league playoffs come December.
A couple of side notes here to wrap things up. If you do not like the idea of taking Gronkowski then I am waiting on tight end. I am not reaching to take Tony Gonzalez or Jason Witten, two aging guys with limited upside for where they are being drafted. I am not a fan of Kyle Rudolph at all and Vernon Davis and Jermichael Finley are perennial underachievers. If you wait on your tight end I would be targeting Jared Cook or Jordan Cameron and would love to pair either guy with Antonio Gates. Gates is an aging guy who has clearly lost a step but he’s actually a value this year considering how late he is being drafted. Phillip Rivers has to throw the ball to somebody and with all of the wide receiver injuries the Chargers have suffered Gates could be a sneaky play this year despite how poor he was last season.
Late Round Sleepers
The most popular question out at a cocktail party or when sharing a beer or two is who are your sleepers this year?
Let’s take a look at a few later round guys that I like. Again these are late-round flyers that you may drop because they do nothing but have the potential if things break right to be key contributors.
Det RB Joique Bell – I love grabbing Bell as my last RB whether I own Reggie Bush or not. Bell is clearly the #2 guy in Detroit ahead of Mikel Leshoure. If Bush were to go down Bell has HUGE upside and would instantly be a fantasy starter. This is exactly the type of player you should be targeting with late round picks.
NO WR Kenny Stills – This is another guy with big upside as the #3 WR in the potent Saints offense. Stills has the potential to be a bye-week filler as the number three guy but could elevate even further to every-week starter if aging veteran WR Marques Colston were to go down with injury which isn’t very far-fetched.
Ari WR Andre Roberts – This is for PPR leagues only. Roberts isn’t a very exciting guy but he could be in line for a lot of receptions this season. New HC Bruce Arians loves to put the ball in the air and Arizona should be playing from behind a lot this season. Defenses will of course focus on Larry Fitzgerald and with Carson Palmer in town now they should have improved quarterback play.