Free Agent Focus

Dueling Draft Recaps from Pros vs. Joes League

By Jared Smola and Kevin English 10:04pm EDT 7/30/13

Ever drafted with someone using the same exact cheat sheet as you?  It ain't easy.

That was the case last week, when Jared and Kevin both took part in the same Pros vs. Joes Draft.

Pros vs. Joes is a fantasy football tournament put on by Fantasy Mojo and the FFPC.  It pits industry experts (the Pros) against FFPC veterans (the Joes).  It's a Draft Masters setup (best-ball scoring, no trades or free agents) with standard FFPC rules.  That means 1 PPR for RBs and WRs, 1.5 PPR for TEs and the following starting lineup requirements:

1 QB
2 RBs
2 WR
1 TE
2 Flex
1 K
1 DEF

Jared picked 4th, while Kevin was in the 8 spot.  Their teams ended up looking quite different.  You can view the complete draft results here.

Here's a position-by-position breakdown of both squads.

QBs

Jared

5.04 - Drew Brees
16.09 - Jake Locker

This draft was a game of QB chicken.  Who's gonna be the last team to take a QB? 

The Huddle's Steve Gallo virtually guaranteed before the draft that he'd be the last team to draft a QB.  That became a self-fulfilling prophecy when he waited until the 15th round to grab Sam Bradford.  He added Brandon Weeden with his next pick, and then snagged Blaine Gabbert, Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez later.  I'm all for waiting on a QB, but I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable with that group.

Anyway, I'm feeling mighty good about my QB situation.  That big game of QB chicken resulted in Brees dropping to me in the 5th round.  You simply can't pass on his combination of safety and upside at that point.  Brees was actually sitting atop my MVP Board in the 4th round.

Another advantage of snagging Brees was that I could essentially ignore the QB position for the next 10 rounds.  Brees should be money for 14, 15, maybe even 16 weeks.  Locker, though, is one of the few late-round QBs capable of out-scoring Brees in any given week.  He has an explosive group of pass-catchers at his disposal and can also pile up the fantasy points on the ground.

Kevin

7.08 - Matt Stafford
15.08 - Ryan Tannehill
26.05 - Matt Moore

Selecting a QB in the FFPC format requires patience.  Just look at how this draft played out. Aaron Rodgers went at 3.02.  Jared stole the next QB - arguably a better one - 2 rounds later.  (Of course, Brees was a target of mine that round … even though I never had a legit shot at him.)

I'm not losing sleep over landing Stafford in the 7th, though.  Just 25 years old, the guy is still improving.  With the game's best WR, an elite pass-catching RB and a (hopefully) healthy Ryan Broyles filling up the depth chart, a bounce-back season seems tough to avoid.  The fact that he only threw for a TD about once every 37 pass attempts last season was awfully fluky.

As for the backups, I went a different route.  After my 14th-round pick, Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger, Phillip Rivers and Sam Bradford flew off the board.  It's tough to anticipate a QB run like that.  Fortunately, there was 1 upside QB2 that caught my eye.  Miami added a ton of weapons around their young gunslinger, and I see it translating to a few monster fantasy lines for Tannehill.  Don't be surprised if he takes a step forward in the rushing department, too.

Entering the 26th round, I already had 2 DEFs and 2 Ks.  Mark Sanchez remained available, but I didn't see the point.  The Jets have nothing to gain by starting him.  Besides, I look for Stafford - who isn't on a bye until Week 9 - to carry my team.  I'd be shocked if Sanchez is under center at that point.

Moore, one of the league's top backups, at least provides insurance for Tannehill.  If an injury strikes, Moore could deliver a few starter-worthy fantasy outings.

Jared

A career backup over a former 1st-round pick?!?  A total slap in the face to Sanchez … and I completely agree with the move!


RBs

Jared

1.04 - LeSean McCoy
3.04 - Darren McFadden
6.09 - Ryan Mathews
9.04 - Pierre Thomas
11.04 - Johnathan Franklin
17.04 - Mike Goodson
18.09 - Christine Michael
22.09 - Mike Tolbert

Well, this looks an awful lot like 2012.  McFadden and Mathews littered my squads last year.  We know how that turned out.

The difference this time around is price.  McFadden was a top-10 pick in fantasy drafts last summer.  Mathews usually came off the board in Round 2. 

After disappointing seasons, both guys have been chucked in the bargain bin.  McFadden is regularly available in the 3rd round.  I can understand why folks are steering clear, but the potential reward far outweighs the risk at that point.  That's especially true in a Draft Masters setup. 

When he's on the field, McFadden should return to top-10 territory in 2013.  He remains the focal point of Oakland's offense.  And he's back in the power-blocking scheme that helped him to a juicy 5.3 yards per carry between 2010 and 2011.  McFadden is also in a contract year, which should be motivation to stay on the field through those minor bumps and bruises.

Then there's Mathews.  He's probably on even more "Do Not Draft" lists than McFadden.  The former 1st-round pick has been a walking infirmary through 3 pro seasons, missing 10 games.  Hell, even I don't expect the guy to make it through 16 games this year.

Still, I still think he's being undervalued in fantasy drafts.  Mathews' ADP sits in the early 5th round.  That's a fair price.  But I've also seen him last into the 6th in plenty of drafts, including this one.  I'll take him there every time.  Mathews has been pretty damn good when on the field.  He's averaging 4.4 yards per carry and 7.7 yards per catch.  He's also just 2 years removed from a 7th-place fantasy finish.

Yes, Mathews' receiving production figures to take a hit with Danny Woodhead in town.  But the 5'8, 195-pound Woodhead isn't a legitimate threat to Mathews' early-down work.  Neither is an over-the-hill Ronnie Brown.  Mathews remains a good bet for 15+ carries per game.  That alone makes him a value pick in the 6th round.  For what it's worth, he went no later than 5.09 in the other 5 Pros vs. Joes Drafts.

The rest of my RB picks won't stir up nearly as much controversy.  I went against the MVP Board and snagged McCoy over Ray Rice.  While Rice might be safer, I prefer McCoy's weekly and season-long upside in HC Chip Kelly's innovative, run-heavy offense.

Thomas is a guy you'll see on a whole bunch of my teams this year.  If healthy, he's a virtual lock for a top-40 finish.  And there's top-20 upside if the Saints finally opt to give Thomas more of Mark Ingram's workload.  PT is an ideal RB4.

Franklin, Goodson, Michael and Tolbert all bring weekly upside for varying reasons.  Franklin shouldn't be counted out for Green Bay's starting job. Worst case, he should play a significant pass-catching role.  Goodson is an explosive runner sitting behind an injury-prone starter.  He just needs to get his legal issues sorted out.  Michael is the most talented of this 4-some and could emerge as Seattle's #2 RB this season.  Tolbert remains a TD vulture.  He scored 7 times last year, including 2 and 3-TD outings.  I expect to get at least a couple starts out of him.

Kevin

2.05 - Chris Johnson
3.08 - Stevan Ridley
9.08 - DeAngelo Williams
10.05 - Danny Woodhead
11.08 - Fred Jackson
16.05 - Marcel Reece
18.05 - Roy Helu

RBs are often touted as the foundation of fantasy teams.  But in the FFPC (where TEs receive 1.5 PPR), you can succeed with a less-than-stellar crop - especially in a Draft Masters format.  I'll test that theory this season.

I certainly feel content with the starters.  Johnson is good for at least a few huge games.  An upgraded O-line and an improved Jake Locker should lead to more consistent play.  The top 5 is within reach.

Ridley isn't an exciting selection, but it was tough for me to pass on him in Round 3.  Reggie Bush, Lamar Miller, Darren McFadden and David Wilson all went before my pick.  So with the position quickly drying up, I secured a dark horse to lead the league in TDs.  A double-digit total would surely help hide his receiving deficiencies.

Now it gets hairy.  Five rounds passed before I snagged another RB.  The need for WRs and the selection of 2 stud TEs (more on that later) caused RBs to elude me.  Eventually, I grabbed 3 straight rushers in rounds 9-11.

I was pleased to land Williams.  Sure, he won't rack up 30+ receptions.  But his playing time will see a nice boost if Jonathan Stewart's injury problems persist (a realistic scenario).  Despite entering his age-30 season, D-Will is still plenty talented.

Woodhead could approach 50 catches as San Diego's 3rd-down back.  Their O-line remains among the NFL's worst, which might force a quick-strike offense. 

Jackson sits behind C.J. Spiller on the depth chart - and rightfully so.  Still, he's a proven backup who will enter 2013 healthy.  An inactive Spiller would open the door for Jackson to see 20+ touches per game.

I added the final 2 backs with upside in mind.  Reece is among the best handcuffs in fantasy football, and the reasons are obvious.  Not only does he sit behind an injury-prone runner, but he's also an effective, versatile weapon.

Helu is a young talent that could have been Washington's 2012 starter if not for injuries.  Early camp reports indicate that he'll assume a pass-catching role this season. That's not Alfred Morris' game.  And the WR corps isn't deep.  The opportunity is there for Helu.

Overall, it's not a flashy group.  Just remember - you only need to start 2 RBs each week.  I'll survive.


WRs

Jared

2.09 - Larry Fitzgerald
4.09 - Jordy Nelson
7.04 - Miles Austin
10.09 - Justin Blackmon
13.04 - Darrius Heyward-Bey
14.09 - Golden Tate
15.04 - Nate Burleson
19.04 - Rod Streater
21.04 - Joseph Morgan

I took a different approach to building my squad than Kevin, going more RB-heavy early.  The reason I'm comfortable doing that -- even in a PPR league -- is because of the depth at WR.  That's especially true in Draft Masters leagues, where I can stockpile upside options in the middle and late rounds.

Of course, Fitzgerald gives me a sturdy building block.  DS Insiders know how we feel about Fitz.  With an upgrade at QB and the arrival of HC Bruce Arians, he's in store for a big-time bounce-back campaign.

Nelson is another strong rebound candidate.  He finished 38th in this scoring system last year, but that was mostly because he missed 4 games.  Nelson was a more-respectable 21st in fantasy points per game.

Of course, we only need to look back a year further to see his upside. Nelson ranked 4th among WRs in fantasy points in 2011.  He won't repeat the 15 TDs he scored that year, but he's plenty capable of double-digits.  I also like Nelson in this format because of his penchant for big games.  He's had seven 100-yard outings and 5 multi-TD efforts over the past 2 seasons.

I'm more than happy rolling with Austin as my 3rd WR.  He's still only 29 and remains a key cog in an explosive passing game.  The best-ball format mitigates his injury risk.

Blackmon's price tag has been reduced because of his 4-game suspension to open the season.  That's fine - he'll produce as a strong WR3 for me over the final 12 games.

Heyward-Bey is a guy I'm starting to like more and more.  He's reportedly been running with the starters (ahead of T.Y. Hilton) early in training camp.  That might not last, but it's clear that DHB will have a substantial role in Indy.  He's another big-play guy who fits well in this format.

Same goes for Golden Tate and Joseph Morgan.  Both WRs will be tough to rely on in standard fantasy leagues.  But their explosive abilities make them prime additions to a Draft Masters squad.  Tate only got more attractive with Tuesday night's news that Percy Harvin will miss 3-4 months after hip surgery.

Burleson will likely fall behind Ryan Broyles in the pecking order sooner than later.  But he could make a few starts for me even as the #3 WR thanks to Detroit's pass-crazy offense.

Streater caught my eye down the stretch last year with 18 catches and 351 yards over his last 5 games.  There's talk that he could emerge as Oakland's most productive WR this season.

I'm expecting top 10 seasons out of both Fitzgerald and Nelson.  If they come through, the rest of my WRs should be more than adequate filling the holes.  Keep in mind that I only need to start 2 WRs per week in this league.

Kevin

4.05 - Victor Cruz
6.05 - Mike Wallace
8.05 - T.Y. Hilton
13.08 - Brandon LaFell
14.05 - Jeremy Kerley
17.08 - Brian Quick
20.05 - Markus Wheaton
21.08 - T.J. Graham
24.05 - Tommy Streeter

Three rounds passed before I finally plucked a WR.  That wasn't my game plan, but you have to follow the value.  Besides, I agree with Jared's comment that WR is deep.

Cruz ended my dry spell.  The 26-year-old is on his way to a Roddy White-like consistent career.  He'll just need to cut down on his 12 drops from 2012.  Back-to-back 80+ reception seasons speak to his ability and importance to that offense.

Wallace is the WR version of Chris Johnson - he's good for a handful of game-changing fantasy lines.  There's no arguing his streakiness.  But the best-ball setup mitigates that.  I'm not yet concerned about his training camp disconnect with Ryan Tannehill.

The selection of Hilton looks iffy in hindsight, given DHB's apparent early lead in the starter competition.  But when you consider Heyward-Bey's injury history and Hilton's dynamic rookie season, that's not cemented.  Here's to new OC Pep Hamilton continuing to attack defenses deep … with the right guy.

After another break from hunting WRs - this time lasting 4 rounds - I nabbed LaFell.  My DS cohorts are already tired of me yapping about him, but I foresee a breakout season.  He's a clear-cut #2 WR, and he'll catch passes from a maturing, laser-armed QB.  I also look for the 6'2 LaFell to emerge more in the red zone.  Beyond Greg Olsen, Carolina lacks a big-bodied pass catcher to make tough grabs in traffic.

Kerley was among my favorite value picks.  No, I won't stick up for the Jets passing game.  But Kerley's one of the few healthy (or NFL-quality) WRs they have, and he faces no competition for slot snaps.  He tallied 56 receptions last year and could easily beat that number in 2013.  After all, the Jets will be forced to pass a ton.

My next 3 WRs all boast home run potential.  Quick, while still raw, carries a large frame and legit deep speed.  I'm fully aware that targets will be tough to come by, barring a strong August.  Again, I can live with that in a Draft Masters setup that sees me roster 9 WRs.

Wheaton missed OTAs because of Oregon State's late graduation.  It's unfortunate, though I don't think it'll take him long to overtake has-beens Jerricho Cotchery and Plaxico Burress for the #3 role.  Wheaton is simply too dynamic for Pittsburgh to ignore.  Plus, they'll need a committee approach to replace Mike Wallace - and likely Heath Miller.

Graham has seen time with Buffalo's 1st-team offense in training camp. The 2012 3rd-round pick possesses elite speed and will battle rookie Robert Woods for outside snaps.  That might not seem like much, but a couple 3-70-1 type lines are reasonable.  He's a sneaky player in this format.

Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta are gone.  Insert the freakishly athletic Streeter, and you have a candidate to pick up the slack in a now-thin Baltimore passing game.  The opportunity is there for Streeter to work his way into the starting rotation.  Nobody will mistake Jacoby Jones for a stable #2 WR.


TEs

Jared

8.09 - Brandon Pettigrew
12.09 - Tyler Eifert
23.04 - Luke Stocker

I always seem to end up with a rag-tag group of TEs in these FFPC leagues.  I just rarely see value sitting on the board.  Perhaps I still haven't adjusted to the 1.5-PPR setup.  This league will be a good test considering how differently Kevin and I attacked the position.

I waited until Round 8 to grab my 1st TE.  Nine had already come off the board by that point.  Pettigrew seems like a nice value through that lens.  Despite missing 3 games last year, he still ranked 15th at the position in FFPC scoring.  He ranked 10th in fantasy points per game.  2011 saw him finish 6th among TEs in this setup.  He was 7th in 2010.  Pettigrew isn't a big-play threat or a TD monster, but he should continue to rack up the receptions.

Eifert will be much more valuable in Draft Masters leagues than standard setups this year.  The rookie will share targets with Jermaine Gresham, leaving him an unreliable weekly option.  But the uber-athletic Eifert should be good for a handful of big stat lines.  He's been working in the slot and out wide early in training camp - and drawing rave reviews.

Stocker was a "why not?" pick.  The Bucs are giving him every chance to win the starting job this year.  That spot produced 75 targets and 47 catches for Dallas Clark in 2012.  The 25-year-old Stocker is at least as talented as Clark at this point in their careers.

I'm hoping this group can just tread water while my QBs, RBs and WRs pile up the points.

Kevin

1.08 - Jimmy Graham
5.08 - Vernon Davis
12.05 - Marcedes Lewis 

2 TEs through 5 rounds?  Only in the FFPC …

Really, though, I saw this one coming.  And I welcomed it.  

Graham is that shiny new Ferrari -- flawless. (Fuel economy be dammed.)  His supporting cast, talent and, most importantly, health are all overwhelming positives.   He's also playing for a huge new contract.

It's tough to overstate the importance of TEs receiving 1.5 PPR.  Graham recorded at least 6 grabs 8 times in a "down" 2012.  That's 9 fantasy points by itself.  Juicy yardage and TD totals add supersized upside to his safeness.

Then you have Davis.  I mentioned earlier how my fellow cohorts are tired of me touting Brandon LaFell.  That's a lie. The guy I've really spent months pumping up is V.D.

There's nothing fancy to my reasoning.  Davis is an overwhelmingly talented athlete poised to play a gigantic role in San Fran's passing game.  His chemistry with Colin Kaepernick lagged last regular season, but the duo emerged in the playoffs.  Three postseason contests produced 13 catches, 254 yards and 1 TD.

All offseason reports on these two have turned up positive.  The most intriguing news?  Davis is taking training camp reps at WR, a reflection on San Fran's young, unproven WR corps.

With 26 rounds to build my team, I certainly wanted a 3rd TE.  Besides, you can start up to 3 TEs each week thanks to a 2-flex format.  Insert Lewis.  Early camp chatter on Jacksonville's monstrous TE indicates he'll handle an increased receiving role.  He chalked up a pedestrian 52-540-4 line in 2012.  But with Justin Blackmon suspended until Week 5, Lewis must step up.  Of course, the Jags' messy QB situation is an upside-killer.


Ks

Jared

25.04 - Ryan Succop
26.09 - Graham Gano

Kevin

23.08 - Mike Nugent
25.08 - Lawrence Tynes


DEFs

Jared

20.09 - Rams
24.09 - Bills

Kevin

19.08 - Ravens
22.05 - Dolphins


Final Rosters:

Jared

QB - Drew Brees, Jake Locker

RB - LeSean McCoy, Darren McFadden, Ryan Mathews, Pierre Thomas, Johnathan Franklin, Mike Goodson, Christine Michael, Mike Tolbert

WR - Larry Fitzgerald, Jordy Nelson, Miles Austin, Justin Blackmon, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Golden Tate, Nate Burleson, Rod Streater, Joseph Morgan

TE - Brandon Pettigrew, Tyler Eifert, Luke Stocker

K - Ryan Succop, Graham Gano

DEF - Rams, Bills


Kevin

QB - Matt Stafford, Ryan Tannehill, Matt Moore

RB - Chris Johnson, Stevan Ridley, DeAngelo Williams, Danny Woodhead, Fred Jackson, Marcel Reece, Roy Helu

WR - Victor Cruz, Mike Wallace, T.Y. Hilton, Brandon LaFell, Jeremy Kerley, Brian Quick, Markus Wheaton, T.J. Graham, Tommy Streeter

TE - Jimmy Graham, Vernon Davis, Marcedes Lewis

K - Mike Nugent, Lawrence Tynes

DEF - Ravens, Dolphins

Thoughts on the squads and how they'll fare in the Pros vs. Joes Fantasy Football Tournament?  Shoot us an email at info@draftsharks.com.

UPDATE:  Kevin won this league and will play for a 300K first place prize in the 2014 FFPC Main Event.

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