I didn’t enter the Warehouse Experts Draft with any specific strategy in mind. But I ended up deploying a rather interesting one.
I’ll get to that in a second. But first, here’s a look at the league setup.
Draft Masters (no trades, no free agents, optimal lineup scoring)
Common PPR scoring
Starting lineup requirements:
1 Flex (RB/WR/TE)
We’ve talked a lot this summer about the viability of waiting until the middle rounds to draft your QB or TE. Both positions are deep and present plenty of upside options in Round 7 and beyond.
I waited on both positions in this draft. And I mean waited. I didn’t select a QB until the 10th round. My 1st TE didn’t arrive until the 11th.
This strategy can work in any type of fantasy league. But it’s especially effective in Draft Masters, where you don’t need to play the matchup game. Just snag a few guys with weekly upside, and the odds are that 1 of them will come through for you every week. Meanwhile, the elite groups of RBs and WRs you’ve stockpiled will carry your team.
I think waiting on both my QB and TE turned out well for me here. You can judge for yourself, though. Here’s a pick-by-pick recap of my draft from the #6 spot.
1.06 -- Ray Rice, RB, Ravens
This slow draft started on July 31st. If I could re-do this pick today, I’d snag LeSean McCoy. I prefer his weekly and season-long upside over Rice’s.
Rice remains 1 of the safest 1st-round picks, though. He’s finished as a top-7 PPR RB in 4 straight seasons. And with Baltimore’s WR corps in flux, Rice could top his current career high of 78 catches in 2013.
2.07 -- Steven Jackson, RB, Falcons
A RB-RB start is ideal this year. That being said, it’s not worth reaching for a guy like Reggie Bush or even Darren Sproles over an elite WR like Dez Bryant or Brandon Marshall.
But Steve Jax falling to me here made the RB-RB start a no-brainer. Sure, Jackson is 30 with lots of mileage on his tires. But he’s shown no signs of slowing down. And he should be plenty motivated this year with a legit shot at his 1st Super Bowl. Jackson could catch 50 balls and pop in 10+ TDs this year. Love him as a RB2.
3.06 -- Randall Cobb, WR, Packers
Cobb has been landing on a lot of my teams in the 3rd round.
Despite finishing 35th among WRs in targets last year, he finished 16th in PPR fantasy points. More targets this season should equate to a top 10 finish.
Cobb’s lingering bicep injury is worth monitoring but not enough to lower him in our WR rankings.
4.07 -- Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders
Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment. But I just can’t pass on McFadden in Round 4.
Yeah, he’s never played more than 13 games in a season. And he’s playing on what could be the worst offense in the league.
But McFadden remains an elite talent and will be the clear focal point of Oakland’s offense. 20 touches per game should at least make him a RB2.
For what it’s worth, I was awfully close to grabbing Jordy Nelson or Danny Amendola here. But RB was getting thin in a hurry, and I wanted to lock up my 3rd.
5.06 -- Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts
This is 1 pick I’d like to have back. It’s just tough to get excited about Wayne. He’s a good bet for 80+ catches but doesn’t have the weekly upside that’s so crucial in Draft Masters setups. Even in last year’s monster campaign, Wayne only topped 20 PPR fantasy points 3 times.
Pierre Garcon or Mike Wallace, while lower in our WR rankings, would have been better picks here thanks to their explosive game-to-game upside.
6.07 -- Steve Smith, WR, Panthers
I just missed on Mike Wallace here and settled on the older, but still explosive Smith.
Smith finished 19th among WRs in PPR scoring last year. That followed a 7th-place ranking in 2011. He remains the clear-cut #1 option in Carolina’s passing game. I’ll gladly take Smith as the 26th WR off the board.
7.06 -- Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys
I had Romo all queued up and ready to go here. But someone else is evidently a fan of our favorite value QB. Romo went right ahead of me at 7.05. Good pick, sir.
I have no problem scooping up 1 of Romo’s top targets here, though. Despite dealing with nagging hamstring problems, Austin still finished 24th among WRs in this scoring system last year. There’s no reason Austin can’t be a high-end WR3 in 2013. He’s my WR4, despite grabbing 3 RBs in the first 4 rounds. And that, ladies and gentleman, is why you can afford to pass on WRs early in drafts.
8.07 -- Josh Gordon, WR, Browns
Not a single QB went between my 7th and 8th round picks, making it easy for me to wait a little longer for my starting signal-caller.
Gordon is a prime target in Draft Masters formats. He’s suspended for the first 2 games of the year but could immediately return to WR2 production. He’s the #1 WR in what looks like a burgeoning passing game under QB Brandon Weeden and HC Rob Chudzinski.
9.06 -- Mark Ingram, RB, Saints
Again, no QBs off the board between my 8th and 9th rounders. I’ll wait a little longer.
Drafting Ingram around these parts is a bit of a no-no. We’re big Pierre Thomas fans if you hadn’t heard. I had actually intended on adding PT a bit later to corner two-thirds of the New Orleans backfield, but those plans changed.
Regardless, I think Ingram makes sense in the 9th. I’m not buying the talk of a breakout season, but Ingram at least looks like a good bet for a career high in carries this year. And he’s still a threat for 8+ TDs.
10.07 -- Jay Cutler, QB, Bears
With Eli Manning coming off the board earlier in this round, Cutler was the last QB left that I felt comfortable with as my starter. With pass-happy HC Marc Trestman calling the shots, plus a developing group of pass-catchers behind Brandon Marshall, Cutler should be in for his best season as a Bear. Top-12 production is all I’m looking for because I’ll stockpile a few more QBs.
11.06 -- Martellus Bennett, TE, Bears
Here’s where I had planned on grabbing Pierre Thomas. But 3 TEs (Owen Daniels, Fred Davis and Jordan Cameron) went off the board between my 10th- and 11th-rounders. Still looking for my 1st TE, I felt like I had to pounce now.
Bennett has just 1 catch through 3 preseason games, but he’s not concerned. I’m not either. He proved a valuable pass-catching weapon in his breakout season with the Giants last year. And the Bears didn’t give him $20.4 million this offseason just to block. Bennett could finish 2nd on the team in catches.
Unfortunately, Pierre Thomas was scooped up right behind me at 11.07. Bullocks!
12.07 -- Sam Bradford, QB, Rams
If you wait on a QB, you need to be willing to stockpile a few of them in these middle rounds -- even if it means passing on your favorite upside RBs and WRs.
All the pieces are in place for a career year from Bradford. He’s finally in the same offensive system for a 2nd consecutive year. And he’s surrounded by playmakers in Chris Givens, Tavon Austin and Jared Cook.
My Cutler-Bradford combo is capable of giving me top-10 production.
13.06 -- Rob Housler, TE, Cardinals
Housler has been quiet this preseason, but I remain high on the uber-athletic TE in a pass-first offense. The Housler-Bennett pairing should keep me competitive at TE. Of course, the high ankle sprain he suffered after this draft occurred figures to sap his early-season usefulness.
14.07 -- Isaiah Pead, RB, Rams
So folks are sold on Daryl Richardson? Really? A 5’10, 195-pound former 7th-round pick with just 98 career carries?
Sure, Richardson has out-played Pead this offseason. And he’ll enter Week 1 as the starter. But I’m not convinced he’ll keep that gig all year. Pead will get a shot at some point. I’ll gladly add him in the 14th round -- 77 picks after Richardson.
15.06 -- Jake Locker, QB, Titans
My 3rd QB. And an ideal one at that.
I’m not convinced that Locker will ever develop into a reliable real-life or fantasy QB. His accuracy and decision-making just aren’t up to snuff.
But the guy can sling it. And he has an explosive group of weapons at his disposal. Throw in his rushing ability, and you’ve got a guy with top 10 upside each and every week. Locker should make at least a few starts for this team.
16.07 -- Mike Tolbert, RB, Panthers
Here’s a guy I usually try to snag late in Draft Masters leagues. Tolbert is impossible to rely on in standard leagues, but his goal-line role makes him useful in best-ball. He had a pair of multi-score games last year, plus 4 games with 3+ catches.
Jonathan Stewart’s ankle issues only add to Tolbert’s potential workload (and upside).
17.06 -- Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots
Kenbrell Thompkins has emerged as New England’s #2 WR. Edelman is battling Aaron Dobson for the #3 spot.
Of course, that role could still produce a few big outings. Edelman flashed with games of 105 yards and a score and 67 yards and a score last year -- despite a limited role.
And if Danny Amendola goes down, Edelman would step in as New England’s primary slot man.
18.07 -- Jets Defense
Part 1 of my favorite Team Defense by Committee.
19.06 -- Zach Ertz, TE, Eagles
I have a thing for this guy. Not sure what it is. Maybe the fact that he’s a rocked-up 6’5, 249-pound WR playing TE. Or that he exploded for a 69-898-6 line at Stanford last year. Maybe it’s the imaginative, up-tempo offense Ertz is joining in Philly.
OK, let’s ease of the gas. Ertz is part of a crowded TE group in a spread-the-wealth passing game. He’ll be tough to rely on in standard fantasy leagues. But I do envision a few tasty stat lines this season, making him an ideal TE3 in Draft Masters.
20.07 -- Panthers Defense
Part 2 of my favorite Team Defense by Committee.
21.06 -- Mike Nugent, K, Bengals
22.07 -- Robbie Gould, K, Bears
Make sure to grab 2 Ks in your Draft Masters leagues.
QB -- Jay Cutler, Sam Bradford, Jake Locker
RB -- Ray Rice, Steven Jackson, Darren McFadden, Mark Ingram, Isaiah Pead, Mike Tolbert
WR -- Randall Cobb, Reggie Wayne, Steve Smith, Miles Austin, Josh Gordon, Julian Edelman
TE -- Martellus Bennett, Rob Housler, Zach Ertz
K -- Mike Nugent, Robbie Gould
DEF -- Jets, Panthers