Fantasy Draft Recaps

Jared Smola's FSWA Draft Recap

By Jared Smola 1:16am EDT 8/29/13
(Check out Lenny's and Matt's recaps as well.)

The Fantasy Sports Writers Association League is the Super Bowl of experts leagues.

This year’s contest features 10 leagues of 12 teams.  That’s 120 experts vying for the title of “industry champ.”

The FSWA league uses standard PPR scoring with the following starting requirements:

1 QB
2 RB
3 WR
1 TE
1 Flex (RB/WR/TE)
1 K

In such a large, talented league, risk-taking is required.  Playing it safe won’t beat out 119 other teams.  It takes a few well-played gambles to win this baby.  You’ll see that I made some high-risk, high-reward picks where I might have gone safer in a normal-sized league.

I was strapped with the 11th pick in this year’s FSWA draft.  Not ideal, but I think I came away with a squad capable of making a run at the title.

Here’s a pick-by-pick recap of my draft.

1.11 – Matt Forte, RB, Bears

I might not have landed Forte here had this draft taken place a few days later.  As it was, Forte exploded for 109 yards and a score in preseason action just 48 hours after this draft.  He’s averaging 9.9 yards per carry and 12.7 yards per catch this preseason, looking like a perfect fit in HC Marc Trestman’s offense.  Forte is a threat for 1,600+ total yards, 60+ grabs and a top-8 fantasy finish.

2.02 – Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks

I thought long and hard about both Jimmy Graham and Dez Bryant here.  I think they’re both in for monster seasons.

But the dearth at RB this year has me starting RB-RB whenever possible.  Lynch isn’t a PPR dynamo like Forte, but his heavy rushing workload makes him a reliable weekly bet.  Even with only 28 catches last year, he finished 6th among RBs in PPR scoring.

3.11 – David Wilson, RB, Giants

Here’s 1 of those “swing-for-the-fences” picks I mentioned in the intro. 

In a standard league, I might have opted for a safer RB.  Wilson isn’t safe.  He has just 71 NFL carries under his belt, to go along with ball-security and pass protection issues.

If he can prove reliable in those 2 areas, though, his raw talent will force the Giants to feed him 20+ touches per game. And with this kind of game-breaking speed, that could equate to a top-10 fantasy finish.  That’s the type of value you need to get in the 3rd round to win the FSWA League.

4.02 – Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts

Upside is nice.  But I need some safety too, especially since this is my WR1.

Wayne remains a safe PPR bet.  Yeah, he’s 34 and slowed down over the 2nd half of last season.  But even then he was a top-20 WR.  Wayne was #8 over the course of the season. 

He’ll remain QB Andrew Luck’s safety blanket and will now be operating in a quick-strike passing scheme that should suit Wayne’s game better than last year’s vertical attack.

5.11 – Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers

Here’s my favorite pick of the draft. 

Nelson was sidelined and considered questionable for Week 1 when this draft took place.  I was willing to take even 13 or 14 games from him at this point.

Now Nelson is back at practice and looking as healthy as can be.  Barring a setback, he’ll be on the field for Week 1.  He has top-10 upside if he can stay healthy.

6.02 – Mike Wallace, WR, Dolphins

Wallace’s ADP sunk earlier this month because of a groin injury and reports that he and QB Ryan Tannehill were struggling to get on the same page.  Wallace is healthy now, though, and his connection with Tannehill is improving.  The 2 have hooked up 6 times for 89 yards and a score over the past 2 exhibitions.

But Wallace’s ADP still hasn’t recovered.  An explosive WR who’s his team’s clear-cut #1 WR, he’s a value pick anywhere in the 6th round.

7.11 – Andrew Luck, QB, Colts

Six QBs went between my 6th and 7th-round picks.  In order, they were Matt Stafford, Tom Brady, Tony Romo, Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin.  That left Luck as the last QB on the board that I feel comfortable with as an every-week starter.  And with the team right behind me still without a QB, I had to grab Luck here.

We’re not super high on Luck this season as he transitions to a shorter, more conservative passing attack.  But he remains an elite arm talent with sneaky rushing ability.  Luck has looked on-point this preseason, completing 66% of his passes with 4 TDs and 1 INT.

8.02 – Jermichael Finley, TE, Packers

With my all-or-nothing strategy, I’m looking to load up my starting lineup before adding depth at RB or WR.  If one of my top picks goes down, I’m not winning this league no matter how deep my roster is.

So instead of drafting a backup RB like Mark Ingram or a backup WR like Kenny Britt, I snatched up a TE with top-5 upside.  We’ve heard nothing but good things about Finley all summer, and he’s leading the Packers with 7 catches and 113 yards this preseason.

9.11 – Michael Floyd, WR, Cardinals

Through 8 rounds, WR stands as the shakiest position on this roster.  Time to start loading up there with upside bench guys.

Floyd was quiet this preseason … until this sick TD grab in the 3rd exhibition.  Last year’s 1st-rounder is locked-in as the #2 WR on an aggressive passing attack.  He’s capable of providing WR3 production this year.

10.02 – Vincent Brown, WR, Chargers

A quiet preseason has kept Brown’s ADP depressed.  But he remains a starting WR on a team that figures to be playing from behind early and often this season.

QB Philip Rivers recently gushed about Brown, calling him “everything you’d want in a wide receiver.”

11.11 – Vick Ballard, RB, Colts

This pick won’t do much to get the old blood pumping.  Ballard is a try-hard plodder who averaged just 3.9 yards per carry in his 2012 rookie campaign. 

But he’s also the #2 RB behind a bum-footed starter who has missed 6 games over the past 2 seasons.  Ahmad Bradshaw is a poor bet to make it through this year healthy.  If things break right for me, he’ll be sidelined when 1 of my top 3 RBs are on bye.  Ballard would step into my starting lineup in that case.

12.02 – Isaiah Pead, RB, Rams

Like Ballard, Pead is just 1 spot away from a starting job.  Unlike Ballard, the guy ahead of Pead is completely unproven.  Pead is also a more explosive, well-rounded back than Ballard.

I’m not convinced that Daryl Richardson will hang on to St. Louis’ starting job all season.  He’s undersized at 5’10, 195 pounds.  And there was a reason he was a 7th-round pick a year ago.

Pead is worth stashing in all fantasy leagues.

13.11 – Rob Housler, TE, Cardinals

Housler will be sidelined early this season after suffering a high-ankle sprain in the 3rd exhibition.  As long as he’s back by Finley’s Week 4 bye, I’ll be happy.  The uber-athletic Housler is still capable of high-end TE2 production in HC Bruce Arians’ pass-happy offense.

14.02 – Michael Bush, RB, Bears

Bush is 1 of the few “handcuffs” I’ll target in drafts because he’s cheap and because he’d be a sure-thing fantasy starter if Forte goes down.

15.11 – Christine Michael, RB, Seahawks

We highlighted Michael in our Super Sleepers article a couple weeks ago.  Since then, the rookie has busted off 6.9 yards per carry in 2 exhibitions, highlighted by this blistering 43-yard TD.

Michael’s primary role on my squad is as a Lynch handcuff.  But don’t be surprised if he forces his way into a significant offensive role this season.  8-12 touches per game could make him a bye-week option.

16.02 – E.J. Manuel, QB, Bills

Manuel’s rushing ability alone could make him a sneaky QB2 this year.  But he’s also been impressive as a passer this preseason, completing 79% of his throws with 2 TDs and 0 INTs.

Manuel might not be ready for Week 1, but I’ll only need him for Luck’s Week 8 bye.  The Bills have a juicy matchup against the Saints’ leaky defense that week.

17.11 – Phil Dawson, K, 49ers

Ssshhh!  I committed a cardinal Draft Sharks sin by taking a K before my last pick.  I figured my last couple “flier” targets would make it back to me, though.  And I really like Dawson this year.

The former Brown has connected on 84% of his career FG tries – 12th-best all time.  Now Dawson joins a ‘Niners team that’s led the league in FG attempts each of the past 2 seasons.

18.02 – Brandon LaFell, WR, Panthers

I’m convinced LaFell would have gone undrafted if I hadn’t scooped him up.  Crazy for a still-ascending 26-year-old who posted career highs in catches (44), yards (677) and TDs (4) last season, despite playing just 13 games.  LaFell finished 51st among WRs in PPR fantasy points per game.  He should rank higher in 2013.

19.11 – Terrance Williams, WR, Cowboys

The rookie is just 1 more Miles Austin hamstring tweak away from a starting job on an explosive passing game.  Speaking of explosive, Williams averaged 18.9 yards per catch at Baylor last year.

20.02 – Colts DEF

I plan on streaming defenses all year.  The Colts open the season against the Raiders.  Mmmmm.

Final Roster:

QB -- Andrew Luck, E.J. Manuel

RB -- Matt Forte, Marshawn Lynch, David Wilson, Vick Ballard, Isaiah Pead, Michael Bush, Christine Michael

WR -- Reggie Wayne, Jordy Nelson, Mike Wallace, Michael Floyd, Vincent Brown, Brandon LaFell, Terrance Williams

TE -- Jermichael Finley, Rob Housler

K -- Phil Dawson

DEF -- Colts

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