Live Draft Recap: Smola's Pros vs. Joes Dynasty Best Ball
I thought I'd played in every fantasy football format known to man. Until I got an invite to the FFPC's Pros vs. Joes Dynasty Best-Ball League.
I have plenty of dynasty experience. And I've done more than my fair share of best balls. But never a best-ball dynasty league.
Now, this isn't exactly the best-ball format we've all come to love. There is a blind-bidding waiver wire, and there is trading. (What would a dynasty league be without trading?!) But it's a 16-week total points league with optimized starting lineups.
That should change draft strategy. Exactly how? I'm honestly not 100% sure. I do believe that workhorse RBs carry more value in best-ball leagues -- but that runs a bit contrary to general dynasty philosophy that says to bump WRs up the rankings because they have longer shelf lives.
So I'm writing this recap as much less of an "expert" and much more of a guy figuring this thing out as we go.
The startup draft runs 26 rounds. Rosters are cut down to 22 before the start of the season. And there's a 10-round rookie draft each offseason. Regular FFPC starting lineups (2 flex spots) and scoring rules (1.5 PPR for TEs).
Here's my live pick-by-pick analysis of this slow draft ...
1.11 - Joe Mixon, RB, Bengals
My dream scenario here was George Kittle, an elite 26-year-old who gets a big boost in this TE-premium format. That dream died quickly when Kittle went off the board at 1.07. Nice pick.
So I turned my attention to the young, workhorse backs. Mixon and Nick Chubb were both in my crosshairs. I eventually opted for Mixon because I feel better about his workhorse role this season. He doesn't have a Kareem Hunt breathing down his neck.
Mixon is young for a 4th-year pro, turning just 24 in late July. He has a relatively clean injury history, playing in 44 of 48 games through 3 seasons. And he's finished as a top 13 fantasy back in each of the past 2 years -- on bad Bengals offenses. Mixon has an elite fantasy ceiling if Cincinnati takes a big step forward under QB Joe Burrow.
2.02 - Nick Chubb, RB, Browns
This was an easy pick after strongly considering Chubb in the 1st round. Yes, Kareem Hunt is a concern for 2020. But he's set to hit unrestricted free agency next offseason, so that's much more of a short-term, redraft concern.
Like Mixon, Chubb is a young (24), uber-talented RB. His 2,490 rushing yards through his first 2 NFL seasons are the 18th most all-time. And his 5.1 yards per carry beats all but 4 of the guys above him on that list.
Chubb is also in a great spot with the arrival of HC Kevin Stefanski, a run-leaning play caller who just helped Dalvin Cook to a huge season in Minnesota last year.
3.11 - Austin Ekeler, RB, Chargers
I actually tried to trade up to 3.09 to secure Ekeler. (Sometimes the best moves are the ones you don't make.) I probably don't go in this direction in a standard lineup-setting dynasty league. But I wanted to secure as many high-end RBs as possible in this best ball -- and Ekeler was the last RB left in my top 4 tiers.
It's been a good offseason for Ekeler's dynasty stock. He got a 4-year, $24.5 million deal, making him the league's 10th highest paid RB in average annual salary. The Chargers let Melvin Gordon walk in free agency. And they only added a 4th-round rookie to the backfield.
Still only 25, Ekeler should produce at least high-end RB2 numbers for another 2-3 years.
4.02 - Amari Cooper, WR, Cowboys
Going Ekeler in the 3rd was easier when I knew I'd land 1 of these 3 WRs in the 4th: Cooper, Allen Robinson and Odell Beckham.
I ended up getting my pick of the trio and opted for Cooper's weekly ceiling. He's hit 20 FFPC points in 7 of 25 games as a Cowboy. And his floor games hurt much less in this best-ball format.
Cooper just got a huge 5-year, $100 million deal and is tied to an explosive Cowboys passing game for at least the next 2 seasons.
5.11 - Marquise Brown, WR, Ravens
A bunch of players were on my radar here: Brown, Stefon Diggs, Keenan Allen, Tyler Lockett and Dak Prescott. I tried to trade down a few spots to add some value while still ensuring I'd get 1 of those guys but found no takers.
The Prescott stack with Amari Cooper was enticing -- but I couldn't bring myself to take a QB with so much WR value on the board.
I opted for Brown because he was the guy I really didn't want to miss out on. He was never fully healthy last year after offseason foot surgery. But he flashed his sky-high ceiling with a 4-147-2 line in the opener and a 7-126 in the playoffs. This remains a super intriguing dynasty prospect: a 1st-round pick with a strong college resume with a clear path to #1 WR duties on a strong Ravens offense.
6.02 - Tyler Lockett, WR, Seahawks
Diggs and Allen were also still available here. Why Lockett? Process of elimination.
Love Diggs the player. Don't love his new home in Buffalo with scattershot QB Josh Allen.
Same story for Allen. QB questions in Los Angeles. And he's slated to hit free agency next offseason, which adds more unknown.
Lockett is tied to QB Russell Wilson in Seattle for at least the next 2 years. He's coming off back-to-back top 16 fantasy finishes. And he's still just 27. (Plus he's 1 of my favorite players in the NFL.)
6.07 - Noah Fant, TE, Broncos
I made a big move up here, sending my 7.11, 8.02 and 10.02 for the 6.07, 8.07 and 11.12. Fant is worth it.
He looked like a high-end prospect coming into the league, turning in big sophomore and junior seasons at Iowa, testing as a 98th percentile athlete and getting 1st-round draft capital. Then he turned in a super encouraging rookie season, joining a strong group of just 16 other TEs to tally 100+ PPR points as rookies over the past 10 seasons.
Fant could bust into the upper-echelon of fantasy TEs as early as this year.
8.07 - Jarvis Landry, WR, Browns
The most underrated WR in fantasy football? Landry has finished as a top 19 PPR WR in 5 straight seasons and is still only 27 years old. I got him here as the 40th WR off the board.
Landry's offseason hip surgery is a slight concern -- but not nearly enough to knock him out of consideration at this price. He's signed with the Browns through the 2020 campaign.
10.09 - Brandin Cooks, WR, Texans
Unexcited about what was on the board, I traded down from 9.11 and then again from 9.12, picking up some extra value in Rounds 12, 17 and 19.
Then I got the guy I was planning to take at 9.11 anyway. Cooks is coming off an ugly 2019: just 42 catches and his 3rd and 4th documented concussions. But he's also a 26-year-old who topped 1,000 yards in 4 straight seasons from 2015 to 2018. I think he's a nice dynasty buy-low right now -- especially with tons of opportunity available in Houston.
11.04 - Baker Mayfield, QB, Browns
I moved up 7 spots here to secure Mayfield, who, like Cooks, is a buy-low coming off a disappointing 2019 campaign.
That looks like an outlier. Mayfield turned in an uber-productive college career and then set the NFL rookie record with 27 passing scores. With a new coaching staff, a revamped offensive line and a loaded group of pass-catchers, the table is set for a big bounce back for Baker.
As a bonus, Mayfield and Jarvis Landry give me a Browns stack.
11.12 - Jace Sternberger, TE, Packers
He's still a wild card after a lost rookie season. But Sternberger was an intriguing prospect coming out. He exploded for a 48-832-10 line in his lone season at Texas A&M and drew a Travis Kelce comparison from the great Greg Cosell.
With Jimmy Graham gone and a bunch of question marks behind Davante Adams in Green Bay's WR corps, Sternberger has a shot to win a big role in 2020 and beyond.
12.02 - Daniel Jones, QB, Giants
Jones is coming off an encouraging rookie campaign, ranking 12th at his position in fantasy points per game. Most importantly in this best-ball format, he flashed a lofty weekly ceiling, topping 30 points 4 times.
With Jones and Mayfield, I feel good about my QB room both short and long term.
12.09 - Tevin Coleman, RB, 49ers
Can't say I'm thrilled with this pick. At 27, Coleman is past the age peak and doesn't hold much long-term value.
I do think he can help me this year, though. We know the 49ers running game will produce. And I don't believe Raheem Mostert is as locked in as the lead back there as most fantasy drafters do. Coleman was a top-10 fantasy RB for an 8-game stretch in the middle of last season.
14.02 - Eric Ebron, TE, Steelers
What a strange career it's been for this guy. Ebron was considered a bust in Detroit, although his 4 seasons there included 3 top-15 finishes in FFPC points. Then he exploded for a 4th-place finish in his Colts debut in 2018 before struggling through injuries last year.
All that ... and he's still just 27 years old. Ebron could prove to be a steal here -- as the 25th TE off the board -- if he gets a healthy Ben Roethlisberger.
15.04 - Bryan Edwards, WR, Raiders
The South Carolina product boasts as impressive a college production profile as any WR in this year's draft class. He posted a 44-590-4 line as a 17-year-old true freshman and then registered strong market shares over the next 3 seasons. Edwards is a powerful 6'3, 212-pounder with experience lining up outside the numbers and in the slot.
Don't be shocked if Edwards -- not 1st-rounder Henry Ruggs -- eventually emerges as the Raiders' #1 WR.