Smola's Pros vs. Joes Draft Recap

We often write about being flexible in drafts. Adjusting strategy on the fly. Jumping on value wherever it presents itself.

My 2017 Pros vs. Joes Draft was a test of whether I’d practice what I preach.

I’ve been a big believer in loading up on RBs early in best-ball drafts since we published our MFL10 Strategy Guide a couple of years ago. The thinking: It’s easier to find “start-worthy” weeks at WR later in drafts than it is at RB.

But that same study concluded that value is king. Drafting guys later than ADP — regardless of position — trumps any set positional strategy.

I rolled with value early on in this FFPC-style best-ball draft. With the “Big 3” RBs coming off the board with the first 3 picks, Antonio Brown was clearly the selection at 1.04. And with 7 more RBs going in the next 16 picks, Dez Bryant represented the top value at 2.09.

How’d the rest of the draft play out? I’ll run through it below.

But first, for those unfamiliar with this format, here’s the skinny:

Here’s how I drafted from the 4 spot in this winner-take-all league. You can check out the full draft board here.

1.04 - Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers

David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell went 1-2, as expected. Ezekiel Elliott remains my #3 overall player in this format — even with his looming suspension. But he came off the board at 1.03.

That left Brown as a fairly easy pick, despite my preference to go RB-heavy early. Brown has finished 1st at his position in PPR points in 3 straight seasons and brings an incredible combination of weekly upside and safety. He led all WRs with 5 top-5 weeks last year and dropped outside the top-36 in just 3 of his 15 games.

2.09 - Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys

I would have taken any of our top 10 PPR RBs had they made it here. But the last one (Jay Ajayi) came off the board 1 pick in front of me.

So I again abandoned the early-RB strategy for value. After returning from an early-season knee injury, Bryant ranked 10th among WRs in PPR points from Week 10 on.

3.04 - Ty Montgomery, RB, Packers

This was a reach — at least according to ADP. But Montgomery was easily the top RB remaining on my MVP Board. And with an FFPC ADP at 4.06 and climbing, he was unlikely to make it back to me in the 4th.

In this winner-take-all league, I’m cool gambling on a guy with RB1 PPR upside.

4.09 - Carlos Hyde, RB, 49ers

Here’s a guy I never would have imagined drafting even just a couple of weeks ago.

But the tide seems to be turning for Hyde. GM John Lynch recently said he “looks tremendous.” HC Kyle Shanahan said he’s “taken it to another level.”

I’m still not sure I’d take Hyde here in a standard lineup-setting league. But he makes sense when we’re hunting upside in a best-ball league.

5.04 - Mark Ingram, RB, Saints

I took this pick right down to the buzzer. And if I could do it over again, I’d have gone with Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph.

But my man-crush on Ingram remains strong — especially in best-ball drafts. He turned in 7 top-14 weeks in this scoring system last year.

6.09 - Martellus Bennett, TE, Packers

11 TEs had flown off the board by this point. Bennett figures to be volatile from week-to-week in a loaded Packers pass-catching corps. But I’m also banking on him boasting 1 of the higher TD ceilings at his position.

7.04 - Ameer Abdullah, RB, Lions

Abdullah wasn’t the top guy available here according to our baseline projections. He wasn’t even the top RB.

But this was another ceiling pick. What if Abdullah sees 220+ carries? What if he pops in 8+ scores? What if he siphons some pass-catching work from Theo Riddick?

I think he’s talented enough to make all of those things happen — and crush the RB31 price tag I drafted him at here.

8.09 - DeSean Jackson, WR, Bucs

I’ve nabbed this guy in almost every best-ball draft I’ve done so far.

There will be ups and downs for a big-play receiver lining up alongside target hog Mike Evans. But those ups should be massive in what looks like an explosive Bucs passing game.

Jackson tallied 100+ yards in 12 games with the Redskins over the past 3 seasons. Only 8 WRs recorded more during that time.

9.04 - Andrew Luck, QB, Colts

This draft kicked off just a few hours after insider Jason La Canfora’s report of “rumblings” that Luck might begin the season on the PUP list, costing him the first 6 games.

I’ll take the La Canfora discount. I got Luck as the 7th QB off the board — and 2.5 rounds later than his ADP from the previous 10 days. I expect him to be out there come Week 1.

10.09 - Mike Wallace, WR, Ravens

Here’s another guy who’s landing on a bunch of my teams.

Wallace finished 22nd among WRs in PPR points last season, his 7th top-35 finish among 8 NFL seasons.

He’s a good bet to at least match — and possibly exceed — his 117 targets from a year ago on a Ravens squad that’s lost well over 300 targets (Steve Smith, Dennis Pitta, Kamar Aiken and Kyle Juszczyk).

11.04 - Corey Davis, WR, Titans

Despite missing most of the spring recovering from ankle surgery, Davis was immediately installed as a starter in training camp. And making plays like this.

That was, until he injured his hamstring on Thursday.

We’ll see how long that keeps him sidelined. But the rookie has the talent to quickly emerge as Tennessee’s top passing-game weapon and return big value on WR48 price tag I paid here.

12.09 - Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles

I honestly would have preferred a “safer” QB behind Luck. But 7 of them flew off the board between my 11th and 12th rounders.

I am excited about Wentz’s ceiling. He added Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith to his weaponry this offseason; returns Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz; and might even get something out of Nelson Agholor.

Wentz also boasts some sneaky rushing upside, testing as an 81st percentile athlete at the Combine and tallying 150 yards and 2 TDs on the ground as a rookie.

13.04 - David Njoku, TE, Browns

My biggest mistake in this draft was waiting too long on TEs. They were getting scooped up quicker than I expected and I failed to adjust. Lesson learned.

Njoku would look a whole lot better as my TE3. I’m hoping the 6’4, 246-pound freak can at least chip in with a few big games.

14.09 - Sterling Shepard, WR, Giants

Shepard was carted off the practice field less than 12 hours after I selected him here. Fortunately, it looks like he avoided a major injury.

A healthy Shepard is currently #3 on the Giants’ WR depth chart — but for a pass-heavy team that runs primarily 3-WR sets.

15.04 - Erik Swoope, TE, Colts

Let’s add another prayer to my TE group.

The Colts are supposedly “very bullish” on Swoope. He’s in line to serve as the #2 TE on a team that produced the most total FFPC points by TEs last year.

16.09 - Mohamed Sanu, WR, Falcons

Sanu is just a Julio Jones injury away from a #1 WR role on an offense that ranked 1st in points and 3rd in passing yards last year.

17.04 - Stephen Gostkowski, K, Patriots

18.09 - Jermaine Gresham, TE, Cardinals

19.04 - Chargers DEF

20.09 - Adam Vinatieri, K, Colts

21.04 - Packers DEF

22.09 - Kai Forbath, K, Vikings

23.04 - Terrance Williams, WR, Cowboys

24.09 - Bengals DEF

25.04 - Jared Goff, QB, Rams

26.09 - Kenyan Drake, RB, Dolphins

27.04 - Lance Kendricks, TE, Packers

28.09 - Nelson Agholor, WR, Eagles

The volatility of DEFs and Ks means mid- and even low-end teams/players will provide starter weeks for your best-ball squad. With 28-spot rosters, I’m a big proponent of drafting 3 of each.

I heard you giggling at the Jared Goff pick. But he’s a starting QB in the 25th round. 26 QBs played at least 14 games last year. They all turned in at least 2 top-12 weeks. Goff will contribute to this team.