Over the next couple of weeks, NFL Ireland will cast an eye over an event that will affect the next 5 months of so many lives around the world. Of course, I’m talking about the fantasy football draft. Some of us bury ourselves in statistics and rankings in the weeks before the draft, some turn up on the day hoping to recognise some of the players available, others leave it up to the gods of auto pick. Regardless of your level of commitment, our round by round look at Fantasy Draft Preview 2014 edition might be able to help you on your path to imaginary sporting glory. Today, the opening rounds are under the microscope. This may sound obvious, but if you make a mistake here it could be all over for you.
This is based on a 10 team standard scoring league (It’s not easy to get deeper leagues in Ireland.)
The first four picks in your draft should be running backs. In no particular order, Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy, and Matt Forte should be coming off the board straight away. I’d prefer to take McCoy, or Peterson if I was at the top of the draft, but you can’t lose with any of these guys.
After that things get hazier. Apart from Eddie Lacy, the top running back pool is a minefield. DeMarco Murray’s injuries will always be a problem, but I would still take him at the end of the first round ahead of Arian Foster, or Le’Veon Bell.
If you take a quarterback in the first round, I will never forgive you for it. Somebody in your league is going to jump on Peyton Manning in the first round, but don’t let it be you. If you pull the trigger on a quarterback too early, you will be left with glaring weaknesses at running back or wide receiver.
Bust: Marshawn Lynch- Lynch is in a great position to disappoint. After a brief holdout, and some trouble with the law, Lynch is returning to a team with strong, young runners sitting behind him on the depth chart. Lynch has carried the ball 901 times over the last 3 seasons, more than any other player in that span. I don’t believe Lynch will get the same amount of carries as he has in recent years, either he’ll lose them to injury, or Christine Michael will take them from him. Either way, less carries usually means less points.
Value Pick: Jimmy Graham- Graham is the possibly the safest pick in fantasy. This safety comes at a high price, but at a position with so many question marks, he’s an exclamation mark. Last season, he scored more points than A.J Green, Dez Bryant, and Brandon Marshall, so it’s no surprise that he’s being taken in the first round of most fantasy drafts. If you are picking between 6 and 10 and he’s still on the board I think he’s great value. He’s not really a fantasy tight end, he’s his own position.
Round 2 hosts many top receivers, but the running backs that are usually available are huge risks in my eyes. Le’veon Bell’s backfield is getting increasingly crowded, Montee Ball is unproven, and Arian Foster just doesn’t seem like himself anymore. Play it safe with a receiver if you managed to secure a running back in round 1.If you didn’t, the risk may be necessary.
Value Pick: Demaryius Thomas- Thomas is the highest scoring fantasy receiver from last year that is likely to see the field this year (Unless Josh Gordon gets a miracle). Despite this, he is still coming off the board after Dez Bryant, Le’veon Bell and DeMarco Murray .Without Eric Decker around, his targets should increase meaning his totals could be even more impressive this time out, even if he does get extra attention from opposing defences. He’s good value even at the start of the second round.
Bust: Arian Foster- I just can’t trust him anymore. He never seems to be fully healthy, and all those carries are starting to catch up with him. On top of that he’s going to have Ryan Fitzpatrick as his quarterback. Fitzpatrick tends to throw away possession easily, giving his offence less time with the ball, and giving Foster less opportunities to score points. At 28 years old,this might be the end of Foster’s time as an elite fantasy runner.
It’s impossible to decide on a definite position to draft in each round after the first. It all depends on the players that are available. Don’t cling to your pre-draft plan in favour of some sort of structure, improvisation is key. Your pick here also depends on how you’ve done in the opening two rounds. If you’re thin at running back Alfred Morris, should continue the solid performances he has put in since he came into the league. If you are struggling at receiver, look no further than Antonio Brown.
Value Pick: Antonio Brown- Brown is forcing his way into the top tier of receivers, and that means he’s great value at the end of the third round (His current ADP). He finished 7th in total points among receivers last season, scoring only twenty points less than Calvin Johnson. He’s also likely to see more targets this year, after the departure of Emmanuel Sanders.
Bust: Rob Gronkowski- How can I risk an early pick on a player who just had the eighth operation of his career? I understand how dominant he is when he’s on the field, but in the third round I want a player that I can rely on week in, week out, from September to December. Gronkowski is not that player. I’d love to see him prove me wrong, but I’m going to let somebody else take the gamble.
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