Out of 10 draftees, I owned the 10th overall pick, and for the most part, I was happy.
It was the Rant Sports first Fantasy Football mock draft of the year, and in 10-team leagues, I want– no, need the 10th pick. The only reason I didn’t like owning this pick was the unfortunate realization that I wouldn’t stand a chance at owning my man crush, C.J. Spiller. But then it happened. One pick after the next, Spiller continued to fall. And I was smiling, genuinely happy. And finally, at number 10 overall, I made my first selection of the draft. Here’s how my team looked.
C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills (1.10): That’s right, it happened. Somehow, some way, Spiller fell to me at 10th overall. There wasn’t one player on my radar other than the Bills back. Last season, Spiller was the number seven fantasy back, despite splitting work with Fred Jackson. Also, via Tristan Cockroft, Spiller posted the fifth-highest consistency rating (81.3), which means that over 80 percent of the time, Spiller finished inside the top-10 or 12 (depending on your league size) among fantasy backs for that week. If he can produce like that during a year in which he was often under-utilized, I can’t wait to see what he does with new head coach Doug Marrone. Marrone has been run-oriented during his time at Syracuse and stated that he won’t pull Spiller for short yardage situation. A running back with top-three upside at 10 overall? Talk about a steal.
Matt Forte, Chicago Bears (2.01): With guys like Alfred Morris and Steven Jackson still on the board, perhaps I reached a bit on Forte here, but I can’t stay away from Marc Trestman and that offensive scheme. Trestman stated how much he loves Forte and that they need him to be even more of a focal point in the passing game. Throughout his coaching career, Trestman has been a guy who lets his quarterbacks sling the ball around a ton, but especially targeting the running backs. I mean, back when he was with the Cardinals, Larry Centers, a fullback, caught 69 balls. While Morris is expected to catch more balls this year, and Jackson is in an ideal situation in Atlanta, I think, barring injury, Forte can finish as a top-10 back. The usage will be there, despite him not being a strong short-yardage back.
Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos (3.10): Thomas was the best receiver on the board at the time, and after already drafting two running backs, this pick was a no-brainer. I expect Denver to throw the ball a ton this season, and the arrival of Wes Welker won’t hurt Thomas in my opinion. Welker’s production and skill-set over the middle of the field warrants opposing defense’s attention, which will allow Thomas to get more single coverage looks. Thomas is still the clear-cut best receiver on this roster, has major size with sub-4.40 speed and will get more than enough looks from Peyton Manning.
Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers (4.01): When I draft, I always draft keeping PPR in mind. With that being said, I took the massive upside of Cobb over proven guys like Andre Johnson. Since I tend to consider PPR, Cobb was the logical choice. He had 80 catches last season, despite tons of other weapons around him. Now, Greg Jennings is gone, and when the best quarterback in the world is not only throwing you the football, but talking you up as a guy who can catch 100 balls, you have my attention. The best news? Teammates James Jones and Jordy Nelson will continue to operate out of the flanker position, which means Cobb will continue to run out of the slot.
Darren Sproles, New Orleans Saints (5.10): Again, I love PPR, and as a flex, you can’t do much better than Sproles. I could have went with a quarterback here, but I’d like to wait until round eight, if I can help it. As for Sproles, playing on one of the team’s most powerful offenses with the return of Sean Payton, I expect tons of productivity. A lock for 70-80 catches, Sproles will be a PPR monster, but don’t sleep on his red zone presence. Last year, Sproles was targeted 19 times in the red zone, which led all running backs in football. Drew Brees often waits for Sproles to run a little wheel route and then cut across the middle, allowing him to walk into the end zone.
Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints (6.01): I went back-to-back members of the Saints here, but I always look to grab Colston. In my eyes, he is the most underrated wideout in the game, and as long as he is catching passes from Brees, he’ll be on m fantasy team. If you want to talk about consistency, look no further. Over the past three seasons, Colston has catch totals of 83, 80, 84, yardage totals of 1,154, 1,143, 1,023 and touchdown totals of 10, 8 and 7. Money in the bank. Was pondering Danny Amendola, but not sold on whether or not he’ll be who everyone thinks he will in New England. Colston is much safer.
Shane Vereen, New England Patriots (7.10): Did I mention I draft with PPR in mind? Vereen was on the board at the end of the seventh, which looked odd to me, considering his ADP has been skyrocketing over the past month or so. I like grabbing Vereen on my bench because he will be used in the same way Danny Woodhead was last season, which resulted in him quietly finishing as a top-25 fantasy back. Vereen is a versatile player who will line up in the slot a ton, and catching passes from Tom Brady sure doesn’t hurt his value. I wanted to take the upside on Vereen over guys who I’m not excited about such as Rashard Mendenhall.
Eric Decker, Denver Broncos (8.01): Do you want to know why I love my team. Well, Decker is my WR4, so there’s that. Decker is one of my bigger draft day bargains of the year. While everyone is afraid of him because of the presence of Welker, Decker is still a guy that Manning will look for in the red zone (25 targets in in 2012). And with the high volume of passing Denver is likely to see, Decker should see enough targets to matter. Three receivers were drafted after Decker (J.Jones, Austin, D.Jackson), but Decker stood out most to me.
Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals (9.10): I find myself taking Bernard a lot lately, and that didn’t change here. I’m extremely sold that Bernard will eventually dethrone BenJarvus Green-Ellis for the starting job in Cincinnati, and with his explosiveness and pass-catching ability, he’ll be one of the most fantasy relevant rookies. I obviously didn’t need another receiver, and with the Late Round Quarterback strategy in full effect, I only continued to add depth to my roster.
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears (10.01): I waited too long. Usually, I look to draft a guy like Tony Romo as my starter around the eighth round. However, I was not expecting other owners to select backup quarterbacks before I took my starter, so that kind of ticked me off. Still, Cutler is a guy I like this year. Like I said, Trestman will allow Cutler to throw the ball enough to be fantasy relevant, and if the offensive line can be any better at all, so shall Cutler. With weapons like Brandon Marshall, Forte and promising Alshon Jeffrey at his disposal, Cutler is a sleeper of mine in 2013.
Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers (11.10): I was happy to see Olsen, a guy I like, slip to me in the 11th round. I usually draft a tight end in round 10, and to see Olsen there one round later made my day. He is coming off of a carer season in Carolina, and outside of Steve Smith, he is Cam Newton’s favorite guy to target. He has the size and athleticism to drive defenses mad. Don’t be surprised if he sneaks into the top-seven among fantasy tight ends.
Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12.01): Since I didn’t land a top-12 quarterback, I decided to grab two guys I like and plan on streaming them throughout the season. Freeman is a guy who I believe is much better than he has shown throughout his career. He has the weapons, the offensive line will be healthy and he has the talent. Now, with rookie Mike Glennon breathing down his neck, it’s a make-or-break year for Freeman.
Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns (13.10): The two-game suspension must be scaring people away because before now, I had never seen Gordon fall to the 13th round. Considering I wouldn’t be starting him in those first two weeks anyway, I’ll take a chance on his massive upside any day of the week. Once he returns, Gordon will be the main option in that passing game, and has serious deep play ability. I had all of my starting roster complete, now it was time to punch a lottery ticket.
St. Louis Rams D/ST (14.01): I needed a defense, and like always, I wait until the second-to-last pick before selecting one. I like the Rams this season. They showed major signs of improvement last year, have young players like Chris Long and James Laurinitis who will only get better and I liked them more than teams like New England and Tampa Bay on the board.
Phil Dawson, San Francisco 49ers (15.10): The last pick of the draft, Dawson is a kicker that was very good for a terrible offense in 2012. Now, with the 49ers, he has a chance to be even better.
QB: Jay Cutler, Josh Freeman
RB: C.J. Spiller, Matt Forte, Darren Sproles, Shane Vereen
WR: Demaryius Thomas, Randall Cobb, Marques Colston, Eric Decker, Josh Gordon
TE: Greg Olsen
D/ST: St. Louis Rams
K: Phil Dawson
Other than the fact that I couldn’t land the quarterback I wanted, and perhaps waited too long, I love this team. A few breakout candidates in Cobb, Spiller and Vereen, but of course, there is some risk here. My quarterbacks are pretty unstable, but I think the amount of depth I have at my running back and wide receiver positions will make up for it. I recommend drafting like this. Wait on quarterback (but pull the trigger before I did) and stack your squad to the max.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.