Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to take part in the third Rant Sports Mock Draft with some of my colleagues. Being a P.P.R. league and given the ninth pick, I was actually pretty happy with the overall results. Save for a few mistakes that are bound to happen in a fast-paced draft, I think my team is well put together, has depth at each position and avoids the bye week curse.
Round 1 (9): RB Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens — Considering that I have been burned in past leagues by the absence of a solid No. 1 back, I made sure to grab the best player available in Rice. Rice is an incredible talent and is a top-10 back for sure. But in a P.P.R. league, it is all about what he can offer in the reception department. And with a declining cast of characters for Joe Flacco, Rice could emerge as a top option in the passing game.
Round 2 (12): WR Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions – Part of the reason why I picked Rice first was because I knew in a snake draft, I’d pick again just two picks later. I took the gamble that Johnson would still be on the board and it worked out perfectly. In a P.P.R. league, receivers in general see their value go up and Johnson, after what he did last year, sat at top-10, even top-five on most draft boards. While he probably isn’t going to score 336 total points and average 21 a week like last season, he is a downright threat and one that was a great steal in the second round.
Round 3 (29): QB Tom Brady, New England Patriots – With a top RB and WR secured, I figured now would be a good time to pick up a quality signal caller. Brady was the best on the board, and a quarterback any team should be happy with. Sure, he lost his top weapons, but he is Tom Brady and in no way will this affect his fantasy season. Plus, his low interception rate means I won’t lose too many points. He is a great choice to have running my offense.
Round 4 (32): QB Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons – I’ll admit that I made a mistake here because I didn’t read the league rules. My thinking was that I could play him in the flex spot and it made me think I had an incredible start to my draft. But as it is, having Ryan isn’t so bad. He was incredible last year and was responsible for Julio Jones and Roddy White‘s fantasy value. And since the Patriots do have a bye week, it is nice to know I won’t be giving up any points when Brady isn’t playing.
Round 5 (49): WR Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts – With Danny Amendola going just a pick prior and ruining my dream of pairing Brady with one of his receivers, I settled for Wayne. And considering that he is the one sure thing receiver that Andrew Luck has and that he is coming off a pretty solid fantasy year, I feel pretty good penciling him in as my No. 2.
Round 6 (52): TE Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons – I could have gone running back here but with the tight end position pretty thin, I felt the sixth round was a good place to pick up mine. And because I love the idea of pairing a QB with a receiving target, getting Gonzalez was an alluring option. It also didn’t hurt that he put up great numbers last year, especially in the end zone. I’m expecting more of the same in 2013.
Round 7 (69): RB DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers – Needing just one more player to fill out my starting lineup, I turned to Williams. It is not the sexiest pick out there, but Williams is a solid back and is a starter. He should get a decent amount of carries.
Round 8 (72): WR Greg Jennings, Minnesota Vikings – It’s a flex league and I needed a flex player. Considering that Jennings signed a big contract to become Christian Ponder‘s No. 1, his value as a fantasy receiver is on the rise. Jennings should have a solid year even if it is Ponder and not Aaron Rodgers throwing to him, and I’m pretty happy I was able to get him in the eighth round.
Round 9 (89): RB Andre Brown, New York Giants – Working on developing depth, I picked up Brown. David Wilson is probably going to get more of the carries, but the best-case scenario here is that Brown does what he did last year. That would give me the advantage of hurting my opponent who has Wilson. Plus, the guy is high on himself and there is something to be said about players with high confidence. He is not a bad guy to have as a backup.
Round 10 (92): TE Greg Olson, Carolina Panthers – I’ve never been high on tight ends in fantasy leagues, but I figured I should back up Gonzalez anyway. He is older and there is the risk of injury or reduced carries. Plus, he’ll have a bye week so I figured round 10 was as good as any to get my backup tight end.
Round 11 (109): D/ST Houston Texans – With all of my starting positions locked up and depth at key spots, I figured it was a good time to pick a defense. I like Houston, I like sack machine J.J. Watt and I like the expectations of this defense this year.
Round 12 (112): WR Ryan Broyles, Detroit Lions – When Matthew Stafford isn’t throwing to Johnson, it is likely that Broyles gets the rest of the catches. Drafting him ensures that if I’m not getting points, one of my opponents isn’t either. Plus, Broyles can play as a flex or bye week receiver and I like the potential of having both him and Johnson. It could also backfire, but I’m ready to take that risk.
Round 13 (129): RB Bernard Pierce, Baltimore Ravens – I believe in handcuffing, and I can’t tell you how psyched I was to see Pierce still on the board. He is not going to amaze you with his numbers, but if it is true that Rice is going to lose some carries, including goal-line carries, I feel much better knowing I have the guy who will be taking them. I would even go so far to say that Pierce could be the biggest sleeper of the draft.
Round 14 (132): D/ST Pittsburgh Steelers – Instead of picking a kicker here, I went with another defense. I like to account for bye week situations and knowing I can substitute Houston’s D for Pittsburgh is a nice backup.
Round 15 (149): K Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland Raiders – I needed a kicker, and who better than a guy who hits bombs? Janikowski had a 91.2 percent success rate last season and kicked nine over 50 yards. He may not see the ball consistently each game because of the offense but when he does, he has the potential to come up big.
Overall, I feel pretty pleased with my team. I feel confident starting Johnson, Rice and Brady every week and like how the rest of my team shakes out too. I’ve avoided a mass amount of players in one bye week, which is always a good thing, and have assembled a team that can be competitive week in and week out with a decent level of depth as well. I love having both Rice and Pierce, and could even be tempted to start the latter instead of Williams. There is a lot of potential with this lineup, and I trust that it will perform well enough in a P.P.R. league.
QB: Tom Brady, Matt Ryan
RB: Ray Rice, DeAngelo Williams, Andre Brown, Bernard Pierce
WR: Calvin Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Greg Jennings, Ryan Broyles
TE: Tony Gonzalez, Greg Olson
K: Sebastian Janikowski
D/ST: Houston Texans, Pittsburgh Steelers