Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
After experimenting with numerous strategies in the countless mock drafts I did on fantasyfootballcalculator.com, it was finally time to draft for real this past weekend.
On Sunday, I had the No. 11 overall pick in a 12-team league with one QB, three WRs, six points per all touchdowns, a half point per reception, 10 rushing/receiving yards per point and 25 passing yards per point.
Somewhere between writing my column on Aug. 7 promoting the strategy of grabbing Philip Rivers late after filling up your skills positions (which I still think can work) and this past weekend, I decided that I just couldn't pass up the chance to draft one of the elite quarterbacks. The game has changed. There is simply too much distance between the top five and everyone else, including the Mannings, Vicks, Ryans and Romos of the world.
Including getting an elite QB, here were my other strategies I utilized:
- Get Jimmy Graham at all costs: I coveted Graham because I think he'll surpass Rob Gronkowski as the No. 1 tight end this season. That's not a knock on Gronk, it's more a recognition of how many weapons New England has (especially after the Boston Globe reported last week that Aaron Hernandez has "ascended to Brady's No. 1 option").
- Minimize question marks at the running back position: I was resigned to the likelihood that I wouldn't get a top-tier RB if I went QB-TE in the first two rounds, but I made it a priority to get several mid-tier guys who are guaranteed a heavy workload this season.
- Wait on receivers: As I wrote earlier this month, the WR position is so deep this season that it didn't pay to select anyone other than Calvin Johnson early in the draft.
Let's see how I did.
Round 1 - Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans Saints (Considered: DeMarco Murray): There really wasn't much debate at this spot. Running backs Arian Foster, Ray Rice, LeSean McCoy, Darren McFadden, Chris Johnson and Matt Forte, quarterbacks Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brews and receiver Calvin Johnson were all off the board. I knew I would get Stafford or Newton on the wrap around at No. 14 overall, but I wasn't sure that Graham would still be there after picks No. 12 and 13.
Round 2 - Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions (Considered: None): Though Stafford is still an injury risk, I just couldn't pass up the chance to draft the talented QB considering he'll be slinging it upwards of 650 times again (and throwing it to Calvin Johnson the majority of the time).
Round 3 - DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys (Considered: None): I'm high on Murray and considered him in the first round, so it was a major coup when I was able to snag him in the third. Running backs selected before Murray between my second- and third-rounders: Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, Jamaal Charles, Steven Jackson, Fred Jackson, Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren Sproles.
Round 4 - Percy Harvin, WR, Minnesota Vikings (Considered: Trent Richardson, Antonio Brown, Brandon Lloyd): I had to call an audible with my fourth-round pick since receivers started flying off the board in rounds 2-3. Though the position is deep, I didn't want to be left with too many question marks here so I drafted Harvin, who is sure to see plenty of targets as well as rush for 300-350 yards. Receivers drafted between my second- and fourth-round picks: Julio Jones, Larry Fitzgerald, Victor Cruz, Andre Johnson, A.J. Green, Greg Jennings, Roddy White, Brandon Marshall, Hakeem Nicks, Wes Welker, Mike Wallace, Jordy Nelson and Steve Smith.
Round 5 - Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Considered: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Jeremy Maclin, Doug Martin): If the draft played out according to my plan I probably would have drafted a running back here, but since receivers were getting thin quickly and since I had another pick coming three picks later, I decided to grab Tampa Bay's new No. 1 target.
Round 6 - BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Cincinnati Bengals (Considered: Martin): Green-Ellis is a player I have targeted in numerous mocks since I consider him the second best RB2 available after Ahmad Bradshaw. The reason: Cedric Benson has carried the ball 20.3 times per game over the last three seasons (895 total), and Green-Ellis is a similar runner with 10-TD upside.
Round 7 - Peyton Hillis, RB, Kansas City Chiefs (Considered: Nate Washington): Remember when I said I wanted to minimize question marks at running back by drafting high volume backs? A trio of Murray, Green-Ellis and Hillis should allow me to do that.
Round 8 - Robert Meachem, WR, San Diego Chargers (Considered: Titus Young): Washington was selected immediately after I took Hillis, so I had to settle for Meachem two picks later. This one could go either way. The 6-foot-2 Meachem could replace Vincent Jackson as Philip Rivers' No. 1 deep threat or he could fail to establish chemistry and end up as the third wideout by midseason when Vincent Brown returns.
Rounds 9-14: Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears, Greg Little, WR, Cleveland Browns, Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints, Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings, Houston Texans defense, Laurent Robinson, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars.
There's no doubt I ended up weaker at receiver than I anticipated considering how deep the field is, but as long as Meachem is competent and Harvin and Jackson turn in solid WR2 performances my distinct advantages at QB and TE over the seven owners who didn't get one of the top five QBs and the 10 who didn't get one of the top two TEs (plus a steady RB trio) should be enough to carry me on a week-to-week basis.