Anatomy of a March Best Ball Draft – Part 5
With their last 8 picks, Team 1 drafts 3 defenses and fills in the remaining 5 with a mix of RBs and WRs. Great way to end the draft , addressing the defense late in draft and with an optimal count of 3. The backs here, Jonathan Stewart and Joe Williams, both are in a position to provide useful games at some point during the season. There are some questions in the 49ers backfield, but McKinnon may not hold up in a semi-featured role and is known to get knicked up. He’s not the biggest guy. Stewart would seem to be in line for the bulk of the 1st/2nd down work on the Giants. If the Giants end up drafting Saquon Barkley, however, that could change. The Callaway and Brandon Marshall picks are dart throws, while the Curtis Samuel is sneaky value with a receiver who should be the #2 wideout (not TE) on the Panthers.
Team 2 rounds out a low profile TE corps with Jake Butt and Rico Gathers, a couple of young tight ends who could easily surprise. Overall though, their group of Eifert/McDonald/Butt/Gathers would seem to lack any reliable option. Frank Gore is basically free here in the 22nd round, doesn’t have a lot of upside, but can reasonably be expected to post 4-5 games with at least 10 points and be inserted into the lineup by the optimizer. Kenneth Dixon and Henderson are faces in committee backfields of Balitimore and Denver, but those are traditionally places where there is high turnover in terms of who the lead back is week to week. That could pan out. Trent Taylor is a sneaky value as a PPR option in the up and coming 49ers offense. The Jaron Brown pick was one I was hoping to make, but I just waited too long to pull the trigger.
Team 3 finishes their draft by drafting 4 additional RB’s in the final eight rounds, giving them NINE total RB’s. Ware and Conner are handcuffs that could be featured guys if an injury happens on their teams. Damien Williams and Cameron Artis-Payne seem more like filler to me, and can’t envision a scenario where they suddenly become key members on this squad. The addition of Garrett Celek gives them both of the tight ends on the 49ers, pairing him George Kittle. Overall, with a combination of Kittle/Celek/Luke Wilson, you can’t expect large point totals coming from the tight end position on this best ball team.
Team 4 wraps up their draft with a flurry of wide receiver picks, selecting 5 of them in the last 8 rounds, in addition to a couple of defenses and running back Buck Allen.
At the 5 spot, I drafted 3 defenses to fill that position. Around those picks, we weaved in 1 each of QB (McCown), RB (Rod Smith), WR (Terrance Williams), TE (Jesse James) and K (Caleb Sturgis). No sure things in that group, but James should have a few big weeks, and it never hurts to have the backup to the volatile Zeke Elliot. Terrance Williams is nothing special (and has a broken foot), but the volatile Dez situation makes him worth a shot as the final pick in round 28.
Team 6 wraps up their draft by grabbing three defenses, in addition to a pair of RB’s and WR’s. The Chester Rogers pick was a late round snipe against me (what else is new?).
In team 7’s last picks it loads up on 6 wide receivers giving them 12 overall. A lot of those have upside for sure (J.J. Nelson, Brice Butler, John Ross, Malcom Mitchell). The other two picks are both running backs. Jeremy Hill just might be the goal line guy in New England, and in this format, you don’t have to guess when those scores will happen. Looking at the draft board for this team, top to bottom, it has a really nice look. Pounding all those WR’s late is a move that I think will pay off nicely.
Team 8 is just filling out depth in their final picks, grabbing 1 player from each position with a couple additional receivers.
Team 9 goes HEAVY on rookie prospects, with 4 of their 8 picks yet to have a known team until the 2018 draft. Josh Adams, Kalen Ballage, Anthony Miller, and Michael Gallup make up 4 of their final 5 picks in this draft.
After selecting 3 tight ends in the first 20 rounds, team 10 adds 3 more in the last 8 giving them a total of 6 overall. Surprisingly, they have only rostered a total of 6 wide receivers in this draft, which seems particularly low given 28 picks to select from. Not sure that will be an optimal configuration.
Team 11 drafts 2 rookie quarterbacks in their final selections, Sam Darnold and Josh Allen. With DeShaun Watson and Carson Wentz as their 1 and 2 QB selections, they don’t actually have a definitive started on the roster at this time (given injury concerns to those two). They also waited REAL late to pull the trigger on the kickers. Cairo Santos and Randy Bullock are drafted in the 26 and 28th round. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone hold off this late in an FFPC best ball draft to draft them.
Last but not least, Team 12 ALSO waits until their final picks to grab defenses (KC,CIN, SF). With the addition of Mike Gillislee, they end up with 6 total RB’s, and the Kendall Wright pick is interesting as the potential slot receiver for the Vikings.
At the end of the day, there is zero of what I call “dope factor” in this draft. All 12 teams are strong drafters, and the roster construction strategies of all the teams are viable. Check out the chart below to see how it all broke down.