I have participated in more than 100 live drafts since I started playing fantasy football in 1991 and hundreds more online.  When I arrived at the FLEX (Fantasy League of Experts), the standard scoring draft was in full swing and there was no one else in the area.  It was so quiet.  None of the participants had arrived and it was 2:35pm ET and we had been told that we should not arrive a minute after 2:30pm. 

Wow.  If this was Tour Wars, I could arrive at 6:30am for a 9:00am draft and there would be three people having breakfast and talking baseball.  If I arrived 25 minutes prior, I would not be able to get a seat.

The reason I spell this out is to share the mood.  The participants sauntered in and it was clear they were experts and this was easy and fun. Low stress. 

Everyone knows that I don’t study football day and night like any group in the expert leagues that I play against.  That is why I must have a plan.  So, before this draft I came up with a detailed but basic three-step plan:

  • Draft SMART – Get three RB in the first four rounds, load WR depth, get solid QB1 and TE1, jump early for good DT in 13th or 14th round. Know the rules.  The important rules in this league are that rosters are quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, a flex position, a super flex position which means it can be a second quarterback, a tight end and a defensive team.  There is no kicker.  It is a half-point per reception league with standard scoring otherwise.
  • Handle Super Flex – Examine super flex drafts on Head2Head Sports.  Look at when QBs are going and plan to handle that.  In H2H leagues, Quarterbacks go in the first couple of rounds and constantly through the first 6-7 rounds.  My plan was to wait to 4th and 5th round regardless and get two guys even if it was Rivers/ Roethlisberger types.  Don’t get shut out though.  Be careful. 
  • Have Fun – Honestly, why the heck would I give up a Saturday of working for FANation if it wasn’t fun? 

So, we sat down to draft now and I had with me just The Ultimate Cheat Sheet that had been newly updated by Howard Bender.  Then an amazing thing happened.  The draft was just an aside for great and entertaining conversation.  The eleven other people in the room were just interesting and I didn’t really know any of them well except Adam Ronis and of course, Brandon Marianne Lee.  Just a great group of super smart nice people who were ribbing each other and even helping each other sometimes with player info.  So, shout out to the whole group with Jake Ciely and Elliot Christ as the standouts of entertaining banter plus great drafting.

Well, here is the draft board and then we can look at my team.

(click photo for league link)

Round 1: Melvin Gordon Was thrilled to see that Kareem Hunt and Dalvin Cook both go before my pick leaving me with Gordon.  Playing SMART means three of the first four rounds are running backs and in a Super Flex, I was not sure when the quarterbacks would start flying.  With 1200 yards and 9-10 touchdowns likely for the star running back, this is a strong pick.

Round 2: Jordan Howard Many who are ranking or looking at ADPs will see this as a stretch.  It is.  Would have taken DeAndre Hopkins and in retrospect maybe I should have taken Davante Adams as the QB run beginning in the fourth round would have enabled me to get two more good RBs.  In our Bold Predictions, I already said that Jordan Howard would lead the league in rushing, so I had to double down.

Round 3: Adam Thielen Needed a WR1 and he was by far the surest thing with Tyreek Hill , Larry Fitzgerald and Amari Cooper as other choices.  It was time to take the Minnesota wide receiver as both Kenyon Drake and Alex Collins were still on the board.  He could have 100 receptions this year.

Round 4: Alex Collins Most rankings that I look at have Kenyon Drake ahead of him, but his bruising running style fits for a defensive team like the Ravens.  

Round 5: JuJu Smith-Schuster This was a toss up between Marvin Jones and JuJu.  Jones had been going later than JuJu and thought I might get them both.  Like JuJu’s situation better as Antonio Brown will get a ton of double coverage as he always does. Here is where some strategy comes into play.  Since Matt Modica had taken two quarterbacks already, I could take the wide receiver and then start the quarterback run.

Round 6: Kirk Cousins BOOM! Last potential elite quarterback and there goes the run on mediocre quarterbacks making my skill position picks better.

Round 7: Robert Woods Another year with Jared Goff .  He is the outside receiver who will get the consistent targets while Cooper Kupp works the middle of the field and Brandon Cooks runs fly patterns.  Damn, he is fast.  Woods is a sure thing for 900 yards and 7 touchdowns.

Round 8: Greg Olsen Never deviate from the plan.  Ut oh.  I did here.  The plan was to get another quarterback in a two-quarterback league.  All the good quarterbacks were gone so the plan had Trey Burton in the 10th which would have succeeded but decided on Olsen.

Round 9: C.J. Anderson Why is everyone so down on C.J. Anderson ? He had 245 carries for over 1000 yards last year.  The touchdowns were not there and have not been for years, but the Panthers have pounded Cam Newton in the red zone for touchdowns but C.J. is a much better option.  Those who saw Christian McCaffery run the ball in during the first pre-season game and think that is how it will be, I will tell you this…IT IS THE FIRST PRE-SEASON GAME!

Round 10-11: Derek Carr and Case Keenum The way you should look at these two picks is that they come back to back because Derek Carr is well, Derek Carr and in between went four more quarterbacks so if I was going to get three, I had to grab Keenum at that point.  Either one could have great games based on matchups, but this is a matching pair.

Round 12: Allen Hurns More pre-season hype taking a number one wide receiver and making him number two.  I could have taken Gallup here as I have been doing because Hurns is always gone.  Allen Hurns is way surer and a 12th round wide receiver that is the number one is an easy choice.

Round 13: LeGarrette Blount Four for four.  Four expert league drafts so far and Blount is on all the teams.  We spoke to beat writers in Detroit and they say he looks good.  Kerryon Johnson is a great talent, but in 2016, Blount rushed for 18 touchdowns.  He is in his 10th season and only has had more than 250 carries once.  Give him that ball. 

Round 14: Rams Defense – Always do this and jump a round early because I always have a sleeper wide receiver that I draft with the last pick.  Not much to say here.  Second or third best defense depending on whether you think Minnesota will stay elite.

Round 15: Martavis Bryant Your last picks, you want to get upside.  He is the definition of upside.  Super talented.  Lots of weapons on that team.  No more Michael Crabtree .  Boom or bust pick with my flex quarterback throwing to him.

Round 16: Ted Ginn Wanted Anthony Miller as he has been my sleeper since I started drafting in June.  Nope.  He gone!  Ted Ginn is a talented receiver with a great offense.  They say they will run the football.  If I get to week 4 and Ginn not producing…he gone!

So that is a wrap.  Here is what the Draft Evaluator had to say about this draft.  If you are not using LeagueSync, you need to.  It is so easy.  

So, to summarize the experience.  Use The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for your draft.  Get a group of great fun conversational people.  Then, draft SMART so you have a chance to win.  Then use LeagueSync to see how you did and attach yourself to powerful tools to help you win all year round.

Thanks to Jake Ciely, the all-in kid, for the invite and all the hospitality.  Thanks to SiriusXM for hosting in their studios.