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The Last Stand (learning from your mistakes)

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Looking back at my vastly underachieving 2012 PPR keeper league roster which featured the likes of Philip Rivers, Chris Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Hakeem Nicks, Ryan Mathews and Aaron Hernandez is enough to make a person want to commit, well, umm, OK with Hernandez on my roster nothing I can say after that statement would be appropriate. We’ll just move on.

Is it possible that I had almost every huge bust of 2012 on my roster? I remember driving home after my draft laughing at how stupid the rest of the league was for letting me get away with that roster. I was already considering ways to spend the winnings. As it turned out, the only thing I spent by the season’s end was my patience for this game.

Learn from your mistakes, my mom always said. So in an effort to steer you clear from making the same ones I made last year, I will dissect those mistakes here and show you how to avoid them in this year’s draft.

To keep it realistic I will just focus on my first eight rounds since really there are too many variables after that level to predict what would and would not be available. I picked fifth in a 12-team PPR keeper league and had the maximum allowed three keepers who were Philip Rivers in Round 7, Brandon Lloyd in Round 11 and Shonn Greene in the last round. In this group I felt the only real reach was Rivers. The other two were just icing on the cake and I figured at least one of them would pan out. Ouch.

I will feature each round in three sections. 1. My original analysis for this pick; 2. The mistake in my reasoning; 3. How to avoid that type of mistake this year.

Note when reading this, that the players are not important; it is the mistakes that are. It is very possible that you made similar mistakes last year in some of the rounds of your draft with different players. The advice for that type of mistake is still the same, so apply the advice as needed to fit your situation and draft. Rankings mentioned were as of July 11.

Before getting into the actual draft let’s talk about pre-draft preparation. Now, I can honestly say I do not feel that I made any mistakes here. I did more than 50 mock drafts in 12-team points-per-reception rooms at the fifth pick slot. I studied everything from strategies, training camp info and coaching/personnel changes. I did not consume any alcohol and I showed up with all the material that I needed for the draft, a customized draft list, highlighters, pen and the other teams' keepers lists to help predict their needs in upcoming rounds. This, in my opinion, is the way you should prepare pre-draft and I will continue to do this as long as I play fantasy football. No regrets so far.

Again, this was a keeper league, so these were the big names already “off the board” before the draft even started. Arian Foster, Jamaal Charles, Darren McFadden, Marshawn Lynch, Darren Sproles, Rashard Mendenhall, Maurice Jones-Drew, C.J. Spiller, DeMarco Murray, Mike Wallace, Torrey Smith, Victor Cruz, Cam Newton, Michael Vick, Rob Gronkowski and Tony Gonzalez.

With these players already gone we start Round 1.

Round 1, Pick 5 – Chris Johnson

My analysis - After his finish in 2011 it seemed he was poised to have a bounce back year, and with Peterson, Foster, Jones-Drew, Charles, McFadden, Lynch and Murray being kept and Ray Rice, LeSean McCoy, Calvin Johnson and Aaron Rodgers being picked in front of me, he seemed the logical choice.

My Mistake – Though a bounce back year seemed eminent, I neglected to account for the lack of talent on their offensive line as serious as it was.

How to avoid that mistake this year – If you are picking in the bottom half of your league we can assume the top-5 running backs will not be there for you when your pick comes. This year the stats line up in your favor because, of the next five ranked running backs, four of them have offensive lines ranked in the top-15. Trent Richardson is the ninth-ranked running back but boasts the sixth-ranked offensive line. This is a combo that has great potential to put up solid numbers week-in and week-out. The other three that show similar potential are Rice, ranked eighth with a offensive line ranked eighth, McCoy, ranked seventh with an offensive line ranked 14th. Lastly, Alfred Morris comes in at a solid 10 ranking with an offensive line at 13. All four of these, if available, should help you at the RB1 position.

Round 2, Pick 20 - Brandon Marshall

My analysis - I had picked a good running back, and my team predictions, according to the keeper list, showed that Ryan Mathews (one of the few remaining high ranking running backs left) would still be available in the third round, so I wanted to pick a great receiver. This one worked exactly as I assumed it would.

My Mistake - No real mistake here it was a good choice.

How to avoid that mistake this year – Since this was not a mistake, in order to emulate this pick, here are the wide receivers (in ranked order) that are poised for good season that should be available in the second round in case you find yourself in the same situation. A.J. Green (12), Brandon Marshall (14), Dez Bryant (15), Julio Jones (19) and Demaryius Thomas (21) all will help you as a WR1 in any lineup.

Round 3, Pick 29 - Hakeem Nicks

My analysis - I thought this to be another strong choice. He had Eli Manning as his quarterback. Victor Cruz caught many people by surprise the year before but he is small and defenses wouldn’t be surprised by him again so reasoning showed me that a majority of the targets, yards and touchdowns would probably go to the big guy. On top of that, my projections at this point still showed that Mathews would be available in the next round.

My Mistake - I didn’t take his health issues and the No. 2 receiver as seriously as I should have.

How to avoid that mistake this year – In a round this early I could have stuck to healthier wide receivers who do not have studs at the WR2 position on their team. A.J. Green was still available at this point and I passed on him. Ouch again. Do not make my mistake this year. Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson and Vincent Jackson all should be available around the third round, are healthy and are their team’s main target. It should be noted that there are some great wide receivers that are the No. 2 on their teams that will put up WR1 numbers that are still available in this round (Cruz) but this was about WR1s, so stick to those three and you should be just fine.

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