We at RnF have an annual tradition of sharing our personal draft experiences with our readers. It’s one thing for us to sit back with nothing on the line and offer advice, but it’s a horse a different color when we’re the now playing high stakes. The shoe is on the other foot. Those who can’t do, teach. Wax on, wax off. Whatever adage you’d like to use, we enjoy opening up a little bit of our personal fantasy life for others to take a glimpse of.
This particular league has consisted of the same draftees for roughly the last decade. It’s a pretty decent sized buy in and thusly, all twelve participants take it quite seriously. Every year, we plan ahead and study average draft positioning and mock drafts only to be shocked, shaken up, and startled by the results. The following is a comprehensive look at the ten things that popped up that we couldn’t have possibly forecast.
1) Tyreek Hill gets drafted before JuJu Smith-Schuster
This was a WOW type of moment for us. We thought that people would be more willing to draft the safer option, being that both players are very comparable. There is way less risk of JuJu catching a six game suspension mid-season than Hill. We don’t believe he’s out of the legal woods yet and that a surprise suspension may be lurking in the shadows. But owners are still very much willing to roll the dice earlier on the young counterpart to Pat Mahomes than the new number one for old man Roethlisberger.
2) Top end wide receiver talent drops off FAST
You know the list of the usual suspects. At least, you better know the list of the usual suspects at this point. Davante Adams, DeAndre Hopkins, Michael Thomas, Odell Beckham, Julio Jones, Tyreek Hill, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Adam Thielen. After that, you’re in questionable territory with Keenan Allen and T.Y. Hilton. Allen comes with personal injury risk and Hilton is now dealing with more Andrew Luck injury concern. What we’re getting at is that it’s kind of a gut punch going from Julio Jones and company to Julian Edelman and the leftovers.
3) James White‘s early draft positioning
We know what the ADP says. Believe us when we say, he’s going well ahead of that spot. We recently published our adoration for White this year in a full fledged article just a few weeks ago. We were ready to jump the ADP shark and ensure that White was on our roster for the 2019 season. And you know what? He went the pick before we were going to select him. The word is out people. You need to go even earlier on White this season as everyone is thinking the same thing.
4) WR2 potential lasts for a LONG time
While lesson learned #2 indicates that the big guns at wide receiver drop off fast, lesson #4 is that excellent talent remains alive long into the draft. Tyler Boyd. Kenny Golladay. Tyler Lockett. Allen Robinson. Mike Williams. Josh Gordon. Marvin Jones. These are all guys who offer 1,000 yard potential at discount prices. They all have their respective risks of course but they all glow with value.
5) No one is sleeping on Christian Kirk
He’s not a sleeper. He’s not a value pick. If you want him, you need to go out and ensure that you land him. Everyone in 2019 is on the same page when it comes to Kirk. No matter the argument, we’re all-in on Kirk. Whether it’s the new high-tempo offense, the age of Larry Fitzgerald, the play of Kyler Murray, or that Pluto will align with Mars, everybody and their mother is in on Kirk. If you want him, he’s going to cost you more than you currently think.
6) You need some Duke Johnson in your life
We wanted him. We also waited too long. By the time we were willing to sacrifice a pick on Johnson, he was gone in the wind a la Thanos. Dust people! We’re talking dust here! We fully believe that Johnson is going to replace Lamar Miller before the halfway point as the lead back in the Houston offense. That’s some serious firepower heading into the fantasy playoffs. We wanted it. We watched it float away. Be sure that you don’t do the same.
7) The tight end conundrum
We all know who the lead dog of the TE pack is. Kelce may be the most far and away TE1 we’ve seen since the days of Tony Gonzalez. Perhaps the two murkiest questions in this year’s draft is who is number two and when should they go? For us, Travis Kelce went early, as expected. What we didn’t expect was how quickly Zach Ertz followed and that George Kittle hung on for so long. With everything playing against Ertz, we thought people would discount him. There are a lot of mouths to feed in Philly. With Kittle, he was holding on around the same area as wide receivers you’d be praying for to hit 1,000 yards. We have Kittle pegged to regress but even a 30% regression from last year’s totals would have him just under 1,000 yards receiving. Seems like a worst case for George Kittle is right in line for a best case with the receivers left on the board at this point. Keep this in strong consideration if your league offers a flex position. Two tight ends isn’t a rock solid idea, but if Kittle is in the flex and Evan Engram is at tight end, you could be using draft day lemons to make lemonade.
8) QB runs super deep this year
We have an awful lot of road between Patrick Mahomes and Philip Rivers. While Mahomes is the clear cut king of the mountain, there is a ton of valuable real estate between him and Rivers. It actually seems like you can’t lose between Mahomes and Rivers and that you win no matter what. Deshaun Watson, Baker Mayfield, Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, Carson Wentz, Andrew Luck, and Drew Brees. While it’s clear that Mahomes deserves to be first off the board, even the guy taking the 10th best QB is still in a great position. We went with Drew Brees as roughly the tenth best QB off the board. We really don’t care about the stats saying Brees is on the decline. He had a “bad” year in 2018 and still finished with 35 total touchdowns and just under 4,000 yards passing. If that’s his floor, continue to sign us up. Oh and Mark Ingram left. Maybe that translates into more passing attempts in the red zone? The point is, QB should be taken on personal preference balanced with ADP once Mahomes goes.
9) Damien Williams continues to encourage hopeful drafters
When Andy Reid flat out says we’re going with a team approach, people should take warning and drop said player down the board. But that hasn’t happened with Damien Williams. And here we are with people still buying in stupid early. We firmly believe that Damien Williams is this season’s Kenyan Drake. Too much heart over not enough brain. Don’t invent a top end fantasy player out of nowhere or you will be disappointed.
10) Know when to get defensive
To us, it seemed like no one was interested in being the first to go in on a defense. While the Ito Smiths, Mohamed Sanus, and Parris Campbells were being selected, we couldn’t help but notice that top end defensive options were just sitting there. While this was going on, we decided that a 16 week automatic lineup starter was more valuable than a WR5 or a RB4. Don’t be afraid to jump in early folks. Chicago and LA are the clear cut favorites and Jacksonville is just on the outside. We wonder, judging just from draft day, who will you use more in your weekly lineup? Mohammed Sanu or the Chicago Bears? This isn’t saying to jump the gun and select a defense while there is still WR4/RB4 talent available. We just think that as the later rounds approach, a consistent asset will pay off more than a guy buried on the depth chart. Yes, anything can happen. But that’s why you hold on strong to that waiver wire positioning.