Fantasy Football: A midseason review — if you could only draft again
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What if your league-mates offered you a second chance at your draft?
Would you have rolled the dice on a rebound year from DeAndre Hopkins instead of a “safe” pick like Amari Cooper or T.Y. Hilton?
Might you let Matt Ryan slide on by and grab Carson Wentz instead?
Perhaps pass up David Johnson for … well … anyone else?
Sadly, there are no do-overs in fantasy football. At least not in the season-long version that God and Pete Rozelle intended for us to play. But there sure is plenty of second-guessing. Yes, friends, it’s time to adjust our rear-view mirrors as we explore what could have been with my oft-imitated, always-controversial, yet magically delicious Perfect Draft: Midseason Review.
As always, we start with a few key parameters. We will draft from the middle (fifth) position in a 10-team non-keeper league, meaning we won’t have a shot at Le’Veon Bell or Antonio Brown. We’ll use a standard scoring system that starts one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, and one tight end, flex, kicker and team defense. And, as always, our goal is nothing short of total domination and the abject humiliation of our opponents.
Now, with the fifth pick of the 2017 Perfect Draft, we should have selected…
Round 1: Todd Gurley, RB, Rams. Since Bell and Brown are already off the board, we’ll reach a round early to grab the dual-threat workhorse in the NFL’s (surprisingly) highest-scoring offense.
Round 2: Leonard Fournette, RB, Jaguars. We hate to pass up Rob Gronkowski, but if we don’t take the sensational rookie here, we’ll miss the opportunity to create a truly ferocious backfield. Despite skipping Week 7 with a bum ankle, Fournette belongs on this “perfect” roster. If you can assure me that Zeke Elliott won’t be suspended, then yes, he’s the preferred pick here.
Round 3: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans. We waited a bit to take our first wideout and fantasy’s top receiver fell right in our lap.
Round 4: Kareem Hunt, RB, Chiefs. The electrifying rookie hasn’t reached the end zone since Week 3, but he has amassed more than 100 scrimmage yards in every game he’s played.
Round 5: Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs. Hunt’s fellow playmaker embodies the cliché that he’s “a threat to score every time he touches the ball.”
Round 6: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals. The old man continues to burnish his credentials for his first-ballot ticket to the Hall of Fame.
Round 7: Zach Ertz, TE, Eagles. He’s Carson Wentz’s go-to target, which places him at the top of the heap at his position.
Round 8: Chris Hogan, WR, Patriots. Hogan has stepped into the role vacated by Julian Edelman and produced consistently as one of Tom Brady’s most trusted targets.
Round 9: Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles. Truth is, we could wait as late as the 13th round to nab him, but we have other long shots to target later. Wentz has stepped up in his second season and joined the elites.
Round 10: Alex Smith, QB, Chiefs. Raise your hand if you thought Smith would be one of the top QBs in Fantasyland at the mid-point of the season? Yeah, sure you did.
Round 11: Chris Thompson, RB, Redskins. Thompson is especially valuable in PPR leagues and he, too, was available as a free agent.
Round 12: Jaguars defense/special teams. Jacksonville leads the league in sacks, defensive TDs scored, points against and – consequently – most fantasy points scored.
Round 13: Nelson Agholor, WR, Eagles. The third-year receiver is finally emerging as a weapon in Philly’s high-octane offense. He’ll provide solid bench depth.
Round 14: Deshaun Watson, QB, Texans. The rookie has been absolutely sensational since he found his groove in Week 3, and he could lead many a fantasy owner to a title if he keeps it up. And to think most of us picked him up off the waiver wire. (Note to self: Never sit him, even against the so-called Legion of Boom.)
Round 15: Cameron Brate, TE, Buccaneers. We won’t start him as long as Ertz is available, but it will be good to keep Brate off an opponent’s roster.
Round 16: Will Fuller, WR, Texans. Like Chris Carter from an earlier age, all he does is catch touchdowns. Monster touchdowns.
Round 17: Greg Zuerlein, K, Rams. Mopping up for the top-scoring offense in the league helps makes you an elite fantasy kicker.
So, just how perfectly did you draft?
Catch ‘em while you can
Alex Collins, RB, Ravens. Javorius Allen remains in the picture, but Collins notched the Ravens’ first 100-yard rushing game of the season in the shellacking of the Dolphins on Thursday night. As long as he holds onto the rock (fumblitis has been a nagging concern), Collins should continue to lead this committee.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Steelers. The rookie has become the speedy complement to Antonio Brown that most of us expected Martavis Bryant to be. And when you rack up 193 receiving yards, including a 97-yard touchdown, on Sunday Night Football, you tend to get noticed. After scoring his fourth TD of the season, Smith-Schuster has served notice that he’s no one-hit wonder.
Paul Richardson, WR, Seahawks. Is Richardson finally emerging in the Seattle passing game, or was Sunday’s outburst a mirage? Methinks it’s somewhere in between. The fourth-year receiver just notched his fourth and fifth TD receptions of the season, and the first 100-yard game of his career. He’s worth a pickup by WR-challenged owners.
Corey Davis, WR, Titans. The rookie has been sidelined since pulling his hamstring in Week 2, but he is expected to be ready to roll after this weekend’s bye. Davis could quickly vault to the top of the Titans’ receiving corps.
Vernon Davis, TE, Redskins. If Jordan Reed’s hamstring injury keeps him sidelined, again, Davis will step into the lead role with a QB who loves to feed his tight ends. Davis has been reasonably productive even when Reed has been on the field, so TE-starved owners should look his way.
Don’t be fooled
Tre McBride, WR, Bears. Sure, it’s nice to see Mitch Trubisky actually complete passes to a wideout, but it’s way too early to anoint McBride a viable fantasy receiver. Until further notice, Chicago’s passing game should be completely avoided.
Follow me on Twitter @ladd_biro.