With the NFL Draft behind us, this is the time of year that new dynasty leagues are forming. We finally know where the rookies went and have an idea as what impact they might have. I was invited by Ryan McDowell aka @RyanMc23 (on twitter) to join the new Hyper/Active 5 dynasty league. McDowell commishes all the Hyper/Active leagues. The Hyper/Active 5 owners include representatives from footballguys, dynastyleaguefootball, profootballfocus, 2mugsff, and draftcountdown. I had initially turned down joining the league, because it did not include IDPs. But because of Ryan's efforts recruiting many of the best minds in dynasty football, I offered to be a replacement owner. Sure enough a few days before the draft, an owner dropped out and I ended up taking over the team with the 1.02 pick in the Hyper league.
I want to be anywhere in the top 5 of a start-up dynasty league so I can get my hands on one of Calvin Johnson, LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice, Arian Foster, or Aaron Rodgers. As I was late to get in this draft, I didn't have much time to manuever and set up trades before the draft began. For those of you that want to follow along, please click on this link: http://football22.myfantasyleague.com/2012/options?L=75755&O=17 My buddy, Bryan Fontaine aka @Bryan_Fontaine, was busy trading down a few times from the 1.01 pick to the 2.05 pick acquiring two selections in the 2nd, 3rd, 9th, and 15th rounds.
As I adhere to my "be like water" philosophy (flow to value, don't have a set plan), I tend to be an aggressive trader when no one else assumes that role. In this league both Bryan and Sigmund Bloom aka @SigmundBloom were trading picks in this year's draft and next year's to move around the board. I decided to stay put and let value fall to me.
To some, my pick of LeSean McCoy at 1.02 after Calvin Johnson was a pick or two early. In my view, I would rather have the talented running back with little competition and no current contract axe to grind. Ben Tate is a fantastic backup to Arian Foster who could steal carries. Ray Rice is trying to get paid and I'm not calling him Chris Johnson, but the Ravens don't have much salary cap room to maneuver. LeSean McCoy has Dion Lewis, Chris Polk (a guy who fell out of the draft) and Bryce Brown (a guy who hasn't played football since 2009) as backups.
I followed up my pick at 2.11 with Matt Forte (10th RB selected). Yes, he is in a contract dispute with Chicago, but he is in my top seven dynasty backs and that was too much value to pass up. If you look at weekly averages, Forte ranked 5th in points for running backs up until his injury from which he is fully recovered. Michael Bush is an adequate NFL running back with a nose for the goal line, but he is not as dynamic as Forte.
I doubled down on the Bears by selecting Brandon Marshall as my first wide receiver at 3.02 (10th WR selected). The idea of getting the Jay Cutler to Marshall hookup was very appealing. You can't discount that the NFC North has some of the worst secondaries in the NFL and Marshall gets to face each team twice a year.
My selection of Eli Manning at 4.11 (5th QB selected) seems to be controversial to some. I passed on Tom Brady who is three years older and his coach finally decided to work on the defense early in the draft. Brady has two great tight ends and a Pro Bowl receiver in Wes Welker, but their other receivers are not giving defensive coordinators fits. Belichick won championships with a strong running game and good defense, not with Brady throwing for 4,000+ yards. The Giants, however, drafted David Wilson in the first round, a running back who is dynamic speed threat in space, and a talented wide receiver in Reuben Randle in the second round. Without the grinding of Brandon Jacobs and upgrade at their #3 wide receiver, I would expect the Giants to throw more and the Patriots to pass less. This is why I took Eli before Tom.
Steve Johnson was my next pick at 5.02 (23rd WR selected). Chan Gailey is not a great head coach, but he is magic getting the most out of a passing game. Johnson (soon to be 26 years old) finished 16th in wide receiver points last year. The Bills got more offensive weapons to take the burden away from Johnson and Fred Jackson, so I would expect Johnson's numbers to stay the same or slightly improve.
At 6.11, I decided to beef up my wide receivers with second year Denarius Moore. He seemed to be the apple of Carson Palmer's eye when they got to play together. Oakland has a young receiving core and I believe that Moore is the most talented one on the roster.
My pick at 7.02 also has its share of controversy as Rashard Mendenhall has a torn ACL and unlike Jamaal Charles, he did this towards the end of the year. He will be 25 years old at the start of the season and although this is a serious injury, Mendy will have significant time to recover . I hedged this selection with Isaac Redman (pick 11.02) who has more than enough talent to hold off the likes of Jonathan Dwyer and John Clay until Mendy comes back or throughout the 2012 season if not more. There is a chance that Mendenhall moves on after this season leaving Redman the #1 RB in Pittsburgh.
I took a chance on Coby Fleener as my #1 tight end at 8.11. Fleener was the 10th TE to go off the board and I love the chemistry he already has with Andrew Luck. The Colts need playmakers and why not take the young quarterback's safety blanket. It may have been too early for some. I did come back two rounds later and selected Owen Daniels at 13.02. Lets face it, Daniels had a disappointing season due to the emergence of red zone threat Joel Dreessen (6 red zone TDs) and the injury to Matt Schaub. Dreessen is now in Denver and hopefully for Daniels, Schaub will be healthy so they can continue their gridiron chemistry.
Once and awhile, I will take a chance and play one of my hunches. Second year Patriots running back, Stevan Ridley (pick 9.02), fits that bill. He did well on limited carries and projects to be the short yardage/goal line back. With Belichick's push towards a better defense, they will need to run the ball more to give their defense more time to rest. Ridley can grind it out like BJGE did last year, but with more power and better hands. I know there are three other running backs in the mix with Shane Vereen, Danny Woodhead, and newly signed Joseph Addai. For whatever reason, Ridley looks like a Corey Dillion lite guy to me so I felt froggy and leapt.
I'm never opposed to bringing older talent to my dynasty team so I choose Reggie Wayne at the 10.11 pick. He had a top 25 fantasy year with Kerry Collins, Dan Orlovsky, and Curtis Painter throwing him the ball. Now, he gets Andrew Luck tossing the pigskin..forget about it! Wayne will be 34 years old this season so he won't be a top 25 WR forever, but I wouldn't count him out in 2012 and 2013 to be a top 30 guy. For much of the same reasoning that I picked Wayne, I selected Anquan Boldin at 14.11. He averaged almost 12 fantasy points per game which ranked him as the 36th best wide receiver in 2011. Boldin has great chemistry with Joe Flacco. He needs to hold off second year WR Torrey Smith as Flacco's second favorite target (Ray Rice is his true love). The value was too much to pass at the end of the 14th round.
Because Eli Manning is as consistent as quarterbacks get, I took a calculated risk by selecting Ryan Tannehill (21st QB selected) at 12.11. He is a very athletic guy with great pocket pressence whose offensive coordinator is his former college coach. I have no expectations of Tannehill starting for my team this year and hopefully the Dolphins can wait on his development too. He is definately my first stash guy. I opted to draft the kicked around Alex Smith (28th QB selected) at 17.02 who seems to have at least one more year in the good graces of his head coach. This is just a selection of a transitional QB if injury occurs to Eli Manning and Ryan Tannehill isn't ready to play yet.
I took some chances on some wide receivers in the later stages of the draft: Joe Adams (pick 15.02), Clyde Gates (20.11), Jarius Wright (22.11), and Randy Moss (23.02). I think all four could have value in year one as none of their teams have two solid wide receivers. Heck, at least one or two could flame out completely (I'm talking to you Randy!) just as easily.
I like my later talent at running back: Rashad Jennings (16.11), Dion Lewis (19.02), and Tauren Poole (25.02). Jennings will be asked to eleviate MJD's massive touches and was productive in that role in 2010. Bloom grabbed Chris Polk before I could get to him so I settled for McCoy's steady backup in Lewis. While Tauren Poole seems buried right now, I think a lot can change once Jonathan Stewart leaves Carolina in 2013.
I went against the grain and took two of my top five fantasy defenses with the Houston Texans (18.11) and my favorite Pittsburgh Steelers (21.02). Now some will say the shark move is to not select a defense at all in the draft; however, if almost everyone is thinking the same thing, no one is thinking. I am happy to save my blind bid money for breakout players and injury replacements. By the way, I'm not talking about my kicker.
I hope this gives you some insight into my thought process on how to draft a dynasty team. I welcome your questions on twitter at @AndrewMiley. Make sure you follow me so I can answer your questions and you will know firsthand when I write again.
Andy Miley is the host of Dynasty Blitz Podcast on Blog Talk Radio, Dynasty/Keeper Football Staff Writer at Fantasy Alarm and can be found on twitter @AndrewMiley