Using “Best Player Available” Drafting In A Tough League
Oftentimes, Mike Braude and I are big proponents of the “Zero RB” strategy. This entails starting with at least four of your first five picks being wide receivers, and as much as six of your first eight. In PPR leagues with a flex and three starting WR slots, you want to win the flex position. However during our own Apex Writers’ League draft, this was a strategy I could not execute due to my draft position as well as the knowledge of fellow drafters including Dennis Esser, TJ Hernandez, Sean Larsen, Mike Braude and Anthony Amico, and the onus they placed on the wide receiver position. When this happened, I felt compelled to simply go with the player who I felt was best on the board- the most common draft strategy. Let’s see how I fared:
Pick 1.06: Dez Bryant
Not much to explain here. With Antonio Brown off the board, Bryant is number two on the boards of many people smarter than I. I wanted to start with a stud wideout, and Dez has a high floor (WR4, WR7, WR4 last three years) and a high ceiling as Dallas figures to rely more on their passing game with DeMarco Murray now in Philadelphia. Dez is the pick.
Pick 2.07: DeMarco Murray
With the second WR tier (Johnson, Green, Cobb) gone, I felt this was about the right spot to take Murray. I usually take wideouts in the 2nd round, but last year’s rushing leader with the premier offensive schemer and play-count maximizer? Count me in. I’m not counting on last year’s production, but if he hovers around 300 touches I am getting a bargain.
Pick 3.06: Jordan Matthews
I was incredibly happy with Matthews fell to me. I wrote about how successful Chip Kelly’s number one wideouts have been here and that his athleticism and college production is superior to both Jackson and Maclin. He is a fantastic WR2 who is going to be a red-zone threat and is likely to finish as a top-12 guy. He finishes off the tier with Hilton, Hopkins, Cooks, Evans and the aforementioned Matthews, so I wasn’t one pick too soon.
Pick 4.07: Jimmy Graham
This is really what changed this draft from Zero RB to BPA. I’m wholly against taking Graham any earlier than this- he is not going to come close to repeating the volume he experienced during his days in New Orleans. But with a gifted passer in Wilson and inferior competition when it comes to the rest of Seattle’s pass-catchers, he’s worth the gamble with tight end being a perennially weak position. I’m putting his over/under at 70 catches, but he should catch double-digit touchdowns if he can remain healthy.
Pick 5.06: Latavius Murray
This was another “faller” pick, and one that sealed my fate as a BPA team with only two of my first five picks being wide receiver. This is a definite gamble, but the draft capital it costs to acquire him at this point is probably worth it. A athletic freak (96th percentile Speed Score according to PlayerProfiler) no longer battling MJD and McFadden for the starting spot, Murray is going to be getting the rock early and often. He may be spelled by Roy Helu on passing downs, but his late-year 4-112-2 line against the Chiefs showed he is capable of being a solid RB2. The schedule and inexperience are concerning, however.
Pick 6.07: Charles Johnson
Similar to Lavatius Murray, Johnson showed flashes of excellence late in 2014. Rotoviz has been all over him for over two years, and for good reason. He is reportedly already the most trusted receiver by Bridgewater, and Norv Turner has already called him the best receiver on the team. I am more than happy to have him as my WR3, and if he underperforms I can always do a WR3-by-committee with my next pick.
Pick 7.06: Kendall Wright
Only one year removed from a 94 catch season, Wright is one of my favorite PPR value picks. The Titans finally have a seemingly capable quarterback in Mariota, and him and Wright have already developed significant chemistry. With no more Nate Washington, an ineffective Justin Hunter and raw Dorial Green-Beckham, Wright is going to dominate targets at the WR position.
Pick 8.07: Chris Ivory
My favorite pick of the draft. His ADP has since risen, and for good reason. Reporters think he is ready for a career year and will get a little more work in the passing game. The reason I love this pick is because it gives me a great option at my flex if my WR3/4s don’t pan out or on bye, and it softens the blow of a DeMarco Murray injury or Latavius Murray being ineffective.