The Sunday that unofficially marks the start of the football season: fantasy football draft day.
12 teams, snake draft, two games per week.
This marks my third year in this same league. Prior to that, I only dabbled in free leagues through various sites. But as I learned quickly in my first year, it’s a whole different ball game with money on the line.
Showing up year one, I wasn’t as prepared as I thought. The other team owners had magazines and binders. All I had was pen and paper. My knowledge was enough to survive the first four or five rounds, but after that, I reached for players. The result showed at season’s end when I finished 11th in the 12-team league.
Last year, I did my homework, showing up to the draft with notes and rankings. My team was pretty decent, especially compared to the first year. My first three picks were DeAndre Hopkins, Dalvin Cook, and TY Hilton. Ben Roethlisberger, Kyle Rudolph, Jordan Reed, Will Fuller, Mark Ingram, Stephen Gostkowski, and the Texans’ defense rounded out my team. I took fourth place — a huge improvement from the year before.
I wondered what effect Saturday night’s big story would have on this draft. With Andrew Luck’s retirement announcement, how would that affect Colts players T.Y. Hilton and Eric Ebron? Also, would Ezekiel Elliott and Melvin Gordon still go high or would fantasy owners be wary of a Le’Veon Bell situation like last year? Bell was drafted fourth overall last year and the guy held onto him in hopes he would play at some point. As we know, that wasn’t the case. If Elliott or Gordon dropped to me, I wasn’t going to risk potentially wasting a pick. Hilton or Ebron would be players I would take if they fell into my lap.
Here is how things panned out for me. I drew the eighth pick. I thought there might be a chance DeAndre Hopkins (my steal last year when he fell to me at 11th) would still be on the board at eight. One by one, the top running backs came off the board. Barkley, Kamara, McCaffery, Elliott.
But my guy was taken with pick No. 6, so I went with JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Next time around, Odell Beckham, Jr. was still on board and I couldn’t pass him up. I grabbed Derrick Henry, Phillip Lindsay, and T.Y. Hilton with my next three picks. I was pretty comfortable with how the draft — specifically my team — was falling into place. Ben Roethlisberger is my quarterback. My tight ends are Jared Cook and Delanie Walker. I’m not as happy with the Broncos defense, but I took a few gambles. Austin Ekeler was a sleeper pick in the seventh round, especially with no Melvin Gordon. I also took former Ole Miss teammates, D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown
Two surprising observations: Tom Brady was the 18th quarterback taken, and Larry Fitzgerald was on the board until the 15th round. A year ago, Brady was the fourth quarterback taken and Fitzgerald went in the fifth round. What a difference a year makes. Another surprise: Nick Chubb, who many rankings placed in the top ten, made it to the 22nd pick.
All in all, I’m happy with this year’s draft. The only negative is my top two picks have the same bye week. Hopefully, I can get enough out of the rest of my team that week.