Our league took some real hits over the offseason when a couple of mainstays left the league after 15+ seasons, so I was less pumped about the draft and the season in general than I can ever remember. However, once I was on the clock, the tension and anticipation came back in full force. Picking 10th in a 14-team league (I’m convinced our draft lottery system is rigged at this point) offered up a challenge, but one I am used to. Once the dust had settled, the beer bottles were emptied, and the shit-talk was exhausted, here’s what was left laying around:
1st round, 10th overall: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay
In an unheard-of development in our league, which has been skewed toward quarterback points, no signal-callers were taken in the first eight picks. When Andrew Luck was taken right before my slot, I realized that I had a shot to land the best quarterback in the league with the 10th pick. I waited about 1.7 seconds to make this selection.
2nd round, 19th overall: Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England
Despite the hole it would put me in at the wide receiver and running back positions, there was simply no way I could pass Gronkowski at this spot. Not only does he perform like a #1 WR, but he has separated himself so completely from the rest of the TE position that it felt like a no-brainer. In fact, I was very surprised that he fell this far. P.S. I refuse to call him “Gronk.”
3rd round, 38th overall: Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans
Though he had a promising 2014, Ingram still represented a bit of a gulp-inducing pick here. As predicted, the RB and WR pickings at this stage were very limited, and he was the last bonafide top back left. There are rumblings out of the Big Easy that he’ll be much more involved in the passing game, and it appears the Saints are really counting on Ingram stepping up his game to make up for the loss of Jimmy Graham and other playmakers over the past few years.
4th round, 47th overall: Amari Cooper, WR, OAK
I certainly wasn’t planning on having a rookie wide receiver for the Raiders to be my top wideout, but here we are. I’m huge on Cooper’s potential, especially having seen him turn Patrick Peterson around like a top in limited preseason action. I think Cooper is a quarterback- and franchise-proof target who enters the NFL with a very polished game and a lofty ceiling. If Derek Carr can stay healthy (and I can’t believe I’m typing this), he and Cooper should form one of the league’s most promising tandems pretty quickly.
5th round, 66th overall: Jarvis Landry, WR, MIA
I was hoping against hope that Landry would fall this far, and the virtual groans from right behind me in the draft order confirmed that I nailed this pick right on time. Landry has quickly become my favorite Dolphins player, and I feel he has a legit shot to catch 110-120 passes this year. Not the fastest wideout in the world, but a tough kid who is willing to go over the middle, shifty in space, and capable of catching anything remotely near him (I believe they call that “catch radius” now)—an important attribute when playing with Ryan Tannehill. Adding Landry gives me a duo of young, emerging receivers who could pay off in a big way.
6th round, 75th overall: Chris Ivory, RB, NYJ
Ivory was my keeper from a season ago; since I picked him after the 12th round last year, I was able to keep him for the price of a sixth-rounder this year. I debated it, but figured that this was about a round or so later than he likely would have gone and pulled the trigger. He doesn’t have another back to really threaten his workload and he is likely to be a larger factor in the passing game, so Ivory in this position made a lot of sense for me as my second back.
7th round, 94th overall: LeGarrette Blount, RB, NE
Eek. It was really hard for me to get excited about this selection, but the pickings were frighteningly slim at this spot. Blount’s a blockhead who seems to fail everywhere except for New England, where he runs like the second coming of Earl Campbell for some reason. An immediate self-second-guess choice, but you could do worse for your third back than to land New England’s top back.
8th round, 103rd overall: Eddie Royal, WR, CHI
Let’s face it: The Bears are going to be behind a lot of this year, and someone has to catch the passes that Jay Cutler doesn’t throw to the other team. Alshon Jeffery is a handful and Martellus Bennett is solid when he’s not bat-shit crazy, but Cutler has a history with Royal, who could provide some respectable numbers in a per-reception league. Definitely a bit of a gamble and project, but the eighth round is where you want to do that.
9th round, 122nd overall: Ryan Mathews, RB, PHI
I was frankly surprised that Mathews fell this far, as I’m not convinced that Murray will dominate touches in Philly. Chip Kelly has just enough crazy in him to spread the ball around for the Iggles, and if Mathews can stay healthy—which has long been his issue—he could record surprising stats in this offense.
10th round, 131st overall: Dolphins, D/ST, MIA
Miami has an easy early schedule, and the hope is that some key offseason acquisitions will actually play up to their reputation for the ‘Fins, which hasn’t historically been the case. The Dolphins might have the best defensive line in the league, and even though the back seven has a number of question marks, there is enough talent on hand to emerge as one of the best defenses in the league. Can that talent overcome the coaching? That’s the real question in South Beach—well, other than what STD Miley Cyrus currently has.
11th round, 150th overall: Cody Latimer, WR, DEN
I had heard good things about this kid most of the summer, and with Julius Thomas departed it seemed like there was room in the Broncos attack for another dependable receiver. Though Manning is declining quickly and down-the-field throws aren’t his “thing” anymore (he’s more Chad Pennington nowadays than anything else), Denver will find a way to put up points again this year, and landing a promising wideout from their system isn’t the worst pick in the world.
12th round, 159th overall: Phillip Dorsett, WR, INDY
The “keeper” picks for next year start in this round, so the first two picks of the 12th round were Jordy Nelson and Kelvin Benjamin—both out for the year with ACLs (if that tells you anything about my league). So this seemed like the right spot to grab a rookie burner in a potent offense with a great quarterback, with one eye on this year and the other eye on next. Depending on how the pecking order shakes out in Indy, Dorsett is a strong get as my fifth receiver.
13th round, 178th overall: Harry Douglas, WR, TEN
I’ll be honest, I pretty much took Douglas because he scored a long touchdown in the preseason, which is how I found out he played for the Titans now. I thought he was an underrated part of Atlanta’s attack, and with Mariota arriving in Tennessee, grabbing a veteran starting wideout at this part of the draft as my sixth receiver could turn into something. Honestly, the bottom of the roster will be churned on the waiver wire all year long, but for this night, I felt good about the pick.
14th round, 187th overall: Adam Vinatieri, K, INDY
A good kicker in a good offense. Yes, I’m pretty sure Bronco Nagurski was Vinatieri’s first holder, but he still keeps getting the job done and our league’s points are slanted toward kickers. Not a bad grab at this stage.
15th round, 206th overall: Larry Donnell, TE, NYG
I second-guessed myself a bit here, making a last-second decision to grab Donnell over New Orleans tight end Josh Hill. Donnell fell off dramatically after a strong early part of last season, but I didn’t expect to see him still around this late in the draft. If he can find his early-2014 form, he’ll be a strong backup and an occasional option for a flex play.
16th round, 215th overall: Bengals, D/ST, CIN
Again, a bit of a surprise to see Cincy available this late. As a second defense, this was a no-brainer, especially considering Cincinnati’s relatively weak early schedule. Of course, this also represents a hedge in case the Dolphins play like the Dolphins defensively instead of as a top D/ST.
17th round, 234th overall: Tyrod Taylor, QB, BUF
Obviously, not a whole lot of huge expectations surrounding Taylor, but he’s a mobile quarterback surrounded by a lot of highly respectable weapons. I don’t think Beefalo will ask him to do too much, but a backup quarterback who can make plays with his legs and has weapons is an ideal scenario behind a signal-caller like Rodgers.
18th round, 243rd overall: Andrew Franks, K, MIA
This was more of a tweak to the other ‘Fins fan in the league, who picked Caleb Sturgis in the last round—who was cut by the Dolphins a couple of days prior. I don’t know that Franks will stick on my roster, but he was worth a flier and the opportunity to zing a fellow long-suffering Miami fan.
There’s something comforting about having the top two players in the league at their respective positions to form the core of your team. I did less research and made riskier projections than I’ve ever done, but came away (once again) getting a lot of praise from other owners on my haul.
I face an extremely difficult division, but for the aspect of fantasy football that the draft accounts for, I was happy with what I was able to pull off and eager to see whether my gambles would pay off down the road.