Mike Clay

Draft Analysis

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Rotobowl Draft Recap

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A few days ago, I drew up a ‘Rotobowl’ Draft Strategy piece. In that article, I introduced the Rotobowl competition and laid out my gameplan for my draft, which was held on Sunday night. I also promised to recap the draft once it was complete.

So, here it is: The 2012 RotoBowl Draft Recap.

Included here is a comparison between my strategy and what actually happened on draft night, a thorough analysis of my roster, and league Power Rankings, which includes analysis of all 12 teams in the league.

Click here for league scoring and roster settings. Complete draft results are available here.

Strategy vs. Actual

If you read the Draft Strategy piece, you should have a pretty decent idea of who I would be targeting throughout the draft. Let’s see how accurate my predictions turned out:

Considering both the fact that quarterbacks receive only four points for a passing touchdown and the depth at the position, I will more than likely be waiting to select one. Once I fill in most of my running back and wide receiver slots, my target will be one of Tony Romo, Eli Manning, and Peyton Manning.

I had this same gameplan last season, but I ended up taking Drew Brees in the fourth round. This year, I did much better, waiting until the seventh round before pouncing on Peyton Manning. Interestingly, Michael Vick went just four picks earlier, so waiting at quarterback proved to be the correct call. Eli Manning went in the fifth round and Tony Romo was the last pick in the sixth.

As is the case in all of my leagues, the gameplan early on will be to get, at least, a pair of tailbacks. The position is very shallow this year, so grabbing a pair of strong backs, and potentially a third for one of the flex slots, will be my strategy…Getting McFadden in the first and Mathews in the second would be a homerun.

This could not have worked out better. I lucked into a tight end in the second round (more on that later), so I ended up getting my top-two backs in the first and third round. Darren McFadden was my pick at No. 6 overall. I landed Ryan Mathews in the third, which almost caused me to fall out of my chair, especially considering that I almost took him in the second! After Mathews, I kept seeing value after value, so I didn’t attack the Flex spots until the eighth and ninth round. It was here that I landed C.J. Spiller and Jonathan Stewart. Color me pleased.

Wide receiver is as deep as ever, but I’m likely to need a total of four in my starting lineup, so I’ll be addressing the position not long after I fill my running back slots.

I ended up only needing three wide receivers in my starting lineup, which is good, because my depth at the position is my clear weakness. Because I’m so strong at running back, this isn’t a real problem – not to mention that wide receiver is very deep this year. That all being said, I’m more than enthused with the value I found at the position. I picked Hakeem Nicks in the fourth, Mike Wallace in the fifth, and Miles Austin in the sixth. There are question marks there, sure, but talk about upside.

Tight end is interesting this year. I generally stay away from Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski because I’m focused on running back in the early rounds. After another couple of rounds, Aaron Hernandez and Antonio Gates enter the radar.

Hey, I did say “generally”. Somehow, Rob Gronkowski fell to me at 19th overall, so I obviously had to snatch him up. Because Mathews fell to me in the third round, I feel confident saying I made the correct call here; especially when you consider that Aaron Hernandez went with the very next pick. For what it’s worth, Antonio Gates made it to the first pick of the sixth round. That’s value.

Considering this will be approximately my 30th fantasy draft of the year, I obviously have a short list of guys I’ve accrued on most of my teams, including those late-round upside targets. Here are a few names I’ll be targeting on Sunday:

The names shown in bold are the players I did land off of my target list.

QB – Eli Manning, Tony Romo, Peyton Manning
RB – Darren McFadden, Ryan Mathews, DeMarco Murray, Trent Richardson, Mark Ingram, Ryan Williams, Rashad Jennings, Jacquizz Rodgers
WR – Hakeem Nicks, Jeremy Maclin, Eric Decker, Robert Meachem, Lance Moore, Kenny Britt, Titus Young, Leonard Hankerson
TE – Antonio Gates, Aaron Hernandez, Greg Olsen, Jason Witten

My Roster

Here is my complete roster. In parentheses is round selected.


QB – Peyton Manning (7)
RB – Darren McFadden (1)
RB – Ryan Mathews (3)
WR – Hakeem Nicks (4)
WR – Mike Wallace (5)
WR – Miles Austin (6)
TE – Rob Gronkowski (2)
K – Matt Bryant (20)
D/ST – Buffalo (18)
FLEX – C.J. Spiller (8)
FLEX – Jonathan Stewart (9)


QB – Robert Griffin III (11)
RB – Pierre Thomas (10)
RB – Evan Royster (12)
RB – Rashad Jennings (13)
RB – Vick Ballard (16)
WR – Leonard Hankerson (14)
WR – Steve Smith (Rams) (15)
WR – Rod Streater (19)
TE – Dwayne Allen (17)


Quarterbacks: B+ : Manning is as risky as they come, but he’s looked outstanding this preseason and has top-five upside. Considering that I landed him in the seventh round, I’d say he was a fine value. Griffin has top-10 upside and gives me a strong fallback option.

Running Backs: A- : When healthy, you won’t find a much better one-two punch than McFadden and Mathews. Spiller is going to see a ton of targets and will do well in the flex. Stewart may miss week one, but will do enough to float between flex and the bench. If DeAngelo Williams gets hurt, I have a borderline RB1 in my pocket. Thomas’ upside is capped by the committee in New Orleans, but he’s a nice piece to have on the bench. Jennings and Royster will help out until Mathews is back to full health. Ballard could easily unseat Donald Brown in Indianapolis.

Wide Receivers: B+ : Because I usually attack running back early, my wide receivers are generally underwhelming. That’s not the case here. Nicks, Wallace, and Austin are one of the league’s top trios at the position and really show the depth at the position this season. It seems that Hankerson has been demoted to start the season, so that was a poor pick in hindsight, but I still like him to eventually emerge this season. Smith’s stock is on the rise with Greg Salas shipped off to New England and Rod Streater has an opportunity to make a splash early on with Jacoby Ford likely out and Denarius Moore not at 100 percent.

Tight Ends: A+ : Getting Gronkowski in the middle of the second round is almost unheard of. There’s not much else to say on that topic. Dwayne Allen has some nice upside and was worth a look late in the draft.

Overall: A : I thought I liked my Rotobowl teams each of the last two years. Neither is in the zip code of this one. I have a strong quarterback, an elite pair of backs, a trio of potentially top-10 wideouts, and arguably the top fantasy tight end. I’m pleased.

League Power Rankings

1. Yours Truly – See extensive analysis above

2. Shalon Warriors – Going Rice, Charles, and Martin to start gives him major firepower at running back – a strategy I always approve of. That’s especially the case when you’re able to follow up with a formidable wide receiver trio (A. Brown, Maclin, Britt), which he did. Tony Romo is a strong get in the sixth round, leaving tight end (Tamme) as the sole weakness here. This is one of the top starting lineups we’ll see today. Smith, Floyd, LaFell, and Vereen are all intriguing flex/bench players, adding depth to this team’s list of strengths.

3. Evil Empire – Picking at the turn, Ronald Reagan’s least favorite team started off with a potentially strong Murray/Jones-Drew duo and managed to land a formidable Decker/Andre Johnson wide receiver attack the next time around. Toss in Ryan at quarterback and Gates at tight end and we already have a pretty strong starting lineup. I love Lance Moore as a WR3 and Ryan Williams is a strong flex – even if the seventh round was a bit of a reach. Little, Leshoure, Alex Green, Daniel Thomas, Locker, and Gordon are all nice upside picks for the bench.

4. E.L.I.t.e. – Foster and Lynch make the running back position a clear strength. Fitzgerald, Bryant, and Lloyd is strong, but would be even more impressive in non-PPR. Fred Davis is a solid middle-of-the-pack TE1, and Vick was one of the better steals of the day in the seventh round. I like Ingram a lot as a flex this year, and Tate or Olsen will suffice in the other flex. I wouldn’t call this team ‘ELIte’, but it’s not SANchez…I mean, terrible, either.

5. Carolina Groomsmen – Despite the division rivalry, Carolina decided to get the Saints’ duo together right off the bat with Brees and Graham. The Groomsmen still managed to land Fred Jackson and Gore at running back, which isn’t ideal, but will suffice. Benson is okay as a flex in the seventh. I like Cruz and Garcon a lot as the top-two wideouts. Heyward-Bey is a fine No. 3. Williams will be a strong early-season play with Jonathan Stewart injured. I like Gonzalez as a flex option. Good value in the 10th round. Hunter and Jones are nice handcuffs to own.

6. Hakeem the Dream – Picking twice between my third and fourth picks, I’m surprised “Hakeem the Dream” allowed me to steal Nicks in the fourth. Regardless, his hand was forced into Reggie Bush in the fourth, I suppose, after he went Newton-Welker-Harvin to start. That left him with Greene, Wells, and Hillman at tailback – a shaky group to say the least. Mendenhall in the 14th, however, was a nice snag for a team poor at tailback. Blackmon and Denarius Moore should be fine at WR3 and Vernon Davis is a strong tight end option.

7. Mack Attack – This team was lucky to find Bradshaw in the third after reaching on Hernandez in the second round. Teaming him with McCoy (fitting pick for the ‘Mack Attack’) makes for a strong one-two punch at tailback. Thomas and T. Smith are a good one-two at wide receiver, but where’s the third starter? Rice? Cobb? Ouch. Eli Manning is a fine fantasy quarterback, but wasn’t much of a value in the fifth. Witten will be a steal in the eighth if he’s healthy. Redman is a fine short-term option, but better backs were there in the third. Dion Lewis is a very valuable handcuff and a must-own for the McCoy owner in a league this deep.

8. GT – I would’ve went running back, but I’m okay with Rodgers fourth overall. I’m not, however, okay with waiting so long to get a second back after Steven Jackson in the second. McGahee will see plenty of reps early, but he’s not the best fit for a Peyton Manning-led offense. After that, it’s Wilson in the ninth, Dwyer in the 14th, and Tolbert in the 20th. Ouch. Nelson and Johnson is a good one-two, but I have reservations about Washington once Britt is back. Amendola in the seventh was a huge reach. This team badly needs Williams/Wilson – two guys I do like a lot in the mid/late rounds – to break out in a big way.

9. Mean Machine – Interesting approach here with four running backs in a row to start it. Can’t say I blame him for the first three (Johnson, Peterson, Richardson), but I’m not a big fan of Turner in the fourth this year, especially in PPR. Rivers was a reach in the fifth and Jackson/Crabtree/Holmes is a poor starting unit of wide receivers. Rudolph has a ton of upside, but is barely a starter in 12-team leagues. A defense and kicker taken before the 13th-round ended? At least now we know what crime landed you on the ‘Mean Machine’.

10. Honors Student – I would’ve taken Forte over Calvin Johnson, but I can’t blame him for getting the clear No. 1 overall wideout. Stafford in the second, followed by a pair of wideouts (White, Colston) and a tight end (Finley), however, leaves this team in terrible position at running back. Donald Brown is the top back, with Gerhart, Felix Jones, Miller, Powell, and Goodson adding the only depth. That’s disgusting. I love Meachem and Lance Moore, but there were running backs to be had…and needed with those picks. Roethlisberger in the ninth was unnecessary for a team with Stafford and the Texans defense in the 11th was, at least, seven rounds too early. No Honor Roll bumper sticker this year, friend.

11. Nicky Sin Cowboys – Forte is a strong PPR pick in the first round, but teaming him up with Green-Ellis is shaky at best. Helu in the eighth and Best in the 11th are major head scratchers. Marshall, Steve Smith, and Wayne makes for a competent wide receiver trio. Daniels is a poor tight end option, but I do like Dreessen as a sleeper. Cutler/Dalton/Sanchez is a scary group of quarterbacks, but Cutler has some upside.

12. Hold the Rock – I don’t like Brady in the first, and the selection of four wide receivers (Green, Jennings, Bowe, V Jackson) before the sixth round ended left this team with little running back talent. After Sproles, he’ll need to consider Hillis, Mike Bush, Rodgers, and Blount for playing time. Pettigrew-Cook is a fine tight end duo. Nothing more. I just don’t get picking the Bears defense in the 12th round.

That is a wrap. Bookmark the league homepage if you’d like to check in during the season and see if my team is living up to expectations. In the meantime, it's not too late to sign up for RotoBowl, where you can compete against me for $25,000. The final draft of the year is scheduled for Saturday.

Mike Clay is a football writer for Rotoworld.com and the Founder/Managing Editor of Pro Football Focus Fantasy. He can be found on Twitter @MikeClayNFL.
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