Mike Clay

Draft Analysis

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Maximize Your Starting Lineup

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Round 4

Still Available:
QB: Cam Newton, Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Colin Kaepernick
RB: Montee Ball, Le'Veon Bell, Chris Ivory, Ahmad Bradshaw, Ryan Mathews
WR: Andre Johnson, Victor Cruz, Vincent Jackson, Jordy Nelson, Marques Colston, Dwayne Bowe, Wes Welker
TE: Rob Gronkowski, Jason Witten, Vernon Davis, Tony Gonzalez, Dennis Pitta

With only 36 players off the board when the fourth round begins, it should be no surprise that a few superstars are beginning to show up.

Newton is a top-five fantasy quarterback…but hey, so is Griffin when he’s healthy. No regrets here.

Ball, Bell, and Ivory aren’t the worst flex options, but they’d be risky in the RB2 slot. Ball and Bell are rookies and Ivory is on a new team. Fortunately, we know we’ll be addressing running back early.

We already filled our three wide receiver slots. Had we not, the impressive list of additions to this list would be intriguing. In fact, if the player we do select isn’t available, it makes sense to grab a wideout here and focus on Witten, Gonzalez, or Davis later.

The best value in the fourth round is Rob Gronkowski. Say what you want about his health; when “Gronk” plays, he’s arguably the most-valuable fantasy asset. I understand concerns that he may sit out a few weeks, but that’s okay. Championships aren’t won in Weeks 1 or 2. Consider that you can handcuff Gronkowski with the likes of Owen Daniels, Jordan Cameron, or Martellus Bennett in Round 12.

There are too many reasons to not pass up Gronkowski in the fourth round. As long as he appears in a little more than half of your regular season (very likely), it’s a strong value.

Roster Progress: Robert Griffin III (QB), Reggie Wayne (WR), Eric Decker, (WR), Mike Williams (WR), Rob Gronkowski (TE)

Round 3

Still Available:
QB: Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Cam Newton, Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford
RB: Frank Gore, DeMarco Murray, Lamar Miller, Darren McFadden, David Wilson, Darren Sproles
WR: Larry Fitzgerald, Randall Cobb, Percy Harvin, Roddy White, Andre Johnson
TE: Rob Gronkowski, Jason Witten, Vernon Davis, Tony Gonzalez, Dennis Pitta

We just addressed tight end, but it’s worth noting that Gronkowski and Witten are still one-two on the list. If you pass on Jimmy Graham (as we will today), you can skip the position in the third round and, if you miss on Gronkowski, not address it for several more rounds.

Brees is arguably the top fantasy quarterback this season—and not a terrible investment in the third round—but there are better values to be had at quarterback. We see some major additions to the wide receiver pool, but it’s not much of an upgrade on what was available in the fourth.

The cat is already out of the bag that we’re going to go with the polarizing RB-RB-RB strategy. The position is simply too shallow to address later. Waiting would leave you with a void at the flex position. Six running backs are usually drafted in the third round and each of them would give you an elite flex option. My favorite of the six is Wilson. I’m buying on him for a breakout season. Of course, to beat a dead horse, you have other options here. Miller is another breakout candidate. Gore and Sproles are solid and consistent. Murray and McFadden have struggled with injuries, but both have plenty of talent and see massive workloads.

Roster Progress: Robert Griffin III (QB), David Wilson (Flex), Reggie Wayne (WR), Eric Decker, (WR), Mike Williams (WR), Rob Gronkowski (TE)

Round 2

Still Available:
QB: Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Cam Newton, Tom Brady, Matt Ryan
RB: Matt Forte, Stevan Ridley, Chris Johnson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Reggie Bush
WR: A.J. Green, Dez Bryant, Brandon Marshall, Julio Jones, Demaryius Thomas
TE: Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, Jason Witten, Vernon Davis, Tony Gonzalez

I love Jimmy Graham. He’s definitely worth a pick at his 2.8 ADP. But the key to maximizing your starting lineup isn’t finding great values, it’s finding the best values. Because Graham in the second round isn’t as good a value as Gronkowski in the fourth, and because Graham is an inferior flex to a third-round running back, he’s not the correct pick.

The top quarterback in terms of ADP, Rodgers generally comes off the board in the middle of the second round. That’s a bit too early for the savvy fantasy owner. The five wide receivers that come off the board in the second round make up the entire second tier at the position. Each would give you an elite option at the position. But, as we learned earlier, the combination of a second-round WR and mid-round RB is a lot less appealing than a second-round RB and mid-round WR.

Speaking of second-round backs, we see a very intriguing group here, especially in the early-to-mid portion of the frame. Forte and Ridley are borderline top-10 backs. Johnson and Jones-Drew have plenty of ability and will see large workloads. If you’re picking at the turn, it’s possible you could sneak away with two of Trent Richardson, Alfred Morris, and Steven Jackson, as well. My pick here is Ridley, but Forte is right there.

Roster Progress: Robert Griffin III (QB), Stevan Ridley (RB), David Wilson (Flex), Reggie Wayne (WR), Eric Decker, (WR), Mike Williams (WR), Rob Gronkowski (TE)

Round 1

Still Available:
QB: Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Cam Newton, Tom Brady, Matt Ryan
RB: Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster, Doug Martin, Jamaal Charles, Marshawn Lynch, C.J. Spiller, LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice, Trent Richardson, Alfred Morris, Steven Jackson
WR: Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green, Dez Bryant, Brandon Marshall, Julio Jones
TE: Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, Jason Witten, Vernon Davis, Tony Gonzalez

Of the Top 12 overall players in terms of ADP, 11 are running backs this year. Calvin Johnson would be hard to pass on near the turn, but you should be going in expecting to take a back in the first.

There’s not much else to analyze here since the first round is so heavy on one position and we know we need a No. 1 back. To keep us honest, I’ll assume a mid-round pick and roll with C.J. Spiller.

The Verdict

Final Starting Lineup:
QB - Robert Griffin III
RB - C.J. Spiller, Stevan Ridley, David Wilson (Flex)
WR - Reggie Wayne, Eric Decker, Mike Williams
TE - Rob Gronkowski

I like it.

Relative to what your competition will have at each starting lineup position, we have elite options at RB1, RB2, Flex, and TE. We have a strong option at QB1. Although it may seem silly considering where we selected them, we actually have decent WR2 and WR3 options—not to mention depth if you address the position in Round 9 and/or 10.

Remember, the key here isn’t the actual players I picked, it’s the players available when I made the picks. I urge you to scan through the above ‘available player’ lists and come up with the best possible starting lineup relative to the players you’re highest and lowest on. Think Zac Stacy is a slam dunk RB2? Adjust for that. Convinced Vernon Davis will be fantasy’s No. 1 tight end? Find someone else to select in Round 4. Expecting Mark Sanchez to outperform Drew Brees? Quit fantasy football.

All kidding aside, you catch my drift.

Research past the first few rounds, have targets in mind, and be prepared to adjust on the fly. When all is said and done, your starting lineup will be the envy of the league.



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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.
Email :Mike Clay



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