This is a recap of the annual Yahoo Friends and Family draft. It is comprised of 14 industry folks I have a ton of respect for and it will be played out. If I disagree with a pick they made in the text below, it’s because we have differing opinions – it’s not because I think someone is dumb or incompetent. In a partial information game like this, there is often no “right” answer.
As for settings, this the quirks include 0.75 per reception and 4.5 points for a passing touchdown. There are some small bonuses for long touchdowns and defenses get a 0.5 for a tackle for loss. The starting lineup is QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, TE, two FLEX, K, D. There are only four bench spots – something I really don’t like, but a part of being a good owned is adjusting to your league’s settings. More on that below. The draft took place on the afternoon of Tuesday, August 19.
1. LeSean McCoy -- Jeff Erickson, Rotowire
2. Demaryius Thomas – Michael Salfino, Meadowlands Media Group
3. Jamaal Charles – Fantasy Guru
4. Jimmy Graham – Jeff Ratcliffe, Pro Football Focus
5. Matt Forte – Scott Pianowski, Yahoo
6. Eddie Lacy – Michael Gehlken, Union-Tribune San Diego
7. Adrian Peterson – Mike Clay, Pro Football Focus
8. Calvin Johnson – Patrick Daugherty, Rotoworld
9. Dez Bryant – Andy Behrens, Yahoo
10. Montee Ball – Dalton Del Don, Yahoo
11. Giovani Bernard – Brad Evans, Yahoo
12. A.J. Green – Chris Liss, Rotowire
13. Marshawn Lynch – Brandon Funston, Yahoo
14. DeMarco Murray – Adam Levitan, Rotoworld
NOTES: My top-five -- regardless of format -- is LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte and Eddie Lacy. And in a 14-team (or more) format, running back is clearly the most irreplaceable position. So I think Guru should be absolutely thrilled to get Charles at 3 and Mike Clay should be doing backflips over getting Peterson at 7. … One of the reasons I’ve been backing off Jimmy Graham in the first round is because I like the Jordan Reed, Zach Ertz, Dennis Pitta tier so much. We can also take shots in the TE2 range with Travis Kelce, Ladarius Green and Heath Miller. … Montee Ball’s appendectomy is clearly a non-issue. Just take a look at how he was used in Saturday night’s third preseason game (eight touches on two drives). I like Ball to get 300+ touches in that ridiculously explosive offense.
Giovani Bernard has played on 52-of-63 first-team snaps this preseason (82.5 percent). He’s been wildly inefficient (2.45 YPC on 20 carries), but I trust Hue Jackson to turn that around. That said, I would not take him above DeMarco Murray or any of the top-9 wideouts. Read Evan Silva’s Shy Away column for more on the risks with Gio. … I would not take Marshawn Lynch in the first round of a 0.75 or full-PPR league. He’s a two-down back that is very dependent on volume – and may lose a little to Robert Turbin and/or Christine Michael. … I was thrilled to land DeMarco Murray at 14. He has a potentially dominant offensive line and is excellent in the passing game, which will be huge as a Scott Linehan back.
15. Julio Jones – Adam Levitan, Rotoworld
16. Andre Ellington – Brandon Funston, Yahoo
17. Brandon Marshall – Chris Liss, Rotowire
18. Antonio Brown – Brad Evans, Yahoo
19. Jordy Nelson – Dalton Del Don, Yahoo
20. Alshon Jeffery – Andy Behrens, Yahoo
21. Doug Martin – Patrick Daugherty, Rotoworld
22. Randall Cobb – Mike Clay, Pro Football Focus
23. Vincent Jackson – Michael Gehlken, Union-Tribune San Diego
24. Keenan Allen – Scott Pianowski, Yahoo
25. Rob Gronkowski – Jeff Ratcliffe, Pro Football Focus
26. Julius Thomas – Fantasy Guru
27. Michael Floyd – Michael Salfino, Meadowlands Media Group
28. Pierre Garcon – Jeff Erickson, Rotowire
NOTES: The Julio Jones pick was an easy one for me. The Falcons can’t play defense, can’t run the ball, play in a dome and have a plus quarterback. Jones, a true freak whose foot appears fully healed, has No. 1 receiver upside. … I love this tier of WR (A.J. Green, Julio Jones, Brandon Marshall, Antonio Brown, Jordy Nelson, Alshon Jeffery) There’s a big dropoff to the next tier after that. It makes it easy to pick a RB or Jimmy Graham at the back of the first round because we know we can still get a true stud wideout. I also think getting two of the top-9 wideouts is a fine way to start a draft. … Doug Martin gets a boost with Charles Sims going down. … The Cardinals want to use Andre Ellington as an absolute workhorse. He’s played on 45-of-53 first-team snaps (84.9 percent) in the preseason, a workload that has included most third downs, some short yardage and getting split out wide. The concern is his injury history at Clemson and potential ineffectiveness when asked to run inside. I like Ellington, but would have gone with a top-9 wideout at pick 16.
Note that Jeff Ratcliffe has started out TE-TE. There are two flex spots in this league and going down this path ensures weekly domination at the position. I think Rob Gronkowski (ACL) will suit up Week 1, but I’m concerned that he won’t be as effective as he’s been previously. He remains the biggest risk/reward in fantasy. … Julius Thomas is going to score a ton of touchdowns this year. Perfectly fine with him this high. … I think Pierre Garcon is going to regress a ton now that he’s not the “X” for Mike Shanahan and DeSean Jackson is in town. … The Michael Floyd hype is getting out of control. I’m hoping to land him in the fourth or fifth round of my drafts, not the second as he went here. … Note that Gehlken covers the Chargers beat for the No. 1 paper in San Diego, and he took Vincent Jackson over Keenan Allen. I wouldn’t have done that, but perhaps he knows something I don’t.
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29. Victor Cruz -- Jeff Erickson, Rotowire
30. Cordarrelle Patterson – Michael Salfino, Meadowlands Media Group
31. Roddy White – Fantasy Guru
32. Arian Foster – Jeff Ratcliffe, Pro Football Focus
33. Alfred Morris – Scott Pianowski, Yahoo
34. Peyton Manning – Michael Gehlken, Union-Tribune San Diego
35. Zac Stacy – Mike Clay, Pro Football Focus
36. Toby Gerhart – Patrick Daugherty, Rotoworld
37. Drew Brees – Andy Behrens, Yahoo
38. Michael Crabtree – Dalton Del Don, Yahoo
39. Aaron Rodgers – Brad Evans, Yahoo
40. Le’Veon Bell – Chris Liss, Rotowire
41. Percy Harvin – Brandon Funston, Yahoo
42. Andre Johnson – Adam Levitan, Rotoworld
NOTES: The clear-cut top-three quarterbacks finally come off the board here. Their value is deflated a bit by the 0.75 PPR, but I think these are fine, safe picks. Of course, I prefer to stock up at less replaceable positions and target one of Jay Cutler, Matt Ryan or Tony Romo later in my drafts. … Running backs that go in this range are all going to have question marks. I am not on Alfred Morris in a 0.75 PPR league as he’s out of the Shanny scheme and will never catch even 25 passes. I am on Toby Gerhart as a true three-down back playing a soft schedule for a Jags team that’s going to surprise people. Don’t downgrade Zac Stacy due to the Sam Bradford injury – Shaun Hill can be just as effective. Do try to get Benny Cunningham later. … Le’Veon Bell’s slide finally stops here. He’s a clear-cut starter with three-down tools, but will lose a series or three per game and goal-line work to LeGarrette Blount. Still, he’ll get enough volume to be well worth 40th overall. … Arian Foster will be effective for however many games he plays. Handcuffers should note that Alfred Blue, not Jonathan Grimes, started on Saturday. I still prefer Grimes here, but it’s dicey.
I’m a bet on talent kind of guy, so I’m never going to knock a Cordarrelle Patterson pick. The dude is a freak. But 31 overall feels really early for him. … Roddy White showed down the stretch last season he has plenty of juice left. Don’t let him slip too far in your draft. … I don’t like to get my wideouts in Seattle. They’re so run-heavy, are winning so often and spread the wealth in the pass game. Percy Harvin is a pass for me. … Andre Johnson is 33, but has shown no signs of slowing down last season or this preseason. Ryan Fitzpatrick is not worse than Matt Schaub, Case Keenum and T.J. Yates, who Johnson caught 109 passes from last year.
43. Torrey Smith – Adam Levitan, Rotoworld
44. Larry Fitzgerald – Brandon Funston, Yahoo
45. C.J. Spiller – Chris Liss, Rotowire
46. Rashad Jennings – Brad Evans, Yahoo
47. Ryan Mathews – Dalton Del Don, Yahoo
48. Joique Bell – Andy Behrens, Yahoo
49. T.Y. Hilton – Patrick Daugherty, Rotoworld
50. Kendall Wright – Mike Clay, Pro Football Focus
51. Shane Vereen – Michael Gehlken, Union-Tribune San Diego
52. Wes Welker – Scott Pianowski, Yahoo
53. Julian Edelman – Jeff Ratcliffe, Pro Football Focus
54. Reggie Bush – Fantasy Guru
55. Eric Decker – Michael Salfino, Meadowlands Media Group
56. Bishop Sankey – Jeff Erickson, Rotowire
NOTES: The “X” receiver in a Gary Kubiak or Shanahan system always eats (Andre Johnson, Pierre Garcon, Rod Smith). Torrey Smith is also expanding his route tree in his fourth NFL season and is entering a contract year. He’s one of my favorite blow-up candidates and I was pumped to get him at 43 overall. … I already talked about how I like to bet on unique talent, which is why I think C.J. Spiller is worth a gamble in this 40-50 range. Just know that he’s not going to play on third downs and not going to play in the red zone. … I don’t think Andre Williams is going to steal much more than short-yardage and goal-line from Rashad Jennings. Brad Evans got a likely three-down back here. … The Wes Welker pick was made before his latest concussion. Perhaps he’ll be back for Week 1, but the odds of him making it through this season seem slim.
I really like Shane Vereen this late in the .75 PPR format. He’s a legit 75-catch candidate and could get a lot more in the run game if Stevan Ridley fumbles (or gets cut). … Julian Edelman was one of my preseason winners. He plays in every single formation and is clearly Tom Brady’s go-to guy. Although Edelman won’t catch 105 passes again, anything less than 80 would surprise me now. … Rookie Bishop Sankey has received zero first-team reps this preseason while struggling with fundamentals (footwork, ball security, quarterback exchanges). He’ll eventually pass Shonn Greene, but it could take a month or more. I’m off him. … Eric Decker is a sneaky pick for 8-10 touchdowns and a ton of targets because Geno Smith has no one else to throw to. He’s creeping up my board, but not quite this high.
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57. Jeremy Maclin -- Jeff Erickson, Rotowire
58. Ben Tate – Michael Salfino, Meadowlands Media Group
59. Mike Wallace – Fantasy Guru
60. DeSean Jackson – Jeff Ratcliffe, Pro Football Focus
61. Golden Tate – Scott Pianowski, Yahoo
62. Fred Jackson – Michael Gehlken, Union-Tribune San Diego
63. Jordan Cameron – Mike Clay, Pro Football Focus
64. Frank Gore – Patrick Daugherty, Rotoworld
65. Chris Johnson – Andy Behrens, Yahoo
66. Terrance Williams – Dalton Del Don, Yahoo
67. Brandin Cooks – Brad Evans, Yahoo
68. Marques Colston – Chris Liss, Rotowire
69. Vernon Davis – Brandon Funston, Yahoo
70. Emmanuel Sanders – Adam Levitan, Rotoworld
NOTES: Ben Tate has gained separation from Terrance West throughout camp. It’s clear who the starter is here, which makes Tate a nice value. The Browns have a nasty offensive line and Kyle Shanahan teams annually run the ball effectively. … Along with the aforementioned Torrey Smith, Mike Wallace is one of my favorite mid-round WR targets. The long ball with Ryan Tannehill isn’t there yet, but Bill Lazor is already showing signs of being more creative with Wallace. Get the rock in his hands and let him do work, a la DeSean Jackson’s career outlier with Chip Kelly and Lazor last year. … Fred Jackson is going to play on third downs and in the red zone. It’s hard to get excited about a 33-year-old running back, but F-Jax’s floor is high. … Speaking of old running backs, Frank Gore is still a good bet for 220-250 carries. He’s going to destroy the Cowboys’ rancid defense in Week 1 and then we can probably trade him for a nice haul if we wish.
I want zero shares of Chris Johnson. The offensive line is far worse than the one he complained about in Tennessee, he’s not a Ground ’N Pound runner as Rex Ryan will find out and Chris Ivory looms. … Vernon Davis saw just 4.6 targets per game when Michael Crabtree played last season. No thanks. … I made this Emmanuel Sanders pick before he went 5-128-2 in one half and Wes Welker got concussed on Saturday night. It’s not rocket science. Although Sanders is a middling talent, he’s versatile (inside and outside) and competent in terms of separation and route-running. With Peyton Manning as your quarterback in this scheme, that’s all you need.
71. Stevan Ridley – Adam Levitan, Rotoworld
72. Carlos Hyde – Brandon Funston, Yahoo
73. Trent Richardson – Chris Liss, Rotowire
74. Lamar Miller – Brad Evans, Yahoo
75. Justin Hunter – Dalton Del Don, Yahoo
76. Pierre Thomas – Andy Behrens, Yahoo
77. Andrew Luck – Patrick Daugherty, Rotoworld
78. Rueben Randle – Mike Clay, Pro Football Focus
79. Jeremy Hill – Michael Gehlken, Union-Tribune San Diego
80. Greg Olsen – Scott Pianowski, Yahoo
81. Steven Jackson – Jeff Ratcliffe, Pro Football Focus
82. Devonta Freeman – Fantasy Guru
83. DeAndre Hopkins – Michael Salfino, Meadowlands Media Group
84. Maurice Jones-Drew – Jeff Erickson, Rotowire
NOTES: I know there’s been speculation that Stevan Ridley won’t make the final roster due to continued fumble woes. I’m not buying it. Clearly the Patriots’ best inside runner, he’s going to score a ton of touchdowns if he can just stop repeating errors. … Trent Richardson’s preseason tape (2.55 YPC) looks a lot like his 2013 Colts tape (2.91 YPC). That pitiful offensive line won’t do him any favors. I’m just going to pass, even this late. … I’m not convinced Lamar Miller is physical enough to be a featured NFL running back, even if it’s just in a two-down role. I see an even timeshare coming with Knowshon Moreno, whose strong performance in his preseason debut closed the gap considerably. … I love Justin Hunter, but he’s only playing in three-wide sets right now. Nate Washington and Kendall Wright are in the two-wide sets. Hunter is another bet on talent guy that you’ll have to pay up for steeply against sharp opponents. … Signs out of camp on Rueben Randle have been good. The touchdown-scorer is a steal here at 78 overall. … Don’t expect Devonta Freeman to get a lot of touches early on. He’s behind Steven Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers and Antone Smith for now. … Jeremy Hill stands out as a nice pick in this round. He’s been far more effective than Giovani Bernard this preseason, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis will only be the No. 4 back even if he sticks on the final roster.
85. Terrance West -- Jeff Erickson, Rotowire
86. Bernard Pierce – Michael Salfino, Meadowlands Media Group
87. Reggie Wayne – Fantasy Guru
88. Matthew Stafford – Jeff Ratcliffe, Pro Football Focus
89. Kyle Rudolph – Scott Pianowski, Yahoo
90. Jason Witten – Michael Gehlken, Union-Tribune San Diego
91. Ray Rice – Mike Clay, Pro Football Focus
92. Kelvin Benjamin – Patrick Daugherty, Rotoworld
93. Josh Gordon – Andy Behrens, Yahoo
94. Zach Ertz – Dalton Del Don, Yahoo
95. Jordan Reed – Brad Evans, Yahoo
96. Dennis Pitta – Chris Liss, Rotowire
97. Markus Wheaton – Brandon Funston, Yahoo
98. Jay Cutler – Adam Levitan, Rotoworld
NOTES: I really like the Bernard Pierce pick here as long as the concussion doesn’t prove serious. As discussed in this Roundtable, he’s a better fit for the Kubiak one-cut scheme than Ray Rice. … Kyle Rudolph slimmed down as he prepares for a bigger pass-catching role. He’s going to shatter his previous career-highs in catches (53) and yards (493). We already know he’s a go-to guy in the red zone. … It’s hard to take Josh Gordon in a league that only has four bench spots. He’s going to be suspended for an extended period, and I’d be surprised if it’s not for the full year. … I really regretted not taking a tight end earlier as I watched my targets go off the board right in front of me. I thought for sure I would get one of Rudolph, Zach Ertz, Jordan Reed or Dennis Pitta at 98 overall. … I ended up going with Jay Cutler, and perhaps pulled the trigger too early. I didn’t think he’d get back to me in Round 9/10, which is one of the things that is hard to gauge when picking at the turn in a 14-team league. … Markus Wheaton remains one of my favorite fliers as he steps into the old Emmanuel Sanders role. Ideally, you’ll get him in Round 11 instead of Round 7.