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July 24, 2013

Early Draft Trends


It's time to start entering some Fantasy Football drafts to recognize early trends and get a grip on which players are gaining value and, conversely, which players are dropping.

In order to win your league, you are going to have to obtain players who outperform their expectations to go along with those players who perform true to form.

There are only three ways to acquire these difference makers: getting them in the draft, trading for them, or picking them up from the waiver wire during the season.

I'm a little put off by mock drafts – there is no incentive to do well, since there are no leagues. A lot of guys use mock drafts to practice a particular strategy; this maneuver tends to abnormally alter draft positions.

I chose a $100 Yahoo Expert league for my first draft – playing for money makes everyone involved a little more diligent, and the draft results tend to mimic those in a bigger money leagues.

This draft confirmed what experts have noticed about the 2013 FF season this far – running backs are going early, and a lot of them. Wide receivers and quarterbacks are dropping fast.

True to form, five running backs were off the board when I picked with the sixth pick, and I took another one, C.J. Spiller. After Calvin Johnson went at seven, three more backs were taken.

You must learn to be flexible. You can't go into a draft with a mindset; you have to let the draft come to you, and that means take the best players early on, regardless of position. In my case, I wanted Calvin – but I didn't expect to see Spiller there at Number Six, so I grabbed him. In the second round I definitely wanted a wide receiver, but when my pick came, the 15th overall, Ray Rice, who has an average draft position of 9.7, was still on the board. I grabbed him with no hesitation. This is when it really got crazy – I was positively desperate for a wide receiver, but when my pick came in the third round lo and behold, there was Maurice Jones-Drew, a perennial first round pick. I couldn't resist.

This is where another valuable lesson comes in: yes, all the top rated wide receivers were now off the board. That is if you use this year's rankings. Go back a year ago, though, and you'll see both Hakeem Nicks and Wes Walker were highly ranked – both finished in the top five in receiving in 2011. I grabbed them both. The point is, what happened in the past is a good indicator of what will happen in the future – but only an indicator. I know Nicks and Welker are two of the best receivers in the league – barring injury, both figure to be among the league leaders once again.

Quarterbacks did indeed drop. I took my first quarterback with the fifth pick of the sixth round, and got Colin Kaepernick, the guy I wanted. Last year, two and sometimes three quarterbacks went in the first round. In this draft, Aaron Rodgers was first to go – with the seventh pick in the second round. Drew Brees went two picks. Tom Brady lasted until the third pick of the fifth round, and that is unheard of.

I bagged Greg Jennings, another standout receiver, in the seventh round, and got James Jones, a wide receiver who scored 14 TDs, in the eighth. Since Jennings is no longer on Green Bay, I think Jones represents exceptional value.

I snagged a back-up quarterback in the ninth round – a fellow named Tony Romo. I waited until the last three rounds to take my placekicker, tight end, and defensive team – as I almost do, and inexplicably ended up with the guy I had ranked as the top placekicker, Blair Walsh, or as I refer to him, The Blair Walsh Project.

Remember in Yahoo, 90 percent of the money goes to winners: $500 for first, $300 for second, and $100 for third. Talk is pretty cheap, but I think my team is a lock to take home some cash.

"Skippy Brown" recently won the Draft King Spring Fling contest, besting over 1000 other professional fantasy baseball players. For comments, tips, advice, rants, or just to annoy him you can now contact the Skipper via email: skippybrown@yahoo.com.

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