NickVanExcellent of Pyro tells all you Pyromaniac's about his draft in our Pyro® league.
My Pyro Draft Experience
Hey Pyromaniacs! NickVanExellent here. I’m one of the new additions to the Pyromaniac movement, providing content with my unique viewpoint to those that need the fantasy help.
I took part in a fantasy draft with the PYRO staff on August 24th and I wanted to share a few things: how the draft went, my draft strategy and a few observations on things I saw during the draft.
I’d been wondering if the PYRO staff had already taken part in their draft when I came aboard but hadn’t asked as of yet. Maybe it was nerves, maybe it was because I was busy…the question never came out of me. But early in the AM on the 23rd of August, I got an email asking me if I wanted to be a part of the PYRO fantasy league and I pounced on the opportunity!
I consider myself a very good fantasy football manager now but early on, when I didn’t know much, I just drafted people I knew about or was a fan of. By the time the 7th-8th round came around, I had no idea on who to take. I spent countless hours in the years that followed getting acclimated, researching and practicing effective strategies and balancing out all the information I came across when dealing with fantasy players and the situations they were in. So now, I’m at a point where I am confident about my fantasy football knowledge and can talk about it for hours on end if possible…
But by being a part of this draft, I feel like I took a step up to the big leagues. Here I am, drafting with people who run a fantasy football website! Some of these managers have been dealing with fantasy football for decades. DECADES!! These managers aren’t slouches who are drafting their favorite players in a blinded haze. They’re following strategies where they’ve crunched the numbers, made spreadsheets and meticulously set up tiers to make choices from….But I have belief in myself as a manager and I am well aware of what I am capable of. There’s no time for second-guessing my abilities…
I get an email detailing my draft position. I hoped to get somewhere in the top 6 so I could have a shot at Megatron or Tom Brady to start my draft off right, considering how I feel about both players.
I got the 7th slot. Lucky number seven. Of course, I did.
But no worries….I do my draft prep according to my position and I see what is possible for me at that slot over a few mock drafts. And I’m ready for whatever comes my way.
The league starts 1QB, 3WRs, 2RBs, 1TE, a kicker and a defense with 8 bench slots.
The scoring is as follows:
Passing scoring: 25 yards per point, 4 points per passing TD, -2 for INTs
Rushing/receiving scoring: 10 yards per point, 1 point per reception, 6 points per rushing/receiving/return TD, -2 for fumbles lost
And standard defense values with 6 pts for kickoff and punt return touchdowns.
My draft strategy, especially in PPR, is to find durable players that are tied to explosive offenses and stick to that script as closely as possible. I’d need 2 do-it-all running backs, a top flight TE, dominant receivers and a QB who was going to sling it all over the lot. Yes, there are some good players on teams that don’t run up and down the field like it’s a track meet but I didn’t want to limit myself to the lone superstar option on one team because of all the pressure on that player’s shoulders.
Draft time rolls around, my Yahoo draft window is open and I’ve got some tunes playing in the background to help me focus.
The countdown begins….3, 2, 1….The draft begins!
Here’s how each round shook out:
The 1st six picks were Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice, Aaron Rodgers, Calvin Johnson and Tom Brady. No big surprises there. I was ready for that to be the case. I had no interest in Chris Johnson that early. I feel he’ll have some great games but I cannot say he’s 1st round worthy.
So I drafted Cam Newton 7th overall.
I could’ve had the triggermen to some powerful pass offenses in Brees and Stafford but I decided to pass on them. Cam was the 7th best player on my list and I felt he wouldn’t be there in the 2nd round. I felt Brees wouldn’t have the same season statistically, especially with no consistent replacement for Robert Meachem in the lineup and Sean Payton on the sidelines. Defenses will be more focused on stopping the pass. I also felt Stafford’s numbers might dip a bit as well due to an emphasis on balancing the offense.
Considering the scoring settings rewarded the rush a little more than the pass, why not aim for the biggest rushing threat from the quarterback position? I think I threw the biggest curveball in the 1st round but my gut tells me Cam will be good in his sophomore season. He threw for over 4000 yards last year, had 14 TDs rushing and over 700 yards rushing. Even if the rushing stats go down some, the passing ones will climb considering the weapons on offense and the style of offense Carolina employs.
My idea in the 2nd round was to aim for Julio Jones and if he was there, I’d take him. After Julio, my options were Jimmy Graham, Brandon Marshall or Wes Welker….
Julio goes two picks ahead of me, which is to be expected. My pick comes up and I’ve got to choose between Marshall, Welker and Graham. I immediately scratch out Welker’s name because with Brandon Lloyd on board, he’d get less production than last year. Now I have to choose between Graham and Marshall and I decide to go with Marshall. Brandon’s done well the past couple of years even when saddled with subpar talent and crappy QBs down in Miami. I have a good feeling him reuniting with Cutler in Chicago will reap more TDs and the same dominant amount of catches and receiving yards.
Graham was an option, a legitimate one at that but I wanted to secure top level WRs early. I felt that was a bigger priority, especially with me targeting other tight ends like Gates or Hernandez a couple of rounds later.
I decided to pair Brandon with Victor Cruz. I had a shot at Jordy Nelson or Andre Johnson but decided to go with someone who would definitely get their share of catches. Even if the touchdowns went down, I know Victor’s importance to the NYG offense is massive and he’ll definitely get a lot of passes thrown his way.
Jordy had a career year last year and I know he’s an important piece to the GB puzzle but I let him slide by. I can’t chase after career years like that. If Greg Jennings wasn’t injured late in the season, I don’t think he’d have amassed the stats he had.
I do not like Andre Johnson in fantasy anymore. Too many injuries the past couple of years and I feel like he’s got a reputation as a beast in fantasy when he hasn’t really been one. The sex appeal of combining Brandon Marshall and Andre Johnson together on paper SOUNDS like a good idea but I just couldn’t do it. Sexiness on paper doesn’t win leagues, production wins leagues and I don’t have faith in Andre to stay on the field for 16 games. I hope I don’t sound too bitter but understand that the man has burned me often enough in the past.
I take Brandon Lloyd. Double Brandon status achieved. Considering some of the other talents still on the board (Darren Sproles, Antonio Gates), it was a bit of a risk but it’s a draft strategy that was successful in many of the mock drafts I took a part of so I took my shot.
Lloyd will be a definite upgrade from the Chad OchoCinco experiment and could be what the Pats had in Randy Moss when they were slaying teams back in 2007. Not necessarily to that same level but considering the production he put up every year that he’s been in a Josh McDaniels offense and the QB throwing to him now would be Tom Brady? I had to get on board. I’ve also been a fan of Lloyd’s since his San Fran days and realized how great a talent he was back then.
I had to double up on my Patriot offensive investments with Aaron Hernandez early in the 5th round. Gates went late in the 4th so I was sweating bullets a little bit but when he slid my way, the choice was obvious I hoped he’d make it to me and he did.
Hernandez, to me, is just as valuable a player as Gronkowski to the New England offense. He fits my draft strategy and considering the wrinkle of the Pats using him as a running back….it feels like he’ll sneak a few red zone plays onto his resume. I also didn’t want to dip into that pool of TEs that all have great upside but no one could be sure of how they’d fare during the course of the year. Aaron represented the last of the top flight TEs at the time and I snatched him up with the quickness.
I needed a number 1 RB at this point…so I went with the not so sexy Fred Jackson. He’s the dominant half of a RBBC and will get most of the goal line carries plus catches the pill.
Fred is a do it all running back who unfortunately broke his leg last year. He’s back to full strength now and ready to run. I think the Bills pass offense will keep defenses honest enough and give Fred some run lanes to get through. If he can do what he did last year? Good choice by me.
I wanted McGahee, Hillis or another top flight WR in Vincent Jackson but no dice. All taken ahead of me…so I decided to make a reach for Kevin Smith as my 2nd starting RB. He was a beast in the Detroit offense and even though his ankles are made of packing peanuts and Styrofoam, I knew I’d be getting RB depth later on in the draft to cover for him the minute he gets injured…but if he stayed upright, he’s a great option in that Detroit offense. Another do-it-all player with no threat to steal carries or catches from him in the backfield on the team with all the problems the Detroit RBs are having with concussions (Best) or suspension (LeShoure)… I felt confident in him as a number 2 and the possibility of getting some depth after this pick was a certainty.
Had my eyes on Doug Martin this round but Noonan got him first….so I went with injury magnet in Ahmad Bradshaw. He’s part of a RBBC in New York but I expect him to be sprinkled into the offense. He’s 1st up for goal line plays and he catches passes….so I took him. I think the Giants won’t wear him down as they might have in years past, especially with no Brandon Jacobs around to take some of that punishment. Not in love with the choice but considering what else was around, I’m okay with it.
I draft my first bench wideout in Justin Blackmon. The guy comes to training camp after holding out due to contract language and dominates in preseason action against 1st string defenses. I had to have him and I made that pick with ease. He doesn’t fit the strategy per se but the talent was evident and I felt like taking him made sense.
Gabbert looks a thousand percent better than he did at any point last season. His O-line will be shaky and I think because of that, he won’t have time to go deep to players like Laurent Robinson…he’ll need to go short to Blackmon. And I’ll gladly eat up all that production…
I scooped up Jonathan Stewart. (You may notice my love affair with the Carolina offense.) J-Stew is the passing element in this offense so I had to scoop him up. He’ll get his fair share of touches on offense and with Tolbert leading the way as fullback, the Carolina rush O might get a bit more consistent. I don’t expect massive improvements but I expect a few longer drives and a bit more polish on the offense this season.
His tweaked ankle in preseason put a little fear in me for a hot second but considering he’s on the pine on my team, no worries at the moment.
I continued to load up on the RBs, this time focusing on goal line with Michael Bush. Malcom Floyd was an option in that round but he got snapped up …as was completing the Carolina RB tandem with DeAngelo Williams…but he was also taken earlier in the 11th.
Bush is considered the goal line option for the team and if Forte gets hurt, Bush can take over on a full time basis. Considering Forte has been nicked up these past few years, snagging the Bears GL option and 2nd in line seemed like a good move. He’s part of a good offense and he might be able to get me production without having to give me 20 carries a game, which is a good look.
Some of my potential choices in this round (Randy Moss, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Sidney Rice) went on the turn so I went with another RB in Toby Gerhart. He does have a lot of value considering I do not believe Adrian Peterson’s surgically reconstructed knee is back to full strength and when AP went down last year Gerhart stacked up the stats under the radar a little bit…
But I am not sure I needed him and could’ve shored up another position. We’ll see how this plays out during the course of the season. If AP has to shut it down, I’ve got an RB1. If AP rises to prominence again, then I’ve got waiver wire material.
I debated the idea of loading up on more offensive talent but then two teams ahead of me that round drafted a defense and I said, why not? I drafted Philadelphia’s defense. That pass rush looks ferocious again this year and I don’t think a lot of teams are equipped along the offensive line to handle the wide 9 rush of theirs. They are a year removed from the Dream Team nonsense (THANKS, VINCE YOUNG!) and they should be a bit more comfortable in their roles after a full offseason and some new blood in the linebacking corps.
I though about a second defense here but realized I needed another WR so I went Danny Amendola. He has a good rapport with Bradford, is healthy again after his horrible looking arm injury from last year and now I see the Rams are using him more down the field? Sign me up. He’s always been a PPR standout and if they get him some red zone looks…I’m looking at a solid player on my fantasy roster.
Now it was time for the backup tight end with solid upside. Greg Olsen was out there. So I took him. He’s tied to a good offense and all his competition (Jeremy Shockey) is long gone. He’ll get as much as they can toss his way this upcoming season. A steal at this position considering the names that went before him. Carolina Panthers love for the third time in this draft.
I went with a kicker. Sebastian Janikowski. I am a little worried the Raiders might not move the ball like they did during Hue Jackson’s time there. I’m not tied to him for life, even if he is one of the better kickers in the league the past few years but if someone else is doing better….to quote Hawk Harrelson…”He gone!”
Had my heart set on a second defense and realized I had no backup QB….so I scooped up Ryan Fitzpatrick off the scrap heap. The Bills have a decent pass offense and I only need him for one week. If he stinks up the joint, there are a few options on pluck off the waiver wire that can easily replace him.
So here's my squad:
QB: Cam Newton, Ryan Fitzpatrick
RB: Fred Jackson, Kevin Smith, Ahmad Bradshaw, Jonathan Stewart, Michael Bush, Toby Gerhart
WR: Brandon Marshall, Victor Cruz, Brandon Lloyd, Justin Blackmon, Danny Amendola
TE: Aaron Hernandez, Greg Olsen
K: Sebastian Janikowski
A pretty good team if you ask me. Depth, talent, production…it’s all here. I think I have a good shot here at taking it all the way to the playoffs.
I will say that this draft played out a little differently than some of the others I’ve participated in:
• The patience that these managers showed on plucking defenses and kickers was refreshing. I’m used to leagues where people are jumping for defense MUCH earlier. But considering the roster sizes, no one made a move until the 13th round, which I thought was very sensible.
• I noticed there’s a lot of love for rookies. Any offensive position that might have a rookie involved…that player got snatched up. Luck, Griffin, Wilson…all gone!
• These roster setups allow the managers the opportunity to stash a major squad but this league will be a tough one due to the limitations on how many people you can start per week. Lots of management will be necessary to make sure you put the best team in the starting lineup each week. You can’t afford to have any production on the bench and you need to have your best foot forward at all times to win!
So that’s my recap. I’ll keep you abreast of how I’m doing as the year progresses!