This article is part of our Fantasy Football Draft Strategy series.
With August and NFL cut-downs in the rear-view mirror, the first day of September marked my entry into the fray in the 2022 NFFC Classic Online draft.
Our friends at NFFC report that once again it's been a record year for both contests, with the Primetime slated to top 900 teams with a $250,000 grand prize and the RotoWire Online Championship set to surpass 4,500 teams with a $250,000 grand prize.
There are still openings available every day for both contests, but please note that spots are limited!
Now on to the squad I drafted Thursday night in a 14-team, 20-round, third-round reversal draft.
As usual, in this contest I set a couple basic goals at the top: I wanted get a quality running back in Round 1, then secure an elite tight end on my next turn, if possible. After that, I just tried to go with the flow of the draft with my roster build, making sure that I have a viable early season lineup, while trying to sneak in the occasion sleeper who could emerge down the road.
This time around, I drew the No. 6 pick overall, a slot I don't mind in this format because it allowed me to execute my strategy without reaching (too much) for my star TE. This approach precluded me from snagging a top-tier WR, but I wasn't liking my chances of securing a non-angst inducing RB1 otherwise.
With Jonathan Taylor, Christian McCaffrey and Austin Ekeler predictably off the board, I happily drafted Dalvin Cook. Najee Harris was considered, but as long as Minnesota's top back stays healthy, I'm confident this was a strong choice.
As the second round progressed, it looked like I might wind up with Travis Kelce, but alas he went 22nd overall, so I pivoted to Mark Andrews with the next pick. Yes, I hate chasing the tight end position all season in 14-team leagues.
As the draft unfolded, I assembled a reasonable RB corps and landed a high-ceiling QB, but barely lost out even more than often on many of the receivers I was targeting. Wideout depth is clearly something I will need to address in free agency.
Overall, I'm satisfied with my initial starting lineup in such a deep format and understand that I'll need to unearth a hidden gem or two on the wideout front, but I think I have the foundation to compete, as long as I supplement my nucleus with some solid in-season pickups
Below is the full draft board, followed by some round-by-round commentary about my picks:
Rd. 1, pick 6 – RB Dalvin Cook, MIN – In my book, he's a top-5 back and that's exactly I wanted here.
Rd. 2, pick 23 – TE Mark Andrews, BAL – And here's the top-tier tight end I was seeking. There's a big drop-off this year after Kelce, Andrews and Kyle Pitts, and I got my second choice. Andrews should maintain steady volume in the Ravens offense and hopefully the only time he's out of my lineup is his bye week.
Rd. 4, pick 48 – RB Ezekiel Elliott, DAL – To be clear, I wasn't targeting Elliot in this spot. And this pick could fall flat if Tony Pollard goes off this year, but the people who run the Cowboys seem to believe in Zeke and I'm hoping he stays busy enough to hold down my RB2 spot indefinitely.
Rd. 5, pick 65 – QB Lamar Jackson, BAL – In the wake of a jarring run on receivers, Jackson felt like the call. I was trying to not take a QB too high, but Jackson is the kind of player with the upside to win leagues if he plays a full slate.
Rd. 6, pick 76 – WR Amari Cooper, CLE – This is where taking a tight end in the second round came back to haunt me, and when I selected Jackson it was with the intention of taking DeVonta Smith on my next turn. He went two picks before Cooper, so I took Cleveland's top wideout instead. The Browns figure to run plenty while Jacoby Brissett helms the offense, but as is said, "someone has to catch the passes." I'm hoping that someone is Cooper, a plausible outcome considering the team's other options.
Rd. 7, pick 93 – RB Devin Singletary, BUF – He's in a good offense and the Bills like to run the ball. I'm hoping that equates to a steady enough workload for Singletary, despite the presence of James Cook and Zack Moss.
Rd. 8, pick 104 – RB Kenneth Walker, SEA – The 2022 second-rounder is bouncing back from a hernia procedure and Rashaad Penny is still in the Seattle backfield, but in time I expect Walker to make a mark, and if Penny gets injured at any point, the rookie could be a home-run pick.
Rd. 9, pick 121 – WR Garrett Wilson, NYJ – Leading up to this choice, I saw my wideout queue evaporate once again and figured I'd at least try to land someone with a degree of upside. The No. 10 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft has that, but in the short term how quickly he emerges hinges on the development of second-year signal-caller Zach Wilson. Admittedly, that's a concern.
Rd. 10, pick 132 – WR Jakobi Meyers, NE - Meyers isn't a splashy pick here, but he has a strong rapport with QB Mac Jones and should see enough targets to hold down a lineup spot for me while Wilson (hopefully) emerges.
Rd. 11, pick 149 – QB Kirk Cousins, MIN – Just in case Jackson misses time, Cousins provides a viable alternative at quarterback.
Rd. 12, pick 160 – TE Mike Gesicki, MIA – On this turn I made up my mind to grab a second tight end. Then Irv Smith went. No problem. Albert Okwuegbunam was still there and I was planning to snag him 160th overall. Then he went. So I settled for Gesicki, who some folks are down on this year. He caught 73 passes in 2021, but that's going to be hard to replicate in his current team context.
Rd. 13, pick 177 – WR Van Jefferson, LAR – At this point, my greatest wideout fears (i.e. there were slim pickings) had been realized. Jefferson might be out or limited early with a knee injury, but he seems like a reasonable dart, given his likely role as the Rams' WR3.
Rd. 14, pick 188 – Team D, BUF – In these drafts, I take my first team defense once position players on the board all kind of start looking similar in terms of value. Yeah, it's a round or two early, but at least I have a starting defense that looks good-to-great on paper.
Rd. 15, pick 205 – RB Sony Michel, LAC – With more than 200 players having been taken by this juncture, it was time to look at some "what if?" types … In this case, I went with "what if Austin Ekeler gets injured or the Chargers want to limit his workload?" I realize that Isaiah Spiller (and we all love rookies) is in the mix, but I suppose there's a chance that Michel's experience could earn him a larger than expected role at some point.
Rd. 16, pick 216 – WR Curtis Samuel, WAS – Samuel's first season with Washington was very forgettable. But I remember that he was pretty good with the Panthers in 2020 and the 16th round feels like an OK spot to take a flyer on a potential bounce-back candidate.
Rd. 17, pick 233 – Team D, NE – I like having two defenses in this format, though I may eventually end up dropping this one if I see some too-good-to-be-true streaming matchups in the coming weeks.
Rd. 18, pick 244 – Team Kicker, KC – Resigned to the fact that my last two picks will probably be my first two drops, I went with the best available Team Kicker.
Rd. 19, pick 261- WR Devin Duvernay, BAL – This completes my unintentional Baltimore stack. At this stage, there's not much to lose. Working in his favor is that Duvernay is a projected starter, but if he doesn't pan out, I'll cycle him out in favor of a receiver to be named.
Rd. 20, pick 272 – QB Kenny Pickett, PIT – I thought about a handful of speculative RB plays in this slot, but rolled the dice on Pickett instead. Maybe he gets the starting job sooner than expected. But realistically, he'll be a drop candidate once I'm able to add free agents.
If you've made it this far, thanks for checking this out and best of luck in all your leagues and contests this season.