1.01- RB Christian McCaffrey, SF
2.12- WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, Det.
3.01- WR Jaylen Waddle, Mia.
4.12- RB Miles Sanders, Car.
5.01- TE T.J. Hockenson, Min.
6.12- WR George Pickens, Pit.
7.01- QB DeShaun Watson, Cle.
8.12- QB Tua Tagovailoa, Mia.
9.01- WR Jahan Dotson, Was.
10.12- RB Tyler Allgeier, Atl.
11.01- RB Kenneth Gainwell, Phi.
12.12- WR Chase Claypool, Chi.
13.01- TE Trey McBride, Ari.
14.12- RB Chase Edmonds, TB
15.01- D/ST, New York Jets
16.12- K Greg Zuerlein, NYJ
Analysis: Most years in fantasy football, having the first pick means you get fantasy's most dominant player hands down. This year, however, there is no hands down best player as all of the top players have flaws including Christian McCaffrey whose injury history is quite significant. That said, it's hard to argue against the idea that McCaffrey has the highest floor of any player when healthy and can carry a pretty lofty ceiling to go along with that. In what has become a fairly traditional approach to team building in recent years, Dan then proceeded to load up on another running back, a trio of wide receivers and a stud tight end prior to finally addessing the QB position in Round Seven. The result is a deep team at WR even as I wouldn't consider St. Brown or Waddle true WR1s, especially in a non-PPR league. I also think when both are healthy, Tua will outscore DeShaun Watson more weeks than not and provide Dan with upside at that position despite him waiting a while to address it. The second half of Dan's draft felt a little funky to me with some higher risk selections like Allgeier (who is likely only valuable if Bijan Robinson gets hurt), Claypool, and Edmonds. In the end, though, this team looks very much like a contender if its top RBs can stay upright. The initial eight rounds of picks contain firepower galore.
Key to No-Hassle Success: McCaffrey and Sanders between the twenties have proven to be big time contributors over the years when they're on the field. The question, especially for Sanders, is whether or not he will score touchdowns. I think he's a lock for 1,200-1,500 total yards from scrimmage, but I question how often Carolina will include him in their goal line packages. The receiving corps appears to be solid in terms of reliability and as wide receivers get hurt less than running backs, the odds are good there that Dan will get production all year long from that group that he can be proud of. It's the running back depth, thus, that I'm most concerned about for reasons already noted. Seventeen games or close to that number from both McCaffrey and Sanders might get this team a championship. But, health is never promised and in the case of both, it might be a desperate wish more than anything else. As I hate when teams don't get to see what they could have been, here's hoping I'm dead wrong about the fragility of both.
Favorite Pick: Despite all I've said about Sanders, I thought he was a steal at 4.12. Like steal of the draft kind of steal if he remains on the field. Carolina has proven they can run the ball no matter who lines up in the backfield and Sanders is an upgrade over everyone who toted it for them during the second half of last season. I also loved the Tagovailoa pick. He has such elite weapons and that should carry him to a top ten finish easily among quarterbacks. Stacking him with Waddle just seems like a recipe for some scoring bursts- in other words, a very smart best ball stack.
Least Favorite Pick: I would have liked a RB3 for this team that has more guaranteed touches as I don't think that applies to Allgeier, Gainwell, or Edmonds. In addition, George Pickens was a tad early for my liking, but the upside of the pick is hard to deny, so can't hate on it all that much.
Overall outlook: Dan did nice work in this draft of recognizing best available positional talent at each turn. For example, WR talent was stronger at the 2-3 turn than any of the RBs available at that time and Dan didn't stray from that reality one bit in acquiring both St. Brown and Waddle. This team really doesn't have a weak spot as Dan's willingness to turn around so quickly after picking his first quarterback in order to grab his second really shored up what could have been his weakest position. All of the guys in this draft are well above average when it comes to fantasy football acumen, but that doesn't mean every team in the draft is above average compared to all the others. This one, however, is just that. Very solid job by Dan the man.
First off, thank you, Kirk, for doing this. Running the draft, staying after all of us when we know you have a schedule, too, is not a small thing. And then the follow-up with this evaluation gives an immediate gratification, no matter how you feel about our drafts. It's satisfying to see the evidence of someone really paying attention, and giving an honest feedback. I'm not sure it's said enough that this step is really looked forward to and appreciated. To follow this with the No-Hassle is a commendable endeavor, and we're all privileged that you take that on.
So . . . THANK YOU.
Second, evaluation from what's above:
I want to off my own assessment, primarily alongside what Fumble has presented, because I don't have a lot to argue with.
I started the draft with two plans to consider from the very start. Although I considered Ekeler #1, I knew that I liked McCaffrey better, so the question was, of course, going RB or WR. I think I nailed that, in large part because of what Fumble assessed about my 2-3 turn. I rightly evaluated the shortness of high-quality RBs. This is ironic, because my biggest gaffe in this draft was misevaluating how fast the RBs would dry up. Granted, White Wonder's unprecedented approach threw a wrench in things, and another 3-out-of-4 to start the draft hurt a bit; but the capper was watching Cook go in the 5th. That was the evidence of my complete failure to recognize the urgency bent towards RB, and the complete drying up of that tier of RBs between my 4-5 and 6-7 turns put me in a hard place. I'll reevaluate this, probably a number of times, but at that point, the damage was done, and I knew that RB depth was garbage. My solution was not to desperately pick them because of the shortfall, but to strengthen elsewhere, and aim at quality potential from what was left. Talent, even buried, will often out. Allgeiers and Gainwell are that. They have shown spark and punch on the field, and I'd rather shoot at those gambles, because it's what I would in a real draft, and use the waiver wire to shore up the clear deficiency. Edmonds sits behind a guy who's done something once, and has had success himself in the past. It's a prayer, but it was the best that was going to happen at that point. But it's a clear weakness because of it.
I tried to not fight the draft, and also tried to make the intentional focus young and upside. McCaffrey and Watson are the old men, but the team is littered with youth, and that was intentional, though not particularly my comfort zone. My only early surprise to me was Hockenson. I hadn't intended to go there, and would have been comfortable with someone like Freiermuth, who I believe is underrated. I would likely have a little more depth at RB in that case. And that happened, I would have gone with 4 RBs and taken Ertz to lock up the fluid TE situation in Arizona. Ah, second-guessing is fun. Overall, I like the depth in most of my positions, and feel decently even about receiver. I'll go with talent often and take that risk. Claypool is listed #3, but as an owner who endured three leagues of Mooney-induced suffering, I'm here to tell you that Claypool is more talented, and the gap isn't small. If he wakes up, he's a star, and that pick is dynamite. If he doesn't, he's a #5 WR. But I won't regret leaving Mooney on the board (or others like him) in favor of him.
I want to separate a defense for Pickens. I could be wrong, for sure, but I liked getting him. Yes, I'm a Steelers fan, and having a Steeler doesn't hurt my feelings. To wit, he was not making it back to 8.12, and he was an actual desire. In defense of the potential, I offer this. Diontae Johnson is a very good receiver, and his targets can't be ignored. But . . . he's going to get the top coverage every week, and he's not Adams or Diggs, dominating defenses regardless. I think it's reasonable to consider the possibility that he suffers what JuJu Smith-Schuster did when he was defined as the decided #1, finding his numbers drag as a result. That was when Johnson proved himself. Now add the likes of a Pickens. Pickens is the more talented receiver. He's young, and the expectation might be a year premature, but I've not seen a catch radius like that since OBJ, and I think Pickens is more consistent. Talent will out, and Pickens is a rising star. I've not seen questions about his work ethic, so I'm anticipating an upward arc. Deluded? I might be. But I love what I've seen.
OVERALL: Fumble's assessment was really pretty spot on, I think. Solid starting lineup, especially with best ball handling the QBs. Depth at RB is more than suspect. WRs are good to above average (and this is where we'll see). I think the WRs define what my season will look like. That and DeShaun Watson, about whom I am optimistic. I think he could outproduce his QB ranking, and my assessment of that will be on display. LOL.
REFLECTIVE NOTE: Last year, one pick was retrospectively atrocious: Najee Harris was a lost pick as a first rounder (nice call, Fumble). And though the plan of trying to find gems later paid off in several areas to save a season, I likely lost the chance to contend because of that pick. McCaffrey could get hurt again and kill me again, but I'll live with it. If he stays healthy, I think the gem-finding strategy gives me that hope to compete, and maybe redeem that gross miscalculation. Here's hoping, anyway.