By Shawn Hakimi
I know three gentlemen who won their respective fantasy football leagues last year. Nick- a 28 year old financial analyst who lives with his girlfriend of nine months and their Portuguese Water Dog in their small yet cozy NYC apartment. Nick owns a plethora of checkered J-Crew shirts and his apartment smells like his girlfriend invented lavender. Nick is happy (for now) and thus by the general rule of thumb, successful.
A year after high school, a 19 year old mountain junkie hopped on a train heading west and never really came back. Now 25, Liam is a ski instructor being paid to live on Mammoth Mountain Resort in northern California. He doesn’t have any student loans or an HR department tracking his vacation days. Liam is ‘livin la vida loca’ and the envy of every working millennial, Generation X or baby boomer I know. Liam is happy and thus by a general rule of thumb, successful.
The third gentleman is yours truly, a 28 year old dude whose dabbled in more fields than Nick’s birdbrain Portuguese Water Dog. Ecstatic to be writing for the industry’s most recent analyses and information spark-plug, fantasyhaus, I am happy and thus by a general rule of thumb, I am successful.
The moral of the story here then is, just as a variety of pathways, decisions and tribulations can lead to success in life, the same holds true in fantasy football. Yet it obviously helps to follow a few general guidelines such as:
-Not impersonating that officer
-Not eating that Italian sub you forgot about in the fridge three days ago
-And not drafting Eddie Lacy in the 2nd round
That is why we’re here. To provide you with those guidelines because we want to see you succeed in crushing your fantasy foes while backing the exorbitant amount of smack you may talk after drafting like an expert. Therefore, without further ado: mid-round picks for championship caliber lineups.
Call me a traditionalist but I believe it is wiser to anchor your team with two quality running backs then solidify the rest of your lineup with a Wide Receiver loaded NFL pool. Drafting from the third position in a standard 10-team snake style mock draft, I was able to draft Adrian Peterson, Doug Martin, Amari Cooper and Kelvin Benjamin with the 3rd, 18th, 23rd and 38th picks, respectively. The real fun now begins here in the the middle rounds where #1 Wide Receivers on many teams are still available.
Round 5, pick 43: Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks
Baldwin had a coming out party during a season in which he saw 91 targets for 78 receptions and over 1000 yards. All numbers are bound to increase for the 27 year old, most aptly indicated by the Seahawks decision to lock him up before giving one of their defensive stalwarts, Kam Chancellor, a long term deal. Increased chemistry and rapport with QB Russell Wilson point Baldwin’s Stock in only one direction: up.
Round 6, pick 58: Michael Floyd, WR, Cardinals
After an underwhelming 2014 campaign in which many believed Floyd was to succeed Larry Fitzgerald as the teams #1 downfield option, 2015 saw that prediction come to fruition. The cardinals are have a loaded offense with quarterback Carson Palmer at the helm and defenses will have to respect Arizona’s run game as well. That will help free up their downfield passing attack where Floyd should thrive. Oh, and two words: contract year.
Round 7, pick 63: Jeremy Langford, RB, Bears
Langford did a nice job filling in for franchise Running Back Matt Forte when the Bears lost him to injury, who is now with the Jets. Though the Bears drafted a solid rookie out of Indiana in Jordan Howard, it is Langford’s job to lose. A High reward-low to medium risk pick here for someone with something to prove.
Round 8, pick 78, Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs
After a 2104 campaign in which Kelce took the league by surprise, fantasy owners hoped he would a be a top 3 TE in 2015 but failed to meet those expectations after owners spent an early round pick on him. He still managed 875 yards on 101 targets (not too shabby) and in 2016 where he should be available in the mid to late rounds, Kelce is a phenomenal value pick with 1000 yard potential.
Round 9, pick 83, Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers
Melvin Gordon? The Melvin Gordon who didn’t score a single touchdown last year and agonized every fantasy owner along the way? Yeah. That Melvin Gordon. I was actually one of those who bought into the hype last year, spending a 5th round pick on him. The thing is, the Chargers offensive line was abysmal and Gordon injured his knee halfway into the season. The reason for optimism however here lies within the fact that the Chargers have taken measures to improve their O-line and Head Coach Ken Wissenhunt has made it clear of their intention to run the ball better. Though Danny Woodhead will spell Gordon on 3rd downs the chargers were not afraid to use him in their passing attack on early downs. I’m giving him one more shot; I believe!
Round 10, pick #97, Eli Manning, QB, Giants
You’re trying to impress your date and it just so happens that the film version of her favorite book is showing at this small indie theatre outside the city. So what do you plan? Dinner and a movie, of coarse. But then you find out the 4.5 star restaurant you wanted to take her to only has an availability that coincides with the showtime…..bummer, man. But you’re smart. You know that taking her to that movie then getting dinner at a 3.5 restaurant will ultimately score you more points than passing on that great movie idea. Drafting a Quarterback for your fantasy team is exactly like that. Manning, Bortles, Romo in the 10th or later rounds. Again, in life and in fantasy, do yourself a favor: score more points.
Round 11, pick 103, Markus Wheaton, WR, Steelers
Lets see… your team possesses arguably the best Wide Receiver in the game in addition to arguably the best Running Back in the game. So what I’m hearing is, opposing defenses best cornerback will be on the other side of the field and the tackle box will be full, leaving Mr. Wheaton in single coverage all season long with a Pro Bowl quarterback throwing him the ball. Yeah, sign me up. Monster sleeper pick right here.
Round 12, pick 117, Mohammed Sanu, WR, Falcons
Extremely similar situation to above mentioned Wheaton. Julio Jones will demand opposing defenses attention and the Falcons running game is no joke. The Falcons outbid multiple teams such as the Patriots and Bengals this offseason to bring in a guy like Sanu to be their X-factor. An already gifted receiver, expect even bigger numbers this year than in years past from the veteran receiver; another huge sleeper pick.
And there you have it, folks. Remember, the draft isn’t over after round 12. Rounds 13 and 14 should be treated just as importantly, handcuffing running backs on great running teams like the Cowboys and Steelers, or taking a gamble on guys like Kevin White of the Bears with breakout potential. It’s almost the best time of the year again! Happy drafting.