I’ve done numerous expert league drafts over the last few weeks and have several more on the slate from now until the start of the regular season.
The one trend I’ve found in those drafts is that I can sit back and wait to take a quarterback until the middle rounds. For example, I landed Peyton Manning in the fourth round of the NFL.com PPR mock draft, Kurt Warner in the sixth round of the NFL.mock standard mock draft and Tony Romo in the sixth round of the Time Warner Cable Experts League draft.
Based on the ADPs (average draft positions) from NFL.com leagues, those three picks were all absolute steals.
Manning (11.77), Warner (33.63) and Romo (36.94) are all being taken no later than the start of the fourth round in a 12-team league. Furthermore, Donovan McNabb (39.02), Matt Ryan (52.79), Matt Schaub (55.00) and Jay Cutler (58.91) are all coming off the board before the start of the sixth round.
Unless you’re in a league that starts two quarterbacks, is based on touchdowns alone or has a scoring system that is seriously skewed toward the position, that is just too soon to be taking these signal-callers.
My preference has always been to wait on the position until at least the fourth round. That allows me to take a combination of three running backs and wide receivers. In most cases, the flow of the draft allows me to wait until the fifth or even the sixth round (as shown in drafts above) to take a quarterback.
I can see taking Drew Brees and maybe Tom Brady in the first round, but not Manning. The third round is also too soon to take Warner, Romo or McNabb, and the fifth round is a little high to be taking Ryan, Schaub and Cutler.
While I realize that these expert drafts are different than what your drafts will look like in a lot of respects, I think they’re still a good gauge of positional values. In the majority of these leagues, runners dominate the first round, runners and wideouts fill out the second and third rounds, and quarterbacks (outside of Brees, Brady and Manning) come a few rounds later.
When I have my personal leagues with friends and family (including my sister, Denise, who I can proudly say roots for the Cowboys and loves fantasy football), I might see some different results. In fact, I expect to see more quarterbacks come off the board in the first three rounds than I’m used to in expert leagues.
Whatever your own personal stratgies might be, I can’t express how important it is to watch the flow of the draft. If good quarterbacks are still on the board after the first three rounds, like in many expert leagues, I can sit back and wait to take a field general until the middle stanzas.
If my fellow owners start a huge run on quarterbacks in the second or third round, however, I’ll have to decide to either join the run or beef up at running back or wide receiver. Personally, I’d prefer to load up at other positions and take two quarterbacks (McNabb and Ben Roethlisberger, for example) in the middle to late rounds that I can start each week based on the matchups.
The two other trends I saw that I didn’t agree with were at kicker and defense.
For some reason, Stephen Gostkowski (96.31) is being drafted on average in the eighth round of a 12-team league. Mason Crosby (111.86) and Rob Bironas (114.84) are coming off the board in the ninth round. Why take a kicker this soon? There is never any reason to ever take one before the last two rounds.
In fact, I almost never take a kicker until the final round.
Finally, I was astounded to see that the Steelers defense (59.11) was being taken on average in the fourth and fifth rounds. I realize this is a solid unit, but sacks would have to be worth about 10 points each for me to take a defense this soon. The Ravens (81.67), Giants (82.82) and Vikings (85.72) were also coming off the board in the first half of most 16-round drafts.
Again, unless there is a huge skew toward defensive point rewards in your league’s scoring system, there’s just no reason to take one until one of the final three rounds.
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