Man vs. Machine: Odell Beckham and Christian McCaffrey Form a 1-2 Punch from Draft Slot No. 8

In this series, RotoViz writers will be using the Draft Dashboard, the flagship tool of the FFDRAFTPREP Package, to practice approaching 2018 drafts. Twelve authors will be participating and each will be mock-drafting, from a different starting position, using the tool. The aim of this series is to outline the strategies employed by our writers, the information they are using to inform their decisions, and to obtain an understanding of how draft slot plays a role in the development of their approaches. At the end of each mock, the author will compare their team to those drafted by the computer and self-assess whether or not they “won” the draft.

After watching Dave Caban take on the very machine he designed, I figured it’s now my turn to give it a whirl. Prior to starting the mock, I refreshed my tiers and ensured the machines would be working with up-to-date information before we started. Lets see how I’ll fare against a tool designed to leverage the knowledge of other RotoViz writers!

LEAGUE SETTINGS

All writers will be drafting in 12-team PPR leagues and using “Average PPR” as the ADP source in their mocks. Rosters will consist of 1QB, 2RB, 3WR, 1TE, 1Flex (RB/WR/TE), 1K, and 1DST. The computer teams will be set to “Mixed,” meaning that they will build out their rosters using a mixture of approaches. Some will go running back or wide receiver heavy, others will emphasize positions equally, and one or two may go Zero RB or Zero WR.

For my draft, I’ll be picking 8th.

PRE-DRAFT APPROACH

Given that I’m drafting in a PPR league, I’m aiming to play a wide receiver in the flex spot. The recent scoring depression faced by WRs has led to a deflation in their ADPs, and elite WRs are available later than ever. Additionally, the recent influx of running back talent in the NFL ensures that I should be able to safely land at least one high-upside RB in the draft. The advantage gained by deploying four WRs with high floors and ceilings should offset the middling RB production.

I’m willing to wait on the tight end slot, unless I find an unbeatable value in the middle rounds. Also, I’m looking to address my quarterback, defense, and kicker slots in the final rounds of the draft.1 The depth at the QB position is the deepest it’s been in recent memory, and I’m hoping to land a high-upside player in the final rounds.

NOTES: ROUND 1 – 6

  • I was slightly surprised to see DeAndre Hopkins get drafted ahead of David Johnson, but was fortunate to land a Tier 1 receiver in Odell Beckham.
  • I got lucky from Rounds 3-5 and was able to snag Allen RobinsonDemaryius Thomas, and Golden Tate. Now I can comfortably start a top-24 WR in the flex spot, which provides a notable advantage over my opponents.
  • I got lucky and landed Tevin Coleman in the sixth round as my second RB. Coleman’s path to playing time may appear to be blocked, but he’s got league-winning upside if Devonta Freeman misses time this season.
  • Through the first six rounds of the mock, I owned one Tier 1 WR, one Tier 2 RB, three Tier 3 WRs, and one Tier 3 RB.
  • The other teams in the mock had constructed their rosters in a variety of ways.

Man V Machine - 6 Rounds

MOST CHALLENGING PICK

Believe it or not, I faced the hardest decision of the draft in the second round. I cursed at the machine multiple times for stealing Julio Jones and forcing me into a bit of a panic. Luckily, the Draft Dashboard’s Panic Picks helped me quickly narrow my choices down.

Panic Picks - Hasan

Since this is a vanilla PPR league with no premium for TE scoring, it was still a bit early to select Rob Gronkowski. I cut my choices to Christian McCaffreyMichael Thomas, and A.J. Green, and ultimately felt comfortable selecting McCaffrey. The Panthers funneled a significant chunk of the targets McCaffrey’s way regardless of game situation, and it’s likely that he sees similar opportunity this season. Although D.J. Moore, Greg Olsen, and Devin Funchess will command a significant chunk of targets, there should be enough left over for McCaffrey to post high-end RB2 numbers. Additionally, if C.J. Anderson were to miss time this season, McCaffrey could easily finish as a top-five RB.

Most Surprising Pick

I would’ve said Delanie Walker, but Dave Caban has already covered that particular selection. So I’ll nominate fellow Titan Rishard Matthews as my surprising pick. By selecting Matthews, I sacrificed rounding out my RB corps, which looks fairly thin in comparison to some of the rosters compiled by the computers. By selecting Matthews as my third bench player, I missed out on Giovani Bernard, Aaron Jones, Nyheim Hines, and Theo Riddick. I might look to trade some of my bench players once the season starts, but in hindsight it looks like I made a mistake.

Final Team

Rahim - Final Team

I’m pleased with how this roster shook out. I have solid WRs, and two RBs with league-winning upside. I’m a bit upset not to have landed Will Fuller or any of the rookie RBs, but I’ve got enough WR depth that I should be able to trade aggressively once the season starts. I managed to lock up two breakout candidates at WR in Paul Richardson and Chris Godwin. Lastly, I was fortunate to land Patrick Mahomes as my starting QB in the 14th round.

Favorite Computer Team

Man V. Machine - Computer Team

There’s plenty to like about this roster. Not only did the computer lock up a Tier 1 RB in David Johnson, they followed it up with several Tier 2 and 3 WRs in A.J. Green, Amari Cooper, and Sammy Watkins. Additionally, Evan Engram is an ultra athletic TE who compares favorably with other elite WRs in the NFL. The computer doubled up at the QB spot and snagged a few players I’m not particularly high on – Josh Doctson, Devontae Booker, and Hayden Hurst to name a few – but it’s a strong team and one I expect to be very competitive this season.

The Decision

Draw! There were actually quite a few well constructed rosters if you look at the draft board/team rosters below. Although the Ravens constructed a formidable roster, other rosters I like include:

  • Patriots
  • Bengals
  • Dolphins

All three teams managed to snag a mix of players that gives each individual roster a high floor/ceiling combination and should be considered among the favorite teams to win the season.

Draft Board

Man V Machine - Draft Board

Team Rosters

Man V Machine - Rosters

  1. I typically don’t draft any of these three positions, opting to load up on skill position players instead. You can always stream these three positions.  (back)