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Diary of a High Stakes Draft in Vegas – Picking from the 1 Spot


I share a team in the FFWC High Stakes League which drafted live in Las Vegas on September 6th. Some of the other team owners in this league include Chad Schroeder, Kimra Schleicher, Wayne Ellis, Robert Wallace, Brad Kruse, and Paul Malie. Five of these are ranked in the top 100 High Stakes Players Ranking and the sixth is in the top 150. Schroeder and Schleicher are in the top 10. Only two of the twelve teams had no previous High Stakes experience. Talking to one of the players listed above after the draft, he claimed this was the most difficult draft he’s experienced in 2014 and he’s in several high stakes leagues. I’m not going out a limb when I say this league deserves an “Expert” draft label.

The FFWC is a PPR format with a starting line-up of QB-RB2-WR3-FLEX2-K-DST. The two Flex spots give you the option of starting 5 WRs. My assumption going in was wide receivers would go very quickly in the draft so we of course went in with a ZeroRB strategy in mind. We took Justin Winn’s advice and hoarded wide receivers.

Here is a draft recap of our team and the RotoViz articles that inspired us in building this team with championship potential. We had the first pick of the draft. I found Winning the Flex, Why the Flex will again wins Championships and How to approach your 2014 fantasy drafts extremely helpful in our draft prep.

1.1 Demaryius Thomas (WR1)

This was definitely unorthodox and we got some snickers. This pick really came down to Thomas and LeSean McCoy. I believe the loss of three linemen to be one of the most detrimental and under reported details of Jamaal Charles 2014 season. I wouldn’t even consider Adrian Peterson after reading Dr. Budoff’s article. In the end we wanted to go WR heavy. I detailed why I’m drafting Demaryius Thomas over Calvin Johnson in July. This is what you call putting your money where your mouth is.

2.12   Keenan Allen (WR12)

Ten WRs went off the board between our first and second pick as predicted. Allen is the #8 WR from the projection machine. Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd were seriously considered. We went with the young guy who shouldn’t have a problem leading San Diego in receptions and hopefully touchdowns.

3.01   Victor Cruz (WR13)

My contention is Cruz easily leads the Giants in targets and receptions and may be the garbage time WR to own in 2014. Eli Manning has thrown WR1 seasons to four different WRs including Plaxico Burress, Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. Cruz has never had more than 143 targets in a season and I expect that to change.

4.11   Mike Wallace (WR30)

We planned on getting Wallace here. Wallace wasn’t good last year but with a new OC and a resume that includes two WR1 seasons, the upside is there. Wallace is the #22 WR from the projection machine and should be a solid WR4 every week play.

5.01   Drew Brees (QB2)

Drew Brees has had no less than 418 pts the last three years. Brees might be the safest pick in any draft. We couldn’t pass him up in the 5th round. Drew averages five 30+ point games every year, and he will help win us some weeks. The pick would have been Eric Decker had we not taken Brees.

6.12   Pierre Thomas (RB27)

I was ecstatic to land Pierre this late in the draft. He should be an absolute lock to get 70+ receptions playing the Darren Sproles role.

7.01   Fred Jackson (RB28)

F Jax is one of the 10 most undervalued Players from the Projection Machine. He is likely the goal line back and will get a bunch of 3rd down work on a run first team. We knew we could get Bryce Brown cheaply also which we did later. We passed on Trent Richardson and Chris Johnson.

8.12   DeAndre Hopkins (WR45)

We just missed on my favorite Sleeper Tight End, Greg Olsen. Nabbing Hopkins as our WR5 and Flex could be a steal. He’s one of the 8 Breakout WRs you must own in 2014, an undervalued bargain and a mid round WR you need to draft.

9.01   Knowshon Moreno (RB34)

Moreno was a homerun pick in 2013. He might have been again in 2014 prior to injury. We considered the ideal ZeroRB Darren McFadden here. This pick looked outstanding following week one.

10.12 Marqise Lee (WR55)

Lee is a Keenan Allen 2.0 candidate and I agree with Shawn Siegele’s assessment that he is poised to be the top rookie in 2014.

11.01 Martellus Bennett (TE13)

I wrote about the similar stats Bennett and Julius Thomas had. It seems like really good value to get a tight end that had almost 100 targets this late in the draft.

12.11 Rod Streater (WR65)

I was shocked Streater fell this far. Getting a potential number one WR on a team with so many WRs already taken is huge. Rod is the icing on the cake as a WR7.

Our back up RBs all are one injury away from stardom; Jonathan Stewart, Bryce Brown, Donald Brown. With Drew Brees you don’t really need a back-up QB but I couldn’t resist RotoViz favorite Geno Smith in the 17th round.

The Competition

Two of the most interesting teams are as follows.

Kimra Schleicher Brad Kruse
1.11 Jordy Nelson 1.12 AJ Green
2.02 Jimmy Graham 2.01 Brandon Marshall
3.11 Emmanuel Sanders 3.12 Arian Foster
4.02 Rashad Jennings 4.01 Cordarrelle Patterson
5.11 Aaron Rodgers 5.12 Eric Decker
6.02 Justin Hunter 6.01 Kelvin Benjamin
7.11 Maurice Jones Drew 7.12 Steven Jackson
8.02 Marcus Wheaton 8.01 Jason Witten
9.11 Aaron Dobson 9.12 Devonta Freeman
10.02 Mark Ingram 10.01 Steve Smith
11.11 Kenny Stills 11.12 Russell Wilson

Kimra wrote an article on FFtoolbox so her Mark Ingram and Kenny Stills picks were predictable. She took swings on Justin Hunter and Marcus Wheaton, a common trait of successful High Stakes players. Sanders in the 3rd may have been a reach or a genius move. I really like Brad Kruse’s team especially with those WRs.

The majority of teams took WRs early and often. The few that went RB heavy early are questionable in my opinion. Team 7 went J. Charles, Gio Bernard, and Eddie Lacy which looks fantastic on paper. Starting Terrance Williams, Riley Cooper and Mike Williams behind only Julian Edelman could be a recipe for disaster.

Robert Wallace drafted Adrian Peterson and Doug Martin with his first two picks followed by Roddy White, Brandin Cooks and Kyle Rudolph in the 5th. He may be in for a long year.

There’s also the “2009 All Star” team comprised of Vincent Jackson, Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Marques Colston, Wes Welker, and Miles Austin. We’ll see how that works out.

If I had a mulligan, we might have waited longer on QB but Brees should be a bright spot. Some will say our RBs are the weak area. When you play ZeroRB, this is always the case. Our depth at RB should provide at least RB2 production there.

We achieved our goal of making WR the strongest and deepest position and likely will win the flex. Any of the three could be this year’s Alshon Jeffrey and are the perfect complement to the WRs we drafted early. The fantasy gods will decide whether or not to punish us for drafting Demaryius over Calvin Johnson.

This team may have what it takes to go the distance. I like our chances. What do you think?


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