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Man vs. Machine: Even Time-Traveling Terminators Can’t Handle a Team Selected from the 1.01

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. 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.

In this installment, I’ll be taking on the Draft Dashboard from draft slot No. 1 in a 12-team draft. This is a typical PPR league with 2-RB, 3-WR, 1-Flex settings. For a fuller explanation of the league requirements and Dashboard settings, check out Dave Caban’s introduction where he fights off the machines from 1.10.

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.

PRE-DRAFT APPROACH

Picking at No. 1 overall can be an exhilarating experience, but a maddening one at the same time. It is not the best time to get cute with the selection. With my first pick, I’ll look to select Todd Gurley as my RB1. He averaged 25.6 fantasy points per game last season and played 76.5 percent of the Rams offensive snaps. A true bell cow, he touched the football on 46 percent of them.

I’ll focus on building depth at the RB, WR, and TE position in the single-digit rounds while addressing the QB, DST, and K positions well into the double-digit rounds. My goal is to allow my pre-draft research to dictate a high percentage of my decisions and have a Tier 1, 2, or 3 player at each of my starting positions. Let’s get ready to rumble!

NOTES: ROUND 1 – 6

  • It is very difficult not to select Gurley No. 1 overall when you look at his results. The only other players I considered were Le’Veon Bell, Ezekiel Elliott, or David Johnson. But look at every important stat where Gurley finished as 2017’s top back.

Gurley

  • I was happy to see Jordan Howard available at 2.12. Did you know that Howard, Elliott, and LeSean McCoy are the only RBs with 2,400+ rushing yards and 15+ touchdowns over the last two seasons?Howard McCoy Elliott
  • Stefon Diggs has only averaged 7.7 targets per game over the last two seasons and yet flirted with WR1 production. He could thrive this season with new Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, a QB who is not afraid to attack opposing defenses vertically. With the QB upgrade and a fully healthy season, Diggs is one of the best bets to hit his high projection.Diggs Sims
  • Brandin Cooks slips to 4.12 after his move to Los Angeles, but he’s an upgrade over Sammy Watkins. The Rams did not trade for and extend him only to use him in Watkins’ clear-out role. Jared Goff was very productive last season on his targets of 15 yards or more, encouraging numbers when looking at his fit with the new speedster.

Goff

  • Lamar Miller (5.01) is one of the best value targets in all of fantasy. He’s earned 250 or more opportunities each of the last four seasons and averaged nearly 15 fantasy PPG last year when Deshaun Watson was under center.
  • Michael Crabtree (6.12) has little competition for targets and continues to be dominant in the red zone. He joins Antonio Brown as the only WRs to score eight or more touchdowns in each of the last three seasons.

Overall Roster Construction

We can use the Dashboard to peruse overall team construction. With a RB-RB start and several good values later at the turn, I finished with a balanced but slightly RB-heavy roster. The teams with four or fewer RBs are more likely to use a WR in the flex.

Team Position Breakdown

DRAFT BOARD

Draft Board

MOST CHALLENGING PICK

I struggled with whether to draft Panthers tight end Greg Olsen in the seventh round. My mindset going into the draft was to fade TE unless I had an opportunity to land Rob Gronkowski or Travis Kelce, but I couldn’t allow Olsen to continue falling after he was top five at the position in receptions, receiving yards, air yards, and yards after catch just two years ago (his last healthy season). He’s averaged 7.4 targets per game over his last 74.

MOST SURPRISING PICK

I usually wait until the second to last round of a fantasy draft to select a DST, but decided not to follow through completely on my pre-draft strategy when I took the Jaguars DST at 12.12. There weren’t any other RBs, WRs, or QBs I was targeting who wouldn’t still be available when it came back around.

The Jaguars were the No. 1 DST last season. They were in the top three in tackles for loss, sacks, QB hits, and interceptions. Only the Broncos and Vikings allowed fewer total yards per game, but Jacksonville allowed the fewest passing yards in the NFL. The defense will have even more firepower heading into the 2018 season. I was ultimately satisfied with the pick and would not have to worry about streaming the position.

FINAL TEAM

Moody Detailed

I am very pleased with how my roster shook out. My RBs are solid and consist of Tier 1, 2, or 3 players who could finish any given week as an RB1. I am particularly thrilled to have Miller as a flex.

Diggs, Cooks, Crabtree, and Allen Hurns are projected to see No. 1 receiver volume in 2018. I am not overly excited to have Ben Roethlisberger as my starting QB. My preferred options would have been Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers, or Matthew Stafford.

FAVORITE COMPUTER TEAM

Favorite Team

The first 10 draft picks of this computer team were phenomenal. I especially like the first two picks, while Kelvin Benjamin and Delanie Walker counted as excellent values.

THE DECISION

Outside of the Chargers, the computers struggled, drafting a few RBs and WRs too early. I also prefer my 1-QB roster. I’m a huge fan of the team I assembled and will go to war against the machines any day of the week with this unit having my back. The resistance lives on!

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