Recapping the Collinsworth Invitational League draft
Those are the number of Twitter followers of a few of the participants in the Collinsworth Invitational Fantasy Football Draft. Notice anything that stands out? The first four numbers belong to NFL Hall of Famer Warren Sapp, celebrity Jenny McCarthy, NBA star Jason Terry, and entrepreneur/investor/author Gary Vaynerchuk.
That last number is mine.
As a PFF All Access member, I won the chance to compete well above my weight class in a live draft that took place on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio Aug. 30. It’s a league for a full season, and I am going to be sharing my thoughts on the league on PFF over the next few months.
My strategy going into the draft was to use PFF’s Draft Master tool as my source of rankings. I had the 12th pick (it’s a standard league), which meant the chance to load up with back-to-back picks, but a long wait in between them. I wanted to focus on WR and RB early. Here’s how that strategy played out:
Drafting at the turn, I selected Dez Bryant and Lamar Miller. A.J. Green was dangerously close to falling to me, which would have tempted me to go with two WRs. With how the draft played out, I was able to get two players ranked in the top 10 of PFF standard rankings and projected as a top-five scorer at their positions. The Tony Romo injury doesn’t scare me in the least when it comes to Bryant, as I think rookie QB Dak Prescott will lean on his best player and force him the ball.
With five QBs going off the board in the first three rounds, I was lucky enough to see good receiver talent slip and land Jarvis Landry and Keenan Allen when the picks came back around to me. Under the Adam Gase system, I am expecting Landry to put up big numbers. Same goes for Allen, who was on track for a monster season before being sidelined with a lacerated kidney in 2015. PFF had Allen ranked 24th and Landry 31st, so I considered them steals at this point in the draft. Those two rounded out my receiving corps with three players that I believe could all legitimately put up WR1 numbers.
With a solid foundation to start my lineup, my goal at this point in the draft was to focus on the best available player to fill my flex. I started to get really excited when I saw Eric Decker, Jeremy Maclin and Donte Moncrief all still available in the middle of the fifth as my pick approached. Unfortunately all three went right in a row, which meant I needed to adjust my strategy a bit. I decided to fill out my RB2 with Ryan Mathews at the 60th pick, which was a great value against his PFF projection of 40. I then added Coby Fleener to start the sixxth round, a pick I felt a bit uneasy about given the recent negative comments coming out of New Orleans. However, five tight ends went off the board over the next 18 picks, including Dwayne Allen, who I had been targeting going into the draft. So while it felt a bit early to go with Fleener, I’m glad I took the risk given how things played out.
If one Mathews from Philadelphia is good, two Matthews from Philly must be better right? At pick 84, Jordan Matthews should have been going two rounds earlier at the fifth/sixth turn and was a value I couldn’t pass up as my flex. I’m not crazy about two players from an offense that will play a little slower, but you take value where you can get it. Speaking of value, I was ecstatic to land Eli Manning as the 11th QB off the board. With Ben McAdoo taking the reins, I’m expecting Eli to have one of his best seasons of his career and be a mid-tier QB1.
Looking to add some depth on the bench, I followed the lead of Jeff Ratcliffe and picked up LeGarrette Blount at running back. With the injury to Dion Lewis, Jeff has Blount ranked all the ways up at 37 in his standard rankings, so picking him at 108 was a risk I would take all day long. The same goes for Torrey Smith, who I added as my WR5. In MFL10s, Smith has been going in the mid-70s, yet I landed him at 109. As the WR1 in Chip Kelly’s offense, I’m expecting a nice bounce back season for Torrey.
At the end of the 11th, Rishard Matthews was a value I could not pass up. While the buzz has been about rookie Tajae Sharpe (who went in Round 7), I think Matthews is the clear cut WR1 in Tennessee. While the team wants to do “exotic smashmouth,” they are going to be playing from behind and forced to throw the ball. Delanie Walker can’t be the only one catching those passes from Mariota. I also added Martellus Bennett as my backup TE. Both of these are the type of upside plays that I look for in later rounds.
Rounds 13 and on:
With only three RBs on my roster, I was targeting a RB4 at the back end of this round. I had my fingers crossed that Bilal Powell, Theo Riddick or Isaiah Crowell would fall to me but all came off the board before I was up. Jerick McKinnon was a great consolation prize, as he is one injury away from RB1 consideration. Phillip Dorsett was a luxury pick, as I missed out on Donte Moncrief early on in the draft. If Andrew Luck returns to form, Dorsett has real potential as a sleeper WR. I decided to add this upside vs. taking a backup QB given the streaming options when Manning’s bye week comes around. In rounds 15 and 16, I went defense and kicker, because that’s when you should take those.
So that’s my draft. Now for a look at how my competitors did:
Heart or head?
One of the story lines I was curious to see play out was how real-life team loyalties impact the fantasy rosters. Gary Vaynerchuk has never hidden the fact that one his life’s goal is to buy his beloved New York Jets. Our very own commissioner Cris Collinsworth always cheers on the black and orange stripes of the Cincinnati Bengals. Jenny McCarthy supports the New England Patriots, much to the happiness of her Boston native husband, Donnie Wahlberg. And former Oilers/Titans NFL player Brad Hopkins went as far as naming his team the Tennessee Tuxedos. The question is if these loyalties get in the way of winning the league title?
The question was answered in part during the league draft. Collinsworth ended up with two Bengals (Tyler Eifert and Andy Dalton), Hopkins with two Titans (DeMarco Murray and Tajae Sharpe), and Vaynerchuk landed two current Jets (Eric Decker and the defense) and one recentalumni (Chris Ivory). In Round 10, Jenny McCarthy reached early for her hometown kicker when she took Stephen Gostowski, defending it by stating, “I have a soft spot for champions.”
Best and worst
In every draft, just about everyone has a panic moment or a pick they wish they had a mulligan on. For instance, during this draft, each of us spent a few minutes during the draft actually being interviewed on SiriusXM. It was during one of those segments that Collinsworth himself ended up with Le’Veon Bell as an auto-pick and during another that Ric Bucher ended up with Arian Foster as an auto-pick instead of his intended target of Derrick Henry.
So with that, here’s my take on what each team did right. And even more fun, what they did wrong.
Karen Hunter — SiriusXM Urban View
Best Move: Avoiding the temptation to veer away from Antonio Brown with the No. 1 pick. Brown is probably the safest draft pick in the NFL and is set up for another monster year.
Worst Move: Tom Brady in Round 3. A QB that is suspended for four games should not be the QB3 off the board and particularly not that early in the draft.
Jason Terry, NBA star — SiriusXM NBA Radio
Best Move: DeSean Jackson at the end of the eighth round. Desean is a boom-or-bust WR, but has been going at the end of the sixth or beginning of the seventh in most expert leagues. Landing him this late was a great value.
Worst Move: Cam Newton as the second pick overall in the draft. With the depth of QB this year, this is taking Cam (or any QB) way too early. Jimmy Graham in the sixth round is a close tie for worst move given it’s not 2012 and he’s coming off a really horrible injury.
Jason Cole — Bleacher Report Radio
Best Move: Kirk Cousins in Round 10. It’s hard to believe I’m celebrating a backup QB pick but I really like Cousins as a QB1 this year. Could be potential trade bait down the line to fix his depth at WR issue.
Worst Move: Waiting on WR. By choosing to go RB/RB/QB/TE over the first four rounds, that leaves Michael Floyd as his WR1. In a three-WR-plus flex league, that is a risky strategy.
Warren Sapp — NFL Hall of Famer
Best Move: I really like some of the upside plays from the later rounds. Josh Gordon as a WR4 in the ninth round could end up a great value come Week 5 when he’s back from suspension. And if Jared Cook really ends up living up to his potential finally in Green Bay, he’s a steal as Sapp’s tight end in round 15.
Worst Move: This is Warren Sapp we are talking about. The man who had 100 QB sacks on his way to the NFL Hall of Fame and literally thought a shark biting his arm was no big deal. I will never accuse him of making a bad move in anything. Everything you did was a great move, Warren.
Jim Noble — SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Best Move: T.J. Yeldon in Round 10. Yeldon has looked pretty electric in preseason, and the worries about the time share with Chris Ivory have beaten down his value way too much.
Worst Move: Ben Roethlisberger in the third round. Quarterbacks went too early in this draft, including taking my fellow Miami University alumnus here. Andrew Luck and Drew Brees, both of whom have higher projections, went two rounds later.
Brad Hopkins — Bleacher Report Radio
Best Move: Julian Edelman in Round 5 is a great value if he comes back healthy. Lots of question marks (Brady suspension, two-TE set, injury, etc) but if he plays like Edelman of old, this pick was great value.
Worst Move: Reaching for players across the board. While I really like some of the players, I do not like where they were taken. Russell Wilson can be a monster this year but he’s not a second-round pick. DeMarco Murray might be revitalized in Tennessee but he’s a fifth-round pick, not a third. And Tajae Sharpe is filled with potential but Round 7 is too early and is based on the preseason buzz.
Ric Bucher — Bleacher Report Radio
Best Move: Three stud wide receivers to start the draft. Landing Julio Jones, Brandon Marshall and Brandin Cooks was a great foundation to the team in the first three rounds.
Worst Move: Two starting RBs from the same team. Going with both Bengals RBs (Jeremy Hill in Round 4 and Giovani Bernard in Round 6) is a risky strategy, particularly with injury-prone Arian Foster as the RB3 on the team. If Foster stays healthy with the starting job, it could work out, but there is danger there.
Gary Vaynerchuk — CEO, Vayner Media
Best Move: A stud group of wide receivers including some deep value. Gary was able to land Eric Decker in Round 5 and Marvin Jones in Round 8. Both should have gone at least a round sooner than they did. And Gary started the draft with Allen Robinson falling to him miraculously at pick 17.
Worst Move: Greg Olsen in Round 4 was a bit premature, and kicked off a TE run with Jordan Reed and Travis Kelce going afterward. Olsen is mister reliable but was likely drafted at his ceiling this early in the fourth round.
Best Move: Alshon Jeffrey in Round 3. While Jeffery has had trouble staying on the field from a health standpoint, he is a target monster for Jay Cutler when he’s playing. This is a great value as WR2 and could be a difference maker in many weeks.
Worst Move: Filling out starting roster spots too early. Jenny decided to draft her kicker in Round 10 and defense in Round 11. The cost of doing so is a bench that will be pretty weak during byes. For instance, as her WR4/backup, Michael Thomas from New Orleans is showing lots of promise in preseason, but he is still a rookie in an incredibly crowded WR corps.
Cris Collinsworth — NBC Sports and Pro Football Focus
Best Move: His string of receivers in Rounds 3-6, including Sammy Watkins, Randall Cobb, Donte Moncrief and John Brown. Watkins has legit top-five potential, and Collinsworth has a QB/WR stack with Tyrod Taylor as well. Moncrief was a steal in the fifth round and could very well be in the WR1 in the high powered Indy offense.
Worst Move: Always tough to criticize the commissioner, much less the guy who gave you the opportunity to be in the draft. But here it goes! Tyrod Taylor in the seventh round. I’m super bullish on Taylor this year but the seventh round was a stretch as the ninth QB off the board. This was drafting Taylor at the peak of his potential and above the PFF projections in this league format. On the flip side, landing Andy Dalton as the backup in the 11th round was a great steal (and the very move I hoped to make two picks later).
Gregg McElroy — SiriusXM College Sports Nation
Best Move: Picking positions in “bunches.” McElroy started the draft with A.J. Green (great pickup) and then Rob Gronkowski. To build his depth, he went running back three rounds in a row, and then five wide receivers over six rounds. His WR corps only has one guaranteed WR1, but plenty of upside with Doug Baldwin, Stefon Diggs and even Devin Funchess.
Worst Move: Matt Forte at the end of Round 3. The decision to go WR/TE in the first two rounds left slim pickings for his RB1 in this non-PPR league. Forte is on the wrong side of 30 for a RB and joins a team that has a ton of respect for his backup Bilal Powell.
Here’s the full draft (click to enlarge)