Cardinals running back David Johnson smiles as he walks off the field following a game against the Seattle Seahawks at the University of Phoenix Stadium on Oct. 23.
By Ladd Biro / The Fantasy Fool
What if your league-mates offered you a second chance at your draft?
Would you roll the dice on rookie Ezekiel Elliott instead of making a “safe” pick like Todd Gurley or, heaven forbid, Adrian Peterson?
Would you let Cam Newton slide on by and grab Matt Ryan instead?
Maybe pass up Rob Gronkowski for, let’s see, any other tight end?
Sadly, there are no do-overs in fantasy football. At least not in the season-long version that God intended for us to play. But there sure is plenty of second-guessing. Yes, friends, it’s time to adjust our rear-view mirrors as we explore what could have been with my oft-imitated, always-controversial, yet magically delicious Perfect Draft: The Final Judgment.
As always, we start with a few key parameters. We will draft from the middle (fifth) position in a 10-team non-keeper league using a standard scoring system that starts one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, and one tight end, flex, kicker and team defense. We disregard Week 17, since no league should be vying for a championship then. And, as always, our goal is nothing short of total domination and the abject humiliation of our opponents.
Now, with the fifth pick of the 2016 Perfect Draft, we should have selected…
Round 1: David Johnson, RB, Cardinals. The 2016 Fantasy MVP lived up to the hype he generated late in his rookie season. Through 16 games, Johnson racked up 2,074 combined yards and a whopping 20 TDs. That’s what you dream of from your first-round pick. Sunday’s injury was a rotten way to close out his glorious season.
Round 2: Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers. The unchallenged Comeback Player of the Year immediately resumed his uncanny rapport with Aaron Rodgers, scoring in 11 of his first 15 games and racking up 91 receptions for 1,191 yards. Mike Evans was slightly better for much of the season, but he petered out down the stretch.
Round 3: T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts. Andrew Luck’s favorite receiver finally ascended to elite status. Aaron Rodgers and LeSean McCoy offer more third-round value, but passing up Hilton would leave us unnecessarily weak in our WR corps.
Round 4: DeMarco Murray, RB, Titans. We could afford to pass up McCoy because we’re grabbing Murray here. After a disastrous detour through Philly, Murray nearly replicated his 2014 MVP status during his rebound season in Tennessee.
Round 5: Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs. He overtook Greg Olsen for supremacy at his position with a sensational performance in Week 16. We could wait an extra round to take him, but we’ve got other plans for that pick.
Round 6: Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers. Until he went down in Week 14, Gordon was in the Fantasy MVP conversation. His injury was devastating to many of his owners, but they sure loved him when he was healthy.
Round 7: Tom Brady, QB, Patriots. Draft him and stash him till Week 5, then hold on for another stellar ride.
Round 8: Michael Crabtree, WR, Raiders. Marvin Jones teased us in the first half of the season, but Crabtree, while mixing in a few stinkers along the way, contributed more consistently throughout the season.
Round 9: LeGarrette Blount, RB, Patriots. His worst game of the season was a 54-rushing-yard effort in Week 4 and he failed to reach the end zone in only three games. That’s as consistent as it gets.
Round 10: Jay Ajayi, RB, Dolphins. He’ll be a nice flex play, especially those three weeks when he eclipsed 200 rushing yards. If nothing else, we’ll keep him off our opponents’ rosters.
Round 11: Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons. Available as late as the 13th round, Matty Ice had the best season of his career and even came up big when Julio Jones was injured.
Round 12: Chiefs defense/special teams. We could wait another round to take the top D/ST in the land, but why tempt fate?
Round 13: Michael Thomas, WR, Saints. Zeke Elliott ran away with Fantasy Rookie of the Year honors, but Thomas set the standard among first-year wideouts. He nearly equaled the production of his more-heralded counterpart, Brandin Cooks, while becoming a trusted target of the prolific Drew Brees.
Round 14: Jordan Howard, RB, Bears. Here’s another rookie who can come to our rescue once Melvin Gordon goes down.
Round 15: Davante Adams, WR, Packers. Adams may drive us crazy with his inconsistency, but Rodgers’ second-most-reliable wideout is welcome on this team. He went undrafted in most leagues, but rose above Randall Cobb in Green Bay’s pecking order.
Round 16: Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs. Want to watch question marks appear above your competitors’ heads? Take Hill here and enjoy. The challenge will be knowing when to start the multi-faceted playmaker.
Round 17: Matt Bryant, K, Falcons. There are several quality choices here, but Bryant handled mop-up duty for the highest-scoring offense in the league. That’s the way to pick your kicker.
The good news is you didn’t need to draft this well to win a title. But it sure would have been fun.
Next week, we close out the 2016-17 season with our annual Biro’s Heroes & Zeros Awards.
Ladd Biro is a two-time winner and four-time finalist of the Football Writer of the Year Award by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. Follow all his advice daily at the Fantasy Fools blog (fantasy-fools.blogspot.com), on Facebook and via Twitter (@ladd_biro).
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