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King's Classic 2019 - Industry Expert Draft Analysis


The 2019 King’s Classic took place at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, August 17th and was broadcast live on @SiriusXMFantasy Sports Radio. With 32 sites spread across two divisions (Brown and Blanda), the fantasy world was given an inside look into the minds of some of the best contributors in the industry.

A special thanks to Bob Lung and Brad Evans (among others) for organizing such a wonderful event, with some of the proceeds going to a charity of choice. It was a humbling experience to be included and to be around some of the best writers in the business.

In this article, I will explain my rationale on how I approached each draft, in addition to explaining how I ended up with my respective rosters. I will also highlight some of the errors that I feel I made throughout the day in hopes that you avoid making the same mistakes in your personal drafts. Please give me a follow on Twitter @Den_Clausen and be sure to say hello.

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Blanda Division - Auction

In preparing for the auction draft, my plan of attack was to be cautious with my spending, especially with 14 teams involved. With lineups composed of two flex positions, I had some flexibility to go after the guys I really wanted. Though I feel I was too conservative with my bids at times, I felt that having a more balanced team would be more beneficial, as opposed to those who opted to spend over a quarter of their budgets on guys like Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley.

The first player up for bidding was Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, who sold for $35. Looking back, that would have been a great deal, especially since everyone in the room was waiting to bid hard on the “top-3,’ consisting of McCaffrey, Barkley, and Alvin Kamara. Though I wasn’t sad to see Cook go, especially since he wasn’t on my radar after his bouts of knee trouble throughout the years, I would have been comfortable obtaining his services for such a reasonable price. Lesson learned.

After Barkley ($62), Tyreek Hill ($42), Josh Gordon ($14), Le’Veon Bell ($37), Kerryon Johnson ($37), McCaffrey ($62), and Kamara ($61), all flew off the board (along with some other notables), I realized that I was being “too cautious” and would eventually end up with Leonard Fournette as my RB1 for $36. While I didn’t love the pick, I didn’t hate it either, especially for a guy who is slotted to get around 20 touches per game. If he holds up from a health perspective, that will turn into a great deal. Bottom line, however, by waiting, I would wage war with others who were also in the same boat that I was in, lacking a solid back. Looking back, I would have rather had Johnson or Bell for only a $1 more. But as I always say, this could go one of two ways, really good, or really bad. We will see. Learn from my mistake though, don’t wait or be afraid to spend your dough.

To balance out my roster, I also picked up Mark Ingram for just $25. Playing under a runner-friendly Greg Roman system, I have high hopes for him this coming season. I also felt comforted by the fact that I had two potential solid backs for around the same amount that others were paying for one player. In no way am I suggesting that both of them are more valuable than some of the studs, but in a 14-team league, if someone gets hurt, you will suffer dearly, especially since waivers will be bone-dry throughout the year.

My onslaught of the running back position would also lead me to selecting Derrick Henry ($23) and PPR-favorite James White ($25). As hesitant as I was to spend big, I was thankful to pick up these guys as they are proven producers. Henry eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark last season and was on a roll towards the final stretch of the regular season, accumulating eight of his 12 touchdowns in December. Meanwhile, White would finish 2018 with 87 receptions and a total of 12 touchdowns, with seven of those coming on the receiving end. White has been as consistent as they come and will be a reliable option for quarterback Tom Brady, especially with health always being a concern for Julian Edelman and Sony Michel as well as consistent conduct issues for Gordon. Going to bed on Saturday night, I felt alright with a starting lineup that consistent of Fournette, Ingram, Henry, and White, even though those picks were met with criticism by some.

I also felt comfortable with the running backs on my bench as well. I took a shot on Peyton Barber for $5, while also picking up some guys who may get some decent playing time this season in Devin Singletary ($11) and Justice Hill ($9), who will serve as my handcuff for Ingram.

As good as I felt regarding my plethora of backs, the wide receiver position would prove to be a different story for me as I invoked a “zero-RB” strategy, though not entirely by choice, but rather as a result of how I felt about “the room.” After passing on Gordon, Alshon Jeffery, Edelman, Amari Cooper (and a few more), I would eventually end up with Calvin Ridley for $20. With 92 targets last season, he had some solid moments of production, finishing the year with 64 receptions and 10 touchdowns on 821 yards. With a year under his belt, compiled with the Falcons well-documented schedule of playing either indoors or in favorable climates this season, I am confident he will see an uptick in production, especially if Julio Jones misses time, which is possible.

To fill in my other starting spot, I had to accept that I ended up with Geronimo Allison for only $9. Though the verdict is still out who will be the second-best receiver in Green Bay, I am hoping for the best in this situation.

The rest of my receivers would be rounded out by the up-and-coming Michael Gallup ($8) and the suspended Golden Tate ($4). To be honest, I'm not overly excited about my receivers, but maybe my running backs will pull through to supplement the difference. Fingers Crossed.

My "steal of the day" came when I acquired Patrick Mahomes for $20. With the stigma surrounding selecting a signal-caller early in single-quarterback leagues, there was hesitancy in the room. After watching Deshaun Watson and Aaron Rodgers go for $13, I happily accepted that I had to pay just $7 extra for the 2018 MVP. Another word of advice, if you want a top-tier quarterback like Mahomes or Rodgers in single-quarterback leagues, don't be afraid to take them, even if it means getting ridiculed by those in attendance.

For my tight end position, I ended up snagging Tyler Eifert for a $1. While everyone was hesitant about picking him up (for good reason), I remember when had caught 13 touchdowns in 2015. With the lack of options in Cincy, Eifert could be another steal in a very weak tight end class, especially if he can stay healthy, even though I have my doubts to be honest.

 

Blanda Division - Snake 

After a short break for lunch, the room reconvened for the snake draft. The order of the draft was determined by the pick of a card. Without getting into too much detail, I ended up with the 10th overall pick, which was actually where I was hoping to land.

After the first nine picks flew off the board, with the first eight being running backs, I selected Bengals running back Joe Mixon. Mixon was actually my desired pick for that round, even if it meant passing up on an elite receiver. Many would be quick to criticize, especially since the Bengals have one of the worst offensive lines in football, but he has demonstrated that he is able to make plays on his own. The fact that new head coach Zac Taylor is now the man in Cincy, I have high hopes for him this season, especially seeing how well Todd Gurley has played over the years.

With more running backs off the board, I had a tough personal decision to make as Michael Thomas was still available. However, I opted to select Kerryon Johnson with my second selection, with this move being highly criticized by many. I am very comfortable with my pick and I am standing firm with my belief that Johnson will finish the season as a top-10 back (possibly better). With running backs being so scarce, I am under the impression that there are far more receivers with high upsides, meaning it is easier to gamble on that position.

My third selection saw me pick up Marlon Mack, a man who got his fair share of touches in 2018. With Andrew Luck’s health always in question, Mack may be relied on more than ever, despite many not feeling comfortable picking him up in PPR formats.

After a short turnaround, I picked up Robert Woods in the fourth round. With Cooper Kupp still recovering from a season-ending knee issue, I expect Woods to beat out Brandin Cooks for production, at least until Kupp returns to full-strength to eat up some targets.

Pick five belonged to Josh Gordon. After a mixture of groans and laughter, Gordon was now the second receiver on my team. Gordon is very talented and was once one of the best receivers in the league. If he can stop getting suspended and keep his head right, I expect big things this season, especially with Edelman’s ability to remain healthy always an issue. With Rob Gronkowski gone, I am hoping that Gordon will benefit tremendously.

The rest of my roster was rounded out by Lamar Miller, who I expect to continue to get touches in Houston, Eifert, and Jared Goff at quarterback.

I also felt OK with my bench at the conclusion of the day. I went receiver-heavy as I ended up with Sterling Shepard, Keke Coutee, Daesean Hamilton, Tre'Quan Smith, and Robert Foster. I also picked up Giovani Bernard  in case Mixon gets injured this season as he has been know to have a history of knee trouble.

Closing Thoughts

I had a long car ride back to Syracuse on Sunday, but I took that time to reflect on some things throughout the day.

Don't ever not listen. Put your ego aside and continue to learn as much as possible, especially from those who have been playing fantasy football for years.

Sometimes your picks will be met with criticism. While I don't recommend taking a defense in the fourth round, if you have your heart set on a player, have the courage to take him, as long as it's a reasonable pick at the time. I wouldn't suggest taking Aaron Rodgers in the first round of single-quarterback leagues, but if you like him in the fifth, take him. You'd be surprised on how many people win their leagues just by having a great quarterback.

When you are at an auction, don't be afraid to spend money, but don't over spend as a result of your initial reservations. If you don't spend early, you may end up over bidding on a player because you have to fill a slot. If you go above your running back budget, make adjustments as needed, but just don't spend just to spend!

Don't be "cute." Sometimes knowing less is better because you won't overthink things. My mother-in-law won an NCAA men's bracket because she picked the teams based on their location. If she'd rather live in Miami instead of North Carolina, she rolled with that!

Feel free to hit me up with any questions you may have. Happy drafting!

 

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