How to fill your roster with draft busts

As the 2013 fantasy football season draws to a close, I am struggling to reconcile the amount of pre-draft research I did with how terrible my draft turned out to be. I began the season feeling like I had a great draft, happy with the value I was getting at nearly every position. But now at the close of Week 13, I’m 6-7 and lucky to be there given my draft.

KEEPER: RB Trent Richardson. It was between him and TE Jimmy Graham. As you’ll see I wound up getting Graham anyway, but spending my keeper on Richardson was a huge loss. With a 2012 season that included over 1300 yards and 12 touchdowns, how could I not keep him? All the experts had him in RB1 territory… seemed like a no-brainer. Maybe the lesson I can take from this is to consider an RB’s yards per carry – Richardson was at 3.6 YPC in 2012 which could maybe be a warning flag.

ROUND 2, #30: RB Steven Ridley. Here I thought I was building my team around two strong running backs. In terms of RBs, I passed over Eddie Lacy, Chris Johnson, and DeMarco Murray – all of whom turned out substantially better than Ridley. He now rides the bench due to fumbling issues, meaning that the 23rd-ranked RB’s value will fall even farther. I did have a doubt in the back of my mind about choosing a Patriots’ running back, but I deferred to expert consensus. He had 4 fumbles last year which is on the high side I guess – perhaps that is a stat I should consider going forward.

ROUND 3, #35: TE Jimmy Graham. My only high draft pick that turned out the way he was supposed to. Was really happy grabbing him in the third round of a 16-team draft.

ROUND 4, #62: WR Dwayne Bowe. That’s right, my WR1 turned out to be the league’s 43rd best receiver. Guys I passed over like Anquan Boldin, Antonio Brown, Jordy Nelson, and DeSean Jackson all have marked improvements on their 2012 stats, but Bowe will be lucky to match his modest production from last year. Maybe there was the expectation that Andy Reid would open up the Chiefs’ offense, allowing Bowe to time warp to 2010 when he went for over 1000 yards and 15 touchdowns. The better play here would have been to lock up QB Russell Wilson, realizing that I’d already lost my chance to get a pre-season WR1.

ROUND 5, #67: QB Eli Manning. Quarterbacks get snapped up quickly in this league, so I tend to punt a bit and go after reliable options with top 10 upside – like Manning should have been. What I got was the league’s 21st-ranked QB who is on pace to have his worst TD:INT ratio since his rookie season. So my punting strategy turned out to be a double-fail: I didn’t get value in the early rounds, and “reliable-with-upside” QB turned out to be “bye-week-fill-in-at-best”.

ROUND 6, #94: RB Ben Tate. Tate would have been a decent pick if he continues his current production and if I’d had the roster space to retain him.

ROUND 7, #99: WR Chris Givens. Worthless option, despite having had some pre-season promotion. Pickings were slim here, but guys like Alshon Jeffery and Michael Floyd were still available. I just didn’t hit the late round WR lotto.

Despite these disasters, I have a shot to finish .500 this year. I did grab WR Josh Gordon in Round 8 (who I traded away a few weeks ago for Russell Wilson), and RB Pierre Thomas in Round 10 who has outperformed my top two RB selections. Free agent WR Keenan Allen has helped out, as has RB Andre Brown who I grabbed prior to his return from injury.

Obviously I’d like to avoid a draft like this in the future, but I don’t think I made any significant blunders given the information that was available at the time. In the end I guess it’s just hard to strategize against bad luck.

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