Epiphanies are one of our favorite things to have. You can have a catch, have a nice meal, have a good time. But epiphanies, they can be better than any of those things.
They are that moment when you realize: Wait, I think this might work! Then you try it, and it works. And you do it again, and it works again. And suddenly, well, if you read this column, you have a pretty good idea of where the Madman is heading.
Yes, we end up with a large collection of the same players on multiple rosters. So let’s hope the draft strategy that is working right now pays off once the season starts.
The approach is pretty simple. Once you get to a point in the draft when passing on Corey Davis means someone is likely to take him before you pick again (around Round 7), you pounce and take Davis. With the next pick, you grab Antonio Brown. You can skip a round to address a different position, then go back to wide receiver to nab Marquez Callaway.
These are three middle-round receivers who could deliver WR2 production, or possibly even better. We stumbled upon this in a draft a week or so ago, when we missed on some earlier WR targets and had only two going into Round 7. And we were able to pull this off.
Our expectations for all three are higher than their draft costs. We are encouraged by the apparent connection between rookie Jets QB Zach Wilson and Davis. We would go so far as to leave open the possibility Brown is the best of among Buccaneers receivers. And with Jameis Winston starting at QB for the Saints, Callaway is a solid WR3 option with WR2 upside and a WR4-WR5 draft cost.
Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, we must tell you this has worked in 10-team leagues. We’re not sure it will work in 12-teamers. But because apparently you now need an ESPN Plus account to choose a 12-team public league (the Madman already used up all 25 team slots in our Plus account before discovering this approach), and ESPN, as well as Yahoo and NFL.com, only offer 10-team “draft now” free leagues, we haven’t had a chance to test this in a 12-team format, so take that into consideration.
But if you can pull this off, in whichever format, it alleviates some earlier-round stresses to grab a third WR. It makes it easier to draft a QB early or grab a top tight end without shortchanging running back depth.
For example, check out this draft (again, in a 10-team format): 1.7 Ezekiel Elliot, 2.4 Stefon Diggs, 3.7 Clyde Edwards-Helaire, 4.4 Josh Allen, 5.7 Mike Davis, 6.4 Damien Harris, 7.7 Robby Anderson, 8.4 Dallas Goedart. We have a strong fleet of four RBs who can start on any given week, a top-two QB, a top-five WR plus a decent tight end. Then …
9.7 Corey Davis, 10.4 Antonio Brown, 11.7 Tyler Higbee, 12.4 Marquez Callaway.
This wasn’t a one-off. We were able to pull similar tricks in multiple drafts, though normally a round earlier for our targeted trio. Be aware, though, we worry that Callaway in particular will rise up draft boards as the season approaches. And again, we can’t say this enough, these have been 10-team leagues. Better than eight-team leagues, not a gruesome as 14-team leagues, but certainly still different from the 12-team fantasy wheelhouse.
So use this info judiciously. And here’s hoping you can benefit from our epiphany.