On Monday morning I participated in a 10-team public league Yahoo! Fantasy football draft, my first of the season. The game had been open for two days at that point and hundreds of drafts had taken place already. The Average Draft Position (ADP) had enough of a sample size to be reliable, and what it revealed was very interesting from the standpoint of someone interested in drafting Raider players.
The first player I targeted was Darren McFadden. He was ranked 11th overall on the draft board, with an ADP of about 15. I had the fourth pick, so I knew I probably wouldn’t have to reach for him in the first round. I took Ray Rice instead. When my second round pick (#16 overall) rolled around, McFadden was still on the board. He likely wouldn’t have been, except someone drafted Adrian Peterson third overall, which was a monster reach at that point but left McFadden as the highest ranked remaining player at #16. I took McFadden there without hesitation.
Moral of the story: You will not have to draft Darren McFadden anywhere near the top of the first round. As I have previously stated, McFadden is probably worthy of taking anywhere past fifth overall, but this year you can easily get him in the second round. Get a high-floor durable player or even a stud QB or WR in the first and then get DMC with your next pick. There are so many quality RB this year that the normal RB-RB strategy in rounds 1 and 2 doesn’t need to be strictly adhered to.
I then turned my attention to WR, as I usually wait on QB unless one falls to me way late and is too good a deal to pass up. That did not happen, as Rodgers/Brady/Brees all went much higher than they ought. So I waited on that and took a look at the Raider WR. Denarius Moore is usually the first one drafted, ranked as the 30th WR on the board with an average ADP of 81. That’s the beginning of the eighth round. He was available there, but I ended up with Andre Johnson, Wes Welker, and Jordy Nelson as my starting WR. Darrius Heyward-Bey is available very late. He is vastly underrated at an ADP of 112. You can get him in the tenth round and I consider it a steal. At some point the good WR options dry up, usually around round seven, but DHB will be there. If you need a quality third WR on the cheap, you can get him at a superb value.
As faras quarterbacks go, the rankings were even more egregious. Carson Palmer has an ADP of 151, well below that of Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Sam Bradford. He will be available right around the fifteenth round. This is a gross misranking, but it is what it is. If you want Carson Palmer on your team, you can afford to wait a very long time. He isn’t the kind of high-ceiling young stud player that causes fantasy owners to lose their minds and reach wildly beyond ADP. He will drop, and drop, and drop until he is the highest ranking guy left and someone needs a backup QB.
This has nothing to do with his performance level or talent, it has everything to do with the fact that nobody has any idea what the Raider offense is going to be like this year and it makes Palmer a major risk. Take advantage of the situation. Draft RB and WR and TE and DEF and get your QB in the fifteenth round and you will have a stronger team than if you reached early for a QB who may have similar production to Palmer.
The Raider who is ranked the highest in relation to his respective positional peers is Sebastian Janikowski. He is ranked the second fantasy kicker overall, with an ADP of 178. He is behind only Green Bay’s Mason Crosby, who is not a better kicker but plays in such a prolific offense that he gets consistently numerous opportunities to score. Janikowski is the best kicker in the game at long-distance field goals, and most leagues give extra points for kicks over 40 and 50 yards. He is actually the only Raider you will almost certainly have to reach for. Take him in the fourteenth round and don’t think twice about it.
The Raider defense typically isn’t drafted, but it is a new system this year and if the team shows it has a strong defense it may be worth a waiver wire pickup mid-season if your normal defense has a bye week.