2013 Playoff League Draft Plan

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by John Hansen, Publisher

Published, 12/30/13 

I’m happy to write a 20113-specific fantasy playoff draft plan, but my approach almost never changes. First and foremost, It’s all about getting at least two games in for your players, and that’s my focus. I’ll occasionally fall into the trap of getting enamored with a Wild Card round team that can make a run and get in four games and regret it, but I actually did well with that last year with the Ravens in our Staff League.
To narrow this year’s draft plan down to its simplest form, I ideally want to do the following:
  1. Get 1-2 key players from Denver and/or Seattle
  2. Get a few key guys on teams I think will play at least two games
  3. If not too inconvenient, try to get Seattle’s defense
  4. Get either Den, Sea, or Phi kicker
As you’ll see in the draft I did today below, I was actually able to accomplish all of these goals.
Let’s go position-by-position with this.
Quarterback Plan
If you get a chance to draft Peyton Manning, do that.
Unfortunately, in most leagues, Manning will only be drafted once. I didn’t have that luxury in the Staff League draft from earlier today.
But to back up for a moment, assuming all of the stud RB/WRs and the one stud TE (Julius Thomas, not Jimmy Graham) are gone, then these guys are in play for me for sure:
Russell Wilson
Nick Foles
I like both to play three games. I could obviously be incorrect, but that is what I think, so they are my top two targets. If they’re not in the cards, I’ll look for a nice option who I think will play in two games, and the best are:
Tom Brady
Colin Kaepernick
I took Kaepernick in our league draft a little early in the 3rd round. That’s a move that may sink me or propel me, so we’ll see this week against the Packers. But it does seem ideal to me to have one of these QBs listed above. Of course, one can certainly still win without drafting one of them, especially if one of the stud QBs listed below wins this weekend.
After that, depending on the size and structure of you league, you might need to get a QB now, or you might be able to wait a few rounds to address the position. Regardless, the next best options are:
Andrew Luck
Andy Dalton
Drew Brees
Aaron Rodgers
Now you may think I’m crazy for listing Brees and Rodgers so low, especially if you think their teams will advance this weekend. That’s what makes playoff fantasy so different; it really is all about who plays more games. I just happen to have Brees and Rodgers going one-and-out, but they’re both Super Bowl Champions and future Hall-of-Famers, so they could absolutely win this weekend and go down as great picks. If you think Green Bay or New Orleans will win, by all means, grab one of these elite QBs.
Obviously, the next guys are:
Cam Newton
Philip Rivers
Alex Smith
Cam is a tricky one, for sure. They could absolutely ball out on defense in the playoffs and he could at least get two games and deliver. For our purposes on the site, I have to make a call, predict a winner, and adjust the players accordingly, and we have Philly beating Carolina in the Divisional round.
The Running Back Plan
I mentioned above that one of the first things I want is a key player on Denver and/or Seattle, and I started my draft of picking #4 out of 10 with Marshawn Lynch, which was a solid start. Lynch, LeSean McCoy, and Knowshon Moreno are the cream of the crop in the playoffs and are off the board right at the top. So other than passing on one of them for Peyton Manning, I’d be inclined to get any of the three if I had the chance.
If that’s not in the cards for you, things get a little dicey already with some shakier options, so you should look to pass on RB with your first pick unless you’re in a very large league (12 teams or larger). In a 10-team league, I’d be okay using my first pick on another position like WR and the possibly using two consecutive picks on guys like:
Frank Gore
Shane Vereen
Giovani Bernard
I think all three will play at least two games.
To me, after these guys, you’re simply looking for any RB who has redeeming qualities, so these two stand out:
Jamaal Charles
Eddie Lacy
They’re both obviously very appealing on their own, and they’d certainly be listed higher, if we didn’t have their teams losing in the first round of the playoffs.
And there’s something to be said for the likely volume the following will enjoy with likely at least two games for all (and three for Ball).  
Montee Ball
Trent Richardson
LeGarrette Blount
Donald Brown
It’s tough to have everything in a playoff draft, but it would be nice to have two of the RBs listed above, as I did in our Staff League draft from earlier today.
Next, you still have some options. You can recognize anyone left who’s viable for his team that should play at least two games, like:
BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Stevan Ridley
You can also possibly take a flyer with a guy who we have playing in only one game (but we could certainly be wrong about that).
Pierre Thomas
Darren Sproles
DeAngelo Williams
You have the interesting backup on a team we project to play three games in:
Bryce Brown
And you have a pair of go-out-with-a-bang candidates in:
Ryan Mathews
Danny Woodhead
On the low-end, just try to find someone with a pulse on a team that you think will play two games. My best choices are:
Kendall Hunter
Chris Polk
Robert Turbin
Ronnie Hillman
LaMichael James
Brandon Bolden
Michael Robinson
Anthony Dixon
And then finally, sometimes you have to recognize talent, and that the players could be values if their teams win with guys like:
Mike Tolbert
James Starks
Mark Ingram
Jonathan Stewart (although he’s been hurt)
The Wide Receiver Plan
I know you can’t have everything in a playoff draft, but as I’ve been alluding to in this article, I came pretty close to it our Staff League draft.
So I already got a stud RB from a SB favorite, and I did get a top-5 QB (per our board), so how did I make out at WR? Well, I had to stretch just a little bit, but I may have nabbed a nice value in Wes Welker, who I took 17th overall. Later in the day today (the draft was this morning), Welker was cleared to return, so I might have gotten him at a 4-5 spot discount.
I used my first pick on Lynch in the draft, so I wasn’t likely to get a crack of one of the stud wideouts, all of which I think will play at least two games in:
Demaryius Thomas
Eric Decker
DeSean Jackson
A.J. Green   
Welker with right here in the next tier, along with solid 2-game options like:
Riley Cooper
Julian Edelman
Golden Tate
Anquan Boldin
Michael Crabtree
I better have at least one of these guys on my team this year, or else my WR corps is going to be very light. So far, in our Staff League draft, I have only 1 WR through four rounds, so it was high time I addressed it, and I took Riley Cooper as my #2.
There are certainly still some solid options, like 2-game guys (according to us, at least) like:
T.Y. Hilton
Doug Baldwin
Danny Amendola
Obviously, there are some high-end guys who will be great values if they win this weekend:
Jordy Nelson
James Jones
Randall Cobb
Marques Colston
Keenan Allen
I opted to forego my #3 WR spot for several more rounds, as I strengthened myself at other positions. But for the next group, you’re still looking for 2-game candidates, and mine at this point are:
Marvin Jones
Percy Harvin – even if he misses one playoff game, he could still be a 2-game guy
Mohamed Sanu
Griff Whalen 
Next up, you have some potential one-and-done guys, but bigger names, at least, in:
Dwayne Bowe
Steve Smith
Lance Moore
Eddie Royal
Some low-end options on strong playoff teams, like:
Jason Avant (who I did take)
Jermaine Kearse
Andre Caldwell
Kenbrell Thompkins
Josh Boyce
And final group has some decent veterans on good teams, like
Brandon LaFell
Ted Ginn
Jarrett Boykin
Brad Smith
And some upside-oriented guys with a chance, such as:
DaRick Rogers
Kenny Stills
LaVon Brazill
Quinton Patton
The Tight End Plan
There’s not too much to say here because there’s not much to work with. Obviously, if this guy makes sense for you, you’re all set at this position:
Julius Thomas
I wouldn’t exactly pounce on him, but if he makes sense in about the 4th round as the best player available, there’s nothing wrong with this guy, who has gone off in the playoffs the last two years:
Vernon Davis
Now we’re already on shaky ground. We know this guy is still in the player pool:
Jimmy Graham
But I’m probably passing on him unless he somehow slips to me in like the 3rd round.
Otherwise, the pool is very thin, but I do have a sleeper for you, and I took him myself:
Zach Miller
He’s appealing on many levels, even though his team will never truly commit to getting him the ball. He led them in receiving in the 2012 playoffs in two games, and backup Luke Willson is gimpy right now with an ankle sprain. Miller won’t cost much at all, and his potential for three games is mighty appealing.
Otherwise, you’ll have to suck it up and hope for the best with these two
Greg Olsen
Coby Fleener
Or you could try out an Eagle TE, which isn’t a horrible idea, actually:
Brent Celek
Zach Ertz
The bottom of the barrel guys would be:
Jermaine Gresham
Antonio Gates
Tyler Eifert
The Place Kicker Plan
Because of my expected games played for all the kickers, my plan starts with trying to get one of the following:
Matt Prater
Steven Hauschka
Alex Henery
If that’s not in the cards, I’ll settle for the next best thing. That is a solid kicker who I think will play at least two games, such as:
Stephen Gostkowski
Phil Dawson
Adam Vinatieri
Mike Nugent
I really don’t want to go any deeper, but if you think Carolina, Green Bay, or New Orleans will win, by all means, consider one of their kickers if he’s late in the draft.
The Team Defense Plan
Since they’re so much better than everyone else at this position, my plan is in fact to draft Seattle’s defense. I’m not saying I’m going to get them at all cost, but it would be nice to acquire their services.
If that’s not in the cards, I’ll probably end up waiting a little and looking for a solid defense that I think will play two games. The best options would be:
San Francisco
But we also have some potential if they play three games as we predict for:
You also have two decent options in:
New England
Draft Plan in action
Here’s how my draft went this morning in this 10-team PPR with 2 flex spots (RB/WR/TE)
1.04    4.       Lynch, Marshawn SEA RB   
2.07    17.     Welker, Wes DEN WR   
3.04    24.     Kaepernick, Colin SFO QB  
4.07    37.     Cooper, Riley PHI WR
5.04    44.     Richardson, Trent IND RB  
6.07    57.     Seahawks, Seattle SEA Def
7.04    64.     Miller, Zach SEA TE 
8.07    77.     Henery, Alex PHI PK
9.04    84.     Brown, Bryce PHI RB
10.07 97.     Avant, Jason PHI WR
11.04 104.    Hillman, Ronnie DEN RB     
And the squad:
QB: Colin Kaepernick (SF)
RBs: Marshawn Lynch (Sea), Trent Richardson (Ind), Bryce Brown (Phi), Ronnie Hillman (Den)
WRs: Wes Welker (Den), Riley Cooper (Phi), Jason Avant (Phi)
TEs: Zach Miller (Sea)
K: Alex Henery (Phi)
D/ST: Seahawks 

Will this team win it all or come close? I have absolutely no idea. But I know that I really like the looks of it, and I think it’s sneaky-good from top-to-bottom.


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