PARRY: Some tips as you prepare for fantasy draft

Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (25) was key for many league champions last year. But are running backs still as valuable in 2014? (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)

This is the third year I have the opportunity to bring my weekly thoughts on fantasy football and keep you up to date with the team I use and the league I play in.

The Dereliction League, like many across the country, is counting down the days and soon to be hours until we arrive in Tyler at an undisclosed location for 4 1/2 hours of fantasy draft bliss.

When the dust settles, we all begin to look at the finished product — the draft board — and like clockwork our commissioner says what now has become a traditional critique.

"I hate my team."

But there is still time for last-minute research and analysis, and that is where this weekly fantasy football column can help. My goal each week is to give you a little advice and also entertain with anecdotes from my own fantasy football weekly successes and sometimes disasters.

As for my credentials: I am not close to the kind of expert you will find on ESPN, SiriusXM Fantasy radio or the numerous fantasy sites. But, I have been playing fantasy football since college (1998) and have won a few titles.

My biggest benchmark is in 10 years playing our 14-team Dereliction League (point-per-two reception), I have only failed to make the playoffs once. Not bad when only eight teams make it each year.

So, I will dole out some unsolicited advice and knowledge each week, wrapped around stories of how my team is doing. I will give my feelings for that week with regards to waiver wire acquisitions, trades and needing a hug after my team (The Last Action Heroes) blew a 40-point lead when my opponent's quarterback went off on Monday Night Football.

Let's begin.

As we race toward draft day, I keep hearing more and more from fellow fantasy players, pundits and some experts that drafting a running back in the first or even the second round may not be a foregone conclusion anymore.

For the novices to fantasy football reading this, welcome to the greatest thing ever created. As a quick "previously in fantasy football draft strategy," running backs have ALWAYS been coveted in the first two rounds. Going on 16 years of fantasy football, it has been ingrained or written in stone: You must take a running back early or you will lose.

I will challenge that is no longer the case. This is a passing league, which means receivers and quarterbacks are now where it's at.

Thank the referees, which seem determined to turn even the littlest amount of contact by a defensive back into a penalty. The offshoot of this is offenses putting up obscene passing numbers and not running the ball as much.

When teams do run, like the Buffalo Bills for instance, there are multiple RBs carrying the ball. How many owners drafted C.J. Spiller in the first round last season expecting him to be a breakout star? Instead, Buffalo used Fred Jackson more and drove owners crazy as Spiller massively underachieved.

There are sure things out there at running back like Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy, Adrian Peterson, Eddie Lacy and Matt Forte.

After that, I would consider drafting a wide receiver like Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant or A.J. Green.

I would feel much safer with that than rolling the dice on Demarco Murray, Giovanni Bernard or even Marshawn Lynch.

The numbers back this up, too.

The average point totals at the end of the season for the top five running backs taken in our league's draft (and RBs went 1-5 last year) was 159.2 points. The only one of the five who produced at any kind of elite level was Charles (320 points). Two unlucky owners were saddled with Arian Foster (82 points) and Doug Martin (51 points).

Incidentally or maybe coincidentally, the owner who drafted Charles did win our league.

Now, let's look at the top five receivers taken. They went with picks 9, 15, 17, 21 and 22. Their average end-of-season point totals?

203.

The only receiver of the five first drafted (Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Julio Jones, Dez Bryant, A.J. Green) who did not produce more than 200 points was Jones, and that was because he suffered a season-ending injury.

The defense rests.

If one of those top four RBs are gone and you are drafting in the middle to late, take a receiver.

Some receivers to target who I believe are going to blow up this year are Jordy Nelson, Demaryius Thomas, Keenan Allen or Michael Floyd.

If you wait for a running back, you could potentially get a steal like one of our owners did last year by taking Eddie Lacy in the fifth round.

The choice is yours.

Final Note: This second week of preseason is a good gauge to see how your "targets" are playing. The third week of the preseason is usually the "dress rehearsal" for teams' starters, but it was last year's second preseason game when Cleveland Browns tight end Jordan Cameron and receiver Josh Gordon began to display breakout potential.

The same owner who drafted Charles in our league also took a flyer on Gordon in the middle rounds. Maybe that's why he's the defending champion owner at this year's draft.

 

 

 
 

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