In a perfect fantasy world, my starting lineup this season would feature Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson, C.J. Spiller, Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant, A.J. Green and Jimmy Graham. That would be the same perfect world in which my kids all get full-ride college scholarships, swimsuit models stalk me and I lose weight every time I eat Tex-Mex.
Alas, since our fellow owners are unlikely to cede the entire first round to us, we’ll simply have to work smarter to assemble the most dominant team in our league. Our challenge, therefore, is to secure the best value in each round, methodically building a roster that will soar from Week 1, withstand an injury to one or two key players, and peak during the fantasy playoffs.
With that lofty goal in mind, I’ve analyzed the average draft position (ADP) of each player from multiple fantasy sites to determine the best pick in each round — resulting in my oft-imitated, always-controversial, yet magically delicious Perfect Draft.
As always, we start with a few key assumptions. First, we’re in a 10-team non-keeper league using a standard scoring system that starts one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, and one tight end, kicker and team defense. Second, we are drafting from the middle (fifth) position in a snake format, meaning we won’t have a shot at Adrian Peterson. Third, since all drafts play out differently, we’ll need a little luck along the way. Finally, our goal is nothing short of total domination and the abject humiliation of our opponents.
Now, with the fifth pick of the 2013 Perfect Draft, we select…
Round 1. C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills:
With Fred Jackson firmly relegated to backup duty, Spiller has his chance to soar. Don’t be surprised if he finishes the season at the top of the RB ranks.
Round 2. Chris Johnson, RB, Titans:
I’m not sure I could force myself to pass on Dez Bryant if he’s available, but Johnson forms a formidable backfield.
Round 3. Randall Cobb, WR, Packers:
Peyton Manning is the best pick in this round, but securing a second elite receiver here is too tempting to pass up.
Round 4. Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons:
With the explosive arsenal at his disposal, Ryan will provide elite production and offers great value in the fourth round.
Round 5. Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants:
Marques Colston is another solid pick in this round. Either player makes an excellent WR2 with elite upside.
Round 6. Tony Gonzalez, TE, Falcons:
Given Rob Gronkowski’s injury concerns, only Jimmy Graham is clearly more valuable at his position. I’d prefer Jason Witten, but his ADP requires a fifth rounder.
Round 7. Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers:
The hands-down No. 1 receiver in Pittsburgh is due for a breakout season. Robert Griffin III is awfully tempting here, though.
Round 8. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts:
The second-year speedster will be Andrew Luck’s favorite target this season. Don’t miss out on his upside.
Round 9. Seahawks defense/special teams:
The 49ers are an equally good pick, but Seattle’s unit is stocked and ready to dominate.
Round 10. Daryl Richardson, RB, Rams:
Will begin the season as the starter, and has the talent to stay there.
Round 11. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans:
Another rookie with huge upside, Hopkins will give opposing defenses fits opposite Andre Johnson.
Round 12. Fred Jackson, RB, Bills:
As much as I love Spiller, he’s not immune to injury. Jackson is arguably the most important handcuff in the league this year.
Round 13. Vincent Brown, WR, Chargers:
Philip Rivers desperately needs a reliable receiver, but they’re dropping like flies around him. If he can stay healthy, the third-year wideout could have a breakout season.
Round 14. Matt Schaub, QB, Texans:
The best backup fantasy QB in the league.
Round 15. Jordan Cameron, TE, Browns:
In Norv Turner’s offense, this huge red zone target has a chance to soar.
Round 16. Danny Woodhead, RB, Chargers:
As disappointing as Ryan Mathews has been, Woodhead could be the most productive back in San Diego’s committee.
Round 17. Dan Bailey, K, Cowboys:
There will be plenty of strong kickers available in the final round. Bailey is one of the best.
There you have it: A team with firepower at every position, bench depth with substantial upside and no bye-week dilemmas.
Now, go forth and make your draft perfect.