Trade Deadline Live Experts Draft: The Results

11/07/2018Ben Gretch

Tuesday night after Week 9, a few Fantasy Insiders writers got together with some of our friends from around the industry for a live draft. This isn't just a mock; we'll be playing out the league, and the winner will take down a pretty sweet gift: a $500 Amazon gift card.

Of course, the purpose of this exercise is to give you some insight into how to evaluate players for the rest of the season, based on what we know now. This draft should serve as a proxy for trade valuations as you button up your rosters before playoff time.

This isn't a total points league. We're doing four weeks of "all play," then a standard six-man playoff structure. That structure forced drafters to consider playoff schedules, remaining bye weeks, and how to build their rosters as if they were in the playoff hunt for a seasonal league and both needed to get themselves into the playoffs and have a shot to win it.

Here are the relevant details:

  • Full-point PPR scoring
  • 16 roster spots, no K or DST
  • Start 8: 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex

Let's meet our drafters, in the order they drafted:

  • 1.01: Ryan McDowell (@RyanMc23) - DLF, Rotoworld
  • 1.02: Evan Silva (@EvanSilva) - Rotoworld
  • 1.03: Rich Hribar (@LordReebs) - Rotoworld
  • 1.04: David Kitchen (@Socrdave) - Fantasy Insiders, RotoGrinders
  • 1.05: Scott Fish (@ScottFish24) - Fanball
  • 1.06: Matt Harmon (@MattHarmon_BYB) - Yahoo!
  • 1.07: Peter Overzet (@PeterOverzet) - 4for4
  • 1.08: Jeff Johnson (@JeffJohnsonFI) - Fantasy Insiders
  • 1.09: Chris Raybon (@ChrisRaybon) - Action Network
  • 1.10: Chris Prince (@beermakersfan) - Fantasy Insiders, RotoGrinders
  • 1.11: Ben Gretch (@YardsPerGretch) - Fantasy Insiders, RotoGrinders
  • 1.12: Jake Ciely (@allinkid) - The Athletic

Pleasantries out of the way, let's get to the results. I've added some brief thoughts below, and later today we'll have another post with strategy thoughts from the experts about which players they were targeting as this year's league-winners and how they wanted to structure their rosters heading down the stretch of the 2018 fantasy football season.

Rounds 1-2

  • 1. McDowell - Todd Gurley, RB1
  • 2. Silva - Alvin Kamara, RB2
  • 3. Hribar - Melvin Gordon, RB3
  • 4. Kitchen - Kareem Hunt, RB4
  • 5. Fish - Saquon Barkley, RB5
  • 6. Harmon - Christian McCaffrey, RB6
  • 7. Overzet - James Conner, RB7
  • 8. Johnson - Ezekiel Elliott, RB8
  • 9. Raybon - Adam Thielen, WR1
  • 10. Prince - Joe Mixon, RB9
  • 11. Gretch - DeAndre Hopkins, WR2
  • 12. Ciely - David Johnson, RB10
  • 13. Ciely - Antonio Brown, WR3
  • 14. Gretch - Julio Jones, WR4
  • 15. Prince - Odell Beckham, WR5
  • 16. Raybon - Patrick Mahomes - QB1
  • 17. Johnson - Michael Thomas, WR6
  • 18. Overzet - Davante Adams, WR7
  • 19. Harmon - Tyreek Hill, WR8
  • 20. Fish - Zach Ertz, TE1
  • 21. Kitchen - Travis Kelce, TE2
  • 22. Hribar - Keenan Allen, WR9
  • 23. Silva - Mike Evans, WR10
  • 24. McDowell - James White, RB11

The first round was extremely RB heavy, with the first eight drafters and 10 of the 12 selecting a back with their first pick. It makes sense -- WR is exceptionally deep in 2018 -- but it underscores how these top backs are the biggest assets you can acquire heading into the season's final stretch.

After the RB-heavy first round, though, another back wasn't taken until the final pick of Round 2. Drafters quickly snatched up the top tier of WRs, with Patrick Mahomes and the two elite TEs also all coming off the board. Ryan McDowell's RB-RB and my WR-WR were the only unbalanced starts.

Four Kansas City Chiefs went in the top 24 picks, with Chris Raybon aggressively locking up 2018's breakout QB with the 16th overall pick. You don't often see QBs go early in expert drafts, but the pick emphasizes the landscape is a bit different in-season, where we can be much more confident Mahomes will provide a solid positional advantage over later-round QBs.

Jake Ciely believed David Johnson merited a first-round selection. Given the shallowness of the RB position, it's hard to disagree. We know Johnson will see big touches, and with Arizona coming off a bye where new coordinator Byron Leftwich has had a little more time to prepare what he'd like to do, it's entirely possible the nature of Johnson's usage finally improves.

Rounds 3-4

  • 25. McDowell - Brandin Cooks, WR11
  • 26. Silva - Marlon Mack, RB12
  • 27. Hribar - Julian Edelman, WR12
  • 28. Kitchen - Leonard Fournette, RB13
  • 29. Fish - George Kittle, TE3
  • 30. Harmon - Dalvin Cook, RB14
  • 31. Overzet - Tevin Coleman, RB15
  • 32. Johnson - T.Y. Hilton, WR13
  • 33. Raybon - JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR14
  • 34. Prince - Sony Michel, RB16
  • 35. Gretch - Nick Chubb, RB17
  • 36. Ciely - Tarik Cohen, RB18
  • 37. Ciely - Phillip Lindsay, RB19
  • 38. Gretch - Aaron Jones, RB20
  • 39. Prince - Kerryon Johnson, RB21
  • 40. Raybon - Adrian Peterson, RB22
  • 41. Johnson - Dion Lewis, RB23
  • 42. Overzet - Tyler Boyd, WR15
  • 43. Harmon - Robert Woods, WR16
  • 44. Fish - Stefon Diggs, WR17
  • 45. Kitchen - Alshon Jeffery, WR18
  • 46. Hribar - Emmanuel Sanders, WR19
  • 47. Silva - Marvin Jones, WR20
  • 48. McDowell - Cooper Kupp, WR21

Rounds 3 and 4 were heavy on RBs and WRs, with just one TE and no more QBs coming off the board. Drafters seemed to favor the RB position before a late WR run.

By the end of Round 4, nine teams had multiple backs and two had gone RB with three of their first four picks, while eight had multiple WRs and Rich Hribar was our only drafter who had taken three at the position, a substantial lean given the starting lineup requirements of three WRs vs. just two RBs. One potential takeaway is while RB is a typically volatile position, we've reached the point in the season where we can be more confident projecting workloads at the position the rest of the way.

Within the RB position, we saw a mix of 2018's biggest breakouts and some injury-related underperformers who have a chance to rebound in the latter part of the season. Our drafters still valued Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, and Sony Michel as third-round options, but Marlon Mack, Tevin Coleman, and Nick Chubb went in the same range. Saquon Barkley was an easy first-round pick, but four more rookie RBs went here in the Round 3-4 range, along with second-year backs Mack, Tarik Cohen, and Aaron Jones.

Rounds 5-6

  • 49. McDowell - Kenyan Drake, RB24
  • 50. Silva - Mark Ingram, RB25
  • 51. Hribar - Sammy Watkins, WR22
  • 52. Kitchen - Kenny Golladay, WR23
  • 53. Fish - Josh Gordon, WR24
  • 54. Harmon - John Brown, WR25
  • 55. Overzet - O.J. Howard, TE4
  • 56. Johnson - Duke Johnson, RB26
  • 57. Raybon - Lamar Miller, RB27
  • 58. Prince - Jarvis Landry, WR26
  • 59. Gretch - Amari Cooper, WR27
  • 60. Ciely - Golden Tate, WR28
  • 61. Ciely - Doug Baldwin, WR29
  • 62. Gretch - Corey Davis, WR30
  • 63. Prince - Jordan Howard, RB28
  • 64. Raybon - Rob Gronkowski, TE5
  • 65. Johnson - Calvin Ridley, WR31
  • 66. Overzet - Alex Collins, RB29
  • 67. Harmon - Matt Breida, RB30
  • 68. Fish - Theo Riddick, RB31
  • 69. Kitchen - LeSean McCoy, RB32
  • 70. Hribar - Chris Carson, RB33
  • 71. Silva - Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR32
  • 72. McDowell - Greg Olsen, TE6

Most of the big midseason movers via trade came off the board in Round 5, namely Josh Gordon, Amari Cooper, and Golden Tate. Tate's departure left behind a 27% target share, and it was no surprise to see Detroit players as popular targets. Theo Riddick saw 8 targets in Week 9, and went off the board at pick 68 as the fourth Lions skill player selected.

O.J. Howard at TE4 and Marquez Valdes-Scantling at WR32 might turn some heads, but I loved the conviction for both. Howard has been nothing but exceptionally efficient since he entered the league last season, and the Bucs' team-level commitment to the pass mitigates concern over how crowded their pass-catching group is. Valdes-Scantling looks locked into a high-value role for the Packers with Geronimo Allison headed to IR, and has also shown us nothing but indications that he can play at the NFL level.

Overall, three more TEs came off the board in Rounds 5 and 6, a precursor to a bigger run in Rounds 7 and 8 that took us through what I would consider the last of the "reliable" options at the position. We also saw the last of RBs for awhile, as just one RB went in the 26 picks after Chris Carson at the end of Round 6.

Rounds 7-8

  • 73. McDowell - Courtland Sutton, WR33
  • 74. Silva - Eric Ebron, TE7
  • 75. Hribar - Jimmy Graham, TE8
  • 76. Kitchen - Aaron Rodgers, QB2
  • 77. Fish - Andrew Luck, QB3
  • 78. Harmon - David Njoku, TE9
  • 79. Overzet - DeSean Jackson, WR34
  • 80. Johnson - Drew Brees, QB4
  • 81. Raybon - Devin Funchess, WR35
  • 82. Prince - Trey Burton, TE10
  • 83. Gretch - Jack Doyle, TE11
  • 84. Ciely - Cam Newton, QB5
  • 85. Ciely - Jared Cook, TE12
  • 86. Gretch - Evan Engram, TE13
  • 87. Prince - Tyler Lockett, WR36
  • 88. Raybon - Austin Ekeler, RB34
  • 89. Johnson - Larry Fitzgerald, WR37
  • 90. Overzet - Taylor Gabriel, WR38
  • 91. Harmon - Allen Robinson, WR39
  • 92. Fish - Demaryius Thomas, WR40
  • 93. Kitchen - A.J. Green, WR41
  • 94. Hribar - Michael Crabtree, WR42
  • 95. Silva - Jordan Reed, TE14
  • 96. McDowell - Sterling Shepard, WR43

Quarterbacks started to come off the board more in Rounds 7 and 8, as did banged up potential high-end WRs Allen Robinson and A.J. Green. Remember that this league will be played out from this point going forward, so everyone is roughly equivalent to a team on the playoff bubble. Thus, players like Robinson and Green should be valued higher if you are in good position in your seasonal league, but lower if you're needing to win out or close to it just to get into the playoffs.

The aforementioned conclusion to the run on TEs gives a good indication that outside the clear top two at the position, there are a lot of potentially viable options. Most drafters were willing to target these second- and third-tier options at the position outside the top 30 RBs and WRs, but weren't willing to wait much longer. Entering Round 6, just three drafters had a TE, but 10 had one by the end of Round 7, and 11 by the end of Round 8, with three teams rostering two. That speaks to concern about the depth of the position.

Rounds 9-16

You can view the rest of the pick-by-pick results here, but one thing our experts discussed in the draft chat was, to paraphrase Rich Hribar, "how bad FF is at this point of the season." Obviously that's not to be taken literally, but rather as an acknowledgement of how things are more defined at this point, meaning we have a better idea what we can expect going forward. What that means for a redraft like this is fewer exciting picks late, but what it also means is now is the time to try to target high-end options in trades to consolidate talent.

That doesn't mean that some of the picks in Rounds 9-16 won't break out, because some certainly will. A few of my favorite later-round picks included Hribar nabbing Royce Freeman in the 10th (the Broncos have a solid rushing schedule the rest of the way), Scott Fish nabbing Keke Coutee in the 12th, and Peter Overzet backing Jeff Heuerman in the 13th.

If you have any questions or want to opine on how our drafters did, hit us up on Twitter.

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