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NFL First Leans
I’ll be doing a Real Man Sports podcast later today with Alan Seslowsky, but figured I’d do a first pass on the NFFC ADP here first.
I think it’s important to identify one’s initial leans before getting too deep into the preseason prep where you’re exposed to other people’s ideas and arguments. It’s so easy to get talked into or out of players, to the point where you hardly remember where your thoughts end and the noise of the crowd begins.
Plant some flags early, be open to changing your mind only when exposed to new information (not new opinions) and don’t get pushed off your spot if the fact pattern is unchanged.
To that end, let’s take a look at some early NFBC ADP (six drafts, May 10 - present):
Justin Jefferson is the no brainer 1.1, though is he worth paying the 3RR price? Maybe. I don’t want picks 2-7, though.
Looking at the ADP, my first instinct is to pick 12 and get Barkley, Taylor and Rhamondre Stevenson with my first three picks.
But chasing at WR is always harder than chasing at RB, and last year in my Primetime, I made the call to pivot to some WR in the middle rounds, and it was the right one. It’s easier to build a team with at least one WR in the top three rounds, and easier still if you can grab two. So let’s look a bit deeper.
Ja’Marr Chase is the pick for me at No. 2 should I get stuck with it. Christian McCaffrey is basically Jacob deGrom — he’s the easy 1.1 (over Jefferson) if you knew both would play 17 games, but there’s too much risk. (I know Barkley is only six months younger, but he’s 232 pounds, to McCaffrey’s 205.)
Travis Kelce’s 110-1138-12 from last year is 1.1 territory at a scarce position, but I’ll pass at No. 4. Tight ends age well (don’t usually drop off a cliff), but he’ll turn 34 in October. Better to get out a year too early than a year too late at that price.
I’m always wrong about Austin Ekeler who I’ve faded every year. I’m terrified to buy in now, like that time I finally drafted Frank Thomas in baseball, and it was the year he went through a bad divorce.
Ekeler is 28, but he does so much of his damage through the air, he could hold up longer than most backs. I’m not sure what new offensive coodinator Kellen Moore will do with him, but it can’t be better than 127 targets (107 catches.) I’m probably in, but terrified to take him after missing out on his career seasons.
Tyreek Hill is 29, but at 5-10, 185, (same size as me, slightly faster), he should still be in his late prime (like me). I’m okay with Hill, though there’s some risk Tua concusses himself out of the league.
My instinct was to pass on Cooper Kupp in his age 30 season, but he really did duplicate his historic season from 2021 last year when he was healthy. Matthew Stafford is still there and Kupp is the only game in town. I have to re-think this, maybe I’m back in.
Bijan Robinson — I’m in. Arthur Smith, good offensive line, running QB, elite prospect.
Stefon Diggs — This is a floor pick, given how much the Bills throw. He’ll be 30 this fall, and is slightly bigger than Hill at 6-0, 191, but still small enough I don’t think he’s likely to crater in his early 30s like Julio Jones or Andre Johnson. I’m not out, but I wouldn’t be excited about taking him.
CeeDee Lamb — Another floor pick like Diggs. I might even take him ahead of Diggs. Is there a Justin Jefferson-like ceiling? Maybe — he’s only 24. Brandin Cooks is the perfect complementary acquisition because he’ll threaten the safeties deep without commanding a big target share.
Patrick Mahomes — hard pass on the 1st round QB. I know he was worth it last year, but I need more than one season of poor QB play around the league to elevate the Mahomes/Allens to this slot.
Saquon Barkley — I’m in. He had 295 carries and 76 targets in 16 games, and the team around him should be substantially better. Daniel Jones is better, the team will be more familiar with Brian Daboll/Mike Kafka’s system and the receivers will be 10x better than the scrubs they had last year. We might finally see Barkley unleashed in a top-10 offense. Of course, other than McCaffrey, he probably the biggest injury risk in the first round.
In summary — I’m in on Jefferson, Chase, Robinson and Barkley. I’m fine with Hill, Kupp, Lamb, Ekeler and Diggs (and it’s better to start with a WR, all things equal), and I’m probably out on Kelce, McCaffrey and definitely Mahomes at ADP.
In: Jonathan Taylor, AJ Brown, Garrett Wilson
Out: Breece Hall, Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, Nick Chubb, DeVonta Smith
In: Najee Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, DK Metcalf,
Out: Tony Pollard, Joe Burrow, DeAndre Hopkins
In: Kenneth Walker
Out: Keenan Allen, Trevor Lawrence, Jerry Jeudy, T.J. Hockenson
In: Chris Godwin, Christian Watson, Josh Fields, George Kittle
Out: Miles Sanders
In: Dalvin Cook, Kyle Pitts, Darren Waller
Out: Mike Williams
In: George Pickens, Cam Akers, Alvin Kamara, Rashod Bateman, Michael Thomas, Deshaun Watson, Elijah Moore, Rashaad Penny, Pat Freiermuth, Chigoziem Okonkwo, David Njoku, Khalil Herbert, Daniel Jones, Aaron Rodgers
As I said, these are merely preliminary leans before I’ve done any deep research, so I might change my mind (like I did on Kupp) when I unearth more facts.