Pretzel Logic: 192 picks from a Fantasy Football Expert Draft

How quickly can Joe Mixon take over in Cincinnati? (AP Photo/Mark Tenally)

This year, the Yahoo Friends & Family League takes on a new approach. All Ball. Let’s put that in caps — ALL BALL.

Because most of us are over-extended with league commitments and such, we decided to try a fun offshoot exercise. What if we each made 16 picks and assembled a roster and then just let it play out over the season? No trades. No FAABs. No bench. Not even best ball, this is ALL BALL. Everyone counts, in large amounts.

No, it’s not the way fantasy was intended to be played, and no, it’s certainly not a full replication for a real league. But it’s fun as a one-off variant, and we’re all for trying new formats. And if nothing else, this exercise does give a snapshot into how we feel about the player pool, and a deep dive at that (most mocks don’t pick 192 skill players; 72 backs; 72 wideouts, etc).

Each team had to fill out this exact roster shape: 2 QB, 6 RB, 6 WR, 2 TE. We blew off kickers and defense.

The post-script assignment was simple — start with some general observations, then give us your personal pick of pride and pick of regret. Here’s what the pundits had to say.

Peruse the draft results, and tell us your league champion in the comments. (A 12-way tie for last is not an answer.) Or if you want to take my knees out directly, I’m on Twitter about 17 hours a day.

Meet the Family

E. Brad Evans/Feel The Noise 

Yahoo Sports Donkey

@YahooNoise

Overview: Given the ALL BALL format and position requirements, the draft formula was relatively simple: 1) Emphasize high, reliable floors over high, risky ceilings. 2) Try to dive in earlier on QB/TE.

Promote: Joe Mixon, Cin, RB — Snagging Mixon in Round 4 was a gift from the fantasy gods. He may be brought along slowly, but his blend of power, elusiveness and hands will inevitably supplant parked car, Jeremy Hill.

Regret: Eric Ebron, Det, TE — Trotting out the chronic underachiever as your No. 1 TE in a 2TE league is borderline masochistic. Odds are long he’ll stay healthy and deliver despite Jim Bob Cooter’s desire to utilize him more in the red zone, but he was the best option at the time. Bring on the headaches.

Andy Behrens/S.T. Loaf 

Yahoo Varsity Sports

@andybehrens

Overview: So the league settings here are, um … unusual. I don’t mind it, really, but I also don’t advise it. This is not the format you want to play if you think your in-season management gives you an edge. But we have a few cowards in this group who apparently couldn’t handle another league, so here we are. In a no-maintenance, start-everyone format like this, I tried not to take on an excessive amount of perceived injury risk. Rob Gronkowski aside, I think I did it. (And c’mon, Gronk at the R2/R3 turn is a nice price, especially in a league in which we start two tight ends.) All of my guys will actually see the field in opening week, which is a big deal here. In this year’s F&F league, Weeks 15-16 have no special meaning. I’ll always get a pair of upper-tier quarterbacks in any two-QB format, so I was happy to land Mariota and Cousins with picks 47 and 50.

Promote: A league like this is really the perfect format for a high-variance player like Ted Ginn Jr. We can’t say when the big plays will come, but, in the Saints’ offense, they’re guaranteed to happen. Ginn is going to see the field much more frequently than the Snead zealots are willing to admit. He’s essentially been running as this team’s No. 2 receiver, and he still has elite wheels. Ginn is a gift in a best-ball format.

Regret: Sterling Shepard has recovered from the ankle injury he suffered early in camp, so that’s good. But he’s such a poor bet to repeat last year’s touchdown total (8) now that Brandon Marshall and Evan Engram have joined the party. He’ll have plenty of 5-55-0 games, in all likelihood, and that can help in half-PPR scoring. He’s a low-upside option, though.

[Sign up for Fantasy Football before it’s too late! Draft now for free]

Liz Loza/Rosé All Golladay

Yahoo! Sports

@LizLoza_FF

Overview: If Jay Ajayi tanks out this year I am in big trouble… because I have him everywhere. Thrilled to pair the YAC monster with rookie sensation Christian McCaffrey and post-hype sleeper Ameer Abdullah, my trio of lead RBs are the HOPE, EMPIRE, and JEDI of this roster. Prioritizing running back, of course, meant mining WR value later in the draft. While I’m digging on Baldwin and Crowder, that John Brown pick has me hoping his force awakens (and stays woke).

Promote: After AP wears down and Ingram fumbles his way to the bench, Alvin Kamara will be ready to step in and light it up. A sexy stash for the back-half of the season, I was pleased to nab the rookie in the late thirteenth round.

Regret: If he can stay healthy, Breshad Perriman is going to replace Mike Wallace down the stretch. Hated that pick (yes, even more than Darkwa in the sixteenth).

Dalton Del Don/The Strike Team 

Yahoo Sports

@daltondeldon

Overview: Fun draft. My biggest takeaway was how fast it went. Incredibly great pace throughout, which in a way made it tougher (in a good way). I didn’t expect to own Lamar Miller in any leagues this year, but at pick No. 40, I went agnostic and took him.

Promote: Doug Martin in the seventh has pretty good potential to be a steal. His setup looks terrific in Tampa Bay once he returns this season, and he’ll clearly be the starter when he does.

Regret: I took Emmanuel Sanders too early. Jordan Reed has injury risk, but he has way more upside and went a couple of picks later.

Jason Klabacha/User Lineup 

Yahoo Sports

@YahooFantasy

Overview: We had five rookie running backs go from picks 18-37, with Kareem Hunt being the first off the board. There’s a lot of talent here but each does carry some concern. McCaffrey and Mixon have competition in their respective backfields. Even though I took him, the Vikings o-line is a worry for Cook as is the Jaguars QB situation for Fournette. Hunt doesn’t have the name brand of the others but there’s a clear path to touches, so it will be interesting to see who emerges as the best of this bunch.

Promote: Tyreek Hill is one of the more polarizing guys in drafts this year. Some people in this league love him, others feel he’s being way over-drafted. I’m comfortable with him at 56 overall.

Regret: Way too many Eagles. Never meant to go down that path but if Carson Wentz surprises, look out world.

How many Ezekiel Elliott games can we expect?

Tank Williams/Pros vs. Joes 

Yahoo Fantasy Football and College Football Analyst

@TankWilliams13

Overview: Unless I’m just feeling myself way too much right now, I think my roster is a crowdpleaser. Can’t go wrong with AB and A-Rod. Mid round picks will get a lot of opportunities (carries and targets) in relation to their draft position. Used the bottom half of my draft to add some home run hitters to provide upside.

Promote: Couldn’t let “Ron Snow” pass me by. When #WinterHasCome only Aaron Rodgers can light up the #FrozenTundra like #ASongOfIceAndFire Mad points!

Regret: I think Zeke gets a reduced suspension & finishes Top 10 RB. If not, I think I took Zeke too early and looks like the Jags sitting on Bortles.

Scott Pianowski/Johnny Hector

Yahoo Sports

@scott_pianowski

Overview: Normally I would have been reactive with quarterbacks in this type of format — we’re all guaranteed players in the Top 20 — but when they started going a little more aggressively than I expected, I decided to shift to a proactive stance, focus on proven veterans who I expect to last a full season. Quarterbacks always score the most in any fantasy format, and in a league with no replacement allowed, losing a QB would be a crushing blow. I don’t think I’d take Devonta Freeman at fourth overall in a standard setup, but the normal rules at running back don’t apply — we can’t mix and match, work the wire, take it as it comes. I thought getting a backfield base, at least in theory, was more important in this format. All that said, my deepest position, the position I put the most capital into, was wide receiver. My winning blueprint comes down to this — keep the QBs healthy; get what I expect from the primary receivers; hope the name backs do something; and hit on a lottery ticket or two elsewhere.

Promote: After Amari Cooper — who could and should be a bankable frontman — my receiver group is mostly filled with boring value veterans. Kelvin Benjamin became an overcorrection player this summer; he’s in shape and in line for a strong year. Michael Crabtree (an Oakland double-up is fine with rosters this deep) and Golden Tate are always good bets to return what they cost. I try not to go overboard with “target” players, but several of my Wallet Players wound up on my roster, a good thing.

Regret: My last four picks were running backs, so I definitely need some fortune there. If Marshawn Lynch answers the bell, two of my lottery tickets can’t be worth much. If we were drafting again, I’d probably put at least one more premium pick into the backfield, trusting that you can always find interesting receivers, even in a league that drafts 72 of them.

Michael Salfino/Salfino 

Wall Street Journal/Yahoo

@michaelsalfino

Overview: In this all-ball format, I wanted to lock two high-end pocket passers (less injury risk historically) and feel good about my running back situation. WRs are less of a priority because everyone plays. But it’s nearly impossible to attack both RB and QB in this format. So I gave in a little at RB. I also planned to get some players who are perceived as injury risk so I pretty much expected to get both Reed and Eifert. If they both stay healthy for 14-plus games (about 45%), I’m going to be very tough to beat.

Promote: I’ve written extensively about Hogan. https://sports.yahoo.com/numbers-suggest-chris-hogan-will-fantasy-draft-bargain-033224276.html So I’ll cite Moncrief to promote the philosophy of it’s never the player, it’s always the price. I hated Moncrief at his summer ADP of about 50ish. But 114 is basically free. He has no starting competition and even if he’s as bad as his stats last year, he’l be about WR30 if Luck plays 14-plus games.

Regret: I wanted Carson or Darkwa as my sixth RB but took Travis Benjamin as my sixth WR first. I should have taken one of the running backs there and waited on Benjamin even though I don’t understand at all why people are so reluctant to draft Benjamin; you can bet that way.

Meet the Friends

Chris Liss/Liss

Rotowire

@chris_liss

Overview: This format favors RB because we usually have 1-QB, 2-RB, 3-WR and 1-TE. Everything is doubled but RB are tripled. So I wanted to get RB. But where I was picking, I would have had to push up a Jay Ajayi type over Julio Jones, and I wasn’t willing to do that. In Round 2, Todd Gurley went just ahead of me, so I doubled up on WR with Brandin Cooks and decided to punt RB.

Promote: I like getting Cooks — who has top-three WR upside — at the end of Round 2.

Regret: Draft went well until I had to leave, and Trevor Ray took over for me after Round 12 (I had to be somewhere.) Wasn’t his fault but I had Alfred Morris left in my queue from before I realized it was a no-moves league. He saw Morris in the queue and drafted him for me. In a format where you can’t drop him, that’s basically a guaranteed dead spot all year.

How come everybody want to keep it like the Kizer? (RHCP)

Chris Prince/Beer

RotoGrinders

@beermakersfan

Overview: I went into this draft looking to wait on QB as the position is super deep this year and knowing everyone was required to draft only 2 QBs. The problem was I waited too long and got left out in the cold after a pretty heavy run at the position. Love the rest of my team but going to need stellar QB play out of Brian Hoyer and DeShone Kizer, which is certainly in the range of outcomes, just not sure they’ll be consistent enough on a week to week basis.

Promote: I’ve been the conductor of the Mike Gillislee express this entire off-season and this train is not losing steam anytime soon. I think he’s a lock for double digit touchdowns, is far and away the most talented back on the roster and someone to grab in your drafts now while the ADP is falling.

Regret: Latavius Murray is a guy I’ve become more concerned with as fair as clarity on his role with this offense. Dalvin Cook looks like a true 3 down workhorse so you’re really needing Murray to be a goal line vulture all season long and I’m just not sure the Vikes will use him there enough.

[Sign up for Fantasy Football before it’s too late! Draft now for free]

Dan Back/Back’s Bunch 

RotoGrinders

@Dan_Back

Overview: Remember boys and girls the first thing you should ALWAYS do before drafting is read the rules.  Yours truly didn’t adhere to that and I have some buyers remorse on a few picks.  I drafted thinking this was Best Ball not All Ball, so I took a risky pick on Andrew Luck which I would not have done had I known every fantasy score counts every week.  If he plays in Week 2, I think I’ll be in good shape, but taking a bagel at QB for more than a couple of weeks could be a killer in this format.

Promote: The hate has swung too far on Allen Robinson. Bortles may be trash, but Robinson is by far their best playmaker. I’ll gladly take a guy with 150 targets the past two seasons in the 5th round pick

Regret: Andrew Luck….Can someone send Mr. Miyagi over to the Colts HQ ASAP.

Matt Kelley/Fantasy Mansion 

PlayerProfiler.com

@Fantasy_Mansion

Overview: How can you not be happy with the No. 1 pick in a league that starts 6 running backs allowing you to get David Johnson? Cha-ching! I was also thrilled to get NFL receiving yards leader TY Hilton at pick No. 24. Finally, I lucked out at QB. After probably waiting too long, I managed to steal Tyrod Taylor and Jay Cutler, both of which project to be top-20 scorers at the QB position this season.

Promote: In standard scoring, touchdown upside at tight end is typically not available in the later rounds. Fortunately, my league mates forgot that Hall of Fame red zone specialist Antonio Gates is not dead yet.

Regret: Overtly dominating this draft. In retrospect, I should have intentionally tanked a pick or two to ensure that other league members were not too demoralized by my dominance.

Nebulous and unofficial team grades/themes

Evans – Pretzel Logic

Behrens – Dirty Work

Salfino – Can’t Buy a Thrill

Back – Kid Charlemagne

Klabacha – Deacon Blues

Liss – Only a Fool Would Say That

Prince – My Old School

Williams – Show Biz Kids

Del Don – Haitian Divorce

Loza – Josie

Kelley – Bad Sneakers

Pianowski – Countdown to Ecstasy