Ah, yes. August 2017.
It was a simpler time then, full of magic and wonder and endless possibilities.
Wouldn’t it be great if you knew then what you know now?
You probably would have put everything you owned in bitcoin. You wouldn’t have gotten your hopes up so high for The Last Jedi. You would have bitten your tongue instead of saying that thing you said to you-know-who. And you sure would’ve used your first-round pick on anyone but David Johnson!
Sadly, there are few do-overs in life, and none in fantasy football. At least not in the season-long version that God intended for us to play. But there sure is plenty of 20/20 hindsight. Yes, friends, it’s time to adjust our rear-view mirrors as we explore what could have been with my oft-imitated, always-controversial, yet magically delicious Perfect Draft: The Final Judgment.
As always, we start with a few key parameters. We will draft from the middle (fifth) position in a 10-team non-keeper league, meaning we won’t have a shot at Le’Veon Bell or Antonio Brown. We’ll use a standard scoring system that starts one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, and one tight end, flex, kicker and team defense. We disregard Week 17, since no league should be vying for a championship then. And, of course, our goal is nothing short of total domination and the abject humiliation of our opponents.
Now, with the fifth pick of the 2017 Perfect Draft, we should have selected…
Round 1: Todd Gurley, RB, Rams. Gurley led countless fantasy teams to a title, and the vast majority of his grateful owners snagged him in the second or third round. But since Bell and Brown are already off the board, we’ll go ahead and grab the Fantasy MVP a bit early.
Round 2: Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots. Leonard Fournette got the call here in our mid-season review, but nagging injuries cost the rookie in the second half. Gronk had his issues, too, including a one-week suspension. But he’s still the most dominant tight end of his generation.
Round 3: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans. What happens when you wait until the third round to take your first wideout? Fantasy’s top receiver* just might fall in your lap! (*In all fairness, Brown’s late-season injury made this statement possible.)
Round 4: Kareem Hunt, RB, Chiefs. The electrifying rookie slumped through a rough mid-season patch, but he rediscovered his mojo in time for the fantasy playoffs. Keenan Allen delivered nicely from this spot as well.
Round 5: Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs. Hunt’s playmaking teammate embodies the cliché that he’s “a threat to score every time he touches the ball.” It’s a shame we have to pass on Mark Ingram here.
Round 6: Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks. It wasn’t always pretty, and he had his off weeks; but in the end, Wilson was the top QB in Fantasyland. Then again, when virtually an entire offense runs through one guy – as Seattle’s does with Wilson both passing and rushing – perhaps it’s not that surprising.
Round 7: Zach Ertz, TE, Eagles. Carson Wentz’s go-to target will serve us well when Gronk misses time. He’s also an excellent flex option.
Round 8: Chris Hogan, WR, Patriots. Hogan stepped into the role vacated by Julian Edelman and produced consistently as one of Tom Brady’s most trusted targets over the first half of the season. We’ll miss his contributions down the stretch.
Round 9: Adam Thielen, WR, Vikings. We’re not thrilled with how he finished the season, but Thielen was money most of the way. The PPR hero offered superior value from his late draft slot, but you can bet he won’t come so cheap next year.
Round 10: Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles. We’ll hate losing him at the end of Week 14, but we’ll enjoy the ride for most of the season.
Round 11: Jaguars defense/special teams. Jacksonville led – or was among the top three – in virtually every defensive category (sacks, turnovers, defensive TDs scored, points against) and, consequently, racked up more fantasy points than any other unit.
Round 12: Marvin Jones, Jr., WR, Lions. He was hardly the model of consistency, but Jones managed to amass more than 1,000 yards and 8 TDs through Week 16 as Matt Stafford’s most productive receiver.
Round 13: Dion Lewis, RB, Patriots. The New England backfield is notoriously difficult to predict, but Lewis emerged as the team’s go-to tailback down the stretch. In PPR leagues especially, Lewis offered solid production.
Round 14: Alvin Kamara, RB, Saints. Among the favorites for Fantasy Rookie of the Year honors, Kamara was a bit player in the New Orleans offense until Adrian Peterson was shipped off to Arizona. After that, laissez les bons temps rouler!
Round 15: Cooper Kupp, WR, Rams. Just for kicks, let’s grab Jared Goff’s favorite receiver late. We’ll never start him, but we’ll keep him out of our competitors’ lineups.
Round 16: Alex Smith, QB, Chiefs. Raise your hand if you thought Smith would be a Top 3 fantasy QB at the end of the season. Yeah, sure you did.
Round 17: Greg Zuerlein, K, Rams. Mopping up for the NFL’s top-scoring offense helps make you an elite fantasy kicker. We’ll have to get by in the finale without Zuerlein after a herniated disk sent him to IR.
There you have it. A team primed to start off hot, withstand the bye weeks, absorb a couple of injuries and finish at the top.
The good news is you didn’t need to draft this well to win a title. But it sure would have been fun.
Ladd Biro is a two-time winner and five-time finalist of the Football Writer of the Year Award by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. Follow all his advice daily at the Fantasy Fools blog (fantasy-fools.blogspot.com), on Facebook and via Twitter (@ladd_biro).