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Redrafting the first round of last year’s fantasy football draft

How would fantasy drafts last year have looked if we’d known everyone’s final fantasy output?

Getty Images/Peter Rogers Illustrations

Redrafts are always a harsh reminder of the whiffs teams have made and the talent they could’ve added had they only known the future. In 2007, the Raiders took Jamarcus Russell ahead of Calvin Johnson, Joe Thomas, Adrian Peterson, Patrick Willis, Marshawn Lynch and Darrelle Revis, just to name a few. (This is a topic for another day, but if we’re listing the most loaded draft classes in NFL history, 2007 has to be near the top.) In 2014, Odell Beckham Jr and Aaron Donald somehow made it down into the teens of the first round, with players like Greg Robinson and Justin Gilbert taken ahead of them. Yikes.

With the actual NFL draft just around the corner—and of course the billions upon billions of mock drafts and redrafts that it brings with it—I thought it might be fun to do my own “redraft” but redrafting fantasy football instead of actual football.

I’ve decided to just redraft the first round of last year’s fantasy drafts because doing an entire 15 round redraft sounds like a lot of work, but mainly because I’m really curious about which players massively outplayed their ADP to make it into the first round.

But also the whole not doing the whole 15 rounds of redrafting thing. That does sound like a lot of work.

Let’s begin.

Pick 1.01: RB Todd Gurley

Obviously Gurley would’ve been the first overall pick in every single fantasy draft had we been able to see the future. Gurley averaged almost 22 fantasy points per game last year and was only second to Russell Wilson in total points (319 to Wilson’s 347). This is a huge upgrade from his average 2.05 ADP in actuality last year.

Pick 1.02: RB Le’Veon Bell

There’s a reason it’s so hard to pass on Bell with either the first or second pick in fantasy drafts. On this list (spoiler alert) Bell is the only one who matched his ADP. That’s pretty amazing. What’s more amazing is that Bell has basically been doing this since he entered the league. Sure he misses games but when he’s able to play even double digit games, he’s a lock for finishing top 10 in fantasy.

Pick 1.03: RB Kareem Hunt

Our first of three rookie running backs who would’ve been first round picks had we known how 2017 would play out. Hunt is an interesting case because people were hot on him heading into drafts—he was taken in the third round of most drafts—but no one could’ve predicted his rapid rise to fantasy stardom. Meanwhile...

Pick 1.04: RB Alvin Kamara

At least everyone knew Kareem Hunt’s name heading into last year’s drafts. Kamara on the other hand was a complete mystery to the fantasy community, going in the 13th round of drafts, if he was even drafted at all. And don’t pretend in the comments like you thought Kamara was going to amount to anything this past season. THERE WERE KICKERS GOING BEFORE KAMARA WAS TAKEN. Let that sink in.

Pick 1.05: RB Melvin Gordon

Here’s another reason I like doing exercises like this. Not only do you see which players sneak into the first round but you also remind yourself of names that, for whatever reason, you don’t seem to have confidence in. Gordon for me is one such player. He’s often a name that I’ll see in the middle of the first round and feel kinda blah about taking there. But, like Bell, he’s one of only four players who had a first round ADP last year and stayed in the first round. That means something.

Pick 1.06: RB Mark Ingram

This just goes to show you how amazingly dominate the Saints’ backfield was last year. Two running backs; two RB1s. I’m very curious to see how people will treat the Saints’ backfield this year in fantasy. To me, it’s naive to think that the Saints will be able to replicate this kind of fantasy production between two backs and while many are thinking Kamara takes a step forward into a more dominant role, never count out Ingram, who has been a strong fantasy performer for quite some time now.

Pick 1.07: WR DeAndre Hopkins

The first receiver off the board last year should have been Hopkins, who tallied 213 total points and averaged just over 14 FPPG. Instead, the first receiver off the board in 2017 was Julio Jones (according to Fantasy Football Calculator).

/clears throat

Pick 1.08: WR Antonio Brown

Brown is of course the third of four players with first round ADPs to remain in the first round in our redraft. Much like his teammate Bell, there’s a reason Brown rarely makes it past the fifth overall pick. There are very few receivers in the league who get fantasy points better than Brown. He would’ve been the number one receiver last year if he didn’t miss two games at the end of the season. Never forget that in his final five games, Brown was averaging eight catches, 130 yards and a touchdown. That is absurd.

Pick 1.09: RB LeSean McCoy

Our final player who stays in the first round in our redraft. Wanna hear the craziest thing about this pick? The Jaguars’ defense scored one less total fantasy point than McCoy. Maybe it’s not the craziest thing, but I think that’s pretty crazy.

Pick 1.10: RB Leonard Fournette

Perhaps Fournette didn’t WOW us in the way Hunt or Kamara did, but it’s hard for me to say that he didn’t live up to expectations. If you ignore his immediate comparison to fellow rookie backs, Fournette was taken in the start of the second round and finished up in the backend of the first round. That is a return on investment. That is a win.

Pick 1.11: WR Keenan Allen

Long long ago, in a blog post far far away, I wrote at length about Keenan Allen and how he was going to breakout and be a top 5 fantasy wide receiver. Sadly, this post was written way back in 2015 right before Allen tore his ACL for the 2016 season and sat out the whole year. Not exactly what I had in mind. His 2017 campaign though was exactly what I had in mind. Hopefully the injuries are behind Allen and he can stay in fantasy dominance in 2018.

Pick 1.12: RB Jordan Howard

The final pick of our 2017 fantasy football redraft is Howard, which makes me feel alright about myself given that he was my first round pick this year with the 8th overall pick. Clearly I should’ve taken Todd Gurley or Kareem Hunt since both of them were still on the board but alas, we live and we learn.

So there you go, there’s the first round of 2017 fantasy football drafts redrafted.

What does this mean for 2018?

The biggest trend you can see from the redraft—and from mock drafts already being done—is the number of running backs taken in the first round. Sure Beckham will be coming back from injury, and maybe people will yet again talk their way into taking Julio Jones, but there seems to be a surplus of top running backs in the NFL and managers will want to get their hands on them. This might mean we see top wide receivers slip down to the end of the first, maybe even beginning of the second. Nothing would bring me more joy than snagging someone like A.J. Green in the beginning of the second round.

As an added bonus, here are the players who were bumped out of the first round in the redraft:

  • David Johnson (obviously because of injury)
  • Julio Jones (not worth a first round pick, I’m telling you...)
  • Devonta Freeman
  • Odell Beckham Jr (again with the dang injuries)
  • Mike Evans (you’re relying on Jameis Winston here...)
  • Ezekiel Elliott (you know, suspension)
  • A.J. Green
  • Jay Ajayi (lol)