Gridiron Experts own Jody Smith takes the SKYLLZONE plunge
By this late into the season, I have to admit that sometimes I feel fatigued. I’m either stressing out about which players to put in my lineups in a do-or-die playoff week, researching wide receiver bargains that could make sneaky daily plays this week, or I’m lamenting the mistakes that caused
many draftday failures and led to my squads missing the postseason.
As luck would have it, I was fortunate enough to be introduced to a new fantasy football concept that is both innovative and refreshing. Fantasy football extraordinaire David Gonos was kind enough to invite me to be the featured “pro” at SKYLLZONE for Week 16 and I couldn’t have responded with a resounding “YES!” any faster.
My earlier write-up already delved into the genius that is the SKYLLZONE Fan vs. Machine weekly challenge, and how it combines the fun of a daily fantasy football draft with the excitement of winning cash in a daily league format.
Each day of the week, I’ve sat down for a lightning-fast, 10-team snake draft pitted against The Machine, which I’m pretty sure is actually some advanced alien technology that downloaded my thoughts and memories, like in the movie Contact. These computer drafters know what they’re doing. Still, after drafting each day of the week, I had a good idea of how to approach Thursday’s date with a room full of mere mortal humans.
After a carb load to prep for the live draft, I entered the room to discover I had the #1 pick- a blessing and a curse. Still, I’m relatively pleased with how my team turned out, and confident that my squad will compete for bragging rights. Or at least outsmart that pesky robot from Small Wonder.
One thing I’ve learned in drafting every day is that elite quarterbacks are at a premium in this format. From what I’ve seen, Round 4 is a good target area for selecting one of the top signal-callers. With me having the #1 pick, I had to take Drew Brees- who I have as a top-3 fantasy QB for Week 16- in Round 4. I didn’t want to risk waiting until the final selection or Round 6 and that turned out to be a good decision, as Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and even Matt Stafford all went before I picked again.
Week 16 QB Values: Matt Ryan @New Orleans, Tony Romo vs. Indianapolis, Ben Roethlisberger vs Kansas City
Le’Veon Bell at #1 was easy. He’s been an absolute monster and should have another huge week against a sagging Kansas City run defense. Unfortunately my human opponents weren’t as kind to me as the computer ones were, as I was desperately hoping another quality back would be available at the 2/3 turn. That didn’t happen so I elected to go with two top-10 wide receivers.
Doing that hurt me as I didn’t add my RB2 until I selected Lamar Miller at 5.1. That’s the weakness of my team, but I feel like I made up for it later by nabbing a nice Week 16 sleeper in Steven Jackson who gets a tasty matchup against a lousy Saints defense.
Week 16 RB Values: Justin Forsett @Houston, Joique Bell @Chicago, DeMarco Murray vs. Indianapolis (getting Murray with the 29th pick was a tremendous value. It’s looking more and more like he’ll suit up this week)
My normal strategy in any draft is to remain flexible and place value ahead of need. As I mentioned, I didn’t like any of the running backs available at the end of Round 2, so I elected to grab two elite pass-catchers that I have as top-1o options this week. But that doesn’t meant that strategy wasn’t risky.
Cincinnati WR A.J. Green remains a fantastic fantasy play in any format, even with the erratic Andy Dalton under center. If the Bengals are going to beat another playoff contender, they’ll do it by getting the ball into their best player’s hands as much as possible. My next pick was a tad riskier, with Julio Jones missing last week, but the latest news has him looking like a “go” this week against an abysmal New Orleans secondary.
My next pick was my WR3, Jordan Matthews. I’m not putting too much stock into the goose egg that Matthews put up last week because he and Mark Sanchez have a solid rapport and have a good matchup with Washington. Still, I had drafter’s remorse almost immediately, as I was torn between Matthews and Baltimore’s Torrey Smith, who went three picks later.
Later, I added Houston’s Andre Johnson as a potential flex play. Johnson has passed through the league’s concussion protocol and should be a good start against a Baltimore pass defense rated amongst the NFL’s worst. If the Texans start Case Keenum at quarterback, Johnson could have a huge game, as the two had great chemistry in 2013.
Week 16 WR Values: Vincent Jackson vs. Green Bay, Steve Smith @Houston, Marques Colston vs. Atlanta
I feudally hoped that Rob Gronkowski would slide all the way back to me, but that didn’t happen. I had the chance to nab Jimmy Graham at the first turn, but have found his recent usage both baffling and troublesome. I elected to wait and address the position two round later, hoping that a top-5 player would fall to me.
I was happy to get Travis Kelce at 7.1, who I currently have as my #5 tight end for Week 16. I expect the points to be aplenty in Pittsburgh, and Kelce to continue to be the top receiving threat for the Chiefs.
Week 16 TE Values: Jason Witten vs. Indianapolis, Antonio Gates @SF, Owen Daniels @Houston
DST and PK
This was a big fight for me. Solid Fan vs. Machine strategy dictates that taking an elite defense and kicker before bench spots is a smart play, while the veteran in me just can’t push that “draft” button for these two positions until the final two spots.
My compromise was to select the ST. Louis Rams in Round 9. The Rams have completely shut down opposing wide receivers over the last month, and have an aggressive pass rush that is conducive to creating turnovers. Sound like the perfect mix for generating fantasy points against Eli Manning.
Rebel to the end, I still waiting until Round 11 to nab my kicker. I was pleasantly surprised to get Steven Hauschka that late. I think the Seahawks will have a fairly easy time with the injury-ravaged Cardinals, and Hauschka should have a productive game.
I really like my team this week, especially my first four picks. That solid nucleus could be enough to win in this format. But win or loss, I really enjoyed my week of reliving the excitement of draft day, and the strategy of building a new team each and every day. I look forward to challenging The Machines, and expect it to end just like all those Hollywood flicks do- with the good guys waving the victorious red, white and blue.
Senior Writer Gridiron Experts. 2012 FantasyPros Most Accurate Fantasy Expert. Member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. 26-year fantasy football veteran. Featured on NFL.com, Fantasypros, Football Diehards annual magazine, local AM sports radio, podcasts everywhere and SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. Once scored 4 touchdowns in a single game for Polk High School.