High Stakes Draft Review: Jules McLean


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High Stakes Draft Review: Jules McLean

This draft review will be looking at a NFFC Online Championship that has a $350 buy-in and a chase for an Overall prize of $200,000. PPR league, 6 points per passing TD and 3rd Round Reversal (3RR) are the important league aspects to know. Going to start by taking an in depth look at my team and then some other teams in terms of roster construction and player picks. Also of note in this particular league there were at least three recognizable heavy hitters in the high stakes world. Folks that have won multiple high stakes leagues with well over $100,000 in career earnings.

Drafting from the three hole I was fairly certain I was going to start RB/WR, but be open to who might fall. Here’s what happened:

1.03 Ezekiel Elliott RB, Dal – It was Zeke or Kamara for me. Because the Dallas offense will have some so many mismatches due do all their weapons I went with Zeke. The Cowboys offensive line will benefit from getting the likes of Tyron Smith & La’el Collins back, so teamed with beast-like guard Zack Martin I anticipate Zeke having some big holes to run through.

2.10 Allen Robinson WR, Chi – Coming off back-to-back 150+ target seasons I am happy to add A-Rob to my team. During his seven year NFL season he has played for the Jaguars and Bears, not exactly teams known for strong QB play Think Blake Bortles, Mike Glennon & Mitchell Trubisky). That will change this year if the Bears let Justin Fields take over as QB1 sooner rather than later. Now for all my A-Rob love I am going to admit a big mistake here. I didn’t see Justin Jefferson in my queue. I was a little surprised Darren Waller fell to me, so I was mapping out how the next few rounds would look if I took Waller. Also, was giving slight consideration to Clyde Edwards-Helaire, but not that much. Ultimately I decided to stick to my game plan of targeting T.J. Hockenson in the 5th or 6th and I selected A-Rob. I lived in oblivion until Team 12 took Jefferson at 3.01. Not only did I miss out on Jefferson, I made Team 12 better by letting him fall. Is it the worst thing to draft Allen Robinson over Justin Jefferson? No. Jefferson had 11.30 more points than Robinson last year. However, Jefferson is the type of player that could have that 40-point explosion game. Robinson is more of a 30-point explosion type. It’s a drag and could be costly even though we aren’t talking about many points on paper. I can’t let this ruin my draft though. Like a golfer or basketball shooter, you need to have a short memory and go on to the next shot or in this case round.

3.10 Robert Woods WR, LAR – I was correct in going WR in the second round, as I wouldn’t have wanted to build my WR corps around Woods. Best Ball or SF, I can see, but not in a straight re-draft. Having him as my WR2 though I really like. Easily one of the better route runners in the NFL and got a major off-season upgrade in QB with Matthew Stafford. Woods, with three consecutive 125+ targets seasons had an incredible 69.8% catch rate last year…that’s with Goff and some QB2 throwing him the ball. If he is in that ballpark this year, watch his 10.4 yards per reception take a nice bump. Why? Because Stafford will put the ball where it needs to be to allow Woods to get some extra yards after catch (YAC). Because of 3RR I feel lucky that I got Woods. I’m not a fan of 3RR if you haven’t figured that out. In a typical snake draft I’m likely choosing between Terry McLaurin, Keenan Allen and CeeDee Lamb.

4.03 Miles Sanders RB, Phi – When I took Woods in the 3rd round that meant likely not getting my RB target: Miles Sanders. I was prepared to take Darrell Henderson, Chris Carson or Javonte Williams if Sanders wasn’t there. Limited to 12 games last season, but still had a 5.3 yards per carry average. A couple more playmakers added to the mix at QB & WR makes me believe Sanders is a value pick in the 4th round. Does need to improve on his 53.8% catch rate. Through four rounds I like the balance of my team with 2 RBs and 2 WRs

5.10 Javonte Williams RB, Den – He is still on the board a full 19 picks after I would have considered him in the 4th (if Sanders was gone). Almost had to choose between him and Adam Thielen, but Thielen went two picks earlier. Denver’s 2nd round pick is the kind of runner who will wear defenses down. He’s aggressive and a tackle breaker. My hope is that he emerges before Week 7, as I could use the help covering Zeke’s bye week. Would also make a good Flex option the rest of the way. Melvin Gordon is in the last year of his contract, so Denver will need to see what Williams can do shouldering the load. It took me less than 2 seconds to make this pick.

6.03 T.J. Hockenson TE, Det – It’s no secret I love Hockenson. I predict double-digit TDs this year (which translates to Hock catching at least half of Goff’s TD passes). He will be Goff’s #1 red zone target. Couple that with 70-75 catches and he’s Top 3 material. Looking at the draft board before I picked Javonte Williams, I was pretty sure Team 1 would take a TE at the turn, but also confident it would be Mark Andrews and not Hockenson. To me this pick is value.

7.10 Deebo Samuel WR, SF – This is what makes fantasy football so fun. I knew when I took Hockenson in the 6th I wasn’t going to get Deebo Samuel, who is a definite target of mine. I like Brandon Aiyuk a bunch, but Deebo Samuel is the alpha dog here. He worked hard in the off-season and hopefully will be putting those soft tissue injuries behind him. If it weren’t for T.J. Hockenson, I would have taken Deebo in the 6th. 10 WRs went off the board after I took Hockenson, so imagine my surprise when Samuel wasn’t one of them. I really like having him as my WR3.

8.03 DeVonta Smith WR, Phi – Upside pick that shouldn’t have fell to the 8th round. Obviously it is because of his MCL sprain, but that is a minor injury. It’s problematic because he is missing time building chemistry and timing with Jalen Hurts though. Still, the minute he steps back on the field he is their WR1. Did people forget he won the Heisman Trophy? The Eagles didn’t as they traded up to select him 10th overall. Don’t let his slim frame fool you, Smith is another alpha dog. Has the mental and physical attributes to be an impact player his rookie year. I can play him or Javonte Williams in my Flex and fill-in for bye weeks. Look at this picture of Smith, it tells us much: focused, eyes on the balls, hands ready to catch, good balance and muscular.

9.10 Jalen Hurts QB, Phi – All-in with Eagles for this draft. Not the smartest thing to do, as they will surely have some dud games. It came down to Ryan Tannehill or Jalen Hurts. It wasn’t even close, as all those rushing yards and TDs quickly titled the scale in Hurts’ favor. Hurts is the QB I have drafted the most this season. Hoping he proves why it is worthwhile to wait on QBs.

10.03 Zack Moss RB, Buf – He was a fave of mine last season, almost by default because I wasn’t a Devin Singletary fan. Dealt with toe and ankle injuries last season, but showed promise. Now dealing with a hamstring injury in the pre-season. I’m beginning to wonder if he knows how to get himself prepared to be a NFL player. Time will tell. I like having RB depth, but the pick have been to handcuff Zeke with Tony Pollard.

11.10 Boston Scott RB, Phi – Was hoping Tyler Higbee or Robert Tonyan made it to me, but they went right before my turn. Decided to back up Miles Sanders with Boston Scott. If I had it to do over again, I would have taken Jakobi Meyers there and in the 12th taken my second TE. Especially since Kenneth Gainwell was there for me in the 14th.

12.03 Jakobi Meyers WR, NE – I really debated on taking Irv Smith Jr. or Adam Trautman here. I needed a second TE, plus there were two teams that still didn’t have a TE1. I thought by taking a TE, it would dry up the TE pool, thus making it harder for those two teams to find production in the position. I wish I would have, especially since Gerald Everett is now my TE2 and has the same bye week as Hockenson. With only four WRs on my team though, I decided to go WR. I do like Meyers and think third-year breakout candidate here.

13.10 Gerald Everett TE, SEA – Was hoping Adam Trautman would fall, so when he was taken, I settled for Everett. Settling is not a good feeling. Should Hockenson go down, I think he would be serviceable as a replacement, so took him even though they have the same bye week. I liked him more than say a Gronk or Cole Kmet.

14.03 Kenneth Gainwell RB, Phi – PPR asset and a little added Miles Sanders insurance. Will likely never crack my line-up, but nice to have an RB who might be able to get you 7-10 points in a pinch. Yes, another Philly player.

15.10 Miami Dolphins DST – Taking a Defense in the 15th round is a direct result of missing Justin Jefferson. I felt I needed to try and make up those 2-3 points per game by taking a top-tier Defense. The Dolphins don’t get much fantasy respect, but they will quietly turn some heads this year. Strong secondary and let’s not forget HC Brian Flores won a Super Bowl with the Patriots as the defensive play-caller.

16.03 Jake Funk RB, LAR – If you are going to throw a dart, make it one on a team with a dynamic offense. Xavier Jones is ahead of him on the depth chart for now. Funk brings a gritty kind of workman-like attitude and style that the Rams could use when trying to grind out a win.

17.10 Kirk Cousins QB, Min – While I would never wait until the 17th round to draft my starting QB, I did win a couple of leagues with Cousins as my starter last year. Good insurance for Hurts and I’m not afraid to play match-ups. Value pick.

18.03 Buffalo Bills K – I like getting a Top 3 Kicker. There will be weeks Tyler Bass gets me double-digit points. That’s money coming from a kicker.

19.10 DeShaun Watson QB – Like most folks, I have no idea if Watson will play this year. But with rumors of him being traded to the Eagles it is a no-brainer to take him in the 19th round as Jalen Hurts insurance.

20.03 Dawson Knox, TE Buf – I needed a TE for Hock’s bye week and looking at the options and their Week 9 match-ups, Knox’s was the best as he gets the Jaguars.

In summary, I tried to get players that are gamers, who want to be on the field, want to be the man, have upside and could be alpha dogs. Not every pick fits in those descriptions or share all those qualities, but the majority do. Messed up Justin Jefferson and am fully aware that could cost me a Championship run. Also could and should have done better at TE2. But I like this team and it will be competitive.

Let’s take a look at a few other teams.


Team 12 gets off to a good start with Dalvin Cook & Darren Waller. Amari Cooper in the 3rd round and Josh Jacobs in the 4th round, okay, though not players I am targeting. I like the Lamar Jackson pick and reminder this is 6 points per passing TD, so QBs tend to get pushed up. It would be hard for me with only one WR to pass on Jerry Jeudy though. Leonard Fournette in the 6th, I much rather have Michael Carter. I understand they wanted to have three RBs at that point and if Ronald Jones goes down, Fournette will certainly pay off. Taking James Robinson in the 7th was the first of two picks I do not like. One of his Top 7 picks will always be on the bench, as you only start 2 RBs and 1 Flex. Should have gone WR there. Next in the 8th round, he takes his second QB in Matt Stafford. He just made two picks where both players will sit most of the season unless there is an injury or bye week. You draft Lamar Jackson early so you don’t have to think about drafting a QB2 until much later. Rarely are you going to sit Jackson because of a match-up, so where does Stafford fit in roster construction-wise?

Team 2 has left himself awfully thin at WR. Already having to hope Amari Cooper is healthy enough to start the season, now has to pick two of these WRs to start every week: Michael Pittman, Russell Gage or Gabriel Davis. Those are all WR3’s in my book, yet one has to be his WR2.

To top it off he took Derek Carr in the 19th round, who has the same bye week as Lamar Jackson. It would take an injury for Carr ever to make this team’s starting line-up and Carr is someone who could have easily been picked up on the waiver wire.


The owner is a big-time high-stakes player and watching his draft, it was like it just unfolded for him, players being there and falling right before our eyes. I don’t have a problem with his draft until the 7th round when he takes Tyler Boyd. I would have gone Michael Carter there and felt really good about my RBs. Would have given more flexibility in his Flex spot and would have helped with Najee Harris’ bye week. I like the Jamaal Williams pick, but would have preferred Michael Carter two rounds early and then go TE in Williams spot. Still, got Irv Smith Jr. and Cole Kmet, both should be serviceable.

Dak Prescott falling to him in the 7th after Kyler Murray and Russell Wilson was a big gift and an example of how his draft just seemed to unfold for him. Curious about the two top-tier Defenses, but guessing he will try to maximize points from that position by playing match-ups. I’m not buying into Marvin Jones this year and thought that was a spot he could have taken a player that if all falls correctly could be a game-changer, like Xavier Jones, Marquez Callaway or Rondale Moore. But I am nitpicking at this point.


Another well-known and successful high-stakes owner drafted Team 11. I know him and believe he had a plan and was sticking to it. The first 16 picks are all killer. Maybe I take a different player here or there, but his draft turned out great. The only concern or thing I would have done differently is tried to get a TE earlier. I am on Adam Trautman and getting him in the 13th after waiting so long to pick a TE is money. But, if he isn’t who we think he is, Team 11 has given us that crack in the armor we need. Instead of Elijah Moore in the 8th round I probably go TE. But by going Moore, he is making it very difficult for his opponents to face his 3 WRs & Flex spot on a bye week. He has the players to rotate in at those positions on bye weeks so he never misses a step. In theory of course… games still need to be played.

How about Tom Brady in the 9th round? Making Team 11 even more dangerous. Luckily he didn’t get Jake Funk to lock up the Rams RB2s. Lots of should, but should Darryl Henderson go down and should Xavier Jones not be the immediate recipient, Jake Funk is the type of player that could help a team to an Overall. Dynamic offense and look to what C.J. Anderson did a few years back. I would have passed on the Patriots DST and secured Funk. Even though minor, could be a potential gamechanger that would have been easy to do in the late rounds. Still, a really good job by Team 11, when a team is doing that good, it tends to put pressure on other drafters.

Study the draft board, always good to see where players are going in a league folks are paying a decent entry fee. Lots to learn. For instance, check out Team 7 for another solid draft or look for teams whose picks you question. For example, Team 5 with a 13th round pick of Carson Wentz who may or may not be ready for the start of the season (my lean is not) and Rashod Bateman in the 11th who just had groin surgery. He might miss opening week, but as a rookie is missing crucial training camp time (he’s no DeVonta Smith). Good luck in all your drafts this year!

A high stakes fantasy player for over 15 years, Jules is an inaugural member of the National Fantasy Football Championship (NFFC) Hall of Fame and has career earnings of over $250,000. Her forte is identifying breakout and sleeper players.