2023 FFPC Main Event High-Stakes Draft Review


We hope you enjoy this FREE article preview! In order to access our other articles and content, including livestreams, projections and rankings, stat analysis and more, be sure to sign up today. We are here to help you #ScoreMore Fantasy Points!

2023 FFPC Main Event High-Stakes Draft Review

On Saturday, August 19, I drafted a FFPC Main Event team with a $2,000 buy-in. $12,000 is awarded for various league prizes, but the chase is a $1 million prize for the Overall Champion. There is a 12-week regular season in the FFPC, then weeks 13 and 14 are league playoffs — and finally, the Overall championship race in weeks 15, 16, and 17.

The FFPC Main Event contest has a maximum field of 4,200 entries. Many variables go into winning the Overall (injuries, league scheduling, free agent pick-ups, in-season line-management, etc.), but someone has to win.

It’s pretty incredible looking back at last season’s FFPC Main Event to see that eventual champions “Go Bills” actually went back-to-back with Overall titles. The team had three owners, too — Dominic Baranyi, Nick Costantino, and Sean Stutzman. And you can listen to how they did it on the HSFF Hour hosted by FFPC’s Eric Balkman.

They did it from the 12 hole, starting with Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce, but it was little-known picks and key free agent pick-ups that made the difference — names like Rhamondre Stevenson (his ADP Last year was 8th-10th round), Zay Jones, Josh Reynolds, Jerick McKinnon, Jeff Wilson, Raheem Mostert, and Bam Knight. They even overcame taking Allen Robinson in the 3rd round. The guys didn’t even win their league championship, but made the Overall race and got hot at the right time.

Baranyi said on the HSFF Hour that it was “unheralded and unsexy plays during the during the year that added 5-10 points here and there that really helped out this team. The devil was really in the details trying to manage a team that wasn’t perfect.”

These guys are GRINDERS. They know that 5 points a week could be the difference between playing for a million dollars and sitting on the couch. If you’ve read my past articles or reached out in the Fantasy Points Discord, you know I preach that every point is precious.

As David Mamet wrote in Alec Baldwin’s legendary speech in GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS — “Always Be Closing!

It’s time to look at my draft, which I started from #5 overall. Unlike most FFPC Main Event leagues, we didn’t know our draft spots until a couple of hours before the draft, thus couldn’t do a bunch of specific draft prep in that regard.

Draft Board (Jules at 1.5)

I knew I would go WR in the 1st round, no matter what draft slot. I’ve done a bunch of drafts already, and always felt better building around a WR than RB or TE. I also knew I had virtually no chance at Travis Kelce because of the FFPC’s 1.5 PPR for that position (TE Premium scoring). Sure enough, I was right, as Kelce went as the #1 pick in this league. I also loosely planned to start with three or four straight WRs. It’s a build I’m comfortable with and have had much success utilizing.

Below, I go round-by-round of the draft, giving thoughts on the player drafted, players that I considered, players I hoped would be there, and general strategy.

Jules McLean’s FFPC Main Event Team

Pick 1.05 Cooper Kupp WR

I’m no fan of soft tissue injuries in the preseason, especially with a 1st round pick. Kupp has been sidelined by a hamstring injury that has seen him miss the first two exhibition games (not that HC Sean McVay would play him anyway). He is also coming off surgery last year for a high ankle sprain. This is actually the first time I have drafted Kupp this season. Maybe I was seduced by watching his interview during the Rams preseason game vs. the Raiders in which he stated “I’m feeling really good.”. He went on to say he didn’t like sitting on the sidelines watching. Or maybe I drafted him because through nine games last year, he had a line of 74/812/6, which translates to 8.22 receptions, 90.2 yards and .67 TDs a game. That’s a solid stat line and the Rams' defense is not what it used to be, so I anticipate them playing from behind (equals more passing attempts/targets for Kupp).

I briefly considered CeeDee Lamb, whom I love. Kupp’s ceiling, in a PPR format, is better, so he got the nod. And if Amon-Ra St. Brown didn’t have an injury (ankle) of his own, I would have strongly considered him at 1.05. Another factor for taking Kupp was I knew I could target Rams WR 2, Van Jefferson, in double-digit rounds, whereas the Lions WR2 (eventually, after suspension), Jameson Williams, I have seen go in the 8th round.

Pick 2.08 DeVonta Smith WR

I had hoped Garrett Wilson would be here, but he went two picks before me. It was between Jaylen Waddle and Smith for my second pick. I like them both very much and had both on my FFPC Main team last year (Waddle in the 4th and Smith in the 7th … gone are those days!). The determining factor was Jalen Hurts vs. Tua Tagovailoa, and given Tua’s concussion history, I felt Smith would play more with his QB1 than Waddle. Smith produces — he caught 70% of balls thrown his way last year, with 95 receptions on 136 targets. Smith won’t face many double teams with A.J. Brown lining up on the other side, so I expect more of the same this year.

Pick 3.05 Jerry Jeudy WR

Pick made and analysis written before Jeudy’s August 24 hamstring injury

Jeudy was one of my big targets last season and he did improve upon his 2021 campaign, but he didn’t really do much until the last six games of the season (injury, poor coaching, and Russell Wilson’s play all a factor). Over the last six games of 2022, he had 37 catches for 523 yards and three TDs. He’s in the right mental mindset this season, and has said he wants to start 2023 how he ended 2022. New HC Sean Payton is a major boost. I’m not shying away from Jeudy this season, and apparently, others aren’t either, as he will cost you a 3rd-round pick (early 4th if you are lucky). If Jeudy wasn’t there, I would have taken TE Darren Waller, and I did take some clock to think about it, as the Jones-to-Waller connection is real (had my doubts until I saw it with my own two eyes). I also thought it would also be good to pair Jalen Hurts with DeVonta Smith, but I’m not big on drafting a QB in the first four rounds.

Pick 4.08 Kyle Pitts TE

I drafted Pitts a ton as a rookie and last year. Love the talent; think WR numbers from a TE. Averaged 15.1 yards per reception as a rookie. Travis Kelce has never averaged that his entire career (Kelce is his own kind of beast, and those TDs set him apart from everyone). Pitts went down last year to a torn MCL, but should be ready for Week 1. Pitts is a matchup nightmare, runs solid routes, and can create separation. My only question is QB Desmond Ridder. Since I didn’t have an RB yet, I considered Breece Hall as my pick, but I’m tripling down on Pitts, and with FFPC’s unique 1.5 PPR for TEs, I wanted what I consider an elite talent.

Pick 5.05 Rachaad White RB

That little devil on my shoulder kept telling me to take Brandon Aiyuk, and I was really close to making that call. Looking over the draft board, I thought 3-4 RBs would go off the board before the draft got back to me in the 6th round. I wasn’t too comfortable potentially having James Conner or Miles Sanders as my RB1 (and Conner was picked). There is a lot to like about White if you can get past the fact he isn’t on a great team and there are QB concerns. New OC Dave Canales comes over from the Seattle Seahawks, where he helped Geno Smith have his best season ever. I’m confident Canales will put White in a position to succeed. I also like that White can catch the ball, having 50 catches last season and an incredible 86.2% rate (and yes, Tom Brady was dumping off the ball last year).

Pick 6.08 Trevor Lawrence QB

Lawrence was my QB target going into the draft. If Calvin Ridley was available when I was picking Jerry Jeudy, I might have taken Ridley knowing that Lawrence was my target. I sweated this pick, as five of the seven teams that picked after I took Rachaad White needed a QB. In my mind, after seeing Joe Burrow and Justin Fields go a few picks after White, my chances were slim. If Lawrence were taken, Cam Akers would have been my pick and I would have punted QB until the 10th round or later. I almost took a chance to see if I could get Lawrence through to the 7th round since three of the four teams after me already had a QB, but I probably would have gone on tilt if Team 2 took him. I can’t go on tilt in a $2,000 buy-in league — I was not going to risk having my target taken. Later on, I was so hoping to put Jags RB Tank Bigsby on my roster to stack with Lawrence, but he went in the 10th round. If Lawrence wasn’t throwing TDs, I thought Bigsby would be getting those short goal-line looks and would have been a nice combo.

Pick 7.05 Jordan Addison WR

I live in Los Angeles, so I got to watch Addison plenty last year at USC. He completely passed the eye test. Also, how about winning the Biletnikoff Award as a sophomore (at Pitt)?! He didn’t match his production from Pitt at USC, likely slowed by an ankle injury — and let’s face it, lucrative NIL money comes with its own stress. Also, he was unfairly compared to former USC WR Drake London (they are such different WRs). Addison is a playmaker going to the Vikings with another playmaker (Justin Jefferson), so Addison should feast. He suffered a concussion in the pre-season, so there is concern. I sweated Addison making it to me, too. Three WRs went before I picked Addison — Jaxon Smith-Njigba (pre-injury), George Pickens, and Mike Evans. I’m taking Addison over them all day.

Pick 8.08 Brian Robinson RB

Antonio Gibson is garnering all the talk because of his pass-catching potential. Fair enough, but I don’t get folks ignoring Robinson, who looks good in training camp catching the ball, too. He was shot (twice!) last preseason and still made it onto the field for 12 games last year and managed 3.9 yards per carry vs. NFL defenses (a bad number, but again, he was shot). This was a gift in the 8th round and one of the reasons I was comfortable starting WR/WR/WR.

Pick 9.05 Skyy Moore WR

I’ll admit, Moore was a bust last year — I should know, as I drafted him everywhere. But I learned a valuable lesson in 2018 when I didn’t draft Tyler Boyd in his breakout year. I had also drafted Boyd everywhere in 2017, only for him to be a bust. I held a grudge and didn’t touch him in 2018. He was a difference-maker, and I vowed not to hold grudges against players like that again. Moore is getting talked about a bunch, plays in the NFL’s most prolific offense, and has Patrick Mahomes as his QB. Yet here he is in the ninth round for my taking. He’s been there or later all preseason, and I once again have him everywhere. Kelce is still the focal point, and Kadarius Toney could have an impact (he’s already hurt and quickly got run out of New York), but I maintain Moore is the WR you want in Kansas City. Five WRs went after my 8th-round pick, and only Elijah Moore would have made me think twice about Skyy. Taking Moore came at a running-back cost, though. No Tank Bigsby, no Kenneth Gainwell, no Samaje Perine, and no A.J. Dillon. I didn’t need a fifth WR at this point, but I wanted Moore.

Pick 10.08 Jerick McKinnon RB

They can’t all be sexy picks, but there will come a week I am happy to have McKinnon. Not just because he will get m4 points in a PPR league with his receptions, but he scored 9 receiving TDs last season! He had 56 receptions last year. That equates to McKinnon scoring a TD every 6.2 catches. I was going to take my second TE here, but my guy Chigoziem Okonkwo was taken right before my pick (I listed him as one of my Breakout Players for a national magazine in May). And although they signed DeAndre Hopkins, I still like Okonkwo to break out. It was perhaps a good thing he was gone, as I needed my third RB here.

Pick 11.05 Van Jefferson WR

I know, I needed another WR like I needed a hole in my head. However, I viewed Jefferson as a must-have since I drafted Cooper Kupp. Not that he is Kupp’s backup, but because he would see an uptick in production should Kupp not be available. I wanted a piece of that offense should it happen (he’s never going to have Kupp numbers). Jefferson also has stand-alone value, so could also use him as a bye-week filler. If I didn’t go Jefferson here, I would have taken Daniel Jones or Jamaal Williams. I nearly went Jones, not only because he will be a great backup, but it would also prevent Team 7 or Team 12 from getting him as they hadn’t drafted a QB yet. Sure enough, Jones goes two picks later to Team 7.

Pick 12.08 Roschon Johnson RB

I really wanted to take Kirk Cousins to pair him with Addison, but I can’t keep ignoring the RB position. Johnson is not going to overtake Khalil Herbert, whom I like (5.7 YPC in 2022), and he isn’t going to catch the ball a ton. But the former QB turned RB doesn’t shy away from being physical, can break tackles, and is a good downhill runner who can spell Herbert (and D’Onta Foreman) when needed. He would have an immediate impact should one of them go down. A nice stash-and-hope player.

Pick 13.05 Ty Chandler RB

I’m not impressed with Alexander Mattison’s numbers the past two seasons, as his yards per attempt have been 3.7 and 3.8, respectively. It seems odd that he can’t get that over 4.0, especially when he has a playmaker like Justin Jefferson on the team (defenses can’t stack the box). I go back and forth between drafting Chandler and rookie RB DeWayne McBride. I tend to favor McBride more in dynasty leagues and Chandler in redraft, as Chandler would get the call should something happen to Mattison. Another stash-and-hope player.

Pick 14.08 Trey McBride TE

I got myself in a backup TE pickle chasing all those RBs and WRs. It was between McBride and Tyler Conklin here. I think I might have made the wrong choice. McBride is talented and was the John Mackey Award winner in 2021, but I have a nagging feeling Zach Ertz will be a pest all year. I should have double-dipped and taken Conklin in Round 15. Hindsight is 20/20.

Pick 15.05 Alec Pierce WR

Pierce is a 15th-round value pick, even though the play was probably Tyler Conklin. At least I have good depth at WR with the tall and fast Pierce. New Indy QB Anthony Richardson throws a nice deep ball, and I expect him to air it out in Pierce’s direction a good amount. Pierce had a drop on a nicely thrown deep ball this preseason, when the ball got dislodged as he hit the ground. I think he has the mental makeup and desire not to let that happen often.

Pick 16.08 Chase Brown RB

Like the Ty Chandler pick, I don’t have a lot of faith in the RB in front of Brown — Joe Mixon. Brown is a dart throw, no doubt, but an educated dart throw. Mixon is 27, had a 3.9 YPC average last season, and multiple off-field incidenst. He was found not guilty recently of aggravated menacing, but is now boycotting several reporters because he felt they were disrespectful of their coverage of him. It’s not a good look for Mixon. Brown needs to prove he can pass protect if he wants to be the next man up, but he has that grinder mentality and will get it done if they call his number. Bonus: he can catch the ball. He’s not a receiving specialist, but will make the plays.

Pick 17.05 Harrison Butker K

I generally like a top-10 kicker, as they can get you 2-3 more points a week than lesser kickers, and every point counts. I have had Butker so many times over the years that he feels like an old friend. Fantasy Points ranked him as the #1 kicker, so getting him five rounds after the first kicker was taken feels like a win.

Speaking of kickers and the first one taken, I’m going to rant a bit about Team 1. I’m not sure how you take a kicker in Round 12 (Justin Tucker) and especially if you started TE/QB. I think you need to take shots at RB and WR in the 12th round instead of kicker. Even a second TE you could FLEX would help the team. But, then to double down and take another kicker two rounds later in the 14th is mind-boggling! When the heck are you going to sit Tucker, except for his bye week? Evan McPherson, whom he took in the 14th, will take up a valuable roster spot. Also, he has taken his two Kickers before anyone else has even drafted one! Team 1 also took two defenses, which I am not a fan of either. I’m a tad bit more forgiving as his first D, New England, has a tough match-up Week 1 vs. Philadelphia. I really don’t understand throwing down $2K to draft like that.

Mix in Alvin Kamara, who will miss the first three weeks of the season (which is 25% of the 12-week FFPC regular season), and I think Team 1 is DOA. It’s a shame to waste Kelce and Mahomes, but as an opponent, it’s fine by me.

Pick 18.08 Deuce Vaughn RB

Another RB dart, and I’m riding the hype train with one of my favorite late-round flyers. Did you see his 14-yard TD run against Seattle? And afterward, being congratulated by the linemen, you get a sense of how small he is compared to them. When he gets on the field, Vaughn is going to bring a bit of electricity and excitement. Good fit in Dallas.

Pick 19.05 Brock Purdy QB

What I like about Purdy is he doesn’t have to shoulder the load in the 49ers offense to put up fantasy points. The Niners short passing game is exciting and full of playmakers who excel in the after-catch department. That makes Purdy the ideal backup QB. And in the red zone, Purdy has George Kittle, whom he proved to have chemistry with last year. I have a small problem in that Purdy has the same bye as Trevor Lawrence. I have my eye on two rookie QBs who both have good match-ups in Week 9, so will cross that bridge in Week 7 or 8.

Pick 20.08 Miami DST

In Vic Fangio we trust! It is, of course, a major blow that CB Jalen Ramsey is out with a knee injury. Kader Kohou, an undrafted rookie last year, takes Ramsey’s place. Kohou flashed last year, and going undrafted has givn him that chip on his shoulder. CB Xavien Howard, when healthy, is a beast. They have some tough match-ups playing the Bills twice, Eagles and Chiefs on their schedule. They also open against the Chargers, and who knows how the Jets will be with their revamped offense. They are going to create turnovers though, even against those teams. I will say they will go from the 22nd fantasy defense in 2022 to a top=10 defense in 2023.

Final Thoughts

This team is not perfect — that went out the door when I took Pitts in the 4th round instead of an RB, and some might even say when I drafted Kupp!

White and Robinson have to be the RBs I think they are because there is not much behind them except stash-and-hope players. The team will be competitive in my mind. I’ll grind the waiver wire each week, which is something I enjoy doing. While there are a few teams I like, no team stands out as THE one. I like Team 2, but they are weak at RB. I also like Team 4, good balance, but his season rides a lot on Hall. Team 9 should compete and did well waiting on TE. Team 10 has a nice build (even though I have my doubts about Mixon). Team 7 might be dangerous if they manage to stay injury-free.

Regardless of what I think, someone will win the league championship and at least two, maybe three, teams will move on to compete for the million-dollar overall prize.

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.