Home > Uncategorized > It’s Early May, So It Must Be Time For A Fantasy Football Draft

It’s Early May, So It Must Be Time For A Fantasy Football Draft

We don’t know if there will be an NFL season this year. Currently, its teams, players and coaches are all locked out. But one thing still moves forward with business as usual — fantasy football.

I usually start preparing for the “season” in July. You know, after the draft, after free agency has settled down, after training camps have opened. I’m not sure what to do now, but while we sit patiently, more or less, how about a mock draft?

I don’t think I’ve ever entered a fantasy football mock in May, but this wasn’t any mock draft, this was an experts mock draft.

Oooooooooooooooooo. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Somebody cue Charles Barkley saying: “Only God’s an expert, Ernie.” I took part in this May 3 mock draft on behalf of FFToolbox.com. I’ve done some writing for them for the better part of five or six years, so I guess that qualifies as being a fantasy expert. I don’t know.

The coolest part for me — outside of the draft itself — was participating with John Hansen, the self-proclaimed fantasy Guru. I remember watching a weekly fantasy football program with him 10 years ago on DirecTV. I still like listening to him on Sirius radio during the fall. You may not understand it, but for a fantasy geek like myself, being in a draft with Hansen was a pretty cool deal.

Now, a little housekeeping before I get to the results and with some analysis. This was a 12-team, 20-round draft for a league with standard scoring — six points per touchdown, 10 yards rushing/receiving per point, 25 yards passing per point, etc. Each team starts one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, and one tight end, kicker and team defense.

Although this was considered a mock draft, these teams will be scored throughout the season using a “best ball” format. There will be no transactions of any kind. A team’s starting lineup each week will be determined by its highest scorers. Each team’s top-scoring QB, top-two RBs, top-three WRs and so on will make up each team’s scoring. The points from those optimal-scoring players will represent that team’s total for the week.

OK?

OK. Now, here’s the draft. I was randomly given the 11th pick. And a special tip of the cap to Matt De Lima, from FFToolbox and numerous other fantasy sites, for being my second in command during this three-hour excursion.

I always like to open with a running back, if possible. Of the stud backs left on the board at No. 11 — McFadden, McCoy and Gore — I thought Run DMC was the best bet. I haven’t always been in his corner, and I’ve actually been on the Michael Bush bandwagon for a while. But McFadden’s final month in 2010 sold me. … No matter if it was Aaron Rodgers with the final pick of the round, it’s way too early to take a QB. … After watching every one of Michael Turner’s games last season, I’ll be shocked if he tops 1,100 rushing yards in 2011. He seems to be an injury waiting to happen. … You’ll get no argument from me about the first five picks of this draft; I think they are right on the money.

Gore and McFadden together, that can be a great 1-2 punch if Gore’s injured hip is 100 percent. … However, I do have some regrets about not picking Nicks instead. There’s a fair chance that he will be the No. 1 fantasy receiver this year. … Some say Michael Vick should be the No. 1 pick overall. There’s no doubt that he was the best fantasy player last year when healthy. The problem is he never stays healthy for very long. While his elite running ability makes him a top commodity, all of those extra hits take a toll on him. He has played all 16 games just once in his eight-season career. … The number RBs who will get the large majority of their team’s touches ran low in this round. But given the wear on Steven Jackson’s tires and the sizable regression threat that comes with Peyton Hillis, I think those picks were reaches. … On the contrary, how does Roddy White get drafted after FIVE wide receivers?

Through three rounds, it appears that I don’t watch football outside of my home state. No bias here; I just hope Vincent Jackson does something he didn’t do for most of last season: Play without a long-term contract. … Tom Brady falls into the middle of the third after turning in the second-best fantasy season of his career. And it’s been a pretty nice career, eh? For 36 TDs, 3,900 yards and four interceptions, that’s a steal. … if Mike Tolbert stays in San Diego, No. 28 overall will be too high for Ryan Mathews … Mike Wallace and DeSean Jackson share a lot of attributes, but Wallace is a more complete receiver. He’s not quite as boom-or-bust as Jackson.

A lot of smart picks in this round — Blount, Romo, Clark, Finley — but not one of them is Daniel Thomas at No. 37 overall. That selection drew the first big “WOW” from the draft room. Thomas may be a good fit for Miami’s system, but we don’t know how that team’s backfield is going to change in free agency. Ricky Williams and/or Ronnie Brown may return to the team. If they both leave, a veteran will surely be added. In any case, Thomas will not get the large majority of carries for the Dolphins, and it’s too early to ever take a rookie running back. I’d say it’s at least three rounds too early for Thomas. … I’m a big Jonathan Stewart fan this year, especially if DeAngelo Williams doesn’t return to Carolina. … Which Brandon Lloyd shows up in 2011? The second act of his 2010 breakout, or the guy in San Francisco who would make some sick catches and then disappear for quarters at a time? I think last season was a moderate fluke, but he’s not horrible as a No. 2 WR in fantasy.

Finishing up round five and through round six, I see a lot receivers with uncertain QB situations (Rice, Harvin, Vernon Davis, Britt, Thomas). I’ll tell you this: I am going to stay far, far away from any Viking not named Peterson this year. However, Davis has been getting it done with Alex Smith, Troy Smith and Shaun Hill over the past couple of years. He’s a stud. … Damn, Matt Ryan is overrated. He wins games and he’s very safe. But the guy had the best season of his career last year and was still just the No. 10 fantasy scorer at his position. I don’t think it gets much better for him. I would rather have any of the other three quarterbacks taken in this segment, all of whom were chosen after Ryan. … One of those quarterbacks is Schaub, who really fell to me at No. 62 because most everyone else had already drafted a QB. There was no need to compile multiple quarterbacks this early for future trades since there will be no trades in this league. I don’t expect him to last this long in actual league drafts. … Steve Johnson may also be another fluke but I wanted to fill out my roster, and the WR position was going to get pretty thin in a hurry. He’s not bad as a WR3. … Owen Daniels is going to have a bounce-back season. Count it.

I REALLY wanted Jimmy Graham in this round. And then I REALLY wanted Zach Miller. I probably reached too far for Pettigrew, but he finished last year fourth among tight ends in targets … I don’t know how anyone could trust a Mike Shanahan running back, especially an injury-prone one, with the first pick in the seventh round. That is way too high. … Michael Crabtree’s numbers weren’t atrocious last season when you consider that 49ers’ QB carousel. But he had three games with one catch and is ridiculously inconsistent. He is dead to me. … After drafting A.J. Green, the guy from Fantasy Alarm called him “Fitz-lite,” in reference to Larry Fitzgerald. When you consider that the Bengals won’t have a proven QB or No. 2 WR starting this season, I guess that’s within the realm of possibility. Unfortunately, he meant “Fitz-lite,” as in Fitzgerald from pre-2010. Sorry, but that’s insane.

Some very interesting RBs chosen here. Fred Jackson and Ryan Grant were taken after some of the young’ns with whom they share carries. C.J. Spiller can be electrifying, and James Starks played well in the postseason. But I see neither guy as a special NFL talent yet. With all other things being equal, I side with track record over potential. … Ryan Williams picked at No. 94, Beanie Wells picked at No. 95. I thought those were two of the draft’s most interesting picks. That’s a battle that will be worked out in camp, but it’s hard for me to have faith in Wells after what he’s shown us (or rather, what he hasn’t shown us) in two seasons. That is one scenario where I favor the newbie over the incumbent. … Anybody got a nickname suggestion for the Leshoure/Best tandem? I think that’s going to be a really strong duo this year.

Finishing up round nine, the Roy Helu sleeper train is off the tracks. I know Shanahan compared him to Clinton Portis, but his draft stock needs to settle down. … Josh Freeman is a major steal here. Like Schaub, he won’t be found this late in actual 12-team drafts. His interception total will go up, but he’s the real deal. … I’m cornering the market on Chargers WRs. But if you had to commit to one passing offense, you can’t do much better than San Diego.

I have no idea why I cut off the overall number of each pick starting here … I felt fortunate to get Julio Jones here. He isn’t as explosive as A.J. Green, but I think he will be more consistent and act as a terrific No. 4 WR for my team. … Three Cincinnati Bengal wide receivers taken in this round. I’m not sure what that means, just kind of neat. However, two of them will be gone soon enough. … Jacoby Ford is another boom-or-bust guy, but at this point in the draft, he’s a great pick. The Raiders are rarely smart on offense, but I have to assume they will find more ways to get the ball into his hands this season. He has shown to be a threat on end-around rushing plays. His draft stock needs to be higher in leagues that count return yardage, obviously. … More QBs fall to absurd levels. Flacco at No. 116 is just robbery.

A defense halfway through a fantasy draft — a mortal sin. … How many times every year do we hear about the Bengals’ intentions to get Bernard Scott more touches? Yet, it never happens. With Cedric Benson expected to re-sign, I’ve given up that fight. Scott is just wasting away in Cincy. … I really wish I had remembered that the Cowboys drafted DeMarco Murray before using my 11th-round pick on Tashard Choice. That will probably end up as a thrown-away selection. … It’s a long shot, but if Mark Clayton can return to full strength after his season-ending knee injury last year and pick up where he left off in four games with the Rams, he’s a nice choice here.

Obviously, this league is assuming Kevin Kolb will get traded somewhere. We’ll be waiting for a while on that. … Randy Moss! Hahahahahahahaha! That is all. … Tomlinson has no upside any longer, and he wore down in a blaze during the second half of last season. But I don’t think the Jets will give him as many carries early on in 2011 in an effort to keep him around as a steady performer throughout. He’s an ultra-safe pick as a No. 5 RB. … With the Browns wanting to lighten Peyton Hillis’ workload, Montario Hardesty is a popular sleeper. We’ll have to see how he responds after tearing an ACL during the preseason last year.

Combining the 13th and the 14th rounds, this is the territory where you can’t really criticize draft picks too harshly from here on. These are all pretty much $1 picks. However, a defense here is still a bit of a reach for me. … In some more classic preseason rookie hype, Greg Little could be the Browns’ No. 1 wideout and Torrey Smith might start in week one. Thus, their fantasy draft stocks will skyrocket. … I’m not a man of faith. I don’t follow the Word. But after watching Tim Tebow last season, I believe he can be a very, very good backup QB in fantasy. … Thomas Jones will remain in KC, but only as a body to give Jamaal Charles a rest and steal a goal-line carry here and there. Charles’ owners should not worry.

I guess it’s worth taking a shot on Cam Newton here. I don’t expect many positive returns in year one, but who knows?  His athleticism may help him be a decent fantasy contributor. … What a steep fall for Donovan McNabb. But I think he’ll be a starter somewhere this season and is a damn good value pick in the 15th round.

The Colts took running back Delone Carter in the fourth round of the draft, but Donald Brown still has a lot of potential at 24 years old. Plus, he’s backing up the always-limping Joseph Addai. … Since I’m down on Michael Turner this year, I think Jason Snelling should be a very popular guy late in drafts … Four rookies taken in the middle of the 16th round; I think Titus Young will have the most immediate impact. … Carson Palmer, no matter where he ends up, is done. … And oh, Mike Sims-Walker. I have to love you as a UCF product. But unfortunately, you make Michael Crabtree look like Marvin Harrison. What happened to you, man? Why can’t you play with some desire in two consecutive weeks?

Kickers and defense fill out the rest of my draft. Since we can’t add or drop players during the season, we are forced to take two at each position. Note: You should NEVER select more than one kicker in a draft. And that selection should always come in the final round. … As far as defenses go, I play defense-by=committee, so I switch ’em out each week for the best available D with a good matchup. Putting any sort of stock in the Jets, Steelers, Packers, etc., usually backfires. … I hear Plaxico Burress is embarrassing the “cornerbacks” at the Oneida Correctional Facility. … Don’t forget that Arian Foster may have never had his excellent 2010 season without a season-ending injury to Ben Tate during the preseason. Foster is too good now to split carries, but I think the 2010 second-rounder will be better than Steve Slaton and Derrick Ward.

Kendall Hunter, Andy Dalton, Danny Amendola — I certainly wouldn’t mind taking any of those guys past pick No. 200. … I like my cagey veterans, especially kickers who have apparently been in the NFL for 2,011 years.

——-

So, did I end up with a better squad than the Guru. I love his first few selections, but I think I made some better picks in the second half of the draft, if I may be so bold. Although the results of this league will depend largely on luck, I would be lying if I said finishing higher than Hansen in the overall standings means zip to me.

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