Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Fantasy Football Draft

So last year I had a very specific Strategy - I was going to pick three RBs, then three WRs, then Jon Kitna in the 7th round. This failed miserably of course, mainly because I got the second pick and had to go with Steven Jackson, who had a terrible season. I drafted Clinton Portis with my second pick, then made a bad trade of him and a couple backups for Maurice Jones-Drew, then got Thomas Jones and his one touchdown early in the third round. It was a debacle.

This year our league expanded to twelve teams and became a keeper league. On Monday we give out one 3-year contract and two 2-year contracts. This changes the strategy considerably, improving the value of the young up and comers while bringing down the TOs and Torry Holts of the world.

So the only guy who finished worse than me last year, Charles, decided to go for Adrian Peterson with the first pick instead of the standard Tomlinson, so I got LT with the second pick. Late in round two I gobbled up Larry Fitzgerald, the kind of reliable WR I've never had before, whose value is even higher in a keeper league.

The third round pick put me in a tough spot. I could have drafted Torry Holt or TJ Houshmandzadeh, probably the best guys available. Taking a QB was out of the question as the other drafters were overly aggressive towards QBs and Big Ben was the best available at this point - and there's no way I'm taking Big Ben with the second pick of the 3rd round. I needed to get a second running back with my next pick 20 spots away. The best available were Jamal Lewis, Michael Turner, Laurence Maroney and Brandon Jacobs.

After mulling it over I decided to go with Michael "The Burner" Turner, LT's backup last season. I felt he had the highest potential both for this season and next, as I will probably sign him to my last 2-year contract. The other guys would have been safer picks and some would argue that with Tomlinson already in the stables, safe would have been the way to go with this pick. This pick will make or break the season.

Ocho Cinco miraculously fell to me late in the fourth round, so I had an automatic pick there and now I have to decide if I want to give him a contract ahead of Turner.

Then I had another interesting decision with the second pick of the fifth round. Both stud Detroit WRs, Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson, were still available. Either of these would have been a great pick but WR was my last priority at this point. I needed a QB, with Derek Anderson being the obvious choice at this point. But I had it in my head to gamble late on QBs with all this talent still out there and such a small disparity between Anderson and the third-tier QBs. I still needed to stockpile running backs, so I snagged Matt Forte knowing I was picking him about ten picks before anyone else would. I almost went with Kevin Smith, rookie Lions running back who has looked really good.

The rest of the draft went as well as I could have imagined. My next pick was the underrated Laveranues Coles. As I had hoped and planned, I got Marc Bulger in the seventh round. This was eerily similar to The Strategy of '07 and once again my team is riding on the shoulders of an unreliable QB. However, I drafted Jon Kitna in the very next round to add another dangerous QB with a high upside. I figure one of the two will come through for me. If not, I will have to make a desperate trade around week four.

With my starting lineup secured I focused on high risk, high reward guys that could pull monster seasons out of their asses. I took the mercurial Ricky Williams, who has gotten rave reviews in camp; Ray Rice - a (inevitable) Willis McGahee injury away from fantasy stardom; Sidney Rice, starter for the Vikings; Steve Slaton of the Texans, who had no business falling to me at the end of the 14th round, and Ronald Curry (ditto).

The team was filled out by Pittsburgh D (perhaps my biggest mistake of the draft as I picked them in round ten when I could have gotten something comparable a couple rounds later), Todd Heap, and Josh Brown.

The roster:

RB LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego
WR Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona
RB Michael Turner, Atlanta
WR Chad Ocho Cinco, Cincinnati
RB Matt Forte, Chicago
WR Laveranues Coles, New York Jets
QB Marc Bulger, St. Louis
QB Jon Kitna, Detroit
RB Ricky Williams, Miami
D Pittsburgh
TE Todd Heap, Baltimore
RB Ray Rice, Baltimore
WR Sidney Rice, Minnesota
RB Steve Slaton, Houston
WR Ronald Curry, Oakland
K Josh Brown, St. Louis

Considering this is a 12-team league I think my team is absolutely loaded and has to be one of the favorites this fall.


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