The true source of fantasy football addiction/obsession/infatuation isn’t the monetary winnings, or even the convenient excuse to research random stuff that the normal human mind wouldn’t consider, although the pull is quite strong there. No, ripping on your friends and beating Jim from accounting — that guy with the strange accent who didn’t return your stapler — is the real fun.
Thus, we also get great joy out of some harmless jabs that don’t involve mothers. So why don’t you join me as I insult my co-workers? You can rip me too. It’ll be great fun.
Last night some of the bros here in The Score’s downtown Toronto towers held our office draft, which was my fourth draft in three days. This worked out nicely, because I had planned on critiquing one of my drafts in post form, and now at least your humble blogger man won’t be the only one crowned with the dunce cap and proclaimed the village idiot.
As we sail through the heart of draft season, this is a useful exercise to address the various situations that arise in any draft. I can keep doing in-depth analysis to give you questions to ponder prior to your draft, and toss out sleepers or assess the value of players relative to their average draft position. I’ve done plenty of that throughout nearly our first two weeks here at the blog that’s never satisfied with just 100 yards, and I’ll do plenty more.
But although by now we’re all aware of each player’s value, and the general area when he’s expected to come off the board, there’s another little fact of imaginary football life that you’re also mindful of during your draft prep: no two drafts are the same. So by doing this and focusing in on the early key rounds, some potential scenarios will be highlighted, and so will some difficult decisions.
Let’s get to it, but first some quick details. This is a 12-team league with one flex position (RB/TE/WR) and standard scoring. The draft was 16 rounds, but only the first five are included here, mostly because of the aforementioned desire to focus on the early picks, and partly because breaking down all 16 rounds would take all of the time and all of the words.
My picks are bolded, just so you know where to direct those fish sticks.
Right away we get a bit of a risk by the riskiest dude I know, Joseph Casciaro. His strategy of prioritizing the best QB in fantasy isn’t all that unorthodox (Rodgers went first overall in two of my drafts this week), and the risk certainly isn’t attached to the talent being acquired, since this Rodgers character seems to know how to throw a spiral. No, the risk with this strategy is instead what you’re not getting.
By passing on Foster (or any of the top three RBs) Joey Cash is committing to rolling with one of the running backs in the second tier as his RB1. Since this is a 12-team league, 23 picks will pass until he’s on the clock again, and as you see below, it was Michael Turner who fell.
Turner’s had over 1,300 rushing yards in each of the past two seasons, but that’s come at a cost, as he’s also had over 300 carries in three of his four years in Atlanta. He’s still the primary back this year for the Falcons, but he’s 30 years old, so his touches will be managed and he’ll likely lose a few to Jacquizz Rogers.
As for me, the decision to pass on Calvin Johnson was painful, and feel free to start mocking now. But I had already missed out on the top three RBs, and the top three QBs, and WR is stupid deep. So by taking a wideout early — even if it’s an elite one like Megatron — I would have been committing to running back in the second round, and therefore not taking a quarterback until round three. Since quarterback is king now and is usually your primary point producer, I didn’t want to corner myself into a position where I’m waiting and hoping for Tony Romo or Matt Ryan a few rounds later.
And here’s the Maurice Jones-Drew risk. According to most ADPs, late in the second round is about the asking price for that potential season suicide. There’s some comfort here because in this case the risk taker took Arian Foster in the first round. But still, any MJD pick has to come with a Rashad Jennnigs selection later on, and that didn’t happen.
The mini run on WRs in the second round led to a brief but significant tumble for Jimmy Graham, who’s only narrowly behind Rob Gronkowski in every tight end ranking ever created, and he provides tremendous third-round value as one of the few unquestioned premier players at his position. Graham is typically taken around 20th overall, but he was available eight picks later here.
Being mindful of positional runs during your draft is always paramount for both knowing when the talent pool at a position is quickly draining, and when a run is causing another area to be overlooked.
We’re now at the beginning of the fourth RB tier. It comes quickly, and if you miss out on the likes of Trent Richardson and Steven Jackson and you aren’t comfortable being forced to start, say, Willis McGahee or Reggie Bush every week and their questionable situations, you best be getting comfortable.
Conversely, the depth at wide receiver is on display here too. Near the end of the fourth round and only three picks away from the fifth, Jordy Nelson — who had 15 touchdowns last year — is still available.
Our boy Joey Cash is still feeling the ramifications of his first overall pick, and is scouring the lowest rungs of the running back tiers four rounds later. The obvious goal is that Rodgers — the best player (arguably) at the most important fantasy position (not arguably) — is productive enough to close the gap and make up for the lack of production at running back.
I get it. The word “risk” shouldn’t be associated with Aaron Rodgers in any capacity. But when you’re banking on Shonn Greene and the very little support he’ll receive from whoever happens to be attempting to play quarterback for the Jets along with his 65.9 yards per game last year (19th), yeah, that’s a risk.
There’s no certainty anywhere, and especially not at running back, which is why those who support taking a QB first overall use that strategy. But the counter argument is that the existence of risk everywhere means that you’re better off taking your leap with the best possible player at a premier and extremely shallow position, rather than digging for a far inferior option later.
But then there’s a counter to that counter, because there always is. Last year Rodgers easily produced enough to cover that step down at RB. There was an 87-point difference between Arian Foster and Shonn Greene in 2011, while there was a 149-point difference between Rodgers and Eli Manning, the highest-scoring QB among those possibly available to Joey Cash and Team Post-Concussion Syndrome had he chosen to take a running back with his first overall pick, and then waited on a quarterback in the second round.
There’s no right answer here, and as always the exploration is the education. Only one thing remains clear: this is the wrong year to have the first overall pick.