Different Strokes For Different Folks
The team I drafted at the ESPN Chicago Fantasy Football Convention:
There is one thing I typically do not due when drafting fantasy football, and it is a mistake made by real GMs and fake GMs alike, pay for past performance. Everyone can go to their favorite site and look up who put up the best numbers last year and rank players accordingly, but the savvy GMs are the one that can grab that next big thing before anyone else. Those who drafted Stafford in the 8th round last year or who picked up Victor Cruz undoubtedly had great seasons because they got their first round production in addition to their own first round picks. I will pay for past production when I know the player is a STUD.
After taking part in the ESPN Chicago Fantasy Football Convention this past weekend I noticed how many people are perfectly content using the system put in front of them whether it is ESPN rankings or the rankings put in place by the commissioner tool you may use. I know plenty of people who wont even scroll down off the top 25 guys available. This can be a huge advantage for those of you who are savvy enough to take all the resources at your own disposal and create your own rankings/tiers sheet.
Like any other player out there I have guys I simply WILL NOT draft no matter how high the big boys have them ranked. This helps me to weed out some of the top guys and get a team I will like, and also enjoy to watch every Sunday. The rules for our draft are listed below:
Passing: TD 4pts, INT -2pts, 2pt conversion 2pts and 1pt for every 25 yards passing
Rushing: TD 6pts, 2pt conversion 2pts and 1pt for every 10 yards rushing
Misc: Fumble recovery for TD 6pts, Kick Return TD 6pts, Punt Return TD 6pts, Fumble lost -2pts
I drew the fifth pick in the draft and this is a spot I absolutely love to be in as I can get a good feel for those both ahead and behind me. In the first round it went exactly as expected and a choice between Aaron Rodgers and Calvin Johnson were both sitting waiting to be plucked. Both of these positions are really deep this year but the top 3 running backs are all off the board along with Tom Brady. Normally I would have chosen Rodgers but the scoring system didn’t exactly boost a quarterback any so I went with the cream of the crop at Wide Receiver in Calvin Johnson. I could regurgitate this guys stats for you but we all know that this guy had a monster season as he outscored all wide receivers and all running backs but Ray Rice and LeSean McCoy. Also you got to love a guy who wants to get you 100 receiving yards EVERY game this year.
The second round came around and one of my favorite players is still on the board so I have to take him or risk facing him this season, so I selected Ryan Matthews. I think this guy is destined for a 1600 total yard season and double digit combined TDs without the vulture that is Mike Tolbert. The third round was a mix of 3 TE’s and assorted receivers. A few big names at the receiver position were still available including Mike Wallace, Hakeem Nicks, and Andre Johnson but again I went with upside and a guy who happened to finish the season as the 7th ranked receiver in Percy Harvin. I felt great about this pick and thought the big names at receiver would all be gone by my next go around but in examining the draft board one guy must have slipped through the cracks, Larry Fitzgerald. I only needed two receivers but at this point his value was too great to pass on. Normally, I would look to trade Fitz for a player I like more but in this league no trades are allowed.
In the fifth round many running backs are off the board and the field is quickly thinning so I look at my tiers sheet and find a guy that has been a consistent performer over the past several years in Michael Turner. Even if he suffers a 33% drop off from last season he will still rack up 900 or so yards rushing and score 8 TDs. Even with numbers like that he would have finished in the top 20 or so running backs last season so I found him to be of value here. In the sixth round I decided to take a risk with a quarterback who could score the most points in the league because of his rushing prowess in Michael Vick. Health is a concern with Vick but his upside and value now that he is no longer a top round pick is tempting when going for a championship in a pool of 1000.
In the seventh I went for a freaky athlete at tight end in Vernon Davis. The way he came on in the playoffs really had me excited and I think the improved receiving corps will open up the field for Davis who has the best rapport of any receiver on the team with Alex Smith, plus he has the best touchdown potential of any of the tight ends left on the board at this point. The eighth round came around and having already taken Vick I knew I needed to take a safer backup QB fairly quickly and the best one on my board was Tony Romo. Tony has been a solid starter for teams in the past and he will be a solid backup for me (Over the past 4 years Tony Romo has averaged either 18.9 or 18.7 points a game).
From the ninth round on is where I try and get my sleepers and lottery tickets. The first is a guy who I owned in a bunch of leagues last year and gave a second chance to in Kenny Britt, (I certainly hopes the league does the same), but even if he is suspended for a few games it just gives him more time to get healthy and hopefully return 100%. With Jake Lockers Big arm and the fact that he was averaging 15.6 points a game before his injury last season I think Britt has huge potential this season. The Next Guy I select is C.J. Spiller who just has loads of talent and after what the coaching staff saw at the end of last season if they try and give him meager 4 or 5 touches a game like they did the first 10 weeks they should all be fired. Titus Young is my next pick as I think he could move ahead of Nate Burleson on the depth chart and make some noise in Detroit’s high flying offense. He is not a great athlete but is crafty in the Wes Welker mold and has great hands.
My next few picks are all running backs and each has different reasons. I selected Evan Royster as I believe he will be the back to start the year in Washington with Helu’s lingering injury and I think he would be a great fill in for Matthews if he happens to miss a week or two to start the year. Shanahan will drive an owner crazy but when you get the right running back on the right week they usually produce. Daniel Thomas is a guy who is sitting behind an injury prone back on a team with a rookie quarterback so you know they will lean towards the run. Thomas could have a breakout year and was having a solid rookie campaign in which he was actually outproducing Reggie until his hammy slowed him down. The final player of my draft is the absolute lottery ticket in Jahvid Best. He is now on the pup list and could miss who knows how long, but he also will give me a guy I have no qualms about dropping, if I had a guy here I liked it could be gut wrenching to make such a move but there comes a point when you know you will have to.
I wrap up the draft by taking the Steelers Defense in the fifteenth round. Not bad to get a Pittsburgh Defense with my second to last pick when people started taking them off the board in the 7th round. The final pick of my draft is Matt Bryant, I always look for kickers on high scoring offenses as they will get the most opportunities and the Atlanta Falcons seemed to be poised to be the next big thing this season.
Overall I feel I have a strong team with a clear edge over all teams in the league at WR. Taking the value on my board allowed me to select the best available players instead of reaching for needs to early and in a league where your trying to beat a thousand and not 10 you have to take some risks. Remember not to make the most common mistake in drafting or running a team, don’t pay for past performance like everyone else, look forward to the future. Don’t draft like it’s 2009 and you could hoist the trophy in 2012.