To give the passing reader a good indicator of the level of competition in our fantasy football league, most of us have been playing fantasy football for many years now and can tell you almost any stat about any player in the league. We also have some casual fans of the NFL who have joined and, much to our surprise, they have fared well. The first year I ran the league, we had the problem of only having 10 "managers" and a decent percentage of the not checking their rosters often (if at all). What ended up happening was a guy who never checked his roster won the Championship despite our best efforts. So we regrouped... I decided to add 2 more players and remove the cancer from our league. I also added a key stat to our league. We had originally gone with the format of 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 RB/WR, 1 TE, 1 K and 1 DEF/ST with basic stats like passing/rushing/receiving yards and passing/receiving/rushing TDs (4 points for a passing TD, 1 point for every passing yards, 6 points for every other TD and 1 point for every 10 yards of non-passing offense). In Season Two, I decided to implement Return Yards and Return TDs to add a new element to the game. A guy like Devon Hester, who is a phenomenal talent on the field, has little to no place in most fantasy leagues because they don't account for such stats. But our league invited players like Hester, Joshua Cribbs, Antonio Brown etc. to become vital Fantasy players. Season Two ended with a hot playoff race. The #1 and #2 seeds were knocked out in the first Round and I, as the 4th seed, scored 130+ points in each of my 3 games on my way to the Championship.
This year's draft was a success. We have another 12 team league, 10 of which are carryovers from last season. Much to the dismay of the rest of the league, I, as League Commissioner, was given the first pick in the draft. And to those naysayers who claim that the draft was rigged, tampered with or otherwise a government conspiracy, I say: Get Over It. Being a life long Packers fan, dating back to the days of He Who Shall Not Be Named, I was given the choice of picking the new Sheriff in town (Aaron Rodgers) or a handful of running backs who are fantasy studs (Ray Rice, LeSean McCoy, Arian Foster etc.). I eventually caved and went with my gut-instinct and picked Aaron Rodgers (much to the dismay of aforementioned naysayers). The rest of the picks pretty much went as you might expect: Foster, McCoy and Rice were picked 2, 3, and 4 respectively and Tom Brady followed. The only pick that surprised me the most was Cam Newton taken 9th overall by Team Covney. I give credit to Cam, he had an amazing rookie year. It was quite possibly the greatest rookie campaign in any sport ever. But Cam Newton is still not a Top 10 Player, fantasy or otherwise. Forte, Brees and Stafford rounded out the bottom of the First Round.
Being that we chose a Snake Draft, the Cleveland Old Man Brain Trust was given picks 12 and 13. Pick #12 was Stafford and Pick #13 was Rob Gronkowski. Much debate was had over this pick because of a TE going so high in the draft. Yes, rule of thumb is to never draft a TE higher than the 3 Round BUT is Gronk really a TE? He had 90 receptions for 1,327 yards and 17 TDs last season, which is pretty impressive until you realize that he's playing TE, then its just downright ridiculous. But the question has to be asked, is there another player who can put up those numbers who is worth more than Gronk at #13? There are very few players who can put numbers like him. I would apposite that only Aaron Rodgers, Arian Foster, Calvin Johnson and Andre Johnson can best him in fantasy points. So that being said, the question is now: How did Gronk fall to 13? My answer is: people shy away from him because of that TE label but he truly is worth more than most players in the NFL. The other topic of hot debate was the selection of Michael Vick at #23. Michael Vick in years past has been both a Fantasy Savior and a Fantasy Burden. The only thing consistent about his fantasy production is the inconsistency of his fantasy production. One game he will throw for 3 TDs and 300 yards, the next week he'll throw for 1 TD, 2 INT and 1 Rushing TD and the very next week be absolutely silent on all fronts. He is another dynamic player but being dynamic on the field doesn't necessarily translate to fantasy. Plus, with Vick, he is a liability every time he steps on the field. He has only played one full season and he has already left 2 preseason games this year due to injury. I personally think Michael Vick would have been available in a later round and given the fact that names like Roddy White, Stephen Jackson, A.J. Green, Mike Wallace and Adrian Peterson were still available, I would pass him up to get one of those guys.
After picking up a work horse like Roddy White, I figured I needed a solid running back to compliment my combo of Rodgers and White. I decided Stephen Jackson was probably the best pick at the 25 spot because he has also been a workhorse who has stayed fairly healthy over his career. Marshawn Lynch is WAAAYYYY overvalued by ESPN and everyone else. I didn't like Adrian Peterson coming off an injury, especially a knee injury. Surprisingly, Mike Wallace was taken before Dez Bryant but this should be expected with a good number of people in our league residing in and fans of Pittsburgh. Mike Wallace could have a monster season going into the last season before his contract expires and he becomes an unrestricted free agent. He could also have a miserable season given that he most likely will exit Pittsburgh on a sour note and has made it clear he no longer wants to be a part of the team. I, personally, don't think Mike Wallace is a great receiver, he's fast (maybe the fastest) but he's inconsistent at best. Another name that popped maybe a round or two early was Jordy Nelson. Looking at the other players that were taken, it seems odd that he would go so high. He had a breakout season last year but he will be targeted by opposing defenses and his production may be trimmed significantly. He also has the tendency to drop easy passes and catch seemingly uncatchable passes.
With the the 11 pick in the 3rd round and the 2nd pick in the 4th round, the Fighting Fins selected 2 solid running backs, Fred Jackson and Trent Richardson. Jackson, who has shown flashes of greatness over the last couple seasons despite being on (at best) a mediocre team, could have a breakout season with a revamped offensive line and the emergence of Stevie Johnson as legitimate WR. Trent Richardson could very well win the Rookie of the Year award because he a stud at RB. An outstanding RB at Alabama, look for him to continue his dominant streak. If Brandon Marshall can stay clean and not cause any incident both on the field and off the field, he could prove to be one of the better WRs in the NFC. But its Brandon Marshall so anything is possible. The pick of Peyton Manning could pay dividends if he can have even a sub-par Peyton Manning season. Going late in the 4th round, some thought that this was too early for the once dominant QB. I would say it may have been too late especially given that he made it through training camp and the pre-season without any issues.
If any Pittsburgh Steelers' WR is worth his fantasy weight, its Antonio Brown in our league. A player who makes big plays on offense and racks up tons of yards on special teams. I consider him a steal this late in this draft. It may be important to note that Peyton Manning was selected before ever other QB except Rodgers, Brady, Newton, Brees, Stafford, Eli Manning and Vick. That being said, Tony Romo and Phillip Rivers were taken in the 5th round. This is astonishing to me in hindsight. Phillip Rivers has been one of the elite QBs of the NFL. Tony Romo has been on the edge of the NFL eliteness but in terms of fantasy, he may be worth more than a 5th round pick.
With pick #62, the 49ers defense was selected. This was the first defense selected in our draft and as one of the owners so aptly put "You have to get that 7 points every week." Note to Noob Fantasy owners: DO NOT SELECT ANY DEFENSE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES WITHOUT PROPER SUPERVISION. Don't make the same mistakes this manager did. Also, it should be noted that Matt Ryan was selected just one pick later. Matt Ryan. Let me say that one more time. Matt Ryan was selected one pick AFTER the 49ers defense. Whether or not that owner needed another QB, I would take Matt Ryan's 12-15 a week performance over any defense, even if Jesus was playing safety. But like Lemmings, fantasy owners begin to panic when one person runs off a cliff so the Houston Texans was selected right after Matt Ryan. Vernon Davis, Devon Hester and Antonio Gates all were selected after the 49ers AND Texans defenses were taken. Silly Rabbit, Trix are for kids.
ESPN has a new app called "Commissioner Toolkit." It provides each league commissioner with cool videos and accessories for each league. One thing it provides is a grade for each teams draft. I have included what ESPN ranked each of our teams at but I wasn't all to thrilled with the grading. Here are my grades for each fantasy team in order of best to worse.
T.O. and the IFL Rejects - A
Cayuga Creamers - A-
Romosexual Tendencies - B+
Rochester Jeffersons - B
TROY CLARAMALU* - B
Chris Johnson is Fat* - B
C'land OldManBrainTrust - B-
Fighting Fins - C
The Hoodie Rules - C
Show Us Your TD's - C
Pashtunstan Chai Boys - C-
Mr. Rodgers' Neighborhood - C-
I will be providing a week by week analysis of the players to pick up and the players to stay away from. Feel free to email any questions or comments to email@example.com.