I'm in roughly a dozen plus leagues each year with a nice mix of industry, money, and personal leagues. Two of my favorites are the FFN Users Leagues where 11 other fantasy football nerds get an opportunity to beat up on me all year long. The first of the two leagues drafted this past Sunday night - PPR scoring with bonus points at 300 yards passing and 100 yards rushing/receiving.
I have leagues on virtually every platform because it's important for me to know the nuances between platforms. There are pros and cons to ESPN, Fleaflicker, MyFantasyLeague, Yahoo, CBS Sports, and others. This particular league drafted on NFL.com which has a pretty slick draft application, but it did cause some trouble for a few members. On a few occassions, some of the members had to reload the application. The "Pause Draft" button came in handy. Overall, the draft went very well, and this was a fun group! Several times I caught myself laughing. Without mentioning his speed or distance, Aaron essentially flew back from another draft to make ours. Ladies and gentlemen - that's dedication!
The quote of the night goes to Robert who remarked "It's difficult drafting against guys who think like I do." I couldn't have summed it up better myself. While I like to think I'm pretty knowledgeable (depending on the topic, my wife might argue this), this group was very impressive in their knowledge and predictive capabilities. For much of the draft, there really weren't any picks that made me scratch my head. There was the ubiquitous sniping of picks of course - several of which made me say a few four letter words that I'm not going to repeat here. I find that I enjoy sniping much more when it's not happening to me. It was a great time and I think everyone drafted quite well.
Here are some of my thoughts on the draft.
No surprise to see Adrian Peterson go first overall. With the news earlier that day about Arian Foster having the potential to miss Week 1, I assumed that he'd likely fall to the end of the first round, but Nate felt sure enough about him to grab him with the 2nd pick ("Ultimately, I feel like Foster still has the potential to really deliver, but I definitely made sure to pick up Tate as insurance in case his situation grows worrisome."). That left Doug Martin for me drafting in the three spot. Running backs went the rest of the way with the exception of Megatron who Matt took with the 11th pick. Calvin Johnson at 11 is a great pick! Have to do it.
A solid mix of wide receivers, running backs, and the two elite QB's came off the board here. Matt, who took Calvin earlier, followed that up with Aaron Rodgers. This was interesting as he was drafting from the 11 spot and all the elite RB's were gone so instead of grabbing from the Tier 2 guys, he went Tier 1 on QB and WR. I think that was a very good approach. As Matt later said, "My first 2 selections had everything to do with where I was drafting. I had a choice between Megatron and tweener rbs and think that one was a no brainer. At 2 it was the number 1 qb or a tweener rb or a good wr. Points, points, points. A Rodgers is going to both keep me in games as well as win games for me. I went with points with pick 2." Michael took Jimmy Graham at 18th overall which basically put the TE position in a holding pattern for the rest of us. Instead of grabbing a second RB here, AJ Green was still on the board and I couldn't pass up an elite receiver like that.
Donnie added Demaryius Thomas (whose value he thinks Wes Welker will hurt) to go alongside AP and Steven Jackson to get himself off to a very solid start. Nate added Sproles to Foster and Randall Cobb. Remember this is PPR, so when healthy, he's got solid PPR players to build off of. Larry Fitzgerald was on the board for me at 27th overall. I'm confident that the upgrade at QB will bring Fitz back to fantasy relevance this year. Robert grabbed MJD to compliment Jamaal Charles and Drew Brees - fantastic start. Peter added Peyton Manning (the 3rd QB taken) at 30th overall to bolster a team with Ray Rice and CJ2K. After Aaron snagged Frank Gore, we saw RunDMC, DeMarco Murray, and David Wilson come off the board. I asked Richard if he thought that Darren McFadden might finish the season healthy, and while he wouldn't go that far, he does expect to see more production out of RunDMC now that they've switched back to a scheme more suitable to McFadden's talents. I also asked Jeff about his RB-RB-RB picks and he was confident in his approach. "I'm all about the workhorses, so figured I could get two solid RBs at the tail of the 1st and beginning on the 2nd. Naturally, when my pick came up at the end of the 3rd and Demarco Murray was sitting there I decided to solidify my backfield with another workhorse."
This round was really where wide receivers started to fly. Scott started it off with Vincent Jackson and Matt, Jeff, and Richard followed that up by grabbing Colston, Wayne, and Nicks. I already had AJ Green and Larry Fitzgerald so I needed another RB to start alongside Doug Martin. Le'Veon Bell was my pick and I was pretty happy to see him there at 46th overall..."was" is the keyword here. Bell is the reason why we don't normally draft too early in the pre-season. He got hurt just a few days later and stands to miss part of the season - NOT what you want to see from a guy you drafted to start each week. This was my biggest regret pick, but who knew he was going to get hurt?
The first snipe of the night for me happened in the 5th. I had Danny Amendola all queued up and ready to go - so sure that he'd be mine that I didn't bother queuing up a 2nd choice. Nate snagged him right in front of me leaving me 90 seconds to figure out another gameplan. I drafted Jason Witten as the 2nd TE off the board. I didn't plan on drafting a TE until a few rounds later, but I'm OK with Witten here. He's Romo's security blanket, and in a PPR format he's that much more valuable.
Rob Gronkowski went right after my Witten pick. Robert took Gronk in the 5th - a strategy he's using in other leagues as well this year. It should be noted that Robert also drafted Sudfield in the 12th round and if Gronk misses any time, Sudfield should fill in nicely with excellent value.
Eddie Lacy and Giovani Bernard also went in this round along with Torrey Smith, Steve Smith, and Matt Ryan. Richard commented that he would have liked to have grabbed Lacy here saying "This kid is going to be the RB that everyone wished they would have drafted earlier." I like Jeff's pick of Matt Ryan here as well. I don't understand why Ryan doesn't get more love from fantasy owners. Here's a guy that threw for over 4,700 yards and 32 scores last year. He has Julio Jones, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, and Steven Jackson at his disposal. Fantastic QB to have on any team - real or fantasy.
Another run on RB's came in the 6th as guys started to bolster their flex or backup options. Montee Ball, Chris Ivory, Ryan Mathews, Shane Vereen, Jonathan Stewart, and Rashard Mendenhall all were taken. Scott snagged Montee Ball as his RB2 and felt pretty confident in doing so expecting to see solid fantasy impact around week 5 or 6. I grabbed my flex here: Daryl Richardson. I couldn't be happier with that pick, particulary after getting word that he'd been given the starting gig in St Louis. I assume it must have been fate because I had given an interview earlier in the day on one of the ESPN affiliate stations and heaped praise on Richardson. As luck would have it, I'll be watching him with even more interest now. Nate said that he regretted taking Jonathan Stewart in this round. He would have rather had Eric Decker in hindsight. Hindsight is always 20/20...
Donnie grabbed TE Jordan Cameron who a lot of media guys are pretty high on this year, and why not? He's got great hands, speed, and field vision - all of which he showed off with a 2-TD performance against Detroit. I used the 7th as an opportunity to grab my QB - Matt Stafford. In hindsight I could have still waited on a QB but was feeling a bit punchy here. If I could have done this pick over, I would have likely taken another WR. Robert grabbed Cecil Shorts right after my pick and T.Y. Hilton, Mike Williams, and James Jones went just a few picks later. All would have made great WR picks here. I'm OK with Stafford as he's got Megatron and Reggie Bush (5 rec for 44 yards in Thursday's game) and is likely to continue averaging more pass attempts than any other QB in the league. The only other QB to go in this round was RGIII by Richard with the 81st overall pick.
I had been watching Stevie Johnson sit there at the top of my draft sheet for roughly 8 or 9 picks. He was being passed over for Miles Austin, Emmanuel Sanders, and Antonio Gates (who I think will bounce back very nicely this year). I assume folks were shy because he's been injured, but reports earlier in the day indicated that he'd be back for the next preseason game. As I was preparing to take him as my 3rd WR, he was sniped by Sean. Stevie Johnson as a WR3 would have been great value with EJ Manuel throwing the ball.
Backup and handcuffs. Nate grabbed Ben Tate, which if Foster misses time could be a great pick. I had been targeting Pierre Thomas and grabbed him with my 9th pick. It might seem a round or two high for him, but as my 4th RB, nobody is better. Here's a guy who is not the primary back in New Orleans but finished with more than 900 yards and six scores three of the last four years. In PPR formats, I like him even more. Other notable names taken here were Eli Manning and Matt Schaub.
Round 10 saw more backups and handcuffs taken including Fred Jackson and Danny Woodhead. I liked Matt's pick here with Jermichael Finley. Once the first few TE's are taken, I don't feel like anyone should have to reach for one until later. Finley should have a better year this year and should still be available for most people in the 9th or 10th round.
I grabbed my backup QB here - Michael Vick. Vick has been named the starter in Philly, and while I would be somewhat surprised to see him survive the whole season without getting hurt, there's no denying that he's a solid QB2 with QB1 upside. I think he makes for a fantastic backup - particularly in the 11th round. Matt and Scott also drafted backup QB's with Jay Cutler and Carson Palmer going at the end of this round. I thought Michael's pick of Golden Tate was excellent here. Tate stands to benefit greatly with Harvin out.
I grabbed my defense here. By now, 8 defenses were off the board (a bit early for my tastes) and a solid argument could be made for waiting another round or two, but I saw the Packers and wanted them. The league scoring here means that a really bad defense can set you back -10 points or more. That's basically someone else's full week production so having a terrible defense in this league isn't desirable. The Broncos, Pats, and Bengals all went before the Packers in this round. The two picks that I liked in this round belonged to Michael (Rueben Randle) and Nate (Marcel Reece). During limited action this pre-season, Randle saw quite a few targets from Eli Manning and I think he makes a great WR3/4. Reece is a great handcuff to have, because let's face it, RunDMC will get hurt at some point this year and Reece will become a starter. Grabbing a starting RB in Round 12 is awfully nice.
Robert drafted Sam Bradford and Donnie grabbed Andy Dalton as their backups and I think there's a ton of value here. Great picks. The one pick that got everyone's attention was Aaron's when he drafted Santonio Holmes. We (including me) gave him some grief for this pick, but his logic was pretty sound upon reflection. He said, "Santonio Holmes, 152nd pick, 13th round. I honestly think he starts by week 3. Absolute steal. If he doesn't play at all this year, so what, what did I lose out on really? If he does play, I just got the NYJ's(however inept the passing game will be) #1 target waaaaayyyy late in the draft." The timing was fantastic as I read the report yesterday saying that Holmes has been medically cleared and can start practicing any day now. This was a gamble pick that could certainly pay off. If it does, Aaron will be the one laughing. Other notable players taken in this round include Fred Davis, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Mikel Leshoure.
Rounds 14 and 15
Kickers and defenses were primarily drafted here.