Football season is finally just around the corner. I’ve had a long, unlucky fantasy baseball season and am a bit burned out by the long haul of summer. I’m leaning towards sitting out next baseball season and giving fantasy basketball another shot. Nothing compares to fantasy football though. There’s more at stake (money and trash talking), there’s more involvement by everyone in the league, and there’s more excitement.
We are in our fourth year of a 12-team football keeper league. We have only lost two players in the four years, so everyone knows each other’s strategies and bargaining styles. Everyone except newcomer Victor, who is destined for a number one pick next season (we draft in reverse order of standings).
This year, we decided to do a live draft. We went all out: a conference room in Eric’s office, a draft board with player name stickers, and people flying in from out of town. We had nine of the twelve guys in the room and the remaining three on video conference. We had a timer projected onto a screen that had a buzzer sound when time ran out. We had laptops out, magazines bookmarked, and people scrambling to cram some research. We were ready for a draft.
Imran started things off with his only good pick of the day, Maurice Jones-Drew. He had the unfortunate circumstance of trading Tony Romo and losing Tom Brady all in the span of 24 hours last season. I found it hilarious. He spent his season selling players for draft picks left and right. You would think stockpiling three extra picks and making an effort to have good young keepers would really benefit him coming into this draft, but no.
There were no real surprises in the first round picks. Adrian Peterson, Michael Turner, Matt Forte all followed the first pick. I was choosing seventh and took Larry Fitzgerald. I know it was risky taking a WR before a RB, but his consistency makes it worth it in my eyes. Our first real questionable pick of the day came courtesy of Ching when he took Knowshon Moreno in the 4th round. I’d be uncomfortable taking him in the 7th round so I’m not sure what he was thinking. I gave away a 5th round pick and an 8th round pick to Keith and Imran, so I really had to make the most of my early round choices. I based my draft around my keepers and tried to fill my roster at each spot. I feel like I was successful doing that, but we’ll see. Fantasy football is so completely unpredictable because you never know who’s going to get hurt for an extended period and which scrub on a last place team is going to score 3 touchdowns on you in the worst possible week. It’s part of what makes fantasy football so much fun.
We had our first draft day trade a few rounds later. Tridi made the call from Austin to Phil and swapped picks to move up in the 6th round. It was exciting to see Phil get the call one pick away as he agreed to the deal. Tridi took Julius Jones, whom I was tempted to take. In hindsight, I’m happy he used the trade to grab him because I would’ve regretted that pick. There’s something about Julius Jones that always makes him more tempting than he should be on draft day. He always let’s you down.
Tridi made a similar deal with Keith in the 12th round. It’s such a crapshoot in those later rounds as everyone around the table asks, “who’s that?” with each pick, so I’m not really sure what the value was in that. But trades are always fun and I’m jealous I didn’t do it. After those deals, it came down to IDP (Individual Defensive Player) picks and kickers. By this point, James was choosing players based on funny sounding names (Tapp, Atari Bigby), which always seems to work out for him. And by always seems to work out for him, I don’t mean it makes his squad better; he’s never made the playoffs. I mean he consistently has the best-named players on his roster year in and year out. You have to take successes where you can.
I feel pretty confident about my draft results, but then again, I always do. I’m surprised players like Le’Ron McClain and Donald Driver slipped to me in the 9th and 13th rounds. I’m not saying they’re fantasy all-stars, but the value from the rounds is potentially high. I’m also happy with my team defense selections and defensive players. I resisted the temptation to reach for “sleepers” and focused on value as much as possible in the later rounds. All in all, I’d rate my draft third behind Phil and Eric. I really like the total team they were able to put together considering they both drafted towards the end. I liked Phil getting Marques Colston in the 3rd round, followed by Jason Witten. I liked some of Eric’s later picks: getting Hines Ward late and investing in Shonn Greene and Hakeem Nicks.
As for worst drafts, I think Ching hands down had the worst pick of the draft: Matt Leinart in the 14th round. I’d put two kickers on my roster before drafting Leinart. He’s not even guaranteed a backup position yet. Overall, I think Imran had the worst draft, which is impressive considering he had the top pick. In his first six picks he took a guy everyone thought retired (Derrick Mason), a guy everyone thinks should retire (Willie Parker), and a tight end in the 4th round that I would bet money doesn’t outperform the tight end I took in the 11th. That would be bad enough, but he followed those picks up with more trouble. He took the first team defense (never something to brag about) and then three straight IDP players, essentially saying, “no guys, I am not interested in looking for any sleeper players or keepers for next year. You all go ahead.” In all fairness, he did sneak in a few offensive players with the picks he had traded for, but then he took more IDP players and a kicker. The best thing though, was his selection of JaMarcus Russell, which would’ve won worst pick of the draft if not for Ching.
It was a lot of fun doing the draft in person and I hope we make it a habit. I’m looking forward to making waiver wire moves before injured players are done being carried off the field, questionable deals, and trading more draft picks. Let the 2009 Fantasy Football season begin!