What do you want from me? It was a meaningless fourth pre-season game where most of the starters didn’t even play a single snap. The Seahawks beat the Raiders 17-13 thanks to a final TD-drive by Austin Davis in the fourth quarter against scrubs. The backup quarterback controversy is in full effect, and I couldn’t care less.
On top of that, I didn’t even get to see the vast majority of it, because my primary fantasy football league held its draft at the same time. So, instead of pouring over the stats from the game, and speculating on who will get cut and who might get traded (Kearse, Lane, Collins?), I’m going to tell you about my fantasy football draft.
I know no one gives a shit about anyone else’s fantasy football team but their own, but this is my blog and I’ll rosterbate if I want to!
For starters, you should know that it’s a 2-keeper league that’s set up to expand to a 3-keeper league in 2018. Meaning, we have to keep 2 players from last year’s roster, with the knowledge going into this draft that we’ll have to keep 3 players next year.
Next up, you should know that it’s a 10-team league, head-to-head, with a 6-team playoff system (top 2 teams get first round BYEs). The bottom four teams play in a Consolation Bracket whereupon the winner of said bracket gets to draft first overall, and the rest of the draft order goes backwards from there. Since I lost in the championship of the Consolation Bracket, I drafted second overall.
As you might surmise, my 2016 team wasn’t very good. I spent the entire year obsessing over the simple fact of just getting two quality keepers on my team, because my 2015 team was just as bad. It’s been a vicious cycle of mediocrity for many years now. Instead of investing in my future, by drafting the likes of Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson in their rookie seasons, I’ve been forging my own path full of veterans with disasterous results. So, last year, I said, “NO MORE!” And yet, somehow the best I could muster was keeping Carson Wentz and Brandin Cooks.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Wentz. I mostly like him because people in the know, scouts and whatnot, keep telling me he’s going to be one of the good ones. I read stories about how he’s a football junkie and is working out all the time and so on and so forth and it gives me hope that maybe in a year or two he’ll be Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson, and that I’ll have gotten in on the ground floor of a keeper I can enjoy for many years to come!
As for Cooks, he was the best of the rest on my roster last year. I like him a lot too, especially because he was traded to New England, and hearing stories about him and Brady hitting it off on the practice field gave me cause to jump for joy.
But, you know, it’s not like we’re talking about Aaron Rodgers and LeVeon Bell here. These aren’t superstars, and there are very valid concerns about them producing in the future.
Also, you should know about our league: it’s a 2-QB system. Gameday rosters look like this: QB, QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, TE, RB/WR/TE Flex, K, DEF, with 5 bench spots. It’s a PPR league (1 point per reception), with any and all TDs worth 6 points, and it heavily skews in favor of the quarterback (unlike standard leagues, where top RBs are king, in our league, if you don’t have two good QBs, you might as well fucking kill yourself). So, in that sense, it’s like the real NFL, except we doubled up on QBs per team because it’s only a 10-team league and it’s insane to have viable starting QBs on the waiver wire during BYE weeks.
So, that sets the stage. Long story short: my keepers are kinda sucky, I’m drafting #2 overall, and I need to be in a position to keep 3 guys next year.
Now, a little wrinkle! I worked out a pre-draft trade with the guy who kept Ezekiel Elliott! What with his 6-game suspension looming to start the season, and my friend ostensibly holding out hope for a championship this year, he accepted a straight-up swap of Cooks for Elliott. With Julian Edelman going on IR in subsequent days, it looked like he was going to get a lot more value out of the deal. However, with it appearing like Elliott might shake this whole suspension thing (from 6 games to 0, thanks to the NFL’s bungling), I might have the steal of the draft on my hands!
Of course, going forward, I have to worry about Elliott’s character concerns, while Cooks is by all accounts a model citizen on a championship team, but that’s neither here nor there.
So, instead of Wentz & Cooks, it’s Wentz & Elliott. I can work with that!
I don’t want to list out everyone else’s keepers, so hopefully you’ll glean from context who was kept (lots of QBs, most of the tip-top skill-position players). Going into the first two picks, I surmised the best two players available (for our particular league and no one else’s) were LeVeon Bell and Dak Prescott (the guy who had Bell last year opted to keep his stud QBs; he was obviously league champion). I was pretty sure the #1 pick overall was going to take a QB, and I was pretty sure that QB was going to be Dak. But, the day of the draft, he texted me that he was going with Marcus Mariota, another young, up-and-coming fantasy points hog.
That left me with the choice of Bell or Dak. Understanding that there really weren’t any other young stud QBs left in the draft, only veterans and injury risks (Roethlisberger, Rivers, Stafford, Eli, Palmer, Cutler, and so on and so forth), I went with Dak. I think he’s a superstar in the making and I’m not buying for one second this notion of a sophomore slump. His TD/INT ratio this year might not be as crazy as last year, but I think we’ll see a spike in his overall TDs and yards thrown to MORE than make up for the regression.
As we snaked our way through the next round and a half, it dawned upon me that a lot of those veteran/injury risk QBs I listed above were flying off the board, to my shock and awe. My hope, heading into this draft, was to get Dak and wrap around at pick 19 and snag Roethlisberger. That way, I could bench Wentz and save him for when Roethlisberger ultimately gets injured (and hope that by that time Wentz would have asserted himself as a full-fledged fantasy starter in this league). No such luck. In fact, as the draft would shake out, I was completely and totally unable to pick up a backup QB.
At the tail end of the second round, after it was clear I wouldn’t get my rock of a backup QB, I was hoping to land Dez Bryant and have the Dallas Cowboys trifecta, but he was snagged 3 picks before me. Michael Thomas, from New Orleans, fell WAY farther than I would’ve thought (I’m VERY high on Thomas this year and going forward), but was taken 2 picks before me. There were a lot of options left, but I went with Leonard Fournette, in the hopes that he’ll become Ezekiel Elliott 2.0 (minus the domestic abuse charges). The fact that he plays for the Jags scares me, as does the fact that he’s a rookie with a terrible QB in front of him, so much so that I might not even start him in Week 1 (such is my mania). But, the instant he gets me a 20-point game for my bench, he’ll be locked into my starting lineup going forward.
I wrapped around and took Gronk in the third round. A sure thing from a fantasy persepctive, and one of the very biggest question-marks from an injury perspective. Either way, there weren’t a lot of good receivers left, so I took Best Player Available.
At this point, my team is Wentz, Dak, Elliott, Fournette, and Gronk. Still no actual wide receivers.
By the time the draft got back to me, a lot more good receivers went off the board, so in keeping with my Best Player Available strategy, I took Carlos Hyde, RB of the 49ers. I think he’s going to have a monster year as the best offensive weapon on that team. Wrapping around, still without an amazing receiver option, I took Lamar Miller of the Texans. So, now I’ve got 2 QBs, 4 RBs, 0 WRs, and 1 TE.
At my next pick, I knew I had to take a receiver, regardless of what was left out there. For me, it came down to Emmanuel Sanders of DEN and Jamison Crowder of WAS. Thankfully, the decision was made for me by the guy drafting right before me as he took Sanders. Crowder it was. Wrapping around, I was sure I was going to take Stefon Diggs of the Vikings, and ultimately this might be the pick I end up regretting the most. See, with Yahoo’s rankings (yeah, we play on Yahoo, sue us), I saw an opportunity for another young, up-and-coming running back in Derrick Henry (the way the rankings were set, I doubt he would’ve been there for me nearly 20 picks later). I had him all last year, and all last year he was decidedly behind DeMarco Murray on the depth chart. I waited ALL YEAR for Murray to get hurt, and not only did he stay healthy, but he was in the top 3 of all backs in rushing attempts! And this was in spite of the fact that whenever Henry did get the ball, he looked really fucking good (and, of course, he was a high draft pick for the Titans last year).
So, I’m rolling the dice on Year 2 of Derrick Henry. If Murray gets injured, I’ve got a Top 5 running back to throw onto the pile (or use as trade bait for a stud receiver). But, if Murray plays like he did last year, then I’ll have missed out on Diggs, or any number of receivers selected after him. Roster status: 2 QBs, 5 RBs, 1 WR, 1 TE.
With my next two picks, I went receiver happy to compensate. Unfortunately, by this time, the cupboards were pretty bare. One of my new lines of thinking on receivers is: taking the best ones from bad teams. There are a couple of Browns receivers I really like, the Chargers guys are interesting, but I went with Pierre Garcon of the 49ers. Yeah, he’s getting up there, but have you SEEN their depth chart? And, I know, Brian Hoyer is their QB, but he’s still going to complete SOME passes, and he’s going to have to throw them to SOMEONE. Garcon is most likely to get the lion’s share of the targets and touches that don’t go to Carlos Hyde (yes, I know, having not one but two 49ers on my team is just asking for trouble). If he stays healthy, he could be a nice little steal for me. Then, I wrapped around and picked up Willie Snead. I’ve always liked him as a #2 option in New Orleans, but he seems to have REALLY fallen out of favor this pre-season (at least, according to reports), as the Saints have Michael Thomas as their clear #1, and the newly-signed Ted Ginn as a guy competing for #2 reps. I dunno, I’ve always thought Sneed had good ball skills in the red zone, so I went with him over Ginn (secretly hoping I could snag Ginn the next time the draft got back to me, where I could keep the best one and waive the loser, but it wasn’t to be).
At that point, I had 2 QBs, 5 RBs, 3 WRs, and 1 TE. I could officially field a full offense plus a flex spot, plus have enough RBs left over to compensate for a possible Elliott suspension. I had to go get a Defense the next time up, because all the best ones were flying off the board.
I wanted Houston’s defense really bad, but he went 5 spots ahead of me, so I settled on Minnesota’s D. We’ll see. On the wrap-around, I picked up Eric Decker of the Titans. He’s a touchdown machine, but he’s older and coming off injury, so it wouldn’t shock me if he isn’t long for my team.
Heading into the last two picks of the draft, a few Kickers had already been taken, but Stephen Gostkowski was still there for me so I somehow have New England’s kicker free of charge. With my final pick, I took Rishard Matthews (a guy my friend wanted, but he accidentally took Jordan Matthews instead, a few picks before me). I think Rishard is awfully underrated as a guy who had a pretty solid season for the Titans last year. Neither he, nor Decker, figure to start for me out of the gate. But, I’ll monitor both of them and keep the guy who’s more reliable.
Final Roster looks like this:
- QB – Dak Prescott
- QB – Carson Wentz
- RB – Ezekiel Elliott
- RB – Carlos Hyde
- WR – Jamison Crowder
- WR – Pierre Garcon
- TE – Rob Gronkowski
- Flex – (RB) Lamar Miller
- K – Stephen Gostkowski
- DEF – Minnesota
With my bench looking like this:
- RB – Leonard Fournette
- RB – Derrick Henry
- WR – Willie Sneed
- WR – Eric Decker
- WR – Rishard Matthews
Look, I don’t love it, all right! I’m not boasting here! I love my running back situation, of course, but I have far-and-away the worst set of wide receivers in the entire league. I’ve got a top-flight kicker, a good-enough defense, and the best tight end in the game (when healthy). As for my quarterbacks, they’re young. One was great last year (Dak), one got a lot of experience and took his lumps (Wentz). The picking’s are pretty slim on the waiver wire, as far as QBs are concerned. Most of the rookies are there, alongside a few of the very worst starters this league has to offer. So, if Wentz can’t get it going early, I might be stuck with a Hoyer or a Kizer.
On the plus side, I think regardless of what happens, I should have 3 viable keepers heading into 2018, and that’s all I can really ask for. If Wentz pans out, I’ll keep my two QBs and Elliott. If Wentz doesn’t look good, or if Fournette really busts out, I might go with Dak and the two RBs.
Here goes nothing.