Far and away, the most intriguing draft I’ve ever been a part of is the Scott Fish Bowl Invitational (#SFB480 in your Twitter search) — a colossal mega event featuring 480 teams. The leagues are divided into groups of 12 teams, with eight conferences of five leagues each. Conferences are categorized by genres of famous Hollywood folk (Funny Men, Leading Women, Bad Ass Women). The contest is invite-only with a long waiting list and is about to embark upon its seventh season. It consists of 320 fantasy football writers represented across over 80 sites with the remaining 120 players known as “super fans”.
CDM Sports’ Diamond Challenge (DC) is accurately described as the granddaddy of all fantasy sports games. It is the oldest fantasy baseball salary cap challenge, paying out league, division and overall winners of their game for over 20 years. I first played DC in 2003, a couple of years out of college.
Though I had been transcribing box scores and baseball card stats since the age of 14 and playing in draft leagues since 17, playing DC for the first time unearthed my deep passion for fantasy baseball. I was introduced to the contest by college buddy and baseball savant, Steve Zacks. He explained the setup and asked if I wanted to share a team for that 2003 season. I bought in, and in no time, I was hooked.
The FSTA experts’ fantasy baseball draft is the first publicized one of the new year, inspiring much discussion and a reminder that springtime is at our doorstep. It re-invigorates the spark for our beloved pastime and sets the tone for other notable drafts over the next two months. Primarily, LABR and Tout Wars, as well as high-stakes competitions such as the NFBC Main Event. The FSTA inevitably serves as a catalyst for player ranking debates and establishing ADP trends. It’s a notion that is not lost among those who participate.
It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyways. Sitting at a table with the best minds in our ‘silly little game’ is truly an honor. And the game is not so little anymore, if you’ve noticed the growth trends and heightened mainstream buzz over the past decade.
Among the participants are the undisputed thought leaders and some of the founders of our industry. A group of people who work for different outlets, but come together every year to catch up with old friends, uninhibitedly share newfound draft strategies, and converge in different ways to make our industry better.
Most importantly, one has to be well-prepared knowing your competitors can and will steal your coveted, sneaky late-round 2B prospect a round before you’re ready to take the plunge. One has to be on-point, even in January. Though pride is the prize, it’s an intangible one that monetary value cannot compensate for.
After two months of Best Ball slow drafts, it was time to dip my toes into the waters of drafts with a sixty second clock. On Thursday night, I picked seventh in a 12-team, NFFC satellite league, which will assist in preparation for my NFFC RotoWire Online Championship leagues later this month. Both the satellite and the Rotowire OC leagues have the same format – full point PPR, Kentucky Derby Style (KDS) pre-draft order settings and 3RR (third-round reversal). Passing touchdowns are worth six points and the starting lineup is 1-QB, 2-RB, 3-WR, 1-TE, 1-Flex (RB/WR/TE), 1-K, 1-DST, with 10 bench spots. The only difference with these satellites is that there are no overall prizes, which can affect draft strategy slightly, meaning less of a need to target highly volatile ‘home-run’ picks.
Every season, we stumble upon players at the end of our drafts who end up having a profoundly positive effect on our fantasy rosters, and the 2014 season will be no different. Last year, Riley Cooper, Terrance Williams, Julius Thomas and Zac Stacy were selected after round 15 (pick 180-plus in standard 12-teamers) – if at all. So, who are some of the players that are worth taking a flyer on that we hardly read about? I reviewed the NFFC ADP for draft results over the past 14 days and identified seven endgame options who are, for the most part, off the radar and have the potential to put up decent numbers in our lineups. Identifying these players from the jump can save us tons of free agent bidding dollars and bolster our benches with ample depth. Let’s take a look.
Donald Brown (RB, SD — ADP 198.5)
Brown is an interesting late-round handcuff to the injury-prone Ryan Mathews, who finally played 16 games for the first time in his career. Last season, Brown impressively ran for 5.3 yards-per-carry on 102 touches, despite a woeful Colts o-line, and caught 27 balls. The latest on Brown is that he’s slated for “grunt work”, but it would be wise for the Chargers to utilize his talents and keep Mathews fresh throughout the season. If (or perhaps, when) Mathews goes down, it’s Brown, not third-down back Danny Woodhead, who would step in to get the carries. Brown is an ideal late-round handcuff at a low, low price.