Every year, I like to do a recap of the Blue Jackets’ draft picks, both to get a better sense of the prospects coming into the system of the team on my beat as well as honing my own prognosticating skills. Two years ago I pegged third round pick Oliver Bjorkstrand as a potential steal and noted that Marko Dano (27th overall) was a better selection than Kerby Rychel (19th overall), and both of those predictions are looking pretty good so far, especially after Chicago insisted that Dano be the centerpiece of the Brandon Saad trade. My full writeups on the Jackets’ 2013 and 2014 draft classes are on the old Rotowire blog if you want to take a gander. Now, it’s time for 2015:
No one really pays much attention to kickers in fantasy football. You pick one up at the end of your draft, keep him until he sucks or his bye week rolls around, then toss him aside and pick up someone else. Preseason kicker ‘rankings’ are really nothing more than an obligatory reminder that the Tuckers and Hauschkas are marginally better than the rest, but even Chandler Catanzaro (who?) would have gotten you 114 points last season in leagues with standard scoring.
So, when the NFL decided to revamp the point after touchdown rules and move the spot of the kick from the two yard line to the 15, changing a 20-yard chip shot into a… well, a 33-yard chip shot, there was really no reason for that change to impact your fantasy plans for 2015.
That’s not going to stop me from trying, though.
With the NFL draft now only a week away, it seemed like a good time to grab Fanspeak’s On the Clock simulator to crank out one more mock draft for the Cowboys. My previous two efforts are here and here. The biggest news item since the last one was Greg Hardy’s massive 10-game suspension, which suddenly makes DE more of a priority again for Dallas (although Hardy will appeal, and there’s at least a decent chance the suspension gets knocked down to six games). The lesser bit of post-combine scuttlebutt which could impact the Cowboys’ draft is word that Jay Ajayi’s knee is a concern to some teams. Now in this case “concern” is probably code for “we really like him so we’ll spread some dirt around in the hopes he drops to us”, but considering that I had Ajayi at the top of the second tier of running backs on my personal board after Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon, it could affect his availability for Dallas’ second round pick.
With all that in mind, let’s see how this mock played out:
When I do research on prospects heading into the NFL draft, every once in a while a player just jumps out at me. Sometimes it’s their game film, sometimes their measurables, but there are clear instances when a player just grabs my attention for no readily apparent reason. Call it a hunch, or subconscious pattern recognition, but every person who spends time year after year evaluating prospects in any sport likely has had the same experience.
Markus Golden is not one of those players.
Instead, Golden represents something else entirely, something rarely seen in this most imperfect of universes: a near-perfect test case for a theory.
Last night I took part in an “expert” league draft for a 12 team, 5×5 NL-only league put together by Todd Zola of Mastersball. While there was nothing unusual about the league structure, Zola is running the league as part of the Slugging For Jude drive. Jude is the young lad getting his Skywalker on in the picture above (along with the Yoda ear of his little brother Finn), who’s currently in a battle with leukemia. Todd has pledged to make a donation based on how many of us manage to beat him in the standings in this league, so the incentive is certainly there for all of us to make sure he finishes as close to the basement as possible.
For my part, I’m going to make a similar donation at season’s end based on how many teams finish ahead of me in each individual category. Should I win the league, I’ll flip it and donate based on how many teams are below me in each individual category. If you’d like to make a donation yourself, you can use their GoFundMe page, and you can get updates on how Jude is doing here.
My team, and draft strategy, are below the fold.
This is my second crack at a mock draft for the Cowboys using Fanspeak’s On the Clock simulator (the first mock can be seen here). The big change since my first mock was Greg Hardy’s signing, which helps alleviate the need for a defensive end. It doesn’t eliminate it entirely though, given the possibility of Hardy getting hit with a suspension to begin the season. A running back to replace DeMarco Murray remains a big priority but fortunately for the ‘Boys, this draft class is very deep at running back. If Melvin Gordon isn’t available at the tail end of the first round, there are plenty of nice consolation prizes available later on. Other needs include the secondary (corner and safety), linebacker depth, and a tackle to understudy Tyron Smith and Doug Free and possibly serve as Free’s replacement in 2016.
All that said, here’s my second kick at the mock draft can:
With the NFL draft inching closer, it felt like time to mosey on over to Fanspeak’s On the Clock simulator to crank out a mock draft or seven for the team I cover for Rotowire: the Cowboys. Doing mock drafts may be an exercise in futility when it comes to actually predicting who might go in any particular draft slot, but it’s a great way to force yourself to become familiar with the draft class beyond the obvious big names. For instance, last year when doing mocks, I kept running into the name Dezmen Southward (an unheralded safety out of Wisconsin) as available in the late rounds. When I actually looked him up, however, I discovered that he’d torn up the track with a 4.38 40-time at his pro day, and so when he got popped in the third round by the Falcons it was no surprise to me.
This year, the obvious glaring need for the Cowboys is a running back to replace DeMarco Murray. Fortunately for them, this draft class is very deep at running back. If Melvin Gordon isn’t available at the tail end of the first round, someone like Jay Ajayi could be a nice consolation prize later on. Their other glaring need, a pass rushing defensive end, could be harder to find, however, both due to draft position and due to the fact that this doesn’t look like a great year for them.
That said, here’s the first kick at the mock draft can: