Tim Schuler and I drafted a team on Monday night in the FFOC. There's a few wrinkles in this contest that make it a little different:
- Each league is only 10 teams, rather than 12 or 14. So even though the draft lasts 20 rounds, there should still be decent talent on the waiver wire.
- We start 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR and a FLEX, *but* the FLEX can be a QB, which considerably boosts the value of the QB's in the draft. Because of the way the drafted unfolded, we waited longer than most to take our first QB, but were ahead of the curve to take our second and third. This was an intentional strategy for the 2nd and 3rd QB's.
- Roster flexibility is somewhat limited. You can have a max of 3 QB's, 6 RB's and 6 WR's. Thus, we ended up with backups at TE and D/ST where we wouldn't have had him otherwise.
- We drafted in 8th slot - not a great slot, but better than 6th or 7th, I think.
Here are the results:
1.8 Marshawn Lynch (Brady was taken 3rd overall, Moss was available).
2.3 Reggie Wayne
3.8 Michael Turner (heavy bankroll on him this year)
4.3 Torry Holt
5.8 Derek Anderson (9th overall QB taken)
6.3 Kevin Smith
7.8 Matt Schaub (have him a lot as well - we were targeting him here)
8.3 Dallas Clark
9.8 D'Angelo Williams (woot!)
10.3 Hines Ward (sigh - third receiver, our two other targets went off the board on the changeover)
11.8 Marc Bulger
12.3 Patrick Crayton
13.8 Vincent Jackson (another pocket pick from Schuler)
14.3 Packers Defense
15.8 Steve Slaton
16.3 Josh Scobee
17.8 Andre Hall
18.3 Robert Meachem
19.8 Greg Olsen
20.3 Saints Defense
The conventional wisdom is there's a Big 5: LaDainian Tomlinson, Adrian Peterson, Steven Jackson, Brian Westbrook and Joseph Addai in some order.
I'm not sure how that came about, but once the CW's established, it pulls analysts and owners in like a gravitational field, making it hard to imagine other options. I understand why people like those five backs, but I'd argue there's a Big 9, adding Frank Gore, Marshawn Lynch, Marion Barber and Randy Moss.
Gore is the only back other than Jackson who can go 300 carries/70 catches. Lynch had 280 carries in 13 games and will catch more passes this year on an improving Bills squad. He'll also draw some of the NFL's softest run defenses. And Barber plays a for a top-notch offense and sees a lot of work inside the five. If you want to bet on most rushing TDs, LT and Barber have to be the two favorites.
Moss has always been a monster when healthy and in a good system. In a 3-WR league, getting Moss at 9 is absolutely a fine way to start your draft. So don't dread the 6th pick or the 8th - I'd even say 10th or 11th is pretty good because one among Lynch, Barber, Moss or Gore will likely fall to you.
In fact, I'd take 4:3 on Gore/Barber/Lynch/Moss vs. Peterson/Addai/Westbrook/Jackson in fantasy points. (I do think Tomlinson stands out a bit).
Finally, for some comic relief - (and shameless self-promotion) - I wanted to post this clip from my fantasy football documentary again. Please feel free to send out the link.
Warning: Don't watch if you've recently suffered a traumatic loss.
Iím pretty dumbfounded where Thomas Jones has been going in my drafts. Last yearís 1,119 rushing yards donít look bad as an end result, but that was because he received the fifth most carries in the league, and on a week-to-week basis, he was literally unusable, especially since heís so uninvolved in the passing game. Maybe heíll bounce back at the goal line (1-for-17 last year) and become a viable option, and Brett Favreís addition does bring optimism. However, he averaged 3.6 YPC last season and is now a year older. Heís on the wrong side of 30 and has carried a big workload over the past three years. Iíd draft teammate Jerricho Cotchery ahead of Jones eight days a week.
The more I think about it, the more Iím considering Marion Barber as the No. 1 overall pick. First of all, heís awesome. Also, heís in one of the best offensive systems in football, is extremely durable, catches passes, is fresh as a runner and gets all the goal-line work. No one else can say the same. The guy has scored 28 touchdowns over the past two seasons without ever starting a game. Felix Jones will probably get similar carries to every other backup in the league. The only player Iíd take over Barber is Adrian Peterson, and thatís mostly because of the huge discrepancy in Week 14-16 schedules.
I tried to talk myself into Julius Jones after he signed in Seattle, but apparently I momentarily forgot how much he sucks. Not that Maurice Morris is some budding star, but at least he knows the system well and is solid. Jones canít catch or break a tackle. Itís a coin flip on whom Iíd rather have, but the fact MoMo typically goes 5-10 rounds later makes it a no-brainer.
Iím surprisingly hooked on HBOís ďHard Knocks.Ē Some quick, general observations: Wade Phillips is clueless, Jerry Jones is insane, Pacman Jones is rusty, Martellus Bennett is a punk, Tony Romo is extremely unassuming, and Terrell Owens is the man.
Donít get me wrong, Iíd prefer Steve Slaton, but Chris Taylor seems to be getting overlooked in Houstonís backfield. Ahman Green and Chris Brown are done, just forget about them and move on. So after Slaton, who else does that leave? Darius Walker isnít even getting preseason carries, whereas Taylor is getting preseason starts. His YPC hasnít impressed, but the Houston beat writers have raved about this guy for years. Maybe he best projects at fullback, but the opportunity for much more appears to be there. The Texansí offense should be very good.
If Iím drafting a Bronco running back, itís Andre Hall. For one, heíll cost much cheaper. Also, which is somehow being overlooked, heís currently the teamís goal-line runner. He can catch the ball, is fast and averaged 4.9 YPC last season. Rookie Ryan Clady looks like a dominant franchise left tackle, and only Young is really competing for touches right now.
During the NFL Draft, ESPN frequently cut to camera crews inside the homes of Chad Henne and Brian Brohm as they fell down the draft board. Since Iím not a big college football watcher, I decided to predict who would be the better pro based on my scientific reasoning that was body language. I concluded Henne in a landslide. Thereís really no point to this, other than to say so far I look very, very good. Of course, I could have been just as right flipping a coin, but still.
Iíve seen Willie Parker go as high as the second round recently. Huh? Not only is his touchdown potential limited since heíll get taken out at the goal line, but he also doesnít catch the ball Ė two pretty crucial aspects to the value of fantasy backs. So what if Rashard Mendenhall has struggled a bit over the first few weeks of his pro career; he still looms large. Parkerís YPC has dropped four straight seasons, as his workload has increased significantly. Plus, heís coming off a broken leg. All the Fred Taylor comparisons are apt.
Tropic Thunder and Pineapple Express were both good, not amazing. The best part of each: Tropic Thunderís opening fake trailers, which killed me, and Pineapple Expressí Amber Heard.
If you are set on drafting an Arizona running back, make it Tim Hightower and not Edgerrin James. Not only will he come much cheaper, but heís also got a higher ceiling at this point in their respective careers. James is coming off five straight 300-carry seasons and is approaching 3,000 career rushes, which is astronomical for a running back. He also hasnít averaged better than 3.8 YPC since leaving Indy. Hightower, meanwhile, has impressed and will at worst get 10 carries a game, including all the goal-line work. But thereís likely to be much, much more.
Peyton Manningís mysterious injury status is of utter importance, since it not only affects a top-3 QB but also a top-5 pick, three draftable wide receivers and a tight end. I think he should be fine long-term, but the repercussions here could be devastating if not.
Darren McFadden has ended up on far too many of my teams this year. Heís not even the starter, led college football in fumbles last year, could lose goal-line work to Michael Bush and plays on a team that figures to struggle in the passing game. Naturally, I view Run-DMC as a top-15 back. No, heís not going to go all Adrian Peterson on the league his rookie year, and I do worry about his ability to break tackles, but Oaklandís running system is top-3 in the league, and Tom Cableís run blocking unit only improved over the offseason. The team will be very ground heavy, so there will be plenty of carries to go around, and McFadden should be active as a receiver. The defense should improve, and Oaklandís coaches are quietly ecstatic that McFadden fell to them after watching him through training camp. Additionally, Bush doesnít look the same as he did before the broken leg, and Fargas is quite injury-prone.
I actually enjoyed the Olympics a good deal. But seriously, how can so many world records go down? Evolution is going into overdrive, apparently. Speaking of which, I thought this WSJ article on the worldís greatest athlete was ridiculous at the time, but it looks even worse after their No. 1 finished in sixth place at his event in the Olympics.
At this point I've gotten a chance to see just about all the main rookie running backs in action this preseason (Matt Forte being the exception), so I just thought I'd toss my thoughts out there as chum for the sharks...
In no particular order:
Rashard Mendenhall, Pit: Saturday's case of fumbilitis might scare away some owners, but he otherwise looked every inch an NFL feature back: big, strong, elusive and quick to a hole. I still don't like his fantasy value this season unless Willie Parker gets hurt again, but this is the guy I'd target in dynasty leagues.
Felix Jones, Dal: He's a much better receiver than he got a chance to show in college, which makes him exactly the weapon Dallas was looking for when they drafted him. Jones is a larger Reggie Bush without the expectations weighing him down.
Steve Slaton, Hou: Remember the kid two years ago who looked like a near-lock for the Heisman and a first round draft slot? The one who faded away in his final year in college? He's ba-a-ack. Slaton has looked great so far, with plus moves and speed and no fear of grinding out yards inside when he needs to. If he's not the Texans Week 1 starter in the backfield, he will be before the month is out, assuming he can stay in one piece.
Jonathan Stewart, Car: Despite his 50 yard TD and 100 yard game Saturday, Stewart hasn't really impressed me. The Stephen Davis comparisons appear shockingly apt: he's a grinder not a game-breaker, and while that has fantasy uses (especially in TD leagues) it won't make him a top five pick down the road.
Kevin Smith, Det: Smith isn't really great at anything but he looks pretty good at everything. Actually, I take that back - he does have a great motor, and will pick up more than his share of second-effort yardage. Still, I see him as more of a stop-gap than a solution for the Lions, the kind of guy who'll pick up a 1000 yard season or two before finishing up his career as a very good backfield second fiddle.
Darren McFadden, Oak: AP 2.0 he ain't. McFadden has excellent speed and he's fairly shifty, which makes him dangerous once he's in the secondary, but I'm not convinced he'll be effective as an every-down back. He doesn't hit the hole as quickly as he needs to, and could have trouble getting past the line of scrimmage with any regularity. Arkansas got him into space with a lot of trickery, and the Raiders might need to do the same to get full value out of him.
Chris Johnson, Ten: Damn, is this kid fast. He needs to be though, as he's got a classic upright running style that could get him killed in the NFL, so long as someone can get an angle on him. I haven't exactly seen him display any killer moves either; he just runs away from everyone. I'd still view him as a lottery ticket.
Ray Rice, Bal: I freely admit I'm not a Willis McGahee fan (he's Eddie George without the physical strength, IMO) and am rooting for Rice to steal his job, but I just don't see him as a long-term solution. He leaves it all on the field, sure, but he's just not quite fast or shifty enough to avoid all the behemoths he's playing against. Like Jones above, he'll be a fine caddy for a feature back down the road, but I don't see him being much more.
By now you've seen the breaking news (hat tip to Adam Schefter) that Osi Umenyiora is out for the season after suffering a left knee injury during the Giants pre-season matchup against the Jets. It was an odd mechanism for the injury, but he tore his lateral mensicus cartilage - which he also tore in college.
Immediate thoughts have to turn to Michael Strahan, who played well after missing all of the Giants 2007 camp. The Giants DST needs to be downgraded for this season, but Umenyiora should be able to return without much problem.
The Colts open up their new palace tonight and we'll have to see if more screwups like 18 inch-wide aisles in some places pop up. For me, I want to know about the turf. There might be no better place to learn about it than the first defensive series. Freeney's not expected to play much, a few obvious pass situations where he can speed rush and ignore the run (like normal), but we'll be able to see if he has his first step and how quick the new FieldTurf in The Oil Field is.