With fellow quarterback Colin Kaepernick on the mend from a sore throwing shoulder, Blaine Gabbert is quickly emerging as the clear favorite to win the 49ers starting job, according Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group. Coach Chip Kelly has yet to name a starting QB for the team’s first preseason game on Saturday, but it certainly looks like Gabbert will get the call with Kaepernick limited at Friday’s practice. Gabbert appeared in eight games last season, throwing for just over 2,000 yards (7.2 YPA) and a 10:7 touchdown-to=interception ratio. Even if Gabbert is named the team’s starter, he will likely continue to be drafted outside of the top 20 quarterbacks in all formats. Gabbert could provide value in deeper leagues with adequate weapons at his disposal in newcomer / vertical-threat Torrey Smith, the emerging Bruce Ellington and big-bodied target, Vance McDonald.
Cowboys’ faithful received a scare Wednesday morning with the report that their prized fourth overall pick, Ezekiel Elliott, is expected to miss some time dealing with a hamstring issue. Overblown concern dominated fantasy Twitter when the news first broke this morning until the realization surfaced that Elliott’s injury is not that serious and that the Cowboys are simply being cautious with their rookie back. In the meanwhile, veteran Alfred Morris and Darius Jackson (their only two healthy backs) will receive more reps. Elliott is considered a sure fire first rounder in fantasy drafts this year, particularly in PPR formats, despite never playing an NFL snap. His draft stock should take a small dip into the second round (12-team formats) for the time being. Elliott is expected to rank among the league’s leaders in carries this season.
On an otherwise uneventful news cycle on the first Friday of NFL training camp, it appears that the Titans have decided to add 35-year old wide receiver Andre Johnson into the fold. The veteran was ineffective in his only season with the Colts last year, securing just 41 of 77 targets for 503 yards and four touchdowns. He joins a bevy of options at quarterback Marcus Mariota’s disposal along with Kendall Wright, Dorial Green-Beckham, rookie Tajae Sharpe and free agent signing, Rishard Matthews. Johnson has yet to sign, but expects to do so early next week. An uptick on last season’s dismal numbers shouldn’t be shocking as he is expected to provide leadership to the Titans’ young corps of receivers.
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.