Thursday, September 8, 2011

NFL & Post Draft Thoughts

We made it. And Ben Roethlisberger went without raping someone this off-season! If only the lockout had been as strong as the Capital City Nightclub’s bathroom door the night Big Ben was in town—then we might not even have a season to kick off. But we do, and this season’s kicks off happens to be between the 2010 Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers and the 2009 Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints. Top tier quarterback vs. another top tier quarterback. Personally, I am hoping for a shellacking delivered by the Saints to the Packers. Something along the lines of Drew Brees repeating his performance against the Detriot Lions Week 1 in 2009, and Aaron Rodgers mirroring his Week 4 start, in 2008, against the Falcons.

In the last seven days I have completed two Fantasy Football drafts. I will get in the breakdown at the end of this column. This week has also taught me something I think that I have always known about myself. I cannot compete in a bunch of different fantasy drafts. Hell, I can barely even compete in two. How people play in thirty different leagues is beyond me. Friend league, work league, random online league, church league, league with the pizza delivery guy, etc. It is too much for me. I know my limits, what can I say? It is like drinking Red Bull. Drink one, maybe two, and you are feeling super positive—you might even decided to get your butt in gear and write a column. But drink four or more, and you either feel like you are going to throw up or you curl up in the corner convinced you are going to die. To much fun and joy can be a bad thing.

In addition to rooting for the guys on your team, a big chunk of joy associated with Fantasy Football is rooting against the guys on your opponents’ team. The more leagues you participate in, the more players you are likely to have in one league, but not have in the other. I do not want to pull for Philip Rivers in one league, and pray he snaps his arm in nine places in the other. It is a conflict of interest and I like to have my fantasy loyalties as PC as possible.

More often than not, because I like to keep my group of guys as uniform as possible, I usually end up with a couple players on both of my teams. And if you are going to draft the same players (if possible) in every league… why do you need to have 5 copies of the same lineup? For example, in both the leagues I participate in, I have quarterback Drew Bress and wide receiver Roddy White. Those are my guys and I will have no problem hoping they break every NFL record week in, week out. But that is it. Almost ever other player I own, has me battling my principles of do good and do terrible or “do just enough to help me in this matchup, but not so good that you screw me over in my other one.” I hate that.

Over the years I have collected some multiple league, fantasy pearls. Granted, I have only ever done a maximum of two separate Fantasy Football leagues at the same time, so take this for what it is worth, but I have figured at least much:

A) There is always one team you manage that trumps the other one.

In my case, that is the auction draft league I set up just last year, even though the other league is one I have been a part of since 2003. The very league that popped my fantasy cherry. Normally, I am a lifer when it comes to sports things, but the layout in my year-two brainchild league is so much more… more. Ya know? If that makes sense. I was crazy with the amount of spread sheets I prepared, and how much I would spend on Player X if Player Y had already been drafted, and so on and so forth. I made sure I to pick my spots—almost too carefully because post draft I had about $20 left over that I could have used to get a particular receiver I wanted. In my other league, I kind of winged it, and drafted more dangerously. Do not get me wrong, I care about that league, and I want to whoop some ass, but the process and path I am taking to do it, is a bit more cavalier.

B) You develop a set of principles/ideas you stick to every year.

My main set of principles are dichotomatic (yes, I invented that word.)

Explanation: any running back that has a super monster year—and they are either a rookie or have otherwise never had such a season—I am wwaaaaayyy cautious of and anti-them the following year. The exception was been Adrain Peterson. That proof was in the pudding for all to see. But with wide receivers and the occasional quarterback, I am all about their upside. And I prove it with draft picks. Between the two leagues I am in, I either own the rights to or that actual player in: Jonathan Baldwin, AJ Green, Julio Jones, Dez Bryant and Cam Newton. Make it rain!

When it comes to breakout RBs, however, you can deal me out. And I do not lose sleep over it; even if they return the next season and have another solid year.

Last year, that guy was Chris Johnson. Passed on him and he had great year. If he has another pretty decent year, I will welcome him in to the fold of players I do not mind having on my team. This year the two players I want nothing to do with are Arian Foster and Jamaal Charles. Avoided them like the plauge. Sort of. I hate the handcuff and the obligation of having to keep them. In the league I have been in since the early part of 2000 (we call them the ‘Licious Leagues’ because the league name for football is Footbalicous, basketball is Baskelicious, and baseball is Basebalicous) I somehow inherited Jamaal Charles as keeper for 2011. The league is a two-keeper league. I was obligated to keep Jamaal Charles because they said he was Top 5, and now I am obligated to keep him on the off chance that he really is, and it sucks because I do not trust the guy! I am not happy about it.

C) There is always one guy you MUST HAVE.

That guy for me is Michael Vick. I had him in my Licious Leagues, but had to let go of him after his ghetto fabulous season in 2006, when he was sent to prison. In order to get my brainchild league up and going last year, I took the season off from the Licious League, and missed out on reuniting with him in Week 2, the same way I did in my new league. I am contemplating gutting my team just to trade for him. Having the guy already on your team will allow you to focus your energy elsewhere and will help you do better in your league. It is always nice, when your must have guy is not good, because you know it will be easier to get him.

D) Winning your league championship relies 75% on who you picked up on the waiver wire, 15% draft savvy, and 10% luck.

My 2004 Footbalicious League championship came on the heels of running back Larry Johnson, who stepped in mid-season for the ever-concussed Priest Holmes. I got LJ off of waivers. That was the same season my holdover was Deuce McAllister, and he blew his knee ACL out like someone had strapped C-4 to it. Had he been healthy, I never would have picked up Johnson. Same sort of thing happened last season when I nabbed Vick off waivers, except nobody on my team got hurt. I saw flashes of 2006 in Vick’s second half of the Eagles opening game. Combo’d him with my gangster wide receivers. Won my league.

Take this for what you will. It is not a perfect science, but it is pretty damn concrete.

POST DRAFT THOUGHTS

Brainchild Draft Winner: JOEY
He was able to hold over 6 players for $90ish bucks and filled his roster with good to moderate players up and down on draft night.

Footbalicious Draft Winner: RYAN/KYLE (Co-managers)
Their holdovers were Michael Vick and Adrian Peterson. Because they won the league last year, they were able to choose their draft position. Choose first, obviously, and drafted Aaron Rogers with their first pick.

Brainchild Draft Loser: ROB
Rob overpaid for his resigns, except for Arian Foster. Unfortunely, one of the guys he overpaid for was Peyton Manning ($50), who looks like he is going to miss the entire football season.

Footbalicious Draft Loser: JUSTIN
His wife just had a baby and he was unable to show up for the draft. Auto-picked all of players. Auto-pick is not that bad, when there are a couple of other teams that are auto-pick as well. When you are the only one, it never is a good thing.

Brainchild team to look out for: JEFF
Jeff is DEEP at running back. Darren McFadden, Rashard Mendenhall, DeAngelo Williams, and LaGarrette Blount. He also has Tom Brady and Jermichael Finely who—by the way—is going to catch a zillion touchdown passes from Aaron Rodgers… after Week 1 of course ;)

Footbalicious team to look out for: ME
Brees, Roddy White, Jamaal Charles (who better do something) and upside guys like Cam Newton, AJ Green and Julio Jones. Let’s make it happen baby!

Prediction for tonight? Saints over Packers. 45 to 17. Shaboomya!

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