For this week, and this week only, Ben's Mailbag will be pushed to next week. Enjoy the Draft Diary instead, and if you have emailed I'll get to your question next week and if you haven't emailed a question...GET ON IT! firstname.lastname@example.org...email me questions...now.
I've played fantasy football in one way or another since high school. In college we created the league we currently have now of 10 players. It is mainly made up of college buddies and has been together since 2005. My finishes haven't been anything to brag about:
2005 - 6 of 8 (prior to getting final two players in our league)
2006 - 6 of 8
2007 - 4 of 8
2008 - 7 of 10
2009 - Took a year hiatus to refocus.
2010 - 2 of 10 (career year)
2011 - 8 of 10 (should have taken another hiatus)
2012 - ?
So, outside of two years, I've finished in the bottom half of the league. You can see why my confidence isn't the highest as I am now 30 minutes away from drafting this year's club. I have a plan, and my draft position is 8th and may work with that plan perfectly. I am going to go QB/TE first two picks IF Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski are available with the second pick. I am taking a page out of Matthew Berry's playbook, that relying on RB in fantasy is a strategy that is dying just like it is the NFL itself. It allows me to lock up two positions that, if healthy, will only need a backup come their bye weeks as both will be studs week in and week out. Then the rest of the draft I'll be able to go WR/RB every pick until the end, likely not even drafting a kicker or defense to accumulate the most assets as possible then playing matchups with those two positions week to week.
That is my plan. It may or may not work. I'll tell you prior to starting the draft that I fear Rogers/Brees/Brady maybe gone prior to the 8th pick and that will really spoil my entire plan. I am not sure I am ready to drop the 8th pick on Cam Newton and fear the sophomore slump the entire season. One of the TE's should be there with my second pick.
Draft time is 2:45 pm central on Sunday afternoon. I am all set up on the couch. It's 2:25 pm...now what? I got Jasper the STOB Mascot sitting in front of me cleaning himself. Mrs. Duke is reading a book and likely soon to fall asleep. Is 2:26 pm on a Sunday too early to break into the Founding Father's brews? Probably should stay sober for this, those can wait to either celebrate a good draft or drown my sorrows of another horrible one.
Alright, let's go into time stamp mode and work our way through this thing:
2:27 pm - Ken signs into the draft and immediately wants to trade his 1st and 2nd round picks (10/11 overall respectively).
2:30 pm - Nobody acknowledges Ken's request to trade his pick.
2:32 pm - Romen Empire (we'll get to all the team names later) is ripping everyone incessantly and already there have been calls for him to be kicked out. I stay relatively quiet, just adding a "zing" to zingers or "heyo" to good personal shots.
2:34 pm - Pull up a list of NFL injuries attempting to prevent myself from drafting a currently injured player...this will surely fail.
2:38 pm - While we wait another 7 minutes for the draft to start we can go through the team names: Playoff Abstinence, 3rd Place or Bust, Fluff Daddy, Me (this isn't "me" it is the person's team name), 1.21 Gigawatts, Tits Salad, PSU Tickle Monster (too soon), ? (this is me...easier than coming up with something witty), Romen Empire and Free Enemas Daily. The hilarity of these names is too much for me to handle....
2:45 pm - Draft starts.
2:47 pm - My draft plan that I just laid out for you all...screwed. Rodgers/Brees/Brady all off the board prior to my pick at 8. That leaves me with a tough decision. Do I go with Cam Newton here in a bit of a stretch or do I go with the best value left on the board in Chris Johnson and lock up a solid RB? I'll go with Chris Johnson.
2:50 pm - 13th pick back to me with the snake style draft. Newton is off the board which means I'll just have to wait until the later rounds to get a QB. I stick to half of my pre-draft plan and go with Jimmy Graham. There is news out that Gronk maybe the 2nd choice for Brady now, and that Aaron Hernandez, who was a bit banged up by injuries last year, has now ascended to the top of Brady's targets. Graham is no doubt Brees' first choice, lock up the TE and only now have to worry about that position (barring injury) on Graham's bye week. The rest of the time he is locked in.
3:01 pm - 28th pick and to me it is time to start looking WR as all the "elite" RB's are off the board. I go with Brandon Marshall. I think pairing back up with Cutler should be a good thing. I wish our league was PPR as I think Marshall will rack up the receptions. Either way he is a solid #1 fantasy WR.
3:05 pm - Into the 4th round now and with the 43rd pick I lock up my 2nd RB. Fred Jackson is solid, I fear a CJ Spiller bust out year but I think Jackson should contribute well for my team. I was tempted to go with Tampa Bay rookie Doug Martin here, but I thought the safer pick was Jackson. Seriously though...who the F knows?
3:12 pm - The trash talk is increasing as The Romen Empire is continuously picking injured or oft-injured players. Darren McFadden, Ryan Mathews, Andre Johnson and Hakeem Nicks. He is getting ripped a new one by everyone, but still all of our ridicule only amounts to half the amount he is spitting.
3:15 pm - 58th pick and I got sniped by PSU Tickle Monster. Antonio Brown, WR for Pittsburgh, was all lined up to be my #2 WR. BUT NOOOOOO! Fine, I'll take what I hope is Peyton Manning's next big time target in Demaryius Thomas.
3:19 pm - 63rd pick and I am find myself running the clock down as far as it can go. The beeping as it counts down the final 10 seconds only adds to my stress as I feverishly attempt to figure out the bye weeks breakdown of my RBs. I go with Darren Sproles. Again, this wasn't part of my plan to take 3 RBs in the first 6 rounds. I had told myself to get my 2 RBs and then go WR for a good few founds prior to getting back up RBs. But again, my plan was shot in the 1st round, why try to get back on track now?
3:25 pm - 78th pick. Michael Vick has left the building two picks prior. This signals to me that the guys that didn't get the elite QB's are going to start picking up the 2nd tier now. I look and see Rivers, Romo, Peyton Manning, and Cutler and decide that one of them I can stand and will likely still be there next round. I go with Stevie Johnson of Buffalo to round out my starting 3 WRs.
3:28 pm - 83rd pick. Peyton Manning is gone with the 80th selection. I decide I can't wait any longer. Rivers or Romo? I decide that Romo has every bit the upside, Rivers WR core is depleted and Antonio Gates can't stay on the field. I go with Romo and tell myself to monitor closely the availability of RG-III as a backup. Had I gotten an elite QB, I would have not gotten at backup QB at all. Romo though has had injury issues the past two years, so I tell myself I'll need a solid backup. RG-III is my target.
3:34 pm - 98th pick. I don't like it, due to injury again, but I go with Sidney Rice. Meh...could be good if he stays healthy...but I have my doubts. Wasted pick in my mind. RG-III watch still going.
3:36 pm - 103rd pick and I go with possibly boom/bust guy in rookie WR Justin Blackmon. I am hoping for the boom but prepared for the bust. WR is deep this year, so I think to myself I'll pick up more WR's as the draft goes on and should be able to handle Blackmon struggling. Also Ken had his two picks prior to me here and he I fear is most likely to pull the trigger on RG-III, I have my next pick prior to Ken's next, so I think I should be able to grab RG-III there.
3:40 pm - 118th pick. A few backup QBs have gone. I can't wait any longer. With dreams of RG-III having a rookie campaign the likes of Cam Newton last year, I go ahead and swipe the Baylor product. I have a positive feeling that he will either turn into my starter at some point this year or at least be a nice trade piece later in the season.
3:41 pm - Ken applauds my pick...had I waited any longer he would have taken him for sure.
3:43 pm - 123rd pick. The clock and my pre-draft rankings get the best of me here. I had told myself prior to starting the draft to look for Cedric Benson later in the draft as he was having a nice preseason with the Packers. BUT, I did my pre-draft rankings a week ago, prior to this information getting in my brain so Cedric Benson was pretty low and therefore not showing up on the first page of the list that I was working off of. I scrambled, feverishly Googling injury concerns for remaining players...finally as the clock ticked down I took a desperation pick in LeGarrette Blount. Dumb pick. Luckily, PSU Tickle Monster has Doug Martin, for whom Blount is a backup, and may want to handcuff his starting RB. So I maybe able to pull a small trade with Blount for another small backup piece. (*Update* trade offer is in already Blount for Benson...fingers crossed)
3:47 pm - 138th pick and I have Randall Cobb picked as a sleeper and targeted for this pick. At the 133rd pick Fluff Daddy says, "Got a nice sleeper for you guys with my pick." Shit! He is going to pick Cobb. He is from Wisconsin and likely has read that Cobb has been working with the first team offense. 133rd pick is....JEROME SIMPSON! Whew! PSU Tickle Monster passes on him as well and Cobb falls to me. I snatch him instantly and hope that he has a Jordy Nelson-esque breakout season for me.
3:49 pm - 143rd pick. I've heard good things about Shane Vereen as a guy who is replacing Danny Woodhead in a lot of sets and could challenge for the starting job that currently (maybe) is held by Stevan Ridley. I snatch up Vereen. Again, a lot of boom/bust potential in my latter picks after going with more consistent guys early on.
3:54 pm - 2 rounds left. 158th pick and I go with another boom/bust guy in Ronnie Hillman. I read a story about him being Peyton Manning's pupil. He is a RB, and with the aging and somewhat injury prone Willis McGahee ahead of him on the depth chart, I have a feeling that Hillman may see some starters time later in the year.
3:57 pm - 163rd and final pick for me. I go with WR Doug Baldwin from Seattle. Very likely he is first dropped for a defense or kicker prior to week one. Yet, with TO being cut and Sidney Rice still possibly injured, I think he is worth a shot at having on the roster.
4:03 pm - Draft OVER!
So let's review my squad with team building nicknames already in place-
QB - Tony "Please don't break a Clavicle" Romo
RB - Chris "No Holdout = No Suck" Johnson
RB - Fred "Where is Coe College?" Jackson
WR - Brandon "US" Marshall
WR - Demaryius "My first name is hard to spell" Thomas
WR - Stevie "Don't I have a big" Johnson
TE - Jimmy "The best kind of cracker is a" Graham
K - Nope
Def - Not yet
Bench - Darren "Teeny Tiny" Sproles, Sidney "Fried" Rice, Justin "Not making a joke cause a" Blackmon "may find it offensive.", Robert Griffin "1 and 2 aren't as good as the" III, LeGarrette "Let me be" Blount, Randall "Cut the corn off the" Cobb, Shane "When you drive drunk you are" Vereen, Ronnie "I don't want to climb this" Hillman, Doug "You know you're going" Baldwin (Could be the next big comedic catch phrase...watch your back Foxworthy).
I think I have a solid squad here. Obviously prior to the first games I'll be dropping two players to pick up a kicker and defense but prior to that I need to see how depth charts are reportedly being sorted out. Will Vereen be able to do anything behind Stevan Ridley? Will Randall Cobb play with the first team enough? Will Willis McGahee breakdown?
I have no real regrets about this draft except for missing on Cedric Benson and taking LeGarrette Blount, that was my only real mistake I see. For me that is likely a record, especially when my draft strategy screwed the pooch in round one. Now if I can only make 1 mistake the entire season I'll really have something.