Saturday, May 24, 2008

Fantasy Football Mock Draft-tacular!

Yes, it's far too early for anyone remotely normal to care, but as a little gift to myself for Memorial Day Weekend, I decided to do a Fantasy Football Mock Draft at CBS Sportsline. I'm mainly posting this here so I can laugh at these picks when half of them are injured/holding out on their current contract/imprisoned for dogfighting during actual draft season -which, by the way, by my calendar is only nine weeks away!

The Rules -
Similar to how I usually play - 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 RB/WR, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 DST, 5 RES (14 Rounds)

The Draft -
Nine nobodies, including me, and one Auto-Pick player. I was in the tenth slot.

Round 1 - Pick #10 - Randy Moss (WR - Patriots)
Who was picked before: Marion Barber (RB - Cowboys)
Who was picked after: See below
Why this was a good pick: I typically follow traditional Fantasy Football protocol, taking the two strongest running backs available, as they have long been the foundation for championships. However, with the two-back system dominating today's NFL, these running backs are harder and harder to find, not to mention at a value in the tenth slot. Throw in the fact that RB is an injury-prone position and getting a crack at the first wide receiver taken overall is looking pretty good. Moss won't break records two years in a row, but he is the unquestioned top fantasy receiver at this point and is in a pass-happy, mostly unchanged, angry offense.
Why this was a bad pick: Moss has had a history of temper tantrums, and while he's on a winning squad, they were tragically (only in the eyes of Pats fans) close to having the perfect season and going 19-0. Many experts say that the New England Juggernaut will be immune to the legendary Superbowl hangover, but there's some risk taking Moss as the first member of your fantasy squad.

Round 2 - Pick #11 - Clinton Portis (RB - Redskins)
Who was picked before: See above
Who was picked after: Larry Johnson (RB - Chiefs)
Why this was a good pick: Clinton Portis bounced back from being injured and had a decent year and rumbled for 1,262 yards and 11 touchdowns (not to mention 389 yards receiving). He was an unheralded consistent force that, if healthy and used properly by new coach Jim Zorn, is an under the radar cornerstone of a championship team - not flashy, but productive. Think Rudi Johnson of the Bengals before his injury in 2007.
Why this was a bad pick: Portis has an injury history - even as of the 8th of May, he was on the injury report. Granted, he was probable with only hip trouble (it's the knees fantasy owners are worried about), but previously injured running backs are more likely to crap out on you mid season. Throw this in the uncertainty of an entirely new coaching staff, and my 'safe pick' suddenly isn't looking so safe.

Round 3 - Pick #30 - Torry Holt (WR - Rams)
Who was picked before: Derek Anderson (QB - Browns)
Who was picked after: See below
Why this was a good pick: To quote CBS Sports' expert analysis: "Rams WR Torry Holt has at least 90 catches and 1,100 yards in six-straight years. He reached that mark again last year despite dealing with a sore knee." Keep in mind that on top of all of this, St. Louis was having line problems all year while trudging to an awful 3-13 record. Despite Holt's age (32), there's a lot of upside here - the Rams may be able to keep Quarterback Marc Bulger on his feet and healthy this season, paying dividends for Touchdown Torry.
Why this was a bad pick: There's no guarantee that the line in St. Louis will hold. Orlando Pace is set to return, but the Rams didn't get a shot at Michigan Tackle Jake Long in the draft and didn't do anything spectacular in later rounds or free agency to make a huge turnaround in the Offensive line. In addition, Issac Bruce has departed in free agency to San Francisco - inevitiably leaving Holt with extra coverage from opposing defenses.

Round 4 - Pick #31 - Ben Roethlisberger (QB - Steelers)
Who was picked before: See above
Who was picked after: Plaxico Burress (WR - Giants)
Why this was a good pick: I've traditionally stocked up on top-flight running backs and receivers in the first six rounds and put off drafting a quarterback. Ironically, the most important position in the National Football League isn't that integral in a fantasy championship - statistically, the top quarterback traditionally isn't far and away more superior than the tenth. However, my attempts to platoon low-end quarterbacks were agonizing - I always seem to pick the wrong starter from week to week. This year, I'm in the market for a top 5 quarterback - something Roethlisberger has become in Bruce Arians' past-first offense. He can start every week if healthy.
Why this was a bad pick: In the first four rounds, I have only one running back on my roster - and his name isn't LaDanian Tomlinson or Adrian Peterson. Considering it's another 19 picks until I can get my second back, if there is a run on RBs, I am royally screwed. Also, regarding Big Ben, Pittsburgh's offensive line hasn't gotten any better - a scary thought considering #7 was sacked 47 times last season.

Round 5 - Pick #50 - Michael Turner (RB - Falcons)
Who was picked before: Rudi Johnson (RB - Bengals)
Who was picked after: See below
Why this was a good pick: Turner has finally gotten to opportunity to shine without being engulfed in the shadow of LaDanian Tomlinson - unfortunately, he's now joined a team that can't seem to escape the shadow of Michael Vick. Still, the team is committed to back to basic football and Turner only has to fight change-of pace diminuitive back Jerious Norwood for carries. Given the less than fearsome competition in the NFC South, and Turner seems destined for 1,000 yards by volume of carries alone.
Why this was a bad pick: It was heartbreaking that a bargain like Rudi Johnson in the 5th round went right before this pick. Johnson has less variables to worry about than Turner, and was a consistency king for his injury. Also, Turner is a well-paid free agent who averaged over 6/yards a carry behind a premiere running back coming to play for a rebuilding team with few weapons. Sounds reminiscent of LaMont Jordan in Oakland, who had his moments of glory but struggled to consistently be the force he was made out to be.

Round 6 - Pick #51 - Jonathan Stewart (RB - Panthers)
Who was picked before: See above
Who was picked after: Antonio Gates (TE- Chargers)
Why this was a good pick: This was a my swing for the fences pick - Stewart is a sign that Carolina is ready to win now, with the power running game. Before his injury at Oregon, some would argue he was the best all-around pro running back of this year's draft class. Given Carolina's intent not to rush Quarterback Jake Delhomme back from injury and lack of talent at the running back position before drafting Stewart, it looks like he'll be getting 15+ carries/game by the end of the season.
Why this was a bad pick: Antonio Gates was the safer call here - he's a Tight End that you would without a doubt start week in and week out. Also, Stewart is as likely to fail as he is to succeed. Last year I was excited to snag DeAngelo Williams, a promising young talent with a decent offensive line and a lame duck incumbent to challenge for the starting job. This year, a similar player on the same team is challenging Williams for that very same job. Maybe I'm just a sucker for runners in powder blue. On top of all of this, Edgerrin James was still available.

Round 7 - Pick #70 - Thomas Jones (RB - Jets)
Who was picked before: Hines Ward (WR - Steelers)
Who was picked after: See below
Why this was a good pick: The Jets didn't do anything drastic at the position through the draft or free agency (though they would have undoubtedly taken Darren McFadden if Oakland hadn't), so it shows they have some faith in Jones, who disappointed last season but still managed over 1,000 yards last year. Throw in new additions to the offensive line (especially Guard Alan Faneca) and an easier schedule, and Jones is my redemption for the risky pick of Jonathan Stewart at the running back position.
Why this was a bad pick: Jones is 30 - an awful age for running backs. There is still uncertainty for the lowly jets at quarterback - Kellen Clemens didn't look like he was ready for the starting job numerous times last year, which translates to 8 defenders in the box for an already challenged back. Luckily, Jones is at most considered a flex player for my team.

Round 8 - Pick #71 - Todd Heap (TE - Baltimore)
Who was picked before: See above
Who was picked after: Josh Brown (K- Rams) (Seriously)
Why this was a good pick: Heap was considered an elite talent at Tight End before being injured last year. Also, whether it's Kyle Boller, Troy Smith, or Joe Flacco running the offense next year, they're all bound to lean on Heap as a safety valve.
Why this was a bad pick: Baltimore's offense was pretty terrible last year, and there's no guarantee that new coach John Harbraugh will be able to turn around the unit in a mere season. At this point, I'm falling behind on wide receivers, as I have no reserves drafted at the position in the first eight rounds.

Round 9 - Pick #90 - David Garrard (QB - Jaguars)
Who was picked before: D/ST Seahawks
Who was picked after: See below
Why this was a good pick: In fantasy football, it's a good idea to "handcuff" your best players by drafting their backup in case they are injured - this works best for Running Backs, as Quarterback's backups are typically unfit to start in fantasy football. I have decided to "handcuff" my fourth round investment not with his real-life backup, but another quality quarterback - the newly extended David Garrard, who was a low-end No.1 quarterback last year. I'm overcompensating at the position, but at worst Garrard can be trade bait after Roethlisberger's BYE week.
Why this was a bad pick: I've invested a lot in the Quarterback position and in turn have sacrificed depth at Wide Receiver and Running Back. It's better to have starters at all positions than to have extraordinary depth at one position - something that isn't completely represented by this draft.

Round 10 - Pick #91 - Donald Driver (WR - Packers)
Who was picked before: See above
Who was picked after: Justin Fargas (RB - Raiders)
Why this was a good pick: Driver has long considered a low-end No. 1 fantasy wide receiver. To get him in the double digit rounds was surprising. He has had fourth straight seasons with at least 80 grabs and 1,000 yards - not bad for your reserve player.
Why this was a bad pick: Driver doesn't have tremendous upside. He's 33 with two young wideouts - Greg Jennings and James Jones - poised to take his job, and his longtime passer just retired. Factor this in with last season's dropoff of touchdowns, and it may have been a better idea to take a risk on Bryant Johnson of the 49ers, who could be the number one receiver for the newest Martz experiment and was taken ten picks later.

Round 11 - Pick #110 - D/ST Patriots
Who was picked before: Jerricho Cotchery (WR - Jets)
Who was picked after: See below
Why this was a good pick: I'm playing the odds with this one - the Patriots' competition in the AFC East is less than offensively intimidating. 6 games against the Dolphins, Jets, and Bills are enough of a selling point for me to draft this squad.
Why this was a bad pick: The Patriots lost a lot at corner this past offseason - most importantly lockdown DB Asante Samuel - and didn't draft replacements until later in the draft. In addition to that, the high-flying offense often led to high-scoring games against decent opponents, ultimately destroying the value of the D/ST certain weeks. I've just drafted a boom-or-bust commodity.

Round 12 - Pick #111 - Javon Walker (WR - Raiders)
Who was picked before: See above
Who was picked after: Santana Moss (WR - Redskins)
Why this was a good pick: Walker is my big "surprise, bitches!" of this draft. He was hampered in Denver last year and demanded to be released, but it hasn't been ages since he was a quality fantasy performer. Given that Ronald Curry is the best wide receiver in Oakland, you know Walker will get the looks he wants if he can stay healthy enough to play every game. On top of that, Oakland has stockpiled a good amount of offensive firepower in their backfield - JaMarcus Russell, Michael Bush, Justin Fargas, and now Darren McFadden. Walker could come out of nowhere to have a good season.
Why this was a bad pick: Let's see, a relatively green Quarterback with a piss-poor offensive line, a new team, infamous recent injury history, and little to no support at the WR2 position, is that enough to dissuade you?

Round 13 - Pick #130 - LaDell Betts (RB - Redskins)
Who was picked before: D/ST Giants
Who was picked after: See below
Why this was a good pick: LaDell has played well in Portis' stead when he is injured in the past. This is a pure handcuff pick.
Why this was a bad pick: I've only got two picks left with a suspect D/ST and TE on my roster, and I choose a guy who isn't even supposed to start.

Round 14 - Pick #131 - Neil Rackers (K - Arizona)
Who was picked before: See above
Who was picked after: Ricky Williams (RB - Dolphins)
Why this was a good pick: I needed a kicker.
Why this was a bad pick: Rackers has been inconsistent lately, missing the key field goals he used to make. But hey, chances are this year's Robbie Gould will be picked off the waiver wire a few weeks into the season.

Final Roster -
The Andy Bernards - Mark
PlayerRound DraftedOverall PickStatusPos
Roethlisberger, Ben QB PIT431AQB
Portis, Clinton RB WAS211ARB
Turner, Michael RB ATL550ARB
Holt, Torry WR STL330AWR
Moss, Randy WR NE110AWR
Heap, Todd TE BAL871ATE
Stewart, Jonathan RB CAR651ARB-WR
Rackers, Neil K ARI14131AK
Patriots, DST DST NE11110ADST
Garrard, David QB JAC990RSQB
Betts, Ladell RB WAS13130RSRB-WR
Driver, Donald WR GB1091RSRB-WR
Jones, Thomas RB NYJ770RSRB-WR
Walker, Javon WR OAK12111RSRB-WR

I'd be OK with this draft if it were August - but then again, most people are happy on draft day, what matters is how they feel about their roster during the fantasy playoffs.

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