Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Few Mock Drafts ...

Fantasy football season is in full swing!

I know this because
1. There are unintelligible lists of scribbled paper all over my nightstand. Some are written on the back of electric bills.  I feel like Ben Linus.  (All those lisssssts.)
2. I just got done rankings the WRs, QBs, and I'm working on the TEs.
3. And most of all, because I have completed 5 mock drafts.

Here are my results:

League 1 - Morgan Mosquitoes
Standard scoring. Ten teams. 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 flex.  Nothing unusual. Picked 1st overall.

Took Aaron Rodgers happily and confidently.
The next 18 picks featured a shockingly low number of RBs (only 8), along with 5 QBs, 4 WRs and 1 Gronk.
With the 20th pick I was able to land my #9 player overall, Matt Forte.  At 21 I paired Rodgers with Greg Jennings. Too many eggs in one basket, or an unbeatable force?

The next 18 picks included only one QB (Eli;  Brady, Brees, Vick, Cam and Stafford went early; Rivers and Romo still available at 40) and one TE (Graham) and 9 WRs along with 7 RBs. Some great bargains (Nicks 38 overall, Charles 34 overall) and some reaches (Welker at 23, Cruz at 26).  I went with Fred Jackson and Ahmad Bradshaw.  I neglected the WR position here for three reasons: 1) Great RB value, 2) With all the injuries to RBs, I wanted to get three reliable starters, and 3) I have a gut feeling I can wait til 60 and get either Demaryius Thomas or Percy Harvin.  Also, I love Bradshaw and Fred, so no apologies.

Lots of terrible picks in rounds 5 and 6. Roy Helu, Reggie Bush, Shonn Greene, Antonio Gates ... also Rivers goes 54, Romo 58, and Peyton 59.  Everybody has a QB now. I lost both Percy and Demaryius at 53 and 57. Doh! 

At 60 and 61, I don't like any of the WRs. Vincent Jackson? Eric Decker? Nah. Seems too soon. I went with another RB, Isaac Redman, and then Aaron Hernandez, the 5th TE off the board.  I'm expecting a run on tight ends in rounds 7 and 8, and don't want to be stuck with Tony Gonzalez.  Plus, (spoiler alert) Aaron Hernandez is my #3 tight end.  

Sure enough, the next two rounds are a feast of tight ends (4 off the board), as well as the first three DSTs (49ers, Texans, Ravens).  Way too soon for a defense.  There is never a sure-thing defense, but especially not this year.  We also saw a couple backup QBs go (RG3 and Ryan). The Matt Ryan pick was stupid because he already had Tom Brady.  

At 80, I'm realizing I should have gone receiver back at the 4th/5th round juncture. Maybe should have gone Miles Austin instead of Ahmad Bradshaw.  Now, I'm stuck with Denarius Moore and Torrey Smith.  Oh well. Should give me some big games with plenty of inconsistency.  Ideally, I'll play the matchup between those two and not have to start both. 

The next 18 picks are a shmorgishborg - 3 QBs, 4 RBs, 6 WRs, 3 DSTs, 2 TEs - it's clearly teams filling needs and looking for 'best player available.' An amazing number of awful picks in here: Felix Jones, Sidney Rice, Shane Vereen, Alex Smith, Seattle DST, Laurent Robinson ... guys that will go undrafted in most leagues shoudn't be taken in the 9th and 10th round.  

I'm back up at 100 and 101 and go with Toby Gerhart (will start for AP for a while) and Reggie Wayne. Since when can you get Reggie Wayne outside of the top 100? Weird.  The Gerhart pick is actually extremely calculated. I'm thinking AP misses 5 or 6 games, and the Vikes' early schedule features a few crappy teams (JAC, TEN, IND, WAS).  He might make a spot-start for me during that time, and if AP misses the whole year, I just landed a starting RB in the 10th round. 

Rounds 11 and 12 separate the idiots from the geniuses.  You can waste a pick on Randy Moss, who probably won't even make San Fran's roster, and Josh Freeman, who shouldn't be on any fantasy rosters, or you can make shrewd picks like TE Jared Cook and Jacquizz Rodgers. That can make all the difference. I end up with Titus Young (for after the Curse strikes) and Jacob Tamme (sleeper TE, potential trade bait). 

Rounding out the last three rounds, I take the Jets D, the Bears kicker, and one of my favorite super sleepers, RB Isaiah Pead. Remember, never take more than one defense, and never put any thought into your kicker. The best strategy is to just look at the first 2 or 3 weeks of the schedule and pick a kicker and defense with good matchups. Then drop them and play the matchup all year.  Let some other idiot take Janikowski in the 9th round.  

Final roster: 

QB - 
Aaron Rodgers, GB

RBs - 
Matt Forte, CHI
Fred Jackson, BUF
Ahmad Bradshaw, NYG
Isaac Redman, PIT
Toby Gerhart, MIN
Isaiah Pead, STL

WRs - 
Greg Jennings, GB
Torrey Smith, BAL
Denarius Moore, OAK
Reggie Wayne, IND
Titus Young, DET

TEs - 
Aaron Hernandez, NE
Jacob Tamme, DEN

K- Robbie Gould

DST - Jets 

Weak at receiver for sure, but that team will get the job done.

League 2 - Morgan's Macaroni 

10 teams, 2 RB, 2 WR, 2 flex. Point per reception (PPR). Picking 10th.

Three QBs predictably gone in the top 8.  If I pass on QB now, I'm waiting til 30. I expect that either Eli or Romo (my 4th and 5th QBs) will be available at 30, because Cam and Stafford are typically going before Eli and Romo.  If I'm wrong, I'll be pretty happy with Cam or Stafford at 30. If all 4 are gone, I'll be a little disappointed because I'll have to reach for Peyton or Rivers.  It's a calculated risk, but I pass on QB and with the 11th and 12th picks I take the best RB on my board (Chris Johnson) and the best receiver (Fitzgerald). Could have gone Jennings, but in PPR format Fitz is better.

Eli goes 15th, Stafford 16th, then Cam 19th. I'm screwed. Romo goes right before me, at 28.  That's seven QBs in the top 28 picks.  Yikes.  That's the danger of picking 1st or last in a draft; you wait so long between picks that you can lose all the players you want in one nasty swoop.

At 30, I almost go Rivers, but then I realize only 2 teams besides me still need a QB, and Rivers, Peyton and Vick are on the board. I take another calculated risk and pass on QB again, hoping that I end up with Peyton on the next go-round.  I can't resist Jamaal Charles at 30 and then take Julio Jones at 31.

The risk pays off this time, as Vick and Rivers are taken but Peyton falls to me at pick 50. This is an easy pick; the only question now is how long do I wait to take Peyton's backup?  At 51, I go Colston. He's good for 80+ catches which is huge in a PPR league.

I get two PPR specialists with the next two picks - Steve Johnson and Jason Witten.  I think the other owners don't know this is a PPR league.   After that, I somehow end up with Aaron Hernandez at pick 90 (what the heck?) and then snatch Matt Ryan in case Peyton doesn't hold up.  I know I just took a second TE when I only have 2 RBs, how can you pass on Aaron Hernandez in the 9th round, especially in PPR? He caught 79 balls last year. He's a better flex player than any WR or RB at this point.

The DST run begins, which is good because I need some RBs with my next 2 picks.  The best I can do is James Starks and Donald Brown.  Ugh.  Going to need Charles and Chris Johnson to stay healthy or I'm sunk.

My next two picks are two guys who only have value in PPR leagues - WRs Danny Amendola and Davonne Bess. Neither will score more than 5 TDs, but both should grab 60+ passes. Probably should have taken more RB depth, but nobody was there worth taking.  Eighteen picks later, I land a couple of sleeper RBs in Ryan Williams and Rashard Mendenhall. The goal would be that Mendenhall is healthy by the time one of my starting RBs get hurt.

Last two picks are the Vikings D and Titans kicker. I like the Vikings D because they play at home against Blaine Gabbert week 1. After that I'll drop them.

Final roster:

QBs -
Peyton Manning, DEN
Matt Ryan, ATL

RBs -
Chris Johnson, TEN
Jamaal Charles, KC
James Starks, GB
Donald Brown, IND
Ryan Williams, ARZ
Rashard Mendenhall, PIT

WRs -
Larry Fitzgerald, ARZ
Julio Jones, ATL
Marques Colston, NO
Steve Johnson, BUF
Danny Amendola, STL
Davonne Bess, MIA

TEs -
Jason Witten, DAL
Aaron Hernandez, NE

K - Rob Bironas, TEN

DST - Vikings

The only weakness this time has is depth at RB.  If CJ and Charles stay healthy, I'm going to dominate.  My WR and TE depth is amazing.

I'll probably look to leverage my WR depth for a trade. If Amendola grabs 9 balls in week 1 or something, I'll package him and Colston for a decent RB.  I trust both Steve Johnson or Colston to be my every-week flex, so I'll gladly trade either of them.  

Of course, the other weakness of this team is the unknown status of Peyton Manning.  I'm a little bummed to be the 10th guy to grab a QB, but getting arguably the best QB of all time isn't so bad. 

League 3 - Morgan's Mustache

This is where it starts to get awesome and somewhat neurotic. This league starts 3 RBs, 3 WRs, 3 flex, 7 individual defensive players (IDPs), and 1 head coach.  The coach gets 10 points for a blowout win, 6 points for a good win, 3 points for a close win, and 0 for a loss. This is a PPR league as well. 

Points for IDPs are based on solo tackles (1 point apiece), sacks (2), INTs (3), fumbles (3) and TDs (6).  You start 2 linebackers, 2 DL, 2 DB, and one flex IDP.

I'm picking 4th. Let the awesomeness begin.  

Rice, Foster, Rodgers go 1, 2, and 3.  Following my draft board, I take Tom Brady.  Maybe dumb considering I need to start 3 RBs and 3 WRs, but whatever. How can you not love Tom Brady this year? I'm seriously starting to think the Pats will go 19-0. 

At 17 I take DeMarco Murray.  All of the first 16 picks are solid.  These teams know what they're doing. 

At 24, I'm torn between Hakeem Nicks and Jamaal Charles. Thinking there is more depth at WR than RB this year, I take Charles, and vow to take WRs with 3 of the next 4 picks, even if it means forgoing a solid TE. 

At 37 I go Steve Smith. Not a great PPR guy, but oh well. At 44, I have to take Ahmad Bradshaw.  Too much value in the 4th round. Why does he keep falling to the 4th round? At 57, I take Demaryius Thomas. Awesome value there.  (You may have seen that I have Demaryius ranked one spot ahead of Steve Smith, so why did I take Smith 20 picks earlier? Because of ADP - average draft position. I figured Demaryius would fall well past where I had him ranked, but I knew Smith was going soon. Most drafters follow a pretty standard ranking). 

At 64, another value WR in Antonio Brown. This is shaping up as my best team yet.  It's nice to pick somewhere in the middle instead of on the end.  Still 22 rounds to go.  Yikes. 

At 77, a PPR pick in CJ Spiller. At 84, Aaron Hernandez, who I now own in all 3 leagues. At 97, Reggie Wayne. At 104, Titus Young. I keep getting the same guys over and over.  Same thing happened last year.  I think I picked Felix Jones in 30 leagues last year.  

At 117, Brandon Pettigrew - a great PPR tight end. 

At 124, feeling good about my starting 3 RBs, 3 WRs and 3 flexes, I begin the run on head coaches and take the Packers coach.  After that, I get a head start on the IDPs and take the first one - Jason Pierre-Paul. 

This starts a run of IDPs, and I zig and take Amendola at pick 164. Then, it's all IDPs for a while: I get Derrick Johnson, DeMarcus Ware, Justin Tuck, Justin Smith, Cortland Finnegan, and Tyvon Branch.  Clearly I dominated the IDP section of this draft. 

Since this league also features a large bench, I have 7 more rounds to load up on sleepers - so I go Ryan Williams, Isaiah Pead, Davonne Bess, Ronnie Hillman, Coby Fleener, and Taiwan Jones. In the 28th and 29th rounds, I go Jason Hanson and Vikings DST.  What a beast of a league.

Final roster: 

QB - 
Tom Brady, NE

RBs - 
DeMarco Murray, DAL
Jamaal Charles, KC
Ahmad Bradshaw, NYG
CJ Spiller, BUF
Ryan Williams, ARZ 
Isaiah Pead, STL
Ronnie Hillman, DEN
Taiwan Jones, OAK

WRs - 
Steve Smith, CAR
Demaryius Thomas, DEN
Antonio Brown, PIT
Reggie Wayne, IND
Titus Young, DET
Danny Amendola, STL
Davonne Bess, MIA

TEs -
Aaron Hernandez, NE
Brandon Pettigrew, DET
Coby Fleener, IND

K - Jason Hanson, DET

DST - Vikings

Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, NYG
Justin Tuck, DT, NYG
Justin Smith, DE, SF

DeMarcus Ware, LB, DAL
Derrick Johnson, LB, KC

Cortland Finnegan, CB, STL
Tyvon Branch, S, OAK

Head Coach - Packers

That's a wicked good team.  Undefeated?

League 4 - Morgan's Meerkats 

Another 10 team league.  2 RB, 2 WR and an unconventional 3 flex. Standard scoring.

Picking 5th.  The first 4 picks are worst case scenario - Rodgers, Rice, Foster, Brady.  My cheat sheet says to take Brees, but since this league doesn't matter to me, I'm going to mix things up and see what happens. I go with Maurice Jones Drew, hoping I can wait a while and get Murray or Sonic.

The non-Brees strategy backfires, as Brees goes next, followed quickly by Cam and Stafford, then Eli on the way back. In the first 16 picks, 6 quarterbacks go. Insane.  Do I want to reach for Romo here at 16, or take an RB like Forte or Murray (CJ's gone), or take my #2 receiver, Andre Johnson?  I go Andre.  Mostly on a hunch that either Murray or Forte will be there in the 3rd round.  For whatever reason, people don't see these guys as the studs they are.

Indeed, Murray falls to me at pick 25, after I considered taking him at 5.  Amazing.  Going directly in front of Murray was Adrian Peterson, who might not play until November, and Mike Wallace, who is holding out indefinitely.  Thanks for the treat stupid! (go to 2:03)

Since so many QBs went early, only one QB (Peyton) is taken between pick 25 and my next pick at 36. So I somehow end up with Romo at pick 36, after I almost took him at 16.  I just got my #5 QB as the 8th QB off the board. Nice.

The fifth round is officially going to be known as the Round of Idiots.  Before I take Ahmad Bradshaw at pick 45, Roy Helu, Darren Sproles, Willis McGahee and Antonio Gates go. Yikes.  I still can't figure out why Gates is the consensus 3rd tight end this year. As someone who's owned him the past two seasons, I can't say anything positive about him other than "he was awesome five years ago."

My next two picks have to be receivers, and I land decent bargains with Percy Harvin (59) and Eric Decker (65).  Would have taken Aaron Hernandez again but he went 58th.  After Gronk, Graham and Hernandez, there aren't any tight ends I'm crazy about.  I like Finley a little bit but would rather wait a few rounds and try to peg a sleeper.  

At this point, I have a QB I am comfortable with, and 3 RBs and 3 WRs.  Since I need 3 flex players, I decide it's better to land a safe, startable player instead of an all-or-nothing flier.  So I take DeAngelo Williams, pretty hesitantly.  Not my favorite pick, but he's probably safe for 5 fantasy points a week. Next pick I do basically the same thing with Mark Ingram.

At 96, in the 10th round, I finally grab a tight end, Jared Cook from the Titans.  If Jake Locker is good (big if), Cook could be awesome, especially if drunk-driving Kenny Britt gets suspended and Cook becomes the de facto #1 receiver.   At 105, I take a gamble on Giants' rookie RB David Wilson, who if nothing else is a solid handcuff for Bradshaw.

The next two picks are total sleeper receivers who might amount to nothing - Laurent Robinson and Michael Floyd.  Not much left to pick from at this point. I take the Jets D and Titans kicker to finish off draft #4.

Final roster:

QB -
Tony Romo, DAL

RBs -
Maurice Jones-Drew, JAC
DeMarco Murray, DAL
Ahmad Bradshaw, NYG
DeAngelo Williams, CAR
Mark Ingram, NO
David Wilson, NYG
Mike Tolbert, CAR

WRs -
Andre Johnson, HOU
Percy Harvin, MIN
Eric Decker, DEN
Laurent Robinson, JAC
Michael Floyd, ARZ

TE -
Jared Cook, TEN

K - Rob Bironas, TEN

DST - Jets

A pretty stacked team, though I'm overly reliant on the Cowboys, and weak at receiver.

What I've learned after four mock drafts:  It's almost impossible to have quality depth at both RB and WR, especially if you're picking 1st or last.  It really helps when 2 or 3 other owners are idiots. But if you're committed to taking a QB early, like most people seem to be, you probably will be weak at either RB or WR.  

Tight end rankings to come soon.  After that, a final ranking of RBs.  Then, perhaps an overall top 200 or something similar.

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