Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fantasy Football Draft Diary

I can't imagine anyone is interested in my personal fantasy football draft, but if you happen to be that person, this is the right place to be.

On Monday my keeper league did its draft, and since then I've been quite excited for the NFL season to start.  It's getting underway as I write this, with a great matchup between the Super Bowl champion Packers and the New Orleans Saints.

Type: Head-to-head, Auction
Number of Teams: 10
Categories: Standard (or close enough it's not worth explaining)
Roster Spots: 2 QB, 3 RB, 3 WR, 1 RB/WR, 2 TE, 1 K, 2 DEF, 4 Bench, 2 IR
Keeper Style: Max of 4 at escalating prices, only 1 can be a free agent pickup

--I only had three keepers because you can only keep 4 players if at least one was kept the previous year too.  None of the guys I kept last year were worth holding onto at the price I would have had to pay, so it was just Austin Collie, Kenny Britt, and Michael Vick for me.  Each of them was only $1.  Collie and Britt aren't great value, but obviously Vick is just about as good as it gets.  That meant I had $197 to spend in the draft itself, by far the most of any team.

--The draft starts with a kicker nominated.  How boring.  Next up is Peyton Manning, who's a huge mystery.  Given the 2-QB format, quarterbacks generally go for exorbitant prices, but Manning's injury means he goes for a meager $23.

--The next five players nominated are Drew Brees (who goes for a cool $54) and four running backs: AP ($68), CJ2K ($64), MJD ($57), Michael Turner ($44), and Frank Gore ($45).  I was planning to grab Adrian Peterson at any cost, since I had lots of money and no running back keepers, but of course I got cold feet and didn't have the guts.  Same thing happened with Chris Johnson.  Not picking up one of them, or at least Turner, would be the biggest regret of my draft.

--Among the next couple picks, Brady goes for $46 and Greg Jennings goes for $38.  Jennings is a good option, but at this point I have my eyes set on Larry Fitzgerald as my top receiver, and I don't think I can afford to grab both.

--With Frank Gore ($45) and Steven Jackson ($47) going off the board, I'm really feeling a sense of urgency in regard to my running back situation.  Still, when Matt Forte is nominated, I back away as the price climbs to $29, since I don't think much of him and the Bears as a whole.

--Finally, Larry Fitzgerald is on the board.  His price soars to $45 at which point I clicked to bid with 3-4 seconds left.  This wasn't like my half-hearted bids on Peterson and Chris Johnson, when there were approximately 0.05 seconds left to bid.  Unfortunately ESPN didn't register my bid and Twin #2 got him for what was certainly not a bargain.  Still, I definitely wanted him for $46.

--Now I'm really nervous.  The one guy I was planning to spend all my money on is gone and I still have $197 to spend.  A couple guys are down to double digits and most are at least closing in on it, meaning I've got a lot of money left but not a lot of talent to spend it on.  So, not surprisingly, I panic and grab the next player up, Matthew Stafford, for $13.  In the end, I actually liked that pick, but it was definitely a panicked decision.

--Jimmy Graham, one of the two tight ends I have penciled into my starting lineup, is nominated next.  Antonio Gates and Jason Witten were kept, but after Dallas Clark, Graham is the second TE off the board.  I'm surprised but nab him nonetheless for $5.  A dollar or two higher than I would have hoped, but at this point, with the excess money I have, that's irrelevant.

--After a few teams grab defenses and Reggie Wayne ($25) leaves the board, I finally win my first running back, DeAngelo Williams for $24.  I like that price a lot for him, even if Carolina will likely be a terrible team.  I think the new contract shows a commitment to him as the feature back, and he did rush for 1500 yards and 18 touchdowns just three years ago.

--As the price for Jahvid Best rises to $27 I feel even better about the price for Williams.  A couple players later, Jermichael Finley is nominated.  He might be the guy I want the most in the whole draft, just as he was last season.  I got him last year, only to see him get injured in early October, but I'm back for more at a price of $15.

--Cedric Benson is auctioned off for $17.  You couldn't pay me to have him on my team.  Then Marques Colston comes up, and I'm still feeling the heat of needing to use up all of my money.  I don't necessarily like Colston that much but he seems to be one of the few #1 WRs with a chance to score big points remaining, so I blow $23 on him.  Although I kept two receivers, both are big question marks, with Manning's situation devaluing Collie greatly (on top of his concussion and injury issues) and Britt's general enigmatic personality and play putting his contributions in question.  This was another one I felt like I had to take, and I didn't feel nearly as good about this afterward as I felt about Stafford.

--A couple mediocre running backs, some kickers and tight ends, and Steve Johnson ($21) go off the board before I nominate Brandon Marshall.  Him I'm much more excited about, as he's a #1 receiver coming off a down year which, I think, has people devaluing him.  Even with Henne at quarterback, I think he's much better than the receivers he's ranked with.  I get him for $24.

--I grab Mark Ingram following a bidding war with Twin #2 for $18, immediately after I lose a bidding war with him for Tim Hightower ($20).  High for Ingram, for sure, but high-upside rookies always go for a lot in this league.  I don't really think he's worth that price, but there's a chance he breaks out and is a solid keeper, and I still have way too much money to spend.  I don't know if you've noticed, but that's a theme.  I do feel worse that I didn't bid on Ryan Grant ($15) a couple picks before, though.

--The next player nominated is Anquan Boldin.  One of the last receivers at the top of their depth chart, and probably the last one with even halfway-decent offense, I round out my starting receiver corps by paying $19 for Boldin.  With that, I finally have less money than one other person to spend, though I have way fewer position left to fill, meaning I still have the highest maximum bid.

--Thirteen picks later I grab another player, my longest break since I went the first 18 nominations without winning anybody.  In between, Jonathan Stewart goes for $21.  I sure hope that guy doesn't get his money's worth, or it's going to be pretty hard for DeAngelo to give me what I think he will.  The guy I get now?  Reggie Bush.  As I said at the time, every year someone gets sucked into the Reggie Bush hype, and this year it's me.  Daniel Thomas, Miami's rookie RB, has looked terrible in the preseason and Bush still has all that talent somewhere.  Of course, the counter argument is that Bush has been in the NFL for 5 years and has never shown any ability to even be a good change-of-pace back, never mind a starter.  Seeing as how I have him on all three teams, I'm looking on the positive side.

--I take some time off again as nobody that interests me comes up.  In the meantime, Thomas ($14) goes for the same price as Bush, which makes me feel good, and Tony Gonzalez is won for $2, which makes me feel a little worse about splurging on Graham early.  With my top 3 (and only 3) running backs, I feel the necessity to start stockpiling rushers.  Mike Tolbert is one of the few remaining backs who might get starters' touches, so I pick him up for what I think is a very affordable $10.

--Julio Jones is auctioned off next.  This is another guy I really, really want.  I feel more confident in him having a good or great year than Ingram, so this is the rookie I truly want to have.  I'm forced, by Twin #1, to spend $15, which is more than I want to.  As I said, though, high-upside rookies always go for more than you expect in this league, and I still have more money than I can spend anyways.

--Just a couple picks later, I grab my final skill player, with just a kicker and two defense spots left.  It's Michael Bush ($5), another guy who I really liked last year and am returning to this year.  It was Darren McFadden who broke out in 2010, as Bush's injury allowed him to get starter's reps and run away with the job.  For just $5, though, I can hope that he'll either split enough carries to be relevant or that the injury-prone McFadden will give Bush another chance to rack up big stats.

--To fill out my roster I pick up the Falcons defense ($1), Matt Bryant ($1), and the Chiefs defense ($3).  I would never have paid more than $1 for the Chiefs D, but I didn't have any more roster spots to fill after that pick.  I had tried to get the Giants defense much earlier, but since someone else upped the bid after I nominated them, I bowed out, as I never pay more than $1 for a defense or a kicker.  As it turns out, it wouldn't have mattered, but that was impossible to know mid-draft.

--All in all, I'm not that pleased.  I really needed to get a top-tier running back, considering the number of good running backs kept, but I didn't have the guts to spend the money right away.  My receivers are okay, and I'm very satisfied with my tight ends, but my running backs look quite weak.  As it stands, I'll be starting DeAngelo, Reggie Bush, and Tolbert in Week 1, which isn't exactly inspiring, especially considering my opponent has LeSean McCoy, Rashard Mendenhall, and Maurice Jones-Drew.  So, ultimately, my team's fortunes rest on the shoulders of Michael Vick, and whether he can repeat the utterly dominant show he put on in 2011.

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