Last night I had an online fantasy football draft. It was a 12 team league, and by all accounts this year should be a running back heavy year. Just about every fantasy mock draft has running backs going 5th to 10th. In my draft, the first four picks were Larry Johnson, Shaun Alexandar, LT2, and Tiki Barber. So with the 5th pick, I decide to take… Peyton Manning. Earlier in the day Aaron Schatz (yes THAT Aaron Schatz) said in a BP Chat that taking Manning in the 4-5-6 range was justifiable “if all touchdowns are equal.” So with the knowledge that passing touchdowns are only 4 points in our league (compared to 6 for running or receiving), why did I do it?
First is that I felt the RB position was deep this year. Our league only starts 1 RB & 1 RB/WR, so I can get away with a single back if needed. I wasn’t in a position to get any of the big three, so I was left to choose from the second tier of the Rudi Johnson/Ronnie Brown caliber. In this league, 13 of the first 15 picks were RBs, and I didn’t feel that any of these guys gave me that much of an advantage over the other teams. While a few of these guys might be significant upgrades over the others, finding which ones could be tricky. In other words, these guys are so close together how I could I pick the one that will outperform the others?
My second line of reasoning is that the QB position isn’t that deep. After Peyton, Brady, & Hasselbeck, there is a clear drop in QB worth. Carson Palmer would have made it a ‘big 4′ if not for his tenuous return from injury. Not only is Culpepper returning from a similar injury, but he’s also coming off his worst season & now has a new surrounding cast. That’s too many question marks for my taste. While McNabb might be the best of the second tier guys, he’s had 2 major injuries in the last 4 seasons. I just wasn’t willing to take the injury risk on him. After the second tier, there is tier “Just For Men” (Bledsoe, Warner, Green, Farve, McNair), tier “Baby Mozart” (Michael Vick, Chris Simms, Vince Young, Leftwich, Leinart) injury tier — “The Sequel” (Brees, Rothlisberger, Pennington) and tier “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” (Brooks, Kitna, Carr, Volek, Lossman, Grossman, Alex Smith).
Finally I feel that my style of fantasy football play allows me to make up for draft day mistakes. I’m usually the fastest draw at free agency, and can grab a backup running back that’s been promoted due to injury or coach’s discretion.
Continuing with my strategy, I grabbed Larry Fitzgerald in the second round with the 20th pick. Steve Smith & Chad Johnson were taken before Fitzgerald, but I had Larry as my top rated WR anyway. By my 3rd round pick 17 other RBs had been taken, but I was still able to get Willie Parker (29th) and waited the long way back to me to get Frank Gore (44th) in the 4th. I’m really high on Gore. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry last year, is DVOA friendly, has sole occupancy of the starting RB job, and is averaging 5.4 yards per carry in preseason. That and one definition of his name is “murder, bloodshed, violence, etc.“
To make up for my RB deficiency, I tried to grab guys that would improve their worth during the season. One of Lundy & Morency should win the Houston job & if Kubiak can emulate Denver’s blocking scheme one of them could hit 1000 yards. I also nabbed Mike Anderson in the hopes that Baltimore realizes that Jamal Lewis is history, and they need a veteran back on the season.
In any case here is what I ended up with. Feel free to comment:
Peyton Manning IND 1 QB L. Fitzgerald ARI 2 WR Willie Parker PIT 3 RB Frank Gore SF 4 RB Muhsin Muhammad CHI 5 WR Nate Burleson SEA 6 WR Chris Cooley WAS 7 TE Mike Anderson BAL 8 RB Michael Vick ATL 9 QB Wali Lundy HOU 10 RB Ben Watson NE 11 TE Roddy White ATL 12 WR Vernand Morency HOU 13 RB Braylon Edwards CLE 14 WR Michael Jenkins ATL 15 WR Chad Pennington NYJ 16 QB Lions Defense DET 17 D Jeff Wilkins STL 18 K