Draft Day Recap 2011
Every year draft day comes and goes and is awesome and every following year I find myself wishing I had written a recap. That way, in future years when memories start to blur together, I’ve got something tangible to refer to and make me say, “Oh yeah – THAT draft”. That recap almost never (read: never) happens, and as I started to reflect on this year’s proceedings I thought, this year I’m going to be different and get the thing done. This year there is going to be a recap, of both the draft and the day itself, and here it is. So let’s do the thing.
Saturday, August 27th 2011 began for me, paradoxically, with a fatigue hangover. The night before we had a big dinner at the Counter for Eryn and Trisha to see all the old gang, and it also became the night that Gwen and I revealed to everyone that we were married and that Gwen was pregnant. After dinner partying ensued at our house, and we found ourselves up late, drinking a fair (but not necessarily excessive) amount of booze, and smoking a few stogies (always SUCH a better idea the night of than the morning after) around the fire to celebrate all kinds of things, not least of which was Bob walking smack into the screen door.
Many people stayed over at our house that night, including Gabe and Rena, Iwan and Justin, and Eryn and Trisha, all cute couples in their own regard. In the morning it was decided we would play beach football instead of the standard grass variety and we headed over to Moonlight beach around 10:00 or so. I was stuck playing all time QB because of my bum hip which limited my ability to run, and I probably looked like some sort of end-of-career-knee-brace Marino only without the arm strength or accuracy or curly hair or brace. The teams were Norm, Justin, and Gabe against Eryn, Adam, and Iwan. Taunts were made, plays were drawn up, routes were run, and touchdowns were had, but in the end the game ended up a tie. Iwan was the tentative game MVP. Afterwards, we all pitched into the brisk (66 degree) ocean to wash away the sand and clear our heads for the upcoming draft. At that moment, while diving under and leaping over cresting waves, with a football game behind us, a draft in front of us, and a beautiful day all around us surrounded by great friends, it was hard not to think, simply, life is good.
The next few hours were spent on logistics which included traveling back to the house, obtaining food (Capriatti’s Sammies), drinks, and slowly making the transition over to Papa Roston’s house to begin the actual draft. One by one or in small groups we arrived, lugging food and props and TVs and pink jerseys, until all was set up. Last to arrive was the newest, Bob, who had formed an unholy coalition with Fwats as part of a new, diabolical two-headed monster approach to drafting and managing a fantasy football team.
The actual planned draft start was 1 pm, but we kicked things off closer to 2 pm. It started officially with a brief presentation of the trophy to the defending champ Eron and his Rat Pack, and then, in the blink of an eye, we were off, auctioning players, cracking wise, and having a blast. Oh yeah, and Justin was wearing a snug pink Tom Brady jersey and looking really sexy. Frankly it was distracting.
When the draft was done, somewhere around 6 pm, we settled in, hit the hot tub, reviewed the big board, and waited for the ladies to arrive. They showed up, dinner was served, and the night continued from there. We eventually made our way back to my house, played a game of Mafia, then several people left and the rest of us sat around and analyzed the Big Board for a few more hours. Finally, grades were produced, them mocked. The day was done.
Draft Highlights in Bullet Form:
-Justin in the pink Tom Brady jersey. Capping off the best bet in MLOM history, at least until the potential blackface bet materializes. Wait, probably shouldn’t put that on the internet. Crap.
-Enter Bob! The two-headed monster of Fwats and Bob is here, looking to mix shit up. What if they win? Whose name goes on the trophy?
-Another year of the auction. My god it’s good. So good.
-Realizing Iwan’s draft was as uneven as it was. Man that was hilarious.
-First draft as a married man. Crazy week.
-I mention Bob walked into the screen, right? So good.
DRAFT GRADES AND ANALYSIS
It has been a tradition of recent years for the Commish to grade the draft by giving teams letter grades or draft ranks, or both, and then subjecting those listings to the analysis of all, including primarily Iwan and Justin, who form an old-men-from-the-muppets type of tandem when looking at – and criticizing – everything. Last year, the first year of the auction draft, proved too overwhelming to dole out proper grades and an official grading never happened. This year it did.
Here are the original, bleary-eyed, whiskey soaked draft grades, with ranks, which occurred on Draft Night at the after-after party into the wee hours:
- The Brown Trout – B+
- The Gang – B
- LT’s Crackheeds – B
- Los Pescaderos – B
- The Rat Pack – B
- Schlitzfaced Spoilers – B-
- The GBP – C+
- The Birdmen – C
- Mormon Defenders – C
- Crazy Canucks – C-
Interestingly, nobody earned an A on first glance. The highest grade, B+, was given to only one team, the Brown Trout. Nobody’s draft blew me away. Everybody’s draft seemed close. Even distinguishing partial grade differences from the teams seemed difficult. The only draft I found (literally) laughable was that of the Canucks. It wasn’t until about 9 pm that night, I think, that I realized Iwan drafted 19 running backs and his starting WR corps consisted of: 1)Stevie Johnson, 2)Wes Welker, and 3)Danny Amendola. I thought that was funny. Hilarious, even. On the upside for Iwan, he drafted a lot of quality RB’s and through a combination of trades and shrewd waiver wire play might be able to find something that works. The same can be said for any team. Overall these grades are obviously incredibly subjective. I think essentially that Little Buhr drafted the best team (but needs QB help to realize a successful season), Iwan drafted the worst team (but could be in great shape with a trade), and that the other 8 teams are just a hair’s width apart on either side. Just my two cents. But what the hell do I know? I was beaten by Carson Palmer on the road last year and will now go fetal.
After staring at things a few days later and updating my analysis, here’s how I see the updated draft grades and ranks, with a few comments.
1)The Brown Trout, A-
The only weakness in the Trout’s team is quarterback, and it’s a big one. The paradox of the QB in our league is that you absolutely need numbers there to win, and thus the biggest studs are coveted here more than in other leagues. At the same time, it’s one of the easiest positions to replace it seems, and every year produces theretofore unknown wonder boys who can suddenly put up numbers. As of right now, Justin has only Sam Bradford on his roster, probably the worst of the starting fantasy QBs in MLOM. He could be good this year. It’s unlikely he’ll be great. The Brown Trout’s success will hinge almost entirely on him picking up other QBs to fill in, and maybe latching on some stud yet to be determined. Everywhere else on the roster, the Trout are solid. Jermichael Finley, if healthy, is a beast. There is a real good balance of stud WRs (Vincent Jackson and Roddy White) and a stable of RBs capable of producing numbers (between Steven Jackson, Blount, Ryan Grant, and Felix Jones, I’d be surprised not to see TWO top 15 backs in there, and it should be enough). If either Brandon Lloyd or Mike Sims-Walker shows up at all, then the third WR spot is locked up too. If Little Buhr finds the right quarterback, look out.
2)The Gang, B+
I like the Gang’s roster from top to bottom. Lots of studs at the top, starting with Tom Brady and Hakeem Nicks. McCoy should also be a stud, though I worry about his TD potential, losing touches to Ronnie Brown and of course Vick in the redzone. Also, the more I read about the Eagle’s offensive line, the more I realize it might be one of the worst in the league. How that will play out in terms of McCoy’s numbers this year I don’t know, but because of it I’m putting him in the lesser stud category for now. PPR also has several other running backs who could potentially fit nicely into the RB2 role, including Green-Ellis (main back on a high scoring team), James Starks (a sure stud if Grant goes down again), and Helu (the Shanahan sleeper). I’m less impressed with Daniel Thomas, the Miami rookie, because that team probably won’t score much and his preseason has been less than stellar. PPR’s receivers start with Nicks, but extend nicely into Santonio Holmes and the 3d WR spot has some interesting potential with Collie, Boldin, and Malcolm Floyd (for the occasional 2 TD fill-in against any AFC West defense). Also Vernon Davis might just be a monster this year given the disaster that is the rest of the SF WR corps.
3)Los Pescaderos, B+
I had initially put my own team the Crackheeds ahead of Los Pescas (a pure homer call) but on second impression I like the Pescas better, even with the knowledge of the Foster hamstring injury. Gabe wisely selected Tate as the proper Foster handcuff, so he should be OK even if Foster can’t go. The hardest thing for Los Pescas will be avoiding the inevitable “questionable” tag on Foster for the first few weeks and deciding how to play that. That said, with the explosive-but-injury-prone Javhid Best, Shonn Greene (can’t possibly be worse than last year and might blow up – great line, great situation, declining Tomlinson), and Knowshon Moreno (feature back in a run heavy John Fox offense) all vying for the second RB slot, Los Pescas should find a nice fit at the position. At the WR spot, it’s of course Megatron leading the WR Corps like a pack of Decepticons about to attack a giant hydroelectric dam. After him, it’s DeSean Jackson (in the Starscream role constantly trying to wrest power), certainly a solid number 2 man. The question mark is the 3 WR spot. There are options here, but not as much upside as on other teams. I’m not a believer in Crabtree with his current injury and he has yet to prove anything at the NFL level. Ochocinco and James Jones have the same problem, namely that they are part of spread offenses with lots of mouths to feed and it seems TD opportunities may be few and far between – each week will be a roll of the dice. Schaub at the helm should be solid, barring health issues of course, and Freeman plays the role of capable back-up in the right matchup plus he kind of looks like a white guy in blackface so that should inspire Gabe to write even more episodes of “Gary Face”.
4)LT’s Crackheeds, B
At most positions the Crackheeds are unsexy but effective. Peterson and Michael Turner make up a nothing-wrong-with-that type of backfield although Michael Turner is one of the least intriguing picks in all of fantasy and caused no less than three independent shame spirals for the Commish on draft day. The upside isn’t in his possible production as much as it’s in the size of his ass and my potential fascination with it, something that’s always been intriguing to me. I’m placing the over/under on me saying “Come on Turner – you can do it, put your ass into it!” this season when the Falcons are in the redzone at approximately 120 (take the over). I’m also intrigued at the possibility of Brandon Jacobs being a nice TD type of fill in back on certain weeks, and Harrison is a potential mega-sleeper depending on the iffy-at-best durability of Javhid Best. Brees is a surefire top 5 QB so no complaints there. Hopefully his 22 interceptions last season was a fluke and improvement in that department should further escalate his overall numbers. The weakness of the Crackheeds, potentially, is the WR corps. Commish is counting heavily on Dez Bryant being a beast this year, which he might, but he’s in an offense with a lot of mouths to feed and which still has Smiles Austin and Jason Witten. After that it’s Brandon Marshall, a target monster stuck on a crappy team, and then it gets dicey. Mike Thomas is solid but unspectacular, and old man Burress (I really signed him more to a legacy contract, a thank you for 2007) and Julio Jones represent interesting question marks. Brandon Pettigrew is another question mark, but since tight ends are a dime a dozen this year after the top 3 or so it seems very low risk.
5)The Rat Pack, B-
The more I stare at the Rat Pack’s draft the more I like what I see. Vick and Jamal Charles are a hell of a way to start, and Eryn picked up Matt Ryan and Stafford to back up the injury prone Vick. Shrewd moves there as all are capable of stellar seasons, with Stafford being the most intriguing in my opinion. Frank Gore is another unsexy but effective back but depth is lacking in the rest of the RB corps with the who-the-hell-knows-how-he’ll-do Marshawn Lynch being the only other back on the roster. At least he caused an earthquake last season. The WR corps is the issue here, with some upside but no bonafide studs anywhere in sight. Britt has potential, and I love Manningham this year, but neither one qualifies as a number one fantasy WR at this point. Jeremy Maclin is playing without a liver, spleen, or bone marrow apparently, which might prove troublesome, and Robert Meachem is a bye-week fill in at best. AJ Green and this random Roberts character from the cardinals are intriguing but still seem like fliers. (That said, no one laughs at Eryn’s sleeper WR picks any more after the infamous Miles Austin incident. He sure has come a long way from taking the likes of Marc Boerigter in the seventh round.) I do like the 7 dollar purchase of Graham at tight end – apparently Brees loves that guy and guess what the Saints score a lot.
6)Schlitzfaced Spoilers (or Mitchell’s Marauders), B-
I love the star power of Ray Rice and Andre Johnson as the base of this team. I think Rice has top 3 back potential and wouldn’t be surprised if he straight leads all RBs in scoring by the end of the season. Johnson is a monster and is fun to root for, especially when he beats the shit out of punks like Cortland Finnegan. Forte is no longer exciting (there’s a lot of blasé but effective second RBs out there I’m finding) but always carries the potential of being a poor man’s Faulk in the Mike Martz system. I love Dwayne Bowe as a second (not first) WR this year and Romo has serious potential as well in his current system. I also love Owen Daniels to have a major rebound year this season now two years out from knee surgery. Between Steve Smith and Hines Ward hopefully there will be some service at the third WR spot. The problem with this squad is depth and a lack of potential sleepers. There is very little to be excited about on the bench, which features a who’s who of God-I-don’t-want-any-of-these-guys types, including Ricky Williams, Tomlinson, Braylon Edwards, and Darren Sproles –that would have been a hell of a squad in 2007. Props for selecting the soldja, Kellen Winslow, as an upside TE with plenty of tude. Something tells me that tude will be in strong supply this season with the Fwats/Bob two-headed monster.
7)The GBP, C+
It all starts with Philip Rivers who to non-Charger fans is nonetheless a god in fantasy terms. Commish suspects when it’s all said in done he may be the number one fantasy quarterback. Mendenhall is a solid if unspectacular number one back. Jonny G paid a lot of money for his starting WRs, and his top 3 are all rock solid or better, but there are value concerns there. Jennings carries a 44 dollar price tag for a number one receiver who’s not as good when Finley is healthy. Also, the Packers spread the ball around a lot. Jennings will get his, but he may not justify that price. Austin has been productive but it’s unclear how much up and comer Dez Bryant will steal numbers (Commish is hoping a lot). Wallace is a stud and should anchor the WR corps nicely. Jonny G’s second RB is a question mark, but Commish really likes the Ingram pick. I imagine he’ll get essentially all the red zone carries by mid-season and he can catch the ball even a little, look out. Burleson, Flacco, and Lance Moore round out a serviceable backup corps and add depth. Dustin Keller is a riddle wrapped in an enigma in terms of fantasy production at tight end, but for one dollar and with loads of waiver prospects out there it won’t matter much if he doesn’t produce.
8)Mormon Defenders, C
With the Chris Johnson signing done, the Defenders can breathe a sigh of relief. The Titans offense seems to be quite a question mark, but there’s no denying Johnson’s talent and having a decent QB (Hasselback, for as long as he lasts) might open things up quite a bit for the twitchy CJ. MJD carries a bigger injury tag than ever, but if healthy remains a beast and essentially the only significant option on a hapless Jaguars team. Also he has nice thighs. Roethlisberger is a question mark, capable of huge fantasy numbers, but capable of disappearing as well. Overall I like him for this season as Pittsburgh seems to transition more each year toward a full blown passing offense. In terms of receivers, Yo this Marques Baby is an all-time favorite of the Commish’s, but his recent microfracture knee surgery and constant swelling after practice all preseason are huge red flags that had even the loyal Commish staying away. And again Colston is the number one target in a spread offense – welcome to the infuriating world of trying to figure which one of the Saints eight receiving options is going to get the call when Brees drops back in the red zone. I don’t particularly trust Mike Williams, who has last-year-was-a-fluke potential, a la Michael Clayton of the very same Bucs several years earlier, but I may eat my words big time on that one. I really like Harvin, however, who should see a lot of action/targets as the only game in town in Minnesota’s otherwise anemic passing offense (aside from Shiancoe’s formidable Johnson). Santana Moss is probably the least sexy pick in all of fantasy football, and Norm seems to get him every year, and I don’t know what else to say about that. I like Norm’s back up RBs, with Beanie Wells poised to have a decent year just on playing time alone, and Addai could prove useful as a fill in though possibly infuriating or worse with Manning out for any length of time. Dallas Clark is a huge question mark this year, both coming off surgery and also in regards to the Manning issue. If he regains even a fraction of his old form, the Defenders will be in good shape at TE, though the 9-dollar price tag may seem steep in retrospect if it doesn’t work out.
9)The Birdmen, C-
If Adam cared as much as most of us about fantasy football, then Peyton Manning’s neck injury would be driving him absolutely crazy. Eli is no reassuring back up, especially with the extra negative point for pick-sixes this year. Trust me, I know. And if you don’t believe me, I’ll set you up for a discussion with Papa Stup. Then you’ll really know. Luckily for Adam Carson Palmer is still available and should do well on the road against the NFL’s best defenses just like last year. Hold on a second while I go fetal again. Commish did like Birdman’s aggression (angry birds?) in pursuing both McFadden (possible uber-stud of the century of the week) and Fitzgerald (pretty much everyone agrees $41 is too low for that guy so nice get there). Gates is the usual Gates, a monster when healthy but always with one foot (get it?!?) in the training room. Also I read he used to play basketball, and can “box out” defenders like he’s in the post, but on the football field – wild I know. Reggie Wayne’s value will be tied directly to Manning and looks bleaker by the day as Peyton Manning now has an entire delegation of neurosurgeons arguing about what to do with his neck. I don’t particularly like Matthews as a fantasy back, but Adman loves his Chargers, and in the WR corps Sydney Rice is a talented guy who has a horrendous injury history and an awful QB Tavaris Jackson who followed him like a serial killer from Minnesota to Seattle. (Seriously, what was Rice’s reaction when he heard the Seahawks signed Jackson? Did he think he’d just been punk’d?) Of the Birdmen’s back-ups, there’s nothing particularly inspiring though Garcon (more Colts?) and Spiller are at least intriguing.
10)Crazy Canucks, C-
I don’t hate Iwan’s draft as much as I did on draft night, but I’m not backing off now. As I said I actually think that with a trade or two the Canucks could leapfrog about 8 spots or so if they could just land a stud WR. They still have the top QB in the game and they certainly have enough running backs as trade bait. I’m not sure what to say about the backs on this team, only that there are a lot of them, many of them (Bradshaw, Hillis, Williams, Hightower) certainly capable if not sure fire studs. What I really look forward to is Iwan picking the wrong two backs to start each week and pulling his hair out while back X and Y blow up on the bench only to be shut down the following week when they’re in the game as starters. At WR it’s just a laughable mess. The Canucks go-to stud? Stevie Johnson, on the anemic Buffalo offense. Yikes. Iwan did corner the market on white PPR burrow guys (Welker, Amendola) in some bizarre type of Adam impression. It turns out the best WR on this team is the TE Witten. Commish would just love it if we all just make a pact to not trade Iwan a WR all season. Can we do that? Whatever potential gain is out there at RB for some of us it would just be fun to see Iwan go through the entire season with his current WR corps. Can we make this happen?
They happen every year, making the draft (or parts of it) distressing for those who suffer them, and hilarious for those who witness them. Let’s quickly look at the players who caused this year’s biggest shame spirals and those they made fetal.
1)Michael Turner – LT’S Crackheeds. $37 for an unsexy back, especially in PPR format who will probably do fine but brings little excitement to the team aside from a giant ass. I went back and forth on this one several times during the draft. I’ve made my peace with it. I think.
2)Ryan Grant – The Brown Trout. The price was fine but the PTSD associated with last year’s injury set Little Buhr over the edge emotionally. Maybe in that pink jersey he was just a ball of hormones.
3)Matthew Stafford – Drafted by the Rat Pack but the shame spiral went to Little Buhr, who really wanted Stafford. Now he’s left with just unproven Bradford. Little Buhr was really eaten up about this one. I think he went home and binged on bon-bons. Oh wait that was me regarding Turner.
4)Larry Fitzgerald – No less than four other managers who did not get Larry Fitzgerald kicked themselves for not continuing to bid on the mega-stud who sold for $41, which somehow seemed a bargain. It was made even better when he scored an 80-yard TD a few hours later during the preseason game that was on at the after-party. A nice get by Birdman.
It’s tough to really comment on player values by looking at the board after the fact because the draft is a fluid entity with values in flux based on remaining money and tiers of players. Regardless, it’s fun to try and pick out the steals and rip offs. Let’s focus on those who might have cost just a bit too much in my opinion.
-Miles Austin, 32$ (For some reason I have doubts about him this year)
-Greg Jennings, 44$ (Roddy White went for the same price. The spread offense and a healthy Finley are no friend to Jennings.)
-Reggie Wayne, 36$ (Proves me wrong every year, but I sense his production won’t match this price)
-Ryan Matthews, $16 (As long as Tolbert’s around, this guy is looking at 5 TD’s max on the season I think)
-Javhid Best $23 (Went this high probably just because he was nominated early. Just seems risky as hell.)
-DeSean Jackson $26 (Monster play-maker but how long can be play in the NFL before he gets killed? Also he’s pissed about his contract issue. Still, just seems so right on Gabe’s team.)
-Michael Turner $37 (Ten dollars too high in a league where receptions matter)
-Frank Gore, $34 (Don’t trust him a lick)
Alright, that’s it for this draft recap. Not bad, eh? Stay tuned to the site, the blog, google plus, and twitter all this week for further updates. Coming soon, the naming of divisions and that goes with it. Season starts Thursday!