Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Smiles & Frowns: It Never Gets Old


It’s hard to believe that Week 17 of the NFL season is already here and the fantasy football season is no longer.

I play because I need the competition; because I enjoy the insults and jabs that get thrown around on the league message board (note: telling your friend that his sister is attractive really does not get old); and I think that all of us play because we desire that unique element of control and pride that comes from owning a fantasy football team—unless your team is terrible.

Personally, I’m proud that one of my teams—with an unmentionable team name—won a league championship, but I’m sad it’s over. It’s like a movie with a pleasing ending that you just didn’t want to end. Granted, this was a better finish than the previous year when I lost a semi-final game by two points and spent the next week telling young children that Santa doesn’t exist (Okay, I didn’t. But I wanted to).

Still, it’s all over. But don’t fret—playoff football is almost here, the baseball season is closer than you think, and there are plenty of lessons to take from the season passed.

Because the season has ended in all of my leagues and most of yours, I will use this space to reflect back on my own league draft from September, rather than this past week’s managerial decisions. Just like a rough night out on the town, it’s important to discuss all of your good and bad decisions so you don’t repeat mistakes. And the great thing about fantasy football is that it’s perfectly fine to allow your friends to continually make the same mistakes, if for no other reason but because it’s funny.

A look back at the draft of my championship team (note: this draft took place in a 10-team head-to-head league):

Amazingly, this team finished with only six of the 19 players taken during the draft. The others I lost through trades or waivers.

Early Rounds:

1st Round: With the 2nd overall pick I selected Steven Jackson. At the time he was the consensus number two pick, so I was excited about that draft position. It was difficult for Steven Jackson owners to overcome the loss of him for four weeks, but he has been solid down the stretch with at least 76 yards rushing in every game following the Rams week-nine bye. Jackson added five touchdowns and 27 receptions over that span. Given the loss of OT Orlando Pace and the injuries to Marc Bulger, I was pleased with his production.

Don’t draft a player only because he’s a “consensus” pick or based on previous years’ statistics, and don’t rely on a “cheat sheet” to make your picks for you. But when you have a guy like Jackson who is a physical specimen, a running and receiving threat with an awesome television commercial where he physically harms people, I think it’s okay to draft him where the pundits put him.

2nd Round: With the 19th overall pick I selected Steve Smith (Carolina). Brief pause. It started out wonderfully (15 receptions for 271 yards and four touchdowns in the first two games), but the loss of Delhomme led to five David Carr starts and a Testaverde un-retirement. And you know how that played out. The result was a substandard year for Steve Smith. Fortunately, I was able to trade him mid-season before his value diminished too much.

Although I favor running backs in the early rounds and it was extremely frustrating to suffer from the “I can’t not start Steve Smith even with Carr throwing to him” Syndrome, I don’t regret the pick. In the greater scheme of things, I think Smith may actually get undervalued going into next year’s draft as a result—look out in 2008.

4th Round: I was able to get Tom Brady with the 39th overall pick. Coming off a 24-touchdown, 12-interception year (and a career-high 28 touchdown passes), no one could have predicted his McGwire-sized numbers this year, even with the overhaul at the Patriots wide receiver position. This pick worked out well and is the reason my team played in the championship. Sometimes you just get lucky.

Middle Rounds:

10th Round: Michael Turner. “Handcuff” fever and a personal vendetta against an owner who took Turner in a separate league where I owned Tomlinson pushed me to grab Turner where I really didn’t need him. Although, I thought I got good value at the time. Logically, it made sense given his production in 2006 (80 carries for 502 yards) and as Tomlinson’s backup; but I wonder going forward if it may be better to pile assets that have value other than as trade bait. You never know if you will be able to trade that player, and for what.

12th Round: I drafted Wes Welker 119th overall. It was my favorite pick of the draft. In the middle rounds and late rounds I like to find consistent, complementary players (reserves), and I like to take fliers. He turned out to be a perfect, reliable slot target who consistently produced. I certainly didn’t pencil him in for over 100 catches, but Welker was what I thought he’d be!!!! He was what I thought he’d be, and I didn’t let him off the hook!!!!

Late Rounds:

17th Round: I took TE Chris Baker from the Jets here, the first tight end I selected. I felt that after the first handful of TE’s, there was no sense in picking one sooner just to fill out the roster where there was better value elsewhere on the board. Well, tight end continued to be a spot of weakness for me until mid-season as I started everyone including Mark Bavaro. I eventually was able to use my 14th round pick Brandon Marshall to acquire Heath Miller mid-season, but maybe I won’t wait quite so long to draft a TE next season.

Thanks for reading.

Now you’ll excuse me I’m going to get my computer some HGH so I’ll be ready to talk about baseball in the New Year.




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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

You have a great mind for fantasy sports. Keep up the great work!

A.T. from the 'Cuse said...

Smiley thinks Steven Jackson is a "physical specimen". Haha.