Thursday, September 6, 2012

Grading Your Fantasy Draft - Part 3

Time to get started with our final piece in the Grading Your Fantasy Draft segment (Part 1, Part 2) where we’ll take a look at one of the teams I drafted for a league that I’m in this fall.  Naturally, I like this team because, hey, I drafted it.  But, I’ll try to be as objective as possible in breaking down my strengths and weaknesses.  That said, the format of the league is pretty standard – QB,WR,WR,WR,RB,RB,TE,W/R/T,K,DEF.  It’s a ten team league and I had the 10th pick in the draft.

 Antonio Brown

Here we go:

Round 1 – Calvin Johnson (WR, Lions)
Round 2 – Jimmy Graham (TE, Saints)
Round 3 – Jamaal Charles (RB, Chiefs)
Round 4 – Jordy Nelson (WR, Packers)
Round 5 – Willis McGahee (RB, Broncos)
Round 6 – Antonio Brown (WR, Steelers)
Round 7 – Stevie Johnson (WR, Bills)
Round 8 – Michael Bush (RB, Bears)
Round 9 – Philip Rivers (QB, Chargers)
Round 10 – Peyton Hillis (RB, Chiefs)
Round 11 – Ryan Williams (RB, Cardinals)
Round 12 – Russell Wilson (QB, Seahawks)
Round 13 – Greg Little (WR, Browns)
Round 14 – Sidney Rice (WR, Seahawks)
Round 15 – Lions Defense
Round 16 – Jason Hanson (K, Lions)

Sticking with the format from yesterday, let’s start with the positives.  First off, I absolutely love my team at WR.  To my delight, Calvin Johnson was still available when I was finally on the clock with the 10th pick, as were Jimmy Graham and Matthew Stafford (QB, Lions).  I had a choice to make here, and it was a pretty tough one.  I could either go with Stafford/Johnson, Johnson/Graham, or Graham/Stafford.  Ultimately I decided on taking Johnson/Graham, arguably the number one guys at both the wide receiver and tight end position. 

As the rounds went on, I spent more and more picks putting together what I believe to be the strongest WR set in my league, using 4 of my top 7 picks to grab top talent at the WR position.  If you’ve read parts 1 and 2 from yesterday, you know that I’m high on Jordy Nelson.  I’m also very excited about Antonio Brown this year.  He had a breakout performance last year and is coming off a tremendous camp where he was able to strengthen his relationship with Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger.

I definitely have a weakness at running back, but at the same time, you wouldn’t have been saying that two years ago.  I’m going out on a limb hoping that Charles returns to pre-injury form, but if he doesn’t I made the right move to grab Peyton Hillis in a later round.  After all, head man Romeo Crennel did say he wanted his two running backs to have more than 500 carries between them this year.  Hell, there may even be some weeks where I start both of them.  How’s that for diversification?

Behind Charles I took McGahee and Bush, one starter (McGahee) and one goal-line back (Bush).  There could be weeks where I don’t get much from my RB position, but I’m hoping playing the matchups right will result in an RB squad that’s better than they look on paper.

Lastly, the quarterback position is one that I’m a little weary about.  In the first round, I opted to go with Calvin Johnson and Jimmy Graham, leaving Stafford on the board.  We’ll learn shortly whether or not this was a mistake, but I think I got great value with my pick of Philip Rivers in the 9th round.  Hopefully he’s the Rivers of two years ago, and my hope is that he will be, especially with a healthy Antonio Gates to sling the rock to.

Although there are weaknesses, my strength at TE and WR in a passing league should allow me to make a deep run in the playoffs.

Grade: A- (factoring in upside – A)

*If you'd like me to grade your 2012 fantasy team, submit your pick number, team (in order of selection) and league format in the comments section.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Grading Your Fantasy Draft - Part 2

Thanks to another reader for offering up his/her (let’s be honest - more than likely, his) team for grading and analysis.  We’ve got another ten team league here and our reader had the third overall selection.  The format of this league is QB,RB,RB,WR,WR,W/R/T,K,DEF – another unique league format where there’s not a devoted TE slot on the starting roster (Could be a typo – but we’ll grade based on the provided format).

Laurent Robinson can....plank?

Here we go:

Round 1 – Ray Rice (RB, Ravens)
Round 2 – Cam Newton (QB, Panthers)
Round 3 – Wes Welker (WR, Patriots)
Round 4 – Frank Gore (RB, 49ers)
Round 5 – Marques Colston (WR, Saints)
Round 6 – Jason Witten (TE, Cowboys)
Round 7 – Vincent Jackson (WR, Buccaneers)
Round 8 – Baltimore Defense
Round 9 – Ben Roethlisberger (QB, Steelers)
Round 10 – Darrius Heyward-Bey (WR, Raiders)
Round 11 – Brent Celek (TE, Eagles)
Round 12 – Jason Hanson (K, Lions)
Round 13 – Michael Bush (RB, Bears)
Round 14 – Detroit Defense
Round 15 – Laurent Robinson (WR, Jaguars)

First, let’s start with the positives.  I think your number 1 RB, QB, and WR are all guys that put you in great position to be dominant.  I love Ray Rice with the number 3 pick (I’m assuming Arian Foster went #1 and Aaron Rodgers went #2).  Rice is going to (again) be the workhorse in Baltimore.  The only small concern I have here is Baltimore’s move to a no-huddle offense this season.  We haven’t seen how this will impact Baltimore’s offense, but my thought is this: Rice is their playmaker and they’ll find a way to get him the ball.

I’m very surprised that Cam Newton was still available in the second round (he was taken in the first round of both leagues I’m in, and as high as number 5 in one of them), but great job finding value and grabbing him here before he fell to the guy behind you.

Welker was a great WR1 last year and I don’t doubt he’ll be anything less this year, but I do worry about the breadth of options Tom Brady has in New England.  Hopefully there will be enough offense to go around.

A few other comments – I like the late draft pickup of Michael Bush.  He’s going to be the goal line back in Chicago and is a great handcuff to have should Forte have issues with the strength of his knee.  I also like Heyward-Bey, as long as he is able to develop Chemistry with Carson Palmer.

Now, onto the question marks I have with your squad.  If you don’t have a devoted TE spot on the starting roster, why draft two tight ends?  It’s perplexing.  I like Witten a lot and he’s one of Romo’s favorite targets, but with his spleen injury, there’s a little early-season risk with how he’ll be able to perform, especially if he tries to rush back into action too quickly.

I’m also very low on Frank Gore this year.  He was outplayed in the preseason by backup RB Kendall Hunter, and I think Hunter (or Rookie LaMichael James) will eat into a significant portion of Gore’s carries by midseason.  If I were you, I’d drop Laurent Robinson (see Grading Your Draft - Part 1) and pickup Hunter.

News out of NO today is that Colston has a foot injury, so who knows how long he’ll be sidelined.  There’s not much clarity around how severe the injury is, but for the sake of your team’s depth, I hope he’ll be able to give it a go on Sunday.  In Vincent Jackson, you’ve got a guy with elite talent, but one of the more inaccurate passers in the league throwing to him.  If Josh Freeman can bounce back from his underwhelming performance last season, I love this pick as a great value play, but as it stands now – Jackson worries me.

Lastly, I think you reached too high for Baltimore’s defense.  They’re still good, yes, but in the 8th round there’s a lot more sleeper talent that should have been up for grabs (especially in a 10 team league).  You’d have been better off going with a guy that has huge upside like David Wilson or Ryan Williams and then trying to grab the Seattle defense (great matchup against the Cardinals in Week 1) with a late pick.

As your team stands right now, you’re going to be relying a whole hell of a lot on your top three draft picks to score some points week in and week out.  But, I think you’ve got a lot of upside if VJax and Freeman can establish a connection

Grade: B- (factoring in upside – A-)

*If you'd like me to grade your 2012 fantasy team, submit your pick number, team (in order of selection) and league format in the comments section.

Grading Your Fantasy Draft - Part 1

After college football found itself back on the big stage this weekend, the NFL joins the Welcome Back (to football) Party tonight when the Dallas Cowboys kick off in East Rutherford, NJ against the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants.

Although time/work/life constraints prohibited me from completing The 2012 Idiot’s Guide to Fantasy Football, it’s time to take our seat at the Welcome Back Party with a little fantasy post-draft analysis.  We’ll examine two teams in this segment, one graciously submitted by a reader for analysis (today’s post) and the other one of my own teams (tomorrow’s post).

Rashad Jennings

Let’s start this off by examining the team of a reader.  It’s a 10 team league with a QB,RB,RB,RB/WR,WR,WR/TE,TE,D,K format and our reader had the 9th pick in a snake draft.  First impressions on this format – it’s less heavy WR’s than most leagues I’ve seen, having only one true WR slot.  Now, it’s important to understand that format should impact, but not drive the draft strategy for a team playing in this league.  That’s said, let’s see how he did:

Round 1 – Chris Johnson (RB, Titans)
Round 2 – Rob Gronkowski (TE, Patriots)
Round 3 – Eli Manning (QB, Giants)
Round 4 – Victor Cruz (WR, Giants)
Round 5 – Willis McGahee (RB, Broncos)
Round 6 – Marques Colston (WR, Saints)
Round 7 – Demaryius Thomas (WR, Broncos)
Round 8 – Chris “Beanie” Wells (RB, Cardinals)
Round 9 – Peyton Hillis (RB, Chiefs)
Round 10 – Tony Gonzalez (TE, Falcons)
Round 11 – Mario Manningham (WR, 49ers)
Round 12 – Josh Freeman (QB, Buccaneers)
Round 13 – Laurent Robinson (WR, Jaguars)
Round 14 – Eagles Defense
Round 15 – Dan Bailey (K, Cowboys)
Round 16 – Rashad Jennings (RB, Jaguars)

First off, I love the fact that you were able to get Rashad Jennings with your last pick in the draft.  He’s going to be a great early season play as MJD gets himself back in “football shape.”  Jennings was a low risk pick with a ton of upside – great pick!

I think you’ve got some strength at the Running Back position, but that’s fully dependent on how Chris Johnson comes back from his miserable 2011 campaign.  Willis McGahee is going to be the goal-line back in Denver and Hillis will likely carry the same role in Kansas City.  The only thing I don’t like here is the pickup of Beanie Wells, especially with an eighth round pick.  While Wells is surely going to be the incumbent starter early in the year, a healthy Ryan Williams will take the Arizona offense much further than Wells.  I like Williams to be the starter in Arizona by Week 5.

On the receiver front, I like the pickup of Cruz in the fourth round, though I would rather have seen you go someone like Jordy Nelson.  Cruz had a fantastic rookie season, there’s no arguing that, but I think he’ll take a small step back this year with a healthy Hakeem Nicks and a developing David Wilson (I think DW will demand the ball in space and could take a few targets away from the Nicks/Cruz tandem).  I’m not a big Laurent Robinson fan – I think he benefited from having Tony Romo as his QB last year, and Blaine Gabbert is a big drop off from Romo.  I don’t like Manningham this year either, but that’s more of a function of who he has throwing to him (Alex Smith) than his talent level.

You’re strong at the TE spot, so you don’t need me telling you that.

At Quarterback, I’m not on the Eli bandwagon, but once the elite guys are gone, there’s not many guys that look better than Eli.  He’ll have his Jekyl and Hyde moments, but for your sake I hope he limits his -2 point performances and delivers you a consistent 10-15 points per game.

Grade: B (factoring in upside - B+)

*If you'd like me to grade your 2012 fantasy team, submit your pick number, team (in order of selection) and league format in the comments section.