Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Fantasy Football Roster Analysis - Fantasy Gameday Keeper (Points League)

Recently, I took part in my first fantasy football draft of the season. This is a points league, set up by Kelly from Fantasygameday.net. This will be the first non-head to head football league I've been a part of, and I'm looking forward to an interesting season. This will also be a keeper league, where we'll be holding on to 3 players at the end of the season. The setup is as follows:

6 Bench spots

This draft went like most fantasy drafts I've taken part in - I got a few guys that I thought would be gone by the time I drafted them, I reached for a few others, and I had a few of those Doh! moments where I was getting ready to pull the trigger on a guy when the team ahead of me picked him away from under my nose (Stupid Flanders!).

Below is my draft with some quasi-analysis....although I'm bound to be biased, since this is my team.

Round (Overall Pick) Player, Position:
1 (8) Willie Parker, RB
Even given the keeper league setup, I was hoping Shaun Alexander would fall to me at pick 8 (he ended up going at 7). I know, I know, he's already peaked & he's going to end up sharing caries with Maurice Morris at some point in the not too distant future...but I just have a good feeling about Shaun this season.

OK, on to my Parker analysis - he was the best player on the board. The picks immediately after Parker were Bush, Maroney, & Westbrook; I think Parker is absolutely in a different league than those guys (right now from a fantasy perspective). He's proven he can put up excellent numbers, and I don't see any reason why he won't have another great year.

Picks around this selection - (6) F Gore, (7) S Alexander, (8) PARKER, (9) R Bush, (10) L Maroney

2 (13) Rudi Johnson, RB
It seems like I end up with Johnson on at least one team every year. It's not that I don't like his solid performance, but I am always looking for a reason to take somebody else. I did consider the fact that Kenny Irons is injured & is out for the season (he was drafted in the 3rd round to take a few carries & allow Johnson to get some rest) when making this selection.

To be honest, I was ready to select Chad Johnson with this pick (who went 3 picks later)...until I read a blurb saying he punched a teammate at practice. I've already owned Randy Moss & TO over the last few years, so that was enough to scare me off. That and the fact that you need two top running backs to effectively compete in most football leagues. There was nothing wrong with this pick, and he should have another solid season.

Picks around this selection - (11) B Westbrook, (12) C Palmer, (13) R JOHNSON, (14) T Henry, (15) S Smith

3 (28) Roy Williams, WR
Man, that wait from pick 13 to pick 28 felt like a few weeks. I saw top players keep dropping off the board, all while trying to determine what to do with my next pick. I'm normally a fan of waiting a little while for my starting QB, so that left backup RB (not important yet, unless a top player dropped), a #1 WR (very important), or a TE (Gates). I guess I also considered for a moment taking a DEF or K here also, but then I thankfully gained my sanity back (which doesn't happen very often).

I felt good about getting R Williams as my #1 receiver. I was really targeting Larry Fitzgerald, but he went one pick ahead of me (damn you Headbangers!). At this point, I ended up taking the 8th receiver off the board, following:

2 (15) S Smith
2 (16) C Johnson
2 (19) M Harrison
3 (21) T Holt
3 (22) T Owens
3 (23) R Wayne
3 (27) L Fitzgerald

Williams should catch his fair share of touchdowns this year from Kitna, and should be a lock for 1,000 yards +. All that & he's young with plenty of upside...especially since Calvin Johnson is now around to help draw some of the defense's attention away from Williams. Overall, I'm happy with this pick.

Picks around this selection - (26) D Brees, (27) L Fitzgerald, (28) R WILLIAMS, (29) C Benson, (30) M Bulger

4 (33) Antonio Gates, TE
I typically follow the same strategy for picking TE's that I use for QB's - don't reach & pick one early. I didn't follow this strategy in a baseball league with Joe Mauer this year (let's assume catcher in baseball = TE or QB in football) & it's killing me in this league (since I passed up Hanley Ramirez for Mauer)...although I also went against that strategy in another league & I've been quite happy with Victor Martinez's production in 2007...whatever. You usually don't get good bang for the buck when picking the top player at a weak position early in the draft.

That being said, I still picked him...and here is why. San Diego has a young, still mostly unproven WR core; meaning Gates will be turned to often, especially in the red zone (although I'll talk about Vincent Jackson in a few). Phillip Rivers is a young & improving QB, who will likely only rely on Gates more as they continue to build a rapport with one another. In addition, I was basically pissed that the player I was targeting (Marcus Colston) was taken one pick ahead my mine (for the second time in the draft - damn you The Wounded Healers!).

Once again, I was happy with this pick; as Gates should put up #1 WR type numbers across the board, even though he's a TE...not bad.

Picks around this selection - (31) A Johnson, (32) M Colston, (33) A GATES, (34) T Houshmandzadeh, (35) J Walker

5 (48) Brandon Jacobs, RB
Here is where I started to take some chances. Not that Jacobs can't be a fantasy beast this season; last year, in limited carries, he proved he can be a TD machine. But what impresses me more about Jacobs is his surprising speed, elusiveness, and soft hands & reception ability. I'm a little nervous with R Droughns waiting in the wings (and potentially sharing carries), but Jacobs has the potential to put up #1 RB-type numbers this year. In addition, he's still young...so he has immense upside as a potential keeper. He gives me the luxury of having 3 potential starting RB in a league that only starts 2 (with no flex positions).

In the 5th round, many of the second tier / unproven backs went off the board, so now was the time to pull the trigger on Jacobs. In this round, the following backs were selected:

A Peterson (Minn one)
C Williams
M Lynch
B Jacobs

This gives my team some flexibility, and I'm hoping he busts out big time, like some fantasy experts expect.

Picks around this selection - (46) Cal Johnson, (47) M Lynch, (48) B JACOBS, (49) L Coles, (50) D Jackson

6 (53) Braylon Edwards, WR
I decided to go with a guy from my home town team, the Cleveland Browns, to occupy my #2 WR position (which is up for debate, as you'll see later in my draft). I think Edwards will approach, if not exceed 1,000+ yards, score 7 - 10 TD, and be 'the man' for Charlie Frye, Brady Quinn, Bernie Kosar, or whomever is running the Browns offense. At times last year, Frye & Edwards seemed to start building a poor man's version of that Peyton Manning - Marvin Harrison thing...where the WR just knew where he needed to be to make the play; and the QB knew where the WR was going & delivered the ball...you know...

OK, that didn't quite transpire last year, but Edwards & Frye did seem comfortable & occasionally got into a good groove. Edwards even stuck up for Frye after the Browns drafted Brady Quinn in April. Any way you look at it, Edwards has enormous upside, runs good routes, and knows how to get into the end zone. I may have reached a bit with this pick (his average draft position (ADP) in Yahoo drafts is 59), but I'm confident that he'll be a solid fantasy contributor this year (or maybe I only believe that because I bleed orange & brown?).

Picks around this selection - (51) S Moss, (52) D Branch, (53) B EDWARDS, (54) M Barber III, (55) T Jones

I'll take a look at picks 7-15 in an upcoming post. Hopefully I ended up drafting a QB during that time...

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