This weekend was our traditional draft weekend in Las Vegas for our fantasy football league now entering its 28th year. Amazing to think there are many who have been involved for all 28 years. It’s always a great time to get together with good friends, shoot the shit, eat and drink and talk football. This year was no different really. Instead of The Palms being our draft HQ, we moved to The Hard Rock Hotel.
I arrived on Friday morning just before 11am and spent $15 to go 2 miles to the hotel. I checked in at the front desk and then checked into the cabana we had rented for Friday as we waited for the other owners to arrive in Las Vegas. Dinner at The N9NES was scheduled for 8pm, as one owner was a bit late because he had to work late. So it was pretty much drinking, drinking and more drinking on Friday. Guess it’s no wonder I ended up feeling bad and having a raging migraine headache when I made my way back to our suite.
I laid down for 45 minutes, but the headache did not subside and made me just miserable at dinner time. We stopped off at the bar for a round of drinks, well water for me and then were shown our table. We place appetizer orders and then ordered out steaks, which averaged about $55-60 bucks Ala carte! I had a great corn chowder and maybe had 3 bites of my 12 oz steak before I had to put the fork and knife down because of the pounding on my head.
We ended up pulling playing cards for our draft positions on Saturday. I pulled the #5 draft pick, but the best moment came down to the final two owners to draw cards. The #1 and #8 spots were remaining. Unfortunately the returning champion got a bit touchy and grabbed one of the cards, but did not look at it. I placed it back where it was supposed to be. The next pick was #1. If he had not touched the cards he would have been the top spot to draft. Maybe that taught him a lesson. Probably not though.
After dinner I made my way to the room and crashed. I think my roommate came in about 4 am did some work and then went to bed. Saturday came at about 630am for me. I got up, cleaned up and went down to eat some oatmeal and drink coffee. Did check FFS and place a few comments on some posts and returned to the room about an hour later. My roommate was up by then and we discussed the draft, players and strategy we would be putting into play at 11am.
We headed out to the pool and found the cabana and got settled in. It took me a few minutes to setup and configure the online draft room at CBS Sportsline. But once I got it online it worked very well, better than last year. We had 2 owners not in the cabana and they participated online from home. Acting as commissioner I was able to select players for all owners who were in attendance, so those not at the cabana would get a feel for who was remaining and who was drafted. Again it worked very well this year with a few minor glitches on my end.
As for the draft I believe this was one of better teams I have put together. It might have been a questionable move in the 1st round at the #5 pick to selection Mike Vick and not Rashard Mendenhall. If Vick can put up numbers comparable to last season and stay healthy, then it will be a very good pick. Mendenhall was a workhorse and would have been a solid pick as well, a legit #1 RB.
Playing 2 QBs as we can do I bet on Vick and ended up scoring Darren McFadden in round 2. By that time 6 QBs were already off the board so I felt I might as well get a solid RB both rushing and receiving and he was the best on the board in round 2. A fleeting thought was a WR, but then I would be chasing a RB in round 3 and I needed a stud in the stable to anchor my RBs.
Round 3 I came back strong with a Hakeem Nicks at WR. I was very surprised he was passed up and many thought I was crazy to take him in the 3rd round. Larry Fitzgerald was the other WR I was considering, but I have my doubts about the desert dwellers, their offensive line and rushing game. Could make for a long year for the Cardinals but Fitz will get his.
Jahvid Best slide to the 4th round and I was excited to get him. He has very little competition in Detroit with Leshoure done for the year, so hopefully he can stay healthy and contribute to a possible high powered offense. The other option in this slot was Shonne Greene, who I had last year and while I expect him to bounce back I could not bring myself to draft him. I figured Best would be more productive catching the ball as well, which tilted the scales in his favor.
I was targeting a WR in Round 5 and was looking at Wallace and Austin but both went off very quickly and had me scrambling for the next best available. It came down to Mike Williams (TB) and Dwayne Bowe. Personally I don’t believe that Bowe comes back to repeat his career year. While TB is an up and coming team I like what Williams did last year. Another year with Freeman and a rushing game in Blount and I thought Williams was a nice pick up in this round.
Probably grabbed a TE too early in Round 6, but Gates had gone off the board in the 2 rounds earlier and with Witten going two picks prior to me, I figured this was my only chance to grab a top TE in Finley of Green Bay. I think it worked out, as Clark was selected right after my pick.
It even got more interesting in Round 7 as I picked Knowshon Moreno. Hopefully Denver comes strong with a run game this season now that Moreno is healthy. Sure he might see some TDs vultured from McGahee and Tebow (if he gets his shot), but he could break 1000 yards if he remains healthy. My other option this round would have Beanie Wells, but again I don’t believe in the Arizona Cardinals this season.
Getting into the “make or break” draft picks, the middle rounds I Began to round out my starting line up and look for depth. I had passed on Manningham earlier because I had Nicks and did not want to start 2 NYG players. Steve Johnson of Buffalo was the best tiered WR on the board and I quickly secured him. Wasn’t really eying another player this round.
While I drafted Brandon Jacobs in the 9th round, I knew he was going to be in an RBBC with Bradshaw. This now gave me two players from the Giants, at this point I was not planning Jacobs starting, but I do like the big kid who has serious potential. We will see if he can stay out of the dog house and contribute this season. I still believe he will be the goal line back, which could yield 7-9 TDs this season.
At this point I had waited a bit to long to draft a second QB. I should have grabbed my #2 a few rounds earlier while there was some better talent left on the board. I had Stafford and Bradford on my list, even Kevin Kolb, but all 3 were drafted by round 9. That left me McNabb, Garrard, Fitzpatrick, Campbell of Sanchez. I drafted Sanchez since I believe they have the best overall team. Sanchez has improved the last 2 years and Rex Ryan claims they are going to throw more this year. Sanchez also started off very well last year. So I am pleased with my backup. At this point I do not know if I will start 2 QBs or not.
Due to off season knee surgery Colston return in New Orleans has been very slow. That seems to open the door for Robert Meachem. I thought this was very good value in the 11th round. The other option I did consider was Malcolm Floyd, but being the San Diego homer I am I passed on him. Rivers is proven, but so is Brees. I thought Meachem would fair better this season.
Traditionally I have been a big fan of the placekicker. But each year I wait longer and longer to draft one. This year the run on the position started in the 13th round and while I was targeting Gostkowski I ended up draft “Sea Bass” the overweight, bald, Sebastian Janikowski of the silver and black. He can hit some bombs and was one of the best last year.
Using the knowledge gained on FFS I started pulling out those “sleeper” picks. Starting with round 14th I picked up Danny Amendola of STL. While we don’t play PPR, I still think he could he a nice 4th WR or a bye week cover for me. The other player one the board at this time was Lee Evans, but he burned me last year when I drafted him and I like what Amendola did last year with Bradford an up and coming QB.
I drafted my first rookie in round 15, Roy Helu (Nebraska) of the Redskins. Who knows what Shanny is going to do with the RB situation. While Hightower is the current starter, Helu could possibly see some time. Torain is a bit injury prone and Helu has the skills to give Hightower a run. I did consider Delone Carter but everything I was reading said Addai was going to be the full time RB, so I passed on Carter.
Another fantasy sleeper I picked up at FFS was Emmanuel Sanders, who I drafted in the 16th round. I had Steve Breaston tagged, but he was drafted just prior to my selection. Sanders was picked up for the later part of the season. Not sure how much time he will see early on as he is still returning from an injury. I like what he offers and hopefully he contributes at some point.
While not a popular choice, I reserved the final two rounds (17 & 18) for my back up tight end and kicker. I know many do not consider carrying two at each position, opting for additional depth at RB and WR, sometimes QBs. Personally, I don’t want to play a hole at either position, nor do I want to spend a needless $10 to pick up a bye week cover for either position. In the 17th round I took Brandon Pettigrew. Possibly listed as a low #1 TE by some sites and IF Stafford can remain healthy, I like what Pettigrew brings to the Detroit offense. My last selection was Jay Feely of Arizona. Right now I will use him as a bye week cover as well, unless I decide to play 2 kickers. Feely has been known to launch some long field goals, which could yield me big points. If the Arizona offense stalls outside of 20 yards I can see good points from Feely.
This year I did not follow Russ Bliss’s Draft Strategy, as I did last year. Right out of the box with a QB was not really how I wanted to start, but I did remain flexible and had to modify my strategy as I went forward. Overall I feel real good about my team. I do have some question marked players, like Vick, McFadden and Best, all of whom lost time to injury last year. Still with those players I am hoping to have a good run this season and hopefully not throwing the towel in by Week 10 like I did last year.