While none of the owners can remember an exact year, heading to Vegas for our fantasy draft weekend has become tradition in the TFL. While not the cheapest trip it is a unique environment to hold the draft. We are not hold up in a hotel room like some other geeks at The Hard Rock Hotel, we go big, poolside in a cabana. This year was not a good year for the draft due to issues the moment we arrived at the cabana as technical issues reeked havoc all afternoon long.
While I was prepared for the draft, my mind was elsewhere as I was frustrated with how crappy the Internet connection was at the pool. Since we were 3 owners short we also had the draft live on CBS Sportsline so those not in attendance could follow along. As it happened, I had arrange the owner on vacation in Hawaii to manage the draft. We ended up e-mailing him all 180 picks since the Internet connection was so bad that I could not stay connected for more than about 5 minutes at a time. This took my attention away from the draft and board responsibilities. This was not how I had planned on spending the draft.
The draft actually got started the night before while at dinner, the traditional “Pulling of the Ace” at The N9NE Steakhouse. After taking care of outstanding business and eating dinner we laid the cards out on the table and pulled in reverse order of the total points standings. I had the 3rd overall pick for my card. As luck would have it, I pulled “The Ace!” This was the first time in about 4 years I had the option to place myself anywhere in the draft order by pulling this card. I was already thinking strategy before we even left the table.
I did not want to get caught up in the “who to draft” but from the #1 spot, it was going to be difficult to pull off a 2 QB strategy. I decided to move from the #1 spot down to #4 in anticipation of Foster, Rice and McCoy going the first 3 picks. As luck had it (we were in Vegas) Rodgers went #2 overall behind Foster, followed by McCoy, leaving me to question the possibility of using this 2 QB strategy this season. Anticipating another 4 or 5 QBs being drafted before I would pick again, I made my pick and it wasn’t long after that I decided the chips were not falling into place for this alternate draft strategy.
1.03 Drew Brees QB NOS
With Rodgers off the board, Drew Brees is a very strong play this season for the Saints. Maybe not the preseason favorite to be the top ranked QB, the guy can deliver. I expect another big year from Brees throwing for 5000 yards and 40+ TDs.
2.10 Matt Forte RB CHI
I considered going QB with this pick but in my opinion I couldn’t justify Eli Manning and Matt Ryan this high. A very good chance that Forte would not have been there in the third round and some of the WRs I was targeting would be drafted. I like Forte, can catch and run. Now hopefully he can find the endzone a bit more frequent, as his 4 TDs from last year have be worried.
3.04 Larry Fitzgerald WR ARI
I heard Michael in my head with this pick, as I now rely on Fitz as my top WR. The QB issues in the desert are a concern, but you know it will be Fitzgerald as top target. I hope to see a replay of last year, 1400 yards and 8-9 TDs. Hard to pass on him in the 3rd round.
4.07 Andre Johnson WR HOU
I was very surprised when I saw AJ still on the board in the 4th round. I am not too concerned about his injury history, in fact I liked him more than Fitzgerald this year, but believe his numbers won’t be as good as Fitz since HOU has other weapons. If he remains healthy I think he could put up strong numbers this season. I see him as a steal in round 4.
5.04 Reggie Bush RB MIA
Not a real strong believer in Bush, who FINALLY put together a good year in 2011. While he will split time, he is more durable these days to handle the every down duties if needed. As per the tier sheet, he was the highest ranked RB still on the board. Other considerations, Gore, McGahee and Greene, but they were all tiered below Bush.
6.07 Darren Sproles RB NOS
If I were building a PPR team, I have 3 good RBs, but being a standard league Sproles might be a reach. He was a monster as a receiver last year for Brees and hopefully that trend continues, now that the Saints use Sproles very effectively. As a 3rd RB, I am pleased with this pick in round 6.
7.04 Dez Bryant WR DAL
Lots of WRs this year and every time it was my turn to pick there seemed to be players who were passed over that I had higher on my tier sheet. I look at this picks as pure value. This kid has big time potential and showed that in the later part of last season. He will build off last years numbers.
8.07 Brandon Lloyd WR NEP
Lloyd is reunited with Josh McDaniels in New England of all places. This time around it’s Tom Brady at QB, who can make any receiver look all-pro. It might be a bit of a reach with Lloyd, but he was my 4th WR overall. I am a bit worried about all the other players wanting catches, including Gronkowski, Hernandez and Welker.
9.04 Jonathan Stewart RB CAR
Only a round earlier it was DeAngelo Williams who was drafted, but Stewart remained on the board
10.07 Fred Davis TE WAS
Unlike years past, I did not really worry about a TE, as I wanted to build depth at the RB/WR positions. After the top TEs were drafted I figured I would wait. I like the addition of Fred Davis as long as he can stay out of trouble. He comes off a career year and has a rookie QB who could lean on him this season.
11.04 Darrius Heyward-Bey WR OAK
I usually shy away from Raiders, but DHB came on strong last season. The addition of Palmer and a year to work with him should improve his 2011 numbers. I did consider DHB a sleeper and his counterpart, Denarius Moore was selected a round earlier. I saw this selection as another good value pick with big upside.
12.07 Cedric Benson RB GBP
At this point in the draft there weren’t many starting RBs left and it was too early for some speculative picks. I contemplated between Benson and Helu. I didn’t like riding the Shanny-go-Round last year as he rotated RBs in and out, so I felt Benson might be a safer pick. Huge upside with a team that puts lots of points on the board. yet most of those are through the air and Benson isn’t a big reception guy out of the backfield. Hopefully they can use him to pound the ball later in the game and chew up the clock plus is coming off three consecutive 1000 yard seasons.
13.04 Christian Ponder QB MIN
With my 2 QB strategy out the window it was time to take my own advice and draft a back up QB. I was hoping that Josh Freeman would fall, but was drafted in the 9th round. In fact I had planned to take him that round before he was selected. He has good upside in a offense suited for his talents. Hopefully Peterson is healthy, as it would take a load off Ponder. Yet as reliable as Brees is I shouldn’t need to rely on Ponder to make or break my season. Maybe 4000 yards is possible this season.
14.07 Jacquizz Rodgers RB ATL
I was able to select one of my other sleepers this round in Rodgers. He will back up Michael Turner and be used as the change of pace running back. I like what he brings to the explosive Falcons offense. We will have to watch Turner to see if he can hold up this season, but the Falcons are now relying more heavily on the pass. This could suit Rodgers even better.
15.04 Mike Williams WR TBB
Mike Williams can wake up now, enough sleeping much of his 2011 campaign was that way. I like this pick later this season because of the addition of Vincent Jackson. I believe Jackson will draw the double teams, leaving Williams in a one on one situation. I do believe his targets from Freeman will be down with Jackson on the field, but has some potential this season.
16.07 Mark Sanchez QB NYJ
I never feel confident with 2 QBs especially in a league where you can start 2 each week. Having that 3rd means I don’t need to rely on the lack of talent remaining on the waiver wire. While there wasn’t much available, Sanchez IS the starter for the Jets, but Tebow will impact his 2011 stats. I look for Sanchez to operate between the 20s, so I need some long TD passes and to see a decrease in INTs.
17.04 Randy Bullock K HOU
In a position I used to value highly, I now put very little thought into it. I decided on rookie sensation, Randy Bullock. Currently he has the inside track to win the kicking job in HOU, which is a high powered offense. If he happens to get cut, I stick with Shayne Graham, also of HOU.
18.07 Josh Brown K NYJ
Another kicker making a move to a new team was Brown, released by STL he is battling with Nick Folk for the starting job. So another question mark at kicker, but he loses out I will pick up Folk.
Synopsis: My attention wasn’t centered around the draft, but maybe that was a blessing in disguise. It might have allowed me to not over think some of the choices I made or worse, talk myself out of a potential pick for another player. I went into the draft only wanting Rodgers but was happy to come away with Brees. Beyond that I had no strong ties to any players this season. With all the problems that were occurring on draft day I am surprised I put together the team I did.
I feel it’s competitive, when based against the other 9 teams in the league. I don’t have any glaring issues or depth problems. One could point to the QB position but I will rely on Brees to play every snap of every game. The kicking game is weak as both my drafted players are trying to win jobs. They are easily replaced with comparable talent. Now we sit back, wait and watch to see if this team can perform on the field.
Complete draft board results are here if you are interested to see them.