Sunday, August 26, 2012

In This Year's News You Could Not Possibly Care About

This year's keeper league fantasy draft happened today, so here are the players that I like, and you should avoid. Simple exercise, no?

Player TM 2012 2013
QB Philip Rivers* SD 19 23
RB1 Daren McFadden* OAK 21 25
RB2 Donald Brown IND 26 31
WR1 Roddy White* ATL 39 44
WR2 Greg Jennings GB 66 71
WR3 Dwayne Bowe KC 46 51
FX Kenny Britt TEN 22 26
TE Aaron Hernandez NE 15 19
DEF Green Bay GB 7 10
PK Alex Henery PHL 1 4
B1 Mikel LeShoure DET 8 11
B2 Randall Cobb GB 13 16
B3 Sidney Rice SEA 7 10
B4 Matt Schaub HOU 3 6
B5 Russell Wilson SEA 1 4

Asterisks were keepers, so you can see that I wasn't coming in with that much.

Auctions are completely fascinating to me, especially single-bid rotations like we do, because they open things up to position, bluffs and feints. Naming players that you don't want, or pushing a value up to set up a move later, are all part of the mix... and so is *not* getting players, since there is a very finite number of slots available, with just the five bench slots.

There are, of course, disappointments: I had a top tier of eight RBs that didn't get taken, and I wanted Doug Martin of Tampa pretty badly. (The tier: Martin, Ryan Mathews, Trent Richardson, Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, DeMarco Murry, Steven Jackson and Ahmad Bradshaw, all of whom would have made for a far more exciting RB2 than Donald Brown.) But part of establishing a tone here is to not be too patient, which led me to go for an extra $5 for Jennings. The next win was Bowe for $3 less than budgeted, which made me a little happier about things. I was committed to spending just a buck on a kicker and defense, and to go cheap on tight ends. Brown was the third selection, and right on budget, and by this point, I was feeling solid about my projections and what the room would bid.

The fourth pick was Aaron Hernandez, and this is where life got really good. Hernandez was the second-best TE on the board for me (Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski being protects, and Antonio Gates also off the board. I named him at a time where some players were getting tense with their remaining funds, and others were staying passive on the position... so the $15 spent here is nearly half of the length I was prepared to go to. I realize that New England has a lot of mouths to feed, and that Brandon Lloyd is likely to take some of his outside and deep action... but by the end of 2011, Gronkowski wasn't totally healthy and Hernandez was getting goal-line fullback carries. I'm not expecting either of these things to happen again, but when you've got a guy who is this talented, and a team that's this inventive about finding matchup wins, his touches aren't going in the toilet. I think he's an every week auto-play, and will provide above the mean in a 12-team league.

With Hernandez getting me under budget and feeling very much in control of my roster, it was time for an upside pick. That's Kenny Britt, who I was more than willing to let go if the bidding got too high... but for $22, or $6 less than my estimate for him, it was too much potential to walk away from. I'm sure that suspensions and arrests and injuries are likely, but we are talking crazy talent, and Tennessee has secretly become a high volume passing offense recently. He's probably a bad risk as an every-week flex play, but when he's on his game, that's WR1 talent, and the fourth guy on my team capable of producing a 20-point week in the passing game.

As for the bench spots, our league gives five points for a win on defense, so the Packers were my top-rated team; I think they win another 13 games this year. Alex Henery gives me an Eagle to root for when the offense stalls in the red zone, which is always a sad little moment of compensation. LeShoure and Cobb are upside picks, as well as a little handcuff insurance if Jennings runs into new injury issues, and I've waited for years for Sidney Rice to finally come back to his pre-injury performance levels, so doing it for a discounted price had perverse appeal. Which leads me to the one troublesome moment of the draft.. Matt Schaub at $3. Simply put, a misread of a team that probably didn't want the guy and had a lot of margin left over. He could have a decent year -- the Texans probably won't run the ball as much in 2012 as they did in 2011 -- and he certainly has a ton of easy targets in division, but he's just not that exciting of a property.

So, Russell Wilson. I've bought into the Football Outsiders love, the preseason tape, the obvious love that Pete Carroll has for the guy, the big arm, the wheels... and well, I'm sold. It's crazy to think that he could be the best rookie QB in the draft, and yet I'm prepared to think that he just might be. The poise is just great, the touch, the quicks, and I don't get why it's all for nothing just because the guy looks like Drew Brees in the pocket on size. Looking like Brees works for me, especially when, if he's good, I'd own him for his entire career for an absurdly low price.

Anyway, that's that -- if McFadden stays healthy, if Britt can stay out of jail, if the Colts are good enough to stay in games long enough to make Brown passable... I think I could win this.

If none of these things happens, but Wilson is the Rookie of the Year, that's also a great year.

And if everyone gets hurt and it all goes to hell, it will be the same year as always...

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