By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) Maybe the only thing that comes close to the enjoyment of watching NFL football is the masochism of rooting for the third string running back that your opponent has on his roster for no logical reason to not rush for more than 10 yards in a Monday night game because you’re up by 1 point in that week’s matchup with nobody left to play on your roster.
Fantasy football is awesome and maddening and brings out the worst in people. And sometimes that is just at the live draft.
This past Saturday degenerates affiliated with 670 The Score and I gathered for another season of competition and smack talk. The draft was held at the palatial Jay Zawaski compound, and I knew almost immediately I was in for serious business when Jay’s young daughter met me at the front door and demanded that I remove my shoes. At first I chuckled, but I quickly obeyed after she brandished a knife.
I’m compelled to grade the draft, both as a requisite of my other profession and to help you the last-minute fantasy drafter avoid the pitfalls that abounded over the weekend. The full Score draft board is here.
Some specifics to consider before the nastiness. Positions are QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, TE, W/R/T, K, DEF, and six bench players. Half a point per catch, a point per 25 yards thrown, 10 yards rushed or caught. 4 points per passing TD and 6 for all others. Fractional points do exist to combat the possibility of sister-kissing ties.
The first pick was awarded to Chris Collins who didn’t show up to the draft in protest of the ineligibility of DePaul players. He put his trust in the rest of us to construct his team by committee, which is never smart. We weren’t going to draft him a two-headed cat, but there would be no high risk/high reward decisions. Basically, his team is the equivalent of an online draft set to autopick, and his team isn’t worth much nitpicking. Grade: D
Former host of the Jonathan Hood Show, Jason Goff, graced us with his presence via Facetime from Atlanta. He took two of my favorite players in the league to start off (Peyton Manning is my preseason pick for NFL MVP). His choice of Andre Johnson instead of Demaryius Thomas for that Denver connection was a bit head-scratching, but overall he put together a solid receiving corps for a 14-team PPR league. An overall subpar RB group raises some questions about this team. Grade: B-
Smart move by Nick Shepkowski to avoid Arian Foster at #3, though Jamaal Charles’ foot issues may only be slightly more comforting. I would have grabbed one of the decent running backs still left in the late second round with a very good WR option still left in the third, but Rob Gronkowski, if playing by Week 3 or 4, and two great WRs could make up for a severely lacking RB situation here. The draft room was also very happy with the opportunity to bring up a certain song after the pick of Russell Wilson. Grade: B
I went pretty hard on Laurence Holmes last year for taking Gronk in the first round (and I was right), but his team this year has won me over. Foster scares the hell out of me this year and not in a good way (I traded him for Manning in a six-point QB touchdown league), but it’s tough to not take him at #4. Aaron Rodgers will have big numbers, and I’m surprised he was still available when he was taken, and the WR and RB groups here are very nice for a stretched-thin league. If Foster doesn’t miss much time, this squad should compete for a title. Grade: A
Adam Harris is purportedly one of 670 The Score’s fantasy football experts. Adam Harris chose to be somewhere else Saturday rather than appear at the draft. But he at least had electronic communication for his picks, right? Wrong. Instead, Harris had not one but two stranger hipsters show up in his place and pick for him. Surprisingly they didn’t draft all Cowboys as an homage to Tom Landry’s sweet fedora. I’d say they should get a cut of his glory should he win, but this team shouldn’t frighten anyone. Larry Fitzgerald should bounce back with someone who can actually throw him the ball, but there were better WR options taken after him, and at least three QBs taken after that will have more points than the Cardinals receiver. A bad Panthers team will likely doom Cam Newton’s numbers, and nothing about the Harris Conglomerate excites me, especially not two RBs from the same roster in the first five rounds. Draft your own team, jerk. Grade: D+
Much thanks to Jay Zawaski for being a gracious host and making my commute to the draft much shorter than usual. That said, this team should get a game misconduct for suckage. The first round of a draft is for running backs and quarterbacks. WRs are dependent on others too much (see 2012 Larry Fitzgerald), which makes a first rounder a potential death trap. Chris Johnson has become as reliable as a squirrel with ADD. A year of tape on Colin Kaepernick, defensive prep for the Pistol offense, and the loss of his best receiver will hurt him. Zawaski did steal my Mohamed Sanu pick late, though. Grade: C-
I’ll forego grading my own team because I’d hate to come off as pompous or self-serving here. Though I will say I like my running backs and the value I got with Andrew Luck. My receivers are not the strongest in the league, for sure. Lance Dunbar as my last real player pick (kickers are not skill picks and should never be taken earlier than one’s final pick) has a chance to be huge when he returns from injury if DeMarco Murray can’t stay healthy.
Herb Lawrence’s first three RBs are good to go, though he wasted late picks on the disappointing Mikel Leshoure and doomed-to-a-Jacksonville-wasteland Denard Robinson. Wes Welker is a tough sell as a #2 receiver competing with multiple really good and established options for targets in Denver. Michael Vick is a better fantasy QB than Andy Dalton, yet the former was puzzlingly taken by Herb two rounds after he took the latter (and they have the same bye week). I like the late Brian Hartline pick, but I foresee this team often being on the receiving end of what its owner likes to call “no Vaseline.” Grade: C-
The first six picks of Joe Ostrowski’s draft might be this league’s best on paper. The Tony Romo and Antonio Gates value are outstanding, and I have little complaints about his starting WRs and RBs for picking ninth of 14. Joe has some weird thing about not picking a kicker that I don’t understand, though. Grade: A-
Matt Forte wasn’t going to make it out of the first round of a PPR league and should be better than in 2012, but Michael Bush’s existence makes me wary of him as a fantasy player. Some rushing TDs were available in Round 2, but Brett Lyons chose Julio Jones instead who, while a stud, performed equally fantasy-wise in 2012 to his teammate Roddy White taken twenty picks later. I like the rest of Lyons’s WRs, but he has issues going on at RB. Eli Manning is seventh round-worthy, but three tight ends? Seriously? I guess ensuring a smooth transition between hot NIU football and sizzling White Sox baseball is more important than fantasy glory. Grade: C-
Connor McKnight’s starting backs could have the most combined points of any backfield duo in this league. Matthew Stafford is that player that separates fantasy from real football and is a solid QB option after the elites are gone. A very nice WR corps. If I had to complain about something here it’d be the running back options once the bye weeks start. Oh, and McKnight appeared far less coked-up than last year, and he won the league in 2012, so the clean living might be this team’s downfall. This should be a playoff team. Grade: B+
Picking 12th in a fourteen-team league sucks, so Rick Camp was up against it here. Give me a few of the backs taken after A.J. Green, and I hate Denver running backs. Matt Ryan will get this team points, but there’s nothing to be excited about after that. Bernard Pierce has upside, but he’d have been around later and more sure things were still available. Thanks for the anecdotes about NIU football, and thanks for playing. Grade: C-
Gambino was, dare I say, childish and took a tight end in the first round. For the sake of consistency… Grade: D-
I didn’t expect to be writing a eulogy in early September, but cue up the “Amazing Grace” for Team Zach Withers. Hey, having the last pick of the first round is a fine time to get a quarterback, but maybe take the one that will score the most points in Rodgers? Oh, maybe you hate the Packers because you immediately followed that up with a homer pick in Brandon Marshall and now have to wait 26 more picks to get a running back. But I’m sure a solid one will be left. Or not. But at least you can grab two ru… I mean Eric Decker, who’ll lose touches with Welker joining Thomas and him. But at least you made up for it all by taking back-to-back tight ends in the seventh and eighth rounds. To paraphrase Silky Johnson, what can be said about this team that hasn’t already been said about Afghanistan? Grade: F
So that’s that. Good luck to all in your last minute drafts and fantasy seasons except for the other 13 guys in this league whose quarterbacks hopefully come down with West Nile virus. Meet you at the Winner’s Circle.
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa before earning his degree from Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @TimBaffoe , but please don’t follow him in real life. He grew up in Chicago’s Beverly To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.