Monday, 20 September 2010

Life Substitutes No More are in tough

When we drafted one of our two fantasy football teams a couple weeks ago, the draft didn't go as we had meticulously prepared for, and somehow we ended with a roster we're not overjoyed with. We drafted Maurice Jones-Drew in the #7 slot in a twelve team standard-scoring league, because he fell to us. We don't necessarily love the guy, have never owned him in any other league, and we tend to stick with players we know, but we were caught short and felt we couldn't pass him up this far down the draft. The players we had mock drafted in that position had been Brees and Andre Johnson, so we were ready for a scenario with either player as our #1 pick, but sure enough they were both gone by the time we had to pick, and here we were with a MJD and a two plans worth a whole lot of nothing.

For the second round, we expected to draft Ryan Matthews, who we thought would be relentlessly productive this season, with DeAngelo Williams and Arian Foster as our fallback option. We weren't going to touch Ryan Grant or Cedric Benson with a ten-foot pole. We got Matthews. We were optimistic about the future.

Third round was going to be dedicated to grabbing a wide receiver. We figured if we couldn't get a stud quarterback like Brees or Manning or Brady who were long gone by now, we would value shop and wait for Schaub in the third round, or Rivers in the fourth, but both were already gone as well. Our view was that if there was a rush for QB's, there would be a corresponding increased value in RB's and WR's. So we grabbed Colston and we were pleased. But we didn't rest.

Fourth was time for another WR, unless Gates or Jermichael Finley were still there. They weren't, Gates was taken one pick before ours, and Finley was taken in the second round by packr4life, of all people, so we took Anquan Boldin and felt mighty good about it.

Our plan was almost back on track. We had two stud RB's and two stud WR's on our roster, and now the tricky part of the draft began. We had identified Mike Sims-Walker, Mike Wallace, Pierre Garcon and Malcom Floyd as WR's who were vastly undervalued, and who would provide great production without the high cost of a Calvin Johnson or Randy Moss. Based on our mock drafts, we thought we would grab Sims-Walker in the 5th round, then try for the others in later rounds. Sims-Walker was already off the board, however, so we got the Pittsburgh long-ball artist Mike Wallace, and then watched and got cold feet as serviceable running backs flew off the board while we waited for our sixth round pick. Fearing that the cupboard would be bare, and hoping that our Cinderella WR's would keep for another round, we deviated and grabbed Joseph Addai. We crossed our fingers.

Fortune rarely favours the coward. The seventh round was the low point of the draft for our team, Life Substitutes No More. Garcon and Floyd, the WR's we really, truly coveted, had been drafted by informed opponent-owners who knew a good deal when they saw it. The remnants of the original plan had fallen apart. Rudderless, we knee-jerked and grabbed a RB, Brandon Jacobs, hoping he returned to form this season and avoided injuries, even though we suspected that Ahmad Bradshaw was the better option in the Giants backfield. Week 2 has proven true that suspicion.

Eighth round, and now our situation was dire. We need a QB and a tight end, and no one was available that didn't generate a gag reflex, except maybe Matt Stafford, and we figured we could get one of these bums in a later round anyway, so we snagged Steve Breaston, the current #2 WR in Arizona who has shown lots of promise in the past, but who would no longer have Warner feeding him the ball. We feel queasy at this point.

A run on QB's right before our pick (McNabb, Cutler and Alex Smith) in the ninth round sealed our decision and we snapped up Stafford. We don't think he's the Messiah, but he's tough, he has weapons and a strong arm, and won't get pulled if he has a bad game. We think we'll be shrewd and protect the roster by taking Ben Roethlisberger as our backup, but he's taken two picks later, so now we feel like we're screwed.

In the tenth round, we took WR Lee Evans, based on his tremendous talent. Of course, he fell to the tenth round because he's surrounded by a morass of apathy in Buffalo, and it will be hard for him to shine. We are resigned to our fate.

In the eleventh, we snicker as we draft a body to fill the TE slot, in the form of Kellen Winslow Jr. While he paid dividends one season a long time ago, we know that he's injury-prone, currently dealing with his perpetually aching knee, and that he will have a weak supporting cast, but at this point all the TE's are long shots. We suspect Kellen will hit the waiver wire early and hard. We feel the opposite of love.

Twelfth round, we grab the Chargers DST, because we need one. We know that DST's are interchangeable and unpredictable most seasons. We feel ambivalence.

Round thirteen we pick up Chargers RB Darren Sproles to handcuff Matthews, but mostly because there are no gems remaining. Sure, there are longshots who could pay off, every year there are, but at this point they're all longshots.

Round fourteenth, we feel modestly fortunate the Kicker Neil Rackers is still available. We're not idiots who take a 'star' kicker in the sixth round, we know they're all pawns, but if you need to have a kicker, might as well be one who plays in a warm weather city and for a high-scoring team. Rackers had a great season for the Cards four or five years ago, so there's hope.

As of now, the team has underwhelmed, with two losses, and a failure of its key members to produce points. MJD hasn't had a big game, Matthews has fumbled and underperformed, Stafford got hurt and waivered, the WR's haven't exploded. We picked up Vick on waivers, and he did well yesterday, but he'll be on the bench for the near future, so we still need a QB. We picked up Derek Anderson of the Cardinals on a hunch before the season, but the hunch looks unfounded right now.

One thing we do know about Fantasy Football though is that the season is not usually won in the draft, but through inspired pickups during the season, whether by trade or on waivers, and that's where the fun lies as well, so we'll keep plugging and hope to make the playoffs with this pack of mutts.

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