Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Where It all Went Wrong: A look back to draft day.

Now that the fantasy football season has come to an end, I can think of no better way to wrap up another eventful year than to analyze where so many fantasy owners went wrong on draft day. I have arbitrarily decided to look at how someone with the seventh pick in a 10-team league could have won it and how he could have lost it. The players listed are guys who were probably available at the time of your pick and also would have been logical choices you could have conceivably made (so drafting Mike Vick with the first pick, Arian Foster with the second, and Peyton Hillis with your third round selection does not fit this bill). Here’s a look at the first 8 picks of the draft. I conclude this article with the all-undrafted team. Shockingly, 8 good free agent pickups could have transformed the mistake team into a first place contender.

First Pick:
The Mistake
The 7 spot was a pretty tough one to be in preseason. You’re basically unable to claim any of the truly elite running backs and there’s also a good chance that Andre Johnson, the unanimous preseason top WR, will be gone as well. Left with a decision between a second tier running back vs. an elite wide receiver or quarterback, you decide the following: (1) Talented running backs are prized in fantasy sports so you must have one. (2) The Rams are too bad to draft Steven Jackson. (3) Frank Gore has had health and fumbling issues. (4) If Norv Turner says Ryan Matthews will be getting over 250 carries his rookie year and considering the way LT played in San Diego his first season, you’re taking Ryan Matthews with the 7th pick in the draft.
Unfortunately for you, Matthew suffered from a midseason injury but even prior to that seemed to have a decreased value in the San Diego attack. He finished the fantasy season with only 558 yards rushing, 126 receiving, and 4 touchdowns. His BEST game of the year came in week 16 when he produced 55 yards rushing and a touchdown.

The “Shoulda”
Running backs are almost always overvalued in the preseason. Deciding to go with either Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers with the number 7 pick would have been the correct decision, as they finished the year as the top fantasy quarterbacks. Since this is an entirely hypothetical debate, however, the better decision of the 2 would have been Aaron Rodgers.

Second Pick:
The Mistake
Okay, so you already got a “stud” at running back so you can basically draft the best available player with this selection. This a three wide receiver league so if a top wide receiver is available that would be ideal. Well, whatdoyaknow, Brandon Marshall has fallen to you with this pick. Perfect. What’s not so perfect is that Marshall floundered in Miami, his new home, where he produced his fewest yards, receptions, and touchdown totals since his rookie season. That’s what a Chad Henne led attack will do to you.

The “Shoulda”
Roddy White produced the best season of his career in 2010 and one of the best for the position. The “Shoulda” team still doesn’t have a running back, so drafting Roddy with the second pick may make some people scratch their head, but a wise fantasy owner would realize that there is great value to be had in the next grouping of running backs with guys like Jamal Charles, LeSean McCoy, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Arian Foster.

Pick 3:
The Mistake
It’s time to take a quarterback and with the 27th selection, you are probably left to decide between Tony Romo, Matt Schaub, and Phillip Rivers. You choose Romo on the basis that he will have Austin for a full year and rookie sensation Dez Bryant to boost his statistics. Schaub is inconsistent and Rives will be missing his favorite target, Vincent Jackson, for most of the season. This is a bad decision, in fact, it’s the worst one you have made in an otherwise terrible draft. Schaub and Rivers both produced top 15 seasons, but Rivers was truly the 3rd round gem of 2010. Owners who waited until this time to draft their quarterback feasted as Rivers threw for nearly 4400 yards through 15 games to go along with 30 touchdowns. Meanwhile, Romo suffered a season-ending injury in week 6.

The “Shoulda”
Alright, there is no way you can delay drafting a running back any longer. LeSean McCoy is your decision at this point in the draft. For years, Brian Westbrook thrived in Andy Reid’s offense. Kolb is going to be looking for safe options in his first season as a starting quarterback, which means lots of receptions for McCoy. He produced nearly 1,000 all-purpose yards his rookie season and now with an unquestioned starting role, those numbers will show drastic improvement.

Pick 4:
The Mistake
You remember all the good times Steve Smith enjoyed in Carolina a few years back when he led the league in all major receiving categories. You think that the quarterback situation is adequate enough for him to revitalize his slowing career. You know that once Smith gets the ball in his hands he is one of the most dangerous players in the league. However, you are completely wrong and downright stupid for picking someone as hopeless as Smith. You are rewarded for this decision with 554 yards and 2 touchdowns (neither of which came after week 2).

The “Shoulda”
Round 4 is what separates your team from everyone else in the league. It is now that you make one of the best draft picks to be made over the last 5 years. You take your second running back, Arian Foster with this pick. Foster will go on to be the best fantasy player of the season, with nearly 2,000 all purpose yards through 15 games, 16 total touchdowns, and an added bonus of 44 receptions. Foster has unmatched consistency at the position and failed to produce either 60 all purpose yards or a score on only 1 occasion.

Pick 5:
The Mistake
Time for another running back. You believe Marion Barber is the perfect choice as he is the goal line threat and exciting to watch. Yeah, there’s a guy named Felix Jones but Barber has been able to thrive in multi-running back situations before. By the time Barber suffered an injury in week 13 he is probably no longer on your team after a start that can be only described as tragic.

The “Shoulda”
The Kansas City Chiefs might be this season’s biggest surprise and wide out, Dwayne Bowe, was instrumental in their performance. Bowe led the NFL in receiving touchdowns this season with 15. During one stretch Bowe scored an incredible 13 touchdowns over 7 games. It is safe to say Bowe would have been a terrific round 5 pick.

Pick 6:
The Mistake
Last season, Mike Sims-Walker produced 869 yards and 7 touchdowns but judging by his pre-draft hype, you’d think those numbers would have been better. He’s a young talent on a run first team, but you like his potential so use your sixth pick on the Jacksonville wide out. His 2010 production is worse than that of 09.

The “Shoulda”
Drafting a tight end this early is sometimes a bad decision. There are very few players who actually perform at round 6 caliber every season, but once somebody drafts Antonio Gates and Vernon Davis, the floodgates are open for mediocre players to be selected well before their due date. With the sixth pick, you elect to draft Jason Witten, someone who typically performs around the level of Gates and Davis. Lucky for you, Witten goes on to lead all tight ends in receptions, receiving yards, and finishes third with 8 touchdowns.

Pick 7:
The Mistake
When healthy, there may not be a player more dangerous than Reggie Bush. Unfortunately, he is rarely healthy. You disregard this dubious trend and select Reggie Bush with your 7th pick. If the Marion Barber thing doesn’t work out well, Bush should be a nice backup, or so you think.

The “Shoulda”
Needing a third wide receiver, you turn towards Pittsburg deep threat, Mike Wallace, who posted career best numbers in all three receiving categories. He also improved his already NFL best average yards/reception of 19.4 yards to 20.2.

Pick 8:
The Mistake
Now needing only a tight end, you decide to draft Brent Celek. There was a mini run on the position earlier in the draft, but you elected to hold off and select someone who you thought was a small step behind the elites. Celek turns out to be mediocre, catching 42 passes for 511 yards and 4 touchdowns.

The “Shoulda”
It might be a bit early to draft a backup quarterback, but you look at the talent pool in front of you and decide that the best long-term bet would be to draft Matt Ryan. He’s shown moments of greatness in his first 2 NFL seasons and may provide you with some great trade options. Plus, you have Roddy White on your team as well and there’s nothing greater than having a productive QB-WR combination.

So here’s a final wrap up for the season.

Mistake Team:
QB: Tony Romo
WR: Brandon Marshall
WR: Steve Smith (CAR)
WR: Mike Sims Walker
RB: Ryan Matthew
RB: Marion Barber
TE: Brent Celek
Bench: Reggie Bush

Shoulda Team:
QB: Aaron Rodgers
WR: Roddy White
WR: Dwayne Bowe
WR: Mike Wallace
RB: LeSean McCoy
RB: Arian Foster
TE: Jason Witten
Bench: Matt Ryan

Undrafted Team:
QB: Mike Vick
WR: Brandon Lloyd
WR: Stevie Johnson
WR: Mike Williams (TB)
RB: Peyton Hillis
RB: BenJarvus Green-Ellis
TE: Rob Gronkowski
Bench: Mike Tolbert


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