posted: Aug. 29, 2005  |  Feedback

Other than "Should I be concerned about the Red Sox?", the most common e-mail I get in late August and early September is "Who did you draft on your fantasy team?" Sad but true. And since my first fantasy draft (for my East Coast league) took place yesterday morning, I thought it would be easiest just to tell you what happened and give my mailbox a break.

Our league rules: 10 teams, 17-week regular season, four teams make the playoffs, fantasy playoffs mirror the real playoffs -- you get to protect six players, then draft from the teams that didn't make it to fill out the other spots (total playoff points wins). That means players who are pretty much guaranteed to make the playoffs (Dillon, Brady, Manning, McNabb, T.O., Culpepper) are a little more valuable than guys on shakier teams (McGahee, Moss, Julius Jones). Also, we start everybody on our 13-man roster (2 QBs, 4 RBs, 4 WRs, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 D) and can only bench someone if they're injured or it's their bye week (so there's a ton of waiver wire action every Tuesday). And due to our primitive scoring system that was created in 1990 when nobody knew any better, defenses are more valuable than in normal leagues.

I drew the seventh pick overall. The top six unfolded like this: Tomlinson, Manning, Holmes, Alexander, James, McGahee … giving me Corey Dillon at No. 7 (major upside for the playoffs).

Next six picks: Culpepper, Barber (yikes), Moss, Green, Portis, Lewis. And I was sitting there at No. 14 doing backflips because I didn't like Barber (coming off a career year), Green (potentially crappy team) or Portis (ditto), and Maryland reader Chris F. scared me off Jamal Lewis with the following e-mail this weekend:

"Let me give you some inside skinny on him. Do not [ignore] the four months he spent in jail. I work in a jail and while he may not have been doing hard time, the experience will affect him. The food sucks in jail. We try to fill them with fatty/carbo laden food. He either ate badly or not at all. This is not like 'The Wire' where the CO brings in good food for the well-connected inmates. Also, most jails/prisons that have short-timer inmates do not provide weights. The liability is too high as is the risk of injury. Jamal may have done some cardio work in prison but due to a poor diet and lack of weights, he most certainly lost muscle. These top athletes are used to the best food, equipment, and staff to keep them in shape year round and Jamal missed all of this for a large portion of his offseason. Plus the time on house arrest where he did not have access to the Ravens' facilities will also be a factor. Look for a very off year for him and stay away in the first round. He is already injury prone and with the rust and loss of muscle I hope someone wastes a first-round pick on him in my league(s). Just my two pennies worth."

Now that's an interesting e-mail. Anyway, I was delighted to drop a Deuce with my second-round pick.

The next nine picks: J. Jones, R. Johnson, McNabb, Owens, D. Davis, Holt (over Harrison!), L. Jordan, Harrison, Collins (yikes).

Now we're at the No. 4 pick in Round 3. Kevin Jones and Chad Johnson are still on the board. I'm dying for one of them. Of course, Jones goes at No. 24, then my friend Wyman takes Chad Johnson with the next pick. Do you have that one guy in your league who always manages to take the guys you like every year, no matter where you're respectively picking in each draft? That's Wyman for me. I'm thinking of having him killed this winter.

Then, some luck: Mahady takes Marc Bulger right in front of me. Let's just say Bulger wasn't on my list. And since I need a receiver at No. 27, I have a choice between Burleson, Walker, Wayne, Andre Johnson and Joe Horn … and end up grabbing Burleson. Which reminds me, the NFL Network has a great show on Fridays and Saturdays called "No Huddle," where they zoom around to different preseason games. Very valuable TiVo material in Exhibition Week 3 when everyone's playing their starters in the first half. Anyway, any doubt I had about Burleson was erased when I watched that show and Culpepper kept throwing to Burleson (five catches, 97 yards) for the entire first half. So I was happy with that one.

Next six picks: J. Walker, R. Wayne, S. Jackson, C. Martin, A. Johnson, T. Brady.

Now I'm on the clock again. And Joe Horn is the right pick. There's no question. He's the best guy on the board. But that would also give me the two best Saints, and there's nothing worse than having the two best guys on a subpar team. So I took Trent Green instead (the last good QB on the board).

Next 12 picks: Gonzalez, Westbrook, Mike Anderson (that 93-yard TD run Saturday bumped him up about 4 rounds), T. Henry, J. Horn, Ravens D, Gates, H. Ward, S. Smith (that one hurt, I wanted him), Buffalo D, R. Williams (Wyman again -- damn him), D. Jackson.

My choices at No. 47: Drew Bennett, Michael Clayton or Larry Fitzgerald. Because I'm drinking the Norm Chow Kool-Aid, I end up making Bennett the highest white receiver taken in six years (since the heyday of Easy Ed McCaffrey). Now I'm hoping Clayton or Fitzgerald falls to me at No. 54 … and that's exactly what happens (I landed Fitzgerald).

The rest of my team (the "Sex Panthers"): Ronnie Brown (No. 67), Jake Delhomme (No. 74), Cedric Benson (No. 87 -- and he signed four hours later), L.J. Smith (No. 94), Deion Branch (No. 107), Neil Rackers (No. 114), Arizona D (No. 127). Why Brown and Benson, you ask? Because every year, there's always one rookie RB (and possibly two) that heat up as the season goes along and ends up with 1,100-plus yards and 8-10 TDs (last year, it was Kevin Jones). And since both guys were top-five picks in real life, I thought I could get lucky with one of them.

My big mistake: In the eighth round, I was worried there were three decent QBs left (Brees, Delhomme and Warner) and I wouldn't get any of them, so I took Delhomme over the Panthers D (my No. 1 choice for a defense because I think they can win the NFC). Next pick, someone takes Carolina's D, and then there was a run on defenses … I ended up getting screwed. Now I'm going to have to play Defense Roulette -- pick up various defenses from week to week depending on the matchups. I hate Defense Roulette.

Anyway, here are everyone's teams. I'll let you decide who looks the best:

Grady (drafting 1st): Tomlinson, RB; Holt, WR; Jordan, RB; Ravens D; Gates, TE; Hasselbeck, QB; Taylor, RB; R. Smith, WR; Brees, QB; Burress, WR; Droughns, RB; Keyshawn, WR; Nugent, K.

Camp (2nd): Manning, QB; D. Davis, RB; Harrison, WR; Horn, WR; Ward, WR; Cadillac, RB; Eagles D; T. Bell, RB; Coles, WR; Pennington, QB; Suggs, RB; McMichael TE; Kasay, K.

Rusty (3rd): Holmes, RB; Owens, WR; Collins, QB; Henry, RB; S. Smith WR; Foster, RB; Brooks, QB; Bennett, RB; Shockey, TE; Chambers, WR; Lloyd, WR; Wilkins, K; Tampa D.

Stoner (4th): Alexander, RB; McNabb, QB; K. Jones, RB; M. Anderson, RB; Buffalo D; Porter, WR; Vinatieri, K; Stokley, WR; Mason, WR; Williamson, WR; Plummer, QB; Franks, TE; S. Davis, RB.

Wyman (5th): James, RB; R. Johnson, RB; C. Johnson, WR; Westbrook, RB; R. Williams, WR; Boldin, WR; Witten, TE; Barlow, RB; Leftwich, QB; Kennison, WR; Falcons D; Stover, K; Carr, QB.

Mahady (6th): McGahee, RB; J. Jones, RB; Bulger, QB; Gonzalez, TE; D. Jackson, WR; Driver, WR; C. Brown, RB; Panthers D; Houshmandzadeh, WR; L. Johnson, RB; Smith, WR; Janikowski K; Warner, QB.

Simmons (7th): Dillon, RB; McAllister, RB; Burleson, WR; Green, QB; Bennett, WR; Fitzgerald, WR; R. Brown, RB; Delhomme, QB; Benson, RB; L.J. Smith, TE; Branch, WR; Arizona D; Rackers, K.

Andy (8th): Culpepper, QB; Lewis, RB; Walker, WR; Brady, QB; Dunn, RB; Heap, TE; Patriots D; Akers, K; Bruce, WR; Moulds, WR; Faulk, RB; Taylor, RB; McCardell, WR.

John/Chris (9th): Barber, RB; Portis, RB; Wayne, WR; A. Johnson, WR; Vick, QB; Palmer, QB; Arrington, RB; Crumpler, TE; Vanderjagt, K; Bettis, RB; Muhammad, WR; Bears D; Rogers, WR.

Swanny (10th): Moss, WR; Green, RB; S. Jackson, RB; Martin, RB; Clayton, WR; Favre, QB; Steelers D; Lelie, WR; S. Moss, WR; Elam, K; Duckett, RB; Clark, TE; Griese, QB.

Who has the best-looking team? Probably Camper with Manning, Davis, Harrison, Horn and everyone else. I also like the team that Stoner (our defending champ) drafted because he used his first few picks for RBs and a good QB/defense and landed three decent WRs late. I'm not sure about my team -- as it turned out, I'm relying on too much T.U.P. (tremendous upside potential) with my young guys (Burleson, Bennett, Fitzgerald, Brown, Benson), usually a recipe for disaster in a fantasy league. But we'll see.

And yes, when guys write about their fantasy draft, it's almost as boring as someone writing about their latest poker experience. I apologize for what just happened. But look at it this way:

1. At least nobody has to send me a "How did you do in your draft?" e-mail now.

2. You just read the entire post.

(See, you might be a little more addicted to fantasy football than you thought.)

August 2005