A College Students Fantasy Football Experience: Is It Draft Day Yet?

Michael WhooleySenior Writer IAugust 24, 2009

CHICAGO - AUGUST 22: Matt Forte #22 of the Chicago Bears runs for a 32-yard touchdown in the first quarter against the New York Giants during their preseason NFL game at Soldier Field on August 22, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

My name is Alex Strand and I’m fantasy sportaholic. Football, baseball, basketball, College Pick-Em, NASCAR, golf, WNBA, curling, you name it, I’ve got a league. I’ll be a junior at the University of Illinois, (alma mater of my 2009 Dark Horse RB candidate Pierre Thomas), and during the summer I work two jobs and reside in a suburb just outside of Chicago.

For the past 10 years, 11 of my friends and I have taken part in a highly competitive fantasy football league.

Back in high school, free of real employment, serious girlfriends, and all with the same going-back-to-school date, it was easy to pick any day of the week during the NFL preseason, in which we would sit on bean-bag chairs in a basement, and walk up one by one to the official cardboard cut-out draft board taped to the wall, and each scribble in the boxes the name of a player sure to have a breakout season.

From there we could subsequently brag we knew would happen on the league messaging board. Back then it was a $10 entry fee (up to $40 this year and a dollar for every free agent pick-up), and every kid brought a pen, paper, Sports Illustrated NFL preview, and a few print out of player stats.

Contrarily, at our 2008 draft, all but one league member brought their laptop to draft night.

Also in the olden days, we would write each others names on ripped pieces of paper and draw them out of a baseball cap to determine draft order. This year, nine of us were up at a buddy’s lake house, sitting around the fire discussing whether or not the absence of Fred Taylor would lead Maurice Jones-Drew to breakdown from the increased workload, when someone declared since we had a majority, we should use an iPhone app to randomize the draft order for us.

Along with the changes in draft technology, the scheduling of the actual date has also become increasingly more difficult. In high school, any random August night would be fine for every member of the league do sit around for three hours saying “good pick” condescendingly after the guy we really wanted got picked by our best friend, or laughing hysterically when a guy like Koren Robinson, 1 year suspension in 2006, gets drafted in the 6th round (yeah yeah laugh it up, I was on vacation and didn’t have access to sports news).

But now, with jobs, studying abroad, vacations, Chicago bars and a wide array of college back to school dates, we all decided via Facebook messaging that there was only one night out of the entire summer that we could schedule this live draft.

Now doing it online of course would have made it much easier, but for all those who have fantasy tradition engraved in their hearts, you will know what I’m talking about. There is just nothing like an live draft. It’s one of the greatest events in all of sports! Er, uh, I mean fantasy sports.

In recent years, my fantasy football seasons have been reminiscent of the trashy magazine chronicles of Jon & Kate Plus 8. My picks from rounds 3-10, have behaved like the well mannered children, performing as expected and putting a smile on my face.

My first and second rounders have possessed characteristics similar to the childrens’ tabloid frequenting parents, betraying me, breaking my heart and deceiving me so badly I can never trust them again.

In ’06 it was Lamont Jordan (434 yds, 2 TDs and a torn knee ligament) and Kevin Jones (689 yds, 6 TDs). In ’07 it was Reggie Bush (581, 4 TDs) and DeAngelo Williams (717, 4 Tds and just one year off on his breakout season!). And last year it was Larry Johnson (874, 5 TDs and 1 female spit upon) and Ryan Grant (1203 yds, 5 total TDs).

In defense of those awful selections, I did have the 9th, 10th, and 11th picks respectively in each year, and our league format is PPR, so a lot of those guys did show promise catching the ball out of the backfield.

Alas, it was still not good enough to lift me to any league championships. But this year is going to be different. This year I have it all figured out. This year I have the third overall all pick. And here is what I’m going to do in the first four rounds. Oh and by the way I’m open to suggestions. 

1. Matt Forte

Not an avid Chicago Bears fans myself, I figure I’ll save my fellow cohorts and Bears fans the time and energy of pleasuring themselves to the second year man out of Tulane’s stats between each quarter.

I already have heard strong verbals from the two picks ahead of me that they plan to take Adrian “All Day” Peterson and Maurice “I owned Merriman” Jones-Drew.

Fine with me. In the PPR format, I see Forte emerging as the top RB, as he led the position in catches last year, and should have equal if not more opportunities with Jay Cutler opening things up with the passing game. 

I see 1,350 yards, 10-12 rushing TDs, 60 receptions and 3 scores through the air.

2. Roddy White 

I figure Larry Fitzgerald, Randy Moss, Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson, Steve Smith and Greg Jennings could all be off the board by the time my 10th pick (22nd overall pick) of the second round is up. That pretty much leaves with the choice to go RB since the first tier of wide outs has been extinguished, or to draft the No. 1 man in Atlanta or Reggie Wayne.

Seeing as White exceeded the Colts star in catches, yards and touchdowns last season, and with arguably the greatest tight-end of all time taking away the double teams he routinely faced last year, I see the former UAB Blazers star ringing up 94 receptions, 1,300 and 11 TDs.

3. The big debate in PPR format is what to do in this situation: I already have both a No. 1 running back and wide receiver, so do I get a pass-catching back like Reggie Bush or a wide out who is going to catch a ton of balls? With his shaky surgically repaired knee, the emergence of the aforementioned Thomas, and his break-up with Kim Kardashian, I cannot trust the former USC Heisman winner and one of my favorite football players of all time.

So to me the pick here is a guy who has averaged 111 catches the past two years and gets his record setting quarterback back healthy. I like Wes Welker as my WR2 and will be thrilled if I can get him with the 27th pick.

4. According to Average Draft Position, guys like Knowshon Moreno, Marshawn Lynch, Joseph Addai and Derrick Ward could be hanging around at this spot.

Although I like all those guys, I have no problem picking one of them in the 5th because of how confident I am that this year will be similar to last when there was a ton of running back points scored by guys drafted in the later rounds.

Because of this, I’m really hoping to land the quarterback who I think is going to have a huge year, Aaron Rodgers. In his first year running a very potent offense, the guy put up the second highest QB point total in fantasy football, and it would be an honor to nab him this late.

I really think these four guys have the potential to carry me to my league’s crown this year. Along with them I also like Anthony Gonzalez to put up the equivalent of Marvin Harrison numbers, as well as for Willie Parker (despite all the critics) to bounce back strong.

I watched Rashard Mendenhall play in college, and I’m telling you he just isn’t a serious football player. I feel he will never ever be a star in this league and its sad to say. But if he is the reason I can get the Steelers starting running back in the 7th or 8th round that’s fine with me.

I also strongly covet Ahmad Bradshaw. With Giants’ draft pick Andre Brown out for the year, I look for Bradshaw to get 45 catches as the third down back, as well as put up similar rushing stats as Derrick Ward did last year backing up Brandon Jacobs.