Writer's note: I wrote this article and posted it to my blog, Imperfect Dynasty, on Saturday night, when I drafted my Fantasy Football team. Unfortunately, the Bleacher Report server didn't allow me to import it until now. The article is exactly the same and the time makes no difference, but I just figured I'll be honest about the actual timing. Also, I've made a waiver claim, tentatively dropping my last-round pick for Mike Bell, who will likely be starting in Week One vs. the Lions. That's the only change.
After drafting my team tonight, I introduce ye readers to my Fantasy Football team for the 2009 season: the Super Freaks. It's an inside joke, so don't bother asking where I got the name from.
Before listing the players and my justifications for drafting them, I'd like to mention that I had the tenth pick of twelve teams. That means I drafted late in odd-numbered rounds (including the first) and early in even-numbered rounds (including the last, the sixteenth). It also means that I have two picks close to each other (four picks apart), but I then have to wait a very long time to make my next pick. This played a huge role in my picks, as you will see below. Also, it's a points-per-reception league, so receivers get a boost in value.
I will first list the picks in order of round, then show the roster in its entirety.
1. Andre Johnson (10)- I didn't want to take a WR in the first round, as I tend to rely on running backs early on. Plus, Johnson wasn't even the top receiver I was targeting: that honor belonged to Randy Moss. However, with just four picks separating my first and second, I figured (correctly) that I could land Moss with my next pick, so I chose to wait on him. However, I was then forced to choose from the best remaining players, and I was far from enamored with the available backs (Brandon Jacobs, Clinton Portis, and players of that ilk). So I went with the player I believed was the best available, and that was either Andre the Giant or Larry Fitzgerald. Many would have taken Fitz first, and I completely understand, but I think either of the two receivers could finish ahead of the other. It was essentially a coin-flip in my eyes, and I went with Johnson. I figured he's clearly the main receiver in Houston (no Boldin to compete with for receptions), and will probably earn more receptions, even if he's lacking slightly in overall yards. Because it's a PPR league, my gut told me to go with Johnson, and that was that. (Sadly, Chris Johnson fell all the way to the ninth pick before being drafted. I felt I had a slim chance of landing him at ten, and I was THIS close to nabbing him. I had him ranked as high as fourth overall. He would have been ideal, but twas not to be.)
2. Randy Moss (15)- In my view, he'll have the best year of any receiver, even better than my first pick, Johnson. But I knew he'd fall to me while Johnson wouldn't, so I let him slip to the second round and got him anyway. I was very pleased with the pick, and the groans of frustration from my fellow owners confirmed my confidence in the pick. However, there was one problem that still bugged me: I had no running backs, and it was going to be 19 picks before I picked again. Chances are I'd missed my chance to get a solid starter. It made me rue the Johnson pick more than anything, as Moss had really been my target all along. Still, in a PPR league, wideouts could be more critical, so it was not the worst position to be in. At this point, I set my target at Ronnie Brown, but was doubtful he'd fall to me.
3. Ronnie Brown (34)- Well, that worked out okay. I liked Brown more than the other owners did, so he fell further than I expected. He was the second-highest ranked back available at this point (after Kevin Smith), but was highest in my book. I had him last year, so I didn't mind using a late third-round pick to bring him back. He's the unquestioned starter, and has always had huge amounts of potential. Last year was very solid, and he should only be better this year. Definitely a good value at number 34, and I liked the pick.
4. Kevin Smith (39)- I was surprised Smith lasted the four picks to me, but once he fell, I grabbed him. Another unquestioned starter, and there were few of those remaining. Not one of my favorites, but definitely a solid number-two back for me. My receivers were worth the elite picks I spent on them, and my running backs weren't great, but they were definitely good enough to start. I feel, based on my draft position, I made very good decisions here, and was fortunate enough not to be locked out of getting decent RBs.
5. Tony Romo (58)- I was hoping for Donovan McNabb, but he was picked right before my turn. There were only two QBs remaining that I would even consider startable: Romo and Matt Schaub. Between the two, Romo was the clearly the better option for me, and taking Schaub would have been a reach at that point and at my next pick five spots later; and he would not have lasted another 24 picks to 82. So I took Romo. He doesn't have T.O. this year, but he's still a good QB, and I certainly didn't reach to take him. He's not ideal, so I decided I needed one of two backups: Jay Cutler or Carson Palmer. Both have starter-type upside, so if Romo struggles, I couldd have a decent replacement on hand. But even if I wouldn't land one of those, I figured Romo was definitely a worthwhile pick. (Look at this so-called Giants fan desiring McNabb and Romo. Yeesh.)
6. Dallas Clark (63)- There was a run on tight ends around this time, and four had already been taken. Clark was ranked higher than this, and I knew there was no way he'd fall to me at 82. 63 was definitely a good place to draft Clark, one of the better TEs in the league. Plus, there wasn't anyone else around here that I loved.
7. Cedric Benson (82)- Another unquestioned starter, and even if he's not the best in the league, he's worthy of a flex spot. Some owners talked about Bernard Scott, and he was eventually drafted, but Benson currently has the job to his own. Scott has just as many troubles as Benson, and isn't any better. Benson is the guy in Cincy without question, and he was easily the best player available at this point. At flex, I'll take him. If Palmer is healthy and Chad Ochocinco can perform to his ability, Benson will be part of a very solid offense. (Plus, I had more faith in my receivers than my RBs, so taking an RB at flex was a good idea. And the WRs around here weren't worth the pick.)
8. Larry Johnson (87)- Yuck. Johnson was on my "avoid" list, but apparently he was on everyone else's too. No one wanted the guy, and he fell like a brick. At this point, there was no one I liked at all, and I needed some depth at RB. He's on my bench, so I'm certainly not relying on him, and he definitely has the starting gig to himself. He's been good in the past, and it wasn't too long ago, so if he stays healthy, he has the ability to match his old numbers. Will he? Maybe. But he's not a huge pick for me, I got him much later than his ADP, and he was worth the upside, especially with the dearth of worthwhile players. If he pans out, great, and if not, he's waiver wire fodder.
9. Carson Palmer (106)- I got him late! No one seemed so interested in him, even the guys who hadn't yet drafted a QB. As I mentioned earlier, I wanted him or Cutler to back up Romo, so I got my wish. Palmer has HUGE upside, and the only thing holding him back is health. If he's healthy, he'll make a more than adequate backup QB. However, it's worth noting that I would not have drafted him here if I hadn't taken Romo. Backup QBs aren't the most important fantasy players, but with the potential to platoon as my team's starter, he's more than just a backup. He'd have no chance of platooning a Drew Brees/Tom Brady/Peyton Manning type, so he would not have been a priority. But that's moot anyway.
10. LeSean McCoy (111)- A bit of a reach, perhaps, but he would not have lasted one pick longer, as the next owner cursed this pick. McCoy is great, but is blocked by Brian Westbrook. Still, Westbrook will likely lose carries to McCoy as the Eagles play it safe with him, and McCoy will see plenty of time if Westbrook gets hurt- an all too real possibility. McCoy is a high-upside pick, and that works for my bench.
11. Domenik Hixon (130)- Hixon was the first wideout I took since Randy Moss, and I was desperate for some depth there. Hixon isn't great, but he'll be starting for my Giants, and he's not the worst option at this point. Of course, he shares a bye week with Johnson, so I still needed another receiver regardless. I wanted Donnie Avery here, but he was taken just a few picks before my turn.
12. James Davis (135)- I knew he wouldn't last another full turn to me. I'd been talking about a mystery running back that I was eyeing, but refused to say his name. He was not on ESPN's top 200 rankings, so most of the guys there wouldn't stumble across his name and remember him. But if I mentioned him aloud, I could screw myself over. However, after my pick of Hixon, two owners (who would pick after me in this round) began mentioning his name, and I knew I had to make my move. So, at the last possible moment, I grabbed my official sleeper of the draft. I don't think Jamal Lewis lasts long at all, and Davis will take over as the primary running back in Cleveland.
13. Justin Gage (154)- Gage is the number-one receiver in Tennessee, and while he's not great, he's surely worth a very late round pick. I needed depth at receiver, and he was definitely the best available. Why not?
14. Chargers' Defense/Special Teams (159)- As usual, I waited until the third-to-last round to take a defense. Many people wait one more round, but I like to keep my options open just in case a position player falls very late. Plus, getting a better starting D at this point would be more valuable than another weak bench player. The Chargers were inexplicably ranked 260th according to ESPN. They have a solid D and a very good return game with Darren Sproles, so why would they be so low? Anyway, I went for them here, despite their low ranking. (Other people drafted defenses really early, and I just don't get it. I didn't mind, as it allowed more important players- like Gage- to fall to me.)
15. Nate Kaeding (178)- I didn't wait until the last round to get a kicker because I didn't like anyone else. You never know who the best kicker will be, so it doesn't matter much, but Kaeding is very reliable. With no one better around, I just took him.
16. Darrius Heyward-Bey (183)- Unlike the Raiders, I didn't draft Heyward-Bey too early. He was my final pick, so I took a flier. What's the worst that can happen? The Raiders clearly want him to be a huge piece in the offense, as they drafted him extremely early and gave him a huge contract. He's definitely a talented player, and is currently the go-to receiver in Oakland. I know the Raiders suck, but he's got to have some breakout value, right? Then again, the Raiders have always defied logic (you know, like when they drafted Heyward-Bey), so maybe they're not gonna play him the way they should. Whatever, it's a last round pick. Why do I need to justify it?
Here's my roster after the draft:
QB- Tony Romo
RB- Ronnie Brown
RB- Kevin Smith
WR- Andre Johnson
WR- Randy Moss
R/W- Cedric Benson
TE- Dallas Clark
K- Nate Kaeding
QB- Carson Palmer
RB- Larry Johnson
RB- LeSean McCoy
RB- James Davis
WR- Domenik Hixon
WR- Darrius Heyward-Bey
I really, really like my team. I'm satisfied with all my starters, and I absolutely love my receivers. In a PPR league, that's crucial. My bench has a couple of unexciting but usable players (Hixon and Gage) and then a bunch of upside players. Not all of them will work out, but a lot of them could be great. Palmer could very easily be a top QB, Larry Johnson may end up returning to form, and the young guys could all be in for big years. And if they don't, it's not like I'm relying heavily on them.
This team fit perfectly with my draft strategy, so I couldn't ask for more. In a 12-team PPR league in which I drafted tenth, I think I did pretty damn well. If you have anything to add, retort below.