The Value of Luck in Fantasy Football: Looking Ahead to Next Year's Draft

Jack MeoffCorrespondent INovember 25, 2008

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky then good. That doesn’t apply to everything. Most of the time, it doesn’t apply to football. Nine times out of 10, good teams get good breaks and bad teams don’t. But luck applies to fantasy.

At some point Sunday, I flipped over to Clinton Portis writhing on ground for the second time and tried to block out the fact that Jim Zorn is so determined to get his team into the playoffs (and keep his job) that he’s willing to kill Portis to do so.

I take exception to that.

I got him with the ninth pick in my draft at the beginning of the season. I thought the ninth was the worst pick, and I wasn’t entirely thrilled with him. Looking back, I was lucky to come out with one of the best RBs of 2008.

The first round is a place where you want to secure a low-risk/high-reward stud to carry your team through the season. Looking back on my draft this season, it's clear the first round was absolutely brutal:

1) L.T.

2) Westbrook

3) Peterson

4) Addai

5) Brady

6 )Steven Jackson

7) Barber

8) Moss

9) Portis

10) Lynch

That’s a minefield.

L.T.’s been in your line up every week, so he hasn’t been killing you, but he’s not carrying your team either. Westbrook’s been all over the place, he’s missed a little time, and he’s had a couple of big games, a couple of bad games.

Addai has struggled. His O-line has been a mess, and he’s missed time. If you drafted Brady, it killed your season. Jackson’s hardly played, Brady’s injury made Moss pedestrian, and Lynch hasn’t played well.

You’re happy if you were lucky enough to draft Peterson, Barber, or Portis. I do mean lucky. I was hoping Jackson, Moss, or Barber would fall to me in that order.

I got lucky. Now I just have to hope that he makes it through the playoffs.


Now what’s the great thing about such a horrible first round?

It throws next year’s draft on its head. After Adrian Peterson, there’s no clear-cut top five pick. It’s almost like the days before the newsstands were flooded with fantasy magazines and before ESPN employed a small army of writers to host banal podcasts and write horrible stories about how dull their social lives are in between bombarding us with fantasy information that everyone knows already.

Nobody knows anything. It’s entirely possible 10 guys can show up to a draft with 10 completely different cheat sheets, that the guy you have ranked No. 2 falls all the way down to the end of the first.

By taking a look at  taking a look at who the likely top 20 backs are next year, we can get an idea on just how arbitrary next year is shaping up to be. Who knows? Maybe someone will even spend a first rounder on Larry Johnson.


2) Marion Barber III

            With the second pick in the draft, the Little Urban Achievers select...


3) Chris Johnson

            To me, he’s a no-brainer. I’d take him in the first, easy. With a little luck, LenDale White will eat himself right out of their timeshare.


4) Michael Turner

            If he finishes the season with less then 370 carries, he’s a top five pick right now. Even before last week’s huge game, he was ranked fourth among running backs in standard leagues.


5) Frank Gore

            Let’s face it, he should’ve been the 10th pick in my league ahead of Lynch. He’s a first rounder again, maybe even top five. But I don’t want to take him any higher.


6) Joseph Addai

            Addai feels like he could be top five with a good finish to the season and no major changes to the Colt offensive line.


7) Matt Forte

            So much to love, so let’s dwell on the negative: He’s only averaging 4.0 YPC right now. 4.0 today leads to 3.7 tomorrow.


8) Ronnie Brown

            He’s coming off ACL surgery from a year ago. Historically, that’s an injury that takes two years to fully come back from. I can slide him into the first round.


9) Brian Westbrook

            So many questions; I don’t even know where to start with him. He’ll be 30 next year, too. I don’t think he’s done yet.


10) LaDainian Tomlinson

            He’s clearly dropped off. You can blame the toe. I’m going to point out that he bulked up on weak teams last season, he’s probably had more touches than any other player in history by his 30th birthday, which , coincidentally, will take place between now and next season. He’s not only dropped out of the top five, I think he’s dropped out of the first round.


11) Maurice Jones-Drew

            Fred Taylor’s finished. Mojo scores touchdowns and he catches passes. I’m not so sure he can carry the load by himself, but even if he can’t he shouldn’t be a total bust. Interesting pick


12) Steven Jackson

            I think it’s safe to say he’s injury prone. High risk, high reward.


13) Clinton Portis

            Three words:

Major offseason surgery.


(It’s coming)


14) Brandon Jacobs

            He’s a beast. He also shares the backfield with two other guys that are talented enough to start, and he misses time every year with injuries. In a standard league? I could take him in the late first. Maybe.


15) Ryan Grant

            I think he’s proven that he’s a RB2.



16) Marshawn Lynch

            You don’t win when he’s your RB1.



17) Thomas Jones

            Can’t do it. I just can’t. He’s 30 right now, he’s never been consistent year to year, and he’s Thomas Jones.



18) DeAngelo Williams

            I like DeAngelo Williams. I respect DeAngelo Williams.

            But I have never trusted DeAngelo Williams.


19) Steve Slaton

            Not in the first.


20) Reggie Bush

            If you’re in a PPR or a league that counts return stats and can convince yourself that he’s going to finish the season yeah, go right ahead. But you’re taking a running back who can’t run. Let that sink in.


A sorry state of affairs to be certain.

Your first-round pick should be the foundation of your team, a rock. Some of these guys will pay you back in spades, others will blow up in your face. There’s no way of knowing.

Next year, when you take a guy you don’t really want and ride him into the playoffs, don’t pat yourself on the back, take a look at the busts you would’ve picked ahead of him had  they been available and consider yourself lucky.

I do.


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