As I noted last week, Todd and I were in Chicago attending the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) Summer Conference, during which we drafted a football team for one of the organization's experts leagues.
New to the FSTA competition in football (we have been doing baseball for years), and due to the popularity, we were placed in the "B" league, as opposed to the highly featured "A" league, which had its draft broadcast on Sirius/XM.
The deal with the league set-up is that the winner of the B advances to the A the following year, and whoever finishes last in A is redacted to the B skirmish.
So, there is certainly incentive to win B, and not lose A.
But, if Todd and I were new to the FSTA draft, we are certainly not new to Fantasy Football, by any means. I have played in four leagues the past five years, all of which Todd also plays (and he plays in more than I), and have played the game going back to my days with John Benson in 1996, when I finished third out of 620 teams in a Compuserve League (thanks to Barry Sanders, Napoleon Kaufman and Brad Johnson).
However, though Mastersball has had football coverage over the years--as did CREATiVESPORTS--we decided we wanted to kick our presence up a bit so there is really something to follow between baseball and football all year, every year.
So, though Marc Meltzer has always done a great job setting weekly rankings for over 15 years, with Greg Morgan documenting NFFC strategies, Ryan Carey writing as much about football as baseball, along with Perry Van Hook, and then Todd and me, we have some pretty good stuff out there.
So, to the point: the draft?
Well, we picked fifth, and here are our selections in the 14-team, PPR league with 16 roster slots (making it as deep a competition as I have ever played in).
- 1. Ray Rice (RB): A pretty pedestrian selection at this juncture, Rice can run and catch and is still mostly in the prime of his career.
- 2. Maurice Jones-Drew (RB): A bit of a gamble based upon last year, and trying to return to form, but Jones-Drew is a tough guy, and like Rice he can run and catch. A little bit of a gamble, but we were pretty sure QB would run late and deep, so a focus on running back first and wide receiver second was how we went.
- 3. Jordy Nelson (WR): Pretty hard to go wrong with that Aaron Rodgers guy throwing to you.
- 4. Stevan Ridley: Maybe a little controversial, but we both like how Bill Belichick uses his personnel, and we think Ridley will get increased opportunities in the coming season.
- 5. Torrey Smith (WR): Smith has height and speed and hands and heart, and is one of those guys that can put up a three TD, 200-yard game once a season to boot. And, he still has some upside.
- 6. Matt Ryan (QB): Not bad to grab Matty Ice--my favorite player in the NFL--in the sixth round. He may be sort of quiet and businesslike in the way he does things, but he does them all well. Best of all, as his nickname suggests, he never panics.
- 7. Vernon Davis (TE): Davis did not "connect" as well with Colin Kaepernick as did Michael Crabtree, but with Crabtree injured at least to start the season, going into a new season as the signal caller for Kaepernick, we look for the tight end to pick it up.
- 8. Emmanuel Sanders (WR): With Mike Wallace departed, Sanders has a good chance to be the #1 guy on the team. He already has a starting gig.
- 9. Sidney Rice (WR): Torrey Smith light, Rice does get injured, but he can be as explosive as Smith. And, if Sidney fails, Lord Z can blame me.
- 10. Seahawks Defense (Def): I like to get a good defense, and generally ahead of the rest of the league, and I really like the Seahawks "D." In fact, I like their whole team and coach.
- 11. Darrius Heyward-Bey (WR): Sort of a forgotten man on sort of a forgotten team, but as a fill-in wideout, Heyward-Bey might prove to be a real sleeper.
- 12. LaMichael James (RB): With Frank Gore getting longer in the tooth, James, in his second year, might well step into the starter role and give us a chunk of points on a team with a very good offense.
- 13. Joe Flacco (QB): Huh? The highest paid guy in the league is a 13th round back-up on our team? What is the world coming to?
- 14. Nate Burleson (WR): Wily vet, still has some juice.
- 15. Denard Robinson (RB): We selected Robinson as a tether to Jones-Drew, but it is unclear whether Robinson will indeed play in the backfield or on the line. This makes him potentially the first flex guy to play the flex spot. And if he fails. I can blame Lord Z.
- 16. Randy Bullock (K): As good as any other kicker at that moment in time and space.