So Tuesday afternoon, after a great lunch on the bay--with Glenn Colton, Steve Gardner, Stacie Stern, Nando DiFino, and my partner Diane at San Francisco's Pier 23--Todd and I ambled back with the group to the Marriott Union Square where we participated in the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) Fantasy Football Experts Draft.
Interest in playing in the leagues over the years has burgeoned along with our national interest in fantasy sports (40 million Americans play fantasy sports, as opposed to the 3 million when I got started in the industry 21 years ago) such that the FSTA features a showcase league sponsored by SiriusXM, in which Glenn, Stacie and Steve play, and the "B" league, with 14 wanna-be's.
It is that 14-team configuration, coordinated by Charlie Wiegert and Ted Kasten, which allows the winner to move to the SiriusXM league, and sends their last place team to the B contest, hoping for redemption, in which Todd and I compete.
Last year, we did pretty well, finishing the season with a 10-3 mark, but lost in the finals to Fantistic's Anthony Perri, so this year, Todd and I are determined to finish it off with a win and move up to the top tier.
The problem is it is so hard to draft a team before training camps have even opened, in fact as I write, NFL teams are still signing their 2014 draft picks and free agents.
Which means the elusive starters and injuries and surprises of the camps and pre-season are a mystery to those of us at the table. And, that means for the most part, we were all drafting blind after the league mainstays are off the board.
What this process also suggests is that it is possible to grab a starting eight players of sorts, but then everything becomes a pile of Jack Straw players whom the group didn't know existed, or dismissed for one reason or another. This also suggests that the closer we get to the season, and then for the first few weeks, there will indeed be a free-for-all within the waiver wire.
Amazingly, I pulled the #1 pick for Todd and me, and, well, here is our post-draft squad, with whatever reasoning I can fabricate after we did establish a basic roster.
1. Jamaal Charles (RB, KC): Who else should we take? It is sort of the Mike Trout/Miguel Cabrera conundrum with two more. Matt Forte has to share the rock with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. LeSean McCoy may lose touches to Darren Sproles and there is some worry whether Nick Foles can do it again. Adrian Peterson is getting on and isn't a PPR force. Charles is not devoid of warts as he is running behind an O-line with three new mates. But here's the thing. Last year, we took Ray Rice as our first pick, then Maurice Jones-Drew as #2. Still, we managed to make the championships (thanks to some shrewd waivering by Todd). So we opted for the highest upside, realizing that if we miss, we can still make a run. But if we hit, that run could be all the way to the big-boy table next year.
2. Drew Brees (QB, NO): Drafting at the wheel, we agreed if a really top signal caller was there, grab him. This mollified my desire to make sure to get a solid productive player at the QB position before the pickings were reduced to Matt Schaub and Joe Flacco (neither of whom was drafted).
3. Keenan Allen (WR, SD): Todd's idea, but I am totally down with a rising star who nabbed 1074 yards, 71 passes, and scored eight TDs, as he goes into his second year of play. Plus, Allen went to UC Berkeley. What's not to like?
4. Chris Johnson (RB, NYJ): New team, new season, and well, as long as Johnson comes close to his decent 2013 (1077 yards, 42 receptions and ten total scores), we will be way happy.
5. Torrey Smith (WR, BAL): Z knows how much I like Torrey, and well, his 65 catches and 1128 yards for a guy in his prime, it's hard to argue.
6. Dennis Pitta (TE, BAL): We were hoping Vernon Davis would slip to us, but so much for that. Pitta was hurt most of last year, but he is supposedly healthy, and played every game in 2011-12, catching 101, and scoring ten times.
7. Danny Amendola (WR, NE): Of late, the Troy Tulowitzki of the NFL: when he is hurt, it is painful, but when he plays, look out. And, with the now wiley Tom Brady throwing to him, a gamble we are happy to take.
8. Carolina Panthers (DEF): Todd knows I like to grab an aggressive defense early, and Seattle, whom we took last year, went in the sixth round. The Panthers are a really good team, getting better, and I think their D is going to emerge as top flight along with their QB.
9. James Jones (WR, OAK): I know Z has a soft spot for Patriots, and he knows I have one for Raiders. And, the team may not be any good, but someone has to catch the ball, kind of like even on a crappy baseball team, a closer will still get 30 saves. 60 catches and 800 yards would be good, though.
10. Chris Ivory (RB, NYJ): Pretty durable, and a nice handcuff to Johnson, Ivory did nab 833 yards last year for the Jets. Not much of a receiver in a PPR league, but, it is getting late and you have to take what you can get.
11. Aaron Dobson (WR, NE): Cuffed to Amendola, and satisfying Todd's Patriot fix all at once, the second-year player did pretty well with 37 receptions and four scores last year. Likely to improve on that.
12. Lance Moore (WR, PIT): Since Brees saw something in Moore, so do I. I realize he has only two or three really good games a season but with a new team, as a #4 wideout, as long as we can cash in on those big games, it should be fine.
13. Andre Williams (RB, NYG): A rookie on a team that is likely in transition, but well, I like the UC Berkeley guys, and Todd loves the guys from his Boston College Alma Mater. Being a huge Matt Ryan fan, who am I to argue?
14. Knile Davis (RB, KC): A handcuff to Charles, and not a bad one. He did score four times and caught 16 pass as well for 317 yards his rookie season.
15. Dan Bailey (PK, DAL): We needed a kicker, and well, there you have it. Easy to swap out for another as necessary.
16. Michael Hoomanawanui (TE, NE): Mr. Irrelevant. He is a Patriot, and Gronk does get hurt. Plus, fun to have the longest surname in the NFL.
There you have it. We both decided one kicker, one defense, and one QB, and when the bye weeks come, adjust accordingly. At least going into the season, we will live or die by our Patriot influenced sword.