As it was June, that meant the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) was holding its annual Summer Convention. Diane and I always attend this soiree--there are now over 600 companies within an industry that generated $7.2 billion last year--for it means a handful of days in New York in addition to seeing so many buds in the industry.
As it was this year, Diane worked as the event photographer while I was drafting in the Experts B-League (which I refer to as "Beleaguered") for the industry has grown such that there are indeed "A" and "B" leagues, and though A gets the hype, B is no easier. Also note, the teams Todd and I have driven over the past four years always make the playoffs, and generally die in the championships. Not this year!
There is a caveat, however, that the winner of B moves "up" to A, and the last place A team is relegated to B. The draft allowed for a standard PPR 16-player roster which includes kicking and defense.
And, before you check out the players, for whom the comments will be brief, I did take a different route for me, going hard after Wide Receivers and then Running Backs who can catch before thinking of much of anything else. That meant fading at Quarterback, but that actually worked itself into my larger plan. In a 14-team league, I picked in the 13th slot.
T.Y. Hilton (WR): As long as he stays healthy, Hilton should catch 80-plus to go with 1000 yards and whatever scores follow. That is a start.
Amari Cooper (WR): This was a tough choice between Cooper and Dez Bryant. I went Cooper partially because I love the Raiders and their top pass catcher, and partially because I feared Bryant getting hurt.
Michael Crabtree (WR): Not a homer pick by any means, If I draft in the 13-hole, again there was a long wait for my next pick and Crabtree is not only very good, he is John Taylor to Cooper's Jerry Rice. Well, maybe not quite that good, but it is an analogy, for a good defense cannot double-team both of them and with Derek Carr, they will both get ample looks.
Paul Perkins (RB): In what appears to be an evolving offense, Perkins seems to be growing into the #1 RB slot. The second-year runner averaged 4.1 yards per carry last year along with 15 catches for 162 yards.
Bilal Powell (RB): Powell rushed for 722 yards last season while catching 58 passes for another 388 yards and should continue to be a major offensive cog.
Theo Riddick (RB): A great complement to Powell, Riddick missed six games last year but still ran for 357 yards and caught 53 passes for another 571 yards.
Cameron Meredith (WR): Quietly caught for 888 yards last year on 66 receptions.
Martellus Bennett (TE): Should now be a formidable weapon with Aaron Rodgers slinging the ball his way.
Philip Rivers (QB): I focused hard on RB and WR knowing the professional and productive likes of Ben Roethlisberger and Rivers would be around when I needed them. Rivers is such a pro and now he has a bunch of fun new weapons, all very good. Big fun, and a lotta potential points.
Cameron Kupp (WR): #3 pick of the Rams is a speedy selection who should get a lot of chances to strut his stuff on a young, changing offense. Kupp set collegiate Football Subdivision Championship all-time scoring, reception, and yardage records.
Robert Woods (WR): Was a Bill last year, but this year is a handcuff to Kupp where Woods should get a chance to improve upon his 61 catches and 613 yards earned last year.
Tyrod Taylor (QB): Taylor, who can run and throw, has yet to realize his potential, but he will, and I hope this year. He can score with the ball and pass, and as a tie to Rivers, I am good.
Evan Engram (TE): All-American first-round pick of the Giants should get every chance to succeed.
Jalen Richard (RB): A perfect foil to big Marshawn Lynch, Richard averaged 5.9 yards a carry, ran one for 75 yards and a score, along with 29 passes caught and should also figure big in the Oakland offense.
Graham Gano (PK): At this point, all kickers are alike. I will stream, pick, and choose.
Jacksonville Jaguars (DEF): Hoped to bag the Steelers (they open against the Browns) but they were sniped, so will stream depending upon the matchup and ideally stumble into something.
You can hound me @lawrmichaels. Well, not really, but kinda.