Fantasy Football – It’s never too early

So there’s now just 98 days until my New England Patriots host the Pittsburgh Steelers to kick off the 2015/16 football season at Gillette stadium. That game is going to be Bell-less, Blount-less, and unless Goodell pulls a “Blatter”, Brady-less.

So what better way to spend a night than to participate in a fantasy draft. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Way too early!”. Well let me tell you a secret, I friggin love fantasy football!!!!!

I don’t have leagues of friends or offline drafts like you see in FXX’s The League but I will enter as many leagues as I think I can handle. Last season I was in 7 on NFL.com, 2 on Yahoo and one on NFL UK. 10 leagues! Excessive I know but there is no better way to take an interest in almost every game during an NFL weekend.
I’ll spend evenings scouring the waiver wires and reading the experts commentary whether via their websites or listening to podcasts on the way to work. Matthew Berry and Michael Fabiano are particular favourites and opinions which I respect.

So on a cold and windy Sunday night, I was checking on a league I am in with the UK Patriots forum to see whether it had been set up as yet and out of the corner of my eye were words which I could not resist. “Join a league and draft now”.

So click I did and it resulted in me joining my first fantasy football league this year. So I thought I’d share the results and reasons for my picks as I know you are interested.

So the league I entered was a 10 man league with a standard draft. There are 3 starting Wide Receivers (WR) and no flex player. Standard scoring and I was selecting in 8th place which was OK.

The same players tend to go in the first round in most leagues but not always in the same order. I knew that a Running Back (RB) was a priority pick at 8 and I also knew that the elite would of gone by the time it got to me.

Le’Veon bell was a consensus number 1 pick for me had it not been for the 3 game suspension for drug use. So for me Jamaal Charles or Adrian Peterson were surely going to go 1st and 2nd even with AP’s off field issues. “All Black Red Monkey” had the first pick and went with……Eddie Lacy of the Green Bay Packers. I wasn’t expecting that.

2nd pick in the draft, Marshawn Lynch. I was suddenly believing that this could be a league of people who have no idea what they were doing. I.e. me circa 2010. Or maybe they just know more than I think I do. That’s the great thing about fantasy football, you’re essentially guessing whether that player is going to have a good year or not. You can use information to try and stack the odds in your favour like last season’s stats or professional rankings but at the end of the day, were all guessing.

For example, last season I was picking late in the first round in one of my many leagues and I chose the number 1 WR in the league, Calvin “Megatron” Johnson. Great pick I thought. Week one versus the New York Football Giants he goes for 164 yards and 2 touchdowns. Points galore. Then he didn’t post a game over 100 yards or a touchdown until week 7 after an injury plagued October. You just never know.

Back to the draft (don’t worry, I won’t go through all 150 picks!).

My first pick at 8 was RB Matt Forte of the Chicago Bears. Whilst he turns 30 this season, I cant imagine the ball being in Jay “Interception King” Cutler hands much this season. They have lost one of their best WR’s(and Cutler’s favourite target) Brandon Marshall .

The next pick at 13 would of normally been another RB, especially with Arian Foster and DeMarco Murray still on the board. However, this was a 3 WR league and so this needed addressing soon. Demaryius Thomas of the Denver Broncos, welcome to the team.

In a snake draft, where the order reverses each round, picking late can mean an eternity until the next pick. All you can do is sit there and hope the players you want are still there.

So we get to 28 and there has been a run on the top WR’s but this is to be expected. I ended up choosing the second year Tampa Bay WR, Mike Evans. Evans exploded on to the scene last year with Quarterbacks who do not sit well on the Dalton Scale, Josh McCown and Mike Glennon and ended up with over 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns. Imagine what he can do with a decent QB. Over to you Mr Winston.

At 33 I remember I haven’t gotten my second RB. I opt for the same person I picked across my leagues last year, Mark Ingram of the New Orleans Saints. Without Jimmy Graham, we may just see Sean Payton run the ball a little more to the pressure off his ageing QB.

At 48 I go for another RB. This time a first round pick in the 2015 draft, Todd Gurley. He could just be the difference maker in ST Louis and while I have my two main RB’s, this is a punt that he comes good.

It’s the 53rd pick and as you can probably work out, I need another WR. So who’s decent and left on the board? Andrew Luck’s new favourite guy, Andre Johnson. There are other veteran WR’s left on the list but none of them have his experience or more importantly, Luck.

So we’re now in the 7th round and I don’t have a QB. The best go early. Rodgers (17th), Luck (a surprising 7th) and Manning (31st) all go in the first 3 rounds and after that it can be slim pickings. Especially if you’re now in the 7th round and don’t have a QB. So I choose one who has a great arm and can run with the ball.

No not RG3.

Not Tebow either.

My QB is Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers who last season rushed for 5 TD’s and will hopefully lead me to glory.
It is at this stage that it becomes harder to choose between players as there are a lot of hit or miss players.

I went on to draft three more WR. Jeremy Maclin in the 8th, Mike Wallace in the 10th and rookie Dorial Green-Beckham of the Tennessee Titans in the 14th. At least if one of the new QB’s in the league does well, I benefit. Let’s just hope this isn’t as bad of a rookie QB class as the last couple.

At the tight end position I picked up former Browns, now Miami based Jordan Cameron in the 9th round but also veteran Antonio Gates in the 12th as back up.

I picked up Colin Kaepernick in the 13th as someone who I could play in Newton’s bye week. I don’t see Kaep getting back to his 2013 form where he threw for almost 200 yards per game, threw 21 TD’s and rushed for 4. However, as a back-up, it could be worse.

My picks were finished with the Miami defense in the 11th round and Justin Tucker of the Ravens as my final pick.
There were some picks during the draft which I wish I had had the chance to make but the stars hadn’t aligned. They were:
A J Green – 3rd Round
Jimmy Graham – 3rd Round
Ben Roethlisberger – 6th Round

Some picks which could work out better than expected:
Donte Moncrief – 15th Round
Josh Hill (Saints new TE) – 14th Round

And some “what were they thinking!”
Latavius Murray(Raiders!) – 4th Round
Matt Stafford – 5th Round
Connar Barth (Kicker!) – 9th Round
Jay Cutler(Just no) – 15th Round

So that was my first draft of the season. As I said, most of it is a guessing game and im sure I will get a better feel of things the more drafts I do.

So if you’re playing fantasy football this season, good luck.

And I also ask you to wish me good luck too as I’m helping my significant other play FF. (Football) God help me.