The folly of youth

Rookie drafts are a tough time. There are seven main positions in dynasty football (kicker doesn’t really count) and if you haven’t made any trades, you get six picks. Now, you have the option of up to 53 players on your roster before the draft, so you should have plenty of depth.

If you’re not drafting in the top three, it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to get a stud RB. The problem with not drafting any RBs when your pick is lower in the round is that everyone can start three running backs. You can start two running backs and four wideouts, but you’re going to get more consistent production from a guy touching the ball 20-25 times a game rather than a wideout who will get five touches on a good week.

At the beginning of the first round you take a running back. There’s that rare year when a “stud” WR goes early. Last year’s example was Calvin Johnson at number two overall. You have to take the potential stud over the possible OK running back.

In the middle of the round, you have to think deeply. This year’s draft gives owners an excellent quandry. The first picks are going Darren McFadden, Jonathan Stewart and Rashard Mendenhall. After that you get to choose between guys who have a decent to good shot at an instant starting job (Matt Forte or Kevin Smith) or a player who’s going to be a backup at the start of his career but might move onto a greater role (Felix Jones, Chris Johnson). A few years ago I took Julius Jones number two overall because he had the starting gig. At 1.03, Stephen Jackson was selected. If I were patient, I’d have a much better running back corps.

At the end of the round, you’re either taking a shot at the running back outside of the top six, a quarterback who probably will need two to three years to develop, or a wide receiver who might need more time. Have you noticed that the top WRs in fantasy are older guys? Terrell Owens and Randy Moss were fantasy studs when I started this tormented hobby. Younger guys get hurt or never transition their raw talent into NFL production.

The second round is equally tough. I’ll use z17 as an example. The first pick went to Chris Long. That’s almost insanely early for a DL in one of these drafts. At the same time, he probably wouldn’t slide to 3.1. Next was Ryan Torain. I understand that Denver Bronco running backs have the mystique of the one-cut system. The OL in Denver is undergoing a remake, maybe not as bad as Kansas City but still something to consider. Is a fifth-round running back going to be the starter this year? Terrell Davis was a sixth-rounder, but I guarantee that no one took him in their rookie drafts if there was such a thing in 1995. Donnie Avery was the second WR taken at pick 15. This is the danger of rookie drafts. Some teams draft based solely on how the NFL teams draft. Steve Slaton went next. He was an All-American during his sophomore year at West Virginia, and kind of faded last year in Morgantown. He allegedly fumbled a few times during non-contact drills last weekend.

At 2.05 I took Devin Thomas. Before the draft he looked like a first-round pick. In Washington he’ll be an excellent complement to smaller receivers Santana Moss and Antwan Randle-El.

The rest of the second: Chad Henne (good QB of the future), Malcolm Kelly (another Washington receiver), Jerod Mayo (first LB), Limas Sweed (good pick for the future), Vernon Gholston (LB or DE?) and my pick, Tashard Choice. It had been a whopping seven picks since a RB had been taken. Choice was the 12th RB off the board. I figured that he was a good complement to Marion Barber, already on my roster. Late second round is tough because it’s almost too early to go IDP. I did grab two IDPs in the second round last year. Patrick Willis helped me to my title. Gaines Adams might help me to another if he continues to develop.

Here’s the breakdown of positions taken by round:

Round RB QB WR TE LB DL DB
One 9 2 goose egg 1 nada are you kidding? tee hee
Two 3 2 4 0 1 2 0
Three 1 1 3 1 4 2 0
Four 1 1 5 1 2 1 1

The moral of the story is to wait on every position except for RB. Linebackers aren’t even that strong. What I noticed was that no one took a DB in our draft until the fourth round. Leodis McKelvin was the first DB selected in the draft (d’oh). I thought Kenny Phillips, who went early in the fifth round, will be a more solid pick. Safeties usually outscore cornerbacks because they make tackles. Phillips will take the place of Gibril Wilson, who is a cornerstone of my z34 defensive backfield.

I did stray from needs with the 2 RBs and WR in the first two rounds. After that I took a QB of the future (Josh Johnson), a LB of the future (Xavier Adibi), and most likely I’ll pick up a safety with the final selection of the fifth round. I get to take “Mr. Irrelevant” in our draft with the 72nd overall pick.

Mr. Irrelevant in z17 rookie drafts:

Year Player
2004 Jason Shivers, DB (who?)
2005 Robert McClune, LB (huh?)
2006 Mike Bell, RB (looking good for the first year)
2007 H.B. Blades, LB (still in the league?)

I don’t have high hopes for that pick.

Today’s attempt by the NFL Network to make something out of nothing: There’s a worry that the NFL will have a work stoppage. . . in 2011. The announcers had to console the audience by telling them that there will be NFL football for the next three years.

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