I’m in the Zealots “master’s” league. This league is actually four sets of leagues, and the participants are the champions of the 48 Z leagues from last year. I thought when joining that I would be squaring off with the “best of the best”. After witnessing a few rounds of our draft, I’d say that some are, and some might have been just lucky.
After participating in a draft and not fully understanding the rules, I see how a league’s setup is critical to how you draft. In my local keeper league, we only can have four WRs and four RBs, so handcuffing is a dicey proposition. Most zealot leagues have rosters of 53 players. This league has 32 roster slots with the same number of starters.
I have a theory on player tiers. Tier 1 represents the elite players. In the first round I took Chris Johnson. I consider him to be an elite, almost impossible to replace player. In the second round I took Randy Moss. He has the all-time single-season touchdown record. I would call that elite. In the third round I traded up to get Tom Brady. He also has some sort of TD record. In the fourth round I had a quandary.
In this league you can start three running backs. That means running backs are overvalued. How overvalued? Tim Hightower in the fourth round overvalued. That was obviously an outlier pick. With my fourth pick I could take one of those soon to scarce tailbacks or I could go another direction. I saw Brandon Marshall as the top remaining wideout. I would learn later, because I always tend to find these things out later, that he has a court appearance on a domestic abuse charge in August. Oh, Brandon. Still, I stand by the pick. He’s an elite talent. He and Wes Welker are the only two wideouts in the NFL who have gathered more than 100 catches in the past two years. Yeah, Welker was still on the board.
Since I traded up to get Brady, my next pick isn’t until 6.02. I’m not sweating the RBs rushing off the board, especially Hightower. That’s because I have a plan for this draft.
Let me continue with my player tiers. The first one is the elite talents. After that, you have the guys who are probably in the top 20% of their profession but lead to a big yawn when you take them on draft day. You take these Tier 2 guys (I like Hines Ward as an example) as good values. If Ward goes in the 8th round and you can snag him in the 10th, you’re golden. With Tier 3, you are either borderline desperate or locking up a position, like the Giant running game by taking Brandon Jacobs in the 2nd, Ahmad Bradshaw in the 9th, Danny Ware in the 18th and Andre Brown in the 19th. You either have a “hunch” or are taking a major flier. Matt Ryan was a Tier 3 guy last year.
Tier 4 is when you’re really drunk at your live draft and pick the guy whose name you can still read.
How can I scoff when every team’s going to have a third running back before I get my second? I’m playing the buckshot method of running back selection. Since there are 32 slots, I can have six or seven running backs. With those slots, I’m going to take one guy from six or seven different teams. Most of these guys will be backups or third stringers. It’s like I’ll be buying a few lottery tickets. Remember that last year Mewelde Moore was a stud for a few weeks. In 2007 Earnest Graham shot out of nowhere. Rudi Johnson was an unknown when he stepped in for Corey Dillon. I’m looking for starters on bad teams or backups in good running situations (the latter three guys for the Giants would fit). I’ll probably cave and get a startable RB with pick 6.02, but my third starter will be out of this pool. I have a feeling that it will work out for the best.