Fantasy Files: Thoughts for June 16

I’m going to try to post once a week to offer some of my admittedly shallow fantasy thoughts. Before I start, let me remind the reader that I base my thoughts on two leagues I am in. I’m in a Zealots league, which is full IDP, 12 teams, and you get to keep 40 players a year. The second league is my local keeper league, a 12-teamer with the dreaded team defense and a recent addition of PPR and a flex position.

I believe the love for Ryan Mathews has strayed a little too close to the sun, to go all Greek mythology on you. I joined the Draftmaster 41 league and Mathews was pick 1.04. When you’re drafting a player in the first round, you don’t want to take someone based on their absolute perfect if everything goes right upside. Mathews could be a 300 carry/50 catch/12 touchdown monster this year. Last year Mathews missed two games and finished with 272 touches. Project that out to 16 games and you’re looking at about 320 touches. If you’re in the late first round, why not, but I’d rather have Chris Johnson.

Every time I get a little more involved in the fantasy hobby, I regret it. I have my two main leagues and as much fun as that third league promises to be, it turns into too much of a time suck. I played in a work league last year and although I finished in second aka in the money, it was the least fun league because as the so-called expert in the field, I felt like I had to finish near the top or be embarrassed for life. I like the draftmaster concept because Taz runs a tight ship and the drafters are giving you a real experience. It seems like running backs are thinning out. People are drafting like it’s the early 2000s, going all RB/RB like I did in my first live draft when I took Ahman Green and Curtis Martin “at the turn”. The fear is there are so few bell cow running backs who are going to get 300 touches that you have to dive on two of them in a hurry. Quarterback and wide receiver seem very deep, and if you don’t get Gronkowski or Graham in the first two rounds, you might as well wait on tight end. So every running back must go.

I do believe that Chris Palmer is not taking trash when he says the Titans don’t want to give Chris Johnson 25 touches a game. Note that Chris Johnson only averaged 25 touches a game during his 2,000-yard season, and getting him 2,000 yards was the team’s only goal when they were eliminated from playoff contention in the middle of December. Jeff Fisher quasi-ruined Eddie George when he had an astounding 453 touches in 2000. George remarkably didn’t miss a game until his ninth season in the league but never averaged more than 3.4 yards a carry for the rest of his career. Johnson’s workload of 319 touches last year feels about right. He can get by on 20 touches a game and a kajillion dollars.

In my dynasty league we’re allowed to have “expanded” rosters of 60 guys during the offseason. That cuts down to 53 for the NFL season. My final add for the summer was Joique Bell, currently #4 in the pecking order for RB touches in Detroit. Always go with the longshot guys with those last roster spots because either they’re helping you or they’re cut. This is why I’ve had Danny Ware and Kregg Lumpkin on my roster for three years.

I do have an early draft strategy for my keeper league. I have already decided to not keep a QB. Ryan Mathews, Calvin Johnson and Jimmy Graham will be the keepers. I was stoked to see them all go in the top six in Draftmaster 41, not that it matters. I have A.J. Green and hope to trade him. My dream is to get a third-round pick for him. Last year I traded Eli Manning and Vincent Jackson for extra fourth- and fifth-round picks. I don’t remember who I got with those picks so they probably busted. The more picks you have, the less that bust picks bother you. Ideally if I got a third-rounder for Green I could use that pick on a QB. If Philip Rivers isn’t kept and he’s there in the third, I’ll be a happy boy. I may have to dive on two quarterbacks early because of a fantasy theory I’d like to share.

When you attempt an unusual roster or draft strategy, you either feel like a genius and crow about it to the three people on Twitter who care or it blows up in your face. I traded for Peyton Manning last year, and because of his stellar health record I took two backups in Vince Young/Tim Tebow as my backups. Peyton’s bye was in Week 11 and I was sure I could get a backup by then. News of Peyton’s neck issue didn’t really turn into panic until after my draft was over. I will overcompensate this year by taking two QBs very early. I’ll probably take the first QB in the third round and the backup in the fifth.

I’ll finish with five picks in the Draftmaster draft that surprised me. We already covered Mathews so he doesn’t count. Jimmy Graham went 1.08 as the first tight end. I suppose that Rob Gronkowski might have trouble duplicating his best tight end season in NFL history. Graham might have a little more room for growth since the Saints let Robert Meachem go. Both tight ends were gone by 1.10.

DeMarco Murray at 2.01, the ninth running back taken, feels high. Like Mathews, Murray finishes ninth overall in RB rankings in a best-case scenario. Neither guy is good at staying healthy. I have him in my dynasty league and I’m terrified that a kneecap pops off right when the playoffs start.

Darren Sproles at 2.10, 13th running back taken: He was a PPR monster last year. I can’t see him exceeding last year’s 173 offensive touches. It’s the fear of not taking a RB in the second round that fueled this pick, I think.

Julio Jones at 2.11, fifth WR taken: He went one pick ahead of Roddy White. There’s a lot of love for the sophomore WR sensations (A.J. Green went at 2.07). Jones over White? I wouldn’t do that in a redraft, but Taz’s brain is probably addled from all of the home brew.

Brandon Marshall at 3.01, seventh WR taken: I could see Marshall catching 100 passes. Seventh WR overall seems early.

I have Darren McFadden, Larry Fitzgerald, Jordy Nelson, and Ahmad Bradshaw so far. The full draft is here.

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