Fantasy Files: Rookie Time in the Zealots 34 Rounds 2-3

I’ll continue my draft recap with rounds two and three of the annual Zealots 34 rookie draft. Here’s round one, in case you missed it.

For the 10th consecutive year, we got out of the first round with 12 players selected. It’s an NFL miracle. Just like in the real draft, not every team had a first-round selection. Those were the 2013 champs the 49ers, and the Rams, who are like the Norv Turner-era Chargers in that he’s lost painfully just about every year in the playoffs. Their deals were smart, trading away “future” first-round picks that ended up being 1.11 and 1.12. The difference in talent, usually between 1.01 and 1.12 is a multi-round drop in comparison to a complete startup draft. We always live in hope, and that’s why Doug Veatch’s Rookie Derangement Syndrome is a real thing.

There was much wheeling and dealing in the second round. Let’s look at the picks.

2.01 (Bills, Glenn): Isaiah Crowell

The #1 RB by Rumford Johnny and Matt Waldman, Crowell had a pretty nice landing spot for a UDFA. He still was an undrafted guy. Even Arian Foster, who became a top-five RB in year two of his career, needed a year to secure his starting gig, and oh yeah, an injury to one Ben Tate. The Browns prefer Terrance West at the moment, having traded up in the third round of the draft to get him. Do we really trust the brains of the Browns organization? Stay tuned.

A funny thing happened on the way to pick 2.02. I was at the world-famous Brickstore tavern in Atlanta on Friday night, enjoying a 2008 Allagash Dubbel, a Three Taverns Quasimodo, and a 21st Century Monk’s Blood. When I got home, I wasn’t feeling like a draft-room whiz and decided to offer the pick in trade. There was not a clear-cut #1 guy on my board. Maybe it was because my first-round pick was so easy that I struggled to see who was going to offer the best return on my investment.

After some negotiation, I traded my 2.02 and 5.09 for 2.09, 3.05, and 3.06. I have plans for those picks, as we’ll see.

2.02 (Eagles): Cody Latimer

When it comes to rookie wide receivers, you have to project. It’s rare to get instant production. Latimer has the size and speed that you like. The only issue is that he has Peyton Manning, who sure looked like an old QB during last year’s Super Bowl. If Peyton plays out his contract, three years remaining at More Money Than God per year, Latimer’s looking pretty good as an Eric Decker plus in that offense. If it’s Brock Osweiler, we shall see.

2.03 (49ers, champs): Allen Robinson

Robinson was my other thought at 2.02 (I would have taken Latimer had I not traded the pick). Is Allen Robinson the Bishop Sankey of wide receivers? Based on what I’ve read, I would say yes. Robinson sure has the build to be a #1 guy, and I don’t think the Jags are planning on rolling out the red carpet when Justin Blackmon is off suspension, if ever. He’s what you want out of a second-round pick.

2.04 (Pats): Blake Bortles

What what whaaaaa? Ok, in rookie drafts the “default” is to make your picks in an order similar to what NFL teams did, because NFL teams rarely miss on prospect evaluations. As we saw two picks ago with a UDFA getting taken over a third-round pick, we’re not always like this. In two years the Jags went from joke franchise to respected, probably in part because their head coach was the former DC of last year’s Super Bowl champs and Gene Smith is no longer running the show. In the second round, you have a choice between taking a somewhat long-shot WR or RB who may give your team nothing, or taking a less scarce position and getting a more sure pick. Taking the first QB in the draft usually means you have a guy who will be on your franchise for a decade. Of course the last Jags QB taken first in a rookie draft was Blaine Gabbert.

There was a trade for the 2.05 pick, and it’s notable because there’s going to be a clear big winner and clear big loser. Our 2013 champs traded 2.05 away, plus C.J. Spiller and Jeremy Maclin, for Josh Gordon. Gordon’s suspension length has yet to be determined, so it’s a good time to make a deal if you have a strong feeling one way or the other. If Gordon’s out for a year and resumes his domination in 2015, Ben wins this. If he decides to spend his 2014 hanging out with Dexter’s Library, the marauding German takes this round.

2.05 (Chargers): Kelvin Benjamin

Here’s another fun talent/opportunity situation. Cam Newton gets a tall WR who can catch those jump-ball passes. He also can drop the easiest passes. Benjamin is an old redshirt sophomore, so he’s raw and somewhat over the hill at the same time. What he’s going to get is opportunity, unless Jerricho Cotchery is going to be a red-zone menace again.

2.06 (Bucs): Tre Mason

Latimer, Robinson, Benjamin, and Mason were considerations with my 2.02 pick. Did I saw these guys are good? I had to decide if doing the Mason handcuff dance was worth it and I thought “no thanks”. A handcuff can be more valuable in a dynasty league, especially when the backup turns out to be better than the starter. I whiffed on Julius Jones in the initial draft, but it led me to take Marion Barber in the second round of the rookie draft and he was a good player for a few years.

2.07 (Steelers): Teddy Bridgewater

What a wild ride Bridgewater has had. This pick works for Walt because he has Big Ben at QB and Bridgewater could be one of those Peyton/Brady/Brees elite dudes in three or four years. When Waldman and Sigmund Bloom are pounding the table for a dude, you listen.

2.08 (Seahawks): Jadeveon Clowney

This one is fun. I took the last Texans’ 1.01 pick, Mario Williams with pick 2.07 in the 2006 draft. Williams has played the DE/LB flip-flop game but he’s been a starter for my team for at lot longer than any so-called skill-position guys. That’s the tough part about IDP leagues. Those players may not score to the level of the QB/RB/WR, but when you get a good one, you are set for a while. Clowney’s one of those guys.

2.09 (Titans): Johnny Manziel

Sometimes it’s just fun to draft a guy. This doesn’t mean you’re going to win, in fact Renee Miller could write a dissertation about my brain during a rookie draft that could get me institutionalized. I didn’t necessarily need a QB with Cam on the roster. I didn’t like my Jake Locker/Matt Schaub QB2 mess. Heck, Kellen Clemens was my backup QB for a while last year. Manziel’s a name guy and he was the last QB on the QB1 tier, so I went with that so-called logic. If he has a Vince Young-esque rookie year with crazy comebacks and occasional QB1 numbers, it may be time to sell high.

2.10 (Panthers): Terrance West

This isn’t “Terrance and Phillip”. Terrance West had approximately 800 touches last year as the Towson State Whatevers won the FCS national title. He has the build of that prototypical 70s running back who ran into dudes instead of around him. The film experts ding him a bit, and that’s probably why he was a third-round pick. Maybe the NFL draft should change, and we can make the 4th round the permanent RB-only round of the draft. Jim Harbaugh would be in favor.

2.11 (Bills): Khalil Mack

It’s hard to say what Mack’s going to be in the NFL. I don’t see a 150-tackle guy, which we all love in IDP formats. He seems like more of an 80-tackle, 10-sack, two random turnovers brought back for TDs type. At this point in the draft you’ll take the 75% chance of a half-decade IDP starter over the 25% chance of one decent season from the RB/WR group of sadness.

2.12 (Steelers): Andre Williams

We’re at the point where a skill-position guy is drafted with a healthy helping of hope. There are some interesting but limited running backs in this class. Williams ran for more than 2000 yards on a middling Boston College team. He can’t catch. Still, he could carve out a role in New York.

3.01 (Bills): Donte Moncrief

This is where the draft gets a little funky. Moncrief’s a good “upside” pick since the Colts don’t have that long-term WR1 and Andrew Luck.

3.02: I was flooded with trade offers for the 26th overall pick, which means I had two. They were from the past two champions of the league. Both were the standard “now and later” deal, a 2015 2nd-round pick for 3.02. I considered this an even-money deal. Moncrief and another WR to be drafted later were my “pre-draft” list but I killed the list to see if there were trade offers. One owner kindly told me that he was targeting Austin Seferian-Jenkins and I thought “good idea”. That’s who I took.

3.03 (Chargers): Charles Sims

I’m always unsure about drafting backup RBs, but Sims is a good one. If you could combine Sims and Andre Williams, that’s the back the Titans think Bishop Sankey could be. Tampa ran through a lot of RBs last year and they wanted one more. Drafting Doug Martin this year is going to be tough.

3.04 (Pats): Derek Carr

Bortles, then Carr? Somebody’s stacking up on QB. Carr will be the starter in Oakland by the end of the year, and as I mentioned before, QBs can have long tenures in dynasty.

3.05: Yep, the trades were back. 3.02 for a 2015 2nd seemed iffy, but 3.05 for the same deal? I took the deal. At pick 2.09, I thought that I could use a QB, RB, WR, TE, and LB. I had four picks and five “needs”. I couldn’t get them all and I didn’t feel like trading down again. I remembered 2011, when I had 2.10, 2.12, and 3.06. I ended up with Vincent Brown, Bilal Powell and Jacquizz Rodgers.

So the pick went to Brian (Bucs) and he took Jeremy Hill. Hill’s going to take over the BJGE role in Cincinnati. He may depress the Gio Bernard love-fest but that’s a nice RB duo.

3.06 (Titans): CJ Mosley

Note that depth charts are extraordinarily fluid. Last year Marcus Lattimore drafters thought they had the 49ers RB of the future. Last year, Arthur Brown was the star IDP rookie, destined to take Ray Lewis’s long-held spot. The Ravens drafted Mosley, an Alabama tackle machine. I needed an LB starter more than I needed a backup/long shot at other positions.

3.07 (Steelers): Martavis Bryant

Ben hasn’t had that big WR since Plax. Here’s another Waldman favorite.

3.08 (Seahawks): Jerick McKinnon

What an interesting prospect. You get a triple-option QB transitioning to RB and Adrian Peterson’s potential replacement. The Vikings got four years of cheap Peterson insurance in Gerhart and have another guy.

3.09 (Chiefs): Jace Amaro

Sure, getting a potential 100-catch TE in the 3rd round isn’t bad.

3.10 (Bucs): Storm Johnson

The most interesting part of this pick is that Brian traded up, giving up 4.06/5.06/6.06 to get a 7th-round Jag who may be JAG in terms of prospect nation. This move also hands Josh Norris three extra rookie picks. The league just got tougher.

3.11 (Chiefs): Dri Archer

I won’t talk about Archer, because he’s a change-of-pace back and those usually lead to bottom-of-the-standings results. My father traded up for this pick, after the original pick guy took about 12 hours to not draft. After he did this, my dad said that he didn’t want to make a pick, he wanted to see if he could trade the pick. Yep, my dad traded for a pick just to try to trade it away. This only happens in fantasy football. He kept the pick and got his “top guy”.

3.12 (Steelers): Anthony Barr

The funny part is this was the guy my dad was trying to trade with. Walt didn’t break the bank to move up one spot, turns out. It’s hard to find a quality DE in this year’s rookie draft. Can’t IDP guys get multi-position eligibility like baseball players? I loved getting the guy who had C-2B-1B-OF eligibility. He usually sucked, but it was fun.

That’s it for rounds 2-3. I could finish the final three rounds, in which I had one pick left.

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