Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Bears Future In Question

On the night that Mike Ditka, one of the greatest Bears of all time, had his jersey retired, the Bears learned they may have an actual QB controversy on their hands.  Josh McCown led the Bears to a 45-28 win at home on Monday Night Football, completing 27 of 36 passes for 348 yards and 4 touchdowns.  He also added a rushing score, where he juked the defensive player out of his mind and leaped over several Cowboys players while being spun like a helicopter into the end zone.  McCown did not turn the ball over, and instead always seemed to make the right decision.

The game last night was just the latest in a stretch of great performances from the backup QB, and it raises a question: If McCown has played this well, how can you not go with the hot hand, even if Cutler does return this season?  There are several arguments for McCown, and fewer for Cutler.  So I guess the question is: Why is this even a debate?

The first argument for McCown is simple: Stats.  Look at the stats and it tells the story of who has played better this season.  Jay Cutler has thrown for more yards this season, and it is really the only stat which he leads.  Cutler has a 63% completion percentage, 13 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions.  McCown, on the other hand, has a 66.8% completion percentage, 13 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Cutler has a QBR of 63.2 (Rating of 88.4), while McCown has a QBR of 85.7 (Rating of 109.8).  Looking at the raw numbers, it would appear that McCown has outperformed Cutler by far.

Now, let's go to some more advanced and key stats.  In the 4th quarter, when the game is within 7 points in either direction, Jay Cutler has completed 64.3% of his passes and has 3 TDs to 2 INTs.  McCown has completed 70.4% of his passes and has 2 TDs and has not thrown a pick.  Another key stat is how these two guys play against their own division.  Cutler has a QB Rating of 76.7, with 6 TDs and 6 INTs in divisional games, while McCown has a QB Rating of 104.3 (5 TDs, 0 INTs).  When trailing by 1-8 points, Cutler's QB Rating is just 73.0, while McCown boasts an impressive 126.9.  Against the blitz, Jay Cutler has a QB Rating of 72.8, while McCown's rating is 112.1.

Looking at all of these stats, it's clear that McCown can perform under pressure, and actually has outplayed Cutler in key situations.  Cutler has a few arguments for him, however.  Cutler does throw the deep ball better.  He was improving, and was actually playing the best football of his career before he got hurt.  And, whether we like it or not, the Bears traded everything for Cutler and are determined to show it was not a dumb move.  The front office will undoubtedly push Trestman into starting Cutler down the stretch if he is healthy.  This will help make the decision easier on whether or not to re-sign Jay Cutler.

The greatest argument to be made for McCown isn't one of stats.  It isn't one that shows on the field, at least not obviously (until that great TD run against Dallas).  It's the little things.  It's his body language on and off the field that sets him apart from Cutler.  McCown shows the attitude of a winner, while Cutler exhibits one of a three-year-old when things don't go his way.  It's the fact that McCown utilizes his best receiver, Alshon Jeffery, as much as he does Brandon Marshall.

The plan for the future?  There are several choices, and an argument could be made for each one.  The first is to re-sign Cutler to a 3 year deal.  Give him the chance to develop under Trestman, but draft a QB just in case.  Another is to utilize the Franchise Tag on Cutler, pay out the nose for one year, and be stuck in this situation again next winter.  Another option is to not re-sign either QB and draft one early, hoping he develops into the next Andrew Luck.

My choice may be one of the less popular options.  I would move forward with Josh McCown, and let Cutler get his money somewhere else (like Tennessee or Minnesota).  I would start McCown next year, knowing full well that he will be 35 years old when next season starts.  I would draft a QB in the second or third round.  There will be plenty of options available that late (AJ McCarron, Aaron Murray, Brett Hundley, Zach Mettenberger, Tahj Boyd).  Let McCown mentor the young guy and let Trestman work with him to develop him.  Use the money saved to spend on defense, and draft smart by focusing on needs like the defensive line and safeties.

This plan could take a couple years and is not guaranteed to work, but it's better than being stuck in the middle, as the Bears have been the past few seasons.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What to do, what to do?

Its the question that has been being discussed around the water coolers at work and over the radio waves. What should the Bears do this off season? With Josh McCown playing like he is what should the Bears do with Jay Cutler? Well I am here to answer these questions, at least in my opinion.

First off the Jay Cutler question. If anything Josh McCown has shown that you don't need to be an elite quarterback to succeed in the Mark Trestman offense. You don't need a big arm, you don't need to be supremely intelligent, you don't even need to have pin point precision. You just have to buy into the system. I know what your thinking. I agree with you. I am not proposing that just anybody should run the offense. That being said here is what I propose. Offer Jay Cutler a 10 million a year deal. If he takes the deal you just got Jay Cutler for the approximate price of Alex Smith. If he rejects it then you have saved some money. You then decide to Double Josh McCowns salary. Give him a 2 year deal worth 3 million dollars. With Cutler likely departing you have to draft a QB. (Side-note: Even if Cutler stays you need to draft a QB of the future). I don't like the idea of reaching for somebody in the first round, but by my estimation Aaron Murray and Tajh Boyd would still be around by Chicago's second round pick. I personally would go with Murray and hope he develops similarly to Stafford. You then need to build the team to win as Stafford is hitting his prime. To do that you need to help the defense. You will likely be drafting Clinton-Dix in the first round to address some db issues. Any you probably take a D-lineman in the third round. You offer Julius Peppers a restructured deal and if he does not take it you sadly have to let him walk. Using the money you have saved on Cutler and Peppers you pay Brandon Marshall, and resign Charles Tillman. Jennings likely asks for too much money and becomes a casualty of the being too expensive. If you can get a bargain on either Marshall or Tillman then you can make a run at Jennings, if not then you will have to draft a corner in a later round of the draft.

The Bears are in a relatively good position but they have to start building towards the future. If they don't start the rebuilding process now they will end up riding the current team they have into the ground.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts and comments.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Impact of Trent Richardson's Trade

I've been in the city of Cleveland once in my life.  I was there about ten years ago (maybe more?) to try out for the Kids version of Jeopardy (No, I didn't make it to the show).  Living near Chicago, I had assumed that all urban areas were big, booming cities with upbeat people.  Then, I went to Cleveland.  The people seemed like there was nothing to be excited about.  Let's be honest, there wasn't.  The Indians hadn't won a World Series since 1948.  The Cavs were among the worst teams in the NBA and had never won a title, or even been to the NBA Finals.  The Browns had just come back into town, but there was nothing special about this Browns team (The old one that moved to Baltimore had already won a Super Bowl).  They did make the playoffs in 2002, but didn't make any noise once getting there.

Then came the 2003 NBA Draft.  The city of Cleveland seemed to come alive as their hometown hero, LeBron James, was taken 1st overall by the Cavs and immediately became the face of the franchise.  Between the years of 2005 and 2010, the Cavs made the playoffs every year, won two division titles, and reached the NBA Finals once (in 2009, where they were swept by San Antonio).  Then came "The Decision".  LeBron seemed to be tired of actually having to compete to win titles, so he left his home town for fun in the sun, and has won two titles in three years, and has actually reached the NBA Finals all three seasons in Miami.  The Cavs have not reached the playoffs since LeBron left.

The Indians may be the best sports franchise in Cleveland.  As bad as they had been since winning their last title 65 years ago, the Indians have 7 division titles over the last 18 years and have two AL pennants.  In fact, the Indians seem to be headed to the playoffs this season as a Wild Card, as the Texas Rangers continue to struggle near the end of the season (again).  The Indians still can't hold a true superstar, and that may be the problem that has held them out of contention since 1948.  Cleveland is still a small-market team, and in a sport with no salary cap, the Indians may continue to lose stars in the future.

Now, on to the Browns.  The Browns may be one of the worst professional sports franchises of all time.  They have not had relevant success in the NFL since the Stone Age, and have continued to make bad decisions with their team.  The 2012 NFL Draft seemed to be the lone bright spot for the struggling Browns, as they made a move to trade up for Trent Richardson, a running back out of Alabama that may have contended for the Heisman if it wasn't for Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck.

Everyone seems to focus on the top 2 picks when referring to the 2012 draft, and those guys are deserving of the recognition.  Andrew Luck took the Colts, a 2 win team a season before, to an 11-5 record and a Wild Card bid to the post-season.  The Colts seem to have their QB of the future in Luck, and are set up for continued success as long as Luck stays healthy.  The Redskins traded away the Capitol building to acquire the second pick, with which they took RGIII.  The 'Skins won the NFC East in the '12-'13 season, but with RGIII's health uncertain, it may be another year (at least) before they see the post-season again.

Back to Trent Richardson.  The Browns missed out on the top 2 quarterbacks, the only guys at the time who seemed to be the "QB of the Future" type players.  Their logical choice was to take the best fit on the board, which was easily Trent Richardson. Running backs usually have more success than do QBs early on in their careers, because the transition from the college game to the pros is much easier for a runner than for a passer.  In fact, Richardson rushed for nearly 1,000 yards and put up 11 touchdowns on the ground in 2012, despite being hampered by injuries all season.  He became the Browns best player in just one season and Cleveland (for once) seemed to be headed in the right direction.

The Browns have not had a steady quarterback in recent memory.  That made this season Brandon Weeden's chance to show he could be the guy to lead the offense.  If he fails, the Browns will likely move in a different direction at QB.  The Browns seem to have an increased focus on the passing game, which does not play to their strengths at all.  Stevie Wonder could see that Brandon Weeden is not a game-changing QB like any of the young "QB of the Future" players out there (Luck, RGIII, Wilson, Kaepernick, Newton), but the Browns seem to be determined to show that he is and prove they didn't waste a first round pick on him.  Hint: they did.

I do agree that the Browns need to make a change at QB, but what they need more is a change in style.  I could have seen them being very successful running a Houston Texans type offense, with the run game and clock control being the focus.  They could have used their stud running back to set up the play action game and use their tight end Jordan Cameron (who now becomes their best offensive weapon) to keep teams honest in the passing game.  It wouldn't have been perfect, but with a QB like Weeden, the goal has to become minimizing risk, and handing the ball to Richardson would have been the best way to do that.

If you take a look at the teams that succeeded with young players last year, you notice one thing.  Coaches changed their plans to adapt to the strengths of their best players.  The game used to force players to adjust to new systems, but now, the best teams know that if they want to succeed, they have to change their plans as well.  The Browns seemed unwilling to do that, and that is why they chose to trade their best player.  They want to see how Brandon Weeden (or whoever is at QB now) can do running the show, and they obviously want to go in a different direction for the future.

The trade of Trent Richardson to the Colts forces Cleveland to take a QB in the first round next year (or a running back if Weeden or Hoyer magically become able to play QB). They will likely have a top 10 pick (their own), and a pick somewhere in between 20-25 (from Indy).   Now, it is possible that they could use their two picks as trade bait to a team that has a pick above them, but there are plenty of poor teams that need a QB right now and are willing to trade away their future in hopes of landing the next Andrew Luck or RGIII.

The Colts become a playoff team this year in my book, knocking the Ravens out of the picture and grabbing the sixth and final spot in the AFC.  I still don't see them being good enough to beat Houston for the division title.  The Colts still have some work to do on defense, but their offense seems to be set for a long and dominant run as one of the best in the league.  They likely will miss the chance to take an offensive lineman or pass rusher in next year's draft, but there is always free agency for that.

In the end, the Colts are the clear winner of this trade.  They end of getting two of the top three guys from the 2012 NFL Draft, and only had to give up a late first round pick in next year's draft to do so. It is possible that we could look back at this trade in a few years and see that the Browns didn't do too poorly in this deal, but it's unlikely.  Unless their staff can realize they need to make changes to fit their players, rather than forcing players to fit the system, the Browns, will continue to struggle.

The Browns success may come one day, but until then, it leaves the city hoping that Terry Francona can save the city of Cleveland like he did with Boston.  Or maybe, just maybe, will the city's hometown superstar come back to try and end the suffering of America's worst sports city?  LeBron James is set to be a free agent next summer.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Chronicles of Fantasy Football: Draft 4 of 4

Alright, folks.  Draft season is over.  I had my final draft last night, as my money league's drafts took place.  This league is filled with very intelligent managers who have been playing Fantasy Football for years.  It is the league that gives me the most trouble every year, even if I have a healthy team.  I won this league in 2011, mainly by having an incredible draft.  I ended up landing Arian Foster (along with Ben Tate as a handcuff), Drew Brees (for his record-breaking 5,476 yard, 46 TD season), Jordy Nelson (15 touchdowns in the 9th round? Yes, please.), Julio Jones (took a gamble on a rookie in a good offense), and Marques Colston (Drew Brees' favorite target at WR).

Last year wasn't bad.  I still made the playoffs, but I knew going in I had no chance, due to injuries.  I did have Tom Brady, Stevan Ridley, and CJ Spiller, but losing Percy Harvin and Rob Gronkowski due to injury pretty much eliminated my team (which finished 2nd in the league in scoring) from contending for a title.

The strategy I have used is a simple one.  I want to put myself in as good of a position as possible to win each week.  The question I ask myself is: What's most likely to happen?  Could David Wilson become a breakout stud with the lead role in New York? Sure.  But I'd rather bet on Chris Johnson or MJD.  I'm more likely to choose guys in explosive offenses, and to choose proven players early rather than take risks on rookies.  I also want yards and targets over touchdowns.  Touchdowns are tough to predict.  Just ask Calvin Johnson owners last season.

I selected 7th out of 12 in this league.  I think the draft went well, but I ended up betting big on a couple of teams.  You'll see.

Round 1 - Ray Rice (RB - BAL) - You all know by now I'm a big believer in this guy.  Even though he plays in a tough division, he's the focal point of that offense and I think he'll be more involved in the pass game this season.  Think of him as a better version of Matt Forte.

Round 2 - Steven Jackson (RB - ATL) - I had three guys on my board when this pick rolled around, the other two being Stevan Ridley and AJ Green.   I immediately eliminated AJ Green when the two running backs survived and made it to the 18th pick.  I had Jackson at 12th in my rankings, and Ridley at 14th.  Not much separated them in my mind, but Ridley doesn't play on third down, and Belichick has been known to lose faith in his running backs very quickly.

Round 3 - Randall Cobb (WR - GB) - Another tough pick here, but I think the departure of Greg Jennings helps Cobb the most.  If the Packers continue to use him like they did last season, in a Percy Harvin  type role, Cobb should easily catch 100 passes.  Targets are what I'm interested in early, and I'll take the guy that should be Aaron Rodgers' top target.

Round 4 - Tom Brady (QB - NE) - I've waited on QB in most of my drafts, mainly because they have gone fast and furious.  They started to in this draft, with Rodgers, Brees, and Manning (DEN), going in the first two rounds.  I felt comfortable taking Brady here because he is an elite performer in an offense that averages 70 plays per game.  He can probably throw 40 passes per game and rarely throws interceptions.  His decision making is among the best all time, and it will minimize my week-to-week risk.

Round 5 - Jordy Nelson (WR - GB) - You don't have to scroll back up to the third round.  Yes, I did take two Green Bay receivers.  I honestly had Nelson in my top 20 receivers in my rankings, so I'm fine getting him as a second receiver.  Yes, there is risk having two guys from the same team in my starting lineup, but there are times last year that I wish I would have drafted Welker along with Gronk.  I have no problem betting big on Aaron Rodgers having a great year throwing the football, and having his top 2 targets is a good thing in my mind.

Round 6 - T.Y. Hilton (WR - IND) - I'm all in on him this year.  He is a guy with explosive talent, and the Colts need someone to step up outside of Reggie Wayne.  I still see this as more of a passing team, and I think Andrew Luck takes a step forward this season.  Hilton also has the upside of being a return man, so I see him as a guy comparable to Antonio Brown.  I got Hilton a round later than Brown went, and I think Hilton ends up producing numbers close to Reggie Wayne level this year.

Round 7 - Lance Moore (WR - NO) - Marques Colston has had injury concerns, and Moore has always been a solid fantasy option, even if he's not always a reliable fantasy starter.  Still, I'll take a guy who will probably put up 1,000 yards and 6 scores.  Hey, he did it last year.

Round 8 - Kenbrell Thompkins (WR - NE) - I made this pick because I really wanted a guy who has been a favorite of Brady's during the pre-season.  If Thompkins evolves into the deep threat that Randy Moss was (or at least close) or that Brandon Lloyd was supposed to be, it will end up being a good pick.  I don't mind taking risks this late, and as a 5th WR, I'm looking for upside instead of safeness.

Round 9 - Chris Givens (WR - STL) - Another guy who is a great deep ball threat, and as my sixth receiver, I'm fine taking a chance that Sam Bradford takes a step forward this season.  I think the Rams end up throwing a lot this year, especially without Steven Jackson, so I think Givens has breakout potential.

Round 10 - Chris Ivory (RB - NYJ) - Bilal Powell is currently the #1 RB on the team's official depth chart, but I think Ivory takes over the job early.  Like by week 2.  Ivory is the better back, and I think the Jets management sees that in week 1.

Round 11 - Vick Ballard (RB - IND) - Ballard is currently first on the team's official depth chart, but I think Bradhsaw is the better back.  However, Bradshaw was not available here, as he went 5 rounds earlier.  I'm fine taking a guy who could rack up some big yards in week 1 against Oakland, and possibly look into trading him.  Or, I could hold on to him in case Bradshaw's injury problems re-surface.

Round 12 - Zach Sudfeld (TE - NE) - I'm either going to look really smart or really dumb this year.  I'm willing to bet on Tom Brady throwing to his tight ends, though.

Round 13 - Baltimore (D/ST - BAL) - Give me a defense that will put pressure on the QB and plays in a division without a high-scoring threat.  The Ravens have more speed on defense this year, and even with the leadership losses, I still think they are very talented.

Round 14 - Jacquizz Rodgers (RB - ATL) - Simply a handcuff for S-Jax.

Round 15 - Greg Zuerlein (K - STL) - Legatron!  Hopefully he can hit a few more 50 yard field goals this year.

So, I ended up betting big on the Patriots and Packers, especially with their passing games.  I think I will be able to compete on a weekly basis, and that's really all that matters.

Good luck to all of you in your Fantasy Football league(s) this year!

2013 NFL Predictions

I figured I would lay it all out there this year.  Here are my 2013 NFL Predictions.

AFC East
1. Patriots
2. Dolphins
3. Bills (No one, I mean no one, circles the wagons like they do)
4. Jets

AFC South
1. Texans
2. Colts
3. Titans
4. Jaguars

AFC North
1. Bengals
2. Ravens (WC)
3. Browns
4. Steelers

AFC West
1. Broncos
2. Chiefs (WC)
3. Chargers
4. Raiders (Please say this like Chris Berman when you read it)

NFC East
1. Cowboys (How 'bout them Cowboys?)
2. Eagles
3. Redskins
4. Giants
Note: I think this is an extremely tight division race, and the top 3 teams may all be in it going into week 17.

NFC South
1. Falcons
2. Saints (WC)
3. Panthers
4. Buccaneers

NFC North
1. Packers
2. Bears
3. Lions
4. Vikings

NFC West
1. 49ers ("Who's got it better than us?")
2. Seahawks (WC)
3. Rams
4. Cardinals

AFC Wild Card Round
(6) Ravens over (3) Patriots
(4) Bengals over (5) Chiefs

NFC Wild Card Round
(3) Packers over (6) Saints
(5) Seahawks over (4) Cowboys

AFC Divisional Round
(1) Texans over (6) Ravens
(2) Broncos over (4) Bengals

NFC Divisional Round
(5) Seahawks over (1) Falcons
(2) 49ers over (3) Packers

AFC Championship
(2) Broncos over (1) Texans

NFC Championship
(5) Seahawks over (2) 49ers

Super Bowl
Seahawks over Broncos (Super Bowl MVP: Percy Harvin)

NFL MVP: Drew Brees
NFL COY: Andy Reid
AFC OPOY: Tom Brady
NFC OPOY: Drew Brees
NFC DPOY: Luke Kuechly
AFC OROY: Giovani Bernard
NFC OROY: Eddie Lacy
AFC DROY: Dee Milliner
NFC DROY:  Ezekiel Ansah

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Chronicles of Fantasy Football: Draft 3 of 4

I have to be honest.  I was not feeling very confident heading into my Keeper League draft.  I was coming off a season in which I placed 8th, and I didn't have a ton of great bargains to keep for this season.  I did have one great value in Colin Kaepernick, and a WR #3 in Antonio Brown that only cost me a dollar.  I also decided to keep Daryl Richardson as a RB #3 for a dollar.  My keepers are shown below with their cost.  The starting budget for each team in the league was $200.

QB - Colin Kaepernick (SF) - $1
RB - Chris Johnson (TEN) - $42
RB - Daryl Richardson (STL) - $1
WR - Larry Fitzgerald (ARI) - $38
WR - Antonio Brown (PIT) - $1
TE - Jimmy Graham (NO) - $13
D/ST - Seattle (SEA) - $1
K - Stephen Gostkowski - $1

The rules allow me to keep up to 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 D/ST, and 1 K.  I decided not to keep Stevie Johnson for $16 and gamble that I could either get him for cheaper, or get another stud WR to go along with Larry Fitzgerald.  I wanted to spend a lot of money to get a stud RB and a stud WR, and then fill my bench with potential breakout players for cheap.

There is a strategy that I like to use in Keeper Auction Drafts.  I like to know the inflation of value in the league before I start the draft.  Knowing the amount of money available compared to the value available can help you win your league.  The basic principle of this strategy states that studs are worth a certain percentage more than their projected cost, and you should be spending your money early in order to acquire the services of someone like Adrian Peterson, rather than "playing it safe" and saving your money to be able to get Bryce Brown to back up LeSean McCoy. 

What ends up happening in most keeper auction drafts is that managers wise enough to spend their money up front get deals on studs to help their already loaded line-up, and other managers will get in bidding wars over Alshon Jeffery and Le'Veon Bell, rather than spending the extra fifteen or twenty bucks to get CJ Spiller at the beginning of the draft.  A lot of managers end up having a ton of excess cash at the end, meaning they will never lose out of potential sleepers, but I believe that missing out on a guy who is more of a sure thing is a bigger loss.

It takes a lot of work to figure out what your league's "inflation" is, and it only works for auction style formats, but it could help you score that extra stud, and even though you're paying more than his projected value as set by the internet, you're actually likely to save money if you've done your homework.

Alright, now that I got my sharing of knowledge out of the way, let me share the results on my third Fantasy Football Draft in as many nights.  This is my Keeper League draft, a ten team standard scoring league, with 6 points for passing TDs.  Please take this time to look above to find out who I have already kept.

1. Matt Forte (RB - CHI) $49 - Forte's projected value was around $40, and I was willing to go up to about $55 to grab this guy (remember inflation of value), meaning I saved about 6 bucks on him.  I think Forte will be a huge part of Chicago's new offense, as Trestman loves to utilize the running back.  It gives me a legit #1 RB, moving Chris Johnson to my RB #2, which is really where he belongs.  It also means that Daryl Richardson is my third running back, so I won't have to rely upon a guy who is entering his first full year as a starter.

2. Dwayne Bowe (WR - KC) $24 - I love Bowe this year, as Andy Reid's teams are usually near the top of the league in passing.  Bowe has been a top WR before, and now he's playing with the best QB he's ever had.  I expect big things from this guy in 2013.

3. DeMarco Murray (RB - DAL) $15 - Why not?  I think Dallas runs the ball a bit more this year, as they should.  Murray is a great running back if he stays healthy, and is not a bad choice as my #3 RB.  If he stays healthy this year, I could keep him for a huge bargain next year.

4. Chris Givens (WR - STL) $2 - This is Sam Bradford's make or break year, and I feel pretty good ending up with the guy who will probably end up being the most explosive player in that offense.  Tavon Austin has been getting a ton of hype, but I think the Rams need to stretch the field a bit more this season, and Givens is the best option for long passes.

5. Eddie Lacy (RB - GB) $1 - This was a surprise for me.  I actually nominated Lacy to try and take some money off the board, as I figured a bidding war would take place for a rookie who just inherited the job as a starting NFL RB.  I was wrong and ended up with a potential solid fourth or fifth running back for a dollar.  I can't lose with this deal.

6. Golden Tate (WR - SEA) $2 - I think Tate ends up being the guy in Seattle this year, as his only real competition for the #1 WR spot is Sidney Rice, a guy who has had one great season, and that was a long time ago, and in Minnesota.

7. Kenbrell Thompkins (WR - NE) $1 - I'm willing to take a gamble on a guy who has Tom Brady throwing him the football, especially a guy who has been used heavily in the pre-season.

That makes my roster as follows:
QB - Colin Kaepernick (SF)
RB 1 - Matt Forte (CHI)
RB 2 - Chris Johnson (TEN)
WR 1 - Larry Fitzgerald (ARI)
WR 2 - Dwayne Bowe (KC)
WR 3 - Antonio Brown (PIT)
TE - Jimmy Graham (NO)
D/ST - Seattle (SEA)
K - Stephen Gostkowski (NE)
BE (RB 3) - DeMarco Murray (DAL)
BE (RB 4) - Daryl Richardson (STL)
BE (RB 5) - Eddie Lacy (GB)
BE (WR 4) - Golden Tate (SEA)
BE (WR 5) - Kenbrell Thompkins (NE)

No report card from Yahoo on this one, but I think I did okay.  I give myself a solid B.  I think I need a breakout year from either Tate or Thompkins to have a real shot at the title, but I certainly feel better about this year than I did before the draft.

The big draft is tonight, as my money league drafts at 9 pm.  All of my preparation in mock drafts comes down to one night, and I'm looking to get back to the top in my most important league.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Chronicles of Fantasy Football: Draft 2 of 4

I'll admit it.  The public league draft was unfair.  Just think about how stupid the average person is, and then remember that half the people out there are stupider than that.  I have a feeling at least 5 of the managers in my public league are not qualified to work at a Wendy's.  Kickers went early and at least one manager in my league drafted three kickers, including the retired Jason Hanson (Hey, if he was good when Detroit sucked, imagine how good he would be when Detroit is just above sucky).

My second draft was a league with people I attended Carthage College with.  I have been in this league for a few years now and have never won.  I got to the championship league last year, but that's the closest I've gotten.  The champion in this league last year was a female.  In fact, she won my keeper league in its inaugural year and is one of the best Fantasy Football owners I know.  Girls can play Fantasy Football, too.

The rules of this league are pretty common, with 6 points for passing TDs and 1 point for every 10 return yards being the only deviance from standard scoring.  Also, there are 8 bench spots, so loading up on sleepers in the draft is quite easy.  There are ten teams in this league, mostly owned by females.  But remember, girls can manage, too.  I selected 9th of 10 in this draft, which is actually where I'd like to draft this year.  I want to draft at the end of a round (or at least close to it).  This way I can take two players at once and not have to worry about reaching for someone I really want.  Once again, before you read my draft results, remember that return yards count the same as rushing and receiving yards.

Round 1 - Marshawn Lynch (RB - SEA) - I was debating between Lynch and Charles at this spot before settling on Lynch.  I just think that Andy Reid is going to want to throw a little more than KC has in the past.  Remember, Reid used to enrage owners of LeSean McCoy.  McCoy has incredible talent, but Andy Reid has always been a pass-first coach.  This helped me decide to use my first round pick on Lynch and hope that Charles fell to me in the second round.  If he didn't, then I would be fine taking another top tier running back,

Round 2 - Jamaal Charles (RB - KC) - Well, that was fortunate.  The manager selecting 10th and 11th went QB and receiver (Not a bad choice, considering she got Brees and Megatron).  I still think this year you need to grab as many elite runners you can, as it's a quick drop-off at the position.  Charles is a YPC beast, and if he can get 15-20 touches per game, including increased work in the passing game, this pick can make me look really smart.

Round 3 - Julio Jones (WR - ATL) - Quarterbacks are going fast and furious, which is good for me.  Remember, there are 12 starter-caliber QBs in the NFL and 10 teams in this league.  Odds are I'm going to get one of them.  Julio was the top WR available, and with my RB position taken care of, I felt good getting the top upside receiver in the ATL.

Round 4 - Demaryius Thomas (WR- DEN) - I now own him in two leagues, meaning I have just become a bigger fan of the Denver Broncos.  I can understand Randall Cobb going before him in this league, as return yards are important, but I'm happy to get an elite WR in a pass-first offense with Peyton Manning holding the reigns.

Round 5 - Reggie Bush (RB - DET) - I was going to go to my third receiver and take Reggie Wayne, but the Colts veteran was picked right before I went.  The result was me either reaching for a WR, QB, or TE, or to keep loading up at RB.  I feel Reggie Bush may end up being the steal of the draft in the 5th round if he can play up to his potential.  In Detroit's offense, he has top 10 RB upside, and I'll take that at the end of the 5th round any day.

Round 6 - Antonio Brown (WR - PIT) - I actually like Jordy Nelson and Wes Welker more than Brown this year, but with return yards in play in this league, I can't pass up the punt returner on a team with a great defense.  If he runs a couple punts back this year, this pick will end up paying off.  Even if he gets three chances to run back a punt per week, that should get me at least 2 more points.  I can live with that.

Round 7 - Wes Welker (WR - DEN) - Even though I already had Thomas, Welker is far too good to pass up in the 7th round.  My prediction: 108 catches, 1,274 yards, 6 TDs.  I would have gone to Russell Wilson at QB, but he went a couple picks before my slot.  This meant I was going to be waiting a long time for a QB.

Round 8 - T.Y. Hilton (WR- IND) - I've said it before, Hilton has tremendous talent and is in a really good situation.  Plus, he gets return yards and was effective as a returner last year.  I do believe in this league Hilton can be a top 20 WR, meaning scoring him in the 8th round is a huge win.

Round 9 - Tavon Austin (WR - STL) - Once again, my pick was stolen right off of my watch list, and Andrew Luck went one pick before me.  I decided to take Tavon Austin because he should get me a ton of return yards and is a speedster at the receiver position.  If he can develop into a Danny Amendola type receiver and a Percy Harvin type returner, Austin is a top 5 receiver in this league.  Even if he doesn't, I still think he's a top 30 guy in this league.

Round 10 - DeMarco Murray (RB- DAL) - The other managers in this league seemed to be as aware as I was about Murray's injury history, as he fell all the way to the 10th round.  I was about to go to my last remaining choice at QB in Tony Romo, but I felt Murray's talent was too good to pass on this late.  If he stays healthy, he is a top 20 RB, which means he could be trade bait down the road.

Round 11 - Eli Manning (QB - NYG) - This was a reach.  I missed out on Romo by taking Murray in the 10th round, and I didn't want to let my first choice of the #2 QBs to fall off the board.  I knew I now had to take 2 QBs, and a guy who was once a top 10 fantasy QB isn't a bad place to start.  He has the talent and the situation to get back to an elite fantasy level, but can he avoid the turnovers?  We shall see.

Round 12 - Zach Sudfeld (TE - NE) - I'm all in on him this year.

Round 13 - Ben Tate (RB - HOU) - If Arian Foster gets hurt early, or if Tate starts week 1, this is instant trade bait.  However, if Foster gets hurt and loses the starting job, Tate has top 5 RB talent.  I can't lose with this pick.

Round 14 - Kenbrell Thompkins (WR - NE) - This guy is projected to be Tom Brady's #1 target in New England, so I can't pass on that in the 14th round.  Once again, if he explodes early, I can either trade him or ride the wave to the playoffs.

Round 15 - Carson Palmer (QB - ARI) - Palmer will probably throw for 4,000 yards, so I don't mind having him as my backup to Eli Manning.  He does have the same by week as Eli, so I have 8 weeks to find a suitable replacement for Palmer.  I'm hoping to score a QB in a trade, and hopefully Carson Palmer will catch fire in the desert early so I can package him in a deal for an elite QB.

Round 16 - Browns (D/ST - CLE) - The Browns have a tough defense, and I don't feel bad about missing on a ton of other defenses.  I plan on streaming my defenses in this league, anyway (and in most leagues, to be honest), so I'll see how Cleveland plays week 1 and likely just pick up whoever is playing against Jacksonville or the Jets.

Round 17 - Adam Vinatieri (K - IND) - Hey!  I followed the fantasy rule of waiting 'til the last round to grab a defense and kicker!  Who knows?  Maybe the Colts offense sputters a couple times a game and Vinatieri kicks 30 field goals this season.  I'll likely end up streaming kickers as well.

Yahoo was kind enough to give me a grade for this draft.  I scored a C+ according to the scoring system, most likely due to my QB and bye week situation.  I think I did a bit better, but let me know what you guys think in the comments below!

Draft 3 of 4 is tonight, with my keeper league drafting.  Look for my results either tonight or tomorrow.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Chronicles of Fantasy Football: Draft 1 of 4

This year, I have signed up for 4 Fantasy Football leagues.  One is a money league that I have been in for three years, winning it two years ago.  The entry fee is $50 and I won nearly $300 when all was said and done.  This is the league to which I pay most attention on Sundays, the only league that I care a great deal about winning, and the league that drains me the most emotionally.  I'm in a great mood on Tuesday morning if I've won, and down in the dumps if I've lost.

The second is a keeper league that I run.  It's a little challenging because, well it's a keeper league.  I really don't have a chance at getting many of the top ranked players if they are kept by other guys.  However, I can keep someone for as long as I want to if I'm willing to pay the price.  It's also an auction league, which really means I can get someone I really want, regardless of where I draft from, as long as I'm willing to pay for him.

The third is a league comprised of friends I went to college with.  This league pretty much has standard scoring, except for return yards.  We get 1 point for every 10, meaning guys who return kicks and punts have even higher values.  Darren Sproles and Randall Cobb always go early in this league.

The fourth is a league I'm in every year, and I usually win.  I'm not in the same league every year, however, so I can't gloat to everyone in the league.  My fourth league is always a public league with nobody in it that I know.  I take a great deal of pleasure in absolutely destroying complete strangers week in and week out.

Tonight,  I had my first real draft of the year.  If you read my last post, you know I've done a great deal of mock drafts already this year, mostly in preparation for my money league. However, tonight's draft was for the 4th league, my public league.  I did a quick mock before the draft, just to get ready for a standard scoring strategy.  This league is on ESPN, so it's a bit different from Yahoo leagues, which provides some challenges, but I still feel I ended up with a good team.  Below is a round-by-round analysis of my Public League Draft.  I only included my picks from each round, but I will mention my thoughts on some of the players who were drafted.  Note: I drafted from the 5th spot of this snake draft.

Round 1 - Ray Rice (RB - Baltimore) - I feel good about getting Rice here, who I actually have third in my rankings right now.  I think he will get a ton of touches, and could see around 1,800 all purpose yards and 12 total scores.  With Adrian Peterson and Arian Foster already off the board, I felt Rice was the safest pick out of a remaining group I had ranked in the same tier that included Doug Martin, CJ Spiller, and LeSean McCoy.

Round 2 - Matt Forte (RB - Chicago) - Forte was the 11th running back on my rankings, and I fell like this year you should have at least one out of the top 12 backs on your team, if not two.  On my rankings sheet, Forte was the best available option, so this pick was a no-brainer.  It gives me two stud running backs every week, although with them both on bye in week 8, that could cause some troubles down the road, but I have 7 weeks to figure out a solution.

Round 3 - Demaryius Thomas (WR - Denver) - Looking back at this pick, it's the only one I wish I could have back.  It's not that I think he shouldn't go in the third round, but ESPN leagues allow you to use a FLEX spot, which can be a RB, WR, or TE.  With Frank Gore, Chris Johnson, and MJD somehow still on the board, I could have grabbed one of them and had two studs as well as a just below stud guy with upside who I could use as a FLEX.

Round 4 - Randall Cobb (WR - Green Bay) - This is another reason why I'm questioning my Demaryius pick.  I still ended up with Cobb at WR.  Cobb is a great choice for a #1 WR this year, as he will probably end up with over 100 catches.  I fell like getting him in the fourth round is tremendous value.

Round 5 - Dwayne Bowe (WR - Kansas City) - Another guy who is a great choice for a #1 WR, Bower gives me 3 studs at he position.  Add that to my two stud running backs, and my team is looking pretty good so far.

Round 6 - Lamar Miller (RB - Miami) - I am not super high on Miller this year, and I certainly wouldn't take him where he's been going in most of my mocks (4th round), but I feel like I can rotate him and Bowe at my FLEX spot, and have half of my solution at RB for week 8.  The first kicker came off the board in this round, as a guy on autopick apparently didn't set his rankings.

Round 7 - Jordy Nelson (WR - Green Bay) - I would have been more excited about this pick if I didn't already have Cobb, but I think Nelson is too good of value to pass on in the 7th round, regardless of how much talent I already had at receiver.

Round 8 - Russell Wilson (QB - Seattle) - My pick prompted a mini-run on QBs, as 3 more were taken in the next 7 picks (Stafford, Romo, Luck).  I feel like getting Wilson here is very good value, and I didn't want to wait another round and risk not getting him.  I'm very high on him this year.

Round 9 - T.Y. Hilton (WR - Indianapolis) - I'm really high on this guy this year.  He could easily lead his team in fantasy points as a receiver.  Yes, he could outscore Reggie Wayne.  I'm not saying it will happen, but with his skills and with how much they have used him in the preseason, it's not a bad bet.

Round 10 - Daryl Richardson (RB - St. Louis) - He was the last starting running back I felt really good about left.  My other options were Mark Ingram and the Law Firm, but I think the Saints will throw a ton and BJGE will eventually lose his job to Giovanni Bernard.  Richardson was the safest pick at this spot, and I really needed another RB.

Round 11 - Kenbrell Thompkins (WR - New Enlgand) - He's currently projected as a starting WR in New England, which means if he holds on to that job, this could be the steal of the draft.  The Pats have used him a ton in the preseason, and if Brady continues to look his way often, he has top 20 WR upside.

Round 12 - Bernard Pierce (RB - Baltimore) - No explanation really needed here.  Just an insurance policy on Ray Rice.

Round 13 - Brandon Myers (TE - New York Giants) - I waited about as long as possible to take a TE, and this is a safe guy to take this late.  He should get at least 60 catches, and has the upside to catch 75 passes.  Eli is going to throw the ball a lot, and remember that Martellus Bennett was doing quite well last year for the Giants until he got hurt.

Round 14  - Bears D/ST - Okay, I took a defense before the second to last round, but I felt that since I had pretty much filled all of my needs, I would take the third best defense in terms of fantasy.  Even if they don't score 9 touchdowns like last season (which they probably won't), they still force enough turnovers for this to be a very safe pick this late.

Round 15 - Phil Dawson (K - San Francisco) - I broke another rule, taking a kicker before the least round.  However, I want my kicker to have a strong and accurate leg (Dawson is 14/15 from beyond 50 over the past 2 years).  I also want him to play for a team with a good offense that will be ahead, and that has a good running game and strong defense.  Dawson might be the best fantasy kicker when it's all said and done this year, and with all of my needs filled, it's not a terrible pick.

Round 16 - Zach Sudfeld (TE - New England) - He's currently one of two healthy tight ends on the Patriots roster, and Tom Brady is his QB.  The guy being called "Baby Gronk" was my last pick of the draft because he has a ton of upside.  He should have the starting job Week 1, and if he can live up to his expectations, he could be my starting tight end or trade bait.

My Team:
QB - Wilson
RB - Rice, Forte, Miller, Pierce
WR - D. Thomas, Cobb, Bowe, Nelson, Hilton, Thompkins
TE - Myers, Sudfeld
D/ST - Bears
K - Dawson

Feel free to comment below with your thoughts.  I have drafts Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday night that I plan to write about.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Fanhood For the Fantasy Football Era

I had my two big fantasy drafts today.  Both were for twelve team leagues with nonstandard rules.  The first, consisting of old college friends/acquaintances, features two starting quarterbacks and a funky point setup designed by some insane person (disclaimer: may have been me) a decade ago to equalize scoring amongst positions.  I won't bore you with the details.

The second league is the Mother Bear's Gold League, which is in its' fifth year and causes the most relentless, disgusting displays of shit-talking and excessive gambling I've ever have the pleasure of participating in.  PPR league, one QB, one keeper per year.  

As a Bears fan, it's been a few years since I've pulled anything too homerish with my drafting.  But this year I seem to have a surprising number of guys (6) on both of my teams, and these double-dippers are headlined by Brandon Marshall and the Chicago Bears D/ST (Please, Devin, give me one more epic year).  Marshall was a high pick for me in both leagues.  That's a lot of stock in Da Bears.

This got me to thinking about how our fantasy teams affect which real life NFL teams we watch and root for, which led me to what I guess is my central thesis here:  It's good to draft dudes from teams that a) don't suck and b) are at least entertaining.  It's even better if one of those teams is your team.

What I'm saying is, nobody JUST roots for the home team anymore, at least not if you play fantasy football.  You root for a lot of different teams.  Well, at least their offenses.  And that, my friends, is okay.

For example, I dig the Saints and the Seahawks in addition to the Bears.  This is, in part, due to the major contributions Drew Brees and Russell Wilson and Jimmy Graham and the 'Hawks D have made to my pretend-football enjoyment over the last few years.  Will I cheer for them to beat the Bears in the playoffs or in a game that matters?  HELL no.  But I will root for them, because they're great players to watch AND they might just make me some money.

Here's a breakdown of the guys I got by team, and therefore my squads of interest for the year.  Double dippers count double.

Chicago Bears 4 (Brandon Marshall x2, Bears D/ST x2)
New England Patriots 4 (Stevan Ridley, Zach Sudfeld, Shane Vereen, Kenbrell Thomkins)
New Orleans Saints 3 (Drew Brees, Mark Ingram x2)
Denver Broncos 3 (Eric Decker x2, Knowshon Moreno)
Detroit Lions 2 (Joique Bell x2)
St. Louis Rams 2 (Daryl Richardson, Greg Zuerlein)
Oakland Raiders 3 (Terrelle Pryor x2, Sebastian Janikowski)
Buccaneers, Falcons, Bengals, Cowboys, Eagles, Cardinals, Panthers, Chiefs, Packers, Giants, Redskins 1 each.  I will be caring about the Falcons, Panthers, and Chiefs more because they feature high picks who are key to my success - Roddy White, Cam Newton, and Jamaal Charles.

So my teams of interest this year are the Bears, Pats, Saints, and Broncos.  If Pryor ends up making a ton of noise, the Raiders get in there too.  Cam Newton and Jamaal Charles put their teams on my must-watch list all by themselves.

 So how'd I do?  Well, the Bears are in a transition year.  Best case, they pull a Pagano minus the leukemia and get into the playoffs.  And they're my guys, damn it, so I was going to be watching anyway.  Best to have a vested interest.

The Pats are anybody's guess after a nutty offseason, but it would have been hard for me to ride Brady any more without actually drafting the guy.  The Saints, well, I wish I had somebody other than Ingram.  I spent the weeks leading up to Draft Day hyping myself up on his backfield mates, especially the under-respected Pierre Thomas (60+ receptions last year?  In PPR?  I'll take it), and ended up doubling down on the guy I like least.  Still, I love Brees and that offense overall.

I'm happy with Decker in both leagues.  He blew me away in college at Minnesota and he's become an excellent pro.  There are a lot of mouths to feed in Denver but in my mind he's an elite talent.  I'm expecting a very good season from him and look forward to an excuse to care about Peyton Manning's golden years.  He can't keep going forever, right?  Right?

The Raiders are a total crapshoot.  We'll see about that one, but Pryor cost me basically nothing and isn't a starter for me anyway.  Cam Newton is hugely important to my Mabears league, and it's my first year with him, so that's exciting.  Jamaal Charles just better stay healthy and I'm very confident in him.  Roddy White, likewise.

The Bears, Brady, Brees, and Manning.  I'm happy with watching those guys every Sunday. (I also nabbed James Jones so I can also get just a tiny taste of hot, freaky Aaron Rodgers action - not that I'll admit to that in public.)

Now just give Brandon Marshall the damn ball and I may just have myself a fun little season, both as a "normal" fan and a compulsive-gambling fantasy fiend.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Potential Sleepers/Busts in Fantasy Football for 2013

I've been doing a lot of mock drafts lately and I figured I would write about how they have gone.  Below you will see some guys who have ended up on my fantasy team most of the time, and guys who have never (or very rarely) ended up on my team.  Obviously, the guys who always seem to end up on my team will be my sleepers (guys who I believe will perform better than their current ADP and I would draft higher), and the guys who I never or almost never take will be my potential busts (guys who I do not believe will perform at the level they are being drafted).

I'll end up writing more about guys that I never end up with than guys I end up with.  This doesn't mean I hate everyone except for a few select guys.  I just want to get the word out that there is risk involved with players, even players that are highly valued in the eyes of some.  Just to be clear, I'm not going to write about obvious guys who never end up on my team, like Mark Sanchez, Blaine Gabbert, and Aaron Hernandez, but guys who I feel are being over-drafted.  You'll see.

Guys who always seem to end up on my team:
Russell Wilson - QB - Seattle: This is one guy that has an ADP that really surprises me.  I mean, he was the second best fantasy QB down the stretch last year after Seattle switched to the read option.  He's going in the 6th or 7th round in most drafts, even though he is the quarterback for a very talented offense.  Yes, this offense is more of a balanced attack with a good run game, but people have been drafting Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick much earlier than Wilson.  Wilson is also going after Robert Griffin III, which is something that really surprises me.  RGIII doesn't look the same this year during pre-game workouts and practice, and likely won't provide the same value he did as a runner last year.  If I'm choosing between these two guys in my draft, I'm taking Wilson, who is the safer pick.  I like to minimize risk early, and I think taking a guy like Wilson does that.  He is currently going in the 6th round, but I would take him in the late 4th or early 5th.

Matt Forte - RB - Chicago: I think this is a year where you need to pick a stud RB early, and in my opinion, the first 12 picks of the draft should be running backs.  I have Forte 11th in my rankings right now, meaning you should be grabbing him in the first round (or second if you have a ten team league).  The Bears' new offense will feature Forte, and while the offensive line hasn't completely been fixed, I still think Forte will provide very good production every week.  Look for Forte to put up big numbers this year, especially catching the football.  Forte is currently going in the middle to end of the second round, but I'm grabbing him in the late first or early second if I can.

Wes Welker - WR - Denver: A lot of people are obviously afraid that Welker will not work well in the new offense in Denver, that he won't get as many looks as he did in New England, and that there are too many other weapons on the Broncos.  I agree that these are all possibilities, but it's not a risky pick at all.  I have seen Welker fall to the fourth round in many drafts, and even as far as the fifth round in a couple.  Last year, Peyton Manning completed over 70% of his passes to the slot receiver, and Welker's most effective position is in the slot.  Remember, Reggie Wayne used to line up in the slot in Indianapolis, as did Dallas Clark.  Manning has always looked to his slot receivers quite frequently, and right now, there is not better slot receiver than Wes Welker.  I think he will still get around 100 catches and 1,200 yards.  The only question mark is the TDs, but scores are very hard to predict.  He'll still probably score at least 5 TDs, and if you can grab him in the late 3rd or early 4th round, it's a safe pick.

Reggie Wayne - WR - Indianapolis: Wayne fell quite far in drafts last year, and those that grabbed the veteran receiver looked like geniuses.  He's not falling as far this year, as he's being taken by the 5th round, but I still think he is a very safe pick as a #2 WR.  He and Andrew Luck have developed a very good chemistry and will still draw the most looks in an offense that throws a ton.  Look for him to put up 80 catches for 1,100 yards and 7+ scores this year.  He can be drafted as a WR #2 or 3 with WR #1 upside.  I think the most attractive thing about him, though, is that his floor is so high, like Welker's.  I would take Wayne in the 4th round.

Zach Sudfeld - TE - New England: Let's face it, the Patriots offense is going to look very different this year, but I think one thing will remain the same.  Tom Brady still loves his tight ends (not an attempt at humor).  The guy known as "Baby Gronk" has been impressive so far in practice and in pre-season action, and if there is any tight end that can put up Gronk-like numbers, it's probably someone who is built like Gronk.  I'm not taking a tight end until the end of the draft, which is good because Sudfeld has gone undrafted in many drafts.  With the possibility of Gronk missing the Pats' first six games, I don't mind grabbing "Baby Gronk" in the 12th or 13th round.

Other sleepers (based on current ADP): Steve Smith (WR - Carolina), Hakeem Nicks (WR - New York Giants), Ahmad Bradshaw (RB - Indianapolis), DeAngelo Williams (RB - Carolina), Miles Austin (WR - Dallas), Emmanuel Sanders (WR - Pittsburgh), Jordan Cameron (TE - Cleveland), LaMichael James (RB - San Francisco), Jordy Nelson (WR - Green Bay)

Guys who never end up on my team (or almost never):
Peyton Manning - QB - Denver: Now before you jump all over me by saying "Hey, how can Peyton Manning suck if you think Welker is going to be good?"  Let me clarify that.  I don't think Manning is going to suck.  I just think he's being drafted too high, as he is coming off one of the best years of his career.  He's currently going in the middle of the second round in many drafts, and I just think that with so much depth at the QB position this year, you can afford to pass on a QB that early in the draft.  I probably wouldn't even take him in the beginning of the 3rd round, unless someone paid me to take him.  I believe the only guys who you can make a case for going in the mid to late second round are Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees.  Peyton Manning is neither of them  End of story.  I want to wait on QB, but I still like Manning, so grab him in the late 3rd or early 4th if he's still there.

David Wilson - RB - New York Giants: This goes on my "almost never" list, as I grabbed him in one mock before I had the chance to watch him play.  He's currently going in the late 3rd, early 4th round, and I think that's too high for him.  I see the running back situation in New York as more of a time-share then I would like for a third round pick.  I don't think it will be a true split carry backfield, but with Andre Brown as the likely third round and goal line back, I think Wilson is just too risky for me that early.  I'd still take him in the 5th round, as he is an explosive runner.

Eddie Lacy - RB - Green Bay: This is another "almost never", although I haven't taken him as a starting running back in any of my drafts.  Don't get me wrong, Lacy is a tremendous talent, and will eventually be the starter in Green Bay.  But he isn't now, and the Packers still have one of the worst offensive lines in the league.  Add that to the fact that the Packers like to throw a ton (as they should), and you have a clear bust.  Lacy is currently going as early as round 5 in some drafts, and I just think people are paying for his production in college.  He could put up double digit scores this year if he takes the starting gig early enough, but I don't see him getting the touches necessary to be a good starting fantasy RB.  I'd grab him as my 4th or 5th running back, but no earlier.  I want to grab as many guys who currently have starting jobs before I take a gamble on non-starters. EDIT: Of course, DeJuan Harris goes on the IR on the 27th and Lacy is the likely pick for the starting job.  Move him up to a 3rd or 4th running back, but no higher.  I still don't trust that O-line.

AJ Green - WR - Cincinnati: AJ Green is a tremendous receiver who has excelled ever since the first time he stepped on the field in the NFL.  He is still Andy Dalton's favorite target and corners still can't seem to figure him out.  Oh wait, I'm supposed to be writing bad things about him.  Green is currently going in the beginning of the second round.  That's just too early for me.  I think the Bengals have added more weapons on offense, especially with the addition of Giovanni Bernard, the rookie running back who is an explosive runner.  Green will still likely put up big numbers and is a solid WR #1, but I want to wait until the third round to grab a receiver not named Calvin Johnson.

Mike Wallace - WR - Miami: 1,257, 1,193, 836.  Those are Wallace's numbers over the past 3 seasons.  He's headed in the wrong direction, and not just in receiving yards.  I understand he wanted to get paid (and to take his talents to South Beach), but Ryan Tannehill is a huge downgrade from Big Ben.  He is the #1 receiver in Miami, but Brian Hartline is a decent second option for the second year QB.  Wallace is a very streaky player and could put up big numbers a couple of weeks, but he doesn't have the consistency I'd like to see out of a fourth or fifth round pick.  I'd still take him in the 6th or 7th round as my 3rd WR, but definitely not as my second.

Kyle Rudolph - TE - Minnesota: Rudolph is a physical beast who should be featured in Minnesota's offense, but he isn't.  This is because the Vikings have Christian Ponder as a QB.  Ponder isn't a bad QB, but he's more of a game-manager who relies more upon throwing to one receiver rather than looking at all of his receivers on a given play.  While Rudolph has the potential to catch ten touchdown passes, he also has the potential to not catch any passes.  In the 7th or 8th round, I would much rather grab a potential breakout running back or wide receiver than a feast or famine tight end like Rudolph.  I'm not touching this guy with a ten foot pole this year.

Other potential busts (based on current ADP): Jimmy Graham (TE - New Orleans), Darren Sproles (RB - New Orleans), Vernon Davis (TE - San Francisco), Ryan Mathews (RB - San Diego), Le'Veon Bell (RB - Pittsburgh), Anquan Boldin (WR - San Francisco), Greg Jennings (WR - Minnesota), Joe Flacco (QB - Baltimore)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Is the NFLPA's refusal to allow HGH Blood Tests Hypocritical?

As everyone knows, recently, Ryan Braun was suspended for using performance enhancing substances. This has spawned a slew of debates as to HGH and the implications for baseball. However, Football, for the most part, is completely ignored in this debate. Yet, the players are getting bigger and faster than ever. People are saying that this is the result of refined exercise programs, better food, etc. Well, I say:


Just as we made excuse after excuse for MLB players getting bigger and being able to crank more balls out of the park, we too are making excuses for the NFL. How can we ignore that NFL players have dramatically increased in weight from just 40 years ago. In 1970 the average weight of an offensive lineman was 260 pounds. Today, the average weight of an offensive lineman is just around 315 pounds. That's an increase of 55 pounds.

Now, don't get me wrong, some of this weight gain can be attributed to targeted diets, better weight training, supplements, etc. However, I don't think it's a long shot to presume that some of it has to do with HGH. Just as baseball is tackling the problem, the NFL is trying to as well. Yet, the NFL still cannot do HGH test. Why?

The NFLPA does not want to allow it. Likely, they fear that it will expose players in the NFL, and thus, they wouldn't be adequately representing them. But wait? Isn't this the same NFLPA that argues that the NFL shouldn't play an 18 game schedule for player safety reasons? Aren't they the same NFLPA that said the Owners were hypocritical stating they would like more player safety while advocating for more games?

So, how can the NFLPA now argue that there shouldn't be mandatory HGH blood tests for EVERY player? Isn't this a huge issue for player safety? If using HGH increases body mass and strength, and maybe even performance in other areas such as speed, how can the NFLPA now sit there and say that HGH blood testing shouldn't be mandatory? Isn't it logical that increased player size, speed, and strength = more injuries? As far as I know, HGH doesn't increase the amount of padding between your brain and the player hitting you. Nor does HGH increase the density of your bones, joints, or other ligaments.

So, I guess my question to the NFLPA is simple:

When are you going to stop being so damn hypocritical and start advocating for mandatory HGH testing?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Bringing Back Monday Trivia

It's been awhile, but why not bring the Trivia back.

Name the 4 years Indiana has had 2 players drafted in the first round of the NBA draft

Answers will be in the comments later. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

NBA Playoff Storylines - Youth is Served

I am sick and tired of talking about Derrick Rose.

Instead, let's talk about my favorite trend from this year's playoffs - the remarkable number of first and second year players getting extended run and making an impact for their teams in April and May.

Jimmy Butler:  When the Bulls took Butler at the end of Round One last year, I basically shrugged.  He had one good year with Marquette and that was it.  I think I wanted Shelvin Mack from Butler instead.  Shows what I know.

Gar Forman/Pax, I apologize.  You guys were right and I was wrong.  Butler has been a rock for the Bulls in this insane year, especially in the playoffs.  Check out these numbers:

2011: 8.5mpg, 2.6ppg, played FOUR MINUTES in the playoffs.
2012: 26mpg, 8.6ppg.  He more than tripled every one of his stats from the past year.

Get this... In the playoffs so far, Jimmy is averaging almost 40 minutes a game, his scoring is up to 12.9ppg, not to mention he guards freakin' LeBron James every game.  At least three times, he has played every single second of a Bulls playoff game.  That's incredible.  Is he the two-guard of the future, or Luol Deng's successor at small forward?  Either way, he's gained a ton of cred in these two playoff series.

There's a couple of other guys from the 2011 draft that have also emerged this year and in the playoffs.

Chandler Parsons had a great regular season.  Then he went and put a huge exclamation point on it in a MONSTER 27-10-8 near-triple-double against Oklahoma City as the Rockets fought to stave off elimination in Round One. He was the 38th pick in 2011, and is now looking like the steal of that draft. He's also got crazy hops for a white dude, as Serge Ibaka learned.

Norris Cole also waited a while to get his name called by the Heat with the 28th pick, and he was huge in beating the Bulls in Game Three.  Let the record show he also has a stupid flat-top.

A couple 2011 lottery players have also continued their breakout seasons in the badass Spurs-Warriors series.  Klay Thompson (11th pick), known in college for a killer stroke and a fondness for marijuana, has proven why those two attributes translate well to the NBA, pairing with Steph Curry in one of the best three-point shooting tandems I've ever seen.  Thompson is shooting 43% from outside the arc and averaging 17.6 points a game in the playoffs.

Curry is only 25, so he's not exactly a senior citizen himself.  More on the Warriors in a bit.

Kawhi Leonard looks like the future centerpiece for the Spurs as they transition out of the Duncan/Ginobli/Parker era.  Though the way those guys are playing, that transition could still be ten years off.

A few other 2011 players making names for themselves: Reggie Jackson, OKC; Kenneth Faried, DEN;  Iman Shumpert, NYK.

On to the rookies, and if you know me you know who I'm shouting out from the Class of 2012...

Draymond Green, COME ON DOWN!  He's a tweener, they said.  He can't guard the two or the three, they said.  Golden State got Day Day in the second round with the 35th pick, after getting Harrison Barnes at #7.  Yeah, I'd say that worked out all right for the Warriors.  I'm really starting to like this team.

While the more highly touted guys (Lillard, The Unibrow, MKG) are sitting on a beach somewhere watching Jalen, Simmons, and Wilbon talk, Barnes and Green are earning themselves some serious paydays.

Draymond went from playing 13mpg in the regular season to averaging over 20 in the playoffs.  His numbers don't jump out at you (scoring average up from 2.9 to 7.2, rebounding up 50%, assists more than doubled), but coach Mark Jackson has him on the floor in crunch time, has him guarding Tony Parker and a host of other guys and taking big shots.  Just like in college, Green is clutch.  His shooting average isn't good, but he's doing all the little things a glue player should.

Barnes, who struggled as the go-to guy at North Carolina, has finally found his niche as a dangerous third option.  He's playing starter's minutes and averaging almost 15ppg, up from 9.2 during the season.  This Warriors team is a blast to watch, and its youth has got to have fans excited in the Bay Area.  Oh, and backup center Festus Ezeli?  Also a rookie.

Other rookies:  Marquis Teague hasn't been terrible for the Bulls, which is certainly an improvement for him.  Can we count Pablo Prigioni, even though he was a free agent and 35?  Sure, why not?  He's played decently for the Knicks.

Anyway, it's always great to see a rising generation of young players come into the league (and Prigioni).  The 2011 draft in particular is looking like it could have been a treasure trove, while the Warriors front office should be patting itself on the back for both of the last two years.

I'm sure I missed somebody, so please feel free to add thoughts in the comments section.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Poor Umpiring

After watching Angel Hernandez make that terrible call last night, he officially jumped to my most disliked ump. He must be under the impression that the fans pay to come see him with the rediculous calls that he makes and how quick he is to run people, so with that I am starting a pole. Outside of Angel Hernandez who is the worst ump?

I am casting my vote for CB Bucknor.

While the GIF is amusing, I absolutely cannot stand how CB will randomly call an absurdly wide strike zone whenever it is convenient for him to do his over the top punchout.

That being said I am very interested to see who else you think should make this list.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Titus Young Arrested Twice in One Day

Titus Young in one of two mug shots taken Sunday.

I really don't have much to say here, but thought I should pass along this article from the Detroit News. Getting arrested twice in one day is really really impressive.

By the way, this is the guy who is on the cover of the 2013 Detroit Lions Calendar

Monday, May 6, 2013

Should Derrick Rose Comeback and Play?

Should Derrick Rose Comeback and Play? Or Should he just announce that he is officially out for the rest of the season. I didn't think this was much of a topic, but every time I've turned on talk radio in Chicago since March this exact question comes up all the time.

Before the season, I personally didn't think it was a big deal if he made it back this season or not. With a healthy Rose the Bulls were still going to struggle against the Heat. I always thought when he is fully healthy he should come back. However, when you've been medically cleared for months and apparently are tearing it up in practice, people wonder why he still isn't dressing.

Now it is being suggested that he come back and play a couple of minutes a night. This I can get behind. He should try to get some of the rust off his game and no one is going to criticize him if he plays 10 minutes, and scores 0 points. If that happens next fall, that's a different story. He's been medically cleared so playing a couple of minutes shouldn't be a big deal was my thinking. Then I read Bill Simmons 2 part article, "30 Questions about Round 1 of the Playoffs."

To pull a Simmons "Quick Tangent"

The best part of reading this article was when he posted it, the Celtics had won 2 in a row and Bill was drinking his own Boston Cool-Aide like Crazy. Boston's going to beat New York, 2nd time in a decade Boston has come back from down 3-0 to New York blah blah blah. Well I didn't read this until Sunday when the Celtics have already been eliminated. So that was fun.

Quick Tangent on the Tangent

Not that this is Bash Bill Simmons time (for that please check out these funny guys at http://firejaymariotti.blogspot.com/ ) but there was another great drinking his own Boston Cool-Aide moment.

"Even if Kevin Garnett played only six years in Boston, there's a 100 percent chance he's getting his number retired there. He's a true Celtic in every sense."

Kevin Garnett, the Minnesota Timberwovles' All-Time Leading Scorer, Rebounder, Shot Blocker, Assists, Steals, Games, Minutes, and has played in every T-Wolves playoff game ever. Celtic 4-Life

Back to the story.

From Simmons Article

Q: Can you hold it against Derrick Rose for not coming back?

Absolutely not. See, Gilbert Arenas affected the NBA in four ways …

1. He's the first NBA star who tapped into the potential of connecting with fans on the Internet (with his groundbreaking Agent Zero blog). Then Twitter happened, and Facebook, and Instagram, and now we're at a point where Kobe could run for president because he's so good at social media. In fact, I think I'd vote for him in 2016. As long as he wasn't running with Dwight Howard.

2. After he bolted Golden State for the Wizards, they named a rule after him — the Gilbert Arenas provision, which makes it easier for teams to sign their own restricted free agents who were second-round picks.

3. They also named three unwritten rules after him: "Don't bet large sums of money with teammates during poker games on chartered flights," "Don't bring guns into the locker room for any reason," and "Don't give someone a massive nine-figure contract if you're not positive he's healthy."

4. He's the all-time "came back too soon" cautionary tale for anyone who suffered a major knee injury. Gilbert tore a meniscus near the tail end of the 2006-07 season, came back too soon, reinjured it in November, missed much of the season, came back too soon a second time, reinjured his knee in the playoffs, came back too soon the following fall, had a third surgery, and ended up playing 15 games total in two years. Make no mistake — he was NEVER the same.

Now? He's a cautionary tale, the name that floats through the head of any player who wants to keep pushing himself to play, feels really good … but doesn't totally trust his knee yet. Magic Johnson's biggest professional regret is coming back too soon during the 1981 season. He knew his surgically repaired knee didn't feel right, but as Magic tells it, you start feeling that pressure from every direction. Fans, teammates, coaches, the owner, you name it. And it's not even intentional. Might even be something as simple as someone saying, "How's the knee feeling?," only they make eye contact for an extra second and you start thinking, Does he not believe me? You get in your own head. You feel guilty all the time. Your confidence is shaken. You can't do the one thing that always came easiest to you. So you start pushing yourself to come back, tricking yourself, convincing yourself to feel a certain way. And that's when you can get in trouble.

As Magic put it, When you're ready, you know. If you're wondering even a little? Then you don't know. I think that's where Derrick Rose is right now. He's in his own head. He doesn't totally trust his knee yet. His hammies still hurt. And yet … he feels horrible that he can't help his team. So he's vacillating, and fortunately, GILBERT ARENAS keeps flashing through his head in all caps. Over everything else, that's Arenas's real legacy. Nobody wants to be The Next Guy Who Came Back Too Soon.

I like that last Magic quote the best and that's the reason why I'm ok with Derrick not coming back or coming back whenever he wants. 

My hope is that he's been fine all along, but knew the Bulls could make it to play the Heat in the playoffs and is just waiting. Either in Game 1 or in Game 3 (to do it in front of the home crowd) Rose is going to come back and score 50 as the Bulls destroy the Heat and cruise to a title.

Yup I'm a Meathead

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

2013 Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions


Since the Stanley Cup Playoffs start tonight, I figured I'd make sure I had my predictions out there for everyone to see.  So, here it goes....

Western Conference

Round 1

Chicago over Minnesota 4-0
Los Angeles over Saint Louis 4-3
Detroit over Anaheim 4-2
Vancouver over San Jose 4-2

Round 2

Chicago over Detroit 4-1
Vancouver over Los Angeles 4-1

Round 3

Chicago over Vancouver 4-2

Eastern Conference

Round 1

Pittsburgh over NY Islanders 4-1
Boston over Toronto 4-2
Ottawa over Montreal 4-3
NY Rangers over Washington 4-2

Round 2

Pittsburgh over Ottawa 4-1
NY Rangers over Boston 4-2

Round 3

Pittsburgh over NY Rangers 4-3

Stanley Cup Finals

Chicago over Pittsburgh 4-3

Conn Smythe Trophy Winner
Sidney Crosby (C - Pittsburgh)

Friday, April 26, 2013

ACSS Making a Comeback

I feel like we need to continue the trend of posting on random/sports stuff. We haven't had a string of posts like this since, what? 2011? This makes post number 6 of the Week. That's almost once a day. Perhaps this blog will be worth coming back to daily!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

2013 NFL Draft: Timeline of Events


Dan and I will be writing every thought we have during this draft down, and it shall live forever.  I hope everyone enjoys the draft.  I know I'm going to have fun writing about it.

6:47 PM: Analysts mention the QB's in the draft.  Is it just me, or does anyone else think there won't be any impact QB's taken this year?

6:49 PM: Rumor has it the Chiefs will take OT Eric Fisher over OT Luke Joeckel.  I disagree with this pick.  I think Joeckel is the most NFL ready tackle in the draft.  How can you pass over a player who has played well in both the Big XII and the SEC?

6:56 PM: Jets rumored to be looking at WR Tavon Austin.  I think they will make this pick, as they have been known to make terrible decisions over the last few years.

7:04 PM: Roger Goodell is booed as he walks onto the stage.  The draft has officially begun.

7:06 PM: Dan and I both agree 10 minutes is just long enough for picks in the First Round.  We don't have all night.

7:16 PM: The Chiefs select Eric Fisher (OT - Central Michigan).  You already know how I feel about this.  They should have went with Joeckel, who has experience playing against Von Miller (on the practice field) and knows Miller's tendencies.  Dan: This is my favorite Central Michigan player to be selected #1 overall.

7:20 PM: In our draft world, the Jacksonville Jaguars have selected to move to LA, and have traded their #2 overall pick for a punter.

7:21 PM: Dan: The Jags should look at Geno Smith in order to become more dynamic on offense

7:24 PM: The Jags take Luke Joeckel (OT - Texas A&M).  Great pick by the Jags.  I feel they could have gone to DE or OLB here to put some pressure on the opposing QB, but they got, in the eyes of most, the best player in the draft.

7:28 PM: Dan: Last year the first 2 picks scored 55 touchdowns.  This year, the first two picks will score zero.  Book it.

7:32 PM: Raiders trade the #3 pick to Miami.  My thought: Miami moves up to take Lane Johnson from Oklahoma.  Good move by Miami and by Oakland.  Dan: 7 trades will be made in Round 1.

7:34 PM: Miami takes Dion Jordan (DE/OLB - Oregon).  Odd decision here by Miami.  I guess they want to put Brady on his back a bit more, but I think they should have tried to replace Jake Long.  Dan is also shocked at this pick.

7:42 PM: Philly takes Lane Johnson (OT - Oklahoma).  Great move by Philly to solidify the offensive line.  Dan and I both agree on this one.  Great decision for the Eagles.

7:46 PM: NFL Draft analysts discussing Legos.  It's time to hire a new crew.

7:50 PM: Barry Sanders announces he will be returning to Detroit.  Then all Lions fans wake up to see Sanders announcing Detroit will take Ezekiel Ansah (DE - BYU).  Bad pick by the Lions in the eyes of myself and Dan.  Very talented athletically, but has very little experience.

7:55 PM: Cleveland selects Barkevious Mingo (DE/OLB - LSU).  Not quite sure how I feel about this.  I believe they should have went with Milliner, but Mingo can make plays rushing the passer. Dan: Still no TD's drafted this year.  Mingo looks like a young Julius Peppers, though.

8:01 PM: Arizona takes Jonathan Cooper (G - North Carolina).  Dan: "Good pick if they want the second best guard."  My thoughts exactly.   Still, Cooper will help block two of the best defensive lines in the NFL in Seattle and San Fran.

8:04 PM: Bills trade #8 pick to the Rams.  2nd trade out of the 7 Dan predicted.

8:09 PM: Rams select Tavon Austin (WR - West Virginia).  I've stated this before.  Tavon is too undersized to be a big impact receiver.  He'll be good returning kicks and punts, though.  Too bad Seattle and San Fran won't be punting.  Dan: "He's a good fit for STL, but I still think he's the second best WR from WV."

8:17 PM: Jets take Dee Milliner (CB - Alabama).  Dan called it.  Milliner looked upset when his name was called, as he should be.  The Jets have a lot of holes to fill before they can compete in the NFL.  Maybe they should spend a couple years in the ACC before getting called back up to the bigs. 

8:26 PM: Titans take Chance Warmack (G - Alabama).  Great pick here.  I think he's going to have the biggest impact out of any offensive lineman in the draft.  He will help plug up holes and block for Chris Johnson.  Roll Tide. 

8:31 PM: Chargers select DJ Fluker (OT - Alabama).  Good pick for San Diego.  They need someone to protect Rivers.  Three consecutive picks from Bama, by the way.  Dan: Eifert would have been a good pick.  They need to replace Gates eventually. 

8:38 PM: Raiders take DJ Hayden (CB - Houston). The Raiders needed to solidify their pass defense, and this will help.  Still they had to reach for him.  In this situation, they should have taken the best guy available, which would be Star.

8:41 PM: This is a true Raiders pick  We learn DJ Hayden will probably be dead by Week 3.  Dan: "Al Davis phoned one in from beyond."

8:44 PM: Dan: If the Jets draft Manti Te'o, the New York media would blow their collective loads.  Also, ESPN would shut down. 

8:46 PM: Jets take Sheldon Richardson (DT - Missouri).  Once again, another team taking the second best player at the position available.  Star is going to be a huge steal wherever he lands. 

8:52 PM: Star Lotulelei (DT - Utah) goes to Carolina.  I love this pick.  He is going to fit in well in Carolina, who needs help on defense.  The health risks are there, but you can't ignore the talent and potential.

8:59 PM: Saints take Kenny Vaccaro (S - Texas).  Good pick for a team that gave up 7,000 yards last year.  This will help them limit the big plays they gave up last season.

9:04 PM: Buffalo Bills select EJ Manuel (QB - Florida State).  The first QB taken this year, and this pick comes as a shocker.  Manuel will do well in my opinion, but he came out of nowhere to be the first QB drafted.  Dan loves this pick.

9:12 PM: Steelers take Jarvis Jones (LB - Georgia).  Jones looks solid on tape, but his combine stats scare me.  It's probably a good pick, but I think Ogletree is better.

9:14 PM: Dallas trades the 18th pick to San Fran, who takes Eric Reid (S - LSU).  No idea why San Fran traded up for this guy.  They could have waited and gotten him at the end of the first round.  This pick helps Dallas more than it helps the Niners.

9:17 PM: Dan and I determine there is a 60% chance the Bears screw up and take Manti Te'o.

9:20 PM: Giants take Justin Pugh (OT - Syracuse).  Safe pick for the G Men.  I'm surprised they didn't go for a LB like Ogletree or Te'o, but this is probably the safer bet.  You can never have too many good lineman. Dan: "I see a ton of holding in this guy's future."

9:28 PM: Bears take Kyle Long (G - Oregon).  Well, Chicago needed a guard, but I think there were three much better picks available.  They could have gone with Floyd, Eifert, or Ogletree and I wouldn't have had a problem.  Very anticlimactic pick from the Bears.

9:34 PM: Bengals take Tyler Eifert (TE - Notre Dame).  The Bengals passing game just got a whole lot better.  Watch out, AFC North.  This kid is special.  Dan: "I think he's overrated, but he will be good for them."

9:36 PM: Rams trade #22 pick to Atlanta.  4th trade so far.  Only 3 to go.

9:40 PM: Falcons take Desmond Trufant (CB - Washington).  Good pick by Atlanta, who needs help at cornerback.  He should help out the Falcons pass defense in a division that includes Drew Brees and Cam Newton.  Dan: "Steve Smith and Vincent Jackson just cursed out loud."

9:45 PM: Vikings take Sharrif Floyd (DT - Florida).  I hate to say it, but this was a great pick by Minnesota.  He is a steal at this spot, and was the best player available.  Dan: "Bad news for Jay Cutler.  Hopefully Kyle Long is prepared to own this guy."

9:51 PM: Colts take Bjoern Werner (DE - Florida State).  This will help them replace Dwight Freeney.  However, there were probably better fits out there for Indy.

9:54 PM: Vikings take Xavier Rhodes (CB - Florida State).  Another solid pick for Minnesota.  They play Rodgers, Stafford, and Cutler twice each per year.  That's 6 games every year against solid QB's.  It's surprising they didn't take a linebacker, but this is still a good pick.

10:01 PM: Packers take  Datone Jones (DE - UCLA).  Good pick here for Green Bay.  He's a solid pass rusher, but is not limited to rushing the passer.  He can also cover a tight end or stop the run.  Dan: Green Bay should have taken a running back.

10:09 PM: Texans select DeAndre Hopkins (WR - Clemson).  Dan: "Fantastic pick."  I couldn't agree more.  The Texans needed someone at receiver not named Andre Johnson and this will help.

10:15 PM: Broncos select Sylvester Williams (DT - North Carolina).  Great pick and likely a steal here for Denver.  He is close in talent to the other 3 defensive tackles that were already picked.  Denver's defense just got a lot better.

10:20 PM: New England trades #29 pick for Minnesota for 4 picks.  Minnesota gave up way too much.

10:25 PM: Tribute to victims of the Boston Marathon and subsequent events.  Sweet Caroline played.  Great moment at the draft, except for some idiot yelling.  Classless move by a person in New York.  I've heard that somewhere before.

10:30 PM: Vikings take Cordarrelle Patterson (WR - Tennessee).  After a couple of solid picks from the Vikings, they really dropped the ball on this one.  I consider Patterson to be a bust, so I'm really happy Minnesota went this direction.  Dan: "It's a bad pick for what they gave up."

10:37 PM: Rams take Alec Ogletree (LB - Georgia).  Great pick by the Rams.  They way I see it, they could have gone with Alec or Eddie Lacy, but they went with the better overall player.  This will help their defense, which was already solid.  Dan: "The Rams got a great player."

10:42 PM: Cowboys select Travis Frederick (C - Wisconsin).  This is a reach for the first round.  Dallas needed a center, but they could have traded back here.

10:44 PM: Ravens take Matt Elam (S - Florida).  They passed on Manti Te'o, which of course is a good move.  Elam can fill in for Ed Reed and has great athleticism.  He started his career as a cornerback, so the pass coverage is good, but he can also hit hard.

Closing Thoughts:  No running backs taken for the first time in 50 years.  Also, Manti Te'o not taken, meaning teams are smarter than they look.  I look forward to the next few rounds tomorrow.

Thanks for reading!

PREDICTIONS: Three Steals and Three Busts in the First Round


Before the 2013 NFL Draft starts, I wanted to get my predictions out there in the open.  That way, when I'm right, everyone can see I called it.  Ok, honestly, I just wanted to share my thoughts on players that I think are worth "reaching" for and players I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole.  So, here are my Steals and Busts of the First Round.

Dan's picks will also be included, but without commentary.  He will be focusing more on steals and busts overall, rather than just the First Round.


Chance Warmack (G - Alabama) - I think Warmack is the best lineman in the draft.  Even though he isn't a coveted tackle, I think having a stellar guard is just as important as anything.  If you look at the best offensive lines in the NFL, they all have one thing in common - a solid interior.  True, they all have good to great tackles as well, but I think Warmack is a special player who can start immediately at the NFL level and has perennial Pro Bowl talent.  It's not a sexy pick, but the team who drafts him won't be sorry.

Alec Ogletree (LB - Georgia) - This is one guy I'm very interested in, because he could land in Chicago, and I really hope he does.  He is a very rare combination of raw talent and great instincts.  He looks great on film and has great linebacker instincts with safety speed.  He can step in and make an impact right away

Star Lotulelei (DT -Utah) - How far he has fallen in the eyes of some is a shocker.  At one point, he was being discussed as a #1 overall pick.  He definitely has the talent to dominate on the interior of the defensive line, and reminds me a bit of Ndamukong Suh without the behavioral problems.  He simply cannot be blocked.

Dan's Steals:

Steadman Bailey (WR- West Virginia)
Kenjon Barner (RB - Oregon)
Geno Smith (QB - West Virginia)

Notes: I think Dan is a fan of the West Virginia Class of 2013.


Tavon Austin (WR - West Virginia) - While I do agree that his counterpart, Steadman Bailey, will be a solid NFL receiver, I'm not sold on Austin.  He has excellent speed and big play ability, but is really undersized at this point in the draft.  I believe Austin will be more of a slot receiver than a deep ball threat.  This leaves him having to make plays after the catch, which is much tougher to do in the NFL than in college.

Geno Smith (QB - West Virginia) - Let me set the record straight.  I think Smith has excellent potential as a read option QB, and in the right system, he could be very, very good.  However, I don't see him doing that.  He struggled against the tougher competition he faced, especially in conference games.  He was a clear-cut Heisman winner last year, and the the Big XII schedule hit and he fell off the board. Also, his high completion percentage had to do with him throwing a lot of short passes and screen passes.  It's hard to make a living out of doing that.

Jarvis Jones (LB - Georgia) -  I used to love Jarvis Jones. I'm now a huge fan of Georgia's other linebacker, Alec Ogletree (see above), but Jones scares me.  He went into last year as the favorite for SEC Defensive Player of the Year, but seemed to be overshadowed by other players in his conference.  This is really to no fault of his own, he looks good on tape.  However, his doesn't have the physical skill set that I'd like to see at this point in the draft.  Give me Ogletree over Jones, and it's not even close.

Dan's Busts:

Ezekiel Ansah (DE - BYU)
Manti Te'o (LB - Notre Dame)
Montee Ball (RB - Wisconsin)

Notes: I agree wholeheartedly with Dan's busts.  I would also like to add Coradelle Patterson (WR - Tennessee) to my list.  Not enough experience to be ready for the NFL.

Other notes:

Dan believes the Niners should trade up to get a couple of dominant players.  I believe this would be illegal as it would make them unstoppable, meaning a new league would have to be created above the NFL.

Dan also noted tat Eddie Lacy's choice of attire was awful.  Seriously, do people even know they look terrible?

That's all for now.  Thanks for reading and enjoy the draft!