Friday, August 07, 2009

Fantasy Football Dossier 1.0

"And of course you can't become
If you only say what you would have done."

And a big what's up to you too. Again, another extremely long and dragged-out hiatus from the blog, but I'm least for this one post. I mean seriously, how can I not have a fantasy football preview? It just would not have been right. If you're curious as to what exactly has happened in the last few months, then the next few words are for you. Otherwise, you might as well skip down a little bit.

In any event, there was a flurry of activity going on in my life, which of course you always hope is more positive than negative, because there can be instances when bad things continually reoccur in a flurrious manner (I'll take "Made Up Words" for $200). Well there were some of those bad things that popped up, but honestly, right now, it's looking really fine. A career change and a move to the city sometimes makes that work out that way. Sometimes, you can never accurately predict how a "life move" is going to work out. So far however, I really think I may be on to something. I compare this to going to a movie that no one has seen before, and you really have no way of knowing if you're going to like it outside of some reviews you may have heard (i.e. "The Hangover" reviews were mixed from the gun, but I was pleasantly surprised...Cambridge also had similar things "it's great for your age," but also, there was the "somewhat shady" aspect being floated basically...mixed). So far it's been really amazing. I just like having something to do every day, and that doesn't even account for work. I think in a past life, I was an explorer. Not a big-name explorer like Magellan, but maybe on a smaller scale...maybe like Hiram Bingham, the guy who founded the Machu Picchu in Peru (sure, the Machu Picchu is a huge deal, but I mean Hiram Bingham is not quite an A-List conversation starter is he? Actually, he probably should be). Anyway, what I like to do is make little trips to random places. A perfect example of this was when I first moved here. One particular day, I woke up and just decided "hey, I'm going to the Boston Common, Boston Public Library, Chinatown, the financial district, and Nickerson Field at BU (the place the Pats played when they were known as the Boston Patriots back in the early '60s) today"...and that's exactly what I did. It feels good when a plan comes to total fruition. So, I guess the short and narrow of this is that I'm feeling good about things, which is just really nice. I have things to do, I have a job which may lead to some opportunities down the road, and I have a place with a rooftop view of the Boston's not a bad situation at all (in no way am I attempting to extract any kind of jealousy from any of you reading this, but if you could understand some of the sort-of "hard times" I've fallen on in the past, you would understand that this is actually more of an exercise of relief and not about boasting about how great life is).

So hey, there was a point to this right? Oh yeah, fantasy football. It really doesn't get any better than this. Friends gathering around in person or on some online platform to roast each other for three hours, but having it be all in good fun. The total genius of this game has to be the involvement you start to have in games that otherwise would never attract anyone in their right minds. Now though, if you have Adrian Peterson, and he's in Candlestick playing the Niners in a 4:00 game, you know you have to be all over that. It all just brings a big smile to my face. So, here are some suggestions for you, and honestly, they may play to you, or you may think that this is totally irrelevant for your particular draft strategy. My hope is that it induces a couple of thoughts, even if the thought is "that is the dumbest s___ I have ever heard." Hey, you never know.

Snake Draft:

Okay, so I'm going to break my "dossier" into two sections, because while both "snake" and "auction" drafts fall under the umbrella ('ella) of fantasy football, they are two completely different processes. So, this is the Snake Draft section. The snake draft is how traditional drafts work. The reason it is coined "snake" is because the draft order is reversed after every round. Simple enough right? The biggest part of the draft is before any player is drafted. It's all about draft position. This can absolutely make or break the entire season. If you get #1, get Adrian Peterson (unless you go rogue and pick Michael Turner...which, as my first little piece of advice, is really going out on a limb), but now you have to wait, and wait...and wait until the 20 spot (in a 10-team league) to pick again. So, while it's nice to get the best player available, you have to sit and watch all of the big names go off the board. However, I must say that drafting first has its advantages. You get three picks in the top 21. Sure, your backfield won't be stacked with big names (outside of Peterson obviously), but still, you will have three of the top 20 guys on your team, something that no one else can say. So, I actually am changing my stance that picking #1 sucks (I held contempt for going first because of my inner jealousy that I have only picked first once in my entire history of fantasy sports...the 2005 Fantasy Hockey draft...I picked Joe Thornton, and then the B's traded basically, I don't have fond memories of drafting first). I now am becoming aware of the amount of damage that can be done from the first spot. Also, in terms of mega-trades before the season starts, it all has to start with Adrian Peterson right? If his name is involved in any trade, it has to make to stop and say "wow" out loud as your reading the details on your computer. So, picking first is okay in my book. Now, let's see if we can find some other key aspects that may go overlooked once the draft gets going (by the way, due to the over-indulgence of fantasy information, there aren't a whole lot of stones that have yet to be unturned, but I'll do what I can).

The Bookends Theory (Drafting Last In The First Round, First In The Second Round):

(by the way, I set my iTunes to shuffle everything, so as I'm doing this, I'm going to share what song is currently going, so you can see what I am perhaps being influenced by at the time)

"Pink Bullets" ~The Shins

The thought process for the past decade has been the absolute necessity to draft two running backs with the first two picks. However, there seems to be a growing resistance to this because of NFL coaches becoming more and more aware that sharing the load between two running backs on the same team is a great way to increase the vitality of both backs (especially the one that is the "franchise" back). So, it is becoming more accepted to chance one of your first picks on a wideout or a QB. The reason I mention this in my "Bookends Theory" is because when you have the last pick of the first round, you have an overwhelming sense that you have to go running back. This is because the first nine or eleven, or however many people in front of you most likely took seven or eight of those runners off the board. Okay, so before you go Frank Gore/Brandon Jacobs, let's think about this for a second. Why go after the ninth or tenth best back when you get the first or second best QB/WR? It seems amazing to me that people feel the need to go running back because "there won't be any available later." That's simply not true. In fact, there is tremendous value in the later rounds with running backs. Here's a pretty good list of them, with their ADP (average draft position) next to them according to ESPN's "Live Draft Results" (which is a cumulative tallying of all live drafts that have occured so far on ESPN...this is one of the greatest stat initiatives to come down the pike in a long time):
  • Ronnie Brown* (30.4)
  • Kevin Smith (30.8)
  • Thomas Jones (33.9)
  • Jonathan Stewart (46.6)
  • Darren McFadden* (47.1)
  • LenDale White* (61.3)
  • Knowshon Moreno* (65.3)
  • Ray Rice (82.1)
  • Chris Wells* (84.4)
  • Donald Brown* (102.0)
  • LeSean McCoy (116.7)
  • Rashard Mendenhall (125.9)
(the guys with a * by their names are the guys I'm real high on right now)

So, if you are willing to sit back, be patient, and take a risk, you could really reap the rewards. Perfect example:

#10: Andre Johnson, WR, HOU
#11: Calvin Johnson, WR, DET
#30: Ronnie Brown, RB, MIA
#31: Thomas Jones, RB, NYJ
#50: Darren McFadden, RB, OAK
#51: Matt Schaub, QB, HOU
#70: Knowshon Moreno, RB, DEN
#71: DeSean Jackson, WR, PHI
...and so on...

As you can see, you can build an incredibly potent team by going with an alternative strategy like WR/WR or WR/QB with your first two picks (also, there exists the chance of breaking a record for having the most "Johnsons" on one team...oh you could totally take the last thing I said the wrong way...please don't)

  1. If given the opportunity to draft Chris Johnson and Steve Slaton at #10 and #11 exists, throw this theory right out the window. I'm telling you right now, if for some unknown reason, you get the opportunity to draft both of these guys, take it. I can't even begin to explain how it's basically money in the bank that you win a championship if you have those two in the backfield...just trust me on this one.
  2. Steve Slaton in general...I have no idea why, but it's all about Steve Slaton for me. I loved him at WV with Pat White and Noel Devine, and I loved how the Texans just went for it last year and started Slaton basically right out of the gate, and he responded with 1300 yards and nine scores. Big, big things are coming.
The Aaron Rodgers Theory:

"What Comes Around" ~Beastie Boys (you could interpret this one a lot of ways, because the beginning is exactly like the beginning to "Moby Dick" by Zeppelin, so you may be somewhat bummed out that it's not the original, but once the track hits, it's a nice, head-bobbing melody...)

"Hash Pipe" ~Weezer

(...I'm going to have to start calling these "two-song theories")

If I asked you to name me the leading point getter in ESPN formats last year, you would probably go Peterson, Turner, or some other running back...(reaching way back to channel my inner Lee Corso, something I haven't done in quite some time)...


Wow that felt good (college ball is coming up soon too by the way). Anyway, Drew Brees led all players with 295 points, and second?...Aaron Rodgers. I am telling you right now, Aaron Rodgers had the second most points of any player, at any position, in the league. This could perhaps be one of the ten most shocking fantasy revelations of all time. Aaron Rodgers! I love it! So, here is the theory: I mean basically...don't undervalue quarterbacks. Here's a list of the top 10 point getters from last year, and a list of the top 10 projected in '09:

  1. Drew Brees, QB, NO
  2. Aaron Rodgers, QB, GB
  3. Deangelo Williams, RB, CAR
  4. Philip Rivers, QB, SD
  5. Michael Turner, RB, ATL
  6. Jay Cutler, QB, DEN
  7. Kurt Warner, QB, ARI
  8. Peyton Manning, QB, IND
  9. Adrian Peterson, RB, MIN
  10. Donovan McNabb, QB, PHI
  11. Matt Cassell, QB, NE (I had to mention that)
  1. Thomas Edward Brady, Jr., QB, NE
  2. Aaron Rodgers, QB, GB
  3. Drew Brees, QB, NO
  4. Peyton Manning, QB, IND
  5. Adrian Peterson, RB, MIN
  6. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, JAX
  7. Kurt Warner, QB, ARI
  8. Matt Cassell, QB, KC
  9. LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, SD
  10. Tony Romo, QB, DAL
Okay, the Romo projections are laughable (ESPN believes he will throw for 4,000 yards despite losing T.O. and having a trio of Roy Williams, Patrick Crayton, and Miles Austin...unless Jason Witten is getting 150 receptions, I'm not seeing it), but the point remains that seven of the top ten from last year and projected for this year are quarterbacks. Does it strike anyone else as being kind of strange that the guys who get the most points are going in like the fourth and fifth rounds (Brees, Brady, and Manning are exceptions)? Where is the logic there? I'm thinking that reaching for that quarterback is not such a laughable proposition anymore. A perfect example is back in '07 when I drafted Tom Terrific in the second round in every one of my drafts...and won every single one except for one league (yes, I was affected by the Westbrook "taking a knee on the one" incident). Right now, I have targeted Rodgers because you can get him in the fourth, and if you are able to get Greg Jennings to go along with him, it's going to be a good year for you.

  1. Jay Cutler, because who the hell knows what's going to happen to him this year.
  2. Matt Cassell...because who the hell knows what's going to happen to him this year.
The Brian Westbrook "Trap Spread" Theory:

"Sucka N***a" ~Tribe Called Quest
"People Watching"~ Jack Johnson

When I saw Brian Westbrook was going 22nd average-wise in drafts, I had the exact same feeling I get when I'm reading a spread and do a double-take on it. Basically, it entails that it's just too good to be true. Westbrook was going in the top 5 last year, and now he's outside the top 20? What the hell is going on here? Sure, Westbrook could prove everyone wrong and go nuts this year, but my conventional wisdom thinks that him being available perhaps in the third round is too good to be true. There are others like him as well:
  • Joseph Addai (54.3)
  • Willie Parker (55.2)
  • Larry Johnson (57.7)
  • Reggie Bush (59.0)
Can't you just see yourself getting two or three of these guys though? Then, when you say the name out loud, your voice influxes like your asking a question. In the fifth round, I take Reggie Bush...? I'm just making myself crack up now. In any event, I'm keeping away from all of these guys because their ADP is way too low to me...which means that not only is their ADP on point, but it should actually be lower (and that was a nice intro to the reverse psychology I have going on).

The DeSean Jackson Theory:

"Smackie The Frog" ~Mitch Hedberg (yeah, like I'm going to skip over a Mitch Hedberg must be dreaming)

"Fireworks"~ Moby

I have had this theory in my head for quite some time, and I really think this year it will pan out for me. The reason I picked DeSean Jackson is that, invariably, when his name gets called, or when someone picks him, the reaction will be either "damn it" or "nice" or "damn it...that was nice." Also, any kind of "hmmm" and "interesting" are all good signs. Basically, what you want to do is look over the list of players and figure out which guys will elicit that kind of response. I have looked over the list of the top 200 guys (let's face it, it's not going to get past that in basically any draft), and here's my list:
  1. Larry Fitzgerald (8.3)
  2. Chris Johnson (8.6)
  3. Tom Brady (13.2)
  4. Steve Slaton (17.0)
  5. Calvin Johnson (17.2)
  6. Steve Smith (21.1)
  7. Marion Barber (21.2)
  8. Roddy White (28.4)
  9. Marques Colston (33.7)
  10. Dwayne Bowe (36.5)
  11. Aaron Rodgers (37.2)
  12. Brandon Marshall (41.0)
  13. Darren McFadden (47.1)
  14. Matt Ryan (50.7)
  15. DeSean Jackson (65.2)
  16. Knowshon Moreno (65.3)
  17. Greg Olsen (80.2)
  18. Kellen Winslow (92.0)
  19. Donald Brown (102.0)
  20. Dustin Keller (131.7)
If any of these guys are involved in trade discussions, especially the top-tiered guys, you perk up. It just happens like that. Some names just grab you more than others. You have to keep this in mind when you're drafting. Seriously, it's going to come down to taking a guy you may not even be sure about (Moreno is a perfect example), but you know that others are huge on him, so now, you are able to hedge your bets because if you're not 100%, you now have trade bait. Now not only do you have a talented player, but you have a leg up in trade talks. It's almost a oxymoron in a way. You want the flashy-name, non-controversial players (well, Kellen kind of breaks that mold). I don't know how it's even possible to do that, but the 20 guys listed (for the most part) fit that description. You really could build an entire "trade bait" team. Follow me on this...

Let's say, for example, you pick in the middle of the first round...say #6 in a 10-team league:

#6: Chris Johnson
#15: Steve Slaton
#26: Roddy White
#35: Brandon Marshall
#46: Matt Ryan
#55: DeSean Jackson
#66: Knowshon Moreno
#75: Greg Olsen
#86: Chris Wells
#95: Jerricho Cotchery
#106: Donald Brown
#115: Donnie Avery
#126: Trent Edwards
#135: Dustin Keller
#146: Patriots D/ST
#155: Mason Crosby

I mean seriously...that's a pretty good team. It can be done is what I'm getting at. It's one thing to say "hey, get really good players that have high trade value," it's another thing to actually see a plausable series of events like the one I just played out happening. Doesn't looking at that team get you excited? That's what you have to do. You have to get a team together that gets you so pumped for the season that you can't even stand yourself. And then, imagine all the trade possibilities you have going right there. Two stud runners complemented by three rookie running backs, four receivers who are about to become the #1 throwing options on their respective teams, the offensive rookie of the year, two tight ends who are about to get huge stat boosts with their new QBs in place...I'm like bouncing off my room right now.

The Brady-Moss Theory:

"F.O.D."~ Green Day

This one is old, but it's such a great strategy that I think it's worth repeating. Once you have drafted a QB or a receiver on your team, the immediate idea should be to add the QB who tosses to the receiver you have, or add the primary target for the QB you picked up. Now this can go a lot of different ways. For example, if you target the Matt Ryan/Roddy White combination, you are going to have to get that accomplished in the first five rounds most likely. However, there are alternatives to this. For instance, say you wait and pick up Matt Schaub, but you did not draft Andre Johnson. That's okay, because later on you can get Owen Daniels, and it's almost the same thing. Sure, Johnson will get more looks and more points, but you will still get the "double point" thing happening with Schaub and Daniels starting for you every week. Yet another way to do this is to draft a "bye week" receiver to accomplish this feat. While I'm not completely sold on Jay Cutler, he will present an interesting situation if you draft him as your starting QB. With Cutler on board, you can get either Devin Hester or Earl Bennett (or both if you feel the inclination), and they can jump in for you when your #1 or #2 receiver is on a bye. Sure, you're not going to get it every week, but you're going to get it at some point, and also, again, who knows what is going to happen in Chicago. Hester is basically a full-time receiver now, so is it possible that Hester can approach 1,000 yards, or Bennett, Cutler's teammate at Vandy, doing that as well. Look, Cutler's presence should account for close to 3,500 yards...someone is going to get those yards (by the way, this is exactly why I'm totally not sold on Matt Forte being in the top 5...Cutler is a bomber, and I just don't see him giving the ball to Forte 30 times a game. Forte is absolutely a great player, but I wonder if the expectations for him could be a little too high). It also works vice versa with the receiver and a "bye week" QB. A perfect example is Matt Cassell. On probably every team, Dwayne Bowe will be a starter, but on probably half of those teams, Cassell will be the backup. When Cassell fills in on the bye, you will get double points with him and Bowe in the lineup. This is also helpful if, knock on wood, your starting QB goes down. At least you have the combo set up for the remainder of the season.

The 2-QB Theory:

"Electric Feel"- MGMT

Of course, you usually pick two QBs in a draft. One of them being the guy who will start for you for the majority of the season, and then one to jump in on bye weeks. Here's my contention: As long as you are drafting two of them, why not draft two stellar ones? I'm not saying draft Brees and Brady in the first two rounds, but maybe something like Brees and Matt Ryan or Aaron Rodgers? This is something I'm putting a lot of emphasis on especially after last season and the Brady fiasco which basically cost me in every league. This works in multiple ways. First, you get two quality QBs that you can toggle off and on each week based on matchups. Second, you won't have as severe of a drop-off than you would if you went with a David Garrard or Chad Pennington as you're second QB. Third, once your second QB covers your first's bye week, you have a valuable trading commodity if you feel like taking a risk. If you think your QB1 will be able to hold on for the remainder of the year, then you can trade QB2 and pick up a lower level guy (Shaun Hill and Jason Campbell come to mind) just in case. As much as the NFL is attempting to protect the quarterback, freaky things like what happened to Brady will happen again, so this is a nice insurance clause to have.

The 2-TE Theory:

"When The Sun Goes Down"- Arctic Monkeys

I may be late to the party on this one, but doesn't it seem a lot easier to find a kicker and a defense on bye weeks than a tight end? It always seems like Vinsanthe Shiancoe is always the best option...and honestly, I really don't feel like dealing with that this year. So, I'm trying to set myself up to have two above average tight end options right from the start of the season. This is unlike the 2-QB theory in a way because it's highly unlikely that you're second TE will be of any huge trading value (unless you end up with a Witten/Gonzalez combo), so this pick will be a guy who will basically be on the bench almost all season, but, and this is like the 2-QB, he can always slide in there if the #1 man goes down. Good in the byes, good for's just a good idea.

The Suspension Theory:

"#34"- Dave Matthews Band

This year this mainly has to do with Marshawn Lynch, who was suspended for the first three games for violating the league's substance abuse policy. However, he is still able to practice with the team, meaning that when Week 4 comes around, he should be at full strength, and he is a top 10 running back at 100% and on the field. The question then is this: Would Marshawn Lynch be worthy of a fourth round pick? See, I say yes to this for two reasons. First, once Lynch comes back, he will be money, and again, if not top 10, then borderline top 10 at least. Second, you are going to need three decent backs anyway, so will it really interfere with this strategy? The three game suspension means that the bye weeks do not commence until Lynch returns, so you don't have to worry about getting anyone to fill in from Weeks 1-3. Brandon Marshall had a similar thing happen to him a few years back, and I remember him being lights out upon his return. I doubted Lynch once...I'm not about to doubt him again.

The Steel Curtain Theory:

"Meet Me In The Morning"- Bob Dylan

Maybe I'm on my own here, but all of a sudden I'm kind of seeing the logic in drafting defenses really high up in the draft. Think about this: Last year, the Ravens led the D/STs in points with 182. Comparatively, Marion Barber, who is a sure-fire second-to-third round pick, put up 169. Hmmm...very interesting. Now my thinking is not to go too crazy here. The Steelers are going to go in the first six rounds, which is still a little too high for me, but a unit like the Titans you could probably get in the ninth or tenth rounds. So, no longer will I snicker when defenses go off the board early. These savants apparently knew what they were doing (I feel like this is a Bud Light commercial..."today we salute you, Mr. Drafting Defenses Before Drafting A QB guy).

Auction Draft Strategies:

So we covered the snake, now onto my newest obsession: auction drafts. I cannot wait for this to be available to me for basketball and hockey (I believe it was last year but I didn't notice). Auction drafts are amazing because there are no "picks." Rather, there are "nominations." Just because you have the first nomination, it does not mean you get the first player taken. In an auction draft, everyone gets to bid on every player, so hypothetically, everyone has a chance for everyone. This I like a lot. This means that a computer throwing me into a random pick (usually a sucky pick, like 9th or 10th) is not going to make or break my season...I will make or break my season. Is there any more maddening feeling than getting outbid by someone by a dollar and trying to figure out if you should outbid the guy or let him have the guy? It makes you nuts because you're trying to look out for your overall budget, but you really don't want to see a guy you targetted on another team. I've done a few of these, and here's a few principles that I can throw your way:

The Brian Cashman Theory:

"The Air Near My Fingers"~ White Stripes

"Prelude in C With Harp and Violin"~ Bach

I immediately thought of Cashman when I was thinking up this theory. Despite the recent struggles of the Sox and the resurgence of the Yanks lately, one thing still remains: Yankee championships won before $100 million contracts: 26; Yankee championships afterward: 0. With that being said, there simply is a much harder time to win a fantasy championship if you go for all the high ticket items. Sure, having AP and Maurice Jones-Drew in the same backfield is great, but you have to spend over half your team's budget to do that, and you will be stuck with having to deal with the under $10 crowd, and that isn't the greatest collection of players ever. So, here is my contention: It seems to me that splitting the difference is just the best way to go. Again, I come back to Steve Slaton, because you can get him for pretty much half of what Peterson goes for, and then, with the savings, you can go get Marion Barber and still be spending about as much as you would for just Peterson. Then, when talking about Fitzgerald, you are probably looking at around $45-50 for him. Instead of dolling out that kind of bank for one guy, you can get a combination of Roddy White/Marques Colston/Dwayne Bowe/Greg Jennings. So, much like the Yankees should have done, you are getting two quality players for the price of one high-ticket item.

The Bye Week Theory:

"Doctor My Eyes"- Jackson Browne

"Goodbye Blue Sky"- Pink Floyd

"H"- Tool

This one I believe could be one of the more inventive ones I have come up with. I am going to do a draft based on this one, and ride it out this year and see what happens. This is putting the scientific method in motion here. Okay, so let me explain this one. Imagine if you will that come draft day, you pick out one of the bye weeks of the season (4-10), and then draft a large portion of your starting lineup to all have that one bye week off. Here's a list of the bye weeks this year:
  • Week 4: Arizona, Atlanta, Carolina, Philadelphia
  • Week 5: Chicago, Green Bay, New Orleans, San Diego
  • Week 6: Dallas, Indianapolis, Miami, San Francisco
  • Week 7: Baltimore, Denver, Detroit, Jacksonville, Seattle, Tennessee
  • Week 8: Cincinnati, Kansas City, New England, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Washington
  • Week 9: Buffalo, Cleveland, Minnesota, New York Jets, Oakland, St. Louis
  • Week 10: Houston, New York Giants
So, let's take, for example, Week 8 (and yes, it's because of the Pats). Here's an example of how the auction may play out, and how much you're probably going to end up spending:
  • QB- Tom Brady ($40)
  • RB- Steve Slaton ($38)
  • RB- Clinton Portis ($35)
  • WR- Dwayne Bowe ($20)
  • WR- Wes Welker ($18)
  • RB/WR- Darren McFadden ($17)
  • TE- Kellen Winslow ($2)
  • K- Stephen Gostkowski ($2)
  • D/ST- New England ($1)
  • BE- Dustin Keller ($1)
  • BE- Trent Edwards ($1)
  • BE- Donald Brown ($6)
  • BE- Jerricho Cotchery ($9)
  • BE- Donnie Avery ($3)
  • BE- Felix Jones ($5)
So basically, outside of McFadden and Slaton, every player in the starting lineup has a bye week on Week 8. This way, instead of staggering the bye weeks, you get them all over with (for the most part), in one shot. Therefore, you are taking a risk for one week in order to have your entire lineup active for every other week. So come Week 8, yeah, you're going to be in a little bit of trouble. However, you will have your lineup ready to go for the other 16 weeks. Again, this has yet to be done, so the results are still is, after all, a theory.

The $160 Theory

"Candyman"- Grateful Dead

"Monkey Man"- Rolling Stones

I've broken it down, and realistically, if you don't want a completely terrible bench, you can spend $160 on the starting QB, two starting RBs, two starting WRs, a flex RB/WR, and a starting TE. Let me explain in another format:


QB, RB, RB, RB/WR, WR, WR, TE: $160
D/ST: $1
K: $1
2 Backup WR/RB/TE: $2
5 Bench Players: $36

So you spend a buck on the D/ST and the kicker. Then, factor in a buck a piece for two backups at RB/WR/TE (Kellen Winslow, Dustin Keller, Tony Scheffler, Donnie Avery, LeSean McCoy, Rashard Mendenhall, Percy Harvin), and you are left with $36 to spend on five other bench guys. I think the key really is to not box yourself in with anything. You want to have options at all points of the draft. You don't want to spend too much money too fast, and you don't want to be Daddy Warbucks at the end with $20 to spend on a bench player and a kicker. It's all about finding that happy medium really. I really think $160 is really pushing it to the max in terms of your starting seven though. Once you go over that, you're going to back yourself into $1 land, and while there are some nice options there, you really are cutting down on your options. If you have $40-50 to spend on the rest of your team, you're not going to get everyone you want, but you will be in a position where you will have at least decent backups that you can plug in for bye weeks.

The T.O. Theory

"A Kiss Is Not A Contract"- Flight Of The Conchords

This one is really simple. When you are up to nominate someone, nominate people that you want nothing to do with. This has a two-prong effect. First, you are making other teams spend their money on players you don't want, thus cutting into their budget. In addition, you are filling a spot on their roster, which means that they have one less spot to try and get someone that you actually want. In every single auction draft, I throw out T.O. as the first one, and usually what happens is that not only does he go for about what his MSRP is ($20), but he may even go for something higher. Imagine, a guy you don't want is out there, and there are bidding wars for him. I mean people are actually spending money and time worrying about a guy who you won't touch with a six-foot pole. How great is that? Basically, you want to spend other people's money and spots so you can get the guys you need cheaper.

Well, I think for right now that's all I have for you. I may add some more if I come up with any others, but for now, I think this is a nice little blueprint to have. If anything, it does suggest thought, which was the entire purpose of writing this. Good luck everyone. Hope all is well. Peace.


Monday, May 04, 2009

NBA Playoff Predictions: Round Two

"Since you have flown, theres something special in the air."

I know the NBA Playoffs have already kicked off Round 2, but guess what?...I have absolutely no idea who won the Dallas/Denver series last night, so this is pretty much the best I could do in terms of a preview column before all the series begin.

Working constantly (a good thing, mind you) has really made the days all blend together, making it even more amazing to me that the Celts are playing just two days after their scrappy Game 7 victory over the Bulls at the Garden on Saturday. Give Chicago credit. They seemed to have an answer to every blow the C's could throw them. Ultimately though, what happened was that their ultimate demise was based on the fact that they had little-to-no collective playoff experience, and trying to play a veteran team on the road in a Game 7...the defending champs on the road in Game 7...well, your backs are going to be against the wall from the get-go.

What I figured would be the death-nail, and what probably actually ended up being the end, was Joakim Noah. As I have said from the moment he was drafted, Noah is purely an energy player. He feeds off of the hatred of the road fans, and off the love of the home crowd. However, when a player like this is in existence (see: John Rocker, Dennis Rodman), they will come undone in front of the road crowd. The home crowd somehow wills said players to be able to put up good numbers while also being completely mental. However, once a player begins to go mental on the road, the road fans start to feed off of that, which further pushes the player into dire psychological circumstances that they have absolutely no control over. Noah, while being much less controversial than someone like Rocker or Rodman, basically followed this formula, and fell apart in the end. Keep in mind that this started in Game 1 when Noah, who fouled Paul Pierce with .8 seconds left in regulation, nearly made this a much shorter series with one of the all-time bone-headed plays in NBA history. In another game (I want to say Game 5), he should have been called for goaltending on a 90-foot shot at the end of the half. This is the reason I threatened to disown the Celtics if they drafted Noah. I absolutely can't stand the guy...I mean I think he's a great talent, but his head is in the clouds somewhere, and he just won't be a legit star in the league ever, even though his talent would suggest otherwise.

In other news, much like the NHL, there weren't a whole lot of surprises. I think the biggest surprise, outside of how epic the C's/Bulls series became, was how Orlando nearly melted down against Philly. I have to say, when the series was 2-1 Philly with Game 4 on tap at the Wachovia Center (I think it's still called that...okay, sidenote: Is there any chance that Philly gets the name "Spectrum" back somehow? I mean Boston eventually did get "Garden" back...keep an eye out for's a feeling), I was not liking Orlando's chances. However, they fought back admirably to take the series in six.

So, I mean that was pretty much it. Nothing too drastic. Dallas beating San Antonio I guess was an upset based on seeding...but was it really an upset? To me, not so much. Anyway, here is what I'm thinking for Round Two:

Eastern Conference:

(1) Cleveland vs. (4) Atlanta:

Line: CLE -2250

The Cavs made quick work of Detroit, which was a surprise to absolutely no one. If you watched any of the games that took place at the Palace, you could just feel the crowd kind of like "we're going to lose because our GM made an idiotic salary dump...but hey, at least we get to see LeBron kick the crap out of us!" The Hawks, contrary to popular belief, are going to make this series very soon as the series goes to Atlanta. I think the Cavs will finally get some kind of adversity against them when the series shifts to Atlanta. Still though, the Cavs ultimately have home court, which is critical based on their historic home run this year. So, the Cavs win, but the Hawks do make it interesting.

Pick: Cleveland in 7

(2) Boston vs. (3) Orlando

Line: ORL -126

As I have been saying all along, I think Chicago was a tougher matchup than what the second round was potentially going to bring (although after last year, it is arguable that Atlanta would have been even tougher the second time around). I especially believe this about Orlando. Turkoglu and Lewis are both hobbling, and their injuries are turning out to be more severe than what was originally thought. They have the advantage down low, but when you look at it, Howard does not have as good of a matchup against Perk as you may be led to believe. Two things really have to happen here: 1) Eddie House needs to make an immediate impact, because he was non-existant until Game 7, and 2) We need a full-fledged mutiny against Stan Van Gundy. We had kind of a half-hearted mutiny in the Philly series...we need a Bravehart/Scotish overthrow kind of situation to happen. Oh, also, I understand that the Celts have injuries, and the Magic beat them twice without KG...but underdogged?...Really? I mean I know I basically just spelled out why they're 'dogged, but I still say the Celts have a better overall team even with the injuries to Garnett and Powe.

Pick: Boston in 5

Western Conference

(1) Los Angeles vs. (5) Houston:

Line: LA -869

I'm still kind of curious as to why people believed Utah would put up a fight against the Lakers. That was all kind of confusing, and for a little bit, I thought " this one of those times where I may have no idea what I was talking about?" (and I have a lot of those moments admittedly, as I'm sure you may have as well)...but in the end, it turned out I got that one right. So now the Rockets come in. I will say this...if the Lakers are going out, they're going out right here. With Bynum back, they're obviously a better version of last year's Finals' runners-up. Yao is going to be a mismatch for whoever is on him, and it will be interesting to see how well Fish plays against Aaron Brooks and Kyle Lowry. In the end, I think Kobe has a lot to prove against Ron Artest, and taking him out would add another notch to his already extremely impressive career.

Pick: Los Angeles in 6

(2) Denver vs. (6) Dallas

Line: DEN -170

So New Orleans kind of let me down huh? Yeah, the Hornets pulled a Bravehart on Byron Scott and just gave up on him. I wonder how much magic Chauncey has left for the Nuggets. My feeling is that betting on Chauncey is like betting on Clemson. When you bet against them, they will find a way to make you pay for it, and once you come around to betting on them, they will let you down big time. So, I'm taking my chances and going with Chauncey here, although personally, I would much rather see Dallas taking on the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.

Pick: Denver in 6

Record Last Round: 6-2

Right On The Freggin' Money: 2

So, short and to the point. Again, that's the way it's probably going to work now with my work schedule being as hectic as it is, and with MTELs coming up this weekend, there just isn't enough time to do what I really want to do here (and that's actually write a preview where I go way more in-depth than what you just read). In any event, that's my "thoughts" for this round. Again, this is the best time of the year, so enjoy yourselves. Happy Cinco de Mayo. Cheers. Peace.


Thursday, April 30, 2009

NHL Playoff Predictions: Round Two

"Weeping and wailing and moaning,
You've got yourself to blame, I tell you."

Okay, Round One has come and gone. I knew there would be a giant upset...just didn't pick the right one. San Jose, the NHL leader in points, was bounced by Anaheim in six games. I can't say I was completely surprised by this given that I figured the Ducks would give the Sharks all they could handle, but the Sharks just got completely outplayed. In fact, it's a wonder they didn't get swept (won Game 3 in OT).

Carolina made one of the most dramatic comebacks in NHL history in Game 7 against Jersey, scoring two goals in the final two minutes of play to beat the Devils 4-3 in East Rutherford, advancing to the semifinals to face the B's.

Outside of that, there weren't a whole lot of surprises in the opening round. So, let's see how Round Two is shaping up:

Eastern Conference:

(1) Boston vs. (6) Carolina (BOS 4-0)

Line: BOS -215

Again, don't sleep on Carolina. They have a big-time scoring option in Eric Staal, and they are riding a hot goalie in Cam Ward. However, as was evident in the first round, the Bruins are going to be incredibly tough to bounce. Too much depth, too much D, too much scoring...just too much.

Pick: Boston in 5

(2) Washington vs. (4) Pittsburgh (WSH 3-1)

Line: WSH -110

The line on this series is a lot lower than I had envisioned (I was thinking more like 170-175). I have to attribute this to the Caps inability to close the door on the Rangers. In fact, it was looking for awhile that they wouldn't even be able to make it past Game 5. However, they persevered, and now the dream matchup is in place between Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin. Look, there comes a point in time where you have to think about what the future matchup would look like, and with that, I'm talking about who would likely be playing in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Bruins. If you look at it like that, there is no way Washington doesn't win this series. A Boston/Washington finals is the best you can possibly get, and because the Caps were able to find a way to beat the Rangers in 7, I can't see them getting bounced here.

Pick: Washington in 7

Western Conference:

(2) Detroit vs. (8) Anaheim (DET 3-1):

Line: DET (-280)

Okay, here's my concern about Anaheim. Yes, they have probably the best defensive duo in the league, but do they have enough scoring to keep up with Detroit? The Wings possess a better all-around presence than what the Ducks bring. The lone weakness the Wings have is Chris Osgood in net. He has been inconsistent, and the Ducks could potentially take advantage of that. Ultimately though, I think Detroit is very much like the B's in that with the absolute ease they had getting by in Round One, I just cannot see a team like Anaheim beating a colossus like Detroit.

Pick: Detroit in 5

(3) Vancouver vs. (4) Chicago (Tied 2-2)

Line: VAN -130

Again, I am huge on Chicago, but the thing that makes me hesitant is that Roberto Luongo is probably the best overall goalie left in the playoffs (sorry Tim Thomas). However, I'm still going to ride the hot hand in Chicago. Also, much like what I did with the East, I'm looking down the road towards the finals, and who would be the matchup for Detroit. My thinking is that this would set-up to be the experienced (Detroit) vs. the newbies (Chicago). I think it makes a lot of sense, so I'll continue to go with the Blackhawks.

Pick: Chicago in 7

Record Last Round: 5-3

Right On The Freggin' Money: 0

So that is all for the NHL. A quick side note, because I'm becoming aware that I haven't talked about soccer in seemingly forever. Chelsea bounced Liverpool in an amazing home-and-home in the UEFA Champions League playoffs, which saw the Blues beating the crap out of the 'Pool on the road 4-1, then coming back at the Bridge to take them out in a 4-4 draw (the way the playoffs work is that each team gets a home game, and the aggregate (combined) score determines who moves on). So now, they are playing Barcelona. On Tuesday, they played in Spain in front of an estimated 95,000 people, and played them to a 0-0 tie, which was a huge feat considering Barcelona had not been shut-out at home the entire league season. Now the two will play at the Bridge on Saturday to determine who will move on to the finals. Right now, it looks as though we may have a rematch from last year, which saw Chelsea lose to the uber-popular Manchester United squad.

I have to say that the biggest difference in Chelsea from the first half of the season to the second half has to be the coaching move that was made. Luis Felipe Scolari was a decent manager, but the drama that he brought on in the in-fighting with certain players (most notably Didier Drogba, the Blues' second-best attackman behind Nicholas Anelka) got to an absolutely ridiculous level, and he had to go. As soon as Guus Hiddink took over, you could see that the club was much looser and they have played at such a high level ever since, only losing once in three months. With Drogba playing much more frequently, they have a completely different looking team. Also, credit has to go to Frank Lampard, who potentially could be one of the top four or five players in the world. Lampard has been simply amazing in the middle, and not only is he scoring in bunches, but he's creating chances for guys like Drogba, which has resulted in this lengthy streak that the Blues are on right now. Also, keep in mind that this is the Champions League, and that Chelsea is already in the FA Cup Final against Everton (which will be played on May 30), who knocked off Man U. in the semis. So, if Chelsea is able to get by Barcelona, they potentially could be playing for both the major European championships this year...not too shabby.

Well, I'm watching the Celts/Bulls Game 6 right now, and it's in OT...again. I'm pretty sure the league made some kind of overtime mandate in this series...I mean how many close games can these teams play? It's totally ridiculous, but I'm going to get back to the game. Take care everyone. Peace.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Fallout

"Who are you to wave your finger
You must have been out of your head."

So I was at work on Draft Saturday, and we had the people working the main dining room keep us in the kitchen informed of who the Pats drafted. Needless to say, there seemed to be a common theme in each of the updates..."yeah, the Pats just traded down again." It got to the point when I was wondering if they would pick at all, or if they were attempting to compile like 40 picks for next year's draft.

In any event, the Pats had one of the most fascinating drafts in recent memory. They were slotted to pick at #23, and not only traded down once (with Baltimore), but traded down again afterward (Green Bay). Then, they traded up in the second round with Oakland, then, on Day 2, the Pats traded two of their third round picks for second-rounders next year, and, just when I thought it couldn't get any wackier, they trade Ellis Hobbs to Philly (who now has both the corners from the Super Bowl XXXIX team) for two fifth rounders, which they promptly traded to Baltimore to move up in the fourth round...keeping up with all of this was probably the most exhausting exercise I've done in years (this was like the "Boot Camp" of keeping up with draft trades).

Okay, so, how did we do? Well, for the umpteenth year in a row, this Patriots' draft will be able to be completely graded by what happens in next year's draft. I guess my read on this year was that the Pats were just not in love with anyone this year, and instead, they wanted to focus on finding value for the picks they had, and doing anything possible to get some kind of value with the picks they held onto. They popped out of the first round altogether, which makes me think that, again, there just wasn't a player that Belichick and Co. felt they wanted to throw $5-10 million guaranteed at. So, they made Patrick Chung their first selection of the draft. This speaks to how the Pats feel about their current safety situation...basically, they don't like it, and neither do I. As I have said before, James Sanders is not an NFL starter. In addition, I felt like they could have made a run at Darren Sharper before he went to New Orleans. Instead, they waited until the draft and took Chung. Chung has an interesting scouting report. Instead of boring you with the details, I'll keep it simple. Basically, he's a Rodney Harrison clone. He's not the best in coverage, and he's not the best at reading offenses, but when you ask him to hit someone, not only does he hit them...he lays them out. Considering how well Harrison made the secondary, I think this is a really good move. Also, you move Brandon Meriweather back to free safety, which is more of his game than being a strong safety.

Then, through two trades the Pats made, they ended up with back-to-back picks in the second, and took two New England college products in Ron Brace (BC) and Darius Butler (UConn). Brace, in case you were unaware, is a gigantic individual (6'3, 330). This is a smart play for two reasons. First, he adds depth in a position where they basically have none in (do you really feel comfortable with Mike Wright being the heir-apparent?), and second, if for whatever reason they are unable to sign Vince Wilfork, they now are in a position where they have a high draft pick who could have the ability to step in and start in the 2010 season if they need him.

Butler was interesting because he actually fell into the second round, which was surprising enough, but the fact that a lot of experts correctly pegged Butler as being New England-bound (with most of them having him go #23) were correct in their assumption of Belichick's presence at the UConn pro day having some significance, which I really did not believe. However, in looking at what Butler potentially can bring to the table, I'm huge on this pick. Sometimes, when a prospect is almost to the point of being arrogant, it can be a turn-off. For some reason, I like how Butler carries himself. Maybe it's because he's coming to New England and I'm completely biased, but I like his confidence. He talks a little bit, but he also can back it up (fastest 40 time at the combine). Personally, I'm not completely sold on Terrance Wheatley and Jonathan Wilhite becoming every down corners. However, if Bodden plays up to his '07 level, and Butler is anything like how he was in college, the corners of the future may have fallen right into Belichick's lap here (by the way, I'm convinced that Bodden will be more than decent, which is why I hope they sign him to a fairly long-term deal before his value start going up).

I know that when Sebastian Vollmer got taken with the third second round pick, I really didn't know all that much about him. Then I remembered when they drafted Logan Mankins, I had the same feeling, so I guess it's all pretty much relative at this point. Also, I have said over and over again that the right side of the line is just terrible, and they were in need of some help. Judging by this video, I'm feeling a lot better about our situation.

The other notable pick for the Pats came on Day 2 when they went with Brandon Tate, receiver out of UNC. Tate is an impressive receiver who can also contribute on the return game. Two things that are interesting though: 1) He tested positive at the combine for pot, which doesn't say much in terms of his timing, and 2) He could miss the entire 2009 season recovering from two torn knee ligaments. It's not as though the Pats especially need a receiver this coming year with Moss, Welker, Lewis, and Galloway, but they obviously will be needing one in 2010 when Galloway will likely be gone. Also, with the Hobbs trade, the Pats will be looking for help in the return game, which Tate can help them with. Still though, it's curious that they would kind of reach for a guy when it's not known if he will be able to make a full recovery from that injury. I think this is like a John Smoltz pick, where there is little-to-no risk involved, and the reward could potentially be huge. So, the key word here is intriguing I guess.

So, that's pretty much how the draft went for the Pats. They didn't make a huge splash with anyone, but they made picks that they hope will contribute at some key areas in the future. In addition, the Pats now have a ridiculous three second round picks next year, matching the three that they had this year. Belichick officially has spear-headed the idea of not breaking the bank for rookies. He is basically initiating what the league should already have in place, which is some kind of rookie salary cap. He traded out of a first round pick twice purely because he didn't see a Jerod Mayo this year (i.e. a guy he was in love with). In addition, he saw what I was deducing when I was making the mock drafts, which was that there was a ton of value that would be hitting the top of the second round. Belichick saw this, and wound up with three picks right at the beginning portion of Round 2. So, he was able to get first round talent, and sign all of them to much less money than they would have gotten if they went in the first round. This is why when you go around the web, despite passing on guys like Clay Matthews, Connor Barwin, etc., they are universally getting a B+ and fairly high grades across the board because of the value they got where they picked at, the fact that they won't be breaking the bank for any of their incoming rookies, and they picked up two second-rounders for next year. All and all, I'm pretty happy with how everything went. My only issue is that the OLB position remains a mystery, and by how this draft went, it says two things to me: 1) The Pats are going to get Jason Taylor, or 2) They are under the impression that Shawn Crable will be able to come in and make a huge push to be a starter, because Pierre Woods as the starting outside linebacker opposite Adalius Thomas is just down-right scary to me. I guess time will tell in terms of how that on-going saga will shake down.

Okay, quick I know, but I just wanted to share my opinion about how the Pats drafted. Again, with my MTEL test coming up, and working two jobs, my time will be somewhat limited as to how much I can write. Celts made an improbable comeback last night, which was awesome. Then, Javier Lopez muffed a simple handoff from Youk when he was attempting to cover first, losing the game and the eleven game winning streak, which was not awesome. The Bruins are set to play Carolina starting Friday. This is fitting because the general formula for the Bruins making it to the Stanley Cup Finals was to beat Hartford and Montreal along the this is about as close to that as we can possibly get right now. It will be interesting to see how this series goes considering how easy the Montreal series went. I'm pretty sure Carolina will put a stronger fight, but I am so confident in the Bruins right now that I see them getting through and making the Eastern Conference Finals.

So, that's all for now. Thanks for stopping by. Peace.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

2009 NFL Mock Draft 4.0 (The Finale)

"To think we got nothing to lose
We’re losing everything but the truth."

Finally, the day is upon us. Draft Day 2009 is here...can you feel the love! Extra excited after last night's Yankees/Red Sox game, which eerily played out like a game the Yankees were going to win, and then, once again, the Sox surprised me. After grounding into about 40 double plays to start the game, they came through in the clutch. Jason Bay hits the Bernie Carbo-like homer in the ninth off Rivera (with two outs mind you), then Youk comes through in the eleventh off Demarso Marte (who almost left Fenway with an ERA under 15...oh, so close). Another instant classic in the series. I never like the Sox' chances after a great win like that though. Also, this pitching matchup includes A.J. Burnett, who I have accurately predicted would get off to a hot start, but inevitably will hit the DL right around the end of June. So, I'm seeing Burnett going like six or seven, with one earned run. Beckett, however, I'm not totally sold on as far as a pitchers' duel right now. I'm seeing a score of 4-1 heading into the eighth, but as we saw last night, all bets are off with the Yanks' bullpen.

And now, to what we've all been waiting for. The final mock draft in the 2009 series. Right now, it is right around noon, and we are only sold on one pick so far. So, let's see what might happen.

1. Detroit- Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia: Done deal. Six years, $72 million, $41.7 million guaranteed, 100% wrong.

2. St. Louis- Jason Smith, OT, Baylor: Easily one of the most intriguing subplots heading into the draft was the Rams' brass buying Mark Sanchez a plane ticket from LA to St. Louis for tomorrow. However, if you draft a QB #2 overall, don't you want to get him into the city on Saturday and not Sunday? That's why I think the Rams are attempting a "Belichick" here by screwing with other teams in hopes that a team like Denver or Washington will trade up to #2 to take Sanchez. This just looks too simple. I mean even I saw through it...shame on you St. Louis. Too many theatrics there.

3. Kansas City- Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest: All the talk seems to center around Tyson Jackson going here, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Just the fact that Curry is being compared to Patrick Willis should say enough for the Chiefs to take him at #3

4. Seattle- Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia: What we know is that the Seahawks are falling out of favor with the thought of taking Mark Sanchez. We also know that no one seems to want to trade into the top 5, hoping that Sanchez falls out of the first five picks so the amount of guaranteed money goes way down. So, they draft their future franchise left tackle here. Monroe will be able to replace Walter Jones when he either retires, or gets bounced a la Orlando Pace.

5. Cleveland- Brian Orakpo, DE/LB, Texas: A lot of people continue on the Crabtree bandwagon here, but after reading the reports coming out of Cleveland, citing that Mangini doesn't like the guy at all, and that Crabtree has some character issues, I think Orakpo is the safest pick here.

6. Cincinnati- Andre Smith, OT, Alabama: I realize there are a ton of questions surrounding Smith, but also realize that if you hear what's coming out of Cincy, they have Andre Smith higher than Monroe, which makes the decision at #6 really easy.

7. Oakland- Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri: I based this pick entirely on Al Davis' tendencies. He likes the speed guys...he's probably going to go with a speed guy then. Sure, Crabtree, overall, is a better receiver, but Maclin has the speed, and the return game factor going for him.

8. Jacksonville- Mark Sanchez, QB, Southern Cal: Oh trust me, it's not going to be Jacksonville taking Sanchez if he's still on the board. This is kind of like a placeholder for Washington or the Jets.

9. Green Bay- B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College: I've been sold on this one for months now, and really, nothing is changing my mind on this one. They already said they aren't drafting Crabtree, and the only other option would be a guy like Everette Brown, but I think Raji makes the most sense.

10. San Francisco- Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech: Crabtree has character issues, but we've recently learned that Mike Singletary will not be conducting the draft, meaning there is more of a chance that the best player available goes here, and not a "character" guy, which is what Singletary would do.

11. Buffalo- Michael Oher, OT, Ole Miss: This is one of those picks that makes so much sense that I can totally see myself being way off here. Nevertheless, the Bills need a tackle, Oher is the best one available...I mean what would you do?

12. Denver- Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU: The Broncos have said they are not going to trade up for Sanchez...for whatever reason, which basically means they are sticking with Kyle Orton. I will give Josh McDaniels this: I am totally confused by what he's doing. So he has the unpredictability factor going for him...I guess that's nice...if it works.

13. Washington- Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee: Relax Redskins fans (especially those of you who like Jason Campbell), I don't think the 'Skins will be the ones to move up, although they are one of two or three teams that seem to get the most play to be in the Sanchez hunt. If they hold on to #13, they will get a good player here in Ayers. If they can, I would think the 'Skins would try and trade down to get some more picks, because they are lacking in that department.

14. New Orleans- Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State: I can say with like 80% certainty that a Buckeye is going here...which one is the question. I flip-flopped again on this pick because of what I'm hearing from New Orleans and where these so-called "experts" are leaning. So, I say Jenkins with some hesitancy.

15. Houston- Clay Matthews, LB, Southern Cal: It's either him or Aaron Maybin...that's pretty much all I keep hearing. I think Matthews' stock is receiving a well-timed boost right before the draft, which helps him bust into the top 15.

16. San Diego- Rey Maualuga, LB, Southern Cal: Just read a report on saying that the Chargers are likely not going with a running back at 16, contrary to every other report I've heard. They instead want an "impact" player who can step in right away. Enter Maualuga.

17. New York Jets- Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State: It would not surprise me one bit if the Jets ended up trading up into the top 15 to take Pettigrew, as apparently, the Jets are absolutely huge on him. Of course all of this goes out the window if they are able to make a deal with Jacksonville, which I expect they will do. You heard it here: The Jets will trade up to #8 and draft Mark Sanchez. Again though, if for some reason they can't work out a trade, they go with Pettigrew here, as I've heard that they're not as huge on Josh Freeman as it was originally thought.

18. Denver- Chris "Beanie" Wells, RB, Ohio State: With news of the Chargers passing on Wells at 16, it may change up the Broncos' plans in terms of who they will be going with at #18. They have an interesting decision here, which is very much reflective of how the Broncos' offseason has been so far...interesting.
19. Tampa Bay- Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas City: I know the Bucs are big on Josh Johnson, but I mean...really? A guy who has not started one game in the NFL and was a fifth-rounder last year...really? I'm going to go ahead and say I'm not sold on that at all.

20. Detroit- Brian Cushing, LB, Southern Cal: This is going to be one of the easiest ones to predict right before the pick goes down. Basically, Detroit is going to go with the best player on the board, so at this point, just look and see who's the best guy left. I had Maualuga here, but with him off, the board, all you have to do is substitute another SC linebacker in, and you're good to go.

21. Philadelphia- Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia: So Philly is in an interesting dilemma here. With all of the recent discussion about Moreno going to Denver, and the Jets' recent fascination with Brandon Pettigrew, you have two teams drafting ahead of Philly that are targetting the two guys they are big on. Plus, factor in the Eagles possibly trading for one of the big three receivers available, and who knows what could happen here.

22. Minnesota- Percy Harvin, WR, Florida: All the reports about Brad Childress showing up down in Florida to meet with Harvin basically makes this pick a lot easier to make. That is, unless the Jets makes things interesting and draft Harvin at 17. I think the Jets potentially could control how the first round of the draft shakes out...I'm telling you, those New always has to be about them.

23. New England- Aaron Maybin, DE/LB, Penn State: Maybin, LarryEnglish, Everette Brown, or Connor Barwin here, and everything will be copacetic.

24. Atlanta- Peria Jerry, DT, Ole Miss: The Gonzalez trade means there are no worries as far as a tight end. Great move by the Falcons. Now, they can focus on the defensive side of the ball.

25. Miami- Everette Brown, DE/LB, Florida State: This pick now makes the Jason Taylor saga that more interesting. With the Pats and Dolphins both potentially taking rush ends in the first round, who is in the lead to get Taylor now? Very interesting.

26. Baltimore- Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland: They need a receiver, the guy is from Maryland, and he's the best receiver left on the board...this is too easy, meaning that it probably won't happen.

27. Indianapolis- Evander "Ziggy" Hood, DT, Missouri: I think that because the defensive tackle position is so weak, a guy like Hood, who worked out very well, was able to become a first round pick based on the workouts and also based on need.

28. Buffalo- Michael Johnson, DE/LB, Georgia Tech: Again, the Bills get a top tackle and a top DE prospect in the first round...they're pretty psyched.

29. New York Giants- Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers: Anytime you have a guy like Britt, or Heyward-Bey, and you slot them in with a team that plays their games right by where they went to school, you get a little nervous, because very rarely does that all work out.

30. Tennessee- Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina: There exists a distinct possibility that Nicks' recent weight battle could slide him out of the first round altogether, opening up the door for Brain Robiskie or Mohamed Massaquoi sneaking into the first round. To me, Nicks is the goods, and Robiskie and Massaquoi would be gigantic reaches here.

31. Arizona- Donald Brown, RB, Connecticut: It's funny how many people share my thinking on the #31 and #32 picks. 'Zona needs RB depth, and they are big on Brown.

32. Pittsburgh- Max Unger, C, Oregon: Isn't that a good Steelers name? Max Unger? I definitely think so...although Alex Mack is another good one. I'm pretty sure one of the two will cap the first round.

Okay, now, the five teams who will be looking to move up:
  1. New York Jets
  2. Washington
  3. Dallas
  4. Philadelphia
  5. Chicago
Five teams looking to move down:
  1. Jacksonville
  2. Jacksonville
  3. Did I mention Jacksonville?
  4. Cleveland
  5. Washington (yeah, they're on both lists...weird)
Five players that teams are trying to move up to get:
  1. Mark Sanchez
  2. Andre Smith
  3. Michael Oher
  4. Brandon Pettigrew
  5. Percy Harvin
So, there you have it. There may be some changes going on right before the draft, and I will update this as such, but for right now, this is how I see it all going down. Of course I have to work today, a day where the draft is on and the Sox are playing the Yankees (which always seems to happen on the weekend of the draft for some reason). However, that will be the last of my complaining. Let's face it, I need money, I want to buy a condo/house in three gotta do what you gotta do. So, again, I hope everyone has a great draft day. I'll be thinking about everyone at work (okay I swear that's the last time I'll mention that). Cheers everyone. Peace.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Days Are Closing In (Draft Buzz)...

"But the stone that the builder refuse
Shall be the head cornerstone."

So it's Thursday, and we're two days away from the commencement of the 2009 NFL Draft. Of course the good people of the NFL decided to schedule the draft at 4:00 this year, meaning that I will see approximately one half hour of the first round before I have to go to work. If we were on the old schedule (when it started at 12), I could have seen the whole first Basically the point of that was just saying that there won't be a draft diary...again. This is what happens when you are in need of money. In any event, I'm taking my practice test for the MTEL (Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure) tomorrow, so my thinking is that I would at least fill you in on some of the draft buzz going arounf, and with some luck, hopefully I'll be able to put up a final mock before the draft starts on Saturday...

Here is what is going on:

1. Detroit:
  • Carlos Monarrez of The Detroit Free Press wrote a column about how teams are better served in signing the #1 overall pick before the draft. This, of course, is relevant due to the latest news regarding the Lions trying to have a contract in place with Matthew Stafford before the draft begins.
2. St. Louis:
  • Bernie Miklasz of wrote an interesting piece about how the Rams last year, when they picked #2 overall, actually had Matt Ryan and Glenn Dorsey ranked higher than their eventual pick, Chris Long, and that the Rams' management switched up their board at the last moment to take the "safe" pick. If the Rams subscribe to this theory again, expect Jason Smith or Eugene Monroe to be off the board at #2.
  • Jim Thomas of shared parts of an interview he conducted with Jason Smith, and talked about how the Rams have not yet tipped their hand, at least to Smith, about which way they are leaning to at #2, whether it be Smith or Monroe.
3. Kansas City:
  • Kent Babb of The Kansas City Star brought up an interesting point about Aaron Curry, which was along the lines of the fact that despite everyone believing that Curry is the #1 guy in the draft, and the two teams ahead of KC, who also need help at linebacker, are likely not to go with Curry. My counterpoint to this would be that Babb says that the linebacker need is not glaring because of the additions of Mike Vrabel and Zach Thomas, to which I would reply "really?" Despite the Chiefs getting those two guys, they can still draft Curry and feel good about it because they are filling a need.
  • Babb also did a piece about what it will be like for Scott Pioli and Todd Haley in their first draft together. This draft is definitely going to fall squarely on shoulders of Pioli with Haley not having as much "war room" experience as Pioli. They did work together with the Jets way back when, but both were not at very high levels at that time.
4. Seattle:
  • Danny O'Neil of The Seattle Times wrote about the on-going draft buzz of the Seahawks taking Mark Sanchez at #4. O'Neil also brings up the possibility that Denver (picks #12 & #19) and Washington (pick #13) could be in the mix to trade up into #4 to take Sanchez.
  • Steve Kelly of the Times wrote a piece about Tim Ruskell, Seattle's GM, and about how this draft "will define him" as a GM. Kelly applauds Ruskell's ability to find talent deep in the draft (Ronde Barber in Tampa most notably)
5. Cleveland:
  • The Cleveland Plain-Dealer cites an article by Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News which all but kills the rumored Braylon Edwards trade to New York. This is a big story because it could greatly alter what the Browns could be thinking about at #5 considering a lot of recent mocks have Michael Crabtree going here.
  • Adding to the movement of Crabtree perhaps not going at #5 is Tony Grossi's article about how the Browns scheduled workouts with Hakeem Nicks, Kenny Britt, and Mohamed Massaquoi in the last week, meaning that they could be opting to take a receiver in the beginning part of the second round instead of taking Crabtree, who Grossi writes as having a "world-revolves-around-me attitude."
6. Cincinnati:
  • Joe Reedy of The Cincinnati Enquirer reports on Marvin Lewis' pre-draft press conference, where he made it clear that Chad Johnson, or I guess it's Chad Ochocinco now, will not be moved. The Bengals, even if they don't move Chad, could be in the market for Michael Crabtree after the loss of T.J. Houshmandzadeh to Seattle.
7. Oakland:
8. Jacksonville:
9. Green Bay:
  • Pete Dougherty of The Green Bay Press-Gazette writes about how it seems fairly unlikely that the Pack would draft Crabtree at #9. The reason I put this in there is that there seems to be an alarmingly high number of articles coming out right before the draft about teams who will not take this guy. Not only is there the injury concerns, but now there apparently is a knock on his character.
  • Rob Demovsky writes about the tight-lipped Ted Thompson, who is entering his fifth season as the Packers' GM. Thompson won't tip his hand as to where he's leaning, but the article did make a note about how the Pack have traded down 13 times and traded up only once in the four drafts Thompson has been a part of.
10. San Francisco:
11. Buffalo:
12. Denver:
13. Washington:
14. New Orleans:
15. Houston:
  • John McClain of The Houston Chronicle talks about what the Texans are in need of, which includes a runner to compliment, a hybrid O-Lineman who can play center and guard, outside linebacker, defensive end, and a safety. Also, McClain believes that at some point in the draft, the Texans will draft a cornerback in order to perhaps find a replacement for the University of South Carolina's own Dunta Robinson, who was less than thrilled to be franchised for this season.
16. San Diego:
  • Kevin Acee of The San Diego Union-Tribune writes about the Chargers' team needs, which includes defensive end, offensive tackle, running back, safety, receiver, and inside linebacker. It's funny how Acee kicks off the column with "this is no longer seen as the loaded roster it was accepted to be for a few years," and then GM A.J. Smith is quoted as saying the Chargers "don't have a lot of starting positions open" This coming from the GM of a team that nearly missed the playoffs had it not been for a monumental Denver collapse.
17. New York Jets:
18. Denver:
19. Tampa Bay:
20. Detroit:
  • Nicholas Cotsonika of The Detroit Free Press filed a report on how the Lions could use both of their first round picks on offense.
21. Philadelphia:
22. Minnesota:
23. New England:
  • Mike Reiss of The Boston Globe takes a look at the "hybrid" type of linemen appearing in this year's group of prospects. What's fascinating is that there are more higher-ranked potential draftees that can play D-Line and linebacker (Orakpo, Ayers, Maybin, Matthews, English, Sintim, Barwin) than guys who are just traditional linebackers (Cushing, Maualuga, Laurinaitis).
24. Atlanta:
  • Mark Bradley of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes about the Falcons' new tight end, Tony Gonzalez. Obviously, this totally flips the Falcons' needs. I had them taking Brandon Pettigrew, and now with him out of the picture, Bradley mentions two defensive tackles: Peria Jerry and Evander "Ziggy" Hood.
25. Miami:
26. Baltimore:
27. Indianapolis:
  • Mike Chappell of The Indianapolis Star writes about how Indy's preference when using a late first-rounder, which has happened quite frequently in the last decade, has been to take the best player available. Chappell also lists the Colts' biggest needs, which are D-Tackle, receiver, running back, O-Tackle, and punter.
28. Buffalo:
29. New York Giants:
  • Paul Schwartz of The New York Post submits an interesting piece about Hakeem Nicks' ongoing weight issue (he gained fourteen pounds since the combine...which was two months ago). Nicks could potentially be falling, which would work out nicely for the Giants, who desperately need a big receiver to replace Plaxico Burress.
30. Tennessee:
31. Arizona:
32. Pittsburgh:
So, that is what is going on right now. Really, the draft may not start until we hit pick #4, and then the drama may unfold. Basically all of the GMs are pretty much tight-lipped at this point, but all you really have to do is take a look at team rosters, look at a team's draft history (or better yet, the history of the guy "running the draft," and yes, I am talking about you, Al Davis), and find out where the personnel guys are going to see prospects. When I say "going," that means going to pro days or just visiting players. I wouldn't read so much into prospects going to a team's HQs. Trust me, I have seen enough Patriots drafts to basically start crossing off guys who make a pre-draft visit to New England (which, unfortunately, probably rules out Connor Barwin becoming a Patriot). So, hopefully, I will get a mock draft going right before the draft on Saturday. It will be interesting to see the kind of buzz the first round will generate given its later start time. I think it definitely helps out the west coast markets because their fans don't have to get up at 9 AM to see who the first pick is. Now, it's at a moderate 1:00 start. I think there will be a ton of action in the late rounds and, outside of Mark Sanchez, not a whole lot in the top 10. The end of the first round is where the fireworks will start happening though. For those of you who are able to watch it on Saturday, 1) I hate you in a somewhat-jokingly manner, and 2) Have fun, bring some cocktails, and wear a jersey, because not too often is it acceptable to be wearing a jersey out around the town in April (actually, it's probably not acceptable at all, but with my rather loose dress code, I say go for it).

Celts are on tonight. It will be very interesting to see how they react to Leon Powe going down. It's bad enough to play without KG, but now Powe is out too? I am not liking the situation right now. In any event, it should be fun, and at the least bit filled with incredibly anxious moments. I still think the Celts eventually will find that gear that the Bulls don't necessarily have right now (but very well could obtain as this series progresses), and I still see the C's winning in 6.

The Bruins finished off the Canadiens last night in surprisingly easy fashion, coasting to a 4-1 victory. If it's any consolation to Canada, they still do have the Canucks, who also won in four straight games, knocking the Blues out on Tuesday night. I'm telling you, you have to go back at least 15 or so years, basically whenever the B's played the Gretzky-led Oilers in the Stanley Cup Finals, or when the B's took on Pittsburgh in those epic series of the early 90s, to find a team that had this good of a chance to win the Cup as the B's have right now. They are banging on all cylinders, and hopefully, the Penguins and Flyers will beat each other up a bunch before making their way to Boston for round two. Remember, and this is especially true if San Jose gets bounced by Anaheim (Ducks are up 2-1 in that series), the road to the Stanley Cup is most likely going through Boston. Having home ice advantage is a huge deal for the B's. This town is so starved for a Bruins playoff run that the amplitude of the crowd noise is only going to become more deafening with each round. Boston is officially back to being a hockey town, and it sure does feel good.

Okay, that's about all that I have for you. Be sure to check in right before the draft when I throw up my final mock draft. Until then, take care everyone. Peace.