(Doc’s note: First off I’d like to thank everyone for sending in entries for the first round. I had an extremely difficult and rewarding time narrowing these down. As the chief honcho here at Razzball and a nerdy English professor, I found good stuff in every entry and feel like all of you have the ability to improve and become bad ass fantasy writers. In this business it takes passion, perseverance and practice. I’ll go out on a limb and call them the three P’s. I think ya’ll have the foundation to make it happen, so I highly encourage you to keep it up! Write, write and write some more. That’s the secret. And I can’t wait to read your next batch of entries! Now I’d like to introduce our first round winner Greg Smith. Check it out! Oh, and follow him on Twitter @gregsauce.)
The Book of Job, benevolent dinosaurs, cosmic swaths of color and flame, a flock of birds, Brad Pitt playing the piano, drafting a wide receiver in the first round, The Universe! If there’s one thing I learned from Terrence Mallick and his crazy love for voiceovers, it’s that everything is connected. A force of action must meet an equal, opposite, and collinear reactive force. That’s physics, son. Physics is the only non-cash currency that TO accepts. Or is it physiques? Regardless, for every lock, there is a crock and for every crock, a lock. Let’s move on lest it dawn on the irate estate of Dr. Seuss to take the chance to sue off my pants.
LOCK #1: Some jerk(s) in your league will pick a quarterback or a wide receiver in the first round of your draft.
CROCK #1: You need to draft a running back in the first round of your draft.
Last year it was Andre Johnson, Aaron Rodgers, Randy Moss, and Drew Brees. This year it will be some combination of AJ, Vick, Rodgers, Megatron, and Roddy White. Ever since the cosmos were born in a dazzling dispersion of energy, matter, and 80-yard TD passes, experts have intoned that thou shalt draft a running back in the first round. Still, there are many who just cannot resist the siren song of those 80-yard bombs.
Call me one of the deviants, because I’m going to recommend passing on first-round running backs again this season. It may seem like heresy, but as Aristotle believed in a spherical earth, I believe in taking a wide receiver in the first round. With the ever-growing number of teams employing a committee at running back and the general amount of turnover at the position, it’s relatively easy to find value at RB later in the draft. The top-tier guys at WR are a more valuable commodity when last season guys like Arian Foster and Jamaal Charles could be had later in the draft and perform on par with the RBs taken in the opening round. With all that said, I’m probably not taking AJ in the first five picks, but I would definitely consider him in the latter half of the first round. As for quarterbacks, I’m still not sold taking one in the first round, but a full season from Vick would probably be worth the investment.
LOCK #2: Someone will beat out the #1-drafted player at most, if not all, positions.
Let’s look at the top performers from last season using ESPN standard scoring relative to their 2010 ADPs*:
QB: Michael Vick, 300 points, 192.9 ADP (35th QB drafted)
RB: Arian Foster, 313 points, 54.2 ADP (23rd RB drafted)
WR: Brandon Lloyd, 203 points, ADP so late it doesn’t matter
TE: Jason Witten, 146 points, 55.6 ADP (5th TE drafted)
K: Who cares?
DEF: Seriously, who cares?
*ADPs taken from MyFantasyLeague.com, using data from drafts after August 25th, 2010.
Vick and Lloyd were fantasy afterthoughts going into the 2010 season, but it didn’t stop them from leading their positions in fantasy points. At least Foster was drafted as a starter, assuming you play in a league innovative enough to have rosters with two RB spots and a flex (provocative!). You could say Jason Witten was also drafted as a starter, but in any league worth Shane Lechler’s smelling salts, the only tight ends drafted are fantasy starters.
This scoring vs. #1 ADP trend is nothing new. The last player drafted #1 at his position to lead his position in scoring was LaDanian Tomlinson in 2007.
CROCK #2: It’s okay to ignore the order on the top of you cheat sheets because of Lock #2.
Admittedly, this isn’t a total crock. There’s a reason most of us have adopted the “tier” approach to drafting, but bear with me while we take a look at those players drafted first at their positions in 2010:
QB: Aaron Rodgers, 292 points (2nd), 7.1 ADP
RB: Chris Johnson, 216 points (5th), 1.6 ADP
WR: Andre Johnson, 164 points (8th), 8.8 ADP
TE: Dallas Clark, 51 points (28th), 39.1 ADP
Rodgers came up short of Vick by a mere 8 points, albeit in a couple extra games. Nonetheless, Rodgers delivered on his #1 QB ranking with an awesome fantasy season. Considering all the games that Vick missed, I’d argue that Rodgers was more valuable to his owners on a week-to-week basis and probably put more teams into the playoffs. AJ was on pace to put up top-3 numbers at his position before he got hurt and missed the last two games of the season (12.6 fantasy points per game; Lloyd had 12.7 ppg for the season). Similarly, Dallas Clark’s season was derailed by injury. Managers wise enough to combine Clark and his replacement, Jacob Tamme, into a mythical beast we’ll call the Dalcob Clamme earned a point total of 137 for the year, good for second among tight ends.
Pertaining to Chris Johnson (you can’t stop CJ, you can only hope to pertain to him), his owners still ended up with a top-five running back and nothing prevented them from also drafting Arian Foster in a subsequent round. In a nutshell (much smaller than an Art Shell), that’s the best argument against trying to lock up the top point-getters in the early rounds – it’s better to grab them later and team them up with the top projected point-getters that you pay for in the early rounds. The draft is all about finding value.
LOCK #3: There Will Be Bye Weeks.
Synopsis: The film follows the rise to power of [Jerry Jones] – a charismatic and ruthless [football owner], driven to succeed by his intense hatred of others and desperate need to see any and all competitors fail. When he learns of [advertising]-rich [airtime] in [television] that can be bought cheaply, he moves his operation there and begins manipulating and exploiting the local [football players] into selling him their [bodies/souls/soon-to-be-concussed craniums]. Using his young adopted son [Roger Goodell] to project the image of a caring family man, [Jones] gains the cooperation of almost all the [players] with lofty promises to build [enormous stadiums] and cultivate [season ticket sales] to make their [league] flourish. Over time, [Jones’] gradual accumulation of wealth and power causes his true self to surface, and he begins to slowly alienate himself from everyone in his life.
CROCK #3: Managers should avoid drafting players with the same bye week.
It doesn’t matter if you have Arian Foster, Drew Brees, Reggie Wayne, and Mike Wallace on your team, who all are on bye in week 11. Every other week of the season, they’ll be in your lineup drinking your opponents’ milkshakes.
CROCK #4: Antonio Gates is worth a 3rd- or 4th-round pick.
LOCK #4: Vincent Jackson is worth a 3rd- or 4th-round pick.
Let’s keep it going with a player-specific blurb, or to be more specific with my specifics, a Charger-specific blurb. These two San Diegan pass-catchers are currently going pretty close to each other in drafts, but only one of them is worth the high price. Don’t get me wrong, Gates is a beast, but I’d rather wait a couple rounds for Jason Witten or Jermichael Finley (or wait a lot longer for someone like Jimmy Graham). VJax, on the other hand, seems like a top-five receiver to me. He’s always had the tools and now with Ryan Mathews poised for a breakout plus a healthy Gates demanding respect from defenses, Jackson could easily climb past a number of the wideouts currently ahead of him in ADP. Even if he doesn’t, the stats he puts up will certainly be worth the 3rd-round price tag.
LOCK #5: Drafting a kicker before the final round is a bad idea.
CROCK #5: Kicker is not important during the season.
It’s impossible to predict which games Sebastian Janikowski is going to show up for sober. You never know when a Gramática is going to break his leg celebrating a meaningless field goal. Hell, I can’t even remember which Gramática used to be automatica. Kickers are the tortilla chips of fantasy football; there are many varieties, but they’re all pretty much the same – oily, salty, and begging to be dipped in something. This is why you should never draft a kicker before the first round**. With that said, you still need to pay attention to your kicker during the season. Play the match-ups. Sometimes those Tostitos will just blow Casa Sanchez out of the guacamole, you know?
**Bonus advice! If your league drafts relatively early, don’t draft a kicker at all. Instead, take a flier on a RB/WR prospect for your bench and wait until right before week 1 to drop your most useless player and grab a slightly less useless kicker.