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2011 Draft Plan

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Each year I put together the meandering thoughts of a slightly off-center fantasy football strategist (me) for the hoards and legions of followers (you). I probably broke five grammar rules in that first sentence alone. What we do here is disseminate fantasy advice, commentary, statistics and a little love. As part of the package, we’ll help guide you as best we know how.

As this is my first official article of the season I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to just give a shout out to Broncogeek. You’ll be missed bro. We’ve lost a couple of true fantasy heroes the last couple of years in our community, both cut down way too early in life, and we grieve. You learn a little something about the folks around you when somber events like these happen.

Let’s get on with the show.

First Round

It’s the Big 5 running backs that we look at first – Arian Foster, Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles and Ray Rice. In a points per reception (PPR) league, I really like Jamaal Charles.  In a non-PPR, Jamaal Charles!   Arian Foster is a fine pick too, as is Adrian Peterson. You really can’t go too far wrong; just pick your favorite from the bunch. Many would question Jamaal Charles over Arian Foster or Adrian Peterson. If you are one of those many, then for goodness sakes just draft the guy you want. What I’m saying is it doesn’t really make much difference. If presented with one of the five, pick your favorite. You know my stance.

The question of when to look at wide receiver comes into play with the sixth pick. LeSean McCoy or <insert your favorite wide receiver here> is the choice. For me, it’s Andre Johnson though I wouldn’t complain about Roddy White. I’d take either wide receiver over LeSean McCoy, which is where I find one of the differences in my 2011 draft philosophy and apparently, the general population.

WR Crazy

This is going to need an interruption point for just a second. Hey, it’s my column, I can do what I want with it. It’s obvious from all my expert leagues this preseason that I love me some wide receivers in 2011.

Expert Leagues

OK, I’m interrupting an interruption point. I realize that, and I realize that a howling vortex of doom may come swallow us all up, but I’m running the risk here. This is truly that important. I’m blessed to do what I do. I’m a fantasy guy, in the fantasy industry, making a living doing whatever it is that I do. Fantasy Sharks is fortunate thanks to you good people to do well enough in this fantasy world to keep us on the A-List for expert league drafts. That’s how we hone our skills for the upcoming season, leveraging experts leagues as our mock drafts. By doing so, I can report back to all of you, the way I think you should play it, after drafting against countless experts, from countless draft positions in countless formats. Listen or not, it’s your choice.

WR Crazy continued …

Back to the wide receiver discussion with no apparent harm done to the space-time continuum. My wide receiver addiction is a sickly pox looking thing. People have questioned me on it as they rightly should, as I don’t think even I have seen anyone be as wide receiver crazy as I have been. Here’s the reason I’m so gung-ho about wide receiver this year. Quarterback, unless someone falls to you like getting Michael Vick in the third round, which did happen to me in a league (12-team) or Tom Brady in the fifth round, twice, then you have to take that value and adjust your draft plan. You’re silly not to. But the strategy for quarterback this year is to wait. There will be, unless there’s a homer, moron or both in the crowd, a group of four quarterbacks waiting for you and almost without fail, you’ll bring home two of them. Playing the early Michael Vick, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning or Tom Brady card has a curse associated with it. You aren’t really sure where the best backup quarterback value will be for you. You will have a false sense of security because you have your stud quarterback in the fold and you will likely miss the best round to dig in and grab a backup. When you’re staring at Tarvaris Jackson as an option, you will know with stark amazement that something horribly wrong just occurred.

Jumping in and grabbing two upper tier guys a little later back-to-back not only leaves you with a great weekly matchup play all season long, but if one were to go down you still have an extremely capable insurance policy in your backup.

I realize this is still the wide receiver discussion, but this all ties back. Maybe. Didn’t want to push my luck with a recursive interruption point to talk about ties and how useless they are to society. So let’s keep going with quarterbacks and not tempt certain disaster.

The Four Horseman

The group of four quarterbacks to keep a lookout for are Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub, Ben Roethlisberger and Josh Freeman. When those four are the remaining quarterbacks, pick your favorite. I mean really, it doesn’t matter, just pick one. But watch the bye weeks here as they can bite you. Roethlisberger and Schaub share the same bye week as do Matt Ryan and Josh Freeman, so pick a quarterback from either the first or second pairing knowing that you’ll be picking from the other pairing with your next pick. So either Roethlisberger and Freeman or Schaub and Freeman or Roethlisberger and Ryan. You get the picture. Me, I’d pick Schaub or Roethlisberger first and hope Josh Freeman is there but Matt Ryan will do nicely too.

Rattlesnake your serpentine

Make it a quick strike – grab two of these four quarterbacks if you can, but only when these four are what’s left. Sometimes Eli Manning may still be around and you can toss him in the mix for consideration. If you can only get one of these four because you’re at a draft in Pittsburgh with a bunch of Boston College alums where Roethlisberger went No. 3 overall, after Hines Ward and Matt Ryan, wait on the position. There’ll be better value late with plenty of choices for a backup. Sam Bradford, Jay Cutler, Joe Flacco, Matt Cassel, Matthrew Stafford or even Ryan Fitzpatrick make a decent group to choose from. If you’re looking deep sleeper at quarterback or just plain forgot to go get a backup, look at Donovan McNabb or Jason Campbell. I know neither install a secure feeling but I think both will surprise a little from their draft position. Heck, if you’re turning to McNabb or Campbell as your backup, draft both, as it sounds like you’re going to need the depth.

It’s raining TE – hallelujah!

How does all this relate to wide receivers and why I’m so hot-to-trot on them in 2011? Because of the tight ends of course! Why do you ask such silly questions? Tight ends are as deep as I have ever seen them. Actually, let me rephrase, I’ve never seen them this deep. They were deeper very early on in the draft season but they are starting to shrink up a little. Still, the deepest class I’ve ever seen.

I’ve read some folks recommending a star quarterback and star tight end early this year and I couldn’t disagree more unless you’re drafting in the tail. We’ll talk about drafting from the tail later. But generally, that’s not where leagues will be won or lost this year. What do Antonio Gates, Jermichael Finley, Owen Daniels, Dallas Clark, Vernon Davis and Jason Witten have in common? Not one of them will be on one of my teams in 2011. To pay the price for one of those guys in the third or fourth you’re punting a running back or wide receiver that is going to score in bunches to the curb. Not a place you want them.

If you wait, and I mean really wait, like draft a tight end or two before your defense and kicker late, you will be oh so happy with what you have to choose from. Chris Cooley can be found, Tony Gonzalez, Dustin Keller, Brent Celek, Ben Watson and one of my favorite deep tight end sleepers, Jared Cook in Tennessee. They’ll all be there. Heck, if you’re a Greg Olsen or Tony Moeaki (injured) fan, or think Jeremy Shockey will do something in Carolina, guess what? They will be available. The choices are endless at tight end, so don’t draft one early. Please.



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