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More 2011 Draft Thoughts

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For the vast majority of owners, the season has finally come to a close after the Minnesota Vikings’ upset of the Philadelphia Eagles Tuesday night. A huge void has formed an imposing presence in the souls of fantasy owners everywhere. What now? What does one do with the rest of their lives after they’ve just had the true meaning of their existence violently taken away from them? How does one cope?

For starters, you can start hanging out with your non-football-watching friends again. Maybe finally attempt to get a girlfriend/boyfriend, depending on your gender and preferences. If you’re married, now might be a good time to get to know your partner again. Check on the kids too, if you have them. Make sure you remember everybody’s names and see how school’s been going for them.

Of course, there’s still the playoffs for the next month and that’ll be a good diversion for a little while. But then February comes around … and things start to get real tough. After the Super Bowl, owners are zillions of years away from the next draft. It’s a terrible, terrible time.

But before we get to that inevitable depression, let’s talk a little bit more about the 2011 fantasy draft. The last couple weeks I’ve talked about the first round of the draft. I’ve predicted that next season’s first round will be quarterback heavy due to the dwindling supply of reliable running backs and receivers. I’m predicting that in most drafts four quarterbacks will be drafted in the first round: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers.

Curiously, I’ve left off that list the one quarterback, who many analysts are saying is the consensus No. 1 overall pick: Michael Vick. Let’s go over the reasons it would be a huge mistake to draft Vick in the first round, especially as the first overall pick.

He is Injury Prone

Vick has never been injury free for a 16-game season in his entire 10-year career. Think about that for a second. We’re talking about eight seasons here. He’s never gone a season without being injured. Not even one. Sometimes it’s been a missed game here and there but other times it’s been a total disaster like in the 2003 season where he was injured for almost the entire season.

He certainly wasn’t free from injury this season when he missed a month due to cracked ribs, which is nothing less than a death sentence for most owners. The fact that he missed a month this season didn’t make that much of a difference because the vast majority of owners didn’t draft him in the first place. Vick was the greatest waiver wire wonder of the season and he was a bonus for owners, not someone they had initially built a team around.

But next season’s going to be different. Next season, owners will be drafting Vick early and the expectations will have gone up exponentially. Owners will be spending a super crucial early-round pick on Vick and betting their team’s season on him. If Vick misses significant time next season, like he did this one and like he’s done many other past seasons, he will terminate as many seasons next year as he helped save this season.

Looking at Vick for the last month, it’s incredible the amount of hits and sacks he’s been taking. It’s gotten so bad that coach Andy Reid has been complaining to officials, desperately trying to protect his quarterback, who is always one hit away from heading to the infirmary. Defenses are targeting him like no other quarterback and they are hitting him relentlessly. If you think Vick’s not going to get injured again you’re fooling yourself.

And this is who all the experts are saying is a lock for the first round? The most injury prone quarterback in the NFL? A player nearly guaranteed to miss time at some point in the season is a guarantee for the first round, apparently.

Can’t do it. In the first round of the draft, you better nail that pick. You have to get it right. If you mess up that pick, you’re going to have a massively tough time making it to the playoffs.  We’re talking about a potential season killer here, folks.

Furthermore, if you have the cajones to spend an early-round pick on Vick, you absolutely have to get him a quality backup. We’re talking about a mid-round guy, a lower-tier No. 1 quarterback that other owners would usually draft as a starter. Since there’s no telling how much time Vick will miss, this has to be a reliable backup, a quarterback you might end up using for a long stretch of time.

The fact that you have to spend an early pick on a backup for a first-round pick should be a major red flag for owners. Could you imagine spending a fifth- or sixth-round pick on a backup for Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson or Andre Johnson? It’s crazy to even talk about it! No owner would ever spend a first-round draft pick on a runner or receiver that was so unreliable in staying healthy that they needed to spend an early draft pick on his backup.

So if owners wouldn’t draft an injury prone runner or receiver in the first round, why would they draft an injury prone quarterback with their crucial first-round pick? The answer is they shouldn’t. When healthy, Vick is a great fantasy football player, maybe the best in all of football, and he certainly deserves to be drafted in the early rounds of the 2011 draft.

But he shouldn’t be drafted in the first round because that’s a gamble that could prove too costly for owners. Owners should be focused on quarterbacks in the latter half of the first round. Just not this one.

Good Hunting!

Ed Bonfanti

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