It’s never too early to start thinking about next year, and now seems like as good a time as any to start throwing out names for the #1 overall pick in the 2004 FFL draft. So let’s fast forward to late August, 2004 and with all things being considered equal, let the controversy begin! Here’s one man’s view of how things could shake out, based on environments as they exist at this moment in time, a draft order for a redraft league. Yes, things will change between now and then (seven new coaches need to be hired!), but here goes nothing…
“…and with the #1 pick in the 2004 draft, I will select Running Back from Green Bay, Ahman Green.”
Seems a little farfetched? I don’t think so at all. Using the scoring system from the Shark Leagues (which we will be referring back to in this piece), Green was the #3 scorer overall during the season. More importantly, out of the sixteen weeks, only twice did he score under 20 points (one time he scored 19). That is consistency that you can only dream about. His production at times was very quiet, he didn’t score touchdowns in bunches, but he is more than an integral part in the Green Bay offense. He runs the ball, and while playing nearly every down, he catches the ball out of the backfield as well. There’s no reason to suggest any of this is going to slow down next season, so I’m taking on Green to start off the 2004 draft.
“…and with the #2 pick…I will select Running Back from Kansas City, Priest Holmes.”
Really now, it’s time that this guy gets the respect that he deserves. All that pre-season talk about his injured hip and his age and the rookie Larry Johnson seems like a distant memory right now. A touchdown machine that never slows down, the leading point scorer in our scoring system in 2003. Is there any reason not to believe this won’t continue for 2004? Sure, he’ll be adding on another year of wear and tear, and you’d think that he would start to fade at some point, but I don’t see that happening this year.
“…and with the #3 pick…I will select Running Back from Baltimore, Jamal Lewis.”
To say that this guy had a monster season in 2003 is really not saying enough. While Baltimore did not get into the end zone as much as you’d have liked, what can you say about his yardage from scrimmage? All this done really without the aid of a quarterback or viable passing game. Teams set out to stop Lewis, and they simply could not do it. And how can we forget what he did to Cleveland, not once, but twice. Simply awesome, and he’s got age on his side to boot. While he wasn’t as consistent from week to week, Lewis was a guy that you knew was going to be there for you no matter what.
“…and with the #4 pick…I will select Running Back from San Diego, LaDainian Tomlinson.”
Tomlinson was truly a scorned man in week seventeen, snubbed from the pro bowl roster. So what did he do? He went out and recorded a whopping 51 fantasy points all by his lonesome. And who doesn’t have a nightmare of him single handedly taking down your team during the regular season in 2003? Seven times the guy went over 35 points, incredible. Of course, the flip side of that, is that a few weeks he scored less than 20, so what?? And what about the weeks where his receiving numbers were better than those of all the guys supposed to be catching the ball? San Diego was a pathetic team in 2003, they’ve got to rebound and be better in 2004, and as a result, Tomlinson’s scary numbers just might be even better.
“…and with the #5 pick…I will select Running Back from Indianapolis, Edgerrin James.”
Perhaps a little against the grain, I’m going with James here. Sure, he was a royal pain in 2003 when for three weeks he was a game time decision where he did not end up playing, but his talent and skill within the Indianapolis offense cannot be questioned. Even without playing for three weeks, he still finished just outside the top 10 in scoring for the entire season, wow. He’s one third of the trilogy for the Colts, and that should continue as he runs and catches the ball effectively.
“…and with the #6 pick…I will select Running Back from Denver, Clinton Portis.”
Here’s another guy that missed some time in 2003, and despite that, he still finishes within the top 10 in the overall scoring for the entire season. I don’t know what it is, but I just can’t rank the guy any higher. Many will argue that James is just as injury prone, and we’ll have to agree to disagree. The problem that Portis has that James doesn’t, is that there will always be 2-3 other guys in Denver that can readily run the ball effectively, that just isn’t the case for James. Having said that, if he could ever put together an injury free campaign, then he’d put up Priest Holmes type of numbers. No doubt Portis carried many a team to regular season win after regular season win. Disappearing in the fantasy playoffs does leave its sting…
“…and with the #7 pick…I will select Running Back from Miami, Ricky Williams .”
If Dave Wanstadt could ever figure things out, then not only would Williams produce numbers better than any other fantasy player in the game, but Miami might also get into the playoffs and make some noise. It continually baffles me how often Miami goes away from Williams, when they get him the ball, he gets the job done. One of these days they will figure that out, and when they do, owners of Williams will be singing in the streets. Despite being stunted, he still finished in the top 10 in scoring overall and rarely takes a game, if not a play, off.
“…and with the #8 pick…I will select Running Back from New Orleans, Deuce McAllister.”
Ok, so McAllister still hasn’t really made a splash in the fantasy scene. I mean, he’s productive and all that, but he isn’t that flashy. So what? The Duece was loose most of this season, checking in at #5 in the overall point scoring this season. And you know what? New Orleans really didn’t have that great a season, so his numbers can only get better if they can find a way to win more games. He’s young, and he’s the only option to carry the ball for his team, that’ll get you in my top ten list every time.
“…and with the #9 pick…I will select Wide Receiver from Minnesota, Randy Moss
Well, you knew it had to happen. At some point, I need to pick something other than a running back. How can you go wrong with Randy Moss? Say what you want about is allegedly lazy work ethic, this is the WR that I want on my team. While he twice posted single digit numbers during the course of the sixteen week season, he still finished as the #6 point getter in our scoring system. WRs will always have the occasional game where they don’t score well, it comes with the territory. For that I will gladly trade the chance to score 30+ points, which Moss did six times in 2003. Minnesota will be looking to get back into the playoffs in 2004, Randy Moss’s production will have a lot to do with getting to that result.
“…and with the #10 pick…I will select Quarterback from Minnesota, Duante Culpepper.”
And lastly on this list, another non-running back, a pick that I really had a hard time deciding on. Peyton Manning had a tremendous season, yet on a fantasy scale, he finished as the second QB behind Culpepper, when Culpepper missed two weeks of the season. And how can you put Michael Vick right back into the top 10 at this point in time? Both of those guys are just on the outside looking in (not that I wouldn’t be taking a running back here anyways). As for Culpepper, if your scoring system gives points for running the ball (which most do), then you have to consider Culpepper as the top QB, and as an overall top 10 selection. Minnesota is all about the offense, throwing the ball early and often, and with a guy like Randy Moss, why shouldn’t it. When your QB can run the ball for good yardage, and is big enough to bull his way into the endzone, that is a quality player that you want on your fantasy team.
So there it is. Apologies to players like Marvin Harrison, Torry Holt, Michael Vick and Peyton Manning as they end up just on the outside of my top 10 right now. Let the controversy rage on!! Next week I’ll update my Dynasty Keeper Rankings, so stay tuned!