One of the most enjoyable experiences of the year for fantasy football players is “live draft day.” All of your preparation for the draft culminates with the excitement of the actual event and ultimately leads to the immediate post-draft question that you will ask yourself – How did I do? The purpose of this article is to describe my initial reactions to two different draft experiences that I had from 2010, and then, in retrospect, explain how inaccurate my initial assessments turned out to be.
Both of the real-life draft experiences described below capture my personal feelings as I participated in two separate snake drafts in 2010. Each draft occurred in a similar scoring league (standard, non-points per reception with six points for touchdowns; one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one flex spot, one tight end, one kicker and one defense). Let’s begin with the draft where I was selecting from the eighth spot.
League 1 Draft: Highlights and Initial Assessment
Picking eighth in the first round, I am stunned to see that Ray Rice is still available. This is a no-brainer – so, I gobble up Rice and am feeling very pleased and very smart. Onto the second round where I see that Ryan Mathews is sitting there. I’m thinking that because I already have a stud running back in Rice, I can take a chance on the potentially high ceiling for this San Diego Chargers’ rookie. So, Mathews is my second pick.
The third round quickly comes around and I am shocked to see that Calvin Johnson is still available. Johnson in the third – are you kidding me? So Johnson joins my rapidly developing playoff-bound team in Round 3. Onto Round 4 and I grab Brandon Marshall. I’m thinking this draft is way too easy – I can definitely smell a championship coming in a few months. The fifth round brings another gift in the form of running back Pierre Thomas. Then I grab Jermichael Finley in Round 6 and wide receiver Pierre Garcon in Round 7.
Since I purposely held off on my quarterbacks until Rounds 8-10 (to load up at other positions), I am pleasantly surprised to pick up Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger, respectively. Although Roethlisberger will be suspended for four weeks, I’m feeling pretty good about this rotation. I finish the draft with the San Francisco 49ers defense (they should be great in 2010) and then get Garrett Hartley (an indoor kicker from a high-scoring team).
So how did I feel immediately after this draft? I feel pure joy and elation. I have no doubt that this team will make the playoffs and strongly contend for a championship. Very well done!
League 2 Draft: Highlights and Initial Assessment
Picking 10th in the first round in a league with very experienced players, I use a different strategy and select quarterback Aaron Rodgers. This is a foreign concept for me because I never take a quarterback in the first round. I’m not feeling good at all about this first-round pick. Next comes Round 2 and I grab wide receiver Calvin Johnson. I like Johnson a lot but I’m thinking – what in the world am I doing picking a quarterback and a wide receiver in the first and second rounds?
In the third round, I decide to pick the best running back left (according to my pre-ranked list) and grab Jamaal Charles. I’m not feeling great about this pick just because the Kansas City Chiefs do not appear to be sold on Charles (since Thomas Jones sounds like the potential starter). In Round 4, I have Antonio Gates on my radar. I’m thinking that the San Diego Chargers will lean heavily on Gates due to their wide receiver issues with Vincent Jackson. It’s a gamble but I decide to take Gates in Round 4. In Round 5, I’m gambling on another pick in wide receiver Hakeem Nicks. I really believe he is in line for a great year so I take him.
Am I feeling good? No way – I only have one running back through the first five rounds. So, I try to catch up on running backs by picking Jonathan Stewart in Round 6 and a couple more in the next few rounds, including Darren McFadden in Round 10.
When the draft completes, I’m feeling pretty poorly about my team – like someone kicked me in the lower groin. How could I be so foolish to take a quarterback in Round 1, a tight end in Round 4, no running backs that are slated to be stud work horses? Although I feel like I took several “educated” gambles (Nicks, Charles, McFadden, etc.), I’m thinking that I will need to be working the waiver wires all year long to put out a competitive team. I’m definitely not making any playoff plans. I think I may even hate this team.
Retrospection: Did the Initial Assessments turn out to be Accurate?
In retrospect, were my initial assessments accurate? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! Although I ended up working the waiver wire in both leagues, the team from League 1 (remember – this is the team that I absolutely loved) did not even make the playoffs. And the team from League 2 that I initially felt sick about and pretty much hated? Well – I ended up loving this team as it finished first in the regular season and first in the playoffs.
So, what is the lesson to be learned from my experience? In a nutshell – don’t celebrate too early if you think you had a good draft and don’t kick yourself too much if you feel you did poorly. I just hope that I can follow my own advice when the drafts start up again for the 2011 fantasy football season.