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Review of this Years Live Draft

Last year at this time, I was putting the finishing touches on a post-draft piece that I’d rather forget. In my mind, I’ve already convinced myself that it didn’t even happen. In fact, all of last season never happened – my team ended up biting the big one early and often and I finished well out of the playoffs (happens to the best of us!). But the response was pretty favorable so I decided to do a similar thing again this year.

On Thursday, a week before the NFL’s opening game, the FFL!FFL!FFL! held its tenth annual draft. As I’ve said many times, this is the only one that I really care about (since we play for a small sum of money!). Remarkably, there has been only one new member in the life of the league. The rules have changed over the years, starting as a strict re-draft, then drifting to a partial keeper, then back to a re-draft. Most of all, many of our lives have changed dramatically (marriages, job changes, babies, etc), yet we are still united as one. I thought the Thursday night was a difficult call for the draft, but since the NFL has scheduled a Thursday night opening game (obviously once again wanting to punish us fantasy players) and it was Labor Day weekend prior to the opening game, it was the only time we could all get together. You know people care about the league when a guy flies from Nashville to Boston to take part in the festivities.

A few of the guys hit the links that afternoon to make it a full day of swilling, I thought it better to not to be a part of that. I wanted to see if I could draft a team without much help from Sam Adams this time around. That’s not to say I didn’t partake, just a lot less than usual (which didn’t end up being that hard with Rob pressing us to drink some of his home brew that was clearly past its expiration date). Between the twelve of us, six large pies (mostly of the meat variety) as well as two extra large piles of wings (courtesy of last year’s winner Big’Uns and runner up Freaks) were consumed (though they weren’t the ‘nuclear gigantic sized MIT chicken fodder’ we’ve had in the past). There were some yummy brownies that made an appearance late in the draft (Thanks, Jill!) as well. But enough about that, more about the draft.

Once again, I held the threat of a “running diary” over the other league members. I’m not big on the diary thing, just doesn’t come out right unless you were one of the twelve people in the room. But the threat is enough to keep the other owners on edge just that little bit. There needs to be some article coming out of an event such as momentous as this, and yes, nearly all of us had the FantasySharks cheat sheets.

Not that my goals are a secret to anyone, here’s what I was hoping to accomplish (though I did throw in a few wrinkles this year):

1) I am who I am – grab runningbacks early and often, at least in the first two rounds, pray that I don’t end up with Ahman Green and/or Fred Taylor
2) Wrinkle #1 – Be on the lookout for Harrison in round two and take him if available
3) Wrinkle #2 – Since RB will probably go early, be on the lookout for Culpepper or McNabb in round three and take if available
4) Backup Plan – If the two wrinkles don’t come thru, stay on RB
5) Middle Rounds – If Vick is there in rounds five or six, take.
6) Better to Receive – Get at least one WR by round 5, hopefully something above Chad Johnson is left.
7) Backup Players – Backup my top RBs
8) Wrinkle #3 – Get a defense earlier than usual, tenth round or so, and take two of my top five
9) Late Night – Wait until last round for a TE, the round before that (if possible) for a kicker
10) Quarterback Central – Make sure to end up with three starters

I think there’s a way to link to our league (though I’m outraged that there is no draft recap so I’m working off the chicken scratch I wrote on draft night): http://football3.myfantasyleague.com/2003/home/57273

To save you the click, I ended up drafting in the following order: Ahman Green, Fred Taylor, Antowain Smith, Anthony Thomas, Chad Johnson, Michael Vick, Tai Streets, Todd Pinkston, Patrick Ramsey, Joey Harrington, Atlanta D, New England D, Antonio Bryant, Joe Nedney, Ladell Betts, Jay Riemersma. Not exactly a squad that is going to set the world on fire.

You can see that right away numbers one, two and three on my list were a disaster. Harrison didn’t come back to me in round two and the two quarterbacks were gone by round three. Just missed out on Joe Horn in round five so I had to settle for Chad Johnson (another guy I didn’t want to end up with). And since round one was a straight shot of twelve RBs, I ended up with Green, then took Taylor in round two. Didn’t want either, but had to go with my lists. Not to mention, it was a ‘scorno’ type of draft, where Taylor’s backup was taken ridiculously early (sixth round!?), and Green’s was taken from me as well. It wasn’t until the mid to late rounds that I started to get a remotely good feeling from my team – where I was able to get Vick and I surprised the other league members by getting not one, but two defenses. Despite that, when the draft was over, I felt like crumpling up my roster and just throwing it in the trash with the bones from the pile of chicken wings that we destroyed. And yet I digress…

If you think this article is going to be one of those, pick by pick recaps, where I praise all of my picks and rejoice in my inevitable winning of the championship trophy, you’re very wrong!! Need to make this entertaining, right? A straight recap is not going to cut it…besides, by the time this hits the presses, week one will be over and no doubt everyone’s drafts will be long over and forgotten (especially mine!). What better way to tie in a draft recap than to bring in one of my favorite 80’s bands – Def Leppard!! As most of you know, these guys really came onto the scene in 1983 with their album Pyromania. Sure, there were a couple before that, but that was the one that put them on the map. Backed up by Hysteria in 1987, I was hooked.

So without further ado…

“Gunter flieben glauten globen” – Rock of Ages (Pyromania, 1983)
Probably the most imitated introduction of any song ever made (and my favorite song of all time) HAS to be used to open up this writeup…and it goes to the name that was called out first at the FFL! FFL! FFL! Draft – Ricky Williams. Can’t really argue with the selection, he’s got as good a shot as any to be the top producing fantasy player this season. Just a great song, and I’m not sure if I liked it more because there was a “Rock of Ages” song in the hymnal at church. My brother and I always got a kick out of seeing it in there, yet I don’t ever recall a time when we got to sing it – which is probably good since you know we would have gone with the Def Lep version.

“And I want…and I need…” – Animal (Hysteria, 1987)
This is a tune that gets the blood pumping, and the draft is moving along. This goes to #2 overall pick LaDanian Tomlinson. Hard to argue with Williams at #1, could just as easily have been Tomlinson. You couldn’t really go wrong with #1 or #2 this year. Another classic tune that I can listen to over and over again.

“Hey, but are you getting it?” – Armageddon It (Hysteria, 1987)
For those that thought Pyromania was a flash in the pan, Hysteria nearly blew it out of the water with just hit after hit. This one goes out to #3 selection Marshall Faulk. I’ve seen him go as low as #7 in some leagues…People, are you getting it? Yes he’s 30+, but I have a feeling the Rams are going to be back in a big way this season.

“I’ll be the hero, you be the star…” – Action Not Words (Pyromania, 1983)
Back to Pyromania for this one, and it goes to #4 selection Clinton Portis. Another guy that was hard to pin point where he’d go (many drafts saw him go #1). Was this a great year to draw pick 1-5 or what? Once the season begins, Portis will have to prove that his second half last year was no fluke – action, not words.

“Women to the left, women to the right…” – Rock Rock Til You Drop (Pyromania, 1983)
Somehow I had to get this quote into the beginning of this piece, by default it goes to #5 selection overall Duece McAllister. Joao has never been one to shy away from making a pick away from conventional wisdom, and here he passes on Holmes for the Duece. To be honest, and before the angry emails and bulletin board posts come in, this is a move I’d have also have made. McAllister has quietly just gone about his business this preseason, and there’s no signs indicating that he might slow down.

“…but it’s too late, too late for love.” – Too Late for Love (Pyromania, 1983)
You know, listening to Pyromania as I often do over and over, this was just a great album from top to bottom. This one goes out to the mystery of the draft, Priest Holmes! Late word is that Kansas City has seen enough of him to sign him to a new contract, which should make him happy. But can he stay healthy?

“All night, Stagefreight, is only a heartbeat awa-a-a-ay!” – Stagefreight (Pyromania, 1983)
One of the lesser known hits from the album, goes to a guy that I really thought I’d be looking at with the #9 pick, Edgerrin James. Yet he goes at #7, damn I hated drawing the #9! It was at this point that I got a real bad feeling about how this draft was going to go.

“I don’t want your photograph….I wanna touch you!” – Photograph (Pyromania, 1983)
Another one of their more popular hits, this one goes to the last of the top tier running backs that I had on my list, the guy that was taken just in front of me – Shaun Alexander. It was nice to see some deviation in the top picks from what many of the ‘experts’ had, but there just wasn’t enough deviation for me picking at #9. Boo. This is another of those classic songs that has lasted the test of time and can be listened to over and over again.

“I’m not foolin myself..I’m not foolin my self…” – Foolin’ (Pyromania, 1983)
With the first tier gone, I had to get a running back, and with great reluctance it was Ahman Green. I don’t know what it is, I’m just not getting a great feeling from the guy this year. Hopefully I’m just feeling the grande burrito from last night and Green will end up ok, yet I don’t feel good about my team already and the draft is just beginning. Hopefully by tying him into my second favorite Def Lep song, he’ll produce like a mad man this season.

“Did you ever try so hard, that your world just fell apart…” – Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad (Adrenalize, 1992)
Gotta dip into a rocking ballad here to send this out to Tony and Tiki Barber. I was deciding between Green, Henry and Barber in the first round and it was incredible to me that Barber made it back to Tony, who would be picking just in front of me this time…I knew he would not be mine. My draft was crumbling quickly, world falling apart.

“I don’t wanna touch you too much baby…” – Love Bites (Hysteria, 1987)
This one goes out to my second selection, Fred Taylor. Perhaps I should have changed the line to read, ” I don’t want to touch you too much, since you are so fragile…” Round two in the books, and now I feel even worse about my team. Yet there’s no bad feelings about this tune, extremely likable even to this day. Come on, you know you’ve cranked this up trying to get over a breakup. Right?

“To love is easy, it ain’t easy to walk away…” – Miss You in a Heartbeat (Retroactive, 1993)
We jump ahead to the 90s here, and this one goes out to Curtis Martin. What would a Coutts Cap be without at least mentioning the guy. For the first time in a very long time, Martin was a name that I didn’t get to call out during the draft. I couldn’t justify taking him in the second round, and he was gone by the time it got back to me in the third. I can’t say that I’m disappointed, but an era has come to a close. I will miss him.

“Red light, yellow light, green light, GO!” – Pour Some Sugar on Me (Hysteria, 1987)
Ok, so maybe wishful thinking here, but I go out on a limb and send this out to my third round pick Antowain Smith. A bit of a reach down my list, but I just wasn’t crazy about the wide outs that were available (when have you heard that for, eh?). Strongly considered Driver, but I didn’t want to have both he and Green. Toomer was up there as well, yet the call of the RB got to me. No doubt many of you are gackling at the pick, but save some for next round….

“I can’t get over this feeling I feel…” – Now (X, 2002)
We quickly zip to their most recent offering, and I send it out to Anthony Thomas. Why oh why am I taking him in the fourth round? I have no idea. Really. Just went with the next guy on my RB list. He’s got the potential of not even being the starter for his team, and yet….please pass me another Sam Adams while I light myself on fire.

“Men, men they can’t live without them…” – Women (Hysteria, 1987)
In some way I think this quote fits, since I needed to finally get a wide out, this goes to Chad Johnson. Didn’t want the guy, Joe Horn was taken just in front of me, but needed to get someone. So far, three picks, two guys I didn’t want and the other two no one else wanted. Nice.

“I can take you thru the center of the dark…we’re gonna fly!” – Rocket (Hysteria, 1987)
Here’s where the success of my draft will rest, this goes out to my sixth rounder Michael Vick. He’s out from anywhere from four to six games, yet how can I let him go in round six? Despite the chuckling that goes on around the draft table, I DOUBT that he would have been available to me in round seven. Besides, I need to go out on a limb one last time and salvage what is shaping up to be a terrible draft. Not to mention me taking any type of quarterback will cost many of the other league owners that have bet the “over” on when I’ll take my first. Sorry, Rob.

“Seven day weekend, up all night…” – Let’s Get Rocket (Adrenalize, 1992)
Another classic upbeat rocker (not to mention by this time it seemed like the draft had been going on for seven days), this goes to Tai Streets and Todd Pinkston. With Tony behind me, I had to take Streets in the seventh round. It was time to bulk up at the position and I like Streets here. The flip side is, that Tony burned me with his eighth round pick of Darrell Jackson. Would have preferred him over Pinkston, but that’s the way it goes sometimes when you are working off the same list as someone else.

“You’re bringing on the heartbreak, taking all the best of me” – Bringing on the Heartbreak (High n Dry, 1981)
Speaking of Rob, this one’s for you! He and I made awkward eye contact across the table, and I knew right away who he wanted, Charles Rogers. It was still four or five picks before he would get to go, and I was one of those people. We were poker players at the table, and I caught him in a ‘tell’. Yet in a moment of compassion, I passed on him and Rob was able to gobble him up. Actually, didn’t much matter to me at that point, I thought it was too high to be taking him.

“…you can run, but you can never hide.” – Two Steps Behind (Retroactive, 1993)
Another ballad, this one goes out to my late round picks of Patrick Ramsey and Joey Harrington. One of these guys is going to have to come thru and hold the fort until Vick gets back. In fact, Harrington will need to cover Atlanta’s (and Washington’s) week eight bye. While it doesn’t feel good to be relying on these guys, in a normal draft of mine, they would have been taken by me here as my #1 and #2 quarterbacks. Whoa.

“I get hysterical…when you get that feeling…” – Hysteria (Hysteria, 1987)
Finally, I had a moment in the draft where I left people both scratching their hands while at the same time angering them. This goes out to my selections of the Atlanta and New England defenses! What made it funnier was when someone called out the New England D just two picks after I had taken them, apparently there was much disbelief that I took not only one, but two from my defense list. “I don’t know who you are this year…” Rob muttered. We’ll see how it goes, after all, four days after the draft the Patriots cut their starting Pro-Bowl safety – doh!

And so that was that. The morning after, I didn’t feel as badly as I did the night of (for many reasons). I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Tick and his accumulation of New England Patriots. Troy Brown in round three, Tom Brady in round four, David Patton in round six (when he probably would have went undrafted), Kevin Faulk around the seventh round. All taken RIDICULOUSLY before their time. So much so that it was beyond comical. Need I say that he also saddled up with Adam Vinatieri? I don’t think this team will have enough players to field a starting lineup when the Patriots are on their bye week. Tick was also the owner of the quote of the night: “Luckily my wife reminded me that the draft was tonight….”

I also have to add that this was by far the slowest draft in history. I can’t really pinpoint what it was, maybe the four guys coming off the golf course feeling the effects of brew dragged us down (likely). Maybe it was that we all had the same lists. Took nearly three and a half hours from start to finish when it usually only takes two. You knew it was going to be a long night when people were clamoring for the pizza break in early round three – calling for it to be after that round. Cooler heads prevailed and we at least banged out four rounds before taking a break. Many thanks to Rob once again for hosting (despite pushing his Schare Bears, I mean, Beers on us).

And so it begins, another season that for our league will culminate in the awarding of “The Head” (an ugly helmet trophy) to the League Champion. FFL! FFL! FFL!

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