There are thousands of fantasy football draft analysts out there and you can consume their content in any form you want. They got draft kits for sales. They have daily podcasts. They all write the same columns: Sleepers! Bold Predictions! Round-by-Round Value Selections! The Fantasy Industrial Complex has grown large enough to make Dwight Eisenhower blush.
My first draft in 18 years is tonight. My league is, let’s just say, unique. There are twelve teams and you are forced to draft the following:
You must draft exactly in these slots. No stockpiling at positions. This is a half PPR league but with no flex, the league actually skews more towards the quarterback and tight end than almost any other league out there. So here are some draft strategies I’ve developed over my several weeks of research, focused specifically on this league. Maybe they’ll help you if you’re drafting over the next six days. Maybe they won’t.
Rounds one and two of a fantasy draft feel the same to me as rounds one and two of the actual draft. You’re looking for the guys who will carry your team for the duration of the season. For me, that means the following:
DBB’s reentry in the fantasy world has been an interesting experience. Not only have I not played fantasy football since 2003, I have completely ignored its existence. I had never heard of “ADP”; didn’t know that “target share” was a thing; never heard someone use the phrase “positive scripts”. I didn’t know about these things because they don’t have anything to do with actual football. And that’s okay.
Because what I’ve learned is that fantasy football has simply morphed into its own thing entirely. When I last played, your quarterback needed 250 yards to score. Your running back needed 100. Touchdowns were everything. Your draft strategy was pretty simple: pick the players good at football. Now, there’s more to it. Six catches for 49 yards would have gotten me zero points in 2003. Now, that’s good production from a running back in the passing game for fantasy.
My first draft in 18 years is Thursday night. I’ll have some thoughts on the overall draft process for Thursday and will post my team (with thoughts) on Friday. But today, I’m looking for help from those of you who’ve been doing this consistently for the last 18 years. I need sleepers.
In my league, I HAVE to draft three running backs and three wide receivers. I play two of each weekly. No flex. My strategy is to use those third slots on guys who might be perceived as shots: lower ADP, higher ceiling. (My strategies are pretty solid at quarterback and tight end.)
So using these rankings from numberFire, identify a RB and WR ranked outside the top 24 that you targeted/will be targeting in your fantasy drafts. Then, in the comments section, break down why you’ve identified them.
Who fits the bill? At running back, Trey Sermon, Sony Michel. At wide receiver, Tyler Boyd, Marquez Callaway. You don’t need to make an argument for these players being the best in the league. You just need to make an argument for their value in fantasy over the coming season.
Have at it.
Outside of the Bears, my only other serious sports fandom belongs to the wayward New York Knicks. The Knicks only flash of national relevance in the last twenty years was quickly snuffed out by a ballhog unwilling to share the limelight. The team has drafted in the top ten for the last three years and only missed it in 2014 because they had traded their pick away for the chance to get Carmelo Anthony a few months before free agency. When the reports came out in the summer of 2017 that Phil Jackson was shopping Kristaps Porzingis because he didn’t show up for an exit interview (really), I hit the point where I seriously considered resigning my allegiance to the team. That was a bridge too far.
I mention all this because I know what the hopelessness of fandom can feel like.
That’s what confused me so much throughout this Bears season. Despite winning nearly every week it felt like all I was seeing (from both Bears fans and the national media) were questions about the quarterback. While life has interfered with my Bears fandom over the last few years, Nagy, Mack, Hicks, Cohen, and, of course, Trubisky, made it fun to watch the team again this season. I didn’t miss a game on TV, I taught my three year old “Bear Down, Chicago Bears” (it’s very cute), and I read all the Bears coverage I could find every Monday morning for the past 19 weeks.
Sports are entertainment and this team was nothing if not entertaining. So what’s the point in trying to pick apart a kid who holds the keys to a decade of possible relevance? I trust Jeff and the rest of the crew here are going to spend quite a bit of time breaking down the game, the season, and what’s in store for the next nine months, so I thought I’d spend a bit of time trying to get inside the head of the fans who love to hate Trubisky.
Here are my three best guesses for why people feel the need to pick apart a player who offers them their greatest hope for football salvation:
This is the most understandable reason, but then why be a fan? The difference between liking a sport and liking a team is whether you feel something when your guys win and lose. For the past 10 years in the NBA I’ve liked the sport more than the Knicks. It’s fun, I watch a bunch of games on League Pass, but there’s no real emotion there. I wanted LeBron to beat the Warriors, but I didn’t care when he didn’t. We are human and we crave feelings, both good and bad. It makes some sense to try and protect your emotions by playing down the hope, but if you really care about the team you’re going to lose that game with yourself.
Each weekday afternoon, at 5:00 PM EST, the NFL Network airs something. I hesitate to call this something a television program because, you know, The Twilight Zone was a television program. All in the Family was a television program. CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite was a television program.
NFL Fantasy Live is not just sixty minutes of daily recorded garbage. It is also a symbol of the shield’s greatest hypocrisy: embracing the eh, we’re fine with it gambling of fantasy football while using their legal infantry to thwart the sorry, can’t have it gambling of point spreads, over/unders and the type of wagering that greatly helped build the NFL into the athletic superpower its become.
I began to write this column a few months ago but stalled due to my nagging believe that nobody wants to read another column thrashing Roger Goodell and the NFL ownership group holding the strings of Uncle Roger, their transparently prevaricating marionette. Then the thirty million dollar a year phony spoke on that bastion of sports journalism known as CNBC. From ProFootballTalk:
While addressing the league’s aversion to all forms of gambling, Goodell was asked about fantasy football.
“Fantasy’s a different issue for us,” Goodell said. “We see families getting together. It’s not about wagering. They’re competing against one another. And it’s a fun forum for our fans to engage in the game.”
Fantasy football: bringing families together since Roger Goodell said so.