Monday, January 4, 2010
The Perfect Draft: Final Cut
What? You mean it’s…um…over?
Say it ain’t so!
In fact, the fantasy season can’t be over until we engage in our annual rite of self-flagellation, where we step into the DeLorean, dial up the last week of August 2009, and transport ourselves back to our draft room armed with the mother of all cheatsheets.
That’s right. It’s time to take one last look at what could have been with our highly controversial, often-imitated, never-duplicated Perfect Draft: The Final Cut.
As always, we start with a few key assumptions:
1. We're playing in a 10-team league using a standard scoring system that starts one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, one kicker and one team defense;
2. We will draft from the middle (fifth) position in a zig-zag format, meaning Adrian Peterson and Maurice Jones-Drew won’t be available for our first pick;
3. The preseason average draft position (ADP) of each player – according to multiple mock draft sites canvassed during the last week of August – is used to determine the most valuable selections in each round;
4. Week 17 performances are disregarded – all statistics quoted below cover the first 16 weeks – and production during the fantasy playoffs (Weeks 14 through 16) is given extra weight, both positively and negatively; and,
5. Since every draft plays out differently, we'll need a little luck along the way.
And finally, in the spirit of truth, justice and the American Way, our goal is nothing short of total domination and the abject humiliation of our opponents.
Now, with the fifth pick of the 2009 Fantasy Draft, we should have selected…
Round 1. Chris Johnson, RB, Titans. Even if AP or MJD were available, Johnson would be the hands-down pick. With 10 consecutive 100-yard games to end the season (11 counting Week 17), the most explosive tailback on the planet channeled some of the legendary, multi-dimensional seasons of Marshall Faulk and Priest Holmes on his way to Fantasy MVP honors.
Round 2. Peyton Manning, QB, Colts. If Andre Johnson or Randy Moss slides to us, we have to take them, and opt for Aaron Rodgers in the next round. Otherwise, Manning offers more week-over-week consistency than the higher-scoring Drew Brees and we’ll avoid the Week 14 implosion of the top-ranked Rodgers.
Round 3. Roddy White, WR, Falcons. He gets the nod over Marques Colston by virtue of his Week 16 heroics. Though White couldn’t keep pace with AJ or Moss, his 1,087 yards and 10 TDs will be welcome on our roster.
Round 4. Chad Ochocinco, WR, Bengals. Wes Welker was the superior pick in point-per-reception leagues, and Vincent Jackson had a better first half of the season. But 85 gets the nod thanks to his stronger finish, including touchdowns over the final four weekends.
Round 5. Thomas Jones, RB, Jets. Rarely spectacular but consistently productive, Thomas delivered 100 yards and/or at least one TD in three out of four games. He wasn’t the sexiest pick in this round. Just the best one.
Round 6. DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles. “Mr. Big Play” often racked up more fantasy points on one snap than most wideouts tallied in an entire game. Whether it was as a receiver, a returner or an occasional runner, Jackson provided consistent firepower that was nearly impossible to overcome.
Round 7. Ray Rice, RB, Ravens. Once he shook off Willis McGahee’s nagging goal-line poaches, Rice emerged as a fantasy superstar. Like our first draft pick, he was as lethal receiving as rushing, and rarely had an off game. Matt Schaub likewise offered terrific value in this round.
Round 8. Cedric Benson, RB, Bengals. The steal of the draft and an every-week starter until an injury knocked him off stride in Week 10. Benson still deserves a place on our squad.
Round 9. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers. Truth be told, we’ll only need him for Manning’s Week 6 bye and the finale, but Big Ben had several dazzling performances of his own throughout the season.
Round 10. Eagles defense/special teams. The Jets, Saints and Packers offered similar production and were available later or in free agency; but Philly boasted the top-ranked unit in most scoring formats – thanks to 36 takeaways, 39 sacks and DeSean Jackson’s return prowess – so they get the nod.
Round 11. Brett Favre, QB, Vikings. Until his December swoon, the old man was a viable NFL MVP candidate. We’ll scoop him up here – probably a few rounds earlier than necessary – just to keep him off a competitor’s roster.
Round 12. Brent Celek, TE, Eagles. We’ll start the season strong with Celek, then switch to Plan B once we realize our next pick is for real.
Round 13. Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers. Though Dallas Clark had more yards, Davis had more TDs and was substantially cheaper. Long after most of us had written him off, the perennial underachiever finally lived up to the hype.
Round 14. Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings. Nobody was happier to see Favre wearing purple than this third-year receiver. While the Giants’ Steve Smith was another fine selection here, especially in PPR leagues, Rice was a delicious treat most Sundays.
Round 15. David Akers, K, Eagles. Though we’d normally prefer to wait until the final round to secure our kicker, we might as well grab the No. 1 guy while he’s available. Besides, we’ll have more fun raising eyebrows with our next two picks.
Round 16. Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys. Once he seized a starting job with his masterful Week 5 performance, Smilin’ Miles earned a new nickname and vaulted into the ranks of the elites, finishing as the No. 3 wideout in Fantasyland.
Round 17. Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs. I had the good sense to draft him late, but got impatient and waived him before he exploded. Those who jumped on his bandwagon after Larry Johnson was released were richly rewarded down the stretch.
So, how perfect was your draft?
Coming next week: We’ll wrap up the season with the 2009 Biro’s Heroes & Zeros Awards.