Fantasy Column – 12/30/10 (Week 16)
That sinking feeling I had in late August when I took Anquan Boldin near the end of the fifth round and gambled that Arian Foster would still be there on the swing-back could not have been more prescient. Not only did I miss out on fantasy’s top running back, but I lost in the first round of the playoffs by one stinking point to the jerk – I mean guy – who stole Foster out from under me.
A few days after the aforementioned draft, I refused to repeat the mistake in another league and grabbed Foster early in the fifth round. Thanks to him, and a certain electrifying quarterback I snared off the waiver wire, I now own the champion’s trophy.
But as solid as that team was, my draft was hardly perfect. I used a second-rounder on Miles Austin – who rode my bench down the stretch – and wasted later picks on Cadillac Williams, Jacoby Jones and the 49ers defense. Indeed, I’ve yet to see anyone have a “perfect” draft, so it’s comforting to know that perfection isn’t necessary to win a title.
But it sure would be nice, wouldn’t it?
That’s why I always wrap up the season by exploring what could have been had we made all the right moves during our preseason draft, with the oft-imitated, always-controversial, yet magically delicious 2010 Perfect Draft: The Final Countdown.
As usual, we operate under a few key assumptions:
1. We’re 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 defense/special teams.
2. We are drafting from the middle (fifth) position in a zig-zag format, meaning Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson will be gone by the time we pick.
3. The preseason average draft position (ADP) of each player – according to multiple mock draft sites canvassed during early September – is used to determine the most valuable selections in each round;
4. Week 17 performances are disregarded and production during the fantasy playoffs (Weeks 14 through 16) is given extra weight, both positively and negatively; and,
5. Since all drafts play 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 2010 Fantasy Draft, we should have selected
Round 1. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers. Drafting with 20/20 hindsight allows us to make this pick. Rodgers will help us dominate the first half of the season while we wait for Michael Vick’s ribs to heal. Vick will return the favor when Rodgers suffers his late-season concussion. Drew Brees was nearly as good, but had more than double Rodgers’ interceptions. Frank Gore was on track to be the most valuable first-rounder until his season-ending hip injury in Week 12. Steven Jackson offered steady, if unspectacular, production.
Round 2. Roddy White, WR, Falcons. He delivered virtually every week, while winning our Week 7 and 10 matchups nearly single-handedly. In point-per-reception (PPR) formats, White is the hands-down pick here. Otherwise, Calvin Johnson and Greg Jennings are equally valuable.
Round 3. LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles. Tom Brady is arguably a better overall choice here, but he won’t help us much while Vick is out. Philip Rivers was stellar through Week 11, so teaming him with Gore, Jackson or another elite back from the first round works well, too. But for my money, I’ll take the steady and consistent Shady in a slight edge over Jamaal Charles, especially in PPR leagues.
Round 4. Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers. When he’s healthy, no tight end holds a candle to Gates. We’ll miss him during the playoffs, but he’ll play a key role in getting us there.
Round 5. Arian Foster, RB, Texans. The top back in Fantasyland moved up draft boards on a near-daily basis as the regular season approached, so early drafters could have secured him more cheaply. Foster was arguably the most important draft-day pick of the year.
Round 6. Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs. Aside from a slow start and a devastating late-season stretch attributable mostly to Matt Cassel’s injury, Bowe was a fantasy beast. You could make the case that Hakeem Nicks offered more value in this round, since his two lost games were due to injury (and therefore manageable).
Round 7. Mike Wallace, WR, Steelers. He won’t crack our starting lineup most weeks, but we’ll take a Top 10 fantasy receiver in the seventh round any day.
Round 8. Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles. Here’s another luxury pick who will finish the season as a near-elite wideout but will arguably be the “worst” receiver on our roster. Don’t hate us because we’re perfect.
Round 9. LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Jets. During the first half of the season, LT played like a young man again. We’ll rest him down the stretch (as the Jets did), but he deserves a spot on this roster.
Round 10. Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders. He’ll drive us crazy with his inconsistency, but RunDMC finally took his place among the elite fantasy RBs in 2010. Kellen Winslow is a nice backup TE option here, too..
Round 11. Steelers defense/special teams. Several units offered strong value, and could be taken much later. But why not grab the best while we can? Pittsburgh’s defense surrendered the fewest points of any team, and shared the NFL sacks lead (44).
Round 12. Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns. Here’s where we get a little wacky with our picks. Until he started breaking down in December, Hillis was among the most valuable, and dependable, fantasy players at any position. He reached the end zone in 11 out of the first 12 games. And to think he went undrafted in most leagues.
Round 13. Marcedes Lewis, TE, Jaguars. If not for a late-season surge by Jason Witten (driven by the near-sighted Jon Kitna), Lewis would be the ideal backup option to Gates. If we grab him here, we avoid the rush to claim him after the season opener.
Round 14. Brandon Lloyd, WR, Broncos. Raise your hand if you thought Lloyd would be a decent bench receiver this year, much less among the top two wideouts in the business. Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Round 15. Steve Johnson, WR, Bills. Your friends will think you’re drunk when you call out his name. Frankly, who could blame them? Prefer BenJarvus Green-Ellis? Fine with me.
Round 16. Sebastian Janikowski, K, Raiders. Once again, owners who used an earlier pick on an “elite” kicker were out-gunned by those who waited patiently. Janikowski set the standard this year.
Round 17. Michael Vick, QB, Eagles. For the first time in, um, forever, the consensus MVP of Fantasyland went undrafted in most leagues. The only thing better than grabbing him off the waiver wire after Kevin Kolb went down in Week 1 is looking like a freaking genius for selecting him in the last round of the draft.
Sohow perfect was your draft?
Coming next week: We’ll conclude the season with the 2010 Biro’s Heroes & Zeros Awards. Your nominations are welcome at the Fantasy Fools blog.
Ladd Biro is a syndicated fantasy football columnist and host of Sporting News Radio’s weekly Fantasy Files show (Saturdays, 8-9 am CT). Follow his daily fantasy advice at the Fantasy Fools blog (fantasy-fools.blogspot.com) and via Twitter (@ladd_biro).