Survivor I - Round 1 Commentary
NOTE: this draft was completed on 7/24
Positives - This will be my easiest pick in the draft. Tomlinson is the consensus number 1 pick among most fantasy football communities. He is as adept at catching passes (232 receptions over the last 3 years) as he is at scoring touchdowns (50 total touchdowns over the last 3 years). He only failed to score in 1 game last year, which could be considered a down year as he played through a sore groin for much of the season. I do believe that Priest Holmes has the potential to outscore Tomlinson this year, but the issues regarding Holmes health and age (32 this season) coupled with the need to use a 4th round pick to draft Larry Johnson as a handcuff, make this pick as easy as it gets.
Negatives - This is Tomlinson’s 5th year in the league. Over his short career he has carried the ball 1,363 times which is 5th most among active RBs during the last 4 years. This heavy usage, while great from a fantasy football perspective, may eventually take a toll on Tomlinson’s health. Tomlinson has also failed to finish as the top RB during his career finishing 3rd each of the past 3 years. Also, as the Chargers passing game improves, there may be less need to rely so heavily on the running game.
Draft Strategy - My plan, very simply, was to take the best player available at the position with the fewest quality starters available later in the draft. The scores from the 2 highest scoring RBs will be tallied each week with the possibility of a 3rd in the flex spot. Taking a RB with the first pick in the draft is a must as my next pick is at 24 and the RB pickings should be slim at that point but elite players from other positions should still available to choose from.
Positives - When healthy Priest Holmes is unquestionably the number 1 player in fantasy football. Over the past 4 years Holmes has averaged 22.6 points per game finishing those seasons as the #2, 1, 1 and 12 fantasy running back in overall points – and of course last year’s total was gained in a mere 8 games. In the past 3 seasons alone Holmes has scored a ridiculous 66 TDs, 12 more than second place Shaun Alexander. Holmes is the centerpiece of a Kansas City offense that finished second only to Indianapolis in offensive TDs scored. With 10 time Pro Bowl OG Will Shields deciding to return for another year the Chiefs will again possess the best offensive line in football.
Negatives - Obviously the biggest negative is the injury risk. Holmes missed the second half of last year with strained knee ligaments. He has also had 2 previous knee injuries and torn hip muscles that cut his 2002 short. He is 32 and, although he hasn’t carried the same load as other’s his age, he is still reaching the age where a sudden drop off can occur. Holmes was used much less in the passing game last year only catching 19 balls after averaging 68 per season in the previous 3 years. Backup Larry Johnson had some huge games finishing out last year and could definitely be used more often in an attempt to keep Priest healthy.
Draft Strategy - I wrestled with the decision whether to take the most reliable stud in fantasy, Shaun Alexander, or the most explosive in Holmes. I decided since I was basically playing with house money in this contest to go for broke. Nothing against the 14-16 TD’s you are assured out of Alexander, but at number 2 overall Priest still offers upside. Last year was Alexander’s best at 307 points, meanwhile in each of the previous 2 seasons, Holmes scored 373 and was on pace for 396 last year. That is just too much potential for me to pass up.
Positives - James scored 308 points in this scoring system last year while Manning was posting passing numbers the likes rarely seen before. In 14 of his 15 meaningful games, James score at least 15 fantasy points. James has consistently caught over 50 balls per season and his yards per carry and reception have returned to career bests after recovering from his season ending injury in 2001. Not only is James a safe pick with little downside, I expect Indy’s offense to tilt back towards the ground game this year. Of course this is another contract year for James.
Negatives - James has missed time in 3 of the last 4 seasons.
Draft Strategy - I was very relieved that the Holmes temptation was removed by Raidergil. I probably would have drafted James anyway as he set the table for the rest of the draft.
Positives - Big. Strong. Fast. When Deuce McAllister was healthy in 2003, he ran for 1,600 plus yards on 350 some odd carries with 8 TD's. He also caught 69 passes for 515 yards. He missed time last year due to an ankle injury, but still managed a 1,000 yards in a struggling Saints offense that was always playing from behind and Deuce was not always the first option; and this playing dinged up most of the season. His three year average as a starter is still 300/1,300/10 rushing and 50/350/1 receiving. That's pretty solid numbers from a "not that highly rated" offense. With Deuce healthy, news that the Saints will try to rely more on the running game this season, and an offensive line that looks to have improved, Deuce could be poised to put up numbers close (if not beyond) those of 2003.
Negatives - Since it appears that “hold out” rumors have pretty much abated, the only negative I see for McAllister is one of the things that hurt him last year - the Saints get behind early and often because of a bad defense and are forced to abandon the run. But oddly enough, due to the particular scoring system of this Survivor League, even this negative could turn into a positive as Deuce could catch more passes.
Draft Strategy - The question here might be “Why not Shawn Alexander whose ADP is 1.02?” The answer for me is that he just doesn’t catch enough passes, and with some uncertainty over a possible “hold out”, Deuce is the safer pick. In fact, after LT, Priest, and Edge were off the table, more logical choices might have been Westbrook or D. Davis. But I did not want to rely too heavily on receptions from Westbrook and I still do not feel that Davis is as durable as Deuce. A stud RB with this pick would free me up to pursue whatever the draft brought my way with my remaining picks and not force me to necessarily lock in on RBs in the next two rounds.
Positives - Comments from FBG.com: Shaun Alexander has 70 touchdowns and 6892 total yards in four seasons as a starter for the Seahawks (including career bests of 1696 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns in 2004). Alexander excels in the open field making timely cuts breaking off long runs once he hits the secondary with his gliding style. Alexander also shines at the goal line, and the Seahawks have proven they will feed him the ball once inside the 5-yard line. Alexander has cemented himself among the fantasy elite running backs.
Negatives - Comments from FBG.com: After Alexander missed out on the rushing title by 1 yard in 2004, a post game interview that revealed Alexander's anger has lead to speculation that Alexander may have seen his last carry as a Seahawk. The Seahawks went into the off-season with 16 free agents on their roster including quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, left tackle Walter Jones, and Alexander. Both Jones and Hasselbeck were signed to long-term deals and Alexander was retained with the franchise tag. Although Alexander recently signed a one-year contract, it's unclear whether there will be any lingering effects from a contentious offseason. Alexander sometimes dances behind the line of scrimmage instead of churning forward for extra yardage. Also, Alexander saw the field less last season on third down as evidenced by his significant decline in receptions (23, down from 59 and 42 the previous two seasons).
Draft Strategy - n/a
Positives - Well, you can’t ask for more out of your first round pick than the 1500+ rushing yards, 13 rushing TDs, 52 receptions for 550+ yards and two receiving TDs that Tiki exploded with last year. Sure, some say that he won’t repeat his great 2004 season, but with HC Tom Coughlin at the helm again this year, I expect Tiki to make another top five appearance. While some think that rookie Brandon Jacobs may vulture some rushing TDs, with 11 redzone TDs in 68 redzone carries, Tiki was one of the most effective RBs inside the 20 last year.
Negatives - Barber has had a fumbling problem throughout his career, but after changes to his technique last year, he only lost 2 fumbles the entire season. Also, Tiki is 30 years old and approaching the age where running backs tend to get dinged up. Can he repeat his spectacular 2004 season?
Draft Strategy - I knew I would go RB here, and pretty much knew who 1-5 would be this year, and I had narrowed it down between Barber, Dom Davis, and Westbrook in this spot. I knew none of them would be around at 2.7. My philosophy is that in the latter part of round one you have a bunch of guys who all have the potential to crack the top 5 if things go right. You just have to pick “your guy”. In the end, Tiki was my guy based on the fact that he is a proven veteran who catches a lot of balls for a RB who had a great 2004 season.
Positives - After his second consecutive MVP and a record-setting 2004 season, not much has changed to think he won't at least come close to that stature again this season. Three 1000-yard WRs return in Harrison, Stokley, and Wayne, as well as a stud RB in Edge. Manning has yet to miss a regular season game in his seven-year career, and everyone knows that you can't score fantasy points if you're not in the game. He has the tools and the skills to once again post big numbers.
Negatives - One cog in Indy's 2004 engine was TE Marcus Pollard, who is now with the Lions. This absence could disrupt Indy's usual two-TE set. Contract problems with Edge may disrupt the team's chemistry, so the pre-season will be one to watch. A drop-off is expected, as the 40-TD mark has only been breached four times (I'm willing to accept 'only' 30-35 TDs).
Draft Strategy - Drafting Manning wasn't my initial plan, but picks 1-6 didn't go as I expected. So, instead of the "stud RB theory", I went with the "stud stud theory".
Positives - Davis has two consecutive 1,000 yard rushing seasons in his first two years, and plays in an offense that likes to throw the ball to the Running Back, as he as amassed 115 receptions in that span. He is also in a contract year, so will be playing for the big payoff on a team that is going nowhere but up. Houston will also shorten their passing game this year, throwing less deep balls and concentrating on getting the ball out of QB David Carr’s hands faster. This could lead to more short passes to Davis, as well as more Red Zone opportunities as Houston will trade the quick strike for the deliberate attack.
Negatives - Davis has yet to start all 16 games of a season in his young career, battling a multitude of injuries last year. He also must fend off competition from Jonathan Wells, Tony Hollings, and rookie RB Vernand Morency.
Draft Strategy - This pick was dictated by two things: who was left at #8, and our scoring system. I was hoping Shaun Alexander would fall to this spot, but he went at #5. Other considerations at this pick were Brian Westbrook and Randy Moss. Westbrook will lose some of last year’s production to a healthy Correll Buckhalter, and their offense could struggle early due to the T.O. distraction. Moss has a big question mark due to switching teams and QBs. Kerry Collins is not Daunte Culpepper. I refuse to take a player with that much of an unknown in the first round. In a Basic Scoring league, or straight Yardage league, I think this pick is too high for Davis. However, we will receive 1 point per reception, and Davis should pull in 60 to 70 balls out of the backfield, giving him a significant advantage over other backs. Couple that with his consistent performance the last two years and willingness to play through injuries, and Davis is a solid pick in the middle of the first round.
Positives - Clinton Portis had the worst season of his career last year and still finished as the 11th overall running back. He had 383 touches for over 1500 yards. He will be force fed the ball and has no competition or worries of a RBBC. He is a capable receiver out of the backfield and will be the focal point of the offense. With Laveranues Coles and Rod Gardner leaving town, I expect big things out of Clinton, especially early in the season. The last 3 seasons he finished the season as the 4th, 5th, and 11th ranked running back. Consistency and a healthy offensive line should lead to another top 5 finish.
Negatives - YPC and TDs dropped dramatically last season compared with the previous two seasons in Denver. A 5.5 ypc dropped to 3.8 as injuries to the offensive line and confusion at QB allowed defenses to stack the box against the run. 31 touchdowns in his 1st 29 games dropped to only a combined 7 scores last season. He is not a huge man, 5’11”, 205 lbs, and some concerns exist over the amount of hits he takes.
Draft Strategy - I entered the draft wanting 3 RBs in the 1st 4 rounds. Portis is a safe pick in that he will get his touches. With the best ball scoring, I’m looking for homerun hitters and not worried as much about the strikeouts. If Portis can give me multiple 25+ point games, I’ll be fine with some under 10pt outings as well. He was my highest rated RB at this point.
- He's Randy Moss.
- Norv turner's offense should be suited for him.
- Has a chip on his shoulder and something to prove to the Vikings.
- Reports say he's had an excellent off-season and is in the best shape of his career.
- He's Randy Moss.
- Staying healthy has been a concern in seasons past.
- Admits to playing when he wants to play.
Draft Strategy - This is the first draft since 1995 that I've taken a non-RB with my first round pick. I wanted to go RB-RB or RB-WR with my first two picks. I knew one of Westbrook, K. Jones, McGahee, J. Jones, or Dillon was going to be around for my next pick. I don't think Moss would've lasted. Also, the league gives 1 pt per reception. I want to take guys that are capable of exploding on any given week. There is no difference between 2nd and 12th place so why not go for it?
Positives - The biggest positive is that, in this scoring system, Daunte Culpepper led all players in fantasy points, including Peyton Manning and his miraculous record-breaking season.
Culpepper 421 points
Manning 409 points
What's he going to do without Randy Moss in 2005? Even if we erased Randy Moss' statistics from 2004, Culpepper still had 3950 yards passing with 26 touchdown passes, not to mention his 406 yards rushing and 2 rushing touchdowns. We all know that if Randy isn't there, some of those touchdown passes will go to someone else. That "someone else" is a strong WR corps of Nate Burleson, Travis Taylor, Marcus Robinson and 1st round pick Troy Williamson, plus tight ends Jermaine Wiggins and Jim Kleinsasser. The change may be just what the Vikings need. That offense doesn't look damaged at all. I'll give you another positive - the Minnesota defense has improved over the off-season, which could lead to better field position from turnovers, thus giving a greater chance for red zone scores.
One more positive: How many bad passing games do you see? (TB, @CIN, NO, @ATL, BYE, @CHI, GB, @CAR, DET, @NYG, @GB, CLE, @DET, STL, PIT, @BAL, CHI)
Negatives - Some think the Vikings offense will sputter without Randy Moss and his effortless 40-yard catches downfield. I'll be honest; I think Culpepper's numbers will decrease because of the Moss departure. The question is - How much will his numbers decrease and will it even affect his fantasy production on a weekly basis? I think his touchdown numbers and yardage numbers will be slightly lower, but nothing drastic. Another negative is that the Vikings lost their offensive coordinator Scott Linehan to the Dolphins. Replacing Linehan is offensive line coach, Steve Loney. So does this mean more of an emphasis on the running game? That is yet to be determined, but a possibility nonetheless.
Draft Strategy - With the 11th pick in the draft I wanted to get a player with the best value, but I also didn’t want to handcuff myself without a RB. In the end, value won out. I chose Culpepper thinking I had the best player at the QB position for this particular scoring format. There is a big bonus to having a strong, consistent QB putting up big points every week. Not many owners have that luxury and if I’m one of the few, it greatly benefits me.
Positives - In a league with reception points, Westbrook is gold. Despite playing just 13 games in 2004, Westbrook finished the season as the 7th best RB in this scoring system, averaging over 20 points per game. Westbrook is all about turning small opportunity into big rewards. This guy can reach the goal line promised land from anywhere on the field, breaking loose for 9 TDs from over 20 yards out, including 2 kick returns. And, his spot in the top 10 was reached with far fewer touches than his peers.
Negatives - Durability is his biggest question mark. Since entering the league, Westbrook has not played a complete season. Correll Buckhalter returns from injury and the Eagles spent a 3rd round pick on Ryan Moats this year, surely cutting into Westbrook’s already limited carries.
Draft Strategy - Sitting at the end of the draft order is tough enough in a league with some weak owners, but 12 footballguys (who can even write engaging haikus!) would surely be a challenge. I figured the 11 picks before me would be nearly all RBs. I suspected that possibly only Manning and Moss would be the non-RB picks. Knowing this, I ranked my top 10 RBs. I had suspicions that Westbrook would fall because he tends to get undervalued. I really hoped Moss might make it because the next WR on my board was Owens and I didn’t want 2 Eagles off the bat. With Wheelhouse surprisingly grabbing Culpepper at 11, my strategy changed a bit because now 2 of my top 10 RBs were still sitting there. Thank you, Mr. Wheelhouse.