Survivor I - Round 5 Commentary
NOTE: this draft was completed on 7/24
Positives - The second overall pick in the NFL draft, Brown possesses a great combination of size (HT: 6-1, WT: 223), speed (4.43 forty-time), strength, and pass catching ability. The Dolphins have a new coach and a new philosophy which should benefit the running game. The Dolphins have the potential to improve quickly with decent QB play and the multifaceted Brown as the centerpiece of the offense. With Ricky Williams suspended for the first 4 games of the season, Brown will have the opportunity to seize the starting job and never look back. The Dolphins have too much invested in Brown not to allow him to develop on the field.
Negatives - Brown never received a full rushing load at Auburn as he shared the job with Carnell Williams so itís unknown whether his body will hold up over the course of a 16 game NFL season. Ricky Williams has performed at a pro bowl level in the past and could quickly step in should Brown struggle or wear down. Thereís always additional risk taking a rookie as there is no certainty that they will be able to perform against the high level of competition they will face each week.
Draft Strategy - I was hoping to be able to draft a 3rd RB here in the fifth round to provide depth and possibly fill the flex position in the starting requirements. I was surprised to find Brown still available here 11 spots lower than his average draft position of 38. At worse, heíll be a capable 3rd RB who should help out on bye weeks and have a few big games. If he lives up to his billing, he has top 15 potential and would give me a strong trio at RB along with Tomlinson and Green. This was a great value pick in the fifth round and allowed me to accomplish my plan to draft 3 RBs in the first 5 rounds knowing that the quality at RB would be gone before my next pick.
Positives - When healthy (yikes, I led off 2 of my running back analysis like this), Taylor is one of the most explosive backs in football. Had shed his ĎFragile Fredí tag over the past couple years. While quarterback Byron Leftwich continues to grow into the position, the Jaguars remain a run first team with one of the best offensive lines in football. Leftwich should continue to improve and allow for the offense to open up more.
Negatives - Taylor had off-season knee surgery from which he has yet to fully recover. At this time it is unknown how much Taylor will practice in camp let alone whether or not he will be ready for the season opener. Even when he does return there will be questions as to how effective heíll be on the knee. When he does return there is a good possibility Taylor will not be the goalline back as the Jags have FB Greg Jones who could fill that role. As it is the Jags only had 6 rushing touchdowns last year. Taylor also is not used to a great extent in the passing game.
Draft Strategy - If I truly wanted the Priest/LJ combo Iíd have to pick Larry Johnson here - too early in my opinion for what would essentially be my RB4. Also strongly considered Marc Bulger here but I was still regretting passing on Rudi Johnson in round 3 and wanted to get a 3rd starting running back. Taylor was the last RB available who, provided heís healthy, would be the unquestioned starter on his team. Others available such as Thomas Jones, Duce Staley & Chris Brown will all be involved in some form of RBBC. As the 27th RB off the board Taylor still gives me top 15 potential.
Positives - If youíve watched Smith play as much as I have, youíll realize that heís one of the best WRs in the game. Smith is fearless over the middle and would sooner slug a team mate then avoid contact by dodging out of bounds. Heís even as fast as a speeding bullet and will leap over CBs in single bound. From week 6-16 in 2003, (he only played a quarter or so in week 17 as the game meant nothing), the worst statistical day for Smith was 4-50. If you expand those 11 games into an entire season you get 106-1400-9. Based on the 2005 FBG projections this would put Smith in the #5 to #6 range with Johnson and Horn.
Negatives - The qualities that make Smith one of the best WRs in the league as tend to make him a huge injury risk. Some will point to the loss of Muhammad as a negative, but I see it as a non factor.
Draft Strategy - As soon as I mapped out my draft, I was relying on the low FBG ranking to drop Smith into my lap. Heís a third round talent that I felt comfortable would last until round five. Having this trump card allowed me to be aggressive with my third round pick.
Positives - Jones has talent and finally realized some potential year before last toward the end of the season with Tampa Bay and last year with Chicago before Grossman went down. His value is currently low because of the specter of Cedric Benson. But he has been declared the starter by Lovie Smith since Cedric Benson still has not signed with the Bears and no deal is in place. If you look at Onterrio Smithís first year in the NFL, one of the critiques of him was that he could not pick up on the pass blocking schemes. I find it hard to believe that Benson (even if he could replace Jones as the starting RB) could similarly learn these subtle nuances while not in camp; essentially handing the starting job to Jones. If Jones starts, then his value would increase by from his current projected #24 ranking into an even higher ranking.
Negatives - Though I do not feel Cedric Benson is as big a threat as some think, he is still a threat, and some think Benson is better suited for the Bearís offense. And grabbing Jones with my #5 pick (although the best RB on the board at this point Ė and I desperately needed another RB) when his ADP is 8.11 is a little hard to swallow. Jones production did go down when Grossman went down, and even if Jones won the starting job, there is still Benson looking over his shoulder waiting to come into the game; especially if the Bearís season turns ďsouthĒ and they are eliminated from the playoffs early in the season. I would think Benson would get the reps in this scenario.
Draft Strategy - Well, my strategy sort of worked. There was a mini-run on WRs. Two RBs did actually leave the board between my 4th and 5th pick, but none ranked higher than Thomas Jones. So I grabbed that second RB. I felt fortunate to get a RB that was as productive as Jones was last year and a RB that was possibly ranked lower than he should be (and will be in August IMHO) once the dust settles and everyone realizes that Cedric Benson has yet to play a down in the NFL.
Positives - Comments from FBG.com: Coles' 261 receptions the past three years rank sixth in the NFL. Coming out of Florida State, Coles was known for his amazing speed (he ran a 4.16 in the 40-yard dash on the historically fast FSU track) and playmaking ability. However, during his career with the Jets he proved to be a very tough WR, capable of making clutch catches in traffic and showing terrific hands. Coles had a great rapport with Chad Pennington during their one season together, averaging 6.4 receptions and 93 receiving yards per game for their thirteen contests in 2002. Pennington and Coles have a great relationship off the field as well, as Pennington publicly lobbied for Coles and offered to return two million dollars to the Jets if it would help bring Coles back. He set an NFL record in 2002-2003; by catching at least five passes in nineteen straight games.
Negatives - Comments from FBG.com: Coles saw his receiving yards and yards per reception plummet in 2004. While that might be the product of some terrible QB play, the Redskins traded Coles in part due to a lingering toe injury. Coles has had an arthritic toe for the past two years, and does not want to undergo surgery which could end his career if unsuccessful. He lacked the acceleration that differentiated him in the past, and if he's damaged goods he's not going to bring much value on draft day.
Draft Strategy - n/a
Positives - Isaac Bruce just keeps on having solid seasons. Bruce caught almost 90 balls last year, and with Holt stretching the defense, Bruce is a solid second option. As always, the Rams love to throw the ball, and Bruce wonít be forgotten. I look for Bruce to grab around 80 balls for ~1050 yards and 6 TDs, solid #2 WR numbers.
Negatives - Bruce is getting old, almost in his mid 30ís. Injuries could start to creep up on him. Although the Rams love to spread it around, that unfortunately means the TDs are spread also.
Draft Strategy - Wanted another WR here, still waiting on taking a QB. Watching the 5th round I was really hoping for Coles or Steve Smith, but again, they were taken just a few picks previous. With a total of 5 RB/WR, I now have a solid core of starters for the RB/WR/flex positions.
Positives - Two words, Randy Moss. With Moss drawing the attention, Porter should find himself open. He comes in off of his best season as a pro, with just under 1000yds. With the addition of Jordan and a running game, defenses will have to play a little more honest.
Negatives - Two words, Randy Moss. Porter was primed to be the "the guy", and then here comes Moss. If Moss decides he wants to play, he can certainly steal looks away from Porter. Curry also returns, and can steal some passes in the WR3 spot.
Draft Strategy - Did I mention that I hate the Raiders? :) I'm taking a chance selecting an RB and WR from the same team, but sometimes you have to go with the best available at a position. Best-case scenario will have Jordan and Porter both lighting up the board as the Raiders score 50 (yeah, right), but I'll be happy with one putting up big numbers one week and the other playing big another week. Oh and here's hoping Moss gets lost while taking a tour of the Winchester House.
Positives - Bulger is at the helm of the most prolific passing attack in the league, and enters his third year as the starter. Not only does he have all his old weapons back, Holt, Bruce, McDonald, Curtis, and Faulk, but this year Steven Jackson will make a greater impact, and the Offensive Line will be shored up with the addition of G Rex Tucker and having Orlando Pace, the premier left tackle in the league, in camp instead of holding out for the first time in recent memory. Bulger threw for nearly 4,000 yards last season, and has 7 Rushing TDs in the last two seasons. More that either Daunte Culpepper or Donovan McNabb can claim. Bulger also reduced his number of interceptions from 22 in 2003 to 14 last year.
Negatives - Bulger takes a lot of hits. A lot. Mainly as a result of the time it takes for Coach Martzí receiver patterns to develop. Due to this, he has yet to play a full 16 game season without injury. Due to this, if you draft Bulger, it is a must to handcuff him with Jamie Martin in a later round (maybe somewhere near Round 20).
Draft Strategy - One strategy I love to employ is getting a QB and his #1 WR. Nothing brings more joy than racking up double the points for a TD pass. I made the mistake last year in one of my leagues of extending that to the RB from that team as well, and it was a huge mistake. Thereís only one ball to go around, no matter how many points the team scores. Bulger can throw for 400 yards a game (he did twice last year), and has only had three games total over the last three years where he did not throw for at least one TD. It was time to take a starting QB, with Manning, Culpepper, and McNabb off the board. Bulger represented phenomenal value in the 5th round. With passing TDs worth only four points, far too high of a price was paid for Manning and Culpepper in Round 1.
Positives - Jeremy Shockey is a two time pro-bowler who has been the go to guy for the Giants. He is a large target (6í5Ē, 250 lbs) with good hands who is coming off a 6 TD season. While Eli Manning still develops into a top NFL caliber QB, he is able to depend on Shockey to make tough catches in the red zone. He is a match-up problem for defenses and I look for him to mature into a top 3 TE.
Negatives - Shockey has been inconsistent in the past, and was dinged up with minor injuries over the last two seasons. He only played in 9 games in 2003, and was often listed as questionable on the injury report last year. He spent the summer in Miami away from his teammates and some of them were unhappy about his commitment to the team. He seems to be a distraction in the locker room and the NY media may be a little much for him. He has yet to live up to his potential, this season may be no different.
Draft Strategy - Looking for TE or QB at this point, and I had Vick, Collins, and Green all in the same tier. Shockey was above Heap and Crumpler in my opinion, and I still wasnít ready to jump into the WR game. The week 5 bye week is going to be a problem in many leagues this season, but I canít avoid talent when I see it.
- Showed flashes of being a great RB last year.
- Norm Chow is now running the offense in Tennessee.
- Couldn't stay healthy last year.
- Has to compete for time with new arrival, Travis Henry.
Draft Strategy - I had to take a RB here and Brown looked to me to be the best available. Ideally, I'd love to have Henry as well and not worry about him losing his job or not. No line-ups are necessary in this league and pairing him with Henry would give me the chance at a solid 2nd RB every week.
Positives - Rod Smith is a consistent, productive veteran receiver on a good offensive team. He has seen an increase in fantasy production over the last two years and has averaged 80 receptions over his last three. Smith is still the #1 wide receiver for Denver, despite Ashley Lelieís emergence. I donít anticipate that changing anytime soon. The departure of Shannon Sharpe last season meant an increase in nearly 300 yards receiving and 4 touchdowns for Smith. The 35-yr old remains on pace to be Jake Plummerís go-to guy, especially in the red zone.
Negatives - Rod Smith is 35 and is only getting older. He canít keep the #1 wide receiver role forever. Although, Smith may not lose his #1 position this season, Ashley Lelie is emerging as a threat to his production and could decrease his overall numbers.
Draft Strategy - After going QB, WR, RB, RB, I needed to solidify another strong, capable, productive WR for my team. Rod Smith, Jimmy Smith, Derrick Mason, Chris Chambers, Deion Branch were among the better wide receivers available. Why did I choose Rod Smith? After having a sub-par 2003 season, Smith rebounded nicely in 2004 becoming the 15th best wide receiver. The only wideout with a better season ending rank that was still available was Brandon Stokley. Iíll take the more polished, consistent, #1 receiver over any #3 receiver every time.
Positives - He may be a QB, but Vick's biggest positive is his legs. Last season, Vick had more rushing yards than Priest Holmes! He can break free for the long TD anywhere on the field, but he also led the league in QB redzone rushing attempts at 24, double all other QBs except Culpepper. That means 6 points for your TD instead of 4. In addition, the Falcons have been working to improve the passing game, drafting receivers the last 2 years.
Negatives - If it weren't for his legs, Vick wouldn't be much of a QB. His passing yards and TDs are abysmal. Vick will produce some big weeks, but others will leave an owner wondering whether he even suited up for the game. He finished as the 12th QB last season, but his ADP position has him being drafted in the 4-6 QB range. Vick is a player with big upside, but his inconsistent scoring can grate on the nerves of even the most patient owner.
Draft Strategy - I had full intention of going RB in this spot. Nipsey, the thorn in my side so far this draft, once again snatched my coveted player in Chris Brown. Taylor, Bennett, Jones and Ronnie Brown went much earlier and Chris Brown was the only guy I still wanted. I didnít like the remaining RBs enough to draft them here, although I strongly considered Duce Staley. Iíve never been a huge fan of Vickís because of his inconsistent play. However, in this best ball format, I had planned all along to grab 3 good QBs and hope that they would take turns blowing up each week. Vick is a great player to do this, especially with his legs, and in the 5th round was good enough value. Since I don't have to debate about starting him on a week where he may flop, he should produce enough big weeks to pile up the wins. I must admit though, I second guessed this pick as soon as I made it and still do even now as I write this.