Draft Analysis: The B-League

The PKT B-League represents some players with a wide range of experience; there are six or seven regulars who have been in the mix for four or more years, while the rest of the managers are pretty green. In other words, it’s like a lot of leagues we’ve all been in. I think it’s more worthwhile to analyze a draft like this than one of those “expert” drafts you see broken down all over the place. Just like watching the WSOP is a bad way to learn how to dominate your Thursday night poker game, studying an expert draft is going to give you an inflated level or respect for the other drafters in your league. In the real world, your friends will make mistakes, and you’ve got to be flexible enough in your draft strategy to take advantage of those mistakes.

For some reason that perhaps Brandon the commish can answer for us, this draft went for 18 rounds. That’s going to make the waiver wire extremely active all season, as guys will have plenty of bench space to grab even the most farfetched prospects. It’ll therefore benefit geeks like me who will be keeping an eye on things on a daily basis, and will put less-vigilant managers at an even bigger disadvantage.

Brandon’s comment: Honestly, the reason the league was set to have so many roster spots was that I had originally thought about having more positions (i.e. individual defense players, two defenses or kickers, etc.). However, after deciding against these options, I set those spots to simple bench positions. Ideally, I think for most leagues you would want a smaller amount of bench players to increase the strategy of deciding which player to drop and who to pick up, but it’s a bit too late for that.

Teams in the B-League displayed all sorts of draft strategies, from the typical, conservative RB-RB-WR, to… well, let’s just get to it.

Positions: 1 QB, 3 WR, 2 RB, 1 RB/WR flex, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 DEF

1st pick: CatchABeatRunninLike

1. (1) LaDainian Tomlinson
2. (24) Terrell Owens
3. (25) Carson Palmer
4. (48) Plaxico Burress
5. (49) Jerious Norwood
6. (72) Chris Henry
7. (73) Ladell Betts
8. (96) Santonio Holmes
9. (97) D.J. Hackett
10. (120) L.J. Smith
11. (121) Philadelphia
12. (144) Mike Furrey
13. (145) Wes Welker
14. (168) Josh Brown
15. (169) New York
16. (192) Jason Campbell
17. (193) Greg Olsen
18. (216) Joe Nedney

LT’s obviously going to make this team competitive every week, but waiting until the 5th round to grab a second RB was madness, and it’s especially going to hurt in a league with a flex RB/WR position. Most weeks, he’ll be facing a team that’s starting three running backs, and he’ll be counting on a #4 WR to match the production of the opponent’s #3 RB. He’s lucky to have grabbed Norwood in the fifth – he’ll at least be solid for the first few weeks of the season until Dunn comes back from his injury and begins taking some of his carries. Remember, if Dunn hadn’t gotten hurt, he’d likely still be #1 on the depth chart, so it’s not hard to see him getting half or more of the carries by week 6. He grabbed two more backs with his next two picks, but Chris Henry is mired at #3 behind LenDale White and Chris Brown in Tennessee, and Betts will only have value if Portis goes down.

Overall, this team has strong (but not off-the-charts) WRs, a middling TE with injury concerns, two defenses (both of which were selected three or more rounds early – Philly in the 11th?!), and an absolute nightmare at RB that’s going to require some lucky breaks to fix. At least he has LT.

2nd pick: pendog07

1. (2) Steven Jackson
2. (23) Torry Holt
3. (26) Edgerrin James
4. (47) Donald Driver
5. (50) Donovan McNabb
6. (71) Fred Taylor
7. (74) Jerricho Cotchery
8. (95) Chris Cooley
9. (98) San Diego
10. (119) Robbie Gould
11. (122) Warrick Dunn
12. (143) Reuben Droughns
13. (146) Dallas Clark
14. (167) Dallas
15. (170) Reggie Williams
16. (191) Trent Green
17. (194) Michael Jenkins
18. (215) Josh Scobee

The managers with the #2 and #3 picks allowed the computer to autodraft, so they ended up looking pretty similar. Taking Holt in the 2nd was a gamble, but it paid off as Edge was still there three picks later (thanks to a major mistake on the part of the team with the #1 pick). McNabb in the 5th was a solid pick given how early the top QBs went in this draft. Between McNabb and Fred Taylor, this manager shouldn’t plan on getting much sleep; it’s pretty much a lock that one of them will be going down with a major injury at some point. The computer seems dead-set on getting a defense in the 9th and a kicker in the 10th. That means both teams wasted two mid-round picks while everyone else was picking up 2nd QBs, TEs, sleeper WRs and RBs, handcuffs, etc. Both San Diego and Gould likely would have still been available in the 14th round or later. A decent start, but it puttered out in the middle rounds and didn’t pick up enough mid-range talent, sleepers, rookies, etc. That’s going to hurt all season as other teams start to see their mid-round gambles paying off. An excellent lesson on why autodraft is essentially fantasy suicide.

3rd pick: Autodraft FTL

1. (3) Larry Johnson
2. (22) Marvin Harrison
3. (27) Larry Fitzgerald
4. (46) Ahman Green
5. (51) Hines Ward
6. (70) Alge Crumpler
7. (75) Matt Hasselbeck
8. (94) Greg Jennings
9. (99) Miami
10. (118) Shayne Graham
11. (123) LenDale White
12. (142) Joe Horn
13. (147) Jerry Porter
14. (166) Brian Leonard
15. (171) Steve McNair
16. (190) Jason Hanson
17. (195) David Martin
18. (214) Oakland

Hey, feel free to let the computer draft your team, and thanks for your league fee. Here’s what that gets you in this case: Ahman Green as your #2 RB, in a league where most people will be starting three of them. Enjoy that. Again, DEF-K in 9-10 killed this team’s middle rounds, so they’ll be surfing the waiver wire to fill some holes soon.

4th pick: Alcoholics Anonymous

1. (4) Shaun Alexander
2. (21) Marshawn Lynch
3. (28) Thomas Jones
4. (45) Andre Johnson
5. (52) Deion Branch
6. (69) Chris Chambers
7. (76) Vernand Morency
8. (93) Vernon Davis
9. (100) Tony Romo
10. (117) Denver
11. (124) Ben Roethlisberger
12. (141) Brandon Jones
13. (148) Ernest Wilford
14. (165) David Akers
15. (172) Michael Clayton
16. (189) Bobby Engram
17. (196) Maurice Morris
18. (213) Michael Bennett

Back to human beings with this aptly-named team. RB-RB-RB to start was appropriate for this league, and those were arguably the best backs on the board when he picked them. I can’t complain about going WR-WR-WR with the next three picks, and as a result he isn’t as weak at WR as you might have expected after the first three rounds. This is a manager who knows which positions pay the bills. Romo-Roethlisberger at QB isn’t great, but he didn’t invest in the position, and I like the combination of a high-risk potential stud with a more stable option (though after last season it’s hard to know exactly what we have in Roethlisberger). Denver at #10 was too high – again, it’s not Baltimore or Chicago, so… why?

Overall, though, I like this team a lot. I especially like the choice of Alexander over Gore.

5th pick – Stankbutt

1. (5) Frank Gore
2. (20) Maurice Jones-Drew
3. (29) Roy Williams
4. (44) Adrian Peterson
5. (53) DeAngelo Williams
6. (68) Joey Galloway
7. (77) Mark Clayton
8. (92) Julius Jones
9. (101) Brandon Jackson
10. (116) Eli Manning
11. (125) Heath Miller
12. (140) J.P. Losman
13. (149) Drew Carter
14. (164) Jeff Garcia
15. (173) Craig Davis
16. (188) Chris Henry
17. (197) Bryant Johnson
18. (212) DeDe Dorsey

I know MJD’s got talent, but I wouldn’t want him where Stankbutt got him. I’d feel better with someone who’s going to, um, start. Edge, Brandon Jacobs, and Thomas Jones were all still available. MJD will be splitting carries with Fred Taylor AND Greg Jones; that doesn’t sound like a 2nd-round situation to me.

This guy wound up with seven RBs and zero K or DEF. Like, literally – he didn’t draft them. My best guess is that he prefers to grab some prospects in the late rounds and see how they look in the preseason. I don’t really have a huge problem with this, frankly; K and DEF are such crapshoot positions anyway.

Overall, though, when I look at the starting squad for this team, I’m underwhelmed. Gore and Roy Williams had better both have huge seasons, or this team will be in a hole very soon.

6th pick: Grundington the 3rd

1. (6) Joseph Addai
2. (19) Chad Johnson
3. (30) Tom Brady
4. (43) Carnell Williams
5. (54) Santana Moss
6. (67) Jeremy Shockey
7. (78) Isaac Bruce
8. (91) Baltimore
9. (102) DeShaun Foster
10. (115) Nate Kaeding
11. (126) Devin Hester
12. (139) Alex Smith
13. (150) David Boston
14. (163) Marcus Pollard
15. (174) Stephen Gostkowski
16. (187) Ted Ginn Jr.
17. (198) Sammy Morris
18. (211) Buffalo

Waiting until the 4th round to get a #2 RB, and the 9th to get a #3, isn’t going to work out in this league. Cadillac has no business at #2 until he proves otherwise, while Foster rarely scores touchdowns and will be splitting carries. Weakness at RB is going to cripple this team all season. Tom Brady in the 3rd round was a waste of a pick; he’s a solid fantasy QB, but is he really going to put significantly better numbers than QBs who went in later rounds, such as McNabb (5th), Hasselbeck (7th), or even Delhomme (11th)? This owner is from New England so I guess it’s understandable, but he could have grabbed Brandon Jacobs in that spot and Brady probably still would have been on the board in the 4th. The fact that Drew Brees was still available makes the pick even more baffling.

CJ’s going to be solid at WR as usual, Santana Moss is an OK #2, but Isaac Bruce at #3 is only OK if you have an old man fetish. He took a kicker in the 10th where he really should have been looking at WRs. Ted Ginn Jr. in the 16th is a bona fide rookie sleeper who might put up decent numbers for a #3 receiver by the second half of the season. Baltimore in the 8th is fine, and he’ll need some points from that position to make up for weakness at RB and #3 WR. Shockey consistently gets picked higher than he should because he has a cool name and plays in New York. If his name was Shoopie and he played in Baltimore, we’d feel the same way about him as we do L.J. Smith or Jason Witten – a fine TE, but nothing special.

7th pick: Hot Dicken Cider

1. (7) Willie Parker
2. (18) Clinton Portis
3. (31) Randy Moss
4. (42) Antonio Gates
5. (55) Vince Young
6. (66) Terry Glenn
7. (79) Kevin Curtis
8. (90) New England
9. (103) Dominic Rhodes
10. (114) Philip Rivers
11. (127) Adrian Peterson
12. (138) Marty Booker
13. (151) Mike Bell
14. (162) Matt Schaub
15. (175) Antwaan Randle El
16. (186) Priest Holmes
17. (199) Nate Burleson
18. (210) Rian Lindell

Luckily I’ve never said this team’s name out loud so I would have no idea if it were inappropriate in any way. Parker and Portis is a great combo at RB as long as Portis can stay healthy, and he’s very fortunate that Portis fell that far. Moss in the 3rd, with Wayne, Colston, Boldin, and Walker all still available, was the kind of idiot move that only a New England fan would make. He did win the Gates lottery; it’s hard to say if 4th round is too early for the only good player at a position. He’ll get production from the TE spot, the rest of us won’t.

Terry Glenn and Kevin Curtis are just plain rough at #2 and #3 WR, but WRs went high and fast in this draft so it was easy to miss out. Really, besides a great 1-2 RB combo, this team is weak at RB and WR. Adrian Peterson as a #3 RB? He has no value other than as a handcuff to Benson. And the Mike Bell Cinderella story ends this year as he spends the season toiling away as a backup to Travis Henry. Madden Curse be damned, I like Vince Young and think he’ll have a bigger season than most expect. It’s nice to see Priest Holmes on a fantasy team again.

8th pick: Ookie (me)

1. (8) Rudi Johnson
2. (17) Cedric Benson
3. (32) Drew Brees
4. (41) Lee Evans
5. (56) Jamal Lewis
6. (65) Laveranues Coles
7. (80) Tatum Bell
8. (89) Vincent Jackson
9. (104) Jason Witten
10. (113) Muhsin Muhammad
11. (128) Jake Delhomme
12. (137) Jacksonville
13. (152) Chris Brown
14. (161) Dwayne Bowe
15. (176) Troy Williamson
16. (185) Tony Scheffler
17. (200) Matt Stover
18. (209) Robert Meachem

I’m fairly pleased with my team, but I have one regret: I’m not sure that Brees was a great pick in the third round. I was influenced in this decision by seeing Brady go a two picks before – Brees is a better fantasy QB than Brady, so I felt like I was getting a steal by taking him after Brady was gone. While I love having Brees on my team, it probably would have been wiser to go after Reggie Wayne, Brandon Jacobs (whom Brandon grabbed two rounds later), or Marques Colston here. There are plenty of strong QBs in the league, and far fewer top-tier WRs and RBs, and to have Wayne or Colston as my #1 WR or Jacobs in my flex position would have been really nice. Glad I made this mistake in the B-league, not in one of my bigger leagues. Brees will probably make me happy this season, and I think I addressed the #3 RB position acceptably with my 5th and 7th picks, but I’m not thrilled with Evans, Coles, and Jackson at WR. Luckily, this was an 18-round draft, and I was able to spend the latter rounds investing in sleeper WRs, so I think I’ll be OK as long as one or more of them pans out (Dwayne Bowe, I’m looking at you).

9th pick: won’t miss draft

1. (9) Brian Westbrook
2. (16) Travis Henry
3. (33) Reggie Wayne
4. (40) Javon Walker
5. (57) Marion Barber III
6. (64) Tony Gonzalez
7. (81) Jon Kitna
8. (88) Bernard Berrian
9. (105) Pittsburgh
10. (112) Adam Vinatieri
11. (129) Brett Favre
12. (136) Benjamin Watson
13. (153) Ronald Curry
14. (160) Ron Dayne
15. (177) Amani Toomer
16. (184) Bobby Wade
17. (201) San Francisco
18. (208) Olindo Mare

I get the sense that, despite this guy’s name, he might have missed the draft and let Yahoo autopick his team. He wound up with a DEF in the 9th and a K in the 10th, just like the other autopicked teams. Could just be coincidence, I guess. Overall, this team wound up looking pretty solid, but not spectacular, in part thanks to the early DEF/K picks. Westbrook and Henry is a pretty nice 1-2 punch at RB, and same goes for Wayne and Walker at WR. Marion Barber will be somewhat weak at the flex position, though. Gonzo went too soon; he’s no longer much different from the rest of the TEs who aren’t Gates. I’m not going to waste any more time analyzing autopicked teams.

10th pick: Denver Broncos WR15 (Brandon)

1. (10) Laurence Maroney
2. (15) Willis McGahee
3. (34) Brandon Jacobs
4. (39) Anquan Boldin
5. (58) Reggie Brown
6. (63) Calvin Johnson
7. (82) Jay Cutler
8. (87) Devery Henderson
9. (106) Randy McMichael
10. (111) Brandon Marshall
11. (130) Drew Bennett
12. (135) Leon Washington
13. (154) Chad Pennington
14. (159) Seattle
15. (178) Carolina
16. (183) Jason Elam
17. (202) Desmond Clark
18. (207) Rod Smith

Brandon’s team looks really solid. He did what I probably should have done, 3 RB then 3 WR. Boldin’s a borderline #1 WR, but as good as you can expect in the 4th round; Brown and Johnson are both above-average for #2 and #3 WR. Assuming Maroney’s surgically-repaired shoulder is OK (and all indications are that it is), Brandon’s got a very solid core group of RBs and WRs, which we all know is the key to success in this game. Cutler’s a bit of an unknown commodity at QB, but Pennington’s a worthy backup in case he hits a sophomore slump. Brandon’s team is boring to analyze because he didn’t make any glaring mistakes.

11th pick: Fall95

1. (11) Peyton Manning
2. (14) Ronnie Brown
3. (35) Marques Colston
4. (38) T.J. Houshmandzadeh
5. (59) Todd Heap
6. (62) Braylon Edwards
7. (83) Chester Taylor
8. (86) Chicago
9. (107) Michael Turner
10. (110) Kevin Jones
11. (131) Derrick Mason
12. (134) Anthony Gonzalez
13. (155) Neil Rackers
14. (158) Rex Grossman
15. (179) Arizona
16. (182) Eric Johnson
17. (203) John Kasay
18. (206) Demetrius Williams

I’m of the mindset that someone else can feel free to take Peyton in the 1st round. If he’s there in the 2nd, I’ll consider it, but he never is. It’s just too important to have two quality running backs. This guy compounded the problem by waiting until the 7th round to grab a #2 RB. The Ronnie Brown-Chester Taylor duo isn’t going to have any opponent too worried. Peyton will usually have a big game, and that could very well carry this team some weeks, but when Colston’s basically your best player after Peyton (I’ll pay Ronnie Brown some respect once he earns it), and your #3 RB is a backup (Turner), it’s hard to say you had a successful draft. And what’s with taking a backup D – Arizona? Unless you’re a Cardinals fan, that makes zero sense- to me. Heap in the fifth round is outrageous.

12th pick: Jaguar_Federation

1. (12) Reggie Bush
2. (13) Steve Smith
3. (36) Marc Bulger
4. (37) Deuce McAllister
5. (60) Darrell Jackson
6. (61) Donte’ Stallworth
7. (84) Matt Leinart
8. (85) Kellen Winslow
9. (108) LaMont Jordan
10. (109) Matt Jones
11. (132) Green Bay
12. (133) Jeff Wilkins
13. (156) Anthony Thomas
14. (157) Eddie Kennison
15. (180) Owen Daniels
16. (181) Minnesota
17. (204) Michael Pittman
18. (205) JaMarcus Russell

I had to laugh when I saw that I was matched up against this team in week 1, and his two top RBs were on the same team. Smith is a real reach with the 13th pick, and Bulger’s even more of a reach in the 3rd round. Pretty sweet WRs, and Bulger’s a solid fantasy QB, but he’s basically crippled at RB. As of now, he still appears to be starting LaMont Jordan in his flex position in week 1, and I hope he sticks with that decision (for my sake… not that I think I need the help).

All in all, a pretty typical mix of solid draft strategies, beginner mistakes, and autodrafted teams. We’ve all been in leagues like this before. I hope you found it helpful to see a few of the common mistakes made in this draft. I’m a little frustrated with myself on my third pick, but in my next draft, I’ll be more careful not to let others’ silly mistakes bait me into picking a player too early.