The alternative, and perhaps better, title for this post is How Screwing Up Saved My Draft. If you’re patient with me for a minute, I’ll explain what I mean by that. But first, enjoy this picture of my setup about twenty minutes before the draft started. I’ve got buffalo wings, hard cider, and my spreadsheet all ready to go. (I’ve also got my dog trying to share my wings with me, uninvited. It should surprise no one that I spent most of the twenty minutes between this picture and the start of the draft moving this setup to a table he couldn’t reach. But anyway.)
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s take this round by round, shall we?
The Day Before
When my draft got moved, I originally interpreted the new time to be Thursday, noon Eastern time (or 9am here). Since I had another engagement at 10am, I was very concerned that I wasn’t going to be able to participate in the draft at all (or at least not beyond the first couple of rounds) and would be relying on the auto-draft feature of ESPN’s site. So I spent an hour plugging in my spreadsheet final ranking into ESPN, so that when it auto-drafted, it would at least be picking players that I wanted. Then I realized that I can’t tell time, 12am is MIDNIGHT, not noon, and my draft was really 9pm Wednesday night. Thank goodness I figured that out before it started!
I had my eye on Todd Gurley, but I got assigned the 10th drafting position in my 12-player league. For a while it looked like I still might get him, too! But of course, just as soon as I let myself believe it was possible, he got picked 8th overall. Many of the other no-brainer elite guys were off the board by this point (as well as a couple of quarterbacks – three in the first round – but more on that later). So I went with the highest ranked guy available to me, Ezekiel Elliott. Yes, he’s a rookie, but a very talented rookie in a position where a rookie can make an immediate difference. And with a rookie QB in Dallas after Tony Romo’s injury, I think they’ll be running the ball a good deal. So I let myself believe this was a good pick.
By the time the draft got back to me (very quickly – it was a snake draft, so I would get two picks very close together then wait forever for my next two picks), I no longer was sure of the wisdom of Ezekiel Elliott. But oh well, by then it was done. I did better with pick #2 in A.J. Green, a top-5 wide receiver playing in a good offense in Cincinnati. He was high on my board, and I was very pleased to get someone so strong in the second round.
I again let myself get excited about the guy I was high on that no one was picking, only to have him disappear just before my pick. This time it was Sammy Watkins, and it was the pick just ahead of me. So now I was scrambling, because the draft picks were flying so fast it was hard to formulate a Plan A, let alone a Plan B or C for when it all went wrong. Fortunately, Julian Edelman was available and high on my board, so I scooped him up. A weapon in New England always has a chance to score high, especially when Tom Brady comes back and is throwing to him.
I don’t know enough about Randall Cobb. But I guess I have to learn now, because his average had him ranked high and he was available to me, so he became my third WR pick. All I really know is that Aaron Rodgers throws to him. Quite frankly, that should be all I need to know.
Now it’s five rounds in and I still don’t have a quarterback. Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers, and Russell Wilson had all been drafted first round, but no one else had gone through the first three rounds, so I had been waiting to pull the trigger. Now, almost at the end of the fifth, they’ve been starting to go. Big Ben was gone; Andrew Luck was gone; even Derek Carr was gone (although he went to the guy in my league who picked about 50% Oakland Raiders, so for him to go so high was an anomaly). But at this point I was starting to get nervous that the great – or even very good – QBs would start to disappear. And I had a power move planned that I would take Tom Brady with my late-round, odd number pick, then when the draft whipped back to me for my early-round, even number pick, I’d grab a still-good QB to back him up for his suspension time. And I was starting to be nervous that if I waited for Round Seven, Brady and/or all the still-good QBs would be gone and I’d be SOL. So I went for Tom Brady here.
Time for the power move. I could have gone a lot of ways with this – Drew Brees and Carson Palmer were both still on the table – but I trusted my gut and went for Tyrod Taylor. I like Buffalo’s offense and I like what Taylor did last year as a rookie. I believe he’ll do even better this year. Plus, I didn’t really want to get into a situation where I have two very very good QBs that I have to debate starting spots on every week after Brady gets back from suspension. Taylor’s a clear #2, but he’s strong. I’m happy to have him.
Now I had three wide receivers, one running back, and two quarterbacks. I was feeling light on running backs and tight ends. But the tight ends that still remained on the board were lower down on my list, so I went for a pair of running backs on this turn: Frank Gore, who’s a little old but still productive in Indianapolis, and Melvin Gordon, who’s still young and productive in San Diego. These are both strong offenses though, so I’m confidant in getting production out of them.
Now I very much needed a tight end, as they were starting to get a little thin on the ground and I must have at least one. But the pickins, they be slim. So I chose the highest-ranking one left on my board, Gary Barnidge, even though I have serious doubts about Cleveland’s offense and I’m now counting on Robert Griffin III to throw him passes. As I made the selection, I was regretting springing on that third wide receiver so high, when I could have gotten a more elite tight end. But the cookie had already crumbled, so I did the best I could.
I’d been intending to wait until the very end, like every expert told me I was supposed to, to draft a defense and a kicker. But apparently my league-mates were not privy to this strategy, because these were starting to come off the board too. And not just the no-brainer ones, like Denver’s D and New England’s kicker. We were already four or five picks deep in each category. I decided not to wait anymore (learning my lesson from the tight end situation) and to jump on a defense while I could still get a good one. It was the Houston Texans, which means superstud J.J. Watt is now officially on my team (you know, provided he comes back on time from his injury). I was very pleased with this one, and I immediately wanted to change my team name from Team BlueAndGold (an homage to both Bruins and Rams) to Turn Down For Watt. You have no idea how hard it was for me to refrain.
And it’s kicker time. Chandler Catanzaro of the Arizona Cardinals is the lucky man. Or my lucky man, at any rate. Or I’m hoping he is now.
Now I was filling in my roster with bench players, so I was looking for WRs or RBs (or maybe a TE) with potential in these last five picks. But now the pace of this draft, which was much much faster than I’d anticipated, was starting to catch up to me. I’d been trying to mark up my spreadsheet with each draft pick as they came off the board, but I kept falling further and further behind. If I’d been relying on that only, I’d never have known who was still both good and available. BUT because I’d plugged in that information to the auto-drafter, the Remaining Players list on the online drafter was showing in my preferred player order. So from this point on, I ignored the spreadsheet and relied solely on that tracker. It pointed me to Steve Smith Sr., wide receiver from Baltimore, and then to Mohamed Sanu, wide receiver from Atlanta. Okay, tracker, whatever you say.
This, by the way, is How Screwing Up Saved My Draft. If I’d known when the draft was from the get-go, I might never have plugged in that info into the website beforehand, and I’d have been flying blind from this point on. All that work I put into those rankings would have disappeared just when I needed it most. So thanks, ESPN, for listing all times on your website in Eastern time even when all participants in the league are in California. That momentary confusion may have saved my whole season.
I’d had my eye on Paul Perkins (New York Giants rookie running back and UCLA Bruin class of 2016) from before the draft started, and I predicted that he’d go undrafted, even though the experts were all pointing to him as a late-round steal who will see significant playing time in New York and may be starting by the end of the season. So I stole him in Round 14. Arguably, this was too early, if I truly thought no one else would know to take him. But I really really really wanted him, and I got nervous that he’d be taken during the long wait I had from Round 14 to 15, so I jumped while I could. And I did not feel bad about it one bit.
I wish I could tell you I had a good reason for choosing Austin Sefarian-Jenkins here. Even the justification of choosing one more tight end would suffice. But the truth is, I didn’t feel like tight end was as big of a priority as RB or WR, necessarily, as the fantasy-points-earning opportunities for a TE are more limited in most offenses, so that wasn’t it. The truth is, I saw him high on the remaining draft board, and I liked his name, and I went with it.
I wanted to make a selection here, but… technical difficulties! ESPN’s site crashed (at least on every device I could try) during my final pick, and I couldn’t get anything to reload until the entire draft was over. So the system auto-picked my last guy for me and gave me Laquon Treadwell. I did not want Laquon Treadwell – I don’t trust Minnesota’s offense, and I was already WR-heavy – so I immediately waived him. And I ended up, just today, picking up Virgil Green as a free agent based on some of the reading I’ve done since the draft. I definitely didn’t need another TE either; I’d intended to fill in with a RB. I’m toying with the idea of waiving Sefarian-Jenkins to pick up somebody else. But until I can decide who that somebody else would be, I’ll hold where I am.
So that’s my team! I’m happy with my crew, and I’m eager to see how far they’re going to take me. Go Team BlueAndGold!
(And also, since it’s officially Saturday now and their first game is later today – Go Bruins!)