This years draft had me picking in a familiar spot, number 8 overall. Just on the outside of drafting a top tier back but seemingly too early to take a wide receiver or QB. In any event, it was great getting everyone together this year, and adding the Foundation to the mix after losing the SkinCatz. There goes an easy victory every year. From the advice of our beloved commish, I decided to sit down and grade the draft team by team and give my predictions of where each team will end up this year. So grab a cold one, sit back, and enjoy the reading!
These grades will be in no particular order, as I am starting at the bottom of the league list and working my way up. This means we will be starting with The Punishers.
The Punishers - Reading through this roster, I find very little to get excited about. Waiting to pick a QB until the 12th round in a passing league is not the best strategy, but The Puns seem to like this strategy. But picking David Garrard over guys like Bradford, Sanchez, or even Stafford is mind boggling. Yeah, he doesn't throw many interceptions, but that saves the -2 points, which means he'll keep his "solid" 5 points a week that he puts up in yards. But don't worry, your backup QB will make up for the INT's that Garrard doesn't throw.
I do like the running backs and think Ray Rice is due for a huge year with Vonte Leach blocking for him, and with McGahee no longer stealing goal line carries. Bradshaw is a versatile back that is usually good for 11 points a week. Beanie Wells is a gamble because he hasn't proven to stay healthy yet in his NFL career, but if he can, he should be do for a breakout season. He is the only back they have so he should see 25 touches a game. With a more threatening passing game now, that should open up some more options for him. Hakeem Nicks is a stud at receiver and should have a big year, but don't look for Miles Austin to do the same. He had a huge season two years ago (and helped me win a championship), but he failed to produce the same numbers last season. With the team and city in love with Dez Bryant, look for Austin's looks to diminish even more in 2011. Sydney Rice will not be a factor in the deepest of leagues, so don't look for him to remain on the Puns roster past week 5. The guy I do like on this team is Danny Woodhead. He's a risk/reward player because he breaks long runs off catches and out of the backfield, but you never know who Belichick is going to put in from game to game. Keep your eye on how this guy develops through the season.
Overall, it's a solid team at best. DRAFT GRADE: C
The Foundation - New into the league after a 4 year sabbatical, The Foundation came in and had a pretty decent draft across the board. Taking the best all around running back with your first pick always puts you in a great spot right out of the gates. I'm not sold on the rest of the backfield. Ryan Grant is coming off a significant injury and barely made the roster, so he will be sharing carries at best with James Starks this season. C.J. Spiller has a lot of potential but is still sitting behind Fred Jackson on the depth chart. Marion Barber does not fit Mike Martz offense, so don't look for him to be much of a factor, apart from a few goal line looks and third and short plays. DeSean Jackson will be good for big plays, but I don't know how consistent he can be as a number one for fantasy, especially when Braylon Edwards is your number 2. I look for Plaxico to be in the lineup sooner rather than later for the Foundation.
Devin Hester will never be more than a 3rd or 4th option off the bench, so I don't look for him to do much this year. At QB, Drew Brees and McNabb is a good one-two punch. Brees will always put up big numbers, and McNabb can come in a put up decent numbers on the bye week. This team has bright spots, but not much depth, so injuries to key players will put them in a whole quick. DRAFT GRADE: C-
The Dynamites - The defending champions, looking to defend their title drafted really well and may be one of the more solid teams as you look at the roster from top to bottom. Taking Jamaal Charles, Matt Forte, and Frank Gore with the first three picks gives them one of the better backfields in the league this season. Michael Bush will also get his fair share of carries playing alongside an injury prone McFadden.
Josh Freeman provides a solid QB option. He doesn't turn the ball over very often, and may see a 3000 yard 30TD season. Boasting two good tight ends that can put up double digit points every week is definitely a luxury. I see Olsen moving into the starting spot as the season progresses.
If this team has any question mark, it would be the WR position. They currently have Brandon Marshall and Stevie Johnson in the starting slots. These guys could easily put up 15 points each, or they could do absolutely nothing. There's a big risk with these guys, but if they pan out, they will reward TNT handsomely. Jeremy Maclin seems to be healthy now and will be the number one guy ahead of Jackson most weeks in Philly. Mario Manningham is poised to have a big year in New York, so I eventually see these two guys in the starting lineup very soon. There doesn't seem to be a team in the division that can compete with this roster, so I see TNT getting back into the playoffs and making a run. DRAFT GRADE: B+
The Lions - Ah the lovable Lions. They had their best season in 2010 finishing third place. This was in large part to the emergence of Michael Vick, and LaDanian Tomlinson reviving his career with the Jets. Looking at the roster this year, I don't see any guy with that potential. LeSean McCoy will be an excellent starting back this year and will put up elite numbers. The jury is still out on Felix Jones. Can he stay healthy? Will he play the entire season? Will the rookie Murray steal carries from him as the season goes on? These are all questions you have to ask yourself when starting Jones every week. Ryan Matthews is the only other starting back on the roster, but is not the best back on his team, so he may lose that job (at least carries) as the season goes on.
Vincent Jackson will put up good numbers for the Chargers, but Boldin as the other starter looks risky if he continues to play like he did a season ago. Boldin was amazing in Arizona with Fitzgerald taking double coverage and leaving Boldin with the weaker corner. Now that he's a number one, he's not producing like he used to. Lee Evans will help, who is also apart of this Lions roster, so there's a good handcuff here to swap them out if one is struggling more than the other. Matt Schaub appears to be the only QB option on the team to start each week. Don't expect Grossman to do much this year if the Skins end up going with Beck, and Cam Newton probably shouldn't start in Carolina. This team doesn't appear to have the talent it had a year ago. DRAFT GRADE: C-
Chit Luck - Well the good news is the manager showed up to the draft this year. The bad news...same results. Looking at the roster, Larry Fitzgerald is the best player, who was taken in the first round. Beyond that, there's a lot of guys that are high risk to say the least. Tim Hightower has looked good in preseason, but he was projected to go in the 8th round of most leagues, not the second where he was taken in this one. Fred Jackson is a great player, and if he keeps his starting job he should put up decent numbers. Cedric Benson is going to be spending two or three games in jail during the middle of the season, so don't look for him to be much of a factor in October. I also find it odd to take Eli Manning so high and have Kyle Orton has the starter. I like both of these QB's, but they will put up mediocre numbers.
Hines Ward is always solid, but there are some guys coming behind him that will steal some catches. I would love A.J. Green if Palmer was still under center, but it will take these guys a while to develop. Both TE's are solid so they should get good production out of those guys. To their credit, they were the only team to draft a full roster, but this will hurt them in the long run. It looks like they will have to go to the waiver wire early to drop a kicker and a defense to add some stability in key skill positions. DRAFT GRADE: D (because you didn't need a full roster)
Ace Hole Bandits - Usually a very strong team in our league. If they're going to continue that, they will have to do it in the waiver wire. Drafting Andre Johnson was a good pick toward the end of the first round, but following up with Philip Rivers was an odd choice. He will put up great numbers, but I would have thought running back would have been the way to go here. Now they are stuck with Steven Jackson and Shonn Greene as their starters. Don't get me wrong, these guys could both have big years, but it's risky. Greene hasn't proven he can do it consistently, and Jackson has carried the ball more times than any other back over the past five years, so he's wearing down. The depth on the bench at RB is not real promising, so I think this is where the Bandits will struggle this year. Rivers is one of the best QB's in the league and puts up good fantasy numbers. At receiver, I think Andre Roberts will be the surprise pick that ends up in the starting lineup. He needs to stay ahead of Early Doucet on the roster, and will if he can stay healthy. Robert Meachem is a Saint, which is always a risky pick because you don't know who will get the ball from week to week with all of those targets. Overall it could be a good team, it all depends on how these running backs pan out. DRAFT GRADE: C-
Carpet Munchers - I love this teams starting lineup, but the depth at running back is a concern for me. Arian Foster still should be an elite back with Vickers blocking for him. Mark Ingram and Daniel Thomas are solid rookies who will put up decent numbers, but with the lack of depth here, they will have to put up big numbers to help the Munchers out this season. The QB position doesn't get any better with Peyton Manning and Tom Brady both on the roster. Greg Jennings is a top tier fantasy receiver and will be good this year, but Colston is risky because of the depth Brees has there at receiver. They also have three solid TE's, but that goes against them because you can only play one at a time, so you waste roster spots by holding these guys.
If Steve Smith gets healthy, I see him doing really well in the Eagles offense at the slot, so this could be a steal pick in the late rounds.
This starting lineup is really good, but the bench is a real concern with the lack of depth at running back and the overload of tight ends.
I'm going to grade more toward the starting lineup in this case and hope these guys stay healthy. DRAFT GRADE: B
Big Red Machine - This team really has some bright spots, but there are some guys that are on the fence that may or may not produce this year. One of those guys being Dez Bryant. If this guy gets his head in the right place, he can put up big numbers. But right now he has off the field issues, and looks skiddish going over the middle of the field. It will be interesting to see how he does. Ryan Torain and Jahvid Best are both risky picks at running back. Best will be the go-to-guy if he stays healthy. Torain has already lost carries to Hightower, but Shanahan does love to run the football so there should be enough balls to go around. Darren McFadden is a solid running back when healthy. They are excited about him in Oakland, saying he looks better than last year, so that's good news for Big Red. Brandon Lloyd will not put up the same numbers he did a year ago. Josh McDaniels is no longer there, and Lloyd flourished in his offense because he loves to throw the ball. John Fox doesn't share that same love, so look for his numbers to decline.
Aaron Rodgers is obviously the real deal at QB and will put up better numbers than most QB's in fantasy this season. Guys like Garcon and Britt have a big upside if they can remain on the field. Overall, I like the line up, but the running back group lacks depth. DRAFT GRADE: C+
Legion of Doom - The commissioner of our league drafted 9th overall, and made the best out of picking in that position. Drafting Mendenhall in the first round and following up with Peyton Hillis are good picks. Mendenhall's workload is a concern, carrying the ball more times than any back last season, and it showed with his YPC average sliding to 3.4. Hillis should have another good season in the west coast offense, if he stays healthy.
The receivers are solid with Welker and Dwayne Bowe in the starting slots. I like Donald Driver coming off the bench too. He still plays like he's 25 and should have a decent year. Addai should be decent, but after that the lineup goes downhill. Cassel is not going to put up the points you want out of a starting QB. Look for Roethlisberger to be in the lineup early and often. And to no ones surprise the Doom drafted the Bears D way too early, so they missed out on some other picks that could have been more beneficial. It's a solid team with a lot to like, but also some pieces in question. DRAFT GRADE: C+
The Gamblers - Thanks for hosting the draft Ausra. This may be the best lineup I've seen at picking 12th overall. Going Mike Vick and Calvin Johnson 1-2 is a great way to go at that position. Vick is a double threat that can give you QB points as well as RB points. I also like Reggie Wayne as the starter with Johnson at WR. This is by far the best starting receiving unit in the league. Malcom Floyd and Lance Moore are great options on the bench as well.
If DeAngelo Williams stays healthy, he will be a great back again in this league. It is yet to be determined if Rivera will run the ball as much as Fox did though, so that may be something to look out for. Green-Ellis can put up big numbers, but Belichick is not fond of anyone's fantasy football team, and will change out backs often. Drafting two running backs early is a good indication that this year will be no different. Mike Tolbert may be the best back on the roster. He will get a lot of red zone carries and should put up better numbers than Ryan Matthews in San Diego. Add in Dallas Clark at TE and this is the best all around roster in our league this year. If this team stays healthy, they will be hard to beat. DRAFT GRADE: A-
The Dawgpound - It will be hard not to be bias, but I will do my best. The Dawgpound has a great running back group, led by Maurice Jones-Drew and Michael Turner. If these guys are healthy all year, they will put up big numbers. Moreno and Brandon Jacobs have looked great in the preseason so there's a lot of depth here to work with. With Matt Ryan and Sam Bradford, this may be the best all around QB lineup behind the Munchers. Josh McDaniels will throw the ball all over this year, which is why I love Mike Sims-Walker this season. Mike Wallace and Santana Holmes are decent receivers, but nothing I'm too excited about. Rookie Julio Jones may come on big for me as the season goes, but I may have to go to the wire to solidify this position. Antonio Gates is the best TE in the game when healthy, and Evan Moore has the best hands on the Browns team, so I look for him to get a lot of looks this year.
If Addai goes down, Delone Carter is talked about around Indy very highly so I look for him to step in and get some carries, especially at the goal line.
Overall, I'm excited about the lineup I've drafted and I expect to have a great season. I do have the best team in the league in my division, so that will pose a problem, but I will overcome. DRAFT GRADE: B+
Tossed Salad - Rounding out the league is the Tossed Salads. They may have drafted their best team ever here, except they took a guy that refuses to report and may hold out deep into the season. If Chris Johnson does come back before the beginning of the season, this will be a steal at where he was drafted, but it's not looking promising after being placed on the did not report list. Great job by handcuffing Javon Ringer for insurance. Blount and Bush will get their share of carries this year, so you may still have a decent backfield.
Romo is back and healthy, has a lot of talent around him, so he should put up big numbers this year. You never know in Dallas though what's going to happen.
I love Roddy White and I think Ocho will have a good year for the Pats. Austin Collie seems to be the only other decent receiver on the roster, but if he's healthy you won't need any one else.
Two great TE's gives them a solid roster this year. The running back group is a slight concern. If they play well, they can be really good. If not, this will leave this team in a whole every week.
DRAFT GRADE: C-