“Alluhring Strategy” The ‘Futures’ in Now: What to Make of Pitching Performances in the Futures Game

What did you think about the pitching performances in last weekend’s Futures Game. Other than two big swings, the pitchers ruled the day. Click here to read my take on what to make of a few pitching prospects moving forward after the exposure on the big stage of Target Field in Part 1 of my Futures Game Recap.

 

Real Deal Report: 2014 Rookie Draft Sorta-live Sorta-blog

Thursday July 24th, 10 PM

And it’s done.  All done.  Just like that.  And I’ve never had a rookie draft pick.  Ever.  I’ve now had two years running where I’ve traded away all my rookie draft picks.

It’s not because I don’t value the draft.  I think the draft is absolutely the best way to build a strong, cost-controlled team that can be truly outstanding.  But like the Apostle Paul, that which I want to do (keep my draft picks) I do not do and that which I do not want to do (trade them all away), that I do.  What a wretched man I am!

Some of the rest of you were not wretched men.  You fought the good fight.  You did your research.  You spent hours studying guys most of the universe has never heard of.  Many of those will never be heard from again, languishing on benches or practice squads until they are eventually ignominiously cut to take jobs as office stiffs, recreation directors, drug dealers, motivational speakers, or, worst of all, television commentators.

But some will make it.  Some will make it BIG.  Most won’t make it big immediately – but the potential for excellent players exists.  And those will be the types of players who make a good team great.

2013 4th Rounders Poised to Make Noise: Ace Sanders, Levine Toilolo, Darius Slay, Marquess Wilson, William Gholston, Mychal Rivera, Chris Thompson, Earl Wolff

2013 5th Rounders Poised to Make Noise: Brandon Williams, Joseph Fauria, Johnathan Hankins…  errr… well, ok, last years 5th rounders pretty much sucked.  But there was some real talent to be had in that fourth round class!

How about this year?  What are my “Best Picks – Dregs of the Draft Edition?”  Well, I’m so glad you asked…

Dezmen Southward, NYG – As last year’s picks have shown us, the late rounds are places to find good draft and stash picks.  They aren’t guys likely to play huge roles immediately, but there’s plenty of developmental talent to be had.  Southward is one such guy.  He’s raw, but he’s toolsy.  He’s a physical beast with a lot of athleticism and a path to playing time down the road.  Nice stash on what could be a nice starting safety down the road.

Prince Shembo & Ego Ferguson, Detroit – So that thing I just said about you don’t draft starters in the 4th round?  I stand behind it.  There’s NO WAY you should be able to draft starters in the 4th round.  But Detroit just drafted starters in the 4th round.  Prince wasn’t meant to be a starter – he was meant to be a good defensive prospect with some time to develop between the Falcons regulars.  But then Sean Weatherspoon went down and now Prince Shembo might have a series shot at tackles from day #1.  It’s not unheard of for a rookie Falcons LB to put up nice points replacing an injured Sean Weatherspoon – Joplo Bartu and Paul Worrilow got their start doing just that.

Ego hasn’t had an injury open the way for him – his size might do that on his own.  And the fact that he’s playing for a Bears defense that resembled soggy paper towels last year.  And not the branded paper towels in the commercials that pick up water without tearing – the cheap generic competitor versions that shred into little sticky annoying pieces at the slightest touch.  The line was terrible.  Ego is both massive and skilled.  Rumors place him as a favorite to get an early down role early.  I think his talent and opportunity are such that he’s a three down starter halfway through the year.

Massive steals here by the Lions, and I think the two best picks of the dregs.

Will Clarke, Baltimore – LOVED this pick by Baltimore.  LOVED it.  Look, the Bengals defense is not the best place for a Defensive End to start right away.  It’s crowded with talented young guys – and it’s noteworthy that even a talent like Margus Hunt couldn’t crack the starting line-up last year.  So I can see why he fell.  But this is an outstanding, attacking defense, Will Clarke has outstanding, attacking talent, and Michael Johnson is gone, making one less competitor.  Clarke won’t start right away.  But when he does, he’ll be a stud.

By the way, a fantasy lesson – I can’t help but wonder if Will Clarke’s boring name is what made him fall.  If his name had been, say, “D’Thurmond” or “Horatio Big Canoe”, I bet he goes 3rd round where he should have.  Never overlook the guys with boring names.  As a guy named “Eric Duncan”, I don’t at all say this with any sort of chip on my shoulder.   I have nothing to prove.  Nothing at all.  YOU BASTARDS!  YOU’LL PAY FOR PICKING ME LAST!  I’LL SHOW YOU!  YOU’LL SEE!

Ahem.  Regardless, great pick by Baltimore.

Anthony Hitchens, Philadelphia – The buzz has dimmed a little bit on Hitchens, who was one of the first guys everybody thought might replace Sean Lee in Dallas.  It’s increasingly looking like it’s going to be Justin Durant (sadly, not Kevin Durant – the Cowboys could use the Slim Reaper to get bigger and tougher on that linebacking core), but Hitchens should still have an opportunity. Now that Cowboys defense makes Chicago’s look positively stout.  It’s a defense only a mother could love.  And she’d love it because she’d tear off 50 yard TD runs against it every freaking night.  That means it will be on the field a lot and many tackles will get past the line to the LBs.  So even if Hitchens doesn’t start, he should be on the field a lot and absolutely contribute.

Timmy Jernigan, Oakland – Love this pick too.  He’ll play with Haloti Ngata in Baltimore and learn from one of the best, before eventually replacing him.  While he may not be an immediate impact guy, and may find his way to playing time marginal for a while, I really like the talent level, especially with one of the last picks of the fourth round.  Absolute value pick steal by Oakland here.

Kevin Pierre-Louis, Minnesota – Another value pick draft and stash here, Pierre-Louis is not going to play much right off the bat on a stacked Seattle squad.  But he will have time to learn and develop on a massively talented defensive squad, and I think he’s a guy with a lot of potential once his chance comes.  Plus, the Seahawks brass have made an absolute art form of later picks turning into super stars – over time, I think this could be that.

Bernard Reedy, New England – It’s hard to get an offensive player with decent potential late in the draft.  The last offensive player on my board of much value was Robert Herron, who Green Bay snared late in the third round in what I thought was the best third round pick I didn’t cover because it happened between when I finished my blog post on the third round and now.  But I like the Bernard Reedy pick here as a developmental player.  He’ll be nothing more than a fringe wide-out for the first couple years, but with aging, injuries, and attrition, I think Reedy has as much future potential as you can ask of an offensive player in the 5th round.

Caraun Reid, Detroit, and Jay Bromley, Cleveland – Back to back DTs with potential and a future.  Like these picks, and think they both pay off down the line, very much like Jonathan Hankins, another 5th round pick poised to start and having a very strong year.

Overall, an impressive draft by all involved – congratulations on completing in less than ten days!

Coming up next on the Real Deal Report will be my official season preview, where I’ll take my best shot at previewing the season and predicting records and finishes for all 32 teams.  Expect to see those roll out division by division during the month of August.   Since I hit the AFC first last year, I’ll hit the NFC first this year, and culminate with power rankings and playoff predictions just before the season starts.

Only six weeks until football, my friends!  Can’t wait!

 

Sunday July 20th, it better not take me until almost midnight to write this, because right now it’s 5:37, and I do not want to be writing about the third round of a fantasy draft for 6 and a half hours.

Round three.  Fight!

This is what I selected as the introductory phrase for round three’s entry.  Other titles I discarded were:

– Three’s a crowd of good picks

– First is the worst, second is the best, third is the one with all the good picks

– Three picks for the elven pricks, under the sky

– This is DRAFT ROOM, not living room!  You come.  You pick.  You go home.  You no stay for four hour!

– When auto-pick attacks

You’ll see two themes emerging.  The second one is that good picks abounded in the third round.  Just an outstanding round of drafting, with a lot of guys who I think we’re going to see emerge if not this year, at least next year and into 2016.  Strong work everyone.

Without further ado, my favorite picks and themes from round #3 (so far).

– San Francisco Wins!  Finish him.  – What a round for the 49ers, who turned three third round picks into a pair of second round defensive talents in Inside Linebacker Preston Brown and Defensive End Scott Crichton, and a possible contributing running back in James White.  The defensive guys were both way up my draft board, and San Francisco snared them both.

Why do I like them? Well, there was this guy named Kiko.  He had a delivery service, flew around on a broom, had enormous eyes, and made 87 tackles a game as a middle linebacker.  His ACLs were severed in the off-season by a maniacal samurai with blue hair, and the Bills are looking for a replacement.  His name?  Preston Brown – who is also described by rotoworld as a “downhill, thumping, tackle machine.”  Starting middle linebacker in the 3rd round who is a thumping tackle machine? That’ll do.

And Scott Crichton.  Let’s do a check-list.  Mike Zimmer defense?  Check.  Clear path to playing time?  Check.  Defensive end eligibility?  Check.  Likely to play in both base packages and nickel packages?  Check.  Actually still looks tough while wearing orange?  Check.  Spectacular drafting by San Francisco here.

James White – If you google James White, you get a football player, a basketball player, and a theologian.  Which leads me to so many joke possibilities – “A football player, a basketball player, and a theologian walk into a bar…”  But for White himself, the path to playing time is clear.  He has skills, and Stevan Ridley is 2-3 fumbles away from living the rest of his unfortunate existence chained to a wall in Bill Belichick’s dungeon of horrors.  Shane Vereen only plays on third downs.  It’s part of his contract.  So while a Bill Belichick back is probably one of the most frustrating creatures to own in all of fantasy, a starting RB is not – and a starting back James White may be.  And if not… well, the ministry awaits.

– Josh Huff, St. Louis – I might be in the minority, but I love this pick.  The Eagles have a lot of weapons, so I don’t see him getting a lot of playing time right out of the gate.  But he’s a playmaker who will likely steal the Eagles returner gig at some point, and he’s the cream of the remaining WR crop.  Great value pick for a future-focused squad.  And the NFL adds this gem in his draft profile – “Could require emotional support and professional mentorship in order to avoid the pitfalls of NFL trappings.”   Hey Detroit… got a job for you…

Lorenzo Taliaferro, Atlanta – The hype on this kid was high after the draft… possible replacement for Ray Rice… and then he got drunk in public and damaged property.  And all the hype went away.  But let’s remember the NFL’s scale of conduct evaluation:

WORST OFFENSE POSSIBLE:  Smoke Marijuana more than once – lifetime ban, solitary confinement, and forced to either date Taylor Swift, do Money Tree commercials, or, for really horrible offenses, work with Chris Berman.

ONLY OTHER MORTAL SIN: Publicly criticize Roger Goodell in any way, and then make a tackle.  Punishment is hundreds of thousands in fines.

MODERATE OFFENSE: Drag your wife into the elevator by her hair, beat her up, and then halfway blame her for it in a forced apology.  4-8 games.

MINOR OFFENSE: Get caught in a car with $30,000 cash and illegal mind altering substances.  No punishment warranted.

C’mon people.  Public drunkenness and destruction of property is EXPECTED of NFL players.  If you can break stuff, you can break tackles.  This just means that he’s probably ahead of Bernard Pierce in the race to replace the Rice Rocket.  Good grab by Atlanta – he would have gone much higher if his hype machine hadn’t been derailed.

Dee Ford, Cincinnati and Darqueze Dennard, Indy – I’m not enormously high on either player compared to some others – but here’s what I like: first round NFL talents that fell to the right place.  Dee Ford is a cheap DE who may see serious sacks, especially if Justin Houston’s hold-out continues, and will eventually replace some of Tamba Hali’s pressure production.  And I don’t scorn Darqueze as much as I do other Cornerbacks, for two reasons – first, because he has a bad-ass name, which mitigates his shameful Corner-backery.  And because he’s a first round talent taken in the third round.  If you’re going to invest a pick in a CB, this is how to do it.

Speaking of guys with cool names:

– Ra’Shede Hageman – Love his name.  Love his talent.  Love his landing spot.  He’ll play a little this year.  He’ll play a lot in the future.  Hageman is the type of guy Detroit loves – and the type of guy who I think the rest of us will come to hate in 2015 and 2016.

– Carolina Panthers – I talked about this in the draft room, but the Panthers draft this year has been masterful – for all the same reasons as San Francisco’s.  Kony Ealy and DeMarcus Lawrence mean that the Panthers have their end positions secured for years at a very low price – one might say that both their cheeks are covered.  And I love Gaffney as a stash.  He’s got skills, and while the Panthers backfield has been one of the most frustrating in Fantasy Football for years, there’s a good chance that both Jonathan Stewart and De’Angelo Williams will skip town about the same time – leaving a plum role for Gaffney.  Great job by the Panthers to quietly stock up good players at choice positions.

– Alfred Blue, New England – Arian Foster is like an iphone without a case.  He’s schnazzy and fun and you can do all sorts of pass play and running play apps with him, and he goes on social media and probably has an instagram account full of MRI results and he’s just so damn much fun for a fantasy owner to play with.  But inevitably, you drop him.  And even if you drop him on a floor made entirely of baby bottoms and feathers (think Detroit’s living room), somehow he hits at just the wrong angle and shatters and you can’t use him for like 9 weeks until Apple sends you a new one.  When that happens, Alfred Blue only needs to beat out Andre Brown to be like a droid – the iphone’s crappy backup.

Full disclosure: I have a droid.  I know of what I speak.

– Chicago Bears – sometimes we get so concerned about sex appeal, that we forget to just draft solid guys.  Chicago didn’t.  Without drama, he grabbed Chris Borland, a nice ILB, and Terrance Brooks, the safety Baltimore hopes to eventually pair with Matt Elam, and a big interception threat.  This pair aren’t going to win rookie of the year awards.  But they will help Chicago win, and I give the Bears a big fat A for the round.

– Jared Abbrederis, New York Jets – So Jeff Janis and Jarret Boykin are the two backup Packer wide-outs likely to win a starting role.  But it’s been Abbrederis who has stood out at camp.  You know who Aaron Rodgers throws to?  The guys he LIKES.  And right now, I think Abbrederis has as good a chance as anybody at being one of those GB receivers of the future.  If so, late in the third of a rookie draft is a great snag.

Alright – not even seven yet, and I’ve drank coffee, taken care of business, checked my emails, and contemplated the universe while writing this.

Tomorrow… hopefully… the piece you’ve all been waiting for – Why DMC is going to break out this year, and why you should all trade me some of these picks for him.

Happy Sunday night!

 

Friday July 18th, almost midnight

When last we left our heros, it was Wednesday evening and we had just seen the likes of Jeremy Hill and DeMarcus Lawrence come off the board late in the first round.  Less than 48 hours later, we find ourselves in round three.

This is where the draft happens.  This is where the men are separated from the boys.  Round 1 is the big names – the guys who are plastered on magazines and who even your grandma could draft.  By the time you hit rounds 4 and 5, most guys are down to “Yeah, that name sounds familiar.  I feel like I read a few weeks ago that a position coach mentioned that they were “excited” about this guy once and that he has a 35% chance of making the roster.  What a sleeper.  I’m taking that guy!”

But this – this is the place where skill and sleepers mesh.  For reference:

2013 2nd rounders: Zach Ertz, Sheldon Richardson, Kevin Minter, Jordan Reed, Travis Kelce, Datone Jones, Tyrann Mathieu, Terrance Jones, Mike Glennon, Xavier Rhodes

2014 3rd rounders: Khaseem Greene, Star Lotulelei, Jamie Collins, Marqise Goodwin, Andre Ellington, Kenbrell Thompkins, Damontre Moore, Kenny Stills

Who are those guys in this year’s draft?

First, a few trends from the last couple of days:

1. Developmental Quarterbacks – Four quarterbacks went in the first round – Johnny Football, Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, and Derek Carr.  But interestingly, three more went in the second round – Tom Savage, Logan Thomas and Jimmy Garropolo.  It speaks a lot to the need for QBs in our league that guys who aren’t anywhere close to playing team and with no guaranteed role are flying off the board in the second round

2. Offense/ Defense – In the first round, 24 offensive players were selected, compared to 8 defensive players (6 of which were linebackers)…. In the second, 19 offensive players were drafted compared to 13 defensive players.

3. In to the first round, down from the second – So I didn’t actually mathematically tally the trade requests.  But if I had, I’m pretty sure it would have been a stark contrast.  During the first round, everybody and their mother were all trying to trade in for more picks.  Then, the second we left the first round, everybody immediately started offering to trade down.  Just goes to show there’s a significant perceived drop-off between the first and second rounds.

So what picks did I find notable from the end of the first round through the second?

1. Austin Sefarian-Jenkins – I’m not actually sure that I find him tremendously notable, but I promised Philly I’d mention him – and what Philly wants, Philly gets.  Seafaring Jenkins (as opposed to the land-lubbing kind of Jenkins who will be drafted later), has gotten some bad press recently for missing a lot of the off-season and ostensibly falling behind such worthies as Brandon Myers and Timothy Wright.  Let me correct this for you.  One does not simply “fall behind” Brandon Myers and Timothy Wright.  That’s like giving up a touchdown to a Rex Ryan coached offense or selecting a guy as bad as Anthony Bennett with the first pick of the NBA draft – it’s damn near impossible.  Jenkins will start.  And he will catch touchdowns.

2. Cornerbacks – I am a snob about cornerbacks.  I disrespect them.  I turn up my nose when they walk by.  If my daughter came home and said she was marrying an unemployed biker dude… whatever – she can take care of herself.  If my daughter came home and said she was marrying a cornerback… c’mon girl, have some self-respect!

Why?  Because I’m seriously convinced they grow on trees.  No really.  I found Dmitri Patterson growing on a tree.  I grabbed him by the foot, yanked him off, and got a hernia.  It sucked.  But for whatever reason, the fools are everywhere.  So I can’t countenance drafting them before the third round.  They are like the running backs of RDFL.  Let them fall!

3. The Wide-out Book-ends – The first round turned into the second round with a bang as Detroit grabbed Cody Latimer and the Vikings snared Allen Robinson with the first pick of the second round.  I had Robinson as a top 20 pick and Latimer not far behind him.  This was a deep WR class, and I think both of those picks are absolute steals that far through the round.

4. Second round safeties – Three safeties went off the board in the second round, and I thought all three were great values – Ha-Ha Monica Lewinsky to the Jets, Calvin Pryor to the Chargers, and Deone Buccanon to the Bills.  All three will start, all three will play, all three will be targeted, and all three will put up points as rookies.  Surrounded by developmental players who will struggle to see the field this year, these are great value picks at key spots on the defense.  (I respect safeties.  We can dance if we want to… we can leave your friends behind…)

5. John Brown – So first, mad props to the Patriots, who exploded by storm to swing three trades in the span of what seemed like nine minutes, one of which enabled them to swoop in and swipe this pick.  Why is John Brown good?  He’ll be a fourth receiver on a moderate offense.  Because he runs even faster than a self-righteous college hippie can take offense.  And he’ll be returning kickoffs.  That’s a point foundation you can take to the bank.

6. Ka’Deem Carey – How old will Matt Forte be by the end of the 2015 season?  30.  What happens to running backs when they turn 30?   They have birthday parties and feel old, just like the rest of us.  What else happens to running backs when they turn 30?  They FALL OFF A CLIFF.  What happens to Ka’Deem Carey when Matt Forte falls off a cliff?  He catches screen passes.  Lots and lots of screen passes.  Top 10 RB in 2016.  2nd round value.

7. Storm Johnson – Storm Johnson is great in two ways..

First, his name is Storm.  Let’s not underestimate the impact of a bad-ass name.  I want my kids to have bad-ass names.  I go for apostrophe’d names.  Like De’Anthony Thomas.  and Ka’Deem Carey.  Did I mention I like him?   I like them so much that I’ve decided on apostrophe’d names for my two children.  D’Thurmond (pronounced Determined) and You’nikh (pronounced Unique).  One boy.  One girl.  It’s going to be great.  I can see it all now: “DAMMIT, You’nikh, you cannot go to the prom with a… a… a… cornerback!”

A side note on “Johnson”.  My first job out of college was administering reading tests to elementary school students via grant funding.  One test was called DIBLS.  One test was called the “Woodcock Johnson” test.  You want to know Mr. Woodcock’s full name?  Richard William.  I know.  I hurt for the man.  I have never seen such shock as when my grandmother asked what I was doing for work and I informed her that I administered Dick-Willie-Woodcock-Johnson tests to 2nd graders.  True Story.

Second, Storm Johnson is the backup to Toby Gerhart (which, by the way, is the opposite of a bad-ass name).  Toby Gerhart is not a starter.  Couldn’t start a fire in an active volcano.  Couldn’t start a car in the Fast and the Furious (even if he was chasing Jordana Brewster).  Couldn’t start a Nintendo game with a controller in his hand and the select button covered with duct tape.  Can’t start for an NFL Football team.  Can’t even start for the Jacksonville Jaguars.  Storm Johnson is getting his carries.  And if his paycheck is big enough, I might even let him go to to the prom with You’nikh.

It’s bedtime for Bonzo boys.  See you for the third round tomorrow.  Which is off to a good start by the way.  First round cornerback going in the third round?  Sounds right.  And Huff and Preston Brown are very strong picks.  Excited to see how this round shakes out!  Good luck with those steals!

Thursday July 17th, almost midnight

I worked all day today.  I barely had enough time to post snarky comments on the board.  Then, after work, I hung out with a pretty girl.  It was a good day.  But my blogging suffered.  Jobs and women.  The devil’s tools to lure men away from the purity of Fantasy Football and associated blogging.

Stay strong brothers.  Don’t give in to the lure of gainful employment or the pleas of your wives.  Focus only on your draft picks and complaining about other people’s trades.  These are the actions of a righteous man who is blameless in all his dealings.

And don’t worry – I’ll post more tomorrow.

Wednesday July 16th – 7:30 PM

Houston just said the word “Hogwash” in context in the draft room.  My night has been made.

Wednesday July 16th – 6:30 PM

I learned something today.  I learned that I hate following the draft and having no picks!  Hate it!  It is an agonizing experience to watch the picks slip past, and watch everybody else’s team get better, while knowing my team’s not going to get any better.  Horrible.  I’ts like what Browns and Cavs fans have seen happen every year even when their team has had picks!  Feelin’ for ya, Cleveland.

You know what the worst part of it is?  Watching a guy slip and slip and slip and become a bigger and bigger steal, and knowing you’re not going to get a shot at him.  It happened yesterday with Mike Evans.  It happened today with Jeremy Hill.  Jeremy Hill is a top 15 rookie.  He’s going to be the the thunder to Giovani Bernard’s lightning in what figures to be a run heavy scheme in Cincinnati.  He’s young.  He’s healthy.  And he’s going to be a solid RB2 in this league for a good eight years.

I love the feeling I get when I watch a stud pick slide.  There’s no greater feeling than feeling like you got a draft day steal.  And once we hit 25 and no Jeremy Hill, I started to get antsy.  I reached out to everybody I could think of.  And nobody would trade with me.  Nobody was even considering it.  Everybody was keeping their pick.  (I learned later it was because EVERYBODY was waiting for Jeremy Hill).

And as I realized that there was no way I could steal Jeremy, a cold feeling of despair and bitter regret settled in my chest, and I realized that next year, something has to change.  I’m still happy to trade away my rookie picks – but if I do, I just can’t watch the draft.  It’s just too painful!

With that, onto my thoughts on what’s happened so far today.

1.  The Tennessee Titans are winning the draft.  Odell Beckham Jr. at 7.  Blake Bortles at 22.  Jeremy Hill at 27.  Beckham was a good value.  Bortles and Hill are GREAT values.  The Commish has quietly grabbed a young trifecta of players that should anchor his offense for years to come – and he’s gotten them at very good value for the slot.  That’s how you capitalize on draft picks!

2. The creepy parallels between our draft and the actual NFL draft –

  • In the NFL draft, Buffalo traded away a king’s ransom for the rights to draft stud receiver Sammy Watkins #2.  In our draft, the New York Giants traded away a king’s ransom for the rights to draft stud receiver Sammy Watkins #2.
  • In the NFL draft, the QB needy Jaguars held fast with a top five pick to grab the guy they believed was the QB of the future (Blake Bortles), while the QB needy Browns passed on a QB with their top ten pick only to grab their QB of the future at #22 (Johnny Manziel).  In our draft, the QB needy Jets held fast with a top five pick to grab the guy they believe is their quarterback of the future (Johnny Manziel), while the QB needy Titans passed on a QB with their top ten pick only to grab their QB of the future at #22 (Blake Bortles).
  • In the NFL draft, much loved Indianapolis Colts Owner Jim Irsay had a prominent front and center role despite a some apparently serious issues with mind-altering substances.  In our draft, much loved Detroit Lions Owner Michael Seraphim also has a prominent role despite some apparently serious issues with mind-altering substances.

3. Wide-outs galore.  In the first round of our inaugural 2013 rookie draft, a total of 8 WRs were selected.  In the first 20 picks of the draft this year, 10 WRs were selected.  Part of that is this is a WR heavy class.  And part of that is, to quote Oakland owner Nick Tomanelli “we’re learning the value of WRs”.

Other than the Commish, here are a few of my favorite picks so far today:

– Terrance West, RB, DAL – Dallas owner Robert Walters called him the steal of the draft when he picked him.  I think Tennessee and Buffalo may have gotten some slightly better steals.  But this WAS a steal.  Strong work to snare value at a position of need.  It’s hard to get a guy at a position of need who will provide value today and in the future – Dallas got the perfect pick for his team in perfect position.

– Tre Mason, RB, SF – This pick depends on whether or not Tre Mason becomes the Rams running back of the future, or just a little speedster who is stuck behind Zac Stacy his entire career.  I don’t know if that will happen.  But I love when a team follows a strategy, and SF did so, trading Zac Stacy for a WR1 in advance of the draft and then grabbing his guy in the 20s.  If Mason does take the starting job from Stacy this year, then owner Steve Peterson may win an award for this stratagem at the end of the year.

– DeMarcus Lawrence, DE, CAR – Love Pedro’s pick here.  And I’ll tell you why.  Because he got arguably the best DE in the draft at 26.  A franchise DE this year is costing most of us 9.93M.  Now the Panthers have a Franchise DE who will cost 1.91M.  Phenomenal value pick.

By the way, I like the Linebackers for Baltimore and Washington too.  I think that’s part of why today was such a difficult day to simply watch – everybody made good picks and you could see the value fly off the board.

Strong work everybody!  Now will some of you please make some terrible picks so I don’t feel so bad about myself???

Off for a run!

Tuesday July 15th

Today was a crazy day right from the start.  I walk into the office to check the first pick, feeling pretty confident.  This will go just the way all the rest of my rookie drafts have gone.  Somebody will take Sammy Watkins as the #1 pick or reach based on RB scarcity and grab Bishop Sankey.  Ho hum.  And there’s Detroit, with his pick right on cue.  WR… looks like Sam…. Wait – Brandin Cooks??? Brandin Cooks?  And the draft is already on its ear.

Pick #1, Brandin Cooks, Detroit – This is a creative risk pick.  There’s an idea out there that Brandin Cooks might get dual eligibility and fill a sort of Sproles / Colston hybrid role, catching passes and putting up WR points in an RB2 slot.  If that turns out, this is a steal.  If it doesn’t, this is a reach.  Still, I applaud the creativity and the conviction in this pick.

Then, it got more bizarre.  NYG moved up with his seemingly never-ending supply of picks and swiped Sammy Watkins from Atlanta at #2.  This kicked off for me, the inevitable Mike Evans watch.  The dude has been drafted right after Sammy in every rookie draft I’ve been a part of this year.  They’re inseparable.  It’s like a rule.  Once a guy drafts Sammy, the next guy has to draft Mikey.  So what happened:

Pick #2, Sammy Watkins, NYG – It’s the perfect player for NYG.  Have you taken a look at this receiving core?  He’s now sitting on Sammy Watkins, Torrey Smith, Antonio Brown, Victor Cruz, and DeAndre Hopkins.  Silly.  This was the laughingstock of the league last year.  What a turnaround!

St. Louis: Pick skipped.  Honestly, I’m worried about St. Louis.  I’m reminded of a Mitch Hedberg comedy routine about the DuFrains, who had a table for two reserved at a restaurant.  I share the feelings.  How can we just “go on with the draft???”  How?  St. Louis could be locked in somebody’s trunk somewhere!  The insane mom who deletes fantasy leagues might have sent him to his room with no supper and not let him out!  He might be lying in a ditch somewhere with a broken arm, desperately hoping someone can find him (unlikely in this age of social media, I admit).

But league – I was concerned by our calloused hearts towards our league mate!   What HAPPENED to St. Louis?  And instead of grabbing our flashlights, lanterns, and GPS systems, we were freaking out about what would happen to his skipped pick?!?  C’mon brothers.  Instead of it being “Detroit’s pick at #4”, it should have been “Detroit!  You can pick once you find St. Louis!”

Pick #4, Bishop Sankey, Detroit.  After all that, the Lions take Bishop Sankey.  I know – in this league, RBs and QBs matter because of positional scarcity.  But the strength of this draft class was at Wide Receiver.  And Mike Evans will be a stud.  Top 20 receiver for years to come.  It’s a good pick for Detroit, who needed to back up the ever-brittle Reggie Bush at RB and had Kenny Stills languishing on the bench.  But I thought the top 5 picks in this draft were all receivers.  And Mike Evans, man.  Mike Evans!

Ok, surely – now we’re going to get to Evans.  Nope.  We’re not going to get to Mike Evans.  Because the Jets need a quarterback.  So Johnny Football goes to New York in RDFL – as he always should have done in real life.  He was made for the NYC market.  Proving that once again, RDFL is more real than the real thing.

But that leaves Buffalo with Mike Evans.  Love what Buffalo has done this off-season.  But my goodness, Mike Evans is the consensus #2 pick in the draft.  The #2.  And Buffalo somehow got him at #6.

Pick #5, Johnny Manziel, NYJ: The first QB goes off the board in Manziel.  In any other league, I would have said that this was a major reach.  But in this league?  You can’t win without a starting QB.  You are putting yourself in a 15 point hole every single game.  That’s hard to overcome.  You don’t have to get a great starting QB – but you have to have a starting QB to compete.  And there’s only 32 of those beasts.  So if you have only one pick… you better get one.

Pick #6, Mike Evans, BUF: Biggest value of the first round, hands down, and a sign that God most likely wants Buffalo to win the AFC.  Think of everything that had to happen for this pick to fall this far.  First, Detroit had to defy convention to grab Cooks at #1.  Then, St. Louis ran into queue difficulties and a skipped pick at #3.  Then positional needs pushed Detroit to Sankey at #4 and the Jets to Manziel at #5.  Watch out for Buffalo.

The next few picks go pretty quickly as Bryan goes with his heart and grabs NYG wide-out Odell Beckham, Oakland nabs my favorite player in Jordan Matthews, and the Texans continue the 2015-2016 plan by grabbing Carlos Hyde, a guy who should be a #1 RB in a couple of years.  Pedro and the Vikings finish out the top-ten by grabbing Kelvin Benjamin, and all seems right wwth the world.

 Pick #7, Odell Beckham, NYG: It’s a big step down from Evans to Beckham, but this is a WR heavy class, and Beckham gives the Giants a legitimate stud receiver.  It’s a strong pick for die-hard Giants fan and Titans owner Bryan Luhrs, and an on-slot pick-up for the round.  Normalcy has resumed.

Pick #8, Jordan Matthews, PHI: Love this pick for Philly.  Jordan Matthews is a huge target for a coach who likes to play a hurry up type of offense and loves huge targets in the red-zone.  He also goes to a situation where Riley Cooper is the only guy standing between him and a starting gig.  Unless the devil has something to say about it, Jordan’s going to get his targets, and he’s going to get him soon.  This is a great pick-up for Philly at #8, a player who will help him both now and in the future.

Pick #9, Carlos Hyde, HOU: We start to get to the question marks now, but I like this pick for Houston.  Hyde is a stud RB who falls this far in most rookie drafts because he’s still stuck behind Frank Gore and won’t get as many touches out of the gate as Bishop Sankey.  For a team like Houston that is gunning for 2015-2016, this pick is perfect, and very valuable.  Just about the time Arian Foster breaks for good, Houston will have Carlos Hyde emerging and taking his place.

Pick #10, Kelvin Benjamin, MIN: Another pick that makes sense and fits slot.  Benjamin is literally the only guy on the entire Panthers roster who Cam Newton will have to throw to this year, and should see a lot of targets, a lot of yards, and a lot of touchdowns.  We’ll see if he can make the most of this opportunity.  Strong pick-up for Minnesota, which picked up what should be a strong starter for years to come.

While sanity has been restored by these picks, NYG and San Diego hook up on a swap, and the Giants swoop in to grab #12.  After Cincinnati grabs troubled but talented WR Marqise Lee, the Giants bulk up their only potential offensive hole at TE by grabbing Eric Ebron.  This line-up really is scary.

The rest of the evening passed in a bit of a blur for me.  A friend comes over.  We drink a growler of IPA and we talk about life and deep things.  He checks how many likes he has on his instagram posts.  I check how many picks have passed by.  I also realize that nobody believes in DMC the way I do.  I file this away in my brain and decide to make a case for him tomorrow.

Davante Adams goes off the board at #13 to Oakland, who has now grabbed two strong WRs in the first round.  This pisses me off because I have to play him.  He’s in my division.  I really didn’t mind when NYG and Dallas were getting good – the NFC is miles away.  I didn’t even really mind when Buffalo started getting good, because, hey, there’s room for both of us in the playoffs.  But man.  Oakland is drafting good WRs.  Denver still has an amazing time.  San Diego’s new owner does active owner-ial things like make trades and not miss his draft picks.  How the heck am I supposed to compete for the division in such conditions?

I watch somewhat bitterly as Tampa Bay checks in via Detroit to grab Jadaveon Clowney.  Briefly, I wonder if Detroit is messing with us all, but then I see that Clowney has both DE and LB eligibiligy.  Clowney as a DT?  Meh.  Clowney as a cheap DE with many sacks and tackles?  Yes, please.

Then another Buffalo trade comes through.  I almost choke on my IPA.  How are Buffalo and New York always in the midst of every blockbuster trade that goes through?  Buffalo has managed to flip Mike Evans for another passel of picks, including a trifecta of picks in the mid-first round.  I immediately make a play for Devonta Freeman and am rebuffed.  My IPA consoles me.

The Falcons make a nice grab with Ryan Shazier at #15, possibly the best IDP player in our format coming out of this draft, before Buffalo diversifies by taking Devonta Freeman (I cry), Teddy Bridgewater, and Khalil Mack.  Mack and Freeman I love.  Bridgewater, I don’t fully understand.  Why do you need Bridgewater when you have Foles?  Still, there’s some teams you just learn not to doubt, and in Buff I trust, even as I try to figure out how to get him transferred to the NFC.

The night concludes with a pair of receivers going to the Texans (Donte Moncrief) and Bears (Martavis Bryant).  I particularly like the Texans strategy tonight.  Both of their picks (Moncrief and Carlos Hyde) are goes who will be stuck behind elderly incumbents this year (Hyde behind Gore and Moncrief behind Reggie Wayne).  But in both cases, these picks perfectly fit Houston’s strategy and timing, and I applaud him for grabbing the right guys on the right time schedule.

Fittingly, the evening ends with a trade, with Buffalo ONCE AGAIN grabbing picks to move down, this time from Dallas.

Day #1 Best Performances:

– Detroit – Stuck to his principles and grabbed the guys he wanted rather than just going by the draft boards.  That’s how you play fantasy football with cojones!

– Tennessee – Sometimes we forget that this game is fun.  I’m sure it wasn’t fun for St. Louis when he was stuck in a ditch, his life-blood seeping out into the mud, the cold rain beating down on his face, as his friends coldly cast lots for his draft pick.  But it’s fun when you get the best player on your favorite team.  Guarantee the Commish has more fun cheering for Beckham than most of us have cheering for our picks – and that makes him maybe the biggest winner of round #1.

– Buffalo – When Mike Evans falls to you at #6, you win.  When you transfer that luck into a beautiful pick-haul – that’s a double whammy.  Buffalo continues the trend and will be a scary team this year.  Freeman and Mack are a beautiful haul for a team that has done a tremendous amount to improve it’s overall talent level this off-season.

– NYG – Another team that will be scary this year, the Giants traded into #2 and #12 and grabbed both the top-ranked receiver and the top-ranked tight end for their title push.  This NYG team is closer to a title than they were 24 hours ago – and that deserves props.

– Atlanta – The Falcons have Julio Jones, Roddy White, Mike Evans, Ryan Shazier, and more picks.  That’s quite simply not bad for a days work.

I’ll see you all tomorrow for picks 21 and on!

Finish Reading: Real Deal Report: 2014 Rookie Draft Sorta-live Sorta-blog

No I’m not talking about the Real Deal Draft.  I’m talking about Sharknado: The Second One – premiering on SyFy on July 30th.

 

Yep - this pretty much captures what I expect the draft to be like.
Yep – this pretty much captures what I expect the draft to be like.

 

But it could be our draft.  It has the same elements.  And if you picture draft picks as sharks and Detroit as the guy with the chain-saw…

I can’t wait!  I’ll be keeping a running commentary on this draft – what that means is I’ll be monitoring the draft room, and when I get free time to comment, I’ll provide pick by pick analysis, thoughts, questions, and the incomprehensible inanity that I like to consider humor.  Apologies in advance.

Just come back here and refresh this post often – as I’ll be revising each time I post.

Now, with T-11 hours until the draft, here’s three things I’m most interested in seeing:

1. TRADES!!!! – I’m expecting a bajillion of them (technical term).

2. Detroit – The guy has 21 picks in the draft.  He’s the John Calipari of our league.  That’s pretty close to 20% of the total picks.  And they include #1 and #4 overall.  The Lions are going to look like a totally different team in ten days.

3. Team Directions – There are a lot of teams who could go in a lot of different directions.  The players they take and the trades they make will tell us a lot about who is trying to contend and who is building for the future, who is focused on the receiving core from hell and who is building up a defense.

In any case – it’s going to be fun, and it starts tomorrow at 8!  Check back frequently!

“Alluhring Strategy” The ‘Futures’ is Now: US Team Players to Watch

In this week’s article, I take a look at a few prospects on the US Futures Game team that you might be interested in. If you need some names to stash for Deep Keeper leagues or dynasty leagues, you want to read about these guys. Click here for link to original article.