After nearly two grueling months of emails, the annual Athlon Sports' college fantasy football draft has come to a close. This is the third year they've held the draft and posted the results in their magazine. In 2008 Brian and I had the good fortune of meeting in the finals where I had to teach young Brian a lesson. We missed out on the fun in 2009, but we're back in 2010. This year was a bit different. With the Fantasy College Football Invitational set to unify a the mass number of leagues, the draft was held for entertainment purposes only.
So how did we do? Brian and I share our thoughts on our picks and those of others.
When the draft order came out, I was fired up about picking in last spot. There's certainly no drama or intrigue picking #1. Picking last would be challenge and as the draft wore on, I realized just what a challenge it was. Like last year, the talent is deep at running back and receiver. Very little separates the #1 rated back and the #10 rated back. Being in an early-draft position is a distinct advantage. Not only can you grab a top quarterback, but a top tier running back and receiver will be waiting for you when it comes back around.
Overall I'd grade my draft a C; it was average. Obviously I took some risks at quarterback and my plan at running back took a death blow when Harvey Unga withdrew from school.
Let's take a deeper look at the picks...
1-12 Lance Dunbar, RB, North Texas - With the top tier QBs off the board the only option here was a RB. Plenty to choose from. I went with the guy that will run against Sun Belt defenses. Most Intriguing Pick: Vince had his sights on Kendall Hunter and wasn't going to take the chance of him getting snapped up before his second pick. I like this aggressive drafting.
2-13 Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame - I could have gone running back again, but with 23 picks between now and my next pick I wanted to make sure I had a top flight receiver in the kitty. I thought maybe, just maybe, with all the recent negative press that LaMichael James would slide as well. Best Pick: Nothing stands out, pretty standard issue second round.
3-36 Chad Spann, RB, NIU - No luck on James but I'm happy to see another non-BCS back with 19 scores to his name last year on the board. With Me'co Brown leaving the team, the concern of split carries is diminished. Best Pick: James Cleveland, and here is where you can really see the value of having the first pick in the draft. LaMichael James is also a nice snag.
4-37 Dayne Crist, QB, ND - I've been known to reach and this is a biggie. In order to make up the points lost to the likes of Case Keenum, Colin Kaepernick, etc. I had to take a gamble on a quarterback that has the "potential" to score big. Crist is one of those QBs. Of course he could also be the biggest bust of the draft. No time to play it safe. To quote Ricky Bobby, "if you ain't first first you're last". Most Intriguing Pick: Braden, a Wisky alum, couldn't bare the thought Lance Kendricks playing for another team. He sensed the sharks were circling and made his move.
5-60 Harvey Unga, RB, BYU - Add another 1000-yard rusher with double digit TD production to the starting lineup. I don't think there is a team in the draft that can touch my running backs at this point and I'm feeling good. Well...that is until Unga decided to withdraw from school a week after I made the pick. (note this pick was moved to the 9th round for the magazine) Best Pick: Zach Collaros
6-61 Keith Smith, WR, Purdue - A number of receivers were considered. Being a PPR league Smith stuck out to me. True his TD output was not up to snuff, but I'm banking him becoming Robert Marve's new best friend. Best Pick: Tyron Carrier
7-84 Detron Lewis, WR, Texas Tech - Just trying to round out the starting lineup at QB, RB and WR. Again a number of receivers were considered. Tech is still going to throw the ball, so I went with the guy that I believe will lead the team in receiving if healthy. Most Intriguing Pick: MiQuale Lewis...rebound year?
8-85 Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma St. - Another high-risk / high-reward play at quarterback. I'm trying to hit a home run with one of them. Best Pick: Kyle Rudolph, how did I let an Irish player slip past me!?!
9-108 Tauren Poole, RB, Tennessee - By now news that Unga has withdrawn from school has broke, and my once mighty RB corps now has a gaping hole. There is better value at receiver and quarterback, but I have to address the running back spot. Of course by round nine, the pickings are slim. It is time to take a shot at a sleeper. Poole had a good spring...good enough to run Bryce Brown out of town. I expect him to see 200+ carries this season. Hopefully it's not for a 3.9 yard average. Best Picks: Robbie Rouse / Eugene Jarvis
10-109 Ohio State, DEF - Rounded out the starting lineup (sans a kicker) with the top defense in the draft. Best Pick: Alex Torres
11-132 Seth Smith, RB, Utah St. - Still feeling depressed about the Unga loss, I'm like the little Dutch Boy trying to plug the dike with his thumb. If Smith can get a road map to the end zone we should be back in business. Best Picks: Rodney Bradley / Patrick Edwards
12-133 Hubert Anyiam, Oklahoma St. - Most of the value receivers (more on this in a later piece) are off the board, so I'll take shot at Anyiam. Weeden has to throw to someone. Best Pick: Steven Sheffield
13-156 Tai-ler Jones, WR, Notre Dame - I still need QB help, but there are a half dozen that will work. I'll let them thin out before I grab another. Time for another glass of the Brian Kelly Kool-Aid. Best Picks: Boise St. / Defense / Jamie Hampton
14-157 J.J. Di Luigi, RB, BYU - Still chasing the ghost of Harvey Unga. I have zero inside information that Di Luigi will get the nod over Bryan Kariya, but I do know a young QB's best friend is a back that can catch. Best Pick: North Carolina Defense / Martevious Young
15-180 Ryan Colburn, QB, Fresno - Colburn beat out some pretty stiff competition for the starting job last year. With a year spent handing off to Ryan Mathews, it's now Colburn's turn. Zac Dysert was also a consideration. But I'm pretty sure he won't see the field in week one against Florida. Best Pick: Nebraska Defense
16-181 Lennon Creer, RB, Louisiana Tech - Two offensive gurus calling the shots, and while they'll prefer to pass than run, they'll find a way to get Creer the ball. At least that's my theory. Best Picks: Ed Wesley / Charles Clay
17-204 Dan Bailey, K, Oklahoma St. - Bailey was a disappointment last year. The Cowboys' offense just couldn't find their groove last year. As you can tell by my Cowboy heavy draft, I don't think that will be the case this year. Best Pick: Ryan Whalen
18-205 Mike McNeill, TE/WR, Nebraska - What a departure from last year when I was taking a tight in rounds 2-4. With no surefire tight end this year, we are throwing darts, I just choose to throw the last one. It should be noted that McNeill spent time at wide receiver this spring and is officially listed as such on the Nebraska depth chart. If that remains the case, I'll be hunting for a tight end off the waiver wire. It is the gamble I'm taking. Best Pick: It took me 18 rounds but I finally had the best pick in the round.
The larger the league, the larger the challenge of drafting late. This is not to say that I want to go first, either. If I had my druthers I'd choose anywhere between the 5th and 7th pick, providing a little flexibility and eliminating the two-week wait between picks. No such luck as I was awarded the 11th pick. Onward and upward.
No matter the league, no matter the draft slot, I've always shown an affinity for nabbing running backs early. And I remained true to this philosophy, though I'm fully aware that I may have missed out on some great early-round values thanks to this mindset. Still I'm relatively pleased with my draft, and like my colleague I'd rate it somewhere in the C range, which I believe is good enough in college fantasy football, a game where the in-season adjustments and waiver wire magic make such a difference.
Here's how my draft shook out, and I'll attempt to explain my thinking with each of my picks. I'll also list my favorite pick of each particular round. By favorite I'll try to exclude my own choice :), and name a selection that I feel presents great potential for a huge season.
1-11 Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama - Trent Richardson, split carries, too many carries, whatever. It's not often one can nab a returning workhorse back who just happens to be the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. I'm not banking on 20 touchdowns again, but the number I have in mind is pretty close. Favorite pick: Dwight Dasher. I was hoping and praying he'd slip.
2-14 Dion Lewis, RB, Pitt - I went workhorse again. 325 carries as a freshman will likely not be repeated, but I'm banking on fellow back Ray Graham seeing more carries, resulting in a fresher Lewis later in games and as the season progresses. Favorite pick: Jordan Todman. I'm looking for Todman to emerge without Andre Dixon sharing carries, and I really felt he could slide. I was really wrong.
3-35 Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor - I nabbed Griffin with the intention on drafting Garrett Gilbert later on, and this worked out. Griffin's schedule sets up nicely except for TCU in Week Two, and there is no Texas on the slate. I'm not worried about his knee. Favorite pick: If I hadn't nabbed two backs in the first two rounds I would've jumped on Chad Spann.
4-38 Vincent Brown, WR, S.D. State - I love what Brown can do in a full season. He was well on his way before his thumb injury derailed his 2009. I'm looking for a big year. Favorite pick: Mohamed Sanu will do everything but sell the popcorn for Rutgers this season.
5-59 Damaris Johnson, WR, Tulsa - Law of averages play. Johnson caught 78 balls for 1131 yards in 2009, but he only scored three times. Johnson has to find the end zone with greater frequency with a better offensive line and an improved G.J. Kinne under center. Favorite pick: If Penn State can get somewhat steady QB play then Evan Royster is in for another very productive campaign.
6-62 D.J. Williams, TE, Arkansas - This is Ryan Mallett + Bobby Petrino. Williams is a talented pass catcher who should, I repeat should, serve as the red zone security blanket. Like Damaris Johnson, I'm banking on a bump in touchdowns following a three-score 2009. Favorite pick: Hard to argue with G.J. Kinne in Round Six. This is Tulsa we're talking about.
7-83 Michael Smith, RB, Utah State - The loss of Robert Turbin opens up plenty of carries, yards and scores in 2010. I'm not 100% convinced that Smith will be the definite man as there are some intriguing youngsters. However Smith is the most experienced, and should he see regular snaps in the same backfield as Diondre Borel then he'll reap the rewards. Favorite pick: Chris Polk.
8-86 Garrett Gilbert, QB, Texas - Love everything I've seen and heard about Gilbert. There is still not a proven #1 back in Austin, and when it needs to get done the Longhorns will wing the pigskin. Favorite pick: Kyle Rudolph in the eighth round makes me wonder why I reached for Williams two rounds before.
9-107 Mikel LeShoure, RB, Illinois - Looking back on this selection I really think I was drunk. There is no explanation for LeShoure at this point, as I'm not certain he would've been drafted at all. Favorite pick: Anyone but this selection.
10-110 Iowa, DEF - I trust in Norm Parker and Kirk Ferentz. Favorite pick: Victor Anderson is ready for a big season. Charlie Strong will bring that new coach enthusiasm, and Anderson will run against a whole bunch of mediocre defenses in 2010.
11-131 Jameel Owens, WR, Tulsa - Owens is still awaiting word on his eligibility for 2010, so this selection may end up as my Harvey Unga. However if he does get the nod for this year then G.J. Kinne suddenly has another wide receiver to look towards, one who will be the most talented on the field most days. Favorite pick: Allen Bradford. It's looking like it really is his time.
12-134 Kyle Prater, WR, USC - Even in a non-keeper league I cannot help myself from nabbing a freshman or two. I'm well aware of the difficulty that true freshman wide receivers have in making an immediate impact, but Ronald Johnson needs someone to take off some heat. Prater appears ready, and Lane Kiffin has proven willing to let the youngsters play. Favorite pick: Hubert Anyiam...one pick before mine.
13-155 Kai Forbath, K, UCLA - Need a kicker, so I wanted the best on our draft board. Favorite pick: Rob Housler of Florida Atlantic.
14-158 Bert Reed, WR, FSU - I guess I'm buying the hype surrounding Christian Ponder and looking for a big year from the veteran signal caller. A big season means Bert Reed likely pushes past 1,000 and 10. Favorite pick: Kavario Middleton, TE at Washington.
15-179 Ben Guidugli, TE, Cincy - Rather than grab another RB or WR I went with a starting tight end for what should be one of the nation's most prolific offenses. Favorite pick: Austyn Carta-Samuels is a great pick provided you can pick the right few weeks when he'll really blow up.
16-182 Moise Plancher, RB, USF - Suddenly USF is very thin at running back with a coach that likes to run the ball. Plancher could emerge as one of the Big East's best. Favorite pick: Before nabbing Plancher I gave Ed Wesley serious consideration.
17-203 Uzoma Nwachukwu, WR, A&M - Right now there are too many options out wide for A&M, thus it's unrealistic to expect consistent production from Nwachukwu. But if injuries strike others then this kid has proven he can make the big play. Favorite pick: Oklahoma State's Tracy Moore could be really interesting as the inside receiver for Dana Holgorsen, but his value would've been much greater as a tight end. Still he's worth a shot in this spot.
18-206 Bobby Rainey, RB, WKU - This guy, in this offense, against this schedule, is a steal in the last round. Because of this I'm naming Bobby Rainey my favorite pick of the final round.