Labor Day Monday is always a mixed blessing around The Shop. It marks the end of summer – which always seems to go by too fast – but it also is the day that we have our fantasy draft/barbeque/adult beverage blowout party. It goes to explain why I open The Shop a couple hours late on the Tuesday after Labor Day.
Every fantasy owner is different in how he or she approaches the draft. You have the loyalists who feel their team isn’t complete if they don’t have at least one or two of the hometown fellas on their roster. You have those who feel most comfortable taking veteran players they’re familiar with. You have those who are always trying to land the next big thing and take players without an established NFL track record – people who fall in love with rookies much higher than anyone else.
I love watching how others go about filling their rosters. My philosophy has always been the same – go into my drafts with my own set of rankings and sticking to them, even if it means not addressing a position until deeper into the draft. When they’re the guys you value, there is never a flight from quality and never taking “a reach” to select a guy.
The issue too many fantasy owners have is that they fall in love with the players on their roster on draft day and, even if they have brutal starts to the season, they still value them from the point at which they were drafted. Despite having bad years, owners who bought or drafted Todd Gurley held on to the unshakable belief that somehow he was going to turn the corner and be the fantasy talent they thought they were getting on draft day. To those owners, a mid-season offer of LaGarrette Blount straight up for Gurley would be turned down based on sheer stubbornness.
One of the reasons I typically walk away with a nice chunk of change from my leagues is that I listen to what others say and I live by the simple rule that nobody is untouchable. The odds that I’m going to trade Odell Beckham aren’t good, but he is available for the right price, which happens to be my price. For those who are open to listening to offers, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been shocked by the king’s ransom a player can bring on the open market once the season has begun.
But, those kind of shenanigans can wait a couple weeks. We should just enjoy this time of the year because, as of right now, everyone who has a fantasy football team is convinced they will be fighting it out for a championship in late December. The reality is different and players you love in early September may not be the object of your affection in November or December.
For now, everyone is even at 0-0 and the dream of a championship season is within their grasp. One by one, the pretenders will fall away, just as they do in the real NFL, but this is a great time for all owners with the promise of a bright future.
Are you ready for some football? Those of us at The Shop sure are.
- The Brock Osweiler road trip came to its conclusion last weekend as he ended up back where he started in Denver. Houston had to give up a second-round draft pick just to get rid of him. Cleveland had to eat $16 million to get rid of him and now he’s back in Denver for a lot less money. Apparently you can go home again.
- Of the buzz that resulted in three teams trading up in the first 12 picks of the draft (Chicago, Houston and Kansas City) to draft their quarterback of the future, the only rookie quarterback scheduled to be starting Week 1 is Cleveland’s DeShone Kizer – the 52nd player taken in the draft and the fourth player drafted by the Browns in their 2017 draft class.
- Trades seemed to become a bigger part of the pre-mandatory cut-down period, as Sheldon Richardson, Jermaine Kearse, Phillip Dorsett, Jacoby Brissett, Sammie Coates and Tramaine Brock in the space of a couple of days. The NFL seems to be learning that there is a growing secondary market of filling team needs – trading for guys who have worn out their welcome somewhere else.
THE RAZOR’S EDGE
- Taking a Knee – The NFL maintains that there is no collusion involved in the fact that nobody has signed Colin Kaepernick, but considering some of the ratty quarterbacks that are currently No. 2 QBs on rosters, it’s getting to be a harder case to make. At first, the rationale was that he wanted too much money. Then it became that he would cause a distraction. The valid excuses would seem to be running out.
- Messed with Texas – It will be interesting to see how the lives of Houston players will be impacted by the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. There is a precedent to what the Saints endured following Hurricane Katrina, but they played all of their games in 2005 away from home. The Texans are going to be playing their games at the center of the destruction and will be interesting to see how the players react to having such a giant disruption to their weekly work routine surrounded by the misery of the aftermath for much of the 2017 season.
- Feeling Sore in Baltimore – Few teams suffered the number of key injuries the Ravens did last year and a lot of hope for 2017 has been pinned on the healthy return of Breshad Perriman and Danny Woodhead. But, their most recent concern may be their most significant. When Joe Flacco was sidelined back in June with a disc injury in his back, it was initially stated he was going to be sidelined a week or two. Then it became a month, but he was going to play in the preseason. He didn’t make that timetable either. Now as the Ravens have run out of time for alternate plans, if Flacco can’t play the full season, Baltimore’s 2017 may go up in smoke.
- The Two Yout’s – One of the thing that shocked me in the drafts I was in – both standard drafts and auctions – is how high Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey – have been going in drafts. Typically, rookie running backs have had to earn their bone before getting too much love. I can remember a decade ago, getting Adrian Peterson for what I thought was a song as the 17th running back off the board as a rookie (for the record, I got him as the 35th running back off the board in The Shop league for stash purposes). But, despite Fournette’s history of below-the-knee injuries and McCaffrey as the speed player on a team where his touchdowns will likely have to come from a distance, they’re both going as top 10-15 backs. I admire the young squires as much as anybody, but I don’t get crazy about it. I’m apparently alone in that assessment because, if I wanted them, I had to pay too high a tax. Needless to say, none of my teams include either of the young guns.
- We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat – One of the more expensive cuts of last weekend was Minnesota left guard Alex Boone – one year into a four-year, $27 million deal. The Vikings have a defense worthy of being in the discussion as a team that can make a run for a chip. But they’re going to start the season with five players on their offensive line that weren’t the Week 1 starter at that spot a year ago. The only holdover starter – Joe Berger – has moved from center to right guard. Other than that, get your programs ready to identify the new faces in new places. Case Keenum, keep your helmet close. You may get the call to duty sooner than later.
- Chief of Staff – It’s been funny how quarterbacks who aren’t the conversation as being the top of the heap are setting the standard for the next time a truly elite quarterback has his contract expire. Kirk Cousins broke the ceiling for middling quarterbacks to get in the $25 million-a-year neighborhood and Matthew Stafford slam dunked that total to over $30 million a year with his five year extension with Detroit. If Cousins is worth $25 million and Stafford is worth $31 mil, what is Aaron Rodgers going to be worth when his current deal expires?
- Make Believeland – Welcome to the NFL DeShone Kizer! You follow in the daunting footsteps of homegrown talent and outside superstars that preceded you to this time-honored position of the reincarnation of the Browns. Such Ring of Honor luminaries as Tim Couch, Ty Detmer, Doug Pederson, Spergon Wynn, Kelly Holcomb, Jeff Garcia, Trent Dilfer, Charlie Frye, Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn, Ken Dorsey, Bruce Gradkowski, Seneca Wallace, Jake Delhomme, Colt McCoy, Brandon Weeden, Thad Lewis, Jason Campbell, Brian Hoyer, Johnny Manziel, Connor Shaw, Austin Davis, Robert Griffin III, Cody Kessler and both McCown brothers. Don’t look directly into the eclipse created by all of those bright yellow Hall of Fame jackets getting near your retinas.
- Zeke and Ye Shall Find – Depending on when your draft was/is, the value placed on Ezekiel Elliott has taken a seismic shift off the table. He “went Brady” with this and – what a shocker! – got a Texas judge to sign off on a pre-emptive workplace lawsuit to throw his suspension into the artery-clogged legal system – likely turning a six-game suspension in 2017 into a to-be-determined suspension in 2018. Those willing to roll the dice are likely going to make out nicely with the modest prices Elliott was going a week ago. If your draft came more recent than that, the discount wasn’t as high for those who know how the legal system works.
- Leaving On a Jet Plane – When the offseason began, we knew that the New York Jets were in a rebuilding mode that didn’t include a lot of their higher priced veteran players. But, who could have predicted that they would go into full-on tank mode for the 2017 season. It would appear the Jets are getting rid of every veteran player who will give them a chance to win. As a result, I took all Jets fantasy players off my draft board. I don’t think I’ll be so desperate at any point in the season that I would find reason to put one of them in my lineup. Let someone else have them.
- Suck for Luck 2.0? – In our draft, Andrew Luck went shockingly high despite not being seen throwing a pass all during the camp/preseason period. The Colts are a team known for having a soft defense and a suspect running game. If Luck is less than 100 percent (which seems obvious) and that his offensive line will allow him to get sacked to often (which seems equally obvious), it could be a long year in Indy and the silence of a blabbermouth owner should be serious cause for pause. If he goes down, so does every other Colts fantasy player. The trade for Jacoby Brissett speaks volumes to the level of concern Luck owners should have.