Welcome to Kickoff Week 2016. As of this writing we are about 12 hours from the first game of the season where a Super Bowl rematch will be taking place in the Mile High City of Denver. Oh what a wonderful time of year for everyone that loves football, it’s been a long offseason and just like a junkie, we are about to get our fix. If anyone else actually watches preseason football like myself, you understand that it’s all a big tease that just helps us get through August a little bit faster. I know there’s a lot of discussion out there that maybe the NFL should cut down the preseason to 2 games, or in some extreme arguments, completely eliminate preseason games. Does anyone actually finish watching a preseason game and think that it wasn't a complete waste of time? I personally do agree that maybe the preseason should be cut down a little bit; I mean really, there is only so much thrill in seeing your team's starters drive down the field one meaningless time, and then watch 2 hours of no name players who are trying to just make the roster. I agree that for the near 700 roster spots that must be cleared before the preseason is over, these 4 games are make or break for hundreds of athletes that are leaving everything on the field. These roster moves change people's lives for better and for worse, and with that point alone, we cannot eliminate the preseason. In reality though, who am I to say? What I do know is that as a fantasy football owner these games can be heartbreaking, and completely derail your season (ex. Jordy Nelson 2015). The obvious answer to the problem of guys dropping like ducks before week 1 is to not draft until the last possible moment, at least for me, it’s easier said than done. When your league mostly consists of college guys, it's not possible to have a ‘real draft’ once school starts. People travel and get busy quick. I may be the main culprit for going to school 1,193 Miles from home, exactly. But to be fair to those that I play with, I drafted 2 days before I left, making the draft the last big thing I did before making my journey, and bringing us as close to the regular season as possible. Nothing is worse than losing a big player before the season starts, but in fantasy football nothing is supposed to go according to plan, we survive and adapt so that we can fight another day. When you lose someone early on, work that waiver wire and just remember that there is always somebody stepping up to take the snaps. Leagues are won and lost through the waiver wire, but hopefully you did your research and handcuffed you RBs at least. I can speak from experience that unless you’re playing in a super deep league, there are always going to be amazing players who emerge from the waiver wire. This same league that I am going to talk about eventually, I have been in for a number of years. Last years draft may have been my worst ever. Just to show you a quick analysis of my first four rounds last year, here it is (but realize I had the best record and only ended up losing in the finals).

  • Round 1: Le’Veon Bell, great pick, right? Bell completely ruined my draft by playing only 6 games last year.

  • Round 2: Dez Bryant, coming off a monster season, and seems to score double digit touchdowns every year, a WR doesn't get more consistent right? Unfortunately for me, Dez was never the same after getting hurt in week 1. I believe I started him once all season.

  • Round 3: C.J. Anderson, coming off a monster stretch of games to finish off the 2014 Season. Great deal in the third round. But with my luck C.J. Anderson looked more like C.J. Spiller, he never got it together and therefore had a true bust season, on my bench.

  • Round 4: Alshon Jeffery, wow, what a great team in the first four picks, I was so happy. But Alshon played in 9 games and left me questioning why did the fantasy gods do this to me?

So after seeing this you wonder how bad could these other teams have been if this guys team almost won it all. But don't think the rest of my draft went any better, I also took shots on Andre Johnson, Joseph Randle, Jordan Cameron, and Montee Ball. To put it in perspective, that is 8 out of 16 drafted players that became busts, not too mention I also drafted Josh Hill and 2 defenses. Luckily the Broncos D/ST happened to be one of those picks. The amount of players that I drafted and remained on my team the entire season can be counted on one hand. Luckily for me the emergence of certain waiver wire players such as Carson Palmer, Allen Hurns, and Gary Barnidge helped me get through a tough season. Yes my sob story is almost over, but I just wanted to show that in fantasy football, anything can happen. It is a week to week game, so go ahead and plug in the best players each week whether they are on your team or on the waiver wire. Oh ya, not to mention I also drafted Cam Newton but dropped him before Week 1 for the likes of Eli Manning. Cam was not supposed to have a good season, remember he had a “depleted” receiving core, like I said, anything can happen.

 

    “So when is this guy actually going to get to his draft?!”, I know that's probably what you're thinking, I mean that is why you're reading, hence the title. So here's the basic knowledge you need to know so you at home can critique my drafting skills. The league jumped from 8 members the past 4 years to a whopping 12 this year. My pick was 6th Overall, and this is a standard scoring league, so there you go, everything you need to know, its a pretty basic league.

  • Round 1, 6th Overall: Todd Gurley

    • Analysis: At pick 6 I passed up the likes of Ezekiel Elliott and Deandre Hopkins. My thought is that Gurley will be the best RB in fantasy by the end of the season. He may not have weapons around him, but he did it without them last year, and Gurley's pure talent is immense. He should have double digit TDs and well over 1,000 rushing yards by the end of the season, and he can catch passes when needed. Todd just turned 22 and we have yet to see his best football.

  • Round 2, 19th Overall: Le’Veon Bell

    • Analysis: I decided to go back to back with high end RBs . Here's the case with Bell, I got him at a discount because his 4 game suspension was being appealed when I picked him. With my luck (not sarcasm) his suspension got reduced to 3 games and now he is a steal at 19th. When Bell is playing, there is no one more explosive or consistent. He is a great runner and also a great receiver. Bell did burn me last year but think about this, I took Bell last year at 2nd overall with a 2 game suspension, I got him 17 picks later for 1 more game out, just one game, how could I pass on the opportunity when all the talent is still there?

  • Round 3, 30th Overall: Eddie Lacy

    • Analysis: I bet you think I'm crazy picking three running backs in a row after a season where the position was in the dumps. What can I say, I'm just old school when it comes to drafting, draft RBs early and often. Lacy is coming into the 2016 season in the same shape we saw in his first 2 seasons where he dominated at the RB position. The Green Bay offense is ready to go back to its old ways as a top 5 offensive power house. As long as Lacy gets the touches there is no reason to doubt a 3rd top 10 finish at the position in 4 years. Even if you look at Eddie’s bust of a season last year, he still average 4.1 YPC which matched his rookie numbers, if he was able to get consistent touches and find the end zone a few more times he would have been much better off, even with the added weight. I am all in on a big season from Lacy, and I recommend you take a shot too.

  • Round 4, 43rd Overall: Demaryius Thomas

    • Analysis: It took quite a while but I finally filled up the top WR spot on my roster. If you ask me if Thomas is going to be good this season, my answer may differ. The downside is that Thomas will probably not be a Top 10 WR by the end of the year, is it possible, of course it's possible, but just not that likely. The QB play is a big question mark, Emmanuel Sanders requires attention on the other side, and in Gary Kubiak’s offense they are going to want to run, a lot. But don't worry, there is upside. A crazy stat is that Thomas is 1 of only 3 receivers in history with 4 consecutive seasons of at least 1,300 yards and at least 90 catches. I know that some of those seasons he was on one of the greatest offenses in history, but look at his QB play last season, as much as I admire Peyton Manning, he threw is like a high school QB. Thomas was still able to get 1,300 yards and 6 touchdowns last year, so if that is the floor, I am all in. They don't come much more consistent than Demaryius, and as far as my number 1 WR in a 12 team league, I'd rather have a steady player than a boom or bust player.

  • Round 5, 54th Overall: Jeremy Maclin

    • Analysis: I go WR for the second consecutive round so that my WR corps isn't terrible. I’ll obviously still have the lowest ranked WR duo in the league but it’s just fine with me when I have 3 RBs that will really be racking up the points for me. I looked for another consistent producer, no one flashy but somebody with a guaranteed workload week in and week out. I was drawn to the Maclin pick because as much as I hate the Chief’s non existent passing attack, I love that he is a pure WR 1 on a team with a QB who loves to look his way. Guaranteed touches from a WR in the 5th round isn't easy to find, I passed up players like Golden Tate and Jarvis Landry who both have newcomers on the other side of the field who are creating a lot of buzz, and that worried me. Alex Smith likes to look Maclins way, and that kind of consistency for my WR 2 will keep me at peace. Will Maclin be Top 10, probably not, but I don't need it, so I'm not that worried.

  • Round 6, 67th Overall: Michael Floyd

    • Analysis: Did this pick take a little bit of guts? I think so. When I took Floyd  he was the first Cardinals WR to come off the board. That must mean I think highly of him taking him before the consistant but old Larry Fitzgerald, and the soon to be star John Brown. As my WR 3 who will be on the bench a decent amount, I think Floyd can have a breakout year, I got consistency with my first 2 WRs, so how about a take a wild card. I wasn't in a position where I believe Brown returned value, I think he will be great, but I think Floyd is a more complete receiver who is ready to take away from Fitzgerald's Targets. I view Brown as a speedster who will be more boom or bust this year than breakout star. Floyd is in a contract year, a time when many players decide to shine, and he was pretty great when he shook off the injury bug after week 5 last year, he posted double digit fantasy points in 7 out of his final 10 outings. I am taking the risk with Floyd this year, he could pay off big.

  • Round 7, 78th Overall: Matt Jones

    • Analysis: I think Jones profiles a true breakout player for this season. He possesses great physical tools and has a great opportunity to run the ball for a pretty decent offense. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I like to draft for opportunity. Jones is going to get a lot of touches even if he gives some up to Chris Thompson. The only worry there is with Jones was his awful 3.4 YPC which ranked dead last at the position in the 2015 season. I’m willing to forget about his underwhelming rookie season and look towards a bright future, I have absolutely no worries about him as my number 4 RB.

  • Round 8, 91st Overall: Marvin Jones

    • Analysis: It is in my belief that Marvin Jones will be the best WR on my roster by the end of the season, talk about a bold prediction, am I right? I wasn't this excited when I drafted him, I purely drafted him out of opportunity, but after seeing his chemistry with Matthew Stafford this preseason I'm pretty excited. This guy looked great the past month while Stafford was force feeding him the ball. I see this as a great opportunity for Jones. Calvin Johnson is gone, leaving 149 targets to be spread about to other parts of the offense, I think Golden Tate is a good player but Jones will dominate with the down field throws. Even if Jones sees around 120 targets this year I think he can make some big plays that Tate might not be capable in making, such as in the red zone. This new offense under Jim Bob Cooter will be much better than people think, even with the loss of Megatron. Stafford is more than capable to feed Jones this year. At the end of the season when Jones is a Top-10 WR, remember who called it.


 

  • Round 9, 102nd Overall: Phillip Rivers

    • Analysis: Not my top choice coming into the draft. I actually didn't dream about ending up with Rivers at the end of my draft. All of my preparation had me ending up with guys like Drew Brees and Tyrod Taylor, two guys I am very high on this season. Here's my take on it, I love Phillip Rivers in real life, he is my favorite QB from the 2004 Draft and I root for him to have success before his career is over. In a fantasy aspect, I don't see much upside with Rivers. I do think the offensive line issues will resolve, but I also think the run game will be pretty decent this year and Rivers won't have to throw a league high 661 times. He doesn't excite me, but just like most of my positions, I'm looking for consistency and I think Rivers is more than able to produce a solid 15-20 fantasy points per week. One thing that does excite me is that he was the 2nd best QB in fantasy for the 8 games he played with Keenan Allen. Allen is healthy, for now, the addition of Travis Benjamin, and the return of always solid Antonio Gates, there's no reason to think Rivers can't be a Top-10 QB week in and week out.

  • Round 10, 115th Overall: Kevin White

    • Analysis: Now I'm coming to the point in the draft where I am basically just filling my bench. I waited a decent amount of time for a Tight End, Defense, and Kicker. I went with White thinking that he has a pretty decent opportunity waiting for him. As bad as the Bears are, and as bad as Jay Cutler is, he knows how to feed his big WRs. White comes into his ‘rookie year’ after not playing a single snap last year, now he's healthy and is still the same physical specimen he was when he got drafted at number 7 overall. He is 6’3” and has sub 4.4 speed, he has the physical tools of a dominant NFL Wide Receiver. Alshon Jeffery can't seem to stay on the field, so don't be surprised if this is White’s team at some point this season. Even with Jeffery on the field, Cutler showed he can make fantasy stars out of 2 Wide Receivers, remember the Brandon Marshall/Alshon Jeffery duo of 2013? Look for White to a solid late round pick with upside this coming season.

  • Round 11, 126th Overall: Zach Ertz

    • Analysis: Ok, ok, as soon as I said I was filling my bench, here I go and get my Tight End, don't judge me. I ended up being the last person to draft a tight end and I saw Ertz still sitting here in round 11. I didn't want to let the opportunity slip away so I took him while I still could. I like Ertz a lot this year as a sleeper. Zach has done everything owners have wanted him to do over the past few seasons except for find the end zone, he only scored 2 touchdowns last year. If he can bump up his scoring just a little bit in this new offense he can be a fantasy star. He showed promise of working well this year by finishing out last season with 4 games of at least 70 receiving yards.

 

  • Round 12, 139th Overall: Charles Sims

    • Analysis: I view Sims as the ultimate handcuff this year in fantasy football. This is a player who still ranked as the 22nd best RB in points last year, while Doug Martin got 288 carries and piled up 1,400 yards. There is no way Sims should have been productive last year, but he was. He is a great pass catching back, making him better in PPR, but he is a very good runner as well when given the chance. There's not too much I can say about a backup Running Back, but if the injury prone Martin goes down, I view Sims as an automatic RB1.

  • Round 13, 150th Overall: Isaiah Crowell

    • Analysis: Is Crowell actually a good NFL Running Back? I don't believe so. But all the way in round 13 I was able to snag the last Running Back with a starting gig. People are way to high on Duke Johnson this year and not looking at the guy who will get the early down and goal line work. That in itself gives Crowell value, he can have a bad yardage year, but if he scores 8 touchdowns with this revamped offense, he has value right there. Touchdowns are what makes and breaks fantasy seasons, that's where the points lie. Crowell will probably be a bust but at a pick this late I can afford a few long shots.

  • Round 14, 163rd Overall: Jordan Howard

    • Analysis: At draft time I was convinced that Howard would be snatching the starting gig from Jeremy Langford at some point during the year. That could all still happen, but after an impressive August by Langford, and an ameture one by Howard, I ended up dropping Howard for Christine Michael. Michael looked fantastic this preseason and is now listed above Thomas Rawls on the depth chart for Week 1. I don't see much value in Howard anymore, just move on and forget.

  • Round 15, 174th Overall: Vikings D/ST

    • Analysis: Not too much to say, it was the best of what was left. I do think they can be good this year, there are a lot of talented players on that defense and they might be able to give me a few good outings.

  • Round 16, 187th Overall: Chandler Catanzaro

    • Analysis: Ok, now there is really not much to say. He’s got a good leg on a good offense, that’s it. He’ll be staying in my lineup all season.

 

Here’s the lineup, the summary after all that talk:

QB: Philip Rivers

RB1: Todd Gurley

RB2: Le’Veon Bell

WR1: Demaryius Thomas

WR2: Jeremy Maclin

TE: Zach Ertz

Flex: Eddie Lacy

D/ST: Vikings

K: Chandler Catanzaro

Bench: Michael Floyd

Bench: Matt Jones

Bench: Marvin Jones

Bench: Kevin White

Bench: Charles Sims

Bench: Isaiah Crowell

Bench: Jordan Howard

    

 

So at the end of the day I am very happy about my team. I love the Running Backs, they will hopefully be my MVPs, and the rest of the team will hold everything else steady. Enjoy the first week of football, savor it, it is one of the best times of the year. This article came out to be 3500 words which is a lot more than I expected, it may be the longest thing I’ve ever written. The fun part is having to go through and be my own editor now, that’s whats great about writing in your free time. If only I could focus this much attention into my school work, I’d really be going places.