Since the previous owner of this column is pretty much a deadbeat ne'er-do-well stuck in a Peter Pan Neverland of grad school where he never actually finishes and therefore never has to grow up to real-life responsibilities (like multi-tasking), I decided to do his column for him this preseason. (Seriously, man, I'm in the middle of complex litigation likely to go to the Supreme Court. You have to read for class. Priorities.) As always, the numbers are unquestionable and the opinions are my own. Enjoy.
40 acres and a mule
Keepers: Arian Foster (3), Matt Ryan (11)
Leftover draft cash: $0.25
Preseason Trades: Traded away 2nd round pick for Foster, flipped picks in rounds 3, 8, 12, and 13/15 with VZ
Preseason grade: D
Odds to win 2011 championship: 50 to 1
A.J. won the Arian Foster sweepstakes but at what cost? He gave away a second round pick to add a third round keeper leaving him with the first pick in draft but not another pick until the #40 selection overall. A lot of talent will come off the board between A.J.’s first two picks and leave his team very shallow for top talent. Although I sympathize with the feeling that having a top RB is the way to start a season, a mananger can only give up so much in the preseason through a trade without crippling their draft. A.J. just hasn’t found the right balance yet. He secured his fate as he can build a decent team around Foster but won’t be able to construct a champion with middle round talent.
black is for sunday
Keeper: Felix Jones (9)
Leftover draft cash: $2.88
Preseason trades: Swapped picks in rounds 3 and 4 with Jeff
Preseason grade: C-
Odds to win 2011 championship: 35 to 1
With $2.88, no manager will have more money headed into 2012 than Brent. And he’ll need it because it looks like this team is already playing for next year. After narrowly missing out on trades for McFadden/Jackson and Foster, Brent was left with few options for keeper picks on his own team. Wisely, he avoided the mistake of keeping a wide receiver at a high price for little round value but Felix Jones is not the kind of back you can build a team around. Not ending up with Foster left him in an odd situation in his trade with Jeff but the talent in rounds 3 and 4 is interchangeable enough to not do damage. If I was to give any advice to this manager, it would be draft with a long term perspective because it could be a while before this team’s Sundays are anything but black.
Keepers: Michael Turner (4), Philip Rivers (9)
Leftover draft cash: $0
Preseason trades: Swapped a round 6 pick with Umphlett for a round 9 pick to get Rivers
Preseason grade: B
Odds to win 2011 championship: 25 to 1
Overbay didn’t do anything wrong with his preseason. In fact, he obtained a very good QB at a very good value and didn’t have to sell his draft to do it. (A.J. should be taking notes for his next trade moves.) But if you’re going to spend all your money, is Michael Turner going to be the workhorse to pull you through to a championship? I’m just not sure that you can bank on that. So this manager did about the best he could with the options in front of him but he didn’t get very creative. Later this season, that lack of creativity could come back to cost him.
Jerry’s Belt Buckle
Keepers: Adrian Peterson (1), Matt Forte (6)
Leftover draft cash: $0.88
Preseason trades: Picked up a round 6 pick and Forte in the Rivers trade with Overbay, gave up a 3rd rounder to get Peterson, went mad scientist to pick up 4 consecutive picks at the round 7/8 turn
Preseason grade: B-
Odds to win 2011 championship: 20 to 1
Umphlett spent a lot of money this preseason. I’m just not sure he got enough bang for his buck. Peterson and Forte are good building blocks to a contender, however giving up every pick between pick #11 and pick #50 is not a recipe for success. It’s like this manager wants to have his cake and eat it too. He wants to spend big, get all of his top talent, then find steals in the middle rounds to build toward next year. If you’re going to sell out to win now then focus on one thing: winning now. Like George W. Bush in the 2000s, all that spending may have fed a booming trade economy today, but what will he have to show for it tomorrow? By the time we get to his four consecutive picks, Umphlett will be looking for the fantasy equivalent of a stimulus package but his team will already be shovel ready.
Keepers: Jamaal Charles (2), Austin Collie (15)
Leftover draft cash: $1.62
Preseason trades: None
Preseason grade: B
Odds to win 2011 championship: 15 to 1
Brandon was able to keep his favorite player from last year’s team (albeit not at the greatest round value) and his greatest steal from last year’s draft. Unfortunately, while Charles’ star seems to be on the rise (with everyone other than Todd Haley, that is), Collie is a little worse for the wear from last year. Even if Manning comes back and the Colts offense kicks it into high gear again, Collie is one concussion away from missing serious time. After his problems last year, the Colts and the NFL will be monitoring him closely. (BTW, between Addai, Dallas Clark, and Collie, what is the over/under side bet on Colts offensive concussions this year? I think I will set it at 4 and take the over.) I like Brandon’s patience sticking with his players and not trying to get too cute and screw up his draft. Certainly, he would have liked to trade Roddy White but he didn’t get the offer he wanted so he threw him back in the pool. Now he has a chance to build his first champion since 2005. His championship clock is ticking louder than Norris’ biological one at this point.
Keepers: Ray Rice (4)
Leftover draft cash: $1.75
Preseason trades: Swapped round 3 and 4 with Brent, swapped with Umphlett to get back into round 4
Preseason grade: B+
Odds to win 2011 championship: 12 to 1
I liked Jeff’s moves this preseason. He improved his stock in rounds that mattered. He cut ties with dead weight (*cough* DeAngelo Williams) He didn’t overreach. He built around a solid player and he trusted his ability to identify talent on draft day as he did last year with Hakeem Nicks and others. He also saved some money for Ray Rice’s last keeper eligible year next year. Last season, I said that Jeff had more pressure than anyone to build a good team on draft day. This year, he may have less pressure than anyone and that could work to his advantage. If he can avoid the injuries that plagued his team last year, Jeff’s year may still be arriving… just one year late.
Keepers: Darren McFadden (9), Vincent Jackson (10)
Leftover draft cash: $2.13
Preseason trades: Traded picks in round 5 and 6 to get McFadden and Jackson
Preseason grade: A-
Odds to win 2011 championship: 11 to 1
Billy came out swinging early and often in the preseason trading period and it worked for him. Not only did he grab a RB and WR with massive upsides but he got a steal before the market priced him out of it. An argument can be made that no one is getting more value for his keeper picks than this manager. He won’t realize the full value this year but giving up two middle round picks is the next best thing. He also saved enough money to add another player to his keeper list for next year. showmedamoney! May not bring back the plaque this December but with these keeper picks, he could very well be a factor for many Decembers to come.
Keepers: Aaron Rodgers (1)
Leftover draft cash: $1
Preseason trades: Traded keeper players for picks in round 3, 5, and 6
Preseason grade: C
Odds to win 2011 championship: 10 to 1
Well, he finally did it. Kris Norris finally consummated his man crush on Aaron Rodgers this preseason. Eat your heart out, Rex Grossman. Like a jealous lover, Kris abolished all of his other suitors in favor of his one true love. And I would argue it was not his shrewdest move. I would have kept McFadden and Jackson for myself. No one could have gotten more value for them or set themselves up for greater success going forward. Not to mention the fact, Kris could have picked higher in the first round and hoped that Rodgers fell to him anyway. That would have been a solid start to a great team. As it stands, Norris now relies on his drafting prowess to pick up the value he needs in rounds 3-6 to build a champion around his prized QB. Yeah, he’ll crumble faster than a lawn chair during last week’s earthquake.
Keepers: LeSean McCoy (9), Rashard Mendenhall (11), Percy Harvin (12)
Leftover draft cash: $0.25
Preseason trades: Hoodwinked A.J. into a better 3rd round pick for God only knows the reason
Preseason grade: A
Odds to win 2011 championship: 13 to 2
New rule proposal for next year: A.J. can only make 2 trades per preseason and each move must be approved by a nonpartisan panel of experts. Someone has to step in to be the nanny state government and protect this guy from himself. Most of VZ’s good preseason work happened not this year but last as he grabbed the players he wanted and even got an exception written into the rules so he could continue to keep them where he wanted to. Now the pressure is on to capitalize as McCoy and Mendenhall are in their primes, the focal point of their respective team’s running games, and their keeper contracts are quickly dwindling. If not now then when for VZ? Now manager has a higher bar to clear to be considered successful this year. The Eagles of this fantasy league. Anything less than a championship is a failure for this squad.
Keepers: Chris Johnson (7), Santonio Holmes (11)
Leftover draft cash: $1.00
Preseason trades: Traded Foster for a 2nd round pick
Preseason grade: A+
Odds to win 2011 championship: 5 to 1
How would the two-time defending champion be anything other than here? Much emotional turmoil surrounded this squad in the preseason as Jimmy really struggled with his decision about Chris Johnson in light of his holdout. But like a saavy veteran, The Commish held his ground, didn’t let an arbitrary keeper deadline freak him out, and didn’t reach for the panic button. Jimmy knows his best advantage is the value he gets for CJ…SignToday in the 7th round. He drafted the guy to get him three championships, not two and if he gets the job done this year, nothing will ever have been as impressive. Still, even if The Commish finds himself in a better position than he did last year, he’ll need to be. The rest of the league is nipping at his heels even more than it has been before.