Pre-2008 NFL Draft Fantasy Football Mock Draft QB Shakedown

Rain or shine, feast or famine, storm or impending doom, fantasy football diehards love to mock draft. I’m definitely guilty of already plotting for one, but I dare not complete one before the NFL draft and a few more free agent moves have passed.

Rather than do one for myself, I gathered together several that have taken place since the end of the 2007 season and analyzed a few interesting moves that are occurring in the projected 2008 drafts.

Quarterbacks are taking a big jump in this draft since Tom Brady inflated his value like he inflated his ego in 2008. Is he the first quarterback to take? And when should you take him? The alternative could be the old, reliable other Manning, or is it?

Let’s jump right in to seeing how QBs are changing the mix…

The Break Down

The New York Times’ fantasy football blog The Fifth Down ran a fantasy mock draft by Mark St. Amant (he’s book-learned) hot on the heels of the Super Bowl. The mock draft was broken down into Part 1 and Part 2.

Of note, Amant’s top five was LaDainian Tomlinson, Brian Westbrook, Joseph Addai, Adrian Peterson and Tom Brady. The QB jumped just to the fifth spot. Peyton Manning popped up at 9, but Tony Romo merely got a mention in the “Best of the Rest” behind the likes of Randy Moss (at 12), Larry Johnson (at 10) and Clinton Portis (at 8).

An interesting side note on Amant’s draft article stood out in Part 2 when he chose to avoid Edgerrin James, Greg Jennings, Fred Taylor, Reggie Bush, Roy Williams and Dwayne Bowe. Are you considering them for your draft?

Each player comes with a reason to fear having them on your roster, but they will still be high on a lot of draft boards come preseason.

Jennings isn’t doomed without Brett Favre and enters his third season uninjured–and you know what they say about third-year wide receivers. Roy Williams could recover in Detroit with a new coordinator, and Fred Taylor seems to never say quit. It might be a bit soon to dismiss them as avoidable.

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Fantasy Football Xtreme posted up an early mock draft in January. Xtreme stuck with L.T. at numero uno. Check out Randy Moss and Michael Turner breaking into the first round projections.

This draft was posted when no one knew where Turner would end up, and his value is not likely worth a first round pick now that he has settled in Atlanta.

Moss is an atypical pick in the first round. I might avoid him considering that he could get shut down more often now after seeing the New York Giants Super Bowl formula for beating the Patriots, but building around Moss could be a unique tactic for 2008.

Tom Brady was selected sixth, but Peyton Manning and Tony Romo went in the second round. Those three were the only QBs taken. Two more made the four-round cut with Carson Palmer and Ben Roethlisberger going off the board at the end of the third round and beginning of the fourth.

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FantasyFootball.com jumped into the ring in February with a mock draft excluding rookies. [Link no longer available.] Jeff Williamson picked Adrian Peterson first–debatable at this point in the offseason after his inconsistent finish. The consensus top RBs followed in the mix, but Ryan Grant noticeably jumped into the eighth overall spot–not sure about that one, but more on that later.

Quarterbacks didn’t show up until the second round when Brady went nineteenth overall. That’s much later than I feel a QB will go this year after the QBs really carried a lot of teams last season.

It might be that the FantasyFootball.com guys just don’t feel building around a QB is a worthwhile strategy, but it seems strange that not a single one went for Brady until the middle of the second round if you look at the stats from the end of 2007.

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The Hazean posted his mock in mid-February with L.T. again leading and Tom Brady ranking sixth overall. Manning was eighth, and Tony Romo jumped in at 12.

The Hazean’s placement of the QBs is a little more appropriate for 2008–not too high but not leaving them to the traditional second round grabs either. My only argument against his placement might be the order in which the QBs were taken since Romo might be a better value than Manning for 2008.

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NFL.com’s late March mock draft dove right off the deep end taking Tom Brady with the first overall pick, but at least Tony Romo and Peyton Manning made the cut for the first round as well.

Frank Gore and Ryan Grant were slightly higher with NFL.com than I have seen them. Gore is supposed to be the center of the offense for the 49ers next season, but no one has seen Mike Martz’s playbook yet.

As for Grant, the situation could get worse in Green Bay. The passing of the torch to Aaron Rodgers means Green Bay has a questionable passing game for at least the early part of 2008, and opponents could stack the box against Grant. The other concern is that one of Green Bay’s other running backs like Brandon Jackson or DeShawn Wynn will have an opportunity next season to share the load.

Despite retirement, Favre strangely went 36th overall in NFL.com fantasy mock. Does NFL.com read their news section?

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CBS Sportsline is running a full 16 round draft that hasn’t finished up yet, but they are currently drafting the 12th round. Rookies are allowed, so McFadden went at 22 in the second round without even having a destination–that’s where these early mock drafts really get messy.

CBS put L.T. first overall and dropped Adrian Peterson to third behind Brian Westbrook–another ranking choice that is debated in this offseason. The numbers support it though.

Tom Brady came in tenth. Peyton Manning was actually taken before him at seventh overall, which I haven’t seen in most of these mocks. Old habits die hard, or maybe someone still has more faith in Manning’s ability to make a TD pass.

Keeping an eye on Ryan Grant, he was higher once again in the second round at fifteenth overall, but the real injustice was Tony Romo staying undrafted into the third round and going at the 33 spot.

The team that selected Romo got to take two RB studs first with Willis McGahee and Clinton Portis. With Portis projected to be more productive than he has been in 2008, those three could be a pretty lucky trio to acquire in the first three rounds.

The Quarterback Jump


Creative Commons License photo credit: dougww

I pointed out fluke draft ranks for certain unknowns like Ryan Grant, Randy Moss and Frank Gore as I saw them, but a major trend throughout all these drafts was the changing value of the fantasy QB.

I understand–and expect–the QBs coming in higher this season, but many of these early drafts seem to either take them with huge hype or ignore QBs following the traditional fantasy football drafting strategy.

When it comes to drafting fantasy players, you have to look at the cold, hard stats.

Tom Brady

Tom Brady trumps all competitors because he put up the most TDs in 2007–50 if you don’t count the two he ran in himself. In standard-scoring leagues, Tom Brady was the highest point generator all season. He stands significantly above L.T. (18 TDs, 1 PTD) and would seemingly be the favorite for overall first pick in the draft.

Even though he loses Donte Stallworth, he didn’t really utilize him in the offense. Jabar Gaffney is a sufficient replacement or possibly even better. Despite better coverage on Randy Moss, the New England running game is unpredictably utilized, and the Patriots will likely lean on the receiving again in 2008 as they did in 2007.

Brady’s value should be higher than normal in 2008. There’s a valid argument that he shouldn’t go first overall because he is a QB and demand is not high enough to take a QB in the first round, but he certainly should be on the mind of drafters after the top tier of fantasy RBs are gone.

Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning didn’t beat out all comers at the QB position last year as he usually does. Manning had 31 TDs passing and rushed in three. In most standard-scoring leagues, he ranked sixth overall at the end of the season–almost on par with Drew Brees, who will fetch a much lower price than Manning.

Manning will have all his weapons back to full health, but Marvin Harrison is becoming a shell of his former self. With Harrison in bad shape, Reggie Wayne can carry the load, but Manning just wasn’t as productive without Marvin Harrison in the lineup last season. I don’t think he can outclass Brady or Tony Romo in 2008. If anything, he can match either of the two.

Tony Romo

Tony Romo was forgotten on a lot of these mock drafts. He ranked third overall in total fantasy points in most standard-scoring leagues–right behind L.T. and Tom Brady. He put up 36 TDs through the air and 2 TDs rushing, and even though he was only slightly better than Peyton Manning in total points, Romo has his same offense returning for 2008 plus any rookies the Cowboys pick up the draft to improve upon the receiving corps.

Romo wasn’t valued as high as he should have been last season, and a lot of teams were able to steal him in later rounds. After 2007, I think he has surpassed Peyton Manning as the second QB to be taken in the draft.

The Rest of the QB Pack

In addition to just these three who seem to be going near the top of the QB pile in most mocks, a pack of QBs rounded out the top fantasy point totals in 2007. The top twelve point totals on offense includes eight QBs.

Applying the final rankings directly to a mock draft wouldn’t make sense–especially for fantasy diehards–but good QBs should go higher this year.

Brady, Romo and Manning will be expensive and likely go out in the first and second rounds while the rest of the high-scoring QBs–Brees, Roethlisberger, Hasselbeck, Anderson, Palmer–will go in the third round or later at a very nice bargain price because of consistency problems or neglect from fantasy owners.

Semi-New Strategy: Building around a QB

Last season showed us that a QB can be a team-changing value in fantasy football. I could see the first QB going off the boards as soon as fifth overall with the inconsistencies we have seen in our top RB studs in recent years. Brady and Romo definitely won’t be on the boards in most amateur drafts by mid-second round.

This year’s draft will introduce a somewhat new QB-building strategy.

Teams can 1) Take a highly-valued QB like Brady, Romo and Manning in the first round and build a team around him, 2) Take a RB first and look to pick up a top-tier or second-tier QB before the third round ends or 3) Try to snag as many studs at RB and WR as possible in early rounds and only taking a QB when they absolutely must–as in, before everyone starts drafting backup QBs.

Building around a QB used to just apply to Peyton Manning, but it can’t anymore now that QBs have dominated fantasy point totals. Smart drafters may be able to pull a miracle and pick up a bargain like Matt Schaub or David Garrard in late rounds if they play their cards right and know their league mates’ tendencies well enough to take chances, but consistent stud QB play is a major advantage toward winning your league in 2008.

So what does that mean for us?

I hope to see more movement of the QBs in the rankings as the fantasy drafts progress this offseason. More and more will likely carry Brady somewhere around the middle of the first round with other top QBs following close behind. The real question looking towards 2008 is how comfortable you feel about building around a top QB or staying the traditional route of taking a RB first.

So how much are you willing to invest in fantasy QBs for 2008?

Going for Broke: Sure things and daring moves to win Week 15 in fantasy football

Well, it’s probably round 2 of the playoffs for most of you. Some of you may already be drowning your sorrows in a bottle of fine liquor–or a jar of Papa’s moonshine.

For the sober ones, it’s beyond time to start plotting next week. What studs does your opponent have? Who will have a big week to save you? If you have studs in a big match up, you are set–and we all hate you. If you are lacking in a few key areas, you may need to take some risks to put down the Tom Brady or Randy Moss owner in your future.

First, some pretty obvious things. Several studs are lined up to have big games and should stay on your starting roster.

STUDS THIS WEEK

  • Joseph Addai   against OAK
    He’s my pick of the week to have a big game against the worst run defense in the NFL. Just look at what Ryan Grant did to them last week.
  • Willis McGahee against MIA
    Even though he struggled last week, he couldn’t ask for a more powerful bounce back match up. Miami allowed 2 100-yard rushers in a single game last week against Buffalo, so what if McGahee just makes it 200+?
  • Kurt Warner against NO
    Kurt Warner likes to pretend he’s a pitcher and throw the ball for the entire game. It just so happens that he gets the Saints defense this week. They like to act like a horrible baseball outfield and just watch the balls sail over their head.
  • Drew Brees against ARI
    With the above message in mind, Brees is going to have to keep up if Warner really turns it on this week. While he’s not as much of a lock as Warner, he will definitely be putting it up big this week.
  • Earnest Graham against ATL
    The Hawks are broken and feeling a little bit rejected this week with Petrino leaving them. I don’t think they will even be able to sleep without a light on with all those feelings of abandonment, and the league took away all their dogs. Graham is a solid runner, and he will put the hurt on them this week.
  • Carson Palmer against SF
    It’s San Francisco, people.
  • Jamal Lewis against BUF
    While Buffalo was getting those 200+ yards rushing, Miami’s Samkon Gado was getting 2 TDs against the Buffalo defense. Expect Jamal Lewis to be able to do some damage after the bruising performance he showed this week.

What? Did I not mention any Patriots? No LT?   Don’t worry. If you have a stud rated at the top and performing hot all season, you should feel safe starting them, and I don’t think you need my advice.

For those of you that need a little daring this week, he is your chance-y plays of the week. They could be big enough to get you over a hump, or they could be snubbed and snub your championship hopes. Say a little prayer for each of them, and only play them if you have a huge deficit to overcome with your week 15 opponent or no other options.

DARING PLAYS THIS WEEK

  •  Lee Evans against CLE
    Buffalo wants to win and lock in a playoff appearance. Now that Trent Edwards has met Lee Evans, they might hook up again with the Browns being one of the worst receiving defenses (30/32). He will either get his due TDs or he will get nothing, and the Bills will lose.
  • Bernard Berrian against MIN
    You can’t run on Minnesota–unless you are Ryan Grant. Berrian will be a key performer if the Bears win this week. The only risk is whether Kyle Orton can come off the bench at QB to make him a star. Better hope his star shines bright, but Berrian could put up a TD and plenty of yardage if he has a good day.
  • Trent Edwards against CLE
    Much like Lee Evans, he is hit or miss. He will either be on and winning the game with his arm, or he will let us all down.
  • Darius Walker against DEN
    Denver’s defense is unpredictable, but as the lead in the RBBC that is now going to operate for the Texans, Walker has the best chance of making them look bad again if he can get the running game going in this one. He could save you or just put up enough numbers to be average and let you lose.
  • Derrick Mason/Mark Clayton against MIA
    With so many passes going out last week over Miami defender’s heads, you would expect one of these guys to have a big game with at least one TD. My money would be on Mark Clayton, but it all depends on whether the Ravens find TOO much success running the football and just stick with Willis McGahee.
  • Jabar Gaffney against NYJ
    Gaffney is consistently getting looks in the zone. Considering the bad blood between these two teams, the Patriots wide receivers could all get big days, and Gaffney could receive a hefty load of that–more so than the likes of Stallworth.
  • Jerheme Urban against NO
    Urban could benefit from a lot of Warner passing this week especially if Boldin sits this one out. Keep your eye on the injury report, but keep in mind that Bryant Johnson could also take some catches. It’s a gamble who takes any TDs from Larry Fitzgerald in this one.
  • Sidney Rice against CHI
    Rice has the ability to take it to the house with every catch. If Tavaris continues to develop, he could get at least one TD in this one against the Bears. He’s probably the most risky play at receiver, but he could pay off in a pinch. It’s possible.

If you still have questions or you just find yourself feeling lonely and vulnerable after absorbing all that, feel free to comment and have the fantasy football genie answer all your questions. Just give me a heads up. It takes awhile to rub this lamp.