Archive for Thursday, August 7, 2008

The eephus pitch

August 7, 2008

Sitting in any sports bar on a Sunday afternoon in mid-November will point out one thing in particular.

Listening to the cheers and groans, a person will notice they are not collective. That's because the patrons who venture out to locales where they can tune in to every NFL game simultaneously may be interested in one team, but almost all are cheering for groups of

individuals.

Fantasy football has taken off. The fact that ESPN, Yahoo, CBS Sports and other news outlets employ a group of people to be full-time fantasy analysts is evidence of this.

I understand it, play it myself and know several in the De Soto community enjoy it as well.

Most of the appeal is going against a group of friends, the trash talk and all that that encompasses.

Men, women and children are playing it, so why fight it?

In the coming weeks my colleague, David Oakes, and I will run through a few positions on the field and offer our opinions based on what we've read, discussed and come to know through intuition or, more likely, pretentiousness.

Given the participation rate, the average reader will enjoy it and maybe even find it useful.

To begin, this is one of the most wide-open years in terms of the draft that I can remember. Larry Johnson was at the top only a year ago, while Adrian Peterson wasn't expected to even be an above-average back. This year there are two very solid backs at the top of everyone's draft boards, Peterson and LaDanian Tomlinson.

Besides the turnover of top athletes, many NFL teams are now going to two-back packages, with a short-yardage back and an every-down back. It means less wear and tear on the top backs in the league, but also less touchdowns for fantasy owners (the ultimate point-getter) of those backs - think Marion Barber. Dallas seems as committed to the two-back system as any team in the NFL.

The fantasy landscape is changing, so taking that into consideration these are my thoughts on how to begin figuring a game plan for the draft, what positions to take when.

If a person is at the top of the draft order, this is the perfect year to trade positions and pick up an extra second-round selection for, say, a top-of-the-first-round and fourth-round pick. People get way too excited in the first round and they think they just have to have one specific guy, and that's just not the case this year.

If an owner could trade away a top-two pick and slip to the end of the first round and beginning of the second, they could very well find themselves with the prospect of finding Tom Brady and Randy Moss with their first two picks. Keep in mind that different leagues have different rules, and this is with the assumption that quarterbacks are awarded 6, or even 5 points, for a touchdown.

Brady may not throw for 50 touchdowns this year, but with an added year of experience working with Moss the duo's production shouldn't slip that much, if at all.

The main thing to remember this year is owners shouldn't feel stuck with the age-old idea that you should take running backs with your first two picks. A strong tandem like Brady and Moss will more than make up for a couple of average backs.

And the parity is such that there just isn't much difference between second-tier backs like Maurice-Jones Drew and Willie Parker.

That's the first thing to remember when drafting this year; offenses are changing and traditional draft tactics should be revisited this year to give owners the best possible scoring output.

Position-by-position breakdowns will follow in the weeks to come.

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