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Fantasy Football Fever!

August 23, 2008 - John Whittaker

I'm sure, at this point, you're as tired of reading about the Yankees' struggles as I am of writing about them.

So, I won't bore you with 3,000 words of my feelings on Carl Pavano starting his first game since the Nixon administration, the implosion of the bullpen or the general feeling one has watching a neutered baseball team try to make the playoffs.

They just don't have it this year.

Moving on. It's time for fantasy football season and the first of what I hope will be the first of dozens of annual postings about my fantasy draft. Much like NBC's coverage of the Olympics, this running diary is tape-delayed. Consider it pseudo-live (thanks, Jason Whitlock of for that word. It's much appreciated!), but hopefully still funny.

In the words of the immortal Cosmo Kramer, Giddyup!

Pre-draft: Give Dennis Phillips a big hand for making sure some of our less computer-literate team owners can navigate the draft-room setup. Most marsupials can handle it, but a couple of our reporters can't. Suddenly, I feel very secure about tomorrow's paper! The draft starts in 14 minutes, and I think I've got a plan sketched out.

The Whitless Wonder's Pigskin Picks Contest

A new blog feature will start along with the NFL season.

The Whitless Wonder and several of his buddies will pick college and NFL games (only Saturday college games and all the NFL games) as part of a friendly wager amongst friends. As long as I don't end up running around the block naked when I lose this bet, this should be fun.

Our cast of characters so far: Todd and Finn, two high school buddies of mine who've been known to wheel four TVs into a room so they can see all three football games and the Yankees game at the same time, and Sir Cumference, a longtime friend of mine who just passed me in the standings in our fantasy baseball league and whose name is being withheld because I want you all to respect me in the morning. A couple of other invites are still out -- including one to the News Gal. Maybe, if you all post nice things, she'll sign up!

The smack talking has already started. In the e-mail saying he's in, Todd asked me, "What do I win?" On Saturday afternoon, Sir Cumference said he was in and added, "I'm going to beat you like a set of bongos." Then, Sir Cumference set his sights on Todd.

"Please, I refuse to accept the fact that Teddy can outwit either of us at anything. I know, it's happened before, but comets have struck the earth before too and I don't anticipate that happening again this fall/winter."

Yep. These are my friends.

Here's how it'll work. Each week, a list of college and NFL football games will be posted with Tuesday's blog. The picks will coincide with a football blog at some point in the week, though the Whitless Wonder isn't sure how that's going to work yet. If anyone reading is interested, feel free to leave your picks as comments on the picks blog. If there are any takers, I'll post the best reader picks and their record each week.

Let the games begin!

Picking eighth, I'm thinking of drafting Tom Brady (who Yahoo had ranked ninth), and then loading up on running backs later. Yahoo tends to nail the first round draft picks with its rankings, so I'm feeling pretty good about having Tom Terrific on my team this year. If there's anything better than having Tom Brady on your fantasy team, it's being a Pats fan with Tom Brady on your fantasy team.

Other than nailing down quarterback for all but one week of the season, I want to grab one top-flight wide receiver who hopefully plays on the same team as my quarterback, because not only am I a glutton for bye week hell who wants to be without two top players for a crucial week of the season, but like the thought of doubling up on touchdown passes and receptions.

As I'm sketching out my plan, I realize the draft room is way too quiet. Who else is in this league -- Ken Lucas and Steve Smith? Let's hear some chatter, people! This is the quietest the newsroom has been since Pat Fanelli started here three years ago.

On to the draft.

First Round: Tomlinson, Adrian Peterson, Addai, Westbrook, Steven Jackson, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Marion Barber, Portis, Romo.

Five running backs are taken to start the draft -- and, with the sixth pick, the Lincoln Regulators take Tom Brady. My response is unrepeatable, but it might have rhymed with duck. Peyton Manning goes next, pretty much canning my quarterback-with-the-first-pick plan -- so I pick Marion Barber instead.

This draft's off to a great start.

With the final pick of the first round, Pat Fanelli picks Tony Romo. Let the Jessica Simpson jokes begin! That's the closest Pat will get to a woman for at least two more years.

Good times…

Second Round: Frank Gore, Drew Brees, Randy Moss, Marshawn Lynch, Larry Johnson, Ryan Grant, Reggie Wayne, Terrell Owens, Larry Fitzgerald, Braylon Edwards.

I catch a break in the second round with my turnaround pick when Randy Moss is still available. At least I got one of the Pats I wanted. What a career comeback for Moss, who dropped like a stone in fantasy leagues last year and was a clubhouse cancer coming into last season. Now, he's the top wideout taken, and nobody batted an eyelash. He's the anti-Vince Young. More on Vince later.

Best moment of the draft so far -- the Fantasy Football Gods getting back at Kinsler for his Tom Brady pick by taking Braylon Edwards off the board for him - his pen just got thrown at his desk, followed by a word that sounded remarkably like truck.

Third Round: Houshmandzadeh, Maroney, Andre Johnson, Ronnie Brown, Jones-Drew, Jamal Lewis, Brandon Jacobs, Willie Parker, Chad Johnson, Colston.

I was hoping Maurice Jones-Drew would fall to me - but an autopicked team got him. I really hate autopick teams in a draft, by the way. I'm not sure Jones-Drew would have slipped three more spots, but the computer takes him just because he's the top player at the position left on the board. Of course, the Jones-Drew pick starts a run on running backs, so I take the best back on the board - Willie Parker.

Round 4: Willis McGahee, Chester Taylor, Ben Roethlisberger, Kellen Winslow, Darren McFadden, Steve Smith, Torry Holt, Reggie Bush, Antonio Gates, Michael Turner.

This is where I think I slipped up a bit. There was a good chance I'd get a good quarterback later in the draft and I should have taken Turner, Bush or Torry Holt. Carson Palmer, David Garrard, Donovan McNabb and Jay Cutler were all still on the board. I definitely jumped the gun on that pick.

To make matters worse, Roethlisberger is one of my least favorite players. If he has a bad season, the guardrails on the Washington Street bridge won't be high enough to keep me off.

Round 5: Jason Witten, Calvin Johnson, Plaxico Burress, Thomas Jones, Brandon Marshall, Tony Gonzalez, Wes Welker, Julius Jones, Dallas Clark, San Diego.

Ben Klein bailed me out by taking Wes Welker one pick before I took Julius Jones - you probably don't want two receivers from the same team, even if they're Moss and Welker. Jones might be a reach, but, aw hell, he's a reach. I have no idea why I took him, especially with Edgerrin James still on the board. I'm screwed.

Round 6: Anquan Boldin, New England, Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Lee Evans, Carson Palmer, Marvin Harrison, Edgerrin James, David Garrard, Minnesota.

I was hoping, when I took Julius Jones, that New England's defense would be there for me later because I hate to take a defense that early in a draft. The aptly named Pink Bunnies snaked the Pats D one pick before me. That left the best player I had on the board as Hines Ward, so I gulped and took him. Now, I've got three Steelers on my team. Forgive me if I start talking like Myron Cope. Thank God the playoffs don't count in fantasy football, because I'd be rooting against my entire fantasy team this year. I'd rather root for a root canal.

Round 7: Derek Anderson, Chicago, Jeremy Shockey, Donovan McNabb, Chris Cooley, Pittsburgh, New York, Roy Williams, Nate Burleson, LenDale White.

I think I got the steal of the draft here when Roy Williams was still available. Losing Mike Martz hurts the third and fourth wideouts for the Lions (Mike Furrey and Shaun McDonald were not chosen, by the way) but Williams is still a solid play. Hooray, me!

Round 8: Greg Jennings, Warrick Dunn, Baltimore, Santana Moss, Laveranues Coles, Dallas, Jacksonville, Selvin Young, Jonathan Stewart, Jerricho Cotchery.

Round 9: Adam Vinatieri, Dwayne Bowe, Jay Cutler, Marc Bulger, Nick Folk, Earnest Graham, Fred Taylor, Reggie Brown, Matt Hasselbeck, Shayne Graham.

Round 10: Heath Miller, Chris Chambers, Stephen Gostkowski, Kevin Curtis, Rashard Mendenhall, Matt Forte, Kevin Smith, Greg Olsen, Kevin Jones, Aaron Rodgers.

Round 11: Isaac Bruce, Phil Dawson, Roddy White, Rudi Johnson, DeAngelo Williams, Eli Manning, Rob Bironas, Benjamin Watson, Rian Lindell, Kenny Watson.

These rounds were pretty boring - they went quickly and nobody said anything interesting. I was targeting Greg Olson, who I thought would make a good tight end but was taken by Simon Teska in the 10th round. Which means, it's year two of the Benjamin Watson roller coaster ride. One of these years, he's really going to break out - but I don't know if it means he's busting out of Bill Belicheck's doghouse, which can resemble Andy Dufresne in the Shawshank Redemption, or if he'll be the top 5 tight end everyone says he can be.

I like Gostkowski - if the Pats score like they did last year, he's good for 6-7 points a week, though Belichick doesn't let him kick long field goals, especially not with the Pats in F____ You mode all last season. Maybe coach has mellowed this year.

Round 12: Brett Favre, Reuben Droughns, Jake Delhomme, Philip Rivers, Vernon Davis, Donald Driver, Todd Heap, Matt Leinart, Jason Campbell, Bernard Berrian.

Pat Fanelli, the Jets fan in the room, makes two solid picks. Not surprisingly, one of them is Brett Favre. I'm either shocked by the fact Fanelli made such a good pick, or I'm having a coronary. It feels about the same.

Meanwhile, my Jake Delhomme pick draws laughs from Kinsler. Somebody's got to throw the ball to Steve Smith when he gets back from his suspension, and it's not like anybody's going to do anything to tick off Steve Smith. Let the touchdown bombs begin!

Round 13: Alge Crumpler, Ray Rice, Patrick Crayton, Nate Kaeding, Matt Schaub, Justin Fargas, Chris Brown, Felix Jones, Joey Galloway, Seattle.

Round 14: Derrick Mason, Owen Daniels, Tennessee, Indianapolis, Anthony Gonzalez, Tony Scheffler, Philadelphia, Green Bay, Ted Ginn Jr., Ahman Green.

Round 15: Josh Scobee, Tatum Bell, Devin Hester, Zach Miller, Neil Rackers, Mike Nugent, Donald Lee, Kevin Boss, Jerry Porter, Mason Crosby.

More boring rounds of the draft. I think everybody just wants to get this thing over, because there is no chatter. None. This room's deader than Jack Black's career right now. Devin Hester's a steal this late. Nice pick by Simon Teska. I don't care if Jim McMahon comes back to throw him the ball - or Vince McMahon, for that matter - he's going to be a player.

Round 16: Randy McMichael, Arizona, Kevin Faulk, Vince Young, Donte' Stallworth, Houston, Jon Kitna, Shaun Suisham, Matt Ryan, Tampa Bay.

There is absolutely nothing of

For Those Of You With Simmons Withdrawal

If anyone else is missing Bill Simmons' columns as badly as I am, here are a couple of fantasy football links for you. Enjoy!

significance to write about this round. Nothing. Let's just move on. … to the one thing worth writing about from Round 16. Speaking of high comedy, wasn't it just a few years ago that Vince Young was on the cover of Madden? Does the Madden jinx apply to fantasy leagues? It's hard to believe he was taken after Kevin Faulk and two picks before the Houston Texans defense in this draft. Do we get points for Madden covers made? Taking the best player I thought was available, my team is way too stacked with Patriots, Cowboys and Steelers, though there are worse teams to have players from. Felix Jones is intriguing as a backup running back, though that might be because I've been watching Hard Knocks on HBO.

Anyone else who's been watching has seen Jerry Jones salivate over Jones in exhibition games, and those slo-mo shots of Jones cutting his way through linebackers who'll be playing in the CFL next year who make Felix Jones look like Barry Sanders.

You just know that Jones is sitting in his office late at night, watching those films, and just can't remain the, um, master of his domain (there's a reference for all you Seinfeld fans). Speaking of not being master of your domain, I wonder how many other people have seen the title Hard Knocks on their digital cable after 1 a.m. and thought it was a soft-core porn flick. They excitedly flip over to HBO only to see Terrell Owens running topless in slow motion on a beach.

I'd love to be a fly on that wall ... or, maybe I wouldn't.


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