There's nothing quite like a live fantasy football draft.
I completed my first in several years Tuesday night, joining 11 other friends for two hours of football talk, some food (and drinks) and lots of good-natured ribbing about the selections that were made.
The Internet has revolutionized the way we play fantasy sports. We can be in a league with people we've never met in Kansas, if we so choose. It takes all the work out of keeping score, allowing us to watch how we're faring as the games are going on.
The one thing it can't do, though, is replace the laughs that ensue when that first guy tries to draft someone who's already been taken.
In examining my roster after the fact, I came up with several questions I should have asked myself while the draft was going on. Such as:
*Should I draft a quarterback this early? In a 12-team league, I had the last pick. I took Dallas quarterback Tony Romo 36th overall (last pick of the third round) and almost immediately hated what I had done.
It's not that I don't think Romo will do well this season. It's just that I could have gotten a similar player in later rounds. There were 22 players last season who threw for at least 3,000 yards. Seventeen of them had at least 20 touchdown passes. Romo wasn't one of them -- he missed the final 10 games of the year because of injury.
I took him because I was worried about the quarterbacks flying off the board. Aaron Rodgers, Michael Vick and Tom Brady went in the first round. Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Drew Brees were chosen in the second. Matt Ryan and Matt Schaub came off the board before my choice in the third round, so I rushed it.
Our league rewards touchdown passes with four points, while rushing and receiving TDs get six, so I could have waited to get my quarterback. If you're in the same situation and the upper-echelon guys are gone, stock up on the other positions and grab two quarterbacks later.
I added Joe Flacco of the Ravens in the 10th round, and could end up starting him just as much as Romo.
*Can Brandon Lloyd do it again? Lloyd got great news when the Broncos decided to keep Kyle Orton at quarterback. The pair hooked up for 77 catches and a league-leading 1,448 yards last year. Lloyd's 11 touchdown catches last season were four more than he had in his previous five seasons combined. Those numbers will be hard to repeat, but Lloyd is still undervalued in my mind. ESPN ranks him as the 17th best receiver. I took him with the first pick of the sixth round, as the 19th receiver off the board, so I'm happy with that value.
It's worth noting that even though the Broncos replaced Josh McDaniels as head coach with John Fox, offensive coordinator Mike McCoy has remained on the staff.
*Is this the year for Felix Jones? Marion Barber is finally gone, so it would seem so. Jones has tantalized fantasy owners for years with his potential. He averaged a league-leading 5.9 yards per rush in 2009, but that number dropped to 4.3 in 2010. With Romo back in the lineup, things should open for Jones. He's a particularly good option in points-per-reception leagues, as he finished with 48 catches a year ago and has good hands coming out of the backfield.
ESPN reported this week that Jones has never finished with less than 83 total yards in games in which he's got at least 17 touches. After Jason Garrett took over for Wade Phillips last year as the Cowboys' coach, Jones got double-digit carries in the final eight games.
*What pick do I like? How about three picks that I like. Flacco in the 10th round provides a solid backup, one that got a bit more appealing with the addition of former Bills receiver Lee Evans on Friday.
Flacco has made steady statistical improvements in each of his three seasons in the NFL. He's ranked as the 13th-best fantasy quarterback by ESPN. Just keep him out of your lineup when he faces the Steelers.
Chiefs receiver Steve Breaston in the 12th round could be a good find in a PPR format. He should have no trouble adapting to Chiefs coach Todd Haley's offense, as the two were formerly in Arizona together. Breaston had the best season of his career in 2008 with Haley as his offensive coordinator, when he had 77 catches for 1,006 yards. Should defenses turn all their attention to Dwayne Bowe, Breaston could potentially catch 70 passes.
Ryan Torain in the ninth round gives me a dreaded Mike Shanahan running back, but that's OK for the fourth running back on my team. Torain has to only hold off former Cardinals running back Tim Hightower for the featured back job with the Redskins, a job that shouldn't be too difficult.
Evans in a good place
The Ravens' acquisition of Evans on Friday is a good move for both player and club. Evans brings the deep threat the Ravens' have lacked. The move also gives Evans a greater fantasy appeal, as he'll have a competent quarterback throwing to him and a good receiver on the other side in Anquan Boldin.