Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Ivy League Fantasy Football Draft

Some people hear Christmas music in the malls right after Thanksgiving (or, as it seems these days, Columbus Day) and get downright giddy. Some feel the temperature change in the spring and begin to taste the summer.

TigerBlog sees cheatsheets and draft kits start popping up on different sports web sites and gets that same excitement. Yes, TB has a wife, a child, a full-time job and a mortgage, but he still transforms into a kid in a candy store when fantasy football season rolls around.

A brief description for those of you who have yet to experience the thrill of staying up late on a Monday night to watch the Seattle defense score three (yes, three) touchdowns to cost your team a playoff spot (that was three years ago, and perhaps TB isn’t over it fully); fantasy football is based on putting together teams of actual NFL players and using their gameday stats each week to determine head-to-head results.

We could get much deeper into it, but since this is TigerBlog, not TigerNovel, we’ll move on.

While preparing for a different draft, TB had the idea of trying to do a few rounds of an Ivy League fantasy football draft for the upcoming season. And since one of his league mates just happens to be the football SID at Cornell -- 2004 Rypien Cup champion Jeremy Hartigan -- he found a partner for the exercise.

We ran the draft last night with the following rules: each person managed four teams in an eight-team league, so TB took the odd teams and Hartigan, or RedBlog as he’ll be referred to from this point forward, took the even ones. We used a traditional league set-up: one quarterback, two running backs, three receivers, one tight end, one kicker, one team defense.

We decided three rounds would be about as far as we could go with a degree of confidence in the picks.

1a Jordan Culbreath (Princeton, RB)
2a Bobby Sewall (Brown, WR)
3a Mike DiMaggio (Penn, RB)
4a Matt Luft (Harvard, WR)
5a Buddy Farnham (Brown, WR)
6a Gino Gordon (Harvard, RB)
7a Austin Knowlin (Columbia, WR)
8a Bryan Walters (Cornell, WR)

Culbreath would be the Adrian Peterson of this draft, since running backs are the backbone of fantasy football, and he returns as the reigning rushing champion with four starters back on the offensive line. Brown’s Bobby Sewall led the league in both receiving yards and touchdown catches last season, so RedBlog took him with the second pick. With several top-rate receivers on the board, TB took Penn running back Mike DiMaggio third because he can see the Quakers being tough defensively and try to run the clock, and DiMaggio finished third in the league rushing race last season. Plus, new quarterbacks make the top receiver picks a bit more risky.

Four of the next five picks were receivers, including another Brown standout in Buddy Farnham and Columbia’s Austin Knowlin (who might be a top-three pick in a league that counts return yardage). All quarterbacks are still on the board, which is partially due to the way fantasy leagues work and partially due to the number of starters qho graduated last May.

8b Kiefer Garton (Penn, QB)
7b Randy Barbour (Cornell, RB)
6b Tim McManus (Dartmouth, WR)
5b Joe Springer (Brown, QB)
4b Collier Winters (Harvard, WR)
3b Trey Peacock (Princeton, WR)
2b Alex Jenny (Dartmouth, QB)
1b Brook Hart (Yale, QB)

RedBlog takes the first quarterback off the board with Penn’s Kiefer Garton; in fantasy terms, Garton would be a nice value pick because he’s going to get you rushing yards to go along with the passing total. He’s also one of the few quarterbacks in the league with any starting experience, so that adds to his value significantly.

Joe Springer and Collier Winters are the projected favorites for the Brown and Harvard jobs; although neither of us were positive that either was officially named the starter, both have far too many weapons to leave on the board for very long. TB went with Springer over Winters for no other reason than to pair the Brown quarterback on team five with his own receiver, Buddy Farnham (I did the same thing with Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson in my own league, so let’s hope it’s a solid strategy). The Trey Peacock pick was made with some admitted bias; let’s just say TB has a gut feeling about him this year.

1c Chris Lordich (Harvard, WR)
2c John Sheffield (Yale, TE)
3c Shane Kelly (Columbia, QB)
4c Penn defense
5c Cheng Ho (Harvard, RB)
6c Ben Ganter (Cornell, QB)
7c Tommy Wornham (Princeton, QB)
8c Andrew Samson (Penn, K)

The third round is where you take a shot at somebody you hope hits his upside (or just hope wins the starting job). Shane Kelly, like Garton, gets you rushing and throwing numbers; both Ganter and Wornham could do the same, assuming they win their respective jobs. Cheng Ho was actually an All-Ivy running back in 2007 and missed much of last season with an injury, so he could be a steal with the 21st pick (or he could be stuck in the ultimate fantasy football nightmare: running back by committee). And if you’re in a draft where a kicker actually gets selected in the third round, it’s probably time to find a new league; but we’ll let RedBlog get away with it here, and Samson is clearly the top kicker in the league coming into the season.

So there you go. It’s not likely Matthew Berry will be giving his draft grades on this one, but if you play fantasy football and follow the Ivy League, which team would you want to start out with?

No comments: