This football season, we at The Viking Age started an ESPN fantasy football league because we know you could use a laugh every now and then. We’ll be updating you on the progress of the league each week with our thoughts on everything from starting/sitting players to the legality of using a player on someone else’s roster to form your team’s name (I’m looking at you, Gronkin Donuts).
Our league drafted during the fourth quarter of the Vikings’ final preseason game against the Houston Texans. It seemed like the most logical time. What else were we going to do, watch the game?
We’ve compiled a draft recap complete with writer perspectives for your perusal. If you would like to see a complete draft rundown, you can go here. Before we get to draft results and owner perspectives, let’s have a look at the ESPN draft grades. And yes, I am starting with this because I got the best score.
- “Recurring Migraines” (Levi Satterlee)
- Steve Retka -
|8||Drew Brees, NO QB|
|9||Larry Fitzgerald, Ari WR|
|24||Adrian Peterson, Min RB|
|25||Julio Jones, Atl WR|
|40||Michael Turner, Atl RB|
|41||Tony Romo, Dal QB|
|56||Antonio Brown, Pit WR|
|57||Doug Martin, TB RB|
|72||Ben Tate, Hou RB|
|73||Pierre Garcon, Wsh WR|
|88||Toby Gerhart, Min RB|
|89||David Wilson, NYG RB|
|104||Reggie Wayne, Ind WR|
|105||Jacob Tamme, Den TE|
|120||Matt Bryant, Atl K|
|121||Giants D/ST D/ST|
My strategy going in to the draft was to focus on receivers early, and with my second and third round picks I was able to grab Larry Fitzgerald and Julio Jones. Fitzgerald has remained consistent despite terrible quarterback play the last couple of seasons, and Jones is guy I reached up a round for because I think he’ll explode this year in a pass-happy offense.
While I was planning on targeting sleeper running backs in later rounds, I couldn’t pass up Adrian Peterson in round 3. Yes, there are question marks with him, but the potential is there and he was worth the pick. I also made sure to pick up Toby Gerhart in round 11 just in case. My number one late-round target this draft was RB Doug Martin, who I snagged at the top of round 8. It may have been a slight reach, but he’s earned the starting spot in an offense with a questionable passer in Josh Freeman. I was also able to draft two of the better backup running backs this season in Ben Tate from Houston and David Wilson from the Giants.
Rounding out my draft strategy was my pick of Tony Romo in round 6, despite already having Drew Brees drafted with the 8th overall pick. Because I wasn’t a fan of any the available guys at that spot, I figured Romo would be a good backup option in case Brees gets hurt, or he’d be good trade bait if another marquee QB gets hurt.
All in all, I’m very pleased with my draft. I was able to draft many of the late round guys I wanted like Doug Martin, David Wilson, and WR Pierre Garcon. Granted, potential doesn’t guarantee results, but I’m definitely happy with where the Love Boats are at right now.
- Paul Howell -
|6||Calvin Johnson, Det WR|
|11||Andre Johnson, Hou WR|
|22||Jimmy Graham, NO TE|
|27||Darren McFadden, Oak RB|
|38||Michael Vick, Phi QB|
|43||Trent Richardson, Cle RB|
|54||Stevan Ridley, NE RB|
|59||Vincent Jackson, TB WR|
|70||Isaac Redman, Pit RB|
|75||Michael Bush, Chi RB|
|86||Ben Roethlisberger, Pit QB|
|91||49ers D/ST D/ST|
|102||Kenny Britt, Ten WR|
|107||Brandon Pettigrew, Det TE|
|118||Alfred Morris, Wsh RB|
|123||Dan Bailey, Dal K|
As you will see I drafted A LOT players with durability issues. It’s not a very smart thing to do if you play in a league for money but when doing a family league (or for bragging rights on TVA) you want to demolish the competition (so it’s okay to take high risk/ high reward picks).
1st pick – Calvin Johnson (WR) DET
I have two rules when drafting
1. Don’t draft a Viking player. They will get hurt
2. Don’t draft whoever is on the cover of Madden. They will get hurt or underperform.
I followed rule number one but rule number two I had to break. The reason why: I LOVE to say the words MEGATRON in a deep, raspy voice. I freaking love it. I love it almost as much as I enjoy playing fantasy football. If this gives me the opportunity to say MEGATRON 15 times every Sunday I’ve already won.
2nd pick – Andre Johnson (WR) HOU
If I can get 16 games out of Andre Johnson and Calvin Johnson I am going to be a one lucky man.
3rd pick – Jimmy Graham (TE) NO
This man was a huge part of my fantasy teams last year. I think he’ll have a better year than Gronk, assuming he stays healthy.
4th pick – Darren McFadden (RB) OAK
If McFadden can stay healthy the entire year he could easily be the number 1 fantasy back. It probably won’t happen but a boy can dream.
5th pick – Michael Vick (QB) PHI
Another guy with durability issues. He’s a top 3 QB if he plays all year but since that won’t happen I was one of the first people to grab a backup QB.
6th pick – Trent Richardson (RB) CLE
He’s Cleveland’s only offensive threat and I needed a number 2 RB.
8th pick – Vincent Jackson (WR) TB
A flex WR is risky but TB knows how to use him and Freeman will get him the ball
10th pick – Michael Bush (RB) CHI
If Forte gets hurt he will be a steal. If Forte stays healthy he will still get the goal-line touches and will rush for 700 yards.
11th round – Ben Roethlisberger (QB) PIT
I needed a top-tier backup QB and with those receivers in Pittsburg he was too hard to pass up.
- Nick McAndrews -
|1||Aaron Rodgers, GB QB|
|16||Roddy White, Atl WR|
|17||Greg Jennings, GB WR|
|32||Fred Jackson, Buf RB|
|33||Jordy Nelson, GB WR|
|48||Percy Harvin, Min WR|
|49||Vernon Davis, SF TE|
|64||Philip Rivers, SD QB|
|65||Eric Decker, Den WR|
|80||Peyton Hillis, KC RB|
|81||Mark Ingram, NO RB|
|96||Texans D/ST D/ST|
|97||Stephen Gostkowski, NE K|
|112||Jon Baldwin, KC WR|
|113||Kyle Rudolph, Min TE|
|128||Jacquizz Rodgers, Atl RB|
When Levi tweeted at me at 9:27 to tell me to get into the draft room, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I had the first overall pick.
Though this may come to most Vikings fans as the highest of all football related sins, I’m in the business of winning my fantasy football leagues. That being said, my selection was the NFL’s best QB, Aaron Rodgers. Other than your burning Viking fan-hood, I wouldn’t expect many of you to disagree with this selection.
I walked away from my computer shortly after my first selection, expecting round 2 to take a little longer, and to my dismay WRs Roddy White and Greg Jennings were auto-selected for me for my second and third round picks. Both of them are on my trade block. I know that neither are bad players by any means, but when Rob Gronkowski is still on the board, they were not who I was looking for. I would have also liked to have grabbed a RB in this area.
In round four I selected Fred Jackson, who I’m pegging as one of the best fantasy RBs in the league this year. It’s hard to call Jackson a sleeper considering how well he played when healthy in 2011. But if my competitors are going to let him fall this far, I’m alright with calling him a sleeper.
In the fifth round, I grabbed Jordy Nelson, the Packer receiver I really wanted. I don’t have much reason to believe this that I can explain, but I just trust Nelson more than Jennings. If this were a keeper league, I would be happy with Nelson in the fifth as a keeper.
By round six, I was starting to feel guilty that I didn’t have any Vikings on my roster, so I grabbed Percy Harvin. Okay, I didn’t actually feel guilty, but part of the reason I took him was to have a Viking on my roster. Mostly, I took Harvin because I figure I can get someone else to trade for him. Obviously, I’m pretty well off at receiver, so getting some good trade bait isn’t a bad idea when I missed out on so many good RBs.
Round seven: time for a TE. I missed out on Gronk (and now I have to change my team name), so I took the best available. It happened to be Vernon Davis, and I’m alright with that.
Next, I went with Phillip Rivers as a backup QB to Rodgers. Rivers could be a starter in most leagues, so I feel like I got a steal with him here. He could end up being great trade bait down the road if he produces like he usually does.
Eric Decker was my selection in round nine. The Broncos WR is one of my biggest sleepers for this upcoming season, and his two (almost three) touchdown performance against the 49ers this past week certainly helps his stock in my book. With Peyton Manning throwing Decker the ball in a very winnable division, the sky is the limit for this former Gopher from a fantasy perspective.
Running back time! My next two picks are Peyton Hillis and Mark Ingram. I have Hillis as a huge sleeper this year. I think he will rebound in a big way after having a down year in Cleveland in 2011. Handcuffed to Jamaal Charles, who is coming off an ACL injury, Hillis could be a solid pickup because he will steal all of the goal-line carries and is great in the open field, himself. Ingram, on the other hand, was pretty much just a BPA pick—though I’m not dissatisfied with him.
I’m the kind of player that likes to grab a defense and a kicker earlier than most. I would have liked to grab the 49ers, but I missed out by a few picks. Houston was the best defense available, and I was perfectly happy with the Texans as my defense. Stephen Gostkowski came next and I was glad to get the best fantasy kicker on the board. He’s going to get a lot of chances to kick the ball this year.
My last three picks were just guys I saw as sleepers. First came Kyle Rudolph, who I think has the potential to be on the same level as Gronk and Jimmy Graham. He has yet to prove that, but I’m willing to roll the dice on him.
Chiefs receiver Jon Baldwin was next; and I have a hard time defending this pick with anything other than a gut feeling. Baldwin has solid potential and will get a lot of single coverage opposite Dwayne Bowe. He was hurt as a rookie and I blame that for his lack of production; I’m predicting a breakout year for Baldwin in 2012.
Atlanta RB Jaquizz Rodgers was Mr. Irrelevant 2012 and he’s a guy I like from watching him in the preseason. He’s shown a lot of good things and could vie for carries as the season goes on. If he doesn’t pan out, I won’t feel too bad about it.
Overall, I really loaded up on WRs and I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I’m sticking to my guns with the guys I drafted and think I could get some pretty nice offers for some of these receivers a few weeks down the road. I honestly feel that I have one of the best teams in this league and I think I’m a starting RB away from dominating the competition.
- Dan Zinski -
|2||Arian Foster, Hou RB|
|15||Cam Newton, Car QB|
|18||A.J. Green, Cin WR|
|31||Frank Gore, SF RB|
|34||Victor Cruz, NYG WR|
|47||Peyton Manning, Den QB|
|50||Shonn Greene, NYJ RB|
|63||Steve Johnson, Buf WR|
|66||DeAngelo Williams, Car RB|
|79||Aaron Hernandez, NE TE|
|82||Torrey Smith, Bal WR|
|95||Cedric Benson, GB RB|
|98||Jason Witten, Dal TE|
|111||Justin Blackmon, Jac WR|
|114||Seahawks D/ST D/ST|
|127||Alex Henery, Phi K|
The machine autopicked Arian Foster for me #1 overall because I didn’t know what I was doing and wasn’t ready. This is my first fantasy football experience ever! My first legit pick was Cam Newton. I took him because I noticed the good QBs were all coming off the board so I figured I better get one before they were all gone. My third pick was A.J. Green, because I decided I better get a receiver. After that it was pure gut instinct. Frank Gore, Victor Cruz, Peyton Manning. I took Shonn Greene in the 7th round because the Jets can’t throw, so their running backs should get plenty of chances. It took me all the way to round 10 to get a TE but I ended up with Aaron Hernandez so that’s not bad, right? My one good potential sleeper pick came in round 14 when I picked up Justin Blackmon. This guy could be a stud. But only if Blaine Gabbert turns out to be good. Dang, this stuff is complicated.
- Levi Satterlee -
|3||Tom Brady, NE QB|
|14||Matt Forte, Chi RB|
|19||Rob Gronkowski, NE TE|
|30||Brandon Marshall, Chi WR|
|35||BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cin RB|
|46||Brandon Lloyd, NE WR|
|51||Demaryius Thomas, Den WR|
|62||DeSean Jackson, Phi WR|
|67||Malcom Floyd, SD WR|
|78||C.J. Spiller, Buf RB|
|83||Denarius Moore, Oak WR|
|94||Ryan Williams, Ari RB|
|99||Jay Cutler, Chi QB|
|110||Felix Jones, Dal RB|
|115||Bears D/ST D/ST|
|126||Garrett Hartley, NO K|
Nick took Aaron Rodgers two seconds into the first round of the draft. I couldn’t believe it. No self respecting Vikings fan would have…ah who am I kidding, I would’ve done the same thing.
With option A out of the picture, I had to move on to option B, Tom Brady. I believe quarterbacks are the safest fantasy choice nowadays. With my first-round pick, I mostly want to minimize risk. A quarterback has the least chance of getting hurt of any player, and with the addition of Brandon Lloyd (whom I drafted later), Brady can only improve on his stellar season last year.
The big surprise in the first round was Maurice Jones-Drew going in the first round. An autodrafting CPU team made the pick, but still, ESPN, you are failing at your job. Don’t draft a holdout with a first-round pick, people! (Editor’s note: This was written before MJD ended his holdout, but I stand by what I said, I still wouldn’t take him in the first round).
In the second round, I was elated to see Matt Forte still on the board. In my opinion, he fell WAY too far. I had him as the sixth overall player on my board. The way I see it, Brandon Marshall (whom I also drafted…seeing a pattern here?) should take the heat off Forte, increasing Forte’s productivity.
Side note: It’s insane that Marshawn Lynch was taken before Forte. Insane. With rookie Russell Wilson starting at quarterback, everyone will be able to key in on Marshawn this year, and adding fuel to the fire, he just got paid. We are about to see the lazy, underachieving Marshawn Lynch that Bills fans remember. Good luck with that.
In the third round I was torn. I’m still plenty content to wait on wide receivers here, there are plenty. But I’d like to have another running back and I am uncomfortable with the thought of taking a tight end so early in the draft…old habits die slow. In the end, there just wasn’t a running back good enough to justify passing on the best tight end in the league that also happens to match up with my starting quarterback. I had to bite on Gronkowski. I considered AP here, and he was taken just a few picks later. Good. I didn’t want to have to draft him in round 4.
My good fortune continued in round 4 as Brandon Marshall, whom I think is going to have a monster year reunited with Jay Cutler again, was available at No. 30 overall (he was the 20th best player on my board). No hesitation here.
I see me either winning or losing because of my choice in round 5. I really like BenJarvus Green-Ellis this year. He’s never had a chance to start on his own, and he is consistently churning out yards and not making mistakes. With the Bengals, he will be the primary runner (something you don’t see very much anymore) on a run-first team with enough weapons to keep a defense honest. I like him a lot, even if I’m in the minority on that. I really want a running back here because they are going fast. I’m looking at Michael Turner (oldish, slowing, stats declining), Trent Richardson (rookie unknown, injury risk, bad team), and Darren Sproles (not a #1, inconsistent). I like Green-Ellis a lot this year, more than I like having a New Orleans Saint on my team.
Side note: Michael Vick was available with this pick, and, despite last year’s debacle, I still love his fantasy potential. I wanted to take him, but I just couldn’t bite having already taken Brady with my first-round pick. I swore that I would pick him in the sixth round if he was still there, but low and behold, Paul took him three picks later.
Although I was happy with my Green-Ellis pick, I started to get really concerned about my lack of wideouts. So for the next six rounds, I drafted five wide receivers, Brandon Lloyd (Tom Brady + Josh McDaniels reunion= awesome season), Demaryius Thomas (Peyton Manning > Tim Tebow), DeSean Jackson (He was a victim of his own holdout last year), Malcolm Floyd (Will finally step out of the shadow of Vincent Jackson), and Denarius Moore (Carson Palmer is going to remember how to play football again…right?). I didn’t plan it like this, but I like all of these receivers this year, and they kept popping up at just the right time, so I pounced. Although I’m not looking forward to having to pick which of them will start each week, but that’s a good problem to have.
We’ll be posting progress on our fantasy football league, whom we’re trading, adding, dropping, starting and sitting, on Fridays of each week.
Follow us on Twitter