Roto Arcade: No Keeper Sleepers
By Andy Behrens
August 27, 2007
"What brought y'all down here?" the taxi driver asked.
"Fantasy football draft," I said.
"I gotta bunch of fantasies," he replied. "None of 'em involve no football."
He giggled, then changed lanes abruptly, veering toward an exit for the Louis Armstrong International Airport. His cell phone rang for the hundredth time during the ride.
It was Sunday morning in New Orleans. My favorite league held its draft there over the weekend in a ridiculously cheap and well-appointed hotel room near Bourbon Street. The city is an amazing place, vaguely recovering. Everyone should find a reason to visit. Certain streets still smell like chicory; others still smell like vomit. It's awesome, the ideal city to host your next absurd event.
Even the flight home was enjoyable, thanks to a delightful she-male alcoholic, a sport-fishing Canadian who dabbles in fantasy hockey, and a Wisconsinite who seemed to find drunk she-males and people with "little internet home jobs" equally ridiculous. (Probably a fair assessment). New Orleans leaves you cheerful and unreserved in exactly the same way that Vegas leaves you regretful and shamed. I can't recommend it strongly enough.
The draft itself was not really an example of my best work, though.
The prior evening had taken a heavy toll on my cognitive skills. But it's a 16-team keeper league, so many teams have deficiencies. My weakness is at quarterback. It's actually possible that my starting QB in Week 1 will be Jeff Garcia, which disgusts me.
And this brings us to the tricky fact about any keeper league: every player will go too early in your draft. There are no sleepers.
Willis McGahee was the sixth overall pick in our draft. Brandon Jacobs went eighth. Those weren't terrible selections, either. If you remove dozens of the best players from the draftable population, this is what happens.
When you prepare for a keeper league draft, you really need to account for needs of every team. Not every owner is simply going to draft the best available running back in the first round, especially if they've already kept a few. Fourteen running backs had been kept in this league, including LaDainian Tomlinson, Steven Jackson, Frank Gore, Laurence Maroney, Willie Parker, Cedric Benson (on my team, The Flaming Moes), and Maurice Jones-Drew (also a Moe).
With Benson and MJD on the roster, I used my first two picks on Chad Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald. This didn't seem like a mistake at the time, but now it's clear that I should've paired Ocho Cinco with his real-life quarterback, Nueve (Carson Palmer). I'd traded away several draft choices last season in a failed run at the championship. So after selecting the top-tier receivers, the Chicago D, Laveranues Coles, and Adrian Peterson – Benson's handcuff, not the good one – I had a very long wait.
No, a seriously long wait.
Too long, it turned out.
My preferred un-kept quarterbacks also went in middle rounds, where the Moes had no picks. Jason Campbell was taken. Then Alex Smith. Then J.P. Losman. Then Jake Delhomme, who I didn't want but would have taken anyway. Kellen Clemens was drafted in the eleventh round.
This is how you end up with a bottom-tier quarterback on an otherwise solid fantasy team.
I'll avoid writing about the league in the future, because the commissioner is actually an esteemed fantasy writer elsewhere on the Web, and I'm fairly sure he's going to cover it in some way. In addition to his talents as a writer, he's also a uniquely talented commissioner. This was intended more as a cautionary tale for keeper league owners: don't expect bargains. Don't look at ADPs. They won't apply to you.
Garcias and Penningtons await those who fail to heed the warning.
I gotta bunch of fantasies, and none of 'em involve no Jeff Garcia.
Andy Behrens has written for ESPN.com, the Chicago Sports Review, NBA.com, the Chicago Reader and various other publications. In all likelihood, Andy owns more Artis Gilmore memorabilia than you. Follow him on Twitter. Send Andy a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated on Monday, Aug 27, 2007 7:27 pm, EDT