Another year and here we find ourselves. As our ninth season gets underway, as always, it is time for your league commissioner to do his annual grading of the draft, pre-season power rankings and postseason predictions. This year instead of splitting them up into three separate emails, I have decided to combine them into one website post. This year we will be having all of the writing go on to the website in the hope that it will be easier than sifting through email after email. Here we go.
Pre-Season Power Rankings & Draft Grades Combo
1. Stumpf – Champion 2009
While I am not sure that he has the best team on paper, any time you have a child on the day that the NFL season gets underway, you deserve the top spot. Congrats to Ryan and Kelly on the birth of their brand new baby boy, Benjamin Duke Stumpf.
Now, hopefully one of the first lessons Stumpf will teach his son will be to draft a second running back before you get to the fifth round. Although Stumpf landed with a starter in Terrance West, the position will be a year long concern. However, looking through Stumpf’s team, it is a rather strong lineup. Starting with his keeper, you can not ask for much better than Brady. Stumpf then started his actual draft by taking Gurley and Dez Bryant. I actually liked both picks. Gurley should bounce back in an offense system that is no longer 20 years out of date and I would think Dez has a better year than last season as Dak Prescott now has a year of experience under his belt. Again on the turn Stumpf did a nice job bolstering his receivers by adding Alshon Jeffrey and Keenan Allen. That receiver trio should score Stumpf a lot of points. The spot where I thought he dropped the ball a bit was in round six. After taking three receivers and two running backs, with the second back being a bit underwhelming, I thought he really should have addressed another running back. Instead he selected Randall Cobb as his fourth receiver. In his position, personally, I would have rather had Danny Woodhead, Tevin Coleman, Derrick Henry or Mike Gillislee, all who went after his selection of Cobb.
Ultimately, Stumpf has a good team. He will constantly have to look for production from his receivers because his backs will hurt him. If I am him, I am hoping my deepest position, receiver, shines early and I can look to make a trade to bolster my depth at running back. His tight end position is fine, Eric Ebron will not win him any games but he also should not cost him any games.
Draft Grade: B-
2. Ryan Smith – Champion 2012, 2016
Our other obligatory pre-season power ranking spot must be given to Ryan Smith. While in any other year he would receive the one seed as reigning champion, a child prevented that from occurring. However, here Ryan Smith sits, as the two seed, which is fitting as he is our only two time champion.
In all honesty, this team is hard for me to gauge. All of the picks in this draft make sense, however, all of these picks have high ceiling high bust potential. Smith started his draft with three running backs, much like he does just about every season. As a Titans fan, having DeMarco Murray fall to the eleventh spot must have seemed like fate. My concern about Murray is simply the wear and tear plus the emergence of Derrick Henry. While only 29, it feels like he has been in the league forever. While that is a mirage, what is very real is that he is approaching 1,500 career carries and injury risk is always a bit of a concern (see the two nagging injuries he already sustained in training camp). Going along with DeMarco, Smith followed it up with Kareem Hunt in the second round. Hunt is in the dream scenario. Spencer Ware is out for the year with an injury and Hunt’s backup ball carrier becomes a disappointing Charcandrick West. However, he is a rookie. One fumble, screwing up in pass protection, these are things that usually send rookie backs to the doghouse with coaches like Andy Reid. Putting a cap on the early running backs was third round selection, Bilal Powell. Again, a guy that has a dream scenario where he will be the feature back without much competition in a rapidly declining Matt Forte. Again, however, how badly will the offense run? Sub-par quarterback, sub-par receivers, what will stop teams from stacking nine in the box and just taking Powell out of the game. While Powell is a pass catcher and I think that will benefit his number immensely, the above points have to be a concern. Following the backs was a trio of receivers who have all been a bit underwhelming in their careers thus far. Golden Tate was a top 20 receiver last season and he should stay there, I cannot see him heading upwards. Sammy Watkins is on a new team, in a new system with a young quarterback who has yet to prove himself and Allen Robinson is with potentially the most regressive quarterback in NFL history. While all of these receivers have top 10-20 potential, I cannot see all three falling into the category.
Like I said, this team is high risk, even higher reward. It is a good team and the picks make sense, but it has potential to have some major let down. I want to re-visit this team in five weeks as I think we would have a much clearer picture.
Draft Grade: B+
This may be a very early call, but I think this team might have championship potential. Looking up and down the lineup this team ended up falling into place extremely well. Mitt got his draft started with Melvin Gordon, who I was very high on. A top ten fantasy running back last season added a head coach who has been the architect of top five running games in every stop he has made in the NFL. What is there not to like? Followed by Gordon came a trio of receivers. Now, this could easily be a bumpy road to start. Both the Colts and Texans need to see how their quarterback play develops, so this may cost TY Hilton and DeAndre Hopkins a week or two in the early stages but they should be fine in the long run. Helping the cause though will be the solid additions of Chris Hogan and Willie Snead to add some depth. Hogan should see an increase in production with Edelman out and Snead should have some big weeks as the solidified number two in New Orleans, even if he is suspended for the first three games. After his receiving trio, Mitt followed up with a trio of running backs with a tight end mixed in. “Fat” Bob Kelley is set to be the starter in Washington and he looked good last season, there should be improvement here as they may have to rely on the run game a bit more than last season after losing Garcon and Jackson. Darren McFadden should get an opportunity to start whenever the Ezekiel Elliott suspension starts and Duke Johnson should catch 75 balls with a rookie quarterback under center. Like I said, in that mix was Jimmy Graham, who will definitely be a bigger option in Seattle this year as the running game looks suspect and they have traded half the receiving core away.
Mitt quietly made good pick after good pick. He came into Rohde’s house and supplied everyone with Double IPAs so he could get these picks without any of us paying attention. Well played my friend. What will take this team from good to great and in that champion realm will be the health of Andrew Luck. If Luck can come back and look like the Luck of old, this will be a tough squad to beat.
Draft Grade: A
4. Wells – Champion 2014
As long as Wells has Odell Beckham Jr. as his late round keeper, it will be hard to keep him out of the top five. Wells got off to a great start. Obviously starting off with Le’Veon was fantastic. I do wonder if there was any consideration from Wells to start with Antonio Brown to pair with Odell. Either way, the top pick was quality. After that, he snagged Christian McCaffrey. I liked McCaffrey over Lynch, Fournette and Dalvin Cook, who all went before him, so the pick was a steal. Then came Terrell Pryor, which was very intriguing. Pryor might be the hardest guy in the NFL to project. Last season he was a first year receiver who caught 77 balls for over 1,000 yards on one of the worst teams in the NFL. Now he comes in as the projected top receiver in a better offense but he is still only a second year receiver. With expectations high, I am curious to see if the hype turns out to be correct. He could be a top five receiver or outside of the top twenty five. The pick could pay off big or fall on his face. Wells then started adding to the support staff by drafting old reliable Frank Gore. Every year I club the Frank Gore pick and every year he proves me wrong, so I am out of the judging Frank Gore pick. The one pick I despised that knocked Wells back a peg in the power rankings was the Pierre Garcon pick. Headed to one of the worst offenses in the NFL with Brian Hoyer as his quarterback, I just do not understand why you take him here. Jamison Crowder, DeVante Parker, Sammy Watkins and Jeremy Maclin, who Wells ended up with in the following round, I thought were all better picks taken after Garcon.
This team is good not great and I am not so sure that it will ever get to great. I think a repeat playoff performance is likely for the Wells team, I do not think it has what it takes to get to the championship game as of now. One of my major concerns aside of the Garcon pick is the fact that Carr is the one and only quarterback on this team, he just does not move the needle for me fantasy wise.
Draft Grade: B
5. Gross Jr. – Champion 2015
I always hate writing about my team. It seems like the biggest jerk move to me, more so than putting my team fifth in a power rankings post. Plain and simple, I do like my team. The Ezekiel Elliott question mark is obviously the biggest piece of the puzzle. I will not sit here and break down my entire team, as this is about the league and not about me writing on my website about my fantasy team, seems stupid and narcissistic.
Draft Grade: B
6. Gross Sr. – Champion 2011
Overall, this was a quality draft that hit three major road bumps. If these three road bumps would have been avoided, I would think this team would be closer to the top. The first road bump was in round two, selecting Marshawn Lynch. Not a fan of the pick. The guy is 31, he was out of football and now all of the sudden he is back, it makes me wonder what motivation is left in the tank. For me, any of the rookie running backs would have been a better selection. Dropping down to round seven, the second major road bump was taking Kenny Britt. The Browns are a mess, they are playing in a tough conference and now they have a rookie quarterback who is starting. A quarterback whose own college football coach said he was not ready to be in the NFL. There is no way I would be comfortable with Britt being my third receiver. Again, for me, Brandon Marshall, Tyrell Williams and Jordan Matthews would have all been better selections. The final major hurdle was round nine, selecting Jameis Winston. Jameis is a good player set for a breakout, however, Gross Sr. already had a quarterback with his keeper in round twelve with Matt Ryan. It did not make sense to me to take a quarterback there that will more than likely spend the majority of his season on the fantasy bench. This could have been a better opportunity to add depth to the receivers or backs.
This is a very decent team, just missing out on great. If those three picks would have went differently, this would be a top end team. He still has good quarterbacks, he made a wise move adding Doug Martin to his running back crew and his top receivers are solid with Larry Fitzgerald and Jarvis Landry but depth here could be tough. Olsen is as good as they come at the tight end position. I feel like this team is one major player away from championship contender, maybe Gross Sr. will find one on the waiver wire.
Draft Grade: B-
For as bad as a draft day general manager as Ness is, he actually pulled off a decent team. Much like Gross Sr., minus a couple of hiccups, this is a decent squad. Ness has two legit receivers in Antonio Brown and Amari Cooper, which encompassed two of his first three picks. This should be a breakout year for Cooper, hopefully for Ness the trips to the end zone increase, if so, there is top five potential. Again, much like Gross Sr., the second round running back pick confused me. Ness took Dalvin Cook over the likes of Christian McCaffrey. While Jonathan Stewart is on his way out in Carolina, Latavius Murray is on his way into Minnesota along with Cook. Murray was a guy who averaged four yards a carry, had over 1,000 all purpose yards and scored twelve touchdowns last season. I understand Cook is a talent but I do not understand why experts are convinced that this starting job of 350 plus carries is his job to keep. Latavius Murray will have more of an impact than some people believe. Then again in the fourth round, Ness perplexed several with his selection of Davante Adams. A guy who was so dependent on touchdowns last season, in weeks where he did not score a touchdown last season he only scored double digit points twice. Again for me, Devante Parker and Jamison Crowder had way more upside in this position. The final puzzle piece that has to be concerning is the quarterbacks. Cam Newton should eventually be the starter of this team, but I absolutely do not feel confident in either Cam or Dak Prescott leading this team to a championship.
Where Ness did succeed was through building his depth. He made nice moves by adding guys like Danny Woodhead, Jonathan Stewart, Josh Doctson and Robby Anderson. This is a playoff fringe team. It will depend on Ness and playing the right guys on the right weeks. Depth is nothing if you do not know how to use your team. So he has no shot in hell.
Draft Grade: B-
8. Alex Smith
Here is the thing, this team might come in at the eight spot, but this is not an eighth spot type of team. None of the teams from here on out are as bad as their placement, but teams have to fill the spots. Smith got off to a great start. Having Michael Thomas as a keeper was huge. Adding Jordy Nelson and then stealing Jordan Howard in the second round was great. In the third came Joe Mixon, which I did not mind, eventually he is the starter in Cincinnati. Where it got rocky started in the fourth. Jordan Reed is a great player….who is always hurt. In fact, he has never played in a full sixteen games in his career. If he can stay healthy for sixteen games, the pick makes sense. However, he has yet to prove that he can stay healthy. For me, I would have focused on adding running back depth here or tried to build my flex spot via a receiver, there were some good ones still on the board. Then if the tight end was a matter of need at that point Greg Olsen went 26 picks later, which means Smith could have taken him in the fifth or sixth round. The other pick that hit the skids was Russell Wilson in the fifth. Russell Wilson is a fine quarterback but his offensive line sucks. I am also willing to believe that this team is focused on running the ball and keeping Russell healthy after last season, which means less throws. However, the biggest reason I did not like the pick in this spot was because of point production. Russell Wilson scored 286.7 points in our league last season, which was tenth, not bad right? The four guys ahead of him…Matthew Stafford (10th), Philip Rivers (13th), Dak Prescott (8th), and Blake Bortles (undrafted). Basically, Smith had to take a quarterback three rounds earlier who will give him the same amount of production of guys that were going three to eight rounds later. Risky business acquisition.
Overall the team has potential. Ultimately, I really do believe that tight end, quarterback combo will start to rear it’s ugly head when the bye weeks come into play so if I am Smith I will be playing the waiver wire like a hawk this season and bidding more than I may have to in usual situations.
Draft Grade: C+
Tagye has blockbuster names all over his roster, but I have major concerns. He had the eight pick and McCoy fell to him, it was the logical pick. However, LeSean is on the verge of 2,000 career touches, which most experts say is the cliff of which running backs start to plummet. Match that with Lamar Miller. Here is what I do not understand, Lamar Miller is good, but why does it never show? He barely scratched 1,000 yards last year and was only given 268 carries last season, why?! He saw his catches rescind from 47 receptions to 31. What will it take for Bill O’Brien to give his best player more action? This is what concerns me for Tagye, not to mention the left tackle is holding out. What else is alarming is that Tagye did not take another running back until round nine, so essentially he is confident that both those picks will be home runs, that makes me very nervous. Receivers have definite potential, however there are now major concerns coming out of Kansas City that Tyreek Hill is a number one receiver. The guy has deep threat big play potential, my concern is he turns into the New Orleans Saints’ Brandin Cooks type player, a game with 31 points and then the following week 3 points, again super nerve racking. Devante Parker is a stud and I do think Brandon Marshall will be good, but how does that offense shake out with three good receivers to feed? Ultimately, I think Marshall and Parker are his starters with a major question mark at flex.
Joe’s team has hope if the starting lineup plays out exactly the way he needs it to play out. My fear is that if there is a bump in the road at running back or a receiver does not play out then Tagye will be in much of the same place as Alex Smith, scouring the waiver wire.
Draft Grade: C+
Rohde started to have the realization of the mistake of his team very early during our draft night. Todd Gurley should have been his keeper in the fourth. Keeping Gurley would have meant his running backs being set with David Johnson to tag along. Instead he kept Baldwin, which forced his hand to take a trio of running backs instead. He went from having a lineup of David Johnson, Todd Gurley, and potentially Terrell Pryor, T.Y. Hilton, Demaryius Thomas, Keenan Allen, etc. to now having to rely on a combo of Isaiah Crowell and Ty Montgomery at running back and Doug Baldwin and Kelvin Benjamin at receiver. For me, the prior is a far better team than the latter. Outside of that I thought Rohde did a solid job of drafting quality picks later in the draft but the first five rounds are going to hurt.
In the end, I just think Rohde took his team from being a top three squad to fighting for the sixth spot or potentially being on the outside looking in. Sadly for Rohde, it will be another year as the longest tenured man without a ring. Sorry Sean.
Draft Grade: C
11. Ryan Scott – Champion 2010
There was a tight race for tenth between Ryan Scott and Rohde, I just had no idea what to make of the Ryan Scott team. Taking Leonard Fournette in the second has me worried for RTS, he plays for the Jaguars. How often will the Jaguars be ahead and be able to give Fournette the ball 25 times? Also, from my understanding more of a pure runner, not as much of a pass catcher, so that does not help. All offseason the talk of Carlos Hyde was how he was being phased out and the Kyle Shannahan new offense was coming in. Not to mention the 49ers had a major personnel change at offensive line the past two seasons. The receivers are not the worst I have seen. However, Crabtree is a touchdown dependent type receiver. Crowder on the other hand, I think, will be Ryan Scott’s best weapon. A PPR monster that should be in double digits every week.
I am worried about this team. I am hoping for the best for RTS, hopefully these picks all pan out, but at the moment I just don’t see the scoring potential.
Draft Grade: C
12. Dan – Champion 2013
Ugh. What do I say here? If Marcus Mariota, AJ Green, Rob Gronkowski and Adrian Peterson all have career years, Dan will be a playoff contender. That might not even do it. I just think the running backs are a mess, the Saints combo will cannibalize themselves, Jeremy Hill is going to lose his job and Paul Perkins may lose his job also. AJ Green is great, Gronk is great. Sanders, I think will drop off again this season, Adam Thielen is a decent pick but they have plenty of mouths to feed and will be focused on running the ball. Honestly, the best bet here might be Jamaal Williams, who will eventually win the job in Green Bay. Much like this review, this team is in a bit of shambles.
Draft Grade: C-
There it is, someone said they wanted more shit talk. Here ya go, consider it begun. Much like the season. FOOTBALL IS BACK BOYS!