Saturday, August 5, 2017

2018 AFFL Pre-Draft Preview

Last season was full of amusing moments for me, but the highlight by far was watching the Wild Card playoffs in person with Gary and Brian Williams. Of course, the big secret identity reveal was good for some chuckles, 

but a fourth quarter bomb from Tom Brady to Chris Hogan that sealed my playoff victory over Gary - with Gary standing right there - was an all-time life highlight. Gary was just so, so mad. Even by Gary standards, that evening was an emotional roller coaster. Excitement that we'd be doing the reveal in person. Disappointment that I scared everybody else off from showing up. Nervousness that he was going to somehow lose a playoff game to my clearly inferior team. Culminating in hot, hot anger as the game and his season ended.

It was marvelous.

This season, I am openly back and so are the previews. I'm moving them back to the written word this season because it's easier and other folks can leave comments underneath. Plus, Brian Barker's feeble attempts effectively killed the medium. Good Lord. I thought drafting was the worst thing Brian did, but I was quite, quite wrong.

Anyway, before the draft let's see where each team stands.

2016: 2-12
6-YEAR RECORD: 42 - 42 (.500)
  • Russell Wilson - $0.81 - FP
  • Lamar Miller - $1.42 - 3/3
  • Jarvis Landry - $0.71 - 3/3
  • Doug Baldwin - $1.42 - 2/2
Most points against. Third-lowest points for. A 9-game losing streak. Previews that looked and sounded like hostage videos. Brian Barker's impact last year was positive only for other teams, whether by giving them wins or good players in exchange for 2017 draft picks that are looking more useless by the second.

Brian fully gave into despair and hopelessness last season, selling off nearly his entire roster for picks. Hey, that's the way the league is supposed to be played, right? Get those picks! Problem is, this draft is trash. The first 20 picks are all basically 50/50 shots to be good or tank. What's more, it seems like the whole league has realized this at the same time, so it's not like Brian could package all of these picks for a useful player. 

He turned Melvin Gordon into the 7th pick. You think Scott would trade Gordon straight up for the 7th pick right now? Okay, Scott might. But would somebody good make that trade? Nah. He turned Jay Ajayi into the #12 pick and...I mean, I guess he can maybe get Ajayi back at 7? Assuming he doesn't mind having 2 Dolphins even though Miami doesn't have a quarterback at the moment.

Plus, the last time a Barker had a slew of early picks, it turned into a big pile of nothing. It's like we're watching Jon Snow repeat Robb Stark's mistakes. 

And when the guy with the best chance at winning the lottery ends up with the #6 pick? Oooohhhh weee! 

2016: 3-13
6-YEAR RECORD: 30 - 54 (.357)
  • Derrick Henry - $0.88 - FP
  • Eddie Lacy - $2.12 - 3/3
  • Marvin Jones - $1.58 - 2/2
  • David Johnson - $1.37 - 2/3
There's a good chance that McCamey will have a top 2 pick for the 3rd straight draft. Eddie Lacy disappointed, David Johnson was awesome, so we can assume that Jordan Howard will disappoint. I mean, $1.92 for a guy with 6 good games under his belt and a decent chance Mitch Trubisky will be handing off to him? Oof. Pattern recognition is a sign of advanced intelligence in animals. 

McCamey is in great shape with David Johnson's contract, which perfectly explains why he's trying to trade him for draft picks. Lacy is out of shape, behind a bad O-line, competing with two other backs for work, and has the 5th-most expensive contract in the AFFL. That is just an amazing sundae. Marvin Jones had one good game last year, so of course he gets a 40-cent raise.

The best bet for this team in 2017 is to cut Lacy and Jones before the draft, maybe get lucky with some WR picks, and hopefully ride Henry and Johnson to a decent regular season. If not, just try to pile up some picks for 2018.

2016: 4-10
6-YEAR RECORD: 29 - 55 (.345)
  • Kelvin Benjamin - $0.80 - FP
  • DeAndre Hopkins - $1.43 - 3/3
  • Jared Goff - $0.42 - 2/2
  • Corey Coleman - $1.35 - 2/2
I've heard that Tim has made the playoffs in the past, but that doesn't mean I believe it. At this point, it's more likely that Tim has super hex powers that infect any player he touches. Look at these contracts! Goff and Coleman, highly-touted prospects that totally flopped as rookies. $1.35 for a guy who had 400 receiving yards last year and might have a rookie QB throwing to him this year? Hopkins, one good season then Tim signs him and it's all over. Benjamin never even got started.

Tim's first pick last year, Doug Martin, got hurt. His second pick, Jeremy Maclin, played for a team who didn't have a WR receiving TD until like Week 11. His third pick (in the fourth round), Ameer Abdullah, got hurt. 

Most of the Tim jokes have been made at this point. The well has run dry. But when Tim picks Martavis Bryant 3rd overall this year, you can safely assume that Martavis will accidentally Facebook Live a bong hit by Week 2 and get kicked out of the NFL.

2016: 7-7
6-YEAR RECORD: 36 - 48 (.429)
  • Dez Bryant - $2.18 - FP
  • Dak Prescott - $0.61 - 2/3
  • Sterling Shepherd - $0.61 - 2/3
  • Matt Forte - $1.73 - 2/2
  • Brandon Marshall - $1.72 - 2/2
Barker went .500 last year to stay 12 games below .500 over the past 5+1 seasons, a period in which his team has been the catalyst for 500 different rules discussions. It's fitting that he has two Cowboys on his roster since his team never really does anything but somehow we're always talking about them.

Anyway, it's a new year and maybe this is the year that Barker doesn't have an insane Points Against and makes the playoffs for the first time in a hot minute. Then again...$2.18 is extremely expensive for a WR who didn't reach 1,000 yards last year. Dez, in fact, has one of the highest contract-to-free market values in the league. (AP, we'll get to you in a bit.)

Also, $1.73 would be extremely expensive for two Jets, let alone one old Jets running back who is competing for carries on a team that might total 4 second half runs all season. OId and expensive or young and cheap. A team stuck between win now and rebuild is probably going .500 again.

2016: 7-7
6-YEAR RECORD: 50 - 34 (.595)
  • Le'Veon Bell - $0.97 - FP
  • Rob Gronkowski - $1.77 - 3/3
  • Tyler Boyd - $0.77 - 2/3
  • Michael Thomas - $0.42 - 2/2
  • Adrian Peterson - $2.51 - 2/2
You might not be excited about the return of the previews, but you know who is? Scott Meyers. Last season, I heard from Bri (since nobody ever hears directly from Meyers) that he was regaling a mutual friend about the AFFL and how somebody did weekly previews and called out the mistakes of other owners with integrity and comedy. So I can only imagine how tickled he was by last year's secret identity ruse. Seriously, I can only imagine it since nobody else hears from Meyers directly.

Anyway, as I was saying, we'll get to Adrian Peterson. A $2.51 contract value against a $1.11 free market value is the most underwater I've ever seen a player. A 32-year-old RB coming off of injury playing for a new team with an established RB? Tough to pay a QB price for that, plus an actual QB, plus half of season of Gronk. Yes, having the incredible value of Bell's contract helps, but only so much.

Meyers always has a good team and should be in the hunt again this year, barring injuries. But having middle picks in a thin draft, along with potential cap issues, will make it tough to build a dependable team this season. He might have to resort to trades, which will be almost impossible since he never answers emails.

2016: 7-7
6-YEAR RECORD: 57 - 27 (.679)
  • Cam Newton - $0.72 - FP
  • Odell Beckham - $1.65 - 3/3
  • Jamison Crowder - $0.98 - 2/3
  • Isaiah Crowell - $1.62 - 2/2
  • Greg Olsen - $1.66 - 2/2
The most exciting part of Bri's 2017 season is going to be the Odell sweepstakes. Convincing himself that Odell is worth 5 picks at least, begrudgingly cutting the price to a bargain 4 picks, and finally 3 picks when he's 4-5 approaching the roster freeze deadline. And then Chris paying that price before cruising to a third straight title. What a thrill!

When I first came into the league, I couldn't wait for the day when Bri could no longer live fat off of his unbelievably good Cam and Arian contracts. Sure, he lost in the playoffs every year, but he was still really damn good. Then, in back-to-back years, he landed Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham with the 5th pick.

With Antonio traded last year and Odell on his way to a 1/x this year, you can be certain that Bri is going to luck into some new superstar this year and ride his $0.66 contract to future glory.

This year, though? He's gotta cut Greg Olsen for starters. $1.66 for TE? Oof. Also, the high hopes for Crowell better be real because $1.62 is a lot to pay for 51 yards a week.

2016: 8-6
6-YEAR RECORD: 50 - 34 (.595)
  • AJ Green - $1.84 - FP
  • Amari Cooper - $1.04 - 3/3
  • Allen Robinson - $1.33 - 3/3
  • Christine Michael - $0.92 - 2/2
  • Spencer Ware - $0.99 - 2/2
I've made the playoffs in 5 of my 6 seasons in this league, a sustained run of quality that even I, with my extremely high standards, admire. Sure, I only had a 15% chance of making the playoffs last year and needed a miraculous choke from Animal House to just squeak in, but I did it. Sustaining the excellence. And I even won my first playoff game!

But even I must admit that I'm extremely worried about this season. Amari might never truly break out because of low TDs, Allen Robinson's new coach said Jacksonville would never pass if it was up to him (and this was BEFORE Bort Blakles threw 5 picks in one practice), and I finally have to admit that my Christine Michael infatuation will never be reciprocated.

Of course, if anybody can find the hidden gems in this trash draft and cobble together a respectable season, it's me. And I'll have to since my eye for talent is so respected around the league that it's hard for me trade. If I approach another owner about a player, the price instantly goes up since that owner assumes I know something they don't. Oh, the price of a good reputation!

2016: 9-5
6-YEAR RECORD: 42 - 42 (.500)
  • Julio Jones - $1.13 - FP
  • Marcus Mariota - $0.66 - 3/3
  • Latavius Murray - $1.37 - 3/3
  • Tyrell Williams - $0.96 - 2/2
  • Derek Carr - $1.88 - 2/2
Larry has been losing his lust for the league these last years, and I haven't been able to locate the locus of why. In looking at his record since 2011, it hit me. His win totals have been 9-7-4-6-8-8. One truly bad year, but middle of the pack most years. Good enough to not sell off at the deadline, not good enough to put together a real run. Since 2011, he's picked in the Top 4 twice and pulled Felix Jones and Marshawn Lynch out of that. Neither back broke 100 points that year. So even high picks aren't exciting for him.

He merely has an existence in this league. It's like one of those bleak art house movies from the '00s where the suburban dad seems normal on the outside but is roiling on the inside. Just screaming for some excitement in the day-to-day. Is this really how he pictured his 40s when he was in college? Is this really it?

Well, he's picking 9th this year, which probably gives him...Carlos Hyde? No, he's had that affair before. Didn't work. Julian Edelman? Is he really a first rounder? Joe Mixon? Can Larry really bear to watch Marvin Jones bury a rookie behind Hill and Gio all year? Keenan Allen? Back from an ACL? Terrelle Pryor? A converted QB? Nobody's trading for the #9 pick, so he's just stuck. 

God, this might really be all there is. Another draft, a mild flicker of excitement at some new faces, and then another 8-8 season. 

2016: 9-5
6-YEAR RECORD: 46 - 38 (.548)
  • Antonio Brown - $2.32 - FP
  • Melvin Gordon - $1.18 - 3/3
  • DeMarco Murray - $1.70 - 2/3
  • Leonard F(l)ournette - $1.20 - 2/2
  • Jameis Winston - $1.84 - 2/2
I like to say that Scott isn't very good because it feels nice, but if you take away his 1-win season following the hilarious Drew Brees trade, he's in the top tier of owners, winning at least 8 games every year. Me, Scott, Scott Meyers, and Brian Williams are that top tier, if you're wondering. The two noisiest guys in the league and the two quietest. Our Top Tier Club lunches every month are a real hoot! We only eat at rooftop restaurants.

Scott seems like he's set up fairly well for this season, though that assumes Gordon's 1st season was a fluke and not his 2nd, that Murray won't get hurt or surpassed by Henry, that Fournette is the true starter and not in a time share on a terrible team, and that Jameis and Tampa are truly ready to air it out this season. 

As usual, Scott doesn't have a pick in the first 3 rounds this year. I know I've panned the draft, but at the same time, you'd like to be getting something a little better than the 43rd-best player in a bad draft to start the season.

So yeah, assuming those 4 question marks pan out for Scott and he can make a few good 1/X trades and he can get through a division with Gary and Bri in it, Scott has a great chance this year!

2016: 9-5
3-YEAR RECORD: 23 - 9 (.719)
  • LeSean McCoy - $1.56 - FP
  • Ezekial Elliot - $1.68 - 3/3
  • Dalvin Cook - $1.20 - 2/2
Most of the suggested rule changes this season were designed to hurt Chris' chances of winning again (at least the ones that I suggested), but the Franchise Player to 1/X rule is a gift to him. That'll let him move McCoy in a trade to Scott, land 9 picks that he can turn into starting wide receivers, and then franchise Zeke.

Cook is a little spendy at $1.20 for a rookie back not assured of winning the job behind a bad offensive line, and so once again Chris' team looks a little thin pre-draft. As usual, Chris has traded his first five picks and doesn't get a player until the 60 spot. And so here is where I want to be extremely clear about something I've been poking at this summer.

Chris, much to his credit, figured out the league before the rest of us. He's like Theo Epstein if Theo called the Indians fags while holding the World Series trophy. He realized early on that players who are actively having a good season are more valuable than next year's #11 pick. Or the #21 pick. Or the #28 pick. Or the #44 pick. 

But here's the thing. This strategy, sound as it is, only works if we enable it. If we want our junkie son to get clean, we've got to quit letting him crash on our couch. Because when we wake up, he's stolen our watch to get another fix. 

So, as clearly as I can state it, DO NOT TRADE WITH CHRIS THIS SEASON. Let him suffer through a 3-11 season so we can all feel good about it. I don't care if you're 1-9. If you're 1-9, it's not like you need more picks in 2018 or 2019. Stop giving him what he wants! Stop making Chris good! 

It's up to you, folks.

2016: 9-5
6-YEAR RECORD: 38 - 46 (.452)
  • Andrew Luck - $1.10 - FP
  • Devonta Freeman - $1.18 - 3/3
  • Demaryius Thomas - $1.96 - 3/3
  • C.J. Anderson - $1.14 - 2/2
  • T.Y. Hilton - $1.51 - 2/2
I am glad Gary got his first round pick back in the extremely shady David Johnson rental, because not only are Gary's first rounders the highest of high comedy, he picks before me this year, which essentially moves me up a spot.

By the way, here are Gary's most recent win totals: 9-3-9-2-9-6. He's like goddamn Bret Saberhagen. So I guess Scott's division is going to be a little easier to win this year than I first thought.

Oh, and of course now that people will finally understand his Game Of Thrones-inspired team names, he picks a reference to the guillotine of the French Revolution. I don't know what kind of websites Gary has been reading lately, but he really seems to have it out for Trump's cabinet.

Anyway, Luck still has shoulder troubles, which seems like bad news for a QB, Hilton goes down if Luck goes down, Demaryius has nobody to throw to him and C.J. has nobody to take away a stacked box. Other than that, Gary is pretty set this year. I look forward to him drafting Tevin Coleman to monopolize the Atlanta running game, then never having the courage to start both backs in the same week.

2016: 10-4
4-YEAR RECORD: 28 - 28 (.500)
  • Aaron Rodgers - $1.24 - FP
  • Jordy Nelson - $2.40 - 3/3
  • Jimmy Graham - $1.24 - 2/2
  • Jonathan Stewart - $1.63 - 2/2
If you take away his first season, when he had to figure out the rules and also rehab a weird team, Semi is pretty respectable 25-17. 

Early word is that Jimmy Graham is finally healthy again, and Jordy should return to form, which will be nice. Stewart probably has to go, because $1.63 is a lot to pay for a guy who will be giving up snaps to McCaffrey. Especially when you consider that these 4 contracts eat up 35% of Semi's cap space this season.

In an unrelated note, Mike Sembrat is an excellent putter. Did you know that? Of course, the rest of his golf game is total ass. From tee to green, he's like Michael Anthony forming a new band and calling it Chickenfoot. I mean, nobody wants to see that shit. But he is an excellent putter. He can really make that bass sing.