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Letting the dogs out NFL style

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It’s the unquestioned giant in the sports industry and seemingly can do no wrong. Millions of people are such diehard fans that they spend countless hours and dollars following the teams and players that serve as the objects of their affection.

What am I talking about here? Most of you probably mindlessly said (either to yourselves or maybe even out loud) ‘the NFL, of course.’ You are absolutely in the neighborhood though not quite at the right house, which happens all the time anyway. I have stories about how MapQuest steered me about as far away as could be, including the middle of a neighborhood when I was looking for a pool supply business (I always wondered if somebody didn’t have a sweet underground operation going and only those brave enough to knock on a door were rewarded).

No, I’m actually talking about fantasy football, which is now in full swing with many drafts starting as early as this week. Fantasy sports are nothing new these days, and some people are so obsessed with them that they risk almost uncomfortable amounts of money buying into their respective leagues. Note that I said ‘leagues’ as it’s a rarity that you’ll find a player so singularly focused that they reside in only one of these virtual proving grounds.

Fantasy football is so popular that pretty much every major sports website has a specific section devoted to it, and there are countless other internet and print productions cranked out covering solely fantasy gridiron. It’s serious business, regardless of whether money is on the line or you’re in a freebie league with only pride (and tons of no-longer free time) at stake.

Fantasy sports are so popular that a hit TV series sprung up around the subject. I’ve honestly never seen one episode of The League, although I get tons of recommendations. With our baby boy (yes…update since last article, we are now confirmed to be having a boy) due in December, I doubt that I’ll have too much time on my hands to dive into new series. Such is life, although I’m definitely not complaining.

I’ve been asked several random questions regarding upcoming drafts and seasons, ranging from what Colts player (outside of Andrew Luck) would you take if you absolutely had to draft one, which guy should come off the board at pick number one overall, what draft position is it better to have in a 12 team league, and who is being overvalued. Truth be told, although there are some who are very educated guessers, that’s all anybody can truly be: a guesser.
With drafts on the cusp, it’s time to offer a nickel’s worth of what is likely to be bad advice. Why? Because it’s the fantasy season and I’m nothing if not a giver. To keep it simple, why not lay out how I answered the above questions here, in one convenient and visually pleasing place.

You have to take one Colts player (for fun let’s even include Luck) – who will you take? I’m glad this wasn’t asked in the Dennis Hopper ‘pop quiz, hotshot’ format for a number of reasons. Speed was a 1994 movie, which is the same year I graduated high school. That means that I’m getting pretty old and approaching a damn ugly age. Quoting movie lines is a big habit of mine, so that’s not the issue. It’s just one of those things that have really jumped the shark, in the ilk of talking like Forest Gump and even the phrase jump the shark. What? I’m rambling? Back to the task at hand.

If I have to draft a Colt this year, I’m going with Dwayne Allen. Yes, he’s coming off a lost season and I do realize that T.Y Hilton, Reggie Wayne and Hakeem Nicks are in the fold. Why go with the third year tight end then? I don’t think people realize just how much of Pep Hamilton’s offense had to be scrapped when Allen went down for the season in week one. If he can stay healthy this year, I think he’s poised to have a pretty decent season, fantasy and reality based.

Why not take Andrew Luck? For starters, I’m not completely convinced that he will be utilized to his full potential this season, even with the weapons that are at his disposal. Pep Hamilton is saying the right things this offseason in terms of being a ‘score first’ offense and straying from the ‘run first’ lip service of last year. We’ll see how that actually plays out when it counts. Tight end is such a top heavy fantasy position that Allen is an interesting flyer to take in a later round.

Who should you take if you find yourself with the first overall pick? If anybody figures that out and is absolutely correct when the season ends, let me know. Seriously…I pick first in one of my leagues this season and I’ll probably still be going back and forth until I’m on the clock and forced to submit a name. I guarantee you that it will be a running back though. How’s that for a spoiler alert?

What draft position is it better to have in a 12 team league? This is one of those things that may not be possible to explain, like the existence of Bigfoot or how Family Video is not only still in business, they’re opening a ton of new stores. Personally I kind of like being in the first or last spot, because it means in snakelike drafts that you’re on the clock back to back. Two guys you can’t decide between? Nab them both!

It’s probably not a huge deal what slot you draft in as long as you draft well. Yes it may well be better to be in the first four picks or near the end so that you will at least pick earlier in the next round. Being stuck in the very middle (say the 6 to 9 range) can be a downer. It all comes back to how you draft and good old fashioned luck.

Who is being overvalued? Ian Ziering and it’s not even close. Not only has Sharknado inexplicably managed to crank out a sequel that scored pretty damn well in terms of ratings, they are seemingly making yet another one, and Ziering wants to be paid. I’m talking Randy Moss ‘straight cash, homie’ paid. It’s maddening, really. Cash the checks and consider yourself one of the luckiest people alive, Steve.

Ok…ok. I will attempt to provide an answer at least in the realm of fantasy football. Overvalued is of course a relative term. You have your heart set on a defense in round six or nailing down that can’t miss kicker in round nine? Textbook overvalued. My gut feeling on a couple of guys who will be drafted high that might not quite pan out though? Jamaal Charles and Cam Newton. Call it hunch; just don’t take it to the bank.

After all, I’m not the world’s best guesser. I leave that to the meteorologists. Bazinga!

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