You may have heard recently about somebody somewhere drafting Buffalo Bills backup quarterback Matt Barkley in something.
I don't know the details on the somebody or the somewhere, and I presume whoever he or she is was allowed to trade in the Bills' Barkley for Saquon, of the New York Giants. The something, however, I can speak to.
It's the famed "Scott Fish Bowl", season 10 (or #SFBX). I'm in it.
I'd had Scott on our WGR show once two years ago. I was caught off guard last spring when he messaged me to ask if I'd applied for his league. I hadn't but after hearing from him I quickly did so, and I was invited. My team went a respectable 9-3 before losing in a playoff.
This year's draft -- more accurately "drafts", as there are 120 going on simultaneously in this one league -- began July 6. I didn't pick either of the Barkleys. For those interested, here's who I did pick, from the 1.09 position. I'll update it every day or two as all 22 rounds play out.
I really like spot 1.09. I don't have quite the pressure they do at the top of the round, where you really have to pick Christian McCaffrey, Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott. There are great options at pick No. 9: "bell cow" running backs, at worst the second wide receiver (behind Michael Thomas), and if so inclined the top quarterback or tight end. SFBX is a Superflex league, which means you can start two quarterbacks, and in this case it meant that Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson (my two quarterbacks in SFB9) were off the board by the time it came to me.
I went Henry over Dalvin Cook, who has slightly slipped in drafts since it was reported that he plans to hold out. Cook represents high upside and perhaps good value -- as long as he plays, that is. I want for my team safe running backs with no questions about volume, and Henry fits that description as well as any player. And you want to know what you know, which in this case is that Henry has the same quarterback and coaching staff as in 2019, when he was the NFL's rushing leader. Lastly, SFBX awards .5 points for first downs. Because of that I would have picked Henry over Alvin Kamara, but Kamara went anyway at 1.08.
This will look like an odd pick to players who are used to conventional scoring. SFBX gives .5 points for pass completions and docks you a point for incompletions. The big loser in this format at that position is Josh Allen, because of completion percentage. The big winner is Brees. I love the work FootballGuys.com does in helping you negotiate drafts. On that site Brees was rated the eighth overall player. I decided to forgo Brees at that early spot, thinking he'd be available at 2.04, which he was. My second choice was the Las Vegas Raiders' Josh Jacobs, who ended up slipping to pick 3.01. Nice for the guy in that spot.
Evans and teammate Chris Godwin were FBG's top two suggested picks here. Both are outstanding receivers. It came down to that I have Godwin on a lot of other teams. To me they're about equal and that was the difference.
Plain and simple, this was roster-build strategy at work. Godwin was still available here and I hated passing him up. Maybe it doesn't have to be such a bad idea to pair receivers from the same team, but it seems not ideal.
I wanted a running back because I don't think at pick 5.09 there will be one I can count on to play the majority of his team's snaps. I chose Carson over James Conner. It was close as both guys present injury concerns. Going back to "knowing what I know", Seattle has shown to be partial to Carson -- and except for some fumbling issues Carson has earned that. He's underrated in my opinion. Seattle did sign Carlos Hyde but I see that more as insurance for if Rashaad Penny can't get healthy than as a threat to Carson. Carson over Godwin, Conner and even Kenny Golladay is what I'd call my first gamble of this draft.
Beckham was one of five or six very appealing wide receiver options here, including A.J. Brown and Calvin Ridley. I'm happy with my draft so far, but it's on the safe side. Boring, even.
Ultimately this is a league with 1,440 teams. I can't be afraid to shoot high. While the others, including Brown and Ridley, like Beckham have the potential for elite wide receiver seasons, Beckham is the one for me who is the most spectacular. If things connect in Cleveland -- the biggest of all football "ifs" -- then Beckham can have the top receiver season in the league. I don't think Brown and Ridley offer that upside.
By the way, other friends of mine in SFBX report very different draft trends than what's happening in my division. Jerry Janiga, who also plays in the League of Schopps and Dreams, tells me that in his division Godwin and Golladay were second-round picks. In my group Godwin went 4.06, Golladay 5.02.
I was starting to worry about my second quarterback. I didn't want to get stuck in case there's a run behind me, as it'll 16 picks before my next turn.
I'm again thinking of the format, with its emphasis on completion percentage, in choosing Garoppolo over Ben Roethlisberger, Jared Goff and Cam Newton, among others. I'm trusting the intel at FootballGuys, which rated Garoppolo a far more valuable choice in this format than those others.
A.J. Brown was still on the board. Ridley was picked before me in Round 6.
I'll have to figure out tight end pretty soon, and after that keep pounding running backs and receivers. SO many good receivers to choose from in the middle rounds.
This is where in a Superflex draft you start to realize how many big-time receivers there are in the league. At pick 81 I had my choice of T.Y. Hilton, Keenan Allen, Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, Sutton and others. There were so many on the board here that I was a little tempted to fill my tight end spot instead, but there just wasn't a good enough option.
Sutton and Parker were the final two I considered here, as both offer tremendous upside. Sutton received 124 targets last year, his second season, and I don't expect Denver's addition of rookie Jerry Jeudy to cut into Sutton's workload too much, if at all. It might even help with Sutton's efficiency.
I was excited to get another crack at Parker, who finally lived up to years of hype in a stupendous second half of 2019. He had five touchdowns in December last year, and was over 100 yards receiving in four of his final seven games.
There's a chance it was all just good timing, teaming up with Ryan Fitzpatrick late in a Miami season that was going nowhere. But Parker does have the physical tools, now has an elite stretch of performance behind him, and in the end at Round 8 won't cost too much if he disappoints -- especially considering the wide receiver room I'm forming.
(If at the end of drafts this year your receivers don't look great, I don't know how you would have pulled that off. So many good ones!)
Parker and Jones - two polarizing fantasy figures.
Upside and potential are the guiding factors here. After a very "busty" rookie season Jones came on a bit in 2019, finishing with 724 rushing yards and six touchdowns. Tampa Bay is now a Tom Brady-led offense, so if Jones can hold his own against rookie Ke'Shawn Vaughn he should be in a great position to thrive.
Vaughn was a draft pick; there's no guarantee here that Jones will be favored by Bruce Arians. But if he is, and Jones shows the talent that earned him a second-round pick in 2018, he could find his way into the second round of fantasy drafts in 2021.
Johnson's getting a lot of hype himself this off-season, and I'm not really a part of that production. I like him, but I think JuJu Smith-Schuster is easily the alpha in that Pittsburgh passing game. Rookie Chase Claypool will be interesting there.
I think Johnson's worth a shot at this price, and I didn't like my other options very much. (Still need to figure out tight end.) The player I wanted here was Marquise Brown of the Ravens, who I think is a steal this summer for his draft position. But Brown went two picks before my turn.
I'll have to live with Goedert as my top tight end. I'm not upset or too worried; tight end is really a crapshoot after the first 3-4 guys. Four tight ends went between my last two picks -- Eric Ebron, Noah Fant, Jack Doyle and Jonnu Smith -- and I'm as happy with Goedert as I would be any of those. (Doyle might be the exception; I was surprised he went this early and I was hoping to snag him later.)
Goedert is a physical specimen who has shared tight end snaps with Zach Ertz in Philly. The Eagles' seemingly limited depth at receiver makes me think Goedert could become a go-to receiver for Carson Wentz. He was actually pretty important last year, with 58-607-5. Doesn't that stat line almost have to be bigger this year?
Yet another receiver here, giving me six in 12 rounds. No problem, you can start as many as six in this format.
Marvin Jones is approaching Darryl Talley status as a guy who is called underrated in almost every description of him. So often called underrated that it really can't be true. But ... nine touchdowns last year, and in 2017. Jones has as many or more receiving touchdowns the last five years (31) as each of Julio Jones, Allen Robinson, Stefon Diggs, T.Y. Hilton and Tyler Lockett. Since 2017, only four players in the league have more receiving TDs than Jones.
The other side of this to keep in mind is, How often will I start this player? Weeks here and there where the player scores two touchdowns are great, but they're not worth anything on your bench. Except, that is, possible trade value. In SFBX there are no trades -- and Jones (back to his being called underrated all the time) is kind of a tough player to trade. What he probably amounts to for this team is depth, and a fringe starter.
Samuel is one of those guys that the smarties who break down game tape seem to love. The guy can play.
The situation, however, isn't great, with a new quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater and the addition of former Jets wideout Robby Anderson. It remains to be seen what kind of role Samuel will play.
This pick was a coin flip for me between Samuel and Giants receiver Sterling Shepard. In retrospect Shepard, who has a chance to lead the Giants in receiving numbers, was probably the better pick. He went two picks later.
Running back-wise we're almost down to the handcuffs. As crazy-deep as wide receivers run, and as amazing as those groupings look on almost fantasy roster, running back is a very different story.
I gave myself some freedom in this draft to wander later at RB by making the early moves on Henry and Carson. I could have afforded doing that one more time, maybe in Round 5 (Beckham though). Now my RB4 is Henderson, who may in his second season already be firmly a backup - this time to rookie Cam Akers.
We'll see. Henderson was a dynamite college runner who was a draft darling last summer. With Todd Gurley being the star he is, Henderson hardly got a chance last year. (It wasn't Gurley's workload that was a bad omen, however, as much as it was how the Rams used Malcolm Brown over Henderson.)
I'm buying talent with this pick in Round 14 and crossing my fingers that the player isn't already an afterthought on his team.
I'm a sucker for these receivers. I probably should stop drafting them pretty soon. I still need a third quarterback, and the running back room is also thin.
Have you seen Miller play? He's a stud. If the Bears pivot to Nick Foles, as expected, Miller is the WR2 there across from the excellent Allen Robinson. I know it's the Bears so this never happens but there are the makings of passing-game fantasy goodness. (I include in that Tarik Cohen. I've never owned Cohen but that'll change this year.)
I'm not sure I'll ever start Miller so this might have been a mistake. I really like Washington rookie running back Antonio Gibson, who I only passed on here because I've been drafting him everywhere else. He went one pick after me.
I'm intrigued by Everett, who seems to have the physical tools to be a star. Last season Tyler Higbee leapt over him, and this year Higbee is a hot item in drafts.
We saw the Rams play "12" formation, with two tight ends, and have some success. Maybe Everett can become playable as a TE2 on his team, a la Goedert.
I'd be happier around this time of the draft with Tampa's O.J. Howard, but he went at pick 15.04.
Officially at the "I don't love any of these options" phase of this draft. Hines is OK, he could have some role in the Colts' passing offense. But Indy has very little invested in him, and the Colts loaded up in the draft with running back Jonathon Taylor and wide receiver Michael Pittman, each of whom cost more in these drafts (in Taylor's case, a lot more).
I couldn't find a player at any position that I'd expect to ever start. And it seems too early for long-shot backups.
Hard to imagine Mims, a very nice receiver prospect out of Baylor and second-round pick by the Jets, having a big impact as a rookie. But it's not like Breshad Perriman is entrenched as their number-one. If Mims is clearly better maybe we see a rookie star.
Mark Andrews had a monster year in his second season for Baltimore, and Hayden Hurst parlayed his secondary role into free-agent money with the Falcons. Andrews and Hurst played an identical 41.36% of snaps last year, far fewer than Boyle's 69.59%. Boyle has had 28, 23 and 31 receptions the last three seasons - pretty consistent.
I didn't pick one of those lock-him-in tight ends so I need to be a little scrappy. At least he'll be on the field. My other two tight ends, Goedert and Everett, have the same bye week.
Anderson is Joe Mixon Holdout insurance. He was a sixth-round pick last year who tore an ACL in July and missed the season.
In these rounds you're thinking that you may cut these players for early-week waiver pickups. If Mixon plays Anderson could be a casualty, although at this point I think maybe Hines would be the one.
I wanted Jameis Winston as my backup to Brees/third quarterback but he went at 20.12. In need of somebody for the QB3 role my other idea was Andy Dalton, now with Dallas. But if I lose Brees, what good is Dalton? I'll have to settle for Hill. Hey, the Saints keep saying how he's their future at quarterback ... maybe they mean it.
Rookie Perine sits behind Le'Veon Bell on the Jets' depth chart -- oh, and also Frank Gore (ugh). No better idea as far as I'm concerned than these backup running backs who would become starters in the event of an injury (or holdout).
The final breakdown:
QB -- Brees, Garoppolo, Hill
RB -- Henry, Carson, R. Jones, Henderson, Hines, Anderson, Perine
WR -- Evans, Beckham, Sutton, Parker, D. Johnson, M. Jones, C. Samuel, Miller, Mims
TE -- Goedert, Everett, Boyle
I think I'll need to nail it with these quarterbacks as right for this completion percentage-friendly format. Henry probably will need a season like last year's -- huge volume and double-digit touchdowns. And maybe also a maxed-out Beckham season; win these leagues with mid-round picks that produce at the elite level.
Here we go!