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I just finished up another rip-roaring Fantasy Football Draft with 11 of my buddies (or should I say colleagues?) here at Upper Deck. The UDFFL (Upper Deck’s Fantasy Football League) is chock full of guys who think they know exactly what they’re doing, but only time and some healthy campaigns posted by their top five or six picks will prove them right.
Which brings me to my first bone of contention: Was I really that foolish to grab St. Louis QB Sam Bradford in the 15th round with my own version of the “Mr. Irrelevant” pick? I mean really. But man did I get some ribbing from the boys. Granted, I already had Drew Brees as my starting QB and Vince Young as my backup, but what the heck? I had already drafted four RBs and five wideouts, along with my tight end (Antonio Gates), kicker (Nate Kaeding, thank god Fantasy ends before the playoffs begin), and the Saints “Dee,” so why not pick up some trade bait with my last pick? Think about it; I dropped my 15th selection on Bradford, the NFL's overall No. 1 Draft Pick from this year. I’ll dump him in Week 3 for an emerging wide receiver when one of these chumps realizes that Philly’s Kevin Kolb isn’t turning out to be the second coming of Donovan McNabb or that Carson Palmer really is getting old in Cincy, even with T.O. lining up on the outside.
But what struck me as interesting throughout the draft was everybody’s reluctance (or should I say well-honed strategy) to stay away from most of the rookies. Not surprisingly, Fresno State’s Ryan Mathews was the first freshman to get scooped up (with the 13th overall pick). Our lead designer, Neal, made the move, but since he’s a Chargers homer anyway, it didn’t faze me. With L.T. off to the Big Apple and Darren Sproles standing at five-foot-nothing, Mathews looks like the new workhouse in San Diego. He scored 19 TDs in college last year and posted eleven 100-yard games. He should be the real deal. At least Neal certainly hopes he is.
Which rookie was next, you ask? With the 38th overall pick, running back Jahvid Best was selected by one of our copy editors, Roger. Here’s a guy (Best, that is) who tallied 16 touchdowns last year for the Cal Bears and posted five 100-yard rushing games. He’s no Ryan Mathews, mind you, but he’s no slouch either. Granted he’s not a proven stud like many of my backfield picks (Jonathan Stewart, Joseph Addai and Brandon Jacobs, to name a few), but he’s got potential. We’ll just have to wait and see how often the Lions actually can get inside their opponent's 20-yard-line. I’m thinking slim and none, for the most part. I mean, we are talking about the Detroit Lions, aren't we?
Okay, so who was the next rookie taken? With the 70th overall pick, Buffalo’s newest backfield acquisition, C. J. Spiller, was snatched up by one of the UDA guys, Steve S. The big man at Clemson is now supposed to be the new man in upstate New York. Lord knows, the Bills need some help, and C.J. could be the answer to their prayers. Steve S.’s office is next to mine, so I’m sure I’ll hear the roars from next door when the Bills start circling the wagons on September 26 against my team, the New England Patriots. Let’s not tell Steve how badly the Bills will get crushed on that fateful afternoon, but wish him well anyway with C.J. Maybe one touchdown and 60 yards on the ground from Spiller will be Buffalo’s big highlight from Gillette Stadium that day. Six more rookies would be selected, including my gratuitous 15th round gesture for Bradford, before the UDFFL Draft ended. In order, they were Montario Hardesty (ninth round); Dez Bryant (10th round); Golden Tate, my second-to-last receiver taken (11th round); and both Demaryius “My Sore Left Foot” Thomas and Dexter McCluster (14th round).
What’s cool is that all of these first-year players will be appearing in Upper Deck’s fast-approaching 2010 Sweet Spot Football set, which is scheduled to launch next month right around the same time as Monday Night Football. All of the aforementioned rookies will be appearing in the set and every one of them will have autographed helmet cards to boot!
And for the record, just in case anybody was wondering, we conducted our fast-paced draft over the course of two well-orchestrated lunch hours by our resident ring leader, Big Ben. He looks like a cross between Junior Seau and Adrian Gonzalez, so nobody messes with Ben. Although truth be told, he's the calmest, most courteous guy in the building. If higher management only was aware of what we were doing on our hard-earned lunch hours, they probably would have bought us lunch, right? Hey, it's research after all. Come to think of it, maybe I’ll go upstairs right now and tell ‘em. Who knows? Maybe they'll bring us bagels tomorrow.