Take the guy you want
Posted Aug. 24 at 07:27 AM
Something really funny happened a couple of days ago. A friend was preparing for his draft, and he had the fifth pick in a PPR league. He's a big Frank Gore fan this year and he expected to get him since most cheat sheets have other players, like Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice and Maurice Jones-Drew ahead of him. He went into his draft happy and expecting to pick up an every-down back on an up-and-coming team in a soft division. In his opinion, Gore is the running back to have this year.
So what happens? The draft goes Johnson, Peterson, Ray Rice and Andre Johnson before his pick. Gore is there! And he selects ... Maurice Jones-Drew. Everyone says Jones-Drew is a better choice than Frank Gore, so he went with the consensus pick. People even congratulated him for getting Jones-Drew at that spot. You're supposed to take Jones-Drew over Gore, so he did.
As his friend (who enjoys seeing him suffer) I find this absolutely hilarious. He's the team owner, the general manager, the head coach and the talent scout. He saw Frank Gore as a great pick in 2010; the third-best option at his position. And in the end, he let the Internet cloud of opinion dictate who he drafted. It's like playing in a high-stakes March Madness bracket and letting your Facebook friends choose your picks for you. It's an absurd decision, and I hope he already regrets it.
Now, I'm not debating the validity of his opinion. You can make the case that Jones-Drew is everything Frank Gore is, and more. But it's not your team; it's his team and he's supposed to be the one who runs it. If Gore has a great year and Jones-Drew disappoints, he has to live with the fact that he suffered because he didn't have the guts to follow his plan.
For those of us who still have drafts and auctions, there's a lesson there. It's pretty simple: Take the guy you want, every single time. Forget what other people think you should do, forget what the mock drafts indicated, and forget what you see on television programs. If you like a player, and he likely won't be there the next time you pick...take him. Even if it's early. Even if the other owners snicker. Even if you have to skip over a couple of names on your cheat sheet to do it.
I know that there are people reading this column who think Aaron Rodgers will be the top fantasy quarterback in 2010. Yet some of those very same people will hesitate to take Rodgers as the first quarterback because it's "too early" and it doesn't reflect any "value." But what's the value in watching someone else take the guy you wanted? Would you rather be too early...or too late?
I've made a lot of mistakes over the years. I mean a lot of mistakes. I once bypassed Priest Holmes for a pedestrian Eddie George. I cut DeAngelo Williams a week before he began a ridiculous streak in 2008. All those mistakes hurt, but nothing is as bad as ignoring your gut. Nothing. I can stomach being wrong and suffering the consequences of my decision. But it's hard to stomach being right and watching someone else reap the rewards because I didn't follow through.
I'm not telling you to reach for a guy you can probably get much later. But if a guy isn't likely fall to you in the next round, it's okay to take him right then. If you have the first pick, there's no law that says you have to take Chris Johnson or Adrian Paterson. If your league is generous with QB scoring or require two, you can take Drew Brees if you want. If receivers play a big role on your team, go ahead and draft Andre Johnson if you like him. The bottom line is, it's your team. If you honestly think a player is the best option for your club . . . you'd be stupid not to take that player.
There's a small part of me that wants to see Frank Gore run for 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns, and see Jones-Drew pout his way into a time-share situation. Neither is going to happen, but I think there should be some karma-based punishment for not following your own plan. Now, maybe he'll end up better off because he rejected his own strategy. That's definitely possible and I'm sure he'll be happy. But that happiness will not compare to the frustration he'll feel if it turns out his brain was on the right path, but his spine ended up betraying him.
So please, take the guy you want. Good luck in your remaining drafts and auctions.
You can reach Michael Murillo at email@example.com.
Posted by ALAN CAMERON | Aug. 24 at 08:53 AM
100% on the money! I'd rather lose with a team I picked than with a team that was picked for me. And consider this... by season's end we will know that EVERY player was drafted either too soon or too late. Peterson was not the top scoring RB in any of my leagues last year, therefore drafted too soon at #1. If any of you out there had the #1 pick and went with your gut on Chris Johnson, give yourself another big pat on the back from me!!
Posted by Dave (MOJO) Smith | Aug. 24 at 10:17 AM
In my live draft about 15 years ago, when it was this lady's first turn to draft, she took Natrone Means, which was unexpected. Everybody just looked at her and she said, "I wanted him, so I took him." You know, that was good advice and I've often remembered and applied it since then.
Posted by JOHN MACHO | Aug. 24 at 11:27 PM
I once gave a guy the business for taking Ickey Woods with the 2nd overall pick. He got all defensive about how he'd played the game longer than me and so forth. Advice: be prepared to take some crap, and have a comeback like General Burkhalter when Klink said "oooh, Operation Albatross, I like that name." "I'm so glad, there was no time to consult you."
Posted by Moishe Steigmann | Aug. 25 at 12:04 AM
Even if it means taking a defense in the 3rd round? Yup, that's right -- third round. Wasn't me, but it was a rookie a few years ago :). His rationale? "All the top players at every other position were gone, so I figured that I'd take the top player at a position that was still around." Heh. Rookies. But, as you say, take the guy you want when you want! :)
Posted by ROBERT JOHNSON | Aug. 25 at 02:43 PM
Agree, Agree, Agree! Here's something else to consider: If you take 'the consensus pick' rather than who you want, you just never believe in them as much. You might sit them quicker in favor of a good matchup for a lesser player -- nearly always at the wrong time! You might throw off the confidence you deserve to have in your lineup. Who needs to feel conflicted? Go for what you feel is best.
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