May 21, 2007
I’m heavily in magazine mode right now, so I’ll be throwing out tidbits from this year’s publication for the blog this week. Today’s installment is from the “Draft Plan” article I finished over the weekend. This is not the massive DP that we’ll produce later in the summer, but it’s a nice position-by-position overview of my plan of action.
The Quarterback Plan
There was a time, and it wasn’t long ago, when I preached holding off on your QB until the middle rounds, but the supply and demand of the current marketplace has caused me to adjust my thinking. It’s true there were a few players at the position who were undervalued and/or surprised last year, but there was also a ton of mediocrity. In such an unstable NFL environment, there’s a lot to be said for having a consistent and stable producer at the top of your lineup. But ironically, I don’t want the most consistent or stable one of all: Peyton Manning. I don’t want Manning because he costs too much. For one, I have to take a RB with my first pick, so that probably removes me from the Manning sweepstakes in some leagues. I also want a stud RB or WR in the 2nd round, and that probably takes me out of the Manning game completely.
That is not a problem at all because, had Bengal WR Chris Henry not been suspended, I was prepared to rank Cincy’s Carson Palmer #1 at the position this year. That’s how confident I am that Palmer’s going to have a huge year, even without Henry for half a season. I’ve been able to draft Palmer in the 4th round this year, which is excellent value for such a stud. So the foundation of my QB plan is Palmer, but there are fall-back options. The depth at QB looks a little shaky this year in terms of the number of players I’d be comfortable with as my starter in a 10 or 12-team league, so I have a short list of players I’ll make a point to draft: Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Donovan McNabb, Marc Bulger, and, this isn’t a misprint, Jon Kitna. Most of these guys you’ll have to take no later than the 5th round to ensure you acquire one, although Kitna should drop further, making him a nice backup plan if you risk holding off until the 6th or 7th round to grab one of my “Fantastic Five.”
If you do risk holding off a little on your QB, and you miss out on all the above, as I did in one of my expert leagues, my personal backup plan to my Kitna backup plan is Bronco Jay Cutler, who I love and strongly believe will put up very good numbers. Unfortunately for me, in this very magazine’s expert league, I missed out on Cutler by two picks in the 9th round, so I had to settle on Arizona’s Matt Leinart. A few days after that draft, in an Expert League for another magazine, I didn’t play around; I secured Brees in the 4th round. I should also mention that Cowboy QB Tony Romo is a viable option in between Kitna and Cutler, likely somewhere in the 7th or 8th round. I’m cautiously optimistic about Romo, but I’m not 100% sold on him and actually like the value of Cutler, who’ll go 1-2 rounds later, a little more.
If I’m still searching for my starting QB with everyone mentioned above off the board, then I’ll have no choice but to look at the next tier: Matt Hasselbeck, Michael Vick, Leinart, and Philip Rivers. I’m confident enough in Hasselbeck, and I certainly am high enough on the others in this group, but I can’t say I’d feel comfortable with any of these as my starter, and one key to my 2007 Draft Plan is to feel comfortable with my starting QB. If I’m forced to go with a player in this group, I’ll probably use a higher pick on another signal caller with some potential, such as Vince Young, Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, and Brett Favre. Assuming I get one of the 6-7 players I want at the position Palmer, Brady, Brees, McNabb, Bulger, Kitna, Romo, and Cutler – I’ll likely hold off longer to get my backup and target a young guy with some upside. I’ve been intrigued by Houston’s Matt Schaub this year, and he’s a good candidate. Others include J.P. Losman, Alex Smith, and Jason Campbell. If I feel the need to play the backup QB game more conservatively, I’ll target a guy like Favre, Rex Grossman, Jake Delhomme, or maybe even Byron Leftwich, who will put up good numbers as long as he’s on the field.