- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Last year, Adam and I went head-to-head in a Big Ten fantasy football league. If you followed along, you know that I was like the 1985 Chicago Bears to Adam's 2008 Detroit Lions.
Despite my domination, every year is a new year in fantasy. We invite you to create your own teams and leagues at ESPN's college football fantasy site. But this is a two-man blogger showdown.
We held our draft on Thursday. Teams are composed of two quarterbacks, two running backs, two receivers, a kicker and a defense. Since Adam's team, Trombone Shorties, was so thoroughly destroyed last season by my team, Non-Gingervitis, he received the first selection in our snake draft. (In fact, his team was so bad, I suspect him of tanking just so he could grab Montee Ball this year).
Here are the results of our draft:
Pick 1: Adam selects Wisconsin RB Montee Ball
Rationale: I realize I'm breaking up the cutest couple in the Big Ten. You can still cry on each other's shoulders when the Cardinals get eliminated. While I don't expect Ball to score 39 touchdowns again, he's pretty much a sure thing when it comes to fantasy points. The fall belongs to Ball (and Rittenberg).
Pick 2: Brian selects Michigan QB Denard Robinson
Rationale: First of all, the Cardinals would be in the playoffs if the season started today. Not that I'd expect a Cubs fan to understand what the word "playoffs" means. Anyway, speaking of fantasy gold, that's Robinson in a nutshell. I realize that I might take a hit in Week 1 with him since Alabama's defense is capable of shutting anyone down. But I'm thinking long term here and know Shoelace can be my MVP.
Pick 3: Brian selects Nebraska RB Rex Burkhead
Rationale: King Rex might not be as flashy as MoneyBall, but he can put up some pretty good stats in his own right. While the Huskers might depend on him a little less this year because of better balance, I love his September matchups against some questionable defenses and expect to see him in the end zone frequently.
Rationale: All the fuss about Kirk Cousins' departure and the questions at wide receiver just creates more opportunities for Bell, who is primed for a monster junior season. This Spartandawg will mark his territory in the end zone all year long.
Pick 5: Adam selects Iowa QB James Vandenberg
Rationale: He slayed a 350-pound black bear with a bow and arrow. Opposing defenses will be no problem for Vandenberg. My only concern is his arm might fall off from throwing so many passes. Iowa could look a lot more like Hawaii thanks to AIRBHG (angry Iowa running back-hating god).
Pick 6: Brian selects Iowa WR Keenan Davis
Rationale: What's a worse curse -- AIRBHG or being on Adam's fantasy team? Close call. Anyway, there aren't many sure bets at receiver this year with very little experience returning. I can wait on a second RB since Adam has filled his slots there. I'm taking Davis since I expect the Hawkeyes to air it out more this season, and Davis should be the big beneficiary. He won't put up Marvin McNutt stats but has a good chance to lead the Big Ten in receiving -- if Adam's curse doesn't ruin Vandenberg, that is.
Pick 7: Brian selects Ohio State QB Braxton Miller
Rationale: Tough selection for my second QB spot. Thought long and hard about Taylor Martinez and MarQueis Gray. But I'm going with Miller in the hopes that he makes the leap in Urban Meyer's offense. And Ohio State's first four games should give him a chance to rack up points.
Pick 8: Adam selects Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez
Rationale: A bit of a risky pick, but Martinez piled up fantasy points in 2011 despite having a subpar year. He's healthier now and has a good supporting cast. It wouldn't shock me to see Martinez have a Denard-like year.
Pick 9: Adam selects Wisconsin WR Jared Abbrederis
Rationale: He's the Big Ten's leading returning receiver, and he'll be the clear-cut No. 1 target for new Badgers quarterback Danny O'Brien. Oh, and he's a strong return man, too.
Pick 10: Brian selects Michigan State's defense
Rationale: If you're going to go defense, might as well pick the best one in the league. The Spartans were that last year and have the talent to do so again this year. Plus, it's an aggressive attack that could lead to turnovers and defensive scores.
Pick 11: Brian selects Wisconsin TE Jacob Pedersen
Rationale: Pickings are extremely slim at the wide receiver slot by this point. I could go the projection route, but I'm going to be a little unconventional and take a tight end. Pedersen has a knack for catching touchdowns, so I'm hoping to sneak in some points that way.
Pick 12: Adam selects Ohio State's defense
Rationale: The Silver Bullets should be back to top form as eight starters return, led by John Simon and Johnathan Hankins up front. I expect some big plays from the secondary as well, especially from cornerback Bradley Roby.
Pick 13: Adam selects Purdue WR Antavian Edison
Rationale: A favorable Week 1 matchup helps, and Edison is a veteran skill player with big-play potential. Purdue will light up Eastern Kentucky, and Edison should record at least one touchdown.
Pick 14: Brian selects Illinois RB Josh Ferguson
Rationale: Fitz Toussaint would be the obvious pick here, but I don't know if he'll play in Week 1 and don't want to take the risk. I was all set to take Bill Belton from Penn State until I found out he's not included in the player pool. Hmmm. I emailed our fantasy guys and hopefully they'll fix that. Adam has agreed to let me have Belton if he's added before Thursday. In the meantime, I'll go with Ferguson, who should be used all over the place and faces a questionable defense in the opener against Western Michigan.
Pick 15: Brian selects Nebraska's kickers
Rationale: Got to have a kicker. Brett Maher is the best kicker in the Big Ten. Case closed.
Pick 16: Adam selects Michigan State's kickers
Rationale: Not too many home-run options, but Dan Conroy is one of the more experienced kickers in the Big Ten and comes off of a season where he made 14 of 17 attempts.
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