Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Our 2013 Big Ten fantasy league draft
By Brian Bennett
Some people might say we live a fantasy life by covering Big Ten football for a living. And they'd have a point. But we also like to dabble in some fantasy football around here, going head to head each week in our own two-man Big Ten-centric league. (If you want to play college fantasy football, you can do so through ESPN's College Football Challenge).
We're entering out third year of this league, and we're tied at one championship apiece. Adam escaped last season by winning seven of the 13 head-to-head showdowns (though I like to point out that my team scored more fantasy points on the season). We start with a clean slate in 2013. I get the top pick in our snake draft that we conducted yesterday. (Note: I changed my team name this year to The One Who Knocks in honor of Heisenberg and one of the greatest TV shows ever).
Is Braxton Miller the top fantasy option in the Big Ten this season?
Rationale: This wasn't as big of a no-brainer as it may appear, as I seriously considered Taylor Martinez here. I worry, for fantasy purposes, that Miller may not run as much as last season. But I still expect Ohio State to score in bunches, and Miller will be heavily involved in the fun. No sense in trying to overthink this one.
Pick 2: Adam selects Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez
Rationale: Like Miller, Martinez is a true dual threat who can pile up fantasy points. If he takes another step as a passer, look out for Big Red.
Pick 3: Adam selects Northwestern running back Venric Mark
Rationale: Mark is a big-play threat both as a rusher and as a return man, and he should pile up fantasy points early in the season.
Rationale: I'll take the other one of the "Big Three" QBs to start the year. I'm pegging Gardner for a huge season, and with so much uncertainty at quarterback at other Big Ten schools, I'm making sure to snatch him up now.
Rationale: It may seem unorthodox to take a receiver before I've selected a running back, but I'm confident that there will be plenty of good running backs in this league. Meanwhile, Robinson is easily the Big Ten's top receiver, and he made life miserable for me last fall while on Adam's team.
Rationale: No matter who plays quarterback for the Badgers, No. 4 will be the primary target in the passing game. Abbrederis can stretch defenses and should have a big senior season.
Pick 7: Adam selects Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter
Rationale: Colter and Mark are virtually unstoppable in the zone-read game, and I've got 'em both. Although the passing questions linger with Colter, his running ability makes him good for fantasy points.
Rationale: It's time to grab a running back, and Abdullah should run wild alongside Martinez early in the season, especially given Nebraska's not-too-taxing early schedule. He might just throw in a special teams score or two as a bonus.
Rationale: A slight gamble here, as Gordon could take a backseat to teammate James White, especially early on. But there should be plenty of opportunities for both, especially in Week 1. And the talent and potential here is too tantalizing to pass on.
Rationale: Gallon's numbers surged late last season with Gardner at quarterback, and he'll be the clear No. 1 option in the passing game as Michigan employs a more traditional pro-set offense this season.
Pick 12: Brian selects Nebraska wide receiver Kenny Bell
Rationale: I strongly considered Indiana's Cody Latimer here, but the danger is that Kofi Hughes, Shane Wynn and other Hoosiers receivers could all split the numbers. Mr. Afro Thunder is the Huskers' obvious top weapon in the passing game and could have a field day against Wyoming.
Pick 13: Brian selects Michigan State's defense
Rationale: The Spartans' elite defense actually wasn't that great in fantasy last season, as low totals in takeaways and sacks prevented it from matching real-life performance. I'm willing to bet that changes this year and will go with the best defense -- at least on paper -- in the Big Ten.
Pick 14: Adam selects Ohio State's defense
Rationale: Michigan State boasts the Big Ten's best defense, but for fantasy purposes, Ohio State's D receives much higher marks. I'm banking on Noah Spence, Adolphus Washington and other young players to step up early and often.
Pick 15: Adam selects Northwestern's kickers
Rationale:Jeff Budzien had only one miss in 2012 -- a 53-yard try at that -- and should be one of the primary contenders for the Lou Groza Award this fall.
Pick 16: Brian selects Nebraska's kickers
Rationale: The Huskers will be breaking in a new placekicker -- Mauro Bondi and Pat Smith are battling it out -- but this program has churned out big-time kickers. And while Big Red might not settle for a lot of field goals on Saturday, I expect to at least get some points on multiple PATs.
Our complete rosters for Week 1:
The Trombone Shorties
Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez
Northwestern QB Kain Colter
Northwestern RB Venric Mark
Iowa RB Mark Weisman
Wisconsin WR Jared Abbrederis
Michigan WR Jeremy Gallon
Ohio State defense
The One Who Knocks
Ohio State QB Braxton Miller
Michigan QB Devin Gardner
Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah
Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon
Penn State WR Allen Robinson
Nebraska WR Kenny Bell
Michigan State defense