August 25, 2005

Despite winning seven of their last nine games, three Mets easily tie for this week’s Klayman Katastrophe award.

Kris Benson earned himself an unflattering berth when he allowed eight
hits and six earned runs in 0.2 innings last Sunday. Making matters
worse was that the shellacking came at the hands of weak-hitting
Washington, a team that is ranked last in the Majors in AVG and runs
scored. While most people were hoping for something like 7-4-1-1-0-8
against the Nationals, they got stuck with an 81.00 ERA for the day.

Then last night, Carlos Beltran and Cliff Floyd caused equal misery
when they managed to go a combined 0-for-7 in the Mets’ 18-4 win over
Arizona. Not often do a team’s No. 3 and 4 hitters both fail to get a
hit when scoring 18 runs on 20 base hits. The previous night, the two
outfielders did only slightly better when they went 2-for-8 with one
RBI during a 14-1 trouncing of the D-Backs. Anyone who owns the
undynamic duo probably considered quitting fantasy baseball for good
after checking the box score this morning.

Time to shift the focus to fantasy football, since most people
will be drafting their teams in the next week or two, and I’m too
depressed to write too much about another embarrassing week for my
baseball teams.

On Monday night, I had my annual NFL draft, which as usual did
not go as well as I had hoped. I took notes over the course of the
evening and put together a sort-of-quick list of mistakes to avoid when
drafting a fantasy team in any sport. Here they are…

Panic picking

You have 90 seconds to pick, 97 seconds have passed and everyone
in the room is screaming at you to go already. Your eyes are quickly
looking up and down your lists, yet you are so nervous about making a
foolish pick that you can’t read a thing. The yells get louder, the guy
whose wife is five months pregnant shouts out something about missing
the birth of his kid and suddenly you’ve picked Adam Vinatieri in the
fourth round.

If you come into the draft organized and with a strategy, this
should never happen. If you need a wide receiver in Round 4, you should
be looking at your rankings and taking the top guy left on the board,
not scrambling through magazines to read up on guys.

This happened the other night to me in Round 2, when Clinton
Portis and Ahman Green were both still on the board at pick 21, and yet
I couldn’t decide if I should take one of them (I picked Edge in Round
1), or Chad Johnson. After about two minutes of sweating like Bam
Morris at a border patrol station, I shouted out "Tony Gonzalez." Sure
he’s the top tight end, but no one ever picks TEs until at least the
fourth round, so I probably could have waited. Instead I missed out on
getting a solid second back and now am stuck hoping that Tatum Bell,
Travis Henry or Duce Staley actually starts this season.

Following a run on a position

Whether it’s baseball or football, most of us are familiar with
how runs work at drafts. When Antonio Gates and Jason Witten were
drafted the other night, all of a sudden people were picking Todd Heap,
Alge Crumpler and Randy McMichael while there were still starting
running backs left on the board. In baseball this often happens with
closers, where someone like a Danys Baez gets taken in the eighth round
because six straight firemen were just picked. Meanwhile guys like
Carlos Lee are just sitting around waiting to get drafted.

Fear of the old guy

Sure Curtis Martin and Tiki Barber are a combined 937 years old,
but they also tallied 3,215 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns in 2004.
Yet every year there are people who pass on them and instead opt for
unproven players. Last year, Lee Suggs and Quentin Griffin were both
taken before Martin at our draft.

The same thing has held true the past couple of years with Roger
Clemens, as people have actually picked guys like Bronson Arroyo and
Zack Greinke ahead of the Rocket. If a guy has not started to show
signs of a decline, don’t worry too much about his age. There is no
reason to consider taking Mark Clayton or Michael Jenkins before
consistent performers like Isaac Bruce, Rod Smith and Jimmy Smith.

Bringing too many magazines, sheets with you

At almost any draft you will find the one person who arrives
with six magazines, a few hundred lists and absolutely no clue what
he/she is going to do as far as strategy. This person probably forgot
that the draft was even happening until that day, ran out to the
bookstore to buy as many magazines as he/she could afford and then
spent the last few hours printing out as many ranking sheets as he/she
could find online.

There are really no excuses for this. You’ve had 7-8 months to
prepare, which no matter how busy you think your life is on a
day-to-day basis, is plenty of time to find a few hours to get yourself
in order.

This person will waste everyone’s time when it is their turn to
pick, and will usually draft 2-3 players that have been picked earlier
in the draft (someone did this the other night when they tried to draft
Derrick Mason in Round 16, even though he had already been taken in
Round 6). The chances of this person finishing at or above .500 are
next to impossible.

Picking unproven players too early, just so you can brag about your pick later if it actually pans out

The example from Monday night was my friend Pat, who decided to
draft Lamont Jordan with the ninth overall pick in the draft, while
Randy Moss, Domanick Davis, Bryan Westbrook, Marvin Harrison, Tiki
Barber, Ahman Green, Clinton Portis and about 15 other top guys were
still on the board. There is no reason to think Jordan won’t be
successful in Oakland, but the guy has never been a featured back in
his life and has never had to carry the ball 300 times in a season (93
carries in 2004).

Why do people like Pat draft guys like Jordan so early? Simple. If he
actually has a huge season, Pat can go around bragging to all of his
friends about how he knew Jordan would be that great and that’s why he
took him so early.

Problem is, no one really cares about your team or what you did
at your draft. Ninety-six percent of people just care about their own
teams, and although they may act excited when you tell them about your
great moves, they couldn’t care less.

Fake injury claims

Always do your homework heading into your draft, so that you
know which players are banged up. This is very important because there
will usually be one or two people at every draft who spend most of the
night yelling out things like "Is his hamstring feeling better?" or
"How long does it take to come back from a shoulder separation?"

The last thing you want to do is pass up Chad Johnson for
Ashlie Lelie because someone had you believe that Johnson has been
limping around training camp the last few weeks with plantar fasciitis.

Picking with your heart

My biggest problem every year. This year I vowed not to take
Hines Ward in the second round and not to make Big Ben my top QB. And I
actually stuck to it. Unfortunately I followed my heart in 2003 and
wound up with Tommy Maddox as my starting QB and Amos Zereoue as my
second RB.

If you are a huge Chicago Bears fan, it does not mean that you
should be taking Justin Gage and Kyle Orton over the likes of Eric
Moulds and Carson Palmer. Distance yourself from your favorite team for
a few hours, and stick to taking the best names on the board.

And as hard as it might be, it’s also OK to take guys you can’t
stand to root for. Just because you don’t like T.O., Randy Moss or
Jeremy Shockey doesn’t mean that if they are hanging around later than
expected, you should avoid them. Owens lasted to the third round the
other night, and people actually passed over him to get guys like Nate
Burleson and Steve Smith. The controversial wide out might be hard to
cheer for, but passing up one of the top players in the game is never a
smart idea.

Drinking too much early on

Last year we had one person wind up with Emmitt Smith and Eddie
George as their running backs. This year a few folks were picking
backup QBs before they had filled out their starting receiving core.
Save the partying for the end of the night and make sure you are fully
alert as long as you still have starters left to draft. Pretty simple.

Keeping track of what other people need

So important. If everyone else has their starting QB in the
sixth round except you, and you are deciding between Aaron Brooks and
picking your third starting wide receiver, go with the WR. Even if
someone else decides to pick a backup QB, odds are 10-12 good receivers
will be gone by the time you pick again — if you don’t take a receiver

If you fail to track what other people might be drafting,
you’ll wind up picking a Brooks or Chad Pennington four rounds earlier
than you probably could have drafted one of them.

Since this fantasy baseball season has been too depressing,
Klayman’s Katastrophes is taking a week off and will return in two
weeks at its regularly scheduled time.


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