The Fantasy Comes to Life

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 2014 NESCAC Fantasy Football League. With the season just a day away, we decided  just watching the games wouldn’t be enough. Like the multitudes of men and women in NFL fantasy leagues across the country, for the duration of the season our weeks will be defined by our fantasy squad’s performance.

Rules:

Roster:
2 QB
3 RB
3 WR
1 TE
2 FLEX (RB/WR/TE)
1 D/ST
1 K
4 BENCH

Scoring:
Our scoring scheme is essentially the same as an ESPN standard league, so in the interest of saving time and space I won’t put down every point total here.
The only difference is in the points we award for passing. In ESPN standard leagues, QB’s receive one point for every 25 passing yards and four points for a TD pass. However, the NFL is much more pass happy than the NESCAC. Over the last three years, from 2011-2013, there have been 316 passing touchdowns and 306 rushing touchdowns in the NESCAC, and 45,452 passing yards compared to 34,181 rushing yards. So, we decided to award six points for touchdowns of any kind (passing, rushing or receiving), and one point for every 20 passing yards as opposed to 25. Running backs and receivers earn one point for every 10 yards on the ground or through the air.
One other miscellaneous note: individual players do not receive points for kick returns. For example, Darrien Myers ’17 is one of the league’s best return men, but if he runs a kickoff back for a touchdown he will accrue no points, while the Trinity D/ST will receive six.

Schedule:
We will be competing in weekly head-to-head matchups. There are four teams, so each team will play each other team twice over the first six weeks. Weeks 7 and 8 will serve as a single-elimination playoff. The top seed will play the fourth seed, the second will play the third, and the winners of the Week 7 matchups will compete for the title.
First tie-breaker: Head-to-head record
Second tie-breaker: Most points in head-to-head matchups
Playoff tie-breaker: QB points
Second playoff tie-breaker: RB points
Third playoff tie-breaker: WR points

Player Acquisitions:
Trades are fair game through the first six weeks. After games begin in Week 6 no more trades will be allowed.
Waiver requests must be submitted by Tuesday night. The last team in the standings will get the first chance to acquire any free agent, followed by the second-worst team, the second-best team and finally the first place team. There is no limit to player acquisitions, so if the last-place team places two waiver claims and the second priority is still available after each team has a chance to claim players, then the last-place team will be allowed to acquire that player.

The Draft:
Finally, here’s how the draft shook out, with some analysis from the participants.

Round 1
Sean Meekins: WR Gene Garay (Amherst)
Peter Lindholm: QB Max Lippe (Amherst)
Adam Lamont: RB LaDarius Drew (Wesleyan)
Joe MacDonald: WR Matt Minno (Middlebury)

JM: Aware of the dependency of NESCAC offenses on the run game (3,158 rushes compared to 2,579 pass attempts in 2013), and the lack of elite receiving options, Sean led us off with one of the few top returning receivers with an experienced quarterback throwing to him. I think that move inspired Pete to some effect, and I completely understand Adam going for the top running back out of the gate. For my part, despite the desire of head coach Bob Ritter to run the ball more this season and the lack of experience for expected starter Matt Milano, I think Minno only gets better and as we will see in later rounds I have confidence that the Middlebury offense will keep rolling.

Round 2
JM: RB Alex Scyocurka (Williams)
AL: QB Matt Cannone (Bates)
PL: RB/TE Mike Budness (Trinity)
SM: WR Chris Ragone (Trinity)

PL: Okay, in the interest of full disclosure, I thought Mike Budness was a running back when I made this pick. So when Joe told me that he was more a fullback/wingback/hybrid, I was naturally a little concerned. After some seriously frantic googling, I now feel a deep connection to Mike Budness. He is not a fantasy player; he’s a football player, and although his stats maybe don’t deserve a second round pick, he should be great for Team Lindholm’s chemistry. And we all know that team chemistry is what wins fantasy football gold. There were other bold picks in this round, including Adam’s pick of Bates QB Matt Cannone, the leading passer on a team that runs more than the broken faucet on the fourth floor of Coffrin (seriously though, it’s been two weeks.) Anyway, long story short, rough start for the Lindholms.

AL: I am a believer in Cannone. Think he will put up big stats as a dual threat guy

JM: I might regret going with Scyocurka over Cannone, but I wanted to make sure I got a feature back, and Scyocurka will almost definitely lead the league in carries if he remains healthy all year long.

Round 3
SM: QB Jesse Warren (Wesleyan)
PL: RB Kenny Adinkra (Amherst)
AL: WR Luke Duncklee (Colby)
JM: RB Chudi Iregbulem (Trinity)

AL: Duncklee’s production might dip a little bit with the change at quarterback, but he should still be one of the league’s best receivers.

JM: I know Iregbulem only carried the ball 19 times last year to Jacob Rivers’ 12, but it appears that Iregbulem won the starting job and with the run-heavy offense down there in Hartford I’m pretty confident that he can return third-round value or better. Oh by the way, he averaged 7.2 yards per carry last season

Round 4
JM: QB Gabe Harrington (Colby)
AL: RB Tyler Grant (Bowdoin)
PL: WR Josh Hurwitz (Wesleyan)
SM: RB Kyle Gibson (Wesleyan

Round 5
SM: RB Jacob Rivers (Trinity)
PL: TE Jonathan Day (Wesleyan)
AL: RB Carl Lipani (Colby)
JM: RB Ivan Reese (Bates)

SM: With these two picks, I took Kyle Gibson (Wesleyan) and Jacob Rivers (Trinity). These were controversial picks because both are considered the back up running backs on their respective teams. However, the NESCAC is a running back dominant league and both have very strong offenses. With this being true both are going to get many carries throughout the year. They should get just as many carries as the starting running backs from the bottom teams in the league. Trinity’s Ben Crick thrived behind Evan Bunker, and I feel Rivers can break out and have similar success.

JM: I feel like I got another great value in Reese in the fifth round. He replaces the graduated Ryan Curit in the fullback position in Bates’ triple option. Curit had the fourth-most rushing attempts in 2013, so hopefully Reese can match that total. He also ran for over 100 yards in his only start of 2013.

AL: Bowdoin wants to run the ball more this year and Grant is the only running back returning with experience. As for Lipani, he will get the ball more without Ciero running around, but the question remains whether he can make a substantial leap in carries from the 52 he had last season.

Round 6
JM: TE Brett Harasimowicz (Middlebury)
AL: WR Brian Ragone (Amherst)
PL: RB Ryan Hislop (Middlebury)
SM: Trinity D/ST

AL: No reason to think that both Ragones can’t have productive seasons.

JM: I probably could have waited on Harasimowicz here seeing as the general response was, “Who’s that?” But I’ve watched first hand over the past two seasons as Billy Chapman and Billy Sadik-Khan earned All-NESCAC honors as tight ends in the Middlebury scheme. Of course, there will be fewer passes to spread around with Mac Foote gone, but I think the string of success for Middlebury tight ends continues, and Harasimowicz’s main competition for playing time, junior Trevor Miletich, has been nagged by injury in the preseason.

Round 7
SM: WR Ian Dugger (Trinity)
PL: Amherst D/ST
AL: QB Austin Lommen (Williams)
JM: WR Brendan Rankowitz (Middlebury)

AL: I felt that I needed to grab another QB and I’ve liked everything that I’ve heard about Lommen so far.

JM: Yup, that’s my third Middlebury target in seven rounds. Am I a bit of a homer? Maybe. But four Middlebury receivers were in the top-11 in yards last season, and even if Rank or Harasimowicz are the third or fourth option they will put up bigger numbers than the top options on other offenses. And I think QB Matt Milano will surprise a lot of people around the NESCAC this year. By the way, check out Round 12. Figured I might as well get every reception for the Panthers.

Round 8
JM: QB Henry Foye (Trinity)
AL: WR Ethan Drigotas (Bowdoin)
PL: RB Zach Trause (Tufts)
SM: Phillip Nwosu (Amherst)

SM: A very bold pick in the 8th round, but kickers are extremely important in the NESCAC. That is why I went with Phillip Nwosu. He is a very consistent kicker, something that is not guaranteed in the NESCAC. Adam named him Amherst MVP, so I felt it would be smart to take a consistent kicker on a team who is going to score a lot of points this year.

AL: Drigotas might not grab a lot of TD’s but he should see an uptick in production.

JM: I didn’t feel like there were any great fantasy quarterbacks to be had, though I expect someone to emerge. I went with Foye hoping that he can be solid and won’t hurt me. He should have a strong running game helping him out as well, so if he can not turn the ball over and rack up some TD’s I’ll be happy. And his numbers were good last year in limited time, though I’m worried that if the coaching staff benched him once they might do it again.

Round 9
SM: TE Brendan Oliver (Trinity)
PL: WR Harrison Murphy (Bates)
AL: Wesleyan D/ST
JM: WR Nick Joseph (Colby)

AL: The Amherst and Trinity defenses were both gone, but Wesleyan could have the best D/ST by season’s end.

PL: In the NESCAC there are very few top tier players and a huge amount of middle tier guys, so these middle rounds can be crucial in determining the league champion. That said, I really like Meekins’ pick here. He was able to snag a solid tight end in the later rounds, allowing him to focus on grabbing good skill guys earlier in the draft, when they’re still available. Adam grabbed the Wesleyan defense, which is bold because although they won’t give up many points, they also won’t be on the field much because Wesleyan’s offense is so dominant, which will give them less chances to force turnovers. I took Bates WR Harrison Murphy because I was worried about my depth at WR, and because my relatives in Lewiston would have all cut me out of their wills if I didn’t grab a Bates guy, and they’re getting old so it’s time to make some moves.

Round 10
JM: RB Rico Gonzalez (Hamilton)
AL: TE Alex Way (Williams)
PL: K Zach Dola (Middlebury)
SM: WR Darrias Sime (Williams)

JM: In all honesty, I’m not totally confident that Gonzalez will get the lion’s share of carries, so I made this pick with the full intention of handicapping him later on. Unfortunately, the Hamilton running game could be a three-headed monster early on. I’m hoping one of my two Continentals will emerge as the workhorse.

AL: I needed a tight end here and I like the potential production of Way.

Round 11
SM: TE David Von Euw (Colby)
PL: QB Matt Milano (Middlebury)
AL: WR Mike Rando (Tufts)
JM: RB Shaun Carroll (Bates)

AL: Tufts players got overlooked a lot in this draft because the team hasn’t been very good in recent years, but they throw the ball a ton and Rando will be one of their guys out of the slot.

Round 12
JM: WR Grant Luna (Middlebury)
AL: QB Jack Doll (Tufts)
PL: Williams D/ST
SM: QB Spencer Aukamp (Trinity)

AL: Same logic as the previous round, and I needed a good backup QB.

SM: I went with Spencer Aukamp with this pick as insurance. Trinity’s offense changed last season when they went to the freshman Puzzo after a few games. I figured to take a chance on this one because Trinity’s offense likes to mix things up. Aukamp might also get some fourth quarter snaps in which he can prove something if the Bantams are blowing other teams out.

Round 13
SM: RB Gus Ackley (Trinity)
PL: WR Jay Fabien (Wesleyan)
AL: WR Dan Barone (Bowdoin)
JM: WR Greg Lanzillo (Tufts)

PL: I was starting to get a little confused here in the later rounds, but I still didn’t feel good about my receiving depth, so I was psyched to get a Wesleyan receiver so late in Jay Fabien. Their offense should be so powerful that I assume some of the glory will go to Fabien. Like I said earlier, the NESCAC is a league that is relatively thin at the top in fantasy terms, but very deep throughout the middle, so all of the picks in this round should contribute to their teams (both fantasy and real) throughout this season. I particularly like Joe grabbing Lanzillo, who could be poised for a breakout year. I want to give Joe another shout-out for being so focused on the draft despite having to fight off kangaroos with eucalyptus bark during the whole thing down in Australia. An incredible performance, to be sure.

JM: Why was Lanzillo still on the board? He’s the top receiving threat on the league’s second-most pass-happy offense. Come on, guys.

Round 14
JM: WR Steve Kiesel (Williams)
AL: K Louw Scheepers (Colby)
PL: RB James Semmonella (Bates)
SM: WR Darrien Myers (Trinity)

JM: Sort of the same thing here. Kiesel’s teammate, Sime, went four rounds earlier, and they were essentially equal in production in 2013. And I think they should both be even better this year with what should be an upgrade at QB.

AL: I saw Scheepers hit a 45-yarder in a scrimmage so I’m a believer.

Round 15
SM: QB Mac Caputi (Bowdoin)
PL: RB Lashawn Russell-Ware (Hamilton)
AL: WR Pat Donadio (Hamilton)
JM: RB Jeff Hopsicker (Hamilton)

AL: Joe Jensen is gone so Donadio should see a big uptick in production.

JM: I really feel like one of these Hamilton backs will end up the team’s leading rusher. Pete made my decision easy by grabbing the speedy Russell-Ware, so I went with the former safety.

Round 16
JM: Colby D/ST
AL: TE Henry Falter (Amherst)
PL: K Andrew Murowchick (Bowdoin)
SM: WR Jackson McGonagle (Amherst)

AL: To get a guy as talented as Falter this late is a steal in my opinion.

Round 17
SM: RB Nick Kelly (Amherst)
PL: RB Andrew Miller (Middlebury)
AL: WR Mark Riley (Bates)
JM: K Joe Mallock

JM: I stuck to my fantasy strategy of taking defenses and kickers at the end, and I’m totally happy with both of these selections, although in hindsight maybe I shouldn’t have picked up Colby as my starting D/ST in week one, seeing as the trip to Hartford is never fun.

PL: At this point in the draft you could have told me that the remaining names were the cast of the Broadway hit “Newsies” and I would have believed you, but once I got my bearings I was happy with my pick. Having already drafted Middlebury’s prospective starting running back, Ryan Hislop, I decided to go with the other member of that position battle, Andrew Miller. I wanted to be sure that I had the Panthers’ running game locked down, as the quarterback uncertainty in Middlebury signals a greater reliance on the ground game. This was the final round of the draft, and it was a great time. Should be a lot of fun to follow throughout the fall, so stay tuned to Nothing but NESCAC for all the fantasy news. And, you know, some stuff about the real games as well.

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