The Commishicorn's Riff Raff Football Draft Week Hot Takes

Following the incorporation of trading future draft dollars in GMRRFFA last season, the annual draft event in Riff Raff Football took on an even larger impact in the league this off-season. Not only can teams load up with draft dollars ahead of the draft nearly a year beforehand (see Smeet), the LB6 tax means less-competitive teams still have a vested interest in the GMRRFFA season even if the title is out of reach, as was the case with Fredo Maisel last year.

Recognizing the import of the draft, the Commishicorn couldn’t resist making a second joint appearance to analyze the hot takes of GMRRFFA draft week (I say “week” instead of “night” because the Unicorn literally wrote “I NEED TO LOOK INTO THIS” on every question relating to actual fantasy football below… sorry). (ed: it’s true - I didn’t get to this yesterday as promised. whoops) Monday’s draft held Boy Chat hostage with substantial drama (Smeet’s whereabouts, Tito Galen’s crying foul that the Commissioner influenced the draft value of players, Toby Kobach MD and the Unicorn drafting next to each other in some smutty Oakland bodega, (ed: or the high-tech downtown S.F. conference room of one of the country’s highest-profile climate think tanks, either way) and Smeet finally getting a majority of owners in to his G-Chat video call one year after no one showed).

The draft was exciting and went along without any unanticipated technology glitches. Rather than spending 2,500 words going through actual player data (if we did the Unicorn would probably need two weeks), (ed: can confirm) the Commishicorn dove into the most pressing questions of the night…

Unicorn, do you need another introduction? We’ve already missed the deadline so feel free to look into whatever it is you’d like to say… (ed: with an intro like that, all I have to say is that I wish I had a “job” with as much flexibility to write fantasy football content as the Commish)

What was your favorite day-of storyline among GMRRFFA owners?

Commissioner: It’s definitely a tie between Smeet’s absence and Toby Kobach’s last-minute cram session. First, another owner commented about how enjoyable it was to mess with big stacks Smeet, which I absolutely obliged, highlighting that he once left $43 draft dollars on the table in 2016. The head games turned into sheer panic when Smeet never responded, prompting your Commish to frantically believe he had a death in the family or something else horribly wrong (and my prompting would be in poor form). Fortunately, in a side chat, he simply confirmed he was being audited by the State of New York, and I proceeded with my head games (didn’t really work).

As for Toby Kobach, is there anything more infuriating than an owner attempting to adjust values on players literally an hour before the draft and complaining how GMRRFFA had to inflate individual keeper values to adjust for sporadic owner draft budgets which could alter how much ESPN valued individual players? This is a long way around complaining that Toby requesting something that didn’t actually matter for draft prep after like eight months of draft content and Boy Chat conversations were largely ignored, all while the Trubisky Business group was getting mentally prepared:

Unicorn: Close call here, so I’ll go with the frantic “WHERE IS SMEET IS SMEET DEAD DID HE SELF-ASPHYXIATE HIMSELF WHILE WANKING LIKE DAVID CARRADINE” mini-panic attack in Boy Chat, along with the high-drama “What will the Unicorn and Toby eat” narrative arc (ultimately, we settled on crappy sandwiches, and Toby settled on 25 mustard packets of which he used one).

What was the highlight of the draft for you?

Commissioner: The utter contempt fellow GMRRFFA owners had when Tito Galen, Garcia, and I aggressively bid on rookie running backs like Miles Sanders (“$28??? That’s crazy!”) and Darwin Thompson (“Wait… who? He’s Damien Williams’ back-up… haha!”). Your Commish felt comforted in his strategy based solely on these ill-informed reactions.

Dr. Toby in Oakland

Unicorn: This had to be the utter joy of drafting in the same room as Toby Kobach. From his initial suggestion to have food delivered right as the draft started, to him terrifying my co-workers by yelling “WHAT UP?!?” as the live chat started (we drafted in my work conference room, which is in the middle of my office with floor-to-ceiling glass walls), to listening to him audibly groan every time a player he had queued up was nominated, to him making the last person in my office jump in their chair when he yelled loudly out of nowhere, it was a roller coaster ride that you all missed out on.

Which player’s value was the biggest shock for you?

Commissioner: Your Commish made it a point to stress over-valuing quarterbacks was a terrible move during the Keeper season. That said, it’s understandable that no one listens to me, but I was floored by Fredo Maisel’s decision to draft Deshaun Watson for $33. Yes, Watson is a top five quarterback, but bidding so much for him meant Fredo couldn’t get other targets, like Latavius Murray who I know for a fact Fredo really wanted. Rather than $33 on Watson, or Jesus - $23 on Rodgers - why not save some dollars and pick up other value quarterbacks, like Big Ben for $3, Carson Wentz for $9, Russell Wilson for $7, or Dak Prescott for $5? Competent quarterback play is obviously essential, but there is so much value in the league your Commish simply didn’t understand major investment in one.

Unicorn: A couple players who I liked cost much than I thought they would (Darwin Thompson - $34, Kenny Golladay - $36, Duke Johnson - $33, Will Fuller - $31, Dede Westbrook - $28), and many players went for value, but when it comes to sheer shock, nothing beats Fredo overpaying for Stefon Diggs. While I think he was $10-$15 overvalued, the sheer insanity of Fredo trading for him, then dropping him and drafting him for $82 is so much to wrap my arms around. Why not just keep him for $30 less????

How did you feel when Garcia still had $152 halfway through the draft? How much better did you feel when he dumped a bulk of it on players like Jared Cook, Jordan Howard, and Kalen Ballage?

Commissioner: Your Commish may or may not have had panicked side chats with other owners about Garcia’s stacks halfway through the draft, but after he drafted Jared Cook for $16 I was a bit more comforted that he wasn’t hoarding cash for a late splash I was unable to predict. His decision to spend $17 on Ballage assured me I would not be kept up all night worrying about anything other than the Watkins debacle.

Unicorn: My strategy going into the draft was to try and get Daddy Fat Stacks Smeet and other big budget drafters to shoot their wad early, then aggressively target upside players. That felt like it was working halfway through the draft (right about when the Sausage King asked if I knew we were drafting) until I looked and saw Garcia somehow still had more draft dollars than me, at which point I felt sick to my stomach because no one outmaneuvers the Purveyor of Death. Toby somehow also snuck in under the radar with a huge budget that allowed him to snap up players I was targeting like Latavius Murray and Christian Kirk.

Which owner improved the most based on draft night?

Commissioner: From the Commish’s perspective, it’s probably a tie between Stabs and Coop, and mostly due to the questions surrounding their initial keepers. That said, both improved substantially on draft night. In Stabs’ case, adding Devonta Freeman ($64), Eric Ebron ($4), Anthony Miller ($10) and a flyer on AJG ($25) were all solid contributions. In particular, adding Brandin Cooks at $41 may seem steep, but considering his on-field contribution is near-identical to Rams’ receivers Cooper Kupp ($46) and Robert Wods ($45), his final price almost seems like a discount.

As for Coop, your Commish obviously loves Woods, even at a steep cost, and Kenyan Drake absolutely belongs on the nicest Smile in the league’s roster, but I was immediately perplexed that Sterling Shepherd went for $9 and Emmanuel Sanders was snapped up for $12. Both may not make Coop a top-tier squad, but he has enough depth to be competitive and assets to move whenever Dalvin Cook gets injured.

As is the case historically, the hours post-draft in GMRRFFA always involve trades, so your Commish is adding an addendum to include Garcia’s MG3 acquisition also improving his team, especially after he only gave up Cooper Kupp and a few draft dollars.Ironically, all three Rams’ wide receivers are included in my comments... Sigh...

Unicorn: As much as I hate to say it because he outbid me on so many of the players I was targeting WHILE SITTING IN MY OFFICE TERRIFYING MY CO-WORKERS, I’m going with Toby here. His team is crazy balanced, and his bench is deep. He drafted multiple starters at significant value (James White - $26, Hunter Henry - $22, Alshon Jeffrey - $22) and snagged several high-upside players (Christian Kirk - $20, Justice Hill - $9, Michael Gallup - $4, Jamaal Williams - $2) late in the draft. I’m as salty as a bowl of soup at a Jersey diner that I have to play him in week one.

Who did themselves the greatest disservice?

Commissioner: This is a really tough question, mostly because everyone has a ton of depth. Why, you ask? That’s because GMRRFFA owners added an additional roster spot last year for another bench player. (This is a good time to remind owners that our waiver wire is that much more shallow because 14 potential pick-ups are gone, ultimately deflating the actual value of FAAB dollars, something no other owner considered during off-season activities)

To answer the actual question, Carlos and FIL are too easy given their budgets, so the Commish leans Mark Hutchinson. Equipped with a solid core of keepers, the Dornish accountant overpaid on Josh Gordon, OJ Howard, and probably Duke Johnson. Mark’s bench is also lacking depth (trust me, I’m fishing for trades). Without consistent supporting starters and questions on the bench, Mark’s squad squandered a pretty good opportunity to build (seriously, look at Garcia’s draft with a similar budget).

Unicorn: I actually disagree with the Commish on Mark’s draft - I think he did well and has a balanced team with a lot of upside and good depth. If Gordon breaks out, he could be a league-winner compared to his cost to draft. If not, he’s a solid flex with Duke Johnson ready to tag in, and massive upside waiting in Henderson and Hardman.

The Commish, alone on the Island of Stars and Scrubs

But on the disservice question, I’ve got to answer in two ways. First, you can’t overlook how bad Carlos’ draft was - see later question for more details. Second, I think the team that did itself the greatest disservice is the Commish, because I don’t think he added any significant stars to his team during the draft. The Commish is still the favorite this year because of his big three, and there’s some upside potential on his bench, but beyond those keepers, does anyone in his starting lineup actually strike fear into you? Didn’t think so. (Commissioner’s note: I need to look into this.)

Generally speaking, how uncomfortable was the video chat (i.e. staring at your competitors flipping through notes or looking at their computers intently)?

Commissioner: In its second year, the live video chat during the draft was a poor man’s in-person draft experience without the beer. Your Commish was fascinated at everyone shuffling papers and typing in to spread sheets as I ate generic oreos and watched WWE. The video chat was like watching video gamers on TV without the actual Fortnite game being televised. While I don’t believe a two-plus hour video chat of staring at 13 others staring on their computers was at all riveting, your Commish did feel sad that the call was ending, so that’s something I guess. Let’s move on...

Unicorn: I stayed out of the draft chat for two reasons. First, I don’t want to be distracted by things like Smeet’s screen porn reflection the framed picture behind him (always check your shot before going live), and second, with the exception of the Smile, why would I ever want to look at any of your faces? Nightmare fuel.

But hearing you all somehow turned out to be worse than seeing you all. The Commish’s creepy chuckle every 15 minutes? Pass. Fredo’s shrill complaints cutting through the draft room tension? No thanks. Someone leaving CNN on blast in the background while we’re all trying to figure out our next move? Ugh.

Do you know who Jazz Ferguson is?

Commissioner: No. At first glance, ‘Jazz Ferguson’ could be a character’s name on Season 3 of Glow (great show by the way!). Your Commish believes he’s a running back in Seattle, only because Carlos drafted him at the end of the night, but this could all be due to a generic oreo-induced haze or something.

Unicorn: Nope. Still don’t. I was more amused by Carlos drafting Jake Butt, but this was still pretty damn comical.

What was your biggest draft night mistake?

Commissioner: Undoubtedly, the ill-advised decision to bid $21 on Sammy Watkins, the most frustrating player in fantasy football and a straight up karmic disaster for any owner’s fantasy football prospects. Bidding to ensure the Purveyor of Death didn’t get him for cheap was fine, but I think I traded Watkins two minutes after the draft. Your Commish still regrets that move.

Unicorn: I’m still mad Smeet outbid me for Josh Jacobs, but the prices went higher than I had allocated for him, so whatever. I think I nominated Tony Pollard too early, because people still had ample draft cash at that point and he was bid up over what I was hoping to spend, but I got him at a decent price so I’m not too upset about it.

Do we think FIL’s algorithm worked to make a team with $38?

Commissioner: Begrudgingly, yes FIL did fairly well considering he couldn’t buy a case of a craft brew beer with his initial budget ($38). In PPR, Jalen Richard and Larry Fitzgerald add value, and your Commish actually likes Golden Tate, Zay Jones, and Delanie Walker, all at the cost of the dollar menu at McDonalds. Meanwhile, the three drafted kickers on his squad reiterates how valuable kickers are in fantasy football (shameless plug).

Unicorn: Meh. The Matt Ryan-Julio double down is great, but we all knew he had Julio going into the draft. Gurley remains a huge question mark, and again, FIL had Gurley going into the draft. Richard is a good pass catcher, sure, but it’s Jacobs’ show now. Fitzy is consistent, but I think Kirk takes a huge step forward. And yes, filling out an entire roster with $38 is commendable. But sorry, coming away from the draft with THREE KICKERS and two non-stud tight ends, a player who will miss four games, and a bunch of question marks, but no new stars? FIL is either going to have to swing some trades or get lucky on the waiver wire this year.

Considering Miles Sanders went for just $28, who overpaid more for a rookie running back, the Unicorn spending $78 on David Montgomery or Smeet spending $89 on Josh Jacobs?

Commissioner: LOLOLOL…. with a few exceptions, GMRRFFA owners are all but certain to read instant takes, but never the actual articles. Both Jacobs and Montgomery are stud rookies, but Jacobs plays in Oakland with a third-down back that eats up receptions. Montgomery may be a monster, but Tarik Cohen will remain involved, notably as a backfield receiver, and Mike Davis will eat up some of the carries in Chicago’s backfield. Both will be very good, but Sanders for $50 less is a better value (I’m not biased), particularly when considering he shares the backfield with Jordan Howard. Ironically, Howard’s 2018 counterpart in Chicago, Tarik Cohen, finished #13 at running back last season, so godspeed to the doubters…

Unicorn: I previously shared my thoughts on Josh Jacobs, but since no one reads what I write, I’ll reiterate that I was targeting him, but didn’t want to pay more than $75. Kid is a stud and Jon Gruden is going to run him into the ground. Since Smeet had the money, good for him getting his guy. Regarding Montgomery, I’d remind the Commish of his own Boy Chat comment several weeks ago that Cohen was “going to be pushed out” in Chicago, as well as multiple reports the Bears coaching staff “loves” Montgomery. And, I’d also remind the Commish that Sanders is not only competing with Howard, but he’s also competing with Josh Adams, Darren Sproles, Dan’s Smallwood, Corey Clement, and probably Duce Staley for all we know. To me, this question screams sour grapes.

As currently constructed, is Carlos’ team the worst team you’ve ever seen in fantasy football?

Commissioner: Previous to keepers, Carlos was already in an awkward position, given how cash-strapped he was ($225 draft budget) and his unwillingness to make any trades back in May:

When he did engage, he made a solid move in trading away TY HIlton for Chris Godwin and FAAB pre-Luck retirement and turning Godwin around for more FAAB, landing on Mike Evans, Tyreek Hill and Julie Ertz’s spouse as keepers (all smart but costly). In hindsight (or actually in the fucking moment but whatever), he should have tried to move Evans and keep Godwin ($12 vs $95), allowing for some flexibility in the draft without a substantial drop-off in production (though your Commish isn’t as high on Godwin as others). While your Commish doesn’t subscribe to the notion, I imagine some on Twitter would argue currently that Godwin has a better season than both Evans and Hilton.

Instead, he rolled the dice with $32 draft dollars and it was brutal, including spending half of his budget on Drew Brees and the Rams D, both inexplicable, and now he has players on his team I have never heard of (Jazz Ferguson notably). More concerning, he argued he would claim a bunch of rookies on the waivers this week with his stacks of FAAB, but since this will go out post-waiver wires on Wednesday, the wire will be light on potential talent.

Carlos’ draft night is a reminder as to why I should collect league dues pre-draft…

Unicorn: It’s insane to me that Carlos started with $32 and somehow finished with $17 - that’s incomprehensible considering how bad his week one roster is. I honestly haven’t ever heard of three of his bench players. And with the exception of Brees and his keepers, there isn’t one starter or even number two on this team. Again, ending the night with more than half his draft budget unspent. (Commissioner’s note: This didn’t actually happen. Strong research ahead of the column Unicorn)

The Commish bailed him out by taking Lamar Miller off his hands (that’s seriously a move only a family member would make), but let’s not forget he BRAGGED in Boy Chat about drafting Miller! Carlos needs a lot of help this year, perhaps even more than his BIL can give him, to avoid falling behind the rest of the league. Let’s just say I’m looking forward to playing him in week three.

Commissioner's note: This seems like a good time to run this...

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