- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
The ESPN Fantasy Football draft kit is live and, as always, it's tremendous. We have profiles and projections and rankings and plenty of stuff you'll need to draft your teams ... assuming there will be teams to draft. C'mon, NFL! Settle this thing! Being an eternal optimist, I'm not concerned. Continue to enjoy your summer, and all will be well soon enough. There will be football!
When perusing our comprehensive draft kit, I did notice things that I did and did not agree with, which frankly is good. You don't want the entire ESPN Fantasy group agreeing on everything. That's boring. It doesn't make you think. So here are random thoughts I had when checking out a few of the articles -- and there will be many more, so keep on checking -- in the draft kit.
1. Guess I won't be the only one avoiding Michael Vick!: Colleague Christopher Harris wrote about arguably the most polarizing player in the game today -- in real-life and fantasy -- and discussed risk versus reward when it comes to the Philadelphia Eagles' quarterback. Harris' take seems an unpopular one in ESPN Conversation and message boards, but I couldn't agree with it more. As a staff, we at ESPN Fantasy ranked Vick second at quarterback and 10th overall. To Harris and me, Vick is simply not a first-rounder, and Harris goes to far greater and well-written lengths explaining why. For the record, I can't recall ever drafting a quarterback in the first round anyway, so this issue is larger for me than simply Vick's considerable pros and cons. I'd prefer to select Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, and would probably just wait a few rounds after that on a signal-caller anyway. It's why I often go running back/wide receiver through Round 6 and then end up with a Tony Romo or Ben Roethlisberger.
2. Mocking the mockers!: You won't find me among the participants in the first mock draft of the season, which is fine. I was on the beach! Although I could certainly use the practice, even in June, sometimes it's easier to analyze a draft when you're not in it. On first glance, I can say I love the depth in Round 3, as Manning, Larry Fitzgerald, Reggie Wayne and Peyton Hillis all fell. Look, I know all the reasons why the Cleveland Browns' bowling ball (Hillis) shouldn't be viewed as a safe, first-round pick, despite the monster numbers he produced in 2010, but I can't go with the likes of Tampa Bay Buccaneers surprise LeGarrette Blount ahead of him. I really think Hillis can remain productive, despite the presence of Montario Hardesty, though I expect Hillis' value to fluctuate in summer drafts since the degree of difference in how he's viewed is quite vast. I'm also interested in where the rookies slot in; this is a smart group of drafters, so it didn't surprise me that Mark Ingram (Saints) and Daniel Thomas (Dolphins) went outside the top 50 and into Round 6, but I'm also guessing when drafts begin that theme won't continue. These rookies might even go ahead of Hillis ... in some leagues, Hardesty might as well!
3. Everyone has an opinion!: I was able to participate in the sleepers/busts exercise, and as always, I enjoy seeing the differing opinions, especially when certain players show up on both lists! For example, I like Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow; I don't view him as a fantasy starter, but he won't be drafted that way, and I buy into his considerable upside. Not all fantasy quarterbacks need to have an arm like Aaron Rodgers. Heck, Vick doesn't. Isn't it interesting that Vick showed up on the bust side for five ESPN experts, while his backup -- for now, at least -- was a sleeper on four lists! Hmm. I think Kevin Kolb has a bright future, incidentally, be it in Philadelphia or elsewhere. Also, by judging from our sleepers and busts, one can see that the running back situations in Oakland, Dallas, New Orleans and Detroit are going to be very interesting this season. Hey, Felix Jones can be a sleeper for one person and a bust for another. I love that about fantasy football. We'll find out who is correct in September, right? Right!
Now hit the mock draft lobby and see who your sleepers and busts are. Practice makes perfect!
Eric Karabell offers his take on a few features of the ESPN Fantasy Football Draft Kit, expressing opinions on such players as Michael Vick, Peyton Hillis and Tim Tebow.