I very nearly didn’t play fantasy football this year. A gradual disenchantment with the NFL and its policies about so many issues, coupled with a news cycle that just shoves the sport in my face, made me pretty apathetic this season. I was just fine letting a fantasy league that I have run for the last four years quietly disband until, while out to dinner with some friends in the league this past weekend, I was asked to kick things back into gear. Fast forward to last night, and the league is not only up and running but fully drafted.
As I was drafting, I got to wondering if it would be possible to draft only players with some connection to the sport I never tire of: baseball. I wasn’t able to pull it off entirely, but in doing some research, I think you could actually field a competitive team by just drafting guys with a connection to baseball, however thin that connection may be. Before we start, here are the conditions of this experiment.
- This mock draft is based on an eight-team league, which I know is sacrilegious to some, but just bare with me.
- I selected second in a snake-style draft, meaning I had the second overall pick and then the 15th, the 18th and so on and so forth
- Lastly, I’m just drafting a starting lineup, so if you’re looking for deep bench additions, you won’t find them here.
First Round - David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals, RB
Johnson, who is the No. 3 overall player in ESPN’s rankings, missed pretty much all of last season with a wrist injury, but he had 2,118 all-purpose yards and 20 touchdowns in 2016. He also happens to share a very similar name to Davey Johnson, the former Washington Nationals manager who also played 13 years in the majors.
Second Round - Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers, RB
McCaffrey was a highly decorated college football player at Stanford before he became a fixture in the Panthers’ backfield as a rookie. But before he was at Stanford, he was a three-sport athlete, playing football, basketball and baseball. On top of all that, he is the No. 11 running back in ESPN’s fantasy rankings.
Third Round - Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks, QB
It might be a little early to go for a quarterback, but when you set the parameters I did for this draft, you have to take the baseball-playing football guys when you can. Wilson has definitely had a lot of success in the NFL, well except for that one time, but he can also pick it on the diamond, playing minor league baseball and even handling an at-bat with the Yankees this year. On second thought, maybe this was a bad idea.
Tom Brady could have also fit here as well. If you didn’t know, he was drafted by the Montreal Expos in 1995.
Fourth Round - Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs, TE
Kelce has some pop in his bat. Plus he’s had at least 80 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards in each of the last two seasons.
Fifth Round - Golden Tate, Detroit Lions, WR
Tate was drafted not once but twice in the MLB Draft. First by the Arizona Diamondbacks out of high school and then by the San Franscisco Giants out of Notre Dame. He decided to stay with football, which seems to be working out as he is entering his ninth NFL season.
Sixth Round - Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals, WR
Seventh Round - Stephen Gostkowski, New England Patriots, K
Here’s something I didn’t know until today. Gostkowski played baseball at the University of Memphis as well as football.
Eighth Round - Carolina Panthers, Defense
Obviously the entire Panthers’ roster does not feature players who can all handle themselves on a baseball field, but linebacker Shaq Thompson was actually drafted by the Red Sox in 2012 and even played in the Gulf Coast League. That’s good enough for me.
When you’re a coach for the Red Sox, you have to play multiple roles. (Chad Jennings; The Athletic) ($$)
Brandon Phillips is going to make it back to the bigs with the Sox. (Ian Browne; MLB.com)
A healthy Ian Kinsler means good things for the Red Sox. (Chris Cotillo; MassLive)
Because when he is playing well, the Red Sox have fewer things to worry about. (Nick Cafardo; Boston Globe)
Lessons from Labor Day. (Jayson Stark; The Athletic) ($$)