The Eighth Man

Creating a Fantasy – Midwest Edition

Bowling Green's Evan Adkins was Changet's first pick in the Midwest Fantasy draft, but it was his later picks that he feels solidified his team. Credit: Tim Adkins

Bowling Green’s Evan Adkins was Changet’s first pick in the Midwest Fantasy draft, but it was his later picks that he feels solidified his team. Credit: Tim Adkins

The Midwest Fantasy Tournament is kicking off Fantasy Season in the quidditch world today. Fantasy tournaments have become a huge hit due to the opportunity to play with players from across the country, or continent, in a lighthearted, but still competitive setting.

Fantasy tournaments are won and lost in the draft, as it is important to find players who have the best possible combination of skill, chemistry, and endurance, since fantasy teams are often smaller with less depth. Having fewer players means that each and every draft pick matters, as one weak link could really hurt a team.

Since the draft is largely the most important part of a fantasy tournament, and I was a general manager (GM) in the Midwest draft, I have been given the unique opportunity to write an in-depth draft analysis from the perspective of a GM. I will include my reasoning behind my draft strategy as well as talk about other GMs and who made the best draft decisions.

When I first started planning for this draft, I ranked every player in order from best to worst by position. This document proved to be highly useful. It gave me an idea of what positions would be highly sought after, and which positions had plenty of depth. As I prepared more and more, I was able to research the player pool more deeply and make adjustments to my rankings. By draft time, I was very well set.

I made a big show of having changed had to change my draft plan several times, but in reality, I only changed my plans once. When I originally signed up for this tournament, I was dead set against playing beater. I sincerely dislike playing beater, and much prefer keeper and seeker. So, my original plan was based around me playing keeper. Also in my original plan, I valued seekers extraordinarily highly, and was planning on taking Dan Takaki with my first pick, and a great beater with my second, likely Chad Brown or Jacob Bobeldyk.

However, when I looked at my player rankings, I realized that there were too few really great beaters to guarantee that one I wanted would be available in the second round. Additionally, there were only three elite keepers, and I realized that an elite keeper could be a game changer. But there were also only three great seekers in this draft, and a great seeker could be just as much of a game changer.

These three positional stipulations caused me to realize some things. First, that I was not an elite keeper, but drafting a keeper above me, a rather solid keeper, would be a waste of a high draft pick. Next, that I was on par with the best of the beaters in this draft, and so if I were to play beater it would be the equivalent of saving a top round draft pick. And third, that Danielle White, my girlfriend whom I always planned on drafting, is a very good seeker in her own right, and helped to carry Team Ohio to the semifinals as a seeker at Spring Breakout. These three realizations caused me to recreate my entire draft plan. I would play beater, eliminating the need for a top round beater pick. White would play seeker, eliminating my need for a top seeker pick.  This left me with a very flexible draft plan, as two of the highest priority positions would already be on my team.

This change of plans also gave me a strategic advantage. Going into this tournament, everybody assumed I would not be playing beater, and planned accordingly. To keep this illusion up and throw people off during the draft, I needed to be as persuasive as possible. So, I resolved to draft two beaters, one of whom had credentials as a chaser. Yes, I probably put way too much thought into this, but at the time of writing this article, it seems to be working incredibly well.

During the draft, my plan was executed almost flawlessly, and I got almost every player I had targeted. Wil Kinkley to be my chaser/beater, David Prueter, my prospect at keeper, and several sleepers all fell to me. Some players were stolen from me, however. David Wilber is a phenomenal chaser for Central Michigan, and he was taken just before my pick by Ian Hoopingarner, the gray team GM. Between him and Prueter, I was hoping to make a play on the chemistry of the Central Michigan team, which surpassed all expectations at World Cup.

Regarding Wilber, I was planning on taking him in the third round, but at the beginning of the third round, female chasers began flying off the board, and as White was listed as a female chaser, I knew she wouldn’t have much time left on the board, especially with two Michigan State players drafting after me in the third round, and before me in the fourth. So, I opted to take her in the third round. A good idea, as Will Hack confirmed that he was indeed planning on taking her with one of his next picks. This decision cost me Wilber, a huge scoring threat, but gave me my seeker, without whom my draft would have been ruined.

I had a pleasant surprise when it came time to draft my backup keeper and a third male chaser, when Zach Rupp and Mac Randolph, two very influential players out of Ball State Univeristy, were still on the board in the seventh and eighth rounds. Rupp is a great chaser who was my original backup pick at power chaser, and Randolph captained Ball State and was listed as my fourth best chaser. I had no plans of drafting Randolph, as I assumed he would be long gone by the time I was picking another speed/agility player after Evan Adkins, but I could not pass up the opportunity to have that kind of talent at keeper. The combination of Prueter and Randolph, I think, is going to be the Midwest Fantasy equivalent of the No. 1 University of Texas-Austin keeper combo of Augustine Monroe and Chris Morris.

Other than these few changes, my draft plan went pretty well, and I feel like I have one of the best teams in the tournament. However, many other GM’s made lots of great picks. Alex Scheer, GM for the blue team, took arguably the three best sleepers in this draft, with John Stephens, a fantastic beater, in the eighth round, Jack Norgren, one of the best seekers in the region, in the ninth, and Alex Chelminski, my original pick for a backup keeper, in the thirteenth. His team is loaded with talent and will definitely make a deep run. The only problem I can see in his team is that there isn’t a lot of depth, and while drafting players from the same team is usually a good idea for chemistry, Lawrence Lazewski and Benjamin “Snowman” Ackland are not the greatest in terms of chemistry, as they exhibit two very different styles of play, and do not do well when on the field together. In spite of this, the Blue Team has all the pieces to win this tournament.

Hoopingarner’s gray team is also a legitimate threat. Takaki is a wonderful seeker who has been living in Billy Greco’s shadow at Villanova for too long. He is every bit as talented as Greco, but without the notoriety. Combined with Max Blaushild, the former No. 13 Emerson College captain, as well as a solid first half of the draft, which included Connor Drake of Team USA and No. 7 University of Kansas and Wilber from Central Michigan, this team has a lot of offensive firepower combined with who I regarded as the best seeker in this draft. Hoopingarner has put together an amazingly talented team, and I would be shocked to see them fall before the semi-finals.

Samy Mousa’s red team is a very intriguing team. Five of his first six picks were from Ball State, which is a very good omen for team chemistry, and the sixth is Griffen Engel, a hidden talent from No. 11 Michigan State with incredible hands and great speed. This team will work well together, and although Mousa didn’t make a ton of eye-popping sleeper picks, the foundation he built his team upon is very solid, and will almost certainly be the team with the best chemistry at this tournament.

All the other teams have some very good players, and some weak points, but overall, this is a very even field and it should yield some very close competitions. The clear favorite seems to be Scheer’s blue team, but in a tournament where every team is theoretically equal, making predictions serves only to make the predictors look foolish, so I will refrain from any kind of formal prediction. Instead, I’ll say that while any team could come from nowhere and win this, I do believe that my team, plus the three aforementioned teams, are the best drafted teams. But, there is plenty of quidditch to play, and by the end of the  day, we’ll have our answers.

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