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High Staked: Vegas, AB!

Veteran high stakes fantasy football player Monty Phan chronicles his season.

Since last Thursday, no player in fantasy football has come with as much risk and reward as Antonio Brown. In the FFPC high-stakes leagues that drafted in the days leading up to the NFL’s opening Sunday, the balance of Brown’s risk versus reward changed practically hourly.

But perhaps that’s fitting, considering the drafts took place in Las Vegas, where no one better symbolized a roll of the dice than Brown. I spent around 50 hours in Las Vegas with three friends, drafting four teams: two on Thursday, one Friday and one Saturday. With each Brown-related fantasy alert that buzzed our phones, we marveled at how much stranger the saga became and how much easier it was to digest after we had all agreed to put him on our do-not-draft lists. More concerning to me, however, was that my roommate Andy kept getting his alerts on his Android phone a couple minutes before they arrived on my iPhone, thereby spoiling the plot before I could experience it for myself.

Let’s go all the way back to last Tuesday, when all was quiet on the AB front. That night, fellow RotoViz writer John Lapinski and I drafted a team in the FFPC Super Bracket, the contest where the top four teams in each of the eight 12-team leagues advance after 11 weeks, then face off in a 32-team bracket-style tournament to determine the champion. Brown went at pick 2.08 in that one, which was roughly his ADP.

By the time my plane had landed in Vegas on Thursday morning, though, the first of the Brown-related breaking news bombs had started to hit – of course, spoiled by Andy, who had landed just before me and whose text was waiting for me when my plane hit the ground.

Thursday, Super Bracket, 12:30 p.m. draft time

Latest news as of the start of drafts: Adam Schefter reported the Raiders were planning to suspend Brown.

Pick at which Brown was selected: 5.10, WR26.

At this point, no one knew whether Brown would really be suspended, and if he was, how long the suspension would be. That uncertainty caused a three-round drop in value for this draft, when Brown slotted in between Josh Gordon and Alshon Jeffery. In a contest with an 11-week regular season, any player guaranteed to miss time is a risk, which is why we swore off picking Brown.

Thursday, Bare Knuckle league, 9 p.m. draft time

Latest news as of the start of the draft: Ian Rapoport reported Brown would likely be inactive for Week 1.

Brown selected: 6.07, WR29

The Bare Knuckle league – in which I’m defending champ – is a 28-round best-ball contest that drafts immediately after the Thursday night opener. Participants get 30 seconds per pick and choose their draft positions five minutes before the selections begin. No cheat sheets, mobile devices or conferring with partners is allowed. With the limited time to make selections, it wouldn’t have been surprising for Brown to go much earlier than he did, since panic-picking – blurting out the name of a guy you don’t really want but end up selecting because you can’t think of anyone else – is a common occurrence in this draft. But Brown lasted all the way to the mid-sixth round. He was becoming more toxic by the hour.

Friday, Main Event, 3 p.m. draft time

Latest news as of the start of the draft: Brown apologized to teammates and Adam Schefter reported that coach Jon Gruden said Brown would play Monday.

Brown selected: 3.07, WR12

A ray of sunshine: All was forgiven! Brown would play Monday! Raider 4 life! In this draft, Brown slotted in between Amari Cooper and Chris Godwin, but anyone who was paying any attention at all could sense that the saga was far from over. In fact, Friday evening, as the four of us were leaving to get dinner, Andy showed us the video Brown posted on YouTube where he apparently had recorded a conversation with Gruden. At this point, I considered switching my provider and phone to whatever Andy had, because I was tired of him seeing this stuff before me.

Saturday, Main Event, 10 a.m. draft time

Latest news as of the start of the draft: Raiders released Brown.

Brown selected: 7.06, WR36

Andy had woken up before I did, and, in now-classic Andy fashion, broke the news to me: Brown had requested his release. By the time I’d brushed my teeth, Brown was cut. I felt there was no way to justify taking Brown in the single-digit rounds, but he went in the mid-seventh, right after an injured A.J. Green and before Sammy Watkins, he of 9 catches for 198 yards and 3 TDs Sunday.1

Saturday, Main Event, 7 p.m. draft time

Latest news as of the start of the draft: Patriots signed Brown.

Brown selected: 2.09, WR8

And … Brown was right back where we started. As I was about to board my plane back home, the joke that was making the rounds on Twitter – “Oh, man, what if the Pats got AB?” – had become reality. His value was rehabilitated, as Evan Silva pointed out in tweets that tracked his own Main Event draft.

So whether you took Brown in the second or seventh, the best I can say is, enjoy the ride. We sure did, and we didn’t even draft him!

Image Credit: Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Tom Brady.

  1. That was a particularly painful selection, considering we were set to take him when he was selected right before our turn, and we instead settled on Corey Davis, who put up a goose egg for us.  (back)

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