DIXIE LEAGUE – The Association‘s baseball-themed fantasy football league – The Dixie League – held its 7th draft Sunday, the third since its switch to a baseball appreciation type format, with league newcomer Hinesville (Ga) Warrior leading off the order that had been randomized a week before. The Dixie uses a starting line-up of 9 players – at 9 different positions – as well as extremely low scoring (AF Century) and double header scheduling. The league goes into 2017 with 4 returning teams, all four of them 2016 playoff teams, including the 2016 Dixie Cup Champion Sanford (Fla) Celeryfeds and the 2016 Association Rookie of the Year Coach Wade Bodiford and his Andalusia (Ala) Arrows. There are 6 expansion teams entering the league for this season, besides Hinesville, they are the Austin Bulls and San Angelo Wolverines out of Texas, the Kokamo (Miss) Kings, and the Orlando Crush and Lakeland Raiders from the sunshine state of Florida.
Hinesville wasted no time once they were on the clock, naming Aaron Rodgers as the first pick of the 2017 draft, and veteran Andalusia immediately followed with another QB, taking Tom Brady at #2 overall. Between the scoring settings and the starting line-up, quarterbacks have much added value in The Dixie, so these picks were not a surprise, but three-time consecutive league runner-up, New Orleans Black Hats, picking 3rd, headed in a more traditional route, snapping up Arizona running back David Johnson, while 2016 League Champion Sanford stole Le’veon Bell at the 4th pick of the draft. Beginning with the 5th overall pick, the NFL’s consensus stud wide receivers went off the board in a flurry as Beckham, Brown, Evans, and Julio were drafted by the Raiders, Crush, Kings, and Westfield Bombers. Rounding out the first round, the league’s Texas ball clubs – Austin and San Angelo – went back to running backs, selecting LeSean McCoy and Melvin Gordon, respectively.
Two more quarterbacks, Brees and Ryan, left the board in the second, going to the Bulls and the Crush, and New Orleans made Gronkowski the first tight end off the board. Ezekiel Elliot and his suspension landed in Sanford at the 17th overall pick. Round 3 was dominated mostly by wide receivers being picked, but Kokamo took the first rookie of the draft, selecting Leonard Fournet at #27, while Westfield took a chance on the Skittles’ Come Back Tour, picking Lynch at #28. The first defender drafted went in the fourth round, linebacker Luke Kuechly going to the Bulls, who also took the first kicker – Gostkowski – of the draft, late in the 5th round, and after a run on tight ends, 7 had been picked by the end of the 5th. More kickers and defenders were mixed into round 6, and then Jameis Winston became the first back-up quarterback, joining Andalusia at 59th overall.
While chatter was brisk in the beginning of the draft, it seemed to tail off as teams were studying the board and making last minute adjustments to finalize their players for the last few rounds. The Dixie League has a route for conversion into a dynasty format embedded into the league rules should a requisite number of teams return next season, so this draft could have long-term implications. With the addition of the 6 new teams, the league has a pair of brothers managing the Orlando
and Lakeland clubs who will battle along with newcomer Hinesville, and returning
Champion Sanford for the Eastern League
title. In the Western League
, the Orlando and Lakeland managers’ father is the defending Western League Regular Season Champion,
Andalusia, and will be vying for a repeat against the powerful New Orleans Black Hats, along with the new clubs in Kokomo, San Angelo and Austin. This season could see an Association
first-ever father vs son match-up for the Dixie League Cup
, but the other 7 teams will try their best to prevent that from happening, with opening day of the 2017 season just over 2 weeks away