Niners Nation Flag Football: Fooch's Third Pick

As would be expected in any sort of fantasy draft, there is plenty of disagreement about the players Wes and I are accumulating for this epic battle never to be played. Part of the disagreement comes in all of our interpretations of how skills will translate to a flag football game. There are numerous skills that are important for either kind of football, but some skills are going to be more valuable in one version of the game as compared to the other.

Thus far I've gone with Michael Crabtree and Randy Moss, while Wes has drafted Vernon Davis, Patrick Willis and Kendall Hunter. There is a broad mix of size, speed and athleticism, although some folks would have nothing to do with any of these picks. Gotta love the "controversy".

In drafting my team, I'm looking almost entirely at the offensive contributions of players. I am interested in what a player can do on offense to the extent that they not be a complete stiff. However, given the offensive, speedy nature of flag football, I just want a guy who can make plays. Accordingly, we move on to my next pick....

LaMichael James

Offense

Flag football is about speed and athleticism, and "The Michael" brings both of those like nobody's business. He's not a big guy, but without the normal physicality of tackle football, smaller guys are able to find great success. If someone keeps up with him stride for stride on deep balls there will be some issues, but if James can get the jump on somebody, he can get himself open, while also having the ability to pick up some serious YAC.

The latter is a big reason I like James for my squad. I'd probably send him deep early to test the defensive backs, but Randy Moss is my primary deep threat. James is a guy I would use on shorter crossing patterns. While setting picks are poor form in flag football and illegal in the NFL, if you have multiple guys crossing over the middle, there's enough confusion that James could conceivably slip away from his defender. If he gets in the open field, watch out!

Defense

On the other side of the ball, James' speed and athleticism are valuable, but his lack of height could be a problem. Against guys like Randy Moss and Vernon Davis, his lack of size would be a big problem. Fortunately, he would most likely find himself matched up with Kendall Hunter on most plays. They're close in size, ran close 40s at their respective combines (4.45 and 4.46), and have similar leaping numbers. It seems entirely logical that they'll be covering each other.

However, there is another way I could see using James. I'll need a guy covering the quarterback and prepared to blitz as needed. Although James can't get his hands up too high against a taller quarterback (particularly if Wes goes with tall guys like Colin Kaepernick or Alex Smith), but he has the speed to force some off-balanced throws after counting the necessary Mississippis. I'm a big fan of having a guy who can bring some speed in rushing the quarterback.

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