What if all 32 NFL General Managers were fantasy football drafters?

Who would Bill O'Brien be if he was in a fantasy league? You already know. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
Who would Bill O’Brien be if he was in a fantasy league? You already know. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

The 2020 NFL Draft will be all virtual this year, thanks to the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. General managers across the country will bunker down into home war rooms and commence a selection process within the digital world.

Sound familiar?

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Fantasy football players the world over can relate to the experience NFL GMs are heading into on Thursday night. With the real NFL draft suddenly looking like your annual fake football event in August, I thought it best to compare each team’s decision-maker to a stereotypical fantasy football drafter.

You all know someone like this — you just didn’t know it was an NFL GM.

Decision-maker: Duke Tobin (Director of Player Personnel)

Fantasy drafter type: Logs out early

You know the person in your league who, at the very least, jokes about just letting the computer auto-draft for them after a few “great” early picks? That’s Tobin. This is partly due to his Bengals owning the top pick in the draft here in 2020. However, if you look at the Bengals draft history since 2000, they actually have a decent amount of early round hits but never really rounded out the depth of their roster past Round 3. 

Decision-maker: Ron Rivera (Head Coach)

Fantasy drafter type: Multitasker

Washington finally sent Bruce Allen packing and did not hire a general manager when they brought in Ron Rivera as head coach. It looks like the former Panthers boss is going to be quite busy on draft night. While trying to stringently enforce his own new culture rules, Rivera must also contend with the meddling of owner Daniel Snyder and the new reality of a virtual draft. He must keep his wits about him so as to not have the clock run out and force Roger Goodell to auto-pick a kicker for his new team.

Decision-maker: Bob Quinn (General Manager)

Fantasy drafter type: Too eager to trade.

Every fantasy league has that one member whose phone number you’re *this close* to blocking. You cannot deal with one more of their incessant badgering sessions about a trade. Bob Quinn’s contact info is definitely saved under the name “DO NOT ANSWER” on a few GM’s phones after the Lions have made it all too clear they want to trade out of the third overall pick this year. 

Decision-maker: Dave Gettleman (General Manager)

Fantasy drafter type: The one still using a magazine.

Layup. You’ve literally seen Dave Gettleman’s work from home setup. It could not be any more him.

He has one ugly little laptop on a desk adorned with papers and a big fat binder right in front of his seat. If this isn’t the fella strolling up to your August draft sporting a magazine published in late June that he picked up at the CVS on the way over, I don’t know who is.

Decision-maker: Chris Grier (General Manager)

Fantasy drafter type: Constantly churning the roster.

The person in your league who starts making add/drop moves right after the draft ends, sends five trade offers per day, and leads the league in waiver moves can be hyper-annoying. Still, sometimes there is a method to the madness. We’ll find out if that’s true with the Dolphins, who enter the 2020 NFL Draft with three first-round picks after a complete overhaul last season.

Decision-maker: Tom Telesco (General Manager) 

Fantasy drafter type: Brings the best food/beer but builds terrible fantasy teams.

It seems the Chargers just never quite get over the hump. Despite talented rosters in years past, there’s always something: Injuries, a few big underperformers, etc. Whatever it is, they never quite live up to outside expectations.

The Chargers provide plenty of entertaining, oftentimes weird games in the regular season but never matter much in the long run. It’s the same way your one league-mate always brings the best beer and snacks to the draft but you know is never going to win a damn thing. Thanks for the good times, though!

7. Carolina Panthers

Decision-maker: Marty Hurney (General Manager)

Fantasy drafter type: “This guy is still in our league?” 

Yes, the Panthers GM is likely to receive input, if not marching orders, from new, well-paid head coach Matt Rhule. Still, it’s genuinely wild that Marty Hurney will still get the login info for the NFL’s draft Skype call this year. You would have thought that he’d be swept out during this year’s regime change. Everyone has that person in their league that you just can’t seem to get rid of (not for lack of trying). Just like Hurney, they’ll probably brag about some good first-round hits they’ve drafted in the past despite an overall middling tenure.

8. Arizona Cardinals

Decision-maker: Steve Keim (General Manager) 

Fantasy drafter type: The Troll, on a hot streak.

You know Steve Keim is feeling himself after securing his franchise quarterback last year and then following it up by getting DeAndre Hopkins for a second-round pick and a running back. Imagine how he’ll feel once he makes a top-10 pick in this year’s draft? There’s always one person in a fantasy draft who starts showboating after a few great picks in the early rounds. Keim will have his high-step ready to rock.

9. Jacksonville Jaguars

Decision-maker: Dave Caldwell (General Manager)

Fantasy drafter type: “This guy is still in our league?” 

You’d have thought that Shad Kahn would have swept Dave Caldwell out of the building along with Tom Coughlin this past offseason. Apparently the problem was just Coughlin’s hard-ass rules and not Caldwell’s many botched personnel moves. Caldwell’s league-mates won’t say it in the official draft client’s chat room but they’ll send a few “Here we go again” messages in their private group texts when he’s on the clock.

10. Cleveland Browns

Decision-maker: Andrew Berry (General Manager)

Fantasy drafter type: Bought a Pro Football Focus subscription

The Browns brass of Andrew Berry, Paul DePodesta, and head coach Kevin Stefanski are all said to be forward-thinking and open to analytics. You’ve all been in a draft with a new member of the league who will drop a fringe stat or two to validate their credentials to their new compatriots. 

11. New York Jets

Decision-maker: Joe Douglas (General Manager) 

Fantasy drafter type: The eager rookie

Joe Douglas is ready to set the Jets on the right course after years of Mike Maccagnan butchering the roster. Douglas took over the GM gig after his predecessor handled the 2019 draft. Expect Douglas to be eager, like the new fantasy league member who doesn’t miss a reply on an email thread or let a trade request sit in the inbox too long, but he’ll want to set a noticeably different tone from the league-mate he’s replacing. That means he might actually help out his young quarterback Sam Darnold and keep an uncluttered workspace, like this one:

12. Las Vegas Raiders

Decision-maker: Mike Mayock (General Manager) 

Fantasy drafter type: Has a reckless co-manager. 

The NFL Network draft guru turned Raiders boss is another GM who will have to deal with some meddling. Last year’s offseason made it abundantly clear that while Jon Gruden has big sway in managing the roster, especially during free agency, Mike Mayock constructs the draft board. The Raiders emphasized character and culture-setters.

That doesn’t mean he won’t have his “co-manager” blowing up his phone all night with pick suggestions. 

13. Indianapolis Colts

Decision-maker: Chris Ballard (General Manager) 

Fantasy drafter type: Reminds you that “the draft is only one part” of winning a league

Before the DeForest Buckner trade a few months back, Chris Ballard’s tenure as the Colts GM had been largely conservative. Despite annually sitting on loads of cap room, he hasn’t signed many big names. He got a haul from the Jets for trading down in the 2018 NFL Draft. He’s much like the fantasy manager who prefers safe picks on draft day and agonizingly reminds you about the importance of hitting on waiver pickups and trades while you’re just trying to enjoy the snacks on the big night.

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Decision-maker: Jason Licht (General Manager) 

Fantasy drafter type: “This is my year” 

There may have never been a team more “all-in” than the 2020 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They have a win-now quarterback, head coach, and tight end, all of whom could decide to bounce after just one more year in the league. Expect the Bucs to walk into the draft confident in themselves, just like you can bet one of your league-mates shows up to your fantasy draft with the blustering promise: “I’m winning this year.”

15. Denver Broncos

Decision-maker: John Elway (General Manager) 

Fantasy drafter type: Seeking redemption

You often hear one member of your league all too ready to moan about the players who have burned them in the past. “I’m never drafting a Patriots’ running back again, I’ve learned my lesson,” is a common refrain. The time is now for their redemption.

John Elway seems to believe he’s finally got the quarterback monkey off his back after 2019 rookie Drew Lock finished strong to end last season. Expect Elway to go into this draft looking to redeem himself for a long line of offensive whiffs in the draft. 

16. Atlanta Falcons

Decision-maker: Thomas Dimitroff (General Manager) 

Fantasy drafter type: *Screenshots draft grade*

Look, draft grades are really dumb, but that doesn’t stop at least one person from tweeting out the screenshot of their “A” moments after the draft concludes. Atlanta seems to pull off a strong showing in the draft every year yet usually turns in a mediocre operation during the regular season. They’re just like the goofball who retorts with “Yeah, well, Yahoo gave me an A for my draft,” when the trash-talking heats up in the group chat.

Maybe win the games that matter, not the draft. 

17. Dallas Cowboys

Decision-maker: Jerry Jones (General Manager/owner) 

Fantasy drafter type: Takes the whole draft clock. 

Everything is a show with the Cowboys. Unlike any other club in the NFL, their wild popularity makes it necessary that they are part-football-team, part-entertainment-franchise. Much like the drafter in your league who takes the entire clock for no reason other than to build suspense. Like a normal person, I formulate a few options as to who I might take when it does become my pick well in advance. 

18. Pittsburgh Steelers

Decision-maker: Kevin Colbert (General Manager) 

Fantasy drafter type: The Expert … at one position.

The Steelers have consistently nailed their wide receiver selections with Kevin Colbert at the helm. Not every single pick they make causes you to turn your head, but the wide receiver picks force you to revisit your own board. 

19. Chicago Bears

Decision-maker: Ryan Pace (General Manager) 

Fantasy drafter type: You never let them live it down.

Maybe this member of your league took C.J. Spiller in the first round that one time. Perhaps they snagged Larry Johnson, who followed up a 1,700-yard season with 559 in 2007. Better yet, they always cried “This is the year” for Ryan Mathews on an annual basis. Either way, you never let this league-mate live down that all-time bad pick they made, no matter how much time passes.

Just like no one will ever let Ryan Pace forget that he took Mitchell Trubisky ahead of Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson in the 2017 NFL Draft. 

20. Los Angeles Rams

Decision-maker: Les Snead (General Manager) 

Fantasy drafter type: “Start without me.”

Ever get a last-minute message from a league-mate to just start the draft without them because something else came up? Come on, this person is just always late. It’s all good, they’re fine with a few auto picks. Well, the Rams can afford to be fashionably late to the draft considering they don’t have a first-round pick for another 10 years*

*not accurate

21. Philadelphia Eagles

Decision-maker: Howie Roseman (General Manager) 

Fantasy drafter type: Always finds a steal.

“How did we let him draft Michael Thomas in Round 2?”

“I can’t believe they got Lamar Jackson in the double-digit rounds!”

We’ve all been haunted by that one person in your league who seems to find steals at every turn. You have no idea how they pull it off each season, but they do. The Eagles seem to always be behind in cap space but consistently pull in strong talent. That must be frustrating to NFC East dregs like New York and Washington. 

22. Buffalo Bills

Decision-maker: Brandon Beane (General Manager) 

Fantasy drafter type: Only picks players from his favorite team. 

I actually like what the Bills are doing but this one makes sense. No one likes the guy who always overdrafts players just because they play for their favorite team. I’m looking at you, college dorm-mate who took DeSean Jackson third-overall in 2010 just because he played for the Eagles.

Similarly, it’s a little strange the Bills continue to collect just about any available player that has a connection to the Panthers back when they were good.

23. New England Patriots

Decision-maker: Bill Belichick (Head Coach) 

Fantasy drafter type: The one you fear.

Let’s just be honest, there’s someone in your league who strikes a bit of fear whenever they make a pick you weren’t expecting. Their level of success demands it. Even if you laugh at first with a, “They took him in Round 3?!” the seed of doubt does begin to grow. “Wait, what do they know that I don’t …”

24. New Orleans Saints

Decision-maker: Mickey Loomis (General Manager) 

Fantasy drafter type: Always complains about scoring and rules.

Remember when we all had to suffer through an ill-explained, tedious pass-interference review rule change just because something bad happened to the Saints that one time? That was so worth it.

Also, you (you know who you are) can’t keep changing your league rules because you got “cheated” out of a playoff spot the year before thanks to “unlucky” head-to-head results.

25. Minnesota Vikings

Decision-maker: Rick Spielman (General Manager) 

Fantasy drafter type: Never responds to the chat. 

There is always one member of a league that as much as you might try to annoy them or slam their draft picks, they never take the bait. You can say anything but they won’t ever reply in the chat room. Rick Spielman and the Vikings feel like they’re able to move right past the noise.

“Hey, remember when you took Laquon Treadwell in the first round?”

As his league-mates howl with laughter, Spielman silently shifts UDFA Adam Thielen into a starting spot.

26. Houston Texans

Decision-maker: Bill O’Brien (General Manager) 

Fantasy drafter type: The one who always gets swindled in trades.

Had to be done.

27. Seattle Seahawks

Decision-maker: John Schneider (General Manager) 

Fantasy drafter type: Read one too many sleepers article.

The Seahawks are good for at least one, “Who?” or “They took him there?” pick every year in the draft. Just like the fantasy manager who leaves no digital page unturned in their quest for the ultimate sleeper, sometimes they find a winner. Other times, they draft a luxury pick running back in the first round for no reason.

28. Baltimore Ravens

Decision-maker: Eric DeCosta (General Manager) 

Fantasy drafter type: The Troll.

The troll has something to say about everything. A comeback ready to go whenever you question their most recent pick. Eric DeCosta has every right to say, “Remember when you idiots let me get Lamar Jackson at the 32nd overall pick that one year? Good times!” at any possible time he gets the itch.

29. Tennessee Titans

Decision-maker: Jon Robinson (General Manager) 

Fantasy drafter type: Forgets to set a lineup for weeks, still makes the playoffs.

This fantasy manager started a quarterback who lost their job in preseason and a running back who went on IR in Week 1 for almost a month. It appears they don’t know what “bye week” means. Still, despite that mismanaging, their team makes it to the postseason. You gotta respect that. Similarly, the Titans made it to the playoffs last year despite starting Marcus Mariota for almost half a season. 

30. Green Bay Packers

Decision-maker: Brian Gutekunst (General Manager) 

Fantasy drafter type: Someone’s son who got in the league.

Now, I’m not actually here accusing Brian Gutekunst of not deserving his job; he’s good at it. His dad is actually a former college head coach. Gutekunst isn’t one of the many nepotism-induced hires skulking around the league. This is more about his relationship to Ted Thompson. It’s been obvious since the jump that Gutekunst wants to prove his tenure as Packers GM won’t bear some of the frustrating tendencies of his predecessor. Much in the same way a kid who gets into the league because their parent has a team is dying to go out of their way to prove they deserve this spot on their own merit. They will never adopt the draft strategy of their parent. 

31. San Francisco 49ers

Decision-maker: John Lynch (General Manager) 

Fantasy drafter type: Spent too much money on a fancy draft board.

As much fun as those big draft boards can be at a live event, you don’t want to break the bank. Can we all admit that a whiteboard and post-it notes from Target would get the job done? You don’t need to overdo it here. That’s how I felt looking at John Lynch’s at-home war room picture. Three landlines? How does that even work? Who are you really calling on three landlines at once? Feels a little much too me. What are you trying to hide, John? The fact that Kyle Shanahan actually has final say over the 53-man roster?


32. Kansas City Chiefs

Decision-maker: Brett Veach (General Manager) 

Fantasy drafter type: Last year’s champ.

This one’s easy. No one in the NFL wants to see the early makings of a dynasty become a reality. Much the same, no fantasy league wants to let someone take the trophy two years in a row. 

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