ST. LOUIS - Fantasy football season is here, and you can count Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo among the millions of dedicated players that have already drafted their teams for the upcoming season.
In his most recent draft on Friday, Pietrangelo - who had the fifth overall pick - selected Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman, Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper and New England Patriots receiver Brandin Cooks with his first three selections.
"I take the best player available. It's the same way I do it every time and it seems to work," Pietrangelo said of his draft strategy. "I own our Blues league - Jaden Schwartz and I made it to the finals three years in a row. I did my homework before I came and I trusted my instincts, so I like my team."
While the results of the Blues' fantasy football draft are still to be determined, this league - the one Pietrangelo was drafting for Friday with help from his nephew and cousin - follows a head-to-head, points-per-reception format and also includes former Blue Chris Pronger and current and former St. Louis Cardinals Adam Wainwright, Matt Carpenter, Lance Lynn, Luke Weaver and Kyle McLellan as celebrity managers. The league also includes some St. Louis sports fans and corporate sponsors, too, who get the unique opportunity to go head-to-head with some of their favorite athletes on the digital gridiron.
Friday's draft was part of Wainwright's Big League Impact initiative, which was established in 2013 and aims to improve communities locally and around the globe. The fantasy draft raises money for the organization through silent auctions and from fans who pay to play in the league. This year, proceeds will benefit Cardinals Care, Operation Food Search of St. Louis and Crisis Aid International.
Since 2013, Big League Impact has contributed more than $1.4 million to improve communities worldwide. Last year's fantasy draft helped pay to install a clean water system in Haiti that vastly improved the health of its residents.
"I'm in five leagues, so this means a lot to me," Wainwright said of his love for fantasy football. "This (league) is the most special to me. Bragging rights are probably bigger with our clubhouse league, but the good, warm, fuzzy feeling is biggest here in this draft with these great people who give their time and money to be here with us. If you're going to (play fantasy football) anyway, why not raise money for charity?"
"'Waino' is great in what he's done," Pietrangelo added. "We're always trying to find different ways to give back. It's fun for all of us to be part of this, and it's a creative way to give back that we all enjoy."
Pietrangelo's Draft Results
1. RB - Devonta Freeman (ATL)
2. WR - Amari Cooper (OAK)
3. WR - Brandin Cooks (NE)
4. RB - Isaiah Crowell (CLE)
5. TE - Greg Olsen (CAR)
6. QB - Russell Wilson (SEA)
7. WR - Cameron Meredith (CHI)
8. RB - Paul Perkins (NYG)
9. WR - Corey Coleman (CLE)
10. RB - Jacquizz Rodgers (TB)
11. WR - Marvin Jones (DET)
12. QB - Matthew Stafford (DET)
13. DEF - Seattle Seahawks
14. K - Cairo Santos (KC)
How do you rate Pietrangelo's draft? Let us know in the comments.