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Experts Draft: Daunte Drops

Last week, I gathered together our Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Football cohorts for a second annual experts draft – Y! Friends and Family League. The mix included fantasy pundits from Yahoo! Sports, KFFL, FantasyGuru.com, RotoWire.com, StatShark and TalentedMrRoto.com.

In typical experts league fashion, RBs were in vogue early on – 17 of the first 20 picks, and 22 of the first 26. I ended the silliness by taking Daunte Culpepper as a gift at No. 27 overall – I can't take credit for such a fortuitous stroke of luck. Other curiosities included Larry Johnson going ahead of Donovan McNabb, Tatum Bell trumping Mike Anderson and Tom Brady falling outside the top 100.

Here is a complete list of the Y! Friends and Family League draft results.

After the draft, I asked each participant three specific questions about his draft. And, not to be left out, I had Mike Harmon fire a few of queries my way. Here's a look at what each league member had to say:

Yahoo! Sports Fantasy – Brandon Funston
Q: Did you come away from draft day satisfied with your receiving corps? Three of the four players you drafted (Roy Williams, Deion Branch and Ronald Curry) were slowed by injuries during the 2004 season and return this year to either question marks at QB (Kerry Collins and Joey Harrington/Jeff Garcia) or a QB that spreads the ball around to multiple targets (Tom Brady). Your fourth is the No. 1 target for another historically inconsistent QB in Tampa Bay (Brian Griese).

A: I'll buy that I'm a little shaky at receiver, but more from a depth angle than from a quality of starters angle. I'm all good with Williams, whose size, strength and hands are a luxury for QBs in the red zone, and Detroit loves to throw down there. Michael Clayton has that Jerry Rice quality of getting open and catching everything thrown at him. Griese got the job done (70 percent passing) last season. If he continues to grasp Jon Gruden's offense, Clayton should be great. And Branch is the most talented of New England's receivers. He'll put up the best numbers of that group, even if they are slighted muted due to the nature of the Patriots' offense. I like Curry (another guy who catches everything) working the middle of a wide-open Oakland offense. But he's their No. 3 wideout and he's all I have on my bench at WR, which, as I said, is shaky. I have two tight ends and a backup to San Francisco's starting RB (which is like insuring a mobile home), so I have droppable options if I need to address wide receiver via the waiver wire.

Q: In the 13th round, you decided against selecting your defense, kicker or adding depth at wide receiver. Instead, you drafted a second tight end (Jerramy Stevens) to supplement your earlier selection of Dallas Clark. Does that mean that your expectations for Clark are tempered by the loss of Marcus Pollard to the Lions? And, Stevens has never lived up to the potential shown as a first-round pick in 2002. What makes this his year?

A: I'm throwing around Stevens' name for a potential Gates-like breakout. But I'm not so head strong that I won't admit I was wrong and cut Stevens loose if he lays an egg in September. Things just seem to have aligned just right for Stevens to have a big season. He is being lauded by QB Matt Hasselbeck for his offseason commitment – his past offseason record is very spotty. Stevens was recruited to the University of Washington as a QB, and his speed, agility and size (6-foot-7) are difference-making attributes at the TE position. He's coming off a very strong camp and owns the starting job over Itula Mili, and with the turnover at wide receiver (Koren Robinson was cut), Stevens will be a familiar face for Hasselbeck downfield, especially since Stevens hounded Hasselbeck so often to throw to him this past spring and summer. His upside was well worth the gamble of a Round 13 pick.

Q: Which of your picks do you feel you will look back upon with the greatest amount of pride when the season is over?

A: I'm sure I will spend much of this season reminding my fellow league memers that they all let Daunte Culpepper slide to me in Round 3. Other than that, I do think between Jerramy Stevens or Dallas Clark (Round 8), I'm going to strike it rich at tight end. Clark brings rare speed to that position, and with Marcus Pollard in Detroit, his share in the vaunted Indy passing game has increased.

Yahoo! Sports Fantasy – Mike Harmon
Q: Your first two receivers were Steve Smith and Larry Fitzgerald, but you drafted just two others, Donte' Stallworth and Kevin Curtis. Given that you must start three WRs, are you concerned that you'll be forced to start either Stallworth (never more than 58 catches or 767 yards) or Curtis (third fiddle behind Holt and Bruce) each week?

A: I'm satisfied with the current composition of the roster … for now. Stallworth played well in the second half of the season and has looked strong thus far in '05; and I believe Curtis to be a prime candidate for the Brandon Stokley "Most Valuable Third Receiver" Award this year. I drafted Antonio Gates of the Chargers in the third round, knowing full well that I'd be forced to play the season opener without him. As such, that committed a second pick to the tight end position (I ended up selecting Marcus Pollard in the final round). Also, knowing that the owners in this league place heavy emphasis on running backs, the need to shore up depth in the backfield was a must. Therefore, you fill out the other starting positions, nab a backup QB and the draft is done. I don't suspect that Pollard owns a roster spot for the entire season, and that my activities early in the year will be focused on finding additional depth at wide receiver.

Q: You backed up Willis McGahee and Jamal Lewis with Jerome Bettis and T.J. Duckett. Were you targeting goal-line backs as backups, and what are your expectations for Bettis and Duckett this season?

A: If only I could have foreseen that Bettis would come up lame in Friday night's preseason game … I wanted two players who I expected to see significant action and who have shown a knack for finding the painted grass. In both the Pittsburgh and Atlanta offenses, that chore still falls to Bettis and Duckett, respectively. I also grabbed Cincinnati's Chris Perry later in the draft due to the high expectations for the Bengals offense in '05. Though Rudi Johnson is planted firmly at the top, Perry could shine if Johnson is forced to miss time. Finally, several running backs step into fantasy prominence from nowhere each season (see Reuben Droughns in '04). I expect to be active on the waiver wire as those players step forward for injured or ineffective starters during the year.

Q: Which of your picks do you feel you will look back upon with the greatest amount of pride when the season is over?

A: I'm personally excited about the selection of Kevin Curtis in the 10th round and the Seattle Defense in the 13th, but I think the selection of Rams QB Marc Bulger in the late-seventh round (eighth QB taken) will be the big coup from this draft. With Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce on the wings, the speedy Curtis on the fly and backs Steven Jackson and Marshall Faulk at his disposal, I believe this to be the year that Bulger takes his game to the next level. He cut his interception total by over a third from 2003 to 2004 and narrowly missed the 4,000-yard mark last year. I believe the offensive line will be better and cut down the number of sacks and hurries that have forced his erratic throws in the past.

Yahoo! Sports Fantasy – Matt Romig
Q: You drafted Tiki Barber and Brandon Jacobs, and Chris Brown and Travis Henry. Ok, so you have a monopoly on Giants and Titans RBs, but that's all you have. What's your plan on their bye weeks, and do you have any worries that Jacobs and Henry will cannibalize the values of Barber and Brown by stealing carries, especially at the goal line?

A: Grabbing the No. 1 wideout in the draft (Moss) came with a price – having to wait until the 36th pick to secure a second running back. When that pick came up I felt that Brown was the best available running back. You'll notice that the next four backs selected were rookies or backups. Of course, I had no choice but to grab Henry, and Jacobs was a safe pick to backup Barber, but by the time all that had played out I had painted myself into a corner.

Depth at wide receiver and tight end could land me a serviceable back via trade, but more likely help is going to have to come via the waiver wire sometime between now and Week 5. For what it's worth, a similar draft strategy allowed me to lead this very league in points during the regular season last year. I went RB, QB, WR and it served me well. Had this league featured a flex (RB/WR) position I would most likely have adjusted.

Q: Your receiving corps is huge: Moss, Moulds, Muhammad, Andre Johnson. Not one of them is shorter than 6'2". Were you targeting giants at wideout, or is this just a coincidence?

A: Pure coincidence, though of course tall, physical receivers who can grab the jump ball are all the rage these days. No, I'm more concerned with statistics than the tale-of-the-tape. Huge numbers are what I was after.

Q: Which of your picks do you feel you will look back upon with the greatest amount of pride when the season is over?

A: I've been tough on Chicago skill players, but getting the NFL's leading receiver from 2004 in the 10th round felt good. The cards are certainly stacked against Mushin Muhammad now that a rookie has replaced the injured Rex Grossman, but as far as an upside pick that late, I can't complain.

Yahoo! Sports – Joe Lago
Q: Generally, LaDainian Tomlinson, Peyton Manning, Shaun Alexander and Priest Holmes are the consensus top tier picks. After that, arguments can be made for a whole slew of players to come next: Deuce McAllister, Willis McGahee, Edgerrin James, Kevin Jones, and the guy who you took, Julius Jones. How much did you consider McGahee, James and KJ at this pick, why did you decide on JJ ahead of those guys, and how high would you have taken Jones if you were picking higher than No. 6?

A: I took Jones because of his strong finish last season and his run-and-catch versatility. More than anything, though, I took Jones because of Bill Parcells' ball-control reputation. Jones should get tons of touches this year.

I thought about taking Willis McGahee, but the uncertainty over first-year Bills quarterback J.P. Losman scared me off. I felt more comfortable about Dallas' QB situation. With veteran QB Drew Bledsoe (who, by the way, worked well with McGahee last year), Jones should keep the Cowboys' offense moving.

That said, I wouldn't have taken Jones if I had drafted among the first four picks. I would've taken Tomlinson, Alexander, Holmes or Manning.

Q: You took your starting QB (Chad Pennington) in the 8th round. He's coming off shoulder surgery. Your back-up (Kurt Warner) is trying to resurrect his career in Arizona. How confident are you in the arms you ended up with, and was Pennington the QB you targeted for the middle rounds, or did you have others in mind as well?

A: The plan was to get Culpepper, but when my fellow Y! Sports colleague Brandon Funston screwed me over and snagged Daunte three picks ahead of me, I opted for an elite receiver (Marvin Harrison). So I moved on to Plan B for my QB, which was to take Carson Palmer. Of course, I got greedy and took another wideout in Round 6, and Palmer ended up going in Round 7.

I'm not disappointed I had to settle for Pennington. Yes, he's coming off shoulder surgery, but if he's healthy, he'll be very productive, especially now that he has his favorite receiver back in Laveranues Coles. And Herm Edwards wants the Jets to throw downfield more this year. Pennington is pretty careful with the ball, too. He's a 65.8-percent career passer with a nearly 2-to-1 TD-to-INT ratio (53-27).

If Pennington goes down, I'd have no problems going with Warner. He's surrounded by lots of young talent in Arizona (Fitzgerald, Boldin, Arrington) and he gets to face some pretty mediocre pass defenses in the NFC West, namely San Francisco's and Seattle's. Warner will be one of this season's biggest sleepers, as long as he gets rid of the ball.

Q: Which of your picks do you feel you will look back upon with the greatest amount of pride when the season is over?

A: We will all look back and ask how in the hell did LaMont Jordan not go late first round or early second. He is going to put up some serious numbers in Oakland's offense. My best pick, though, will be Jerry Porter in the sixth round. He'll have a career year with Randy Moss occupying double teams on the other side of the field … Then again, I'm biased. I'm a Raider fan.

FantasyGuru.com – John Hansen
Q: You opted for Priest Holmes' high upside with the No. 4 overall pick. Surely you had intentions of adding Larry Johnson as insurance later on. He was stolen out from under you with the No. 41 pick (Chris Liss – RotoWire). When did you plan on taking Larry Johnson, and how worried are you that not landing LJ will come back to haunt you?

Considering you can start only 2 RBs, I thought the Johnson pick No. 41 overall was a real reach. I would have taken him in the sixth round, most likely, but had I not drafted Holmes, I wouldn't have taken him that high. I'm obviously concerned not having Johnson, but I would be more concerned if we could start three RBs.

Q: Drew Bennett is a lightning rod player. Some folks believe his '04 season was an anomaly, with most of his production coming against weak opponents in just a few games with Billy Volek at QB. Others argue that he is a sure-handed, athletic, big target who can do well under new offensive coordinator Norm Chow and his quick, short-yardage passing game. You took Bennett with the No. 52 pick, so you clearly favor the latter opinion. What do you envision for Bennett this season?

I was very high on him last year, and this year I am a little worried about him being overvalued. However, I felt at the time he was the best player on the board, and had no qualms taking him as my No. 3 WR (Chad Johnson and Nate Burleson). I won this league last year with a WR-heavy squad, so I felt the need to get three very good ones who are clear go-to guys.

Q: Which of your picks do you feel you will look back upon with the greatest amount of pride when the season is over?

I was really happy to get Burleson in the fourth round. That might not have been terrific value; I just want this guy on my team this year. I think he will be a really good and really consistent performer.

FantasyGuru.com – Scott Pianowski
Q: Derrick Mason is trying to put together a successful fantasy season in Baltimore, a place where Travis Taylor failed miserably. You drafted both players. What are your expectations of Taylor's attempt to resurrect his career in Minnesota. And what kind of numbers are you looking for from Mason in Baltimore?

A: As it turns out, Derrick Mason was one of my two "regret" picks – I hate the idea of being tied to Kyle Boller in any way, shape or form. (The other regret was Hines Ward over Nate Burleson, given that I know Daunte Culpepper can't miss but I'm worried about Ben Roethlisberger).

Travis Taylor? He's getting a big, fat mulligan from me. If you get open, Culpepper finds you. Taylor is a former first-round pick who had the misfortune of being drafted by a team that could never throw the ball adequately. I like what I've seen of him this summer.

Q: Rumor has it that Chris Perry will line up along side Rudi Johnson, or sub in for Rudi, a decent amount this season. Did you intend to take Perry after you picked Johnson in the 2nd Round? Are you disappointed someone else grabbed him? Do you have concerns about Perry stealing numbers from Johnson?

A: If Rudi Johnson goes down with an injury I'll surely wish I had Chris Perry, but assuming Johnson stays in one piece, I'm all set with the handcuff. I'd rather populate my bench with players that have the most feasible upsides rather than to merely knee-jerk insure my main guys. That's not to say some handcuffs don't make a ton of sense - ask any Priest Holmes owner how he feels about Larry Johnson – but in this case, I'd rather be sitting on a Willie Parker lottery ticket, say, than a Chris Perry one, given that I see Parker's path to fantasy relevance a lot easier to navigate.

Q: Which of your picks do you feel you will look back upon with the greatest amount of pride when the season is over?

A: There may not be an "Antonio Gates" type of breakout in the tight end ranks this year, but if anyone comes close, it might be L.J. Smith. The Eagles need a second receiving option to complement what's-his-name on the outside, and I think Smith is ready to make that leap in his third season. I was happy to land Smith in the 11th round after ignoring this position early on.

I didn't do anything fancy with the Mike Anderson pick, but for the moment I'm pretty glad to have him in the stable as well. But you never know how things might change there, week-to-week.

TalentedMrRoto.com – Matt Berry
Q: Baltimore at No. 67 overall? Was that a slam-dunk pick for you, or where you deliberating over some other players as well?

A: No, it was pretty much a slam dunk. Since we only play two RBs, at that point in the draft I had most of my starting lineup: My two RBs (Edge and Ahman), a QB (McNabb) and two of my three WRs (Horn and Lelie). So it was either a third WR, a third RB or a defense that is clearly a notch above everyone else. There were no RBs or WRs available (or TEs for that matter) that I felt were difference makers – the BALT D is. And in all the drafts I have done, I have yet to see the BALT D make it out of the sixth round.

Q: After grabbing Edgerrin James and Ahman Green with your top two picks, you drafted four more RBs the rest of the way, all who are currently backups. Was that your strategy going in, and how do you feel about your RBs backing up James and Green?

A: Well, sort of. My strategy is always RB heavy. I never like to have a lot of WRs – I feel that after a point, they are all the same and I can grab guys off the waiver wire if necessary during the season. I never carry more than one K or D for that same reason. So, in a league like this, with all experts and everyone going RB heavy, the more upside gambles I can take with RBs, the better.

So, that is my usual strategy. This draft played out a little weird and when I got to Round 3, where I almost always go for a third RB, there wasn't anyone I loved and McNabb was sitting there. Since we only play two RBs, and TD passes count for 6, the QB is more valuable here than in other formats.

So, after getting QB squared away and helping my WR corps, I decided to grab some RBs. I didn't want another QB – let's face it, there's only one week I am not starting McNabb and I will grab someone that week. If McNabb goes down, I am done anyways.

As the draft progressed, it seemed like a lot of the high upside guys I liked were getting taken and again, unless it is a bye or there is an injury, I am starting Edge and Ahman – two good RBs on very fantasy-friendly offenses. So I decided to make sure I had both of their backups. Something freaky can always happen, but I feel solid knowing I have the INDY and GB running game locked up and two potential starters in Droughns and Stephen Davis.

Q: Which of your picks do you feel you will look back upon with the greatest amount of pride when the season is over?

A: A few of them. I really like Chris Cooley in the 10th. I am very high on him. Cooley had just as many TDs last year as Alge Crumpler (6) and he was on the worst passing offense in the league. Gibbs loves to throw to the TE in the red zone and no way is Ramsey as bad as Brunell. I think Tyrone Calico in the 11th could provide huge dividends. I think the TEN offense is going to be high flying this year. And finally, Steve Davis in the 13th. He'll probably get injured again, but he's practicing with the first team and even if I get half a season out of him, to get a potential starter in the 13th of an experts draft is decent.

KFFL.com – William Del Pilar
Q: No receivers until the 6th round (Isaac Bruce), leaving you with starters in Bruce, Eddie Kennison and David Givens. Was holding off on WRs a premeditated strategy, and did you target these specific receivers? Why?

A: I was hoping to be able to grab WR Donald Driver, but he's been moving up the charts over the last few weeks and he went earlier than I thought. However, I'm not unhappy with Isaac Bruce. We feel he's good for close to 1,000 yards and 5-8 TDs this year. Not the numbers I would want from my No. 1, but I'm not unhappy with his steady production either. Eddie Kennison is the Kansas City Chiefs' No. 3 option (No. 1 amongst wide receivers), but we're also projecting Kennison for close to 900 yards and 4-7 TDs. Those are both safe picks as our No. 1 and No. 2 fantasy receivers. David Givens is in a contract year and is the New England Patriots No. 2 wideout, so we like his upside. Yes, this was a premeditated strategy - holding off on our wide receivers. We believe in the RB stud theory and with WRs being the deepest in fantasy football, it allowed us to wait longer to fill that position while keying in on running backs.

Q: You took some late-round flyers on Troy Williamson and David Boston. What kind of impact do you expect these players to make on your team?

A: David Boston is playing some pretty good football and, despite the fact he's the team's No. 3 WR, we like his upside based on his pure physical talent. Troy Williamson is a flyer based on his potential and the fact the team will probably spread the ball around a bit more this season since Randy Moss is gone. Either way, you can also find great gems in the waiver wire the first few weeks of the season and we'll go that route as well. You really can't do that with quarterbacks or running backs as much. Thus, this belief has led to our emphasis on RBs during the draft.

Q: Which of your picks do you feel you will look back upon with the greatest amount of pride when the season is over?

A: To be frank, I don't look at it as trying to figure out which pick I'll look back on with the good old "I knew it from the beginning!" attitude. With that stated, I'm hoping that RB Clinton Portis and QB Brian Griese pan out and show they can be an overall top 6-7 stud RB and a top-10 fantasy QB, respectively. Griese has to stay healthy to show that and Portis has to have a healthy offensive line and a quarterback to keep defenses honest. If that can happen, these players will have been worth more than where I took them. The truth is the pick I value most may not yet be on my team.

KFFL.com – Herija Green
Q: With your second- and third-round picks (24th and 25th overall), you opted to take a rookie running back (Carnell Williams) and a platoon running back (Warrick Dunn) – this after taking LaDainian Tomlinson with your first pick. What was your rationale for passing on the Marvin Harrisons, Chad Johnsons and Daunte Culpeppers of the world for two running backs with some question marks?

A: When you're picking at the turn you have a long wait between picks, so if the running backs I selected have question marks (and they do), just imagine the question marks I'd have had at the running back position if I waited another 20-plus selections. Basically, I felt I'd have no shot at securing any semblance of running back depth if I waited another round.

Q: You took your first WR in the fourth round – Anquan Boldin. His teammate, Larry Fitzgerald, went two rounds later to Yahoo! Sports' Mike Harmon. The question of who has more value between these two receivers has been something of a buzz topic this preseason. You clearly favor Boldin. Can you explain why?

A: Production. Boldin had just two fewer receptions than Fitzgerald in six fewer games and projected out to over 90 catches based on his nine starts. He was an absolute monster as a rookie and I feel he's got 100-plus reception potential this year. Plus, you can never overlook the third-year receiver theory as the third season is frequently when receivers truly break out.

Q: Which of your picks do you feel you will look back upon with the greatest amount of pride when the season is over?

A: I was really happy to land Boldin and D-Jax back-to-back at the turn, but in terms of upside I really like the 10th round selection of Eric Shelton, as I believe he'll be the starter in Carolina at some point this season.

RotoWire.com – Jeff Erickson
Q: You decided to mess with the bull (Mike Shanahan) by selecting Tatum Bell with the 44th pick, ahead of Broncos current starter Mike Anderson. Did you consider any Broncos RBs later in the draft, and when do you envision Bell overtaking Anderson for the top spot? What kind of season are you expecting from Bell?

A: Yeah, it was a bit of an upside pick, and I wanted Anderson, so when I didn't grab him in time, I got the horns. Bell is my third running back, so it's not terribly urgent that he takes over immediately, but I suspect he'll still have the job in the first half of the season. We still project him for nearly 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns. Any sort of projection with the Broncos backfield is a leap of faith, but the upside is well worth the risk; I'd rather take the chance here than go with a lesser upside back like Duce Staley or Lee Suggs. Where I erred later is going with Michael Bennett and not immediately securing Mewelde Moore later (thank you, Liss, for spoiling that dream).

Q: Many feel that Buffalo will be run-heavy given that it has a new, inexperienced QB in J.P. Losman. You gave the Bills a vote of confidence by selecting WR Lee Evans in the 7th round, ahead of some big-name QBs and TEs, not to mention fellow teammate Eric Moulds. What are your expectations for Evans and the Buffalo passing game?

A: I'm not thrilled with Losman, but I do like Evans' potential and big-play ability. One advantage that Losman has over Drew Bledsoe is arm strength, the better to utilize Evans in the deep game. I think he'll out-produce Moulds this year. Does that make him start-able? Maybe, maybe not, but I thought he was the best available receiver at that point.

Q: Which of your picks do you feel you will look back upon with the greatest amount of pride when the season is over?

A: Waiting until Round 9 to take my first quarterback and still ending up with Jake Delhomme, who should be a top 5-6 QB overall.

RotoWire.com – Chris Liss
Q: You took Larry Johnson in the 4th round. How much of that was it you trying to make John Hansen (picked Priest Holmes) squirm, and how much of it was the value you envision LJ having?

A: While I love putting the knife in the back of any of my competitors, I actually wasn't even aware that Hansen, in particular, had Holmes at the time I drafted Johnson. I just think that Holmes, given his age and injury history, is a big risk and that Johnson could be a top-five back were Holmes to go down. He's one of the few guys that has the upside to just about win you the league if things (or Holmes) break the right way.

Q: You definitely have a highly hyped backfield (Kevin Jones and Steven Jackson), but you double up on Packers at WR (Javon Walker and Donald Driver) and, beyond that, have guys with something to prove in Plaxico Burress, Justin McCareins and Braylon Edwards. Feeling good about your receiving corps? And was the two Packers a premeditated move?

A: I'm happy enough with my wideouts – I expect Walker to be huge, given that the Packers defense is awful, and they might have to bomb it down the field a lot. I like Driver for the same reason, though I certainly didn't set out to get both Packers' wideouts – it just so happened that Driver was the top WR on my board when my pick came up. And that they're on the same team doesn't bother me. Burress I like this year as the Giants will look to him in the red zone, and I have a feeling they'll open it up a little if they can protect Eli Manning. McCareins and Edwards were just late-round darts, but both guys have size and speed which gives them upside as well. So besides Walker, I'm not in love with my receiving corps, but that's the price I paid for getting the backs you mention, Johnson, DeShaun Foster, who I hate, and Mewelde Moore.

Q: Which of your picks do you feel you will look back upon with the greatest amount of pride when the season is over?

A: I'm pretty happy in general with my team, but I think the (Larry) Johnson pick has a chance to be the difference-maker when all is said and done.

StatShark.com – Gibby McCaleb
Q: This league mandates two starting running backs each week. You drafted a total of three: Fred Taylor (offseason knee surgery), Cedric Benson (just signed) and Duce Staley (a problematic knee is likely to cause him to miss the first couple games of the season). Do you honestly feel good about how your RB situation turned out? And what will be your plan of attack if things with your RBs go off course early on?

A: There is no doubt that Team StatShark is shaky at the RB spot, which is never a good thing in fantasy football.

We guessed correctly that LT would go first overall, leaving us to choose between Peyton Manning, Priest Holmes and Shawn Alexander. Our team had run a lot of data and we were on the fence about whether to take Manning or let him slip. StatShark analysis showed a significant drop off in forecasted QB scoring after Manning and Culpepper, whereas there were several good RBs that should have been left by my next pick in Round 2. So we went with Manning. However, of the 10 players we thought might drop to the end of Round 2 (excluding obvious first-round selections like Priest Holmes) and ranked based on StatShark forecast data, they were all gone by our second pick, including Curtis Martin, who was nabbed by the pick prior to ours. Damn him! We really didn't anticipate Culpepper dropping into Round 3 or we would have let Manning go by for sure.

Fred Taylor, as always, carries a big risk for injury but, of the RBs left (not much), he had the best forecasted numbers combined with Manning. Benson has now signed and should put up good numbers. Duce Staley should be in a reverse role as last year with the Bus taking the load early in the season and Duce taking over mid-season allowing Bettis to rest up for the playoffs. We're hoping he's just dinged up but will end up playing Week 1, or we are in trouble with both he and Fred Taylor questionable and Benson hurrying to get up to speed.

Q: Your 2nd round pick was a high risk/high reward selection of Terrell Owens. Clearly, you expect to collect on the reward side of that equation. How do you see the T.O. situation playing itself out this season?

A: TO was clearly a panic pick and I am not super thrilled about it. After the evil Brandon Funston nabbed the last RB on our list of second round pickups, I needed time to analyze a few more players. Knowing that my third round pick was right up the road, I grabbed TO and buried myself in StatShark numbers to find the next best available RB based on StatShark's Key Player Analysis Data. However, since this league employs three WRs, we feel Team StatShark has a solid WR corps that hopefully will compensate for our RBs, if needed. A line up of TO, Rod Smith, Santana Moss, Brandon Stokley plus strong potential sleepers like Terry Glenn, Jerome Pathon and Keenan McCardell have us looking up. It also leaves us a lot of trade options with the rest of league, which is RB heavy and may want one of our bench WRs (plus F. Taylor … hint, hint).

Q: Which of your picks do you feel you will look back upon with the greatest amount of pride when the season is over?

A: I will be proudest of drafting Benson, who thankfully is signed, sealed and delievred. Remember that Tomlinson held out until the last minute his rookie year, then joined a terrible team, and his rookie year was pretty productive. I'm not saying Benson = Tomlinson, I'm just praying he follows a similar path his rookie year. Based on StatShark forecasted data, Benson has a strong shot of being a highly productive RB. Thomas Jones had some monster games and even Chicago doesn't think he's that great. With Rex Grossman and Muhsin Muhammad in the fold, StatShark data indicated a more pass-oriented offense for Chicago this year. With Grossman's injury, the team will shift back towards a rush first attack. The difference could be three to five more carries for the starting RB – hopefully that's Benson. If Benson comes close to his potential, he will have been worth the fifth round gamble given Chicago's needs this year. Plus, the fact that he's a Texas boy doesn't hurt.

I do think we may have snared some good late round "diamonds in the rough." Players like Terry Glenn, an old favorite target of Drew Bledsoe; Jerome Pathon who is forecasted to pick up a lot of catches from the departed Koren Robinson and Keenan McCardell (especially Week 1 with Antonio Gates suspended), new target for Drew Brees.