Experts Draft: McGahee on the rise

I suffer from an overload of experts draft invitations every NFL preseason. It is one of the hazards of having worked in the fantasy industry for nine-plus years. This year has been no exception. By the time NFL training camps open, I'll likely have already logged a half-dozen drafts. But there's a gentleman's agreement that we all partake in each other's expert event.

The obvious benefit of these drafts is that the host company can use the results as compelling content. But there is also a gentlemen's agreement in place that the participants can also take the results and use it for their purposes, as well. So, as Yahoo! Sports Fantasy embarks on another season of fantasy football, I offer you the results from one of the recent experts drafts that I participated in. The draft was hosted by John Hansen of, and his is always a well-attended draft as he is one of the few who offers up a prize for the winner – a big-screen TV. You can be assured that this was a no-nonsense affair given the stakes.

I'll be offering up results of these drafts, including Yahoo! Sports Fantasy's expert draft, as the preseason progresses. This draft was my second of the '05 campaign. Check out the results (below), as well some of my thoughts about each of the first eight rounds:

Note: Draft was 14 rounds – start 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 Flex, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 Defense
6 points for rushing and receiving TDs, 4 points for passing TDs, 6 points for defensive and special teams TDs.
1 point for every 10 yards rushing and receiving and 20 yards passing. 1 point is also awarded for each reception.
2 points for INTs, safeties and fumble recoveries, while sacks are worth 1 point.
5 points are awarded for a defensive shutout. Experts Draft (May 23, 2005)
Round 1 Player Team Position
1-1 LaDainian Tomlinson San Diego Running back
1-2 Priest Holmes Kansas City Running back
1-3 Shaun Alexander Seattle Running back
1-4 Edgerrin James Indianapolis Running back
1-5 Peyton Manning Indianapolis Quarterback
1-6 Willis McGahee Buffalo Running back
1-7 Tiki Barber NY Giants Running back
1-8 Ahman Green Green Bay Running back
1-9 Domanick Davis Houston Running back
1-10 Corey Dillon New England Running back
1-11 Deuce McAllister New Orleans Running back
1-12 Jamal Lewis Baltimore Running back
Round 1 analysis:
With a big-screen TV on the line, the experts weren't going to blow their first picks. Looking at what went down in Round 1, I don't have qualms with any of the players drafted. I'm not high on Ahman Green this season, but you can't argue his selection given that this is a league which awards a point per reception. Green has averaged 56 catches in Green Bay, although his reception total has declined in each of his five seasons as a Packer … Holmes went second overall. He's the player with the biggest risk/reward factor in the draft. The risk is his age, health and an emerging Larry Johnson behind him. The reward is that even if he only plays 10-12 games, he still might score 15-20 TDs in the Chiefs' juggernaut offense. I'm glad I wasn't in a position to make that call … My call was Willis McGahee with the sixth pick. He had just 22 receptions last season but, like the selections of Corey Dillon and Jamal Lewis later in the first round, my pick of McGahee has everything to do with what we does on the ground. In what was essentially his rookie season, he picked up 13 rushing TDs and seven 100-yard games in 11 starts. I'm counting on more of the same.
Round 2 Player Team Position
2-1 Rudi Johnson Cincinnati Running back
2-2 Clinton Portis Washington Running back
2-3 Randy Moss Oakland Wide receiver
2-4 Julius Jones Dallas Running back
2-5 Kevin Jones Detroit Running back
2-6 Curtis Martin NY Jets Running back
2-7 Steven Jackson St. Louis Running back
2-8 LaMont Jordan Oakland Running back
2-9 Chris Brown Tennessee Running back
2-10 Brian Westbrook Philadelphia Running back
2-11 Tatum Bell Denver Running back
2-12 Daunte Culpepper Minnesota Quarterback
Round 2 analysis:
No surprise that Randy Moss was the first WR off the board, but it was a little surprising that his name was called so late (15th overall). In a catches league, you'd expect the top WR on the board to have his name announced a little earlier. Fantasy owners may be a little leery of Kerry Collins as Moss' new quarterback. Say what you want about Collins, but he was arguably a top five fantasy quarterback in the final seven weeks of '04. And he didn't have the benefit of a Randy Moss or a running game, which was upgraded with the signing of LaMont Jordan. When I nabbed McGahee in the first round, Moss was one of the other players I was strongly considering … The Jones debate seems to be a buzz topic this preseason. The question is, would you prefer to have Kevin Jones or Julius Jones? I side with Julius, and so did this experts draft, where Julius went 16th overall and Kevin followed immediately after that. Proponents of Detroit's featured back point to a 4.7 yards per carry average in his rookie season and the fact that he led the NFL in rushing yards from Week 10 on. Arguments for the Cowboys' Jones are that Julius outperformed Kevin in the final seven weeks, where Julius received all but five of his carries on the season because of an injury in Week 2. In fact, head coach Bill Parcells gave Julius more carries than any other back in the league during the span of his seven starts. And Julius scored seven TDs in those starts, which was one more than Kevin had in 14 starts … Frankly, I would have been happy with either Jones with my 19th overall selection, but I wasn't privileged enough to have either one fall to me. I settled on St. Louis' Steven Jackson, who has more raw potential than either of the Jones', but has to contend with Marshall Faulk as a teammate. Jackson has been named the starter, but I'd hate to lose 10 carries a week to Faulk. My hope, and I think it's a decent one, is that Jackson proves to be too valuable for the Rams to sideline very often. I don't think it was coincidence that Jackson's two 100-yard performances in '04 came in the only games in which he received 20-plus carries. He's a load, and he's the type of running back that will wear down a defense over the course of four quarters.
Round 3 Player Team Position
3-1 Terrell Owens Philadelphia Wide receiver
3-2 Ronnie Brown Miami Running back
3-3 Antonio Gates San Diego Tight end
3-4 Fred Taylor Jacksonville Running back
3-5 Cedric Benson Chicago Running back
3-6 Carnell Williams Tampa Bay Running back
3-7 J.J. Arrington Arizona Running back
3-8 Marvin Harrison Indianapolis Wide receiver
3-9 Torry Holt St. Louis Wide receiver
3-10 Chad Johnson Cincinnati Wide receiver
3-11 Javon Walker Green Bay Wide receiver
3-12 Donovan McNabb Philadelphia Quarterback
Round 3 analysis:
Terrell Owens reared his head in the third round. At this point in the preseason, given the nature of his contentious contract situation, I have already decided I won't touch him. In my previous experts draft, I passed on Owens in favor of Marvin Harrison, simply because I didn't want to take the T.O. plunge. Ask yourself, how much worse off is a fantasy owner if he drafts Harrison instead of Owens and they both end up playing 16 games? The difference won't be huge, especially in a catches league, but Owens would be the favorite. Now, is the difference going to be large enough to make it worthwhile to gamble on Owens not holding out or getting suspended at some point in the season for conduct detrimental to the team? I'm saying, "No!" Owens is an obstinate individual and, while few players rarely carry holdout threats into the season, Owens' need to feel respected is greater than most. And I wouldn't raise an eyebrow if he did decide to follow this thing through. And the Eagles seem unwavering in their stance that they won't renegotiate his contract. Right now, I'm also inclined to take Torry Holt and Chad Johnson before Owens, as well … This league offers the ability to start three running backs each week, given the two starting RB spots and a flex spot (RB/WR). For that reason, I tripled up on running backs with my first three picks, going with Carnell Williams. My rationale was that I should secure one of the few remaining likely featured running backs in the league before that cupboard was emptied. As it turned out, I was still able to get value at wide reciever with the next few picks. If Williams somehow bombs, I believe my wideouts will be strong enough that I won't regret the three-running back gamble.
Round 4 Player Team Position
4-1 Warrick Dunn Atlanta Running back
4-2 Duce Staley Pittsburgh Running back
4-3 Joe Horn New Orleans Wide receiver
4-4 Tony Gonzalez Kansas City Tight end
4-5 Hines Ward Pittsburgh Wide receiver
4-6 Kevan Barlow San Francisco Running back
4-7 Drew Bennett Tennessee Wide receiver
4-8 DeShaun Foster Carolina Running back
4-9 Reggie Wayne Indianapolis Wide receiver
4-10 Andre Johnson Houston Wide receiver
4-11 Darrell Jackson Seattle Wide receiver
4-12 Michael Bennett Minnesota Running back
Round 4 analysis:
I wanted Hines Ward in this round, but his name was called two picks before mine. Ward is as steady as it comes, and he brings added value in catches leagues – average of 95 catches in the past four years. Ward's numbers were down last season as he was a victim of a conservative offense that looked to limit rookie QB Ben Roethlisberger's mistakes. But Ward stepped up large in the postseason(15 receptions, 214 yards, two TDs combined in two games) and Roethlisberger is going to be allowed to throw the ball more this season. With Plaxico Burress now with the Giants, Ward could push 100 receptions again as the Steelers go-to receiver, so long as Antwaan Randle El performs to a level that will keep defenses honest … Tony Gonzalez was a steal here, if only because he fell 13 picks after Antonio Gates. Gonzo had 21 more catches and nearly 300 more receiving yards than Gates, while Gates held a decided 13-7 advantage in touchdowns. Gates had a huge breakout season in '04, but an argument that he's a full round more valuable than Gonzalez is baseless, especially given that Gonzo has a six-year average of 80 catches, 986 yards and 8 TDs. In my other experts draft, these two TEs were separated by two picks … My choice came down to a decision between Drew Bennett and Andre Johnson. Johnson would have been the chic pick, but I opted for Bennett. My reasoning came down to the fact that Bennett should be a big part of the better passing offense. Bennett had 11 TDs last season, while the entire Texans team had just 16 throwing scores. And Tennessee has brought in USC offensive guru Norm Chow. The biggest change with Chow should be more short-yardage throws to keep Steve McNair healthy and to consistently keep the chains moving. At 6 foot 5, Bennett will be a nice, big target for those quick-hitter routes. And, again, I reference the fact that this is a receptions league. Bennett should improve upon his 80 receptions from last year given the new offensive schemes and the fact that he'll be the go-to receiver of the group.
Round 5 Player Team Position
5-1 Nate Burleson Minnesota Wide receiver
5-2 Roy Williams Detroit Wide receiver
5-3 Michael Clayton Tampa Bay Wide receiver
5-4 Steve Smith Carolina Wide receiver
5-5 Brandon Stokley Indianapolis Wide receiver
5-6 Anquan Boldin Arizona Wide receiver
5-7 Trent Green Kansas City Quarterback
5-8 Reuben Droughns Cleveland Running back
5-9 Laveranues Coles NY Jets Wide receiver
5-10 Derrick Mason Baltimore Wide receiver
5-11 Chris Chambers Miami Wide receiver
5-12 Donald Driver Green Bay Wide receiver
Round 5 analysis:
Wideouts ruled the fifth round, where 10 of the 12 picks were receivers. I nabbed the guy I wanted in Anquan Boldin – Love him! He'll excel with Kurt Warner as his quarterback. Boldin runs precise routes and Warner is an accurate passer. Boldin missed the first six games of '04 with a knee injury but, amazingly, he was able to step back into action and haul in the fifth-most receptions in the league during the span of his 10 games played … I thought the other receivers in this round merited the position that they were selected with the exception of Derrick Mason. In Baltimore, Mason is going to see a decline in the numbers he regularly produced in Tennessee. The Ravens are built for the run, and that's the focus of the offense. The team has ranked 32nd in the league the past two seasons in passing yards. It was also last in the league in yards per pass attempt last season and was 27th in the league two years ago. Clearly, the Ravens want to work towards becoming a more well-rounded offense, which is why they signed Mason and drafted rookie receiver Mark Clayton in the first round. Unfortunately, they are relying on Kyle Boller to make use of these talents, and he has left much to be desired in his two pro seasons. He has finished 30th and 31st in the league in QB rating, respectively, the past two seasons. And from my viewpoint on the couch, I just don't think he has what it takes to be a successful passer in the NFL.
Round 6 Player Team Position
6-1 Jason Witten Dallas Tight end
6-2 Brett Favre Green Bay Quarterback
6-3 Lee Suggs Cleveland Running back
6-4 Marc Bulger St. Louis Quarterback
6-5 Jeremy Shockey NY Giants Tight end
6-6 Isaac Bruce St. Louis Wide receiver
6-7 Marshall Faulk St. Louis Running back
6-8 Muhsin Muhammad Chicago Wide receiver
6-9 Michael Vick Atlanta Quarterback
6-10 Jerry Porter Oakland Wide receiver
6-11 Larry Fitzgerald Arizona Wide receiver
6-12 Lee Evans Buffalo Wide receiver
Round 6 analysis:
I opted to buy insurance in the sixth round. With Steven Jackson secured in Round 2, I wanted to make sure I had the St. Louis backfield real estate covered. Ideally, Faulk gets no more than a half-dozen carries a week. But the respect that he has banked during his career might earn him 10-12 carries a week. In that case, I'm in trouble. But this is a league that will not provide much RB waiver wire help during the season and, in a worst-case scenario, putting them both in my starting lineup if injuries to my other RBs force that move wouldn't be the end of the world … Muhsin Muhammad falls into the same category as Derrick Mason – players who moved from the penthouse to the outhouse during the offseason. Chicago has had just one 10-TD receiver since 1970. Those who believe that an offense with this kind of history can suddenly break from that mold behind a quarterback who has logged just six games (Rex Grossman) have much greater faith than I do.
Round 7 Player Team Position
7-1 Jimmy Smith Jacksonville Wide receiver
7-2 Larry Johnson Kansas City Running back
7-3 Ashley Lelie Denver Wide receiver
7-4 Deion Branch New England Wide receiver
7-5 Plaxico Burress NY Giants Wide receiver
7-6 Eric Moulds Buffalo Wide receiver
7-7 Alge Crumpler Atlanta Tight end
7-8 Santana Moss Washington Wide receiver
7-9 Keyshawn Johnson Dallas Wide receiver
7-10 T.J. Duckett Atlanta Running back
7-11 Rod Smith Denver Wide receiver
7-12 T.J. Houshmandzadeh Cincinnati Wide receiver
Round 7 analysis:
Round 7 was another that was heavy on receivers (nine of the 12 picks). My favorites were, of course, Eric Moulds (my pick), Deion Branch and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Moulds is just a couple seasons removed from hauling in 100 catches for 1,292 yards and 10 TDs. The Bills have gone through a rough offensive stretch since then, but they started to emerge in the second half of '04 behind the legs of Willis McGahee. With a RB to garner the opposition's attention and a fellow wideout who is every bit as dangerous (Lee Evans), Moulds is going to be able to use his large, athletic frame to manhandle single coverage. I'm counting on 1,200 yards and 8-10 TDs … The knock on Branch's fantasy value in the past has been that New England spread the ball around too much. That will be less of a concern this season as David Patten has defected to Washington and Troy Brown (33 years old) has faded into a secondary role. Branch, the Super Bowl MVP, is electric with the ball in his hands, and he'll see more opportunities to handle the rock in '05 … I managed to attain Houshmandzadeh in my previous draft, and I'll head into each subsequent draft looking to get him in Rounds 8-10. He quietly accrued 73 catches and 978 receiving yards last season, and only Muhsin Muhammad caught more passes than Houshmandzadeh in the final five weeks of '04. With Peter Warrick a big injury question mark for this season, Houshmandzadeh will continue to see plenty of opportunities in what is shaping up to be one of the league's better offenses.
Round 8 Player Team Position
8-1 Jerome Bettis Pittsburgh Running back
8-2 Mewelde Moore Minnesota Running back
8-3 Kerry Collins Oakland Quarterback
8-4 Correll Buckhalter Philadelphia Running back
8-5 Travis Henry Buffalo Running back
8-6 Justin McCareins NY Jets Wide receiver
8-7 Dallas Clark Indianapolis Tight end
8-8 Eddie Kennison Kansas City Wide receiver
8-9 Todd Heap Baltimore Tight end
8-10 Michael Pittman Tampa Bay Running back
8-11 Matt Hasselbeck Seattle Quarterback
8-12 Jake Plummer Denver Quarterback
Round 8 analysis:
Round 8 saw a change in draft strategy for many. With most of the team's skill-position starters secured, it was time to start thinking about a backup plan. Likely non-starters Jerome Bettis, Mewelde Moore, Correll Buckhalter, Travis Henry and Michael Pittman all came off the board in this round. My personal favorite is Henry, who I just can't imagine will be asked to rot on the bench for the Bills, yet again. Some team is going to suffer an injury at running back during the preseason and be willing to meet the Bills' asking price for Henry. When that happens, Henry becomes the steal of the draft. … Dallas Clark is another of those players that will be wearing a Funston jersey often this season. He's on my list of "targeted" players for '05. Clark's one of those TEs that raises eyebrows when he catches the ball in stride in the open field. He's not built like a receiver, but he sure runs like one. His 16.9 yards per reception last season would have qualified for 10th-best in the league had he hauled in five more catches (need 30 receptions to qualify). And with Marcus Pollard off to Detroit, Clark is going see more opportunities than ever before.
Round 9 Player Team Position
9-1 Carson Palmer Cincinnati Quarterback
9-2 Randy McMichael Miami Tight end
9-3 Aaron Brooks New Orleans Quarterback
9-4 Donte' Stallworth New Orleans Wide receiver
9-5 Buffalo Bills Defense
9-6 Ricky Williams Miami Running back
9-7 Baltimore Ravens Defense
9-8 Tom Brady New England Quarterback
9-9 New England Patriots Defense
9-10 LaBrandon Toefield Jacksonville Running back
9-11 Eric Shelton Carolina Running back
9-12 Antwaan Randle El Pittsburgh Wide receiver
Round 10 Player Team Position
10-1 Braylon Edwards Cleveland Wide receiver
10-2 Eric Johnson San Francisco Tight end
10-3 Thomas Jones Chicago Running back
10-4 Charles Rogers Detroit Wide receiver
10-5 Tyrone Calico Tennessee Wide receiver
10-6 Troy Williamson Minnesota Wide receiver
10-7 Jake Delhomme Carolina Quarterback
10-8 Mike Williams Detroit Wide receiver
10-9 Stephen Davis Carolina Running back
10-10 Frank Gore San Francisco Running back
10-11 David Akers Philadelphia Kicker
10-12 Derrick Blaylock NY Jets Running back
Round 11 Player Team Position
11-1 Pittsburgh Steelers Defense
11-2 Maurice Clarett Denver Running back
11-3 Keary Colbert Carolina Wide receiver
11-4 Dominic Rhodes Indianapolis Running back
11-5 Chester Taylor Baltimore Running back
11-6 Keenan McCardell San Diego Wide receivers
11-7 Drew Brees San Diego Quarterback
11-8 Adam Vinatieri New England Kicker
11-9 Mike Vanderjagt Indianapolis Kicker
11-10 Kurt Warner Arizona Quarterback
11-11 Amani Toomer NY Giants Wide receiver
11-12 Ciatrick Fason Minnesota Running back
Round 12 Player Team Position
12-1 Mark Clayton Baltimore Wide receiver
12-2 Chad Pennington NY Jets Quarterback
12-3 Atlanta Falcons Defense
12-4 Brandon Lloyd San Francisco Wide receiver
12-5 Koren Robinson Seattle Wide receiver
12-6 Sebastian Janikowski Oakland Kicker
12-7 Dallas Cowboys Defense
12-8 Jeb Putzier Denver Tight end
12-9 Brandon Jacobs NY Giants Running back
12-10 Maurice Morris Seattle Running back
12-11 David Givens New England Wide receiver
12-12 Marcus Pollard Detroit Tight end
Round 13 Player Team Position
13-1 Najeh Davenport Green Bay Running back
13-2 Philadelphia Eagles Defense
13-3 Cincinnati Bengals Defense
13-4 Indianapolis Colts Defense
13-5 Jason Elam Denver Kicker
13-6 Joey Harrington Detroit Quarterback
13-7 Peerless Price Atlanta Wide receiver
13-8 Steve McNair Tennessee Quarterback
13-9 Vernand Morency Houston Running back
13-10 Jermaine Wiggins Minnesota Tight end
13-11 Shayne Graham Cincinnati Kicker
13-12 Carolina Panthers Defense
Round 14 Player Team Position
14-1 Ryan Longwell Green Bay Kicker
14-2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense
14-3 Josh Brown Seattle Kicker
14-4 David Carr Houston Quarterback
14-5 Chicago Bears Defense
14-6 Anthony Thomas Dallas Running back
14-7 Nate Kaeding San Diego Kicker
14-8 Chris Perry Cincinnati Running back
14-9 Matt Stover Baltimore Kicker
14-10 Mike Nugent NY Jets Kicker
14-11 Brian Griese Tampa Bay Quarterback
14-12 Jeff Reed Pittsburgh Kicker

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