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Friends and Family: Dissecting the draft

This past week, giants of the fantasy football community convened for the fifth annual Y! Friends and Family League draft – OK, maybe there were just two giants, Andy Behrens and Matt Romig. Have you seen those guys? They're both at least 6-foot-4 … skyscrapers from my perspective …

The overall mix included fantasy pundits from Yahoo! Sports, FantasyGuru.com, RotoWire.com, and RotoExperts.com, among others.

Unlike last season, when the first 19 picks hailed from the backfield, a half dozen receivers and, of course, Tom Brady cracked the top 20. Owners may not have reached as heavily early on for running backs but rookie RBs ultimately proved to be a hotter ticket than a Miley Cyrus concert. A total of eight first-year backs went among the top 87 picks, each going earlier than consensus ADP numbers would recommend.

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

After the draft, I asked each participant two specific questions about their draft and also to give their choice for SOD (steal of the draft) and ROD (reach of the draft). And, not to be left out, I had colleague Brad Evans fire a couple questions my way. Here's a look at what each league member had to say:

Yahoo! Sports Fantasy – Brandon Funston (Previous F&F finishes: 2nd in '07; 11th in '06; 2nd in '05; 6th in '04)
Q: Steven Jackson's holdout has extended to 20 days with no resolution in sight. Knowing his situation entering the draft, why did you circumvent Brian Westbrook and Joseph Addai for Jackson? If the unthinkable occurs, do you feel comfortable with Bush and Norwood as your backups?

A: Even if S-Jax signs tomorrow, I'm admittedly not comfortable with Bush and Norwood as my only backups if for no other reason than I like to have at least three guys with upside talent and some promise of playing time riding my pine. In this case, I kept getting scooped on later-round guys that I really liked (in particular, Ray Rice and Pierre Thomas hurt bad). So coming away with just two reserve backs has me a bit concerned. But I'm not worried at all about Jackson's holdout. Most of the holdout talk you ever see is more hot air than anything else. Jackson won't want to give away in-season paychecks and the Rams can ill afford to be without his services. If anything, this just protects my investment from a silly preseason injury.

Q: You've made your infatuated feelings for Roddy White well known. So deeply enamored with the Falcons wideout, you bypassed Greg Jennings, Roy Williams, Brandon Marshall and Calvin Johnson to acquire his services. With reports surfacing that rookie Matt Ryan will likely start over Chris Redman Week 1, are you concerned that "Hot" Roddy will blow a gasket? Also, after drafting him at pick No. 46, nearly 30 spots higher than his Mock Draft Central ADP, when are you scheduled to undergo surgery to repair the tendons in your arm?

A: Hey, those tendons have been conditioned to the kind of reach I placed upon them – White's been sitting between 45-50 on my Big Board for a long time. The guy is a special talent. And, frankly, although I understand he's a rookie and he's going to make mistakes, I think Ryan has a chance to be the next great quarterback of this league. White caught touchdown passes from each member of last season's QB carousel – Joey Harrington, Byron Leftwich and Redman. If he was able to make lemonade from that group of lemons, I think he'll be just fine wih Ryan.

Q: Who was the SOD (Steal of the Draft) and who was the ROD (Reach of the Draft)?

A: SOD: There weren't too many steals to be had, honestly. But, for Evans, sitting in the No. 10 spot, to be able to come away with Randy Moss and Larry Johnson in the first two rounds was fortuitous, in my opinion.

ROD: I don't think there was a rookie running back picked that an owner didn't over-extend himself for. Among others, I thought Jerricho Cotchery at No. 49 represented a fairly large leap of faith by owner Scott Engel, not that I think it's inconceivable that he could return the value of that investment.


Yahoo! Sports Fantasy – Andy Behrens (Previous F&F finishes: 4th in '07)
Q: After taking Joseph Addai in Round 1, you followed by making Michael Turner a top 20 pick. He's going outside the top 35 in ADP values for Yahoo! and MockDraftCentral. What was your rationale for taking the "Burner" when you did?

A: Well, you have to know your league. The following owners were each going to draft two players before I was up again: John Hansen, Brandon Funston, Matt Romig, and Scott Engel. Those are three well-respected names in the industry, plus … um … Romig. So you can't rely on ADP quite as much as you might in a draft full of strangers.

I'd have taken a receiver, but Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald were drafted just ahead of me. Turner is immensely talented, and he's a fair bet for 300-plus carries. He's also my No. 13 running back, and I was afraid that only an injured McGahee would have been waiting for me in Round 3.

Q: You used your Round 3 pick on consensus top four QB Drew Brees, but decided to go to the QB well again in Round 9 to draft Brett Favre as a backup. With Brees already in tow, why a backup QB then as opposed to upside RB/WR flyers like Ahmad Bradshaw, Justin Fargas and Ted Ginn, who came off the board with three of the next four picks?

A: You know you've had an OK draft when Favre in the ninth is the other questionable pick. Let's not pretend that he doesn't have upside. He's also a solid brand-name for trade purposes. At the time, I already had one high-ceiling RB on the bench (Chris Johnson), and I had four receivers. Shortly after taking Favre, I drafted two of my preferred flyers: Ladell Betts and James Jones.

Q: Who was the SOD (Steal of the Draft) and who was the ROD (Reach of the Draft)?

A: SOD: My opinion of Calvin Johnson is very high, and Hansen took him one pick ahead of me in Round 5. He's a first-round talent. I think he was a steal, and I consider myself the victim.

ROD: Evans departed from his rankings in no small way by taking Mendenhall ahead of Selvin Young in Round 5. He was clearly troubled by the fact that Steeler-lover Matt Buser was picking after him.


Yahoo! Sports Fantasy – Brad Evans (Previous F&F finishes: 14th in '07; 8th in '06)
Q: You have put a lot of faith in Aaron Rodgers. To the point that you made him, with a Round 9 pick, your only QB. A QB injury collapse last season (Donovan McNabb, Matt Scahub) played a big part in crippling your team. With the waiver wire thin on remaining serviceable signal-callers, are you honestly feeling at peace with putting all your eggs in Rodgers' basket?

A: Those eggs will expedite geologic time and petrify quickly. That's how confident I am in Rodgers' situation. Yes, A-Rod's record of fragility and inexperience are major deterrents, but, as the Noise has expressed repeatedly, his supporting cast and the Pack's pass-heavy system are overriding pluses. As we saw in his preseason debut, Rodgers has a great deal of upside. The guy delivered several accurate passes with remarkable velocity, going 9-for-15 for 117 yards and one TD. And remember, he tallied those numbers without the services of Greg Jennings and Ryan Grant.

Investing in an insurance policy was contemplated late, but once Matt Schaub went to Count Funston in Round 13, that design vanished. With Jon Kitna, Tarvaris Jackson and Kurt Warner snorkeling in the free agent pool, there will be plenty of crutches to lean on if Rodgers flounders, which won't happen.

Call it cockiness, confidence or sheer stupidity, but Rodgers is the Noise's golden egg.

Q: You found some charity early on with Randy Moss (No. 10 overall), Larry Johnson (No. 15 overall) and Torry Holt (No. 34 overall), each going higher in current MockDraftCentral ADP reports. Did this solid foundation give you extra license to gamble on the upside of youth a little later on – Rashard Mendenhall, Ray Rice, Andre Hall, Sidney Rice, Pierre Thomas, Jacob Hester?

A: The tremendous value netted in my first three picks did not influence subsequent selections. Really.

Whether in poker or fantasy, the Noise tends to chase rivers. Many times I miss. Other times I rake an enormous pot. Drafting high-upside commodities Mendenhall (Me heart), Rice, Hall, Thomas and Hester in the mid-to-late rounds were certainly 'wet' investments. Given the colossal pool of young talent at running back this year, building up my backfield outweighed adding depth at other positions.

Q: Who was the SOD (Steal of the Draft) and who was the ROD (Reach of the Draft)?

A: SOD: DeAngelo Williams (Pick 78) could yield a titanic profit for Erickson. If the Little Napoleon continues to march over opponents in preseason play, he'll likely entrench himself as the Panthers' numero uno over Jonathan Stewart come Week 1. He has a very tough slate to start the year (at SD, Chi, at Min) but if the Carolina line continues to open up mammoth holes, he'll post surprising totals.

ROD: Ghelken's tool-like tendencies are not comparable to the Noise's but Felix Jones at pick 65 is very ROD-ish. The Boys' first-round pick has gone some 30 picks later in MockDraftCentral drafts. Sure, he's uber-talented and versatile, but with Chester Taylor, Chris Johnson, DeAngelo Williams and Ray Rice still available, Ghelken should have exercised patience. Unless a catastrophic injury fells Marion Barber, Jones will have minimal value in 12-team leagues.


Yahoo! Sports Fantasy – Matt Buser (Previous F&F finishes: 6th in '07; 3rd in '06)
Q: You followed classic expert league convention by taking RBs with three of the first four picks, and four of the first six picks. Was this your intent going in, or were you just taking a best available approach? And, if by design, what factors led to you deeming it so important to load up at RB off the top?

A: It was partially by design and partially a BAP approach based on how the draft played out. My RBs in last season's F&F were a joke, and my season was only even mildly successful because of some help from the schedule and Kenny Watson's overachievements. I wasn't going to let that happen again. I took Reggie Wayne in Round 2, hoping that Thomas Jones would be there on the way back, and he was. I wanted to shore up depth fairly early – it seemed like the right place/right time to take Ronnie Brown at the beginning of Round 4. If Selvin Young can establish himself early, he's got a chance to be very productive – he seemed a smarter pick than just grabbing any one of a group of muddled WRs, so I just couldn't let him slip past me at pick 62.

Q: You got a potential steal at TE in Todd Heap in the last round. Was it your plan to give the TE position the kicker/defense treatment – wait until the last rounds? Or did the draft dictate that move for you?

A: I must say that I was a bit surprised that I was able to take him with the second-to-last pick in the entire draft (pick 179). My plan with the TE position this season is to look for Jason Witten in Round 5, Chris Cooley in Round 8, or wait until the last rounds and go from there. I've had success playing the matchups with TE in the past, so I'm comfortable doing it. Of course, if Heap stays healthy, I won't have to.

Q: Who was the SOD (Steal of the Draft) and who was the ROD (Reach of the Draft)?

A: SOD: Not a lot of outlandish selections one way or the other. I think great value picks were Antonio Gates (69 – you just have to make the playoffs in football), Nate Burleson (81 – really could bust out in the wake of Engram's injury), and Bryant Johnson (126 – has the talent to be the WR1 in a Martz offense).

ROD: I'll just throw out Matt Forte (37) as a bit of a questionable selection – Scott himself prefaced the pick with "breaking a bit from his rankings" so it's something of a softball, but in this case I would have stayed true to the cheatsheet.


Yahoo! Sports Fantasy – Scott Pianowski (Previous F&F finishes: 5th in '07; 8th in '05)
Q: Your first four picks had a youthful flavor, but six of your subsequent seven picks look like a fantasy football version of VH1's "I Love the 90s": Marvin Harrison (soon to be 36), Edgerrin James (30), Donovan McNabb (31), Derrick Mason (34), Ahman Green (31), Isaac Bruce (35). How concerned are you that a large chunk of the core of your roster is made up of 30-somethings, a few who are coming off an injury-plagued season?

A: I definitely partied like it was 1999 with all of those geezers, and that's a problem. Pro football is a young man's game, and when 30-somethings go wrong, they tend to bottom out. Some recent cheat-the-meter success with Joey Galloway, Curtis Martin, Tiki Barber and Rod Smith may have increased my nerve more than it should, but the last go-round for Martin and Smith certainly wasn't pretty.

That said, I got very reasonable values on all of my old-timers, and four of the six project to be bench players anyway. If I can get productive seasons out of three of these guys (especially the Syracuse connection of McNabb-to-Marvin), I'll consider it a net profit.

Q: The Chicago Bears had the third-worst rushing offense in the league last year and managed just eight TDs on the ground. But you decided to use your Round 4 pick on Bears rookie RB Matt Forte, over the likes of Ronnie Brown, LenDale White, Willie Parker and Reggie Bush, to name a few. What is it about Forte and the Bears running game that has you feeling optimistic enough to invest your No. 37 overall pick?

A: Maybe I'm talking too much with Windy City Behrens these days, but Forte impressed me in college, impressed me in early camp, and really impressed me last week. There's no breakaway gear here, but he can shed tackles, catch the ball, and block – in other words, play on any down. The Bears surely will lean on Forte as their short-yardage and goal-line back. I won't be surprised at all if he's the best of the rookie crop in 2008.

Q: Who was the SOD (Steal of the Draft) and who was the ROD (Reach of the Draft)?

A: SOD: The hits kept coming in the late rounds: Jake Delhomme, Matt Schaub and Vince Young (all 13th round), Jacksonville Defense (14th; I was bumped offline when I meant to pick them) and Todd Heap (15th).

ROD: Flip side, while I love Jerricho Cotchery, pick 49 (ahead of Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall) seems a little too ambitious.


Yahoo! Sports Fantasy's "Average Joe" – Michael Gehlken (Previous F&F finishes: 13th in '07)
Q: You didn't draft Larry Johnson, but you drafted both of his backups Kolby Smith and rookie Jamaal Charles. Is it safe to assume you have doomsday feelings about LJ? Or was that entirely your way of sticking a knife into the back of your admitted nemesis, Brad Evans?

A: I drafted Smith and Charles for two reasons. First, yeah, I have serious doubts about Larry Johnson. I don't know what the Chiefs were thinking by giving him 457 touches in 2006 and then signing him to the richest contract in franchise history in 2007 – the guy will never be the same. We saw it last year when he averaged 3.5 yards per carry in eight games, and we'll see it again this year.

The second reason I drafted LJ's backups does have to do with Brad Evans, but the logic was nothing personal. I just really want to own Rashard Mendenhall. When Evans took him in the fifth round, I decided I would target LJ's much-needed handcuffs in the latter rounds to put myself in position to make a trade for him. We are currently in negotiations.

Q: By using your Round 9 and Round 10 picks on similarly ranked QBs (Eli Manning and Philip Rivers) you've put yourself in the position of having to make a judgement call each week as far as who to start. Any worries about the likelihood of a high number coin-flip decisions at QB during the season?

A: I'm not too worried about it. I think it's going to pay off this season having Eli Manning and Plaxico Burress on the same fantasy roster. In wake of the Jeremy Shockey trade, Burress should be the NFC's most targeted receiver. That connection is going to win me some games.

As for Rivers, I am expecting him to have a career year. He is healthy, entering his prime, and is still seeing eight-man fronts because of the Chargers' running game. This is the season Rivers makes defenses pay.

With the Manning-Burress connection and Rivers primed to breakout, I'll take my chances on the coin flip. More often than not, it will be a win-win either way.

Q: Who was the SOD (Steal of the Draft) and who was the ROD (Reach of the Draft)?

A: SOD: Last year my answer to the SOD question was Adrian Peterson and Clinton Portis. That was pretty spot-on, so let's try to make it two in a row. How about Bryant Johnson at pick 126? After being stuck behind Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona, the former first-round draft pick is hungry to play a primary role in the passing game. If he can stay healthy, he should fill that role in San Francisco and never look back.

ROD: As for the ROD, I'll go Matt Forte at pick 37. I admit this might be a dumb choice of me because Pianowski made the pick and he is rarely wrong. That said, fellow rookies Jonathan Stewart and Mendenhall were both available, and I have them significantly higher than Forte on my draft board.


Yahoo! Sports Fantasy – Matt Romig (Previous F&F finishes: 1st in '07; 10th in '06; 9th in '05; 4th in '04)
Q: You went all RB/WR through the first seven rounds. Was this by design? And when you took a QB in Round 8, you expressed your displeasure to me about having done so in a post-draft conversation. What about Matt Hasselbeck has left a bad taste in your mouth?

A: Not by design, no. I won this league last year with Peyton Manning, so maybe that should have been the call at No. 23. I would have selected Witten in the fourth if he had slid five picks. So some picks were by design, some by reaction. Once the Big 3 quarterbacks were off the board, I knew it would be a while until I picked my No. 1. Count me among the masses that doesn't see a big difference between QBs 4 and 10-12, or so. As for Hasselbeck, I don't have anything against him. I've just never owned the guy and some players in the pool feel like fits on your team and some don't. If anything, I'm slapping myself for taking the easy road (Hasselbeck) over the bigger upside guy (David Garrard). Bottom line: I took Hasselbeck and I'm gonna win!

Q: Pittsburgh threw the second-fewest passes in the league in '07, but you invested heavily in its receiving corps – Hines Ward, Heath Miller, Limas Sweed. Do you expect the Steelers to air it out a bit more this season, or was this just a case of an avid Pittsburgh fan exercising a little bias?

A: This was 100 percent a case of Steeler bias steering the ship. Though truth be told, in the cases of Ward and Miller, they were best available on my board at a time I figured to draft their positions. Miller is a red zone favorite of Big Ben who had as many scoring grabs (7) as Witten last year. Ward has some miles, sure, but he's such an easy guy to own and root for. Sweed is strictly a flyer – you want a big target, you got him, Ben – who could become a big-play guy but more likely will be back in the pool by Week 3.

Q: Who was the SOD (Steal of the Draft) and who was the ROD (Reach of the Draft)?

A: SOD: I'll be perfectly honest: There isn't a single guy that I drafted that I can look at and say, "I can't believe you guys let him fall to me." Let's just say I'm thankful to have been able to draft AP's handcuff (Chester Taylor) rather than having to grovel for him.

ROD: As far as reaches go, taking a rookie running back who isn't even guaranteed to start (Kevin Smith) at No. 50 overall seems to fit the description.


FantasyGuru.com – John Hansen (Previous F&F finishes: 9th in '07; 4th in '06; 10th in '05; 1st in '04)
Q: You opted to wait until the ninth round to fill out your third starting WR spot (Bernard Berrian) and drafted only Reggie Brown and Bobby Engram (out 6-8 weeks) as reserves. Any concerns about your WR depth at this point?

A: A little, and I was cursing because I missed Dwayne Bowe by one pick as my No. 3. That would have been sick. But I did get Antonio Gates in the sixth, which was a value. There's usually a price to pay when you take Gates. I actually dropped Engram for Owen Daniels already given Gates' injury issues. Shocked Daniels didn't get drafted.

Q: According to the rankings on your website, FantasyGuru.com, you like rookie Chris Johnson and DeAngelo Williams a few spots ahead of Fred Taylor at RB. But you opted for a change-up in Round 7, taking Taylor over Johnson and Williams (who went with the next two picks). What made you switch things up at this point in the draft?

A: Great question. I actually did the opposite of what I usually do in that I opted for a safer and more reliable option in Taylor. I did this because I was so pleased with the explosiveness and upside of my roster up until that point (Tony Romo, Brian Westbrook, Marques Colston, Willie Parker, Gates). Even I don't follow our own rankings because, as the drafts unfolds, expectations and needs change.

Q: Who was the SOD (Steal of the Draft) and who was the ROD (Reach of the Draft)?

A: SOD: There were a lot of good values in this draft, but I'll go with QB Matt Schaub. Granted, he needs a lot of things to go well this year, but I believe he has the potential to throw 30 TD passes. I couldn't believe how long he lasted (13th round). The real steal might have been me picking up Owen Daniels off the waiver wire right after the draft.

ROD: I'd say the reach of the draft was Jerricho Cotchery in the fifth, over guys like Brandon Marshall and Calvin Johnson. I understand the Favre factor helps his YAC and big-play potential, but let's be real here: it's not going to be easy for Favre to assimiate in this new offense. It's basically like an adult learning a new language. I took three years of French in high school and remember about four words.


RotoWire.com – Chris Liss (Previous F&F finishes: 3rd in '07; 6th in '06; 1st in '05)
Q: Two quarterbacks (Derek Anderson and Jay Cutler) in the top eight rounds? At the point you took Cutler, backup insurance at RB and WR included Ricky Williams, Jerius Norwood, Maurice Morris, Joey Galloway and Donte' Stallworth, to name a few. Is this a reaction to getting burned last year for waiting until Round 8 to take your first QB (Matt Leinart), which didn't work out too well? Or is this to cover your bases in case Anderson picks up where he left off in '07 (average of 181 passing yards, and 5 TD passes to 6 INTs in final four games)?

A: To tell you the truth, I hadn't even thought about last year, though my Kurt Warner/Jeff Garcia combo, ugly though it was, got me to the semis. In fact, had I not sat Reggie Brown in the playoff game against you five minutes before kickoff, I'd have won the league! But even though your readers would prefer to hear my lifetime litany of near-misses in fantasy football, I'll answer your question: I like Anderson. All the pieces are still in place – the offensive line, the best healthy tight end in football and a top-3 wideout. I took Cutler as a best player available pick. He's got a huge arm and showed excellent growth last year despite losing 40 pounds due to undiagnosed diabetes. Now he's being treated and feels far stronger heading into his third season with developing wideout Brandon Marshall (I know he'll miss two games) and developing tight end Tony Scheffler. Upside is upside, and sometimes it transcends position. Plus, at that point, there were several upside RB that I was content to take later like Ahmad Bradshaw, who I landed.

Q: Your three bench receivers came with three of your final four picks – Javon Walker, Mark Clayton, Matt Jones. Looking at the trio, you have an injury-worry (Walker), and two players, in Clayton and Jones, who have yet to deliver on the lofty expectations bestowed upon them when they entered the league. What are your expectations for this trio, and do you have any concerns that WR depth could be an issue this season?

A: Well, my starters are Terrell Owens, Santonio Holmes and Nate "only-game-in-town" Burleson so, hopefully, I won't be trotting out reserve wideouts all that much. But Jones was my last pick, so I'm not too concerned about dropping him if he winds up with his face in a "Scarface" mound again. He's just a lottery ticket given his size and speed, and he's had a good camp. Walker, too, was a lottery ticket – hopefully JaMarcus Russell will heave it up there for him, and his knee won't buckle when he leaps to catch it. (I did take exception to Jeff Ma comparing Walker's Vegas behavior to mine though – unlike Walker, people don't even think about messing with me). As for Clayton, he was a very good per play receiver in 2006, and last year was dinged up and fell victim to playing with the carcass formerly known as Steve McNair – Think a poor man's Chad Pennington arm-strength-wise. I expect him to bounce back a bit no matter who gets the job there. But the bottom line is, I agree with you – these guys are all far from assured of producing, but picking up a WR or two over the course of the year in a 12-team league isn't exactly splitting the atom, and in the late rounds, your draft should be all about upside.

Q: Who was the SOD (Steal of the Draft) and who was the ROD (Reach of the Draft)?

A: SOD: Steal of the draft: I don't see any robberies – just people drafting for value. I liked Hansen's Calvin Johnson/Gates picks in Rd. 5/6. I liked getting Burleson in Round 7 and Alge Crumpler in Rd. 10.

ROD: Reach of the draft: I thought Felix Jones was a bit early in Round 6. (Then again, in Round 6, it's time to take whoever you want).


RotoWire.com – Jeff Erickson (Previous F&F finishes: 11th in '07; 11th in '05)
Q: You held the No. 6 overall pick, which you used on Frank Gore. What factors led you to choose Gore over the likes of Tom Brady, Randy Moss or the other top remaining RBs?

A: I hate the No. 6 pick – I think that the top five are pretty clearly defined, and there's a drop-off among the running backs after that. If I had to draft from there in three consecutive drafts, I might have three different results. I've already gone with Brady in this spot in one other league, and opted to diversify my drafts here. So the question came down to Gore vs. Moss, and I went with Gore under the mindset that he'll fit well in Mike Martz's offense. Ask me again tomorrow – I might take Moss.

Q: I know you're a Cincinnati fan at heart, and you chose a Bengals RB in Round 12 (Chris Perry) that has averaged just 34 touches in his injury-riddled four-year career. What are your expectations for Perry this year and how do you see him fitting in with Rudi Johnson and Kenny Watson, assuming he can stay healthy?

A: Perry is a lottery ticket, taken at a stage in the draft where we were all hoping to strike gold. Perry is finally fully recovered from his various injuries, and is more than just a backup in Cincy. He's a guy that's going to be in the game a lot in passing situations, and he's even pushing to be in the game when the Bengals go to two tight end sets, something they're going to do more frequently now that Ben Utecht is there. If you're going to go after a Bengals backup, I'd rather have Perry than Watson.

Q: Who was the SOD (Steal of the Draft) and who was the ROD (Reach of the Draft)?

A: SOD: Selvin Young, No. 62 overall (6.2) to Buser. Playing the Shanahan RB Lottery is always risky business, but Ryan Torain's injury opens the door for Young, who averaged 5.2 yards per carry last year. The only concern I have is whether he'll get the goal-line carries, but a starting RB behind Denver's OL in Round 6? I'll take that chance.

ROD: Felix Jones, No. 65 overall (6.5) to Gehlken. I hate calling out someone else's pick, because I understand what he was doing here, having drafted Marion Barber in the first round. I guess I think that Barber is no threat to lose goal-line carries, so he didn't need to handcuff him here. Where he did need to handcuff, however, was to protect his second running back, Jonathan Stewart. DeAngelo Williams was available here, and he's a good bet to outproduce Felix Jones. (Disclaimer: I later drafted Williams, so my opinions are a little biased here.)


RotoExperts.com – Scott Engel (Previous F&F finishes: first year in F&F)
Q: While Laveranues Coles has averaged more fantasy points per game than Jerricho Cotchery each of the past two seasons, you drafted Cotchery with the No. 49 overall pick – Coles went 26 picks later. What about the addition of Brett Favre has you feeling the love for Cotchery over Coles?

A: Pre-Favre numbers don't matter anymore, and the production is shifting in Cotchery's direcetion regardless of who the QB is. Coles's very best days are behind him, although Favre can help him remain a quality fantasy starter with his downfield tosses. Cotchery, however, is on the rise, a more versatile pass-catcher and his TD numbers are bound to improve nicely working with Favre. He makes possession grabs, can get loose after the catch and deliver some occasional big plays. Cotchery is underrated, while you have to hope Coles can still flash enough of his past form.

Q: You chose Ben Obamanu to be the second Seattle receiver off the board (No. 144). What do you like better about him over the other Seahawks recievers (Courtney Taylor, Logan Payne, Jordan Kent and the rehabbing Deion Branch or the recently injured Bobby Engram)?

A: Engram and Branch are obvious risks, and Payne and Kent are simply too raw to expect them to make an impact. Taylor has some play-making promise, but of all the new possible No. 2 Seahawks receivers, Obomanu is the most polished and ready to accept the challenge. Matt Hasselbeck has already shown faith in him. Obomanu runs pretty good routes and understands the offense well, and he is not intimidated by high-level defensive backs. Fundamentals and intangibles give him the edge.

Q: Who was the SOD (Steal of the Draft) and who was the ROD (Reach of the Draft)?

A: SOD: I was quite suprised to get Peyton Manning at the beginning of the third round. The injury has dropped his stock a bit too far and I am still very confident in him. I also really like Mr. Behren's pick of Brett Favre in the ninth round, which is a little late to get a guy who will be a certain top 10 QB, I believe.

ROD: I wouldn't have taken Chris Johnson in the seventh round. He is not going to get enough quality touches on a consistent basis and will likely never see a heavy workload either because of his size and frame.


PROTRADE.com – Jeff Ma (Previous F&F finishes: 8th in '07)
Q: You named your team the "Pesky 'Lil Scamps," a term of endearment that Andy Behrens placed upon you last year after you mocked his third round Carson Palmer pick (which, in hindsight, was probably justifiable). Any extra motivation to finish ahead of Behrens this season, and how do you think your teams stack up?

A: This was actually the first draft I’ve done this season so I was a little unsure of where certain guys would go. There were about four or five guys that got scooped right out from under me – Ray Rice, Chris Chambers to name two – but in general I think if Willis McGahee is healthy, and that is a big if, my team will be very solid. I don’t want to beat a dead horse even deader but since this is likely my only chance to revisit Behrens' mistake last season, I will. In retrospect, Behrens ended up with DeAngelo Williams as his second back and could have had a host of other productive RBs if he had chosen one at the point he chose Palmer. I will go to my grave believing that that was a draft mistake and will forever be motivated by his prepubescent name calling.

Q: You invested heavily in the Pats' air show, with Tom Brady in Round 1 and two of his receivers (Wes Welker and Jabbar Gafney) in later rounds. Any hesitation pulling the trigger on a QB at pick No. 7, and what do you expect from the NE passing game for an encore?

A: Yeah, there was definitely hesitation in choosing a QB at 7 but the old adage, "leagues are not won in the first round but can be lost," lead me to the safe pick of Brady. I wanted Gore in that spot but when he was gone considered Barber. Seeing how Barber broke down at the end of games makes me wonder how he can handle a fuller load this year. I also like Marshawn Lynch but thought that was just too early for him. I think the Pats will be forced into a lot more dink and dunk this year which makes me very high on Welker and Gaffney. They have always been good at that and I expect Brady to have another great season as he still has the greatest collection of WRs that’s he’s ever had in his career.

Q: Who was the SOD (Steal of the Draft) and who was the ROD (Reach of the Draft)?

A: SOD: Always hard to find SODs in an experts draft but Willie Parker in Round 4 seems like very good value. Everyone remembers Mendenhall’s one game against USC and think he will take significant carries away from Parker, but Willie is one season away from being a top 10 pick and it’s not like he had a bad year last year.

ROD: I’m going with Jonathan Stewart as the reach of the day. He’s got competition and is a rookie on a team that isn’t great at running the ball. DeAngelo Williams may be undersized but he had some great games last season and I expect him to be very focused on saving his career this season.