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Tomlinson tops experts draft

Fantasy football "training camp" kicked off last week with my first experts league draft of the 2005 campaign. I've participated in this particular draft (Krause Publications Experts League draft) for the past few years, so I'm no longer hung up on the absurdity of drafting football players while the baseball season is only a month old. I think if most fantasy football fanatics were being honest, they'd admit that there is never a bad time for this type of exercise.

Before I offer details on how this exhibition draft turned out, I feel I should apologize in advance for the pig-headedness of the so-called "experts." Like so many past experts drafts, running backs were highly regarded, so much so that 21 of the first 24 picks hailed from the backfield. Even Peyton Manning, who threw an NFL-record 49 touchdowns passes in '04, wasn't selected until eight running backs were taken ahead of him. There are reasons for this phenomenon. Running backs are much more predictable than receivers, and the ability to pick up a decent performance from a waiver-wire quarterback is far greater than what you'll get in waivers at the RB spot. That said, I'll admit that we tend to go a little overboard when it comes to drafting backs. Please don't assault my mailbox with feedback on this subject. I already hear ya.

All right, now that I've addressed the running-back lust, let's look at the results. I've bolded my selections – including the No. 1 overall pick – and, for the first 10 rounds, I have included my choices for the best and worst pick of each round:

Note: Draft was 15 rounds – start 1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 Flex, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 Defensive team per week.
Scoring is 6 points for rushing and receiving TDs, 4 points for passing TDs, six points for defensive and special teams TDs. Interceptions and fumble recoveries are worth two points each, while sacks are worth 1 point. One bonus point for every 10 yards rushing and receiving and 20 yards passing.

Krause Publications Experts Draft (May 3, 2005)
Round 1 Player Team Position
1-1 LaDainian Tomlinson San Diego Running back
1-2 Priest Holmes Kansas City Running back
1-3 Edgerrin James Indianapolis Running back
1-4 Shaun Alexander Seattle Running back
1-5 Tiki Barber NY Giants Running back
1-6 Willis McGahee Buffalo Running back
1-7 Deuce McAllister New Orleans Running back
1-8 Rudi Johnson Cincinnati Running back
1-9 Peyton Manning Indianapolis Quarterback
1-10 Ahman Green Green Bay Running back
1-11 Clinton Portis Washington Running back
1-12 Corey Dillon New England Running back
Best pick: Worst pick:
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis, QB
Manning threw 49 TD passes in, essentially, 15 games. What's changed in Indy? Nothing. A likely 35-40 TD passes and 4,000 yards deserves better than the No. 9 pick.
Deuce McAllister, New Orleans, RB
While still a first-round talent, Deuce hasn't scored more than nine TDs in either of the past two seasons. Manning, Randy Moss or Corey Dillon seem like safer picks without giving up much on the "upside" factor.
Round 2 Player Team Position
2-1 Randy Moss Oakland Wide receiver
2-2 Jamal Lewis Baltimore Running back
2-3 Kevin Jones Detroit Running back
2-4 Julius Jones Dallas Running back
2-5 Domanick Davis Houston Running back
2-6 Curtis Martin NY Jets Running back
2-7 Chris Brown Tennessee Running back
2-8 LaMont Jordan Oakland Running back
2-9 Daunte Culpepper Minnesota Quarterback
2-10 Brian Westbrook Philadelphia Running back
2-11 Steven Jackson St. Louis Running back
2-12 Tatum Bell, Den Denver Running back
Best pick: Worst pick:
Domanick Davis, Houston, RB
There wasn't a better fantasy RB in the second half of '04 than Davis. Overall, he was a top five back. To get him as the 15th back off the board was a steal.
Brian Westbrook, Philadelphia, RB
Eagles drafted Ryan Moats, welcome Correll Buckhalter back from injury and have rumored interest in Travis Henry. Not exactly the kind of question marks I want surrounding my second-round pick.
Round 3 Player Team Position
3-1 Marvin Harrison Indianapolis Wide receiver
3-2 Terrell Owens Philadelphia Wide receiver
3-3 Tony Gonzalez Kansas City Tight end
3-4 Ronnie Brown Miami Running back
3-5 Torry Holt St. Louis Wide receiver
3-6 Chad Johnson Cincinnati Wide receiver
3-7 Carnell Williams Tampa Bay Running back
3-8 Cedric Benson Chicago Running back
3-9 DeShaun Foster Carolina Running back
3-10 Fred Taylor Jacksonville Running back
3-11 Antonio Gates San Diego Tight end
3-12 Duce Staley Pittsburgh Running back
Best pick: Worst pick:
Terrell Owens, Philadelphia, WR
Concern of a holdout dropped Owens from a top 10 pick into the third round. Likely, it's much worry about nothing. Holdouts are often threatened but rarely executed.
Cedric Benson, Chicago, RB
Benson goes to the worst offensive team in '04, and a platoon with Thomas Jones is possible. Even if he pulls away from Jones, it's not hard to envision Jones seeing most of the PT on passing downs.
Round 4 Player Team Position
4-1 Donovan McNabb Philadelphia Quarterback
4-2 Javon Walker Green Bay Wide receiver
4-3 Hines Ward Pittsburgh Wide receiver
4-4 J.J. Arrington Arizona Running back
4-5 Andre Johnson Houston Wide receiver
4-6 Reggie Wayne Indianapolis Wide receiver
4-7 Warrick Dunn Atlanta Running back
4-8 Joe Horn New Orleans Wide receiver
4-9 Lee Suggs Cleveland Running back
4-10 Kevan Barlow San Francisco Running back
4-11 Darrell Jackson Seattle Wide receiver
4-12 Marshall Faulk St. Louis Running back
Best pick: Worst pick:
Joe Horn, New Orleans, WR
Was the 10th wide receiver selected despite being a top five fantasy receiver last season, and a perennial top five finisher the past five seasons.
Marshall Faulk, St. Louis, RB
Now that phenom Steven Jackson is running first chair, I have a feeling that the 32-year old Faulk is going to have a hard time making much of an impact in a situational role.
Round 5 Player Team Position
5-1 Drew Bennett Tennessee Wide receiver
5-2 Trent Green Kansas City Quarterback
5-3 Brett Favre Green Bay Quarterback
5-4 Roy Williams Detroit Wide receiver
5-5 Larry Johnson Kansas City Running back
5-6 Marc Bulger St. Louis Quarterback
5-7 Kerry Collins Oakland Quarterback
5-8 Michael Clayton Tampa Bay Wide receiver
5-9 Onterrio Smith Minnesota Running back
5-10 Michael Vick Atlanta Quarterback
5-11 Steve Smith Carolina Wide receiver
5-12 Nate Burleson Minnesota Wide receiver
Best pick: Worst pick:
Nate Burleson, Minnesota, WR
With Moss gone, Burleson will be the go-to guy. He scored eight TDs in the final 10 games of '04, and the addition of Williamson will help loosen coverage.
Onterrio Smith, Minnesota, RB
Was landing one of the Vikes' backup RBs really more important than grabbing potential boom WRs like Steve Smith, Nate Burleson, Anquan Boldin or Jerry Porter, to name a few? I don't think so.
Round 6 Player Team Position
6-1 Jerome Bettis Pittsburgh Running back
6-2 Matt Hasselbeck Seattle Quarterback
6-3 Anquan Boldin Arizona Wide receiver
6-4 Derrick Mason Baltimore Wide receiver
6-5 Eric Moulds Buffalo Wide receiver
6-6 Reuben Droughns Cleveland Running back
6-7 Chris Chambers Miami Wide receiver
6-8 Jason Witten Dallas Tight end
6-9 Larry Fitzgerald Arizona Wide receiver
6-10 Jerry Porter Oakland Wide receiver
6-11 Donald Driver Green Bay Wide receiver
6-12 Michael Bennett Minnesota Running back
Best pick: Worst pick:
Jason Witten, Dallas, TE
In just his second season, Witten fell just 20 yards shy of 1,000 receiving yards. To get a TE of his ilk three rounds later than Gonzo or Gates was a nice value.
Reuben Droughns, Cleveland, RB
Droughns was brought in as an insurance policy for the oft-injured Lee Suggs. But Droughns is threatening to holdout, which won't endear him to Browns new head coach Romeo Crennel.
Round 7 Player Team Position
7-1 Tom Brady New England Quarterback
7-2 Jeremy Shockey NY Giants Tight end
7-3 Alge Crumpler Atlanta Tight end
7-4 Todd Heap Baltimore Tight end
7-5 Muhsin Muhammad Chicago Wide receiver
7-6 Isaac Bruce St. Louis Wide receiver
7-7 Jimmy Smith Jacksonville Wide receiver
7-8 T.J. Duckett Atlanta Running back
7-9 Laveranues Coles NY Jets Wide receiver
7-10 Travis Henry Buffalo Running back
7-11 Aaron Brooks New Orleans Quarterback
7-12 Plaxico Burress NY Giants Wide receiver
Best pick: Worst pick:
T.J. Duckett, Atlanta, RB
Duckett is just what owners should be looking for with the 80th pick. He gets goal-line carries and he splits time with a diminutive back (Dunn) who could easily fall to injury.
Plaxico Burress, NY Giants, WR
Sure, Burress is now free of a conservative Pittsburgh offense, but the Giants had the second-fewest TD passes in the league (12) in '04. Burress won't turn them into a juggernaut overnight.
Round 8 Player Team Position
8-1 David Akers Philadelphia Kicker
8-2 Thomas Jones Chicago Running back
8-3 Baltimore Ravens Defense
8-4 Lee Evans Buffalo Wide receiver
8-5 Carson Palmer Cincinnati Quarterback
8-6 Ashley Lelie Denver Wide receiver
8-7 Eric Shelton Carolina Running back
8-8 Jake Delhomme Carolina Quarterback
8-9 Deion Branch New England Wide receiver
8-10 Brandon Stokley Indianapolis Wide receiver
8-11 Najeh Davenport Green Bay Running back
8-12 Eddie Kennison Kansas City Wide receiver
Best pick: Worst pick:
Lee Evans, Buffalo, WR
He scored seven TDs in the final six weeks of '04 – among the top five fantasy receivers for that span. Having McGahee and Moulds to deflect attention helps.
David Akers, Philadelphia, K
Silliness. Call me old school, but my kicker will come in one of the last two rounds. Denver's Jason Elam scored more points than Akers in '04, and he was drafted six rounds later!
Round 9 Player Team Position
9-1 Dallas Clark Indianapolis Tight end
9-2 Rod Smith Denver Wide receiver
9-3 Mike Williams Detroit Wide receiver
9-4 Michael Pittman Tampa Bay Running back
9-5 Frank Gore San Francisco Running back
9-6 Braylon Edwards Cleveland Wide receiver
9-7 Randy McMichael Miami Tight end
9-8 Marcel Shipp Arizona Running back
9-9 Santana Moss Washington Wide receiver
9-10 Troy Williamson Minnesota Wide receiver
9-11 Chester Taylor Baltimore Running back
9-12 Correll Buckhalter Philadelphia Running back
Best pick: Worst pick:
Rod Smith, Denver, WR
OK, so he'll be 35 on May 15, but Smith is still getting it done. He's coming off his seventh 1,000 yard season in the past eight years and is ideal here as a third fantasy WR.
Marcel Shipp, Arizona, RB
After promoting Emmitt Smith ahead of Shipp last summer and then drafting J.J. Arrington atop the second round this April, it seems clear Dennis Green views Shipp as a backup.
Round 10 Player Team Position
10-1 Derrick Blaylock NY Jets Running back
10-2 Dominic Rhodes Indianapolis Running back
10-3 Charles Rogers Detroit Wide receiver
10-4 Drew Brees San Diego Quarterback
10-5 Donte' Stallworth New Orleans Wide receiver
10-6 Jake Plummer Denver Quarterback
10-7 Chad Pennington NY Jets Quarterback
10-8 Antonio Bryant Cleveland Wide receiver
10-9 Stephen Davis Carolina Running back
10-10 Justin McCareins NY Jets Wide receiver
10-11 Byron Leftwich Jacksonville Quarterback
10-12 T.J. Houshmandzadeh Cincinnati Wide receiver
Best pick: Worst pick:
T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Cincinnati, WR
He quietly finished just 22 yards shy of 1,000 in '04, and only Muhsin Muhammad, Chad Johnson and Torry Holt had more second-half catches.
Derrick Blaylock, NY Jets, RB
A decent pick if it was Curtis Martin's owner just buying insurance. But this was another owner hoping to get lucky with a backup to a player (Martin) who hasn't missed a start in more than six years.
Round 11 Player Team Position
11-1 Quentin Griffin Denver Running back
11-2 Adam Vinatieri New England Kicker
11-3 David Carr Houston Quarterback
11-4 Brandon Lloyd San Francisco Wide receiver
11-5 Eli Manning NY Giants Quarterback
11-6 Mewelde Moore Minnesota Running back
11-7 Mark Clayton Baltimore Wide receiver
11-8 New England Patriots Defense
11-9 Ricky Williams Miami Running back
11-10 Tyrone Calico Tennessee Wide receiver
11-11 Koren Robinson Seattle Wide receiver
11-12 Keenan McCardell San Diego Wide receiver
Round 12 Player Team Position
12-1 Kurt Warner Arizona Quarterback
12-2 Keyshawn Johnson Dallas Wide receiver
12-3 Kellen Winslow Cleveland Tight end
12-4 Ryan Moats Philadelphia Running back
12-5 Steve McNair Tennessee Quarterback
12-6 Antwaan Randle El Pittsburgh Wide receiver
12-7 Eric Johnson San Francisco Tight end
12-8 Mike Vanderjagt Indianapolis Kicker
12-9 Brian Griese Tampa Bay Quarterback
12-10 Buffalo Bills Defense
12-11 Pittsburgh Steelers Defense
12-12 Philadelphia Eagles Defense
Round 13 Player Team Position
13-1 Joey Harrington Detroit Quarterback
13-2 Maurice Morris Seattle Running back
13-3 Keary Colbert Carolina Wide receiver
13-4 Sebastian Janikowski Oakland Kicker
13-5 Matt Jones Jacksonville Wide receiver
13-6 Anthony Thomas Dallas Running back
13-7 Nick Goings Carolina Running back
13-8 L.J. Smith Philadelphia Tight end
13-9 New York Jets Defense
13-10 Maurice Clarett Denver Running back
13-11 Amani Toomer NY Giants Wide receiver
13-12 Bubba Franks Green Bay Tight end
Round 14 Player Team Position
14-1 Carolina Panthers Defense
14-2 Jason Elam Denver Kicker
14-3 Ben Roethlisberger Pittsburgh Quarterback
14-4 Shayne Graham Cincinnati Kicker
14-5 Matt Stover Baltimore Kicker
14-6 Ryan Longwell Green Bay Kicker
14-7 Josh Brown Seattle Kicker
14-8 Atlanta Falcons Defense
14-9 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense
14-10 Brandon Jacobs NY Giants Running back
14-11 David Givens New England Wide receiver
14-12 Ronald Curry Oakland Wide receiver
Round 15 Player Team Position
15-1 Jeff Wilkins St. Louis Kicker
15-2 Moe Williams Minnesota Running back
15-3 Nate Kaeding San Diego Kicker
15-4 Marcus Pollard Detroit Tight end
15-5 Ciatrick Fason Minnesota Running back
15-6 Washington Redskins Defense
15-7 Chicago Bears Defense
15-8 J.P. Losman Buffalo Quarterback
15-9 Chris Cooley Washington Tight end
15-10 Jason Hanson Detroit Kicker
15-11 Dallas Cowboys Defense
15-12 Peerless Price Atlanta Wide receiver