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Yahoo! Friends and Family League: Post-draft Q&A

Brandon Funston
Yahoo Sports

For what marks the eighth consecutive August, the Yahoo! family of fantasy football experts, and our closest friends, recently parked their backsides in front of a computer and drafted teams for the Yahoo! Friends and Family League.

This year's new members include Yahoo! Sports Senior NFL writer Jason Cole, who has been tackling fantasy issues as part of his training camp tour, making him an eligible member for this year's Family Division. And, like Plaxico Burress(notes) (but not completely), Yahoo! Matt Buser returns after a two-year hiatus, replacing long-timer Matt Romig, who is "all baseball, all the time" these days.

Also joining us on the Friends Division side are National Football Post "Fantasy Philanthropist" Jay Clemons, and Chet Gresham, the "Doc" of Razzball.com. Otherwise, the '10 contingent remains intact heading into 2011. Returning participants include those from FantasyGuru.com, RotoWire.com, and the Wall Street Journal.

The only change this year from last year's format (which includes .75 points per reception, two Flex spots and a mere four-man bench) is bonus points for touchdowns of 40-plus yards – two points for RBs, WRs and TEs, and one point for QBs.

Last season, the Family scored another title trophy as Scott Pianowski took out Michael Gehlken for the league championship. It was the Family's fourth crown in six seasons of the Family/Friends divisional format – Chris Liss of RotoWire owns the hardware for both of the Friends' two championships.

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 Andy Behrens fire a couple questions my way.

Alright, with that, I give you the experts, in their own words …

MEET THE FAMILY

Yahoo! Sports Fantasy – Brandon Funston (Previous F&F finishes: 9th in '10; 10th in '09; 2nd in '08; 2nd in '07; 11th in '06; 2nd in '05; 6th in '04)
Q: You selected LeSean McCoy(notes) at No. 5 overall, as we all knew you would. He's clearly a great fit for the format (0.75 PPR, bonuses for long scores). Shouldn't you also trade for Michael Vick(notes), so you can get a few of the Eagles' rushing touchdowns? Bwahahaha.

No, seriously, what impact do you expect Vick and Ronnie Brown(notes) to have on McCoy's fantasy value this season? Any concern about his inside-the-5 role, or are they minimized by our settings?

A: As a Shady owner, I'm a supporter of Vick's health. McCoy had eight of his nine touchdowns with Vick behind center and most of his huge rushing and receiving efforts, too. McCoy led RBs in receptions last season and the Eagles use screens and dump-offs as another form of a carry for the running back – Brian Westbrook(notes) says, "Amen!" I don't see Ronnie Brown having much of an impact as McCoy is one of the most explosive backs in the league and he was on the field for the third-most snaps from scrimmage among RBs in '10 (assist Dalton Del Don, Mostly NFL Notes). And only one of his nine touchdowns came from inside four yards out (and that was a reception). I wasn't drafting McCoy for his goal-line upside. In this scoring system, McCoy was the No. 3 back in '10, and that was despite missing Week 17.

Q: Both of your flexes, Amendola and Thomas, seem like sneaky-good PPR plays. What sort of numbers are you projecting there, and where do you think those two should be taken in non-PPR formats?

A: Receptions definitely dominated my thinking with these two guys. And, frankly, I know Evans is sprung for Amendola, so I wasn't going to let him get all his pets (he landed Felix Jones(notes) earlier). I know that we've made the mistake with Josh McDaniels before where we assumed that he'd turn Eddie Royal(notes) into the next Wes Welker(notes). But Amendola already looks the part (85 catches last season, one less than Welker), and the Rams don't really have another go-to possession guy. I'm hoping for 90-plus catches and 5-6 TDs. For Thomas, it's pretty much the same story. As the most familiar receiver remaining for QB David Garrard(notes), and with a starting role cemented from the get-go this season, he could push 80 catches, 1,000 yards and a half-dozen TDs.

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

A: SOD: Frank Gore(notes) going off the board one pick ahead of me really hurt my parts. It was surprising in a PPR setup, especially given his street cred, that he would go 13th among running backs.

ROD: Daniel Thomas(notes) going at pick No. 52 in a PPR setup was too rich for me. He's going to catch few passes and he's giving away carries to Reggie Bush(notes). And he's playing for one of the worst rushing teams of '10. And that's not to mention that he's already being called out by head coach Tony Sparano for not running tough enough.


Yahoo! Sports Fantasy – Andy Behrens (Previous F&F finishes: 14th in '10; 4th in '09; 4th in '08; 4th in '07)
Q: Alright, let's just get right to it. You ranked Michael Vick as your No. 5 QB. This preseason you haven't been shy in pointing out all the things that could go wrong with Vick in '12. And then you take him as the second QB off the board in this draft. Were these past several weeks an elaborate Ocean's 11-type scheme to keep us unaware of your Vick affection so that you could land him in F&F? Or are your reasons more practical than that?

A: That may have been my single favorite pick in any F&F league – any year, any sport. The reaction in draft chat was outstanding. You are all to be commended.

But no, I have not been producing anti-Vick content as a misdirection. I really do think he presents an unusual amount of risk for a top-tier QB, and I don't believe we should expect him to repeat last year's insane per-game production. However, I won't argue with anyone who suggests that he offers the highest ceiling at his position. All of my Vick disagreements relate to his downside, not the upside. Because the F&F is a bragging-rights league – unless you finish first, no one cares what you did – the risk/reward calculation changes a bit. This is the right place to take huge swings, just in case you make contact.

Here's another reason I liked Vick with the No. 16 pick: When he was selected, he was pretty clearly the only player on the board who might have been considered, at least by a few people in the room, to be a reasonable top-of-draft selection. The F&F uses a serpentine format, so I never had a shot at any of the top-tier running backs or receivers. I've spent many post-draft hours making aggressive trade offers to owners who left themselves vulnerable at QB. No success just yet, but I'll keep at it. (In their hearts, Dalton Del Don and Chris Liss want to make a deal. They just can't summon the courage).

Q: Maurice Jones-Drew(notes) was your top pick. I landed his backup, Rashad Jennings(notes), in Round 8. I know that you don't put much stock in the need to handcuff backs, but do you have concerns in this case given MJD's balky knee? And, if the plan was to eventually land Jennings, when were you targeting him?

A: Yeah, while I was talking myself into Mike Sims-Walker(notes) in Round 8, I was also coming to grips with the fact that another owner was going to land Jennings. As we've all seen in this league, it's just extremely difficult to carry handcuffs. The benches are too short; your handcuff RB becomes your first drop. (Plus I need to carry a solid back-up quarterback, because I don't expect a full 16-game season from Vick). While I thought Jennings was an impressive player in his cameo role last season, that doesn't mean I'd project him for the same stats as MJD if given an identical workload. Those two aren't completely interchangeable. I chose to invest in Jones-Drew specifically, not the Jacksonville offense generally.

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

A: SOD: I'm fairly sure Michael Gehlken got a steal or two at running back, just based on volume. He nearly cornered the market on upside back-ups. (Of course he'll eventually have to drop 2-3 of them, but for now it looks great). I liked his three-pick run of Delone Carter(notes), Kendall Hunter(notes) and Montario Hardesty(notes). I was looking at all three players in the late rounds. Gehlken beat me to Reggie Bush and Brandon Jacobs(notes), too.

ROD: I'm not a great believer in LeGarrette Blount(notes), particularly in a PPR-format. He caught just five passes in 13 games last season, and I'm not convinced that he'll be on the field on passing downs in 2011. With that profile, he'll need to reach double-digit TDs in order to justify the draft spot. I would have preferred Felix Jones, Steven Jackson, Mike Wallace(notes) or Reggie Wayne(notes) with that pick.


Yahoo! Sports Fantasy – Brad Evans (Previous F&F finishes: 6th in '10; 8th in '09; 11th in '08; 14th in '07; 8th in '06)
Q: You drafted rookie WR Denarius Moore(notes) as a starter. Oakland has finished 2nd-to-last in WR fantasy points three straight years. What's a best-case scenario for Moore in this tough environment?

A: No two years in fantasy are ever the same. Every year new players and teams surprise. Yes, the Crypt Keeper hasn't seen a 1,000-yard receiver since Randy Moss(notes) sloughed his way to the milestone in 2005. But with Zach Miller now getting overthrown in Seattle, Louis Murphy(notes), Jacoby Ford(notes) and Chaz Schilens(notes) hurt, and Darius Heyward-Bey a permanent citizen of Suckland, Moore's competition for targets is limited.

The rookie has repeatedly wowed everyone at training camp and throughout practice. According to local accounts, he's often been the best player on the field regardless of position. Blessed with excellent size, separation skills and fearlessness, he has excellent odds of becoming this year's version of Tampa Bay's Mike Williams.

Jason Campbell(notes) force-fed him in Oakland's first two preseason games. If that trend carries over into the regular season, he could easily rack 60 catches for 800 yards and a handful of touchdowns, a quality line for a second flex option/fourth wide receiver.

Q: In a league with only four bench spots, it was curious that you chose to back up both your QB and TE. Was that due to concern for your starters at QB and TE, or supreme confidence in your RB and WR starters?

A: If Matthew Stafford(notes) brushed his shoulder against a wall of pillows it would likely pop out of socket. Knowing the injury risk involved, it was imperative I stash a decent, dependable backup. Since favorites Kevin Kolb(notes) and Josh Freeman(notes) were long gone, Kyle Orton(notes) fit the bill at pick No. 140 (Round 10). Because of John Fox's conservative scheme, most readers would throw cabbage at that pick, but it's easy to forget that Jake Delhomme(notes) was a 3,800-yard, 29-TD passer in the same system back in 2004. Orton is a more than reliable QB2.

As for Lance Kendricks(notes), it's important to remember 'flex' rules allow owners to play up to three TEs per week if necessary. The Rams rookie wasn't drafted as a backup. He was selected as an occasional 'flex' option. He and Sam Bradford(notes) have established a strong bond this summer, evident in the oversized target's six receptions for 56 yards and a touchdown thus far in preseason action. Given his skyward frame (6-foot-3, 245-pounds) and plus-athleticism he could become a favorite of Bradford's inside the red zone. Keep in mind, Josh McDaniels isn't bashful about throwing in any situation, including near the goal line.

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

A: SOD: Reggie Bush in Round 5 of a 14-team PPR league was quite the bargain. Considering the format and the expectation that his role will expand greatly under Tony Sparano, he could accumulate numbers comparable to Jahvid Best(notes). Gehlken gets a cookie.

ROD: Erickson self-amputated his right arm reaching for Daniel Thomas 12 picks ahead of Bush. In a dynasty format, that's fair game. However, in a PPR-intensive yearly league it's laughable. There's a reason why Miami dusted off Larry Johnson(notes).


Yahoo! Sports Senior NFL Writer – Jason Cole (Previous F&F finishes: First year in the F&F)
Q: Your final pick, Antonio Brown(notes), has me curious. What do you like about the Steelers' second-year wideout, and what are your expectations of him for '11?

A: I had the advantage of watching the Steelers practice in training camp. Brown was impressive when I saw him and he has played well all training camp and preseason. Ben Roethlisberger(notes) likes him a lot. Moreover, Emmanuel Sanders(notes) has a bad foot injury (two procedures this offseason), Hines Ward(notes) is slowing down and Roethlisberger is going to play from the start of the season. The Steelers are migrating toward more throwing under Bruce Arians. Maybe it's too much of a reach, but I think the kid has better upside than any of the other stiffs who were available at that point. Considering I played relatively safe on the rest of the draft, I thought it was an acceptable risk.

Q: If Brown doesn't pan out, it leaves your bench awfully thin, and makes TE Zach Miller an especially important part of your substitute contingent. Do you see his move to Seattle as a positive or negative impact on his fantasy value compared to what it was in Oakland?

A: Miller's a really good player. I think he will succeed wherever he plays. I didn't really want to take a tight end at that point of the draft, but the other positions weren't any better (plus, I knew Brown would be there in the end, so I didn't have to force a receiver there).

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

A: SOD: Buser getting Chris Johnson at No. 12 is a potential steal, but the risk is obvious. Razzball getting Peyton Manning(notes) at No. 46 is also a nice, although he'll probably struggle for five or six games.

ROD: Del Don had two bad ones. Jahvid Best at No. 34 overall (particularly when DeAngelo Williams(notes) is still there) was really curious, especially since he already had Darren McFadden(notes) and Frank Gore (another reach, but at least he has been good in the past). Best didn't show much last season and he has a concussion again (he had a nasty one in college). Del Don then reached very badly with Kenny Britt(notes) at No. 79. I actually liked Braylon Edwards(notes) a lot better in the next round. Britt is probably going to miss some games. On top of that, Britt hasn't done anything of note outside of that one big game he had last season. I also thought Jermichael Finley(notes) went too early, but at least he's really good.


Yahoo! Sports Fantasy – Scott Pianowski (Previous F&F finishes: 1st in '10; 3rd in '09; 7th in '08; 5th in '07; 8th in '05)
Q: You have as many tight ends as you have receivers (3). Most other teams drafted just one tight end while loading up on RBs and WRs for those limited bench spots. Can you explain the thought process behind your moves?

A: I actually loaded up on running backs as well, grabbing five; it's wide receiver (just three) where I'm waifish thin (though Andre Johnson(notes) and Greg Jennings(notes) should start for me every week). I decided that after the core starters are filled (the non-flex guys), there's no reason to treat WR and TE as a separate position. The wideout pool was significantly drained for the last third of the draft, which pushed me to add Tony Gonzalez(notes) and Benjamin Watson(notes) as depth plays, possible flex options when the matchup is right. For some context, Greg Little(notes) and Nate Burleson(notes) went a few picks before Gonzalez, and Robert Meachem(notes) and Donald Driver(notes) fell shortly before Watson. The wideout pool was deader than disco.

I realize that Kellen Winslow(notes), Gonzalez and Watson aren't exactly buzz players, but I could easily see Winslow and Watson leading their respective teams in catches and touchdowns, and Gonzalez can probably go 62-635-5 in his sleep, perhaps a little better. If I get solid production from two members here, I'm fine – most of my resources went to other areas anyway.

Q: C.J. Spiller(notes) has been long on promise but short on delivery in Buffalo. You have him slotted in as a Flex starter. What kind of impact are you expecting from him in his second season?

A: Now with my running backs, there's where I need to get lucky. I essentially drafted five lottery tickets (Shonn Greene(notes), Beanie Wells(notes), Tim Hightower(notes), Spiller and Danny Woodhead(notes)) and as we all know, the lottery is a tax on people who don't understand mathematics. Spiller was the fourth pick of that bunch, an upside grab, a hope that the talent that landed him at No. 9 overall in the 20110 draft is eventually unlocked by the Bills. I don't know any secret here, I'm just hoping to get lucky with a post-hype play – and with our PPR format, I decided to gamble on someone I know can catch the ball and work in space. Buffalo will be behind plenty in 2011, I think we all agree on that. Spread it out, get Spiller involved.

I certainly didn't design this sort of roster ahead of time, I just took what the room presented. I liked the early wideout values, so I jumped in there. I saw a diverse range of outcomes with the middle-round backs, so I made a bunch of speculation plays in that pocket. It's easier to sleep at night when you have sure things in the backfield, no doubt, but I didn't see the right names on board when I made my first two picks. So it goes.

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

A: SOD: Greg Olsen(notes) (pick 128) would have fit nicely in my tight end scheme; he's having a monster camp in Carolina and Cam Newton isn't throwing outside the numbers much. Say hello to a slew of cheap catches over the middle. Other value picks I liked: Cedric Benson(notes) (71); the other Mike Williams (163); Jerome Harrison(notes) (117); Tashard Choice(notes) (178).

ROD: While I see the case for Denarius Moore, a fifth-round rookie on the Raiders doesn't equal Pick 112 to me. Other possible reaches: Peyton Manning (46) and Dallas Clark(notes) (67) – I'm petrified of that passing game; Lance Moore(notes) (94 is too early for an ordinary talent); A.J. Green(notes) (106, I have no faith in Andy Dalton(notes)); and most of the defenses (including my own Jets pick at 148 – a waste in the 11th round. I'd rather play the free-agent market and not get tied to anyone).


Yahoo! Sports Fantasy's "Better-Than-Average Joe" – Michael Gehlken (Previous F&F finishes: 2nd in '10; 1st in '09; 8th in '08; 13th in '07)
Q: You were one of two teams that didn't draft a running back in the first three rounds. Was that by design? And how do you feel about the time-share heavy backfield that you landed – Reggie Bush, Mike Tolbert(notes) and Brandon Jacobs?

A: The 10th pick in a 14-team league is a little tricky. I select just early enough to grab a top wide receiver (Calvin Johnson(notes)) in the first round but just late enough in the second where no great value jumps out at running back. It's not ideal, but I again went wide receiver (Vincent Jackson(notes)) and resolved to attack running back in the mid-to-late rounds.

I'm lukewarm about the group. In an ideal world, Felix Jones, Jahvid Best, Ryan Mathews(notes) or, heck, even Shonn Greene would make it back to me in Round 3. They all have upside. I like Tolbert (enter: training camp propaganda) enough to take him in Round 4 but not enough to grab him in Round 3. His ceiling is moderate.

Bush, for as long as he's healthy, should be great in this PPR format. I was relieved he fell to me in Round 5. Jacobs doesn't catch, but he's still a nice value in Round 6.

If I'm going to make it to my third straight championship game in this league, though, at least one of my latter-round running backs must emerge in a big way.

Q: I can assume that because you went a different direction in the early rounds, you decided to fill your entire four-man bench with RBs. You have eight RBs and you have yet to roster a kicker, so at least one will have to go. How many RBs do you think you'll have on your roster by the start of the season. And which RB lottery ticket do you think has the best chance to make an impact in '11?

A: While studying for my fantasy expert accreditation, I wrote my thesis on the perks to not drafting a kicker. With two exhibition games remaining, I'd rather invest that extra roster spot on a player who's one preseason injury way from being a fantasy starter. If I die, let this be my legacy.

I expect my entire bench to be running backs. If something crazy like a significant Roddy White(notes) or Julio Jones(notes) injury occurs, I may take a stab at Harry Douglas(notes). That sort of scenario is probably the lone exception.

Of my speculative picks, there are two I'm most committed to. The first is Delone Carter, the Indianapolis Colts running back who is neither Joseph Addai(notes) nor Donald Brown(notes). Enough said?

The second is Kendall Hunter, who has a tougher road to relevancy with Frank Gore blocking the path but has really impressed this preseason. Sometimes you have to draft talent and hope the rest works itself out.

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

A: SOD: Might as well cap this with more running back talk. There was a sequence in the ninth round where you, Brandon, and Dalton Del Don took Jerome Harrison and Ben Tate(notes) back-to-back, respectively. Talk about a great situation for both players if their time comes.

ROD: Every player drafted early carries a fundamental element of risk. Injuries do happen, after all. But with Brandon Marshall(notes) at pick No. 32, off-the-field matters can spoil his season just as easily. I don't trust him.


Yahoo! Sports Fantasy – Matt Buser (Previous F&F finishes: 6th in '08; 6th in '07; 3rd in '06)
Q: Chris Johnson, at pick 12, carries the big unknown factor. Was it a no-brainer pick for you given how far he slid, or was there still hesitation? How much did his selection influence the rest of your draft – taking three RBs among your next six picks?

A: Yes, it was a no-brainer for me at pick 12. I was disappointed that CJ's meeting with the Titans on Wednesday didn't bear fruit, but I'd still be surprised if he were to miss more than a small part of the season. Nobody is expecting him to fall from the ranks of the elite per-game RBs when he does play, and fantasy football is about peaking at the right time (read: the playoffs). As for taking three RBs among my first four picks – I had planned to load up early at the position in any case, given how the F&F draft tends to play out.

Q: You held off on a quarterback until Round 10, when you selected Joe Flacco(notes). Was it your original intent to holdout that long? And how confident are you that Flacco can finally take his fantasy game to the next level?

A: I did enter the draft assuming I would wait for my starting QB, instead focusing on depth at RB and WR. While I'm not thrilled with how things turned out – watching Sam Bradford, Josh Freeman, and Kevin Kolb get drafted as QB2s in the Round 9 was a real drag – it should be noted that Flacco and Matt Cassel(notes) finished 11th and 13th at the position last season. I'm looking at it as a platoon and will let the matchups dictate who gets the start in a given week.

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

A: SOD: Two picks that should really pan out: Steven Jackson (33) and Brandon Lloyd(notes) (43).

ROD: Two head-scratchers for me are strictly because of 0.75 PPR: Michael Turner(notes) went sixth overall despite finishing 14th among RB and 25th among RB+WR last season, and that was despite his 1,371 rushing yards and 14 total TDs; and LeGarrette Blount was drafted 27th, ahead of likely better options for the settings, even though I like him in general.


MEET THE FRIENDS

FantasyGuru.com – John Hansen (Previous F&F finishes: 10th in '10; 6th in '09; 5th in '08; 9th in '07; 4th in '06; 10th in '05; 1st in '04)
Q: Your top two running backs aren't the most PPR-friendly – Cedric Benson and BenJarvus Green-Ellis(notes). You were the only team to ignore RBs in the first four rounds. How happy are you with that strategy looking back at things now?

A: I would have been really happy had I been able to draft Willis McGahee(notes) in Round 7, but he went just in front of me. I'm all about impact players this year, and picking late in the first round of a 14-team draft getting a top RB wasn't really in the cards for me. The good news is RB can actually be an easy position to fill off the waiver wire due to injuries and the like. And I'm also loaded everywhere else. I have the top QB and TE, and my WRs are strong.

Q: It sounds like Johnny Knox(notes) is giving Roy Williams a run for his money in Chicago. You took Williams as your WR3. Are you still bullish about Williams' prospects in Chicago? What are your expectations for him in '11?

A: I think Roy Williams is a train wreck, but while things may be changing right now, I was told by a Bears insider just a week ago that Mike Martz is putting all his eggs in his basket. I love Knox and he could be the guy eventually, but my Williams pick was all about opportunity for Williams. But he does also have a lot of raw talent and he does have the size they need in the red zone. At the very least, I think we're looking at 50 catches and 7-8 TDs for Williams. Keep in mind that TE Greg Olsen is gone, and he was their best red zone threat last year. QB Jay Cutler(notes) does like throwing to bigger receivers, and Knox is not good at all in the red zone.

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

A: SOD: Willis McGahee was a major steal in Round 7. I was praying he would slip to me there, and I just missed him.

ROD: Javon Ringer(notes) in the 10th round was a bad reach, especially since the owner didn't have Chris Johnson. I've been saying for weeks that I think Jaime Harper is the true handcuff, even as Ringer is still technically the Titans' No. 2.


RotoWire.com – Chris Liss (Previous F&F finishes: 12th in '10; 11th in '09; 1st in '08; 3rd in '07; 6th in '06; 1st in '05)
Q: You took Ryan Mathews with the No. 30 overall pick. You apparently, haven't been scared off his trail by the threat of Mike Tolbert. What made you opt for Mathews ahead of the likes of Steven Jackson, Jahvid Best, Mark Ingram(notes) and DeAngelo Williams, RBs that followed Mathews in Round 3?

A: Mathews' environment gives him more upside than any of those backs, all of whom have their own concerns. Jackson has had a massive workload and is either in moderate or steep decline (we'll find out which), Best was injury prone in college and is probably not a 250-carry back even if he stays healthy, Ingram is a rookie playing for a notoriously fickle coach and with a lot of competition for carries and Williams is on an awful team and sharing with Jonathan Stewart(notes). So while Mathews has the Tolbert issue, I don't think it's any bigger than the issues those other backs face, and the upside is greater due to his environment. He's also far more nimble than Tolbert.

Q: You have two starters from a team, in Carolina, that averaged 12 points a game last season. What kind of production do you envision from Steve Smith with rookie Cam Newton behind center. And do you think Jonathan Stewart's heavily-featured backup role will remain with the coaching change?

A: I took Stewart in the sixth and Smith in the seventh, so I felt both were good values. I have no idea whether Carolina will muster any offense, or whether Stewart will see the light of day there, but if things break their way, both players still have a lot of upside. Considering how many first and second round picks bust every year, by the time I'm in Round 6 or 7, I'm swinging for the fences. Should Williams get hurt, Stewart could be a monster. With Mike Goodson(notes) around, and Williams getting that contract, maybe Carolina does what Buffalo did last year and moves Stewart. As for Smith, yes, he'll need competent quarterbacking, but again look at Buffalo last year – they began the season with Trent Edwards(notes) and found Ryan Fitzpatrick(notes), who was a nobody. If Newton's not ready, maybe Carolina finds a Fitzpatrick type who gets it. If he is ready, maybe Smith is useful.

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

A: SOD: As for steals, I hated to see Behrens get MJD at No. 13 – he's taking it easy in camp, but there's no indication he won't be ready for Week 1, and he played on a bad knee last year and had a long streak of consecutive 100-yard games. I don't trust Frank Gore, but DDD got pretty good value on him, too at No. 23.

ROD: I thought Gehlken reached with Mike Tolbert (No. 47) in Round 4, but I'm the Mathews owner, so of course I think that. I bet he'd have been available at No. 66 in Round 5 for him. I also don't think QBs should go in the first 20 picks in this format where you have six RB/WR spots to fill to one QB and .75 PPR. That ratio of RB/WR to QB slots is crucial for determining QB value, and 6:1 plus PPR is a format where QBs should be devalued greatly. In a 4:1 non-PPR, go nuts with Vick and Rodgers in Round 1 or early Round 2, but this is the exact opposite.


RotoWire.com – Jeff Erickson (Previous F&F finishes: 11th in '10; 9th in '09; 3rd in '08; 11th in '07; 11th in '05)
Q: You took Daniel Thomas 12 picks ahead of teammate Reggie Bush despite the PPR scoring system of the league and the fact that Miami, one of the worst running teams in '10, is promoting Bush as the No. 1 RB on its depth chart. What inspires your confidence in the rookie?

A: It's not that I'm completely in love with Thomas, but I do think he's capable of being an every-down back, and nobody has gone broke fading Reggie Bush in the past. At the least, Thomas will eventually take over the goal-line carries and I think he'll also wrest the starting job away from Bush – our projections at RotoWire suggest as much. But I probably reached for Thomas a little bit – if I really wanted him, I could have had him in the fifth or maybe even the sixth. If I could do it all over again, I'd have taken Percy Harvin(notes) in that spot (giving me my first WR – see below for more on that). Surely Thomas would have been there at 5.3.

Q: You eschewed receivers through the first four rounds. Was that intentional? And what are hoping for with your final two WRs chosen, Jacoby Ford and Andre Roberts(notes)?

A: No, it wasn't really intentional, but once I took the plunge on Philip Rivers(notes) in the third, that was the path that I had chosen. When you take a QB early, it seems as if you're always chasing either a RB or WR later in the draft. There was a big run of WRs right before my fourth pick – had one of DeSean Jackson(notes), Mike Williams, Mario Manningham(notes) and Marques Colston(notes) fallen to me, I would have taken them in the fourth, especially Williams.

I'm hoping Ford becomes the primary wideout for the Raiders, building on how he finished last year. I know he's been hurt some in camp and that Denarius Moore is turning heads now, but Ford still has a chance to be a team's No. 1 once he's fully healthy. Roberts could become the Cards' No. 2 on an offense that should be pretty good – he's a dart throw, though.

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

A: SOD: Insert caveat about Reaches and Steals here. Seriously, we all know less than we think we do. And if we all unite to say a player picked is a bust, chances are were actually making him a bargain – try to work in opposition to the prevailing trends in your league. That said, steal was Dalton getting Frank Gore at 2.9.

ROD: I predict Daniel Thomas wins this in a landslide. But I have to pick someone else, so … the Colts run in the fifth round (Dallas Clark – 5.11, Austin Collie(notes) 5.12, Joseph Addai 5.13). I'm especially wary of Collie, who is already hurt, and, of course, has to deal both with Peyton Manning's injury issue and the return of Clark to the middle of the field.


RotoWire.com – Dalton Del Don (Previous F&F finishes: 5th in '10; 12th in '09)
Q: You went with an old school RB-RB-RB approach. Was that just a product of who fell to you at each pick, or did you target three straight RBs by design given the two Flex spots in this league? And how worried are you about these three holding up? You couldn't really characterize them as ironmen.

A: I would have considered a WR had Hakeem Nicks(notes) fell to me in Round 2, but my preference was to go RB heavy early on. In fact, had Beanie Wells fallen two more picks, I would have made it four straight backs to open the draft. As for Darren McFadden, Frank Gore and Jahvid Best specifically, I like all three players a good amount, especially in this PPR format, but there's no doubt I took on quite a bit of risk. I would have preferred LeSean McCoy at No. 6 and also strongly debated taking Shonn Greene over Best. I could have easily lost this draft with those first three picks, but I usually swing for the fences during fantasy drafts.

Q: You went with Braylon Edwards in Round 7, ahead of more seemingly PPR-friendly wideouts like Lance Moore and Davone Bess(notes). What do you envision Edwards' upside as being for a team that completed the sixth-fewest passes per game in '10?

A: I considered Lance Moore there, but he's still competing for targets with Marques Colston, Robert Meachem, Devery Henderson(notes), Jimmy Graham(notes), Darren Sproles(notes), etc., and Edwards has far more TD upside than someone like Bess. But on a new franchise with a shaky QB situation, Edwards certainly has plenty of downside himself, and in hindsight, I might have been better served to take Michael Bush(notes) there as McFadden insurance instead. I gambled and hoped Bush would fall one more round to no avail.

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

A: SOD: I thought Fred Jackson(notes) in the middle of Round 6 in a 14-team league in which two flex spots exist was pretty good value.

ROD: As for the reach of the draft, I wasn't a big fan of Mike Tolbert going early in Round 4.


Razzball.com – Chet Gresham (Previous F&F finishes: First year in the F&F)
Q: With small benches, carrying a backup QB carries a heavy cost in this league. You chose Cam Newton as your backup to Peyton Manning, understandable since Manning may not be ready for Week 1. But choosing Newton over Matt Cassel, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Mark Sanchez(notes) or even Colt McCoy(notes) was a curious move and represents a lot of confidence in the rookie. What motivated you to invest in Newton as your backup? And in light of the Kerry Collins(notes) signing, would you have gone a different direction had you known that Manning was definitely going to sit in Week 1?

A: At the time Cam Newton was a luxury backup QB based completely on upside. I didn't see any need to have a mediocre quarterback clogging my very small bench and for me Newton's skills translate well to the fake football field. But of course the Colts signed Kerry Collins, which does make me question Manning's status for Week 1. They needed a real backup QB anyway, so I'm not sold on Manning not being out there opening day, but to be safe I dropped Newton for Collins. I'd much rather have just about anyone besides Collins on my bench though.

Q: Rookie and preseason standout Stevan Ridley(notes) was your Round 9 pick. New England has a lot of mouths to feed in that backfield. What kind of role do you see the rookie carving out in '11?

A: Running backs were a sparse commodity in this draft and in relation to the guys going before him like Ben Tate, Jerome Harrison and DeMarco Murray(notes), I feel like Ridley has more of a chance to make an impact. I don't think BenJarvus Green-Ellis is as good as Shane Vereen(notes) or Ridley and see both of them really cutting into his work. I also wasn't expecting Ridley to look so confident in the passing game so quickly. The fact that Bill Belichick is even willing to get him so involved as to have 10 receptions in two preseason games tells me quite a bit. He has the ability to work in short yardage as well, so the circumstantial evidence is building for him right now.

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

A: SOD: Mike Wallace as the 35th pick seemed like a steal to me. I don't think he's going to get his 2,000 yards, but I do like him a lot this season. The escapability of Roethlisberger coupled with Wallace's speed always make him a threat for a long touchdown, but I believe he is more than a deep threat and isn't as afraid as DeSean Jackson to go over the middle. He should take another step this season.

ROD: The draft really went the way I thought it should for the most part. I guess a reach would be Ryan Mathews as the 29th player picked. I'm a big fan of Mathews and have had him higher in my rankings than most, but seeing him come out on third downs and, of course, goal line is just too scary, especially in a PPR league. I think he has a ton of upside if he can stay healthy and win more opportunities, but those aren't givens at this point.


National Football Post – Jay Clemons (Previous F&F finishes: First year in the F&F)
Q: You took Brandon Marshall at pick 32, and I was hoping he'd fall to me one pick later. I mentioned in the draft chat room that I believed you and I were the only ones in the draft likely to have Marshall rated that high. I've stated my reasons for why Marshall will bounce-back from an underwhelming '10. But I'd love to hear why you like him better than wideouts like Mike Wallace, Dwayne Bowe(notes) and Dez Bryant(notes), players that followed B-Marsh in Round 3?

A: In my PPR Spectacular (Aug. 5), I tabbed Marshall as the No. 8 wideout in PPR leagues – a ranking that's more of an homage to his 2007-09 greatness with Denver (three straight 100-yard campaigns/23 total TDs) than his "middling" production with Miami in 2010 (86 catches/1,014 yards/3 TDs). But that's not to say Marshall's first rodeo with the Dolphins was an unqualified disaster. He drew eight or more targets in 10 of his 14 games – including 12 or more targets six times – and finished with 97 or more yards in five games. Most up-and-coming receivers, some of whom are ranked higher than Marshall in PPR leagues, would kill for those numbers during a career-low season. Who knows, if Marshall had played in all 16 games with Chad Henne(notes) (one of only six QBs last year to attempt 46-plus passes in at least three games) maybe he would've tallied 14 catches to reach the century mark for a fourth straight season. In a standard-league draft, my expectations for Marshall are tempered; but for PPRs, he's right at home at 8.

As for Mike Wallace, Dwayne Bowe and Dez Bryant, they're all great talents. But I'm staking my short-term reputation on Marshall in the Yahoo! league.

Q: You took a different tact than most in this league, drafting just one running back in the first six rounds despite a format where a team could start up to four running backs. You landed Pierre Thomas(notes), LaDainian Tomlinson(notes) and Thomas Jones(notes) after taking Ray Rice(notes) in Round 1. How do you feel about your supporting RBs, and how do you feel about your strategy now that you had a chance to reflect on it?

A: Our league awards players with .75 points per catch, making this a de facto PPR experience. And when preparing for the first seven rounds of a PPR, I typically invoke the 4/2/1 Rule – calling for four target-driven receivers, two pass-friendly running backs and one elite tight end or quarterback, depending on value. For Tuesday's draft and every other draft I've ever sat on, I side with value all the way, meaning if I have to draft Ray Rice and then six straight receivers or tight ends, so be it. Don't get me wrong, I desperately wanted Marshawn Lynch(notes) in Round 6 and Jonathan Stewart or Tim Hightower in Round 7, but it wasn't meant to be. I'm a slave to value, I can't help it; and hopefully, I'll preside over a championship-contending team because of it. (By the way, I've already turned down two substantial offers for Rice; but given my strength and depth at receiver (and TE Jason Witten(notes)), I have little motivation to deal Rice, my own personal lock for 2,000 total yards.)

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

A: SOD: As for draft steals, I'll go with Montario Hardesty at 150 (Team Gehlken), Matthew Stafford at 84 (Brad Evans) and Percy Harvin at 58 (Christopher Liss). If I had known that Harvin would be snagged with the 60th pick, I would've offered Liss my 6th-, 8th- and 10th-round picks for the luxury of locking down Percy.

ROD: To play the 'nitpick' card for a moment, Tony Romo(notes) at 38, Mark Ingram at 39 and Beanie Wells at 48 seem a tad high; but the one fundamental flaw in the draft lies with my dear friend and fellow Big Ten alum, Andy Behrens. Taking Maurice Jones-Drew at 13 represents good value, but with MJD's well-chronicled knee foibles (the expression "bone-on-bone" cannot escape my mind), I would've prioritized the Rashad Jennings handcuff in Round 8 (No. 100 overall), instead of landing a boom-or-bust talent like Mike-Sims Walker. And for that, I say congratulations on getting Jennings at 113, Brandon.


Wall Street Journal/Yahoo! Sports – Michael Salfino (Previous F&F finishes: 3rd in '10; 5th in '09)
Q: I have to admit, I like your draft. That said, you have little immediate bench help available and you are chasing big TD numbers, rather than receptions, from three of the receiving targets in your starting lineup – Marcedes Lewis(notes), Jeremy Maclin(notes) and Dwayne Bowe. Any concern there if those guys regress in the touchdown department?

A: I expect more targets and less touchdowns from Lewis – call it 60-850-8. Bowe is clearly a No. 1 receiver on his team, so I will not concede that last year was his ceiling in catches and yardage by any stretch. Of course we cannot ever project 15 TDs for any receiver not named Jerry Rice. Maclin was the best player on the board. He's supposed to be ready for Week 1. Honestly, if an extended absence ruins his season it will most likely be Michael Vick's.

We all have weak benches. I assume you are counting Roy Helu(notes) as a bench player like I am. I was swinging for the fences. Ronnie Brown could be a top 15 back easy – maybe top 15 overall – with one false move by LeSean McCoy. Roy Helu is a talented guy competing with mediocrities. Donald Brown interested me mainly because the Colts don't ever seem to whiff on first-round picks. It's now or never for him and he did have 129 yards rushing in a must win against the Jaguars in December. As for Driver, anyone who sees lots of plays in that offense is going to be productive. He's my one warm body, those other guys are on ice (where they may stay).

Q: As a New Yorker and unapologetic Jets fan, you have a closer view of Plaxico Burress' post-prison return. How has he looked, thus far, in the Jets offense and what are your expectations for him in '11?

A: I am back and forth on Burress. We all are flying blind here. If he's really 34 years old, athletically speaking, he's toast. But did the time off heal him and sort of arrest (pun unintended) if not reverse the typical aging process? I thought it was just as likely he'd be rusty. But then there was that preseason game where he showed elite skills and, most surprisingly, separation. My guess is that he'll be really good for about 10 games until the hits take their toll; that still leaves me some room for profit.

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

A: SOD: I like Aaron Hernandez(notes) in the 11th round for Erickson. I think that there's merely the illusion of a lot of quality tight ends. There will be about eight playable guys, tops. Hernandez is a wideout in a tight end's body who should be a major weapon on passing downs with Rob Gronkowski(notes) more of a base-offense kind of guy.

ROD: I don't like the Ryan Mathews pick. I see his upside being a time-share with marginal goal-line work. Especially after I saw Gehlken, who lives in San Diego and covers the Chargers, pick Mike Tolbert.

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