Tip Drill: Scenes from an 'expert' draft

Another Friends and Family Draft has come and gone, which means I come over here and discuss the method behind my selection madness. No need for a long preamble, you know what you're doing.

The exercise at hand is a competitive 14-team expert league. We're using points per reception this year along with three starting receivers and a flex spot, but everything else is fairly standard. Let's get in the war room and see what went down, where I reached and where I found value.

1.11: Randy Moss(notes) – I was prepared to take Brian Westbrook(notes), and all of his baggage, but he fell in the ten spot. Moss is an acceptable Plan B and fits my early-round strategy of getting at least one dynamic receiver. Given the scope of this league (PPR, three receivers every week) and the backfield timeshare trend that's taken over the NFL, I felt more than ever it was okay to stray from the boring "backs early" mandate that we all seemed to follow for so many years.

2.04: Marion Barber(notes) – After going Moss earlier, I'm almost forced to get a back here unless an absolute overlord at receiver is available (Calvin Johnson(notes), as I expected, didn't last). Again I just miss my target – Frank Gore(notes) went right in front of me – but I'm fine with Barber's versatility and TD potential.

3.11: Reggie Bush(notes) – Here's a nod to the idea that you have to be flexible in a draft, take what's given to you, and be prepared to select players you don't even like that much. Bush isn't a franchise player or a traditional runner but he will catch a slew of passes and he will find a way to score (24 career TDs in 38 games). The buzz about his sore knee probably pushed him to this point; in a 14-team league, I'm not afraid to take some upside swings. I'm liking the first three picks.

Unfortunately, I tripped myself up with a silly error about five minutes later.

4.04: Tony Romo(notes) – Even the most experienced of drafters will make a bonehead mistake now and then, and that's what happened to me here. I encountered a computer glitch during my pick and wasn't able to get back into the room in time – while I was fighting with my wireless, Romo flew off the board and onto my roster because I hadn't put any players in my queue yet. No excuses, I messed up, I deserve what I get.

While Romo wasn't my designed selection and he doesn't make much sense with Barber already on roster, I'm not altogether unhappy to get a better-than-average quarterback – with just four bench spots in the F&F this year, I'm probably not going to waste a slot on a second QB, at least in the early going. Had I been able to crash the room in time, I would have selected Aaron Rodgers(notes) or Anthony Gonzalez(notes).

5.11: Joseph Addai(notes) – One of my long-running theories in any competitive draft league is to take "stink players" – guys the rest of the room doesn't want to touch for one reason or another. Addai fits the bill nicely; while he'll get pushed by Donald Brown(notes) and might lose the job at some point in 2009, I'd still bet on Addai getting the majority of touches in 2009.

I'm now sitting on three backs, a starting quarterback and one wideout. Time to get more pass-catchers.

6.04: Kevin Walter(notes) – I like that he's quick enough and physical enough to work all areas of the field, and being opposite Andre Johnson(notes) has its advantages. If the Texans can keep Matt Schaub(notes) in one piece, this could be a super offense.

7.11: Derrick Mason(notes) – I need another volume receiver so I take a shot with this reliable pro. Last year's 80-1037-5 is a pipe dream to me; if Mason can get 85 percent of that back, I'll take it. I'm content to wait on tight ends because there's so much depth at that position.

8.04: Ted Ginn Jr.(notes) – When you work in this fantasy racket, the drafting starts early. We had April drafts, May drafts, June drafts. And for some reason Ginn kept falling to me in a lot of those early exercises, to the point that I wonder if I'm just inflating the player in my head.

Still, there's a logical case for Ginn here. He gained 18 catches and 370 yards in his second season and while he's not in a situation where he'll be featured in the red zone, eventually some of those longer catches figure to turn into six pointers. I'm happy to take a swing on a possible third-year spike.

9.11: Jamal Lewis(notes) – The flags on this guy are well documented, but geesh, we're 113 picks into the dance. I'll gladly take a starting back as my fourth option. Now go sit on the bench, son, and wait until we need you.

10.04: Zach Miller – Enough with the coy routine at tight end, time to get someone who's got a chance to be an every-week reception padder. Say what you want about the Raiders but JaMarcus Russell(notes) did make strides late last season and Miller looks like a potential beast (778 yards last year on a dreadful team). Who else are they going to try to throw to downfield?

11.11: Minnesota Vikings – Normally I don't bother with a designer defense, and you've probably heard my SOS diatribe right now. That said, the Vikings have become a pet pick of mine this summer because I can't get past how ridiculously simple their early season schedule appears to be. This looks like the cupcake slate a college basketball coach orders up before conference play begins. Week 1 at Cleveland, a team that set offense back 40 years at the end of last season. Week 2 at Detroit – now I think the Lions will be improved, but it won't happen overnight. Week 3 against San Francisco, nothing daunting there. Week 4 at Green Bay, at least it's at home. And then a Week 5 trip to St. Louis. I also like the sack-heavy nature of this defense and the fact that they have a late bye (Week 9) – it never hurts to buy a little extra time when the roster space is slim.

12.04: Sammy Morris(notes) – I realize the Patriots have 114 viable running backs, but there's no denying that Morris was the best of the lot last year and Bill Belichick trusts him. Worth a gamble here.

13.11: Deion Branch(notes) – I don't have a lot of faith in this cat after all the letdowns of the past, but I'm just looking for some sort of upside play here. If I see anything I like on the wire, Branch hits the street.

14.04: Mason Crosby(notes) – I probably should have taken another RB or WR here and worried about a kicker fill right before Week 1, but the well looked dry and I like Crosby anyway, so I took the boring way out.

So there it is, a true example of taking what the room gives you. My first five picks all had bigger price tags on them at this time in 2008. Am I two years late with this team, or is this a good example of bargain shopping? Only the games can tell us, but you're welcome to play fortune teller in the comments.

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