Friends and Family Matters

Michael Gehlken

Starting with an August draft and Q&A, the sixth annual Yahoo! Friends and Family League concluded last week by crowning a champion.

The 14-team invitational league assembled experts from some of the industry's most heralded content providers, including Yahoo! Sports,,,, and

With the help of a few draft selections, free-agent pickups and of course, some luck, my team managed to pull off the win.

The winner of the Mayoral Faceoff received a $15,000 cash prize for his favorite charity. I'm told the "Michael Gehlken Get Out of College Debt Fund" will receive nothing, but I do get a trophy. See you on eBay, folks.

First, here's a team-by-team breakdown of what worked and what didn't in the league's 2009 edition. Consider this your final tour of the fantasy football season that was.

1: Michael Gehlken (9-4, 2-0 in playoffs) – Yahoo! Sports Fantasy's "Average Joe"
Best draft return: Ben Roethlisberger(notes) finished sixth among quarterbacks in the season's per-game ranks despite being the 122nd player and 14th quarterback off the board.
Draft do-over: I had a couple early misses, but neither really hurt me. The first was Brian Westbrook(notes) (pick 10), but drafting LeSean McCoy(notes) (pick 75) kept me afloat there. Braylon Edwards(notes) (pick 38) was the other misfire. I lucked out when a "sell" window opened after his trade to New York. I packaged him and Heath Miller(notes) in a deal for Roddy White(notes). White went on to score 30-plus points in championship week, so all is well that ends well.
Notable waiver work: In the first move to be made after the draft, I dropped Greg Camarillo(notes) for Vernon Davis(notes), who went on to be the No.2 tight end in our format (0.75 points per reception). Jerome Harrison(notes) was a good guy to own during the stretch run, and Justin Forsett(notes) had his weeks. I streamed defenses all year with varying success, but the Dallas defense won me the league in Week 16. I led Scott Engel 121.86 to 120.57 entering the Cowboys-Redskins game on Sunday Night Football. Engel had Miles Austin(notes); I had the defense. Late in the fourth quarter, Jason Campbell(notes) tried to lead the Redskins to a garbage-time score that would have sunk my season, but the Cowboys preserved their shutout, and I won 137.86-135.22.

2: Scott Engel (9-4, 1-1) –
Best draft return: Engel opened the draft by taking Chris Johnson (pick 12) and Frank Gore(notes) (pick 17). It didn't take long after that for Engel to emerge as the guy nobody in the league wanted to face. In Week 2, Johnson and Gore combined for 93.5 points, and Engel's score of 193.32 that week wouldn't be touched all year. Scar-y.
Draft do-over:Somebody had to fill the void left by Terrell Owens(notes), but it wouldn't be Roy Williams (pick 40). The 17th wide receiver drafted, Williams finished 46th at his position.
Notable waiver work: Engel eventually got the man Williams was supposed to be. With Donald Driver(notes) on a Week 5 bye, Engel made an add-and-start maneuver with Miles Austin that was immediately rewarded. Austin exploded onto the scene with 10 catches, 250 yards and two touchdowns against Kansas City, and he'd finish as the game's No. 5 wide receiver. Engel also got some nice run out of Bernard Scott(notes) midseason, and the Atlanta defense was a strong one-week play with 21 points in the league finals.

3. Scott Pianowski (8-5, 2-1) – Yahoo! Sports Fantasy
Best draft return: Donald Brown(notes) lowered his draft stock, but Joseph Addai(notes) (pick 67) came through for Pianowski. Addai had 51 catches, 1164 total yards and 13 scores to finish Week 16 as the league's No. 6 running back.
Draft do-over: Reggie Bush(notes) (pick 39) could give a headache to a tumor. Despite rushing for a career-high 5.5 yards per carry and missing only three games due to injury, Bush managed to frustrate owners with the worst per-game fantasy production of his career. The built-for-PPR back finished 31st at his position and 29th in per-game rank despite the league's format. Kevin Walter(notes) (pick 74) was also a pain to own.
Notable waiver work: Chris Chambers(notes) had his moments upon arriving in Kansas City. Visanthe Shiancoe(notes), fantasy's No. 9 tight end, was a dollar well spent in October. (The league featured a $100 free agency acquisition budget.) Pianowski was the victim of bad timing on the Jerome Harrison bandwagon. He traded Marion Barber(notes) for Kevin Smith(notes) and Harrison after Week 4, but with the small bench size, couldn't afford to wait out Harrison's light workload that ensued.

4. Andy Behrens (8-5, 1-2) – Yahoo! Sports Fantasy
Best draft return: Behrens hung his hat on Ray Rice(notes) (pick 60) entering the season, and he was rewarded. Even with Willis McGahee(notes) poaching touchdowns, Rice finished as the No. 4 running back in fantasy.
Draft do-over: Behrens had arguably the strongest draft in the league by hitting on his first six picks, so there wasn't a costly mistake early on. That said, Behrens waited until the ninth round to address the quarterback position (Matt Cassel(notes), pick 116), and even though he found Eli Manning(notes) (pick 144) later, his quarterback carousel ultimately cost him a spot in the league championship. In the Week 15 semifinals, he went with Jason Campbell over Joe Flacco(notes), and the point disparity was the difference in our matchup.
Notable waiver work: Zach Miller was a terrific bye-week plug-in play in Week 5 against the Eagles, catching six passes for 139 yards and a score. Eddie Royal(notes) only had two weeks of double-digit fantasy production, and Behrens timed one of them right in Week 9 with another bye-week filler play.

5. Michael Salfino (7-6, 1-1) –
Best draft return: Fred Jackson(notes) (pick 98) proved to be more than just a placeholder during Marshawn Lynch's(notes) four-game suspension. Thanks in part to a strong Week 17 that in most leagues was of no consequence, Jackson will go down as the No. 13 back in fantasy. (He was No. 20 before Week 17.)
Draft do-over: In 2009, less was Lance Moore(notes) (pick 70). The Saints wide receiver missed nine games due to injury, and when healthy, regular looks were difficult to come by.
Notable waiver work: Carnell Williams(notes), Salfino's first add of the year, was a better comeback story in real life than fantasy, but he was still of occasional use. After being added before Week 13, the Jets defense totaled double-digit points in three of the next four weeks. Salfino can't be faulted, but in hindsight, he cut ties with Laurence Maroney(notes) a week too early. After being cut prior to Week 7, Maroney averaged 78 total yards and scored eight touchdowns over the team's next six games.

6. John Hansen (7-6, 0-2) –
Best draft return: Wes Welker(notes) (pick 30) was gold this year in PPR leagues. Not including Week 17, when he suffered a season-ending knee injury, Welker had six or more catches in all but one game he played. In all, Welker totaled 123 catches, and he ranked first in per-game production at his position before prior to the final week.
Draft do-over: For the second time in four years, Clinton Portis(notes) (pick 27) failed to play more than half a season. Portis' year concluded when he sustained a concussion from a helmet-to-helmet hit in Week 9, and he finished at No. 42 in the per-game running-back rankings.
Notable waiver work: Sidney Rice(notes), the No. 11 fantasy wide receiver, was a bargain in early October at $18. Hansen picked up Portis' substitute, Quinton Ganther(notes), whose 23.55 points were almost enough to lift Hansen past Behrens in the first round of the playoffs.

7. Michael Blunda (7-6) – Pro Football Weekly
Best draft return: Jonathon Stewart (pick 61) would get the nod here, but his best games were at the end of the season and of no help to Blunda. Instead, the steady Ryan Grant(notes) (pick 33) gets the honor. He finished 10th at his position as the 19th running back selected.
Draft do-over: Derrick Ward(notes) (pick 52) was a giant bust in his first year out of New York. Ward's yards per carry clip dropped from 5.6 to 3.6, and he failed to rush for 70 yards once all season.
Notable waiver work: Zach Miller was a serviceable Owen Daniels(notes) replacement. Correll Buckhalter's(notes) 15.05 points in Week 14 helped Blunda stay alive in the playoff race, but his team would lose the points tiebreaker to Hansen for the final spot, 1469-1461.71.

8. Brad Evans (6-7) – Yahoo! Sports Fantasy
Best draft return: Tim Hightower(notes) (pick 110) was second behind only Ray Rice with 63 receptions out of the backfield, and that translated into him ranking 17th at his position. Not bad for the 44th running back drafted.
Draft do-over: Lining up on the wrong side of the field, dropping balls, being suspended for taking a diuretic, quad injury – yeah, it's safe to say Dwayne Bowe(notes) (pick 26) took a step backward in his third year. All told, he ranked 52nd in per-game production among wide receivers.
Notable waiver work: Hightower's production slowed down toward the end of the year, but adding Maroney for a cool $52 helped counter that. Evans started six different tight ends, highlighted by six weeks of Jermichael Finley(notes). In hindsight, he could have gotten away with sticking with Brent Celek(notes) (pick 138), the No. 4 tight end.

9. Jeff Erickson (6-7) – RotoWire
Best draft return: With the league's small bench size, Erickson couldn't afford to wait for Jamaal Charles'(notes) (pick 113) eventual breakthrough, but it was a nice selection for what that's worth,. In terms of return, Brandon Marshall(notes) (pick 29) was the 12th wide receiver drafted but finished third in per-game positional rank. Marshall's 21-catch game, though, came in the first week of the playoffs, making it memorably meaningless for Erickson.
Draft do-over: Antonio Bryant's(notes) (pick 56) tear to close last season didn't carry over into 2009. Bryant, the 58th-ranked wide receiver, had zero games of six or more catches (eight in 2008).
Notable waiver work: Fred Davis(notes) was a nice replacement for Todd Heap(notes) in the second half, at one point scoring five touchdowns in four games. Erickson's place at ninth in the standings is surprising considering his team's 5-0 start to the year. For the most part, the second half came too late for this team. Erickson was right to invest in guys like Charles and Robert Meachem(notes) early in the season, but they took their time to break through, and with only four bench spots to navigate through bye weeks and injuries, waiting is a luxury the league's owners didn't have.

10. Brandon Funston (6-7) – Yahoo! Sports Fantasy
Best draft return: Ricky Williams(notes) (134) was a steal before Ronnie Brown's(notes) season-ending knee injury in Week 9, but that only strengthened Williams' case. Williams capped the final four games of the fantasy regular season by averaging 110.25 total yards and scoring four touchdowns, and he was a top 5 running back for the first time since the 2003-2004 season. Funston's team won all four of those weeks.
Draft do-over: Leon Washington(notes) (pick 91) was a good selection gone bad because of injury, but the wide receiver position was this team's Achilles heel. Terrell Owens (pick 25) and Santana Moss(notes) (78) had only one 100-yard game apiece, and Josh Morgan(notes) (pick 106) and Mark Clayton(notes) (119) were of little help.
Notable waiver work: Pierre Garcon(notes) helped provide some relief at wide receiver. Charles was a terrific pickup, and between him, Williams and LaDainian Tomlinson(notes), Funston's team would have been a handful in the playoffs if it peaked earlier.

11. Chris Liss (6-7) – RotoWire
Best draft return: New York's Steve Smith (pick 125) was one of the draft's biggest steals. The third-year receiver had a career-high 107 catches, 1220 yards and seven touchdowns to finish 10th at his position.
Draft do-over: Between stints in Kansas City and Cincinnati, Larry Johnson(notes) (pick 44) accounted for only 647 total yards, and for the second straight season, failed to find the end zone.
Notable waiver work: After releasing him earlier in the year, Liss added Robert Meachem in time for his streak of seven straight games with at least one touchdown. Hakeem Nicks(notes) was valuable as a player and then trade chip in a 1-for-1 deal for Donald Brown. In hindsight, Liss dropped the steal of the draft when he cut Miles Austin (pick 181) before the season.

12. Dalton Del Don (6-7) – RotoWire
Best draft return: It raised some eyebrows, but Del Don was right on when he said in the post-draft Q&A that Matt Schaub(notes) (pick 62) had top-three potential. Schaub stayed healthy and was this year's No. 3 fantasy quarterback. DeSean Jackson(notes) (pick 51) was the No. 8 wide receiver and deserves mentioning, but two of his better games came in the league playoffs, so they were of no use.
Draft do-over: Steve Slaton(notes) (6) and Eddie Royal (34) were among the year's biggest disappointments. It's pretty impressive that Del Don still managed to fall only two wins short of a playoff berth.
Notable waiver work: Del Don was aggressive in free agency, becoming the league's first manager to dispose of his $100 budget. Mike Sims-Walker(notes) was fairly quiet after Week 11, but his big games made him well worth the $36. Jerome Harrison was a nice plug-in in Week 4 before being packaged with Kevin Smith to land Marion Barber.

13. Matt Romig (5-8) – Yahoo! Sports Fantasy
Best draft return: Thomas Jones(notes) (pick 65) had at least one more great year in the tank after all. The 31-year-old established new career highs with 1402 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground. The seventh-highest scoring running back was the 27th drafted.
Draft do-over: The Darren McFadden(notes) (pick 37) bandwagon got a whole lot smaller after 2009. A trendy breakout candidate entering the year, the second-year back struggled with injuries and fumbles to finish 53rd at his position.
Notable waiver work: Romig put his FAAB money to good use all year. Brent Celek was a strong September addition for $8. Austin Collie(notes) ($7), Justin Fargas(notes) ($21) and Ladell Betts(notes) ($30) were also good fill-ins, despite some bad luck with Betts' season-ending knee injury in Week 11. Jason Snelling(notes) was another nice purchase ($26) following Michael Turner's(notes) high ankle sprain.

14. Chris Chase (1-12) – Yahoo! Sports blogger (Shutdown Corner)
Best draft return: Turner (pick 8) would be the choice if it wasn't for his hobbled finish. Instead, it'll be Tom Brady(notes) (pick 32), who still wasn't the greatest value. Brady was the first quarterback off the draft board but ranked sixth at the position.
Draft do-over: It was the Chris Johnson show in Tennessee, and LenDale White(notes) was left watching from a distance like the rest of us.
Notable waiver work: Chase made a league-low 12 roster moves, highlighted by the addition of Michael Crabtree(notes). The rookie averaged a little over 10 points per week.

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