I just finished two drafts, both of which were PPR leagues and keeper leagues. My keepers were Steven Jackson and Larry Fitzgerald. Since the leagues were keeper leagues, the round the player was drafted in is adjusted up one, since the first round of players were kept and those 12 players were off the board before the draft began.
Here are the results, with the player listed and the round in which they were drafted:
Peyton Manning, kept in one league, drafted in the first round (16th overall) in the other
Reggie Wayne, kept in one league, drafted in the first round (14th overall) in the other
Joseph Addai, fourth round (44th overall), third round (35th overall)
Dallas Clark, fourth round (41st overall), fifth round (49th overall)
Pierre Garcon, eighth round (87th overall), seventh round (73rd overall)
Austin Collie, eighth round (95th overall), eighth round (93rd overall)
Donald Brown, 12th round (136th overall), 13th round (145th overall by Brad)
Anthony Gonzalez, sixth round (67th overall), 15th round (168th overall, by Brad)
Adam Vinatieri, Undrafted, Undrafted
Colts D/ST, Undrafted, Undrafted
Peyton Manning: Manning was kept in the one league, which speaks to his value. He is the third-ranked quarterback in fantasy football behind Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees for a reason. He plays in a potent passing offense and is incredibly consistent and reliable. If he's available, take him and don't look back.
After the Big Three, there is a slight dropoff in production, but Tom Brady, Matt Schaub, Philip Rivers, Tony Romo, and Brett Favre are more than suitable substitutes. If Manning gets picked before you have the chance to grab him, any of those players will give you a solid foundation. Even third-tier quarterbacks such as Joe Flacco and Mark Sanchez could surprise, so there are a lot of options after the Big Three go off the board.
Reggie Wayne: Wayne was also kept and was taken ahead of Manning in the other draft, so he is another solid player that should be jumped on if he is available when your selection comes up. Again, don't get cute. Take Wayne and don't look back.
Other options include Brandon Marshall, Roddy White, and Calvin Johnson. Be sure to grab one of the top ten receivers in the first three rounds, as production at the receiver position begins to fall off precipitously after Anquan Boldin, both players named Steve Smith, and Miles Austin.
Joseph Addai: Provided he's healthy, Addai should get a lot of work this season in the passing game and running the ball. He is the preferred red zone back in this offense and will get the bulk of the touches inside the ten in an offense that usually spends a lot of time in that area.
Donald Brown could take away some of his carries, but Addai definitely has a strong grip on the starting job. Other options in that area such as Beanie Wells, LeSean McCoy, and Jamal Charles are all younger players that have more upside but more question marks. If he stays off the injury report, Addai is the safest choice and should be productive in 2010.
Dallas Clark: Antonio Gates was taken before Clark in both of my leagues, so it would make sense to take him in the late fourth or early fifth round, though you should not expect him to produce at the same level he did in 2009.
There are still a number of options at the position, though, with Visanthe Shianco and Jermichael Finley looking strong and the venerable Tony Gonzalez showing no signs of letting up. If you're looking for a "sure thing" at tight end, Clark is a solid pick, but you could get a fairly comparable player in the later rounds.
Pierre Garcon: Many have speculated that Garcon will be the number two receiver in this offense, though nothing is set yet. The fact that Garcon has not been very productive so far in that role is another red flag, which is why the second receiver in a potent passing offense was taken in the eighth round of both drafts.
If Garcon wins the job, he should have a good season and be worth the selection. But, the uncertainty there still makes Gonzalez the safer pick, since he was available late in the one league — the other league will be explained in a moment. Until a decision is definitively made on that job, it's best to take only Austin Collie and wait to see how things shake out.
If you believe passionately that Garcon will win the job, the eighth round is a good spot for him. Other receivers taken in the eighth round: Robert Meachem, Santonio Holmes, Malcolm Floyd, Austin Collie.
Austin Collie: Collie is a safer pick than Garcon, but the battle at receiver could leave him as the odd man out. But, there is no safe pick beyond Wayne. If you draft Manning, chances are you will not get Wayne. It is a good idea to also draft one of Manning's receivers if you have him, so Collie is a safe pick there.
Donald Brown: I had expected Brown to be taken earlier than this and wanted to select him in both drafts, but already had too many running backs in the one league and needed to fill out the rest of my roster. As a late round pick in the 12th or 13th round, Brown is a very attractive value pick — you'll see why when I list the other running backs/players taken in those rounds — and would be the starter if anything happens to Addai. Addai has been durable the last couple of seasons, but you never know when the injury bug is going to bite.
At that point in the draft, Brown is even a good handcuff for Addai, so he's well worth selecting if he's available late. Other players taken in the 12th and 13th rounds: Darren Sproles, Chester Taylor, Mike Williams, Willis McGahee, Ryan Longwell, Kevin Boss.
Anthony Gonzalez: That Gonzalez was taken in the sixth round of the one draft is an aberration. When the pick was announced, everyone looked up from their laptops and some wondered aloud if that had actually just happened. It was that owner's first fantasy football draft ever and everyone assumed that he meant to select Tony Gonzalez. He was very adamant about the fact that he wanted the receiver out of Indianapolis. We gave him another chance to rescind the pick, but he stuck with it.
I took my own advice and drafted Gonzalez as my last position player before I took my defense and my kicker. That is where you should expect to take Gonzalez — which is a risk-free pick at that point — and taking him then to secure his services means that you have him on your roster to keep or drop when the season starts.
If you have him and he doesn't win a starting job, you can drop him and pick up the latest rookie sensation/unknown player that comes out of nowhere in Week 1. If you have him and he does win the starting job, that's a very productive pick at 168th overall. Other players taken in the 15th round: Demaryius Thomas, Greg Olsen, Tashard Choice, Mason Crosby, Nate Kaeding.
Adam Vinatieri: He is a clutch player in the postseason and should be fine for the 2010 kickoff, but there are easily 12 other kickers that are more appealing for fantasy purposes. Kickers, like defenses, can always be found on the waiver wire, so there's no use in reaching for a name player.
Vinatieri has converted 20, 23, 25, and 7 field goal attempts the last four seasons respectively. Since Indianapolis is so efficient in the red zone, he doesn't get as many opportunities as other options.
Colts D/ST: I always take a defense last or next-to-last. The Colts should be better against the run this season, should have more sacks than last season with Larry Coyer's pressure defense, and over the past two seasons, have been able to keep the opposing team off the score board.
Two other good late options are the Chargers and the Bengals. They should at least be counted on for plenty of sacks. During the season, you can always pick up a good defense and the elite defenses are not worth a pick in the first ten rounds.
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