The 2010 NFL season is just around the corner, so fantasy football drafts are starting to ramp up. My latest was for the Time Warner Cable Experts League, which was held on Wednesday, July 28. It required owners to build a starting lineup of one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one flex (RB/WR), one tight end, one kicker and one defense. The league used a scoring system that rewarded four points for passing touchdowns and included one point per reception. The results of the draft will be featured on Time Warner Cable's "Fantasy Huddle" television program during a one-hour preseason draft special that will air in various national markets from Aug. 26-29.
I ended up with the No. 2 overall selection in the 12-team, 16-round serpentine draft. Here's a breakdown of my team:
Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings:Chris Johnson was the first overall selection, so Peterson was the logical choice. He's coming off his best season in terms of fantasy points, putting up 277.90 on NFL.com. That was second among running backs behind Johnson. With Chester Taylor now out of the mix, Peterson should be even more valuable in this PPR format. In fact, I wouldn't be shocked to see him catch 50 or more passes in 2010. Obviously, I'm thrilled to have him as the foundation of this fantasy team.
Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings: Based on the PPR format, wide receivers were coming off the board at a rampant pace. In fact, four wideouts were picked before I was up in the second round. I was hoping to land Roddy White or Brandon Marshall, but both of those players went a few spots ahead of me. That left Rice as the best wideout on my board, so I jumped on him. Hopefully, his hip injury isn't a major cause for concern. I also need Brett Favre to come back -- you'll find out why I really need him shortly.
Marques Colston, WR, Saints: I wanted DeSean Jackson or Greg Jennings with this pick. But as is often the case in these experts leagues, the owner ahead of me took them both off the board. With a number of good running backs still available, I decided to pass on that position and continue to focus on wideouts. After all, I'll need to start at least three on a regular basis. As a result, I decided to draft Colston. As the top option in the pass attack for Drew Brees, he should post attractive numbers.
Joseph Addai, RB, Colts: Do you know that feeling when you see a player sliding in a draft, and you're hoping no one else notices? Well, that was the case for me in this round. For some reason, Cedric Benson was still available just two spots ahead of me. Unfortunately, the owner in that spot took him right from under my nose. Don't you hate when that happens? That led me to go with Plan B, which was Addai. While I expect to see more of Donald Brown in the Colts backfield this season, Addai still made sense.
Wes Welker, WR, Patriots: At some point in every draft, you'll be faced with a potential roll of the dice. That was the scenario I encountered in this round, as I wanted to take my third starting wideout. Players like Mike Sims-Walker, Hakeem Nicks, Robert Meachem and Vincent Jackson (another risky player) were on the board, but I decided to take Welker. All reports on his return from knee surgery have been positive, and there aren't many better options in a PPR league. As my No. 3 wideout, I'll take the gamble.
Brett Favre, QB, Vikings: Like I said earlier, I really need Favre to come back this season. Not only do I have Peterson and Rice, but now I have the old gunslinger himself. As I've written in a recent blog, I think he will be under center for his 20th NFL season. Favre was the third highest-scoring player in fantasy football last season, and the offensive talent around him remains spectacular. I think this could be an absolute steal -- but with the enigmatic Favre, you never really know do you?
Brent Celek, TE, Eagles: With a quarterback, two running backs and three wide receivers in pocket, it was time to turn my attention to a tight end. I wanted to get Jason Witten, but again, he went one spot in front of me. As a result, I went to Plan B and drafted Celek. As much as I would have liked to land Witten, Celek isn't a bad fall back. He's coming off a career season and should continue to produce great numbers. After all, tight ends have always found success in the offense of Andy Reid.
Cadillac Williams, RB, Buccaneers: Once you get into the later stages of the middle rounds, you're looking to add positional depth and potential sleepers. Williams fits the former. The veteran will continue to start and see most of the carries in a Buccaneers offense that will no doubt lean on the run. I do realize that his problematic knees make him a risk-reward player, but to land a runner who finished in the top 25 in fantasy points at his position at this point in the draft is nothing to sneeze at.
Devin Aromashodu, WR, Bears: I filled depth at running back with the selection of Williams, so I went in the direction of a sleeper in this round. That sleeper was Aromashodu, who could turn into a solid draft value in the offense of new coordinator Mike Martz. In his final four games of last season, he recorded a combined 22 receptions for 282 yards and scored four touchdowns. He's an obvious favorite of strong-armed quarterback Jay Cutler and a nice No. 4 fantasy wideout to have on my roster.
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons: For the first time since Round 1, I actually landed the player I had targeted. While I'm confident that Favre will return, I still felt the need to have a solid Plan B. That led me to take Ryan, who could turn into one of the better bargains in most drafts. The Boston College product failed to meet expectations in 2009, but that's no reason to doubt his skills and abilities going forward. Despite playing in just 14 games, Ryan still finished last season with 23 total touchdowns.
Laurence Maroney, RB, Patriots: In my effort to build more depth at the running back position, I took a chance on Maroney. He's coming off a good season with the Patriots, rushing for 757 yards and a career-best nine touchdowns. While the backfield is crowded, I don't have much faith in Sammy Morris or Fred Taylor and don't see them in prominent roles. Maroney, who is in a contract year, should be motivated to produce big numbers. If he cuts down on his fumbles, he should lead the team in carries.
Derrick Mason, WR, Ravens: Mason, 36, is almost certain to see his numbers decline this season. A mere four wide receivers have ever had 1,000-yard season at his age, and the addition of Anquan Boldin and Donté Stallworth means that a decrease in targets is imminent. While I wouldn't want Mason in a prominent fantasy role, I don't mind having him as my No. 5 wideout. He should still be good for 50-60 receptions, 800-900 yards and four to six touchdowns as the second option in the pass attack for Joe Flacco.
Toby Gerhart, RB, Vikings: The decision to draft Gerhart was purely for handcuff purposes. I could have taken another running back like Kevin Smith or Marshawn Lynch, but I don't see either of those players making much of a fantasy impact in their current situations. Gerhart, a bruising runner out of Stanford, gives me some piece of mind in the event that Peterson misses time due to injuries. If a hot name comes off the waiver wire during the season, though, Gerhart might be the first player I cut.
Ravens defense: I almost never take a defense until one of the last three rounds, so this was status quo for me. I was pleased to land the Ravens, who I have ranked fifth among defenses on my current board. This unit is loaded with playmakers like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs - it also finished second in points allowed in the AFC last season, behind only the Jets. The Ravens will also post good sack and interception totals and remain one of fantasy's elite options from a defensive standpoint.
Heath Miller, TE, Steelers: With Celek atop my tight end depth chart, I was on the fence about drafting another player at the position. I didn't see a ton of options at the other offensive skill positions, so I decided to take Miller. He's coming off a season with career bests in receptions and yards, and his six touchdowns were solid for a player at his position. If nothing else, I'll have a nice bye-week replacement for Celek. I could also use Miller for trade bait in a potential package deal as well.
Matt Prater, K, Broncos: It was only fitting that the player I had targeted with my final-round pick, once again, was drafted just ahead of me. That player was David Akers. It's not the biggest deal, though. After all, we are talking about a kicker. With Akers off the board, I took the next best player on my list, Prater. He finished in the top eight in fantasy points at his position on NFL.com last season, so he's obviously a fantasy starter. Should he falter, another option will always be there on waivers.