NFL.com's in-house fantasy draft

NFL.com held its in-house fantasy football league in the Culver City, Calif. offices last week, and I've decided to post the results as a guide for our readers to examine as they participate in drafts of their own.

The league is based on a standard scoring system but includes one point for receptions regardless of position. Each owner is required to start one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, a flex starter (QB, RB, or WR), one tight end, one kicker and one defense.

In order to get into the minds of our owners while in their own personal fantasy war rooms, each has done a quick synopsis of their draft strategies, best and worst picks and which team they feel came out of the draft as the favorite to win it all. Each evaluation is listed in the original first-round draft order.

1. Michael Fabiano, NFL.com Fantasy Editor

FABIANO'S ROSTER

Rd. 1: LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, San Diego

Rd. 2: Deuce McAllister, RB, New Orleans

Rd. 3: Chad Johnson, WR, Cincinnati

Rd. 4: Anquan Boldin, WR, Arizona

Rd. 5: Marques Colston, WR, New Orleans

Rd. 6: Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seattle

Rd. 7: Marion Barber, RB, Dallas

Rd. 8: Jason Witten, TE, Dallas

Rd. 9: LenDale White, RB, Tennessee

Rd. 10: Joe Horn, WR, Atlanta

Rd. 11: L.J. Smith, TE, Philadelphia

Rd. 12: Ronald Curry, WR, Oakland

Rd. 13: Dallas defense

Rd. 14: Trent Green, QB, Miami

Rd. 15: Robbie Gould, K, Chicago

Rd. 16: Jason Snelling, RB, Atlanta

First off, I'll have to say that the best selection in this draft came from NFL.com Associate Editor Adam Rank, who picked my name first in the random draw. That allowed me to draft LaDainian Tomlinson -- at least I have him in one of the 100 leagues I'm in. Thanks Adam!

Of course, I used the NFL.com draft strategy and took two runners in the first two rounds (L.T. and Deuce McAllister) and a stud wide receiver in the third round. Since there were still a ton of good quarterbacks on the board, I decided to take two more receivers in rounds four and five and will be able to start Chad Johnson, Anquan Boldin and Marques Coltson as a result. Matt Hasselbeck was still available in the sixth round and the quarterbacks had thinned out a bit, so I pulled the trigger on the Seattle signal-caller.

I was happy to see Marion Barber fall to me in the seventh round, and I'll use him as my flex starter. Jason Witten, Robbie Gould and the Dallas defense round out what should be a solid starting lineup. My reserves are serviceable, but I need LenDale White to at least meet expectations in Tennessee or my overall backfield depth could become an issue. I also wanted to handcuff Tomlinson with Michael Turner, but he was selected just ahead of me in Round 8.

Aside from Rank picking my name out of the hat, the selection I like the most was Barber in the seventh round. I've seen him go in the fourth round in other drafts. The pick I like the least is Trent Green -- if Hasselbeck gets hurt I'll have to scramble at the quarterback position.

The teams I like the most belong to Aron Angel and Andy Nesbitt, but Elliott Gordon's team will also be extremely tough. Overall the league should be very competitive.

2. Aron Angel, NFL.com Editor

ANGEL'S ROSTER

Rd. 1: Steven Jackson, RB, St. Louis

Rd. 2: Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville

Rd. 3: Cadillac Williams, RB, Tampa Bay

Rd. 4: Donald Driver, WR, Green Bay

Rd. 5: T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR, Cincinnati

Rd. 6: Tony Romo, QB, Dallas

Rd. 7: Todd Heap, TE, Baltimore

Rd. 8: Donte' Stallworth, WR, New England

Rd. 9: Kevin Jones, RB, Detroit

Rd. 10: Chad Pennington, QB, N.Y. Jets
Rd. 11: Troy Williamson, WR, Minnesota

Rd. 12: Jacksonville defense

Rd. 13: Ben Troupe, TE, Tennessee

Rd. 14: Mike Furrey, WR, Detroit

Rd. 15: Neil Rackers, K, Arizona

Rd. 16: Patrick Crayton, WR, Dallas

Since Fabiano had the first overall pick in the draft and landed Tomlinson, we were all playing from behind in this one. Nevertheless, I personally think I did the best I could in my position behind our wise fantasy guru.

Steven Jackson was a no-brainer with the second selection, and Maurice Jones-Drew was the best option with my next pick because the league rewards points for receptions. Since running backs are generally more reliable than wide receivers, I went with three backs in a row and took Cadillac Williams in the third round. I expect big things out of both Cadillac and the Buccaneers this season.

I couldn't decide between Donald Driver and T.J. Houshmandzadeh with my next pick, but I ended up going with Driver as the more reliable option (this draft occured before his recent foot injury). Thankfully, Houshmandzadeh was still around three picks later.

Tony Romo is a solid option in a deep group of quarterbacks, and I expect his numbers to get better as he matures in Big D. Todd Heap is always a good tight end and will remain a big red-zone target for a Ravens team low on receiving talent.

Donte' Stallworth and Kevin Jones are my top sleepers. I expect Stallworth to be the biggest beneficiary of Tom Brady's new crew of receivers, as Randy Moss has been hampered by a hamstring and Wes Welker is more of a slot receiver. Jones will probably start the season injured, but I should be in good shape if he comes back strong.

3. Ben Liebenberg, NFL.com Photo Editor

LIEBENBERG'S ROSTER

Rd. 1: Larry Johnson, RB, Kansas City

Rd. 2: Marvin Harrison, WR, Indianapolis

Rd. 3: Marshawn Lynch, RB, Buffalo

Rd. 4: Vince Young, QB, Tennessee

Rd. 5: Randy Moss, WR, New England

Rd. 6: Terry Glenn, WR, Dallas

Rd. 7: Jeremy Shockey, TE, N.y. Giants
Rd. 8: Warrick Dunn, RB, Atlanta

Rd. 9: Chris Henry, RB, Tennessee

Rd. 10: Adam Vinatieri, K, Indianapolis

Rd. 11: Pittsburgh defense

Rd. 12: Eddie Kennison, WR, Kansas City

Rd. 13: Dominic Rhodes, RB, Oakland

Rd. 14: Michael Pittman, RB, Tampa Bay

Rd. 15: Steve McNair, QB, Baltimore

Rd. 16: Rex Grossman, QB, Chicago

I knew I was going to need to take a top running back with the No. 3 overall pick, so I took Larry Johnson. In the second round I took Marvin Harrison, who was the top wideout in fantasy football last season. I knew he is good to catch a ton of touchdown passes for the Colts, and most of the top 25 or so running backs were gone by this point. I also knew if I didn't take Harrison that someone else would.

After that Johnson and Harrison I started to build on my backfield with the selection on Marshawn Lynch in the third round. I focused on a quarterback a few picks later and landed Vince Young (let's hope the Madden Curse skips a season), followed by a few wide receivers and a tight end. I think if I had to do it over again, I think the only thing I would of changed would of been some of the players but not the positions.

As far as the best team, I'd have to take Fabiano's roster. It's hard to look past a team with a Tomlinson, Chad Johnson, Boldin, Colston and Hasselbeck.

4. Jim Reineking, NFL.com Senior Associate Editor

REINEKING'S ROSTER

Rd. 1: Joseph Addai, RB, Indianapolis

Rd. 2: Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans

Rd. 3: Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota

Rd. 4: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona

Rd. 5: Hines Ward, WR, Pittsburgh

Rd. 6: DeAngelo Williams, RB, Carolina

Rd. 7: Kellen Winslow, TE, Cleveland

Rd. 8: Matt Leinart, QB, Arizona

Rd. 9: Bernard Berrian, WR, Chicago

Rd. 10: Heath Miller, TE, Pittsburgh

Rd. 11: Kevin Curtis, WR, Philadelphia

Rd. 12: Denver defense

Rd. 13: Robert Meachem, WR, New Orleans

Rd. 14: Lorenzo Booker, RB, Miami

Rd. 15: Green Bay defense

Rd. 16: Jeff Reed, K, Pittsburgh

This was my first real foray into the world of fantasy football, so please be kind when evaluating this draft.

That being said, my initial strategy was to secure the No. 1 overall pick and take Tomlinson. That didn't work out so well, as I drew the No. 4 pick instead. With L.T. out of the picture, my backup draft strategy was to closely follow the NFL.com top 100 fantasy players rankings list. This list proved very, very helpful. You should use it too.

I selected Joseph Addai at No. 4 simply because -- given relative health – he could put up huge, Edgerrin James back-in-the-day like numbers. I also considered Brian Westbrook, Frank Gore and Shaun Alexander with that pick, but felt Addai had greater potential for big numbers, given he plays in the league's most potent offensive machine.

After pick No. 192 had finally been secured, I felt I had a solid squad. How things transpire this season, however, will likely reveal my roster's holes and some valuable life lessons will be learned. When considering favorites in our league, it's hard not to pick NFL.com fantasy football editor Michael Fabiano. He's the expert, so he should win.

5. Casey Cook/Marcus D. Smith, NFL.com

COOK/SMITH ROSTER

Rd. 1: Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis

Rd. 2: Cedric Benson, RB, Chicago

Rd. 3: Torry Holt, WR, St. Louis

Rd. 4: Lee Evans, WR, Buffalo

Rd. 5: LaMont Jordan, RB, Oakland

Rd. 6: Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit

Rd. 7: Santonio Holmes, WR, Pittsburgh

Rd. 8: Michael Turner, RB, San Diego

Rd. 9: Chris Brown, RB, Tennessee

Rd. 10: D.J. Hackett, WR, Seattle

Rd. 11: Jake Delhomme, QB, Carolina

Rd. 12: Owen Daniels, TE, Houston

Rd. 13: Miami defense

Rd. 14: Stephen Gostkowski, K, New Enlgand

Rd. 15: Tony Hunt, RB, Philadelphia

Rd. 16: Bryant Johnson, WR, Arizona

We decided to take Peyton Manning in the first round because he was the best player available and he'll touch the football every down. Plus, look at the dude's fantasy numbers compared to any other quarterback in the league. No one else is even a stone's throw away.

Our best pick was Bryant Johnson in the last round. Our worst pick was Jake Delhomme in the 11th round. I think the war room was on auto draft on this pick for some reason, because there is no way this was a user error. Our squadron is going to have some severe "issues" in Week 6 as Manning, Lee Evans, Santonio Holmes and Calvin Johnson are all on bye weeks. I accidentally left my bye week homework papers at home in my Trapper Keeper.

I think Ross Hollebon had the best draft, and the team to beat is Andy Nesbitt. Nesbitt, a 6-foot-3, 230 pounder, thinks he can be a legit running back for any team in the NFL. He tried to draft himself in our league as his keeper selection for next season.

6. Ross Hollebon, NFL Network Bureau Producer

HOLLEBON'S ROSTER

Rd. 1: Shaun Alexander, RB, Seattle

Rd. 2: Thomas Jones, RB, N.Y. Jets
Rd. 3: Brandon Jacobs, RB, N.Y. Giants
Rd. 4: Antonio Gates, TE, Detroit

Rd. 5: Tatum Bell, RB, Detroit

Rd. 6: Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego

Rd. 7: Vincent Jackson, WR, San Diego

Rd. 8: Ladell Betts, RB, Washington

Rd. 9: Jerricho Cotchery, WR, N.Y. Jets
Rd. 10: Drew Bennett, WR, St. Louis

Rd. 11: Matt Schaub, QB, Houston

Rd. 12: Matt Jones, WR, Jacksonville

Rd. 13: Oakland defense

Rd. 14: T.J. Duckett, RB, Detroit

Rd. 15: Matt Stover, K, Baltimore

Rd. 16: James Jones, WR, Green Bay

No frills with my strategy: I loaded up with depth at the running back position, drafted young quarterbacks with big upside and an elite tight end.

My wide receivers leave a little to be desired but after drafting Colston last season, I'm hoping lightning can strike twice.

My best pick could end up being ladell Betts in the eighth round if Clinton Portis' body can't hold up in Washington. My worst pick might be Drew Bennett in the 10th round. I don't dislike the selection, but some No. 1 and 2 receivers drafted after St. Louis' third wideout might have been better options.

The preseason team to beat is Fabiano. Winning the L.T. lottery means instant contention, but it's the wide receivers and Hasselbeck that combine to make this team lethal in this league's scoring system.

7. Conor Bryne, NFL Network Bureau Producer

BYRNE'S ROSTER

Rd. 1: Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco

Rd. 2: Clinton Portis, RB, Washington

Rd. 3: Carson Palmer, QB, Cincinnati

Rd. 4: Ahman Green, RB, Houston

Rd. 5: Plaxico Burress, WR, N.Y. Giants
Rd. 6: Darrell Jackson, WR, San Francisco

Rd. 7: Joey Galloway, WR, Tampa Bay

Rd. 8: Baltimore defense

Rd. 9: Benjamin Watson, TE, New England

Rd. 10: Eli Manning, QB, N.Y. Giants
Rd. 11: Vernand Morency, RB, Green Bay

Rd. 12: Adrian Peterson, RB, Chicago

Rd. 13: Brandon Marshall, WR, Denver

Rd. 14: Amani Toomer, WR, N.Y. Giants
Rd. 15: Derrick Mason, WR, Baltimore

Rd. 16: Josh Brown, K, Seattle

My draft strategy as always was to go running back, running back and then best player available for the rest of the draft. I was able to pull that off (aka -- I did not have the opportunity to draft Peyton Manning in Round 1).

I did not expect to have the opportunity to grab Frank Gore with the seventh overall pick, so that has to be my favorite. I was also very pleased to land Carson Palmer with the 31st overall pick in Round 3. However, in between those, my second round selection of Portis is my least favorite. I liked it at the time, but after not handcuffing him with Betts, I liked the pick a lot less.

As much as I hate to admit it, our in-house expert Michael Fabiano put together the best team. Anyone who gets L.T. instantly becomes a great team, but when he landed Colston and Boldin with back-to-back picks in the third and fourth round, I knew he was going to have the team to beat. He has the best fantasy player in Tomlinson, a solid quarterback, and great wideouts.

8. Jason Feller, NFL.com Associate Editor

FELLER'S ROSTER

Rd. 1: Rudi Johnson, RB, Cincinnati

Rd. 2: Steve Smith, WR, Carolina

Rd. 3: Jamal Lewis, RB, Cleveland

Rd. 4: Brandon Jacksonn, RB, Green Bay

Rd. 5: Santana Moss, WR, Washington

Rd. 6: Jerious Norwood, RB, Atlanta

Rd. 7: Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco

Rd. 8: Jerry Porter, WR, Oakland

Rd. 9: Benjamin Watson, TE, New England

Rd. 10: Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh

Rd. 11: Devery Henderson, WR, New Orleans

Rd. 12: Bo Sciafe, TE, Tennessee

Rd. 13: Craig Davis, WR, San Diego

Rd. 14: Jason Campbell, QB, Washington

Rd. 15: San Francisco defense

Rd. 16: Olindo Mare, K, New Orleans

My draft strategy was simply to take the fantasy player I deemed the best each round regardless of position in the first 10 rounds. Holding the eighth pick (arguably the worst pick in a 12-team draft), I went with Rudi Johnson, Steve Smith and Jamal Lewis in the first three rounds. Predictably there was a massive run on backs in the first two rounds so I felt Smith (in my view the top at his position) was far better than the questionable rushers available at No. 17. The main thing I would have done differently is to have held better to my strategy in the middle rounds.

Because it is a league with a flex position, I became worried in the fourth round that I would not have a suitable running back to lock into my weekly flex spot. That urgency caused me to reach for Packers rookie Brandon Jackson when I probably could have waited at least another round to pick him up. Due to drafting Jackson, I then missed out on a number of franchise quarterbacks and am now stuck with Ben Roethliesberger as my starter -- a shaky No. 1 fantasy quarterback.

Anybody drafting first overall is bound to have a good team, because Tomlinson is as good as two players, but Connor Byrne also drafted a very nice team from the seventh spot (I should know, he took a bunch of guys I wanted).

9. David Benhaim, NFL.com Producer/Editor

BENHAIM'S ROSTER

Rd. 1: Brian Westbrook, RB, Philadelphia

Rd. 2: Edgerrin James, RB, Arizona

Rd. 3: Andre Johnson, WR, Houston

Rd. 4: Donovan McNabb, QB, Philadelphia

Rd. 5: Deion Branch, WR, Seattle

Rd. 6: Chicago defense

Rd. 7: Chester Taylor, RB, Minnesota

Rd. 8: Chris Chambers, WR, Miami

Rd. 9: Leon Washington, RB, N.Y. Jets
Rd. 10: Greg Jennings, WR, Green Bay

Rd. 11: Reuben Droughns, RB, N.Y. Giants
Rd. 12: Randy McMichael, TE, St. Louis

Rd. 13: Jeff Garcia, QB, Tampa Bay

Rd. 14: Correll Buckhalter, RB, Philadelphia

Rd. 15: David Akers, K, Philadelphia

Rd. 16: Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City

Being my first time in a 12-team draft, I knew it was imperative that I get the big-name backs that are going to see the most touches. Brian Westbrook will make up for his lack of carries in point-per-reception format. James has scared many away, but I am vested in players from South Florida whom have proven themselves in the past.

Maybe draft philosophy faux pas to some, but it can never hurt to stock pile on players from this region. That is probably what led me to pass on Terrell Owens in the third round for the pedigree in Andre Johnson. I was called out on the selection, but I think loyalty will come to fruition on this one. Some people will call this my worst pick, but I'm not convinced. Taking the Bears defense in the sixth round might have been a little too soon, and my favorite pick is Donovan McNabb in the fourth round. He's an absolute steal.

I think my team, which represents the NFL.com's "preditors," is going to be fine. Hollebon may not have amazing wide receivers, but his running backs are great and I am a Philip Rivers fan. Of course, the fact that Fabiano has Tomlinson, Chad Johnson and Boldin in a receptions league is pretty scary.

10. Andy Nesbitt, NFL.com Senior Associate Editor

NESBITT'S ROSTER

Rd. 1: Willie Parker, RB, Pittsburgh

Rd. 2: Ronnie Brown, RB, Miami

Rd. 3: Terrell Owens, WR, Dallas

Rd. 4: Javon Walker, WR, Denver

Rd. 5: Laveranues Coles, WR, N.Y. Jets
Rd. 6: Jon Kitna, QB, Detroit

Rd. 7: Chris Cooley, TE, Washington

Rd. 8: DeShaun Foster, RB, Carolina

Rd. 9: Isaac Bruce, WR, St. Louis

Rd. 10: Alex Smith, QB, San Francisco

Rd. 11: San Diego defense

Rd. 12: Muhsin Muhammad, WR, Carolina

Rd. 13: Shayne Graham, K, Cincinnati

Rd. 14: Wes Welker, WR, New England

Rd. 15: Ron Dayne, RB, Houston

Rd. 16: Marty Booker, WR, Miami

I went into the draft with the No. 10 overall pick, so I wanted to grab two quality running backs in the first two rounds before they were long gone. I was very happy to take Willie Parker in the first round; Ronnie Brown in the second round could be a great pick, or a poor pick. We'll find out.

After my running backs were solidified I wanted to go after three strong No. 1 wide receivers. Hopefully T.O. can keep it together this year and revert back to his big-number years with the Niners and Eagles, Javon Walker is healthy and ready to be the main man in Denver and Laveranues Coles could be in for a big year with the Jets. After locking up my running backs and wide receivers I finally picked a quarterback – completely buying into all the John Kitna 5,000-yards, 25-touchdown hype.

Once the foundation was set, I went after the boring picks – tight ends, backup runners, and backup receivers. Besides me, of course, I think Fabiano has the best team. He has a strong starting group that should come up just short against me in the finals.

11. Jim Loftus, NFL.com Managing Editor

LOFTUS'S ROSTER

Rd. 1: Reggie Bush, RB, New Orleans

Rd. 2: Willis McGahee, RB, Baltimore

Rd. 3: Tom Brady, QB, New England

Rd. 4: Roy Williams, WR, Detroit

Rd. 5: Julius Jones, RB, Dallas

Rd. 6: Mark Clayton, WR, Baltimore

Rd. 7: Alge Crumpler, TE, Atlanta

Rd. 8: Brett Favre, QB, Green Bay

Rd. 9: New England defense

Rd. 10: Jeff Wilkins, K, St. Louis

Rd. 11: Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Indianpolis

Rd. 12: Dallas Clark, TE, Indianapolis

Rd. 13: Najeh Davenport, RB, Pittsburgh

Rd. 14: Dwayne Jarrett, WR, Carolina

Rd. 15: Jason Elam, K, Denver

Rd. 16: Minnesota defense

Drafting at No. 11 is no fun at all. I knew I had to take running backs at Nos. 11 and 14, but I really wanted Tom Brady as my quarterback and was afraid he wouldn't last to No. 35, my third-round slot. Ultimately, I decided to stay true to my board, nabbing Reggie Bush and Willis McGahee with my first two picks and lucking into Brady in the third round.

I took Roy Williams in the fourth round, but by the time my pick came around again, a huge run on receivers had left the choices pretty thin. My receiving corps is the one thing that concerns me about my roster -- that and the fact that I have five guys with Week 6 byes and four guys with Week 8 byes. But lineup juggling is what makes it fun.

As for who had the best draft, outside of Fabiano -- who miraculously drew the No. 1 overall pick and L.T. (go figure) -- I have my eye on Elliott Gordon, who picked right behind me at No. 12. He landed Travis Henry and Laurence Maroney at running back, Marc Bulger and Jay Cutler at quarterback, plus he took Reggie Wayne and Tony Gonzalez. That's pretty strong coming out of the 12-hole. There could be some big numbers there, if things play out right.

12. Elliott Gordon, NFL.com Director of Product Management

GORDON'S ROSTER

Rd. 1: Laurence Maroney, RB, New England

Rd. 2: Travis Henry, RB, Denver

Rd. 3: Marc Bulger, QB, St. Louis

Rd. 4: Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianpolis

Rd. 5: Reggie Brown, WR, Philadelphia

Rd. 6: Tony Gonzalez, TE, Kansas City

Rd. 7: Fred Taylor, RB, Jacksonville

Rd. 8: Braylon Edwards, WR, Cleveland

Rd. 9: Nate Kaeding, K, San Diego

Rd. 10: Jay Cutler, QB, Denver

Rd. 11: Brandon Jones, WR, Tennessee

Rd. 12: Philadelphia defense

Rd. 13: Chris Henry, WR, Cincinnati

Rd. 14: Anthony Thomas, RB, Buffalo

Rd. 15: Carolina defense

Rd. 16: Eric Johnson, TE, New Orleans

Having the 12th and 13th overall picks in the draft ultimately afforded me the luxury of going into the season with two solid No. 1 running backs (Laurence Maroney and Travis Henry), which is critical to having fantasy success.

Landing Reggie Wayne with my first pick in Round 4 (No. 37 overall) is a steal, as many predict he will have a bigger year than Marvin Harrison.

However, I probably drafted a kicker a bit too early (last pick in Round 9) -- even if it was Nate Kaeding -- and that decision likely thinned my bench out a bit more than I would like.

Overall I don't think I will have much competition, but I do foresee the biggest challenge coming from the Casey Cook/Marcus Smith squad -– any team with Peyton Manning, Torry Holt and Lee Evans is going to put up big numbers every week.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.
Gamepass_vert_web_r

See all the Action

Replay every game all season.