NFL fantasy writers vs. producers draft analysis

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Last week, we held a draft for an real league (not a mock) featuring the producers of NFL Fantasy Live and several of the writers for NFL.com. The standard scoring league includes NFL Fantasy LIVE members Marcas Grant, Adam Rank and James Koh, NFL Media writer/editor Alex Gelhar, NFL.com associate fantasy editor Matt Franciscovich, NFL Digital Media senior video producer Dylan Milner, NFL Fantasy Live producers Hytham Kilani, Alex Wilk and Heather Pink, and NFL Fantasy Live segment producer Todd Metcalf. Each of the 10 owners were required to put together a starting lineup of one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one flex (RB/WR), one tight end, one kicker and one defense/special teams unit.

I've provided a little round-by-round analysis and chosen what I viewed as the best selection in each round below. Take a look. It never hurts to see what other people whose lives revolve around fantasy football are thinking as you prepare for your own fantasy draft.

Draft Order:
1. Todd Metcalf, NFL Fantasy Live segment producer

  1. James Koh, NFL Fantasy Live host, fantasy writer
  1. Hytham Kilani, NFL Fantasy Live producer
  1. Dylan Millner, NFL Fantasy Live senior producer
  1. Matt Franciscovich, Associate fantasy editor
  1. Alex Gelhar, NFL Media writer/editor
  1. Adam Rank, NFL Fantasy Live analyst, NFL Media writer
  1. Heather Pink, NFL Fantasy Live producer
  1. Alex Wilk, NFL Fantasy Live producer
  1. Marcas Grant, NFL Fantasy Live analyst, fantasy editor

Round 1

Analysis:Jimmy Graham at No. 5 was a bit of a surprise, but I was more than happy to have Eddie Lacy fall into my lap. I think he's in line for a big season. I have to wonder how confident everyone at the end of the round feels with their choices of running backs, as all come with various amounts of risk but tons of upside. Kind of surprising to not see any of them take a chance on a safer quarterback at that spot instead.

Best pick: It's the first round, so no best picks awards yet. Everyone is a winner ... hooray!

Round 2

Analysis: Pink, Wilk and Grant all went running backs at the end of the first, and came back around with wide receivers in the second. This allowed Manning to fall to Rank just as he hoped, and left me with a conundrum: take Ball and his upside, or go the safe route and snag Brees. I went Ball, as the prospect of two 1,000-plus yard, 10-plus touchdown rushers was too tempting to pass up. Meanwhile, Franciscovich was able to pair Graham with Brees and double down every time that tandem scores. Once again, the tail end of the round was filled with running backs with question marks. Both Bell and Bernard have all-world talent, but also big, threatening touchdown vultures (LeGarrette Blount, Jeremy Hill). Koh believes Martin is poised for a big season again, so we'll see if his faith is rewarded.

Best pick: Marshall. The fact the Marshall fell all the way to Metcalf with the 10th pick in the round is crazy. In his two seasons in Chicago, Marshall has averaged 109 catches, 1,402 yards and 11 touchdowns per season. That's pretty darn good production for pick No. 20.

Round 3

Analysis: Metcalf continues stockpiling NFC North offensive juggernauts by grabbing Rodgers with the first pick in what amounts to a dream draft scenario (Peterson, Marshall, Rodgers). Wide receivers were a hot commodity in Round 3, as six of the 10 picks were pass-catchers. Grant, Rank and I all took a chance on second-year players in the third round hoping they deliver on their potential.

Best pick: Rodgers. Hard to argue against Metcalf getting one of the top five RBs, WRs and QBs with his first three picks. That'll be a formidable trio all season long. He has clearly won the first three rounds.

Round 4

Analysis: With running backs wearing thin, seven different pass-catchers went in Round 4, including the next two tight ends in Gronkowski and Thomas. Gerhart and Jennings both should have a wealth of opportunities, but Jennings will have to fend off talented rookie Andre Williams. Both are solid options in this area of drafts.

Best pick: Gronkowski. It's not a move I'll probably end up making in my drafts, but Wilk scooping up Gronk at the top of the fourth was a savvy move. His starting lineup is now loaded if Gronk can stay healthy.

Round 5

Analysis: This round was loaded with unspectacular names who could still turn in valuable fantasy production. White, Jackson, Bush and Johnson all could do work in fantasy this season, but aren't likely to lead their positions in scoring. Spiller falls from a first-round pick last season to the 49th overall. At this point, he's a risk worth taking.

Best pick: Luck. Koh gets the next big quarterback to anchor his fantasy squad. Luck quietly finished fourth in fantasy last season and could be in line for an even bigger season this year if offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton lets him loose more often.

Round 6

Analysis: The way the draft fell, Grant and Franciscovich both might have gotten caught reaching a little early this round on Vereen and Richardson, respectively. Both could have good seasons, but Vereen could fall victim to #Belitricks and Richardson is, well, still the same old Trent. Wilk and Pink both jumped on the quarterback bandwagon, selecting the next best options, but leaving Tom Brady (who appears to be universally undervalued) still on the board.

Best pick: Floyd. I was rather annoyed when Rank sniped Floyd one pick before me. Floyd had a great season last year, jumping into the top 25 scoring wide receivers. He is a likely candidate to improve all of his statistical totals, and depending on who you ask, even surpass Fitzgerald as the Cardinals top receiving option.

Round 7

Analysis: It was as if Round 7 was a committee meeting among running backs in committees. Six committe backs went in this round, along with four wide receivers. I regretted my Brandin Cooks pick immediately after. I love his upside, but didn't want to reach for him this early. Both rookie running backs that went in this round are on the lower end of their committees, unfortunately for Rank and Wilk, but both have as much of a chance to turn into this year's Zac Stacy. The guys ahead of them on the depth charts aren't anything to write home to mom about. Wait, you don't write to your mom about your fantasy team? Oh ...

Best pick: Smith. I love Pink getting Torrey Smith in Round 7, as he's a No. 1 receiver that she just scooped up at a WR3 value. Smith had a productive season last year, but his touchdown numbers damaged his value. Gary Kubiak's No. 1 wideouts have traditionally found plenty of success (see Johnson, Andre), so big things could be on the horizon for Smith this year in Baltimore.

Round 8

Analysis: A lot of stable producers with upside were taken in this round, including Edelman, Maclin, Ridley and Wayne. Hunter going in the eighth is a surprise. Koh is clearly planting his flag in Hunter for 2014 and believing the hype. Three of the second-tier tight ends went in this round, which feels about right for all of them.

Best pick: Pitta. Have to give myself a hat tip just once. Had I passed on Cooks last round, I would have taken Pitta, so getting him here eased my frustrations over my Cooks pick. Pitta tied for the team lead in targets (33) and receptions (20) once returning to the lineup last December. Kubiak's offense has done well with tight ends in the past, and Pitta is Flacco's most trusted target. I love his upside in the eighth round.

Round 9

Analysis: Round 9 was a testament to why many fantasy owners believe you can wait on a quarterback. Matt Ryan and Philip Rivers are excellent values here, as both should throw for north of 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns. Franciscovich took Williams hoping for a second-year breakout, while the rest of the league improved depth with solid veterans.

Best pick: Rivers. Rivers is my favorite later round signal-caller to target, and I thought I'd be able to get him a round or two later. Sigh.

Round 10

Analysis: There was a lot to like in this round, which made choosing the best pick even harder. One option that wasn't in consideration for that award was my selection of Devonta Freeman, beforeSteven Jackson. I chalk this one up to the fact that I was at home cooking during the draft, but as much as I love Freeman he shouldn't be taken ahead of Jackson. Freeman is still stuffed deep down the depth chart, and for now it appears that he'll have to battle Jacquizz Rodgers for carries alongside (or in place of) Jackson. Whoops.

Best pick: Colston. Those writing off Colston might have jumped the gun a bit. He was nagged by injuries last season, but prior to that he'd posted at least 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns in three of the previous four years. Kilani got a steal in the 10th round.

Round 11

Analysis: Late-round quarterbacks start flying off the board in Round 11. Franciscovich reached on Prater before learning of his four-game suspension. He has sinced dropped him and found a replacement, don't worry. Miller and Tate are nice value picks in the 11th, while this might be a tad early for Woods given the struggles of the Bills' offense and the presence of Mike Williams.

Best pick: Brady. Kilani goes back-to-back in the late-round steal department, getting Brady to lead his starting lineup (and ruin my plans of taking the Pats signal-caller). Brady should bounce-back this year as his wide receivers outside of Julian Edelman have finally figured out what's going on. Plus, Gronk.

Round 12

Analysis: Here we begin to see owners taking shots on high-upside guys they are high on, including Ertz, Robinson and Hill. Tight ends were also a popular target for those who waited on the position or were looking for a depth addition/rotational player.

Best pick:RGIII. Millner took Kaepernick a few rounds earlier, and doubles down on the struggling rushing quarterbacks here. I like the value of RGIII in the 12th a lot, as if he gets his act together it wouldn't surprise anyone if he vaulted back into the top 10 at his position.

Round 13

Analysis: A few defenses come off the board, but this is too rich for my blood when it comes to drafting a defense. A lot of high-upside, low-floor players come off the board. Guys like Watkins, Archer and Britt all could put up great numbers ... or nothing at all. Moreno might have been the best value of the round if he gets enough carries in the Miami timeshare (in the backfield, not a timeshare resort, mind you).

Best pick: Benjamin. Franciscovich (or "The Franchise," as he's known around the office) gets great depth at wide receiver with Benjamin. Many were sketpical of the Panthers taking the Florida State product in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, but he's looked like the real deal and someone has to catch passes in Carolina, right? RIGHT?

Round 14

Analysis: Rank unfortunately gets burned by the Josh Gordon suspension, but I'm sure he's already swapped him for someone else on waivers. I'm surprised that two Patriots wide receivers were drafted in this round and neither was named Kenbrell Thompkins, who in my opinion is the one to own. As expected, kickers and defenses start flying off the board. No #analysis necessary. Although if you're streaming defenses this year, get the Steelers for Week 1. They play a Josh Gordon-less Brian Hoyer. Need I say more?

Best pick: Grimes. Grant wisely handcufss Grimes to Arian Foster, his first round pick. Injury questions are still swirling around Foster, and this makes him a safer selection in the first round. Just good fantasy drafting here.

Round 15

Analysis: It's the 15th round. Mostly kickers and defenses, while Pink was able to make a nice pickup with Rueben Randle, and Kilani scoops up Knile Davis in case Jamaal Charles goes down (even though Charles was selected by Millner). A savvy move.

Best pick: Roethlisberger. This is almost a default answer, as only three choices in this round weren't kickers or defenses. Big Ben is a nice backup for Metcalf, or trade bait since he already has Rodgers.

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