In a typical year, my first fantasy football draft occurs in late April for the NFL.com Fantasy Preview Guide. And between that draft and the start of training camp, I’d have already been in several leagues with guys in the industry. But with the lockout holding things up, my first draft of 2011 didn’t happened until Tuesday — and it was a surprise to no one that Adrian Peterson was the first overall selection. The league consists of 12 teams with a PPR scoring system that also rewards players, not defenses and special teams, for return yards and touchdowns. Each team is required to start one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one flex (RB/WR/TE), one tight end, one kicker and one defense. I had the ninth overall selection in the draft.
You can find the full results here, but here’s a look at my round-by-round picks with analysis:
Round 1 (No. 9) — LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles: I was shocked to see McCoy, who finished in the top four in PPR leagues among running backs last season, still on the board at this point. What was even more surprising was that Ray Rice went just one spot ahead of him. Regardless, McCoy is a PPR beast across the board.
Round 2 (No. 16) — Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants: I just missed on Roddy White, so I took the next best wideout on the board, Nicks. The third-year player out of North Carolina showed flashes of brilliance last season, and I think he’ll put up huge numbers in 2011 — assuming, of course, he can avoid the trainer’s room.
Round 3 (No. 33) — Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos: I think Moreno could have his best season as a pro under coach John Fox, who loves to run the football early and often. While he does come with some risk due to durability issues, I feel pretty good about landing Moreno here — especially because of the PPR format.
Round 4 (No. 40) — Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs: I have no doubt that Bowe’s overall fantasy point total is going to drop this season. I also think he might score seven fewer touchdowns than the 15 he recorded in 2010. But as my No. 2 wideout in a PPR league, I’ll take him. He gives me a nice one-two punch at the position with Nicks.
Round 5 (No. 57) — Jermichael Finley, TE, Packers: I love Finley this season. No, really, I love this dude. If he can play 14-plus games, I don’t think there’s any way he doesn’t post 800 yards and six to eight touchdowns. Yes, it’s true that he’s lacked durability. But I’m willing to take a chance on him here regardless of the past.
Round 6 (No. 64) — Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: If you have read my draft strategies column, you know that I always wait on quarterbacks. And many times, I end up with Roethlisberger. The Steelers signal-caller should post great totals in an offense that can throw the football — despite the run-first historical reputation.
Round 7 (No. 81) — Danny Amendola, WR, Rams: Amendola’s name doesn’t inspire a lot of excitement in fantasy land. But did you know that he finished in the top 12 in fantasy among wideouts in PPR/return leagues last season? And that was without OC Josh McDaniels! Amendola could be even better in 2011.
Round 8 (No. 88) — Benjarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Patriots: I’m not thrilled about the Law Firm’s prospects this season. He’s not going to equal his 2010 fantasy points, especially in what is now such a crowded Patriots backfield. But he was the best player on the board at running back, and he’s only a flex starter in my lineup.
Round 9 (No. 105) — Ryan Torain, RB, Redskins: Let the brittle jokes begin. Yes, he’s like Mr. Glass in the movie Unbreakable. Yes, he can tear an ACL if the wind blows too strong at FedEx Field. But Torain is also a talented running back, and at this point in the draft I felt like he was worth a roll of the dice as a No. 4 option.
Round 10 (No. 112) — Jacoby Ford, WR, Raiders: This might be my favorite pick of the entire draft. Ford has a ton of deep sleeper potential in an offense that lacks a true No. 1 option in the pass attack. Ford is also a skilled return man, which just adds to his stock when you consider the league’s scoring system.
Round 11 (No. 129) — Willis McGahee, RB, Broncos: I added McGahee as a pure handcuff for Moreno. No more, no less. I might end up dropping him for a hot free agent as long as Moreno is healthy.
Round 12 (No. 136) — Kevin Kolb, QB, Cardinals: I’m rolling with Roethlisberger as my No. 1 quarterback, but I like Kolb as a potential sleeper with upside. I might start him based on matchups, also.
Round 13 (No. 153) — Davone Bess, WR, Dolphins: Did you know that Bess scored more fantasy points than Anquan Boldin, Braylon Edwards and Amendola in PPR leagues last season? If not, now you do.
Round 14 (No. 160) — Chargers defense: Simply put, the Chargers were the best defensive unit left on the board. Unless this team goes off, I’ll likely play the matchups at defense on a weekly basis.
Round 15 (No. 177) — Benjamin Watson, TE, Browns: Over the last three weeks of last season, Watson was one of the most targeted tight ends in the league. I like his rapport with Colt McCoy as well.
Round 16 (No. 184) — Adam Vinatieri, K, Colts: Vinatieri was the best kicker on the board at this point, so I grabbed him. If you take a kicker before the last round in your draft, I’ll sick Jamie Dukes on you!