Michael Fabiano | Tags: Adrian Peterson, Ben Roethlisberger, Donovan McNabb, Greg Jennings, Hakeem Nicks, Jeremy Maclin, Joseph Addai, Knowshon Moreno, Michael Crabtree, Nate Kaeding, Reggie Bush, Rob Gronkowski, Steve Smith, Willis McGahee
NFL.com held it’s annual experts league draft on Tuesday, and honestly, some of the results were a bit of a shock. From Michael Vick coming off the board with the first overall selection to Dez Bryant going in Round 2, there were more than a few stunners. The standard scoring league consists of Dave Dameshek, Elliot Harrison, Michael Fabiano, Adam Rank and Andrew Siciliano of NFL Fantasy LIVE, NFL.com senior analyst Gil Brandt, NFL.com senior editor Craig Ellenport, actor/writer Nick Bakay, NFL Network’s Jamie Dukes, NFL.com Fantasy Preview Guide contributors Jim Buckley, Jim Gigliotti and Matt Marini. Each team must start one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one flex (RB/WR/TE), one tight end, one kicker and one defense.
You can find the full results here, but here’s a look at my round-by-round picks with analysis:
Round 1 (No. 3) — Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings: I was shocked to see Vick and Aaron Rodgers come off the board with the first two picks, so Peterson was still on the board and an absolute no brainer. He’s the most reliable running back in fantasy football, and to me, he’s an absolute steal with the third overall selection.
Round 2 (No. 22) — Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants: I almost always take a top-notch wideout in Round 2, and Nicks was the best one on the board. 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. 27) — Greg Jennings, WR, Packers: I mistakenly thought Larry Fitzgerald was drafted ahead of me, so I grabbed Jennings thinking he was the best receiver on the board — that’s what happens when you draft while you’re working! Hopefully that doesn’t burn me too much, but Jennings should be solid.
Round 4 (No. 46) — 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 his big upside.
Round 6 (No. 51) — 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 6 (No. 70) — Joseph Addai, RB, Colts: I was really hoping that Vernon Davis fell to me at this spot, but he went at No. 65 overall so I altered my strategy and grabbed Addai. Yes, there is some cause for concern about his lack of durability. But the fact that he’ll be my flex starter makes him well worth the risk in this spot.
Round 7 (No. 75) — Jeremy Maclin, Eagles: There’s a point in all drafts when you have to take a gamble. That’s what I did with Maclin, who’s status for the start of the season is a question mark due to a mysterious illness. If he comes back without issues, Maclin will be an absolute steal. This is clearly a risk-reward selection.
Round 8 (No. 94) — Reggie Bush, RB, Dolphins: Once again, I was looking to add a tight end. And once again, the tight end I wanted (Owen Daniels) was drafted just a few spots ahead of me. Instead, I drafted Bush to be my No. 4 running back. I’m not expecting much, but he’s a decent option off the bench in a worst-case scenario.
Round 9 (No. 99) — Steve Smith, WR, Panthers: I needed some insurance in case Maclin isn’t ready to roll in Week 1, so I took Smith as my fourth wideout. I don’t see how he can’t improve on his awful 2010 totals, but I’m certainly not expecting Smith to return to his once elite level, either. He was worth a roll of the dice here.
Round 10 (No. 118) — Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers: Remember when I said there’s a point in all fantasy drafts where you need to take a gamble? Well, that’s what drove this pick. Crabtree’s injured foot continues to be an issue for the Niners and owners, but his upside is big and at this point I felt like he was worth the risk.
Round 11 (No. 123) — Willis McGahee, RB, Broncos: I added McGahee as a pure handcuff for Moreno. No more, no less. In fact, I might end up dropping him for a hot free agent as long as Moreno is healthy.
Round 12 (No. 142) — Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots: I sat on this position because all the more attractive tight ends were gone. I’m not thrilled with him, but Gronkowski was the top option.
Round 13 (No. 147) — Donovan McNabb, QB, Vikings: I’m set at quarterback with Roethlisberger, but I needed to grab a backup for bye week or injury. McNabb was the best signal-caller on the board.
Round 14 (No. 166) — Dustin Keller, TE, Jets: I was hoping Zach Miller would fall to me, but again, I was left with a secondary option. Keller will serve as my No. 2 option behind Gronkowski.
Round 15 (No. 171) — 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 16 (No. 190) — Nate Kaeding, K, Chargers: Kaeding was the best kicker on the board at this point, so I grabbed him. If you take a kicker before the last round, well, you’re wasting a pick!