Fantasy Football

Ladd Biro | The perfect draft, with 20/20 hindsight

Updated: 2010-11-01T19:56:20Z

Halfway through the 2010 fantasy season, are you still lamenting the premium draft pick you wasted on DeAngelo Williams? Are you kicking yourself for allowing Hakeem Nicks to slide by round after round? Did you cast your lot with the wrong Jets running back?

Yes, dear reader, it’s time for our semi-annual exercise in self-flagellation, when we travel back two short months to examine what could have been had we made all the right moves during our preseason draft. Step right up for The Perfect Draft: Midseason Review.

As always, we start with a few key assumptions. First, we’re in a 10-team league using a standard scoring system that starts one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, one kicker and one defense/special teams. Second, we are drafting from the middle (fifth) position in a zig-zag format, meaning Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson were not available to us in the first round. Third, since all drafts play out differently, we’ll need a little luck along the way. And finally, our goal is nothing short of total domination and the abject humiliation of our opponents.

Now, with the fifth pick of the 2010 Fantasy Draft, we should have selected…

Round 1. Frank Gore, RB, 49ers. Aside from CJ2K and AP, Gore is arguably the only first-round selection that has delivered first-round value. Though he’s only posted one multi-touchdown game, and has just four TDs on the season, he’s offered the steady, reliable production you expect from your top pick.

Round 2. Roddy White, WR, Falcons. Calvin Johnson has three more TDs to date, but White has amassed 209 more receiving yards. It’s a tough call, but we since can’t have both, White gets the nod.

Round 3. Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers. Who needs Vincent Jackson? Obviously not Rivers, whose 2,649 passing yards leads the NFL. Only Drew Brees has more TDs (16 vs. 15), but Rivers was available two rounds later.

Round 4. Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers. Once again, Gates is the pick of the litter at his position. No tight end even comes close to his 663 yards and nine TDs. In fact, those numbers would put Gates atop the wide receiver ranks as well.

Round 5. Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants. Aside from a meltdown in Week 6, Nicks has been a red-zone beast, far out-pacing his teammate Steve Smith, who was taken roughly 20 picks earlier.

Round 6. Arian Foster, RB, Texans. If you drafted late, after Foster’s stock vaulted through the roof, you may have had to use a fourth-rounder to secure the sleeper of the year. In that case, Ahmad Bradshaw is a solid backup option.

Round 7. Terrell Owens, WR, Bengals. Apparently he can still put his money where his mouth is. After getting off to a sluggish start, T.O. has scored at least once in four consecutive games.

Round 8. Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles. Though we really don’t need him, Maclin is another Top 10 fantasy receiver we’d rather let sit on our bench than in an opponent’s starting lineup.

Round 9. LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Jets. LT has seized the lead rushing duties from Shonn Greene and is eerily reminiscent of the powerful and dynamic playmaker who once reigned in Fantasyland.

Round 10. Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders. Just when you thought it was safe to write him off as a fantasy and NFL bust, McFadden has emerged as an elite, multi-purpose tailback. Even after missing two games with a bum hamstring, he’s a Top 5 fantasy RB.

Round 11. Kyle Orton, QB, Broncos. Here’s where we start getting silly, reaching for players that others won’t consider for several more rounds, if ever. Orton could be had as late as the 16th round, but we’ll grab fantasy’s second-ranked passer now, despite the snarky remarks we’re sure to hear.

Round 12. Titans defense/special teams. Several defensive units offer strong value, but the widely undrafted Titans set the pace in most scoring systems. Tennessee leads the league in sacks (26), and rank near the top in most other important categories.

Round 13. Austin Collie, WR, Colts. Though he’s out indefinitely with a thumb injury, Collie was the Colts’ leading receiver over the first six weeks. Kenny Britt was also available here, but his goose eggs to open and close the first half of the season were costly.

Round 14. Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns. Another player who went mostly undrafted, all he’s done is seize the workhorse role in Cleveland’s backfield and make Jerome Harrison expendable. Hillis has scored in all but one game to date.

Round 15. Marcedes Lewis, TE, Jaguars. Here’s another head-scratcher that our friends will mock; but when they try to claim Lewis off waivers after the opener, they’ll be too late. Lewis trails only Gates in fantasy production among tight ends. Bills wideout Steve Johnson would be an equally confounding, and prescient, selection.

Round 16. Sebastian Janikowski, K, Raiders. As usual, there’s little distinction between the top kickers, so take your pick between Rob Bironas, Dan Carpenter and the current front-runner, Janikowski.

Round 17. Brandon Lloyd, WR, Broncos. There’s nothing quite like the thrill of selecting the NFL’s top wideout in the final round of the draft. Even if you somehow foresaw Orton’s breakout, you’d have been a stinking genius to know that Lloyd would be his favorite target. But that’s the way football go.

FREE AGENT PICKS AND PANS

It’s pretty slim pickings on the waiver wire this week. Only one player is worth consideration in my book, and even then only for desperate owners.

Catch him while you can

Keiland Williams, RB, Redskins. The undrafted rookie from LSU took over after Ryan Torain left Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury. As the Redskins head into their bye week, Torain should have enough time to heal and return to his workhorse role. But the starter’s owners may want to hedge their bets by handcuffing Williams, who has performed well in spot duty.

Ladd Biro is a syndicated fantasy football columnist and host of Sporting News Radio’s weekly Fantasy Files show (Saturdays, 8-9 am CT). Follow his daily fantasy advice at the Fantasy Fools blog (fantasy-fools.blogspot.com) and via Twitter (@ladd_biro).

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