2010 FSWA Industry Insiders Fantasy Football Draft

FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 22:  Randy Moss #81 and Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrate Laurence Maroney's touchdown in the second quarter against the New York Jets on November 22, 2009 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

For the third straight season, I was invited to join the Fantasy Sports Writers Association’s Industry Insiders League. Last season, I made the playoffs and finished fourth out of 60 teams after scoring the most points in my 12-team division during the regular season. In 2008, I also made the postseason and finished second in my division in points scored.

The following is a run through of the first half of the draft. Keep in mind that this is a high-performance PPR league that starts 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 flex, 1 TE, 1 K and 1 DT.

1.10: Randy Moss, WR
I drew the 10th pick — grrr — and knew I was probably going to have to take a WR with at least one of my first two picks in order to keep pace with the owners picking earlier in the first round. It’s a PPR league and we can start up to four WRs, so wideouts are a vital part of the first couple of rounds. One RB/RB combo I was considering was Rashard Mendenhall and Jamaal Charles, but when my pick came up I elected to go with the top WR on my board, Randy Moss. The top four RBs, Andre Johnson and Frank Gore were off the board, and in the two seasons where he’s had Tom Brady as his QB, Moss has finished WR4 (in 2009) and WR1 (in 2007). And it didn’t hurt that his offseason workout ensures that he’ll be in top physical condition heading into the season. Regarding the other available WRs, Larry Fitzgerald’s QB situation worries me a little and Reggie Wayne has to fight for targets with several other capable receivers. Moss will get plenty of looks even with Wes Welker working the underneath stuff and he’s always a top target in the redzone.

2.03: Larry Fitzgerald, WR
Ryan Matthews, Reggie Wayne, Drew Brees and Rashard Mendenhall went on the turn, so it was down to Fitzy, Roddy White and Jamaal Charles for me at 2.03. Todd Haley is playing mind games with Charles in KC, and even though he tore up the league last season, I didn’t feel comfortable taking him here. Besides, I liked the RB talent that has been slipping into the late third and early fourth rounds in mock drafts this summer. So I went with Fitzy, Matt Leinart be damned. With Anquan Boldin in Baltimore, Fitzgerald is bound to get a few more targets, right?

3.10: Ryan Grant, RB
Grant isn’t going to catch many passes, but he was RB9 last season and will get plenty of goal line carries in the Packers’ potent offensive attack. The remaining WRs weren’t too enticing (Welker, Colston and both Steve Smiths were gone), so I was definitely looking RB here. DeAngelo Williams went 3.08 and Pierre Thomas went 3.09, and I would have drafted either before Grant. But with Moss and Fitzy already on the roster, I feel more than comfortable going with Grant as my RB1.

GLENDALE, AZ - AUGUST 14: Runningback Beanie Wells  of the Arizona Cardinals carries the ball for a 10 yard rush past Earl Mitchell  of the Houston Texans during preseason NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on August 14, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Texans 19-16. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

4.03: Chris Wells, RB
Matt Forte, Knowshon Moreno, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady went on the turn, so my decision here was between Chris Wells and Chad Ochocinco. Wells scored 105 points in the last eight games (that’s an RB11 pace), and the Cardinals figure to run the ball more now that Matt Leinart is under center. Wells averaged 4.5 ypc and showed great vision and speed last season, scoring seven times in his last eight games.

5.10: Jason Witten, TE
In the 4th and 5th rounds, a number of RBs — Addai, Best, Benson, Foster, Bradshaw, Spiller, Jones — were drafted, leaving me with just one RB that I liked on this turn: Ronnie Brown. By his standards, Jason Witten had a down year last season, finishing TE6, but he scored 120 points over his last eight games, so he came on when it counted. Those are TE2 numbers. I also considered Brown, Hakeem Nicks and Hines Ward here, but Witten is a good solid pick with some upside, so I grabbed him.

6.03: Hines Ward, WR
Do I regret taking Ward over Ronnie Brown here? Given the way the rest of the draft went, maybe a little. I thought that I’d be able to snag someone like Jerome Harrison, Michael Bush or Carnell Williams with my 7th round pick to give myself a decent RB3, so I instead elected to go with Ward, who is perennially undervalued in PPR leagues. Over the last three seasons, he has finished as WR14, WR15 and WR25 (because he missed three games in ’07 due to injury). Sure, he’s 34, but his biggest threat to targets (Santonio Holmes) is gone and the guy had 95 catches last season. There’s no reason he should be the 25th wideout drafted.

Cincinnati Bengals receiver Terrell Owens during the Pro Football Hall of Fame game on August 8, 2010 in Canton, Ohio. UPI/David Richard Photo via Newscom

7.10: Terrell Owens, WR
With the aforementioned Harrison, M. Bush and Williams off the board — sigh — it was at this point that I decided that I’d be starting four WRs most weeks and relying on Grant and Wells to carry the load at RB. I normally wouldn’t touch Owens, but with the way he’s played in the preseason, he’s too good to pass up in the 7th round. Besides, if he gets off to a good start, I could always trade him for some RB depth.

8.03: Kevin Kolb, QB
Again, with my lack of RB depth, I probably should have drafted Darren Sproles here, but I like Kolb’s upside in the 8th round. Unproven? Yes. But he threw for 320+ yards and two TD in each of his two starts last season and has looked sharp in the preseason. Andy Reid loves to throw the ball, so there’s a decent chance that Kolb’s numbers will be gaudy enough to have him in the Top 5 by season’s end.

9.10: Tim Hightower, RB
Damn, Sproles went 9.06. Sigh. With my last RB3 sleeper gone, I elected to shore up the running game by taking Hightower, who will be a Top 15 RB if Wells were to go down. In fact, he catches enough passes that I wouldn’t feel terrible about starting him alongside Wells during Grant’s bye week.

10.03: Mike Williams, WR
This was one of those there’s-no-one-else-I-like-so-I’m-going-to-take-this-guy picks. Williams has really played well in the preseason and as a rookie, he is already the Bucs clear-cut WR1. Josh Freeman isn’t bad, and the Bucs are probably going to have to throw more than they’d like as they try to stay in games this season, so this could all add up to a top 25 year for Williams.

That pretty much sums up the first half of the draft. I won’t bore you with all of the details of my late round picks, though I was particularly happy to get Devin Hester in the 13th, who should be able to make hay in Mike Martz’s offense. I went with DTBC (SD, MIA) in the 14th and 16th and took a deep sleeper, the Dolphins’ Brian Hartline, in the 19th.

Here’s the full roster:

QB: Kolb, Palmer
RB: Grant, Wells, Hightower, Buckhalter, Westbrook, Mew. Moore
WR: R. Moss, Fitzgerald, Ward, T.O., M. Williams, Hester, Hartline
TE: Witten, Boss
K: Bironas

Will this team be good enough for a third straight playoff berth? Only time will tell.

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