Fantasy Clicks
By Jay Clemons
Let The Mock Madness Begin
Michael Turner: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Leave it to Rotoworld and MockDraftCentral to get the ball rolling on mock-draft season for fantasy football. On Monday, Rotoworld conducted a non-binding experts' draft for its preseason magazine, featuring honchos like Aaron Schatz (Football Outsiders), Herbie Teope (Time-Warner Cable), Evan Silva (ProFootballTalk), guru Michael Fabiano, MDC's Dan Roemhild and Chris Wesserling and Gregg Rosenthal of Rotoworld, to name a few.

I drew the No. 6 overall pick, which usually spells no man's land for running backs, unless DeAngelo Williams inexplicably falls into one's lap at No. 19 of Round 2. Here are Rounds 1-4 of that 12-team draft:

Round 1
1. Chris Johnson, Titans
2. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars
3. Adrian Peterson, Vikings
4. Frank Gore, 49ers
5. Ray Rice, Ravens
6. Michael Turner, Falcons (my pick)
7. Steven Jackson, Rams
8. Andre Johnson, Texans
9. Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers
10. Aaron Rodgers, Packers
11. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
12. Shonn Greene, Jets

Round 2
13. Ryan Mathews, Chargers (Teope's brainchild pick -- too early?)
14. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
15. Calvin Johnson, Lions
16. Drew Brees, Saints
17. Randy Moss, Patriots
18. Miles Austin, Cowboys
19. DeAngelo Williams, Panthers (my pick)
20. Roddy White, Falcons
21. Reggie Wayne, Colts
22. Peyton Manning, Colts
23. Beanie Wells, Cardinals
24. Cedric Benson, Bengals

Round 3
25. Tom Brady, Patriots
26. Vincent Jackson, Chargers
27. Pierre Thomas, Saints
28. Brandon Marshall, Dolphins (undisclosed hip surgery, be damned!)
29. DeSean Jackson, Eagles
30. Greg Jennings, Packers (my pick)
31. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers
32. Ryan Grant, Packers
33. Knowshon Moreno, Broncos
34. Jahvid Best, Lions
35. Brandon Jacobs, Giants
36. Marques Colston, Saints

Round 4
37. Sidney Rice, Vikings
38. LeSean McCoy, Eagles
39. Steve Smith, Panthers
40. Anquan Boldin, Ravens
41. Ronnie Brown, Dolphins
42. Tony Romo, Cowboys
43. Matt Forte, Bears (my pick)
44. Matt Schaub, Texans
45. Philip Rivers, Chargers
46. Steve Smith, Giants
47. Dallas Clark, Colts
48. Antonio Gates, Chargers

Snake This ... Draft That!

For what it's worth, here's my team:
Round 1 -- RB Michael Turner, Falcons
Round 2 -- RB DeAngelo Williams, Panthers (amazing value for Round 2)
Round 3 -- WR Greg Jennings, Packers
Round 4 -- RB Matt Forte, Bears
Round 5 -- WR Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs
Round 6 -- RB Clinton Portis, Redskins
Round 7 -- QB Matt Ryan, Falcons
Round 8 -- RB Cadillac Williams, Buccaneers
Round 9 -- RB Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants
Round 10 -- TE Visanthe Shiancoe, Vikings
Round 11 -- TE Fred Davis, Redskins
Round 12 -- D/ST Green Bay Packers
Round 13 -- PK Rob Bironas, Titans
Round 14 -- WR Early Doucet, Cardinals
Round 15 -- WR Brandon Tate, Patriots

Draft Mistakes ... I've Made A Few

In an exercise of self-actualization, here are some questionable decisions from the above draft:
**In Round 3, I had the option of taking Greg Jennings (my No. 3-ranked WR in standard-scoring leagues) or Knowshon Moreno/Jonathan Stewart as my third running back (behind Turner/Williams). I certainly don't regret taking Jennings at No. 30 overall; but after seeing that J-Stew, Ryan Grant and Knowshon were immediately grabbed in the next three picks ... perhaps Jennings would have been available in Round 4? After all, there's a decent segment of the fantasy population which likely recalls his malaise from Weeks 3-10 last year (31 catches/341 yards/1 TD in six games).

**I have tremendous faith in Matt Forte (the primary subject of next Wednesday's Clicks) and love his value at No. 43 overall; however, I passed on landing a top-5/6 quarterback in Matt Schaub or Philip Rivers. Yes, there's great depth at the QB slot this year, but I genuinely don't want a repeat of last season's debacles -- regularly starting Matt Hasselbeck and Matt Cassel in two leagues. Yikes!

**I really wanted Michael Crabtree in Round 5, but Rosenthal stole him with the preceding pick. So, in a mild panic, I selected Dwayne Bowe over Percy Harvin, partly because of Charlie Weis calling Kansas City's plays ... and that Brett Favre hasn't officially declared his intentions for the 2010 season (even though we ALL know he's coming back). Three months from now, my decision might be totally different.

**As crazy as this sounds, I'm very confident with my Clinton Portis preseason ranking amongst running backs (No. 22). It's not like Larry Johnson and Willie Parker are classic third-down backs (especially in their NFL "golden" years); so if Portis can win the No. 1 tailback job outright during training camp, I love his chances of getting 60 percent of the total reps for the season (barring injury). That said, perhaps I should've given Eagles tight end Brent Celek more consideration in Round 6.

**I had originally planned to take Jay Cutler and Devin Aromashodu as a sneaky-good QB-WR handcuff, but everything went haywire once Cutler was plucked early in Round 7. Subsequently, I opted for the last non-time share running back in the draft (Cadillac Williams) over Aromashodu, even though I desperately needed a No. 3 wide receiver.

**Since this was a non-binding mock, I felt compelled to wait as long as humanly possible for my WR3 and WR4, just so I could gauge the super-sleeper market better for the Sports Illustrated draft on June 1. As a result, I chose two receivers with amazing upside -- Early Doucet/Brandon Tate -- but two commodities that could easily crash and burn this season. For the record, I have no doubts that Tate will be the Patriots' best big-play receiver once Randy Moss calls it a career (or signs with another club in free agency) ... but there's no guarantee he'll be anything above serviceable in 2010.

The Power Of ADP

The calendar reads May 20, but the good people at Fantasy Football Calculator are already hard at work, trying to make mathematical sense of this year's top fantasy football prospects. In fact, this site represents the perfect one-stop shopping for mock drafts and the Average Draft Position tool (ADP) -- perhaps the best learning aid for NOT reaching during the August drafts. Speaking of ADP, here's a list of quarterbacks likely earmarked for Rounds 1-9 (12-team leagues):

Aaron Rodgers, Packers -- Round 1, Pick 12
Drew Brees, Saints -- Round 2, Pick 4
Peyton Manning, Colts -- Round 2, Pick 10
Tom Brady, Patriots -- Round 3, Pick 9
Philip Rivers, Chargers -- Round 3, Pick 12
Matt Schaub, Texans -- Round 4, Pick 5
Tony Romo, Cowboys -- Round 4, Pick 6
Kevin Kolb, Eagles -- Round 6, Picks 8
Brett Favre, Vikings -- Round 6, Pick 10
Matt Ryan, Falcons -- Round 7, Pick 7
Jay Cutler, Bears -- Round 8, Pick 1
Joe Flacco, Ravens/Donovan McNabb, Redskins -- Round 8, Pick 6 (dead heat)
Eli Manning, Giants -- Round 9, Pick 6
Carson Palmer, Bengals -- Round 9, Pick 12

Clipboards 'R Us

Here are my backup-QB rankings for 2010, from No. 1 (Michael Vick) to No. 32 (Brian Hoyer):
1. Michael Vick, Eagles (we freely admit this is a reputation pick)
2. Derek Anderson, Cardinals (decent QB bolstered by awesome supporting talent)
3. Seneca Wallace, Browns (could easily be the Browns' Week 1 starter)
4. Tarvaris Jackson, Vikings (IF Brett Favre miraculously returns ... to no one's surprise)
5. Bruce Gradkowski, Raiders
6. David Carr, 49ers (the second of two No. 1 overall draft picks on the same depth chart)
7. Brodie Croyle, Chiefs (eventually it'll click for this strong-armed veteran)
8. Dennis Dixon/Byron Leftwich, Steelers (check out the mini-rant below)
9. A.J. Feeley, Rams (should be the Week 1 starter/placeholder for Sam Bradford)
10. Kellen Clemens, Jets
11. Chad Pennington, Dolphins
12. Josh Johnson, Buccaneers (has excellent tools but needs plenty of seasoning)
13. Charlie Whitehurst, Seahawks (the QB of the future ... until Jake Locker gets drafted)
14. Shaun Hill, Lions
15. Kerry Collins, Titans (better real-world QB than in fantasyland)
16. Luke McCown, Jaguars
17. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills
18. Jimmy Clausen, Panthers (easily the greatest upside amongst the bottom 16)
19. Jon Kitna, Cowboys
20. Billy Volek, Chargers
21. Rex Grossman, Redskins
22. Tim Tebow/Brady Quinn, Broncos (Tebow could go H-back during red-zone chances)
23. J.T. O'Sullivan, Bengals
24. Chase Daniel, Saints
25. Dan Orlovsky, Texans (could easily thrive if Matt Schaub gets hurt)
26. Matt Flynn, Packers
27. Caleb Henie, Bears
28. Chris Redman, Falcons
29. Troy Smith, Ravens
30. Curtis Painter, Colts
31. Jim Sorgi, Giants
32. Brian Hoyer, Patriots (frankly, we're shocked that he's a No. 2 QB with a winning team ... and this is coming from a fellow Michigan State grad)

Don't Say I Didn't Warn Ya

It's always fun to put a new spin on an old chestnut from Fantasy Clicks past, so here goes:

The Steelers must have rocks in their head if they think Byron Leftwich should be the starter during Ben Roethlisberger's six-week suspension to begin the season. Yes, Leftwich miraculously completed 21 of 36 passes for 223 yards and two TDs in a five-game stretch for Pittsburgh in 2008 (the club went 4-1), but who are we kidding here: Leftwich is easily the NFL's worst starting quarterback heading into this season -- even if A.J. Feeley should get the Week 1 nod for the Rams (over Sam Bradford) ... and any team that's seriously challenging him to carry the mail for that many weeks should not have genuine playoff aspirations.

Of course, I wouldn't be so diametrically opposed to the Steelers' temporary plan of action if third-year pro Dennis Dixon wasn't taking a backseat to the older, slower (foot speed AND release motion) Leftwich, an unmitigated failure for the Falcons (2007) and Bucs (2009) in-between his first go-round with the Steelers. Dixon, in my opinion, has the requisite size, speed, arm strength and je ne sais quoi to eventually become a franchise quarterback in this league and seemingly represents the perfect long-term replacement for Roethlisberger -- should Pittsburgh ever grow weary of his off-the-field misgivings.

But that's just me, I guess. Apparently, Leftwich is the next Jim Plunkett or Doug Williams, former first-round washouts who improbably led veteran teams to Super Bowl prominence when given a second, er, third, er, fourth chance to succeed.

Choose Your Quarterback
Tony Romo: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

Today's "Choose Your Quarterback" comes by special request, from Bill of Little Rock, Ark., who has both Tony Romo and Matt Ryan on his keeper-league squad ... but isn't sure which one will have the greater season. At first blush, this competition has the makings of a dead-heat, but we'll tackle things on a week-by-week, opponent-by-opponent basis before rendering a decision:

Week 1 -- Ryan (@ Pittsburgh) over Romo (@ Washington)
Week 2 -- Romo (vs. Chicago) over Ryan (vs. Arizona)
Week 3 -- Ryan (@ New Orleans) over Romo (@ Houston)
Week 4 -- Ryan (vs. San Francisco) over Romo (BYE)
Week 5 -- Romo (vs. Tennessee) over Ryan (@ Cleveland)
Week 6 -- Romo (@ Minnesota) over Ryan (@ Philadelphia)
Week 7 -- Romo (vs. N.Y. Giants) over Ryan (vs. Cincinnati)
Week 8 -- Romo (vs. Jacksonville) over Ryan (BYE)
Week 9 -- Ryan (vs. Tampa Bay) over Romo (@ Green Bay)
Week 10 -- Romo (@ N.Y. Giants) over Ryan (vs. Baltimore)
Week 11 -- Romo (vs. Detroit) over Ryan (@ St. Louis)
Week 12 -- Romo (vs. New Orleans) over Ryan (vs. Green Bay)
Week 13 -- Ryan (@ Tampa Bay) over Romo (@ Indianapolis)
Week 14 -- Romo (vs. Philadelphia) over Ryan (@ Carolina)
Week 15 -- Ryan (@ Seattle) over Romo (vs. Washington)
Week 16 -- Ryan (vs. New Orleans) over Romo (@ Arizona)
Week 17 -- Ryan (vs. Carolina) over Romo (@ Philadelphia)
Final Tally: Romo wins, 9-8

Verdict: Romo comes out the victor on the strength of an indomitable run from Weeks 5-12, but Ryan certainly holds his own throughout the season. In fact, he'll probably post better overall numbers from Weeks 13-17, traditionally the periods for fantasy-football playoffs. My advice to Bill: You'll want to keep Romo before the draft, but if there was some way to possess both quarterbacks for the season ... it'd be great to pull a blockbuster trade involving Romo sometime around Week 11 or 12 -- just before Ryan's fantasy goodness kicks in for the homestretch.

The Biggest Crapshoot Of 'Em All

Here are my post-draft RB rankings for standard-scoring leagues, which will undoubtedly differ from the experts of other sites -- primarily because it's impossible to predict anything beyond Beanie Wells (No. 13) at this point. And if anyone claims otherwise, they're lying to you:

1. Chris Johnson, Titans
2. Adrian Peterson, Vikings
3. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars
4. Ray Rice, Ravens
5. Michael Turner, Falcons
6. Steven Jackson, Rams
7. DeAngelo Williams, Panthers
8. Frank Gore, 49ers
9. Cedric Benson, Bengals
10. Ryan Grant, Packers
11. Knowshon Moreno, Broncos
12. Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers
13. Beanie Wells, Cardinals
14. Matt Forte, Bears
15. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers
16. Shonn Greene, Jets
17. LeSean McCoy, Eagles
18. Pierre Thomas, Saints
19. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
20. C.J. Spiller, Bills

The Running Back Crapshoot, Part II

While we're at it, might as well list the next-best 20 tailbacks in fantasyland:
21. Joseph Addai, Colts
22. Clinton Portis, Redskins
23. Jerome Harrison, Browns
24. Brandon Jacobs, Giants
25. Darren McFadden, Raiders
26. Ronnie Brown, Dolphins
27. Ryan Mathews, Chargers
28. Steve Slaton, Texans
29. Marion Barber, Cowboys
30. Justin Forsett, Seahawks
31. Fred Jackson, Bills
32. Jahvid Best, Lions
33. Thomas Jones, Chiefs
34. Darren Sproles, Chargers
35. Felix Jones, Cowboys
36. LaDainian Tomlinson, Jets
37. Leon Washington, Seahawks
38. Montario Hardesty, Browns
39. Ben Tate, Texans
40. Kevin Smith, Lions
Note: The rankings didn't account for Brian Westbrook, who still could be an impact runner this season (assuming his concussions have subsided).

Sleeper Cells

Here's a list of Round 8 or later sleepers who'll bring greater value by season's end:
1. QB Brett Favre, Vikings (could be drafted anywhere betwixt Round 5 and 13)
2. RB Cadillac Williams, Bucs (his first non-rehabbing offseason since 2006)
3. TE Visanthe Shiancoe, Vikings (TD machine whose value is directly tied to Lord Favre's)
4. WR Devin Aromashodu, Bears (easily the best deep threat amongst the sleepers)
5. QB Matthew Stafford, Lions (3,521 total yards/23-24 TDs seems doable in Year 2)
6. QB Joe Flacco, Ravens (more favorable sked during fantasy playoffs than '09)
7. WR Laurent Robinson, Rams (no longer an obscure diamond in the rough)
8. WR Golden Tate, Seahawks (great for deeper PPR leagues this season)
9. QB Alex Smith, 49ers (may have the best weapons of any West Coast club)
10. RB Brandon Tate, Patriots

Mark Your Calendars

FYI: Sports Illustrated will be coming out with the sequel to its 2009 preseason fantasy football publication sometime in July, and our official Experts' Mock Draft is slated for June 1, meaning I'll have plenty of post-draft nuggets for the June 2 Clicks. Can't hardly wait!

Clip & Save

The following is a comprehensive listing (in five classifications) of which teams have the easiest and hardest schedules during the standard fantasy playoff period of Weeks 14, 15 and 16. The formula accounts for weather, strength/weakness of opposition and home/away considerations: (It goes without saying ... if you're torn between two QBs come draft day, this could be the tiebreaker)

Tier I -- The Easiest
1. Green Bay (@ Lions, @ Pats, vs. Giants at Lambeau -- 90 total points expected)
2. Detroit (vs. Packers, @ Bucs, @ Dolphins -- no wind or cold for Matthew Stafford)
3. Seattle (strange but true: Justin Forsett could bring you a fantasy title in Week 16)
4. Baltimore (the Ravens were listed in Tier V last year -- and now they're reaping the benefits of playing the Browns on Fantasy Championship Sunday)

Tier II
1. Indianapolis
2. Tennessee
3. Atlanta
4. Carolina (DeAngelo Williams should rule in Weeks 14/15)
5. Oakland
6. Minnesota
7. Cincinnati
8. Miami (might've made Tier 1 -- if it weren't for @ Jets in Week 14)
9. San Francisco
10. St. Louis
11. Denver (favorable mini-slate with Arizona, Oakland and Houston)
12. San Diego
13. Dallas
14. Houston

Tier III
1. Buffalo
2. Tampa Bay
3. Washington
4. Jacksonville
5. New Orleans
6. N.Y. Jets
7. Arizona
8. Kansas City (might've made Tier II if this team looked better on paper)
9. Philadelphia

Tier IV
1. New England
2. Chicago
3. N.Y. Giants
4. Pittsburgh (avoids Tier V by facing the Bengals, Jets and Panthers at home)

Tier V -- The Hardest
1. Cleveland (@ Bills, @ Bengals, vs. Ravens -- two great defenses, three bad-weather games)

Ma Nature's A Fickle Mistress

On the flip side ... these clubs should encounter treacherous weather for at least five games, which often serves as the great equalizer with star quarterbacks in fantasyland (See Tom Brady, Week 15 of 2007 vs. the Jets):

Five Probable Bad Weather Games

Six Probable Bad Weather Games
N.Y. Giants
N.Y. Jets
New England (rank Brady in the top-3 QBs at your own peril ... we're talking four blustery games at Foxboro, one in Chicago and one in Buffalo -- Dec. 26)

I Cannot Leave Without Showing ...

This hilarious, behind-the-scenes bit involving Saturday Night Live alum and underrated comedian kingpin Jim Breuer, while filming one of those stuffed-crust pizza commercials for Pizza Hut back in the day. I've showed this clip to at least eight people since Monday ... and the group is split over whether this hunger-related mini-meltdown is actually real or scripted. I'm dying to know from the Clicks audience, via Twitter: Real or fake -- what do you think? At the very least, this whole ordeal should become future fodder for Johnny Drama on HBO's Entourage.

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