September 02, 2010

Can you smell it? That's the odor of pigskin wafting ever closer as the NFL regular season approaches. A huge percentage of fantasy drafts will go down in the next week. If this weekend is your only draft, I hope you've been mock drafting. You can analyze the player pool all you want, but until you've went through the process, you just can't know the ins and outs that each different year brings. To help those of you who haven't taken the time to do some serious mocking, I'll share my five commandments for fantasy football drafts for the 2010 season. Yeah, I know, there are supposed to be 10 commandments, but we're talking about a league with Michael Vick and Ben Roethlisberger here. We can't aim too high.

1. Thou Shall Disregard the Bye Week. -- At almost every draft, someone starts ranting because they've inadvertently drafted a high number of players with the same bye week. Who cares. It might even be a good thing. Think about it. Would you rather run your team at 80 percent for four or five weeks, or toss a week and click on full cylinders the rest of the season. You might even get lucky and catch another owner with numerous byes and squeak out a victory. I'm not saying to plan your byes for the same week, just to ignore byes altogether. If your fantasy team can't absorb one loss, it likely wasn't going anywhere anyway.

2. Thou shalt not draft a defense until the last two rounds. -- Seriously, team defense is the easiest slot to play the matchups. I don't care what defense we're talking about, they're likely to do well if they play the Rams, Seahawks, or Buccaneers. If you get to the last two rounds and a great defense is there, go ahead and grab it. Just don't lose out on high upside sleepers at wide receiver or running back in order to get a defense that may turn out to be worse than they were supposed to be.

3. Thou shalt not covet thy QB. -- Yeah, I love watching Drew Brees toss four TD passes as much as the next guy, but the lack of depth at WR and RB (more on that later) means you lose serious ground when you snatch the early QB. There are 15 or 16 QBs I'd feel comfortable with as starters or part of a tandem. You'll end up better in the end if you package two decent QBs from the large tier beneath the top seven. Better yet, draft Roethlisberger in round nine and limp through the first four weeks. Your RBs and WRs will carry you through.

4. Honor thy running backs and wide receivers. -- With the current trend of sharing backfield carries and goal line touches, the running back pool is suddenly filled with question marks. By my count, there are 13 RBs who can be considered primary ball carriers. That's pretty deep when you look at the issues surrounding NFL receivers once you get past the top three or four. Larry Fitzgerald is going off the board as the fifth receiver. I don't know about you, but I'm a little hesitant to put my faith in him with Derek Anderson (or Matt Leinart) at the helm. With all this uncertainty at RB and WR, nailing down reliable options is a must.

5. Thou shalt not ignore the tight end as a flex option. -- For years, fantasy owners have filled the flex position with extra running backs and generally done well. Unlike running back and wide receiver, the tight end position is loaded this year. Typically, Fantasy owners would sneak out with an Antonio Gates or Dallas Clark and then not worry about another tight end. This year with the lack of reliable receivers, it might be time to look at another tight end as a flex option. In a recent draft, I grabbed Clark, who puts up elite numbers in the PPR format, and then tacked on a little bit later with Jermichael Finley.

Since many of you will be drafting this weekend I'll share a few of my last minute observations. It's hard to take too much from three preseason games, during which we've seen starters for maybe four quarters, but some players have still stood out.

Looking for running backs that will exceed their ADP? Jahvid Best and Steven Jackson seem ready to answer their critics.

Many experts considered Best too small to carry a heavy load and were also concerned about the Lions' shaky passing game. Best has been as impressive as any RB in the league this preseason, exploding outside for huge gains, but also running effectively between the tackles. Matthew Stafford has taken a step forward and the presence of Calvin Johnson means defenses will not be stacking the box to stop Best. I'm not drafting Best as a RB1, but it won't surprise me when he produces like one.

Jackson has still been going in the first round in public leagues, but he's falling more in the expert leagues I've been a part of. The back injury was a concern and the Rams' offense was pathetic last year. Jackson has looked renewed this preseason and Sam Bradford is looking like he'll add a little danger to the St. Louis passing game. Jackson will score at least double the four TDs he tallied last year and will get as much work as his back can take.

I've tried to ignore the hype around Terrell Owens, but the situation seems to be right for him to produce serious Fantasy value. Chad Ochocinco is not the threat he used to be and is more of a possession receiver at this point. TO is going to get more looks in the red zone and is much more likely to make the big play. Carson Palmer has looked better as the preseason has progressed, and seems to favor Owens as his preferred target. Owens is being taken after lesser receivers like Johnny Knox, Santana Moss, and even Vincent Jackson who may not suit up at all. I can't stand TO, but good owners never let personal feelings come between them and their fantasy team.

Arian Foster is set to provide serious value for fantasy owners. Initially I viewed Foster as a limited upside flex play. The Texans seem committed to him though and it looks like he'll get his share of receptions out of the backfield as well as all goal line work. Foster is getting drafted as the 24th RB, but he's in the perfect situation to far exceed that value. It's a risky strategy to wait on running backs, but if your league hasn't caught on to Foster yet, he'll make for a nice mid-round bargain.

One last word on drafting; remember, you can go in with a plan, but every draft is different. Be prepared to take the best player available even if they don't fit into your master scheme. Not only do you need to know the players, but also know the ins and outs of your league setup. Football has a wider range of scoring systems than any other fantasy sport. Be the owner who takes advantage of that and you'll find yourself in the postseason. Once you're there, anything can happen.

Don't forget to check out our Xclusive Edge Rankings for help with tough lineup decisions.

Wake up every morning with RotoExperts on Sirius XM's new Fantasy Sports Radio channel. Listen live starting at 7 am ET as covers all Fantasy Sports and takes your calls on Sirius channel 211 and XM channel 147.

Doug Anderson is the Executive Editor at Look for Man in a Box every Tuesday and catch him on The Fantasy War Room, Thursdays at 8 ET. Wanna climb in the box and talk Fantasy sports? E-mail Doug at

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