Thursday, July 16, 2009

Latest Sporting News Experts Mock Draft -- Picking 11th out of 12

I participated in another mock draft with my fellow Sporting News writers yesterday. Drafting from the 11th slot in a standard, non-PPR 12-man league, with a starting lineup that includes 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 DEF and 1 K, here's what I did:

Pick #1: Larry Fitzgerald , AZ WR -- Unfortunately, I was running late because I am on vacation and was having a heck of a time finding internet access from Yosemite Natl Park. The auto drafter selected Fitzgerald for me -- the first WR off the board. Of course, I love Fitz, but I would have taken Chris Johnson here instead. Who knows? Fitz may have dropped to me at my next pick, or I would have been happy taking Randy Moss or Andre Johnson. I just don't think there's a huge difference between those 3, plus Calvin Johnson. All in all, I can live with this auto draft selection, but I love Chris J. and wish I had him as my RB1.

Pick #2: Steve Slaton , HOU RB -- In my mind, he was far-and-away the best RB left on the board (he was the 12th selected). Had I gotten CJ with my first pick, I would have been sorely tempted to take Slaton here anyway instead of an elite WR, if he slid. Slaton had a tremendous rookie season with 1,659 combined rushing and receiving yards and 10 total TDs. No reason he won't build on that this season, with virtually no real competition in the backfield. Love Houston's wide-open offense, and Slaton's role in the receiving game.

Pick #3: Phillip Rivers , SD QB -- I've written about how high I am on Rivers, so I had to grab him here or on the swing back. Since the guy drafting next didn't have a QB, I didn't want to take any chances. I love Rivers as my QB1.

Pick #4: Wes Welker , NE WR -- I struggled with this pick, but felt Welker offered the best value on the board. This would be a better pick in PPR leagues, but a healthy Brady makes Welker a very strong WR2. With 3 starting WRs, it's critical to take at least 2 strong receivers early.

Pick #5: Chris Wells, AZ RB -- I took Beanie in the 4th round of the SN Mock Draft held for the annual draft guide, so I love him here in the 5th. I firmly believe Wells will be the lead back in AZ from Day One, and will be this year's top rookie RB.

Pick #6: Larry Johnson , KC RB -- Pretty salty RB3, with plenty of potential to have a bounce-back season.

Pick #7: Eddie Royal , DEN WR -- If Brandon Marshall holds out, is suspended, is traded, or does something else stupid, Royal would become the No. 1 receiver in Denver. Even if Marshall is there, I like the second-year player's chances of being a solid fantasy contributor this season.

Pick #8: Kellen Winslow , TB TE -- Boom or bust TE selection. Best on the board after the elites (Gates, Witten, Gonzo, Dallas Clark) and others were already gone.

Pick #9: Matt Cassel , KC QB -- The Chiefs just paid him a king's ransom, so they must feel very good about their prized free-agent acquisition. Plenty of experts think he's starting QB material for their fantasy squads, but I feel much better with him in a backup role.

Pick #10: Vikings defense -- Probably the second-best fantasy defense after the Steelers, I felt good getting them as the 5th unit off the board.

Pick #11: Ahmad Bradshaw , NYG RB -- Another potential breakout player I've blogged about, I could see Bradshaw starting for me for at least a couple of weeks when Brandon Jacobs inevitably breaks down.

Pick #12: Mark Clayton , BAL WR -- Was hoping either Earl Bennett or Miles Austin would be here, but they were taken a few picks before. Clayton is the presumed No. 1 WR in Baltimore now that Derrick Mason has retired, assuming the Ravens don't bring in Marvin Harrison, Brandon Marshall or someone else. Not counting on much here, but Clayton could be a decent bye-week fill-in.

Pick #13: Jamaal Charles , KC RB -- Insurance for my Larry Johnson gamble.

Pick #14: Mark Bradley , KC WR -- If Cassel performs well, big-play Bradley could be a steal this late. But come to think of it, how good can I feel about 4 Chiefs on my roster? Just realized that...

Pick #15: Chris Henry, CIN WR -- Quite possibly the steal of the draft, especially if he emerges as a starter opposite Ochocinco (and ahead of Laveranues Coles). Henry has always been a fantasy factor when he's playing and Carson Palmer is healthy. Love this pick this late.

Pick #16: Ladell Betts, WAS RB -- Lots of positive vibes out of DC about Betts' offseason performance. He has always had the talent to thrive outside of Clinton Portis' shadow. Portis is aging, so Betts could easily be in the starting lineup for some games this season. Nice trade bait...

Pick #17: Neil Rackers, AZ, K -- Solid kicker on a great offense. Not bad for second-to-last pick in the draft. But I don't like his early (Week 4) bye week. That may force me to make a hard free-agent decision early.

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