The mock drafts are behind us. Now it's time for the real deal.
The Sporting News Fantasy Source experts drafted this afternoon for the league we will play out this season -- with untold riches and bragging rights at stake.
I drew the 4th overall selection in this 12-team, standard league (starting 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 K and 1 D/ST). Here's what I was able to assemble:
Round 1: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers. The Big 3 RBs flew off the board first, as expected. The choice was Rodgers or Megatron, but after mock drafting several times, I found that the opportunity cost of skipping an elite QB in the first round is simply too great. Elite WRs will still be available in the 3rd, but top QBs are gone by the middle of the 2nd. Besides, it never sucks to have the best passer in the league on your side.
Round 2: Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks. He's not a sexy pick; just a good one, with minimal risk. He's not going to get suspended this season (unless he pulls another boneheaded stunt), and people forget he was the 5th-best fantasy RB in the league in 2011. DeMarco Murray was long gone, and I was fairly certain Lynch wouldn't get back to me in the 3rd. Just as important, several elite WRs were still available, so I knew I could wait for them.
Round 3: Greg Jennings, WR, Packers. The WRs started flying after my Lynch pick, but one of my faves made it around. I'm not normally a big believer in teaming QBs and WRs, but if you're gonna do it, Rodgers-Jennings is a pretty sweet combo.
Round 4: Frank Gore, RB, 49ers. Another one of my targeted guys, I'm very pleased to snare Gore late in the 4th. After all the years of being severely over-valued, his price now is a bargain.
Round 5: Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys. I had my heart set on Antonio Gates here, but he was snagged a couple picks too soon. So I held off on my TE pick and got the best WR available as my second guy. If he can just keep his hammies intact, Smilin' Miles can perform at an elite level. Came very close to taking Torrey Smith, but gambled that he'd make it back around. Missed him by "that much."
Round 6: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Bengals. I like the Law Firm's chances to perform as a true workhorse in Cincinnati's improving offense. Love him as a RB3 in a 12-team league.
Round 7: Jermichael Finley, TE, Packers. Had my eye on Finley and Titus Young, but the Lions wideout was scooped up 4 picks before me. Though I hesitated to grab another Packers receiver, Finley proved too valuable to resist. I'm all-in on Green Bay now! If Rodgers goes down, I'm toast...
Round 8: Denarius Moore, WR, Raiders. He slid further than I expected, so I was very happy to get him here. Not crazy about Moore as my WR3 -- looks like my weakness will be in the WR department -- but if he comes through as projected, I'll be fine.
Round 9: Mark Ingram, RB, Saints. Love him as my RB4. I'm expecting the former first-rounder to fulfill his lofty draft status this season.
Round 10: Matt Schaub, QB, Texans. As solid a backup QB as there is...
Round 11: Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers. Yeah, the pickins are getting slim... Normally would have grabbed Randall Cobb here (he went just a few picks later), but I'm already over-invested in the Pack.
Round 12: Danny Amendola, WR, Rams. Another of my sleeper picks. Actually like him better than Crabtree, but figured he'd still be available here.
Round 13: Eagles defense/special teams. I have the Packers' unit ranked higher, but again, I can't afford to take another roster hit during their bye week. The run on defenses had begun, and the 49ers were long gone, so I "settled" for the #3 D/ST on my board.
Round 14: Laurent Robinson, WR, Jaguars. Despite a quiet preseason, he looks good on paper, no?
Round 15: Isaiah Pead, RB, Rams. When, not if, S-Jax misses time with another hard-luck injury, Pead will be all the rage in Fantasyland. Who knows what Jackson's owner will trade me for the talented rookie, who just needs a chance to shine.
Round 16: Jason Hanson, K, Lions. An accurate kicker in a high-octane offense. Just what the doctor ordered.
Round 17: Owen Daniels, TE, Texans. Another backup with plenty of upside; just like his QB.
So there you have it. I love my QBs, like my RBs and TEs a lot, and am worried about my WRs. But in a 12-team league, it's hard to be happy at every position.
I guess we'll find out soon enough...