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2010 Draft Plan

Each year, I put together a road map for your draft, based on my experience, drafting against the best and brightest in our hobby. I’ve been in the trenches, drafting against all the folks representing their three- or four-letter acronym sites, testing my drafting oats against theirs, showcasing my superiority along with my modesty. I’ve drafted from the first position, the top four, middle, end, in the caboose. You name a draft position, I’ve drafted from it. For me personally, it’s been a fun drafting season as there are so many twists, turns and tough decisions to make in 2010. I can hardly remember another season like it.

One of the real surfing tricks to your 2010 draft will be to not put yourself in a position where there’s an abundance of talent at a position you’ve already filled. For example, runningback and wide receiver in the middle rounds need to be played very delicately as it’s easy to paint yourself into a corner. For illustration, by drafting an extra runningback in the middle rounds you’ll be looking at a fistful of runningbacks you’d like to have late, but you won’t have that need anymore so you’ll be forced into wide receivers that will at that point in the draft be a dime-a-dozen. Let me repeat – because I like to repeat – knowing when to draft a particular position is key in 2010 if you want to have a great draft, and picking up too many middle-tier runningbacks can cost you dearly. 

To explain things a tad, those that play in six point per touchdown pass leagues where quarterbacks fly off the shelves in the first round, this article isn’t for you. This hobby frankly isn’t for you, but I digress. I’m sticking to the most common formats and these days that boils down to PPR (point per reception) or not. I’ll explain PPR differences as we go when we get into the player draft portion a little later.

Let’s first take a look at the standard fantasy positions and how they’re shaping up in 2010.

The draft will dictate when you draft a quarterback and complicates the “think on your feet” draft that 2010 has become. Those that can make the seamless adjustments during a draft and can assemble a team on the fly will do best this season. If you’re picking late in the first round, Aaron Rodgers makes sense and I’ve tried this strategy. Conversely, in a current FanEx draft, I was the last team to draft a quarterback when many other teams already had their backups. I ended up with Alex Smith at the end of the 11th and Chad Henne at the top of the 12th, with a viable third still to come. The draft will completely dictate where and when you go quarterback and you have to be prepared to go in any direction at a moments notice.

“So when does Aaron Rodgers make sense, Tony? I’m here for player advice not this draft voodoo nonsense. Du-uhh …” (in a Napoleon Dynamite Du-uhh …)

Late first. It hurts to even think it, as at heart, I’m not a fan of early quarterbacks but it can work out if you follow it up with wide receiver and one of the top three tight ends then worry about runningback. 

Take Drew Brees or Peyton Manning if you’re staring at some decent choices and they’re all choices with some question marks. Knowshon Moreno or Peyton Manning? Manning of course. Brees and Manning are what you call “sure things.” They will produce (barring injury) at a guaranteed high level and that’s worth a roster slot, over even a talented guy with promise. 

In most leagues you will find Tom Brady, Matt Schaub and Philip Rivers fall a number of rounds after the big quarterbacks are off the board, and there’s tremendous value in the fifth round for Brady, Schaub or Rivers. Rivers sometimes slides a round lower. I still don’t tend to advocate quarterback early as I mentioned, but in some drafts, those guys have made a ton of sense as fifth- or sixth-round selections. This year, don’t hesitate to be a buyer at those prices. 

Tony Romo always goes earlier than seems worth it, so let him go. 

There are some more tremendous values later on at quarterback as Matt Ryan often slides and slides and slides down the draft pole. I’m a buyer. I really like Kevin Kolb this season too, but there’s almost always someone else in the draft that agrees and is usually willing to draft him earlier than I am. Don’t be too afraid of Jay Cutler, draft him later and he’ll end up being a great value pick for your team. I really target quarterbacks that are in the second year on a team after coming from another team where they’ve had success and stunk up their first year with their new team.  It happens … a lot. These type of players are always depressed in fantasy land drafts the following year, but what’s missed is that the light often goes on for them a year after and they end up being tremendous draft values. Cutler is one of those guys, but the even better pick at an even better value (for a backup of course) is Matt Cassel. Demonstrated ability with the New England Patriots, stunk up the house on a bad Kansas City Chiefs team last year, so he is way, way down the draft board, but the Chiefs have a lot of sneaky weapons this year and
Cassel will be night and day. Buy very late and reap the rewards.

Other quarterbacks The Prognosticator endorses in 2010 that make solid backup options:

Eli Manning – Underrated again and will over deliver, again. 

Joe Flacco – The light is coming on for Flacco.

Henne – Big arm, Brandon Marshall, he’ll make progress.

Mark Sanchez – I know they’re a running team, but all those weapons and LaDainian Tomlinson to boot, leaves me drooling a little.

Matt Moore – Not the right system at all, not even mentioned in most places, but a decent, Troy Aikman type quarterback that doesn’t turn the ball over. Can likely be had in free agency, and if the Carolina Panthers find a surprise in their passing game they’ll start to use it more.

Anyone that knows me knows I’ve been a big Donovan McNabb supporter for years, but new systems (as mentioned) scare me for quarterbacks, and as a rule I steer clear the first year they’re in it. So McNabb, Jason Campbell and Jake Delhomme aren’t on my list. Though I do think
Campbell has a shot to do well in

, history keeps nagging me to stay away, so I will. Steer clear of Carson Palmer as well, yes he has some impressive weapons, but I didn’t like what I saw as far as arm strength went last season and there’s something nagging to me about Palmer.  Enough so that I steer around him. The only other two I’ll mention are Vince Young and Mark Sanchez. If it’s really late in the draft and because of one thing or another you haven’t secured your backup quarterback yet or are looking to add a third, I’d look at Young or Sanchez as your solution. Henne as well in that mix with Alex Smith worthy of mention.

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