Welcome my fantasy brethren to a look at 2006 via the Progno’s perspective. I’ve drafted the drafts, studied the talent, worked out the opinions and wanted to pass a few thoughts along, hopefully in time for your 2006 draft.
RB is deep this year and for the first time in a number of years I think you hold off, somewhat, and load up later on opportunity. Your first round pick will be a RB, it’s just a matter of picking which one.
The standard trio of LaDainian Tomlinson, Larry Johnson and Shaun Alexander in whatever order, will start your draft and for my money, Tomlinson is the pick of the three not only because I think he is the safest pick but it will be easier to handcuff him later in the draft than with the other two. Kansas City may have a host of guys in that backup spot and you’ll have to pay toward the end of the draft to pick up Maurice Morris which will hurt you elsewhere. Michael Turner is an easy acquisition later in a point in the draft where there’s little value in other positions.
In a standard 12 team league, the 4, 5 and even 6 pick I’m not fond of this year but do like the 3 and 7 through 11. This is a great year to be hanging out around 7 through 9 which is where I think the 2006 sweet spot is.
If I had the 4th pick? I’d buck trend, take the jeers and take Steven Jackson. Tiki won’t score much, Portis has questions and I’m not on the Edgerrin James wagon this year. Past the top 3, my top two backs to come away with in the first round are Steven Jackson and Lamont Jordan, in that order.
I will not be the guy that takes Peyton Manning, Terrell Owens, Domanick Davis or Antonio Gates. Say it with me, “I will not be the guy to take Peyton Manning, Terrell Owens, Domanick Davis or Antonio Gates.” In fact, cross them off your list now, we will find QB’s, TE’s and RB’s later in the draft and be quite pleased with the selections. Owens I’m running away from screaming for all the obvious reasons and I’m very concerned about Domanick Davis and his ability to get back on a football field at 100%. With some decent talent behind him, it is a little too easy to push him out of his starting role and that is not what I want from a 2nd, 3rd or even 4th round pick.
In the 2nd round I’ll be looking for a RB that fell like a Carnell Williams, Rudi Johnson, Brian Westbrook, Ronnie Brown, odds are you’re going to need to be at the very top of the 2nd round to fill in with a solid RB #2. For you middle round drafters I’m advocating one of the top WR’s this year as there is fantastic value with Steve Smith, Chad Johnson, Randy Moss, Tory Holt and Larry Fitzgerald (in that order.) The end of 2nd round drafters should be looking at any of the top WR’s listed or double up with one of the RB’s with potential like Willis McGahee, Kevin Jones or Julius Jones then we’re snarfing up the top WR’s that fell through the cracks like Marvin Harrison.
The RB vacuum cleaners in your league will over draft RB’s early this year leaving yet more big WR names for drafting in the 3rd round. Anquan Boldin added to the list of WR’s already mentioned all make solid and recommended 3rd round picks if available, over any other RB choices. You will see why, later in this article, why it is a good year to grab two of the top WR’s with two of your first four picks.
In the 4th round it’s time to pick up a RB that may have sneeked through. Guys like Reggie Bush, Chester Taylor, Willie Parker, Jamal Lewis, Deshaun Foster, Corey Dillon and Warrick Dunn (in that order.) Though Reggie Bush has been climbing the draft lists recently. The rest of the choices like Chris Chambers, Hines Ward, Reuben Droughns, Darrell Jackson, Santana Moss, Donald Driver and Plaxico Burress don’t excite me as much. Some good players in that group of course but I’d only draft in a pinch.
A pivotal round that stages the middle of your draft. Round 5 this year you need to be very careful with. Do not rush this pick, think it all the way through.
You probably won’t end up drafting these guys if you grab the stud WR’s early as I’m recommending, but Roy Williams and Andre Johnson are under valued and I think the owners that draft either one of these guys will be stealing them. If it makes sense, like Andre Johnson fell to me in the 5th round of a draft recently, take them. Never overpay but tuck both Roy Williams and Andre Johnson away as guys to target if it makes sense in your draft. Both are poised for huge seasons and will finish higher than their 2006 draft position.
You might be tempted to look at Tom Brady or Carson Palmer in the 5th but stay away. We are going to go in hard on QB in a bit but there will be some gem in the 5th that you should draft. Stay away from the front runners in the Denver RB game by ignoring Tatum and Mike Bell. History has proven that the value play in Denver is to always draft the guy off the radar. Later in the draft we’ll try to finish with Cedric Cobbs or whomever is the 3rd or 4th option at the time, and pay next to nothing for a decent shot at the Denver running game instead of over paying here.
The other thing to start to look at in the 5th round is trying to lock up a running tandem by taking the front runner in one of the power offenses in the league. I try to acquire runners from the Bears, Chiefs, Steelers and Ravens with an eye toward a steal in the Denver ground game. The Chiefs I’m finding is a tough running game to wrap up this year because of some Larry Johnson guy and my reduced window of owning opportunity. Though if you have LJ, keep an eye on Michael Bennett later in your draft, others will also be eyeing him. There’s tremendous value with the Bears and the Ravens and if this is the spot to take Cedric Benson then come back with Thomas Jones. Locking up the Bears running game in the 5th and 6th round is enormous. Picking up Jamal Lewis and then drafting Mike Anderson and then Musa Smith at the very end of your draft will also pay big dividends. Another power pair, that if you play right can happen, is Corey Dillon and Laurence Maroney and I highly recommend that combo, but realize you will have to pick up Maroney quickly as he is on a lot of radars. Dillon is still the first pick in the Patriots running game if you plan to go after Maroney. Me, I’d rather be the owner that scoops Maroney from the Dillon owner, but having both would be formidable.
If there truly is no RB combination to build, or a RB that fell through the cracks, then look at QB in the 5th, in particular, Matt Hasselbeck or Tom Brady.
The 6th round will either be a Bears running game handcuff, a RB that slipped through, Matt Hasselbeck, Donovan McNabb or Marc Bulger. Call me crazy, but I passed over Tom Brady recently and took Matt Hasselbeck, cooky I know. Look to come out of the 6th or 7th round with a strong combo like Hasselbeck and McNabb. Recently I drafted Hasselbeck in the 5th, Thomas Jones in the 6th and McNabb in the 7th.
We are probably looking to tie up our second decent QB with our pick in the 7th, if one doesn’t exist, like if Delhomme is the next best available or that caliber of QB then punt as we’ll load up on QB much later with the likes of Brett Favre, Chris Simms, and Philip Rivers with a wily veteran like Mark Brunell or Brad Johnson thrown in for depth even later. If you grabbed a QB in the 5th and 6th then the 7th is a good spot to again go RB. By locking up some top tier WR’s earlier in this draft you’ll be very stoked to see some of the RB’s that drop in your lap. If you went RB hard early you’d be looking at Joe Horn, Rod Smith, Deion Branch type players here. Me, I’d much rather have Chad Johnson and Anquan Boldin or Andre Johnson then pick from the likes of Thomas Jones, Fred Taylor, Chris Brown, Laurence Maroney, Ron Dayne etc. The top tiered TE’s don’t excite and in fact we have our sites set on either Alge Crumpler or Jason Witten in the 8th round. Write it in now, your 8th round pick is Alge Crumpler or Jason Witten, you should get one or the other in the 8th. I have in every draft thus far.
Uhhh.. durr. Alge Crumpler or Jason Witten in a TE required league of course. Both these guys represent tremendous value in the 8th and I can almost guarantee you’ll get one or the other. The top TE’s drafted thus far will look silly compared to when you get a quality guy like Crumpler or Witten. If in the off chance they’re both off the board, look around for value picks, guys that fell through the cracks irrespective of position, if one doesn’t exist, Chris Cooley also makes a decent selection here.
It’s time to start thinking WR again. There will be some opportunity like Matt Jones or Muhsin Muhammed. Hopefully you’ve got Lee Evans, Michael Clayton or Reggie Brown staring you in the face. Get one of the last guys on the board with upside potential in case one of your stud WR’s goes down (gasp! – frantically throwing salt over my shoulder) and as a decent bye week cover or if there’s just a great matchup that’s hard to resist. Capable WR’s drop off fast and you will want to watch that precipice closely to make sure you get one of the last guys before it dips into never-never land.
I’m back. I’m back in the RB saddle again. Look at back up guys like Mike Anderson for you Jamal Lewis owners, Chris Perry for you Rudi Johnson guys, Greg Jones for you opportunistic guys, there’ll be opportunity for some decent RB talent here.
The deeper we get into this draft the more we need to start reacting to our roster and it’s about here, in the 11th round that I make a pick that’s purely roster driven. If I’m short at WR I’ll go WR here and probably again in the 12th. I’m also finding Samkon Gado a lot here in the 11th round. I actually like him in the 10th but no sense spending a 10th round pick on someone I can get in the 11th. Due to our early double up at QB, there’s really no need to work on depth yet, though in a deep draft, like 20 rounds, I’ll draft a 3rd QB soon and in 16 round drafts, the two we have should do the trick. If we only managed to get one QB then here is a good place to start looking at what’s available. Steve McNair could look good on your roster as could Brett Favre if he is still available. Philip Rivers, Chris Simms and David Carr are guys I’m targeting this year as decent value plays that can be had here or maybe one more round.
Round 12 & 13
This is where I’m starting to look at D’s. The Bears and Panthers are probably gone but the Steelers or Ravens tend to fit nicely. If not, we’re just hunting for value at WR or RB, scooping up players that have fallen through the cracks with the following usually being available later in your draft that I think are decent buys. David Givens, Mark Clayton, Ernest Wilford, or Ryan Moats.
Round 14 & 15
Round 14 I may think kicker if a solid one is available, Adam Vinatieri, Neil Rackers, Mike Vanderjagt or Shayne Graham but they may have been scooped up already. If scooped you’re really just looking for value and guys you like, filling roster positions where needed. Guys I like in the 14th and 15th have been Kevin Curtis, Mark Brunell, Troy Williamson, Samie Parker or Maurice Morris.
I don’t subscribe to the leave your K or D till the last pick theory. I want to have the flexibility to go in any direction at the end of my draft and not be tied down to a position. If you leave this door open for yourself you will end up drafting a usually good 16th round selection. Me, I’m usually looking RB with my last pick and trying to shore up one of my earlier selections. In a recent draft I took Jamal Lewis and Mike Andersen so in the 16th, Musa Smith joined my squad. As I said earlier, target the Ravens, Bears, Steelers and Chiefs ground games and good will come of it if you can wrap it up. Other 16th round RB selections I’ve been getting and highly recommend are Vernand Morency and Verron Haynes. If both are gone, then I spin the wheel and draft Cedric Cobbs as a very cheap investment into the Denver running game.
If all the tumblers fall your way, you may walk away with the Bears, Ravens AND Broncos running game along with whatever super stud RB you picked in the 1st round. If you end up with these runnings games along with the two solid QB’s you drafted early, your stable of stud WR’s, Alge Crumpler or Jason Witten, and a top 5 (possibly 3) D and K, you just won your league in 2006, congratulations!
It’s as odd a season as I’ve seen. The major strategy points this season is to look at stud WR’s in rounds 2 and 3, be a RB whore but sprinkle your whoring to rounds 4 – 10 with a later revisit to the position in the last two rounds. 2 QB’s should be tied up, usually by the end of the 6th not no later than the 7th. Crumpler or Witten in the 8th and the rest should fall into place for you as you look to patch together backups and value to dominate your league in 2006.