Fantasy Focus: Don't Be A Homer

One of the cardinal rules of Fantasy Football is to take the "fan" out of "fantasy." Don't overvalue the players from your favorite team. Brad Keller and Eric Hartz already have a draft each under their belts, and Brad Keller chimes in with his advice for Colts fans everywhere.

Eric drafted in a 12-team league and Brad drafted in three 12-team leagues, all of them had one keeper.  His keepers were Steven Jackson, Matt Forte, and Michael Turner.  All Brad's leagues were keeper leagues, so the round the player was drafted in is adjusted up one, since the first round of players were kept and those 12 players were off the board before the draft began.

Here are the results, with the player listed and the round in which they were drafted:

Eric's Draft:

Peyton Manning, Round 2 (20th overall)
Reggie Wayne, Round 2 (19th overall)
Joseph Addai, Round 4 (45th overall)
Dallas Clark, Round 5 (57th overall)
Donald Brown, Round 5 (60th overall)
Anthony Gonzalez, Round 8 (88th overall)
Colts D/ST, Undrafted
Adam Vinatieri, Undrafted
Hart, Garcon, and Collie went undrafted.

Brad:

Peyton Manning, Round 3 (33rd overall), Round 1 (Keeper), Round 2 (18th overall)
Reggie Wayne, Round 2 (20th overall), Round 2 (19th overall), Round 2 (23rd overall)
Joseph Addai, Round 5 (58th overall), Round 4 (42nd overall), Round 4 (45th overall)
Dallas Clark, Round 6 (68th overall), Round 6 (67th overall, league does not require you to start a tight end, so this counts as one of his receivers), Round 5 (59th overall, by Brad)
Anthony Gonzalez, Round 6 (71st overall), Round 4 (44th overall), Round 6 (64th overall)
Donald Brown, Round 8 (94th overall), Round 6 (71st overall), Round 8 (86th overall)
Colts D/ST, Round 16 (186th overall, by Brad), Round 14 (165th overall), Undrafted
Adam Vinatieri, Undrafted, Undrafted, Undrafted
Mike Hart, Pierre Garcon, and Austin Collie went undrafted.

What We Learned:

Peyton Manning: Manning is one of three quarterbacks in fantasy football that can be counted on to be productive every season.  The other two are Drew Brees and Tom Brady.  Shortly after Manning went off the board — Brees and Brady were either kept or drafted before Manning — Philip Rivers and Kurt Warner quickly followed, with some Aaron Rogers mixed in for good measure.

If the quarterback position is a valuable commodity in your fantasy league, you need one of the Big Three.  The next tier of Rivers, Warner, and Rodgers all have question marks, but are also solid.  After that, there are mostly more questions than answers for fantasy purposes, but there are a lot of solid candidates.  Brad did not place a premium on quarterbacks and ended up with Carson Palmer, Jay Cutler, and Matt Schaub as his starters, all taken between the sixth and ninth rounds.

Eric also took Cutler and Schaub with his swing pick in the fourth and fifth rounds, so there are other options.  If you believe that Manning has another MVP caliber season in him with, once again, a great complement of weapons surrounding him, he is an excellent choice, provided that you value quarterbacks over receivers and running backs, since you will need to take him in the second round at the latest.

Reggie Wayne: Wayne has ascended to the upper tier of elite receivers.  The teams that got him were happy to get him and he is one of nine "can't miss" receivers.  After him, question marks abound.  You need to grab one of those nine players in the first three rounds, or face a season's worth of anxiety over which of a limited pool of players to put in the first receiver slot in your lineup.

Wayne is an excellent option, since he has proven to be productive, even when Marvin Harrison was still with the Colts and he was the second receiver.  Now that he is the primary target for Manning in an offense that will give him plenty of opportunities, he's as good a choice as any out of the Top Nine.  He can also be had after Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson, Randy Moss, and, occasionally, Greg Jennings, so he is well worth the selection.

Joseph Addai: No one is 100 percent sure of how to handicap the Indianapolis backfield, which is why a talent like Addai was able to slip so far.  Addai finds himself in a similar situation to the one he was in as a rookie in 2006, except that he is now in the Dominic Rhodes role.  Addai ended up rushing for more yards on fewer carries than Rhodes in 2006, but history is not guaranteed to repeat itself, especially since Addai appears to have the confidence of Jim Caldwell.  However, Brown is getting drafted earlier and earlier, which may have an effect on Addai's draft position.

As stated previously, trying to draft both sides of a time share only handicaps the owner, so you need to pick a horse and go with it.  If you think Addai is your horse, take him in the fourth or fifth round.  Other backs taken in the fourth or fifth round: Marshawn Lynch, Darren McFadden, Reggie Bush, Willie Parker, Thomas Jones, Knowshon Moreno, and Pierre Thomas.

Dallas Clark: If your league requires you to start a tight end, Clark is an excellent target.  Jason Witten, Antonio Gates, and Tony Gonzalez are the only tight ends being taken before him.  Clark could ascend to being Manning's second option as the season wears on, so he would be a very good player to have.  Everyone in all drafts saw it this way, so you would need to take him in the fifth or sixth round in order to secure his services.  He should have a very productive year, but this is also a deep tight end group.

If you miss out on Clark, the next tier starts to get less appealing, with the possible exception of Owen Daniels.  Eric grabbed Kellen Winslow at the end of the eighth round and Brad took Kevin Boss in the 13th round.  There are other options out there, but Clark is the last of the "sure things," so if you value the tight end position, you need to grab him fairly early.

Donald Brown: He is starting to be taken one or two rounds after Addai.  If you want to get a Colts back and missed out on Addai, be prepared to draft Brown with your next selection.  Only Caldwell will be able to control how this plays out and he is still at the mercy of game situations and a long season.

I happen to believe that Brown will end up with the better season, but opinions vary.  Eric doesn't happen to agree with me and favors Addai.  Again, this is a situation where you need to pick a horse and go with it.  For advice purposes, I have taken to adopting this strategy: When in doubt, listen to what Eric says. Other backs taken in the sixth or eighth round: Ray Rice, Leon Washington, Fred Taylor, Larry Johnson, Cedric Benson, Tim Hightower, Derrick Ward, Felix Jones, and Laurence Maroney.

Anthony Gonzalez: Gonzalez was, it appears, taken late in Eric's draft.  That is perhaps because the other members of his league also listen to him.  Provided that he steps up and becomes Manning's second option, Gonzalez could be a steal — even in the fourth round.  He has yet to prove that he can fill Harrison's or Wayne's shoes in the offense, so there is still risk involved.

But, as a second or third receiver, he is well worth the risk.  He is a talented player and, with the number of targets he's likely to garner during the course of the season, he'll have to do something with them.  If the preseason is any indication, Indianapolis intends to target him at every point on the field.  Other options in the sixth round: Hines Ward, Jerricho Cotchery, Santana Moss, Kevin Walter, Lee Evans, Antonio Bryant, Laveranues Coles, and Bernard Berrian.

Colts D/ST: I always take a defense last or next-to-last.  By the time I got around to picking a defense, the Colts were the best option on the board.  They should be better against the run this season, should have more sacks than last season with Larry Coyer's pressure defense, and over the past two seasons, have been able to keep the opposing team off the score board.

If higher ranked defenses are off the board, the Colts defense is an excellent option.  Two other good late options are the Chargers and the Cowboys.  They should at least be counted on for plenty of sacks.  During the season, you can always pick up a good defense and the elite defenses are not worth a pick in the first ten rounds.

Adam Vinatieri: He is a clutch player in the postseason and should be fine for the 2009 kickoff, but there are easily 12 other kickers that are more appealing for fantasy purposes.  Kickers, like defenses, can always be found on the waiver wire, so there's no use in reaching for a name player.

Vinatieri has converted 20, 23, and 25 field goal attempts the last three seasons respectively.  Since Indianapolis is so efficient in the red zone, he doesn't get as many opportunities as other options.

Mike Hart, Austin Collie, and Pierre Garcon: They were not drafted and, barring injury, will not be picked up by other owners.  They can be picked up during the course of the season should they establish themselves.


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