BY SHAWN MCFARLAND
It's that time of the year again.
Fantasy Football Draft Weekend. Chances are that if you are in a league this fall, you will be drafting your team this weekend if you haven't already.
The NFL season is just one week away (first game is next Thursday - Vikings at Saints), so you know fantasy football drafts will be going on all over the world in the next few days. It is nice to have your draft a few days before the season starts for depth chart/injury/skill reasons, but I know how tough it can be to pick a date and time that suits 10-14 different people.
While I myself will be participating in four drafts this weekend (one for a friend), my close friends and I in the "Joe Namath Rehab Center" were forced to hold our draft two weeks ago. A lot has happened since then, but what can you do? Thankfully all my players (save Fred Jackson) are 100 percent healthy right now.
Due to the fact that I already 'competed' in a draft, had the first pick for the second year in a row, and like to think that I know what I am talking about - I would like to offer some insight that may help you out.
CHRIS JOHNSON OR ADRIAN PETERSON?
As I have already mentioned, I had the luxury (or burden?) of having the No. 1 pick. I will also have the first pick in my colleague Jason Boris' draft this Saturday. Last year I ended up going with Peterson. I wasn't disappointed with the choice in the end since Johnson was the only other back to outscore him. And nobody saw 2,000 yards coming. How could you?
This year the pick has to be Johnson, right? While I did take him No. 1 overall and will probably do the same this weekend, it's not exactly a no-brainer. One: You can't realistically think that Johnson is going to have 2,000 yards again this year, so regardless of the season he has it will still be considered a 'decline.' Secondly: I couldn't even tell you the last time a RB finished No. 1 in scoring two years in a row. Not Peterson, not Larry Johnson, not Shaun Alexander, not Priest Holmes. I guess you can consider LT in 2006-07, but his yardage dipped by nearly 400 yards from one year to the next.
It's basically a toss-up weighed heavily by personal preference. If you get points for receptions then you should go with Johnson. He has averaged 46.5 receptions in two years while Peterson has averaged 27.6 in three. If you league rewards TDs more heavily, then you may want to go with Peterson.
You can't go wrong with either one, but I'd give the edge to Johnson. He really came alive when Vince Young returned and now he will be there for the whole season.
WHO IS THE FOURTH BEST QUARTERBACK?
I think it is pretty safe to say that Brees, Rodgers and Manning are the three fantasy QBs in the first tier. But who is next in line? Romo? Brady? Schaub?
While I took Romo with one of my two wrap-around picks, after watching some of the preseason I am kind of kicking myself for not taking Brady. The 'Boys line doesn't look too good even though they have only given up five sacks in three games. But it still scares me, both as a Cowboys fan and a Romo owner.
I was surprised to learn that it was Schaub of all people that had the sixth-highest yardage output in history last season. His 29 TDs ranked him fifth as well, one ahead of Brady and three ahead of Romo. However, his 15 INTs were tied for ninth-highest. If you lose points for INTs then you are basically giving back 7.5 TDs.
Although I took Romo, had I had the chance to do it over I probably would go with Brady. Schaub, while a solid pick, is a little too injury prone for my liking. I love Romo, but I get the feeling that Brady and the Pats have something to prove this year. Plus you know he is going to have 550-600 attempts in Belichick's system. Add in the fact that this is a 'contract year' and Brady should be in line for great numbers in 2010.
WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME TO TAKE ANDRE JOHNSON?
Johnson went 8th in my league and I think that is about right.
At the same time I have also heard of him going as high as fifth or sixth. My buddy Dennis took Johnson after CJ2K, Peterson, MJD, Rice, Manning, Gore and Turner were off the board. While I would have been tempted to take Steven Jackson and probably would have opted for Drew Brees, I can see taking Johnson at eight.
There is no doubt that Johnson is the best WR available. Still, I would prefer a RB or a QB before a WR in the first round. WRs will get what - 12 catches on a good day. On their good days RBs will get 20-25 touches, while QBs like Brees and Rodgers will sling it around 30-40 times. The numbers show that RBs and QBs possess the ball more often, which mean more opportunities, which means more points, which means more victories.
However, if you find yourself with the 8-9-10 pick and the top six backs are gone along with the top two-three quarterbacks, don't be afraid to go with Johnson. Just make sure you get a good RB and a good-to-above average QB with your next two picks.
FANTASY MVP: Chris Johnson (I have to believe, right?)
FANTASY BUSTS: QB: Jay Cutler, Brett Favre, RB: Shonn Greene, Knowshon Moreno, WR: Brandon Marshall, Dwayne Bowe, TE: John Carlson, Greg Olsen.
FANTASY SLEEPERS: QB: Matt Stafford, Vince Young, RB: Jahvid Best, Arian Foster, WR: Santana Moss, Malcom Floyd, TE: Chris Cooley, Zach Miller.