What's The Consensus? The Internet's Top Fantasy Football Gurus Offer Expert Draft Advice

What's The Consensus? The Internet's Top Fantasy Football Gurus Offer Expert Draft Advice

THE TOPIC: Fantasy Football 2010!

THE CONSENSUS PANEL: Kevin Wildes (SportsNation); Andrew Simon (ESPN The Magazine); Al Lackner (Ask The Commish.com); Brandon Marshall (The Fantasy Football Geek Blog); Mike Woellert (FantasyFootball.com); Benjamin Standig (FFToolbox.com); Arson Palmer (FiyaStarter.com); Aaron Schatz (Football Outsiders); Bill Connelly (Football Outsiders); David Wyatt (Gang Green Nation); Mike Tunison, a.k.a. Christmas Ape (Kissing Suzy Kolber); Katie Aselton & Mark Duplass (The League); Matt Loede (NFLGridironGab.com); Pat Fitzmaurice (Pro Football Weekly); MJD (Shutdown Corner); Jimmy Traina (SI.com); Lang Whitaker (SLAM); Richard Boadu
(6 Magazine); Donnie Kwak (Complex); and Justin Monroe (Complex)

THE CONSENSUS: #1 PICK: Chris Johnson; SLEEPER: Jahvid Best, Malcom Floyd, and Mike Wallace (tie); BUST: Larry Fitzgerald; FOOLPROOF STRATEGY: Read on!

See commentary from each panel member below...

sportsnationPANELIST: Kevin Wildes, producer, SportsNation, ESPN

#1 PICK: "CHRIS JOHNSON, because upon receiving his ESPY award for Best Breakthrough Athlete he thanked Ustream while wearing a leather tie."

SLEEPER: "DONALD BROWN, RB, Colts."

BUST: "BRANDON JACOBS, Giants. The Kimbo Slice of running backs: big and awesome-looking but easy to put on the ground, and even easier to hurt."

FOOLPROOF STRATEGY: "BREAK YOUR FRIENDS' HEARTS. More often than not, there is some sort of regional bias in your fantasy league. I'm in a league with a disproportionate amount of Colts fans so anytime there's not an obvious pick, I grab a Colt. It's like going out with one of their ex-girlfriends. Around Week 5, one of them will drunk text me: 'I hate Heath Miller. In luv w Dallas Clark. Need him. Whatever you want.' The next day I usually trade Dallas Clark for two Patriots and Adam Vinatieri."

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espnPANELIST: Andrew Simon, senior editor, ESPN The Magazine

#1 PICK: "CHRIS JOHNSON. Dude racked up 2,000 rushing yards, 500 receiving yards, 16 TDs, and 400 touches last year. I also liked the way he finished last season: 11 straight games with 100+ rushing yards. He turns 25 in September, which is prime time for a running back. He won a lot of folks fantasy championships last year. Expect the same this year."

SLEEPER: "MALCOM FLOYD, WR, Chargers. As the Vincent Jackson holdout continues, Floyd is shaping up to be San Diego's new #1 receiver. Floyd (6'5", 225) has a similar build as Jackson's (6'5", 230), and, based on the 2010 preseason, it looks like Floyd is quickly developing a nice rapport with QB Philip Rivers. And remember: Rivers has thrown for over 4,000 yards each of the past two seasons. With Jackson a question mark and RB LaDainian Tomlinson gone, SOMEONE's got to step up as a pass catcher for San Diego. Floyd is a steal in the seventh round or after (in a 10-team league). "

BUST: "LARRY FITZGERALD, Cardinals. No more Kurt Warner in Arizona means no fantasy upside for Fitzgerald. Sure, he'll still notch 90-100 receptions, but the Cardinals' offense won't be as explosive with either Matt Leinart or Derek Anderson at QB. Less explosiveness means fewer big plays and fewer touchdowns. I say skip Fitzgerald in the second round (where he's being projected in 10-team formats), and scoop Miles Austin, DeSean Jackson, or Greg Jennings in the third."

FOOLPROOF STRATEGY: "GO FOR A REACH (OR TWO). For the most part, I'm a fan of getting good value out of every round. But make sure to lock down a player or two you're just plain giddy about, players who you think have the potential to exceed expectation. The picks will make you that much happier about your team heading into the season. Plus, a pick that looks like a reach now might just make you look like a genius later."

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Ask-the-CommishPANELIST: Al Lackner, Ask The Commish.com

#1 PICK: "CHRIS JOHNSON. In virtually every fantasy publication that we have seen, Chris Johnson is the undisputed #1 fantasy RB. And with good reason. All he did in 2009 is post one of the greatest fantasy seasons—ever. He became just the fifth RB to ever eclipse the 2,000-yard mark in a single season, and his 2,509 yards from scrimmage were an NFL record. The question is: What does the explosive third-year back do as an encore in 2010? Expecting him to bust 2,000 yards rushing again is a bit unfair. After all, no RB has EVER duplicated that feat. However, it isn't a stretch to believe that he could eclipse the 500-yard receiving mark again in 2010. Johnson is a genuine dual threat, capable of scoring from anywhere on the field. Seven of his 16 TDs last year came from 50 or more yards out. The Titans know that they must find ways to get him the ball, and he should continue to line up in the slot at times in multi-wideout sets. Johnson was consistent last year, and ended the season on a high note with 11 straight games in which he rushed for at least 100 yards. He will continue to play in the AFC South, where offense is a greater priority than defense.

With LenDale White gone, Johnson is one of the few true feature backs left in the NFL. But that may not necessarily be a good thing. If there is a risk at all with Chris Johnson, it is that RBs that carry as much of a load as he did last season (358 carries, 408 total touches) have a tendency to wear down the following year. Johnson isn't a big back—just 5'11" and 200 lbs—so that may be a viable concern. Nevertheless, Chris Johnson should be the first player selected in your fantasy draft, plain and simple."

SLEEPER: "It is Miller time at the TE position! That is, there are two Millers that I like at the TE position this year: HEATH MILLER (Steelers) and ZACH MILLER (Raiders). Heath, a former first-rounder for the Steelers, has been doing it for a few years now, so he may not be much of a sleeper. Zach, who has been banished to the wastelands of Oakland, is a different story. You can feel fairly confident in Zach Miller's potential to post nice fantasy numbers this year. In fact, I actually prefer him to the better-known Heath this year.

New Raider QB (and former Washington Redskin) Jason Campbell has made quite a living off passing to Chris Cooley through the years and even developed a quick rapport with Fred Davis when Davis replaced the injured Cooley last year. Meanwhile, Zach Miller led the Raiders with 66 catches for 805 yards and three TDs last year, so he clearly is a talented TE. With a 6'5" frame that can move, Miller drew constant double-teaming last year and still managed to get open. What's more, he posted those lofty numbers with the likes of 'JaGarbage' Russell and Bruce Gradkowski at QB. With Campbell under center and with some more seasoning on the Raider WRs, perhaps Miller can finally break through as a top fantasy TE. He certainly has the kind of potential to post top six to eight fantasy-TE numbers. If Campbell can help him elevate his TD numbers, he could even be on par with a few of the top five fantasy TEs."

BUST: "RICKY WILLIAMS. I wish I can say that I had the foresight at this time last season to wager that Ricky would rush for over 1,100 yards and score 13 TDs in what amounted to a comeback year for him. But if I had that sort of ability to look into the future, I would probably be playing the lottery (or taking a page from my good buddy Lou in Hot Tub Time Machine and starting my own version of Google!). Simply put, no one could have predicted that Ricky Williams, who hadn't rushed for that many yards or scored that many TDs in the previous three years COMBINED, would be a genuine fantasy stud in 2009.

In fact, Ricky hadn't eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark since 2003, his second season with the Dolphins. Ricky says he wants to play football even beyond 2010, but there was a time when he was willing to give it all away. Recall that he essentially retired from the league in 2004, sat out that season—and then wound up in Canada (largely due to a pending drug suspension). Many observers (myself included) kept wondering why the Dolphins didn't just cut the strings. Last year's triumph was one for the storybooks, inspiring Ricky-watchers who have cheered for him since Ditka traded his entire draft to acquire Williams back in 2000.

Ricky Williams finished among the top 10 fantasy RBs last season. (Using the Ask The Commish.Com scoring system, he ranked seventh.) This is also a contract year for him, so there will still be plenty of Ricky Worshipers eager to draft him way too early. Don't let that be you; expecting him to come close to matching what he did last year is a real stretch. Williams will be 34 in May. You can count on one hand the number of RBs in NFL history who have rushed for more than 1,000 yards in a season at that age. While it is true that he spent nearly four years in the middle of his career essentially wandering in the wilderness, there is still a great deal of wear and tear on his body thanks to the other seven-to-eight years of pounding. Most importantly, let's not forget that Ricky's explosion last season was due in no small part to Ronnie Brown's missing the second half of the season. It wasn't until Week 9, when Brown went down with a foot injury, that Ricky picked up his first 20-carry game of the season. He would get at least 18 carries in each of the next five games, with a season high 28 carries in Week 14. The unaccustomed overuse caused him to wear down in the final weeks, with just 10 and 12 carries in the final two games respectively.

Brown will be back this year and will regain his role as the Fins' feature RB. Williams will be a critical part of the RBBC, but will play second banana to Brown. For a decent gauge, look at 2008, when Brown got 214 carries to Ricky's 160. Last season, with Ricky carrying the heavier-than-expected load, he racked up 241 carries. Look for Ricky's workload to be more in line with what he did in 2008 than the inflated numbers he posted last season. I have him pegged for about 700 rushing yards, maybe 200 receiving yards and five to six TDs. That places him more in the Flex/RB3 role than as a starting-caliber fantasy RB."

FOOLPROOF STRATEGY: "I will address by pointing toward some hard-and-fast commandments:

1. KNOW THY LEAGUE RULES. Every league is different and has its own unique rules. Your player rankings should be based on these league rules, rather than trying to use some sort of 'One Size Fits All' system. For example, your WR and RB rankings will look very different in PPR (Point Per Reception) leagues than in leagues that do not awards points for receptions.

2. KNOW THY COMPETITION. If you know the other folks in your league and know their tendencies, it will give you a leg up in terms of predicting what players are likely to be drafted between your picks.

3. STAY TRUE TO YOUR DRAFT BOARD (CHEAT SHEETS). You can't go wrong if stick to the tried-and-true BPA (Best Player Available). Do not fall into the trap of following runs and trends on specific positions, even if it means that you are weak at a position—if you have stuck to the BPA mantra, you will make up for any shortcoming at a position elsewhere. Remember, in fantasy leagues, you win each week based on how many total points your team scores versus how many total points your opponent scores—not how your QB compared to your opponent's QB, etc.

4. KEEP YOURSELF UP-TO-DATE WITH THE LATEST HAPPENINGS AROUND THE LEAGUE. This is just common sense. You need to keep yourself updated on injury situations and know each team's depth chart."

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Fantasy-Football-Geek-BlogPANELIST: Brandon Marshall, The Fantasy Football Geek Blog

#1 PICK: "Has to be CHRIS JOHNSON from the Titans. How can you argue against over 2,500 combined yards, a 5.6 yards-per-carry average and 16 touchdowns?! He's young, fast, and the offense rotates around him."

SLEEPER: "WR ANTHONY GONZALEZ of the Colts could end up being a sneaky pick if he can stay healthy. He's going undrafted in some leagues and very late in the rest. If he can get back on the same page with Peyton Manning, expect a solid season from the Buckeye."

BUST: "KEVIN KOLB, QB, Eagles. He has VERY limited experience for where he's being drafted. Just because Donovan McNabb could put up huge numbers in the offense doesn't mean any guy you stick in there will. I'm staying away from Kolb this season—and if he ends up putting up good numbers, oh well. There are a lot of other guys going after him with bigger track records."

FOOLPROOF STRATEGY: "USE OUR 2010 CHEAT SHEET! Besides that, though, I'm a fan of drafting the top talent for the first half of the draft (don't overload on RBs, though!), but then taking a lot of late-round fliers on guys with huge upside. You don't need three receivers that'll get you 600 yards and four touchdowns on your bench. Instead, get a guy who may end up with 200 yards and a score, but is capable of having a huge, breakout season. There will always be a 60-yards-a-week guy on the waiver wire once the season starts if you really need one!"

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Fantasy-FootballPANELIST: Mike Woellert, staff writer, FantasyFootball.com

#1 PICK: "CHRIS JOHNSON, RB for the Tennessee Titans. He's an extremely dynamic back and playmaker. His speed makes him extremely dangerous and he can break off long runs at any time. Not only is he dangerous running the ball, but he's an asset out of the backfield catching the ball, as well. With no threat of anyone behind him on the depth chart, he's going to get the majority of the touches."

SLEEPER: "MALCOM FLOYD, WR for the San Diego Chargers. He's now the #1 WR in a decent offense and, with Vincent Jackson out of the picture, he should step up as Philip Rivers' go-to guy. Rivers is still going to sling the ball all over the field and Floyd will prove to be a dependable target. He should put up WR2 numbers at a WR3 price. Other Deep Sleepers: HARRY DOUGLAS, WR, Atlanta Falcons and JABAR GAFFNEY, WR, Denver Broncos."

BUST: "RYAN MATHEWS, RB for the San Diego Chargers. From a real football standpoint, I think he's going to make an impact as a rookie. From a fantasy standpoint, he's going to be a huge bust for where he's being drafted. In most formats, he's being drafted in the low first round to high second round, which is essentially depending on him as your #1 running back. I have a real hard time drafting a rookie that high and making him the anchor of my team."

FOOLPROOF STRATEGY: "Well, there is no foolproof strategy—otherwise I'd be off to Vegas every year But for me, the strategy that seems to work is to WAIT ON QUARTERBACKS UNTIL THE MID-ROUNDS. I let others take Peyton Manning or Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers within the first few rounds, while I load up my running backs and wide receivers and look to a QB in the fifth to sixth round. I was able to land Matt Schaub in three out of my five leagues in fifth-sixth rounds, and he was typically the second- or third-ranked QB in most formats last year, and I made the playoffs in two of those leagues and won a title in the other. So, my advice: wait on the QB."

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fftoolboxPANELIST: Benjamin Standig, FFToolbox.com

#1 PICK: "Tennessee Titans running back CHRIS JOHNSON was the king of the lengthy touchdown last year; he scored more from long range than Kobe Bryant, not to mention any NFL running back ever in a single season. Is that something one can rely on each year? No. The long scores are fluky, unlike the ground-and-pound style of the Minnesota Vikings' Adrian Peterson on all those goal-line carries. The Titans also ran their smallish back time and time again last year in an attempt to get him over the 2,000-yard plateau, something that history says will not be accomplished by him in 2010. So I guess this sounds like I am giving reasons why CJ should not be the number-one overall fantasy pick. Well, I am...except it does not matter. Did you watch those electrifying highlights last year? The dreadlocked, gold-toothed one was an all-time fiend in 2009 and even if a repeat performance is unlikely, that does not mean he will not be the top overall back. Peterson will get a lot of scores, but his actual rushing performance last season was not a thing of beauty. Ray Rice has his supporters, but the Baltimore Ravens all-around back does not get all of the potential end-zone totes. The Jacksonville Jaguars offense—or lack of one—prevents Maurice Jones-Drew from getting enough chances over the course of the year be the best. That leaves Johnson, who will still run to daylight more than any back in the league."

SLEEPER: "The Pittsburgh Steelers sent Super Bowl XLIII MVP Santonio Holmes packing this offseason primarily due to his off-the-field issues, especially in an offseason where the Three Rivers crowd was inundated with police blotter and legal matters. Of course, having a gem ready like MIKE WALLACE ready to step in for a full 60 minutes each week surely made the decision much, much easier. Drafted in the third round out of Mississippi, Wallace quickly moved up the Steelers receiving depth chart during his rookie season. Averaging 19.4 yards per catch—tops among all NFL players with at least 35 receptions—will do that. He also racked up 756 yards and six scores over the course of the season, which was rather impressive considering he was often playing behind Holmes and veteran star Hines Ward. Now that he starts, expect a serious uptick in those numbers, which means getting this dynamo in the sixth round or so in drafts will be a bona fide steal for fantasy owners. There is nothing illegal about that type of theft."

BUST: "Tagging LESEAN MCCOY as a 'bust' has more to do with fantasy-draft status than it does with his actual running skills. The dude can motor, which is why many in the fantasy football chattering class were flat-out excited to draft him as a rookie last year, knowing that the incumbent Brian Westbrook's days were closer to being numbered with every tackle he endured with the Philadelphia Eagles. McCoy had his moments and showed he could run in space, but the Eagles relied on fullback Leonard Weaver and other options to provide short-yardage running and pass blocking, especially in the closing weeks of the season. Without Westbrook, Eagles coach Andy Reid went back to his pass-happy ways and away from the run; they ranked 28th in the league in rushes. In the offseason they added veteran back Mike Bell, who has shown a nose for the end zone throughout his career. So the Eagles are not likely to run a lot, have multiple players that will get the ball near the end zone (let's not forget the legs of Michael Vick), and need help pass blocking, which is not McCoy's strength. All of that says this guy will not see more than 12-15 touches a game and, unless he has a Chris Johnson flair for the long touchdown, there is little chance McCoy can produce enough to live up to his third-round—or second in some cases—draft status. "

FOOLPROOF STRATEGY: "DO YOUR HOMEWORK. That's it, that simple. What are the rules for your league? How many points do players earn for each statistical category? Where do the positional tiers begin—and more importantly, end? It would easy just to say take RB-RB in the first two rounds or take the 'best player' with each pick, but that can be overly simplistic. In the heat of the draft moment, even seasoned owners will crumple under the pressure of being on the clock to make a pick if they are not prepared for whatever scenario is presented to them, especially in the early rounds. That leads to panicky decision-making or simply pointing to a name on the list that you might not even have wanted five minutes prior. Find a fantasy site or source that you trust so as to keep the number of voices in your head at a minimum. Know the players you like and the ones you don't. Know what are your options now and also a round or two later. This all might sound like too much work for what is supposed to be a fun activity, but nobody said beating your friends time after time in the race for bragging rights and a better foothold on the smack-talking hill was easy. By being prepared, you will just make it look like it was."

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fiyastarterPANELIST: Arson Palmer, FiyaStarter.com

#1 PICK: "ADRIAN PETERSON, RB, Minnesota. 1. He's tired of hearing about Chris Johnson. 2. No more Chester the 3rd-Down Molester. 3. He's still pissed about his dinosaur skull being broken, and not being a good actor."

SLEEPER: "MIKE WALLACE, WR, Steelers. He'll be a star for 60 minutes every Sunday. HIYOOOOOOOOOOO!"

BUST: "BRETT FAVRE, QB, Minnesota. It's all gonna end this year, abruptly and hideously. Some big-ass D-lineman is gonna absolutely eviscerate this guy."

FOOLPROOF STRATEGY: "Same as every year: AVOID BLACK QUARTERBACKS."

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Football-OutsidersPANELIST: Aaron Schatz, editor-in-chief, Football Outsiders

#1 PICK: "CHRIS JOHNSON is still the best bet for long highlight runs that really ring up the fantasy football numbers, although there's virtually zero chance he'll be as good as last year."

SLEEPER: "MATT FORTE of Chicago really disappointed people last year, in large part because of a historically dismal performance in the red zone. But red zone performance is extremely inconsistent, and he's guaranteed to have more touchdowns this year."

BUST: "BRANDON MARSHALL of Miami, because people don't understand the massive change in offensive context when you go from a pass-first offense like Denver to a run-first offense like Miami."

FOOLPROOF STRATEGY: "There is no such thing."

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Football-OutsidersPANELIST: Bill Connelly, staff writer, Football Outsiders

#1 PICK: "TIM TEBOW. I am a college football writer, so as far as I know, there is a perfect correlation between college and pro success. This being the case, why on earth wouldn't you select Tebow first overall? He was only the greatest college football player of all time (the most recent one, anyway). I'm sure that will correlate perfectly and immediately to the pros. Oh, you're looking for a real recommendation? It has to be CHRIS JOHNSON, right? Unless..."

SLEEPER: "LEGARETTE BLOUNT, RB, Titans. Señor Fists of Fury is sure to get plenty of carries due to the fact that Chris Johnson legs will literally fly off mid-stride after Carry No. 500 of the first month. Javon Ringer's legs will soon follow, due to the 24,000 carries he had at Michigan State. Blount will be starting by the fifth week. And you have to admit...he's got to have pretty fresh legs at this point with the amount of bench time he's experienced lately. (Real answer: JAMAAL CHARLES. Love that guy.)"

BUST: "STEVEN JACKSON. He really does have to break down at some point, right?"

FOOLPROOF STRATEGY: "Good answer: Use Football Outsiders' KUBIAK tool to take over your draft for you. Better answer: DRAFT ONLY PLAYERS FROM SCHOOLS WITH GREAT MASCOTS. Former Rutgers Scarlet Knight Ray Rice makes the cut. Marques Colston, former Hofstra Pride (or whatever the singular form of Pride is), you're in, too. Fresno State Bulldog Ryan Mathews? Boring. Former LSU Tiger Dwayne Bowe? Yawn."

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Gang-Green-NationPANELIST: David Wyatt, managing editor, Gang Green Nation

#1 PICK: "CHRIS JOHNSON, RB, Tennessee Titans. Tim Tebow may be able to walk on water and cure the sick and lame, but Chris Johnson can find the hole and take it to the house. I don't think there are many words to describe just how good Johnson is. He's fast, he breaks tackles, and he explodes through the smallest gap opened up by his offensive linemen. If he's not rushing the football, he's receiving it out of the backfield. Two-thousand yards rushing and 500 yards receiving in 2009, that's just incredible stuff. If you have the #1 pick and you don't pick Johnson, I have to believe you have very little intention to win your league. In fact, book yourself in for a CAT Scan. If defenses start having to respect Vince Young, then that's just going to open up even more holes for Johnson. He's a lock at #1 for all leagues."

SLEEPER: "LOUIS MURPHY, WR, Oakland Raiders. A whole host of players presented themselves here—Johnny Knox, Jahvid Best, and Rob Gronkowski among them. However, Louis Murphy comes out on top. He had a very decent season in 2009 with the upheaval at the QB position in Oakland. Through the JaMarcus Russell/Bruce Gradkoswki experiment in Oak-Town last year, he still managed 521 yards and four TDs with a 15.3 average per catch. Oakland got a lot better in the offseason and replace Russell and Gradkoswki with Jason Campbell and there is reason to suggest that Murphy could be his go-to guy. He has solid hands and is tough as nails. In fantasy leagues that I have seen, he can be had relatively late, and he has the potential to go for 800+ yards and around eight TDs. A better overall Oakland team with a better QB equals more production from someone with the hands of Murphy."

BUST: "HINES WARD, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers. I'm a massive fan of Hines Ward and this is purely based on production at draft position. It seems he is still being selected among the elite and that's just wrong for the 2010 season. So, my advice is if you are taking him is to take him as your #3 receiver if you can, not your #1 or #2. He had over 1,000 yards last year, but he hasn't had a double-digit touchdown season since 2005. Remember that he will be without Ben Roethlisberger for four games this season and then when Ben does come back, how will his mental state be? Ward just turned 34 and he takes a beating in the run game, blocking on the outside every single year. The Steelers are also likely to run the ball a lot more this season. I can't see Hines Ward getting close to those 95 receptions he had last year—I don't think he goes over 1,000 yards and I think he only has around five TDs. Still worth picking up later, but where he is going right now, people will not be happy with his production. I don't really like calling him a bust, but disappointment for sure."

FOOLPROOF STRATEGY: "TIGHT ENDS, DEFENSES, AND ROOKIES. Pay close attention to your tight ends—getting a good one can tip the balance. Someone like Vernon Davis gives you as much production as a wide receiver, and more than a lot of them. Tight ends get a lot of red zone looks so if you have a Utility spot on your fantasy football team, spend it on a tight end. They are usually more reliable than wide receivers, and with the red zone looks I always find that a good strategy to take. Don't wait too long to get a defense, either. You don't have to get the top one, but a top 10 one will really help you through the year. Always save one or two places on your bench for the rookies: Every year you get one that goes off, so having him stashed away for the later rounds is a good idea."

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Kissing-Suzy-KolberPANELIST: Mike Tunison, a.k.a. Christmas Ape, Kissing Suzy Kolber

#1 PICK: "CHRIS JOHNSON. Johnson set the single-season NFL record in yards from scrimmage last season. While he may not eclipse that mark in 2010, he'll likely come close yet again. With an entire season with an improved Vince Young under center, Titans opponents won't be able to key on what was once a one-dimensional Tennessee attack. At the same time, several of the other consensus top picks enter the season with question marks. Maurice Jones-Drew has had some knee problems, while injuries to the Vikings passing attack will make it easier for teams to focus on stopping Adrian Peterson. Ray Rice appears to be a close rival to Johnson, but still has Willis McGahee poaching touchdowns."

SLEEPER: "WES WELKER. I could think of some other worthy candidates, but from the drafts that I've done, I've noticed Welker consistently falling much further than he should. Granted, he's coming off a major MCL and ACL injury suffered in the final week of the 2009 regular season. While some preliminary reports pegged his comeback around Week 7 or so, Welker has already looked impressive in preseason work this month. Based on that, he looks like he'll be able to bounce back quickly."

BUST: "LARRY FITZGERALD. The Cardinals face a dire situation at quarterback. At this point, it looks like Derek Anderson will win the job. In case anyone has forgotten, Anderson was unable to hold onto the Browns starting job when his only competition was the almost equally horrendous Brady Quinn. Throw in a preseason injury and it looks like 2010 might be a season to forget for Fitty."

FOOLPROOF STRATEGY: "If you miss the initial Aaron Rodgers/Drew Brees/Peyton Manning/Tom Brady/Tony Romo/Philip Rivers rush at QB, YOU'RE BETTER OFF WAITING A FEW ROUNDS FOR A QB. Most of the the starting QBs after that are only marginally different."

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The-LeaguePANELIST: Mark Duplass & Katie Aselton, stars of The League on FX

#1 PICK:
Mark: Number-one overall pick for me is CHRIS JOHNSON. And that is because—

Katie: I wish you would've let me go first, I would've totally stolen your answer.

Mark: Alright. Um, yeah, because the numbers don't lie. I think if you asked 90% of fans and football players, they'd probably agree. I think there's an argument for going crazy and taking Drew Brees first.

Katie: You can't keep talking because you're going to take all my picks! I was going to say DREW BREES because I was thinking he's young and the chances of him getting injured are really small and I think he's just on the ramp up. I think he's got a ton of potential to keep going.

SLEEPER:
Mark: Sleeper pick for me would be to keep BRETT FAVRE as your backup quarterback on your roster, particularly towards the end of the season. He's not going to start, he's not going to play a lot. But Minnesota's going to be great and he's the kind of guy that, when it comes to the playoffs, starts putting up crazy numbers. Come crunch time, last four games of the season, he's the guy who's going to give you unexpected big numbers.

Katie: My awesome sleeper guy that was on my bench forever, and sort of totally took off was MIKE BELL. He was just killer last year and I'm really bummed that he's not with the Saints anymore. But he scored me so many points last year that I think I'll stay loyal to him.

BUST:
Katie: REGGIE BUSH. [Laughs.] I mean, I was really excited when he was on my fantasy team last year. But I don't know, he's not a strong enough player for me. I feel like he's...I don't know.

Mark: He's good in swing plays. He's good every now and then, unexpected, but he just doesn't bring a consistency.

Katie: No. He's not consistent and I like a player that is just balls-out really going to play.

Complex: Well he's not with Kim anymore so maybe he'll be more focused this year.

Katie: Do you think it was her?

Complex: It could be, it could be.

Mark: The power of Kim's breasts.

Complex: Exactly.

Mark: My bust, just because I picked him early on last year and was excited, was RANDY MOSS. You know it just didn't light up the way I thought it would. It was a little bit of a bummer.

FOOLPROOF STRATEGY:
Katie: I think don't tinker. DON'T OVER-TINKER YOUR TEAM. I think people can get so neurotic about 'should I or shouldn't I?' 'He's on the bench, he's off the bench.' 'Who are the sleepers?' I think you can over-tinker yourself to death. I think there's some players, obviously they're not all going to have great weeks. But stick with them. I think you can really tinker yourself into a corner.

Mark: That's a good one. I'd say DON'T UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF A GREAT TIGHT END. A lot of times he's the guy that puts up anywhere in a range of four to 15 points. It's that 10-point swing of the tight end that often crushes you in the long run. You start too many wide receivers and quarterbacks can get choosy and picky with who they like. When there's usually just one or two tight ends in there, then that won't happen. If you get the right one and you get that 15- instead of five-point game, then it makes all the difference.

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NFL-Gridiron-GabPANELIST: Matt Loede, NFLGridironGab.com

#1 PICK: "CHRIS JOHNSON, Tennessee Titans. First off, he's got the baddest gold teeth in the sport—add the dreadlocks, and he just looks like a guy that's gonna run you over and get you points every week. On a serious note, he's got it all: size, speed, and he did it a season ago when he ran for over 2,000 yards, one of only a handful of guys ever to do it. While I am not sold on the Titans being an NFL powerhouse, they were not last season either, and Johnson still had a lot of big days, meaning he'll do it again in 2010."

SLEEPER: "JAHVID BEST, RB, Detroit. He's not really a sleeper—I mean, he's ranked in most books, so forget thinking you're gonna hide him from many people 'til the 17th round. Best, though, is a guy that probably will be the Lions' best running back, and with a team already with a decent pass game with Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson, add Best to the mix and it looks like he'll put up some decent points in most leagues. I'm thinking more in the seventh to eighth round he's a good value pick."

BUST: "STEVEN JACKSON, RB, Rams. His dreadlocks are not as powerful as Johnson in Tennessee, and he doesn't have the gold teeth. Add to that the fact the Rams are awful, will throw in a rookie first-overall pick QB that is going to get beat up a lot in 2010, and you have a guy that is expected to have 1,200-1,400 yards, and probably at the end of the day will have like 750-1,000. Defenses will stack the box and dare the Rams to run, which they won't be able to do much in 2010."

FOOLPROOF STRATEGY: "DON'T BE THE GUY THAT SHOWS UP LATE. Don't be the guy that takes your $250 jersey off during the draft because it's too hot (had it happen in my draft this year, and I kid you not—the guy needed a bra). Don't be the guy to draft a kicker and defense first. And don't be the guy to draft a player that has already had a season-ending injury or retired to sail his yacht into the ocean for a year. Otherwise, have fun and don't take it too seriously—after all, it's just a fantasy."

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Pro-Football-WeeklyPANELIST: Pat Fitzmaurice, Pro Football Weekly

#1 PICK: "RAY RICE. The consensus choice is Chris Johnson, but Johnson won't get as many touches as he had last season (408), and last year's massive workload could eventually catch up to him in terms of wear and tear. Rice had 2,041 yards from scrimmage last season, despite getting 104 fewer carries than Johnson. Rice had 10 fewer touchdowns than Johnson last season, but he'll close that gap this season. And I love the Ravens' offensive line. Those big maulers are going to be punching holes in opposing defenses all season long."

SLEEPER: "MIKE WILLIAMS, WR, Tampa Bay. Actually, there are two pretty good sleeper receivers named Mike Williams—the other plays for Seattle. Tampa's Mike Williams is a rookie who fell to the fourth round of this year's NFL draft because of character issues. I've been watching him in the preseason, and I'm convinced he's going to be a star. Not in a few years; I mean right now. He has phenomenal hands, he's sensational after the catch, and he's just so fluid and natural with his moves. Get this guy in the late rounds of your draft, then thank me later."

BUST: "BEANIE WELLS. Too fragile, too one-dimensional, too much job-sharing with Tim Hightower. A lot of people expect Wells to take a step up this season, but I don't think it'll happen."

FOOLPROOF STRATEGY: "I'm old-school in the belief that it's never a bad idea to take a running back in the first round of your draft. Beyond that, DRAFT FOR VALUE FIRST, POSITIONAL NEED SECOND.. And don't be afraid to swing for the fences. I'd much rather take a chance on, say, a boom-or-bust receiver like Jeremy Maclin than a low-risk, low-upside receiver like T.J. Houshmandzadeh."

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shutdowncornerPANELIST: MJD, editor, Shutdown Corner

#1 PICK: "CHRIS JOHNSON. Because he's better than everyone else. In fact, I think he's the easiest #1 overall fantasy pick we've had since LaDainian Tomlinson was pushing Ron Burgundy for the title of most beloved San Diegan. I don't think anyone but Johnson can offer you the same week-in, week-out consistency, on top of the chance of a 40-point week every now and then. His youth minimizes injury concerns, too. But if you happen to hate super-productive running backs with Predator haircuts, I like Aaron Rodgers as a darkhorse. I'm not advocating taking him first overall—don't do that. But if anyone has a chance to get to January having had a fantasy year clearly better than anyone else at his position, it's Rodgers. He is primed to be filthy in 2010."

SLEEPER: "JAHVID BEST. Ryan Mathews and C.J. Spiller seem to be the preferred rookie runners, but Best has been killing it in the preseason. He's currently averaging 8.6 yards per carry, but even if you subtract the 51-yard run against Cleveland, he's still performing at better than five yards a pop. I think the Detroit offensive line will surprise people, and Best's superhuman speed isn't something to be discounted."

BUST: "LARRY FITZGERALD. The quarterback situation in Arizona is grim. I like Matt Leinart and I'm rooting for him, but my goodness...he just lost his starting job to a man averaging 5.4 yards per attempt against second-string preseason defenses. That's not good. Fitzgerald also won't have Anquan Boldin opposite him to draw a little bit of coverage away. There's just nothing that points to a good season for Larry Fitzgerald. Keep in mind, this is no reflection on Fitzgerald at all—his talent is still in a class that he shares only with Andre Johnson. But he might as well be playing 2010 with a Volkswagen chained to his ankle."

FOOLPROOF STRATEGY: "CHEAT. I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this, but there's no way to guarantee foolproof success. You can take the most knowledgeable football guy in the world and put him in a league with 11 ladies picked randomly out of Rachael Ray's studio audience, and Mr. Football has just as much chance of finishing 12th as he does first. The two-time defending champion of my primary league is an absolute dunce. He can't tell the difference between Roddy White and Roddy Piper, and yet, the trophy is his. He once tried to eat it."

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sicomPANELIST: Jimmy Traina, SI.com

#1 PICK: "I just did my fantasy draft this past Sunday and I had the No. 1 pick. I took CHRIS JOHNSON. I debated Ray Rice because we do a point per reception, but I went with Johnson because he's basically the only talented player on the Titans. Why would ANYONE else on that offense get a touch? Plus, with LenDale White gone, Johnson should hit the end zone more this season."

SLEEPER: "I'm not sure how much of a sleeper this is, but I think FELIX JONES is going to have a big season in Dallas. It's time for him to get more touches than Marion Barber and his pass-catching ability combined with his explosiveness make him a true weapon."

BUST: "LARRY FITZGERALD. No Anquan Boldin on the other side for defenses to cover combined with no Kurt Warner equals a big decline in Fitzgerald's fantasy production."

FOOLPROOF STRATEGY: "Avoid injuries, try to fleece other guys in your league, and HOPE YOU HAVE A LOT OF LUCK, because that's what fantasy football is—luck."

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slamPANELIST: Lang Whitaker, executive editor, SLAM

#1 PICK: "Gotta be CHRIS JOHNSON. He's a running back originally from Florida, which is always a good omen. Also, he has his own special celebration in Madden called the 'Chopper City Juke.' So he has that going for him. But mostly I just think he was the best RB in the NFL last year, and this year with Vince Young playing all season, the Titans will be even more dynamic offensively and CJ will have even more opportunities to shine."

SLEEPER: "GREG JENNINGS, WR, Green Bay. Right now Yahoo has him ranked 31st out of all players available. The Packers have looked like they're going to be one of the NFL's elite offenses, and Jennings should be Aaron Rodgers' no. 1 target. "

BUST: "This rookie RYAN MATHEWS seems to be shooting up the charts. He's going to start in San Diego, so he'll probably get touches, and I've seen him ranked between seven and 11 in most mock drafts. But he's a rookie. Maybe he'll be great, but I'm letting someone else roll the dice on him."

FOOLPROOF STRATEGY: "I've been in two different leagues for many years now, and the one drafting strategy I consistently employ is whenever I'm not sure about whom to select, I TAKE MY FRIEND'S FAVORITE PLAYERS BEFORE THEY HAVE A CHANCE TO DRAFT THEM. It really is a win/win/win. My friends immediately get furious, which provides a few minutes of instant entertainment. Then if the guy has a great season I benefit directly from their points, which makes my friends reticent to root for the guys. And if the guy has a bad year, I can complain to my friends about how much I hate their favorite players. Can't lose, really."

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6magazinePANELIST: Richard Boadu, publisher/co-editor-in-chief, 6 Magazine

#1 PICK: "The first pick has got to be AARON RODGERS of the Green Bay Packers. He's in his third year as a starter, so he knows the system like he knows his birthday. Last year, with a subpar offensive line, he tossed 30 TDs and only had seven picks. The O-line is much better, affording Rodgers more time in the pocket. He doesn't have much of a running game, so all the points are going to come through him. Lastly, he arguably has the best and most underrated WRs corp in the league."

SLEEPER: "DEXTER MCCLUSTER, Chiefs. WRs have the hardest time adjusting when they hit the league, but McCluster isn't any WR. He's a RB/WR, which means he's going to give you carries out of the backfield on third down and catches out of the slot as well. Not to mention, he's also going to be returning punts and kickoffs. Just think of Wes Welker and Darren Sproles in one body. Remember folks, I'm the same man that drafted Chris Johnson as a rookie and he only set the league by storm. So trust me, McCluster is that deal."

BUST: "STEVEN JACKSON. He's got a rookie QB, which means he's going to face eight men in the box every other down basically. Plus he carried the ball 324 times last year and can't possibly carry that load this year. He's been the workhorse for the past four years, having several injury issues also. When a RB loses the juice, it happens all at once—see Shaun Alexander in 2006. "

FOOLPROOF STRATEGY: "It's a passing league. Fantasy football used to be all about the running backs. Do me a favor and name the third best running back in the league? It shouldn't take you that long to answer that question. It's not a RBs' league anymore, with more teams incorporating two-back rotations, which takes carries and yards away from your big-name, workhorse-type RBs. GET A GOOD QB IN A PASS-FRIENDLY OFFENSE WITH YOUR FIRST PICK, à la Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, etc., and you'll be just fine."

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PANELIST: Donnie Kwak, senior deputy editor, Complex

#1 PICK: "I would never wish an injury on anyone...BUT, it would be highly comical if Chris Johnson tore an ACL in Week 1, just for the FF shitstorm that would ensue. Anyway, I'm going with FRANK GORE, and not because I nabbed him (at #6) in my draft. The 49ers are gonna be beating up on shit teams in their division all season, which means a lot of extended garbaaaage time (c) Marv, which means lots of cheapie yards and TDs for Mr. Gore. Be original and take him first!"

SLEEPER: "Sidney Rice...SIKE! Go for CHRIS COOLEY as your top TE. He'll be around in later rounds after all your league's cheat-sheet lemmings take Dallas Clark, Gates, et. al. You know, McNabb really prefers tight ends. Or was that Jeff Garcia?"

BUST: "STEVE SMITH, or maybe MIKE WILLIAMS...but which ones? Bwahahahahahahahaha!"

FOOLPROOF STRATEGY: "USE YOUR TOP TWO PICKS ON RUNNING BACKS. I've never finished below second place in a FF league, and I always, without fail, draft RBs early. (Sixty percent of the time, it works every time.) Forget all this hogwash about RB committees and rotations—if you're in a 10-team league, then there are plenty of workhouse RBs to choose from in the first round, no matter what pick you have. Don't be that dumbass that takes a QB or a WR with your first pick. And oh yeah: The only acceptable reason to miss a draft is the birth of a child or a death in the family. That's it."

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PANELIST: Justin Monroe, senior staff writer, Complex

#1 PICK: "NATE KAEDING. There is absolutely no way I'm getting stuck with an inferior kicker like Ryan Longwell. "

SLEEPER: "TOBY GERHART, RB, Vikings. From the looks of this Stanford University Management Science and Engineering major, he's gonna do all white."

BUST: "ALBERT HAYNESWORTH. We're talking about which player has the biggest man-maries, right? "

FOOLPROOF STRATEGY: "DRAFT GUYS WHO PUT UP BIG NUMBERS IN THE UTERI OF NFL GROUPIES. Word to our scattered seeds, there is no greater incentive to boost performance and earnings than a gang of monthly child support payments."

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