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tiggerpolice 06-07-2005 10:56 AM

cont...First Draft: Rounds 4-5 & More By Gregg Rosenthal
First Draft: Rounds 4-5 & More
By Gregg Rosenthal
Senior Editor,
June 3, 2005

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Draft Analysis Archives

Last week, we took a look at the top 36 picks of my first “Expert� League Draft of the season. This time, we’ll look at the next two rounds, while checking out the rest of the roster.

Round Four

4.01 Team Twelve – Hines Ward, Steelers WR

Team twelve was looking for their WR1, making this a great pick. Ward has a lot more value in leagues like ours that reward points for receptions. Ward is a solid bet to approach 100 catches with the Steelers throwing more this season. After throwing the smallest percentage of passes of any NFL team in the last 20 years, they can’t throw less.

4.02 Team Eleven – Ronnie Brown, Dolphins RB

The specter of Ricky Williams is scaring away fantasy owners, making Brown a great value this late . Ricky or not, Brown is an incredible RB3 for team eleven. We doubt he’ll last this long in most drafts.

4.03 Team Ten – Cedric Benson, Bears RB

Expect Benson to be near the end of the quality running backs drafted. From what we’ve seen, the quality starters will be mostly gone by the middle of round four. Don’t worry about Thomas Jones claiming his stake to the starter’s job in Chicago. It’s Benson's job to lose.

4.04 Team Nine – Donovan McNabb, Eagles QB

We’ve participated in two drafts so far. McNabb was taken closer to Trent Green than Daunte Culpepper in both. While a great QB1, that’s where see McNabb – solidly behind the top two.

4.05 Team Eight – Trent Green, Chiefs QB

Apparently we aren’t the only ones who have Green in our top 40 picks this season. Consistency counts so much at QB and Green averaged over 300 yards a game in his last 12 contests last season. With only one RB on the team eight roster, Green stil may not have been the best pick here.

4.06 Team Seven – Nate Burleson, Vikings WR

This is a good indication of the hype Burleson is getting this season. He’s solid, but we can’t justify drafting him ahead of Javon Walker, Anquan Boldin, Michael Clayton, and a few other options left on the board. This pick is at least a round early. The loss of Randy Moss is not necessarily a good thing for this elusive pass-catcher.

4.07 Team Six – Javon Walker, Packers WR

Maybe it’s the hold out. Maybe it’s the fact Walker has only done it once. But there are plenty of owners not yet buying Walker as a top five WR, us included. He’s still a logical pick this late in the proceedings.

4.08 Team Five – Kevan Barlow, 49ers RB

We applaud this pick, if only because it took guts. Warts and all, Barlow is still a talented starting running back who should be available late in the fourth round. We’d pair Barlow with backup third-round pick Frank Gore later in the Draft. Gore should come cheaply.

4.09 Team Four- Warrick Dunn, Falcons RB

While this seems early, Dunn was actually gone even earlier in our other Expert League draft this week. That’s because of his great receiving skills. He’s an injury risk, but makes a fine RB3.

4.10 Team Three – Marc Bulger, Rams QB

While we expect Bulger to go a round later in most drafts, we can’t argue with this pick. Bulger has steadily improved in each season as a starter and has yet to reach his peak. In our ideal draft, Bulger would be our QB1, drafted late in the fifth round.

4.11 Fantasy – DeShaun Foster, Panthers RB

Foster is the only guaranteed aspect of the Panthers backfield. Expect him to split carries with either Stephen Davis or Eric Shelton. Foster will be motivated to stay healthy and perform well in a contract year. Not a terrible pick, but we were quite happy that star talk show host Ryan Houston passed on …

4.12 – J.J. Arrington, Cardinals RB

We were surprised Arrington got back to us. Hand-picked by Dennis Green, he’s nearly certain to be the starting running back on an improving offense. It would have been a difficult decision for us if Arrington was not on the board. We believe a strong RB3 can make a fantasy team, but passing on a WR2/WR3 duo of Anquan Boldin and Michael Clayton would have been tough.

Round Four Recap

Best Value: Ronnie Brown & J.J. Arrington

Shadiest Pick: Nate Burleson

Trend: The last three starting rookie running backs go in the fourth. QBs 3-5 are drafted. Still lots of quality WRs on the board.

Round Five

5.01 – Anquan Boldin, Cardinals WR

Believe in Dennis Green. We toyed with Michael Clayton here, but Boldin has more value in points-per-reception leagues. We’ve used this stat before, but Boldin has more catches in his first 26 games than any receiver in NFL history. He’s a solid bet to nab 100 catches.

5.02 – Michael Clayton, Bucs WR

Michael Clayton was one of the best three rookie wide receivers of the last decade, along with Terry Glenn and Anquan Boldin. But he still gets overlooked because he plays on the Bucs and has slower than ideal forty times. His hands, smarts, and toughness make up for his speed. He could easily be a WR1 and makes an ideal WR2.

5.03 Team Three – Michael Bennett, Vikings RB

We’re skeptical that Bennett can stay healthy enough to carry the ball 150 times this season. While we’d be cautious about drafting him too early, he’s a decent risk this late. Running backs fell a bit further than expected in this draft.

5.04 Team Four – Carson Palmer, Bengals QB

Team four continues to take cool, young players (McGahee, Bell, Wayne) slightly too early for our taste. With a handful of excellent QBs still on the board, we would have waited at least one more round for this pick.

5.05 Team Five – Darrell Jackson, Seahawks WR

This pick was made before the release of Koren Robinson, but we don’t think it affects Jackson’s value much. DJax is highly consistent, making him a prototype WR2.

5.06 Team Six – Roy Williams, Lions WR

Round five looks like the time for a second-tier wide receiver run. With Joey Harrington at QB and quality options all around Williams, we think there are safer bets here.

5.07 Team Seven – Jason Witten, Cowboys TE

Jason Witten is really his own tight end tier this season. He should not be drafted with Antonio Gates or Tony Gonzalez, although we think he could out-produce them. Witten is also a significant upgrade from Jeremy Shockey, Todd Heap, Alge Crumpler, and Randy McMichael. Round five is about right, especially in a ppr league.

5.08 Team Eight – Muhsin Muhammad, Panthers WR

Ugh. Don’t chase 2004. Remember the rest of Muhsin Muhammad’s career and remember he just joined the worst passing team in football. He will have fantasy value, but not this early.

5.09 Team Nine – Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals WR

Fitzgerald and Roy Williams are the last of the monstrous upside second-year receiver crew. Lee Evans and Keary Colbert are a cut below. We are high on Fitzgerald as an red zone target. The key is how Kurt Warner holds up. Don’t forget Fitzgerald played through an ankle injury all last season.

5.10 Team Ten – Laveranues Coles, Jets WR

Plenty of owners will dismiss Coles after his one-score 2004 campaign. We’re actually impressed he caught 90 balls on a terrible offense and bum toe. If he returns to 2002 form, his last season with the Jets, he’s a solid pick here.

5.11 Team Eleven – Derrick Mason, Ravens WR

See Muhsin Muhammad. While Mason is a better receiver than Moose, catching passes from Kyle Boller is bad for business. Free agent wideouts other than T.O. usually go through a period of adjustment.

5.12 Team Twelve – Michael Vick, Falcons QB

A boom-or-bust pick, we don’t think Vick will last this long in most drafts. Just make sure to draft a solid QB2 if you take the plunge.

Round Five Recap

Best Value: Michael Clayton

Shadiest Pick: Muhsin Muhammad

Trend: Only one running back taken. The drop-off is big after the top 26-28 runners. A few QBs should go in the fifth, along with lots of WR2s.

So that’s the top sixty picks. Running backs, especially the rookies, fell a little further than I’d expect in this Draft. A few aging receivers went too early (Marvin Harrison and Muhsin Muhammad), while a few young studs looked slightly over-hyped (Nate Burleson, Carson Palmer). Other than that, it looked like a quality, typical draft at this point of the offseason. In the interest of space and time, let’s look at the rest of my picks and the thinking behind each pick.

6.12 – Tom Brady, Patriots QB

I was set to draft Kerry Collins, but he was nabbed one pick in front of us. The fact that both players were on the board this late is a good reminder why it’s advisable to wait on quarterbacks this season. Brett Favre was still available, but we see Brady as the steadier option.

7.01 – Larry Johnson, Chiefs RB stole Collins from us, so we took LJ, his Priest handcuff, from him. We would have made the pick anyway. Not a huge need as our RB4, Johnson was too great a value in our eyes to pass up this late. He will be a top five RB when, not if, Priest Holmes gets injured.

8.12 – Aaron Brooks, Saints QB

This is one of the only picks I looked back on and doubted. The thinking behind it was largely due to this league’s unique scoring format. We are keeping our drafted teams intact and are allowed to take the highest scoring players at each position each week. No lineup decisions. That makes a solid QB2 much more important. With steady Brady on the roster, I thought more firepower was necessary

9.01 – T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Bengals WR

Because of my work responsibilities, I am in way too many leagues. The rosters are usually very different, but I have a feeling Housh will be on most of them. We ranked TJ as a top 25 receiver in our magazine, which appears to be a lot higher than most publications. We don’t get it. Once he was locked in as a full-time starter in the second half of last season, he popped off 50 catches, 656 yards, and four scores in eight games. He’s a young starter playing for an emerging offense, playing opposite one of the game’s best. To us, there is very little difference between him and Nate Burleson.

10.12 – Mike Williams, Lions WR

In points-per-reception leagues, Williams has the potential to be a stud. 60 receptions sounds like a conservative projection to us: he’s NFL-ready. Williams is definitely a gamble, but not a big one this late as our WR4. Our next pick on the other hand…

11.01 – Koren Robinson, Seahawks WR

Got to break a couple eggs to make an omelet. Or something like that. Next.

12.12 – Eric Johnson, 49ers TE

Our biggest mistake of the draft: we kept waiting too long on our tight end and ended up with no one we wanted. Not fans of Johnson, he could still be a solid value pick this late if he records 2/3 of his 2004 production. It also gave us a chance to unveil our breakthrough “Slow, White, Tight End Strategy.� Which was completed by…

13.01 – Chris Cooley, Redskins TE

Nice. Once again, the unique scoring format of this league played a factor. Depth at each position was key. Cooley is a solid bet to lead the Redskins in receiving touchdowns.

14.12 – Ryan Longwell, Packers K

Best kicker available.

15.01 – Denver D/ST

Best defense available. We probably could have waited on our TE2 in hindsight.

16.12 – Ricky Williams, Mia RB

Was there any doubt? Don’t expect Ricky to be “Mr. Irrelevant� in most leagues. But if you get him in the last round, feel free to celebrate. Even if Ricky doesn’t play this season, he’s a great guy to have around for the team Christmas party…

Finally, if you made it this far at the beginning of June, we know you are true fantasy nut. In that case, make sure to check out the third annual magazine extravaganza, available for pre-order now. We’ve teamed with one of the biggest names in sports publishing, Beckett’s Publications, to produce our best magazine yet. The look and feel of the magazine is top-notch and we’ve stuffed the pages with more of our great content. With more strategy, rankings, columns, tiers, and tighter player analysis than ever before, it’s a must-buy for serious owners. It hits newsstands everywhere June 13th. Until next time, thanks for stopping by. Let me know your thoughts on this Draft and what else you want to see in future Draft Recaps at

Gregg Rosenthal runs the football coverage at He currently holds titles as the NL Tout Wars champ and was a league champion in the 2004 National Fantasy Football Championship.

Contact Gregg Rosenthal

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