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Show Menu Expert Draft Recap

By Jared Smola | Updated on Tue, 23 May 2023 . 1:27 PM EDT

by Matt Schauf


I’m not a fantasy football expert.

That’s probably not the first thing you want to read in an article on a site that sells fantasy advice. It’s true, though. I’ve played fantasy football for a long time. I’m good at it. I pay much closer attention than most players.

But I honestly don't know what would make someone an “expert” at this game. The more willing someone is to call himself such, the less interested you should be in his analysis. All anyone can do in the end is guess. Like the SATs, it’s all about making your guesses as educated as possible. (I feel like someone else I know once wrote something similar.)

That said, I take part in a fair number of “expert” drafts, like this one Monday night on It was a PPR setup with a fairly standard lineup, and I was pretty happy with the team I brought out:

QBs: Peyton Manning, Joe Flacco

RBs: LeSean McCoy, Michael Turner, Fred Jackson, Mike Tolbert, Roy Helu

WRs: Miles Austin, Brandon Marshall, Lance Moore, Emmanuel Sanders, Davone Bess

TEs: Owen Daniels, Dustin Keller

K: Matt Bryant

D: New Orleans


Let’s run through the picks in order …

1.06 - LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles

This isn’t true most years, but I don’t think there’s a bad spot to be in Round 1 of PPR drafts. Anywhere in the 1st half, you get a quality young RB. Just past the middle, you choose between any RB that slipped or Andre Johnson. At the end, you grab a top-shelf WR. There’s nothing I don’t like about McCoy, whom I expect to carry more like 240-250 times this year. He only stands behind the top RB group because the Eagles won’t give him as many red-zone carries as Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson, or Arian Foster see.

2.07 - Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys

Austin is my Roddy White this year. I had the Falcon 3rd on my WR board last year, which landed him on my squad in the 2nd round of pretty much every draft. I was never sure why more people didn’t respect the consistently strong numbers he carried into 2010. Austin hasn’t done it for multiple years at this point, but check out his 17 full games as a starter with Tony Romo under center: 109 catches, 1,725 yards, 12 TDs. I get that Dez Bryant is a big wild card and Jason Witten has been a Romo favorite. Austin caught 10 more balls than Witten in Romo’s 5 full games last year, though. I say Austin stays the #1 on a team that figures to approach – and perhaps exceed – 600 pass attempts.

3.06 - Michael Turner, RB, Falcons

My buddy Jared Smola hates Turner. I’m pretty sure he sees him as a recliner with a Falcons jersey. Maybe Big Mike gave Jared wedgies in middle school. I’m not sure. But even Jared called this a pick “you have to make.” This guy has been good for about a TD per game in Atlanta when healthy, and the improvements on offense won’t hurt his scoring potential. Perhaps getting fewer carries will even help Turner hold up better over the full season.

4.07 - Brandon Marshall, WR, Dolphins

I have to admit, at this pick I was gleefully waiting for Wes Welker to fall just 2 more spots. It didn’t happen (and it shouldn’t have). Marshall isn’t exciting after last year. Even then, though, he caught 86 balls in 14 games. He ranked 4th in targets among WRs and posted a better per-game average in that category than 2 of the guys in front of him. Perhaps the Dolphins could even increase his TD rate by employing his wife to chase him.

5.06 - Peyton Manning, QB, Colts

Seriously? In the middle of Round 5, as the 7th QB off the board? I understand the neck questions, and this kind of fall would make sense for a mortal QB. I’ll give Peyton the benefit of the doubt this far ahead of the season, though. The guy has never missed a game, in case you hadn’t heard. He’s pretty good, too.

6.07 - Owen Daniels, TE, Texans

I love Daniels this year. In the first 7 games of 2009 – before the ACL tear – he was on pace for 89 catches. In the last 4 games of 2010 – when he was finally healthy – he set an 88-catch pace. Daniels had more receptions than Andre Johnson when his 2009 season ended. I have him projected as a top-4 PPR TE. I usually wait a bit longer and almost did this time with Jason Witten still on the board. I like Daniels’ TD potential better than Witten’s, though, and didn’t love the WR options. My more-common spot for Daniels has tended to be Round 7.

7.06 - Fred Jackson, RB, Bills

Jackson has steadily become a fantasy favorite of mine this year as well. He caught more than 30 passes each of the past 3 years. He scored 2 receiving TDs each of the past 2. And he surpassed 220 carries each of the past 2 seasons despite having Marshawn Lynch in the way for at least part of each. This year there should be no reason for anyone other than Jackson to open with primary touches. He’s a very solid RB3 in PPR leagues and should score as an RB2 more often. This was a round later than his ADP, but I’d be happy with him in Round 6, too.

8.07 - Lance Moore, WR, Saints

This was probably earlier than I needed to draft Moore, but you shouldn’t wait if value meets position. You never know how the other drafters feel about a particular player. Moore led this explosive offense in TD catches 2 of the past 3 years and was injured for nearly all of 2009. Moore is a key reason I didn’t worry about getting my 3rd WR earlier.

9.06 - Mike Tolbert, RB, Chargers

No matter how you feel about Ryan Mathews, there’s no denying that his backup/partner is worth a shot at this stage – even if you didn’t draft Mathews.

10.07 - Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens

I don’t know if the breakout is ever coming, but Flacco is comforting as a backup – even if I’ll only need him once.

11.06 - Roy Helu, RB, Washington

This pick is all Smola’s hype. I have 2 daughters younger than 5 and am worthless most of the week during football season. (How’s that different from the rest of the year?) Hence, I don’t watch nearly as much college football as I once did or would like to. Jared is one of those who thinks Helu fits Mike Shanahan’s run scheme perfectly. This draft preceded Ryan Torain’s hand fracture, so Helu will probably stop hanging around this long.

12.07 - Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Steelers

Similarly, my Sanders pick preceded the latest news with the setback on his foot. Today, I wouldn’t go the same way. I’d have gone for my next-round pick here instead.

13.06 - Davone Bess, WR, Dolphins

I admit, I’m among the many who try to look away from Bess every year. He finished 2010 as a top-25 PPR WR, though, despite Brandon Marshall’s large target total. Let’s band together to stop trying to avoid him.

14.07 - Dustin Keller, TE, Jets

I told myself a couple of rounds before this that I wouldn’t bother with a backup TE in this draft. It was a wacky position on this night, though. Todd Heap went at the end of Round 11, just ahead of Aaron Hernandez. I would have taken Jared Cook had he not gone 1 spot earlier, but either is a strong value as TE19. I’m not high on Keller, but he makes plenty of sense as a mid-range backup. This year should tell us if he and Mark Sanchez simply hit their ceiling last year or if there’s more to come.

15.06 - Saints D/ST

This would have been an upside unit even without Darren Sproles on returns. The D-line has been revamped, primarily thanks to the addition of DT Shaun Rogers. Rookie Martez Wilson was added at LB. The DBs will be better – and present a high ceiling – if the team can only keep CB Tracy Porter healthy. Add creative DC Gregg Williams, and the scoring potential is tremendous.

16.07 - Matt Bryant, K, Falcons

I needed a kicker. Bryant often plays one on TV.

Other rankings are stale  before the 2nd round.

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