The Fantasy Fool: The Perfect Draft 2.0 -- Midseason review

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So, uh, how's that Cam Newton pick working out for you?

Still think Antonio Gates was a steal in the fifth round?

Tired of seeing Greg Jennings in commercials instead of your lineup?

Yes, dear reader, it's time for our semi-annual exercise in self-flagellation, when we reflect back two short months on what could have been had we made all the right moves during our preseason draft. Step right up for The Perfect Draft 2.0: Midseason Review.

As always, we start with a few key assumptions. First, we're in a 10-team league using a standard scoring system that starts one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, one kicker and one defense/special teams. Second, we are drafting from the middle (fifth) position in a zig-zag format, meaning Arian Foster and Ray Rice were not available to us in the first round. Third, we're selecting players based on their average draft position in multiple mock draft sites as of the end of August. And finally, our goal is nothing short of total domination and the abject humiliation of our opponents.

Now, with the fifth pick of the 2012 Perfect Draft, we should have selected ...

Round 1. Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings. I realize we could wait and grab Peterson in the next round, or even a bit later; but there's a method to my madness. Only Foster ranks ahead of AP at the mid-season turn, which is just sort of miraculous.

Round 2. A.J. Green, WR, Bengals. Arguably the best receiver in the game, Green often slipped to the third round in many leagues.

Round 3. Victor Cruz, WR, Giants. We now have the most prolific receiving tandem in the business. Makes you wanna salsa.

Round 4. Frank Gore, RB, 49ers. Overlooked by many heading into the season, Gore is still performing at a high level and makes an excellent RB2.

Round 5. Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons. Those who sat patiently as the first round of passers went off the board were rewarded with the fifth-year star who has finally stepped up to elite status. Now you understand my draft strategy.

Round 6. Vincent Jackson, WR, Buccaneers. Now that he and Josh Freeman are in sync, Jackson is again among the most dangerous playmakers in the league.

Round 7. Stevan Ridley, RB, Patriots. Quietly, and somewhat shockingly, Ridley has reached the halfway point in the company of the Top 5 rushers. It will be even more surprising if he's still here by year's end.

Round 8. Robert Griffin III, QB, Redskins. On track to become the new face of the NFL, we'll have trouble keeping RGIII on our bench.

Round 9. C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills. He lacks consistency due to Fred Jackson's interference. But when Spiller gets the ball, he's usually unstoppable.

Round 10. Denarius Moore, WR, Raiders. After a slow start, Moore is living up to his sleeper potential as Carson Palmer's most reliable weapon.

Round 11. Bears defense/special teams. Nobody else even comes close. Chicago leads the league in turnovers, fewest points allowed and, most important, defensive scoring. In most formats, they're as valuable as all but the top RBs and WRs.

Round 12. Texans defense/special teams. We don't normally advocate drafting two defensive units, but why let a competitor snag fantasy's second-ranked squad?

Round 13. Randall Cobb, WR, Packers. Late-round sleepers are meant to be stashed away for a few weeks, in hopes that they'll begin contributing by mid-year. Cobb started fulfilling his promise in Week 5.

Round 14. Owen Daniels, TE, Texans. Finally fully healthy, Daniels is on track to blow away his career bests.

Round 15. Heath Miller, TE, Steelers. Only Rob Gronkowski has more TDs than Miller's six, and he wasn't even drafted in most leagues.

Round 16. Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins. How rare is it for a sixth-round rookie to become not just an instant contributor, but a legitimate workhorse? One of the true surprises of the 2012 season, Morris is one of the most consistently reliable tailbacks in the league.

Round 17. Lawrence Tynes, K, Giants. As usual, several of the best kickers are available in the final round, including Tynes and rookies Greg Zuerlein, Blair Walsh and Justin Tucker.

It will be interesting to see how much our mid-season roster changes by year's end. For the record, they always do.

FREE AGENT PICKS AND PANS

To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here's a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup.

Catch 'em while you can

Shane Vereen, RB, Patriots. Many believe the former second-round pick is the most talented, versatile back in New England. He is starting to eat into Ridley's carries, and notched his second TD of the season in London. Heading into the bye, Vereen could return with a bigger stake in this high-octane offense.

Titus Young, WR, Lions. One of our preseason sleeper picks, Young finally had his breakout game. Nate Burleson's season-ending leg injury helped, but Young's development has arguably been limited most by Matt Stafford's ineffectiveness. The duo connected well Sunday, so optimism reigns for the second half of the season.

Don't be fooled

Vick Ballard, RB, Colts. If not for his acrobatic, inverted leap into the end zone to seal an overtime win, Ballard's stat line would have been mediocre. Donald Brown returned from his knee injury to lead the Colts in carries, and Delone Carter poached a goal-line plunge. This is a great time to trade the rookie, if you can find a sucker.

Ladd Biro has been named Football Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association for two consecutive years (2010 and 2011). Follow all his advice at the Fantasy Fools blog, on Facebook and via Twitter (@ladd_biro). fantasy


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