1) Donald Brown, running back, Indianapolis Colts
Team: Bryce McRae | Team Roster
Reason: I'm fairly secure with my top three backs. Because of that, I'm willing to take a chance for my No. 4. Indy's '09 first-round pick didn't contribute much last year (78 carries, 281 yards, three TDs) but part of his disappointing year was because of injuries. The other part: Joseph Addai. I think the Colts will gradually phase out Addai, at least in the regular season. The vet is a free agent after this year; they'll want to see what they have in Brown, especially if they run away with the division again. It's a bit of a gamble at this stage, but I'm willing to take it with my top three backs secured.
Others Considered: Kansas City Chiefs RB Thomas
Jones, Cleveland Browns RB Montario
Hardesty, Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE Kellen
Standards Set: It's tough to say. Brown could surpass 1,000 yards, if everything breaks right, and contribute six or seven scores. As long as the bulk of his contributions come in the second half, preferably Weeks 14 through 16, then I'll be happy.
2) Zach Miller, tight end, Oakland Raiders
Team: Cory J. Bonini | Team Roster
Evans back as No. 1
Reason: I was going to take Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb. Thanks, Bryce. Appreciate it. Miller logged 66 receptions for 805 yards and three touchdowns last year with the JaMarcus Russell-Bruce Gradkowski combo chucking the ball his way. Enter Jason Campbell, who has a history of effectively utilizing the tight end position. Miller is a true deep threat at the position. I know this was a reach, but I didn't want to risk him not returning to me in the ninth.
Others Considered: Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Cadillac Williams, Kansas City Chiefs RB Thomas Jones, Washington Redskins RB Clinton Portis
Standards Set: I think Miller can improve on his 66 receptions of a year ago, which should increase his yardage (805 in '09), but I'm expecting his three scores of a year ago (three) should double with Campbell in town.
3) Fred Jackson, running back, Buffalo Bills
Team: Jared Byrd | Team Roster
Reason: I was torn between choosing Jackson or taking a huge risk and drafting Santonio Holmes but opted for the safer selection. Between Marshawn Lynch and first-round draft choice C.J. Spiller, Jackson will have plenty of competition in training camp. That being said, he is still expected to enter the season as Buffalo's No. 1 back.
Others Considered: New York Jets WR Santonio Holmes
Standards Set: If he reaches 1,000 rushing yards again, I'll be (pleasantly) surprised. Realistically, I'd be happy with 800 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
4) Lee Evans, wide receiver, Buffalo Bills
Team: John Kotch | Team Roster
Reason: With Terrell Owens gone, Evans goes back to being the primary target in Buffalo. Evans managed just 44 receptions for 612 yards last year, but those numbers should get a boost this season. I know that the Bills' quarterback situation is bleak, but I think the offense could see some overall improvement under new head coach Chan Gailey. He is an offense-oriented coach and will likely make every effort to utilize his only weapon of note in the Bills' passing game.
Others Considered: Chicago Bears WR Johnny Knox
Standards Set: I thought Evans was a decent value here as a solid No.3 fantasy wide receiver. Best-case scenario, Evans could see 65 catches for 1,000 yards with 7 touchdowns.
5) Cadillac Williams, running back, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Team: Tim Piotrowski | Team Roster
Reason: Williams was able to stay relatively healthy last season but had an up-and-down season in terms of stats and did not find the end zone often. However, he has had time this offseason to completely recover from the knee issues he has dealt with and said he is 100 percent healthy. It also helps when there are reports that he will be the starter entering the season.
Others Considered: Washington Redskins RB Clinton Portis, New England Patriots RB Laurence Maroney.
Standards Set: I would hope for something like at least 1,000 total yards and six touchdowns.
6) Ahmad Bradshaw, running back, New York Giants
Team: Jack Douglas | Team Roster
Bradshaw ready to take over?
Reason: I considered adding more depth at wide receiver with this pick, but felt that it was more critical to get a fourth running back given the paucity of good runners still available. Bradshaw is fairly young with only 253 career regular season carries in three seasons. He backs up Brandon Jacobs, who is often hurt and misses games. Therefore, Bradshaw should get a few starts this year and will get his touches. He also catches a few balls as his 21 receptions for 207 yards in 2009 attest. Last year, he carried the ball 163 times for 778 yards (4.8 yards per carry) and seven touchdowns He is coming off of foot injuries but should be healed and ready for the season.
Others Considered: Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant
Standards Set: About 200 carries for 800-900 rushing yards and close to eight touchdowns. I also look for him to receive about 25-30 passes for about 275 yards and one or two receiving touchdowns. If Jacobs is lost for significant time this year, those expectations should go up.
7) Thomas Jones, running back, Kansas City Chiefs
Team: Keith Hernandez | Team Roster
Reason: Back-to-back picks of 31-year-old veterans wasn't exactly my plan going in, but it just so turned out that way. I did not draft Jones here based on his 2009 campaign with the New York Jets. Jones will share carries with Jamaal Charles, but his real value comes in the form of his red zone opportunities and the ability to punch the ball into the end zone. He could post respectable fantasy football stats as my No. 3 back as the Chiefs' goal line weapon.
Others Considered: Washington Redskins RB Clinton Portis, Arizona Cardinals WR Steve Breaston, New York Jets RB LaDainian Tomlinson
Standards Set: I am not expecting a sixth straight 1,000-yard season, nor am I banking on 10-plus TDs. 850-plus yards and eight TDs is a start, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him top that by a bit.
8) Jay Cutler, quarterback, Chicago Bears
Team: Ryan R. Bonini | Team Roster
Reason: I thought I'd get a shot at either Brett Favre or Kevin Kolb here. I should have gone one of those routes in the last round instead of reaching on Slaton. Cutler threw for 3,666 yards and 27 touchdowns last year, and it was considered a horrible season, mostly due to his 26 picks. With Mike Martz running the offense, Cutler is going to throw, throw and throw some more. Chemistry with his receivers will be improved, but he needs to cut down on the mistakes.
Others Considered: Washington Redskins QB Donovan McNabb
Standards Set: I expect 4,100 yards, 28 touchdowns and 20 picks. The yardage could be much higher, hopefully the INTs don't follow suit.
9) Steve Breaston, wide receiver, Arizona Cardinals
Team: Mike Egnak | Team Roster
Oakland's real No. 1 back?
Reason: With wide receiver Anquan Boldin now with the Baltimore Ravens, Breaston will be able to hang on to the No. 2 wide receiver job full time. Breaston has shown in the past that he can handle a starting workload, grabbing 77 passes for 1,006 yards in 2008, despite starting just nine games.
Others Considered: San Diego Chargers WR
Standards Set: I'm expecting Breaston to grab about 80 passes for 1,150 yards with five touchdowns. I am a little concerned about the change from Kurt Warner to Matt Leinart at quarterback, but I think Breaston should still be OK to use as a No. 3 fantasy wideout.
10) Dez Bryant, wide receiver, Dallas Cowboys
Team: Ilan Mochari | Team Roster
Reason: With Brandon Marshall and DeSean Jackson in the fold as my top two wideouts, I felt I was in a position to take a risk with my No. 3 WR. I was initially hesitant to select Bryant, not only because he is a rookie, but also because I already have Felix Jones and I'm generally against drafting teammates. At the end of the day, however, I could not pass on Bryant's upside. No, he has not yet "done it" at the NFL level like Devin Aromashodu or Derrick Mason. But there's a chance he bursts onto the scene like DeSean Jackson did in 2008. In Round 8, I'll take that chance.
Others Considered: Chicago Bears WR Devin Aromashodu
Standards Set: Last year's rookie receiver diva, Michael Crabtree, provides a reasonable barometer for what Bryant can achieve statistically. Crabtree caught 48 passes for 625 yards and two touchdowns in 11 games. Prorated over 16 games, Crabtree would have snagged 70 receptions for 909 yards and three scores. I think Bryant is capable of those numbers. Though he'll have more competition for receptions than Crabtree did, he's also playing in a more powerful offense.
11) Montario Hardesty, running back, Cleveland Browns
Team: Tim Heaney | Team Roster
Reason: I considered handcuffing Darren McFadden but instead went with a potential feature back as my No. 4. Handcuffing can sometimes lock you into a questionable backfield. That was the case with Oakland. Hardesty, meanwhile, impressed during his rookie workouts and has a decent shot at being the top dawg for Cleveland, whose O-line is much better than Oakland's. Hardesty has a goal line style and a decent enough all-around profile to nudge Jerome Harrison out of the picture. Rookie running backs are worth a mid-round gamble since their transition to the NFL is typically easier than the other skill positions.
Others Considered: Oakland Raiders RB Michael Bush
Standards Set: Hardesty reaching 900 ground yards, eight total touchdowns and 20 receptions isn't crazy talk.
12) Michael Bush, running back, Oakland Raiders
Team: Nicholas Minnix | Team Roster
Reason: Few backs drafted this late have the combo of opportunity and ability that Bush does. In his third season, Bush finally has an opportunity to be a focal point. He'll split touches with Darren McFadden, whose running style is electric but unsuited for football games played beyond the college ranks. The up-and-coming Raiduhs (say that again?) want Bush to be their power back, and they'll rely on the run - period - considerably. Bush is agile, quick and a good receiver. He's a better value than McFadden and a good bet for fantasy production at the flex spot.
Others Considered: Arizona Cardinals RB Tim Hightower
Standards Set: 900-1,000 total yards, eight to 10 TDs, 20 receptions.
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