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1. Marco: RB Jahvid Best
2. Matt: RB Donald Brown
3. Dan: RB Stevan Ridley
4. Rob: San Francisco DEF
5. James: TE Tony Gonzalez
6. Gary: RB Peyton Hillis
7. Ralph: WR Justin Blackmon
8. Tim: QB Philip Rivers
9. Ryan: RB Toby Gerhart
10. Alex: TE Jared Cook
As late as a week before this draft, I was dead set against drafting a defense earlier than the last two picks of the draft.
After all, defenses can be unpredictable. Preseason favorites too often go south, making them a wasted draft pick. And strong ones too often come out of nowhere, making it likely you can find a decent one on the waiver wire.
So I was strongly against reaching for a defense.
But then a stat jumped out at me that changed my thinking.
The stat? Three touchdowns scored.
That is, the 49ers defense scored only three touchdowns as a unit last year. Yet they finished second overall in standard Yahoo! scoring (8.9 FPPG).
Meanwhile, the other three top defensive teams combined for a whopping 19 touchdowns scored.
If you've studied baseball sabermetrics, you know that some stats are fluky—they are not reliable predictive indicators of future success, such as a pitcher's home run rate.
In football, defensive touchdowns scored is also a fluky stat—it's not a reliable predictive indicator of future success.
The fact that the 49ers defense finished No. 2 among fantasy defenses despite scoring only three touchdowns shows that they are a very strong defensive unit that doesn't need to rely on fluky scores to be elite.
The San Francisco defense is young. They're returning all 11 starters. The team's offense looks to be much improved, which should in turn help the defense in terms of field position.
And if the San Francisco defense ends up scoring more than three touchdowns this year, they could be off the charts for fantasy.
I don't take any credit for that stat; my guy John Hansen from FantasyGuru.com is the one who unearthed it.
Taking San Francisco in the 10th or 11th round seems about right for a starting defensive unit with the potential that they have.
If the 49ers defense was gone, I would have taken an offensive player here and waited until the 14th round to take a defense.
Philip Rivers in the 10th round is a steal. Tim got a very solid QB2 at a very good price.
Tony Gonzalez was the third-best fantasy tight end last year but was the 11th TE taken in this draft. I see Gonzalez producing at a similar level as last year, so this was a very good value pick for James, especially as James' TE2.
A bit early for Justin Blackmon, in my opinion, who isn't even the No. 1 receiver on his own team. Also, if I want a high-upside backup, I'd rather take a guy like Ben Tate over a guy like Toby Gerhart, even though Gerhart is Ryan's Adrian Peterson handcuff.
It remains to be seen how much Jahvid Best, who has a history of concussions going back to college, will be on the field in 2012. Even without the omnipresent concussion risk, he's still going to share time with Mikel Leshoure.