Well, my first Fantasy Analysis article has eclipsed 1,000 reads and been responsible for both the shiny little bronze medals hanging in the "Awards" box on my profile page.
With that in mind, it's time to do my follow-up and look at the guys likely to be available in Round Two of your draft this year.
Your picks in the first two rounds need to be guys you plan on starting every week. I've learned this the hard way in my first couple years playing fantasy football, where I drafted horribly and ended up scrambling for free agents to plug all the holes on my flimsy roster.
In other words, round two is not the place to take big risks. It's not the place to grab that guy with insane upside who you think might finally realize all of that potential everyone's been talking about (like I did with Reggie Bush last year—whoops!).
Reggie Bush did actually have a better season in '09 than '08 despite actually having less attempts. He ended up with two more touchdowns, 2.2 more yards per attempt rushing... and finished 37th overall among running backs in fantasy.
Not worth a round two pick.
I made this mistake last year for a couple reasons. For starters, I was at USC from '03 to '07 and saw Bush play in his glory days, so I like the guy. Also, in 2008, he went at the start of round three, and I was determined to not let him get away again (emotion has frequently been at the center of the worst decisions I've made, both in fantasy football and in life).
The worst part of the whole debacle was all the guys I could've taken who went after him in rounds two and three before I got to pick again: Andre Johnson (!), Larry Fitzgerald, Drew Brees, Steven Jackson, Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Frank Gore, Chris Johnson (!!), Reggie Wayne, Aaron Rodgers, Roddy White... you get the idea.
Bottom line, it was a bad pick, and it made my season much tougher than it should've been as a result. That romantic allure of looking like a genius with a crazy pick that no one saw coming can really burn ya.
This year, I'm still high on Reggie Bush, and I think he represents pretty good value in the 7th to 10th round, where he's often available.
So, what's the point of this discussion? Learn from your mistakes. Or better, learn from mine, and don't get too creative with your early picks—there will be plenty of sleepers left in the later rounds (or in free agency, where I grabbed Steve Smith of the New York Giants last year).
Draft a guy who you're planning to start every week—and start him every week. Now, on to the guys you should look for in round two...
As before, this is for standard-format 12-team leagues and is not meant to be followed religiously; it is instead meant to provide insight into the things that should be considered when forming your team.
Early (Picks 13-16)
I like wideouts here, just like I did in the first round.
If Randy Moss falls to you here, take him and don't look back, especially if you took a running back or quarterback in round one.
I also like Roddy White, Miles Austin, or Reggie Wayne here. Even if you took a receiver in round one, taking another one here puts two elite wideouts on your roster, solving one of the more complicated positions to fill in fantasy football.
Of course, it's also the position where you're most likely to find sleepers, and if you do take two wideouts from one of these spots you'll be waiting until the end of round 3 for your first running back—which means you're likely looking at guys like Jamaal Charles, Beanie Wells, LeSean McCoy, Pierre Thomas, or Jahvid Best as your RB1.
Not ideal, but not the worst situation in the world given how strong you'll be at wide receiver compared to the rest of your league.
Running backs that I like in this spot are Rashard Mendenhall, Steven Jackson, Ryan Mathews, Shonn Greene, Ryan Grant, and Cedric Benson. All these guys are solid picks to put up consistently big numbers every week, which is exactly what you want from your round two pick.
Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees frequently go in round one, which I don't like. Taking either of them here, however, is a good move.
I particularly like Rodgers because of his running ability. Peyton Manning is also a good pick, but know that if Manning gets you to the championship game, you're likely going to have to rely on someone else there when the Colts start resting their starters (but he will likely carry you there).
Middle (Picks 17-20)
This is where I'd advise you to start simply taking the best player available and worry less about whether you're going RB-RB, WR-WR, or whatever.
If one of the elite wideouts I mentioned above is available, they're still a great pick for the same reasons mentioned above. The same goes for all those running backs who have a lock on their starting job (Shonn Greene is likely to share some carries with LaDainian Tomlinson, but as much as the Jets run, he'll still get plenty of touches).
If Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees falls this far, I'd definitely take either here. There's just too much value to be had in getting one of the top two guys at their respective positions.
Remember, you win games in fantasy by scoring more points than your opponent. That means that you're looking for ways to get an edge at each position, and these guys are likely to give you that edge on a week-to-week basis.
Late (Picks 21-24)
If you're picking here, hopefully you took my advice and grabbed one of the top four running backs. Now you want to look at who's available and make a decision—grab a wideout and start building a strong, balanced roster—or grab a running back and have a powerhouse running combo with the plan to look for some sleeper gold at wideout.
The choice is up to you, and whichever way you go, your team will likely be a powerhouse with at least one elite running back and a solid every-week starter backing him up.
Hope you all enjoyed this column, and thanks to everyone who read my first one.