It's nearing time to close out this draft. While other owners sitting around you are paying less attention to detail, and making more trips to the fridge for another beer, and the bathroom to relieve themselves of said beer, it is time to bear down and make the most of every pick you've got. Build that depth with quality from here on out. You need to fill out your roster with backups, potentially a TE starter and finally draft a K and DEF. Here are some things to look for:
If you have a fairly deep size roster, a 3rd QB is not out of the question. But, make it worthwhile by going for upside with a young guy like Eli Manning, or perhaps Ben Roesthlisberger (keeper league only). You don't really need 3 QB in a 12 team league, and sometimes it just complicates things when you're trying to start the right one each week, as I learned with the trio of McNair-Brooks-Partick Ramsey in one league last year at the start of the season before I finally jettisoned Ramsey off to another team.
The only handcuff that comes to mind is Gus Frerotte if you drafted Culpepper. We all know how successful Frerotte did last year in Culpepper's absence, so if you can spare the roster spot don't take a chance you can get Frerotte off waivers if/when you need him.
RB are so drained at this point the options tend to be guys who could get a chance if the starter gets injured. Many people don't believe in this but I do believe in paying for proper insurance backing up your starter (handcuffing), which is why I drafted Ladell Betts late in the Red Eye Masters a few weeks ago since I took Portis in the 1st round. Note this does apply more to leagues that draft so early as that one did.
So, I would be taking Musa Smith to insure Jamal Lewis, Maurice Morris to insure Shaun Alexander, Najeh Davenport to insure Ahman Green (or is it Tony Fisher?), etc. Priest Holmes and LaDainian Tomlinson are tougher ones to know for sure but I would probably take a stab with Derrick Blaylock (that's right, not Larry Johnson) and Michael Turner for them, respectively.
It never hurts to have depth at RB, so I will take backups at the right value before other teams handcuff their stars. Players I like here are Musa Smith, Chris Perry, Tony Hollings and Greg Jones.
Final note if you are in a point per reception league and start more than 2 RB, such as is done in WCOFF (they actually have a flex RB-WR-TE extra skill position starter from our setup of 6 total at those positions), then look for 3rd-down RB who could play a moderately significant role and rack up some points. Every little bit helps especially with an extra starter every week to worry about.
Players to consider here are Richie Anderson, Kevin Faulk, Michael Pittman and Justin Fargas. These are long shot picks anyway, so if they don't pan out they are easily replaced.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. Draft for upside, especially at WR and especially this late in the draft. Of what possible use could Bobby Engram be to your team, or Derrius Thompson, Troy Brown or frankly (in my opinion) Marcus Robinson, who is already injured? The upside potential has been here already but packed up and left town long ago.
Do your research and keep an eye out for opportunity for a young guy to take over an injured, aging, or just plain brutal starting WR crew for their respective team. There are plenty of guys that fit the bill which you can get at various spots in the draft, all post-10th. Here is who I like and here's hoping one or more of them are this year's Steve Smith and Santana Moss, both 10th+ round draftees the year before:
As for Anquan Boldin, which I'm sure some of you are thinking about, take a pass on him. It is the same as Michael Vick a year ago. While it is easy to think that when he comes back late in the year from injury he will provide a boost to your team, there is no certainty when he will return and how long it will take him to get back up to speed. Plus he is taking up valuable real estate on your roster which could be used to take a flier on an active player off waivers who all of a sudden is in line for more playing time (Domanick Davis, Brian Westbrook a year ago).
If you're going TE late then there are some decent sleeper picks available. Antonio Gates has unfortunately shot way up the ranks and is on most people's radars by now, so he isn't near the value he was a month ago. He probably gets taken in the first 10 rounds.
Down here though, Dallas Clark, Jason Witten, Erron Kinney, Byron Chamberlain, L.J. Smith are some nice looking choices.
Do not think that for a position like TE, which is a low value position (and the same applies to K and DEF), that you absolutely must have a backup on your roster at all times. If your league has any kind of reasonable free agent system where you can pick up 2 or more players per week, it isn't necessary to worry about covering byes for your TE, K or DEF during the draft.
This especially applies to a relatively small roster, such as 8-9 starters but only 5-6 bench spots. You're better off filling the backup spots at RB, WR and QB and just inserting a bye week replacement as you need it.
You know how I feel about kickers. I'd list the ones I like but since I care little for them I don't even focus on the names too much. Instead look for someone who benefits from a combination of a high powered or potentially high powered offense (Josh Brown, Seahawks), a strong defense to give the offense a short field and lot of opportunities (Matt Stover, Ravens), a big leg (Jason Elam, Broncos), job security (Adam Vinatieri, Patriots) and plays in a dome or warm climate (John Carney, Saints). And most of all is someone who you won't have to draft until the final 1-2 rounds of the draft.
Defenses are tougher to choose from because you know they can vary in points scored, unlike kickers do very much, but it is just extremely difficult figuring out which ones will do well and which ones will flop. And honestly I don't spend a lot of time researching team defenses since most of my leagues use individual defensive players.
Check the early matchups to see who is playing a team with a young, inexperienced or mistake-prone offense, particularly the QB (49ers, Chargers, Bears). Look for a team with a strong offense that is going to force their opponent into a one-dimensional, come from behind mode. Look for a defense with a strong DL first and foremost. Everything starts at the line. A team can have the best corners in the league but with no pressure up front on the QB the corners aren't going to be able to defend the receivers forever.
Don't be too concerned about drafting a DEF that you think will last all year for you, because chances are they won't. Keep you wits about you early in the season because there is usually a DEF which really shines the first week or two available on waivers that you want to jump on. The Panthers and Chiefs come to mind from last year.
Wow, never when I started this did I expect it to go this long. Remember this is only a guide. Stay flexible as you draft. Do not lock into certain positions in advance of each pick, but it doesn't hurt to have a plan or expectation going in. Happy Drafting!