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The Weekly Gut Check - Vol. 12
Knowing Your League: Pt 4 - Draft Day

Rookie Scouting Portfolio The “Gut Feeling” is often synonymous with a sense of desperation resulting from a lack of preparation. The Gut Check is a huge proponent of studying the numbers, but there’s a point where one can place too much emphasis on the wrong information. This can result in the undervaluing or overlooking a player’s potential. Therefore, The Weekly Gut Check is devoted to examining the frame of reference behind certain number-driven guidelines that fantasy football owners use to make decisions.

Although The Weekly Gut Check doesn’t claim to be psychic, he does believe that he can dispel certain numbers biases and help you make the best choices for your team. We’ll keep a running tally of The Weekly Gut Check’s insights. This way you can gauge his views as something to seriously consider, or at least seriously consider running the opposite way as fast as you can!

Draft Day is still on the horizon for most, but The Gut Check just finished his last draft of the year. Draft Day for the ABFFL was the ultimate way to cap off a summer. Yours Truly feels like he just returned from a week at a spa and resort. Come to think of it, maybe Bentley (our draft day host) is onto something here. Just imagine handing a brochure to your spouse/girlfriend:

"Want to show that man in your life how much you care? No? How about showing him how much you want to preserve the sanctity of your home? Or better yet, send him on a vacation that's so good, nothing could spoil his mood. In fact, clinical tests have proven with 99.8% accuracy that our product will maintain your man's good mood even upon returning to a re-decorated home on his credit card!!! Better yet, none of this will come at the expense of your wedding vows. In fact, early studies reveal that resulting conceptions upon return are skyrocketing at a rate rivaling the Baby Boom!!!

Does it seem too good to be true??? That's what your man will think when you send him to Bentley's All-Inclusive, Fantasy Football Resort located in the heart of college football country and a convenient hour from the NFL town that boasts one of the leagues' most exciting players:

  • 1300 square feet solely devoted to your fantasy draft.
    • Complete war room with draft board.
    • Plenty of outlet access for laptops
    • Private research facility with High-Speed Internet connection for last-minute draft day prep.
  • 55" Wide-screen TV
    • ESPN updates
    • Preseason football
    • High-capacity/High-comfort seating arrangements
    • PS2 with Madden 2005 Special Edition
  • The world famous, Space-Eater Menu certified by NFL Space -Eaters Gilbert Brown, Tony Siragusa, and Keith Traylor:
    • Burgers
    • Dogs
    • Bratwurst
    • Pizza
    • Beer
    • Coke
    • Mrs. Bentley's How 'Bout Them Chicken Dip. So good, Bill Parcells banned his players in partaking-even before he nixed the local, exotic dance clubs. Athens, Georgia natives are speculating this dip was the true reason for Quincy Carter's demise.

Think of this as an emotional and financial down payment on a new living suite and call today before we're completely booked! Reservations are available with credit card or cash deposit. Remember ladies, if this doesn't get him excited then as my boy says, 'if it looks like a rat….'"

Pre-Draft Festivities
As much as The Gut Check missed the confines of The Frank-a place we all officially bid a fond farewell-Bentley's All-Inclusive Fantasy Football Resort started a new tradition in grand-style. The host invited us over the night before, coincidentally the day that ESPN Page 2's Bill Simmons coined National Madden Day: the official release of Madden 2005.

Bentley, The Gut Check, Cuji, DB, and Son of a Bentley kicked off the proceedings with pizza and the Falcons-Ravens preseason tilt. Then we broke out the Play Station2. We thoroughly tested Madden 2005 with a five-man tournament. The highlight of the night was The Gut Check's Titans besting Cuji's 49ers on a 4th down, Steve McNair corner pattern in the end zone as time expired. It was initially ruled incomplete before the referee-initiated replay showed Drew Bennett amazingly getting both feet in bounds while wearing Mike Rumph as a blanket. Of course, The Gut Check and Cuji own an X Box, so we were pretty much flailing around for most of the game as Bentley and Son of a Bentley that eventually took us to school courtesy of Bentley's Mike Vick and the full house backfield, and Son of A Bentley's one-play offensive scheme of Bulger to Bruce.

By the time we finished, it was six in the morning. Better yet, there was still another 24 hours of football, food, and frivolity.

One more thing before The Gut Check covers the results of the draft. Yours Truly and Cuji have both played ESPN's 2K5 and Madden 2005. We've both seen the 2K5 vs. 2005 thread on the FFToday Forum, and we have to agree with those that feel Madden 2005 is the better game. 2K5 is an excellent package for the price tag, but Cuji and The Gut Check have to say that Madden's graphics, player maneuverability, playbook, and Hit Stick are terrific. The 2K5 crib in an interesting concept, but The Gut Check wants more football and less Sims.

The Main Event
As a reminder, the ABFFL is a 12-team re-draft league with a scoring system that is somewhat related to the high performance scoring seen on AntSports. The Gut Check is listing each team according to draft order and their order of picks along with some commentary on what transpired:

 Rd  Player  Team
1 Priest Holmes KC
2 Stephen Davis CAR
3 Donovan McNabb PHI
4 Plaxico Burress PIT
5 Andre Johnson HOU
6 Lee Suggs CLE
7 Roy Williams DET
8 Chad Pennington NYJ
9 Andre' Davis CLE
10 Todd Pinkston PHI
11 Eddie "Boo" Williams NO
12 Philadelphia Eagles  
13 Jim Kleinsasser MIN
14 Sebastian Janikowski OAK
15 David Givens NE
16 Larry Johnson KC
17 Vinny Testaverde DAL
18 Oakland Raiders  
19 John Kasay CAR
20 Kurt Warner NYG
Venus' third draft illustrates an owner that is on the rise. No one can argue that Priest Holmes was the top back last year and has shown nothing to lose that distinction. Stephen Davis falling to 2.12 gives Venus a great 1-2 punch, and following up with Donovan McNabb makes this owner very dangerous-all three of these picks have shown the ability to carry a fantasy owner on any given week. Plaxico Burress was a reach in round four, but based on Venus' draft position, the Steelers receiver might have been gone by then end of round six. Venus could have picked Moulds, Chambers, Porter, or Koren Robinson, started round five with Andre Johnson, and still had a chance at Burress. This would have given him more depth without having to take a chance on Roy Williams. Lee Suggs could wind up being a late season star that takes over for Stephen Davis on this squad. Chad Pennington was a great selection in round eight. Venus missed out on handcuffing Davis with Foster, but did manage to grab Larry Johnson. David Givens and Andre Davis provide Venus with excellent depth with red zone potential. Overall, Venus had an excellent draft and should make the playoffs for the first time.
 Rd  Player  Team
1 Michael Vick ATL
2 Eddie George TEN
3 Terrell Owens PHI
4 Mike Vanderjagt IND
5 Kellen Winslow CLE
6 Larry Fitzgerald ARI
7 Warrick Dunn ATL
8 Ben Roethlisberger PIT
9 New England Patriots  
10 Johnnie Morton KC
11 Julius Jones DAL
12 LaMont Jordan NYJ
13 Drew Bledsoe BUF
14 Dante Hall KC
15 Ben Troupe TEN
16 Erron Kinney TEN
17 Amos Zereoue OAK
18 Greg Jones JAC
19 Brandon Stokely IND
20 Matt Schobel CIN

DB—T.O.'s former roommate and a standout college cornerback that once intercepted Steve McNair twice, is a rookie to fantasy football. The Gut Check wasn't sure what to expect from DB Michael Vick at 1.02 was a surprise, but it was a good bet that the Falcons quarterback wouldn't have made it back to him in round two. Vick has the talent to be the fantasy MVP once again, but he's a huge risk. Eddie George might have come back to him in round 4 and he could have had Travis Henry, Brian Westbrook, Kevin Jones, Chris Brown, or especially Quentin Griffin. This was likely a case of a rookie owner not keeping track of the action. He was pretty amazed that others came into this thing with elaborate lists and laptops. Terrell Owens was a good pick at the end of round three, but his lack of familiarity with draft strategies and values really became apparent in the mid-to-late rounds. It seemed like DB would follow a decent pick with a reach. Although he picked the best kicker in the game in round four, DB could have waited at least twice as long for Vanderjagt. This was a true sign of a rookie that knows football, but has no experience with fantasy football. Winslow could wind up worth the fifth round pick, but once again he was valued lower. DB actually capitalized on The Gut Check's mistake of not acquiring Fitzgerald at the end of round five, because Yours Truly originally planned to take Favre on the way back when he saw that DB and Venus already had their first passer. The Gut Check just forgot after consulting his Draft Buddy, and lost out on one of the players he targeted. DB chose too many TE's—we weren't sure what he was thinking. Dante Hall could be a major sleeper—The Gut Check thinks Hall could be the best playmaker on the Chiefs receiving corps, and Vermeil recognized it last season. Overall, this team is missing a second starting rb and that puts him in the hole. But if Vick gets off to a good start and DB finds a waiver wire gem, this team could get competitive fast.

The Gut Check
 Rd  Player  Team
1 LaDainian Tomlinson SD
2 Michael Bennett MIN
3 Travis Henry BUF
4 Santana Moss NYJ
5 Eric Moulds BUF
6 Brett Favre GB
7 Brandon Lloyd SF
8 Chris Brown TEN
9 Marcus Robinson MIN
10 Rich Gannon OAK
11 Kevin Johnson BAL
12 Onterrio Smith MIN
13 Dallas Cowboys  
14 Freddie Mitchell PHI
15 Tony Hollings HOU
16 Joe Nedney TEN
17 Daniel Graham NE
18 Jason Witten DAL
19 Robert Ferguson GB
20 Kassim Osgood SD
Yours Truly said last week that he was happy with his draft position due to being sandwiched between a rookie and a conservative owner. The Gut Check was targeting Ahman Green as his first round pick, but was surprised to have to choose between LT2 and Green. In a weird way, The Gut Check was hoping not to have this decision because he liked Green Bay's offensive unit much more, but Tomlinson is a special player that he could not pass up-especially since he's #1 on The Gut Check's board. Michael Bennett in round two was a more difficult decision because Travis Henry and Westbrook were still available-talk about being hard up for choices! Yours Truly chose Bennett due to the strength of the offensive unit and he figured (incorrectly) that Westbrook, due to the news of Buckhalter projected to split carries evenly with the third year back, might fall back to him as far as round four. Yet it was when Henry was still there at the top of round three that the Gut Check had no choice but to pounce on him. With the preseason just beginning and the amount of question marks surrounding NFL backfields, The Gut Check took the opportunity to get three backs he felt were in his top fifteen. His choice was even more gratifying when he was still able to land Santana Moss and Eric Moulds as his top two receivers. In fact, Cuji was not too happy to lose out on Moulds and Yours Truly has to credit The Draft Buddy for helping him keep his data organized to draft the third rb and still land two excellent starters. This is the first time The Gut Check has had the pleasure of drafting Brett Favre and doesn't think last year's leader in passing tds will disappoint. Lloyd was a bit of a reach, but after Fitzgerald and Leftwich, he was on the list of mid-round prospects The Gut Check targeted as calculated gambles-especially with Cuji The Niners fan seated next to him. The steal of the draft was landing Chris Brown in round eight!!! The Gut Check couldn't believe the Titans' starter fell this far-and once Brown went off the board, neither could some of the owners. This meant Yours Truly didn't have to do a lot of handcuffing of backs. Instead, he had the luxury of picking the undervalued (Graham, Kevin Johnson, and Hollings) and the under-appreciated (Gannon, Mitchell, and Marcus Robinson). The two picks The Gut Check liked the least were Ferguson and Osgood. Considering they were his last two picks, that's a great sign.

 Rd  Player  Team
1 Ahman Green GB
2 Kevan Barlow SF
3 Hines Ward PIT
4 Joe Horn NO
5 Koren Robinson SEA
6 Thomas Jones CHI
7 Donte' Stallworth NO
8 Jeremy Shockey NYG
9 Aaron Brooks NO
10 Tyrone Calico TEN
11 Steven Jackson STL
12 Antonio Gates SD
13 Justin Gage CHI
14 Correll Buckhalter PHI
15 David Carr HOU
16 Tatum Bell DEN
17 John Carney NO
18 Tampa Bay Buccaneers  
19 Cedrick Wilson SF
20 Mike Anderson DEN
Cuji was a major benefactor from the first round pick of Michael Vick. Ahman Green is arguably primed for the best season of the top three backs in this draft. Picks 2-4 are especially solid. Koren Robinson as a number three receiver isn't bad at all. Thomas Jones in the sixth round was a steal. So was Aaron Brooks in round nine. The only questionable pick was Stallworth, because he already had Horn. This was admittedly a miscalculation on his part, but adding Tyrone Calico to the mix was a great adjustment. Gates is an FFToday favorite at TE and Jackson and Buckhalter are great value picks. Possibly the only weakness is the lack of depth at quarterback. The Gut Check once again robbed Cuji with the choice of Rich Gannon, so David Carr was the best of the remaining crop. Carr has been a better NFL player than a fantasy quarterback, but The Gut Check believes the Texan's offensive leader has the experience and the developing talent to make the next step. Concluding his draft with Mike Anderson was another telling illustration of Cuji's experience and study. Anderson is highly undervalued in comparison to higher profile selections of Griffin, Bell, and Hearst. But there's a better chance that Anderson will get key carries every game, especially in scoring situations or injury to Griffin. The scariest thing about Cuji's draft is his dependence on the Saints' passing game, but as recent history suggests for both New Orleans and this owner, he'll be very competitive.

 Rd  Player  Team
1 Clinton Portis WAS
2 Chad Johnson CIN
3 Derrick Mason TEN
4 Curtis Martin NYJ
5 Charles Rogers DET
6 Keenan McCardell TB
7 Trent Green KC
8 Baltimore Ravens  
9 Kevin Dyson SD
10 Jerome Bettis PIT
11 Byron Chamberlain DEN
12 Tai Streets DET
13 Jason Elam DEN
14 Eli Manning NYG
15 Derrius Thompson MIA
16 Ladell Betts WAS
17 Dez White ATL
18 Moe Williams MIN
19 Minnesota Vikings  
20 Rex Grossman CHI
Dude had his typical draft. Portis, Johnson, and Mason were a good foundation. If Curtis Martin still has it and Pennington stays healthy, the Jets starting RB could be a steal. Rogers was the homer pick The Gut Check expected this year. McCardell was a reach because of the contract squabble. It was likely the Dude could have picked McCardell two rounds later with less potential impact to his team if the Buccaneers' receiver winds up sitting out for the year. Trent Green was good value in round seven and Byron Chamberlain is a potential steal in round eleven. The "once before, now again," Bronco could post some excellent red zone stats in this offensive scheme that has made Sharpe, Chamberlain, and Desmond Clark top fantasy players in the past. Kevin Dyson was a smart pick, but the round he got him was a higher than he was going in many drafts. Bettis, Streets, Betts, and Williams are players with little upside, but can fill in during the bye weeks. Eli Manning and Dez White are possible sleepers-especially White, a talented practice player that could round into game-day form now that he's in a better offensive scheme. Rex Grossman is a gamble on greatness, and the Vikings are an underrated unit that will soon be led by rookie, Dontarrious Thomas-an LB that would be grabbing even more attention this season if Jonathan Vilma weren't in the same draft class. Dude's roster really hinges on Curtis Martin and Keenan McCardell. If these two players step up he's a playoff contender, but it's no sure thing.

2 Names
 Rd  Player  Team
1 Shaun Alexander SEA
2 Peyton Manning IND
3 Javon Walker GB
4 Tony Gonzalez KC
5 Marcell Shipp ARI
6 Rod Gardner WAS
7 Travis Minor MIA
8 Quincy Morgan CLE
9 Jeff Wilkins STL
10 Eddie Kennison KC
11 Garrison Hearst DEN
12 Tim Brown OAK
13 Joey Harrington DET
14 Seattle Seahawks  
15 Chris Perry CIN
16 John Hall WAS
17 Darnarian McCants WAS
18 Adrian Peterson CHI
19 Denver Broncos  
20 Chris Cooley WAS
2 Names came into the league last year and had a good rookie year, but after a few too many beers he could be poised for a sophomore slump with the selection of Marcell Shipp in round five. This pick illustrates the benefits of keeping up with the news on a day-to-day basis rather than cramming or arriving to the draft with solely a cheat sheet from a magazine. There were also a number of homer picks with Gardner, McCants, and Cooley. All this aside, Two Names has some strong picks with Alexander, Manning, and Gonzalez. All three picks could put him over the top on any given week. Walker is a favorite of the Gut Check's this year-the selection of the Green Bay receiver elicited more than a few groans and "good picks," from the league. Travis Minor is a big gamble, considering Chris Brown was still on the board. Add Brown to this team, and suddenly 2 Names has a competitive unit. Overall, this team is a good example of how important it is to make solid picks early. At the same time, as with the Minor/Brown example, it's also good to know that in one can make up ground even with a blown selection. In this case 2 Names didn't appear to do it, but that's why all championships aren't locked up on draft day.

 Rd  Player  Team
1 Deuce McAllister NO
2 Marvin Harrison IND
3 Peerless Price ATL
4 Quentin Griffin DEN
5 Alge Crumpler ATL
6 Isaac Bruce STL
7 Keyshawn Johnson DAL
8 Byron Leftwich JAC
9 Ron Dayne NYG
10 Emmitt Smith ARI
11 Jerry Rice OAK
12 Antowain Smith FA
13 Lee Evans BUF
14 Kelley Washington CIN
15 Brad Johnson TB
16 Michael Pittman TB
17 Billy Miller HOU
18 Aaron Stecker NO
19 Tennessee Titans  
20 Martin Gramatica TB
Bentley took advantage of what many fantasy football writers and researches call the best position in a draft-the middle of the round. Not only did Bentley benefit from D.B.'s pick of Vick (McAllister sliding to 1.07), but he also reaped the rewards of 2 Names' homer-ism in round six (Rod Gardner) and wound up with Isaac Bruce. Additionally, Bentley got arguably the top WR at 2.05 when Torry Holt was actually drafted ahead of Harrison. Although the Gut Check is not a fan of Peerless Price, it was a solid pick. Quentin Griffin looks like a 4th round steal based on his pre-season displays. Alge Crumpler was a reach in round five, considering that Todd Heap didn't go off the board for another two rounds. This could have been a good spot to select running back depth (Staley or Duckett), another solid receiver (Chambers, Porter, Toomer, Rod Smith, or Branch), or an established fantasy starter at quarterback (Hassellbeck). Byron Leftwich in the eighth round was the calculated gamble on greatness that Yours Truly has been recommending. The night before, Bentley made the attempt to find out which player the Gut Check was his "must have" and he was shot down. But The Gut Check knows that Bentley already knew the answer. It was fun to watch Bentley play dumb all the way through the draft about this selection. Bentley's selection of Kelley Washington was another Gut Check target that didn't make it back to Yours Truly in the round he was hoping to nab the future Bengal stud, and Lee Evans was another player in this category. But probably the funniest pick of the night was Ron Dayne. In the past our league would rarely turn on the TV during the draft, but the atmosphere has loosened up a bit. Within five minutes of the TV going on, ESPN News was showing highlights of Ron Dayne's 11-carry, 118-yard night. The Krispy Kreme jokes were flying, but Bentley must have liked what he saw because Dayne was gone the very next round. The Gut Check isn't sure whether our gracious host overreacted or made an astute adjustment. Either way, Dayne is a decent investment due to the fact he's slated to split carries with Barber. Overall, Bentley has a solid playoff contender with upside.

 Rd  Player  Team
1 Jamal Lewis BAL
2 Domanick Davis HOU
3 Darrell Jackson SEA
4 Jimmy Smith JAC
5 Chris Chambers MIA
6 Deion Branch NE
7 Todd Heap BAL
8 Jeff Garcia CLE
9 Reggie Williams JAC
10 William Green CLE
11 Mark Brunell WAS
12 Carolina Panthers  
13 Ryan Longwell GB
14 Michael Jenkins ATL
15 Chester Taylor BAL
16 David Terrell CHI
17 Corey Bradford HOU
18 LaBrandon Toefield JAC
19 Az-Zahir Hakim DET
20 L.J. Smith PHI
Once again, Raptor made wise decisions throughout most of his draft. Based on last year, Jamal Lewis and Domanick Davis are a terrific 1-2 punch. The combination of Jackson, Jimmy Smith, Chris Chambers, and branch is solid from top to bottom. The Gut Check was a round late on Jimmy Smith, a player he's been targeting in the mid-rounds of other drafts. Todd Heap was great value, especially after Alge Crumpler went two rounds earlier. Possibly the only weakness in his starting lineup is QB. Garcia and Brunell made need another year with their new teams to accumulate good numbers. David Terrell is a gamble-on-greatness/homer (University of Michigan) pick that has good value in round sixteen. L.J. Smith could be a steal in round twenty. Although the Gut Check isn't crazy about the depth, Raptor's starters are excellent picks from top to bottom. If healthy, this team should make the playoffs. QB play will dictate how far they'll go.

 Rd  Player  Team
1 Edgerrin James IND
2 Marshall Faulk STL
3 Steve McNair TEN
4 Steve Smith CAR
5 Jerry Porter OAK
6 Rod Smith DEN
7 Charlie Garner TB
8 Drew Bennett TEN
9 Jake Plummer DEN
10 Joey Galloway TB
11 Dallas Clark IND
12 DeShaun Foster CAR
13 Matt Stover BAL
14 Buffalo Bills  
15 Lamar Gordon STL
16 Troy Brown NE
17 Nate Burleson MIN
18 Dominic Rhodes IND
19 Freddie Jones ARI
20 Josh Reed BUF
James was a solid first round pick. Faulk was a back the Gut Check was glad didn't fall to him round two, due to the injury issues and upside of Steven Jackson. Nonetheless, Faulk was his usual self when he returned from injury. If neither player returns to their superstar form for a full season, D.W.W.A. is going to be out of luck. Steve McNair in round three is a pick the Gut Check likes, although he hoped for the co-MVP to drop to late round four or the top of round five. Steve Smith, Jerry Porter, and Rod Smith make a decent corps of receivers with some upside (Porter), and Charlie Garner is great insurance in round seven. Plummer and Galloway were once again excellent value. DeShaun Foster in the twelfth not only gives him trade bait, but a possible starter down the stretch. The Gut Check likes this draft a lot, because D.W.W.A made smart value picks throughout the process and did a good job handcuffing at least one his starting backs with a clear-cut number two (Rhodes). This is a typical, D.W.W.A. team: it looks a bit shaky based on all the preseason talk but will likely be a division winner when it's all said and done. If Faulk and James return to form, this team could make a championship appearance.

 Rd  Player  Team
1 Daunte Culpepper MIN
2 Rudi Johnson CIN
3 Anquan Bolden ARI
4 Tiki Barber NYG
5 Matt Hasselbeck SEA
6 Amani Toomer NYG
7 Randy McMichael MIA
8 Muhsin Muhammad CAR
9 Ike Hilliard NYG
10 Tyrone Wheatley OAK
11 Terry Glenn DAL
12 Miami Dolphins  
13 Bubba Franks GB
14 Jake Delhomme CAR
15 Troy Hambrick OAK
16 Josh Brown SEA
17 Troy Edwards JAC
18 Atlanta Falcons  
19 Artose Pinner DET
20 Morten Andersen KC
Our defending champion started his sophomore slump this weekend. Culpepper is a terrific pick. Rudi Johnson was a solid second rounder, but Ligtenmiller clearly thought Bolden was out for two weeks rather than the 8-12 that was later confirmed after the surgery. Other than Matt Hasselbeck in the fifth round, the rest of the former champ's picks were on the pedestrian side. None of his wide receivers come from strong passing offenses and many of them are the second option. It looks like this owner's belief that Bolden was returning in two weeks really threw him off. Tyrone Wheatley in round ten could be a good value, if he lives up to Norv Turner's expectations. If this happens, this roster could have enough to get into the post season. Otherwise, Culpepper may turn into trade bait to land more depth. The Gut Check believes this is the most likely scenario if The Champ can't land a waiver wire gem before mid-season.

 Rd  Player  Team
1 Corey Dillon NE
2 Torry Holt STL
3 Laveranues Coles WAS
4 Kevin Jones DET
5 T.J. Duckett ATL
6 Marc Bulger STL
7 Marty Booker CHI
8 Justin McCareins NYJ
9 Peter Warrick CIN
10 Dennis Northcutt CLE
11 Marcus Pollard IND
12 Josh McCown ARI
13 Jacksonville Jaguars  
14 Adam Vinatieri NE
15 James Thrash WAS
16 Jay Feely ATL
17 Itula Mili SEA
18 Justin Fargas OAK
19 Kevin Faulk NE
20 Pittsburgh Steelers  
Skelly turned out to be the owner chanting, "Fresh Fish, Fresh Fish, " The Gut Check is very high on Corey Dillon and to follow this up with Holt and Coles is pretty good. The only move the Gut Check questioned early was choosing Holt over Harrison. That may turn out to be splitting hairs once the season ends. Kevin Jones is probably the best rookie back in terms of talent and situation combined. The Lion should be a solid, second RB in his starting lineup. Bulger, Booker, McCareins, and Warrick are all solid mid-round picks. This is a competitive starting lineup. The depth is the issue. Josh McCown is a gamble at this point and James Thrash is not a good bet to contribute unless there's an injury-which is possibly a decent handcuff for the Coles selection. Justin Fargas is a good sleeper pick-a talented back that could take over for Wheatley as the season progresses. On paper this looks like a .500 roster that could go either way the running backs go. The Gut Check believes this team may surprise.

Sweet River
 Rd  Player  Team
1 Fred Taylor JAC
2 Randy Moss MIN
3 Tom Brady NE
4 Brian Westbrook PHI
5 Duce Staley PIT
6 Reggie Wayne IND
7 Donald Driver GB
8 Ashley Lelie DEN
9 Willis McGahee BUF
10 Travis Taylor BAL
11 David Akers PHI
12 Bobby Shaw BUF
13 Ben Watson NE
14 Antwaan Randle El PIT
15 Musa Smith BAL
16 Kansas City  
17 Kyle Boller BAL
18 Anthony Thomas CHI
19 Desmond Clark CHI
20 Jerome Pathon NO
Sweet River had his typical draft. Taylor and Moss are exciting players capable keeping him in every contest. Tom Brady is a great quarterback, but not necessarily a great fantasy quarterback. This is the type of reach that River generally makes each year-a player that will probably play like a third round pick, but could have been had in rounds 5-8. Westbrook backed up by Staley at least on this roster-although no longer on one in the NFL-is a good move. Wayne, Driver, and Lelie are all receivers capable of good weeks but none are clear-cut, go-to guys. This is the weakness of Sweet River's squad. This means Moss, Taylor, and Westbrook will have to carry this organization and The Gut Check isn't sure that can happen. This team will win its share of games, but the Gut Check thinks he'll ultimately come up short if Lelie and Westbrook don't break out.

The Gut Check's Predicted Playoff teams: Venus, The Gut Check, Cuji, Bentley, Raptor, and D.W.W.A.

The Gut Check learned quite a bit from this process. Never one to use a piece of draft day software in previous year, you can add The Gut Check to the converted. Mike MacGregor's Compiler and Draft Buddy are must haves. Although The Gut Check will likely re-create his own Access Database in the off-season, he'll be able to import his projections into the Compiler, which will automatically create a cheat sheet with tiers and eliminate a ton of work. The Draft Buddy made The Gut Check's draft simple and he directly credits it with helping him stay on top of the action so he could analyze his data within a two minute time frame per pick and compile a roster that should be highly competitive. Yours Truly was also able to minimize his fixation on sleepers with the help of ADP data that he updated on the ADP tab of the Draft Buddy with recent mocks. Although he would have preferred a later draft day, The Gut Check felt like his picks matched his preparation and the results should follow.

Next week, The Gut Check unveils his Preseason All-Gut Check Offense and after that, the All-Gut Check Defense.