Fantasy
Things I learned from my latest draft

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - What lasted 15 days and took 180 strong, athletic men to complete?

No, it wasn't the pyramids at Giza, it was my most recent fantasy draft. Fantasy drafts are suppose to be fun, but this one was like an annoying headache that just wouldn't go away no matter how many aspirins I popped.

But I did learn a few things from this draft that I can take to my next one (I'm in five leagues this season).

Two quarterback leagues or leagues that allow quarterbacks at the wildcard slot force everyone to change their normal routine as there is immediate position scarcity.

With the 12th- and 13th-picks in a 12-team league, my strategy was to select two quarterbacks in the first two rounds, thereby exasperating an already limited field and forcing others to follow my lead. It allowed me to have better running back and wide receiver options when I chose my third- and fourth-round picks.

Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, a fantasy superstar in his first season went ninth overall, despite a number of red flags which indicate that he won't be able to reproduce last season's fantasy total in 2012-13.

There are two primary reasons I think the Newton pick was too early.

The first is the addition of Mike Tolbert to the Panthers roster. Tolbert is a red zone touchdown specialist who will eat away at Newton's record 14 rushing touchdowns of a year ago. Secondly, Newton jumped out of the gate quickly, but the second half of the season was "ordinary" as he threw for 1,658 yards and 10 touchdowns in the final eight games for a 207.25 ypg average. Add in 387 yards on the ground in that same span (48.37 ypg) and it's a pedestrian total of 255.6 ypg compared to other first round quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford and Eli Manning all of whom threw for over 308 ypg.

As expected, tight ends Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski went very early (second round) and the third tight end wasn't selected until round four (pick No. 47 Antonio Gates). I suspect they will be selected together in every draft as they are head and shoulders above the rest of the players at the position.

This group of fantasy owners, all in the fantasy business, weren't scared of players coming off injury or already dealing with injuries. Jamaal Charles (knee), Adrian Peterson (knee) and Michael Vick (ribs) were second rounders while Fred Jackson (fibula) and Ryan Mathews (collarbone) were third round selections.

Cardinals superstar receiver Larry Fitzgerald still earned plenty of respect as the third receiver off the board despite a truly ugly display from quarterbacks John Skelton and Kevin Kolb this preseason. He went ahead of the likes of Julio Jones, Wes Welker and Victor Cruz.

The "Peyton Effect" was certainly apparent as Peyton Manning's arrival in Denver boosted the value of Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker through the roof.

Expectations are high for the third-year wideout Thomas. Coming off a great two-game playoff season in which he caught 10 balls for 297 yards and a touchdown, from Tim Tebow no less, Thomas was selected at No. 56. That's quite a jump after being ranked No. 420 by fantasyfootballnerd.com in 2011-12. Peyton's influence didn't stop there as Eric Decker's value jumped from No. 213 in 2011 to No. 78 this season.

The Colts new starting quarterback, Andrew Luck, apparently looked good enough in preseason to have him picked ahead of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Cassel, Andy Dalton, Alex Smith and Carson Palmer. Keep in mind this isn't a keeper league.

Guys who were picked surprisingly low, in the final four rounds of a 15-round draft, included: Nate Washington, Denarius Moore, Mark Sanchez, Sidney Rice, LeGarrette Blount and Santana Moss. There might be a couple of decent values among those six guys. I particularly like Washington and Moore.

I hope this helps you in your upcoming draft. Good Luck!

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.