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Fantasy Football

It’s never too late in draft

By Ed Ryan
Globe Staff / September 8, 2011

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Like everyone else who had a fantasy draft (or two, or three) during the last few weeks, I tried not to screw it up.

Last year, I screwed it up. I had the ninth pick and fell in love with Steven Jackson two weeks before draft day. I considered other players, but Jackson was my guy. I’ve been an unabashed Rams supporter in recent seasons - at least when it comes to their effort against the point spread - and I figured St. Louis would improve and Jackson would lead its resurgence.

I was right about the Rams being improved, but that has absolutely nothing to do with fantasy football. You need a difference-maker with your first-round pick, someone who earns the big money (think Carl Crawford money, but not Carl Crawford). Jackson had a nice 2010 season, rushing for more than 1,200 yards, but he only scored six touchdowns and went long stretches without finding the end zone.

With the ninth pick again this year, I was intent on not making up my mind in advance. With the top running backs long gone and Houston receiver Andre Johnson already taken, I snagged Detroit wideout Calvin Johnson. Most of the top quarterbacks were still available, including Michael Vick, but I didn’t want to pass up a franchise player at a difficult position to fill (we play three receivers in this league).

So with Calvin Johnson in hand and my next three picks netting Rashard Mendenhall, Miles Austin, and Tony Romo, I had my difference-maker and a solid core. But you turn your team into a weekly threat by wisely building around that core in later rounds. In that spirit, here are four late selections that could make you a contender:

Delone Carter, RB, Colts: Carter is the No. 2 back in Indianapolis, which means he’s one Joseph Addai injury from starting. Carter has moved ahead of UConn’s Donald Brown on the depth chart and the Colts are expected to run a lot, at least early, because of Peyton Manning’s injury.

Vince Young, QB, Eagles: If Vick gets creamed on a scramble, Young will light up the waiver wire. Don’t wait; pick him up now if he’s available.

Kansas City defense/special teams: The Chiefs’ young defense will rack up points, as will dynamic return specialists Javier Arenas and Dexter McCluster.

Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans: The word is likely out on the ex-Miami Hurricanes basketball player. Graham had a terrific preseason and should do the same when the games count.

Ed Ryan can be reached at ed_ryan@globe.com.

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