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How to score the perfect fantasy draft

If you play fantasy football, you're probably tearing your hair out trying to decide whom to draft. That's where we come in. We asked Dan Richman and Jay St. Pierre, two of RedEye's most formidable fantasy minds, to give us their perfect drafts. And at the end of the season, we'll see who got the best of it. Have at it, gentlemen.

 

JAY ST. PIERRE (@jaystpierre)

First round: Drew Brees, New Orleans QB

Let's buck this year's "draft-a-running-back-in-the-first-round" trend and give me the leading fantasy scorer the past two years. Brees has averaged 5,327 passing yards and 44.5 touchdowns the past two seasons. And oh yeah, coach Sean Payton is back. This isn't even a homer pick. I've just watched enough Saints football to realize they still can't stop the 40-year-old virgin from scoring and have three running backs incapable of actually being reliable. It'll be like an old Western every week in the Superdome: Shootouts galore.

Second round: Doug Martin, Tampa Bay RB

I'll grab "The Muscle Hamster" here. Let's say Adrian Peterson comes back to earth. He's still averaged an insane 1,729 total yards and 13 TDs per year in his career. Buuuuut, all the top 5 fantasy backs last year had similar—if not better—stats than that in 2012. One of those: Martin. He isn't a better back than AP, but he's the best bet to have a year like AP did in 2012.

Third round: Jimmy Graham, New Orleans TE

BAM! The only perk to picking second in this fake draft is that I know my enemy has filled his only wideout spot. That means I can skip a receiver this round to swoop in and grab the league's best tight end. So why not go with Brees' favorite target? Brees calls Graham "Avatar" because he plays like he's 10 feet tall. And just like James Cameron's film, he's going to be a BIG HIT this season. 1,000 yards: Check. 10-12 touchdowns: check, check. Perfect fantasy roster looking great: check, check, check!

Fourth round: Dez Bryant, Dallas WR

This was a tough one. With the league's best receiver off the board, I had to choose between Brandon Marshall, A.J. Green and Bryant. Marshall and Green are great choices, and I have a deep-seated hatred for the Cowboys, but I have to rely on what I know best—stats. Bryant had 12 scores on 138 targets last year. That's more scores than Green and Marshall had on 164 and 192 targets, respectively.

Fifth round: Arizona defense

Total homer pick. Last time I checked, the Cardinals' entire starting unit consists of former LSU players. I would say this pick will come back to haunt me, but Patrick Peterson's going to pick off 50 passes and Kevin Minter will sneak into the starting lineup and recover 20 fumbles before Arizona's Week 9 bye. Also, Tyrann "Honey Badger" Mathieu will return 32 punts for touchdowns and will be named the quickest man in the NFL now that his lungs aren't filled with weed. Geaux Tige … oh wait, Cardinals!

Sixth Round: Matt Bryant, Atlanta K

Here's the deal with kickers: there's not much separation between the best of them. In standard Yahoo scoring leagues last year, the difference between the No. 1 and the No. 10 kicker was 1.6 points per game. So if I'm going to stress over getting the perfect one, I'll pick Bryant. He's been a top five fantasy kicker two of the last three years, and with an offense packed with juggernauts, he may be the best kicker in the league this year. And if all else fails, I win the award for getting two players named Bryant on a six-man team.

 

DAN RICHMAN (@danrichmanffl)

First round: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota RB

I am a big believer in picking the best player available, and AP is the best. He is better than anyone could imagine coming off a torn ACL. The stats are mind blowing: over 2,000 yards rushing, 13 touchdowns and 6 yards per carry.

Second round: Calvin Johnson. Detroit WR

There was no Madden cover jinx for Megatron in 2012. 122 receptions, just under 2,000 yards receiving and five scores. It should be noted that Johnson may have played with broken fingers. So if he's healed and Matthew Stafford's accuracy improves, Megatron will be megagreat in 2013.

Third round: Cam Newton. Carolina QB

Time to pick a quarterback and I think this will be Newton's breakout year. The Carolina signal caller was outstanding in the second half of 2012. Newton has solid weapons in Steve Smith, Greg Olsen and Brandon LaFell. Newton also is a force on the ground. I predict over 3,500 yards passing and 700 yards rushing for Newton in 2013.

Fourth round: Jason Witten, Dallas TE

Jimmy Graham is the best fantasy tight end; in most drafts he'll be gone by Round 4. So who's second best? It's Jason Witten, the model of consistency. He's played in all 16 regular-season games the past nine years. This veteran had over 1,000 yards receiving in 2012 and was targeted 150 times by Tony Romo.

Fifth round: San Francisco D

I don't put much value in picking a defense. It's really a lot of luck and you need someone who can return punts or kickoffs for touchdowns. The 49ers defense is big, intimidating, they get to the quarterback and have a strong secondary. Honestly, picking a defense is about being more lucky than good.

Sixth round: Blair Walsh, Minnesota K

I started with a Viking and I am ending with a Viking. Walsh is great, having made 35 field goals as a rookie, including 10 from more than 50 yards, and with only three misses. This Viking will be a fantasy stud this year.

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