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2011 Draft Prep: Targeting MJD in first round?

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The season is getting closer as we finish the second week of preseason games, and that means more leagues are doing their drafts. That's a good gauge for us in looking at Average Draft Position.

As we told you with the first column in this series, we're going to take a weekly look at the ADP as things change from what happened prior to preseason games heading into Labor Day Weekend. The idea is to highlight players who are moving up and down on Draft Day based on what happens on the field and in practice.

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This weekend, we suffered a significant injury when Arizona rookie running back Ryan Williams was lost for the year when he hurt his knee Friday against Green Bay. That opens the door for Beanie Wells to become a popular player on Draft Day, and his ADP will be on the rise.

We've also seen Michael Vick move past Aaron Rodgers as the No. 1 quarterback, Reggie Bush get a boost based on his play in his preseason debut for the Dolphins on Friday against Carolina and Chris Johnson hold steady at the No. 3 overall spot despite still in a holdout. Roddy White also has moved past Calvin Johnson as the No. 2 wide receiver.

While I will highlight players moving up and down at certain positions and also look at the changes in Round 1, you should use our interactive visualization below for a complete look at the ADP. You can view the changes in standard and point per reception formats, as well as guys who are being undervalued and overvalued based on our rankings.

The first round looks like this ...

Michael Vick is now a Top 10 selection

There's a lot of debate over who is the No. 1 quarterback this year between Vick and Rodgers, and Rodgers was holding the top spot prior to this weekend. But Vick jumped into the Top 10 and is now being drafted at No. 6 overall, with Rodgers one spot behind him.

I'm not big on taking a quarterback in the first round, but I would definitely take Vick first if I changed my strategy. There's no quarterback who can produce at his level if he plays 14 or more games. Even following a disappointing preseason game against Pittsburgh, Vick's Fantasy value is going up.

Ray Rice vs. Jamaal Charles

The No. 4 overall spot is interesting because after Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster and Johnson, Fantasy owners are torn between Rice and Charles. For now, Rice has the edge as he moved into the No. 4 overall spot.

I lean toward Charles in this debate because I like what he did last year, he will get increased carries as Thomas Jones moves into even more of a secondary role and he should be more involved in the passing game. Rice is awesome also, but I'm not sold on his touchdowns increasing dramatically even with his potential to see more goal-line work.

Maurice Jones-Drew still in Round 1

Fantasy owners are concerned about Jones-Drew and his knee, especially since he has yet to play in the preseason, but he is still being drafted at No. 11 overall. He moved ahead of Darren McFadden, who is now at No. 12, but he remains behind Michael Turner.

Once LeSean McCoy comes off the board, and he should be drafted as the No. 6 running back behind Foster, Peterson, Johnson, Charles and Rice, then the questions creep in with Jones-Drew (knee), McFadden (durability) and Turner (wearing down). If Jones-Drew is healthy, and we should get more information this week, then he is the best Fantasy running back of this trio.

Quarterbacks on the rise

Tom Brady the new No. 3

Once Vick and Rodgers are drafted, Fantasy owners are then left with a tough decision of Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning or Philip Rivers. The ADP right now has them in that order, and all four are being drafted in Round 2.

I have them ranked that way also, and the player with the biggest concern is Manning based on his neck injury. If he's ready for Week 1 then he should still be drafted as a Top 5 quarterback in Round 2, but I wouldn't be surprised if he falls behind Rivers since some Fantasy owners are scared.

Matthew Stafford is a starter

Stafford has moved into the Top 12, and he is being drafted in Round 8. He is behind Josh Freeman, and he is being drafted ahead of Eli Manning. This is the right spot to take Stafford because if he plays 16 games then he could easily be a Top 10 Fantasy quarterback, if not higher, but there's still some risk based on his injury history.

Manning is now being considered a backup Fantasy quarterback, but that's OK. What we've suggested is if you take Stafford then try to land Manning one round later to have a solid backup in case Stafford gets hurt.

Quarterbacks on the decline

Jay Cutler is falling

Cutler continues to fall on Draft Day, and he is being drafted in Round 10 instead of Round 9 like last week. But he is now being drafted behind Sam Bradford and Kevin Kolb.

I consider Cutler a No. 2 Fantasy quarterback also, but I'm not sure I would take Kolb ahead of him. Cutler remains another quarterback to target if you draft Stafford as a starter.

No one trusts Matt Cassel

Cassel is being drafted as the No. 18 quarterback in Round 11. He is being drafted right after Cutler and ahead of Mark Sanchez.

Cassel is the last quality No. 2 Fantasy quarterback that you would feel comfortable as a starter if your No. 1 option got hurt. But this is the right place to draft Cassel since he doesn't have the upside of Bradford or Kolb and is not as safe as Joe Flacco or Cutler.

Running backs on the rise

Reggie Bush looks better than expected

When the Dolphins traded for Bush, he was being viewed as a potential late-round flier in Fantasy leagues following the move. The expectation was Daniel Thomas would be the starter, and Bush would be used as a third-down option.

But Bush played well in the second preseason game against the Panthers, and he should share carries somewhat evenly with Thomas during the year. He is now being drafted in Round 9, and he is worth taking as your No. 4 Fantasy running back. Thomas is being drafted in Round 6, and while he still has more value, he is a No. 3 Fantasy option.

Jahvid Best now being drafted in Round 4

With the injury to Mikel Leshoure (Achilles' tendon), Fantasy owners have jumped all over Best. He is now being drafted in Round 4 behind DeAngelo Williams and ahead of Ryan Mathews.

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Mathews is falling because of the excitement over Mike Tolbert, but Best should have a tremendous season if he stays healthy. He is a great No. 2 running back to draft in Round 4. Just continue to monitor his potential concussion situation, but Best said he should be fine for Week 1.

Running backs on the decline

Jonathan Stewart is being drafted in Round 7

When we first presented this story last week, Stewart was being drafted ahead of Williams based on all the drafts done prior to the start of the preseason. But now that more leagues are drafting, Williams has moved ahead of Stewart.

Stewart has fallen to Round 7, and he could drop a couple of more spots behind Tolbert and Wells. We would definitely take Tolbert and Wells ahead of Stewart, but he's still worth drafting as a key reserve based on how he's played throughout his career and Williams' recent injury history.

Ryan Torain is now behind Tim Hightower

It's clear that Hightower is going to start for the Redskins this year, but this backfield could be a mess with Roy Helu and Torain also in the mix. Still, Hightower is being drafted as the best running back for the Redskins in Round 9. Torain is now after Hightower in Round 9 also, and Helu is not being drafted until Round 11.

We would draft Hightower as a No. 3 running back, and Torain is still worth taking as a No. 4 option considering he should play a prominent role following his hand injury. Helu is only worth drafting with a late-round flier in deep leagues.

Wide receivers on the rise

Chad Ochocinco is being drafted as a starter

We like Ochocinco in New England, but he should be considered a No. 3 Fantasy wide receiver coming into the season and not a No. 2 option. He is being drafted ahead of Mario Manningham and Austin Collie in Round 6, and that's too high.

When it comes to the Patriots and their receivers, keep in mind that Brady will spread the ball around to Wes Welker, Ochocinco, Deion Branch, both tight ends and the running backs. While Ochocinco should improve from his performance with the Bengals last season, he should not be considered a Fantasy starter coming into the year.

Julio Jones is the top rookie receiver

Jones is the No. 30 receiver with the latest ADP, and he is being drafted in Round 7. By comparison, fellow rookie A.J. Green is the No. 34 receiver, and he is being drafted in Round 9.

We like Jones much better than Green because of his quarterback situation. Matt Ryan should be able to help Jones play well as a rookie, but Andy Dalton is not going to do much for Green since the Bengals should be a bad team in 2011.

Wide receivers on the decline

Illness hurts Jeremy Maclin

Maclin has been out with an illness, and he has gone from a potential Top 15 Fantasy receiver to No. 20 in the latest ADP in Round 5. Fantasy owners are scared to draft Maclin, and it's understandable why that has happened.

I would still draft Maclin as a starting Fantasy receiver, and Round 5 is good value. If you draft two running backs, a wide receiver and a quarterback with your first four picks then Maclin is a good starter for your roster. If he returns for Week 1 he will post quality stats for the season.

Jacoby Ford is losing steam

Ford has sleeper potential with the Raiders losing Zach Miller to Seattle and Louis Murphy (hamstring) out for Week 1, but his ADP is just at 130 overall in Round 11. Fantasy owners could be concerned about his hand injury and also the increased attention being paid to rookie Denarius Moore.

We still consider Ford a sleeper with a late-round pick since the Raiders need someone to catch the ball, and Ford played well as a rookie last year. If he continues to fall on Draft Day then consider him a steal with a pick after Round 10.

Tight ends on the rise

Jermichael Finley is the No. 4 tight end

The top three tight ends are pretty standard in most formats with Antonio Gates, Dallas Clark and Jason Witten. After that, some people like Finley, but others would rather have Vernon Davis.

Both tight ends should play well this season, but Finley has more upside. If he can play a full season then he could be the No. 1 Fantasy tight end. Of course that's a big if based on Finley's injury history, but I'm in agreement that Finley should be drafted ahead of Davis, who still has a mediocre quarterback in Alex Smith.

Greg Olsen is turning into a sleeper

The Panthers are going to feature their tight end this season, and Olsen has the chance to be a great sleeper. He is currently the No. 15 tight end, but he should be considered a starting option on Draft Day.

In Friday's preseason game against the Dolphins, rookie quarterback Cam Newton did not complete a pass to a wide receiver. He focused solely on tight ends Olsen and Jeremy Shockey, and that happens a lot with young quarterbacks. Now, Steve Smith didn't play in the game because of an injury, but Olsen will still thrive this year. He's a great pick in Round 8 or later.

Tight ends on the decline

Zach Miller is now a No. 2 tight end

Miller's move from Oakland to Seattle has hurt his Fantasy value. He is now the No. 13 Fantasy tight end, and he is being drafted as a backup option in Round 11. You can argue that Miller will still have a successful season, but I agree with his ADP because I don't want him starting on my team.

If I could choose between Miller and Olsen, and I would rather have Olsen. He moved to a team like the Panthers that will use the tight end, and Miller is in a system with the Seahawks that barely used John Carlson last year.

Chris Cooley continues to fall

Last week we told you that Cooley was being drafted as the No. 13 tight end. Now he is the No. 18 option at his position. Fantasy owners are scared by his knee injury, and it could be a difficult year for Cooley if he's not 100 percent.

Cooley said he expects to be ready for Week 1, but we're skeptical. And if he's out for any point in the regular season then put Fred Davis on your sleeper list. Davis has played well in place of Cooley as a starter, and we could see Davis posting quality stats if he gets the chance for increased playing time.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg .

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Player News
Patriots LB Dont'a Hightower to miss at least six months
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(8:40 pm ET) Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower is going to miss between six and seven months, according to the Boston Globe.

Hightower had surgery this February to repair a torn right labrum. The team is concerned that he might not be able to be ready for the start of the reguar season. He played through the injury for a good portion of the 2014 season prior to surgery.

The 25-year-old started all 12 games he played, collecting 89 total tackles, six sacks, two passes defensed and one forced fumble.


Packers to use pistol formation more often this season
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(8:27 pm ET) After implementing the pistol formation into the offense to help take stress off of quarterback Aaron Rodgers' leg in 2014, the Packers are considering to use it more often this season, according to the Journal Sentinel.

"I like the pistol," head coach Mike McCarthy said during a break at the NFL owners meetings this week. "I think there's a lot of value regardless of the injury to Aaron. I know he likes it. There's a place for it year-round in your offense."

Although McCarthy has no intention of turning Rodgers into an option quarterback, the system provides unpredictability for opposing offenses.

"I would say this is about the third year it's been part of our pace and installation," McCarthy said. "Really, when we moved to it exclusively there at the end of the year it really wasn't a change for us.

"I liked it from a self-scout standpoint. It gives you another self-scout variable when you're in the gun, but you also have the tailback behind you. (There are a) lot of benefits to it."


Report: Vikings sign CB Terence Newman
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(7:29 pm ET) The Vikings have signed cornerback Terence Newman to a one-year, $2.5 million contract with $750,000 in guarantees on Thursday, according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport. 

Newman spent the last three seasons with the Bengals after playing nine years for the Cowboys. The 36-year-old has had at least one interception in each year of his 13-year career. The cornerback has recorded 741 total tackles, two sacks, 147 passes defensed, 37 interceptions, and eight forced fumbles. 


Kubiak wants Peyton Manning comfortable with playbook
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(6:54 pm ET) Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak wants to make sure that all of his players are comfortable with the new offensive playbook, including quarterback Peyton Manning, reports ESPN.

“I think you prepare to help him call that game throughout the course of the week," Kubiak said. “A lot of people put emphasis on him calling plays at the line, but you’ve also prepared to do that throughout the course of the week, so you, as a coach, 'Here’s what I think is best in that situation.' In a lot of ways you’re still working together. You’re just going about it a different way."

“You never want to put a player in a position where he’s doing something he’s uncomfortable with," Kubiak said. “One of things about having a veteran, especially like Peyton, he’s going to let you know, 'This is what I do best and this is what I feel comfortable with.' That’s what you need to go do as a coach. You might tweak things here or there that you think may help, but you’re never going to take him out of his comfort zone and what he feels like he does best.”

Manning, 39, recently took a pay cut of $4 million to help clear salary cap space for the team.


LB Brandon Magee still committed to playing in NFL
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(5:49 pm ET) After being released by the Buccaneers, linebacker Brandon Magee is going to participate in spring training with the Boston Red Sox. That being said, he is still committed to playing in the NFL, according to Pro Football Talk. 

Magee's agent, Blake Baratz, emailed Pro Football Talk regarding his client's desire to resume his NFL career.

“There have been rumors circulating that Brandon Magee, who was recently released by Tampa Bay, has given up football with the intention of playing professional baseball. This could not be further from the truth,” Baratz wrote. “While he does attend spring training for a few weeks up until the beginning of the NFL off-season program, he is 100% fully committed to playing in the NFL.”

Magee, 24, has seen action in 17 games the last two seasons, nine of which were in 2014 with the Buccaneers. He has registered 10 total tackles in his career.


Bill O'Brien: 'Sky's the limit' for WR DeAndre Hopkins
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:34 pm ET) With Andre Johnson now in Indy, DeAndre Hopkins enters the 2015 season as the Texans' undisputed No. 1 receiver.

“He had a really good year last year and the sky’s the limit with Hop (Hopkins)," coach Bill O'Brien told NFL Network. "He’s an excellent young player who works extremely hard and we’re looking forward to putting together our whole receiving corps and he should be the leader of that.”

Hopkins led Houston with 1,210 receiving yards and six receiving touchdowns last year. He has 128 catches for 2,012 yards and eight scores in his two NFL seasons.


Giants RB Shane Vereen will be more than third-down back
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(5:28 pm ET) Giants running back Shane Vereen is being viewed as much more than just a third-down running back, according to nj.com.

The team is excited about his ability to catch passes out of the backfield, but he'll be relied on to do more than that.

"I see him in that regard as a pass receiver coming out of the backfield, a pass protector, a guy who runs the ball in the three-wide offense in the run game, if you will, which is very prevalent today in our sport," coach Tom Coughlin said at the NFL Annual Meetings this week. "So I see him in that regard."

Last season the Giants did not have one receiving touchdown by a running back. Vereen, formerly of the Patriots, had three receiving touchdowns out of the backfield last year.

"Well, you know what [Vereen] can do. Quite frankly, it's something from an attack standpoint we've had some success with, but not to the extent that he has," Coughlin said. "When you look at Vereen, a lot of the [Tom] Brady hookup with Vereen was the ball was almost automatically going to him. First down, if it was zone coverage, they were dropping the ball down and he would scoot. So we know that. Will we open it up to more parts of it?"

The 26-year-old has 907 yards rushing and seven touchdowns on the ground, adding 107 receptions for 1,023 yards and seven touchdowns through the air in four years. 


Chiefs confident they'll reach deal with Justin Houston
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:00 pm ET) Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt told the Kansas City Star he's confident the team will sign standout outside linebacker Justin Houston to a long-term deal. The Chiefs put a $13.1 million nonexclusive franchise tag on Houston, which he has yet to sign.

“He knows, and his agent knows, how much we want him back,” Hunt said. “We just all have to be patient, and eventually, we’re going to get him signed to a long-term deal.”

Houston has 48.5 sacks in his four-year career. 

“I’ve been very consistent in saying that we not only value Justin as a football player, that we not only value Justin as a person and leader, and we want him to be a Chief for life,” Hunt said.


49ers waive OT Jonathan Martin
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(4:42 pm ET) The 49ers announced they waived offensive tackle Jonathan Martin, who played in 15 games last season, sarting nine. Martin, 25, was acquired by San Fran in a March 2014 trade with the Dolphins.

He has played in 38 career games with 32 starts.


Sean Payton: C.J. Spiller the 'most explosive player on the field'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(4:37 pm ET) Saints coach Sean Payton is thrilled to have landed running back C.J. Spiller, who will team with Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson in one of the league's top backfields.

"I think we expected Spiller to be somewhere else with a higher number. But it all worked out," Payton told The Advocate.

Spiller joined the Saints on a four-year, $16 million deal.

“His cutup is unbelievable,” Payton said of Spiller. ”And I’m not talking about last season because I think it became challenging, but you go back a couple of years and start looking at his screen reel, a sweep reel, a return reel.

“So when you watch his film you think of a lot of things he can do. He’s physical, he’s the most explosive player on the field a lot of times when you’re watching him. … So he’s an exciting player that clearly heading into free agency there wasn’t any thought about and then after that first rush there was some interest and I think to his agent’s credit they looked at it from a how he was going to be used standpoint, the system, the offense and wanting to be a part of it and we feel the same way.”


 
 
 
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