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2011 Draft Prep: Public perception meets reality

Senior Fantasy Writer
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We're now through the all-important third preseason game, and Fantasy owners are finally getting a clear picture of how to approach Draft Day. Even so, there are still tough decisions to make with several prominent players.

For example, is Arian Foster still worth a Top 2 overall selection after he tweaked his hamstring? Is Chris Johnson still worth a Top 5 overall pick because of his holdout? When is the right time to draft Peyton Manning because of his neck injury?

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On Foster, the answer is yes, and I still consider him the No. 1 overall pick since he will be ready for Week 1. I would draft Johnson at No. 5 overall because he's a special talent and worth the risk. Just take Javon Ringer in Round 10 even though his Average Draft Position is Round 13 at No. 145 overall.

As for Manning, he is becoming a Draft Day steal because in some leagues he is falling to Round 4. You should definitely take Manning there, get a capable backup for potentially the first two weeks of the season if he's out and then you have an elite quarterback for the rest of the year once Manning is 100 percent healthy.

For a more in-depth look at the ADP you can use our interactive visualization below. You can view the changes in standard and point per reception formats, as well as guys who are being undervalued and overvalued. You can also quickly identify who the biggest movers are in drafts, both up and down.

This is just another tool to help you on Draft Day. While our rankings and projections should be your ultimate guide, don't forget about public perception. It could help you break a tie when deciding between Player A and Player B.

The first round looks like this ...

Rodgers vs. Vick
Aaron Rodgers and Michael Vick continue to jockey for the No. 1 overall quarterback spot, and Rodgers has now moved ahead of Vick this week. Last week, Vick was in the top spot.

Both quarterbacks are being drafted in the first round with Rodgers at No. 6 overall and Vick at No. 7 on average. We continue to preach waiting on quarterbacks toward the end of Round 1 at the earliest, but I understand that if you want Rodgers and Vick, you have to draft them when they are available or else you will miss out.

Brady is now a Top 10 selection
Tom Brady continues to solidify himself as the No. 3 quarterback behind Rodgers and Vick and ahead of Drew Brees, Manning and Philip Rivers. But Brady being drafted No. 10 overall is a little high.

Again, I realize that if you want Brady you have to draft him when he's available, but if you take a running back or wide receiver you should still be able to get Brady in Round 2. There's no reason that three quarterbacks should be drafted in Round 1 when only one receiver (Andre Johnson) is being selected.

Turner still at No. 12
Michael Turner has not run well during the preseason with 18 carries for 54 yards, and I'm a little concerned about drafting him so high. I hope the groin surgery he had this offseason doesn't become a lingering problem.

It's also clear the Falcons are going to throw the ball at will this season since Matt Ryan attempted 42 passes against Pittsburgh in the third preseason game. Granted, it's the Steelers, and running against them is never easy, but Turner might not be worth the risk of drafting as high as No. 12 overall.

Quarterbacks on the rise

McCoy a solid backup
Colt McCoy has done a solid job during the preseason, and Fantasy owners have taken notice. He is now being drafted as the No. 21 quarterback, which makes him a solid No. 2 Fantasy option on Draft Day.

McCoy is not someone you want to start in the majority of leagues, but the Browns have a favorable schedule this year and a new system, which McCoy obviously likes. If you miss on some of the better No. 2 Fantasy quarterbacks (Joe Flacco, Kevin Kolb, Mark Sanchez or Kyle Orton) then consider McCoy with a late-round pick.

Henne now on radar
Chad Henne has been one of the most impressive quarterbacks during the preseason, and he has gone from not being drafted at all in the majority of leagues to the No. 29 quarterback. He is coming off a solid third preseason game at Tampa Bay.

Henne might not get into the Top 24 range by the time drafts end after Labor Day weekend, but he should now be on your radar as a bye-week replacement. The Dolphins are going to throw more than last year in their new system, Henne doesn't have to worry about losing snaps to the Wildcat and Brandon Marshall is healthy. It might be time to consider Henne a sleeper.

Quarterbacks on the decline

Stafford or Eli?
Last week, Matthew Stafford passed Eli Manning as the No. 12 quarterback. This week, the order is reversed, with Manning at No. 12 and Stafford at No. 13. I don't agree with this move.

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I would rather have Stafford, and I even moved Sam Bradford ahead of Manning in my rankings. Manning is certainly safe, and he is coming off consecutive seasons of 4,000 passing yards. But if Stafford and Bradford play to their potential they should be just as good if not better than Manning.

What's wrong with Fitzpatrick?
When it comes to backup quarterbacks, especially if you are the last owner to take a No. 2 passer, you want someone who can be good for one week when your starter is on a bye and also serviceable as an injury replacement. With that in mind, I can understand why owners pass on Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is being drafted as the No. 24 quarterback.

But in comparing Fitzpatrick to Donovan McNabb and Cam Newton, who are being drafted ahead of him, I would rather have Fitzpatrick. He played well last year for the Bills, and Buffalo will likely be trailing in games and throwing a lot. He also looked solid in the third preseason game against Jacksonville, and he has a better outlook this year than McNabb and Newton.

Running backs on the rise

Tate is a backup to target
We all know Foster is dealing with a hamstring injury, and even though he should be ready for Week 1, there is some doubt about his overall health. That's why it's worth taking a flier on Ben Tate even if you don't draft Foster in the first round.

Tate is being drafted in Round 13 at No. 151 overall, but he will continue to rise. I would start looking at Tate as early as Round 9 or 10 in the majority of leagues just in case Foster's hamstring problem lingers.

Starks better value than Grant
Word out of Green Bay is Ryan Grant is not locked in as the starting running back, and it's clear the Packers like James Starks, who helped them win the Super Bowl last year. Grant is being drafted in Round 5 at No. 54 overall, and Starks is going in Round 11 at No. 130 overall.

You can still draft Grant as a No. 3 Fantasy running back, but Starks is easily the better Draft Day bargain if you can get him in Round 10 or later. If you've already drafted Starks with a late-round pick then consider yourself in great shape, but look for his ADP to continue to rise.

Running backs on the decline

McFadden is sliding
Darren McFadden is ready to go for the season despite the orbital bone injury that has kept him out of preseason action, but Fantasy owners are getting a little concerned. He was the No. 9 running back last week, but he has fallen behind Rashard Mendenhall. He is being drafted in Round 2 at No. 17 overall.

If you tell me that I can get McFadden that late in Round 2 I'd be giddy. I would rather have McFadden over Turner and Mendenhall, and if Maurice Jones-Drew (knee) isn't 100 percent healthy I would take McFadden over him as well. His ADP is too low, and I don't understand why.

Thomas continues to fade
Daniel Thomas has been among the biggest disappointments during the preseason, and it appears Reggie Bush has locked up the top spot in Miami's backfield. Thomas is being drafted as the No. 29 running back at No. 75 overall in Round 7.

I still expect Thomas to play a prominent role this year, but you might wait on drafting him until Round 8. The more he falls the better value he will be, but don't go into Draft Day and reach for Thomas based on his poor production thus far.

Wide receivers on the rise

Who is the No. 4 receiver?
Andre Johnson, Roddy White and Calvin Johnson have been holding steady as the Top 3 receivers, but the No. 4 spot has been up for grabs. Currently it's Larry Fitzgerald, followed by Greg Jennings and Hakeem Nicks.

I agree with Fitzgerald going at No. 4, but I would take Nicks over Jennings at No. 5. Jennings will lose targets with Jermichael Finley healthy, and Nicks should see more passes in his direction with Steve Smith now in Philadelphia.

What can Brown do for you?
If you didn't know about Antonio Brown before Saturday night, well, you do now after he scored two touchdowns against the Falcons. The secret is out that the No. 3 wide receiver for the Steelers is the real deal.

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Brown is being drafted at No. 161 overall in Round 14, but his ADP will continue to rise. He's an excellent No. 4 wide receiver to target with upside even though he's behind Mike Wallace and Hines Ward on the depth chart. Remember, Wallace emerged as a viable rookie in 2009 even though the Steelers had Santonio Holmes and Ward, and this could be the same situation for Brown in his second year.

Wide receivers on the decline

Evans, Burleson not getting enough love
Two receivers Fantasy owners should target as impact reserves are Lee Evans and Nate Burleson, as both are playing well in the preseason. Evans is being drafted at No. 116 overall in Round 10, and Burleson is being drafted at No. 134 overall in Round 12.

Both receivers have plenty of sleeper potential since Evans will have the best quarterback of his career in Flacco, while Burleson is going to benefit from plenty of single coverage playing opposite Calvin Johnson. Once you secure your top two or three receivers then look to get either Evans or Burleson since they could pay dividends with a late-round pick.

Sleeping on Moss
Santana Moss is only being drafted at No. 92 overall in Round 8, and I think he should be drafted higher. I would take him ahead of Sidney Rice, Julio Jones and Kenny Britt, who are all being drafted ahead of Moss.

The Redskins don't have the best quarterback situation this year, but Moss will be featured in the passing game. He has played well so far this preseason and is coming off a career year. I consider Moss a top-end No. 3 Fantasy receiver, and he's a great bargain on Draft Day based on his current ADP.

Tight ends on the rise

Graham ready to go
Jimmy Graham looked in midseason form during Sunday's third preseason game at Oakland with five catches for 73 yards. He had eight targets, and he could emerge as a Top 5 tight end this year.

He is currently being drafted as the No. 8 tight end at No. 91 overall in Round 8, and that might be too low. He should definitely be drafted ahead of Kellen Winslow, who is going seven spots ahead of him, and Graham should definitely make plenty of plays this season if Drew Brees continues to look for him at this rate.

Gonzalez still a Top 10 option
Tony Gonzalez might go down as the best tight end of all time, but he's definitely at the tail end of his career. Still, he is being drafted as the No. 10 tight end at No. 99 overall in Round 9.

It's fine to consider Gonzalez a Top 12 tight end, but I would not draft him ahead of Greg Olsen or even Brandon Pettigrew, who have more upside. Gonzalez is someone you wait for on Draft Day at this stage of his career because his production is never going to be like it was when he was a dominant force in Kansas City. As we always tell you, don't draft on name recognition alone.

Tight ends on the decline

Gronkowski or Hernandez?
Fantasy owners want to know what to do about Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez since Hernandez is playing better in the preseason. Gronkowski is being drafted first at No. 100 overall in Round 9, while Hernandez is going at No. 139 overall in Round 12.

I still expect Gronkowski to play a significant role this season, and he is the better red-zone target of the two. But Hernandez has definitely proven he deserves to be drafted, and he could end as the better Draft Day bargain. Remember, before Hernandez hurt his hip last season, the two alternated production on a weekly basis, and the Patriots will continue to use both tight ends this year.

No love for Kendricks
I'm surprised that Lance Kendricks isn't getting drafted since tight ends like Heath Miller, Tony Moeaki and Kevin Boss are. I'd rather have Kendricks based on his upside.

He has eight catches for 82 yards and two touchdowns in the preseason, and it's clear he will be heavily involved on offense. If you're the type of Fantasy owner who drafts two tight ends, then take a chance on Kendricks even though he's just a rookie.

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 and on Facebook .

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Player News
Report: Darren Sproles 'appears likely to play'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(11:22 am ET) Eagles running back Darren Sproles "appears likely to play" Sunday at Arizona after suffering a sprained MCL in Week 6, reports CSNPhilly.com. Sproles rested over the bye and returned to a limited practice Tuesday.

"The way I'm feeling, yeah," Sproles answered when asked if he'd play Sunday. But the real test will come Wednesday and Thursday at practice, when the Eagles will do more than the light session they had Tuesday.

Sproles was in full pads at the start of Wednesday's practice.


Julio Jones shouldering the blame
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(11:15 am ET) Falcons wideout Julio Jones has gone four straight games without a touchdown, and he's failed to clear 70 receiving yards in the last two. Jones, who has dropped five passes, pointed to himself as the problem.

"It starts with me," he said on NFL Network. "I got to go out there and make plays when they are presented to me. I got to go out and catch the ball, be more of a deep threat.

"We are out there misreading or dropping balls. We have to fix that. It's nothing that the defense is doing; we have to fix that here."

Atlanta plays the Lions in London on Sunday.


Texans backing quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick for now
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:15 am ET) Texans coach Bill O'Brien is still backing quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick following Monday's loss at Pittsburgh that dropped the team to 3-4.

“Fitzy is our quarterback,” O'Brien said Tuesday, per The Houston Chronicle.

However, for the first time since Ryan Mallett joined the team just before the start of the regular season, O'Brien linked both of the quarterbacks leading up to Week 8 at Tennessee.

"We’re going to continue to work with both of these guys in practice, and we’ll see how it improves," O’Brien said. "And hopefully, it will get better and better, and that will help our offense get better."

The Texans have lost three straight games. Still, O'Brien isn't about to pin all the struggles on Fitzpatrick.

"When you look at our tape … you cannot just point to one position and say that’s the position that is at fault," O’Brien said. "There are a lot of positions that need to play better. We need to coach better, all those different things. It all goes into why sometimes we stall offensively. It’s not one guy."


Ball security a focus for Giants TE Larry Donnell
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(11:01 am ET) The Giants are stressing ball security with breakout tight end Larry Donnell, who lost two fumbles in the fourth quarter of Sunday's loss at Dallas. "It's one of those things we preach on a daily basis, whether it be technique or focus on the football," tight ends coach Kevin M. Gilbride told The Star-Ledger.

"And that's something he knows he needs to improve on. He knows it hurt our football team."

Donnell has lost three fumbles in seven games this season. The Giants are on a bye this week.


Steelers WR Antonio Brown not happy with overturned TD
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:56 am ET) Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown took to Twitter to express his frustration after officials overturned his 16-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter Monday against the Texans. The officals ruled his left foot touched the white boundary stripe.

Brown tweeted a photo that appeared to show both of his feet were inbounds. Brown posted a "derogatory remark" with the photo, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Brown said he doesn't regret making the comment and will accept any punishment the NFL might hand out.

"When you’re passionate about something, you speak your mind," Brown said Tuesday night on his radio show on 970 ESPN. “Touchdowns are hard to come by in the NFL. That would have given us a two-touchdown lead and made it harder for [the Texans]."


Giants WR Corey Washington still learning route tree
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(10:50 am ET) Giants receiver Corey Washington caught a touchdown pass in four straight preseason games. But even with the team losing Victor Cruz for the season, Washington was inactive Week 7 and has yet to make a regular-season catch.

"He's learning to run an entire route tree," receivers coach Sean Ryan told The Star-Ledger. "There is growing to be done with Corey. He works on his releases, his routes, his top of the breaks, getting out of those -- things he needs to improve on. That is where he is right now. He's a work in progress."


Titans' Bernard Pollard confident in quick recovery from Achilles injury
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:48 am ET) Titans safety Bernard Pollard was given a 6-8 month timetable for his recovery after undergoing surgery in early October for a ruptured Achilles. Though, Pollard expects a shorter timetable, per The Tennessean.

"Like I've told them, it's not going to take me six-to-eight. It's really not," Pollard said Tuesday. "More like two-to-three (months) … I want to be back. I want to be smart about coming back as well. I throw numbers out there or whatever, but it's going to be quick."


Dolphins punter Brandon Fields not having a strong season
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:40 am ET) Dolphins coach Joe Philbin is not hiding his disappointment with punter Brandon Fields, whose 43.3 gross average on punts ranks 31st out of 32 punters in the NFL, according to The Miami Herald. His net average is 31.8, which is the worst in the NFL.

"Early on we got the punt blocked in Buffalo," Philbin said. "He just hasn’t looked as comfortable quite yet back there, as he has in the two years that I’ve been here, the previous two years. I’m confident he’ll work his way through it and he’ll get back to being the outstanding punter that we all know.

"For his standards, it’s not quite what we’re used to. I think he would acknowledge that, but I’m very, very confident that he’ll get back to that soon."


Philbin calls out Caleb Sturgis during team meeting for missing FGs
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:33 am ET) Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said he called out kicker Caleb Sturgis during a team meeting for missing a pair of field goals during a win Week 7 at Chicago, according to The Miami Herald.

"We were in the team meeting today and we said we’ve got to make those field goals," Philbin said. "We kind of went through that sequence where we took a sack and knocked ourselves back, and made the field goal more difficult. That being said, I said to him right there in the whole team meeting, we’ve got to make those field goals. He knows that and I suspect that he will work at it and he’ll get better at it."

Sturgis is connecting on 78.6 percent of his field goals (11 of 14) after converting at a 76.5 percent rate (26 of 34) as a rookie in 2013.


Falcons WR Harry Douglas misses 10th straight practice
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(10:22 am ET) Falcons wideout Harry Douglas, who's missed four straight games with a foot injury, did not practice Wednesday as the team prepared for Sunday's game in London against the Lions. It was Douglas' 10th straight missed practice.

Douglas did a rehab run on the side during practice.


 
 
 
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