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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.

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Player News
Jets G Willie Colon fighting to leave NFL on his own terms
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(5:12 pm ET) Willie Colon is very self-aware. He knows 32-year-old linemen, entering their 10th season in the league are often looked at as sparable. He wants to avoid that, per The New York Post.

Colon is working hard this offseason with the Jets, after signing a one-year deal to remain with the team. He knows that the extra work is the only thing that can keep him around.

“I never want to go home and sit on the couch and wonder, ‘Maybe I could have done this better. Maybe I could have prepared a little better;’ I never wanted that feeling,’’ Colon said. “I want to feel like if anything ever happens [getting cut], it wasn’t due to my play, it was a decision that the front office made. I always want to feel like I gave it all I got.’’

The veteran guard has started every game for the Jets the last two seasons.


Buccaneers RB Doug Martin: 'I would really love to be back here'
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(4:06 pm ET) Buccaneers running back Doug Martin isn't ready for a change of scenery.

Martin, who is entering his fourth year in the league, doesn't want the Bucs' decision to not pick up his fifth-year option to mean he's done in Tampa, per The Tampa Tribune.

“I have my own house here now and I’m just now fixing up the backyard,’’ Martin said. “It’s almost finished, so I would really love to be back here. I love this place.’’

The move not to pick up the option was largely based off finances. Martin was slated to make $5.6 million during the fifth year, which was a hefty price-tag for a guy who has been injury riddled his last two seasons.

“It didn’t surprise me,’’ he said. “And I don’t want to say, you know, ‘Whatever,’ because it’s something that just comes along with the business end of things. It’s part of the game. Besides, if I do everything that’s under my control, everything will fall into place the way I want it to."

Martin has rushed for fewer than 500 yards in consecutive seasons after posting an astounding rookie season, when he rushed for 1,454 and 11 touchdowns.


Falcons cut rookie linebacker Derrick Malone
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(2:34 pm ET) The Falcons remained busy this week, waiving rookie linebacker Derrick Malone on Friday, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Malone signed with the Falcons as an undrafted free agent out of Oregon earlier this month.


Broncos' Omar Bolden on kick return duties: 'That is my job'
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(2:27 pm ET) Broncos strong safety Omar Bolden wants to be the team's kick returner and he just let the world know it.

"That is my job," Bolden said. "I want it."

Bolden returned 13 kicks for 429 yards and a 33-yard average last season.


Eagles LB Kiko Alonso is doing 'everything' at OTA's
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(2:12 pm ET) Eagles linebacker Kiko Alonso has surprised everyone, himself included, by participating in organized team activities, per nfl.com.

Alonso, who tore his ACL in July, was participating without limitations at Eagles practice this week.

"I honestly didn't think I'd be doing this much," Alonso said. "I've just been going on how I feel, and it's feeling really good."

To put his recovery in perspective, Alonso tore his ACL two months prior to teammate Sam Bradford, who is still recovering and has been seen walking with a limp.


Seahawks DE Michael Bennett not at OTA's due to contract dispute
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(12:09 pm ET) Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett has been noticeably absent from organized team activites this week, and now it's clear his absence is because he wants a new contract, per The Seattle Times.

Bennett is staying away from team activities because he hopes he can get a new deal from the Seahawks.

"Trying to get the contract right,’’ Bennett said. “I’ll be there shortly. I don’t know when I’ll be there. Depends on the team and stuff. See how it works out."

Bennett, who is in the second year of a four-year, $28.5 million deal, wants a contract that will pay him what the top seven players at his position earn. His current deal averages out to be 14th in salary among defensive ends in a 4-3 defense.

“Somewhere near the top seven at my position, top eight at my position,’’ Bennett said. “Not a lot of guys play inside and out (meaning both tackle and end). Not a lot of guys do what I do. So I feel like I should be somewhere near there.

“I just want to be in the realm of the guys that play like me,’’ he said. “There are only so many guys that do what I do, and I would love to be like somewhere in there where they are at.’’

Bennett recorded 38 tackles and seven sacks in 16 games last season.


Browns roster moves: Sign DL Christian Tupou, WR Josh Lenz
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(11:56 am ET) The Browns continue to keep busy this offseason by adding defensive lineman Christian Tupou and wide receiver Josh Lenz , per Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal.

Tupou was previously a member of the Browns' practice squad, while Lenz was released by the Colts earlier this month.


Report: Jets rework WR Brandon Marshall's contract
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(11:24 am ET) Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall is set to make more money after the team reworked his contract, per ESPN.com.

Marshall's contract, which was worth $24.3 million over the next three seasons, now has a maximum value of $26 million, including an additional $1.3 million in full guarantees.

Marshall was scheduled to earn up to $7.7 million this season, which included his base salary and a workout bonus. He will now earn $9 million.

Overall, Marshall's restructured deal allows him to earn $2.7 million more in the next two years, but he can potentially earn $1 million less in 2017 than he was previously scheduled.

Marshall signed with the Jets this offseason after catching 61 passes for 721 yards and eight touchdowns for the Bears last season.


QB Shuffle: Bills cut Jeff Tuel, claim Matt Simms off waivers
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(11:09 am ET) Bills coach Rex Ryan didn't pass up the chance to reunite with one of his former quarterbacks, by cutting Jeff Tuel and claiming the former Jets passer Matt Simms off waivers on Friday, per nfl.com.

Tuel was a favorite of former Bills coach Doug Marrone, but with Ryan now the head man in charge his fate was doomed.

Simms, who played in just four games while with the Jets, will still be a long-shot to make the team because of the three-man competition at the quarterback spot already brewing between Matt Cassel, Tyrod Taylor and EJ Manuel.


Falcons sign OG Chris Chester to one-year deal
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(11:01 am ET) The Falcons signed veteran offensive guard Chris Chester to a one-year deal on Friday, per nfl.com.

The Falcons were able to sign Chester after they released linebacker Prince Shembo, who was charged with aggravated animal cruelty.

Chester was cut by the Redskins earlier this week after he played 64 consecutive games for the organization.


 
 
 
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