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2011 Draft Prep: Avoid these misperceptions on Draft Day

Senior Fantasy Writer
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You should always be prepared on Draft Day. Pick a strategy, target certain players for certain rounds and go in with a plan.

But don't go into your draft with preconceived notions on players based on things that have happened in the past. And you should definitely be open to new things as the NFL, and Fantasy Football, continues to evolve.

Just because there are misperceptions about a certain player, that doesn't always mean that's what will happen. We're going to show you here that not all stereotypes are true. Sometimes, when you think you know something about a player, the exact opposite becomes reality.

Misperception: Injury-risk players always fail
Reality: You'll be upset if you avoid a player who gets healthy

There is a lot of concern this season about prominent players coming into the year with injuries or who have an injury history. It starts with running backs who missed time this preseason like Arian Foster (hamstring), Maurice Jones-Drew (knee), Darren McFadden (orbital bone) and Jahvid Best (concussion) and includes players who are injury risks like Michael Vick, Matthew Stafford, Marques Colston, Austin Collie, Antonio Gates and Jermichael Finley.

But if you go back to last season, plenty of Fantasy owners passed on injury risk running backs like McFadden and Matt Forte, and both finished as Top 15 options. You don't want the same thing to happen again this year.

A piece of advice I heard from an NFL talent scout was "don't let injury confuse you as to who the player is." If the player is good, and the injury isn't deemed serious, then take him on Draft Day.

If you're scared of drafting someone like Foster, Vick or Colston then pass on him on Draft Day. But don't be surprised if that move comes back to haunt you if he plays 16 games and plays well.

Misperception: The starting running back is the better Fantasy option
Reality: Sometimes the backup is the better

Don't be fooled by the depth chart because sometimes it lies. Just because a player is listed as the No. 1 running back, that doesn't mean he's the best Fantasy option.

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Last year, these running backs opened the season as No. 2 on the depth chart or lower: Peyton Hillis, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Mike Tolbert and LaDainian Tomlinson. But they all finished as Top 20 Fantasy running backs last year because the starter got hurt or struggled.

This year, some running backs who could emerge from backups to Fantasy starters are Tolbert (ahead of Ryan Mathews), Daniel Thomas (ahead of Reggie Bush), James Starks (ahead of Ryan Grant), Willis McGahee (ahead of Knowshon Moreno), Ben Tate (ahead of Foster) and Isaac Redman (ahead of Rashard Mendenhall).

You don't have to reach for the starter when the No. 2 option could present better value on Draft Day.

Misperception: Third-year receivers don't matter
Reality: There are still breakouts

Fantasy owners are starting to believe that the third-year wide receiver theory is a thing of the past. They point toward last year when rookie Mike Williams of Tampa Bay and second-year receivers like Hakeem Nicks, Mike Wallace and Jeremy Maclin were stars.

But if you look a little closer, you'll still find that third-year receivers still emerge on a yearly basis. Just last year we had Steve Johnson, Mario Manningham and Davone Bess make significant improvements in their stats.

This season, you might not get breakout years from Nicks, Wallace or Maclin, but some third-year receivers to target are Mike Thomas, Danny Amendola and Johnny Knox. You'll find that these are receivers you can draft with a mid- to late-round pick, and they will pay prominent roles for you this season in a breakout campaign.

Misperception: Rookie wide receivers don't make an impact
Reality: We still see rookies play well

Rookie wide receivers are never players to target on Draft Day because, as stated above, it usually takes three years for them to fully develop and grasp the NFL. But every now and then a rookie receiver becomes a legitimate Fantasy option.

Just go back to Randy Moss in 1998 and Anquan Boldin in 2003 when both were dominant in their rookie season. And last year, Williams and Dez Bryant provided tremendous production for Fantasy owners in their first year.

This year could be tricky with rookie receivers following the lockout and the lack of offseason work, but it doesn't mean to avoid all the receivers from this draft class in your Fantasy league. There's a good chance three rookie receivers could be prominent Fantasy options.

Julio Jones and A.J. Green are the obvious choices based on where they were drafted and the roles they should play in Atlanta and Cincinnati, respectively. Jones should be considered a No. 3 Fantasy receiver coming into the year, and Green is a No. 4 option.

But if you're looking for a late-round pick with upside then target Cleveland's Greg Little with a late-round pick. He could be this year's version of Williams as a rookie no one expected to play at a high level but in the end was the best player of his class.

Misperception: Draft the guys you know
Reality: Unknown players make bigger impact

It happens in every draft. An owner will take Player A over Player B simply because he knows who he is or he's a veteran.

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And as we'll always tell you, draft someone based on what they'll do this year, not what they did in the past. Here are some examples.

DeAngelo Williams vs. LeGarrette Blount. Naïve owner's comment: I know what Williams can do, and Blount is a one-year wonder. Our advice: Take Blount in Round 3 and pass on Williams.

Reggie Bush vs. James Starks. Naïve owner's comment: Bush is still with the Saints, right? Our advice: Get to know Starks because he could be the best running back for the Packers.

Plaxico Burress vs. Lance Moore. Naïve owner's comment: Burress was a star before he went to prison. He'll be good with the Jets. Our advice: Take the No. 2 receiver for the Saints compared to the No. 2 receiver for the Jets.

Hines Ward vs. Antonio Brown. Naïve owner's comment: Ward won Dancing With the Stars. He's the best Steelers receiver. Our advice: Brown could be the second-best receiver for the Steelers behind Wallace and is the better value on Draft Day.

Tony Gonzalez vs. Greg Olsen. Naïve owner's comment: Gonzalez is the best tight end in NFL history. I've been watching him dominate for years. Our advice: Olsen has more upside, and Gonzalez was mediocre at best last season.

Name recognition only gets you in the door at a club and out of parking tickets. It doesn't help you win Fantasy leagues. Know what you're doing before you make a pick on Draft Day.

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
Raiders bring back Kaelin Burnett
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:21 pm ET) The Raiders have inked exclusive-rights free agent Kaelin Burnett to a one-year deal. He's expected to compete for a roster spot in training camp. 

Dekoda Watson moving to strong-side LB
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:20 pm ET) In the wake of the release of veteran linebacker Russell Allen, the Jaguars are expected to make Dekoda Watson their new starting strong-side linebacker, ESPN reports. He'll also play as a pass rusher and potentially line up as a defensive end on third downs. 

Watson had 42 total tackles, two sacks, an interception, a pass defensed, a forced fumble and a blocked punt with the Bucs last year. 


Brandon Gibson begins light jobbing
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:14 pm ET) Brandon Gibson has begun light jogging as he works his way back from a torn patellar tendon, the Miami Herald reports. The Dolphins are expected to keep him on the roster, if only because of the cap hit he'll cost, per the report. He said recently he expects to be ready for Week 1. 

'Humbled' Richardson explains 2013, promises a better 2014
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:21 pm ET) Colts running back Trent Richardson spoke openly about his disappointing 2013 season, saying that it took him too long to learn a new playbook and get over leaving Cleveland after Week 2. Richardson also told the official team website that he's planning to do everything within his power to be as prepared as possible for 2014. 

"Y'all will see a big significant difference in the way I play, the speed. I won't have to think about a lot of stuff," Richardson said earlier this offseason. "It's going to be big -- timing with the offensive line, timing with Andrew (Luck), just knowing a lot more with the program, the whole system.

"They haven't seen everything they're going to get out of me yet. A lot of it is going to come next year. A lot of it is going to come in the offseason. I'm going to put in a lot of work, as I've been doing this whole season. This season humbled me. ... This season was a lesson to me."

Colts coach Chuck Pagano has had Richardson's back, says the running back, and the coach stressed back in March that his running back's involvement in the offseason program will be key. 

"It's going to be very, very important for (Richardson) to be here for the offseason program and to dive into this thing full steam ahead, which he will," Pagano said. "He wants to be great. He's got all the talent. He's got all the ability. We would have never done what we did if we didn't believe that deep down in our core. So we look for him to have a great offseason and to have a great 2014 campaign."


Saints bring back Robert Meachem
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:06 pm ET) The Saints announced Friday that the club has re-signed veteran free agent wide receiver Robert Meachem to a one-year contract.

Meachem is a seven-year NFL veteran who was originally the club's first round draft pick (27th overall) in 2007. He re-signed with the Saints prior to the start of the 2013 regular season and appeared in 15 games with five starts. He finished with 16 receptions for 324 yards with two touchdowns.

Meachem said signing with the Saints now should help with his preparations as he will be able to take part in the team's offseason conditioning program, OTAs and mini-camp. Plus, "this is home," he said.


Can Chris Johnson turn into Tomlinson?
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:12 am ET) The Jets are hoping running back Chris Johnson can do for them what LaDainian Tomlinson did in 2010, reports ESPN.

That season, Tomlinson came from San Diego to New York after he was released. He responded with a team-high 914 yards with six touchdowns on 219 carries and caught 52 passes. He was supposed to be Shonn Greene's backup, but Tomlinson was so impressive that he won the starting job and became an integral part of a team that came within one game of the Super Bowl.

Maybe Johnson, who was let go by the Titans, can do the same thing.

"I can turn the bad things people are saying into a good thing for me, to give me motivation, to keep me hungry and to keep a chip on my shoulder and prove the naysayers wrong," he said Thursday.

Johnson had a disappointing year in 2013 when he averaged just 3.9 yards per carry, but he played 13 games on a torn meniscus and was running behind a suspect offensive line for a team that didn't have its starting quarterback for half the season. The situation in New York should be improved, and hopefully being teamed with Chris Ivory will allow him to play like Tomlinson did in 2010.


Aikman worried about Tony Romo
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:01 am ET) Former Cowboys quarterback and Hall of Famer Troy Aikman is worried about current Dallas quarterback Tony Romo coming off back surgery, reports the team's official website.

Romo, 34, is coming off back surgery in December, which was the second procedure on his back in a year.

"I came back in a relatively short period of time because of when I had my surgery, so he's at least afforded more time to get ready," Aikman said. "But having said that, two back surgeries in less than a year at his age, I would be a bit concerned.

"I'm hopeful that he's able to come back -- everybody is. This team won't be the same if he's not able to. I anticipate that he will come back. But to say that, 'Hey, he's ahead of schedule and everything's going fine,' I'm not sure how you can really measure that here in April."


Bengals, A.J. Green not talking extension - yet
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:54 am ET) The Bengals are expected to exercise the fifth-year option on receiver A.J. Green's contract by May 3, reports Pro Football Talk. But the sides have yet to discuss a long-term contract extension, according to the report.

The Bengals hold the rights to Green through the 2015 season. And in 2016, if a long-term deal hasn't been signed yet, the Bengals can use the franchise tag on Green for that season.

The report says Green can force the issue by trying to boycott offseason workouts or hold out from training camp. But Bengals coach Marvin Lewis is confident Green will be there.


Chris Snee will give it a shot this spring
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:52 am ET) Giants guard Chris Snee will attempt to go through the Giants offseason program once he's healthy, the New York Daily News reports. Snee had hip surgery last season and an elbow surgery earlier this year. There is no timeline for him to be at 100 percent but he is expected to be on the field for the "bulk" of offseason activities. 

Report: Niners won't release Aldon Smith
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:50 am ET) The 49ers might expect a suspension for pass rushing linebacker Aldon Smith, but they are not planning to release him, NFL Network reported on Friday.

Smith was arrested recently for making false bomb reports at a Los Angeles airport, the latest of a string of troubles for the highly talented linebacker. He was also arrested for suspicion of DUI in January, 2012 and again September, 2013. He also had marijuana on him during that September arrest. In October, 2013 he was charged with three felony counts of illegal possession of an assault weapon. 


 
 
 
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