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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 .

Want an edge in your draft? Download the Fantasy Draft Kit App.

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"We are encouraged by what he has done over on that side with athletic performance [trainers]," Smith said.


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