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2012 Draft Prep: An early look at ADP

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Adrian Peterson has been a fixture in the first round of Fantasy drafts for the majority of his six-year career. He was the No. 1 overall selection many of those years.

But heading into this season, Peterson has fallen out of the first round following his knee injury in Week 16 last year. Our current Average Draft Position data shows Peterson surprisingly being drafted toward the end of Round 2 at No. 24 overall. Still, he's being drafted in the right spot based on the risk associated with his quick comeback.

Peterson's ADP is intriguing because it shows how the Fantasy community views his value coming into the season. And there are several players to analyze this way. We're starting with the data prior to the start of preseason games and we want to see what changes each week leading up to the regular season.

Along with our rankings, projections, updates and mock drafts, you should rely on ADP heading into your Draft Day. Public perception is useful information that should help in your preparation because it gives you an idea where you might find a certain player in the right round.

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The first round looks like this ...

1. Arian Foster, RB, Texans
2. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
3. LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles
4. Ray Rice, RB, Ravens
5. Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
6. Drew Brees, QB, Saints
7. Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions
8. Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers
9. Chris Johnson, RB, Titans
10. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars
11. Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders
12. Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions

Foster is expected to be the No. 1 overall pick, but Rodgers is somewhat surprising at No. 2. We wouldn't be surprised if McCoy and Rice pass him with the depth at running back much thinner than quarterback.

Rodgers likely won't fall much further than No. 4 overall, and you can see how much people value quarterback this year with four being drafted in the Top 12 overall picks. Rodgers, Brady and Brees were expected to be first-round selections, but Stafford going ahead of Trent Richardson and DeMarco Murray is questionable. Again, finding top-tier running backs this season is more difficult compared to a quality quarterback, so don't be surprised if Stafford falls a little.

Calvin Johnson is the only receiver worthy of first-round consideration, and No. 7 overall is a safe landing spot. It is interesting to note that despite their flaws, Fantasy owners are still drafting Mathews, Chris Johnson, Jones-Drew and McFadden in Round 1. That shows just how valuable a featured running back is this season.

Quarterback

Decisions at the top: Fantasy owners likely have to make tough decisions between two quarterbacks in various spots throughout the draft. Those decisions include Brady vs. Brees, Stafford vs. Cam Newton and Michael Vick vs. Tony Romo.

My choice in each case is Brady, Newton and Vick. ADP shows Brady, Stafford and Vick is how the public votes, but they are fairly close. Brady is going one spot ahead of Brees, and Fantasy owners likely see the additions the Patriots made this offseason as a plus, while Brees losing coach Sean Payton to suspension as a detractor.

Stafford is being drafted one spot ahead of Newton, with Newton the first player going in Round 2. Some believe Newton will regress this year following his breakout rookie campaign, and Stafford is coming off a 5,000-yard season and has the best receiver in the NFL in Calvin Johnson.

Vick is being drafted four spots ahead of Romo, with both quarterbacks being selected in Round 3. Vick has the upside to be a Top 5 Fantasy quarterback, but Romo is definitely the safer option based on Vick's injury history.

Philip Rivers is the No. 8 quarterback drafted in Round 4, which is a surprise since he's going ahead of the Manning brothers, and he just lost Vincent Jackson in free agency. Rivers could easily live up to this selection based on his resume prior to last year when he was off his game with a career-high 20 interceptions. Getting a healthy Antonio Gates (foot) back at 100 percent this season will definitely help.

Eli vs. Peyton: The Manning brothers are being drafted as the No. 9 and 10 quarterbacks this year, with Eli going in Round 4 at No. 44 overall and Peyton at No. 46. We don't understand why Eli is being drafted behind Romo and Rivers since last year he finished as the No. 6 Fantasy quarterback. Maybe the injury to Hakeem Nicks (foot) has some owners scared.

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Peyton is worth the risk at this spot. His comeback from last year's neck surgery has been extremely positive so far, and he should return as a No. 1 Fantasy quarterback. Still, the correct move is to draft a top-end No. 2 quarterback soon after taking Peyton, and some quality candidates include Robert Griffin III (No. 82 overall), Matt Schaub (No. 85) and Jay Cutler (No. 90). Peyton and any of these three quarterbacks is a good combo for your team.

The best value at quarterback is ... Josh Freeman at No. 140 overall. He was a Top 10 Fantasy quarterback in 2010 before struggling last year. But he's in better shape now, and the Bucs gave him new toys in Jackson, Dallas Clark and Doug Martin. He is definitely a No. 2 quarterback to target with a late-round pick.

Running back

Questionable running backs still coveted: We'll see what happens as we get closer to the regular season, but Fantasy owners aren't shying away from drafting several running backs with warts in the early rounds. That group includes Jones-Drew (holdout), Marshawn Lynch (possible suspension) and Jamaal Charles (returning from a torn ACL), who are all going in the first three rounds.

Jones-Drew could take his holdout right up to the start of the regular season, but he's still being drafted in Round 1 as the No. 6 running back. We expect him to report in a timely manner, but his value will drop if this holdout continues through the majority of the preseason.

Lynch is facing a possible suspension for his arrest in July on alleged DUI charges, which was his third run-in with the law in five years. There are differing reports on when his possible suspension could be announced, but Fantasy owners are still drafting him in Round 2 at No. 20 overall. That's the right spot for him until news of his suspension is revealed.

Charles has received rave reviews in his comeback from last year's knee injury, and his ADP of No. 29 overall in Round 3 might be too low. But the presence of Peyton Hillis could temper some of the early hype for Charles, who is headed for a 50-50 tandem.

Afraid of Gore? Should Fantasy owners be afraid to draft Frank Gore this season as a starting option? After all, the 49ers added Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James and still have Kendall Hunter. ADP shows Gore is being drafted at No. 32 overall in Round 3, which is too high.

Even if Gore gets the majority of carries, he could lose goal-line reps to Jacobs and passing downs to James. With Hunter also getting touches, the 49ers have made it clear they want to reduce Gore's workload. Gore is being drafted ahead of Darren Sproles, Doug Martin and Shonn Greene, which could be a mistake.

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The best Lions running back is ... Mikel Leshoure, according to ADP. He is being drafted in Round 7 at No. 78 overall. Jahvid Best is being drafted in Round 8 at No. 94 overall, and Kevin Smith is going in Round 12 at No. 137 overall. I plan on passing on Leshoure and Best and waiting on Smith. He's the only one healthy heading into the season. Leshoure, who has yet to play a down in the NFL after sitting out last year with a ruptured Achilles, is dealing with a hamstring injury in training camp. And Best has yet to be cleared from last year's concussion woes.

Smith isn't the picture of health, but if the season started today he would easily be the starter, with the Lions facing the Rams in Week 1. Keep in mind Leshoure is suspended for the first two games, and don't be surprised if Smith's ADP starts to rise dramatically the longer Leshoure and Best remain sidelined.

The best Redskins running back is ... Roy Helu, according to ADP. He is being drafted in Round 6 at No. 66 overall. Tim Hightower is being drafted in Round 11 at No. 127 overall and Evan Royster is going in Round 14 at No. 167.

While I still expect Helu to be the best running back for the Redskins, the right approach might be to pass on Helu and Hightower and wait for Royster. He has been the best running back in Washington during training camp.

The coaches don't appear to trust Helu, and Hightower is not at 100 percent following last year's knee injury. So far Royster has the lead in this camp battle, and he could present tremendous value on Draft Day.

The best value at running back is ... Ronnie Hillman at No. 138 overall. Even with Willis McGahee remaining the starter in Denver, Hillman is still going to get plenty of playing time, especially on passing situations. He's worth a flier as your No. 4 running back in all leagues.

Wide receiver

The No. 2 receiver being drafted is ... After Calvin Johnson, there's a good debate over the No. 2 receiver. Some consider Larry Fitzgerald, others Andre Johnson. You can make an argument for Greg Jennings, Julio Jones, Roddy White, A.J. Green and Wes Welker, among others.

ADP shows Fitzgerald going second at No. 17 overall in Round 2. After that it's Johnson at No. 23, Jennings at No. 25, White at No. 26 and Welker at No. 28. I consider Johnson the No. 2 receiver, but I can understand the hesitancy to draft him in Round 2 given his injury woes over the past year, including his recent groin problem.

The best of the tandem receivers are ... Another good debate is who the best receiver will be in some high-profile receiver tandems in Atlanta, Dallas, Philadelphia, Denver and the Giants. So far, ADP shows White (No. 26) over Jones (No. 35), Miles Austin (No. 42) over Dez Bryant (No. 54), DeSean Jackson (No. 58) over Jeremy Maclin (No. 60), Demaryius Thomas (No. 51) over Eric Decker (No. 74) and Victor Cruz (No. 37) over Nicks (No. 39).

I agree with taking White over Jones and Austin over Bryant. While the younger receivers present tremendous upside, the veteran options won't disappear. I also like Thomas over Decker because Thomas has much more big-play ability.

I completely disagree with Jackson over Maclin. Even though Jackson has more highlight-reel plays, Maclin is the more consistent threat. I also would take Nicks over Cruz. While Nicks is hurt now, he is more talented than Cruz, who will struggle to duplicate last year's performance.

Where are the holdout receivers? Mike Wallace and Dwayne Bowe remain absent from training camp while seeking a new contract. ADP shows Wallace is being drafted at No. 41 overall in Round 4, and Bowe is being selected at No. 61 overall in Round 6.

Since both are unsigned that is fair value for each. But if you're drafting before they sign then they could be steals on Draft Day. Wallace has Top 10 potential, and Bowe could be a Top 15 receiver.

Moss on the rise: Randy Moss has drawn rave reviews in his comeback effort, and he is being drafted in Round 9 at No. 101 overall. If he continues to look good and does well in the preseason then look for his stock to rise.

We consider Moss a No. 4 receiver with upside. He is easily worth the risk of drafting him in Round 9, especially if you can afford to take a flier on a player who can out-perform his draft class without hurting your overall roster.

The best value at wide receiver is ... Brandon LaFell at No. 164 overall. LaFell is a third-year receiver slated to start opposite Steve Smith and catch passes from Cam Newton. He has a ton of upside and should be a steal in Round 14. He is someone I'm targeting in every draft.

Tight end

Graham vs. Gronkowski: One tough decision Fantasy owners need to make is Rob Gronkowski vs. Jimmy Graham. The duo finished as the top two tight ends last year, and they are at the top of everyone's draft board this season.

ADP shows Graham being drafted at No. 18 overall, with Gronkowski going at No. 22 overall. If you want one of these elite tight ends you need to draft them in Round 2, but I would take Gronkowski over Graham in a standard league.

Gronkowski has 28 total touchdowns in his career, including 18 last season. He also had 90 catches for 1,327 yards. While the increased weapons in New England will take away some targets, Gronkowski isn't going to disappear, especially in the red zone.

Graham will be awesome as well, and I like him better in PPR leagues. He had 99 catches for 1,310 yards and 11 touchdowns last year, and he's still learning how to play tight end. He's only getting better, and he warrants the early ADP.

Gates vs. Hernandez: Once you get past Gronkowski and Graham, the next decision is between Aaron Hernandez and Gates. ADP shows Gates being drafted at No. 53 overall in Round 5, and Hernandez is being drafted at No. 59 overall.

I like Hernandez slightly better than Gates because of Gates' inability to stay healthy. All the offseason reports have been glowing, but he's missed nine games over the past two years.

Hernandez has also dealt with injuries, but he still managed 79 catches for 910 yards and seven touchdowns last year. A slight bump in stats, which is expected, could push Hernandez closer to Gronkowski and Graham and further away from Gates. Either way, both tight ends are a steal in Round 5.

The best value at tight end is ... Jermaine Gresham at No. 117 overall. He had a productive season in 2011 with 56 catches for 596 yards and six touchdowns, but offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is expecting Gresham to play like Gronkowski or Graham this year. We hope that's the case, and he's worth the gamble as a starting option with a pick in Round 10.

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: Romo restructures deal, saves Cowboys $13M in cap space
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:07 pm ET) Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has restructured his contract, according to Yahoo Sports. He will save the Cowboys $13 million in salary cap space.

Romo indicated in a radio interview Tuesday he was going to restructure his contract and also said he was willing to take a pay cut so the team could re-sign running back DeMarco Murray, who eventually signed with the Eagles.

"DeMarco ended up asking me, 'Why don't you take a pay cut?' I said, 'I will. I would take a pay cut to go do this,'" Romo said. "I was like, 'They're going to restructure me.' That's the same thing in some ways, just for the salary cap purposes. He was like, 'OK, now we're back to being friends again.' I would take $5 million less if it meant getting him back.

"He knew that. It was just funny how he was literally worried about that part of it for a week. I'm like, 'That's not the reason.' I'm like, 'Obviously I'll restructure. I would even take a pay cut.' He was like, 'OK, we can be friends again.' It's amazing what you think about in those moments."


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(12:42 pm ET) Colts running back Dan Herron signed his exclusive rights tender on Wednesday, according to the Herald Bulletin. Herron started three of 16 games for the Colts in the regular season, and all three postseason games. The 26-year-old rushed for 351 yards and one touchdown on 78 carries. He rushed for 170 yards on the ground in the postseason.

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(11:55 am ET) The Saints agreed to terms with cornerback Kyle Wilson on Wednesday, the team announced.

Details of the contract were not disclosed. Wilson spent the last five seasons playing for the Jets. In 2014, he totaled 26 tackles and one sack. He has three career interceptions.


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by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:51 am ET)  The Saints announced Wednesday they extended the contract of offensive guard Jahri Evans by one year.

The Saints were hoping to rework his contract to create more cap space. Evans has started all but two games for the Saints over the last nine seasons.


Malcolm Jenkins: Eagles players not surprised by McCoy trade
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:12 am ET) While most folks were shocked when the news broke in early March the Eagles were trading running back LeSean McCoy to the Bills, apparently McCoy's Philadelphia teammates were not

Safety Malcolm Jenkins told NFL Network on Wednesday it was not surprising when it was announced McCoy was being traded for linebacker Kiko Alonso.

"In the locker room a lot of guys weren't surprised by the trade, what we were more surprised of was that it was just a player-for-player trade," Jenkins said. "I think everybody thought we would have gotten more -- Kiko, plus a couple draft picks, you know, somebody else...

"You look at the style of runner that Chip wants in his offense and even though Shady is one of the best backs in the league, he's not necessarily what Chip is looking for all the time. Chip thinks he's a great running back, he knows his talent is there, but our (system) is really predicated on downhill, somebody who is going to hit the hole every time. It's about getting up in the defenders face as fast as you can and that's not necessarily Shady's running style."

The Eagles replaced McCoy's absence in the backfield by signing former Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray, who rushed for 1,845 yards in 2014, and former Chargers running back Ryan Mathews.

"When you talk about what you can get for -- if you are looking to acquire more talent -- I just think Shady's cap number and what we were able to get in return for Shady, I think made sense," Jenkins said. "And some guys in the locker room who kind of know what's going on weren't surprised by it."


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by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:57 am ET) The Lions are not yet giving up on wide receiver Ryan Broyles, who has been hampered in his career by knee and Achilles injuries. 

“I think he’s a guy you have a lot of respect for because he’s had three major injuries and fought his way back,’’ Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said Tuesday, per The Oakland Press. “When he’s been in there he’s been productive. We’re excited to see where he is now after a full season of not coming back from an injury. He’s had a full year to be healthy we’re excited to see what he does in the offseasaon.’’


Michael Thomas signs tender with Dolphins
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:54 am ET) Michael Thomas, an exclusive rights free agent, formally signed his one-year tender with the Dolphins on Wednesday morning, reports Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald. The 24-year-old played in eight games last season, making 18 tackles, until landing on IR with a chest injury.

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Report: Rolando McClain agrees to one-year, $3M deal with Cowboys
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:19 am ET) The Cowboys have reached an agreement with linebacker Rolando McClain on a one-year deal, a source told The Dallas Morning News. McClain's deal will pay him $3 million in base salary and potentially another $1 million in incentives.

McClain made his return to the NFL in 2014 after twice retiring. The former first-round pick thrived in his first season with Dallas, totaling 81 tackles (65 solo), one sack and two interceptions in 13 games. 

Although, he did have some injury issues last season. Knee and groin injuries, as well as an illness forced McClain to miss three regular season games. He was then limited in the playoffs due to a concussion.

McClain remained a sought-after free agent this offseason despite reports he is facing a four-game fine for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Also, an arson investigation into a fire that destroyed his Alabama home in December remains open but inactive.


Texans' O'Brien: WR DeAndre Hopkins can 'be one of the best'
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(12:28 am ET) Texans head coach Bill O'Brien is very encouraged by the performance of wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins last season, per ESPN. O'Brien went as far as to say that Hopkins can be one of the best.

"He had a really productive year," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said. "The thing that we really like about Hop and that we want him to continue to do is his work ethic. He’s a hungry player. He works every single day. He came into the spring a year ago and he was learning the offense and thinking out there, then all of a sudden you could see all the work he put in and learning, he just took off."

Due to the departure of wide receiver Andre Johnson, the progression of Hopkins will be under the microscope as he is now the focal point of the passing offense.

"We just want to see him continue and progress," O'Brien said. "We think he can be one of the best, we think he is one of the best. We have a lot of confidence in him and we’re looking forward to seeing him progress when the offseason program starts."

In two years with the Texans, Hopkins has reeled in 128 receptions for 2012 yards and eight touchdowns.


Giants won't rush WR Victor Cruz back to the field
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(12:12 am ET) Although Giants head coach Tom Coughlin is hopeful that wide receiver Victor Cruz will be ready by training camp, the team will not rush him back, reports ESPN.

"I shouldn't say this, because medically I really don't have a definite answer, but by training camp hopefully, even if it's just to bring him," Coughlin said. "We're not going to just throw him to the wind. He'll work his way through. But I hope that would be the target."

Cruz tore his patellar tendon in week six of the 2014 season, causing him to miss the rest of the year. Coughlin is hopeful that he'll return to be the player that he was before the injury.

"I think he'll be the player that he was, and hopefully better," Coughlin said of Cruz. "But as far as when, I would be careful of what I would say there. Hopefully it's the first game. But if it isn't, you know we've done that one before. We just went through it. But I'm hoping it would be."

The former undrafted free agent has tallied 264 receptions for 3,963 yards and 24 touchdowns.


 
 
 
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