A big key to drafting your Fantasy team is finding the right value. It's why Average Draft Position is so important. We all want great players, but you have to find them in the appropriate spot.
For example, last year I listed Peyton Hillis as a bust. I didn't expect Hillis to struggle as much as he did, but I didn't want to draft him based on his ADP. He was drafted as the No. 14 running back in Round 3, but he finished No. 39 at his position in 2011.
You're going to see me reference the word "value" a lot about busts in the space below, but hear me out. Some of these players will perform well in 2012, but it's where you draft them this year that will determine if you got them with the right selection.
Cam Newton, QB, Panthers: I love Newton. I want him on all my Fantasy teams if possible. But there's no way I'm spending a first-round pick on him. There's too much risk involved for the second-year quarterback. We all know Newton was amazing last season in winning Rookie of the Year honors. He had 11 games with at least 22 Fantasy points and he combined for 4,700 total yards and 35 touchdowns. He had 14 rushing touchdowns, which will be difficult to duplicate, but he should cut down on his 23 turnovers. The reason he's on this list is because of where he's being drafted. If you can get Newton in the middle to the end of the second round or later then you're in great shape. But there are better running backs, receivers and maybe the two elite tight ends who should be drafted ahead of Newton coming into this year.
My projection: 4,211 passing yards, 24 TDs, 13 INTs; 400 rushing yards, nine TDs
Mid-August ADP: 12th overall
I'd take him: 20th overall
Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys: The good news for Romo is he's healthy heading into the season. We wish we could say the same thing about his receiving corps. Miles Austin (hamstring), Dez Bryant (knee) and Jason Witten (spleen) are all banged up, with Austin and Witten looking like potential bust candidates as well. The Dallas offensive line is also a mess, and the Cowboys lost Laurent Robinson in free agency to a big contract in Jacksonville. Now, Romo should still be considered a No. 1 Fantasy quarterback, but he should not be selected in Round 4. He's a safer pick in Round 5 or later, and I would take him after Matt Ryan, which isn't the case based on ADP. If Romo's ADP falls prior to your Draft Day he might turn into great value because eventually Austin, Bryant and Witten will get healthy -- or so we hope. But Romo's value in Round 4 is slightly high given all the quality quarterbacks coming into the year.
My projection: 4,321 passing yards, 33 TDs, seven INTs, 66 rushing yards, one TD
Mid-August ADP: 45th overall
I'd take him: 53rd overall
Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos: Manning is another quarterback being drafted ahead of Ryan, which is a mistake. This isn't 2004 when Manning was the best quarterback in the NFL. He's coming back after sitting out for a season following multiple neck surgeries at 36 and playing with a new team for the first time in his career. Now, like Romo, he should present great value if he falls past Round 4 into Round 5 or later. But based on his value now, with the risk that one serious hit to his neck could end his career, he could end up hurting your team more than helping it. We all hope Manning can return at 100 percent, and we love his receiving corps with Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Jacob Tamme, but you need to draft a capable No. 2 quarterback (put Robert Griffin III, Ben Roethlisberger, Jay Cutler and Matt Schaub on your draft board) in case Manning goes down.
My projection: 4,565 passing yards, 33 TDs, 12 INTs; 22 rushing yards
Mid-August ADP: 46th overall
I'd take him: 56th overall
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars: The positives for Jones-Drew are he should remain a workhorse, even with the emergence of Rashad Jennings, he led the NFL in rushing last year despite no offseason work and limited preseason action and has at least 1,600 total yards and seven touchdowns in each of the past three seasons. The negative for Jones-Drew is his holdout, and we all remember what happened to Chris Johnson last year. Jones-Drew also could be headed for a breakdown even if he reported on time since he has 954 carries since 2009, which is the most in the NFL. There's no reason to draft Jones-Drew in Round 1, and I wouldn't take him until Round 3. Of course, there's little chance he falls that far unless his holdout lasts right up until the regular season, and Jennings might present better value at No. 139 overall (Round 11). New coach Mike Mularkey said he will ease Jones-Drew back into action when he does report, so you might not get tremendous production early in the year from Jones-Drew depending on when he shows up.
My projection: 1,355 rushing yards, seven TDs; 43 catches, 301 yards, one TD
Mid-August ADP: 11th overall
I'd take him: 30th overall
Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings: The hope is Peterson is ready for Week 1 at 100 percent. The reality is Peterson might have rushed back too soon. He suffered a devastating knee injury in Week 16 last year when he tore multiple ligaments, and it's basically a miracle he's back on the field in training camp. But while Peterson has said his goal is to play Week 1, the Vikings seem to be taking a more cautious approach, which is smart. Peterson is definitely worth drafting in Round 3 if he falls that far, but Fantasy owners will reach for him based on name recognition and past production alone. He has double digits in touchdowns in all five years of his career, and prior to last season he never had fewer than 1,500 total yards. But he did all of that production on two good knees, and the Vikings have a capable backup in Toby Gerhart to handle the rushing duties while Peterson works his way back to full strength. Gamble on Peterson if you want in Round 2, but that's too steep a price to pay for a running back in his situation.
My projection: 1,213 rushing yards, eight TDs; 34 catches, 312 yards, one TD
Mid-August ADP: 23rd overall
I'd take him: 33rd overall
Michael Turner, RB, Falcons: Here's a basketball analogy I like to use for Turner. The Miami Heat were among the best fast-break teams in the NBA last season with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade running the floor. But imagine what they would look like if the near 300-pound Eddy Curry was their starting center? He would just slow things down, and that's what Turner could do to this high-powered passing attack with Ryan, Julio Jones and Roddy White. This isn't to suggest Turner is going to disappear. He'll fall into 1,100 rushing yards and double digits in touchdowns. But you'd rather draft him in Round 3 in standard leagues since he could struggle in Atlanta's new pass-happy offense with speedy Jacquizz Rodgers playing behind him. Keep in mind that last year we saw Turner struggle mightily in the second half of the season with only one 100-yard game and three touchdowns from Week 9-16. He's headed for a decline this year, and he's not someone you want to reach for in Round 2.
My projection: 1,195 rushing yards, 11 TDs; nine catches, 80 yards
Mid-August ADP: 24th overall
I'd take him: 31st overall
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Bengals: Green-Ellis scored 24 touchdowns the past two years in New England, including 11 last season. But that was with one of the best offenses in the NFL. He struggled to run the ball for the Patriots in 2011 at just 3.7 yards per carry. What you have to assume is Green-Ellis will replace the production from the previous starter in Cincinnati, Cedric Benson, who ran for 1,143 yards and six touchdowns on 3.8 yards per carry. He had 134 Fantasy points last season, which ranked No. 23 at running back (two points ahead of Green-Ellis). He also had just six games with double digits in Fantasy points, and the Bengals aren't a great running team. Green-Ellis also is expected to share time with Bernard Scott, and he's dealt with a foot problem in training camp. Factor in four games against Pittsburgh and Baltimore, and Green-Ellis should remain just a plodder with little upside. He's someone you should settle for in Round 5 or later as a low-end No. 2/high-end No. 3 running back.
My projection: 1,002 rushing yards, eight TDs; 14 catches, 98 yards
Mid-August ADP: 53rd overall
I'd take him: 59th overall
Wes Welker, WR, Patriots: Owners in PPR leagues should look away because Welker is definitely worth a second-round pick in those formats. He has at least 111 catches in four of the past five years, and he should be above 100 catches again. The concern for me with Welker is in standard leagues since his touchdown total last year (nine) will be hard to duplicate. The Patriots changed two things from last season in adding Brandon Lloyd and bringing back offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who has a more downfield attack. The last time Welker played for McDaniels was 2008 when he had 111 catches for 1,165 yards and three touchdowns. Welker is currently being drafted in Round 3, which isn't much of a stretch, but it's the receivers he's being selected ahead of that's a problem. I'd rather have Greg Jennings, Roddy White, A.J. Green and Jordy Nelson than Welker, even though he's in a contract year. The Patriots are loaded on offense, and the addition of Lloyd and McDaniels could hurt Welker.
My projection: 111 catches, 1,395 yards, five TDs
Mid-August ADP: 26th overall
I'd take him: 32nd overall
Mike Wallace, WR, Steelers: Holdouts don't do much for me, especially guys in a new offense. Wallace has yet to run a play for new offensive coordinator Todd Haley, and that could hurt him once he does report. On top of that, the Steelers made a significant commitment to Antonio Brown, which could leave Wallace in a sour mood, much like what happened to DeSean Jackson last year. Wallace also was a huge disappointment in the second half last season. He had just one game with double digits in Fantasy points after Week 9, and he didn't have 100 yards after Week 7. Brown looks like the better Fantasy receiver based on his value at No. 68 overall (Round 6), and I'm not sold on Roethlisberger having a great year with all his little ailments (torn rotator cuff and ankle). The later Wallace reports, the better his value could be if he lands in the right round, but you also run the risk of injury based on a lack of conditioning being away from his team all offseason.
My projection: 68 catches, 1,184 yards, five TDs
Mid-August ADP: 51st overall
I'd take him: 58th overall
Vincent Jackson, WR, Buccaneers: Here's what worries me about Jackson: he got paid. I tend to stay away from players like Jackson who beg for a new contract and leave a team for big money elsewhere. Does he deserve to get paid? Absolutely. Does that mean he will succeed in his new home? Probably not. To give you an idea of some receivers who have left a good situation and not panned out look at Sidney Rice in Seattle, Santonio Holmes with the Jets and Anquan Boldin in Baltimore. All were better with their previous team, and the same could happen with Jackson. He gets a downgrade in quarterback from Philip Rivers to Freeman, and Jackson's production should decline. Jackson put up standout production for the Chargers, but he's been inconsistent. In 2011, Jackson had 60 catches for 1,106 yards and nine touchdowns. But he managed just six games with double digits in Fantasy points since five touchdowns came in two games. I don't see Jackson having many big games like that, and his production will tail off. Don't be surprised if he's more of a No. 3 Fantasy receiver this year than a guaranteed starter in all leagues.
My projection: 68 catches, 1,122 yards, six TDs
Mid-August ADP: 66th overall
I'd take him: 73rd overall
Jermichael Finley, TE, Packers: Finley is a solid tight end. I'm just not sure he's elite. He finished as a Top 5 tight end last year with 55 catches for 767 yards and eight touchdowns. But he made his season with his Week 3 performance against the Bears with seven catches for 85 yards and three touchdowns. That was 26 Fantasy points, but he averaged just 6.1 Fantasy points over his other 15 games. If you project that over a full season he had just 98 Fantasy points, which would have made him the No. 12 tight end. He also had just four games with double digits in Fantasy points, and last year was his first season playing 16 games. He's dealt with a concussion and a quad injury this preseason, and the Packers have a ton of targets to spread the ball around. I'd still draft Finley as a No. 1 Fantasy tight end, but I'm not sure I'd reach for him on Draft Day.
My projection: 48 catches, 632 yards, seven TDs
Mid-August ADP: 65th overall
I'd take him: 76th overall