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2012 Draft Prep: How to manage your bench

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Here's a small peek behind the curtain into our editorial meeting. When we first discussed this story, the idea was how to prepare for the waiver wire. After much discussion, we kept coming back to the obvious; there's too much uncertainty with injuries to go that route.

But what if you could make the waiver wire more manageable by having better flexibility with your roster? If you had a better bench, maybe you wouldn't have to rely on Fantasy free agents to save your season.

Sure, there will always be a need to add elite talent like a Cam Newton, DeMarco Murray or Victor Cruz that comes along every year, and you should jump on them immediately. But there's also a way to draft your reserves where you can stockpile sleeper running backs and/or receivers and wait for them to shine instead of looking to make a move when those players finally get a chance to succeed.

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We'll look at a few ways to draft No. 2 quarterbacks, No. 3 running backs and receivers and if there's a need to carry two tight ends (there's not). You should also avoid two kickers or two DSTs because that's just a wasted roster spot.

Is a backup quarterback necessary?

If you like to put players in tiers then there are four groups of starting quarterbacks. Tier 1 is Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Drew Brees, Tier 2 is Matthew Stafford and Newton, Tier 3 is Michael Vick, Matt Ryan, Eli Manning, Tony Romo and Peyton Manning and Tier 4 is Robert Griffin III, Jay Cutler, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Schaub and Andrew Luck.

When you draft a quarterback in Tier 1, you should pass on drafting a No. 2 quarterback. You only need a quarterback for one week when Rodgers, Brady or Brees are on a bye, and you can make a transaction then and still get someone like Alex Smith, Sam Bradford or Christian Ponder, who will likely go undrafted in the majority of leagues. Even Blaine Gabbert, Brandon Weeden or Ryan Tannehill could be useful in an emergency.

Going without a second quarterback gives you the flexibility to add another backup running back or receiver. It allows you to swing for the fences with a running back with upside like Alfred Morris or a rebound candidate like Rashard Mendenhall. You can also gamble on a rookie receiver like Brian Quick or a deep sleeper like Jerome Simpson.

You can argue that Stafford and Newton need a backup because of Stafford's injury history and Newton's small sample size as a rookie sensation last year. I'd pass on a No. 2 quarterback for these two because you could still land a replacement if they go down, but you can invest in someone like Josh Freeman if you feel comfortable.

In the next tier, I'm not sure if you need a backup quarterback for Ryan, Eli Manning or Romo because they have proven to be durable and should do fine. But Vick and Peyton Manning are a different story. Injuries are more likely for these two, and you should protect yourself in case they go down.

The quarterbacks in Tier 4 all need a backup because none are guaranteed to succeed. It's a good idea if you get stuck with Griffin as your starter in Round 7 then you should look at Schaub one round later to give yourself a quality duo since you failed to land a leading man in the quarterback spot.

How many running backs are enough?

The answer is never. You should load up on as many running backs as possible given how thin the depth is at the position this year. And you never know when someone who you draft with a late-round pick becomes a star – or the player everyone covets off the waiver wire.

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A perfect 14-round standard draft is one where you get one quarterback, tight end, kicker and DST, four receivers and six running backs. Here's an example of someone picking at No. 4 overall going by Average Draft Position.

Take Rodgers in Round 1, Marshawn Lynch in Round 2, Jamaal Charles in Round 3, Demaryius Thomas in Round 4, Brandon Lloyd in Round 5, Donald Brown in Round 6, Peyton Hillis in Round 7, Robert Meachem in Round 8, Ryan Williams in Round 9, Jermaine Gresham in Round 10, Greg Little in Round 11, Robert Turbin in Round 12, Bills DST in Round 13 and Matt Prater in Round 14.

You're now set at running back with a Top 10 option in Lynch, a top-end No. 2 option in Charles, a breakout candidate in Brown and two sleepers in Hillis and Williams. You also have the handcuff for Lynch and Charles, respectively, in Turbin and Hillis. I'd take this roster in any draft.

In my keeper league, I was stuck at running back with Doug Martin and Darren Sproles with my top two options after taking Calvin Johnson in Round 1 and keeping Eli Manning (Round 8), Antonio Brown (Round 10) and Stevan Ridley (Round 13) with late-round picks. When that happened, I knew it was time to stockpile running backs. So I filled my roster with Donald Brown, Hillis, Ben Tate and Jacquizz Rodgers. This leaves me plenty of options to go with Manning, Johnson, DeSean Jackson and Antonio Brown.

I only need three receivers and one quarterback, and while my running back corps might not be elite, I have amazing depth where at least three or four should be successful.

Do I need more than one extra receiver?

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As you can see from my keeper league roster, I'm OK with stopping at three standout receivers if you get quality options. This only works in a standard format, but you can still use a receiver at the flex spot. You also likely need to wait on a quarterback and tight end for this to make sense.

Here's another draft example with LeSean McCoy in Round 1, Julio Jones in Round 2, Trent Richardson in Round 3, Percy Harvin in Round 4, Jeremy Maclin in Round 5, Romo in Round 6, Willis McGahee in Round 7, DeAngelo Williams in Round 8, Jacob Tamme in Round 9, David Wilson in Round 10, Jacquizz Rodgers in Round 11, Morris in Round 12, Seahawks DST in Round 13 and Robbie Gould in Round 14.

Again, give me this roster in most standard formats, and I have now loaded up at running back and have a great rotation at receiver with Jones, Harvin and Maclin. I only need to play two, but I can use all three if needed.

You can obviously take a large allotment of receivers, especially in PPR formats, but receiver is such a deep position. Based on ADP, here are the receivers going in Round 8 or later that could be starters in most leagues: Titus Young, Meachem, Justin Blackmon, Nate Washington, Kenny Britt and Little.

And receiver is the position where you can find waiver wire additions if needed. In 2010, the No. 1 receiver was Brandon Lloyd, who went undrafted in most formats. Cruz was the No. 4 receiver last year, and he was a free agent in nearly all leagues. If there's one position where you don't really need depth in standard formats it's at receiver.

Should I ever carry two tight ends?

The difference between Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham, the top two tight ends last season, was 45 Fantasy points. The difference between Graham and Aaron Hernandez, the No. 3 tight end, was 64 points. But after that, the tight ends were pretty jumbled.

From Hernandez to Dustin Keller, who was the No. 10 tight end, the difference was only 23 points. From Hernandez to Fred Davis, who was the No. 12 tight end, the difference was only 36 points.

Fantasy owners should try to acquire Gronkowski or Graham in the first three rounds, and Hernandez and Antonio Gates are worth drafting by Round 5. You should draft Vernon Davis and Jermichael Finley in Round 7, and then there's a group of tight ends who will be drafted by Round 10 that includes Jason Witten, Brandon Pettigrew, Fred Davis, Jacob Tamme, Jermaine Gresham and Tony Gonzalez. There's also Greg Olsen, Owen Daniels, Brent Celek and Jared Cook. If you like sleepers, target Kyle Rudolph.

If you've counted up all those names you have 17 tight ends owners can consider on Draft Day. Even in a standard league where you can use tight end as a flex, I would still draft only one. You're better off using a running back or receiver as a flex, and I would only flex a tight end in PPR leagues.

There are more than enough quality tight ends to go around when your bye week comes, and I didn't even mention Dustin Keller, Coby Fleener, Martellus Bennett or Lance Kendricks, who are useful as a bye-week replacement.

Again, the goal is to load up on as many running backs and receivers as you can. Carrying a second tight end would take away a valuable roster spot, and it could force you to spend extra bid points during the season that aren't necessary.

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
Chris Harris targeting midway point of preseason
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Broncos cornerback Chris Harris, who's coming back from ACL surgery, told ESPN he expects to be cleared for full participation by the midway point of the preseason. Harris said the exact timetable hinges on his upcoming visit to his surgeon, Dr. James Andrews.

"I’m doing everything, there’s really nothing I can’t do right now," Harris told the network. "I still have to go see Dr. Andrews at the end of the month and get checked up and he’ll pretty much let us know the plan from there."

Harris had 65 tackles and three interceptions last year before getting hurt in the playoffs.


Dimitri Patterson a starter by default
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Unable to land a high-end free agent cornerback, the Jets "were forced to settle for journeyman Dimitri Patterson as a consolation," notes The Star-Ledger. Patterson, who projects to start opposite Dee Milliner, is on his sixth team in 10 seasons and has played all 16 games just once in his career.

If Patterson falters, third-round pick Dexter McDougle could get a shot.


Fred Jackson in danger of losing carries
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Bills running back Fred Jackson might not approach the 207 carries he received last year. According to WGR550.com, Jackson will once again split time with C.J. Spiller but also potentially lose snaps to the team's additions at running back, Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon.

The website said Jackson, 33, who's entering the last year of his deal, will be trying to prove how much he has left.


Teammate: Bitterness won't linger from Jimmy Graham standoff
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Saints tight end Benjamin Watson told ESPN that the the team's arbitration fight with Jimmy Graham over whether he's a receiver or a tight end won't have a longterm detrimental effect. Watson is hopeful the sides will reach a multiyear contract agreement by Tuesday's deadline.

"I’m very confident that it’ll be resolved the right way and guys can move forward," Watson said. "Obviously it’s always tough when you go through litigation with somebody, and it can probably get heated. And I’m sure there are emotions on both sides. But that is the business side of the game. 

"And it’s unfortunate that it came to that and that it was so public. But I really think -- I know, I don’t think -- I know that Jimmy loves New Orleans and I know that he loves our team and the organization and he loves playing here. And we love him, everybody wants him here, coaches included. So when it comes down to contract situations, that’s just a necessary evil ... not even evil, but just a necessary progression of getting a player here."


Dallas Thomas eyes starting job
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Dolphins coach Joe Philbin named Dallas Thomas one of the team's most improved players, and he has a good chance to start at left guard, according to the team's website. A third-round pick in last year's draft, Thomas played only four offensive snaps last season.

Thomas worked with the first team during spring drills and is much further along than he was in 2013. He stayed in South Florida throughout the offseason to get better prepared.

"You’ve got to know your material, you’ve got to know what you’re doing on the field because stuff happens so fast," Thomas said. "You’ve got to be able to just react to it and not even think about what’s happening on the field."


Spencer Nealy hit with four-game ban
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) The NFL suspended Vikings defensive end Spencer Nealy four games for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing substances. An undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M, the 24-year-old Nealy did not play in a game last season.

Nealy apologized and took responsibility in a statement, saying he took a supplement containing a banned stimulant.


Jarrett Boykin will be 'hard to dislodge'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Jarrett Boykin improved dramatically last season and "will be hard to dislodge" from the Packers' No. 3 receiver job, reports the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Boykin will have to hold off second-round pick Davante Adams, fifth-rounder Jared Abbrederis and seventh-rounder Jeff Janis.

Boykin, 24, caught 49 passes for 681 yards and three touchdowns last season.


Trent Richardson might not get long leash
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) Averaging 2.9 yards a carry, like he did last year, will get Trent Richardson benched quickly, reports ESPN.com. Richardson "will have to produce right away because it's unlikely the Colts will wait for him to get going" if running backs Ahmad Bradshaw and Vick Ballard are healthy and productive, the website said.

Richardson likely will get the first shot at the starting job. He has a much better grasp of the playbook than he did in 2013 and the belief is he'll be able to run on instinct as opposed to overthinking, the report said.


Bruce Ellington trying to overcome stature
by Jeff Borzello | College Basketball Writer
(7/11/2014) At 5-foot-9, Bruce Ellington is the shortest receiver on the 49ers' roster. But the fourth-round pick out of South Carolina should not be discounted, his high school coach, Jerry Brown, told the Sacramento Bee.

Brown said Ellington is relentless at finding open space and catching everything thrown his way. "Football's played on a big field and it's hard to track someone like Bruce who's got so much agility," Brown said.

Ellington believes he has lots of room for growth because he only gave up basketball last year. Also a former track competitor, Ellington clocked a 4.45 forty at the combine.

"I'm just going to work hard, give it a hundred (percent) every time I step on the field and keep on chasing the dream," he said.


Colts dump LaVon Brazill, sign Aaron Burks
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/11/2014) The Colts waived suspended wideout LaVon Brazill and signed receiver Aaron Burks, an undrafted free agent from Boise State. Brazill, 25, is suspended for at least a year for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

Burks caught 18 passes for 309 yards and three touchdowns for the Broncos last season, averaging 17.2 yards per catch.


 
 
 
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