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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
Brian Hartline scores first touchdown of the season
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9:36 pm ET) Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline came down with his first touchdown catch of the season in Week 3 against Kansas City.

Hartline broke free on a crossing pattern and caught a playaction pass from Ryan Tannehill in the end zone for a 1-yard score. Hartline suffered a left elbow injury in the third quarter, but managed to work through the pain. He was targeted seven times and finished with three receptions for 25 yards and a touchdown in a 34-15 defeat.

Hartline has not had more than 436 receiving yards in a game this season. He will look to get back on track in London against the Raiders in Week 4.


Role players step up for the Chiefs in Week 3 win
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9:33 pm ET) The Chiefs received minor contributions from several role players in a Week 3 win over Miami.

Fullback Anthony Sherman took one carry for four yards and caught one pass for one yard. Anthony Fasano, Junior Hemingway and Donnie Avery were each limited to two grabs on the afternoon. Fasano registered 23 yards, Hemingway picked up 18 yards and Avery finished with 12 yards in a 34-15 victory.

Vikings limit Saints offense
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:30 pm ET) After their offense -- or more specifically, quarterback Matt Cassell -- betrayed them Week 2 against New England, the Vikings bounced back with a decent defensive performance against the hosting Saints in Week 3, limiting them to 20 points on 396 yards.

They didn't have many big plays, just a sack from rookie linebacker Anthony Barr, but still, limiting the high-scoring Saints to 20 points on 396 yards is an accomplishment unto itself. Remember: The Vikings defense had no shortage of big plays Week 1 at St. Louis, recording five sacks, two interceptions and a touchdown.

Unfortunately, Minnesota has another tough matchup Week 4 against the Falcons, so don't count on the Vikings DST just yet in Fantasy.


Dwayne Bowe does little in win over Miami
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9:29 pm ET) Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe was held in check in Week 3 against Miami.

The Chiefs scored five touchdowns, including three through the air, none of which went Bowe's direction. He was limited to three catches for 32 yards in the first half. He was held without a grab the rest of the way, despite being targeted twice in the second half and once on a two-point conversion.

Bowe has 72 receiving yards through two games. He'll look to bounce back in Week 4 at home against New England.


Anthony Barr records first sack
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:26 pm ET) Vikings rookie linebacker Anthony Barr recorded the first sack of his career Week 3 at New Orleans, taking down quarterback Drew Brees just before halftime. Barr had five tackles in all, two of them solo.

Robert Blanton leads way in tackles
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:23 pm ET) Vikings defensive back Robert Blanton recorded a team-high 10 tackles, including seven solo, Week 3 at New Orleans. He has yet to record fewer than six tackles in a game this season.

Harrison Smith not much of a factor
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:21 pm ET) Vikings defensive back Harrison Smith, who had a sack, an interception and a touchdown in Week 1 and followed it up with eight tackles in Week 2, wasn't as much of factor Week 3 at New Orleans. He had four tackles, including two solo.

Smith had 58 tackles in eight games last year after recording 104 in 2012.


Travis Kelce scores first career touchdown Week 3
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9:20 pm ET) Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce came down with his first career touchdown in Week 3 against Miami.

Kelce caught a short pass from Alex Smith and took it 20 yards for a score in the second quarter. He was targeted four times and finished with three catches for 36 yards and a touchdown in a 34-15 victory. He has 10 catches for 166 yards and a touchdown through three games.

The Chiefs will host the Patriots in Week 3.


Blair Walsh nails three field goals
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:18 pm ET) After missing his only field goal attempt in Week 2, Vikings kicker Blair Walsh was a perfect 3 for 3 Week 3 at New Orleans. He hit a 25-yarder in the second quarter, a 30-yarder in the second quarter and a 40-yarder in the fourth quarter. He did not have an extra point.

The Vikings host the Falcons in Week 4.


Patriots defense meets its end of the bargain
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:16 pm ET) Though they were short on big plays against a Raiders team that had a conservative game plan, the Patriots had another strong defensive showing in Week 3. They limited the Raiders to nine points on 297 yards.

They didn't have a sack after recording six at Minnesota last week, but they did have an interception to secure the victory late in the fourth quarter. Defensive lineman Vince Wilfork made a diving grab on a twice-deflected pass with about a minute left to go.

The Patriots DST could be in for another strong showing Week 4 at Kansas City. It remains a top Fantasy option.


 
 
 
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