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2012 Draft Prep: It's always about location

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The last week of the preseason is one of my favorite times of the year. The excitement of the regular season is close. There is a rush of drafts. And it's typically when I have the most personal interaction with Fantasy owners on our site.

Every year at this time I take part in mock drafts with readers just like you. I post on Twitter a time and date with a link, and owners jump in for a quick draft. What they don't know -- because I try to make it fun and engaging to answer draft prep questions – is that I do these drafts for this story.

2012 Draft Prep essentials
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I test different theories for drafting in different spots, and I attack each draft with a plan. What I found is you can build a solid team as long as you have an idea of what positions you want to target in certain rounds, depending on where you start.

Everyone has a favorite strategy they like to use, and you really can't go wrong. As we'll always tell you, follow what works best for you. Remember, it's your team, but if you're looking for some tips, we're here to help.

Some overall observations: Try to get two Top 15 running backs with your first three picks. Running back is shallow, and you want to stockpile talent at the position. ...You can wait on receiver. Average Draft Position shows you can get these receivers in Round 4 or later (Hakeem Nicks, Dez Bryant, Percy Harvin, Steve Smith, Marques Colston, Demaryius Thomas, Brandon Lloyd and Jeremy Maclin), and I'd be thrilled with any of them as my two starters. ... Quarterback is deep with 11 legitimate No. 1 options. So if you miss on Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady or Drew Brees you can still get Michael Vick, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Tony Romo or Philip Rivers in Round 5 or later. ... The same goes for tight end. I'd love Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham, but I'll settle for Greg Olsen or Jermaine Gresham with a late-round pick.

Below is a look at five of the multiple drafts I took part in, and you can see how each team turned out with the rosters and respective draft picks. I'd be happy with any of these teams because I had a plan when the draft started, and in most cases I got the players I wanted.

Picking early in Round 1
Pick: No. 1 | Teams: 12 | Format: Standard
QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, TE, K, DST, FLEX (RB/WR/TE) and five reserves
Position Player Round Overall
QB Philip Rivers, Chargers 6 72
RB Arian Foster, Texans 1 1
RB Shonn Greene, Jets 4 48
WR Julio Jones, Falcons 2 24
WR Andre Johnson, Texans 3 25
TE Greg Olsen, Panthers 12 144
FLEX Donald Brown, Colts 5 49
K Shayne Graham, Texans 14 168
DST Bears 13 145
Bench
QB Jay Cutler, Bears 11 121
RB Ryan Williams, Cardinals 7 73
RB Toby Gerhart, Vikings 8 96
WR Greg Little, Browns 9 97
WR Kenny Britt, Titans 10 120

Analysis: I knew going in I would take Foster with the first pick, and it was just a matter of who would fall to me in Round 2. My plan was to take another running back in Round 2 or 3, but there was a huge run at the position, pushing other players down the draft board. I couldn't pass on two of my Top 3 receivers in Jones and Johnson based on the value, and I suggest being prepared for the owners in your league doing things you might not expect. It happens more often than you realize. This changed my strategy, and I knew I had to stock up on running backs going forward, which I did with four of my next five picks in Greene, Brown, Williams and Gerhart. Rivers fell to me in Round 6, which is great value, and I drafted a sleeper tight end in Olsen. The best value pick of this team is Britt in Round 10.

Picking early in Round 1
Pick: No. 4 | Teams: 12 | Format: Standard
QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, TE, K, DST, FLEX (RB/WR/TE) and five reserves
Position Player Round Overall
QB Tony Romo, Cowboys 6 69
RB LeSean McCoy, Eagles 1 4
RB Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants 2 21
WR Andre Johnson, Texans 3 28
WR Demaryius Thomas, Broncos 4 45
TE Aaron Hernandez, Patriots 5 52
FLEX DeAngelo Williams, Panthers 7 76
K Robbie Gould, Bears 14 165
DST Packers 13 148
Bench
QB Andrew Luck, Colts 10 117
RB Mark Ingram, Saints 8 93
RB Alfred Morris, Redskins 11 124
RB Robert Meachem, Chargers 9 100
WR Brandon LaFell, Panthers 12 141

Analysis: ADP shows Rodgers being drafted in the first four picks, which should push down a stud running back in Ray Rice or McCoy. I'll take McCoy at No. 4 overall 10 times out of 10, and this now gives me a chance to pair him with another quality running back in Round 2, which I did with Bradshaw. I can now look at receiver, and Johnson is a steal in Round 3. Pairing him with Thomas gives me four potential Top 10 options at running back and receiver. At this point look at best player available, and Hernandez in Round 5 is the best value, especially since he's a Top 3 tight end coming into the season. There should be at least one or two quality quarterbacks on the board, but it's a gamble to wait. In this case, Romo fell to Round 6, which allows this roster to shape up nicely. We can now build our running back depth with Williams, Ingram and a flier in Morris and still get decent reserve receivers in Meachem and LaFell. The best value pick of this team is Luck in Round 10 in case Romo falters.

Picking in the middle of Round 1
Pick: No. 6 | Teams: 12 | Format: Standard
QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, TE, K, DST, FLEX (RB/WR/TE) and five reserves
Position Player Round Overall
QB Tom Brady, Patriots 1 6
RB Steven Jackson, Rams 2 19
RB Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants 3 30
WR Percy Harvin, Vikings 4 43
WR Jeremy Maclin, Eagles 5 54
TE Greg Olsen, Panthers 11 126
FLEX DeAngelo Williams, Panthers 6 67
K Dan Bailey, Cowboys 14 163
DST Packers 13 150
Bench
RB Rashad Jennings, Jaguars 7 78
RB Mikel Leshoure, Lions 8 91
WR Greg Little, Browns 9 102
WR Denarius Moore, Raiders 10 115
WR Randy Moss, 49ers 12 139

Analysis: I'm not inclined to draft a quarterback in Round 1, but I wanted to build a team going this route with Brady. A quality running back should fall to the middle of Round 2, and you should have the choice of Marshawn Lynch, Steven Jackson, Ryan Mathews, Trent Richardson or Fred Jackson. Any of them would suffice to pair with Rodgers, Brady or Brees. As I said, I want two Top 15 running backs by Round 3 if possible, so Bradshaw is an easy choice next. You have to focus on receiver now, and Harvin and Maclin are Top 20 options. I'd like to get a quality No. 3 receiver soon, but too much talent became available at running back with Williams (Round 6), Jennings (Round 7) and Leshoure (Round 8). Don't pass on running backs for receivers because the position is extremely deep. Little, Moore and Moss are OK reserve receivers, but if that's the weakest part of my roster, I'll survive. I was excited to draft Jennings because I expect Maurice Jones-Drew to struggle. Also, when drafting one of the Top 3 quarterbacks you can pass on a backup since you'll manage to find a replacement during the bye week. The best value pick of this team is Olsen in Round 11.

Picking in the middle of Round 1
Pick: No. 8 | Teams: 12 | Format: Standard
QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, TE, K, DST, FLEX (RB/WR/TE) and five reserves
Position Player Round Overall
QB Eli Manning, Giants 6 65
RB Darren McFadden, Raiders 1 8
RB Trent Richardson, Browns 2 17
WR A.J. Green, Bengals 3 32
WR Demaryius Thomas, Broncos 4 41
TE Jason Witten, Cowboys 8 89
FLEX Cedric Benson, Packers 7 80
K Alex Henery, Eagles 14 161
DST Packers 13 152
Bench
QB Josh Freeman, Buccaneers 12 137
RB Jonathan Stewart, Panthers 9 104
RB Jacquizz Rodgers, Falcons 10 113
RB Taiwan Jones, Raiders 11 128
WR Jeremy Maclin, Eagles 5 56

Analysis: The No. 8 pick might be the toughest selection for owners this year. By now the Top 3 running backs and quarterbacks are gone as well as the No. 1 receiver in Calvin Johnson. You are now faced with drafting either McFadden or Chris Johnson, and I'm buying in on McFadden even with the injury risk. He has the chance to be a Top 5 running back if he plays 13 games like he did in 2010. Again, look running back in Round 2, and you can't pass on Richardson's upside there. Receiver is now a priority, and Green and Thomas should serve as standout options, giving you potentially four elite players to start your draft. We'll lock up our third receiver in Round 5 in Maclin, and now we don't need another receiver with three Top 20 options coming into the year. We can now load up on running back with Benson, Stewart, Rodgers and Jones, who is the handcuff for McFadden. Manning and Freeman are an excellent quarterback duo, and Witten's spleen injury has allowed him to become a great value pick in Round 8. The best value pick of this team is Benson in Round 7.

Picking late in Round 1
Pick: No. 12 | Teams: 12 | Format: Standard
QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, TE, K, DST, FLEX (RB/WR/TE) and five reserves
Position Player Round Overall
QB Philip Rivers, Chargers 5 60
RB Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks 1 12
RB Steven Jackson, Rams 2 13
WR Wes Welker, Patriots 3 36
WR Greg Jennings, Packers 4 37
TE Jason Witten, Cowboys 9 108
FLEX Willis McGahee, Broncos 6 61
K Shayne Graham, Texans 14 157
DST Bills 13 156
Bench
QB Josh Freeman, Buccaneers 12 133
RB Mark Ingram, Saints 8 85
RB Robert Turbin, Seahawks 11 152
WR Reggie Wayne, Colts 7 84
WR Robert Meachem, Chargers 10 109

Analysis: Last year we told Fantasy owners picking at the end of Round 1 to get two elite receivers. It worked out well if you drafted Calvin Johnson and Roddy White, but receiver is too deep this year to go that route. Instead, we're going back in time and taking two running backs, like what happened here with Lynch and Jackson. Both are risky (Lynch with a potential suspension and Jackson near the end of his run as a workhorse rusher), but they remain No. 1 Fantasy running backs. You can then pair them with two standout receivers, and Welker and Jennings fell in this draft. That likely won't happen in many leagues, but when running backs start flying off the board early usually receivers fall. As usual, my goal was running back depth with McGahee, Ingram and Turbin, who is the handcuff for Lynch, and I got Rivers again in Round 5. Wayne is a great value pick in Round 7 and a potential flex option, and this team has tremendous balance at running back and receiver. The best value pick of this team is Witten in Round 9.

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: Bills DB Aaron Williams expected to play Sunday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5:42 pm ET) Barring any setbacks over the weekend, Bills defensive back Aaron Williams is expected to play Week 8 against the Jets at MetLife Stadium, according to WGR. Williams was officially listed as questionable for Sunday's game with a neck injury.

Seahawks injury report for Sunday designates seven as out
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:40 pm ET) The lengthy injury report released by the Seahawks on Friday for the Sunday game at Carolina has only ruled-out players and probables.

There are no surprises in either designation. All those who are out did not practice this week. That group consists of fullback Derrick Coleman (foot), defensive tackle Jordan Hill (ankle), cornerback Byron Maxwell (calf), tight end Zach Miller (ankle), center Max Unger (foot), linebacker Bobby Wagner (toe) and wideout Bryan Walters (concussion).

The probables are defensive end Michael Bennett (toe), strong safety Kam Chancellor (ankle), cornerback Tharold Simon (ankle), running back Robert Turbin (shoulder) and tight end Luke Willson (groin).


Four Saints receive red light for Week 8 game
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:23 pm ET) Running backs Pierre Thomas (rib/shoulder) and Khiry Robinson (forearm) are only two of four Saints ruled out for the Sunday game against the Packers. The others are linebacker Kyle Knox (ankle) and center Jonathan Goodwin (knee/ankle).

Listed as questionable probable are defensive back Keenan Lewis (knee/shoulder), linebacker Ramon Humber (ankle), tight end Jimmy Graham (shoulder) and nose tackle Brodrick Bunkley (concussion). The lone probable is defensive back Patrick Robinson (hamstring).


Report: Saints TE Graham likely to play Sunday despite injury
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:14 pm ET) Saints prolific tight end Jimmy Graham has been deemed questionable for the Sunday night game against Green Bay with a shoulder problem, but seems likely to play after practicing on a limited basis, according to ESPN.

Graham played 30 snaps despite the physical issue in Week 7 against Detroit, but was held without a catch.


Colts WR Hakeem Nicks expected to see more targets Week 8
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5:13 pm ET) With Reggie Wayne ruled out with an elbow injury, Colts wide receiver Hakeem Nicks is expected to have an increased role on offense Sunday against Pittsburgh, according to ESPN. Nicks has gotten off to a slow start, with 17 catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns as the No. 3 receiver. He was targeted only once and was held without a grab in Week 7 against Cincinnati.

"I look forward to every opportunity," Nicks said. "Each week I prepare accordingly, prepare like I’m going to play, just like I’m going to play this week. Just have to go out there and play within the offense and everything will be good."

Raiders enter Week 8 at Cleveland pretty banged up
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5:06 pm ET) The Raiders listed a lengthy injury report for Week 8 at Cleveland. The team ruled out the following players for Sunday: tight end David Ausberry (foot), wide receiver Vincent Brown (hamstring), cornerback Keith McGill (groin), defensive end LaMarr Woodley (bicep) and safety Usama Young (knee).

Deemed questionable were offensive lineman Khalif Barnes (quadriceps), fullback Marcel Reece (quadriceps), cornerback Carlos Rogers (knee) and defensive end Justin Tuck (knee). Guard Austin Howard (neck) was the only player on the list deemed probable.


Browns list eight players on final injury report for Week 8
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5:01 pm ET) The Browns listed defensive lineman Phil Taylor (knee) and wide receiver Rodney Smith (hamstring) out for Week 8 against Oakland. Deemed questionable were defensive end Billy Winn (quadriceps) and safety Jim Leonhard (ankle).

Meanwhile, defensive end Desmond Bryant (wrist), outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo (shoulder), defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin (ankle) and cornerback K'Waun Williams (concussion) were all labeled probable.


Bengals Week 8 injury report features 10 probables
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(4:52 pm ET) Outside of A.J. Green and Rey Maualuga, the Bengals enter Week 8 at home against Baltimore relatively healthy despite having 14 players on the final injury report for Sunday's game. Green (toe) was ruled doubtful, while Rey Maualuga (hamstring) was officially ruled out. Brandon Thompson (knee) was limited in practice and questionable.

Meanwhile, the following players were labeled probable for the Bengals: Giovani Bernard (ribs), Kevin Brock (neck), Vontaze Burfict (neck), Robert Geathers (toe), Wallace Gilberry (eye), Leon Hall (back), Emmanuel Lamur (shoulder), Marshall Newhouse (back), Mike Pollak (knee) and Andre Smith (shoulder).


Saints rule out backs Thomas, Robinson against Packers
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:43 pm ET) Running backs Pierre Thomas (rib, shoulder) and Khiry Robinson (forearm) have been ruled out by the Saints for the Sunday game against Green Bay.

Their absences should mean increased work for Mark Ingram and Travaris Cadet.


Chiefs rule Donnie Avery, Chris Owens out against Rams
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(4:42 pm ET) The Chiefs have labeled wide receiver Donnie Avery (groin) and cornerback Chris Owens (knee) out for Sunday's Week 8 clash against the Rams.

Junior Hemingway (hamstring) was the only player listed on the final injury report as questionable. Meanwhile, Travis Kelce (ribs), Sean Smith (groin), Cyrus Gray (hand) and Justin Houston (ankle) were all full participants in Friday's practice and were officially deemed probable.


 
 
 
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