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Lessons learned from Round 1

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Think back to the first round of your draft last season. Chances are there were a number of quarterbacks picked, a change from previous seasons when running backs dominated. Last year's class of rushers didn't include a lot of elite choices, leaving owners with the conundrum of taking a chance on a back with some downside or going with a quarterback considered by most to be "safe."

As it turned out, going with the quarterback over the running back was a wise move. The consensus Top 3 quarterbacks finished as the three best Fantasy passers in 2012 and set up as the top gunslingers in 2013. But a change in the quality of running backs around the NFL should bring that position back into focus in Round 1 this summer, pushing down the pressure to pick a passer in Round 1.

Take a look at the Top 12 players picked overall in 2012 drafts, and expect most of them to not repeat as first-rounders in 2013 drafts.

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Arian Foster, RB, Texans
2012 ADP: 1.86 overall
Dave's 2012 Projection: 1,355 rush yards, 10 rush TDs; 431 receiving yards, 3 receiving TDs
Actual 2012 Statistics: 1,424 rush yards, 15 rush TDs; 217 receiving yards, 2 receiving TDs
There was little concern Foster wouldn't deliver quality production in 2012, making him worthy of the top pick in drafts. But there might be some concern heading into 2013 after he had 351 regular-season carries and another 32 in the Texans' win in the first round of the postseason. Through 17, games Foster has totaled 383 totes and 48 catches (431 touches), and with 17 handoffs against the Patriots, Foster will have eclipsed 400 carries over the course of 18 games and five months. That's a mighty large workload -- even with Foster entering next season at just 27 years old, there could be a chance he breaks down. Expectations remain high for Foster but now more than ever drafting Ben Tate with a seventh- or eighth-round pick is a must for those who spend a very early pick on Foster. Expected 2013 ADP: Picks 1-5 overall

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
2012 ADP: 2.31 overall
Dave's 2012 Projection: 5,146 passing yards, 38 TDs, 11 INTs; 261 rushing yards, 4 rushing TDs
Actual 2012 Statistics: 4,295 passing yards, 39 TDs, 8 INTs; 259 rushing yards, 2 rushing TDs
Did Rodgers deliver on expectations as a first-round pick? Definitely -- he finished as the second-highest point getter in all of Fantasy Football, despite having seven games with 19 or fewer Fantasy points in standard leagues (most among the Top 5 quarterbacks). But that doesn't necessarily make him worthy of a first-round pick again in 2013. Rodgers' position is the deepest in Fantasy for owners in leagues with 12 or fewer teams and the feeling is that everyone will have at least a good Fantasy starter. That pushes down the demand to get a quarterback, even a stud like Rodgers. He'll still be among the best at his position thanks to the Packers' pass heavy offense and quality receiving corps, but it won't take such an early pick to get him (unless you really, really want him) this summer. There are simply too many very promising running back options to go with instead. Expected 2013 ADP: Picks 10-15 overall

Ray Rice, RB, Ravens
2012 ADP: 3.51 overall
Dave's 2012 Projection: 1,280 rush yards, 8 rush TDs; 525 receiving yards, 3 receiving TDs
Actual 2012 Statistics: 1,143 rush yards, 9 rush TDs; 478 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
Considered a Top 3 pick before the season, Rice met expectations with another season with 1,500 total yards and double-digit touchdowns, but he didn't dazzle like he did the previous season. In 2011, he had over 2,000 total yards and 15 total touchdowns and Fantasy owners were hoping for a repeat in 2012. Nonetheless he finished as a Top 10 rusher, justifying his draft position. He'll remain a first-round pick but isn't a cinch for the second- or third-overall choice in 2013. Bernard Pierce could creep into a role next season that could keep Rice to about the same amount of work he just had and the offense is sure to continue to tinker with its pass attack. Still, Rice remains the constant and should fall into at least 300-plus touches for the fourth year in a row. Expected 2013 ADP: Picks 3-10 overall

LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles
2012 ADP: 4.59 overall
Dave's 2012 Projection: 1,251 rush yards, 11 rush TDs; 349 receiving yards, 4 receiving TDs
Actual 2012 Statistics: 840 rush yards, 2 rush TDs; 373 receiving yards, 3 receiving TD
My expectations for McCoy were huge in 2012, frankly because I believed the Eagles would be a Super Bowl contender. So I'm an idiot for thinking the Eagles could contend for a title, but the lofty McCoy projections were harpooned by injuries to the Eagles offensive line and to McCoy himself. Yet he still found a way to total over 1,200 yards in 12 games, posting 10-plus Fantasy points in 10 of those games. That's pretty good consistency. As of this writing we don't know who will coach up the Philly offense but whoever it is will see McCoy as a must-use option. Someone like Bryce Brown could get in the mix to help out the ground game, but McCoy isn't expected to lose his grasp on the running back job there. Expected 2013 ADP: Picks 6-12 overall

Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
2012 ADP: 5.00 overall
Dave's 2012 Projection: 5,155 passing yards, 43 TDs, 17 INTs; 77 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD
Actual 2012 Statistics: 4,827 passing yards, 34 TDs, 8 INTs; 32 rushing yards, 4 rushing TDs
Brady continued to do what he has always done: put up numbers. But the numbers didn't come close to what we saw in his amazing 2011 season. A slight dip in his completion percentage and yards per attempt could be attributed to a number of factors, but the biggest bummer that hurt Brady was the loss of tight end Rob Gronkowski from Weeks 12-16. Sure, Brady had a three-score game and a four-score game while Gronk was out, but he also had a pair of one-TD games. By comparison, he had three games with one passing touchdown in the 10 games he had before Gronk was hurt this year and two games all last year with Gronkowski. There's no question Brady will remain a sure-fire Fantasy stud but with the position deep and everyone in every league figuring to land a great quarterback, he'll be a bargain for Round 2. Expected 2013 ADP: Picks 14-20 overall

Drew Brees, QB, Saints
2012 ADP: 6.13 overall
Dave's 2012 Projection: 5,250 passing yards, 41 TDs, 17 INTs; 40 rushing yards
Actual 2012 Statistics: 5,177 passing yards, 43 TDs, 19 INTs; 5 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD
Brees was awesome. He scored 20-plus Fantasy points in 12 of 16 games and 30-plus Fantasy points in six contests, including the last three to end the season. He's finished as a Top 2 Fantasy quarterback four of the last five years (he was sixth in 2010) -- that's the kind of consistency a Fantasy owner can dig into. And here's the kicker: Brees managed over 5,000 yards and 43 touchdowns while taking a huge dip in completion percentage (down to 63.0 pct. from 71.2 pct.) and yards per attempt (down to 7.73 from 8.33). With his favorite targets still on the roster along with a couple of up-and-coming players in Joe Morgan and Nick Toon joining into the mix, there's a very good chance Brees will once again be dominant in Fantasy. We won't recommend taking a quarterback with a first-round pick in standard leagues with 12 teams or less, but if you must take one, Brees is it. Expected 2013 ADP: Picks 10-15 overall

Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions
2012 ADP: 7.71 overall
Dave's 2012 Projection: 90 catches, 1,425 yards, 15 TDs
Actual 2012 Statistics: 122 catches, 1,964 yards, 5 TDs
Madden curse my foot! Johnson battled through a knee injury to set the NFL single-season record for receiving yards. His touchdown output was obviously disappointing but he had a number of receptions end just short of the goal line and many more opportunities to score limited by tight coverage. That's a trend that might continue, but so will the number of targets he'll get from Matthew Stafford. He had 204 in 2012 and at least 130 targets each of his last four seasons. No one doubts Johnson as the top receiver in Fantasy but in order for him to be worth a first-round pick in drafts owners must believe he'll continue to produce like a running back. To that end, he did by finishing tied for sixth among all non-quarterbacks in 2012 (standard scoring leagues) after winding up third in 2011. If you happen to like the depth at running backs toward the top of drafts you might find yourself considering Megatron with a first-round pick only to take a running back in Rounds 2 and 3. Expected 2013 ADP: Picks 11-16 overall

Chris Johnson, RB, Titans
2012 ADP: 8.24 overall
Dave's 2012 Projection: 1,237 rush yards, 7 rush TDs; 336 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD
Actual 2012 Statistics: 1,243 rush yards, 6 rush TDs; 232 receiving yards
Inconsistent as he might have appeared, Johnson did have 100 total yards and at least one touchdown in four games and double-digit Fantasy points in another four games. But those other eight games were disappointing and it made him the quintessential boom-or-bust running back, posting under 10 Fantasy points in eight matchups. If there's good news it's that the Titans leaned on Johnson a bit more in 2012 than in '11, giving him 20 or more touches in nine games compared to six last year. And in those 15 combined games with 20 or more touches, Johnson posted 10-plus Fantasy points in 12 of them. So the thinking is that so long as Johnson can keep getting a healthy workload in Tennessee he'll be productive. Thing is there's no guarantee of that, so long as Jake Locker is under center: In 10 games where Locker played much or all of a game, Johnson had three games with double-digit Fantasy points and five games with 20-plus touches. Johnson's potential is obvious and the Titans' promise of paying him a guaranteed $10 million roster bonus this offseason suggests they're still committed to him, but until Locker improves the going could remain unstable for CJ1k. That will make him tough to trust with a top pick. Expected 2013 ADP: Picks 15-20 overall

Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders
2012 ADP: 9.74 overall
Dave's 2012 Projection: 1,138 rush yards, 7 rush TDs; 367 receiving yards, 2 receiving TDs
Actual 2012 Statistics: 707 rush yards, 2 rush TDs; 258 receiving yards, receiving TD
McFadden was a nightmare in 2012. Injuries cost him four games and part of another, but the real problem he had involved working in the Raiders' new rushing scheme behind an offensive line that had a hard time opening holes for him. Between McFadden's inability to adjust and the line not helping out, his whole season was a mess, save for a few games where he either broke free for a long run or was force-fed carries and grinded his way to 100 total yards (a mark he hit just four times). McFadden had 10-plus Fantasy points in half of his 12 games but wasn't even a Top 24 rusher when the season was over; Danny Woodhead out-produced him through 17 weeks by one point. McFadden enters a contract year in 2013 but the Raiders can't honestly look at him as a franchise back any longer. Expect him to split reps this coming season and not have the enormous potential for big numbers that he once had. It will make him no better than a No. 2 running back in drafts. Expected 2013 ADP: Picks 35-40 overall

Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions
2012 ADP: 11.93 overall
Dave's 2012 Projection: 4,522 passing yards, 39 TDs, 16 INTs; 68 rushing yards
Actual 2012 Statistics: 4,967 passing yards, 20 TDs, 17 INTs; 126 rushing yards, 4 rushing TDs
Stafford set an NFL record with 727 pass attempts in 2012, but it came with disappointing results. He completed just 59.8 percent of those attempts for 6.83 yards per throw, numbers that were down precipitously from 2011. Of course, all of his numbers were down from 2011 thanks to a lack of end-zone connections with Calvin Johnson along with a revolving door of supporting receivers. Last season Johnson accounted for 16 touchdowns, the other Lions receivers scored nine times, the tight ends kicked in 11 touchdowns and the running backs caught five scores. This season, Johnson led the Lions with five touchdowns and his fellow wideouts picked up a bit of the slack with a combined 11 TDs while tight ends slowed down to register five and running backs scored once. It's clear the Lions don't mind having Stafford throw again and again, and having a weapon like Johnson will only help his numbers. Bank on the Lions solving their supporting cast issues this offseason along with another upgrade along the offensive line to help Stafford's numbers bounce back in 2013. He's still viewed as a No. 1 quarterback, just not one worth a Top 25 pick. Expected 2013 ADP: Picks 50-55 overall

DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys
2012 ADP: 13.93 overall
Dave's 2012 Projection: 1,113 rush yards, 7 rush TDs; 367 receiving yards, 2 receiving TDs
Actual 2012 Statistics: 663 rush yards, 4 rush TDs; 251 receiving yards
It shouldn't have surprised anyone to see Murray hurt his foot against the Ravens in Week 6 and miss six games. Murray has been injury prone going back to his days in college. But in the 10 games he did play, Murray delivered at least 10 Fantasy points in five of them and at least 70 total yards in all but one of them. It goes without saying he's an effective rusher so long as he's on the field, but in two seasons he's missed nine games and questions about his durability won't go away anytime soon. But a big positive is that when he has been healthy, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett has had no issues about leaning on him as he had at least 18 touches in seven games. He's really been the only running back under Garrett who has earned such a workload and that should continue on in 2013, so long as he stays healthy. Expected 2013 ADP: Picks 17-22 overall

Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
2012 ADP: 11.93 overall
Dave's 2012 Projection: 4,024 passing yards, 23 TDs, 16 INTs; 509 rushing yards, 8 rushing TDs
Actual 2012 Statistics: 3,869 passing yards, 19 TDs, 12 INTs; 741 rushing yards, 8 rushing TDs
Newton's first seven games made him the poster boy for the sophomore slump. He topped 20 Fantasy points in just two of those seven while struggling with accuracy and finding scoring chances (just two games with multiple touchdowns). The light went on soon thereafter and he finished his season with incredible numbers, totaling at least two touchdowns in every game from Weeks 12 to 16 with plenty of combined yardage in all but one of those games. According to Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, Newton and the rest of the offense improved on their fundamentals while cutting back on turnovers and other mistakes. It's the kind of improvement that sets the table for a big third season. Expected 2013 ADP: Picks 25-30 overall

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Dave at @daverichard and on Facebook .

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Player News
Cardinals pushing for more consistency out of WR Michael Floyd
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:11 am ET) Cardinals coach Bruce Arians knows wide receiver Michael Floyd is capable of big things in his offense. He also feels Floyd was the victim of the quarterback injuries last year, reports Fox Sports 910.

"I think some frustration went into his play at times," Arians said. "But he still needs to hit a consistency level. He's a thousand-yard player every year. He should have had a thousand, easily, last year."

Floyd finished with 47 catches for 841 yards and six touchdowns in 2014. He is entering the final year of his contract in 2015.


Bears defensive end Jared Allen played through herniated disc in 2014
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:03 am ET) Bears defensive end Jared Allen still thinks he can get the job done next season. Allen claims he was slowed last season while dealing with a nagging back issue, which was diagnosed as a herniated disc, reports the Chicago Tribune.

"I just don't know how to miss games," Allen says. "It killed me that I had to miss one."

Allen totaled 55 tackles with 5 1/2 sacks in 15 games last season.


QB Sam Bradford's college coach talked him out of retiring last year
(3/29/2015) After suffering his second season-ending injury in nine months last year, quarterback Sam Bradford contemplated retiring but his former quarterbacks coach from Oklahoma talked him out of it, according to Philly.com.

Bradford, who was aquired by the Eagles in a trade in March, missed the entire 2014 season with the Rams after tearing his left ACL during a preseason game.

Josh Heupel, a former college coach, talked with Bradford after the injury and persuaded him to stay in the NFL.

"When a player goes through a big letdown, it's natural to be down," said Heupel. "I just tried to reach out to him and say, 'Hey, I still see this in you as a person and a player. I think the best is yet to come for you. You've got to get yourself healthy and get yourself back on the field and get yourself in the right environment ...'"

Heupel, who coached Bradford during his 2008 Heisman Trophy-winning season, is currently the offensive coordinator at Utah State.


Seahawks re-sign Demarcus Dobbs
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3/29/2015) The Seahawks re-signed defensive lineman Demarcus Dobbs to a one-year contract on Sunday.

Dobbs' agent, Wesley Spencer confirmed the news on Twitter.

Dobbs joined the Seahawks in November after being waived by San Francisco. He had six tackles in four games with the Seahawks. 


C.J. Anderson enters offseason as Broncos top RB
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3/29/2015) Broncos coach Gary Kubiak declared that C.J. Anderson was the team's starting running back entering OTAs. 

"He made a big jump as a player, and I think he's earned the right to walk in to the offseason program -- the OTAs -- and line up as our starter," Kubiak said, per DenverBroncos.com. "But he's got to continue to earn it on a daily basis. I think he's shown he has all the ability to be an excellent starter in this league, so we're really looking forward to working with him."

Anderson rushed for 849 yards and eight touchdowns last season, most coming late in the season, after Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman went down to injury. 

"All those guys are young. I think all three of those guys ... have all kind of had their little spurts of success with the club when they've had their opportunity," Kubiak said. "But they're all young. Who's going to be the bell cow, who's going to play every down, who's going to be the three-down player, they've got to sort that out. C.J. has shown the flashes of doing that."


Erin Henderson will meet with Jets
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3/29/2015) Linebacker Erin Henderson has scheduled a meeting with the Jets. Henderson is looking to reenter the NFL after sitting out last season, following his release from the Vikings.

Henderson met with the 49ers GM and coach on Thursday and also had dinner with the team's linebacker coach, his agent told the Sacramento Bee


Jared Allen tells Bears 'I'm still good, really'
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3/29/2015) Bears defensive end Jared Allen met with coach John Fox and GM Ryan Pace at last week's NFL Owners' Meetings to tell them he's not on the decline. 

"I was less anxious and so much more eager to talk to them," Allen said, per NFL.com. "Just to say, 'Hey guys. I know the film from last year only shows 5.5 sacks. But don't believe that's all I have left. I'm good still. Really."

Allen also said he was willing to play a stand-up pass rushing spot instead of the hand-in-the-dirt stance he's used most of his career. "It requires you to refocus and rekindle your energy," he said. "You can't get stuck in your same old patterns."


Saints' Brian Dixon arrested for resisting officer
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3/29/2015) Saints cornerback Brian Dixon was arrested in Miami on Sunday morning. He's been charged with resisting an officer, per the Times-Picayune.

According to the New Orleans Advocate, Dixon was pulled over for riding a moped. He questioned the officer about why that wasn't permitted, which led to his arrest. 

Dixon was booked at 5:50 AM and was being held on $1,000 bond. The team is aware of the incident, and NFL security is investigating. 

Later in the morning, Dixon tweeted, "It hurts to know that I wasn't causing no trouble and was fully cooperating. :( "


Report: LB Desmond Bishop will visit 49ers
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/28/2015) Linebacker Desmond Bishop will visit the 49ers on Monday, according to csnbayarea.com.

Bishop played in two games for the 49ers last season after beginning the year with the Cardinals. After losing both Patrick Willis and Chris Borland to retirement, the team is looking for linebackers.

Over his eight-year NFL career, the 30-year-old has 299 total tackles, nine sacks, nine passes defensed, one interception and eight forced fumbles.


Packers want to keep RB Eddie Lacy fresh this season
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/28/2015) Packers head coach Mike McCarthy is working on ways to keep running back Eddie Lacy fresh this season, reports the Journal Sentinel.

McCarthy had talks with Lacy at the end of the last two seasons talking about his number of snaps and what he expected of the running back.

"I really felt that last year's conversation was more important than this year's, the ability to make a huge jump from Year One to Two, being a three-down player, that was something we stressed from Day One, and I thought he delivered," McCarthy said at the NFL owners meetings this week.

The head coach liked the way that the team used Lacy last season, limiting his snaps early in the year before increasing them as the season wore on.

"Maybe not run attempts," McCarthy said of hitting the target he set. "But I thought we were really smart the way we used him....I thought his pass protection he made a huge jump, and his ability to play out of the backfield.

"Eddie has excellent hands, and just his understand and his feel with Aaron, he definitely made a step."

In his first two seasons in the NFL, the 24-year-old has 2,317 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns. He has also added 77 receptions for 684 yards and four touchdown catches. 


 
 
 
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