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2013 Draft Prep: Early draft trends

Senior Fantasy Writer
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In 2012, there were five quarterbacks drafted on average in the first round with Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford and Cam Newton. Thankfully, things have changed this season.

This year, Brees is the only quarterback being selected in the first round. Fantasy owners realize the importance of running backs, and that is reflected in the current Average Draft Position data on CBSSports.com.

What we're doing here is a weekly series looking at ADP. We're starting with the data at the start of the preseason games, and we want to see what changes each week leading up to the regular season.

Along with our rankings, projections, updates and mock drafts, you should rely on ADP heading into your Draft Day. Public perception is useful information that should help in your preparation because it gives you an idea where you might find a certain player in the right round.

The first round looks like this ...

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1. Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings
2. Arian Foster, RB, Texans
3. Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers
4. Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs
5. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks
6. C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills
7. Trent Richardson, RB, Browns
8. Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions
9. Ray Rice, RB, Ravens
10. LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles
11. Drew Brees, QB, Saints
12. Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins

There is no surprise with the No. 1 overall pick since Peterson is a slam dunk given his performance last season. In standard and PPR formats you should see Peterson go in that spot in all leagues. The only format where Peterson might not go No. 1 overall is two-quarterback leagues, but even then you can make an argument that Peterson is still the best player on the board.

After Peterson is where things could get interesting. Foster would make the most sense if he was healthy, but he's dealt with a calf injury at the start of training camp. There are also concerns about his wear and tear after averaging over 370 touches the past three years. I consider him a Top 5 overall player, but I would not take him at No. 2. Charles, Martin and Spiller are all worthy candidates, and that should be the Top 5. Lynch is in the mix also, but I consider him the No. 6 overall player.

The next group of running backs is also a spot where Fantasy owners will have to make a decision because McCoy, Richardson and Rice can go in any order. I have them ranked Richardson, McCoy and Rice, but I have no problem with any of these options.

Johnson at No. 8 is where he should enter the equation as the No. 1 overall receiver, but he can go as early as No. 5 in PPR leagues. You could also see Jimmy Graham in the first round in PPR formats.

Brees or any other quarterback should not be drafted in Round 1 based on the depth at the position compared to running backs, and we'd rather see Morris at No. 11 and then another running back like Matt Forte, Steven Jackson or Stevan Ridley drafted at No. 12.

Quarterback breakdown

The Brady factor: Brady is missing his Top 4 targets from last year with Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Lloyd and Danny Woodhead out of New England, and Rob Gronkowski (back) is hurt. But he's still being drafted as a Top 5 quarterback in Round 4.

It's fine if you still value Brady as an elite Fantasy option this year because he is, but I would draft him after Matt Ryan, who is going later in the fourth round. You could also make an argument that Brady should be drafted after Stafford, who is being selected in the early part of Round 5.

What to do with Luck, RG3, Kaepernick, Romo, Wilson and Eli: After you get past Stafford in Round 5 you get to the group of quarterbacks that could make or break your season in Andrew Luck (No. 59 overall), Robert Griffin III (No. 64), Colin Kaepernick (No. 66), Tony Romo (No. 68), Russell Wilson (No. 73) and Eli Manning (No. 88). I have them ranked Griffin, Romo, Luck, Manning, Kaepernick and Wilson.

Griffin's ADP could easily rise with continued positive reports in his comeback from last year's torn ACL, and I like Romo after him. He's the most underrated quarterback of this group. Kaepernick and Wilson are risky after losing top targets in Michael Crabtree (Achilles) and Percy Harvin (hip), respectively. And Manning has the chance to rebound after last year's down season, especially if Hakeem Nicks can stay healthy and Rueben Randle can improve.

Backups to covet: My favorite backup quarterbacks this season are Andy Dalton (No. 118), Jay Cutler (No. 122), Sam Bradford (No. 135), Alex Smith (No. 137), Carson Palmer (No. 153) and EJ Manuel (No ADP data).

Dalton has proven to be a quality Fantasy quarterback the past two seasons and gets new weapons in Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard. Cutler gets an upgrade in system with coach Marc Trestman, and he also gets a new toy in Martellus Bennett.

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Bradford should continue to improve, and he has a revamped receiving corps led by Tavon Austin, Jared Cook and Chris Givens. Smith will play for the pass-happy Andy Reid, and Palmer could thrive with Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd in Bruce Arians' offense.

Manuel is a wild card because he isn't even guaranteed a starting job in Buffalo, but we love his upside and is worth a late-round gamble in deeper leagues.

Running back breakdown

Is MJD worthy of a second-round pick? Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew is coming off a lost season in 2012 due to a Lisfranc injury. So far, all reports have been positive in his comeback, and he's being drafted in the second round at No. 21 overall.

I originally called Jones-Drew an early bust, but I'm going to remove him from that list. When healthy, Jones-Drew is easily a Top 15 running back, and his ADP is a fair reflection of his value.

Rookie report: The rookie running backs will get plenty of attention, and their ADP is Le'Veon Bell at No. 43, Montee Ball at No. 45, Eddie Lacy at No. 61 and Bernard at No. 71. Bell and Ball are going at the right spot in Round 4, but Lacy and Bernard should see their ADP rise.

Lacy will move into the fifth round, especially if he can solidify himself as the starter. And Bernard will also move up if he has a strong preseason and continues to impress on HBO's Hard Knocks

Guys who will rise: Our ADP data has been accumulating for several weeks, so preseason risers aren't necessarily reflected in this data. Some guys who will move up from their current spots include Ronnie Hillman (No. 103), Daryl Richardson (No. 106), DeAngelo Williams (No. 111), Vick Ballard (No. 115) and Pierre Thomas (No. 120). Two other running backs not showing up in ADP who could get drafted are Lance Dunbar, who should be the handcuff to DeMarco Murray in Dallas, and Christine Michael, who should be the handcuff to Marshawn Lynch in Seattle.

Of that group, look for Hillman, Richardson and Williams to have a dramatic rise, especially if they lock up starting jobs for Week 1. Williams could be a steal with Jonathan Stewart (ankle) injured.

Wide receiver breakdown

Breaking down the Broncos: The Broncos' receiving corps is a hot topic after Wes Welker was added to Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. Thomas has the highest ADP at No. 27, Welker is next at No. 44 and Decker is last at No. 55. They are all being drafted as Top 20 receivers.

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I agree with Thomas going first in the early part of Round 3, and Decker is fine in Round 5. But I wouldn't draft Welker in Round 4, and I'd rather have Decker. Welker is a bust candidate, and I expect his stats to decline going from the Patriots to the Broncos.

Changing teams, changing values: Welker wasn't the only big-name receiver to change teams this offseason. Danny Amendola (Rams to Patriots), Mike Wallace (Steelers to Dolphins), Greg Jennings (Packers to Vikings) and Anquan Boldin (Ravens to 49ers) also changed their address. We'll exclude Harvin (hip) from this discussion since he's hurt.

Amendola easily has the most upside of this group, and his ADP is No. 54. Wallace is at No. 78, Jennings is at No. 89 and Boldin is at No. 95. I would draft Amendola in Round 5, but Wallace and Jennings are bust candidates for me. Boldin is also going a little too soon in Round 8 even with Crabtree out.

Late-round picks to target: There are so many receivers being drafted in Round 10 or later that I'm excited about, including Golden Tate (No. 126), Michael Floyd (No. 128), DeAndre Hopkins (No. 131), Ryan Broyles (No. 151), Aaron Dobson (No. 152), Chris Givens (No. 156), Alshon Jeffery (No. 159), Vincent Brown (No. 164) and Rueben Randle (No. 168).

I wouldn't be surprised if all these guys exceed their ADP if they stay healthy.

Tight end breakdown

Gronkowski still a factor: Even with the uncertainty surrounding Rob Gronkowski's recovery from back surgery he is still being drafted at No. 40 overall in Round 4. That shows his upside when healthy and the lack of talent at the position.

I would take Gronkowski at this spot, and he might be a steal if he's ready for Week 1. When healthy, he's the best Fantasy tight end.

When does the run start? In every draft there is the run when one owner drafts a tight end and several follow. Based on ADP, that happens twice.

The first time is Round 5 with Tony Gonzalez (No. 52), Jason Witten (No. 53) and Vernon Davis (No. 56). The second time is Round 9 with Greg Olsen (No. 100), Cook (No. 101), Jermichael Finley (No. 105) and Bennett (No. 109). I like to wait on the group in the second run, and the tight ends I'm targeting this year are Cook and Finley.

Sleeper tight ends: If you're in a deep league or like to draft two tight ends, some guys to target in Round 12 or later include Fred Davis (No. 162), Tyler Eifert (No. 170), Dustin Keller (No. 173), Jordan Cameron (No. 185), Rob Housler (No. 197) and Coby Fleener (No. 203).

At least one of these tight ends will end up as a Top 12 option this year, and Eifert or Fleener have the highest potential based on their offenses.

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 .

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Player News
'No plans on how long' QB Logan Thomas plays Sunday
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(10:39 am ET) After earlier saying Cardinals quarterback Logan Thomas would play at least the first half Sunday at San Francisco, coach Bruce Arians said there are "no plans on how long" the rookie will play, reports ESPN.com. Thomas will be making his first start after Ryan Lindley predictably flopped Week 16 against Seattle.

Thomas has appeared in two games, completing 1 of 9 passes. That completion was an 81-yard touchdown to running back Andre Ellington.

Quarterback Drew Stanton (knee) isn't expected to be ready until the playoffs, so Lindley is the only option behind Thomas. Lindley has zero touchdowns and eight interceptions in 225 career pass attempts. Arizona has not scored a touchdown in its past two games.

A 6-6, 250-pounder out of Virginia Tech, Thomas had a "shaky" start to Wednesday's practice before finishing "pretty strong," according to Arians.

Arizona is a 6-point underdog Sunday. The line opened at 4.5 before bettors pounced on the 49ers.

Despite their offensive struggles, the Cardinals can win the NFC West with a victory and a Seattle loss to the Rams.


Seahawks WR Jermaine Kearse not practicing
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(10:12 am ET) Seahawks wideout Jermaine Kearse, who injured his hamstring Week 16, did not practice Wednesday as the team prepared for Sunday's game against St. Louis. Kearse also would not have been able to participate had the team practiced Thursday.

If Kearse sits out, rookie Paul Richardson would start in his place. Seattle is a 12.5-point home favorite.


Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams practices fully
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:30 am ET) Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams, who's missed three straight games with a hand injury, practiced fully Wednesday and is on track to return Sunday against the Falcons.

However, coach Ron Rivera has indicated he'll stick with Jonathan Stewart as the starting tailback. Stewart has run for 437 yards over the past four weeks.

Carolina is a 4-point underdog at the Georgia Dome.


Chuck Pagano 'hopeful' T.Y. Hilton will play Week 17
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:21 am ET) Colts wideout T.Y. Hilton put in his second straight limited practice Wednesday, with coach Chuck Pagano saying he's "hopeful" Hilton will play Sunday at Tennessee. Hilton sat out Week 16 with a hamstring injury -- the first game he's missed all season -- and Indy got destroyed 42-7 at Dallas.

Hilton leads the Colts with 82 catches for 1,345 yards and seven touchdowns. Indy is a 7-point favorite over the 2-13 Titans.


Ravens RT Ricky Wagner undergoes foot surgery
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:12 am ET) Ravens right tackle Ricky Wagner underwent successful surgery to fix a Lisfranc foot sprain, reports the Baltimore Sun. He suffered the injury in the Week 16 loss to Houston.

Wagner, who allowed two sacks and drew high marks from coaches in his first season as a starter, is expected to be ready for next season, the report said.


Bears sign DE Austen Lane
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) The Bears have signed defensive end Austen Lane, Pro Football Talk reports.

Lane will fill the roster spot of defensive end Willie Young, who was placed on injured reserve Tuesday. Lane was with the Bears during the preseason but didn't survive the final cuts. He's managed three sacks in 30 career games.


Cardinals' Thomas starts practice 'shaky,' finishes 'pretty strong'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) Cardinals coach Bruce Arians indicated that Week 17 starting quarterback Logan Thomas was "shaky" at the beginning of Wednesday's practice but finished "pretty strong" as he developed an understanding of where to throw his passes, ESPN.com reports.

"He's worked, fundamentally, extremely hard and gotten much better," Arians said. "But putting those fundamentals to use in the offense, that's two totally different things."

Thomas has just three days of practice before facing the 49ers in a game that has the possibility of landing his team with a first-round bye with a win and help from other results.

"It wasn't the greatest, but as it went on, it got better and better," Thomas added. "It just comes with reps and comes with time."

The Cardinals are a 6-point underdog in San Francisco Sunday.


Seahawks' Russell Okung, Max Unger practice Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) Seahawks left tackle Russell Okung (lung) practiced in full Wednesday, while center Max Unger (ankle) was able to return to practice in a limited fashion.

Okung is on track to return in Week 17 after missing last week's game with a bruised lung. Unger hasn't played in any of the team's last five game due to a high ankle sprain. The Seahawks will earn the No. 1 seed in the NFC with a win Sunday, and it's possible Unger suits up for the crucial game.

The Seahawks are a 12 1/2-point favorite at home against the Rams in Week 17.


Raiders QB Derek Carr practices Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was able to practice Wednesday despite dealing with an illness.

"I got here early to work out and see how I would feel during that and after that and I felt pretty good," Carr said at a press conference Wednesday. "So, felt good at practice today, obviously not 100 percent but it felt good to practice and be out here."

Carr has been able to start every game for the Raiders this season, completing 58.6 percent of his passes while racking up 3,112 passing yards, 20 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The Raiders are a 14-point underdog in Denver in Week 17.


Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman practices in full Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/24/2014) Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman was able to practice in full Wednesday for the first time since suffering a left foot injury on Nov. 9, ESPN.com reports.

"We've had a chance to watch him all week, participate and he's obviously further ahead than he was this time a week ago," head coach John Fox said after Wednesday's practice. "And the fact we're on grass, not on Astroturf, lot of variables, but I like what I see."

Hillman has been able to practice in a limited fashion during the last two weeks but hasn't been active on gameday since the injury occured. The Broncos are a 14-point favorite at home against the Raiders in Week 17.


 
 
 
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