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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
Ravens' Victor Hampton arrested for DWI
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(4:57 pm ET) Ravens defensive back Victor Hampton was arrested for DWI, in Charlotte, Saturday night, according to WSOC TV

Hampton was pulled over after going 100 mph in a 55-mph zone. He faces DWI, speeding, reckless driving and open container charges. Passengers in the car were arrested on marijuana and concealed weapons charges. 

Hampton was on the Bengals offseason roster and Giants practice squad last year. He signed with the Ravens in January. 


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That could change in 2015.

According to the Kansas City Star, Thomas said he's worked this offseason on becoming more of a complete receiver.

“Yes, I have the ability to run the whole [route] tree,” Thomas said. “That’s what I’ve been working on this offseason. I’m running all those routes in the sand [during beach workouts]. And once the time comes to come on the grass, I feel like it’s going to be a lot easier because I’ve prepared myself.”

Thomas ran for 113 yards and totaled 156 receiving yards in a reserve role. He made a big impact in the return game, combinging for 833 punt and kickoff return yards with a touchdown. 
With Thomas transitioning into being more of a receiver first, he's modeling him game after Steelers wideout Antonio Brown. Both are shorter targets, making the comparison fitting for Thomas. Thomas is listed at 5-feet-8, 176 pounds and Brown is 5-feet-10, 186 pounds. 
Brown had a career season in 2014, totaling 1,698 yards and 13 touchdowns. 

“I’m very impressed with Antonio Brown,” Thomas said. “He’s a great player, and I feel like I have the same ability to make the same plays like him and help the team and be that [kind of impact] player.”



 


Report: Dolphins eyeing CBs Brandon Flowers, Kareem Jackson
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The Dolphins don't appear sold on cornerback Cortland Finnegan for future seasons with the organization discussing alternative options. 

In 2014, Flowers totaled 52 tackles and three interceptions after signing a one-year deal with the Chargers. Jackson recorded 57 tackles and three interceptions in his fifth season for the Texans. 


Report: Vincent Jackson to return to Buccaneers at full salary
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(2:23 pm ET) WR Vincent Jackson will return to the Buccaneers next season, at full salary, according to a report by Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times

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Jackson will be paid $9.777 million in 2015, with a cap hit of $12 million. 


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Tulloch is scheduled to make $4.8 million in 2015, and the Lions could save $3.2 million against the cap by releasing him. 

So far, this offsesason, the team has not communicated its plans to Tulloch. ""I haven't heard anything about what's going on, my agent hasn't heard anything," Tulloch told Sirius XM radio. "We're just preparing to report, April 20th, accordingly to the mail we've received for the offseason program. It's out of my control.

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Gray overslept and was late for practice, and coach Bill Belichick didn't give him another chance to showcase his skills. Gray was inactive for the Super Bowl. 

Gray learned his lesson. "The tough part for me was to watch it, and not participate in a matter I thought I should," he told Dan Hanzus of NFL.com. "But it's motivation going into the offseason. I just know I need to work harder, so I'll never get myself in that position again." 

Still on the Patriots, Gray believes he'll get a clean slate next season, and he's spending the offseason preparing himself for the opportunity. 

I tell them, I'm going to have a Jerry Rice/Walter Payton mentality where whatever you do isn't enough," Gray said. "I'm going to have a work ethic where I know, in my heart of hearts, I'm going to outwork everybody. That's what I hope to achieve


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