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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
Kenny Britt looking for fresh start in Week 1 vs. Vikings
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:34 am ET) Rams wide receiver Kenny Britt ended an up-and-down career in Tennesse by catching only 11 passes for 96 yards last season. Reunited with former Tennessee head coach Jeff Fisher, the embattled receiver will look to begin his tenure with his new team on the right foot in Week 1 against the Vikings.

Britt has flashed big-play ability in the preseason, catching a 36-yard pass from starter Sam Bradford in Week 3 before the quarterback succumbed to a season-ending injury. He then tacked on a 32-yard completion from backup Shaun Hill on the team's second drive. If Britt can find chemistry with his new starting quarterback quickly, he has the opportunity to emerge from a muddled Rams receiving corps and become the team's No. 1 option in the passing game.

Will it happen? The Vikings were one of the worst teams in the league at defending the pass last year, ranking 30th in pass-defense DVOA, according to Football Outsiders. The results, however, look much better in the early-going this season. In the team's third preseason game, the defense held Kansas City starter Alex Smith to 140 yards on 14-of-24 passing with no touchdowns and two interceptions.

If that same defense comes to play Sunday, Hill may have nothing but trouble trying to move the chains consistently. But if the upgraded offensive line can keep the Vikings at bay, the Hill-to-Britt connection has the potential to surprise. Consider Britt a quality free-agent add in advance of Sunday's game on the chance that he and Hill show something.


Zac Stacy could struggle vs. Vikings
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:20 am ET) Rams running back Zac Stacy lost his starting quarterback for the season during preseason competition. This is nothing new for the second-year back, as he had to play the second half of 2013 without Sam Bradford as well.

Though Stacy ripped off four 100-yard games after Bradford's injury, he mixed in several ugly lines as well, managing only 62 yards on 26 carries against the Colts, just 25 yards on 14 carries against the Cardinals and only 15 yards on 15 carries as the Seahawks exacted their revenge in Week 17.

Stacy's Week 1 matchup this season is a Vikings team that played well against the run last season. The Vikings finished seventh in the league in rate stuffing the running back at or behind the line of scrimmage. The defense surrendered just shy of 3.9 yards per carry, which is right at Stacy's per-carry rate from last season.

The Rams will likely try to remain committed to the running game with a second stringer at quarterback, but the Vikings have the personnel to sniff out a conservative gameplan and more or less shut down the running game. CBSSports.com Fantasy experts are split on Stacy's stock this week, with Jamey Eisenberg slotting him eighth at the position and Davie Richard ranking him 20th.


Wes Welker expected to be suspended for Week 1
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9/2/2014) Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker will be suspended for Week 1, according to the Denver Post.

Mike Klis initially reported that there was a chance Welker's suspension wouldn't kick in until after Week 1, but issued an update later. While the NFL has yet to officially announce the suspension, the Broncos have been informed of the move. The team is expected to send out a press release confirming the information Tuesday.


Report: Wes Welker may play Week 1
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9/2/2014) Update: Welker will be suspended for Week 1, according to the Denver Post. The team is expected to send out a press release shortly.

Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker may play Week 1 against the Colts, according to the Denver Post

Welker is expected to be suspended for four games after reportedly testing positive for amphetamines. The league, however, has not officially announced the suspension. Suspensions are typically announced by Tuesday, according to Pro Football Talk. Since the NFL has yet to announce the move, it's thought Welker could be available for Week 1, but would serve his suspension once the NFL announced the move. 

There are a lot of uncertainties regarding the situation at this time. The club expects Welker to be available, provided he passes concussion protocal, but it remains to be seen how the NFL will handle this suspension. 


Randall Cobb to be tested Week 1
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9/2/2014) Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb should be in for a tough test Week 1 against the Seahawks.

Cobb caught just three passes during the preseason, picking up 34 yards and a score. His lack of work shouldn’t be a huge concern, as the Packers offense doesn’t need any fine-tuning. The main thing here is that Cobb is 100 percent healthy after playing in just six games last season due to a leg injury.

His Week 1 production could be dampened by a strong Seahawks DST. Seattle was exceptional against the pass last season, holding opposing wide receivers to just 14.79 Fantasy points per game. That figure was the second-lowest rate in the league. On top of that, Cobb may have to deal with Richard Sherman, who is considered one of the best cornerbacks in the league. Sherman may spend the majority of the game stopping Jordy Nelson, but he could find his way over to Cobb on a few occasions.

Cobb’s versatility makes him a strong candidate to be moved around the Packers’ offense. If Green Bay can create some nice matchups, and Sherman is preoccupied with Nelson, Cobb could be in for a better game than people might expect. 

Despite that, expectations should be tempered. Seattle’s DST was strong last season, and while Green Bay boasts a strong offense, things should be muted Week 1. Cobb is a fine start, considering his upside, but he carries more risk this week due to the matchup.


Jordy Nelson in for a tough test Week 1
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9/2/2014) Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson should be in for a difficult test Week 1 against the Seahawks.

Nelson had a quiet preseason, catching just two passes for 19 yards. One of those catches wound up being a touchdown. Despite the lack of action during the preseason, Nelson’s upside with a healthy Aaron Rodgers is well-known among Fantasy owners. That said, he’s going to have to work for everything he gets against Seattle.

The Seahawks rated as the best defense in the league last year. They were strong in every facet of the game. Seattle held opposing wide receivers to just 14.79 Fantasy points per game, the second-lowest figure in the league. To make things even more difficult for Nelson, he’ll likely be covered by Richard Sherman. Sherman, by many counts, is arguably the best corner in the game. 

Still, it’s tough to pass up Nelson’s upside with a healthy Rodgers. The Packers boast an overabundance of weapons, and it’s possible moving Nelson around before the play could put him in a more favorable matchup. Even if Sherman covers him the entire game, Nelson is a good enough receiver to make some noise. While he doesn’t have a great matchup, Week 1 is not the time to take a player as good as Nelson out of your Fantasy lineup. 


Eddie Lacy to have his hands full Week 1
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9/2/2014) Packers running back Eddie Lacy will have his hands full Week 1 against the Seahawks.

Lacy is coming off a tremendous rookie season, in which he rushed for nearly 1,200 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. He didn’t get a ton of use during the preseason, but seemed to be in midseason form. Lacy rushed for 61 yards on 11 carries, good for a 5.5 average over two preseason games. He also managed to run in a touchdown.

Though he looked strong in the preseason, Lacy should have a tough time against the Seahawks Week 1. Seattle allowed just 12.32 Fantasy points per game to opposing running backs last season. That was the second-lowest rate in the league. While the Seahawks lost three defensive linemen during the offseason, the club is thought to still have the top-rated Fantasy defense.

In many circles, Lacy was considered a strong Fantasy pick after the elite four running backs were off the board. With that in mind, it’s unlikely he’ll be benched in many leagues Week 1. There are better matchups out there, but Lacy is a tough player to sit. Given Green Bay’s offensive capabilities, he’s still a decent start even against the best Fantasy defenses. 


Aaron Rodgers taking on a tough task Week 1
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9/2/2014) Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has his work cut out for him Week 1 against the Seahawks.

Rodgers entered the season as one of the top Fantasy options at quarterback, but will take on the best defense in the league. Last season, Seattle held Fantasy quarterbacks to just 10.89 points per game. That was the lowest rate in the league. The Seahawks DST ranked tops in the league in limiting points and yards last year. On top of that, the team forced the most turnovers.

While Seattle lost three members of the defensive line during the offseason, the club is still expected to have one of NFL’s best defenses. If Seattle struggles to get to Rodgers, that could open things up for the Packers offense.

Given the cost to acquire Rodgers, in a snake or auction draft, he’s probably going to start for most Fantasy teams despite his tough Week 1 matchup. While there are better quarterback options for this week, Rodgers still has a strong potential for dominance. He’s healthy and still has a bevy of weapons at his disposal. It might not be Rodgers best game of the season, but he’s shown that he can put up numbers against even the best defensive clubs.


Percy Harvin looking to start the year on the right foot
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9/2/2014) Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin is looking at a strong matchup Week 1 against the Packers.

A quiet preseason was a good preseason for Harvin. After missing nearly all of last season due to a hip injury, Harvin was able to play in all but the final game of the preseason. He missed the fourth game due to a personal issue, and not because of an injury. Harvin caught seven balls for 92 yards in August.

The Packers didn’t boast a strong pass defense last season. The team allowed opposing wide receivers to average 22.94 Fantasy points per game. That wasn’t one of the worst rates in the league, but it was below-average. The team attempted to address this during the offseason, taking Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round. Despite that, there’s no guarantee the team will perform better in the defensive backfield.

Despite the fact that Harvin is a five-year veteran, there are questions about how he’ll be used with the Seahawks. While Harvin was able to play during the club’s playoff run, it was unclear whether he was actually fully healthy last year. Harvin has shown the ability to be a game-changing wide receiver, so it’s assumed the Seahawks will find ways to get arguably their best playmaker the ball. The club has been been incredibly run-heavy over the past few seasons, but a healthy Harvin could make them more balanced. 


Marshawn Lynch ready to roll Week 1
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9/2/2014) Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is looking to get off to a good start Week 1 against the Packers.

Lynch had an abbreviated preseason, carrying the ball just three times for 16 yards. That’s probably not a bad thing considering his high workload over the past couple years. Lynch also had a brief holdout during the offseason, but reported to camp in shape, and should be ready to roll.

The Packers weren’t particularly strong against the run last season, giving up 19.18 Fantasy points per week to running backs. That was the eighth worst figure in the league. While the team tried to shore up things defensively during the offseason, the loss of B.J. Raji should make it easier for teams to gash the Packers up the middle. 

With that in mind, Lynch should be a strong start. The Seahawks modus operandi the past couple years has been the run game, and that probably won’t change now. There are concerns about Lynch’s workload and lack of preseason reps, but his pedigree and matchup make this a strong start Week 1. 


 
 
 
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