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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
Chargers' McCoy: Philip Rivers had 'outstanding' practice Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:44 pm ET) Chargers coach Mike McCoy indicated that quarterback Philip Rivers (back, chest) "had an "oustanding day" in Thursday's practice, NFL.com reports.

"A ball did not hit the ground in all the throws he made today," McCoy added. "Philip was Philip, so he'll be ready to roll."

Rivers was a full participant in Thursday's practice after sitting out Tuesday and Wednesday. He should be ready to roll for Saturday's matchup with the 49ers.


Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald progresses to full practice Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:34 pm ET) Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (knee) was a full participant in Thursday's practice after being limited Wednesday, the team announced.

Fitzgerald has racked up 11 receptions in two games since his two-game absence but has managed just 64 yards and no touchdowns during that stretch. He's on track to resume his regular role in his team's Week 16 matchup with the Seahawks.


Cardinals' Kerwynn Williams limited Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:31 pm ET) Cardinals running back Kerwynn Williams (knee) was limited in Thursday's practice, the team announced.

Williams has shared touches with Stepfan Taylor with Andre Ellington out for the season but has amassed 175 rushing yards on 34 carries over the last two weeks. If his knee issue keeps him out Sunday, Taylor and Marion Grice would likely handle most of the touches at the position.


Cardinals QB Drew Stanton (knee) limited in practice Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:27 pm ET) Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton (knee) was a limited participant in practice Thursday, the team announced.

Stanton hurt the knee Sunday against the Rams and appeared destined to miss Week 16's matchup with the Seahawks, but coach Bruce Arians indicated Wednesday that Stanton could play this Sunday in a best-case scenario. Arians did say Wednesday that Ryan Lindley would start against the Seahawks, and he's still the favorite to line up under center, but Stanton's absence isn't a foregone conclusion at this point.


Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch doesn't practice Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:18 pm ET) Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch (back) did not practice Thursday, the team announced.

Last week, Lynch was able to take part in practice in a limited fashion Thursday after taking his customary day off Wednesday. This week, he's looking at two DNPs heading into Friday. Lynch was listed as probable in Week 15 but could be facing a questionable tag (or worse) in Week 16. If Lynch isn't able to play Sunday, the Seahawks would likely expand the roles of Robert Turbin and Christine Michael.

Joining Lynch on the sidelines for Thursday's practice were tackle Russel Okung (chest), guard J.R. Sweezy (ankle), center Max Unger (knee/ankle), tight end Tony Moeaki (shoulder), wide receiver Paul Richardson (hamstring) and defensive end Demarcus Dobbs (ankle).


Kendall Wright, Delanie Walker good to go for Titans
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:11 pm ET) The Titans will have both Kendall Wright and Delanie Walker Week 16 against the Jaguars.

Both players came into the game listed as questionable. Wright is dealing with a hand injury. Walker has a knee issue. Both players will attempt to play through their injuries.

The team will also have Byron Stingily and Kamerion Wimbley. Both Stingily and Wimbley were listed as questionable. Daimion Stafford, who came into the contest listed as probable, will also be available. 


Titans list inactives for Week 16
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:07 pm ET) The Titans have listed QB Zach Mettenberger, DB Jemea Thomas, LB Zaviar Gooden, LB Dontay Moch, OT Terren Jones, OT Taylor Lewan and DL Mike Martin as inactive Week 16 against the Jaguars.

Both Mettenberger and Lewan were listed as doubtful heading into the contest. Neither was expected to take the field. Gooden was listed as questionable due to a hamstring injury. The other four players listed are healthy scratches. 


Jaguars' Blake Bortles, Marqise Lee active vs. Titans Week 16
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:02 pm ET) Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (foot) and wide receiver Marqise Lee (elbow) are active for Thursday night's Week 16 matchup with the Titans.

Bortles was listed as questionable to play on the team's final injury report but was reported to be starting earlier Thursday. Lee was listed as probable to play after catching four of his 10 targets for 14 yards in Week 15.

Players who were on the team's final Week 16 injury report who are also active include defensive end Ryan Davis (hip) and safety Josh Evans (foot), both of whom were questionable to suit up Thursday.


Jaguars list Week 16 inactives vs. Titans
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:01 pm ET) The Jaguars listed the following players as inactive for Thursday night's week 16 battle with the Titans: wide receiver Tommy Streeter (abdomen), defensive tackle Roy Miller (knee), defensive end Andre Branch (groin), cornerbacks Teddy Williams and Jeremy Harris, safety Matt Daniels and guard Tyler Shatley.

Streeter and Miller were listed as questionable to play Thursday on the team's final injury report, while Branch was previously ruled out. The Jaguars have three quarterbacks active for the game, including first-stringer Blake Bortles (foot), who was listed as questionable to play.


You'll want to stick with Tre Mason
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(6:31 pm ET) In two games since blowing up for 164 total yards and three touchdowns, Rams running back Tre Mason has a total of 99 yards on 33 carries. Neither performance was good individually, and Week 15 against Arizona was especially bad. Subtract the fumble from his 33 yards, and he scored a grand total of one Fantasy point in standard CBSSports.com leagues.

So why would you consider using him in your championship game with the Rams hosting the Giants in Week 16? For one thing, the matchup is a night-and-day difference. You had to expect Mason to struggle against the Cardinals, who rank sixth against the run, allowing 90.4 yards per game, but would have guessed the Redskins, his Week 14 opponent, rank seventh? It's not a matter of teams choosing to beat them through the air either. They're one of 10 teams that have allowed less than 4 yards per carry.

The Giants, meanwhile, rank 30th against the run, allowing 135.1 yards per game and 4.9 yards per carry. It doesn't mean Mason is a lock for big numbers. The Redskins' Alfred Morris, who most would consider a superior running back, had just 49 yards on 14 carries against the Giants last week. But after splitting carries early on, Mason has become the clear workhorse of the Rams backfield. You don't sit a running back with that role when he has a favorable matchup, especially when he's performed as Mason has this season.

Jamey Eisenberg agrees, naming Mason the CBSSports.com Start of the Week for Week 16.


 
 
 
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