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Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Final draft trends

Senior Fantasy Writer
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There are still many Fantasy leagues that will draft this week, some even after Thursday's season opener between the Ravens and Broncos. But the majority of drafts were done through Labor Day weekend, allowing us the chance to wrap up what the Average Draft Position will look like for this year.

It's been an interesting preseason in watching players rise (some of the biggest include Michael Vick, Daryl Richardson, Chris Givens and Jordan Cameron) and fall (Alex Smith, Lamar Miller, Jordy Nelson and Brandon Myers). Injuries played a part, as did improved or inconsistent play, and Fantasy owners were smart to react.

We'll take a final look at whose stock is up going into Week 1, and conversely whose stock has fallen. It's possible the guys who fell on Draft Day could end up being the best bargains of the year.

The first round looks like this ...

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

The quarterbacks being drafted in the first round is a reflection of two-quarterback leagues. It's the only explanation for Brees being selected as high as No. 1 overall in the Hi/LO column in ADP and Rodgers going as high as No. 2.

If you take out Brees and Rodgers then Alfred Morris and Matt Forte would enter the Top 12, and that's a better reflection of most standard and point per reception drafts. I'm in 17 leagues this season and have done at least 50 mock drafts. Outside of two-quarterback leagues, no quarterbacks were drafted in Round 1 in any of those.

Richardson and McCoy have the chance to be the best first-round bargains. Dave Richard, Nathan Zegura and I all consider Richardson a Top 5 overall pick, and Nathan and I have McCoy just after him at No. 6. I would take both ahead of Foster and Rice.

It's also interesting to note Foster only fell one spot to No. 3 despite not playing at all in the preseason. Many Fantasy owners still consider him the No. 2 running back on the board despite his chances to struggle this year.

Quarterback breakdown

Newton vs. Ryan: One of the toughest decisions Fantasy owners had to make this season at quarterback was Cam Newton vs. Matt Ryan. We all prefer Newton in our rankings based on his higher ceiling, but owners prefer Ryan. He was drafted one spot ahead of Newton on average in Round 3.

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It likely comes down to personal choice with these elite quarterbacks. Ryan is considered safer because he's more consistent week to week, but Newton's rushing ability allows him to do more when both are playing at their optimal level.

Round 5 decisions: Another tough call for owners was which quarterback to draft in Round 5 between Andrew Luck, Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III and Tony Romo. All went between No. 51 overall and No. 59 in that order.

I have them ranked Griffin, Romo, Luck and Kaepernick, but all have the chance to be special this season. Griffin has the highest ceiling when healthy, and he should be ready for Week 1 with his knee. Romo is the model of consistency with the best receiving corps of this group. Luck is clearly on the rise following a stellar preseason. And Kaepernick has a world of potential, but I'd like him better if Michael Crabtree (Achilles) were healthy.

Running back breakdown

Hello Helu and Bell: Two running backs who improved their stock dramatically following preseason action include Joique Bell and Roy Helu. Both improved by at least 26 spots in ADP and look like high-end backup running backs this season. Bell is No. 2 in Detroit behind Reggie Bush, and Helu is No. 2 for the Redskins after Morris.

Other running backs who saw a rise in value from the start of preseason include Eddie Lacy, Daryl Richardson, DeAngelo Williams, Ben Tate, Bilal Powell and Daniel Thomas. Lacy has the chance to start for Fantasy owners this year with DuJuan Harris (knee) out and Johnathan Franklin struggling. Richardson and Williams are potential flex options, while Tate is a Foster injury away from being the biggest steal on Draft Day in Round 9. Powell has sleeper appeal with Chris Ivory's injury history, and Thomas, despite his flaws, pushed Miller for the starting job in Miami.

Ivory loses luster: Some of the more popular running backs coming into training camp as sleepers or breakouts really tanked in the preseason, causing their stock to fall. Some examples include Miller, Montee Ball, Ivory, Zac Stacy, Isaiah Pead, Franklin and Joseph Randle. All have a red arrow trending down next to their name.

Of these running backs, Miller, Ball and Ivory dropping could be a good thing. Miller is clearly the best running back for the Dolphins, and he should have been drafted with confidence in Round 4. Ball will be the best running back for the Broncos this season, and he could end up as a steal in Round 5. And Ivory, while he does have the potential to miss time with injuries, should still have several weeks of quality production for the Jets. I wouldn't have hesitated to draft him in Round 7 in standard leagues.

Wide receiver breakdown

No change at the top: Three prominent receivers are dealing with injuries coming into the season in Brandon Marshall (hip), Roddy White (ankle) and Victor Cruz (foot). It hasn't impacted their draft status at all.

Marshall is still the No. 4 receiver, White is No. 9 and Cruz is No. 11. When Marshall left the team to get his hip checked, I dropped him from No. 5 to No. 7 in my rankings, but it was precautionary. I expect him to be fine, but I moved him behind Larry Fitzgerald and Demaryius Thomas just to be safe. White and Cruz should play in Week 1.

Risers and fallers: The receivers who improved their draft stock the most include DeSean Jackson, Golden Tate, Givens, Michael Floyd, Kenbrell Thompkins and Mohammed Sanu. Jackson should benefit with Jeremy Maclin (knee) out, and the other five have plenty of sleeper appeal.

As for the receivers who have dropped, the prominent names include Nelson, DeAndre Hopkins, Denarius Moore, Aaron Dobson, Kendall Wright, Malcom Floyd and Santonio Holmes. Nelson (knee) and Hopkins (concussion) dealt with injuries, and if you jumped on them in the right spot (Nelson's ADP is Round 6 and Hopkins is Round 11) you should benefit.

Tight end breakdown

Gronkowski factor: We know now that Rob Gronkowski will open the season with the Patriots even though his return date is uncertain because of his back. He was drafted as the No. 2 tight end, and he could be the biggest difference maker this year.

His ADP is Round 4 at No. 44, and if you gambled on him there or later you should be excited. When he's on the field he produces with 38 touchdown receptions in 43 career games. He could return as early as Week 3, and if he plays 13 games then you got the potential No. 1 tight end at a bargain price.

Finley flying up: Some of my favorite tight ends this season include Jermichael Finley, Jared Cook, Cameron, Tyler Eifert and Zach Sudfeld. All were tremendous bargains on Draft Day.

Finley was drafted in Round 6 at No. 81 overall, Cook in Round 8 at No. 92, Cameron in Round 10 at No. 116, Eifert in Round 13 at No. 148 and Sudfeld in Round 14 at No. 166. I prefer to wait on a tight end, and these guys all have the chance to outperform their draft value.

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
Lions promote George Winn
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:30 pm ET) The Lions promoted running back George Winn from the practice squad to the active roster, reports the National Football Post.

Colts give Robert Mathis a one-year extension
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:27 pm ET) The Colts extended the contract of outside linebacker Robert Mathis through 2016. He's on injured reserve with a torn Achilles tendon.

Jerick McKinnon shows more upside than Matt Asiata Sunday
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(12:26 pm ET) If you just look at the raw snap counts for Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon in Week 4 against the Falcons, you might come away thinking Asiata was the workhorse and McKinnon is a change of pace back. After all, Asiata was on the field for 58 percent of the team's offensive plays, while McKinnon played the understudy role, with 42 percent of the role.

However, the numbers are a bit skewed by the first two drives, when Asiata played 13 consecutive snaps to open the game. It seemed like Asiata was in line for a huge workload Sunday, but McKinnon appears to have forced a change in the game plan. McKinnon opened the third drive with a 55-yard run, and the workload changed from that point on.

The Vikings played 63 offensive snaps from the start of the third drive, and McKinnon played 32 of them, with Asiata taking on 31. McKinnon touched the ball on 59.4 percent of his snaps as well, while Asiata touched the ball on just 48.4 percent of his snaps from that point on -- after getting eight touches on his first 13 plays.

Asiata seems likely to continue working as the primary ball carrier for the Vikings, but he just has not been particularly impressive, even accounting for his three-touchdown showing Sunday. McKinnon is less of a sure thing in this backfield given his workload, but he seems to have a much higher upside; even if you remove his 55-yard scamper, he averaged 4.7 yards per carry to Asiata's 3.9.

If you have to own one player in Minnesota, it should be Asiata. He is the starter, and it seems like the team is going to keep going back to him. However, McKinnon is the lottery ticket here. The Georgia Southern product has the higher upside in this backfield, and he might keep forcing the Vikings to change their plans moving forward. 


Saints DST looking to get back on track
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:15 pm ET) The Saints continued to struggle defensively Week 4 at Dallas, allowing 38 points on 445 yards. They recorded one sack but didn't force any turnovers and haven't had one since a fumble recovery Week 1 at Atlanta.

The Saints DST was at least respectable against the Vikings in Week 3, giving it some hope of rebounding against Tampa Bay in Week 5. The Buccaneers have had similar ups and downs to the Vikings this year, ranking 30th in total offense.

Jamey Eisenberg actually goes as far as to call the Saints DST an advisable start in Week 5, ranking it 11th at the position. I'm not as willing to stick my neck out for it given the way it performed in three of its first four games, but in leagues with 16 teams or more, I could see taking a shot on the struggling DST.


Jeremy Maclin not practicing
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:12 pm ET) Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin is not practicing Tuesday, reports CSNPhilly.com. No reason has been announced.

Philly is preparing to host the Rams on Sunday.


Cowboys DST actually looking respectable
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:04 pm ET) According to standard CBSSports.com scoring, the Cowboys DST turned in its third straight double-digit effort in Week 4 -- and against the Saints, of all teams.

Once again, turnovers were the Cowboys' specialty. They intercepted a pass and recovered two fumbles, with Jack Crawford and Henry Melton each contributing a sack. They also limited the Saints' normally explosive offense to just 17 points on 438 yards.

The Cowboys' five takeaways are tied for fourth in the league and a big reason why the Cowboys DST ranks 15th in standard CBSSports.com leagues. If not for a poor showing Week 1 against the 49ers, it'd rank even higher than that.

The Cowboys have what looks to be a more favorable matchup Week 5 against Houston, making their DST worth considering in 12-team leagues.


Bruce Carter 'week-to-week' with strained quad
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:01 pm ET) Cowboys linebacker Bruce Carter is "week-to-week" with the strained quad he suffered in Sunday's win over the Saints, reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Carter is expected to miss Week 5 against the Texans.

John Conner, aka 'The Terminator,' re-signs with Jets
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(11:51 am ET) The Jets signed fullback John Conner to a one-year deal, reports Yahoo Sports. He played for the team in 2010-11 before stints with the Bengals and Giants.

Jets coach Rex Ryan nicknamed the 5-11, 245-pounder "The Terminator" on HBO's "Hard Knocks" in 2010.


Dwayne Bowe's performance doesn't move needle
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(11:45 am ET) Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe turned in his best game of the season Week 4 against New England, catching five passes for 81 yards.

But a big reason for it was he happened to catch a long one -- a 33-yarder in the second quarter. He still got only six targets, or what he averaged through his first two games. Unless you think he's no longer the possession receiver he's proven to be the last few years or that the Chiefs will for some reason shy away from the rushing attack that piled up 207 yards against the Patriots, these performances for Bowe figure to be few and far between.

To put it another way, he's not enough of a big-play threat to make good on so few targets.

Some people may see this relatively decent performance, remember that Bowe used to be a pretty good Fantasy option and make a play for him on the waiver wire. Some people are not me.


Lions down to two healthy running backs
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(11:42 am ET) The Lions might need to promote running back George Winn from the practice squad or sign a free agent because they currently have two healthy running backs, Reggie Bush and fullback Jed Collins, reports the Detroit Free Press. Joique Bell is recovering from a concussion, while Theo Riddick and Montell Owens are dealing with pulled hamstrings.

All three were knocked out of Sunday's win over the Jets. Lions coach Jim Caldwell has not provided any updates on the injured trio. Detroit hosts Buffalo in Week 5.

 
 
 
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