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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
Vikings' Adrian Peterson to begin probation on Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:25 pm ET) Vikings running back Adrian Peterson will begin his probation on Wednesday, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Peterson will begin community service, and will undergo counseling to determine whether he has a drug problem. Peterson will report to a probation officer once a month in order to take a drug test. The strict drug testing stems from an Oct. 8 pre-trail urinalysis. Peterson admitted to "smoking a little weed," though the results from the test were never disclosed. 

Probation officials will also determine whether Peterson needs to attend parenting classes. 

Per his plea agreement, Peterson was fined $4,000 and ordered to perform 80 hours of community service. He's required to perform at least 16 hours per month, which would allow him to complete to program prior to training camp.

Peterson is under contract with the Vikings for next season, and is set to earn $12.75 million. The team is not allowed to communicate with Peterson during his suspension. 


Austin Collie signs with CFL's BC Lions
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:35 pm ET) Free-agent receiver Austin Collie has signed with the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League, the team announced Thursday.

"I’m excited to be joining the Lions and very much look forward to playing in the CFL," said Collie. "The wide-open play of the Canadian game and the passion of fans across the league is going to be a lot of fun to experience."

Collie played four seasons with the Colts and one with the Patriots. In his last NFL action, he caught four passes for 57 yards in the 2014 AFC Championship Game.


Eagles RB LeSean McCoy: 'I don't want to take less money'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(4:39 pm ET) Eagles running back LeSean McCoy reiterated Thursday that while he'd be willing to restructure his contract if asked, he would not accept a pay cut, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

"I know how hard it is to keep a team together and I want to be part of this team. But I don't want to take less money," McCoy said. "I want to figure a way to make it happen [where] we're all together."

McCoy, who is due to count $11.95 million against the cap in 2015, turned in his fourth 1,000-yard season in the last five years in 2014, finishing with 1,319 rushing yards on 312 carries and 155 receiving yards on a career-low 28 receptions. All five of his touchdowns came on the ground.


Bills' Rex Ryan won't commit to EJ Manuel as starting QB
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(4:01 pm ET) When asked about who his starting quarterback would be in 2015, Bills coach Rex Ryan said the team would look at every available option, reports The Buffalo News.

"We're going to exhaust every resource we can," Ryan said. "We'll look at free agents. We'll look at the draft. We'll look at anything."

The Bills have former first-round pick EJ Manuel on their roster, but Ryan said he would not commit to Manuel as his starting quarterback at this time.

"To say that he's definitely going to be the guy, it's way too early to say that," Ryan said.


Bills RB Fred Jackson excited to play for new coach Rex Ryan
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:23 pm ET) Bills veteran running back Fred Jackson said he hasn't had the opportunity to meet with new coach Rex Ryan, but that didn't stop him from expressing his excitement about the new coaching regime in Buffalo.

"I can't wait to play for him. I've heard nothing but good things," Jackson said Wednesday of Ryan during an interview on ESPN New York 98.7 FM. "I'm looking forward to that [first] conversation when I sit down and talk to him."

The Bills finished 9-7 in 2014, which was their best record since 2004. While Jackson believes Ryan is going to "be that catalyst that comes in and pushes us over that hump," he didn't have many bad things to say about coach Doug Marrone, who opted out of his contract New Year's Eve.

"I thought he was a tremendous coach," Jackson said. "He showed up, he worked hard, he pushed players to give their best effort. He got us to a 9-7 record -- we hadn't won nine games in 10 years. There's definitely some things about him that made him a great coach. It's just the way he exited. I don't think anybody expected that. 

"Players, the way we found out is we got a generic text from him, saying that he was moving on and he had chosen to opt out of his contract." 


Justin Tuck: Raider Nation would appluad signing Ndamukong Suh
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:42 pm ET) If defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh doesn't sign a long-term deal with the Lions, then he will become a free agent March 10 and there will be plenty of teams interested in the Pro Bowl lineman. 

Raiders defensive end Justin Tuck indicated if Suh wanted to sign with Oakland, then he would be welcomed in Raider Nation.

"(He's) Raider-ish," Tuck said, per the Detroit Free Press. "And that's one of the reasons why I know Raider Nation would applaud that move, beyond the fact that he's an awesome football player. He kind of fits the mold of ... the toughness and the ferocious player that built the Oakland Raiders."

It is speculated Suh will receive a contract worth at least $100 million. Tuck believes the three-time All-Pro deserves such a lucrative deal.

"The thing about him, you know what you're getting every day. Some of the tactics, you could probably do without, but he's a hell of a football player," Tuck said. "I would love to have the opportunity to line up beside of him and let him take all the double teams that I normally take."


Nick Foles: 'I plan on being in Philly' in 2015
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:48 pm ET) There has been a lot of talk about quarterback Nick Foles' future with the Eagles, especially since Philadelphia coach Chip Kelly's former pupil at Oregon -- Marcus Mariota -- will be part of this year's draft class.

On Thursday, Foles addressed the rumors and stated he is expecting to be back on the Eagles' roster in 2015.

"Yeah you hear about it," Foles said in between doing paid appearances at Super Bowl XLIX, per NJ.com. "You are going to hear about it every single year. That's just part of it. The main word is 'rumor.' You can't put too much into it....I plan on being in Philly.

"I only listen to (head coach) Chip Kelly. That's what is most important. He is the one that will make the decision. Right now all I am going to do is work because I plan on being back in Philadelphia and playing with my team. That's all I ever thought. So that is what I plan on doing and I'm not looking at it any other way."

Foles added he hasn't talked with Kelly since the end of the season.

"We haven't talked a lot. He has a lot going on," Foles said. "This time of year you really just get away from everything. He is busy looking at the draft, doing all that. I saw he is more of the decision maker. Haven't really talked to him too much, but I'm sure I'll hear from him soon."


Dwyer pleads guilty in domestic violence case, gets probation
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:38 pm ET) Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer pleaded guilty Thursday in Maricopa County (Ariz.) Superior Court to a single count of disorderly conduct pertaining to his domestic violence case, according to The Arizona Republic.

Dwyer was sentenced to 18 months of probation and community service following the plea, according to a court spokesman.

The 25-year-old Dwyer was arrested Sept. 17 for a July 21 incident in which he allegedly head-butted his wife in the face and broke her nose after she refused his sexual advances and bit his lip, according to reports taken at the time.

Dwyer's wife told police she reported the incident in September because she feared for their child's safety after seeing reports of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson's arrest on child-abuse charges.

The Cardinals placed Dwyer on the reserve/non-football injury list after his September arrest. He did not play again during the 2014 season.


Tom Brady on Peyton Manning: 'I certainly hope he comes back'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:21 pm ET) While the football world anxiously awaits official word from Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning about his playing status for the 2015 season, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady -- and longtime Manning rival -- said Thursday he hopes the five-time NFL MVP will continue his career.

"What a great player he's been for this league," Brady said Thursday, per NFL.com. "He's a great competitor, and I've been fortunate to play against him a bunch of times. I certainly hope he comes back, 'cause the league will miss him if he doesn't. But those decisions are up to him. I'm sure it's up to whether he's mentally and physically -- that's what he wants to do. But I certainly hope he's back."

Archie Manning, Peyton's father, told NFL Network on Thursday that his son hasn't made a decision yet.

"Well, Peyton evaluates things; he's pretty good at that," he said. "I can't tell him what to do, and he hasn't told me what he's going to do. But I do know that he's really giving a lot of things a lot of thought. He's thinking about where he is physically, he wants to see how he can do this some more, trying to get over an injury."

Archie added starting over with new Broncos coach Gary Kubiak will not be an issue for Peyton, if he decides to return next season.

"Yeah, but he loves Gary. He likes Gary," Archie Manning said. "He liked John Fox. He liked Adam Gase. All those things, I think, are considered with. But my deal is he's always made good decisions; he's pretty thorough. He's going to evaluate a lot of things, and I think he'll make a good decision."


RG3: 'I could've sat out the rest of last year' after hurting ankle
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:04 pm ET) During a radio interview Wednesday night, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III indicated the dislocated ankle he suffered in Week 2 against the Jaguars hindered him the rest of the season. He missed six games due to the injury.

“I had never suffered an ankle injury of that severity before, so I didn’t really know what to expect,” Griffin said, per The Washington Times. “It just became more and more tough the more games that we lost, because you know how hard your guys work, and you want to get out there and help them win games.

“I could’ve sat out the rest of last year, with how bad the ankle was, but I felt like I could play, and I wanted to get out there and play with my guys and help them win games. And that didn’t happen when I got back out there. Then coach made a decision [to bench me]. That was an unfortunate decision, and something we all had to go with because that was coach’s choice.”

Griffin will be entering the final guaranteed year of his contract in 2015. The Redskins have until May 3 to decide if they want to exercise the fifth-year option on his contract for 2016. 

Griffin added his focus this offseason will simply be on getting healthy.

“Last year, I wasn’t healthy, and it sucked,” Griffin told ESPN 980. “There’s no other way to say it other than that. When you dislocate your ankle in the second week of the season, when you and your team had big things in mind. So I guess it’s just getting healthy, getting a mental break, getting a chance to spend time with family, and then formulate my plan going forward from this year so we can go out there and win games.”


 
 
 
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