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2014 Draft Prep: All about location

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Editor's note: FanDuel.com is hosting a one-week long $100,000 Fantasy Football contest for just Week 1. It's only $10 to join and first prize is $10,000. Starts Sunday, September 7th at 1 p.m. ET. Enter now

Overviews: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | Draft Averages | Rankings | Draft Index

The time has come. No more mock drafts. No more reading up on sleepers, breakouts and busts. No more pouring over rankings and finalizing your strategy.

Your Draft Day is here.

As you head into Labor Day weekend, you are ready to go. Hopefully, we helped you prepare for this final exam, the real draft in your favorite league. Hopefully, you're ready to win.

But even though you know all you can and your brain is filled with last year's stats, this year's projections and the identical number for every player's Average Draft Position, we'll give you one last thing to digest. In fact, many of you helped create this column.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know I like to mock draft with users as often as possible once training camp starts in late July. Randomly during the week I'll post a location for a draft room, and the first 11 people to join take part in the draft.

What I do with these mocks (all of them are standard scoring with 12 teams) is draft in a variety of spots in the first round to try out strategies with different players. It doesn't always work out how I want -- what draft does -- but it's a fun exercise.

Dave Richard and I showed you the different ways to build your team from each draft spot in our 12-part series, and that was crafted around a two-man mock we did together. This is a snapshot of that, but these teams were made from actual drafts done with random people around the country just like you.

So, if you can handle one last piece of draft prep content, look this over and see if you like how I built these teams or maybe what you would change. I'm happy with how these teams turned out, and I hope you will feel the same about your roster -- especially once the season is over and you have a title in hand.

Early in Round 1

Pick No. 1

1. Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs
2. Zac Stacy, RB, Rams
3. Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears
4. Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers
5. Bishop Sankey, RB, Titans
6. Kendall Wright, WR, Titans
7. Dennis Pitta, TE, Ravens
8. Andre Williams, RB, Giants
9. Jay Cutler, QB, Bears
10. Shonn Greene, RB, Titans
11. Jarrett Boykin, WR, Packers
12. Knile Davis, RB, Chiefs
13. Panthers DST
14. Nick Novak, K, Colts

The first pick is easy because you're drafting a running back. The hard part is picking the right one, and there are really only two choices in Charles and LeSean McCoy. Matt Forte and Adrian Peterson are in the discussion for some Fantasy owners, but I would go with Charles or McCoy. I prefer Charles based on Andy Reid's history with running backs, and I'm not worried about his offensive line concerns because of Charles' ability as a receiver. But if you like McCoy, go with him.

Your goal with your next few picks should be to find difference makers, and I consider Stacy, Jeffery and Allen standout talents at their respective positions. Stacy is a great No. 2 running back toward the end of Round 2, and Jeffery is a Top 10 receiver in any format. Allen also has Top 12 potential as the No. 1 receiver in San Diego.

When I drafted Sankey in this mock draft, it was early in training camp, but I'm still confident he'll play at a high level this year. He could be this year's Stacy from 2013 as a rookie who gets off to a slow start but shines down the stretch. I made sure to handcuff him with Greene in Round 10, and I did the same thing with Davis and Charles in Round 12.

Pitta is one of my favorite tight ends to target with a mid-round pick, and I like waiting on a quarterback like Cutler with a late-round pick. Both of these players could be top performers at their respective positions, and the value of where you draft them is how you win leagues.

Pick No. 3

1. Matt Forte, RB, Bears
2. Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers
3. Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers
4. Michael Floyd, WR, Cardinals
5. Joique Bell, RB, Lions
6. Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons
7. Kendall Wright, WR, Titans
8. Jordan Reed, TE, Redskins
9. Bernard Pierce, RB, Ravens
10. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Panthers
11. Ladarius Green, TE, Chargers
12. Ronnie Hillman, RB, Broncos
13. Rams DST
14. Adam Vinatieri, K, Colts

I followed a similar strategy at No. 3 overall as I did with the first pick with a stud running back in Forte followed by a quality No. 2 running back in Martin and then a standout receiver in Brown in Round 3. Martin might be drafted sooner this weekend then at the time of this mock because of the injury to Charles Sims (ankle) and the addition of guard Logan Mankins. But if Martin slips, grab him.

Floyd is a breakout candidate and a perfect receiver to target in Round 4, but you might be able to get him in Round 5 depending on your league. And Bell makes for a terrific flex option or even a No. 2 running back as he should have a better season than Reggie Bush.

I went earlier at quarterback in this draft because Ryan is a Top 5 talent with a healthy Julio Jones and Roddy White. He's worth it in Round 5 or 6. And I waited a round on tight end because after missing on Pitta, Reed is one of the top third-tier options along with Kyle Rudolph and Zach Ertz.

Benjamin likely won't be available in Round 10 after a strong preseason, but I like these reserves/flex options in Wright, Benjamin and Pierce. All have starting potential, and you can pass on a backup quarterback if you're confident in your starter, which I am with Ryan. I also went for lottery ticket picks in Green and Hillman because if they earn starting jobs at any point they could be superstars.

Middle of Round 1

Pick No. 5

1. Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers
2. Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins
3. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots
4. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals
5. Joique Bell, RB, Lions
6. Golden Tate, WR, Lions
7. Kendall Wright, WR, Titans
8. Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys
9. Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals
10. Jarrett Boykin, WR, Packers
11. Mark Ingram, RB, Saints
12. Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles
13. Steelers DST
14. Mason Crosby, K, Packers

I started the preseason going back and forth with Lacy and Calvin Johnson at No. 5 overall in a standard league. Johnson is No. 5 in PPR, but Lacy should be the better Fantasy option in standard leagues if he plays 16 games. He's going to be special in Green Bay's offense. And don't consider Peyton Manning this early because you'd be drafting him for his 2013 performance, which is nearly impossible to replicate.

I don't love Morris in Round 2, but I wanted to build this team by waiting on receiver. It worked out in my favor that Gronkowski fell to Round 3, and I would definitely gamble on him in the first 30 picks. If he's healthy, he could challenge Jimmy Graham for the No. 1 tight end spot.

Receiver could be an issue without a true No. 1 option, but Fitzgerald scored 10 touchdowns last year and was No. 1 in red-zone targets. Tate could thrive with the Lions, and Wright is a third-year breakout candidate, as is Boykin as the No. 3 receiver for the Packers. I also like Matthews as a late-round flier. If you miss on receiver early, these are the types of guys you want to target with mid- to late-round picks.

You probably noticed a trend with my drafts that I wait on a quarterback because I like guys like Cutler and Romo. This could be a big year for Romo with the addition of play caller Scott Linehan and a bad defense, forcing plenty of passing to a loaded group of receivers.

Pick No. 7

1. Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints
2. Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals
3. Randall Cobb, WR, Packers
4. Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers
5. Joique Bell, RB, Lions
6. Percy Harvin, WR, Seahawks
7. Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints
8. Colin Kaepernick, QB, 49ers
9. Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals
10. Justin Hunter, WR, Titans
11. Mark Ingram, RB, Saints
12. Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks
13. Rams DST
14. Dan Bailey, K, Cowboys

We started this draft with Graham, who should come off the board in all formats after the Top 5 running backs and Johnson. If he dominates tight ends again like he did in 2012, which he could if Gronkowski misses time or isn't 100 percent, then he's the biggest difference maker at any position.

This draft worked out great as a lot of key players fell to me in perfect spots. Bernard might not make it back to No. 18, Cobb is typically gone by No. 31 and Harvin might not last until Round 6. But it happened in this draft, and you don't pass on talent like that in those rounds.

I also like how some reserves fell in my lap like Hill in Round 9, Hunter in Round 10 and Ingram in Round 11. I now have both Bengals running backs, which is ideal given how they should run the ball this season, and Hunter is a sleeper in his second year with the Titans. Ingram looked great this preseason, and I also have Thomas, giving me the two best running backs for the Saints. If Khiry Robinson doesn't ruin things, Thomas and Ingram could have big years.

Kaepernick hasn't looked good this preseason, but he still has Top 5 potential this year. That said, it doesn't hurt to back him up with another potential Top 10 quarterback like Wilson. I like having a quarterback duo like this if I'm inclined to draft two passers.

End of Round 1

Pick No. 9

1. DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys
2. A.J. Green, WR, Bengals
3. Julius Thomas, TE, Broncos
4. Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers
5. Ben Tate, RB, Browns
6. Trent Richardson, RB, Colts
7. Colin Kaepernick, QB, 49ers
8. Terrance West, RB, Browns
9. Sammy Watkins, WR, Bills
10. Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers
11. Shonn Greene, RB, Titans
12. Robert Griffin III, QB, Redskins
13. Rams DST
14. Robbie Gould, K, Bears

Everyone has the players they like or the strategy they like to implore. When I pick toward the end of Round 1, I want to come away with a running back like Murray or Montee Ball and then a receiver from the group of Dez Bryant, Jones, Green or Marshall, who will all be available with your first two picks. That's how it worked out here, and these are two of the best difference makers at their respective positions.

If you can find a third difference maker like Thomas in Round 3, don't hesitate to draft him. There are three elite tight ends this season, with Thomas behind Graham and Gronkowski, and he should benefit this year with Eric Decker gone and potentially Wes Welker (concussion) missing time.

As you can tell, I like Allen this year, and I didn't feel the need for another receiver besides him and Green until taking late-round fliers on rookies like Watkins and Evans. We'll see if that's a sound strategy, but I'll never bench Green or Allen and still have high-upside receivers with little risk based on where they were drafted.

I like this running back corps with the Browns duo of Tate and West, and I'll gamble on Richardson if he falls to Round 6 or later. He hasn't looked good this preseason, but he'll still get plenty of chances to shine as the starter for the Colts. Greene also is worth a late-round flier as he opens the season as the starter for the Titans. He might not hold the job all year, but right now the value is hard to pass up.

At quarterback, we again paired Kaepernick with another high-upside passer in Griffin. He hasn't looked good this preseason either, but there's still a chance he plays like a Top 10 quarterback now that he's healthy again.

Pick 11

1. Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys
2. Julio Jones, WR, Falcons
3. Toby Gerhart, RB, Jaguars
4. Shane Vereen, RB, Patriots
5. Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons
6. Dennis Pitta, TE, Ravens
7. Andre Williams, RB, Giants
8. Wes Welker, WR, Broncos
9. Sammy Watkins, WR, Bills
10. Shonn Greene, RB, Titans
11. Ronnie Hillman, RB, Broncos
12. Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Colts
13. Bengals DST
14. Adam Vinatieri, K, Colts

This is one of my favorite teams because I like the idea of drafting two receivers with my first two picks if I'm at No. 10, 11 or 12. You can't go wrong with two players like Bryant and Jones, and you can mix and match these guys with Demaryius Thomas, Green and Marshall also factored in.

When you go this route, the key is who you land at running back in Round 3 and 4. I'm excited about Gerhart and Vereen this season based on their roles in Jacksonville and New England, respectively, and they each have Top 20 potential. You should still plan to stockpile running backs throughout the draft, and I did that with Williams in Round 7, Greene in Round 10, Hillman in Round 11 and Bradshaw in Round 12.

This draft was done after the third preseason game, so Welker dropped because of his concussion. Depending on the news this weekend, I would look for Welker as early as Round 7. Even if he plays only a handful of games, he could be a star when he's on the field. You just have to worry about him playing a whole season after this latest blow to the head.

I went with Ryan and Pitta earlier than anticipated in this draft because when I was up, I didn't like the talent on the board at that swing in Round 5. So instead of reaching for a third running back or receiver, I locked up two of my favorites at quarterback and tight end. Sometimes you just have to take the players you like, and when you do so, do it with conviction.

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Player News
Report: Torn pectoral sidelines Vikings CB Josh Robinson
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7/4/2015) The Vikings secondary took a hit last month when cornerback Josh Robinson sustained a partially torn pectoral muscle, a league source has told ESPN.

The nickel back played in 690 snaps last season and was expected to battle several others for playing time. The injury could sideline him from training camp and land him on the PUP list.


Report: Packers' Andrew Quarless arrested on gun charges
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(7/4/2015) Packers tight end Andrew Quarless was arrested for firing a gun twice in Miami on Saturday, per the Miami New Times.

Quarless was involved in a fight at South Beach and fired the gun into the ground. 


Titans receivers can thrive in YAC with Marcus Mariota's accuracy
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(7/3/2015) The Titans wide receiving corps could gain more yards after the catch this season because of rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota and his accurate throws, per ESPN.com.

The Titans were 24th in the league in yards after the catch last season, but with Mariota under center that can all change.

“If you have an accurate quarterback, it allows us to get more yards after that catch,” wide receiver Harry Douglas said. “And that’s one thing that makes a receiver dynamic -- first being able to catch the ball and then being able to do some things with it after you catch it. I feel like [to this point] Marcus has done everything he needs to do to get the ball to his receivers.”


Saints RB Khiry Robinson doesn't feel he's on outside looking in
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(7/3/2015) Saints running back Khiry Robinson might be the least known of his backfield counterparts, but he doesn't feel like the off man out, per ESPN.com.

Robinson knows the team is heavily invested in the likes of Mark Ingram and C.J. Spiller, but he's still confident he can thrive in whatever role the Saints put him in.

“I’m the type of person, I’m gonna get what I get and do what I do with it. So whether it’s 20 carries or one carry, I’m gonna do the best of my ability every play,” Robinson said.

Robinson has shown flashes of success during his three years in the league. Injuries played a key role against him last season, which can ultimately put him as the third back on the depth chart. He will use the offseason to continue to improve and challenge his counterparts for playing time.

“I just gotta keep working,” Robinson. “It’s all love in the backfield. We all work together, try to help each other. So I think it’s a good thing we’ve got a full backfield again. So if anybody goes down, we’ve got another player right up there to do the same thing.”


Browns OL Michael Bowie itching to compete for starting spot
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7/3/2015) Browns offensive lineman Michael Bowie is not required to report to training camp until the end of July. But never mind that - he's heading out after the last Independence Day firework explodes in the sky.

Bowie is itching to get started. He missed all of last season due to a shoulder injury after starting for Seattle on its Super Bowl title team in 2013. He is seeking to stay in tip-top shape in an attempt to land a starting spot on a Cleveland line that is the strength of the team.

"It's up to them to decide who is the best five," Bowie told the team website. "All I can do is take care of my business. Hopefully I can get a shot. That's what I'm working for."

Bowie participated fully in the offseason program, working mostly with the second team at right tackle. That will likely be the spot at which he competes for a starting job. Incumbent Mitchell Schwartz has not performed particularly well there and Mike Pettine has vowed there will be competition all over the field in camp.


Redskins OLB Ryan Kerrigan nearly recovered from knee surgery
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7/3/2015) Redskins outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan appears to be on target to join the team for training camp after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery that prevented him from participating in earlier offseason activities.

Kerrigan, who registered a career-high 13 1/2 sacks a year ago, had the operation to alleviate pain in the area.

"My leg feels really good and I'm glad I got the surgery - not just for football but it makes my everyday life feel better so I'm glad I got it done," he told CSN Washington. "Now it's just a matter of getting stronger and getting into shape."

Kerrigan added that he's been running and now only needs to regain strength to insure his place at training camp.


Texans waive DT Brandon Ivory
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7/2/2015) The Texans waived rookie defensive tackle Brandon Ivory on Thursday, according to ESPN.com

Ivory was arrested on first degree burglary charges in Tuscaloosa, Ala. just one day ago. Ivory's agent Jeff Guerriero said Ivory is not guilty of the charge. 

"I spoke to Brandon he is not guilty and his name will be cleared of all charges," Guerriero said. 


Chargers TE Antonio Gates suspended 4 games for PED use
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7/2/2015) Chargers tight end Antonio Gates has been suspended four games for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drugs policy, the team announced. 

It's unknown at this time what drug Gates tested positive for. Gates, in a statement, said he was unaware that he took a banned substance

"In my 12 years in the NFL, I have taken tremendous pride in upholding the integrity of the NFL shield and all that it entails," Gates said. "I have taken extreme care of my body with a holistic approach and I have never knowingly ingested a substance that was banned by the NFL. In an effort to recover from this past season, I used supplements and holistic medicines, and unfortunately, I have now learned that those substances always present a risk because they may contain banned substances even if the ingredient list doesn’t reflect them.

"As an NFL veteran and team leader, I should have done my due diligence to ensure that what I was taking for recovery was within the NFL guidelines. I understand that I am responsible for what is in my body and I have always believed that ignorance is no excuse when it comes to these issues. I take full responsibility for my actions. I’d like to express my sincere apologies to the Chargers, my teammates, coaches, fans and the league who have always supported me and expected and gotten nothing but the highest level of integrity from me."

With Gates out for four games, the Chargers will turn to Ladarius Green as the team's top tight end, though it was expected for Green to continue getting more looks in the passing game. Green is entering the final season of his rookie contract. 

The Chargers expressed disappointment in Gates for his suspension but plans to stick with the longtime veteran through the suspension. 

"We are tremendously disappointed for our team and our fans as well as Antonio, but no more disappointed than Antonio is with himself," the Chargers stated. "Antonio is a member of the Chargers' family and we will continue to support him 100-percent. We have the utmost confidence he will stay in excellent shape for the season and be ready to go when he returns in Week 5. While it's unfortunate to not have him to start the season, we have complete confidence our tight end group will continue to play at a high level."  


Packers' Datone Jones out 1 game for substance-abuse violation
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7/2/2015) Packers defensive lineman Datone Jones will be suspended for one game for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy, according to NFL.com. 

Jones will miss Green Bay's season-opener against the Bears. In 2014, Jones totaled 22 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks in 13 games played. 


Cowboys LB Rolando McClain suspended four games for 2015
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7/2/2015) The Cowboys announced that linebacker Rolando McClain has been suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season due to violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy. 

McClain hasn't been able to participate much in offseason workouts due to going under offseason knee surgery. McClain will be eligible to practice in training camp and is expected to be healthy by then. 

"I apologize to my family, the Cowboys organization, my teammates and Cowboys fans for my mistake. I will not break the rules of my profession in the future, and I regret my error," McClain said in a statement, via CSN Bay Area. "I look forward to returning to the field on week 5, when I hope to help my team beat the Patriots.

In 2014, McClain, who had previously retired twice before being traded from the Ravens to the Cowboys, totaled 81 tackles and a sack in 13 games played.


 
 
 
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