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2014 Draft Prep: All about location

Senior Fantasy Writer
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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
Gerald McCoy returns to practice
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(10:20 am ET) Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who missed Thursday's loss in Atlanta with a broken hand, returned to practice Monday, reports the Tampa Tribune. He's on track to play Sunday at Pittsburgh.

Steelers reunite with James Harrison
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(10:17 am ET) The Steelers made it official, signing linebacker James Harrison less than three weeks after he announced his retirement, reports the National Football Post. Harrison, 36, made five Pro Bowls with the Steelers, then played one season with the Bengals.

Big-play Antone Smith not worth much interest
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(10:09 am ET) Fantasy owners hounding the waiver wire ahead of Week 4 for running back help will likely let their mouse linger over Falcons running back Antone Smith, who has scored double-digit Fantasy points in two of the first three games. Unfortunately, Smith probably won't provide much help moving forward.

Smith is currently 32nd among running backs in standard Fantasy scoring, but that ranking belies the limited nature of his role in Atlanta's offense. Smith has broken off touchdowns of 38 and 54 yards this season, with those two plays accounting for 20 of his 22 total Fantasy points this season.  Smith clearly has big-play ability, but there just isn't much of a reason to add someone who has touched the ball nine times in three games.

Smith was fourth among Falcons' running backs in snap percentage in Thursday's blowout win over the Buccaneers, as he saw the field just eight times on offense. Though Smith is currently one of the most-viewed players in CBSSports.com leagues for Tuesday, there is little reason to consider adding him. 


Giants make roster moves
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(10:01 am ET) The Giants signed offensive lineman Eric Herman to their practice squad and waived offensive lineman Mark Asper. Herman had been waived Friday following his early reinstatement from a four-game suspension, reports the New York Daily News.

Odell Beckham won't practice this week
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:56 am ET) Giants rookie receiver Odell Beckham won't practice this week as he continues to deal with a hamstring injury he first suffered in June, reports the New York Daily News.

Ike Taylor could return in 6-8 weeks
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:43 am ET) The Steelers haven't said how long starting cornerback Ike Taylor will be out due to his broken forearm, but the injury typically requires six to eight weeks to heal, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. The paper expects William Gay and Antwon Blake to fill in for Taylor.

Rex Ryan stands by Geno Smith
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:37 am ET) Jets coach Rex Ryan told reporters he doesn't believe quarterback Geno Smith has regressed, despite Smith throwing two bad interceptions Monday night. The first was returned 45 yards for a touchdown.

"Guys, this ain't the same quarterback as he was at the beginning of last year, I don't care what people say," Ryan said, per NFL.com. "Did he make a mistake? Absolutely. Their quarterback made a mistake but the difference was, they caught the [interception] and we didn't. ... I feel good about this football team and I feel good about Geno Smith."

Smith, who threw for 316 yards, missed several open receivers and guided his team to one touchdown in six red-zone trips.

"I've gotta make sure that when we get down in that red zone -- we were 1 for 6 today and that's completely awful," Smith said. "We don't ever expect to go 1 for 6 because we hold ourself to a high standard, and it starts with me."

Jaguars re-sign Sherrod Martin
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:24 am ET) The Jaguars re-signed safety Sherrod Martin after cutting him late last month.

Hammy limits Eric Decker to 12 snaps
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:21 am ET) Jets receiver Eric Decker felt his hamstring tighten up during Monday's loss to the Bears. That's why he played just 12 snaps, none in the second half.

"When it tightens up, you can get it warmed up, loosened up, but it was at the point where it wasn't loosening up," he told The Star-Ledger.

Decker said he decided to play because of how he felt in pregame warmups. "It was a soreness and everyone has soreness -- I've played through a lot of soreness in my career so far," he said. "I felt like I wanted to give it a chance; I didn't want to sit out. I didn't do anything stupid. I pulled myself at the right time."

Decker caught his only target for 19 yards. He'll be evaluated throughout the week as the Jets prepare to face the Lions on Sunday.


Ravens to use committee approach at tight end
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9:10 am ET) With tight end Dennis Pitta out for the season following hip surgery, the Ravens will use a committee to replace him, reports ESPN.com. The website expects tight end Owen Daniels, fullback Kyle Juszczyk and receiver Marlon Brown to assume larger roles in Pitta's absence.

Daniels is in his ninth season with offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, and "he's also gained the trust of Joe Flacco with his toughness over the middle," the report said. But Daniels doesn't gain much separation anymore and has missed 26 games over the past five seasons, the website added.


 
 
 
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