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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
Report: Cardinals' Daryl Washington unsure of NFL standing
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5/22/2015) Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington is approaching the one-year mark for his suspension though his NFL status is still in limbo. 

But according to a report from FOX Sports 910 in Phoenix, Washington is unsure about his status with the league. He was suspended a year ago on May 30, 2014 for being a multiple offender of the NFL's substance-abuse policy. 

However, he was expected to apply for reinstatement a month ago but did not do so. 

Assuming Washington is reinstated to the NFL at some point he will likely be subjected to punishment under the NFL's domestic violence policy. On March 24, 2014, he pleaded guilty to assaulting his ex-girlfriend. 


Titans' Massaquoi rehabbing shoulder, to miss OTA's
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(5/22/2015) Outside linebacker Jonathan Massaquoi will not participate in the Titans' first organized team activities, per ESPN.com.

Massaquoi, who was claimed off waivers from the Falcons earlier this year, is recovering from shoulder surgery. He had a bone spur removed from the area, but the procedure was categorized as a minor cleanup.

Massaquoi recorded 22 tackles in 15 games with Atlanta last season.


Entering third season, 49ers' Lawrence Okoye eyeing roster spot
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(5/22/2015) This might finally be the year Lawrence Okoye can crack a spot on the 49ers' roster, per the Bay Area News Group.

Okoye, a former British Olympics discus thrower and rugby player, is feeling confident about his improvements and feels like his potential is worth a roster spot.

“It’s very different from the first time I came here. I’m feeling very good about things,” Okoye said Thursday while sitting at his locker. “I’m just happy I was given the opportunity to stay here so long, so I could catch up. I have a good opportunity to show what I can do.”

Okoye has worked under new head coach Jim Tomsula for two years and with Justin Smith's retirement, his emergence might be rewarded.

“You’re going to get lots of people telling you things. But the main thing is to just keep yourself motivated, despite what people say about you," Okoye said. "People will write you off. People will say this or that. Just keep yourself motivated, keep going every day and you’ll be good.”

 


Bengals' Terrelle Pryor still dreams about winning it all
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(5/22/2015) Terrelle Pryor's chances of taking the Bengals to the Super Bowl and winning it are slim, but that won’t stop him from dreaming.

Pryor -- in his fourth year in the league -- dreams about winning the Super Bowl with quite some frequency, he just isn't sure what team he's doing it with.

“I don’t know the team. It’s always in black uniforms,” Pryor said. “I didn’t see any orange. No, it’s not the Raiders. But I believe it can happen because I can visualize it like that. I’m into visualization.”

Pryor hasn't played a down since the 2013 regular season, when he passed for 1,798 yards, seven touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 11 games.


Flowers' college position coach thinks he can fill in for injured Beatty
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(5/22/2015) Things are moving really fast for Giants offensive lineman Ereck Flowers. The eighth overall pick in the draft, because of an injury to Will Beatty, might have inherited a huge workload this season, per nj.com.

Art Kehoe, Flowers' offensive line coach at the University of Miami, thinks Flowers will be up to the task of protecting quarterback Eli Manning.

"I'm sure he raised his level up a notch or two, but I think he plays every week, I think he plays hard in practice," Kehoe said. "He's an unproven commodity at the next level, and he's a high draft pick, [the Giants] drafted him to be a fixer, so I'm sure he's going in there to do what he did in Miami — scrap his ass off every day in practice, and if you're supposed to be a badass the next weekend [against] your opponent, he's gonna be there and he's gonna bring everything he's got. That's what he does. He wants to know that there's a dude, and he has to take care of him, and he'll be up to the challenge.

Giants' 2013 first-round pick, Justin Pugh is also a top candidate to fill in for the injured Beatty.


Union: Goodell must back off hearing of Patriots QB Tom Brady
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/22/2015) NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith is growing impatient awaiting word from Roger Goodell on the request of the NFL commissioner to recuse himself as arbitrator of the appeal hearings ofPatriots quarterback Tom Brady.

The league suspended Brady for the first four games next season for his alleged role in the Deflategate scandal, claiming that he likely knew that game balls were being deflated for his benefit before the 2014 AFC title game.

Smith is claiming that neither Goodell nor the Wells Report, which investigated the incident, could legitimately claim impartiality. He added that the NFLPA will "advance the volume" of the request if they don't hear from Goodell by next week. Part of the union's press release reads as follows:

Given a process that has contained procedural violations of our collective bargaining agreement, the Commissioner's role as a central witness in the appeal hearing and his evident partiality with respect to the Wells report, the Commissioner must designate a neutral party to serve as arbitrator in this matter. The players also believe that the Commissioner's history of inconsistently issuing discipline against our players makes him ill-suited to hear this appeal in a fair-minded manner.

As for the Wells Report, Smith stated that "you can't really have credibility just because you slap the word independent on a piece of paper." He offered into evidence the findings in regard to NFL official Walt Anderson, who was a key figure in the investigation, citing one part of the report questions his memory and another credits it.


Zimmer happy with progress of Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/22/2015) Mike Zimmer has expressed optimism that underachieving Vikings wideout Cordarrelle Patterson is gaining a better understanding of route-running and the nuances of playing the position in the NFL, which would allow his talent to result in greater productivity.

Patterson took a step back in 2014 after a mediocre rookie year. He played in every game, but managed just 33 receptions for 384 yards and one touchdown. He has since stated that 2015 is his make-or-break year and is apparently acting like it in the offseason.

"He's done real well," Zimmer told Fox Sports North. "He's running routes good. He's working hard. So we just need him to continue to do those things and continue to keep getting consistent and keep improving. I've been impressed."


GM: Dolphins LT Branden Albert should be fine for Week 1
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/22/2015) Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey has expressed optimism that left tackle Branden Albert will be ready to roll by the regular season opener.

Albert has been rehabbing from a torn ACL and MCL sustained last November against Detroit. He had signed a five-year, $46 million contract the previous March and had been performing particularly well before going down.

"It's been a long rehab and he's really attacked it every day," Hickey told SiriusXM NFL Radio, adding that there was a "reasonable explanation" that he would be ready for Week 1. "We really like his progress. He's out there with his team working out. We're really encouraged by what we're seeing with him."

Ja'Wuan Williams was forced to move to left tackle following the Albert injury in 2014. But he struggled at that position and is expected to move to his more familiar right tackle spot this year.


Report: Bills still want to extend Marcell Dareus
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(5/22/2015) The Bills still want to extend the contract of defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, according to a report by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport

Despite the one-game suspension levied by the league against Dareus on Thursday, the team still hopes to have an extension wrapped up before the start of training camp. 

2015 is scheduled to be the last season of Dareus' current contract. He'll make $8.06 million.


Shanahan: Struggles of Robert Griffin III unrelated to injury
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/22/2015) Former Redskins coach Mike Shanahan does not believe injuries have prevented quarterback Robert Griffin III from maximizing his potential in the NFL. Rather, he feels it was the team not creating an offensive system that best fits his talents and his own belief that he could play a traditional role at that position.

Griffin sustained a serious knee injury in the 2012 playoffs. He then struggled in 2013 in an offense designed to transform him into a drop-back quarterback rather than one that took advantage of his mobility. He suffered another knee injury last year and did not perform well in the offense of new coach Jay Gruden.

"I don't think getting hurt has anything to do with it," Shanahan told 106.7 The Fan. "In college he didn't have a route tree, didn't have a playbook. That does take some time. ... If you take a quarterback like that you must run the kind of system that allows him to be successful. ... I really believe Robert thought he was more of a drop-back quarterback. He hasn't done things the NFL asks you to do. It does take some growing pains. You better really work on it inside and out."

Some have wondered why the Redskins went so hard after Griffin if they weren't willing to create an offense that maximizes his skill set.


 
 
 
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