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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: 49ers to release wide receiver Steve Johnson
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(11:34 am ET) The 49ers are expected to release wide receiver Steve Johnson, according to Dianna Marie Russini of NBC Washington D.C.

The move will reportedly save the team $5.5 million in cap space. Johnson had 35 catches for 435 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games last season.


Patriots running back Stevan Ridley: 'I have something to prove'
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Patriots running back Stevan Ridley is expected to become a free agent in the coming weeks and he is ready for the experience.

"I'm excited about it," Ridley told Sirius XM Radio Friday. "As a player coming into the league, you get there and your first contract you kind of have to establish yourself and see what you can do. Everybody is a good player if you get to make it to the NFL, but there is something to be said if you get to that second contract."

Ridley has rushed for 2,817 yards and 22 touchdowns in his first four seasons in the league with the Patriots.

"Where I'll be playing, and who I'll be playing for, is still unknown, but I know I've come in and done my job up to this point and now I have to put it in my agent's hands to get me on another team, or stay where I'm at, and make sure I’m in pads playing ball somewhere next year. I know if you think about it too much it will worry you sick."

Ridley has played in 20 of a possible 32 games the last two seasons, starting in just 11 of them.

"I take it personal to any team or anybody that says I can't be a very productive player on whatever team I land on," he said. "I've been playing ball my whole life, I'm going to come in and be a leader, and I'm going to be a guy that comes in and busts his butt in the weight room and busts his butt on the field. I'm a good teammate, I have fun with my guys, but when the lights come on Sundays, it's all business and I plan on going out there and making plays."


Patriots' Aaron Dobson doing well in rehab of hamstring injury
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Patriots wide receiver Aaron Dobson is still recovering from a hamstring injury that ended his season in 2014. Trainer Brett Fischer said Friday he thinks Dobson is going to turn heads when he heads back to Foxboro for training camp, according to the Boston Herald.

"He was talking about, 'When I go up there (to Foxboro) and they see me again, I want to make sure they know I'm in the best shape of my life.' He is really determined," Fischer said. "That is the underlying theme every day: 'Hey, I've got to be ready when April comes, be ready as far as the best shape of my life.' It's frustrating with two years of freaky-type stuff."

Dobson finished a disappointing 2014 season with three catches for 38 yards.

"He is doing great," Fischer said. "I'm really excited for him. He has put the time and effort into it, comes in early, gets all his work in and he is hungry. There are a few specific things we found, minor little things we're working on, that make his program a little bit unique to everybody else's. Nothing major."


Report: Should be a 'very active market' for Broncos' Julius Thomas
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Broncos tight end Julius Thomas turned down a five-year, $40 million contract for a reason. That's because it's believed he will have a "very active market" when the new league year begins on March 10, according to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport. 

Two teams that are expected to target Thomas in free agency are the Raiders and Jaguars, both of which need to upgrade considerably at their skill positions to help out their young quarterbacks. The expectation is for Broncos general manager John Elway to let Thomas test the waters in free agency to see what he's offered. 

The Falcons have also reportedly been interested, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter. 

Injuries slowed what was an otherwise fast start to his 2014 season. Thomas' season ended with 489 yards and 12 touchdowns. 


Report: Browns QB Brian Hoyer could be on the way out of Cleveland
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) With the signing of Josh McCown Friday, Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer could be looking elsewhere for employment. Coach Mike Pettine called Hoyer to inform him the team was signing McCown and Hoyer appears ready to move on, according to Albert Breer of the NFL Network.

Hoyer played in 14 games for the Browns in 2014, throwing for 3,326 yards with 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He lost his starting position to Johnny Manziel in Week 15, but was forced back into action after Manziel suffered a season-ending injury.


Quarterback Josh McCown agrees to terms with Browns
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Free agent quarterback Josh McCown has agreed to terms with the Browns on a contract, according to his agent Mike McCartney. The team later confirmed the report. The deal is reportedly set to have McCown on the Browns for three seasons and is worth $15 million, according to NFL.com.

McCown, who will turn 36 before the season begins, previously visited with the Bills before signing with the Browns. McCown threw for 2,206 yards with 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 2014 with the Buccaneers.


Jets WR Percy Harvin will not accept pay cut
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Jets receiver Percy Harvin will not agree to a reduction in his 2015 salary, reports CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora. 

Harvin is slated to earn $10.5 million this season, something the Jets cannot afford. Teams around the league are interested signing Harvin to a short-term deal. With his expensive contract, though, the Jets will be hard-pressed to find a suitor interested in trading Harvin. 

The Seahawks traded Harvin to the Jets for a conditional pick during the 2014 season. 


Report: Colts' Wayne undergoes triceps surgery, mulling retirement
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne underwent surgery Friday to repair his injured triceps, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. Wayne, 36, is beginning rehab for the injury and is reportedly considering retirement, according to Rapoport.

Wayne played in 15 regular season games for the Colts in 2014, totaling 779 yards on 64 catches with two touchdowns.


Dolphins WR Mike Wallace interested in return to Steelers
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Though the Dolphins are shopping Mike Wallace to prospective suitors, there is one team that is of interest to the speedy receiver. 

According to CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, Wallace has interest in potentially returning to the Steelers. Of course, the Steelers would have to decide if they'd be willing to take on a contract that's going to have a $12.1 million cap figure for 2015. 

Wallace has underperformed in relation to the five-year, $60 million contract he signed before the 2013 season. He's failed to reach 1,000 yards with the Dolphins in either season after recording that mark twice with the Steelers in his first four NFL seasons. 


Buccaneers' Vincent Jackson not accepting pay cut for 2015
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson is likely to remain with Tampa Bay this offseason, but he is not willing to accept a pay cut, according to CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora.

Jackson, who was shopped by the team before the trade deadline, is set to make $10 million in base salary and has a $12.2 million cap hit. He totaled 70 catches for 1,002 yards and two touchdowns in 2014.


 
 
 
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