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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
49ers take a step back defensively
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(3:11 pm ET) After allowing an average of 16.6 points on 308.4 yards in their previous five games, the 49ers gave up 38 on 446 to the Chargers in Week 16. It was only the second time they allowed more than 30 points in a game, and the 446 yards were a season worst.

From a Fantasy perspective, though, their DST still turned in a fine performance thanks to three interceptions, including one that Antoine Bethea returned for a touchdown in the second quarter. The 49ers also had two sacks.

The 49ers DST has scored double-digit Fantasy points in six of the last eight weeks and showed in this one that it's still capable of big numbers even when the defense isn't at its best. Keep it active for a favorable matchup Week 17 against Arizona.


Raiders list Week 16 inactives vs. Bills
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(3:09 pm ET) The Raiders have listed the following players as inactive for Sunday's Week 16 matchup with the Bills:  wide receivers Vincent Brown (groin) and Denarius Moore (knee, ankle), tight end Brian Leonhardt (concussion), cornerback Chimdi Chekwa (hamstring), guard Tony Bergstrom, tackle Menelik Watson and defensive tackle Stacy McGee.

Brown, Moore, Leonhard and Chewka were previously ruled out on the team's final injury report for Week 16. Bergstrom, Watson and McGee are healthy scratches.

The team will have cornerback D.J. Hayden (back) and defensive tackle C.J. Wilson (knee) available after both players were listed as questionable to play. Also active are quarterback Derek Carr (thumb) and cornerback T.J. Carrie (ankle), both of whom were deemed probable.

The Raiders are a 6 1/2-point underdog at home against the Bills.


Colts WR T.Y. Hilton inactive against Cowboys
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:09 pm ET) Colts No. 1 receiver T.Y. Hilton, who was questionable with a hamstring injury, is inactive for Sunday's game at Dallas. Hilton missed practice all of last week. He leads the team with 82 grabs for 1,345 yards and seven touchdowns.

With Hilton sidelined, wideouts Donte Moncrief and Hakeem Nicks should get increased opportunities against a Dallas defense that ranks 21st against the pass, allowing 250 yards per game.

Indy is a 3- or 3.5-point underdog at Vegas sportsbooks.


Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray active against Colts
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:04 pm ET) One week after breaking a bone in his left hand, Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray is active for Sunday's game against the Colts. Murray, who was listed as questionable, will play with a protective pad on his surgically-repaired hand.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports the Cowboys are nervous about Murray's ability to pass-protect. Murray leads the NFL with 1,687 rushing yards. He'll be backed up by Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar.

Dallas is favored by 3 or 3.5 points at Vegas sportsbooks.


Jets WR Percy Harvin (ribs) questionable to return Week 16
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(3:01 pm ET) Jets wide receiver Percy Harvin was forced out of Sunday's home game against New England with an injury to the ribs, per Newsday reports.

Harvin left the game in the third quarter with the injury and was deemed questionable to return to the game. He caught four passes for 44 yards and carried the ball twice for only 1 yard.


TD makes Chargers DST's day
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(2:57 pm ET) The Chargers didn't have a standout defensive performance Week 16 at San Francisco, allowing 35 points on 447 yards, but their defense was still instrumental in their 38-35 victory. Ricardo Mathews stripped quarterback Colin Kaepernick of the football late in the third quarter, and Corey Liuget recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown.

It was one of two sacks and three fumble recoveries for the Chargers on the day. Their DST has contributed a touchdown in three of the last five weeks.

Though the touchdowns have made the Chargers DST a productive Fantasy unit in recent weeks, it's been giving up plenty of points and yardage. You still wouldn't want to trust in it outside of an especially favorable matchup, which it doesn't have Week 17 at Kansas City.


Vikings' Chad Greenway forced to exit game with knee injury
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(2:57 pm ET) Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway had to leave Sunday’s game against the Dolphins with a knee injury.

The team reported his return is questionable. Linebacker Audie Cole replaced Greenway in the lineup.


Bears DE Willie Young (Achilles) carted off Sunday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(2:49 pm ET) Bears defensive end Willie Young has been carted off early in the third quarter of the Sunday game against Detroit with a left Achilles injury. He's done for the day.

Falcons RB Steven Jackson (quad) downgraded to out Week 16
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2:47 pm ET) Falcons running back Steven Jackson was downgraded from questionable to out for the remainder of the game, per the team's official website.

Jackson departed in the second quarter with a quad injury and was escorted back to the locker room for further evaluation. He finished the game with four carries for 9 yards and one catch for 14 yards. Jacquizz Rodgers and Devonta Freeman will shoulder the load the rest of the way.


Rams DE Chris Long cleared for Week 16
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(2:45 pm ET) Rams defensive end Chris Long, who was probable with an ankle injury, is active for Sunday's game against the Giants. Long has four tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery in four games.

 
 
 
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