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2014 Draft Prep: ADP review, 4.0

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

Fantasy drafts are wrapping up this weekend and into the first few days of next week as we rapidly approach the start of the regular season. It's been interesting to see how the Average Draft Position has changed over the past month.

We started with Arian Foster as a first-round pick and Doug Martin fading, but those two running backs are now going in different directions. Foster is being drafted in Round 3, and Martin has moved back into Round 2.

Nick Foles and Colin Kaepernick were being drafted ahead of Andrew Luck and Matt Ryan, but thankfully Fantasy owners have corrected that mistake. I still like Tony Romo better than both, but we'll let the season play out to see if I'm right.

Emmanuel Sanders is on a rocket ship up the ADP ranks to the fifth round with Wes Welker suffering another concussion, and Welker is free-falling from Round 5 to likely Round 7 after Labor Day. He could end up as a tremendous value pick if he's able to play 10-plus games, which would impact those owners who reached for Sanders.

Eric Ebron was considered a Top 12 tight end when training camp started, but he's been passed by the old faithful of Martellus Bennett, Heath Miller and Antonio Gates. Of that group, Miller is my favorite one, and he's a steal in Round 11.

We'll get to other examples at each position below, and for those of you drafting between now and Thursday when Week 1 kicks off, use the ADP as a guide for your leagues. You can also check back on the ADP after this weekend to see if any of your players have moved up or down since your Draft Day.

The first round looks like this ...

1. Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs
2. LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles
3. Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings
4. Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos
5. Matt Forte, RB, Bears
6. Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions
7. Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers
8. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos
9. Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints
10. Drew Brees, QB, Saints
11. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
12. DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys

The one difference from last week has been Thomas moving ahead of Graham to No. 8. I don't quite understand that. While Thomas should be awesome, he's in a tier with other receivers of his caliber in Dez Bryant, Julio Jones, A.J. Green and Brandon Marshall. Graham, if Rob Gronkowski (knee) doesn't return at 100 percent, could be the biggest difference maker at any position.

I also don't understand the quarterbacks going so early in Round 1. I hope to hear from Manning owners if he doesn't finish as the top quarterback and how they would feel drafting him at No. 4 overall. Just remember, the last time he set the passing touchdown record with 49 in 2004 he suffered a 21-touchdown decline the following season. Regression is inevitable.

If you remove the quarterbacks from Round 1, the next three players in would be Montee Ball, Dez Bryant and Giovani Bernard. I'm totally on board with Ball and Bryant in Round 1, and I actually would go with Julio Jones at No. 12 overall. Bernard is still a standout talent, but he should be drafted toward the middle of Round 2, especially with rookie Jeremy Hill having a strong preseason.

Quarterback breakdown

Nick Foles, overrated: I like Foles as a Top 12 quarterback, but I don't expect him to finish in the Top 10. His ADP is No. 58 overall, and he's being drafted as the No. 8 quarterback ahead of guys like Kaepernick, Romo and Jay Cutler, which is a mistake.

Foles will definitely have his moments this season, but a tougher schedule along with DeSean Jackson being gone make him too risky at that ADP. Someone else can him there, and I'll draft Cutler at No. 82 and get similar production.

Tony Romo, underrated: You know the drill by now. Romo has a terrible defense, a pass-happy play-caller in Scott Linehan and a great receiving corps. He should be in line for an amazing season, and his ADP is No. 70 overall. He's being drafted as the No. 10 quarterback.

Not only do I like Romo better than Foles, but I would also take him ahead of Tom Brady and Kaepernick. I love letting Romo land in my lap in Round 6 or later.

Russell Wilson on the rise: I wish I could find a way to rank Wilson in my Top 12, but he's No. 14 just because I like a few guys better. But he's had a solid preseason, and he's been the No. 9 Fantasy quarterback each of the past two seasons.

If you can pair Wilson with another quarterback in his tier like Robert Griffin III, Foles, Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer, Cam Newton or Philip Rivers then you should be in great shape. Wilson has been consistent at home and indoors, so use him in those spots.

Robert Griffin III on the decline: Kaepernick and Griffin have battled for having the worst preseason among the Top 12 quarterbacks, but Kaepernick still remains a Top 10 option. Griffin, meanwhile, has dropped to No. 93 overall as the No. 13 quarterback. Even Newton is ahead of him with all his woes.

I like that Griffin has fallen to this spot because it means I can draft him at a bargain. I'm still expecting a rebound year with his knee at 100 percent and the addition of coach Jay Gruden and Jackson.

Running back breakdown

Marshawn Lynch, overrated: I'm glad Lynch has fallen to Round 2 at No. 17 overall, and I would draft him toward the end of the second round. But I don't like who Lynch is being drafted ahead of based on his expected decline this season.

He's currently going ahead of Martin, Le'Veon Bell, Alfred Morris, Arian Foster and Zac Stacy. I would rather have Martin, Morris and Stacy based on what could happen to Lynch coming off a 400-touch campaign.

Joique Bell, underrated: Bell is being drafted at No. 53 overall, which is Round 5 in a 12-team league. He's going 13 spots after Reggie Bush, and I'd rather have Bell in a standard league.

Bush is still the better option in PPR formats, but Bell could be the workhorse running back for the Lions this year. He's a Top 20 Fantasy option coming into the season at his position. I also like him better than C.J. Spiller, Bishop Sankey and Ryan Matthews, who all have a higher ADP.

Knowshon Moreno on the rise: All it took was Moreno getting on the field to raise his ADP to No. 100 overall. He's now just four spots behind Lamar Miller, and it's a tossup who will be the better Miami running back this year.

Miller is the safer option based on Moreno having knee surgery this offseason, but Moreno has an edge in pass protection, which could keep him on the field. I'll still take Miller on Draft Day, but Moreno has closed the gap after playing in the third preseason game against the Cowboys.

Bishop Sankey on the decline: Sankey was expected to be the No. 1 rookie running back, but he's played behind Shonn Greene all preseason and has rarely worked with the starters in Tennessee. Sankey should still have his moments this season, but his ADP has dropped to No. 50 overall.

Look for Sankey to fall farther than Round 5, and I consider him a great value pick in Round 6 or later. Consider him this year's Stacy as a rookie who might not play much in the first few weeks but could shine once Greene struggles or gets hurt.

Wide receiver breakdown

Larry Fitzgerald, overrated: Fitzgerald had a solid season in 2013 with 82 catches for 954 yards and 10 touchdowns, but he finished as just the No. 16 receiver in standard leagues. But his ADP is No. 38 overall, and he's the No. 11 receiver off the board.

I'm OK with Fitzgerald as my No. 2 receiver, but I'd rather have Keenan Allen, Roddy White, Vincent Jackson and Cordarrelle Patterson, who are all going after Fitzgerald. There's more upside with those other guys compared to Fitzgerald, who could lose targets to the emerging Michael Floyd.

Eric Decker, underrated: I had Decker listed as a bust in March when I expected Fantasy owners to draft him as a must-start receiver. But his ADP is No. 98 overall, which suggests everyone is aware the move from the Broncos to the Jets will hamper his production.

That said, he won't be this bad. Geno Smith has played OK this preseason, and Decker will be the No. 1 target in the passing attack for a team likely trailing in a lot of games. He's a better flier in Round 9 then guys going ahead of him like T.Y. Hilton, Jeremy Maclin, Mike Wallace and Brandin Cooks.

Marques Colston on the rise: Colston is also being drafted ahead of Decker, but I'm fine with that. When healthy, Colston could be solid, and his ADP is No. 79 overall.

He's an excellent No. 3 receiver with the chance to be a Top 20 option if he can play 16 games at 100 percent, which is a stretch. Still, with Darren Sproles and Lance Moore gone, Brees will rely on Graham and Colston even more, especially if Kenny Stills (quad) is out and Cooks struggles as a rookie.

Sammy Watkins on the decline: Injured ribs and bad quarterback play have caused Fantasy owners to run away from Watkins. His ADP is No. 99 overall.

Once he gets healthy, Watkins could have some productive games, but EJ Manuel is going to have to dramatically improve for Watkins to be considered a Fantasy starter. I'd only want him as a No. 4 receiver to stash for later in the year in re-draft leagues.

Tight end breakdown

Vernon Davis, overrated: Davis has remained the No. 4 tight end on ADP throughout the preseason, and his ADP is No. 53 overall. I don't want Davis in Round 5, and I might even pass on him in Round 6.

If his touchdowns decline this season he could finish closer to the No. 10 Fantasy tight end then No. 2 like he did last year. I'd rather pass on Davis for Dennis Pitta or Jason Witten, or I could get similar value from the group of Jordan Reed, Kyle Rudolph and Zach Ertz, who are being drafted in Round 8.

Dennis Pitta, underrated: Pitta is the No. 7 tight end off the board, and I expect him to have a tremendous year. He's my favorite tight end this season in Gary Kubiak's offense.

When Kubiak was the coach of the Texans, he featured his tight ends, and Pitta is the apple of Joe Flacco's eye. I consider him a Top 5 tight end in 2014, and I love his ADP at No. 76 overall.

Heath Miller on the rise: I'm glad Fantasy owners are buying into Miller, and he has moved up to No. 122 overall. He's the No. 13 tight end being drafted, and I think he has Top 10 potential.

In 2012, Miller was a Top 5 tight end before suffering a torn ACL, and he should return to playing at a high level with the Steelers having to replace Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery.

Greg Olsen on the decline: Olsen has fallen behind Reed, but he remains ahead of Rudolph and Ertz heading into this weekend. I expect that to change.

The Panthers have looked out of sorts in the preseason, and Fantasy owners are settling for Olsen instead of targeting him. I get it, but Olsen can fall to a spot where he becomes good value, with his ADP at No. 89 overall. If he slips from Round 8 to Round 9 he could end up being a great pick as one of the last Top-10 caliber tight ends this year.

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Player News
Giants OL Geoff Schwartz ready for individual drills; Week 9 status is TBD
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:25 am ET) Giants coach Tom Coughlin said offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz (toe) will go through individual drills in practice Thursday. However, he still isn't sure if Schwartz will come off short-term injured reserve to make his season debut Monday against the Colts.

"We'll see. He's coming off a significant injury," Coughlin said, per the New York Daily News.


Giants announce Rashad Jennings will sit out again Week 9
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:18 am ET) Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Thursday running back Rashad Jennings will miss a third straight game Week 9 vs. Indianapolis due to a knee injury. The team was hopeful Jennings would be back following the team's Week 8 bye.

Rookie Andre Williams will earn a third straight start in Jennings' absence. Williams rushed for 59 yards on 17 carries in his first start Week 6 at Philadelphia and then rushed for 51 yards on 18 carries in his second start Week 7 at Dallas.


T.J. Ward feels bad Gronkowski was hurt on low hit, but 'that's about it'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:11 am ET) Broncos safety T.J. Ward might hear a chorus of boos reign down in his direction during Sunday's game at New England, and that's because Ward was the player responsible for sending Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski to injured reserve last season.

Ward, who was playing for the Browns last season, ended Gronkowski's season in Week 14 last season with a helmet-to-knee hit that tore Gronkowski’s right ACL and MCL. Ward said he has no regrets about the play and wasn’t purposely trying to take out Gronkowski’s knee, per The Boston Globe.

"I feel bad he got hurt, you know, but that’s about it," Ward said Wednesday. "I’m just playing fast out there, and coincidentally, it was a bang-bang play. I think if he wouldn’t have gotten hurt, then it wouldn’t be an issue."

Ward, who is seven inches shorter and 65 points lighter than Gronkowski, said the only way to tackle Gronkowski is by going low.

"Gronk’s a big dude. He gets hit, and he keeps going. Guys bounce off him, and he’s throwing guys left and right," Ward said. "I was taught that if you can take a guy’s wheels away from him, he’s no longer mobile, and that’s what you’ve got to do with big guys. I’m not going to go in there and bang heads with somebody that’s 60 pounds more than me. I’m going to hurt myself."


Titans OL Taylor Lewan pleads guilty to two misdemeanor charges
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:26 am ET) Titans rookie tackle Taylor Lewan pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges Thursday in Michigan stemming from an incident that took place last year following a Michigan-Ohio State game, according to The Tennessean. Lewan entered pleas to charges of disturbing the peace and being drunk and disorderly.

Under an agreement with prosecutors, Lewan is expected to get probation when he's sentenced Dec. 15. Lewan was initially charged with one count of misdemeanor aggravated assault and two counts of assault and battery. Two Buckeyes fans said Lewan assaulted them. Lewan had previously stated that he was breaking up a dispute and wasn't involved in a fight.


Jaguars might consider changing up linebacker corps
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:17 am ET) While the Jaguars were pleased with how J.T. Thomas performed at middle linebacker Week 8 against the Dolphins, coach Gus Bradley is considering making a change to the linebacker corps because rookie Jeremiah George is making a strong impression on the coaching staff. 

"We’re looking at the linebacker spot, what’s our best three on the field?" Bradley said, per The Florida Times-Union. "We know J.T. played well. [Otto] Dekoda Watson played pretty well. Jeremiah George is showing up a little bit in practice, so a chance to see him in there and throw him into the mix. We’re trying to find a way to see as of right now, what gives us our best opportunity and what guys are playing the best on the field."


Bills' Kiko Alonso starts to run, but still has ways to go in recovery
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:11 am ET) Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso is pleased with his progress as he is three months removed from ACL surgery.

"I’ve started running already," Alonso told Buffalobills.com. "I’m just doing straight line running, so I’m doing everything but cutting right now. Obviously I’m progressing to full speed running. I’m doing everything, but I’m limited."

Alonso said his knee feels great. However, he is being cautious with his recovery, which usually takes 7-9 months after surgery.

"My knee feels great," he said. "It definitely doesn’t feel like there’s anything wrong with it. It’s just a matter of time. You’ve got to let that ligament heal and strengthen the muscles around it. It feels probably where it should be right now."


Ben Roethlisberger deserves to start
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10/29/2014) It goes without saying that Ben Roethlisberger's six-touchdown, 522-yard performance Week 8 against Indianapolis was a once-in-a-blue-moon thing, and I stand by my earlier assessment that he's too inconsistent to start in standard 12-team leagues. But that's more for those weeks when every quarterback is available. With six teams on bye, that's certainly not the case in Week 9.

For those owners accustomed to starting Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan or Jay Cutler, Roethlisberger may be the best choice. His matchup against Baltimore isn't great. The Ravens rank a suspect 22nd against the pass, giving up 256.0 yards per game, but having allowed just seven touchdowns through the air, they've surrendered the second-fewest Fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. Regardless of the matchup, though, Roethlisberger has a better chance than most of the quarterbacks who might be available of putting up the numbers you're accustomed to.

I'd prefer Carson Palmer, Nick Foles and Cam Newton to him, to name just a few fringy types, but Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Ricahrd both have Roethlisberger in their top 10 for this week.


Brandon LaFell not the only Patriots WR to consider
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10/29/2014) It's time to give Patriots wide receiver Brandon LaFell a shot in Fantasy -- as in not just owning him, but starting him. If his 11 catches for 124 yards and a touchdown Week 8 against the Bears weren't enough to convince you, his matchup Week 9 against Denver should be.

It's not that the Broncos are so bad against the pass. They rank in the middle of the pack, allowing 242.9 yards per game. It's just that the Patriots' only hope against them is to beat Peyton Manning at his own game. Their passing attack -- at least the version they've shown in the last four weeks -- is good enough to beat anybody when they're motivated to use it.

LaFell appears to have leapfrogged Julian Edelman in the pecking order, but frankly, Edelman might not be such a bad play either. Tom Brady is going to need every weapon at his disposal to outscore Manning and company. Edelman is more of a desperation play than LaFell, I think, advisable only if you're short on startable wide receivers, but Dave Richard likes him enough with this matchup to rank him 24th at the position.


Shane Vereen a better choice than Jonas Gray
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10/29/2014) By giving the previously unknown Jonas Gray 17 carries for 86 yards Week 8 against Chicago, the Patriots revealed that they'll stick with a two-man backfield even with preferred rusher Stevan Ridley out for the year with a torn ACL and MCL.

But Week 9 against Denver might be a better matchup for preferred receiver Shane Vereen, who also thrived in Week 7 against the Jets. The Broncos, like the Jets, have done a good job stopping the run this season. They rank No. 1, in fact, allowing 72.4 yards per game.

Plus, the Patriots will most likely have to throw more than usual just to keep up with the league's highest-scoring team. These days, a team's only real choice against Peyton Manning is to beat him at his own game.

So most likely, Gray will spend much of Week 9 on the sidelines while Vereen spends much of it in the backfield. Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard both rank Vereen among their top 20 running backs for this week.


Vincent Jackson not such a great play
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10/29/2014) On a day when the Buccaneers couldn't get anything going offensively Week 8 against Minnesota, wide receiver Vincent Jackson was barely involved, catching one pass for 13 yards. He was targeted five times, but for a player who misses a lot of the balls thrown his way, both because of his role in the passing game and his issues with drops, that's a pretty low number. He averaged 10.0 targets in his first six games.

Even worse for Jackson, quarterback Mike Glennon has developed a nice rapport with both Mike Evans and Louis Murphy, and the Buccaneers passing attack isn't prolific enough to sustain three wide receivers. Is it more likely to sustain him than those other two? Yeah, probably. But it'll likely cut into his production regardless.

And it could cut into his production in a big way Week 9 at Cleveland. The Browns don't rank especially high against the pass, but they don't give up many touchdowns through the air, allowing the fourth-lowest quarterback rating of any team this season. Cornerback Joe Haden, who has played better in recent weeks after a slow start, is a big reason for that, and he'll likely go up against Jackson on Sunday.

Neither Jamey Eisenberg nor Dave Richard rank Jackson among their top 30 wide receivers -- and that's in a week with six teams on bye.


 
 
 
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