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Training Camp Blog: 8/20/12 Udpate

It’s August, the first game of the preseason is set to take place today and the smell of artificial turf is in the air.  As I say with a half-dozen football related events each year, it just doesn’t get any better than this!

With camps now fully under way, position battles taking center stage and each fantasy coach certain that their recently drafted team is a championship contender, it’s important to stay current with the news and notes from around the league.  It’s easy enough to follow the primary sites toward getting your news and information, but I like to go a lot deeper to get every possible advantage for our readers and subscribers.  What follows here is a running blog of my thoughts on the obvious and not so obvious happenings from around the NFL. With any luck, you can use this information to aid in your upcoming draf strategy, those last few roster spots on your team or perhaps players to keep an eye on for the future.

If you have specific questions or comments, please feel free to share.  As always, please check back often as I’ll be updating the information as I’m able.  Some days may receive three updates, others none.  I’ll do my best to stay active and dig deep.

Aug. 20, 8:00 PM PST

Things are really starting to heat up.

Tarvaris Jackson is now droppable.  There’s just no reason to hold a roster spot for him at this point as he’s on the trade block.  Matt Flynn is your certain starter now, at least for the first half of the season.  Ryan Tannehill has had a nice preseason and is your starter in Miami.  Unlike Jackson, I still like Matt Moore to end up starting somewhere else by next year.  I think he’s underrated as a passer and he’ll get another chance.  For both Flynn and Tannehill, it’s not like either will be a fantasy performer this year considering their respective receiver corps.

Kevin Kolb is getting close to being a fantasy waiver wire candidate.  John Skelton is your starter going into the season and likely has one more year to impress.  Don’t be surprised if Arizona makes a play for Tarvaris Jackson or the aforementioned Matt Moore.  Colt McCoy anyone?  Staying in Arizona for another season, Beanie Wells is going to give you gas again this year.  The writing is on the wall.  Stay away.

Austin Collie seems to have suffered yet another concussion.  I’ve been steering completely away from Collie, Jahvid Best as well, as recurring concussion issues will end a career these days.  I’m not convinced Best will play again and Collie isn’t far behind.  LaVon Brazill gets a nice upgrade as he’s been seeing a lot of first team action, but I haven’t been overly impressed with his action.  He is worth a roster spot however.

The Cowboys are falling apart.  Miles Austin is still resting his hamstring, Dez Bryant is now down with patella tendonitis that will require rest and they haven’t gotten any consistent play from a receiver that projects well in fantasy.  Cole Beasley is a long shot and has been playing well, but I just don’t see it.  Even Jason Witten has been shut down in hopes that his lacerated spleen can recover without surgery.

We took some heat here for having Andrew Luck ranked number one overall in our rookie rankings with Trent Richardson the obvious choice for so many.  Can I just say that the rush to upgrade Luck as the top overall rookie talent with Richardson having undergone knee surgery has been somewhat amazing.  Via Internet stories or on the radio, I’m seeing and hearing a mad scramble to now give Luck his due.  As we’ve said from the beginning, along my individual Luck analysis here, he’s the top prospect coming out since Elway and I’m even somewhat comfortable saying that Luck is the best quarterback prospect to emerge from college … ever!  A prospect like Luck will ALWAYS exist higher than a top running back, especially one like Trent Richardson who I find less than elite.  When you consider the potential of a fifteen year career, it’s too much to pass up.

Green Bay’s running game is a mess and can’t be counted on again.  Recently acquired Cedric Benson may get the first snaps at running back as James Starks rests a bad case of turf toe.  What next for the oft-injured Starks?  He keeps missing opportunity after opportunity.  I’m also about to cut bait on James Jones.  I like his big play ability but he’s still suffering with drops and he’s sure to be elsewhere next year.  If you’ve got the roster space, feel free to hang on but his fantasy value is flagging.

Looks like those of us that have been waiting for Jonathan Dwyer to get significant time with the first team may be done waiting.  Isaac Redman isn’t a lock to be back prior to week one and the Steelers are losing backs quicker than Kenny Britt is stacking arrests.  Dwyer may be your opening day back and although he runs with a little lead in his pants, he’s tough to bring down and has the strength to run through the first tackler.  He’s only 23 years old.  Keep holding.

I’m also standing by my projection that Jamaal Charles owners have plenty to worry about the time share with Peyton Hillis in K.C.  Hillis is a tough inside runner, accomplished as a receiver and a very effective blocker.  As long as Charles can retain his 6.1 career ypc. average, he could still surprise but I expect his touches to be reduced rather dramatically.  Charles is going in the late second to early third round in start up drafts.  This is Dwayne Bowe’s last year in K.C. and I’m not sold that he’s going to have a good year.  High risk and high reward.  He’ll sign a big contract next year.

Many believe that Philip Rivers will return to form in 2012 – I’m not one of them.  It’s a blow that Vincent Brown will be out for a lengthy amount of time after suffering a broken ankle and Rivers’ offensive line is anything but accomplished.  It’s good news for Eddie Royal and Robert Meachem owners and you have to believe that the Chargers will be looking to bring in a veteran receiver to fill the gap.   Many are thinking that Meachem is a major break out candidate.  I think he’ll be a major heart break candidate instead. He’s one of the finalists for my preseason 2012 Michael Jenkins award.  That’s a receiver that has all the tools to be a great WR1 and occupies a roster spot for years, but can’t be played with any confidence. Tight end Antonio Gates is falling in dynasty drafts and makes for a nice addition after round seven or so.

Congrats to Jake Locker for being named the starter in Tennessee.  We’ve been waiting and it’s a good decision for the Titans.  It’s about time and I’m excited to see what he can do.  I think he’s a sneaky quarterback selection that should be in the teens, points wise, in his first year as a starter.  Look for Locker to be selected near round nine in start up drafts, perhaps a bit higher now that he’s been named the starter.

Ahmad Bradshaw is hurt again.  He’s doing his best Ryan Mathews impression and the only real knock on him is that he can’t stay healthy.  Rookie David Wilson hasn’t earned the trust yet to be Bradshaw’s replacement but it’s only a matter of time.  If Bradshaw can remain healthy, and that’s a big “if”, he can contend for top ten honors at running back.

That’s all for now.

Aug. 14, 10:00 PM PST

If I hear the “Call Me Maybe” song one more time … I’m going to lose it.

Slow news day for the most part.  I’m wondering today if the New England Patriots are ready to turn the page of sorts and start relying on more of a dedicated running game.  I like what I’ve been hearing about Stevan Ridley and I’m beginning to suspect that just when everyone has written off New England’s running back by committee (RBBC) ways, that Belichick is going to pull another fast one and lean on a single back more than he has in the past five years.  Not really since Corey Dillon was in town did Belichick put his trust in a runner.  Since that time, it has been a role playing backfield which has, on occasion, produced material fantasy results.  But it has been a crapshoot every week.  Feel free to flame me when I’m wrong, but my bat-sense tells me change is in the air.

It’s really beginning to look like those that were willing to take a chance on Marshawn Lynch following his latest knucklehead moment are going to be rewarded.  In this case, no news is good news and having blown a .08, there’s a strong likelihood that this things is going to be dropped.  As is, his case won’t be completed until after the season and it’s not likely he’s going to face punishment without a conviction.  Those willing to take the risk … nice job!

Adrian Peterson is on track to play in week one.  Fully expect to see his carries limited while slowly increasing through week 6 or so.  But all signs point to “go” on AP.  He’s still one of the most dynamic runners in the NFL and I’ve seen him falling into the bottom of the second round in start up drafts.

Ryan Grant alert.  Detroit is said to be high on him an watching from afar.

Good luck picking out the play-makers from the Browns’ in 2012.  Outside of Trent Richardson, who himself is anything but a sure thing at this point, it’s yet another fantasy wasteland until someone steps up.  Odds on favorite is that Greg Little will be that guy but it’s been quiet camp thus far, and not just from Hill.   The team is stepping up the heat on supplementary draft rookie Josh Gordon.  Already hitting his first wall, Gordon has a long way to go to be reach NFL status as a player.

Move Vincent Brown up on your cheatsheet.  He’s been making plays in the preseason as well as in camp on a daily basis.  He’s generated a lot of chemistry with Philip Rivers and in that offense, Brown has some serious upside.  Brown’s upside comes at the expense of Robert Meachem in my mind.  I’m not excited about Meachem and I expect him to significantly under-perform expectations this year.

In Denver, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker are looking to be a legitimately big play tandem.  They have talent on their own but with Peyton Manning under center, I’m starting to believe that Decker will migrate from over-drafted to valuable fantasy receiver.  Both Thomas and Decker are having a very strong camp.  The news isn’t as positive for Ronnie Hillman who injured his hamstring yet again.  No timetable has been given for his return as of yet.

Another player rising on boards should be Titus Young, even though many expect him to flame out.  I’m leery of the receiver whose attitude and game reminds me a bit of DeSean Jackson, but I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt.  It’s been said that Young has been uncoverable in camp and those reports have been echoed time and time again.  I’m moving Young up and have already drafted him in my most recent start up.

Hear me now and believe me later, Jake Locker’s time is now as a starter.  He’s got too much mobility and potential to leave on the sidelines.  He should be starting the next preseason game I fully expect Locker to be under center in week 1. Probably too late to buy low, but if you’re looking for a young QB3 on your fantasy team, I’d be looking to make a deal.

Just a short update tonight.

Aug. 13 – 10:00 PM PST

Things are starting to heat up.  Here are a few things that I’m tracking for this last slog of games and notes from around the league.

Steve Smith (STL) is likely available on on your waiver wire.  He started across from Danny Amendola and looked good doing it.  Good start-stop ability, route running and reliable hands.  After falling off the radar completely these past couple of years, it could be that he’ll be a nice sleeper in 2012.  Isaiah Pead, another back that I’m not overly high on, looked pedestrian.  Still a lot of time for the youngster but I still don’t see him as the “next”.

I was really looking for some leadership and emerging talent from the Indianapolis game and had purposefully delayed on selecting in one of my drafts to allow the game to unfold first.  In the end, I selected Keyshawn Martin in Houston.  I was hoping to see something from T.Y. Hilton and LaVon Brazill.  Didn’t see anything that stood out.  Granted, it’s early but I can’t hold up the draft for another three weeks.  Luck sure looked poised.  Donald Brown made most of his reception and earned that touchdown with good vision.  If he can only stay healthy ….

I didn’t think it was possible but I feel bad for Chad Johnson.  He looked very human on Hard Knocks, dangerously so.  And what I saw actually made me fear for his emotional well-being.  I hope he gets another chance.  I’d like to see the Saints step up and give him a shot.

Fantasy wise, there’s a lot at stake I believe with Jets’ backfield in motion.  Word is that Bilal Powell has overtaken McKnight for third down duty, even while word is that Powell has been less than impressive in camp.  Don’t put a lot of stock into what you’re hearing, especially in New York.  McKnight clearly had a nice dynamic working and based on what I’ve seen from Powell, I don’t buy that he’ll be the third down back.  To be safe, I do have Powell where I can but my belief is that he’s a wasted roster spot longer term.  I’d much rather own McKnight.

In tonight’s ugly game between Dallas and Oakland, a couple of young players stood out.  Dallas’ second year receiver Andre Holmes and Oakland’s rookie Rod Streater both had nice nights, hauling in three and six receptions respectively.  It may not mean much at this point, but both teams have an opening at the WR3 position and both of these players have good size.  On the downside, both Felix Jones and Jacoby Ford looked unmotivated.  Ford, especially, had a bad night with two significant drops.

Randy Moss has really developed a nice chemistry with his fellow receivers.  He, Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree have all been yucking it up quite often, most recently after practice while they stayed to catch balls from the Jugs machine.  It’s also been coming out that Moss’ snaps may be limited this year to keep him fresh.  That won’t come to the delight of those using later picks on Moss.  A.J. Jenkins continues to look like a rookie and is no where near seeing the field.

In Baltimore, Torrey Smith has a sprained ankle but has been playing through it.  Smith has been drafted as early as round six and most expect him to be the WR1 in Baltimore.  I agree.  Although I wouldn’t want him as my WR1 on my fantasy team.  He’s an up-and-comer and we’re looking for him to make a big leap this year in consistency.

Tampa’s Mike Williams is being forgotten in drafts.  For what it’s worth, I think he’s going to be a nice bounce-back play in 2012.  Williams did his best Michael Clayton impression by having a horrible sophomore campaign.  But he’s been playing well in camp, looks to have retained a WR2 role behind Vincent Jackson and could flourish again.  I’d be looking at taking a chance on Williams near round 10.

Brady Quinn is winning the war to be the QB2 for the Chiefs.  woo.  Looks like Ricky Stanzi fans may have to wait another year.  Or two.

Word out of Buffalo is that Marcus Easley may be on the chopping block.  He’s sure to catch on elsewhere if he does get cut, but it looks like it may be safe to drop him if you have him occupying one of those last positions on your roster.  Derek Hagan is getting a lot of play and talk.  But it seems that Hagan is always a camp darling that never gets to the prom.

I wonder if the Dolphins are really going to be as bad as it seems they will be?

Lions’ running back Kevin Smith is getting a lot of press, not so much because of his running ability but because of those around him.  Jahvid Best looks destined to be sidelined much longer, Mikel Leshoure still isn’t practicing and the only other back receiving any praise is Joique Bell.  Kevin Smith has added bulk in hopes of being more durable.  No word yet on whether or not he’s bulked up his troublesome ankles.  For what it’s worth, he’s been running well and looks to the easy choice as opening day starter.  With the Lions’ high octane passing attack, rushing yards should be easier to come by.  Smith makes for a nice flex running back selection.

I’m still not seeing Denver’s Andre Caldwell getting drafted, even in deeper dynasty leagues.  I’m putting out a sleeper alert on Caldwell, who I think could be a solid contributor from one of your last draft selections.

Aug. 10 – 11:00 PM PST

Apologies for the long span between updates.

A fair amount has transpired over the past week, let’s get you updated on a few items.

Ryan Mathews was out to prove that he could stay healthy for a full year, dismissing the detractors who believe the oft-injured back simply doesn’t have the ability to stay healthy.  Not only did Mathews fail in staying healthy for an entire single season, he couldn’t stay healthy for a single carry, breaking his clavicle on his very rush of the year.  The hope is that Mathews will be able to return in four weeks but experts have already weighed in with thoughts suggesting a six week recovery period.  Ronnie Brown will fill in for Mathews until his return.  Don’t leave Curtis Brinkley out of the equation.  Brinkley has shown the ability to be productive.

I’ve seen Martellus Bennett not get drafted until after the 20th round in some dynasty start-up drafts.  He’s a major sleeper considering how little value he has.  He’s certain to be the  TE1 for the Giants in a system with elite receivers that has created materially productive tight ends.  Bennett is a worthy TE2 candidate and I won’t be surprised to see him in the top ten when it’s all said and done.

Don’t get overly excited about Cedric Benson.  Sure his signing is a shot across the bow for James Starks, but it’s only the first week of the preseason and while Starks is off to a slow start, there’s every reason to believe that he’ll be given every chance to hold down the RB1 role.  Quite simply put, the Packers don’t have a lot of experienced runners and Benson is the most experienced back in the offense and will be a threat.  Don’t expect him to be listed atop the depth chart anytime soon.  Starks will certainly get the message and I look for him to at least start the season as the primary ball carrier.  What he does after that?  We’ll see.

Miami looks to be a fantasy wasteland again this year.  Save Reggie Bush, it’s nearly impossible to be excited about any skill position player.  Stay away.

The Jacksonville situation has me very intrigued right now.  New ownership isn’t budging and I have a sneaky feeling that they’re not going to.  With two years left on his deal, MJD has no leg to stand on in asking for a new contract. Combine that with the fact the Rashad Jennings has shown the ability to be productive.  Now fully healthy from what has been called a MCL sprain early in 2012, Jennings is gobbling up reps in practice and has had a great camp.  The MJD holdout could be quite a long affair and each day stokes Jennings’ value.

I expect Wes Welker to have a monster year again.  That’s not a very bold statement.  There’s going to be so much attention on the tight ends, Welker is going to find a lot of underneath action.  Stevan Ridley continues to look like the back to own but Shane Vereen is finally coming on.  IDP alert for linebacker Dont’a Hightower who the Patriots are gushing about.

In Cleveland, the tires are coming off already.  Trent Richardson’s injury is being downplayed by owners but shouldn’t be.  TRich is a heavier, physical, runner and knee injuries already requiring surgery cannot be downplayed.   That said, his recovery should be quick and with any luck, there will be little lasting damage.  But surgery is surgery.  The Browns look like a young team.  Weeden is certain to be your starter on opening day but had a so-so game.  Not unexpected for the rookie.  He’s a heady quarterback and should pick things up quickly.  Whether or not he has receivers to throw to is another question altogether.  Mohamed Massaquoi had yet another concussion tonight, that makes three.  Josh Gordon caught none of his three targets.  Greg Little continues to be uninspiring and make rookie mistakes.

Joe McKnight looks like the most dynamic back for the Jets.  McKnight looks physically more imposing and has obviously bulked up.  He also looks extremely fluid in the open field and ran with better toughness inside vs. the Bengals.  Move him on up in PPR leagues.

Cardinal, Pope John (Skelton) the first is worth a shot late in your start-up draft.  He looks more poised on the field and has been having a better camp than the overpaid Kolb.  Kolb has returned to camp but hasn’t performed well in scrimmages.  He again looked horrible on Friday night vs. Kansas City.  The locker room is said to be behind Skelton.  Watching Skelton on the sideline and reading body language, he’s relaxed and having fun.  He also throws a nice ball in most situations.

From Houston camp, all observations are that Arian Foster is going to be a monster this year.  Rookie receiver Keshawn Martin must be owned in most all formats as he’s the new camp darling.  This is not to say that he’s going to have a great year but he looks to be the Texans’ slot receiver and has been a start in camp.  After a quick start, Lestar Jean has faded.   IDP’ers take note, J.J. Watt dislocated his elbow a week ago, but is no longer wearing a sling and shouldn’t much much time.  If he’s been dropped, pick him up.

Seattle has signed T.O.  Okay.  I also fully expect Matt Flynn to win the starting job.  Look for the Hawks to determine just what they have in Flynn and not allow the high priced free agent to ride the pine.  Russell Wilson is still enjoying a nice camp but there’s little way he starts the season under center.

Peyton Manning is said to be enjoying good chemistry with his receivers.  I’m issuing an “all clear” for acquiring the young Demaryius Thomas in the third round.  Decker should be selected well after Thomas but is a good candidate after round six.  Also consider Andrew Caldwell as a significant sleeper that no one is talking about.  I’ve been acquiring him in the twenties as Manning’s third receiver.  We all know what Manning can do with his WR3.  Brandon Stokely and Austin Collie anyone?

In Buffalo, there’s said to be a lot of optimism ‘brewing’.  I think perhaps they’ve been brewing a bit too much.  I see little reason for optimism.

In Oakland, Juron Criner continues to impress and make highlight reel catches.  Add him in the late teens in your startup draft.  Darren McFadden is running hard and looking good.  Last year’s rookie quarterback project, Terrelle Pryor, continues to look very raw.  He’s a long way from the field still.  Mike Goodson is on the sidelines watching practice after returning from a scary neck injury.  He reports his neck is still sore but he’ll be back shortly.

Will cover more tomorrow….

 

Aug. 5 – 1:00 PM PST

Greg Childs is done for a long time.  Horrible injury for the youngster and one he won’t likely return from.

Mario Fannin tore his Achilles and he’s done for the year.  Upgrade Ronnie Hillman.  This also is another break for Knowshon Moreno who may stick on the roster a bit longer.

Rashad Jennings is underdrafted right now in my estimation.  I fully expect MJD will be returning at some point, but Jennings is getting quality first team reps and is said to be looking very strong.  Most don’t know that last year’s injury was not of the ACL “tear” variety, but only a sprain.  He was ready to play by week ten, but the Jags elected to IR him instead.  Either way, the Jaguars project to be a miserable offensive team once again.

While Coby Fleener is getting more attention from fantasy leaguers, Dwayne Allen is having a nice camp and showing his receiving skills.  Fleener has all the chemistry with Andrew Luck from their time at Stanford, but don’t forget that Fleener was never ultra-productive.  Vick Ballard is beginning to get love from dynasty coaches but this has more to do with lack of confidence in Donald Brown rather than excitement about Ballard.  Ballard has skill but I see him only as a slight upgrade to Delone Carter, at least until he proves otherwise.

Jets running back Bilal Powell is gaining momentum in camp.  Powell and Joe McKnight are vastly different types of runners and Powell’s ascent is more of a danger to Shonn Greene in my estimation.  I’ve removed Greene off my draft board entirely as I fully expect his time to be eventually limited.  Powell has a better all-around game than does Greene and all it’s going to take is an opportunity.  McKnight is the more dynamic runner and has a great opportunity in 2012 if he can capitalize.  Dynasty leaguers should take note that McKnight is not being drafted in the top 12 rounds in many cases.

Jonathan Baldwin is lighting up camp with Dwayne Bowe still staying away.  Baldwin has all the size, speed and hands you need to have a quality receiver.  I’m not sold on his intelligence or attitude, but it’s secondary to his playmaking skills, at least in the near term.  I’m willing to take a shot with him in or after the ninth round.

Juron Criner continues to be impressive.  He’s not fast, but I love his NFL skill-set.  I’ve been high on Criner since following him in my early draft series here on DLF.  The Raiders may finally have a nice trio of young receivers.

In San Diego, it appears as though Vincent Brown is in line for a big increase in production.  He’s being featured in camp and has been showing good hands and dynamic speed.  With Ronnie Brown in town, word is the Chargers may be playing with wildcat packages.  Say it ain’t so Norv!

I’m actually going to finish this entry with things I’m seeing in the first ten rounds after participating in a few dynasty start-up drafts this year, including an “expert” draft.  Being that many of you have upcoming drafts, you should be able to use some of this information to your benefit.  And either way, I think it’s interesting how actual drafts pan out compared to the ADP listings that are so often all over the map.

I’m going to take this round-by-round with some thoughts, mixing in player thoughts as I think they’re warranted.

Round One

The fourth running back off the board will either be Trent Richardson or Ryan Mathews, it’s a coin flip as to which one.   But that pick will be made at 1.06 if my drafts are any indication.  Richardson didn’t last beyond 1.09.  In all drafts, Jimmy Graham was off the board in the first round.  Rob Gronkowski made it to 2.04 once.  Cam Newton never made it to the second round.  Darren McFadden was taken in the first round (1.12) once.

Round Two

DeMarco Murray didn’t last beyond 2.04.  I don’t get it.  I wouldn’t touch Murray until the third round myself … very bottom of the second round if I was desperate.  Doug Martin is going as early as 2.02 or as late as 3.01.  The early second round is too much of a risk as a RB1, but many love their rookie runners.  I wouldn’t be selecting Martin at all until the early third round.  Surprising, at least to me, that Larry Fitzgerald is going as late as 2.07.  He’s aging and has quarterback issues, but in a PPR league, that’s too late in my opinion.  Coincidentally, or not so, I have drafted him near there in every draft.  So if you’re selecting at 1.06 or so and want Fitz, let him go and perhaps he makes it back to you.  There’s even the possibility of getting Calvin and Fitz if you’re lucky.

Jamal Charles is going as late as 3.05 and as early as 2.11.  Could be a nice value there if he’s healthy and Peyton Hillis doesn’t vulture too many touches.  Adrian Peterson has gone no earlier than 2.06.

Round Three

MJD is now a third round selection.  Victor Cruz is going in the range of 3.05 – 3.08.  There’s obviously a lot of concern about Cruz potentially being a one-year wonder.  I don’t think he is.  RGIII went as early as 3.03 and as late as 6.04.  Andrew Luck as early as 3.09 and as late as  6.07.  That range dictates a “draft one when YOU are comfortable” strategy.  Demaryius Thomas is going at an average of 3.08.  Greg Jennings is now a mid third round receiver.

Roddy White, still a top receiver, has an average draft position in my drafts of 4.02, with a selection no earlier than 3.12.  Amazing.  Mike Wallace is a late third round receiver.  It’s obvious that most dynasty coaches are starting to favor youth over winning in the near term.  There is some real opportunity for new league start-ups this year based on this information that I’ll expand on later.  Darren Sproles, even though he’s 29 years old, is still a third round dynasty selection.

Round Four

Biggest shock of any draft – Roy Helu Jr. goes as early as 4.02.  Marshawn Lynch drinks his way to the fourth round in all drafts.  Wes Welker appears to be a fourth round selection now, despite being a stud at receiver, especially in PPR.  Age is dropping the receivers (White, Welker and Fitzgerald) more than it should, unless you are determined to build a team upon youth.  Dwayne Bowe, Miles Austin and Jonathan Stewart are all solid fourth round selections.  Draft them early in the fourth or late in the third if you wish to own them.

Some of the surprising fourth round selections other than Helu:  Jahvid Best, C.J. Spiller.

Round Five

Eric Decker going in round five, both early and late in the round – that feels like a solid value to me.  David Wilson going in the early-to-mid fifth round, before Ahmad Bradshaw later in the fifth.  Injury history is obviously devaluing Bradshaw.  Kenny Britt unanimously taken in the fifth round here.  It appears the knucklehead factor has finally caused coaches to write him out of the top rounds.  Steven Jackson taken no earlier than 5.04.  Ben Tate off as early as 5.05.   Isaac Redman off the board no earlier than 5.10.   Fred Jackson being selected late in the fifth.  Torrey Smith first seen as a selection at 5.12.  I like the upside possibility here of Smith and this is Flacco’s last chance to prove that he can be a top ten quarterback.

Round Six

Shonn Greene going in the top of the sixth round for the most part.  This is also the round where most second tier quarterbacks go off the board.  The likes of Eli Manning, Matt Ryan, Michael Vick and rookies Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III can be found here.  This also presents a nice little strategy if you choose earlier in the sixth and can be the first to choose a quarterback.  In a draft strategy I like to call “leading the round,” you can lead out with the first quarterback in hopes of starting a run at the position.  This is helpful because owners who didn’t take a quarterback earlier may not want to be left out of a top player in the next tier of a position.  This can work especially well with quarterbacks and tight ends.  It can also be painful if this run starts after your selection in which you didn’t take the position.  A successfully executed “lead” like this can see three to six players taken following your pick, pushing better players down to you in the next round.  At the very least, you secure your top player in the position and don’t have to turn your attention to it in later rounds.

As expected, second tier tight ends are going in this round.  Jason Witten, Antonio Gates, Vernon Davis most often and even Fred Davis once.  I love Davis as a sleeper in the seventh or eighth if the tight end run starts late.

Round Seven

Round seven is where the risk selections and guess work really begins.  This is a great round for those high risk, high reward players after you’ve finished with most of your core building for your weekly starters.  Names appearing in the seventh round are Ben Tate, Greg Little, Ronnie Hillman, Randall Cobb, Michael Floyd, Isaiah Pead, Justin Blackmon and Ryan Williams.  Additionally, fallout from the round six run on second tier quarterbacks and tight ends continues with names such as Philip Rivers, Tony Romo, Peyton Manning and Brandon Pettigrew.

Round seven is very much a transition round and it’s clear this is still the point at which there’s the push/pull of taking riskier names vs. securing starters for depth.  This really is where the  fun begins and a well prepared coach can make a lot of noise.

Round Eight

Personally, one of my favorite rounds for the reasons mentioned above in round seven.  If you’ve done a good enough job at filling out your core, smart picks here can set you up for years to come.

Seeing the third tier backs off the board now.  Donald Brown, James Starks, Beanie Wells and Stevan Ridley start showing up here as does the aging first-tier backs of old such as DeAngelo Williams, Frank Gore and Michael Turner.   Ronnie Hillman’s latest selection is here at 8.03.  Those who are comfortable with their core players are moving into the rookie receivers such as Kendall Wright and even Brian Quick.

Round Nine

Continuation mainly of round eight strategy as coaches add depth and youth.  Peyton Hillis, Ben Roethlisberger, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Reggie Wayne and Darrius Heyward-Bey are common names.  Rookies such as Lamar Miller, Mohamed Sanu and Stephen Hill show up.  Isaiah Pead goes at 9.01 as his latest draft selection.  Browns’ receiver Josh Gordon goes as early as 9.06.  But, that selection was by me as Gordon was being commonly drafted in tenth round.  I like Gordon quite a bit and he has a spark about him that I can’t exactly put my finger on.  He’s normally the type of player I shy away from but I’v added him in a number of leagues.

Round Ten

What a difference a year makes.  Mike Williams (TB), Jahvid Best and Rashard Mendenhall are taken in this round.  Younger players, such as second third tier rookies Alshon Jeffery and Robert Turbin show up in this round as well, as do veterans Matt Schaub, Jay Cutler and even Michael Turner.  Cutler is a great value in the tenth round.  With missed games in 2011 lowering his total fantasy points, and now reunited with Brandon Marshall, I think he has some serious upside.

Jeff Haverlack
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James Young
10 years ago

Excellent insight. Excellent

john harstad
10 years ago

When did Julio and AJG get drafted?
Ill draft youth every time if it’s even close..
Fritz is down my list compared to most even though I just traded for him this off season..
I have all 3 off these WRs on my 26 man Dynasty team and I’d rank Fritz many spots behind JJ and AJ.

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