The mock drafts are behind us. Now it's time for the real deal.
The Sporting News Fantasy Source experts drafted this afternoon for the league we will play out this season -- with untold riches and bragging rights at stake.
I drew the 4th overall selection in this 12-team, standard league (starting 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 K and 1 D/ST). Here's what I was able to assemble:
Round 1: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers. The Big 3 RBs flew off the board first, as expected. The choice was Rodgers or Megatron, but after mock drafting several times, I found that the opportunity cost of skipping an elite QB in the first round is simply too great. Elite WRs will still be available in the 3rd, but top QBs are gone by the middle of the 2nd. Besides, it never sucks to have the best passer in the league on your side.
Round 2: Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks. He's not a sexy pick; just a good one, with minimal risk. He's not going to get suspended this season (unless he pulls another boneheaded stunt), and people forget he was the 5th-best fantasy RB in the league in 2011. DeMarco Murray was long gone, and I was fairly certain Lynch wouldn't get back to me in the 3rd. Just as important, several elite WRs were still available, so I knew I could wait for them.
Round 3: Greg Jennings, WR, Packers. The WRs started flying after my Lynch pick, but one of my faves made it around. I'm not normally a big believer in teaming QBs and WRs, but if you're gonna do it, Rodgers-Jennings is a pretty sweet combo.
Round 4: Frank Gore, RB, 49ers. Another one of my targeted guys, I'm very pleased to snare Gore late in the 4th. After all the years of being severely over-valued, his price now is a bargain.
Round 5: Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys. I had my heart set on Antonio Gates here, but he was snagged a couple picks too soon. So I held off on my TE pick and got the best WR available as my second guy. If he can just keep his hammies intact, Smilin' Miles can perform at an elite level. Came very close to taking Torrey Smith, but gambled that he'd make it back around. Missed him by "that much."
Round 6: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Bengals. I like the Law Firm's chances to perform as a true workhorse in Cincinnati's improving offense. Love him as a RB3 in a 12-team league.
Round 7: Jermichael Finley, TE, Packers. Had my eye on Finley and Titus Young, but the Lions wideout was scooped up 4 picks before me. Though I hesitated to grab another Packers receiver, Finley proved too valuable to resist. I'm all-in on Green Bay now! If Rodgers goes down, I'm toast...
Round 8: Denarius Moore, WR, Raiders. He slid further than I expected, so I was very happy to get him here. Not crazy about Moore as my WR3 -- looks like my weakness will be in the WR department -- but if he comes through as projected, I'll be fine.
Round 9: Mark Ingram, RB, Saints. Love him as my RB4. I'm expecting the former first-rounder to fulfill his lofty draft status this season.
Round 10: Matt Schaub, QB, Texans. As solid a backup QB as there is...
Round 11: Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers. Yeah, the pickins are getting slim... Normally would have grabbed Randall Cobb here (he went just a few picks later), but I'm already over-invested in the Pack.
Round 12: Danny Amendola, WR, Rams. Another of my sleeper picks. Actually like him better than Crabtree, but figured he'd still be available here.
Round 13: Eagles defense/special teams. I have the Packers' unit ranked higher, but again, I can't afford to take another roster hit during their bye week. The run on defenses had begun, and the 49ers were long gone, so I "settled" for the #3 D/ST on my board.
Round 14: Laurent Robinson, WR, Jaguars. Despite a quiet preseason, he looks good on paper, no?
Round 15: Isaiah Pead, RB, Rams. When, not if, S-Jax misses time with another hard-luck injury, Pead will be all the rage in Fantasyland. Who knows what Jackson's owner will trade me for the talented rookie, who just needs a chance to shine.
Round 16: Jason Hanson, K, Lions. An accurate kicker in a high-octane offense. Just what the doctor ordered.
Round 17: Owen Daniels, TE, Texans. Another backup with plenty of upside; just like his QB.
So there you have it. I love my QBs, like my RBs and TEs a lot, and am worried about my WRs. But in a 12-team league, it's hard to be happy at every position.
I guess we'll find out soon enough...
My 3rd round of position rankings -- QBs, RBs, WRs, TEs, Ks, D/STs and Top 100 -- is now posted here: http://www.scribd.com/laddbiro.
See who's rising and falling, and get armed with the Fool's take for your all-important draft.
In a perfect fantasy world, my starting lineup this season would feature Aaron Rodgers, Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy, Calvin Johnson, Greg Jennings, A.J. Green and Rob Gronkowski. That would be the same perfect world in which my teenagers never argue with me, Scarlett Johansson stalks me and my six-car garage can’t accommodate my Lamborghini collection.
Greetings, Fools. It's getting closer...
My 2nd round of position rankings -- QB, RB, WR, TE, K, D/ST and Top 100 -- is now posted here: http://www.scribd.com/laddbiro
Check out who is rising and falling in the ranks as we head into our all-important drafts.
This time of year, fantasy enthusiasts tend to obsess over their first-round draft pick. Do you go with Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy or Ray Rice with the top pick? How early should you jump on Aaron Rodgers and Calvin Johnson? Is it still funny to claim you’re taking a kicker with your first pick? (Answer: For the love of all things sacred, NO. Please, stop!)
Yesterday was the last of five mock drafts conducted by the Sporting News Fantasy Source experts. This one was a 12-person, standard (non-PPR) league.
In a major twist, I actually secured the 2nd overall pick for a change (after drafting from the 8 and 10 holes in the previous four drafts).
Here's the team I assembled:
Pick 1.2: LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles. I love Shady, yes I do. I love Shady, how 'bout you?
Pick 2.11: Wes Welker, WR, Patriots. Matt Stafford was snatched right before me, ending the run of elite QBs. Got the #2 WR on my board instead.
Pick 3.2: Michael Vick, QB, Eagles. Knowing how long I had to wait between picks, I couldn't risk that the next wave of near-elite QBs would be drained before my 4th rounder. Vick comes with risks, but plenty of upside. I guess I'm all-in with Philly...
Pick 4.11: Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos. 14 WRs went off the board between my 3rd and 4th round selections, so lots of my favorites were gone. That said, I fully expect Thomas to be Peyton's top target in Denver.
Pick 5.2: Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers. In retrospect, I should have taken Ahmad Bradshaw with my 4th pick, since he was scooped up immediately after Thomas. I like Martin's potential, but not crazy about him as my RB2.
Pick 6.11: Denarius Moore, WR, Raiders. I was banking on Pierre Garcon, but he was snagged one pick too early (just like Stafford). I like Moore's sleeper potential, especially as a big-play receiver in a Carson Palmer-led offense. Wish I didn't have to pull the trigger this early, though.
Pick 7.2: Jermichael Finley, TE, Packers. Last year's 5th-ranked tight end is going awfully cheap, if you ask me. Wish I had Jennings or Jordy, but Finley is a nice consolation prize.
Pick 8.11: Titus Young, WR, Lions. I'm really fired up about this guy. He has elite talent and an elite QB to get him the ball. His biggest struggle is with maturity. Hopefully he'll develop some quickly.
Pick 9.2: Isaac Redman, RB, Steelers. He slid a long ways due to breaking news over his groin injury. If the injury doesn't cost him (much) regular season time, this was a great pick. Or it could have been a total waste.
Pick 10.11: Matt Schaub, QB, Texans. The backup QBs were flying off the board, so I grabbed my fave before it was too late.
Pick 11.2: Danny Amendola, WR, Rams. Normally, Amendola would slide further, but I got the sense that he wouldn't last much longer with this group, the way they were snatching up the WRs. I love his sleeper value.
Pick 12.11: Jahvid Best, RB, Lions. The draft was being conducted just after news broke that Best was likely heading to the PUP list. I knew the concussion worries were mounting, but hadn't heard the latest until it was too late. This pick was as good as saying "Pass!"
Pick 13.2: Eagles defense/special teams. The Packers went immediately before my pick, so I settled for the next best option.
Pick 14.11: Davone Bess, WR, Dolphins. Somebody has to catch passes in Miami, right?
Pick 15.2: Randall Cobb, WR, Packers. Another of my sleeper picks. Love the upside for this explosive sophomore.
Pick 16.11: Jason Hanson, K, Lions. Good kicker, great offense.
Pick 17.2: Ryan Grant, RB, Free agent. The ultimate sleeper pick. Rumor has it that he's being eyed by the Lions and a couple of other teams. Any day now, he could start shooting up the boards just like Cedric Benson did last week.
There you have it.
Here's how the entire draft played out: http://fantasysource.sportingnews.com/football/mock-draft
In two weeks, we draft for real!
Given some of the recent injury news -- most notably regarding Jahvid Best and Jason Witten -- I've made some adjustments to the positional rankings I posted on Tuesday (RBs, WRs, TEs and Top 100).
I've also added my first round of rankings for Ks and D/STs.
You can find them all here: http://www.scribd.com/laddbiro
A complete update will be available again next Tuesday, and each week leading up to the start of the regular season.
I have just completed my first round of positional rankings for the 2012 season.
As always, I will update the rankings weekly until the regular season begins. These are intended to help guide you as you prepare for your all-important draft. Please remember to read the information at the top of each set of rankings. They are NOT a recommended draft order! You can find ADPs (average draft positions) on other sites to help you figure out where each player is typically picked.
My rankings are an attempt to project where each player will rank within his position at year's end.
You can find Round 1 of my QB, RB, WR, TE and Top 100 rankings here: http://www.scribd.com/laddbiro
I'll have the kickers and defense/special teams ready this time next week.
Tomorrow: My first round of preseason positional rankings will be posted.
Next week: A look at the Sleeper candidates of 2012.
The Sporting News Fantasy Source experts held their fourth mock draft of the 2012 preseason today. This one was a 10-team PPR league, with the standard starting lineup of 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 K and 1 D/ST.
As usual, I was "randomly" assigned a position in the back half of the order, but at least I'm creeping up a bit. I had the 6th overall pick this time. Here's what I did with it:
Pick 1.6: Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers. The Big 3 RBs went first, followed by Megatron and Aaron Rodgers. It was Mathews or Brees for me, so I went with the presumed workhorse of the San Diego offense, knowing that a reasonable proxy for Brees would be available on the swing back.
Pick 2.5: Matt Stafford, QB, Lions. I'm just not taking chances with arguably the most important position on my team. Stafford was the best ace available, after A-Rod, Brees and Brady were snatched up.
Pick 3.6: Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints. It was time to go WR, but Graham was just too tantalizing to let slide by. Gronk was taken with the 1st pick of the 3rd round.
Pick 4.5: Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers. It's easy to forget that he didn't cement his hold on the WR2 role in Green Bay until mid-November, yet he finished 2011 among the Top 5 WRs in all of fantasy football -- even in PPR formats. I (heart) Jordy.
Pick 5.6: Frank Gore, RB, 49ers. In previous mock drafts, I had either forgotten about or narrowly missed claiming Gore in the 5th/6th round. I just don't understand why he is suddenly so under-valued, after all those years as an (over-valued) first-rounder. He's still on the right side of 30, and remains the workhorse in the up-and-coming San Fran offensive attack.
Pick 6.5: Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys. According to most outsider rankings, Smilin' Miles should be drafted before Jordy. I don't see it that way, and obviously neither did my counterparts. In the middle of Round 6, he represents excellent value.
Pick 7.6: Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens. The sky's the limit for this playmaking receiver. I was getting genuinely nervous as I awaited my pick, just knowing someone was going to scoop him up before me. Love his upside, and now I love my starting lineup.
Pick 8.5: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Bengals. I took him in last week's mock, and am warming to him more and more as the regular season approaches. See no reason the Law Firm can't be a very solid performer in Cincinnati's improving offense.
Pick 9.6: Denarius Moore, WR, Raiders. He comes with some risk (e.g., he's a Raider) but plenty of upside. If he and Carson Palmer establish a nice rapport, Moore can be a fantasy force. No way I'd touch DHB, his presumed fellow starter.
Pick 10.5: Mark Ingram, RB, Saints. Another guy that just keeps slipping well beyond where he should. As much as I like Darren Sproles, I just can't see him replicating his monster 2011 campaign. Ingram, if he can stay healthy, will carry a big load in New Orleans, including near the goal-line.
Pick 11.6: Randy Moss, WR, 49ers. What the hell...
Pick 12.5: Ryan Williams, RB, Cardinals. Still expect him to be the most productive RB in Arizona, for whatever that's worth. We all know Beanie can't hold up for 16 games.
Pick 13.6: Nate Washington, WR, Titans. Admittedly, this pick doesn't inspire a lot of excitement. But Washington will be Tennessee's lead WR until Kenny Britt(le) gets his head out of his a$$, which could be quite a while.
Pick 14.5: Packers defense/special teams. The top unit on my draft board, they represent huge value this late in the draft.
Pick 15.6: Alex Green, RB, Packers. I've been able to grab Green as late as the 17th round, but word is getting out that he's the real deal. Don't be surprised if he supplants James Starks as the starter by October. That said, Green Bay isn't going to become a run-oriented team any time soon, so his ceiling isn't real high.
Pick 16.5: Stephen Gostkowski, K, Patriots. It's kicker or backup QB time, and I knew Flacco would be there in the final round. New England's sharp-shooter is #2 on my board.
Pick 17.6: Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens. I'm still surprised to see how far Flacco has fallen out of fantasy favor. Love him as my one-week sub for Brady.
There you have it. I believe we have one more mock to go (next Wed.), then on to the real deal.
Offseason player movement is the name of the game in today’s NFL. Each year, more than 20 offensive skill-position players of note swap jerseys via trade or free agency.
Laurent Robinson, WR, Jaguars – If you think he’ll come anywhere close to his 11-touchdown season of 2011, I’ve got some Dunder Mifflin stock I’d like to sell you.
Michael Bush, RB, Bears – Unfortunately for Bush, Matt Forte is not as injury-prone as Darren McFadden. He’ll continue to be a valuable handcuff, at best.
Jerome Simpson, WR, Vikings – Don’t expect more highlight-reel feats from Simpson in Minnesota’s low-octane passing attack. He’ll begin the season by serving a three-game suspension.
Kellen Winslow, TE, Seahawks – A borderline fantasy receiver in 2011, he’ll offer similarly modest returns in Seattle.
The Sporting News Fantasy Source experts held their fourth mock draft of the preseason today. This time, it was a 12-team, point-per-reception (PPR) league, with the standard starting lineup requirements (1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 K and 1 D/ST).
In keeping with the trend of late, I was "randomly" assigned the 10th overall pick. Here's what I did with it:
Pick 1.10: Drew Brees, QB, Saints. Rodgers, Brady, Megatron and the elite RBs (plus the former CJ2K and MJD, who don't rank as high in my book) were gone. Brees was an easy choice.
Pick 2.3: Trent Richardson, RB, Browns. Not happy about this pick at all. Was hoping either McFadden or Forte would be here. Just can't feel good about putting this much stock in a Cleveland player, no matter how much potential he has. In hindsight, probably should have taken Jamaal Charles or Andre Johnson.
Pick 3.10: Steve Smith, WR, Panthers. Another disappointing pick. Was eyeing the sliding Mike Wallace and DeMarco Murray, but they went off the board in the two picks before mine. Even at 33, Smith has a chance to be special, but I'd much rather have him as a WR2.
Pick 4.3: Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers. Love this pick. Feel better about my WRs now, though I've got a huge hole to fill in my backfield, and the pickings keep getting slimmer.
Pick 5.10: Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys. Another nice pick, if I do say so myself. Only Gronk and Jimmy Graham are more valuable in a PPR format. Loved this selection, until...Oh, no!
Pick 6.3: Shonn Greene, RB, Jets. I took a calculated gamble that TEs would go off the board between my 5th and 6th round picks, since neither of those teams had one and good options were still available. I really wanted Frank Gore here, but alas, he was taken at 6.2 by a 49ers fan (I should have known!). Michael Turner was my backup plan, but he went right before Gore. Really don't like Greene at all, and now I pretty much hate my backfield.
Pick 7.10: Robert Meachem, WR, Chargers. Has a chance to be Rivers' top WR option, though he is unlikely to perform that way consistently. Still, he's not a bad fantasy WR3.
Pick 8.3: Jahvid Best, RB, Lions. I feel a little better about my backfield now. Of course, Best has to be/stay healthy for him to be worth anything to me. And there are no guarantees about that.
Pick 9.10: Lance Moore, WR, Saints. With Meachem shipped west, Moore will be Brees' WR2 behind the oft-injured Colston. Again, not too bad for a WR4.
Pick 10.3: Ryan Williams, RB, Cardinals. Beanie Wells has proven that he can't be trusted, so Williams will have every opportunity to claim the starting job at some point. Thought hard about Mikel Leshoure here (to hedge my bet on Best), but felt Williams had more upside.
Pick 11.10: Mark Ingram, RB, Saints. The "Trent Richardson" of the 2011 draft has certainly fallen out of favor in fantasy circles; but at the end of the 11th round, Ingram represents significant value. He very well could emerge as the Saints' workhorse this season, which is what the team drafted him to be just one year ago.
Pick 12.3: Randall Cobb, WR, Packers. Love his upside, as do the Packers. Sure, I already own Jordy, but if either he or Jennings gets nicked up along the way, Cobb should step in and perform capably.
Pick 13.10: Packers defense/special teams. They're tops on my defensive rankings, but I got them 3 rounds after the Steelers were taken. My selection started a run on the position, which is always nice.
Pick 14.3: Laurent Robinson, WR, Jaguars. Jacksonville's QB situation can't be that bad. Can it?
Pick 15.10: Alex Henery, K, Eagles. Already had my next two picks set and was pretty certain they wouldn't be taken. So I took my kicker before the choices narrowed even more.
Pick 16.3: Alex Green, RB, Packers. I fully expect this promising rookie to be a major player in the Green Bay backfield early on, with a good shot at overtaking James Starks along the way.
Pick 17.10: Alex Smith, QB, 49ers. My run on Alexes complete, I now have a decent backup QB. If I have to rely on Smith more than once, though, I'm in big trouble.
There you have it. Frankly, I'm not impressed with my team. Made a couple of bad choices, in hindsight, and can't say I feel real good about any position other than QB and TE. Oh well...that's why they call it a MOCK draft.
About the author
Ladd Biro was named 2010 "Football Writer of the Year" by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. Ladd's nationally syndicated columns have appeared in more than 20 publications -- including the Dallas Morning News, San Francisco Chronicle, Philadelphia Inquirer, Chicago Sun-Times and Sporting News magazine -- since 2003. During the NFL season, he can be heard nationwide on Sporting News Radio as host of the weekly "Fantasy Files" program, dispensing his unique blend of wit and wisdom. Since 2009, all his written fantasy content can be found on the Fantasy Fools blog.