2012 Draft Prep: Strategies for first overall
Not sure how to approach your draft with the top overall pick? Jamey Eisenberg plays out the scenario for owners holding the first pick in their upcoming draft to see what type of team to expect.
What's the worst thing that can happen to you on Draft Day? You lock your keys in the car on the way to a live draft? Power goes out before doing it online? You get the dates mixed up and realize you have to take the wife and kids to a concert for a Wiggles cover band?
Almost as bad as one of those scenarios is showing up to your draft without a plan. You don't have to follow it exactly, but you should have a strategy to attack your draft. A good way to finish in last place is take the "best player available" at each spot. You might as well just go on auto pilot. You could end up with the same results.
Over the course of the next few weeks we'll be outlining a strategy for you to use with each pick in a 12-team league. My colleague Dave Richard and I are looking at each pick individually in a 14-round draft and giving you an idea of what positions to target in each round.
We'll highlight some players who should be available with each pick, and hopefully this is a guide you can use on Draft Day in standard and PPR formats with a lineup of QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, TE, FLEX (RB/WR/TE), K, DST and five reserve spots. Every draft is different, so don't expect to follow this plan exactly. But if you have an idea of what you want to do with each round you should be able to craft a solid squad.
The first pick, which we're discussing here, is always coveted because you start your team with the best player available. But that doesn't mean you're automatically in the playoffs.
The strategy I like to use with the No. 1 overall pick is take the best available running back first and then the two best receivers in Round 2 and 3. After that I try to get another good running back and my flex spot in Round 4 and 5.
In Round 6 and 7 there are several directions to go, but getting a quarterback is a must. You can go quarterback and running back, quarterback and receiver or quarterback and tight end depending on the talent on the board. This is really the first time where you should consider the best player available, but the draft flow will dictate that for you.
We'll go over all 14 picks for the No. 1 overall selection, and then you can check out the entire draft with this series. Our goal, as always, is to help you win your league, and this is an in-depth guide for you to follow on Draft Day.
Editor's note: The percentages listed are what position you should target based on that round for each pick.
Some owners in standard leagues will consider drafting a quarterback first, and there's nothing wrong with taking Aaron Rodgers at No. 1 overall. He's safe, he's elite and he'll give you an edge at a prominent position. But I would stick with running back, and Arian Foster is my No. 1 overall selection. He has been a star for the past two years, and he should continue to dominate again in 2012. Some owners might prefer Ray Rice or LeSean McCoy, but Foster has proven to be the better Fantasy option based on his skill level, role in the offense and the system for the Texans. In PPR leagues there is a chance an owner might want the best receiver in Calvin Johnson, but you should probably trade down before reaching for him with the first pick.
In this spot after taking Foster is when I like to get two top-flight receivers in any format. Based on Average Draft Position, you should be able to land potential Top 5 options in Roddy White and Wes Welker in standard leagues and White and Greg Jennings in PPR formats. This allows you to get two standout receivers and not worry about the position for several rounds, and I'd be ecstatic to start my team with Foster, White and Welker or Foster, White and Jennings. Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald should be gone by now, but if either falls consider that a steal. There isn't really a need to take a second running back here, but don't pass up value if someone like Trent Richardson or DeMarco Murray fall to this spot.
Players you can get here: Roddy White,
Greg Jennings, Wes Welker, Cam Newton, Matthew Stafford, Ahmad Bradshaw, Adrian Peterson, Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham
My selection at No. 24 standard: Roddy White
My selection at No. 24 PPR: Roddy White
In standard leagues this is a spot where you can consider taking a quarterback, especially if Cam Newton is available. You will likely have a decision to make with Matthew Stafford based on ADP, but I would still lean toward receiver. Still, it's hard to argue with your team if you come out of your first three picks with Foster, White and Stafford, and then you can look at running back and receiver with your next two picks. In PPR leagues, you should consider Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham in this spot, especially Graham since he's the No. 1 ranked tight end in this format. These two tight ends proved last year they can produce like receivers, and locking them up here isn't a bad idea. But don't be surprised if they go earlier in Round 2 based on their value in PPR leagues.
Players you can get here: Greg Jennings,
Wes Welker, Cam Newton, Matthew Stafford, Ahmad Bradshaw, Adrian Peterson, Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham
My selection at No. 25 standard: Wes Welker
My selection at No. 25 PPR: Greg Jennings
I would consider a quarterback or tight end here, but don't reach for a player just to lock up a position. If Michael Vick is on the board then draft him, but ADP suggests you can wait on a quarterback in Round 6 or 7 and come away with someone from the group of Eli Manning, Tony Romo, Philip Rivers or Peyton Manning. Worst-case scenario is you land Matt Ryan or Ben Roethlisberger, and that's not shabby. In a standard league you're taking a running back, and someone I plan to target here is Doug Martin. He has plenty of upside as a rookie in Tampa Bay. You can also consider Beanie Wells or BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who should both be available. In PPR leagues, you should consider Martin or Reggie Bush, as both should do well catching the ball out of the backfield.
Players you can get here: Doug Martin,
Beanie Wells, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Reggie Bush, Steve Smith, Demaryius Thomas, Marques Colston, Miles Austin, Eli Manning, Tony Romo, Antonio Gates, Aaron Hernandez
My selection at No. 48 standard: Doug Martin
My selection at No. 48 PPR: Reggie Bush
The two formats should differ slightly here if you plan to lock up your flex spot. In standard leagues, I would lean toward running back, and getting someone like Wells or Green-Ellis is the way to go. Both have the chance for 1,000 rushing yards and double digits in touchdowns, and both can be suitable replacements if something happens to Foster or Martin. In PPR leagues, you could lock up a solid No. 3 receiver based on the players available. Dwayne Bowe should rebound nicely from last year's down performance with the healthy return of Matt Cassel (hand).
Players you can get here: Beanie Wells,
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Reggie Bush, Dwayne Bowe, Demaryius Thomas, Marques Colston, Miles Austin, Eli Manning, Tony Romo, Antonio Gates, Aaron Hernandez
My selection at No. 49 standard: BenJarvus Green-Ellis
My selection at No. 49 PPR: Dwayne Bowe
If you gamble right then hopefully a Top 10 quarterback will fall to you. Based on ADP, Rivers is being drafted in the majority of leagues at No. 72 on the dot, so this could work out great. If not, you're looking at potentially Peyton Manning here or having to grab Ryan or Roethlisberger. I wouldn't go past these two rounds without a quarterback because then you're settling for a backup like Matt Schaub, Robert Griffin III or Jay Cutler as your starter, which isn't a great scenario.
Players you can get here: Philip Rivers,
Matt Ryan, Mikel Leshoure, Peyton Hillis, Jonathan Stewart, C.J. Spiller, Torrey Smith,
Reggie Wayne, Eric Decker, Robert Meachem, Jason Witten, Fred Davis
My selection at No. 72 standard: Philip Rivers
My selection at No. 72 PPR: Philip Rivers
Tight end is not the position I was expecting to draft in this spot, but sometimes you can't overlook value. In this case, Jason Witten is likely getting overlooked, which could happen quite often in standard leagues. Owners will favor Vernon Davis, who had a monster postseason, or Jermichael Finley and all his upside. But Witten will likely benefit the most from Laurent Robinson leaving the Cowboys. In PPR leagues, you should look for a running back with at least 50-catch potential, and a healthy Jahvid Best can provide that even with the presence of Mikel Leshoure this season.
Players you can get here: Matt Ryan,
Peyton Hillis, Jonathan Stewart, C.J. Spiller, Jahvid Best, Reggie Wayne, Eric Decker, Robert Meachem, Jason Witten, Fred Davis
My selection at No. 73 standard: Jason Witten
My selection at No. 73 PPR: Jahvid Best
Now that we ended up with Witten, we can continue to add talent at running back and receiver. Denarius Moore is someone I plan to target in all leagues, and he's a great No. 3 receiver in standard formats. He should be the No. 1 option for the Raiders in the passing game. In the PPR format, we should get our tight end here, and there should be some quality options available in Jermaine Gresham, Brent Celek, Tony Gonzalez, Brandon Pettigrew, Jacob Tamme and Coby Fleener. I plan to target Gresham in the majority of leagues, and I love his upside as the No. 2 receiving threat for the Bengals after A.J. Green. Gresham is someone I would draft in a PPR leagues in this spot.
Players you can get here: Jermaine Gresham,
Brent Celek, Tony Gonzalez, Brandon Pettigrew, Mikel Leshoure, Ryan Williams, Toby Gerhart, Anquan Boldin, Santonio Holmes, Sidney Rice
My selection at No. 96 standard: Denarius Moore
My selection at No. 96 PPR: Jermaine Gresham
We're starting to look at best player available here, and taking a running back might make sense in both formats based on the value on the board. In the standard league, we'll handcuff Foster with his backup in Ben Tate. Now, if something happens to Foster, I still have the starter on the best running team in the NFL. In the PPR format, we're going to take a running back who doesn't have much receiving prowess, but Ryan Williams could play a prominent role for the Cardinals, especially with Wells at less than 100 percent with a knee problem. Williams sat out his rookie season with a knee injury of his own, but he presents plenty of upside at this spot if he can return to full strength as expected.
Players you can get here: Brent Celek,
Tony Gonzalez, Brandon Pettigrew, Ben Tate, Ryan Williams, Toby Gerhart, Anquan Boldin, Santonio Holmes, Sidney Rice
My selection at No. 97 standard: Ben Tate
My selection at No. 97 PPR: Ryan Williams
This is a good spot to reach for someone you want who you might be able to get later but you don't want to risk missing. In a standard league, I would like to lock up my No. 4 receiver, and I'm a big fan of Malcom Floyd this year since he could benefit the most now that Vincent Jackson is gone as a free agent to Tampa Bay. In a PPR league, I would gamble on Bernard Scott because we know Green-Ellis can't catch a cold. Scott could be on the field for plenty of receiving downs, and he will also get his share of carries in what could be a tandem situation.
Players you can get here: Carson Palmer,
Andy Dalton, Daniel Thomas, Rashard Mendenhall, Tim Hightower, Bernard Scott, Michael Crabtree, Malcom Floyd, Brian Quick, Brandon LaFell, Coby Fleener, Jared Cook
My selection at No. 120 standard: Malcom Floyd
My selection at No. 120 PPR: Bernard Scott
You can again consider best player available here, with the only position you need to address being No. 2 quarterback. Normally if you draft Rodgers, Drew Brees or Tom Brady you can avoid drafting a backup quarterback in a 14-round draft. But anyone other than those three deserves a backup, including Rivers. At this point in the draft your choices are limited to Carson Palmer or Andy Dalton. If Robert Griffin III falls then grab him, but if not then take Palmer and hope he plays like he did last year in limited action with the Raiders. He will prosper following a full offseason of work.
Players you can get here: Carson Palmer,
Andy Dalton, Daniel Thomas, Rashard Mendenhall, Tim Hightower, Jacquizz Rodgers, Michael Crabtree, Michael Floyd, Brian Quick, Vincent Brown, Coby Fleener, Jared Cook
My selection at No. 121 standard: Carson Palmer
My selection at No. 121 PPR: Carson Palmer
I almost never take a DST prior to my penultimate pick, but I would consider it here if the right option was available, meaning the 49ers. The problem is that according to ADP the 49ers are gone. So wait again on a DST and go with the best player on the board. For me that would be Mike Williams in a standard league, and he has the chance for a bounce-back year in his third season in the NFL. Williams doesn't have to worry about carrying the receiving corps with Jackson in town, and he should be re-dedicated to his craft after a lot of negative publicity last year. In the PPR format, we'll take anothe receiver with upside in Jerome Simpson. He will miss the first three games with a suspension, but when he returns he should offer plenty of promise as the starter opposite Percy Harvin.
Players you can get here: Mike Goodson,
Pierre Thomas, Kevin Smith, Isaiah Pead, Mike Williams, Nate Washington, Jon Baldwin, Jerome Simpson, Owen Daniels, Steelers DST, Packers DST
My selection at No. 144 standard: Mike Williams
My selection at No. 144 PPR: Jerome Simpson
I refuse to draft a kicker before my last pick. David Akers was awesome last year with 186 Fantasy points, but the difference between No. 2 kicker John Kasay (151 points) and No. 12 Matt Bryant (130) makes you realize you can wait for a kicker or play kicker roulette all season. I'll go DST here and take the best one left, which in this case is the Steelers. They should once again be a strong option, especially at rushing the passer.
Plain and simple, take the kicker you like the best. You should look for a late bye week to avoid making a wasted transaction early, and you should have plenty of good choices. I find myself drafting Neil Rackers a lot even with his move to the Redskins, and he doesn't have a bye until Week 10, which saves you a needless transaction.
Here is a look at what the teams look like following the draft:
|QB||Philip Rivers||QB||Philip Rivers|
|RB||Arian Foster||RB||Arian Foster|
|RB||Doug Martin||RB||Reggie Bush|
|WR||Roddy White||WR||Roddy White|
|WR||Wes Welker||WR||Greg Jennings|
|FLEX||BenJarvus Green-Ellis||FLEX||Jahvid Best|
|TE||Jason Witten||TE||Jermaine Gresham|
|K||Neil Rackers||K||Neil Rackers|
|RES||Denarius Moore||RES||Ryan Williams|
|RES||Ben Tate||RES||Dwayne Bowe|
|RES||Malcom Floyd||RES||Bernard Scott|
|RES||Mike Williams||RES||Jerome Simpson|
|RES||Carson Palmer||RES||Carson Palmer|
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